Archives for the month of: August, 2011

This week I bit the bullet and ordered an android tablet PC. I’d been lusting after one for ages, as my friends on twitter will know (I am @ambrouk ). I got the Samsung Galaxy S Tab 10.1” wif (honeycomb 3.1).

So now I have

Personal: blackberry bold smartphone, Samsung tablet PC
Work: nokia standard phone, Toshiba notebook 300.
Never mind the home PC, wii, gamecube and second hand PS2. Oh and the spare laptop we bought for £25 from my husband’s work.

Getting used to my android tab

I like the touchy touchy, but my fingers seem fat. The bottom right hand corner notifications is beyond my physical intelligence. Am i tapping it too hard or too fatly? I can’t seem to make it work. I haven’t tried out the bigger/smaller thing minority report fingers thing yet. I spent a long time digging around to find the settings menus behind the elegent sparse interface, but I think I’m getting there.

Why do all devices these days seem to be set to default to making sounds on every key stroke? Is it so that we can laugh and tut at the people on the train who haven’t worked out how to switch it off yet? Or maybe they like it?

I am rubbish at typing on the on screen keyboard, but I know i’ll get used to it. I went from being a superfast predictive text one thumber on mobile phones to a  two thumbed typer on blackberry, so I’m sure I can adjust. But for now, I avoid typing long things on it, and use it more for visual tasks.

It doesn’t have a usb port, but you can buy one for £25. That would enable me to plug in a mouse or a usb keyboard or extra memory. There is a dock you can buy to handle both but I haven’t worked out the costs of that set up to compare.

The main thing that differentiates it from my other devices is how fast it is: its so switch on and offable! I can’t get my head round not having to close the apps, I just stop using it and switch to the next one. My windows upbringing leaves me astonished at how fast it does all that. And its nice that the screen goes blank but I can still get a notification sound when something new comes in, its not distracting.

The android market place is easy to use, very visual, and the downloads are straightforward, only one stalled install so far.I’ve downloaded lots of free apps, I haven’t paid for anything yet. I haven't even started on e-books and games yet!

Skype was a must and the IM layout is nice, but I can’t see how to make a video call. Voice calls work well, there’s a built in mic and it doesn’t seem to give feedback in 1:1 IM calls even when I don’t used the headphones, but I suspect group calls will be more likely to create noise.

My leather case/stand and keyboard protectors haven’t arrived yet so I am having to clean the screen a lot,and its balanced up against books to keep the screen at an angle I can read. But the screen resolution is lovely and crisp.


This is a wifi tab but not 3G, and I don’t yet have an android phone to tether it to. On the train to London I don’t get a steady signal, so I’d be offline for 60% of the time. Plus I’m taking it camping soon so it depends on whether my husband’s android phone can get a signal. That’s ok because there’s nothing essential on it. And we'll be camping, for goodness sake. But the commuting might be a problem.

Apps on multiple devices

Ok, so this is supposed to make me a productivity queen. But now I have twitter on my phone, pad and laptop. Which one do I stop? Maybe the laptop. Maybe the pad should be my social media device and the laptop my document storage and work email. That would have the advantage of keeping a work/personal distinction.

I should mention that I never set up work email to go to my blackberry and will think very hard before doing it habitually on the tablet. It’s not work email that’s addictive for me: it’s definitely twitter.

Passwords, omg. Because I have passwords stored in firefox on my laptop, I have forgotten them all. So I have gone through the loop a tragic number of times: finding that out on the pad, requesting a reminder to my email account, resetting password on the tablet, then having to log back in on the laptop. Do i now commit to google as my password manager? I’m not sure. For now I confess to having written down most of my passwords. Somewhere secret, obviously. And in code. But in ink nevertheless, tsk tsk.  Not my bank details. I am resigned to weeping every time I need to do my online banking or pay online, swearing at the screen and resetting my password. Nearly every time. I hate it.

So, more positively: I want to work more openly and be able to share my files/content at will. But the big barrier to committing to the google cloud way of life is that I will often be offline. I would love to use wikis, dropbox and google docs as a main way of organising myself but I would too often find myself digitally stranded without a connection. So its got to me a mixed economy: apps that sync. So I’m going to try to commit to evernote, and I’ll pay for the offline syncing functionality if I need to.

Back to the reason I wanted a tablet in the first place: drawing. I'm not a photos person but I do think spatially. I want to find the best diagram tools, mind maps and drawing tools I can. Instead of gesturing structures in the air so that I can flatten them into words, I want to see if I can cut out the middleman sometimes and find a visual language for myself. I think that would be the step change in my productivity and get closer to representing myself digitally.

