How Dedicated Things Are Better

Refocus

Hey there, blogosphere! Hope your 2020 is going well. My blog pace has slowed down in the last few months, but I’m still cruisin’ along here. This post is on the tech verve. Last week, my brain started to re-notice how single-purpose devices or services are often better than their multi-function counterparts. So here’s a re-visit of this tech topic.


Hardware

One of the things that stands out clearly for single-purpose devices is their clear direction. It’s the fact that when you look at some ‘thing’, you know it does this one thing. Like old-school point-n-shoot cameras, when you see one, you know exactly what it does and what it’s for. It exists for one purpose: taking pictures (oh okay, videos too I guess, so “images” that are either still or moving). So simplicity and clarity are nice benefits of solo-function-focus.

There’s another great advantage to a mono-tasked gadget: capability. Sticking with the camera example, not only do you know exactly what it does, you know it excels at what it does. Every part of the camera is designed with the explicit purpose of taking great photos. They typically have more functions and buttons to control the photo-graphing experience and produce the one thing it lives for: pictures.

It’s pretty obvious that certain gadgets do one thing and do it well. While a smartphone or a tablet can do a lot of things, sometimes single-purpose gizmos are best. Besides a camera, I tend to note the eReader (e.g. a kindle) is best for simply reading lots of books. And hand-held gaming devices, like Nintendo’s 3DS line or the Switch, excel at gaming (dedicated buttons!) more than a phone or tablet. These are examples of hardware tailor-built to one certain task. But the single-purpose paradigm also benefits software.

Software

Let’s start with the example of Microsoft Word. It’s a word processor made to do one thing: process words. Right? True, yet many people also know that Word was once a really simple program. But over the years, Word’s feature-set grew; its capabilities stretched beyond processing just words to processing whole documents of many sorts. Its simplicity in doing one thing was obscured by complexity, going beyond just typing and editing text.

Another good example of single-purpose software is a Journaling app. For many years, I used general note-taking apps for journaling in addition to storing all my notes across different subjects. Most general purpose note apps let you organize or distinguish your groups of notes, either in folders or with tags, for example. So I just set my journal entries apart as dictated by the notes-app. This worked well enough for bare bones journaling.

Then I found a dedicated journaling app that I actually like to use. Other note apps can store my daily musings, but a single-purpose journal app can do more and better, all while keeping things simple. The journal app I settled on is called, “Journey.” It has many features for journaling that a general multi-purpose note-app lacks, such as a calendar that shows your daily entries and a graph that shows your recorded moods over time. (For my more in-depth review of Journey, click this link.)

Companies

Since we’re talking about note apps, I should go ahead and note another category of single-purpose entities. Just as hardware and software can be singular-focused, so can software companies; they can be dedicated to doing one thing well. So both Apple and Google make many different software apps. In addition, Apple makes hardware, and now they also make services and entertainment content! Of the software, Apple makes a notes-app, and they also make Apple Music. While both are great, I’ve discovered that there’s an advantage to single-purpose companies for software and services.

Committed to notes, the company I like is Evernote. They exist to do one thing and do it remarkably well: create and maintain an app and cloud service for note taking. That’s it! They’re all about notes. The company’s purpose is laser-focused into a robust and reliable note-taking platform. All their energy and dedication go to providing people a way to record, store, and manage notes. Their reputation is banked on notes, nothing else. That’s their single-purpose.

And because they exist outside and independent of Apple or Google and those respective platforms, Evernote’s third-party status means they’re available everywhere. If you use them to take all your notes on an iPhone but then switch to an Android phone, you won’t lose your notes. Heck, you won’t need to migrate or transfer them either. Just sign-in on your new device and you’re good to go!

My last example is music. All the songs! I tried Apple’s and Google’s music streaming offerings…in the end, I settled with Spotify, a company with one function, a single-purpose: provide an awesome music service everywhere you are, be it on iPhone or Android or Windows or Chrome. All of Spotify’s resources are committed to excelling at this one thing: music streaming. Their mission is straightforward, and their vision is not clouded by side-projects. They just do music, and they stake their entire reputation on just that. So they strive to be the best at the one thing they do. As a Spotify subscriber, that gives me confidence in using their app and service across my Apple and Google devices.


The Point

So this post has kinda stacked the deck towards single-purpose things. But I do agree to the counter-notion that multi-use devices have their place too. As with most things, each person should weigh the pros and cons of whatever it is you are using or might consider using. Basically, smartphones are a “jack-of-all-trades” and master most of those multi-purpose skills. But as good as my iPhone is, sometimes a “real” camera is better. And I generally prefer my kindle for eReading.

You get the idea. So maybe think a little about what kind of device(s) you prefer. And go with what works best for ya.


Do you find single-purpose devices better? What do you prefer? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Good Morning My Muse

Here’s a little update about my writing endeavors. I’m still plugging away at it. No novel in the works, but novella ideas here and there. Mostly I’m focused on blogging. Finding time is usually the roadblock, so I was driven to find a way around.


Morning

I want to write regularly, but my schedule is so regularly filled with other things that writing falls by the wayside. That’s funny, because if I’m a blogger, then writing should be the regular thing my time is filled with.

Since it’s a matter of time, it was time to take action and make a change in course. So now I get up earlier in the morning with the express purpose of just drafting stuff. Just 30 extra minutes of quiet focused solitude. And coffee, of course. There’s always coffee.

I get up early. I get my keyboard, my iPad, my coffee. I open Ulysses. By this time, 5 or so minutes after swinging the legs onto the floor and taking on the vertical challenge, my eyes are mostly open and my brain is starting to fire on all the neurons.

Then I start writing. Usually I draft. Sometimes I’m editing. I almost always have at least a few posts started. They’re ideas I’ve jotted down during random moments throughout the day.

Muse

You’ve likely heard about the thing called a muse. Like it’s some kind of imaginary magical writing fairy that floats into your subconscious and taps you on the head with a word-wand. Next thing you know, the latest New York Times best seller is flowing through your fingertips.

It’s not quite like that.

I don’t get up early in the morning to let a muse visit me for writing. The early morning is my “muse.” The simple solitude and quiet, the time and space for me and my mind to focus, relax, and get into writing mode is all it really takes.

That simply means thinking more deeply than usual. It lets you chase those rabbits all the way to the end of the trail because there’s nothing else in the woods with you, no distractions1. So you get to see where the path leads and fully develop a thought, even approaching it from different angles.

For some people, their writing time is at night. Mine happens to be in the morning, while it’s still dark outside before sunrise. So technically that’s also night I guess. The point is I’ve got to take time and make space to write.


Take Time To Have Time

So it’s kinda simple. I don’t have to be Einstein and know how time and space work. I just need to know they work and then use them to write.

This is a good change of pace. Before, I didn’t know when I’d get to write except maybe during the weekend. But now, I know I get to have 30 minutes a morning, 5 days a week, plus likely on weekends.

It’s like the french dude’s one-liner in The Matrix Reloaded about time. If you don’t take time, then you won’t have time.


When do you like to write? Comment below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. My iPad goes into “Do Not Disturb” mode. That’s a handy feature!