I’m a believer in continuous learning. It’s one of the reasons I believe college is overrated (a finite education period doesn’t seem all that useful in a world where you can fall behind in a blink of the eye). In addition to continuous learning, I believe in experiential learning (learning by doing). Simple example, if you want to learn how to play basketball go play some basketball. You’ll learn a little by reading a book about basketball, but you’ll learn a lot more by actually doing it. The same goes for programming, construction work, running a business, or pretty much anything.
About a month ago I was in TX for our family Christmas. I noticed something interesting among the group – most of the learning was being experienced by the older family members and the teaching was coming from the younger family members. I literally watched my 11 year old cousin teach my 50 year old uncle how to use his iPhone. My little brother was teaching my parents how to use the video camera. And another cousin was teaching my grandparents how to connect to the wifi on their new iPad. This was intriguing to me on many levels.
I thought about how backwards (and cool) it would have seemed if my grandma was teaching her grandkids something new about technology. I developed a goal that when I’m a grandparent to stay on top of technology to the point where I can at least teach my grandkids something new about the technology of their time. Maybe not know more than them, but at least know a few things they don’t.
In an effort to accomplish my goal I am trying to instill continuous and experiential learning into my every day life. I plan to learn a new piece of technology every week and post it on this blog. It can be something very simple, but must benefit me in some way.
Here are a few things I learned in 2012 that would qualify:
1. Waze – A better navigation app than maps on the iPhone. Also includes reporting of traffic jams, accidents, and police.
2. Boomerang – Gmail plugin that lets you send email at a later time. Comes in handy when you are writing messages late at night and don’t want the recipient to see your odd work schedule.
3. Rapportive – Gmail plugin that shows you everyhing about your contacts. It pulls info from their LinkedIn, Facebook, and other online profiles.
4. Flux – It makes the color of your monitor display adapt to the time of day, warm at night, cold during the day. It’s supposed to help you sleep better.
5. Audible – Not a new service by any means, but I just started using it in 2012. I don’t like to read, but I don’t mind listening. I read about 10 times as many books in 2012 as I did in 2011 thanks to audio books.
6. Shutterfly – Turn your photos into books or cards. It’s really easy to use and makes a great gift.
7. Venmo – Pay your friends from your phone. It’s simple. Takes about 5 minutes to setup and can change the way you think about money (literally)
8. Posterous – Makes micro blogging a cinch. Came in handy for my picture a day project.
9. Postagram – I’m terrible at sending thank you cards or anything by snail mail. This app allows you to deliver a postcard from your phone and include a picture for $1.
10. Trello – A collaborative todo list tool. I mostly use it on my laptop, but there is also a mobile app. Great for sharing todo lists and managing small projects.