I realized I was a digital dinosaur when I was traveling in Central America.
Not only I was that thirty-something chick with a husband and a kid back home, but I was using a paper version of my Lonely Planet and I didn’t have a cell phone.
There isn’t much to do in Central America after dark. Large cities aren’t particularly safe after everything shuts up and in small towns, family-owned businesses close early. Besides, if you’ve been exploring all day, you tend to be tired at night. I know I was. So, after dinner, I usually stayed at the hostel and used my computer.
Normally, Feng and I travel with a small Acer Inspire One we bought before going to Australia in 2010. But it is extremely slow and I can’t do much with it but check my emails. I was expecting to complete a few assignments on the road, so this time, I took my work laptop—a 17” Toshiba Satellite. I traded the corporate-looking laptop bag which basically screamed “I have a laptop, rob me!” for a pillow case and fit the laptop into my daypack.
I love my laptop. It’s a fast machine customized to my needs with all the software I use on a daily basis, such as Word, Lightroom, Acrobat and Firefox (in case you were wondering, yes, I have legit copies—business expense!)
From San José, to Granada, from Omotepe to Montezuma, I worked on adapting articles for my client. Every place I stayed in had a good Wi-Fi connection. Sometime, the signal was strong enough that I could work in the dorms or in my room. Sometime, I typed from a hammock in the common room.
The first night in San José, I took a look around me as my laptop was connecting to the Wi-Fi network. All the backpackers were online but I was the only one with a bulky laptop—they had sleek tablets or fancy smartphones.
It hadn’t even occurred to me to take my BlackBerry with me. But I started considering changing phone once home.
I have… or rather, I had a BlackBerry. It had been a no-brainer choice to me. I have never been an Apple gal and there weren’t that many options on the market two years ago. Beside, Ottawa tends to be loyal to BlackBerry—we all know someone who works for Research in Motion and it is the default device for all government employees. At my first office job on Parliament Hill in 2009, I had been provided a BlackBerry Curve. The plan was paid for by my employer—a perk I had found amazing until I realized it meant I was on call 24/7. I kept the BlackBerry for as long as I kept the job and when I moved to Canada Post a year later, I was once again given a BlackBerry.
I was used to this device and I loved the physical keyboard. So when I decided to take the freelance road, I reluctantly hand the corporate BlackBerry over and hurried to the nearest store to get my own plan and smartphone.
Being able to check my emails on-the-go was amazing, especially as a freelancer and then a freelancer/new mum.
But the world has changed. New smartphones and new operating systems started to become more and more popular and BlackBerry’s market share plunged. At first, I faced minor annoyances, like missing on third-party apps, mostly designed for iPhone and Android. I was tired of running the bloated and useless desktop manager system. My BlackBerry didn’t seem so smart either. “Can you Google the address?” Feng asked me a few times while driving. “Technically, I can,” I’d say. “But by the time the browser loads we will be there.”
Eventually, I turned my BlackBerry into:
- An expensive device able to take pictures and share them via Twitter (this was one app that worked well)
- An email notification tool (I couldn’t even manage my Yahoo mailbox properly because I had no access to my folders)
- A toy for Mark (BlackBerry are sturdy devices, I’ll give you that)
Well, I am fed up with BlackBerry.
It took me several visits in several stores before finding someone helpful. Telecommunications are expensive in Canada and this is one area where comparing prices and plans is notoriously difficult.
Eventually, I got lucky. The guy who helped me spent over an hour on the phone with Virgin Mobile to get me a new phone (without paying the upgrade fee) and a better plan.
I am now the owner of a brand new Samsung Galaxy III.
Frankly, I don’t care that much about the device itself. What mattered to me was the OS.
The phone looks fancy and complicated. But oh-my-God—it can actually do stuff! I installed apps for Feedly, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. I can check my bank account (okay, that’s depressing, I shouldn’t), find the bus schedule and listen to music. I can browse the web fast and search for tons of things, such as how to get cheap insurance in Quebec.
I can even take selfies.
— Juliette Giannesini (@Xiaozhuli) March 12, 2014
I feel more productive already.
At least if I stay away from Candy Crush, right?