Technology is usually meant to make your life better. While it can often be more frustrating than anything else, I find that it does occasionally have a clearly positive impact.
Here are the four tech innovations that made a meaningful difference for me this year…
Apple Pay on My Apple Watch Replaced My Credit Card
I didn’t really feel the impact of Apple Pay when I had access to it on my iPhone. I still had to pull my iPhone out of my pocket… so the physical exercise was mostly the same as sliding a credit card out of my wallet.
Plus, I was still locked into the mindset of having to use my credit card and chipping/swapping it. The concept of contactless payments still felt foreign, and I just couldn’t get comfortable with it.
Then I tried Apple Pay with my new Apple Watch, and I finally experienced my ‘breakthrough.’
By simply double clicking the side of my Apple Watch to activate Apple Pay and then holding my wrist near the payment terminal to complete my payment… that simplicity and convenience really opened my eyes to the obvious benefit of Apple Pay.
It’s so fast. Plus, I don’t have to play roulette with the payment terminal to see if my credit card’s chip (or the payment terminal) is going to malfunction again.
GoPro Became My New Family Vacation Camera
My GoPro allowed me to finally go on vacation with my family and not stress over the possibility of destroying my camera if I tried to snap a photo.
I used to treat the beach like the landscape of a hostile foreign planet. The corrosive nature of salt water was clear and if nothing else , the salty, moist air would quickly cloud the lens. A tiny molecule of sand could fly by and wedge itself into the lens mechanism, immediately immobilizing it.
In short, the beach was a clear danger zone for my vacation photography.
But my new GoPro was essentially impervious to these threats.
- Sand? HA!
- Underwater? Now we’re talking!!
- How about some slow motion video? Yes, please!
I should mention it’s a good idea to wash your GoPro with fresh water after a day of action at the beach.
(Dried salt moisture can seal the little watertight doors in place, making it difficult to pop the battery or memory card out.)
This year, I was finally able to capture some fun family shots at the beach and also have fun while doing it…
I Generated Whole-House Wireless Internet Using Mesh WiFi
I lived for years with spotty WiFi in our house. The weakest WiFi signal was actually in our bedroom. That’s such a bummer, right?
I thought about extending the signal of my Apple Airport Extreme many times, but I was concerned about degrading my WiFi. So, I did nothing…
Until I read that Apple had exited the WiFi router business. And I finally decided to make a change…
I retired my Apple Airport Extreme.
And upgraded to a new WiFi mesh system:
- The Orbi RBK50, made by Netgear
My Orbi consists of a base unit, which essentially replaced my Apple Airport Extreme and a satellite device, which I placed in the center of my house. Together, the two devices successfully created a large enough WiFi bubble to reach all corners of our little house.
Suddenly, whole-house WiFi became the standard throughout the Lester universe.
I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to check your email before your head hits the pillow and see strong WiFi bars.
YouTube TV Made Me Cut the Cord
I cut the cord this year.
…Can I say that again?
Yep, I cut the cord this year.
I replaced my cable service with YouTube TV, which is an app that streams all of the cable networks I want for just $40/month.
Yes, I’m still paying Cablevision for my internet… so technically the cord is still technically tethered.
But I returned my cable box, and my decades long relationship with an industry that helped to define my existence finally entered a more enlightened reality.
I’m saving money, only paying for what I want, gaining a sense of control and successfully trying something new.
I highly recommend it.
Don’t Forget the Human Factor
I know these ‘headaches’ that technology has helped to alleviate are First World problems.
(I do understand that.)
And I’m thankful I get to complain about these particular issues.
That said, if you’re fortunate enough to have the resources to play with technology, then technology should simply play nicely with you.
And sometimes, you’ve got rely on the human equation to figure out how to really make technology work… for you.