This is the final edition of our series, Pocketables Editor Spotlight, that shines the spotlight on each of our editors. Last week, we got to know an associate editor of Pocketables, Paul E. King, and today we’ll get to know another associate editor of Pocketables: Andreas Ødegård.
I honestly have no idea how I got so into tech. I was late to both the PC and internet party, and for a long time I visited the local library to get my internet fix on. I was late in getting a cellphone, a laptop, and pretty much every other device type. All I can really remember is that somewhere along the way, I ended up on Anything But iPod, which is now our sister site. I became a forum moderator, and when a spot opened up on the front page, I got a chance to try out for the position – in spite of being a weird Norwegian dude with perhaps slightly questionable English skills. That was four and a half years ago, and since then I’ve continued to write for Anything But iPod, was the Editor-in-Chief for Nothing But Tablets (which is now part of Pocketables), and poked my head into one or two other CrowdGather sites along the way. If anything, those four and a half years are what’s truly responsible for my tech obsession today.
I am, and perhaps always have been, known for my obsession with DIY. I was featured on the ABi front page before I ever started writing on it myself, and I still have the giant wooden Creative Zen Stone MP3 player I made back then. I’ve always been more about getting the most out device rather than always having the best devices, and both my DIY obsession and current Tasker obsession are results of that. I have decade-old images of device accessories I made while mobile devices were all for the most part “stupid,” and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Writing for ABi means that I’ve had more MP3 players than most (times a few), but my first “smart” mobile device was the Nokia N800. Whenever I play an HD video file on my current Galaxy S II, I am reminded of the days of having to encode videos to 400 x 240 pixels to make them play smoothly on the N800. I had a Viliv S 5 for a while before I eventually threw the “no Apple” policy out the window and got an iPhone 3GS, and later an iPad. I didn’t get into Android properly until the end of last year, as a brief encounter with an Android 1.6-based Archos 5 IT left me with few good things to say about the early versions of Android. Part of the reason was also that the iPad was, and still is, the only tablet I would ever use as a paper replacement for studies. Because of that, I’m currently split between iPad and Android, and I more or less gave up on the idea of a single OS being able to satisfy me a while ago.
My current devices are the iPad 2, Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, and Galaxy S II. The home screens for those can be seen below.
With that in mind, it’s on to questions from the other editors:
William Deveraux: How did you become such a big Android fanboy?
That question assumes that I actually am an Android fanboy, which isn’t the case. As I’ve expressed perhaps too often in articles, both Apple and Google annoy me in various ways, and there are aspects of both iOS and Android that make me lose faith in the companies behind them, as well as the future of the OSes themselves. As a result, I have both an iPad and two Android devices, and if one of those were to go, it would be the Android tablet – leaving me with an Android phone and an iPad. I wish there was an OS I was truly satisfied with, but there simply isn’t.
On the other hand, Android and iOS are the only two mobile OSes I take seriously at all. I don’t even bother getting upset over issues with the Blackberry Playbook OS or Symbian, the death of WebOS, or anything regarding Windows Phone 7 or Windows 8, simply because those are all OSes I find completely and utterly useless for my own needs. So, if anything, I’m an Android and iOS combo fanboy, if such a thing exists. If that’s how history will remember me, then the reason why I became just that is the same as so much else: Trial and error.
Jenn K. Lee: What is the greatest advantage or disadvantage of being a tech fan living outside the US?
The greatest disadvantage is definitely that so many things are US only, from devices like the Kindle Fire to services like Netflix. While I have been able to get access to both hardware and “software” from here in Norway, it’s definitely not as easy as it is for someone in the US to get their hands on it.
The greatest advantage has to be that our laws favor the consumer a lot more. We have laws that say that if a cellphone breaks for reasons not caused by the user within five years of purchase, it’s the manufacturer’s problem. There are plenty of examples of companies like Apple not being overly happy with having their own warranties made practically useless by country’s laws, and it amuses me to no end.
A lot of services are also comparatively cheaper here in Norway, with the prime example being cell phone services. I use the phone and SMS features of my phones extremely rarely, and instead rely on a 1GB/month data package. That data package doesn’t have any restrictions regarding tethering, and my total phone bill for a month (data included) is about the same as what you have to pay for a meal at McDonalds, to use a price conversion that is more true to income/price differences in the two countries than what a direct currency conversion is.
John Freml: What’s the one piece of technology or a gadget that you’ll never give up, no matter how old and outdated it gets?
