Technology tag

On Trial: Technology on the Appalachian Trail

Technology and the Appalachian Trail

I recently received the following e-mail:

“Hi, Zach

Considering that you had your iphone with you the whole time, I was wondering if you’d given any thought to how truly disconnected you were?  Or to how truly connected you were to nature/outdoors/the AT because you were listening to music and audiobooks while hiking?  I’m not judging, I’m just wondering what a different experience hikers from 10 years ago would have had with no option for those kinds of distractions or entertainment on the trail.

I don’t know if that was your intent while hiking (I came to the Good Badger late in the game), but was wondering if you’d thought about it.

One day, I hope to hike the AT.  It was on my to-do list for my early twenties, but life got in the way.

Congratulations on finishing, and I look forward to the book.”


Not only is this a fair point, but I’m guessing some of you have had this same question.   I feel as though this is an issue worth examining because as technology improves, becomes more mobile, more affordable, and universally accessible, it will only become more prominent on the trail, and thus a more polarizing topic.

The Complainant’s Case

The Appalachian Trail is a unique experience.  The physical challenge associated with a half year’s worth of hiking is unlike anything most humans would ever fathom.  But even more unique Read more

The ADHD Guide to CES [Video]

I’m always seeking reasons to make the quick 5 hour drive over to Las Vegas.

“What?! It’s the 4th Annual Rare Ceramics Conference?!  PACK YOUR BAGS BITCH WE’RE GOING!”

However when the year’s top new technology conference is being hosted in your almost backyard [assuming your backyard is full of glitter and sin (see: Charlie Sheen)], the decision to take part was a no-brainer.

I put together a short video for Tech Cocktail on my take of the event.  If you get a few free seconds, I’d love to see your feedback on the original post.

Post Script: Look for an anxiety ridden Appalachian Trail prep post later this week.

Technology Overdose: There’s an App for That

technology overdose

I talk a big game.

I tell you that you need to start a personal website.

I tell you to change careers (if you’re not working your passion, that is).

I tell you to get up and move to a vacation destination.

I tell you how you can achieve anything.

But why in Chuck Norris’ nunchucks should you listen to me?

Many of you don’t know much about me beyond my “about me“.  To many of you, I’m nothing more than a Badger-ish-Guy-thing who likes to tout cat media.

Although I am proud of my accomplishments to date, I haven’t built a multi-million dollar business, I haven’t spent a year in Africa volunteering for the Peace Corps, I haven’t written a best selling book.

I realize that whatever source of encouragement I attempt to instill in anyone, it will always be weighted relative to my own accomplishments.  And of course this is the the case.  I’m not taking surfing lessons from an Eskimo.  Prove to me that you have done what you’re telling me to do, and I will listen.  Everyone is talking, you have no choice but to be selective with your listening.

And because my greatest frustration in life is witnessing those I care about settle for an unfulfilling life – I want you to listen to me.  Your unhappiness genuinely pisses me off. Oftentimes I get more emotionally invested in your accomplishments than my own.  Maybe it’s a passing phase, maybe it’s my Dharma (or my Greg).

So what am I getting at?

In the last year of my life, one of my most prized accomplishments, having the luxury to pay the bills while working from the comforts of my underwear (self-employment, not a stripper), has also grown to be one of my greatest personal challenges.  My drive to continually start new projects, with new clients, with new software, with new media, with new goals, has me spread a tad too thin.

And unfortunately, the way my brain has me hardwired, unless a project is finished, thoroughly and successfully, I can’t allow myself the luxury of mentally checking out.  When my work took place inside of a baseball stadium and a restaurant, although my hours were roughly the same, the end of the day was exactly that, the end of the day.

Now, 7pm roles around, and although I’ve spent 10 consecutive hours slaving away on the screen, I can’t help but focus on about what hasn’t been finished.

My average day consists of 6-10 hours at “my office” (aka the coffee shop around the corner) back to my bedroom so I can lay down while I work.  On the days where I do allow myself to separate from the screen, I’m detached only in physical presence, but am still mentally invested, and therefore disconnected from those who I am with.

