Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The day the devices stayed off

Greetings from Analog Saturday. This post began its life as scratchings in a notebook, pen on paper.

After a week in which probably 80 percent of my waking hours were spent staring at computer screens of varying sizes, as I turned off my home computer Friday night I had a sudden “I’m not going to do this anymore” impulse and declared a screen-free Saturday.

One thing I did Saturday morning was nothing. For a few minutes I just sat in the easy chair and looked around the living room and out the window. I could feel tension melt out of my shoulders and hands. I heartily endorse occasionally doing nothing.

Another thing I did was pick up a book. Now, I’ve migrated a lot of my reading to my Kindle, but that marvelous device has the same flaw as a computer or tablet or smartphone — too many conflicting choices. There’s only one book in a print book, nothing to divert your attention.

(Sidebar: Can you guess my book by its first sentence? I wouldn’t have been able: “In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army.”)

I think our screen-based work and play devices tend to infect us with a bit of attention deficit disorder. The fact that we can do so many things with them is both a blessing and a curse. It’s hard to concentrate on one thing when something else is just a click away.

You’re reading a book and an email chimes in. You’re replying to the email and that reminds you of something you wanted to look up on the web. You’re trying to research that and someone texts you. You’re replying to the text and someone calls.

It’s not a smartphone. It’s a collection of infinite rabbit holes.

It was not easy leaving the devices off all day. In fact, I had to cheat once, to make sure I had enough money in the checking account to take Red on a date Saturday night. (“The Imitation Game,” two thumbs up.) So it was a 99.5 percent computer-free Saturday.

Being disconnected from the world felt a little weird. But by the end of the day, I felt more connected with myself than I had for a while. And at the end of the day, that sense of self is probably the most important connection of them all.

(Oh, and the book was “A Study in Scarlet” by Arthur Conan Doyle, the story that introduced Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Sorry to keep you waiting. Or did you take a moment and Google it?)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The most effective Super Bowl commercials

Because I need a life, I wrote down all of the ads that ran during Sunday's Super Bowl game and took notes on my instant reaction. I came to an interesting conclusion about which ones were the most effective.

Briefly, here are my favorite ads – not necessarily the most effective.
1. The lost puppy rescued from the wild by his Budweiser Clydesdale friend.
2. Bryan Cranston as Breaking Bad's Walter White in a pharmacy for esurance.
3. Pete Rose "in the hall" of his own home for Skechers.
4. A public service announcement about what it means to do things "Like a Girl."
5. Centenarians speak words of wisdom for Dodge, founded in 1914. "You learn a lot in 100 years."

But the most effective? Jeff Bridges sitting in a chair, running his finger around the edge of an earthen mug, and chanting like a Gregorian monk, with the subtitle ""

Why is this the most effective, at least for me? Because later that night I went to to find out what the heck that commercial was about. I learned about Squarespace and will consider using the product when I get around to redesigning my websites.

And that's the point of spending millions on a single television ad, right? To recoup your investment by making sales. To motivate the viewer to act.

Honorable mention: The trailers for Tomorrowland, an interesting-looking movie I was only dimly aware of, and for Terminator: Genisys, which I wasn't inclined to go watch but now might.

Cross-posted to Uncle Warren's Attic

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl 49: Mind-boggling plays, puppies and horses, dancing sharks

Super Bowl 49 summary: 

Two mind-boggling plays in the last minute. As for the second one, worst play-call ever. Ever! 

I still love the puppy-Clydesdale ads. Walter White for esurance was best and funniest surprise. Pete Rose in the hall for Skechers also fun. 

Most visually arresting halftime show ever; will see happy sharks and beachballs in my dreams (nightmares?) for years to come.

Cross-posted to Uncle Warren's Attic