(In no particular order)

1. Droid

I bought my Droid in November 2009 and it has changed how I interact with people, sometime for the worse, but usually for the better. On the one hand, even though I’m a technophile, I really don’t like the 24/7 culture of new communication technology. I used my first cell phone only to call out and for emergencies. On the other, the convenience and entertainment value of a smart phone make me wonder why I went so long without one. I still have a bad habit of leaving my ringer off, missing calls, and forgetting all about the phone’s existence. Now I see the many situations where the cell phone saved me many hassles and headaches.

2. Palm Pre free WiFi hotspot from Verizon

You can’t go wrong with free wifi.

3. Audible.com

Essential for long trips. I’m working my way through George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones, which has been recommended to me for years, and which I’ve avoided because the book is so damned big and epic and the print is always so damned small. I’ve listened to many an audio book and I enjoy them. They recapture the soothing immersion of listening to storytelling. Of course, to listen you need an mp3 player, but I won’t include my little SanDisk Sansa as a separate entry.

4. SanDisk Sansa

Ok, the SanDisk Sansa made it into a separate entry.

5. Kindle

I also purchased a Kindle in November 2009 and I use it a lot. The instant downloads are convenient. This amuses me because even Amazon Prime feeds my need for instant gratification for a new book or when I’ve been at the edge of my seat waiting for a sequel. Then there’s the compact space requirements for travel convenience and the reduced amount of bookshelf space. Both are nice benefits. The Kindle has some issues, of course, and I’m quashing my inner technology addict’s yearning for newer models, an iPad, and so forth.

Both the Kindle and the audiobook provide unique “reading” experiences that differ from “curling up with a book.” Neither can replace the familiar, comfortable sensory experience of print. You could be a high-minded purist about it by trying to squeeze a book experience from the other two forms; however, that’s pointless and unfair since the three forms are entirely different media. That’s akin to comparing a book version to a movie version. I gave up seeking the material experience of a book in the Kindle; it’s simply not there. Once I looked beyond “authenticity” to new forms, I was pleased with the product.

Note: Insurance on the Kindle is a must, especially if you read near a coffee cup or a glass of iced tea.

6. Wall chargers with detachable USB cables

When I first got one of these with the Droid and the Kindle, I was tickled. The ability to switch from USB charging to wall charging with a single little adapter has changed my charging life.

7. 32 gigabyte flash drive

To many folks this might not seem like a big deal. A couple of years ago I would have been hard pressed to fill a 1 gig flash drive, much less a 4 gig. But now my data eats up 4 gig flash drives regularly due to music and videos. Students videos for classes gobble up space like crazy. I bought my 32 gig flash drive a couple of months ago from Office Depot — on sale and with $50 worth of credit built up by buying copies, so it cost me pennies.

This is mind boggling when to think about. On my home PC, where I don’t keep my teaching videos, I’ve barely peaked over 50 gigs on a 250 capacity hard drive. I own an external, portable 500 gig hard drive.

Put in historical context, Wikipedia says flash drives were first sold commercially in 2000. The first ones had a storage capacity of 8 MB, which was huge compared to the 1.44 MB storage of a 3.5 inch floppy. The earliest flash drives were God-like when compared to the 5.25 inch floppy predecessor. Up until the early 2000s, not quite ten years ago, my home PCs didn’t even have a gig of hard drive space.

8. Sony digital voice recorder

For voice recording I prefer this instead of my SanDisk mp3 player or my Droid, both which also record voice. I’m not sure the reason for that preference. For the past few semesters, I’ve been recording my class lectures. Given how often students download them, this new practice seems helpful to them. Recording lectures also helps me stay conscious about time limits and pacing.9. Satechi Wireless Presenter Mouse

The remote mouse has radically changed how I use PowerPoint in the classroom. I’ve written in another entry about how, as a speech teacher, I’ve made the difficult paradigm conversion to embrace PowerPoint. If I had known about wireless mouses (mice?), I’d have made this crossover a long time ago. The remote gets students out from behind the computer podium and in front of their classmates. The Satechi is easy to use, lightweight, and has a cute little zipper carrying pouch.10. Prezi

This should be #1. It’s the most fascinating, creative, paradigm-shifting presentation software ever.


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