Top 10 things I learned in 2012
Tech blogging is not for the faint of heart. Here are a few things I learned during my first year on the job
When I first told my friends and family that I was taking a job as a tech blogger, they were all concerned. Even strangers expressed sentiments of sympathy, asking me what I did "before this," like it was some kind of death sentence bestowed upon me. But aside from the fact that it's pegged me as the oddball at every social event, it's been a great year. Here are some things I learned along the way.
1. Your shiny new Android phone sucks next week
When I finally (finally) broke it off with BlackBerry, I picked up an Android device. Looking back, this was probably a mistake. When I opted for the HTC Incredible 2 toward the end of 2011, I thought it was pretty spectacular. Still, I was certain it would just be a fling; a temporary way to bide my time until the iPhone 4S was back in stock. That didn't happen, because the cost of a new phone through Verizon (and most wireless providers) without the two-year upgrade is just stupid. I don't care how effing great the iPhone is, it will never be worth hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
So, I got stuck with this phone that was quite wonderful for the first few weeks of use, and then another Android phone was released. And another. And another. And OMG, ANOTHER. And don't even get me started on the ever evolving OS. I was just really starting to get to know Gingerbread, and then all of a sudden there was Ice Cream Sandwich, and then Jelly Bean, and now all this talk of Key Lime Pie -- and where the hell were my upgrade options? Absolutely nowhere to be found, because my poor little Inc 2 was already irrelevant at that point. But not all is lost, as my penny-pinching ways have forced me to get creative. Cue lesson number two.
2. Baking a cake is way more fun than rooting an Android
But that doesn't mean it isn't worth it. If I told you guys how long it took me to finally root my Android for real, you'd probably wanna send me flowers or something. Because seriously, it was painful. But most of that grief was caused over me being ultra paranoid about jacking up my phone. And then I realized that my phone was essentially a piece of crap, anyway, and I owned up. I still don't think it's for everyone, especially anxiety-ridden folks who don't want to risk destroying the warranty on their device But it is absolutely essential when you want complete control over your own phone. Wanna be a Level 5 mobile geek? Give rooting a shot, you can get started with this Rooting for Rookies guide.
3. Apple's iPad might very well be the best thing ever
Despite the honeymoon period being long over, my third-generation iPad is still the single smartest gadget purchase I made in 2012. Admittedly, I use it less often than when I first brought it home, but that thing still gets affection daily. I will say that I was a bit miffed when Apple went off and released a fourth-gen before the freaking year was even over, but the improvements weren't drastic enough for me to go out and splurge on it. And as for all of that iPad mini business, no. Just, no. I'll throw down my cold hard cash for Apple's tinier tablet when it runs as fast, and looks as slick as it damn well should.
4. One operating system is superior over all the rest
You can argue with me all you want. You can call me a fanboy (fangirl?). But, in my experience, iOS has a serious leg up on Android.The best thing about dividing my time between my Android smartphone and Apple's iPad has been the more rounded perspective it's afforded me. On a regular basis, I get the best of both worlds. It's not unlike having a committed, comfortable relationship (Android) and a super hot mistress on the side (iOS).
And like any torrid triangle, one of those gets far more lovin' than the other, but that's because it treats me better. iOS understands my needs. It isn't a nag about constant upgrades, it doesn't randomly freeze up in the middle of an important upload, it doesn't just decide to crap out for no apparent reason. And, most importantly, it's consistent.
5. Outside of tech blogging, nobody ever wants to discuss mobile devices
Instead of being impressed when I can spot the type of phone some guy is using from a distance, he instead looks at me like I'm a crazed outcast. I get really excited to chat about operating systems and my new-found obsession with mobile gadgets. I have a tendency to carry on about the latest smartphones much like the way a music geek enthusiastically talks about the latest indie bands, and in return I get nothing but awkward responses and nervous laughter.
Perhaps these guys are just too caught up in stereotypes -- like maybe they're in such shock that I even know how to use a phone, let alone root one. Because, you know, I have lady bits, and that means my brain is smaller or something. Then again, I assumed they'd be able to talk tech with me based on the sole fact that they have boy parts ... so I guess I'm just as guilty.
6. In tech, "News" often just means "Rumors"
And don't even get me started on the sensationalism. All it takes is for some obsessive geek to craft a mock-up of Apple's next iPhone, or maybe a video displaying exactly what he'd like to see in Samsung's next iteration of its Galaxy smartphone and BOOM. Instant news. Except, you know, for that part where it isn't really news at all. And then people figure it out and get all kinds of angry. The thing is, I'm just as guilty as the next guy of gushing over this "purported" junk. Because it's fun to fantasize about how the next greatest handset might look and function. But can we maybe stop calling it news?
7. Mobile gaming is gaming, too
PC and console snobs will tell you that real gamers don’t play mobile games. They’ll tell you that the games available for Android and iOS lack substance, lack immersion, lack hardcore appeal. To this, all I can say is, get over yourselves. Mobile gaming has came a long way in 2012, whether it be the surreal Room ($1.99 for iPad) or the stupidly addictive Angry Birds series, there truly is a mobile game for everyone. And now with more and more big box games and console indies porting to smartphones (Minecraft, AC3 and Bastion, to name a few) there’s just nothing left to bitch about. Mobile gaming has arrived, accept it.
8. Smartphone addictions can lead to love
No, I am not talking about sexting; just calm down. Smartphones can actually be the catalysts for real relationships in our modern mobile world. For the record, I'm not speaking from personal experience here, but I've witnessed the digital sparks in a handful of close friends. And it's been enough to warm the heart of even the most nay-saying nerd. There are plenty of reasons for this and it's not just the abundant selection of dating apps. Part of it is also knowing how to appropriately text your potential mate. And, please, let's not forget the lost art of being able to hold your own in an actual call; us ladies are still big fans of the bro who can keep our phone lines tied up all night.
Oh and, guys, if you need a little help with your game, I've found a slew of apps for that too. Here's a list that can help you be a better bro.
9. Apple's FaceTime is a fun way to meet your Internet friends
And speaking of love, it's also a perfect solution to the traditional first date. I've also learned that most of us look like idiots on video chat, because bad angles. Fortunately, there's a fix for that. I'm still a big fan of talking on the phone (yes, some of us still do that), but when I can replace regular ol' talk time with video chat ... win.
10. Nobody needs therapy as long as apps exist
For real, apps are just like little happy pills. Let's just get back to the FaceTime app for a minute. Feeling lonely? Just video call your friend; it doesn't matter if he lives in freaking Texas, you can still see his face every damn day if you want. Having access to hundreds of thousands of apps means that you always have way to keep your mind occupied. At this point, a phone without apps is like the internet without memes; it's just no fun at all. You can be into the most obscure crap and, I promise you, there's an app for it.
For more nerdy tidbits and updates on all things mobile, follow Stacy on Twitter.