Lots of people are gadget geeks, always wanting the latest toy. My wife probably even thinks of me as suffering from the same ailment, as I do have a lot of gadgets. However, my disease is a little more narrow than “gadgets in general”. I have two strains of the virus running through my blood.
First, if it is a gadget that will let me do something I’ve always wanted to do but had challenges to get going, like maybe baking bread, yep, I’m likely to try it. Because I know if it works the way I want it to work, the way I hope it will work, I’ll use it repeatedly. While most people think of this in terms of physical gadgets, this website that you’re reading is probably the best example. I tried lots of options, and there are even more options out there now. But WordPress is free and it works well for me. Since I committed to it, I’m closing in on 1400 posts and 1.5M words, with 150 hits a day and almost 150,000 visitors since I started keeping track. I wanted a gadget that would let me blog easily and stay with it, and WordPress is that gadget. It works the way it should.
Second, I like utilitarian gadgets to work properly AND make my life easier. It isn’t just about the functionality, it’s about the time I spend dealing with it. I know a guy who is ultra cheap (as he describes it), and he wants to spend a lot of time upfront optimizing a purchase, figuring out the best option before he ever buys. Almost to the point of analysis paralysis or getting labelled anal-retentive by others. I appreciate the thrust, I admire the commitment, but at some point, my brain says, “So I can do 12 extra things to save $2? Are you f***ing nuts?”. About two weeks ago, I saw that some phone chargers were on sale. I was looking for one anyway, but the ones that sit upright were on sale, and so instead of taking up space on the desk to have a lay-flat wireless charger, and that I regularly am trying to put my phone on it in the right position to start charging, I opted for the one that the phone sits in and angles it towards you.
Do I have enough chargers to plug in every phone known to man in the neighbourhood? Yes, with spare cables left over probably. But this one solves a problem I regularly am annoyed by so I ordered the on-sale but slightly more expensive one that cost me an extra $2. However, the bigger example was that on my desk in the basement, I need to charge my work phone and my personal phone every night. I am almost always charging my personal phone every night, and there are lots of times where I don’t have room for the work phone. So I make do, eke out a few minutes here or there so I can keep it “on” when I need to, and generally annoy myself. Is there a solution? Sure, I can run another cable and plug it in manually. Yeah, cuz that won’t get annoying. Screw it, it’s $20, I’m ordering a second one so my brain isn’t worrying about piddly ass crap that doesn’t matter enough to do to avoid spending $20.
Earlier today, I was organizing a couple of areas where I need to setup some electronics. One is in my basement, I’ve moved the main TV upstairs, and the remaining TV will be more about me watching TV at night, a monitor for some exercise videos, and a video game centre. The first two are simple plugs, but I don’t like plugging electronics directly into walls. I much prefer to use powerbars. And with all of the gadgets I have around the house, and that I’ve had over the years, I have a plethora of powerbars.
But over the last few months, as I’ve reorganized things, simplified setups, rewired and reconnected various devices, I’ve stopped using my old powerbars and swapped in any of my newer power bars designed for digital devices. Usually this means three things:
Sounds simple enough, right? Except I’m out of the more advanced power bars that I had been using (which only had the first two options above anyway). But I need to set Jacob up with a good charging station in his bedroom AND I need a powerbar for the video game console. I’m also struggling a bit with a stereo setup that I decided to keep, and I may use one there.
Hence the dilemma of choice. I have old powerbars that work just fine. They only meet the first bullet above, power surge protection, but not much else. They’re pretty basic. Great if you’re plugging in a lamp, a clock radio and a white noise machine or something, but once you start attaching e-devices that run $1000+ each, you kind of want to ensure the breaker in the power bar doesn’t save itself and let a surge make its way to your devices.
Do I need new power bars? No. Do I want new power bars? Not really. Couldn’t care less. It’s functional, utilitarian, not a fun gadget. Do I have an eavestrough on my house? Yes, but it isn’t like I’m excited to have one. I need to funnel water to specific places, that tool does it. Great. This is a tool. And if I can set it up so that it is behind the desk, couch, or bureau and I never see it again or think about it again, all the better.
So I went to Canadian Tire and picked up three of the newer powerbars on sale this week. And it will mean when I’m done all the wiring and reconfiguring, I’ll have a bunch of the old powerbars left over to donate for something or somewhere.
But today I choose the right electrical gadget that makes my life just a little bit easier. Not very exciting, it’s just a powerbar, but it’s a choice, not something I must do.
What choices are you making today?