Application notifications abound

My ecosystem of applications where I’m a daily active user is and has been dropping. I’m generally exhausted by and tired of the endless string of notifications that don’t really notify me about anything substantial. I still remember a time before the advent of smartphones. For the most part, I remember having a flip phone that did not do very much beyond being able to make calls and receive text messages. Nobody really sent pictures with those phones. The resolution of the cameras was terrible. At that time, the phone companies still charged you by the text message or limited people to a small monthly allotment. Things were very different from today.

I’m really considering returning to just not carrying a smartphone around. Much like sending an email and getting an asynchronous response I could just let me smartphone always go to voicemail for the most part. Most phone calls are not really all that urgent anyway. These are the thoughts on my mind at the moment. I’ll probably be nostalgic for the grand experience of going to the mall at some point today. That is how things are shaping up. Right now, I have some music streaming on Pandora and I’m writing in the Microsoft Word desktop application. I did end up spending a few minutes fixing some of the navigation formatting at the start of that adventure, but now things are pretty much setup to be able to write on a daily basis out of this document. Working out of Microsoft Word has not been a smooth transition it is nowhere near as good or useful as Google Docs. The design aesthetic and the usability are very different. It is very much like Microsoft Word is exactly the way I left it year ago and it has not improved very much over the years.

Right now, I should be deeply focused on bringing the most important concepts to the forefront of my thoughts as I begin the day. Instead of working toward some type of meaningful writing I’m stuck on the medium where the writing is going to occur. Most of my writing is still occurring at my main computer in my office. I’m using this Corsair K65 RGB mini wired keyboard. It’s 60% the size of a normal keyboard and does not have the number pad or arrows. Strangely enough I have been really happy with it after getting a Kensington wrist rest to support a slightly more comfortable typing experience. The mechanical keyboard works really well for typing at speed in my office while concentrating on the process of starting the day. To that end, the keyboard has been wonderful and while I have used a natural ergonomic split keyboard for years this one has worked out well enough.

Replacing my Pixel 5 smartphone

You may have guessed from the title of this post that my smartphone got replaced. It was a warranty replacement of a Pixel 5 smartphone with another one of the exact same make and model. Yes, this is a replacement of the 128 gigabyte Sorta Sage (mint green) phone I have had since 2020. Overall it has been a perfectly serviceable phone. Zero complaints exist from me about the device build or operation outside of the recent battery related incident. Apparently, unbenounced to me at the time the battery in my Pixel 5 smartphone was swelling up within the enclosure. The swelling was bad enough to actually separate the screen from the body housing by about two guitar picks. Generally the phone sits in a thin sort of clear plastic case unless it is being cleaned to help protect it from falls. This problem became noticeable for me based on the degree of rapid battery degrediation. I had to start charging the phone a couple of times a day which was undesirable. Online searches occurred and I was about to get a new portable battery pack. That action however would not have fixed the underlying problem. Based on the battery degradation symptom I ordered a replacement phone. 

It arrived yesterday and the process of switching phones was reasonably painless. It was better than I remember the last time around. Both phones had to be mostly charged and connected together using a USB-C to USB-C cable. At this point, all of my cables are from the Google Store. After I started using the charging stands for the most part my cables have lasted a lot longer. The old phone provided charge and sent over a bunch of data to the new phone. Apparently, I have well over 100 applications that need to be downloaded and installed on the new phone. Really the only applications that are problematic for me are the 2 factor identification applications that have a unique key association. As you start to dip into the passwordless world of managing things by approval in applications you want to really make sure that your smartphone never gets lost or breaks. Keeping stacks of backup keys is generally problematic. 

In practical terms, for the 2 factor identification applications and keys I had to make phone calls to talk to people about resets and other authentication things. That of course was a solvable problem and just took a bit of a commitment of time to resolve. You can certainly imagine the next problem beyond managing the 2 factor authentication concerns was entering passwords for accounts. The phone to phone transfer process did not sync all the accounts to be ready to rock and roll. That was not even an option during the process. I’m sure it is an option that does not exist for my own protection. The only thing I forgot to work out during the setup process was to enable bedtime mode to prevent unwanted chips, alerts, and other notifications overnight. That problem has been resolved this morning.

A photo of the battery swelling case separation

A weblog post without a working title

Writing each day takes a bit of energy to get started. It’s that start that always separates a good writing day from a bad one. The prompt is always ready in a digital word processing document. It never fails to deliver. Certainly the problem is usually on the side of the writer and not the technology the vast majority of the time.  Speaking of technology related problems, my smartphone battery has started to require charging multiple times a day. Generally the made by Google Pixel 5 smartphone has worked pretty well over the last two years. We will see what happens here in the next few days in terms of battery life. I’m not a big fan of having to carry a battery pack. I’d rather just have a smartphone that delivers enough battery life to withstand the needs of the day. 

