Life is a series of tradeoffs

I wouldn’t have given up unlimited data unless I could swap it for something I wanted even more than the ability to stream Netflix 24/7… something that hadn’t existed during my previous five years as an iPhone owner.

A great Android phone.

— Andy Ihnatko: Why I switched from iPhone to Android

Use whichever product’s tradeoffs are acceptable to you. Save the emotional investment for things that really matter.

The Alan Gilbert Setting

The incident last year in which Alan Gilbert stopped the New York Philharmonic toward the end of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 to demand an end to an iPhone’s marimba play-along and my own irritation with patrons at Carnegie Hall who do not heed the projected request to turn your devices off reminded me of an idea I posted for integrating phone ringer settings and calendar events. Here is the phone side of that idea, with the addition of location-based smarts to prevent the setting taking effect if you decide not to attend the event.

Sound and vibrate settings for a smartphone during a calendar event.
Device settings during an event.

The device should learn which setting is used for a given location and use that as the default once it can do so confidently — after maybe 2 or 3 uses of the same setting for the same location.

Red Light, Green Light

One nice feature of some Android phones is the ability for apps to choose from a few different colors for status light notifications. Facebook flashes the LED in blue and Evernote flashes green to notify you a note has been synced — subtle touches that convey useful information about app activity.

Along these lines, it would be nice if the Google Talk app used a red light when you receive a message while your status is set to Away and green when Available. I feel comfortable waiting to respond to messages when my status is set to Away. You would have to turn your screen on to see which app triggered the light if you have several that use the same color, but it’s no different from every app using the default LED color.

Our Cloudy Future

The PC is dead. Rising numbers of mobile, lightweight, cloud-centric devices don’t merely represent a change in form factor. Rather, we’re seeing an unprecedented shift of power from end users and software developers on the one hand, to operating system vendors on the other—and even those who keep their PCs are being swept along. This is a little for the better, and much for the worse.

Jonathan Zittrain: The personal computer is dead

How much computing freedom and personal privacy are we willing to give up for convenience? I’m less and less comfortable with the balance being struck.