Our Addiction To Technology

A friend of mine who’s not much into having the latest gadgets, let alone using the ones she already has, made a point to recognize just how “into” technology I am. After hearing this, I began to wonder if there was something abnormal about this and what does it say about our society?

For thousands of years, mankind has been living and creating, dreaming and progressing and no matter what advances are made, there are always a slew of naysayers that will denounce the usefulness of such things.

Fast forward to this morning and I was listening to a radio show that was interviewing author, Daniel Sieberg who wrote a book called The Digital Diet. I haven’t read the book, but in it, Daniel talks about how much we’ve come to rely on the virtual world of our creations. He further goes on to outline a 4-step process to regain your real world back (as quoted from the book description):

  1. Re-think: Consider how technology has overwhelmed our society and the effect it’s had on your physical, mental, and emotional health.
  2. Re-boot: Take stock of your digital intake using Sieberg’s Virtual Weight Index and step back from the device.
  3. Re-connect: Focus on restoring the relationships that have been harmed by the technology in your life.
  4. Re-vitalize: Learn how to live with technology—the healthy way, by optimizing your time spent e-mailing, texting, on Facebook, and web surfing.

Looking at this list, it’s hard not to make a connection to some or all of the steps (especially as I sit here and write this post). Personally speaking, I’m used to hearing from people how much they think I’m into technology and how often I resort to using my tech devices, but what I find funny about that is, while it’s sort of true, I’m not really that bad! Of course that’s what all people with addictions might say, but on a serious note, it’s a fact. I’m one of those people that has the ability to put away my cell phone when I’m out with friends and I certainly don’t have to check into Facebook every time I change locations.

All this got me to thinking…what is it that causes people to always be on their phones or computers? The simple reason is that most people need that instant connection. It’s not enough to have a connection with the one or two people you’re with. It’s a form of acceptance. When you post a note on your wall and 20 people make a comment, that makes you feel connected—part of something. I think it stems from that unconscious trait of all humans; to seek popularity.

Our digital “self” has the ability to have thousands of friends, chat with them online, text many people at the same time, surf millions of webpages, get sports scores on the fly, purchase products, play games and interact with the entire world. All this can take place in a matter of minutes and from one location on one device. The struggle between our real self and the digital one is that the real one can’t do all these things without technology. Under normal circumstances, these two world can co-exist. It’s only when you begin to live a life that is not as fulfilling without the technology do these worlds collide.

For me, having this website, my Facebook page, my Flickr account and Google +, I’ve made a virtual self that in some ways is more popular than my real self. I strive to gain more visitors on my website, I look to add as many friends as possible on Facebook, I get thousands of people to watch my YouTube videos, etc.,etc.,etc. But to what end?? Am I looking for fame or notoriety? No. Am I looking for money? No (well maybe some). To some degree, I find digital life much easier to manage, much easier to live and most of all, much easier to control.

The friend that offered me this interesting view upon my life has opened my eyes to a whole lot more to this world. By her telling me that there are still things we can explore with our eyes closed, I’ve learned that I don’t always need to use the Internet to get every last detail about a restaurant from Yelp.com before trying it. By her bringing me into a new group of friends, I’ve learned that your real friends are the ones who are in fact…real. By her not having the latest smart phone, I’ve learned that we can still have a phone that only needs to make phone calls—and only when you need to.

I’ve been on the Internet since 1996 and there has always been something about it that draws me in. Now that I’m in it, I often wonder how things would be different if I never had it. At this point in our society, there’s no way we can backtrack and in many ways, technology is a great thing. I will never get rid of my tech devices and I will always have a way to get email on the road. The key is to find that perfect balance and not let it overtake your life. I propose a challenge to anyone who wishes to accept: let your phone die today and don’t charge it for tomorrow.

IPv4 is Dying

Last month, I ran into quite a snag when trying to install a second iteration of WordPress MU on my server. I currently run a copy for this site and some others I manage, but I also have a few other clients on my server and one of them would like to also run multiple sites. I quickly found out exactly why you can’t run multiple instances of WordPress MU without a few caveats.

