Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Climbing the learning curve

DSC00577I have two ways of learning; guided immersion to come up to speed on a new topic and self-study to add increments to what’s already known.  I’ve found that once I have a basic framework from a class, I can keep up with further advances on my own.  If the gap is too large, dipping into books or web tutorials doesn’t help: I get stuck in unfamiliar vocabulary, mechanisms, and notation.

Case in point: my new phone.

I use a basic flip-phone for calling and texting, battered by three years in my hip pocket.  Looking for a replacement, I found that style is extinct; everything is slide or touch, surf and apps.  The iPhone has totally captured the landscape.

I played with a variety of phones before settling on Nokia’s X6 16MB with Symbian, stepping up to a smartphone without fully embracing Apple’s ecology (or costs).

I like the bright screen, quick responses, and a serviceable browser.  At the same time, there is a lot in the phone, and learning it all is taking longer than I expected.  Little of what I knew about phones carries over to what I need to know to run the X6.

I’m still clumsy at touch screen dialing and typing, and am slow to compose texts. I’m hunting endlessly through menus, and need to organize jump buttons.  Moving my contacts is still a puzzle: maybe via Bluetooth, mediated through my computer?  The phone has a will of its own, connecting to data services and access points even when I’m back in the Netherlands.  I had to call tech support to stop that ₤3 /Mb behavior.

DSC00578 But even beyond that, I’m finding that I need to adapt my habits as well as my scripts.

My street-tech ensemble consists of a phone, a camera, an mp3 player, a TomTom, and my reading glasses.  The new phone does almost all of that, and I’m wondering how much to consolidate and transfer. I should embrace the simplicity, but lifestyle change is hard.

And how much of the Internet I want with me all day? I set up e-mail, but get pinged with trivia: they shouldn’t have the same urgency as text messages. Setting up Skype seemed like a good idea, but people get confused if I don’t want to IM: they think I’m at my computer.  And do I really need one-touch /always-on access to Facebook and  Twitter?

Maybe I need an orientation class.  Maybe I’m just too far behind.  Or, maybe, I’m overmanaging the process.  Certainly the tiny user’s manual suggests that I shouldn’t worry my head about setting up packet data transfers and just download my ringtones from the Ovi store.

It probably would have helped to have embraced smartphones at an earlier generation, before the step-up to the X6 required climbing aids.

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