Thursday, September 20, 2012

6 Months with my Windows Phone - Still A Fan

There's been a lot of smart phone hype over the last couple of weeks.  A LOT of hype.  There are new Android phones, new Windows phones, and of course, new Apple phones.  Seeing all of the new phones with their new features (except for the broken maps feature on the iPhone) makes me want one.  I can't help it, I love new techie things.

So this post is a little self-therapy.  Something to help me appreciate what I have instead of longing for something I don't.

It's been close to 6 months since I got my Windows Phone and I still love it!  I did an initial review of the phone back in April and it hasn't disappointed me since.  I use the calendars to keep track of my personal and my work schedules.  I also get to peek in on my wife's schedule so that I don't double book her for something.  Honestly, I don't know how I got along without just the calendars.  Seeing what's going on with the family, the reminders for appointments, and the feeling that my life somewhere near being under control is really nice.

I also like the contacts, especially that it aggregates my Windows Live, Facebook, Linked In, and Google contacts into one.  It's a LOT easier to find people that I need to get ahold of.

I like the texting (organizing everything into one thread per person), the weather app, the flashlight app (I use that one a lot!) and I can't say enough good things about the GPS app, Nokia Drive.  It has not steered me wrong yet.  It's easy to use and easy to follow the turn by turn directions.  It's made vacations a lot less stressful and helped me find things a lot faster.  It's also a great media player.  I have my music as well as General Conference, and some of the kids' music on there.  Oh, and did I mention I can make calls with it too?

So, here's the deal.  It makes my life easier, more organized, and less stressful.  It's not magical, it's just a tool and used properly, any tool can make your life better.

So, with all of the hype over the new things coming out, I have to sit back and think - what do those new phones do (that's useful to me) that my phone doesn't?  The answer:  I don't know.

I guess that means, I get to sit back, watch all the people lining up for the latest and greatest and think:  "There are a lot of people spending a lot of time, effort, and money to get a device that, arguably, will not save them any more time, effort, or money than their current device."  I may need to repeat that to myself a few times but at the end of the day, at least for me, it really is true.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

When Government Gets Out of Balance

I had a thought hit me the other day.  Have you ever seen that movie, I Robot?  The premise is simple, people built robots to make their lives easier.  As robots began to do more and more things, more and more people started using and, in some cases, depending on them.  The robots are controlled by a central computer that uploads updates, etc. to them.  Well, at a certain point, the central computer decides that humans are not capable of taking care of themselves and turns the robots from servants of humanity to their masters.  Now it's the robots who make the decisions, set the schedules and determine what's right and wrong - of course, it's all in the name of protecting humans from each other.  After all, if you're not allowed to make your own choices, there's no crime, no violence, no bickering ... no freedom.

So here we are with a modern government that has some of the same attributes as that central computer.  Government (at least in this country) was formed by the will of the people with the purpose of making life easier - you know, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.  For over 200 years, our government has fulfilled its purpose and served the people of the United States.  However, I worry that there are those in government - some of our elected representatives even - who feel that we the people cannot take care of ourselves.  They feel that government needs to do more for us.  They don't feel this way because they want power (although I sure some of them do) but they earnestly desire to help people.  Unfortunately, the victim is the very essence of our liberty, personal responsibility.

We live in a free country.  Not free as in you can do whatever you want with no consequence, but free as in you make your own choices but are responsible for those choices.  One of the primary responsibilities of our government is to make a level playing field so that we can succeed or fail on the same terms as everybody else.  We have regulations and break up monopolies so that businesses don't have unfair advantages.  We have constitutional protections to make sure that government isn't oppressive.  That's the purpose of government, in my opinion, to give everybody the same opportunities for success - rich or poor, it doesn't matter; whatever situation of life, it doesn't matter - with hard work and a little luck, anybody can be successful.  That is what government is for.

Does it always work?  Of course not.  Things get out of balance.  Programs and policies suffer from unintended consequences.  People make mistakes.  That's life.  The question is, how do we get things back in balance?  People tend to go in one of two different directions:  One extreme says that government needs to exert more control, control more things, make more decisions, dig deeper in.  The other extreme says that government needs to pull out entirely, just turn and walk away.  I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  Government is doing a balancing act.  Laws, regulations, programs, etc. are necessary to keep the playing field even.  However, too much government and we start to lose our liberty and run the risk of a big brother state.  Too little government, on the other hand, and we risk anarchy and chaos.  The answer lies in the middle: balance.  Enough regulation to keep the playing field even while having enough freedom to allow for huge success as well as huge failure.  Why both?  I submit that you cannot have success without risking failure.  Not only that, but many successes are built on failures and what was learned from them.

It should be government's responsibility to make things possible for everybody and it's our responsibility to take advantage of those possibilities.  We may not always succeed but we can always grow, and when we do succeed, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that it was our accomplishment.  We built this!