More than half a decade ago, a pricing mistake at a local electronics store ended with me making an impulse buy for the Logitech mm28 portable speaker. It’s rather unique in that it uses a flat panel speaker design, something I haven’t seen on other portable speakers since. Having owned a variety of portable speakers since then, and having tried several of the current “latest and greatest” in portable speakers, I can only ask why on Earth it was discontinued. The sound quality is excellent, and it especially does lower frequencies a lot better than other portable speakers I’ve heard. Perhaps the most amazing feature is the 45 hour battery life off 4 AA batteries, which I can attest to being closer to the truth than for many products. It’s a speaker I’ve used year after year and am still loving, and manufacturers have to do a lot more than add Bluetooth to the same old battery-consuming cone speakers to make me retire it.
Aaron Orquia: What made you decide to keep your hardware instead of buying new stuff all the time? Was it just to see how far custom software could push the hardware once the manufacturer abandons it, or something else?
Well, the obvious answer is lack of money, or at least lack of willingness to spend the money. Aside from that though, I don’t ever want to be the person that jumps from one device to another as they get released, being little more than a slave to what manufacturers decide is innovation. Very little true innovation is happening right now anyways, as it’s mostly a matter of improving existing technology rather than coming up with new technology – and that isn’t a bad thing.
Take the Galaxy S III compared to my Galaxy S II: bigger, higher resolution screen; faster chip; and slightly better camera are pretty much the main differences as far as hardware goes, and Samsung’s software doesn’t impress me. All of those things would be nice to have, but it wouldn’t change the way I use my device. What did change the way I use my device was learning how to use Tasker properly. Having my computer monitors turn off when I go to bed, having an automatically updated status message letting family and friends know if I’m available, having clickable logos pop up on the screen for Gmail and Gtalk notifications, never having to wake up from a call in the middle of the night, having a todo list that notifies me when I wake up or leave the house – those are features that truly change the way I use my device, in a positive way.
Those features came from spending 35 NOK on an app and sitting down to learn how to use it, not from spending 5000 NOK on the latest hardware. If I had a lot of money, I would of course jump at a hardware update, but when a free update to a $1 app makes me more excited than Samsung, HTC, and Apple’s device announcements for the last year combined, that’s really an answer to your question in itself.
Paul E. King: Do you get frustrated being a DIY guy in a buy-this-new-thing world?
All the time. My brain basically thinks in rolls of duct tape and sticks of hot glue, and it’s the only way I know how to think. If I need a 2.34 meter audio cable, I make a 2.34 meter audio cable – I don’t buy a 3 meter one and hide part of it under the carpet. I’ve always prioritized function over form, but unfortunately, most of the world is the other way around. That means that stores that sell DIY parts are few and far between, and you’re more than a little optimistic if you think HTC or Samsung is going to release a phone with IO pins under the battery door. When nothing is made to work in any other way than one, every DIY job becomes a battle, and that’s naturally more than a little bit frustrating.
Calob Horton: Since you live outside the USA, you can see how messed up our ISP, TV, andcarrier situation is. What do you think the first step to fixing the problem here is, based on what has gone on where you live?
I think you over-estimate how much someone from outside the US cares about what goes on there, but then again, I haven’t even watched Norwegian TV broadcasts in over half a decade, and I haven’t had to deal with ISPs for two years either. So I don’t really know what’s going on locally, either.
The carrier situation is something I do know a bit about though, if only bits and pieces I’ve picked up here and there. Like I already said in response to Jenn’s question, we have very different laws over here, and that’s perhaps part of the reason why our carrier situation is less “messed up.” Norway also has a much smaller population than the US, so things like carrier-specific versions of devices simply wouldn’t make sense over here. In the US, it seems that law suits are a company’s biggest problem. Over here, it’s the consumer authorities. Apple, Microsoft, and many other companies can attest to that.
If those two reasons really are responsible, then applying that to the US isn’t exactly going to be easy. You can’t very well cut the population down to about 1.5% of what it is, and I don’t even know where to begin with speculating about implementing similar market control and consumer laws in the US. The two countries are very different in so many ways, and I think that any problems on either side can be traced back to much more than what is visible on the surface.
Bryan Faulkner: What led you to being a DIYer?
My father works in electronics repair, one of my grandfathers was a mechanic, and my other grandfather was into woodworking. If there ever was a time to “blame” something on genetics and upbringing, I think this would be it. When you grow up learning how to rinse the VCR with a piece of copy paper and build your own toys out of wood in the garage, it’s perhaps not that weird that you end up creating giant wooden MP3 players that actually work.