My objective for February: Become fully mobile and platform independent

Is it time to change out of the Apple ecosystem?

I’m not talking about phones and tablets necessarily. I’m talking about desktops — proper computing.

Ever since watching Mr Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth, introduce his company’s offerings at their evening launch event at the turn of the year, I’ve been exploring the possibilities in my mind for a few minutes every few days.

Ubuntu, if you need a wee bit of a reminder, is the Linux operating system “for humans” — it’s got a beautiful user interface and it’s professionally supported by Canonical, the company behind it. And they’ve just recently brought the operating system to the mobile world.

In the Ubuntu office, everyone obviously uses it on their computers. They might be using Apple hardware (many do) but they’re rocking Ubuntu as the OS. Interestingly, when I glanced at their machines, the screens looked identical — that is, Gmail. Google Apps. The familiar tools I use too.

I hardly use any desktop apps.

I still need to use a physical computer. Or.. I still *do* use a proper computer. But I wonder how lazy that is. I wonder how necessary this is?

Have I worked hard enough to remove the complexity from my life that necessitates having a desktop experience?

I’m reminded on these occasions about the huge banks in the city. Friends and relatives working in the IT departments tell me that for whole tiers of executives, the physical desktop or laptop does not exist.

It’s iPad only.

Not tablet, by the way, iPad.

I’m sure that’ll change in time but the elegant simplicity of iPad has made it a dead cert for many in enterprise.

So if these senior executives have removed the computers, what about me? A knowledge worker?

I think that might be a bti of a stretch, principally because I still do a lot of video editing.

But that’s getting less and less.

And the audio editing I do is limited now. Indeed I can do a lot of that in the browser now. I prefer that.

I’m much happier in ‘the cloud’.

My music is still in Apple’s iCloud. I do find that convenient. But I have also taken the time to download it locally again so I can push it up to Amazon at some point. I’ve invested in an Amazon Music Player Cloud account so that’ll take all of my library and make it fully available on all platforms — including iOS.

Microsoft’s suite is in the cloud too. I still do use Office — Word in particular — for proposals and big documents. Although I’ve begun to deliberately try and use Google Docs for more and more.

I’ve even begun using Evernote in the browser rather than the desktop app. It’s often way more convenient.

There’s quite a few things going on here, though.

First I’m wondering if I can exit myself gracefully from the Apple ecosystem. Or at least no tbe heavily dependent on it. I’m not sure I’m getting much additional utility for the extra margin I’m having to pay.

Perhaps the hardware is better. I think it used to be. I’m not entirely sure if that’s the case any more though. I’ll need to have a closer look at some of these intel ultrabooks.

An ultrabook running Ubuntu? Is that the way ahead? With a dirt cheap but super-super well specified “PC” at home running Ubuntu when I need it? With a dual boot capability into MacOS for when I need to use something like iMovie (and when the learning curve for the Ubuntu/Linux equivalent is a wee bit too high).

And then the second issue is the move from the desktop computing paradigm to a truly mobile world.

I really should be aiming to try and do everything on tablets and mobile phones, shouldn’t I?

“Ewan from Mobile Industry Review. Still using a desktop computer and laptops.”

Not good!

It does force a bit of a proper re-think.

One of the reasons I’m tied to computers is because I have historically done a lot of video editing. My colleague Momchil takes care of that when I need it now. Perhaps it’s time to pull the plug and decide that I no longer do any video editing. That would remove a key reason for desktops.

And actually I have had a lot of success with video editing on iPhone and iPad directly. I have made quite a few family videos that way.

The next issue is email. I get an unreasonable amount of email. I think this is primarily due to Mobile Industry Review. Email is a key method of information delivery for me, especially when it comes to press releases and so on.

But this require a lot of time investment. I also have to spend a lot of time prioritising and archiving stuff just-in-case.

I’m not really sure why. It might have been the right approach in years gone by but I wonder just how necessary it is nowadays.

How much do I need press releases and all that jazz? I rarely ever ‘turn over’ a release — that is, I don’t spend three hours a day re-writing press releases as news like many journalists of bloggers. We all have better and more reliable sources of that style of news.

I wonder if it’s time for me to transform the Mobile Industry Review email-operated system as it stands at the moment. I really only care about what the PRs and executives I know have to say. And anyone who wants my attention either writes me a proper email to say hello or they get me via Twitter, SMS or another way.

When I think about my day-to-day computing use, a huge amount of that is necessitated by Mobile Industry Review and this email-heavy working practice.

I publish on the site via email or via the WordPress apps available on all platforms. I often add photos via the app too. But video embedding is difficult at the moment. I’ll need to figure that out. It’s doable on an iPad though.

I think that’s the decision made. I’ll change around that process which should enable me to become a lot more mobile. That should free me for days at a time from the desktop paradigm.

So let’s try and form a strategy here.

1. Evaluate dual-booting Ubuntu as a primary desktop operating environment
2. Retire the laptop from active duty — i.e. stop lugging it around and swap to a tablet (and a keyboard if utterly necessary?)
3. Withdraw from the Apple ecosystem in the context of music primarily. I still use Apple’s iTunes to purchase episodes that I can watch offline on the train (e.g. The Killing — loving it). Get all that music data uploaded on to Amazon
4. Re-frame the Mobile Industry Review operating model with specific reference to the overreliance on email

In short: Become fully mobile and become platform indepedent. I think that’s the summary. Is this doable in the month of February? I’m not sure but I think it’s worth a go.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

7 replies on “My objective for February: Become fully mobile and platform independent”

“Ewan from Mobile Industry Review. Still using a desktop computer and laptops.”. I think you could be over-reacting. “Ben & Jerry: still eating savoury food”.

Sounds a bit like bending your work flows to prove a point, I rather than using the technology that’s best for the job.
Personally, I find that researching and handling large amounts of information works best on a desktop with a large screen, mouse and keyboard. A laptop’s already markedly less efficient, and I seriously wonder how much productivity gets lost by doing things purely on a tablet.

Alexander that is a fair point. However I think the workflow is actually unnecessary. So I’m intending using mobile tech to try and force that update!

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