The caveat to be explored here is one that affects many areas of the Internet and its users. IPv4 is the fourth revision of the Internet Protocol. In layman’s terms, it’s the protocol that provides you with the IP address allowing you to get on the Internet. You may have seen them on your computer or device: XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX

Each octet can have 255 bits in it, meaning the whole IP address range is to and after removing a few reserved address blocks, you end up with about 4.3 billion combinations. In the original concept of the Internet, reaching this ceiling was thought to be impossible since the Internet was never to be used by the mass public. In order for a device to be on the Internet, it needs to have its own IP address.

In the beginning of the public Internet, large blocks of IP addresses were given to the phone companies to issue out to their customers based on various needs. At this time, if a computer network contained a thousand computers, 1,000 unique IP addresses were needed. This caused a lot of corporations to lease very large amounts of IP addresses. All that changed when Network Address Translation (NAT) was created. NAT allowed a network to use one public IP address for the entire network and a device such as a router to issue out individual private IP addresses to each device connected to it.

Confused yet?! It’s ok…that’s about as deep as I want to get in the definition of IP. Where I’m going with this is that no more IP addresses are available because the last 5 blocks were allocated to the 5 regional Internet registries (RIRs) on February 3, 2011. This doesn’t mean that all are being used, but they are at least in the hands of those responsible for leasing them to customers.

With that said, IPv4 is essentially dying, if not already dead. Our only hope now is the release of IPv6 which would allow for 340 undecillion IP address, or about 5 x 1028 addresses for each of the 6.8 billion people alive on the earth today.

MacBook Air (2011) vs iPad 2 vs MacBook Pro

Back in November, I discussed the comparison between the MacBook Air (2010), the iPad and the MacBook Pro in terms on functionality, performance and convenience so it’s only fitting that I now update this to include the new(er) MacBook Pro and the iPad 2. Unfortunately, the MacBook Air hasn’t seen any improvements or upgrades since the new aluminum design debuted in 2010, but it still holds up.

This article also comes on the heels of the iPad 2 release. I currently own an iPad and just like I’ve done with every iPhone model, I contemplated selling it and purchasing the new one, but this time, I can’t seem to justify it. In fact, I’m on the verge of selling my iPad (again). Since we last talked about this, my plan was to:

  1. Sell my current desktop PC
  2. Sell my iPad
  3. Sell my MacBook
  4. Buy a Mac Mini to replace my desktop
  5. Buy a MacBook Air (11-inch) to replace my MacBook and iPad
  6. Keep my iPhone 4 as my extremely portable device

This is funny because it originally called for selling my iPad, but I still own it! I never follow my own advice. Anyway, let’s explore the new and upgraded devices and see what my new plan will be…as if this time will be any different. 😉

MacBook Air (2011 model)

I know I’m calling it a ‘2011 model”, but in reality, nothing has changed. There’s no word on any major Air upgrades coming down the line, but we can probably rely on the standard performance upgrades that usually occur between major updates to features or design. Apple always seems to lose focus on one or more products while they’re honed in on a new one. I think right now, it’s iPad 2 and iPhone 5. MacBook Air is currently on the backburner. At any rate, here are the models again:

2011 MacBook Air models

2011 MacBook Air models

As you can see, you still only have 2 major differences…an 11-inch screen and a 13-inch screen. After you decide what size you want, you only have two other choices to make: how big you want your hard drive to be and how much video memory you require.

iPad 2

Apple iPad 2
Apple iPad 2

Just as I described the 1st iPad, the second is still just an over-sized iPhone. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, as you might imagine, when you want to perform more specific tasks like file manipulation or writing a document, you’re going to be out of luck. The iPad is and always will be an item of convenience. It’s great to have around when you want to read the daily news, play a few games, do some email and of course web browsing, but it is no computer…not by a long shot!

