Wednesday, September 21, 2011

iPod Touch

As-salamu alaikum,

Please excuse the delay in this post. I was on a seven week trip, during which I came to know that I could not use Blogger on my iPod Touch to publish a post, and a computer was not easily accessible. And with a busy schedule throughout the trip, I decided to temporarily relinquish my blog activities.

On the topic of iPods, someone asked me if it is worth getting one. The questioner already had a Blackberry, so he wasn’t seeking out a phone, but he wanted to know what added value an iPod Touch could bring into his life.  So I gave him a somewhat lengthy response that I will share with y’all in case you are wondering.

Think of an iPod Touch as a mini laptop, but lacking some features of a laptop and offering other features not in a laptop.

Like a laptop, you can type basic text as in an email or in a notepad. Listen to audio (including audio books) and watch videos. View pdf files. Store contacts. Use as a scheduler. Surf the web. Watch YouTube videos. Get weather updates instantly. Install one of the many tons of apps (software specifically designed for Mac products). Record live audio. Take photos/videos. Have live video conferencing. Get times for anywhere in the world. Get on Facebook. Monitor stocks/indices.

Limitations include:  Internet connection that is wifi only - you cannot have a data plan or have a wired connection. No GPS, though there is Google Maps that can be used with wifi, which really isn't helpful if you are on the road without a connection. No Flash player, which is used in many websites, though companies have used workarounds such as apps or websites designed specifically for Mac products, so as to mitigate the need for flash for iPod users. Not good for word processing, though you can type and store text in the notepad. No compass (will need an iPhone for that). Not good for multitasking – generally, only one app can be active at a time. My pet peeve with the iPod Touch is iTunes – the interface through which files (and apps) are transferred from your computer to your iPod. Very unintuitive (to me).

Advantages are: portability - capture your realizations, ideas, and tasks effortlessly. Have a dictionary/thesaurus and the Quran (and they don't require internet connection) in the palm of your hand, and read / 'touch' the Quran without wudu. Store identity information, books, images, and docs. Email family and friends from pretty much anywhere – most hotels and many restaurants/cafes offer complementary wifi connection. For calls, use Skype (with a wifi connection). Type in Arabic using an Arabic Keyboard. Use Paltalk for chat forums. Record your workout regimen – and even view different types of workouts. Set reminders for tasks. Know prayer times for any place in the world, which is very handy when travelling and when on a long flight. Do banking such as making bill payments or transferring money. All of this without subscription to any phone/data plan.

In general, my iPod is my second brain. What I mean by that is that I use it for storage, reference, and reminders. David Allen, the productivity guru, is big on clearing the mind from all tasks that need to get done. The mind is not good at remembering phone numbers, appointments, anniversaries, library book due dates, the grocery list, renewal dates, addresses, etc. Any project, task, or reference information should be emptied from the mind and stored in some external device that is checked regularly e.g., an iPod. The mind is good for creating ideas, reflecting, understanding, and problem solving, and that is what it should be used for. I have found that by having this ‘second brain’, my ability to focus during prayers and other moments of focus has increased considerably, because my mind does not need to struggle trying to remember incomplete or upcoming tasks. I let my iPod do that for me.

I am not suggesting that the iPod Touch is the best device for what I use it for. There may be other devices that do just as well or better. I just happened to purchase an iPod Touch and found it generally serves my needs and has significantly increased my productivity.

BTW an iPhone has all the capabilities of an iPod Touch plus the phone, GPS, and data plan capability. I don’t have a cell phone, but if I wanted one, I would probably get an iPhone. Yup, I don’t carry a cell phone. I don’t want to be accessible all the time, or provide instantaneous responses, or carry empty conversations, or misuse my tongue. I don’t want to be so connected to creation that it affects my connection to the Creator. These concerns can be witnessed in Makkah and Madinah where people are physically standing in front of the Ka’bah or the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon Him) while their attention is on their phone. I personally saw someone surfing the web on their Blackberry while they were making tawaf around the Ka’bah. 

On the other hand, with an iPod Touch, I am selectively connected (via email) when I can get a wifi connection, and when I choose to be connected – without paying a cent. That way, I am still reachable, just not immediately. And I can still communicate with others without being interrupted.

Alright, some of you may be wondering where I went for seven weeks… or maybe not, but I’m going to tell you anyways. My first destination was the holy city of Karachi, Pakistan. Yes, I survived, and am alive and well. More on that and my other destinations in my next post, inshaAllah.

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