So, yeah, android tab, me like, but me need to work out how to integrate it into my lifeflow.



postscript: finish blog post on laptop, shorten link with bitly on laptop, switch on tablet, open tweetdeck, type bitly address in, send … (tech make our lives richer but they certainly don't make them simpler :-/ )

(Can’t resist a quick post at lunchtime)

I caught the BBC’s greatthinkers programme 20 minutes in last night thanks to @bevgibbs who I’ve never met but obviously share a taste it tv with!  It was a great programme and noticeable for the threading in of women into the story. When you look at the spread of ideas, it is not about the great men theory of history. My history teacher’s love of Lord Geoffrey Elton, forced me to abandon my A Level History because of it. Great ideas are not just about lone geniuses. The adoption of great ideas (without which we wouldn’t know about them) is about social history, social contagion, resonance, appetite: ideas need to be timely and presented right, and people need to be receptive.

One story that really stood out was that Margaret Mead, the anthropologist, passed on her ideas about child rearing to her paediatrician, who just happened to be Dr Benjamin Spock. Isn’t that brilliant! She didn’t just write the ideas, she lived them, and must have communicated them compellingly. (I know both are controversial figures, in their personal lives and the legitimacy of their work, but they each have had a huge influence on our culture, and for the better, in my opinion).

I also heard a great story a few months ago on Radio 4 about the guy who invented the Lie Detector. He realised you could measure signs of stress in the body of someone responding to questions under stress. He prototyped the lie detection machine. Two other guys went on to make it famous and make money from it (respectively). Meanwhile he went on to the next thing. He later worked for Marvel Comics. In a focus group about how to increase circulation of sales he suggested they needed a woman superhero. He believed that American society was in a pre-matriarchal state, hence the crime and violence in society, and that when it evolved to having women in charge, it would be better. So he really believed it when he scoped out the character of Wonderwoman. Its true! See wikipedia on William Moulton Marston. He lived his life with his wife and mistress, with their two children each. After he died, they continued to live together. And he left his legacy, both in the lie detector and in Wonderwoman’s weapon: the golden lasso of truth.

Ideas spread in complicated ways.

For anyone who doesn’t do twitter (which means most people!), this is what a tweet looks like:

“ @psychemedia: RT @joypalmer: RT @janestevenson brill commentary on importance of first follower: turns ‘lone nut’ into leader

1)      Watch the video (3 minutes) – it’s fab. It shows how important the first followers are to an idea/person becoming accepted: the social contagion factor

2)      Notice how social the recommendation is: I follow all three people on twitter and watched the momentum build around this  video

Something else that made me think was a discussion yesterday about who created the concept of big OER and little OER. I first came across the idea in a Martin Weller @mweller blog post . When I’ve used the phrase publicly, I’ve credited him. After a while, the idea was well understood in some circules so I stopped citing him. Turns out the credit should also have gone to Michelle Hoyle @eingang who he did cite but I missed it. Me #fail. Oops.

I think attribution should be, and will be, made easier by the web. Twitter allows me to easily cite a person, even if not a particular tweet or blog post, then just the person themselves. The pleasure from giving and getting genuine #ff (Follow Fridays) is huge. A twitter name is a tiny unique ID that allows people to thread your identity into the chain of ideas being passed around the world. Obviously, the chain often breaks, but even from the visible top of the iceberg it’s gratifying. Imagine if it went further. This is something that digital scholarship pioneers are exploring, and I think there might be some seeds there of making web3.0 an inclusive environment for the digitally literate masses but full of provenance: being social about knowledge without being relativistic about it.

Something I’ve noticed about myself is that I often situate my ideas adjacent to other people’s. I cite my sources. Sometimes I even seed and credit other people with my own ideas because it feels like my own ideas would be more effective coming from someone else. I have often regretted that. Many of you will be nodding, its probably a familiar story, especially to women :-/ But maybe I should persevere. In a web of attribution, ideas are born social and reproduce socially (Memes is a useful ideas though perhaps a metaphor too far).  The key to being cited is to say things clearly and loud, and make your idea citable: blog it, give it a url.

I’m not a researcher, but following with interest the debates around digital scholarship. For my own part I’m resolving to try to do the social web better: giving credit where credit is due, and making myself citable. 🙂

p.s subtitle “getting excitable about being citable” added thanks to Helen Harrop aka @iamcreative who coined the phrase for me!

p.p.s citable or citeable??