On my current 1st gen iPad, I really thought I was getting somewhere when I bought the wireless keyboard in addition to the USB and SD card adapters, but I was always irritated that there was no file system. I was hoping that the iPad was going to be close to ripping an LCD screen off a MacBook and turning it into a keyboard-less computer with touch capabilities. But no, you just get iOS.

Anyway, as for the iPad 2 itself, I loved it. I don’t own one and I don’t foresee myself getting one, but I have played with a friend’s and have used it many times in the store. The thing you’ll notice first about it is how light it is. Granted, the first iPad wasn’t heavy, but you can instantly feel the difference. This is important for those of you that plan on carrying this thing around everywhere. It actually weighs less than a 3-ring binder (depending on how much paper you have in it).

Pros and Cons


  • Lightweight and small…very portable
  • Touch screen is as fluid as iPhone
  • Built-in 3G service (AT&T only)
  • Available for both AT&T and Verizon
  • 10-hour battery
  • Dual cameras
  • Dual-core A5 processor


  • iOS software – not a real OS compared to a MacBook
  • Somewhat bulky
  • No USB
  • No SD card slot

One other complaint I have is that the new Smart Covers from Apple, which are awesome, only cover the front of the iPad leaving the back to potentially get scratched.

MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook aluminum unibody (2008)

Apple MacBook aluminum unibody (2008)

My MacBook is so old now, it came out when you could actually get a MacBook and a MacBook Pro in the aluminum design! Today, they are all Pros and the regular MacBook has been resigned to the old plastic design. The MacBook Pros today have a fairly different set of features than before, so I’m thinking of trading up. Here are some of the specs:

  • LED backlit screens with option antiglare widescreen technology
  • Thunderbolt port – up to 10Gbps for digital video output
  • Up to 750Gb hard drive (SATA) or up to 512Gb (SSD)
  • Up to 8Gb DDR3 memory
  • Faster dual-core processors (2.7GHz max)
  • New Quad-core (on 15-inch and up – 2.2 GHz max)

These computers are beefy! You can view the full comparison between MacBook Pros on Apple.com.

After upgrading my own MacBook to its max, I have found that I don’t even use my desktop computer anymore. There was a time when I thought about purchasing a Mac Mini to account for this loss, but there’s no need when I can just plug my MacBook into my 40-inch tv and go to work. I remember when I bought my MacBook, I explicitly got the 13-inch screen because I wanted the most portable laptop you could get, but now I wish I had gotten the 17-inch so it could stay on my desk while I use a MacBook Air for my portable machine.


These three devices are, in some ways comparable and not in others, but that’s what makes them such a great team! They tend to complement each other with varying results and when you mix them with any smartphone (or iPhone especially), you’ll achieve the most well-rounded tech setup you can get. This is where most people get stumped. You start asking yourself, “Do I really need this?” or “Is this thing going to really benefit me?” It also doesn’t help when your friends already think you buy Apple products just to be cool!

The results come down to functionality, performance and convenience. For me, the decision was hard, but I believe my new tech setup will consist of the following:

  1. Sell my iPad
  2. Keep my MacBook
  3. Buy an 11-inch MacBook Air
  4. Have no desktop computer

The idea behind this is simple. Like I said, I can always use my tv as a monitor, so there’s no need to upgrade to a larger MacBook at this time. I also don’t use my iPad enough to justify it sitting on my desk (although it does look really cool) and the MacBook Air would serve as my portable device where originally my iPad would fill in. I know it’s strange to think that a 13-inch MacBook isn’t considered portable anymore, but when you blog as much as I do, it becomes tedious carrying that thing around to various places.

Lastly, I’m still waiting for 3G capabilities to be added to the MacBook Air!

UPDATE (May 4, 2011) – There’s new competition to the MacBook Air! Samsung has released the Series 9 laptop that rivals the Air in almost every way.

MacBook Air (2010) vs iPad vs MacBook Pro

I know it’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve been working heavily on my other site and just trying to maintain sanity throughout my life due to some unexpected changes not too long ago. At any rate, this post comes after my in-depth look at the new MacBook Air that came out less than a month ago. For all of you that feel Apple is just releasing the same old products in different packaging, understand this…you’re right.