Today my needs are a little unclear. I have a certain amount of focus that is ready to devote to things. At the moment, the problem being faced is that I’m not entirely sure what weighty topic of glory is going to lock horns with that focus as the writing begins to take shape. Things are moving along here without that key topic to drive things forward. At the moment, this is a weblog post without a working title. Working through that type of challenge is about keeping the pace going and trying to settle into a rhythm with the keyboard. You have to relax and find that stream of consciousness to work with where ideas flow and it is hard to keep up with them as they arrive. I keep a backlog of weblog post ideas in my Google Keep  application for just this type of situation. Today however, I’m not going to go search for help from the backlog. I’m just going to continue to ponder the edge of nothingness as the cursor on the screen chases down the end of my thoughts at this very moment of typing. 

A few general themes exist around the topics that I deeply care about and some of that centers around the intersection of technology and modernity. A handful of other themes relating to civility and the social fabric are also ever present in my thoughts. Instead of jumping into that type of work at the start of a writing session I begin with no expectations or prompts and just start to let the process of thinking happen. Generally it takes just a bit for my thoughts to focus on something. That is something that I am totally ok with as I’m willing to take my writing in whatever direction the spirit of the moment takes at the start of the day.  Certainly, a bit of focus on academic writing or a backlog of other writing that needs to be done would be more efficient. That would however fail to capture the possible next thing that might come into being from being willing to jump in any direction. That is how a weblog post without a title finds that spark of creativity and all of a sudden from nothing to something occurs. 

I’m not sure today will include anything special or if the efforts of the day will be memorable at all. Given the chance the entire process will start over again tomorrow.  That is the nature of how this cycle of writing works and for the most part what happens when a writing routine is maintained day after day. My most stable and productive writing routine has to be maintained around writing at the very start of the day when nothing is happening. Oddly enough I really have to start writing and thinking at the point where nothing is happening. No distractions are allowed to occur. I cannot really just put on the noise canceling headphones and writing in a busy room. It turns out that I need that period of just zerospace to get writing. It’s a moment where that nothingness moves from a totality of inactivity to a world of possibility. Ideas begin to break through my attempts to be still in the moment. That is essentially what happens with my stream of consciousness writing efforts. Starting the day that way is my preferred method of content creation. 

Inevitably that writing session will come to an end and I will move from working on one thing to the next. My backlog is very real and at this moment it is daunting to even consider finishing everything in that pile of possible writing output. However, before taking on that type of work that requires a bit of deep consideration it is best to have warmed up the writing process and be ready to do that next level of work. Warming up as a writer is something not to be considered lightly. You have to know what works best for you. Sustaining an ongoing writing routine is about balancing the need for output with the pacing of creativity. Maintaining a solid backlog and writing plan helps with that type of effort of course. 

Thinking Pixel 6 Pro

Yesterday you could pre-order the Google Pixel 6 Pro from the Google Store. Throughout the last few years I have had every major series of the Pixel smartphone from the inaugural one to the Pixel 5, but yesterday for some reason I did not even consider completing the pre-order. This is a major shift in my technology buying habits for smartphones. For the most part the one piece of technology I have always been super interested in being an early adopter of was smartphones. For years now I have actively tested beta releases of Android software and enjoyed the process of being an early adopter. This time around I just decided to sit on the sideline. 

Part of that is my declining interest in using my smartphone all the time. You may have previously read about my efforts to contain my daily smartphone usage. First, I have a Pelican G40 personal utility go case that stores my smartphones to keep them out of reach during the day. It is crush proof and waterproof and is also a very effective deterrent to checking smartphone notifications. Let’s be honest about it, the vast majority of the attention grabbing alerts and notifications are just not all that necessary. I don’t need them to grab my attention throughout the day. Disrupting my focus and causing me to switch context between subjects is not something I really need from my smartphone. I have a tab in Google Chrome that shows me my text messages and that is really all I need during the day. Second, over the last few months I have been testing a vtech connect to cell system throughout the house. We have 3 house phones that ring any time somebody calls my smartphone and gets passed the built in Google call screening features. 

That pretty much explains my two pronged strategy to avoid my smartphone usage throughout the day. Due to the nature of my commitments both text messages and phone calls have to be answered, but everything else that is contained on my smartphone can simply wait till the end of the day. Part of that is trying to shift to using my main computer for anything that would need to grab my attention. That allows me to work toward getting some deeper work done and really applying my focus and attention to the problems at hand. I worked and was productive for years before having a smartphone and I want to get back to that simplicity.

Ugh those smartphones

Smartphones and streaming did not make me uniquely happier. The things that I have decided to consume need to be memorable. Not more memorable or somewhat memorable, but actually something that is easy to remember because it was impactful. Art that elicits emotion falls into that category. The first time I heard the album Texas Flood (1983) by Stevie Ray Vaughan it stopped my perception of the rest of the world and focused my attention on the music. So much of what we consume is just very single serving content that won’t ever be memorable. Sometimes just taking the moment and enjoying the silence between things is enough to really start to think deeper about things.