Musings of a mobile maven in the field


JK Icon mediumI always wanted to use the word “maven” in a post, hope it means what I think it does.  I have a little free time between meetings so I’m sitting in a coffee shop and thinking about the mobile lifestyle and other things so here goes:

The guy to my left is sitting in a chair reading a real book!  Not a paperback book either, this one has a hard cover!  What will they think of next?  It’s the same book as one of the 50+ books I have in my Smartphone, too.

The guy to my right is writing in one of those little day planner books.  He’s writing and writing and a month from now he won’t remember what he wrote or more importantly where to find it. Unless he’s a lot more organized than me, which is likely.  Quick, where’s your day planner from 1998?

The guy in front of me (what, no women in coffee shops during the day?) is using a real honest-to-goodness BlackBerry and checking his email.  I work with quite a few people who use BlackBerries and I must admit they do email very, very well.  Anyway, this guy is opening one email at a time on his magic electronic email box and guess what he’s doing next?  Writing what is apparently the entire contents of each email in a little book like guy #2 is using.  What’s up with that?  If these guys only knew how I could revolutionize their mobile lifestyle in less than 30 minutes.

The WiFi hotspot in this coffee shop is very erratic speed-wise so I fired up EV-DO Rev A.  Mucho mas rapido.

It’s good to be me. 



All in jest, of course, but it’s funny. I’m a gearhead, no doubt about it. I’ve tried that final step, and it all comes back to the same two basic problems, which have led me to using nothing more advanced (or effective!) than a Moleskine pocket notebook.

1) Input. Even the best keyboard has nothing on a pen and paper. Tablets win, but it’s hard to find a tablet the size of a small notebook.

2) Visual nagging. Clutter drives me insane. Pages and pages of incomplete to-dos, notes, request forms, etc. serve as a reminder that I need to get stuff done. Even with an Oqo Model 02, which is *probably* the perfect device for me, a moleskine-sized computer with excellent tablet input capability and acceptable performance, it all goes into a pile of Journal files. Those files are then locked away in a folder, never to be seen again. Clutter inherently hides in computers. The closest thing I have ever seen to this on a computer was the StickyBrain product for Mac OS X, which started up, filled the screen with all of my last set of multicolored stickynotes, and didn’t crash. With a constant reminder that I still had work to do, I did my work.

As the user of a Mac (IMO, the best computer to just get things done,) a TC1000 (IMO, the best input system to get things done,) a Treo (best smartphone,) and a Blackberry (best email device,) I still fall back to paper, because in the end, nothing else works for me.

That said, I’m an OCD nutcase with attention span problems. What works for me doesn’t work for everyone, and vice versa. It boggles my mind that you can get by on just the P1610, for example, just like my umpteen-device behavior with a dash of scanning to PDF when papers are ready to be tossed is almost certainly anathema to your own work habits.

Michael Venini

A book – $12
Day planner – $20
Blackberry – $249(Don’t Know) + $20 – $50 a month for service.

Fujitsu P1610 – > $2000(At least Jk’s model)
Wireless Card – $50 a month
Software you may buy for the tablet – $100 – $200
Smartphone – $199 – $250
Phone service – $40 – $100 a month
Card to fit the 50 plus ebooks – $30 – $50
50 Plus Ebboks – $500s?

Some people enjoy reading and writing on paper. My wife loves to read, but she will never read off of a tablet. She loved tablets, but the experience is so much better for her on paper. Also my boss uses a day planner, and loves it. He’s tried tablets, he just doesn’t enjoy them that much. It didn’t work for him, plus it was way too expensive for what he was using them for.


There are people who read books, real books, and then there are people who carry 50+ books on their smartphones and write about them :)

Seriously, though: I see nothing wrong with reading a good book on paper. I see many things that are problematic with switching to today’s ebook technology. If it works for you, great. But that doesn’t mean that that book reader guy is out of touch with modern life.

Mike Cane

>>>You have to remember to read them.

That’s what alarms are for!

Which I’ve sometimes ignored myself — and wound up missing important stuff.

This is why I’ve always wanted *specific* alarm sounds. Like, “Return overdue library book.” “Pick up cat food.”

Aaron Walker


You are a Mobile Maven! :)

But I agree with you, it amazes me how few people, even those who have taken a first tentative step with a Blackberry, just can’t go the final distance.

The guy with the Blackberry probably never took the time to investigate how much more he could get out of his device so he wouldn’t have to take information from one source, enter it into a second, and probably re-enter it again to some other form later (like his Outlook calendar back at the office).

That’s three steps for the same piece of information that probably could have been handled in one step on his device and certainly no more than two moving it elsewhere.

Dayplanners never worked for me because their is no reminder function. If I can’t remember something enough to not have to write it down, how am I supposed to remember it when the event happens two weeks from now? That’s why I love Outlook :D

Now books, on the other hand, I’m finding are different.

Many of the books I would like to read are not available in a digital format. I’d prefer it that way but publishers still think we need to keep destroying trees so we can all enjoy a great past time.

Whenever I find a book that I am interested in available in a digital form, I usually purchase that one over the print version. I’m hoping, in my own small way, I can lead the campaign for publishers to wake up and offer every title electronically since it will cost them pennies (as opposed to dollars) on printing costs.

My two cents.

Kevin White

one of the things that I’ve realized since I bought my first electronic organizer in 6th grade is that there’s a learning curve for this technology and it’s not necessarily the technology. Or rather, with electronic organization, there are two learning curves:

1) Organizing yourself
2) Using an electronic device

I’m very good at #2, which probably explains why I work in technical support and testing.

I’m not very good at #1, and this generally results in me failing to use my Treo 650 and associated software to really organize myself. It also results in my failing to get on and stay on the famous ‘Getting Things Done’ bandwagon, or even keep my desk clean.

I bet a lot of people simply choose one or the other. They either learn to get organized but can’t use technology effectively (Blackberry+day planner guy and the just-day-planner guy), or they know how to use technology and can’t get organized (the person who knows how to stream audio from his Macintosh to his Xbox 360 but leaves coffee cups on the desk hutch for 6 months because he forgot, aka me)

Organization is not easy. If it was, everyone would be organized. Organizing isn’t talking on the phone. That’s easy. You pick up the phone and dial a number and talk into it. But keeping all your appointments? You have to remember to write them down, even if they’re a reminder to to do something else. You have to remember to read them. You have to learn how to use the software to write them down. Notice that the software part is only one out of three obstacles.


Okay I’ll give on the dayplanner…But books I like. I’m not a big reader but I’ve NEVER had a device that made reading enjoyable. Especially as the books I want rarely come in digital form or, if they do, they’re old txt or PDF or docs that format terribly on a mobile device.

Sometimes, for me, analog is still the way to go to have a rich experience with the written word.

The Wife of JK

No women in coffee shops? And you’d be looking why?

I still use a day planner and read “real books”. I know, you’ve tried to get me to cross over, but you know what they say about old dogs & new tricks!


JK, I would agree that it is pretty good to be you !!! It is relevant to see how the mobile tech has not permeated enough in society (and it is not because it is expensive). I work in scientific research in an academic institution (aren’t we supposed to be the guys innovating continuously?) and find the low-tech (and immobility) nature of my peers surprising. I’d be curious to see how our international counterparts (in Europe, Asia and Latinamerica) are doing.

I consider myself a newbie in all this stuff, but am considered by anyone who works with me as the “expert”, or perhaps I should say the “maven”. Good I have you guys to thank for !!! :>)


According to Wikipedia:

A maven (also mavin or mayvin) is regarded by cohorts as a trusted expert in a particular field, and who seeks to pass his or her knowledge on to others.

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