Ok so I’m an Apple fan boy and I love to see what’s next and yes, I’ve been known to drop more shiny pennies on their products than I do on more important things in life, but rather than try to explain myself, let me at least justify my purchases! Actually, I already did that when I went over the various reasons about why I own an iPhone, an MacBook and an iPad. Of course there are plenty of other devices out there that could have done almost exactly the same things (if not, more) for a LOT less, but Apple has me sucked in!

So I buy an iPad because I wanted to take the mobility of the iPhone to a new level and I must tell you, I succeeded. Everything was going fine until I saw the new MacBook Air. And so it begins–the never-ending quest to have the perfect combination of technology to ensure that no matter where you’re at, you’re always connected and functional.

MacBook Air (2010 model)

When the first MacBook Air came out, it was “revolutionary”, it was “sleek” but most importantly, it could fit in a standard size manilla envelope. The problem with it was that it cost way too much money! In fact, I think the only good thing that came out of it was that it set a new standard for future MacBook designs.

Today, we have a new pair of MacBook Airs that look better than ever, are more powerful than ever and…still cost way too much money. Here’s the break down:

2010 MacBook Air models
2010 MacBook Air models

From this comparison, you can see that there is really only two models: the 11-inch screen and the 13-inch screen. Within those two models you can choose the size of your hard drive, but that’s it.

Now I already own a 13-inch MacBook (2008 model–before they all went to MacBook Pros), so the only real excitement I got from these is the fact that one of them is 11-inches. The other attractive feature here is the solid-state flash memory. If you get a chance to check out one of these in the store, you’ll notice quite a difference between the boot up and running speed of a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro. The Air will beat the Pro almost every time and it can do so with almost half the processor speed!

Pros and Cons


  • Small, portable and lightweight
  • Fast, flash memory
  • Full keyboard, full OSX
  • Built-in SD card reader
  • 5+ hours of battery life


  • No ROM drive
  • Small screens
  • Not upgradable
  • Onboard memory
  • No backlit keyboard
  • No built-in 3G service

iPad (1st Gen)

Apple iPad 1st generation
Apple iPad 1st generation

The iPad is great, but it’s only as great as the iPhone with a slightly better advantage of having a larger screen. The reason I bought one was to go more portable than my MacBook, but to have a larger screen than my iPhone and so far the results have been…ehhh. Granted, I love using the iPad and it comes in handy when you want to write something down, check your email while in the car or even just play some games when you’re bored.

The problem I keep running into is the fact that I want to use it like my MacBook, but because it doesn’t have an actual file system, I’m still stuck with the same limitations as the iPhone. So where before, I was looking for a mid-point between smartphone and laptop, it looks like now I’m looking for a mid-point between iPad and desktop computer. So far, all signs point to MacBook Air.

UPDATED: Now that the iPad 2 is coming out this month (March 11, 2011), take a look at the direct comparison and find out if you think you should upgrade! After reviewing its specs, I’ve decided that aside from a slightly faster processor and the addition of two new cameras, it’s practically the same as the first iPad.

MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook aluminum unibody (2008)
Apple MacBook aluminum unibody (2008)

As I mentioned, I don’t officially have a MacBook Pro because my model came out with there was still just MacBooks, but since my system specs are the same as the new Pros (albeit no SD card reader), I can speak on this. My original setup consisted of a desktop PC and an HP laptop. I sold the HP and got the MacBook for two reasons: new computer and to become more portable. That’s why I chose the 13-inch model.

As time went on, I noticed I was using the MacBook more and more and the desktop less and less. The problem with this was that the laptop became my desktop replacement, but now I was stuck with a 13-in screen!


While each of these devices serves different purposes and not everyone will find the same use in them, my opinion is that owning a MacBook Pro and an iPad or a MacBook Air and an iPad are great additions to the smartphone you probably already own. Each of them allows you to be portable in different ways and depending on the situation, you will find that they complement your life very well. Now, if you own all three, you just have nothing better to spend your money on!

