How Technology Enhances my Personal Life: September 2012

I just finished a long conversation with my friend who lives in England. I used my Windows Phone and Skype, so the call was basically free. This is a world of difference from the one that I grew up in. When we called my grandmother, we kids had about 60 seconds each to say hello because the long distance charges were expensive then. These days, the phrase “long distance” is becoming unknown; my kids certainly don’t know what it means.

This past Labor Day weekend was a nice break and it gave me some time to think about how technology has changed how we work, and play.

For example, remote access to my work network through Microsoft’s Small Business Server has prevented countless trips to and from my office. Using the built-in website I can access our email, Sharepoint site, share drives, or my workstation.

And there are a lot of other examples of how technology has made my life easier; technologies weren’t widely available as little as 2 years ago. For example:

  • I recently travelled to the Midwest on Southwest airlines. I hadn’t flown for a while so I was surprised to find that they offered in-flight internet access. The cost? Five dollars. Five dollars to access the world through the internet at 35000 feet. Wow!
  • I rarely write checks anymore due to online banking. Our bookkeeper downloads our credit card statements directly into Quickbooks instead of entering them manually. This saves us hours of time each month.
  • With my video recorder that I get free with my satellite TV service, I never miss the shows that I like the most and I admit that I fast-forward through the commercials.
  • Just recently, I’ve begun to stream movies to my Blu-ray player. This lets me watch chose and watch movies immediately, rather than waiting for them to come in the mail.
  • For $10 a month, I can download any song or album I want and listen to it on my stereo or my phone. Most importantly, it’s perfectly legal.

However the technology with the biggest impact of the recent past is my smart phone. Nothing else comes close.

  • I get mail from three different email addresses on my phone. For high-priority items, I use text. I can’t imagine what I did without that.
  • I can enter contacts or meetings on my phone and they will also show up in Outlook.
  • I can open Word, Excel or Powerpoint documents and even do some limited editing.
  • If there’s a problem with a client’s network, my phone will alarm and let me know the nature of the problem. (By the way, most problems can be fixed remotely and quickly and without disrupting the customers because of the technology that we’ve invested in.)
  • If I’m low on gas, it will find me a nearby station that doesn’t overcharge. It tells me what movies are playing and where, or popular restaurants that are nearby. If I’m bored, it entertains me.
  • Using the GPS on my Windows Phone, I’m never lost.
  • Using the GPS tracker on my kids phones, I don’t have to worry about them getting lost.

What I love about this business is the way it can change people's lives in ways that are very real. More than anything else, it creates freedom. Just like the industrial revolution freed people from manual labor, computers and the internet have freed people tedious desk jobs, and often from the desks themselves. What a world we live in!