Living Mobile-Only (or Mobile-Mainly)

I was just asked these questions over at Brighthand. My message was a bit too long and I ended up having to snip out the ending part, but I wanted to post it all in full here as I think that the perspective that I have on mobile, and living from a mobile, is clearly explained in this piece. First, his questions, and then my response:

1. You have mentioned how your laptop (?) died and it was at that point you decided. out of want/need that you would do as much as you could on your Mobile. Is that still the case? Do you not use a Home Desktop?

2. You have mentions various hurdles and trials along you transition to a more Mobile Lifestyle? Would you mind naming a few of the difficulties you encountered? Was it Screen size? Memory Storage? etc?

Per question #1:
When my laptop died, it was my personal laptop. I was working as a contractor and had a desktop and tablet PC provided by the client (the tablet was for experimental purposes). I found that other than my really lengthy and complicated blog posts, that the Treo 650 and IR keyboard worked great – Spring 2006 I believe that was.

I received a desktop from a friend many months after that, but it was always more of a hassle to use – besides being an older P3 model, I move around often, and therefore waiting until I got in front of a desktop for anything was in my opinion a waste of computing tech. I pushed myself off of it not long after getting to Charlotte. It just wasn’t used except for ripping music off of CDs to put on my N800 or smartphone.

Right now, I use my work laptop when I’m under heavier loads to read/post – such as right now. I’ve been writing several posts for Mobile Ministry Magazine, doing Twitter, reading/listening to a few videos, and IMing. All of which are possible on my mobile – some easier than others. My N97 was streaming a little bit ago, and sometimes serves as the modem for this laptop.

Per question #2:
The first challenge is perception. I had to get over the fact that the mobile wasn’t keeping me from being productive, that it was totally my perception on computing. And while I had tried going mobile only before with the Treo, it was when I had to that those perceptions were totally broken.

The other challenge us (usually) hardware related. Some mobiles are better than others in terms of being a mobile center. If the device doesn’t handle several running applications well – like my N97 from time to time – then those crashes limit how much you can do.

Software wise its two-fold: applications have to be sufficient enough to keep a stable – if not slightly neutered – sense of productivity and accessories have to be able to use the native OS as simply as possible. To this end, my N95 handled using a wireless keyboard better as the OS was designed for non-touch, and so using a keyboard with it was pretty simple. I even learned new shortcuts around the OS. With the N97, much of that has been taken away – hence I have to pick my spots. Devices like the iPhone or N900 have non-existent or varying degrees of issues, but all have some compromise – they are designed to be mobile first.

Other struggles have been web-based – Flash is a kicker here sometimes, though the N97 does this fairly well. Updates can be quirky with non Symbian devices – Nokia does OTA firmware/OS updates better than anyone as in most cases you don’t need an attending PC. Backups depend on the OS, Symbian used to have a backup feature built-into the File Manager (handy); with online services though this is less a concern for some.

The other issues are enterprise related. For some reason, not every MS Exchange account is created equal. Some I could do Exchange syncing easily, others I had to opt for IMAP/POP for email and stumble on sending emails (servers on their end not configured right). Reading intranets can sometimes be a problem. And some companies just don’t allow you to bring your own device, even when you can show them they don’t have a hardware/device limitation towards administration.

All in all though, I like going mobile. Its fun to be freed from a laptop or desktop. These larger OSes use more power, processes, and generally are too heavy for most of what people would like to do. Yes, I could get along with local storage and browser-based apps on a laptop – I don’t do games. Everything can be simpler, and smartphones really point that direction. The iPad is pointing in a similar one.

this is long I know…

Last point, the Mobile Web Server piece is really a step up from just being mobile. Its not a thing of just accessing your device over any web browser, but its the ability to securely say who can access what about you when you choose, not when a 3rd party does. That ability to control your information on a mobile is empowering, and makes me wonder a lot about what people think when they don’t read the terms of service to every service/app they give information to willingly. I had hoped that the mobile web server idea would have caught on faster – but not at this time. People aren’t ready for that level of control just yet.

Hope that helps, and sorry for the length. Going mobile-only is indeed filled with compromises and benefits, but it usually boils down to how much control over your computing experience do you want, and how much friction towards getting things done will you accept.