Personal technology: 5 items I’d hate to leave home without and why – Part 1

We all have that one thing that would make you want to start making your way back home if you found out, halfway to work that you have left it at home. For many it is their phones. This week I have been thinking about five items that if, for any reason, I found I no longer had even for a moment, my life would be really different from that day on. I am writing these, not in a braggy, ‘but do I say!’ kind of way, but more to reflect the extent to which technology plays a significant part in many people’s daily lives. In fact for me, each of these items has some sort of story of inspiration, learning and a testimony of God’s provision and sort of reminds me of what I call the monkey-proof plan God has in my life. Some of them I am still paying for, but nonetheless still miraculous.

1. Our car

I generally do not bond with cars the way I used to. I used to. But I don’t anymore. I don’t know whether it is about ageing or just that when you have a family, some things take a more corporate or group ownership. Maybe it is because of how when you are shopping for a car, you think about all members of the family, I don’t know. So we have this car that I call ‘our’ car that I feel I own a quarter of. We have not always been a one-car family but this time it is a conscious, agreed-on decision. There are several things we feel that would be more important to spend money on if we get it than another car. We also have seen the effect having two cars can have on a relationship. I’m not saying this happens with all couples, but for us, having two cars seemed to make us grow apart. We have also come to really cherish the time we spend alone together alone going to and from work. Having said that, I still spend more time in the car than anyone else in our family does. I like it because it is practical and gets the job done. Very well.

In the beginning, when we got the car last year, I felt kidogo self conscious since the Toyota IST is generally a ‘ladies’ car. I even once caught myself lying to some client that I had decided to come see them using my wife’s car. I also used to explain to people that it is the red ones that should be called a ‘ladies’ car. That the black one is more manly. Add to the fact that it is a 1500cc version with disc brakes all round while most are 1300cc with drum brakes behind. Or that it is not close to the Vitz or Probox that Kenyans enjoy bashing in social networks. These days it does not bug me at all. I once followed a conversation on twitter where some guys I follow were discussing

@A: So, are you still driving the Vitz I saw you with?
@B: No, I upgraded to the Merc C class
@A: Wow, congrats, so what did you do with the Vitz? Or is it now your keyholder?…
@B: Lol, no, I gave it to my sis.

Note, he said gave, not sold, gave. Aiii. Poor Vitz, it is bashed by people who jav (matatu passengers) and those who drive the Footsubishi (pedestrians)

2. My phones

Until about a month ago, I used to carry three phones. Yeah I know. Jang’o alert. To put them in order starting with the only one I would go back home for, i have the iPhone 3GS, a Blackberry 8800 which has now been retired and a Samsung SGH-D880 which being a twin-sim has taken over the blackberry’s sim card. I confessed before, I am a gadget freak. These three are the phones I have stayed with longest since I started using cellphones. At the risk of sounding like an apple fan-boy, I believe that apple have the best products in the market. The degree to which you can personalise an iPhone is out of this world. The apple app store has close to 300,000 apps. The iTunes store is unbelievable in terms of the kind of stuff you can find there. Many of the apps are free, a term I love the sound of. There are so many that are practical, terribly addictive and a lot of fun. I have built a great music collection using iTunes and ‘bought’ very, very many free apps. After almost two years I have not spent a single cent on an app and it doesn’t look like that is going to change soon. Using iTunes you can completely manage whatever goes into your phone from apps, songs, videos, books, pictures, podcasts and lots more. Syncing contacts and calendars is a breeze and every time you do, iTunes makes a backup of current content which you can restore should you need to. So what do I carry on my iPhone?

My oh my, where to begin? First off, the touch screen on the iPhone is the best there is. I think the closest the competition comes is with the Samsung Galaxy S II with it’s super AMOLED screen. Many have touted the Galaxy S II to be the iPhone killer but I think the jury is still out on that one. I have had the privilege of seeing the iPhone 4 as well and it’s retina display is quite something. A friend once quipped that when you switch from the 3GS to the iPhone 4, it’s like you have just had LASIK surgery. I agree.
So, on my phone I carry 1819 audio items grouped in playlists that include the audio bible, current audiobooks like Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people. By current I mean the ones I am currently reading or re-reading, 398 songs that I have not listened to in six months (this is a smart playlist that updates itself with every sync), podcasts that include 1 year daily audio bible, 1 year daily audio bible for kids, Jon Courson’s searchlight, Saddleback church, Mars Hill, TED talks, and several others. With all these on my phone, and having hooked up a RCA to jack cable at the back of our car stereo, you can see that Maina Kageni and King’ang’i in the morning have no chance. Ok even Hope FM struggles to keep our attention on the way to work. I usually put the music I have to play in a random way though my wife hates it when I do that. She does not enjoy it when one moment we are singing along to Don Moen’s Shout to the Lord and then suddenly Kasupu by Zulukrew follows or a hit from Kanye West’s Late Registration. I smile quietly when interesting coincidences happen like when Michael W. Smith’s “Breathe” is followed by “Vuta Pumzi”, or when after Rihanna has asked Onana so many times what her name is, a group of sweet kids follow singing “Jesus, name above all names”.

I carry so many apps like an iPhone version of wordpress which allows me to do fancy things like approve/reply to comments on this blog and look at statistics of hits, an app called Gas Cubby which I use to record all expenses of fuel on the car, a ton of time-killing games that I enjoy with my kids, IM+ for chatting on yahoo, gtalk and msn.

Basically, I cannot leave this phone at home and try to make it through the day without it.

Next week, the other three, well, more like two and a half.

What are your first two ‘can’t-leave-home-without’ items?

Tuendelee kuongea.

PS: Sorry today’s post is late. I am in Kampala and needed to find an alternative to spending Kshs. 75 per MB for roaming Internet courtesy of Safaricom.