The Accidental Tech Nerd



I didn't mean to become a tech nerd, it just sorta happened. Business survival steered me into the nerdgasmic world of cloud computing, apps, smartphones, Android and development.

Six months ago I didn't know what a snapdragon 805 processor was, or how to organize my life and my business completely on "the cloud", or the detailed differences between iOS and Android (or even the differences between different versions of each operating system).

Now, I know how a smartphone powers 1080p screens, and what a pure "vanilla" Android experience is compared to a "bloated" and "skinned" one. I know that iOS8 and the iPhone 6 were released today (September 9 2014) and that everybody is waiting for Google to release the Nexus 6 and the new Android L system. I know how to clip things from sites and store them in the cloud immediately, and how to work on docs simultaneously with my development team overseas from my Google Drive. Why do I know all this? Because I have to.

Two years ago I bought a Samsung Galaxy SIII. Why? Because my old Motorola Krazr flip phone had busted and it was time to get something new. Like, really new. I had hated touch-screen phones; my thick fingers tend to punch all the wrong buttons when I'm texting or dialing, but the guy at Virgin Mobile let me play with an SIII and I was sold. It was pretty!

For the next two years I used this super-computer, with more processing power in it than was used to land Neil Armstrong on the moon, like a regular "old" phone. Aside from texting and Angry Birds it might as well have had a rotary dial on it, because I didn't really use it. The Google Maps GPS came in handy once in a while but I was really wasting its potential. Then I started my own business.

My TEFL business is chugging along (rather, gliding along) nicely. I'm in the process of developing it further and bringing 21st Century infotainment (wow, spell check let that one pass!) to the ESL classroom, and snagging my piece of the $193 billion pie. I have online students in four different timezones, as well as classes of students in Kitchener and Toronto. I recently started work full-time during the day with a tech startup here in Guelph that develops GIS maps for telecom infrastructure. I work that during the day and run all over the place during the evening working my business. It's not only exhausting but also very difficult to organize.

That's when I found Google Drive, Google Calendars and Google Keep. The three sync perfectly with my Google Plus account (which is FAR superior to crappy Facebook) and as soon as I started entering scheduling information into my calendar on my phone, it would send me a notification when an appointment or class was approaching. Wow! No more millions-of-pieces of scrap paper with random times written on them littering my desk! With Google Keep I can jot notes, make lists, even just speak into the microphone and Keep perfectly transcribes it into a note that is automatically synced across all my devices on "the cloud". I can snap a photo with the Keep photo tool and snip an article from the web to read later. I tried Evernote but the fact that it doesn't sync with the rest of Google lost points. It was also confusing as all f**k.

Slowly I was becoming a tech nerd, although really just a Google fanboy.

My Galaxy SIII was having a hard time keeping up with my new found cloud computing, especially after I discovered Google Music and have now synced my entire iTunes library to it. So long as I have a data or wifi signal, I can play thousands of songs on any device without ever having a single file stored on anything physical. They're all in "the cloud"!

After two years my Samsung was nearing the end of its life. The screen is still crystal clear (can you say "AMOLED"? I still don't know what that is, but it sounds super high-techy). The battery, always a problem, now lasted me a full 4 hours from a full charge. The Samsung bloatware (all the extra bits Samsung added on top of the Google Android system) were draining my battery and I wasn't using any of them and there was no way to shut them down. So I went looking online and came across info on how to root my phone and add the Google Now launcher. Ta-da! Not only did I become an official tech-nerd (simply uttering the words "root my phone" or "launcher" makes you a nerd), but my phone can now hold a charge from 7 am until 10 pm, provided I don't listen to too much music.

Despite being able to extend my phone's life another few months, the time has come for me to get a new phone. Just in time for this, a whole bunch of amazing new phones were released in the past month! I've had my eye on the Nexus 5 and was comparing it to rumored specs for the new iPhone 6, but quickly decided that I absolutely can't stand iPhone (my wife has an iPhone 4S and LOVES it. She swears by it, but all iPhones look the same. There is seriously no difference, no customization and nothing interesting about an iPhone). Back to Nexus 5 I went a-looking. Then Motorola released their new Moto X (2nd Generation) last week and it blew my mind. Now there's talk of a new Nexus in October/November. Some startup in China has the awesome-looking OnePlusOne available by invite only.

At the same time I have recently "hired" (sub-contracted) a "consortium" of tech-nerd IT students (basically 4 students, two in Toronto, one in Pittsburg and one in Jakarta) to develop the software and apps I need for my business to advance. They introduced me to Google Docs and Google Sheets, which are basically the Google versions of Word and Excel, but are found completely on "the cloud". Using Google Hangouts live video conferences, we can all work on the same documents and spreadsheets at the same time, from four different cities in the world! How cool is that?

As I work my job with a startup, manage and grow my own startup, keep a busy schedule of English teaching, spend hours developing programs with IT students and hammer out a detailed business plan and write all the course material for the future launch of my revamped business, I find myself constantly engaged on my mobile and desktop devices. Calendars, email, video conferences, scheduling apps, billing apps, accounting apps...the list is endless. My phone and the cloud has literally allowed me to do the work of three...no, six...people all at once. For this reason I am looking very carefully at what the best device is to take me another two years into the future. I'm already 100% committed to the Google cloud ecosystem, so I just need to find the right devices. And this, out of pure necessity, is why I am an accidental tech nerd.

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