Rohit's Realm

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August 10, 2008

The Other One: Confessions of an Unapologetic Adulterer

News that former presidential candidate John Edwards lied about an extramarital affair got me thinking about my own licentious ways and especially the torrid—and tawdry!—affair that I have been carrying on for past few years. Since it has transitioned from the realm of mere physical attraction to that of true emotional attachment, I can no longer keep it a secret. And unlike Messr. Edwards, who in a race to the bottom justified his affair on the basis that his wife's cancer was in remission, I will not attempt to effect disingenuous contrition; I stand proud and unapologetic over my adulterous ways.

Of course, since this is the Realm and not the Enquirer, the said adultery involves no women, only electronics. (Big surprise, right?) In the past three years I have increasingly been cheating on my beloved (but aging) PowerBook with the newer and hipper CrackBerry™. What started out as a mere transaction of convenience (instant access to work e-mail) has quickly become an indispensable part of my daily life. I can honestly say that I could not live without either at this point.

As all those more experienced in these sorts of things than me know, a mistress is not supposed to replace the wife; she is something on the side to fill in the (sexual) gaps (what?). With the CrackBerry™, however, I can now perform many crucial daily activities without ever accessing the PowerBook (or any one of my four other machines). Of these activities, probably most significant is e-mail.

E-mail is one of the greatest innovations of our time, and concomitantly, one of the worst evils ever unleashed on mankind. In March 2007, I (finally) gave up hosting my own e-mail (wow, I was hardcore back then), and outsourced it to Google. Soon thereafter, I adopted the amazing Inbox Zero methodology. For those not in the know, Inbox Zero basically treats e-mail as actions, and has dramatically increased my productivity since I made the plunge. (Obviously that is a very cursory explanation; check it out. It will change your life.)

Under Inbox Zero, each incoming e-mail is instantly processed; I use one of four actions:

  1. Read and archive, if it is purely informational and not too long;
  2. Read, follow up, and archive if I can in less than five minutes;
  3. Read and leave in my Inbox if I need to act upon it within the day and it will take more than five minutes; or
  4. Read, star, and archive, if it needs to be dealt with at a later date.

Since all my various e-mail accounts now feed directly into my 'berry, they are processed on the spot. Indeed, there are only two things for which I access e-mail on my computer anymore these days:

  1. To read long and highly technical articles my father tends to send me on an almost daily basis that cannot be read comfortably on the small 'berry screen; or
  2. To follow up on an e-mail that contained media (e.g., link to YouTube) that does not work on the 'berry.

Quite literally, I spend less than ten minutes per day on my computer with e-mail. Is that ridiculous or what?

The 'berry has also managed to replace many other tasks, but not fully. I conduct much of my Facebooking (is that a word? really?) on the 'berry, including reading and responding to messages and wall posts. (Of course, the lonely Saturday nights staring at pictures of friends of friends are better accomplished on a computer, but that much should be obvious.) Similarly, I alternate between the computer and the mobile for news feeds; the mobile Google Reader is pretty nifty and works well.

All that said, there are still some things for which the 'berry is ill-suited, and I do not see myself getting rid of any computers any time soon. Programming, research, writing, and other activities are but a few for which a computer is indispensable and screen real estate matters. But being constantly connected to the world via a smartphone has allowed me to optimize my time and enhance my productivity tenfold—if not more. As for those who complain that the 'berry is a distraction, I see your point, but there is an easy solution: when you really need to concentrate, put the 'berry on quiet and put it where you cannot see the light. Check it once an hour or so. Problem solved.

Going forward, consumption is only going to move further into the handheld realm as people try to strike a healthy balance between computers and other devices. The productivity increase is too great for it to be any other way. Rather than complaining about it, we should embrace it. Too bad it does not work that way spouses, right? Or at least that is what Edwards must be wondering right about now.


You should be shot for this post. Beware my return to Chicago.

Do you use the GMail app on your 'berry, or do you use the built-in Blackberry email? And if you use the built-in functionality, do you star / archive from it? I'm curious as to how others integrate their Blackberries with GMail.

Also, the picture in the lower left corner of your site, staring out of the darkness at me, is slightly creepy.

When are you going to start cheating on your crackberry with an iphone?

How much goddamn email do you get, such that you need Inbox Zero?

@Darren: Don't hate. You know you wish you had a 'berry. And as I recall, the wifey is getting pretty old.

@Streeter: I use a combo of both actually. At first, I only used the Gmail app, but it has its flaws; notably, it doesn't allow the "1/7" keys to move to the top or bottom, which I find frustrating. I set it up so all e-mails sent from the 'berry built-in on my Gmail account bcc me, so I can still have the conversation look/feel in the web browser and respond from the 'berry.

The problem is, there is no way to star or archive directly from the 'berry, so that's why I keep the Gmail app around.

And yeah, that is creepy. A rogue Technorati Javascript seems to be the cause. Taking it out now...

@Farouk: Not any time soon! I'm not convinced of the iPhone's magical ways—yet. I'm still very much a CrackBerry man.

@Tom: Not crazy amounts, but I am subscribed to a variety of open source list serves which can get noisy at times. But I don't think volume of e-mail needs to be high to effectively employ Inbox Zero.

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