As for me, I’m almost at the point where I want to change my tech setup once again. This is what I foresee:

  1. Sell my current desktop PC
  2. Sell my iPad
  3. Sell my MacBook
  4. Buy a Mac Mini to replace my desktop
  5. Buy a MacBook Air (11-inch) to replace my MacBook and iPad
  6. Keep my iPhone 4 as my extremely portable device

Now if only Apple would put some built-in 3G capabilities on the MacBook Air–or any MacBook for that matter, then we’d be sittin’ pretty!

Using digital barcodes on your business cards

I was sitting here the other day thinking about creating business cards for myself and I started thinking of a unique way to provide the same information that every business card offers, but in a way that people are more likely to remember. As I was thinking about this, I was playing with my iPhone and an app called RedLaser. This app allows you to scan the barcode of any product and it automatically searches the Internet for competitive pricing.

Anyway, I thought about how great it would be to have a business card in hand and rather than typing all that information into your phone, you could just scan a simple bar code on the card and have the information sent right to your contacts list.

Photo from NevilleHobson.com

I began a search to see if someone else had a similar idea and I found Neville Hobson’s blog and he had a post a while ago discussing just this topic! Well, without the iPhone app per se…at least in the incarnation I envisioned.

Essentially what he was talking about was that business cards have been a huge part of social interaction in the last some-odd number of years, but they suffer in today’s technological world–and frankly, I couldn’t agree more. When someone offers me a business card, I’m forced to comprehend the information it contains and then write it manually into my phone or other device.

Subconsciously, I also tend to “size-up” the person based on the design of the card. Too much flash and I’m thinking they spend more time on their image than on their business. Too little and maybe they don’t care enough. Now, if someone handed me a business card with bar code on it, this would make me feel like they’re on par with today’s technology. I feel much the same way when someone is able to offer me a v-card for download.

In a perfect world, business cards would be gone and vcards and iPhone apps like Bump will be the mainstay. But let’s face it…not everyone has an iPhone or even a smartphone and there’s something to be said about the old school business card–it still works.

In fact, people expect them when you’re at a conference or meeting with customers and not having one could mean a loss of business for you. What people don’t expect (at least now anyway) is the ability to copy your information simply by scanning a barcode right off your card.

How do I get this?

It’s easy and cheap to get cards printed, but here’s what you need to get barcode images printed out so you can integrate them into your card design. I wrote a separate post all about Microsoft Tag that goes into much more detail about their service.

  • Know your codes – There are different types of bar codes out there. You’re probably more familiar with the standard barcode you see on everyday products, but these won’t work because they can only store small amounts of data–namely numbers and a few letters. What you need are the kinds that shippers like FedEx and UPS use. The two most common are QR and DataMatrix. Microsoft offers a new color barcode called High Capacity Color Barcode that allows up to 3,500 characters to be displayed per square inch.
  • Get software – You’re going to need software to create the barcodes. If you want to make the Microsoft color tag, simply go to this website. Other barcodes have to be made using barcode software. Do a Google search for some.

Test it out

I created a tag that takes you to my website using the Microsoft Tag site and it only took 3 seconds! First, you need to jump on your mobile phone and visit this website: gettag.mobi. It’ll redirect you to the right software based on your phone. iPhone users: there’s an app for that. Once downloaded, you can load it up and take a snapshot of this picture:

It will automatically take you to my website! Isn’t that crazy?? As you can see, it works right off computer screens, so it’ll work anywhere you can print it–including business cards. To read more, check out my article about how to use Microsoft Tag on your business cards.

UPDATE – November 18th, 2010

I just wanted to update this post to include a picture of the business card I made for myself that includes both the Microsoft tag and a QR barcode on the front. Alongside their functionality, they also look great within the design. Originally, I planned on adding the barcodes to the back of the card, but I figured who looks at the back?! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Brandon Media business card
Brandon Media business card

Microsoft also introduced the ability to create the Microsoft tag in black and white as seen above. More on that over on my article about the Microsoft Tag!