Friday, February 27, 2009

Cool Technology of the Week

I recently wrote about the technology I own and emphasized my parsimony principle - own the smallest amount of technology possible to minimize the maintenance and support burden. Less is more.

I recently used my iPod Touch and the Apple App Store to retire two pieces of technology.

On my nightstand I had an iHome clock radio for iPod that works perfectly with older iPod devices but is not compatible with the iPhone/iPod Touch or the current generation of iPod nanos. Rather than purchase a new iHome, I asked myself what I really use it for. It's just a digital clock and alarm that also plays music. Since the iPod touch has a built in speaker that's good enough for nightstand use, I really just needed the iPod to function as a nightstand alarm clock. The iPod native alarm clock software does not continuously display the time (the screen times out) so it is not very useful when you wake up and wonder what time it is.

Using the App Store, I found "Nightstand" from

Night stand displays digital clock in both portrait and landscape mode, and disables the iPod screen time out. It displays a standard LED clock or retro flip clock, offers 12/24 hour time format and can show seconds/day of the week. It also enables iPod music to play in the background.

After installing Nightstand, I found that it perfectly replaced the iHome, enabling me to retire it.

Similiarly, I asked the question about my ebook reader, an Amazon Kindle. Although the Kindle is a great device with many features that we've used at Harvard Medical School to support medical education, it is another device that I have to maintain and support as the Home CIO.

After reading a Boston Globe article about eReader alternatives, I downloaded Stanza by LexCycle from the App Store.

After a few minutes mastering the user interface, I had a fully functional eBook reader on my iPod touch. The touch screen makes it easy to flip between pages, select chapters, scroll and change font sizes. Over 100,000 titles are available from the LexCycle Online Catalog.

Although the screen is a bit smaller than the Kindle, I found the convenience of a single device providing music, alarm clock, web browsing and eBook functionality to be very compelling. Thus, I retired the Kindle.

This means that the only technology I own is a Macbook Air, an iPod Touch, and a Blackberry Bold.

For now, that is parsimony. In the future, I may be even able to consolidate the iPod Touch and the Blackberry Bold into one device. At present, the Touch is not a great email platform and the Blackberry is not a great application platform. We'll see with the future brings.

The iPod Touch running Nightstand and Stanza, enabling me to retire two other devices. That's cool!


Richard O. DeWald RN said...

Thanks, John. I adhere to identical technical possession values, and I only own a Touch and a Macbook as well (and I use a Treo 755p for work). This is very helpful.

Matthew said...

John, my guess is that the Palm Pre or whatever Apple does to respond technologically not litigiously will answer your last question

Kat said...

If you're looking to recycle your kindle...

Tom Mariner said...

John, Great thoughts on convergence and minimization -- What I would expect from a Quality person.

Yes, drooling over the iPhone for the Apps store, but here have to stick with Verizon with grotty phones. Wondering if Toshiba TG01 will make it to production -- big touch screen and Windows Mobile.

Actually, with any of these smartphones there are amazing things we can do to help our patients.

MCylk said...

John, great minds, etc. I have a macbook but retired the verizon blackberry for lack of WiFi and have not regretted it since. I love the apps but they eat up the battery life of the i-phone. Monkey Ball and Astro Tilt apps utilize the tilt-sensor and give surgeons the ability to "warm-up". A paper presented in January at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality conference using the Wii and the game Marble Mania showed that 15 minutes of game playing with those games improved dexterity significantly. New transparency metric, "doctor what did you do to warm-up before surgery?"

Football Matches said...

Yes, drooling over the iPhone for the Apps store, but here have to stick with Verizon with grotty phones. Wondering if Toshiba TG01 will make it to production -- big touch screen and Windows Mobile.

Recep Deniz MD