Friday, July 03, 2009

A man and his toys

When I was growing up, I had no shortage of toys: Legos, Star Wars figures and ships, G.I. Joe figures and playsets, and Transformers, just to name a few. My brother and I would play together after school and after watching cartoons featuring some of these toys. As I got older, I knew that eventually I'd have to give up my toys and become a boring adult. I didn't want to be that kid in my neighborhood who was about five years older than me and my friends and clearly too old to hang out with us while we played with plastic Star Wars toys. But I also didn't want to give up my toys. At 12 years old, I actually worried about this upcoming change in my life.

Then I discovered computers and computer games, and I forgot about Transformers and G.I Joe. Just like that, they weren't cool anymore and I didn't care. Also, I'm sure puberty played some role in this change. It's hard to get the attention of girls when you're still bringing your Storm Shadow GI Joe guy to school. So computers and my Walkman became my new toys. I hauled a case full of cassette tapes to England in 1989 so I'd have music to listen to on the flights. I spent hours in front of the computer writing programs, playing games, and tinkering.

My adult life has featured a succession of computers and gadgets, all of which have fulfilled the role that toys used to play. I've run home from work to set up a brand-new computer. I've stayed up late at night playing games on the computer and on my Xbox. And I've carried my laptop to far more places than necessary, under the pretense that I *might* need it but mostly because I just wanted to have it with me.

My four primary "toys" are my laptop, my camera, my HDTV (and the cable box and Xbox that go with it), and my cell phone. The last one is the newest, as I've finally upgraded to an iPhone. I didn't want the iPhone when it first came out. It was expensive, it wasn't as fast as my Samsung flip phone, it looked fragile, and since it couldn't hold more than a few gigabytes of data or music, I decided to wait. Last summer's release of the iPhone 3G tempted me a little more, but I was happy with my old reliable cell phone. And I was still under contract for another six months. This summer, after another year of frustrated texting on my old phone's numeric keypad, I decided it was time to get into the market. Kate got an iPod Touch as a gift, so I got the chance to play around with it and try out the virtual keyboard. I found that I could deal with that feature and that I really liked having a full version of Safari available. I considered buying a smartphone from another manufacturer and I gave serious consideration to Nokia's E71. But the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to get the iPhone already. Five years ago I bought a MP3 player that wasn't an iPod, in part because I didn't want to be an Apple guy. Two years later I was tired of dealing with my crappy MP3 player and bought an iPod. When I thought about buying a smartphone from another manufacturer, I remembered my previous experience and I didn't want to spend the next two years wishing I'd gotten the iPhone instead.

So now I've got my iPhone. I've only had it for 24 hours, so I haven't played with it that much yet. But from what I've seen and done so far, I think I'm in love.

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