Why So Many Things That Seem A Good Idea Are Really Not

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Thursday, 6.28pm

Sheffield, U.K.

I am not a fan of Apple.

Yes, I have an iPhone, a Mac and an IPad – so they have got me in their clutches – but I’m trying to get away.

Because they’re turning evil. Perhaps they don’t realize it, but they are – and it’s making their stuff too hard to use.

It probably goes back to Steve Jobs. Most things with Apple do.

As far as Apple is concerned, all you need to do to live happily is use Apple products.

The iPhone is everything you need – a phone, a computer, a camera.

With iTunes and iCloud and the Apple Store – pay up and be happy.

Now, you may love Apple – and that’s just fine.

The point I’m making is that anything that tries to do too many things starts to become problematic.

Take pictures, for example.

If you have a camera and use a normal SD card, getting pictures off it is pretty simple. Stick it in a slot and copy the pictures across.

When you have a phone that holds 16, 32 or 128 GB, it starts to become more complicated.

Yes, iCloud will copy stuff off your phone – but it’s still going to fill up. If you add videos and podcasts into the mix, your new phone with more space gets stuffed quickly again.

Have you tried getting photos off the phone?

Once upon a time you could plug it in, take off the photos and clear the phone. Then you couldn’t clear the phone because iCloud got in the way and you had to…

Well, this isn’t meant to be a technical rant on how to use an iPhone and your photo management workflow.

It’s a warning.

Richard Stallman, the prophet of Free Software, says this “Digital technology can give you freedom; it can also take your freedom away.”

It might seem a brilliant idea to use Google docs and mail. To use a host of other online services to carry out everything from invoicing to data analysis.

But, when you have no internet access, you’re completely cut off. What would that do to you if your business relied entirely on such platforms?

You’re also better off sticking to a tool that does one thing well than a number of things badly.

However snazzy your todo list application – it’s hard to beat the power of a yellow pad and a pencil for making lists and ticking them off.

Stuff you write in plain text will still be accessible in half a century – while bloated Word and Excel documents will be hard to get into in a couple of years.

The advantage of a tool that does lots of things is that sometimes, when you need a quick task doing, it’s convenient.

The Swiss army knife is a rubbish knife – but it’s good for opening a bottle of beer. Just about.

If you really need to do some cutting – you need a good knife.

And the same thing goes for the rest of your life.

If you need to get something done – get the right tool. Choose a good one.

And watch out for the things that look good but really take your freedom when you aren’t looking.

Cheers,

Karthik Suresh

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