I love playing with technology–mostly on the software side, but hardware too. I honestly get a thrill on the level of riding a roller coaster when I discover something new. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I installed Parallels on my MacBook Pro on the recommendation of an equally geeky colleague (which I wrote a little bit about here). Parallels allowed me to put both Linux and Windows on my machine. I’m writing my dissertation in OpenOffice under Linux and I’m using Windows for a handful of Windows-only applications at work and for syncing with Airset. This weekend, my new Palm that I ordered off of Ebay arrived and I got the whole syncing the work and family calendar to work. I got butterflies when I finally achieved this.
I’ve also started using Flock, with equal amounts of love and excitement. And that’s just on top of the fun I’ve had with the new computer itself, playing with Garageband, iTunes, the Dashboard widgets. Any time I go to write a how-to, I always research what’s new and I almost always find new cool stuff and it almost always thrills me. Recently, for example, I’ve been writing about audio, which led me to using Garageband for podcasting (I’d been using Audacity). Then someone asked me whether they should really teach their students html, and I suggested Google pages. I’ve been writing about blogging as well, which led me to Flock.
Obviously, I’m adventurous when it comes to exploring new software, but mostly I explore these things because I’m trying to solve a problem or to make some process better. I’d read about Flock on Academhack, and it does make some things much easier. The built-in blogging tool, while not perfect, makes it so easy to drop in quotes and pictures and you can save posts for later and write in the same platform for all your blogs (maybe only an issue for me, who has like 4 blogs on 3 different blogging platforms). Parallels plus Airset solved some of my PIM issues, still not quite perfect, but helps me accomplish much more than I could without it. And I use OpenOffice because I can save my files as pdfs and send them off to my advisor without fear that my figures will go wonky. But, it’s also true that many of these tools make it more fun to do my work. And to me, that’s just as important, if not more so, as efficiency. Shouldn’t work be fun?