That’s It. I’ve joined the cult.

Of the iTouch, that is.

It start­ed rel­a­tive­ly inno­cent­ly. I got my first iPod this sum­mer, final­ly giv­ing up the wee lit­tle MP3 play­er that has served me fair­ly well for years. That and an old­er Palm PDA were all I need­ed, right? I mean, I’m not the pod­cast nut, and I’m at home most of the time any­way, so I’ve got all the music I could want at my fin­ger­tips any­time I want it.

I final­ly admit­ted that I’d out­grown those solu­tions and per­mit­ted an iPod clas­sic into my life. I was shocked when I real­ized just how much music would fit into 120 GB, believe you me! Then I got some­what obses­sive about get­ting every­thing tagged prop­er­ly. And adding cov­ers. I’m try­ing, very, very hard, real­ly, to resist the feel­ing that all the albums should be com­plete and all the songs should have lyrics. They don’t all have to be per­fect. Right?1OCD? Who, me?

I refused Sam’s sug­ges­tion of an iTouch at the time. Nope. Did­n’t need one. No way, no how. Could­n’t imag­ine it. The Palm T|X I’d inher­it­ed from him was more than suf­fi­cient, thank you. Con­tacts, cal­en­dar, med­ical infor­ma­tion for all of us, first aid ref­er­ence, an entire library of books, Pock­et Quick­en, Bejew­eled, Glyph, Mahjongg, migraine and mood track­ers, WWCalc, Doc­u­ments to Go, jour­nal, ear train­ing coach, photos—yep, got it all, thanks. The PDA had occa­sion­al con­nec­tion foibles, and Pal­mOS absolute­ly will not sup­port WPA2, so I can only con­nect via Blue­tooth on one of our PCs (I’m not self­ish enough to demand that the wire­less router be left unse­cured so that I can play with my PDA!). But I was home pret­ty much 24/7, so it still was­n’t that big a deal.

I res­olute­ly avoid­ed even touch­ing Sam’s pre­cious, part­ly because he want­ed me to fall in love with it so much. He praised it. He waxed enthu­si­as­tic. He got more effi­cient because of sweet lit­tle things like Gro­cery Gad­get.

I have to say I’ve been very, very glad of the iPod over the last week, as the pow­er sup­ply on my desk­top died, and with­out the iPod, I would­n’t have access to most of my favorite music! We had to ship the pow­er sup­ply back to the man­u­fac­tur­er to get it replaced, and are still wait­ing for the new one, so I’m using the lap­top for now. I adore my lap­top, but that’s not where I store the music most of the time. The iPod has saved my sanity.

Any­way, things have changed a bit from this sum­mer to now. I’m out and about more, going to sev­er­al appoint­ments a week. That’s part­ly thanks to hav­ing a new­er, more reli­able car, and part­ly thanks to hav­ing a sweet lit­tle scoot­er that great­ly improves my mobil­i­ty. In any case, I’m not at home as much, so hav­ing reli­able infor­ma­tion at my fin­ger­tips is more impor­tant than ever—as is portable music to block out the nois­es of the world around me while in all those wait­ing rooms.

And the PDA is get­ting more and more annoy­ing. Airset, the ser­vice we’ve used for the past few years to share fam­i­ly infor­ma­tion, has got­ten real­ly annoy­ing recent­ly, and just will not put con­tacts into the address book I spec­i­fy when I syn­chro­nize. I end up with mul­ti­ple copies of them in my per­son­al address book with dif­fer­ent tags, and none in the shared address book, so Sam and Katie can’t get to the infor­ma­tion when they need to do so. I got fed up enough this week that we start­ed up the lat­est round of the quest for work­ing, afford­able fam­i­ly group­ware. And hon­est­ly, being on more than one plat­form just makes that more com­plex than it needs to be.

So as of tonight, I’m the own­er of an iTouch. It’s syn­chro­niz­ing now. It won’t have every­thing I’ve come to expect on the PDA—for instance, Read­er­Ware does­n’t run on that plat­form, but there is a sug­gest­ed workaround for it. It has some things I could­n’t get on the Pal­mOS, like the new offi­cial Weight Watch­ers appli­ca­tion, Gro­cery Gad­get, Pan­do­ra, etc. I haven’t found any­thing that comes any­where close to the func­tion­al­i­ty of Health­Files Plus, unfor­tu­nate­ly.2Wake­field­soft has a new ver­sion that’s cloud-based! There are iTouch/iPhone apps that might come close, but there isn’t a com­pan­ion desk­top appli­ca­tion for any of the ones I’ve seen, and there’s sim­ply no way I’m going to sit down and enter all of my and Katie’s med­ical infor­ma­tion and his­to­ry into any portable device!

So speak to me, oh fel­low cultists. What are your favorite appli­ca­tions? (I’m not one for games so much, except the puz­zle sort, hon­est­ly, although I did grab some of the free ones.) And while we’re at it, how do you and your spouse/partner/kids keep your cal­en­dars and shared con­tact infor­ma­tion syn­chro­nized? How do you han­dle tasks and lists? Or are you back­ing away very, very slow­ly from the con­trol freaks who would even con­sid­er fam­i­ly groupware?

I know what my fam­i­ly did when I was grow­ing up, and what (I think) my par­ents still do. Mom kept a cal­en­dar on the kitchen wall, and some things went on it, and some things were for­got­ten. Peo­ple made appoint­ments while away from the house and if they con­flict­ed with some­thing already on the cal­en­dar, there was a big to-do with mak­ing calls and chang­ing them. Num­bers and address­es were scrib­bled in a book that was kept in the microwave cab­i­net, or on pieces of paper stuffed into that book, or some­times on scraps of paper stuck on the fridge with mag­nets. Or maybe they were in Dad­dy’s pock­ets, and he’d emp­ty his pock­ets at the end of the day, and they’d live on his dress­er for a while, and…you get the pic­ture. In any case, every­body asked Mom about how to con­tact so-and-so and what was hap­pen­ing when, and if she could find the infor­ma­tion you were in luck, and if she could­n’t you were out of it, and if it was a bad time, oh well. So Mom had to put up with peo­ple who real­ly should have been able to look all that up them­selves bug­ging her when I’m quite sure she had plen­ty of oth­er things to do. In fact, to this day, if I want to know how to reach most of the extend­ed fam­i­ly, I have to call Mom! After I became the Mom­my, I decid­ed pret­ty ear­ly on that I did­n’t want to be the keep­er of a book under the microwave or any of that stuff, so I focused on set­ting up access to infor­ma­tion rather than being the source of it myself.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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