Additionally, these projects all take place in the same location: the screen (my laptop).  While the scenery may occasionally change from one cafe to the next, there’s still no escaping the screen.  More or less from the moment I wake up, until the moment I go to bed, with the exceptions for quick hikes, runs, or the increasingly rarer social excursion, I am bouncing from project to project behind the same computer screen for all waking hours of the day.

I’m not a doctor, but my internal sanity meter tells me this is not a healthy lifestyle.

My New Years Resolution

It’s only fair, that if the Good Badger is going to demand that you make 2011 your breakthrough year and achieve something necessary to your life, that he follow suit.

That’s why this year, Mr. Technology addiction himself, is going to thru-hike all 2,179 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  (Go big or go home, right?)

More details to come.

Stay posted.

The Future of Foursquare: Value or Novelty?

The Future of Foursquare

The Future of Foursquare: Value or Novelty?

Is it a revolution in location based social media, or the latest fad destined to fizzle out?

Any seasoned Foursquare user is familiar with the ebb and flow in interest with the application’s use. After initially registering for an account, the excitement that comes along with each additional check-in can only fully be understood by a fellow Foursquare user. Before you know it, you’re planning your lunch break based upon the likelihood of obtaining a new (or securing an existing) mayorship. Your nights out are swayed in the direction of adding to your collection of badges. You won’t even commit to where you grab a cup of coffee before scouting the other Foursquare users in attendence.

And then…

The check-ins keep coming, but the badges and mayorships don’t . “[Insert mayor’s name here] cheats. There’s no way he/she is here more often than me. I live here.” The push notification to your smart phone alerting you that a quasi-acquaintance is at the grocery store across town is more irritating than informative. Your co-worker is the mayor of the cubicle next to you, bathroom stall number 4, his parents’ garage, his favorite park bench, and won’t stop bragging how much better at Foursquare he is than you.

The novelty has worn thin.

I now present to you, two possible paths for Foursquare. Path number one leads to an impending lull in curiosity and eventual demise. Path number two makes Foursquare the most important location based application your smart phone will ever need. The outcome lies squarely in Foursquare’s hands.

Read the rest of this post at TECH Cocktail.

Google Predicts the Future

It was recently announced that Google can now predict the future….

While filling out your Google Profile, one question asks to suggest something that you might not be able to find on Google.  Mistakenly, I figured this was either a trick question, or an attempt at some subtle humor.  Little did I know, Google uses this as their suggestion box.

See for yourself:

(click to enlarge)

San Diego Earthquake and Technology

So I just crossed one item off of my bucket list.

The earthquake’s origins were in Baja, Mexico, but the BPM’s of my heart monitor would indicate the quake was isolated inside my apartment.  In hindsight, it was no big deal.  The walls and floor rumble for a half a minute, your dishes shake, and you pee yourself a little.  Kind of fun actually.  But it’s also educational.  You learn a lot about yourself.  Here’s what I learned about The Good Badger during an earthquake .

  • Entirely unprepared. My initial reaction was to lay in bed.  My next reaction was to duck and cover.  Luckily I was with gf who is much smarter than I.  As soon as she could get me to stop crying, we fled outside.
  • Entirely unprepared pt. II.  On my way out, I forgot to grab my shoes, wallet, keys, or any snacks.  Upsetting, but not the end of the world.  What is far more traumatic, however, is forgetting my iPhone.  How was I supposed to Tweet my paranoia, check in on Foursqure (you’ll see in a minute), tell mom not to worry (in a very worried tone), or even find news about the earthquake.  Fortunately 12 of the 12 neighbors around me had their iPhones and were kind enough to show me the drop pin of the earthquake’s epicenter no more than 10 minutes after it occurred (awesome).  iPhone, will you ever forgive me?
  • Technology is Awesome.  Within minutes the TwitOSphere was overrun with fellow San Diegons giving their 140 character takes on the situation.  True, nothing anyone said saved, prevented, or helped anything, only because their was nothing to save.  With that said, there’s a calming presence knowing other people are going through the same thing.  Had the situation been worse, however, Twitter has proven to be a life saving resource.
  • Technology is Awesome pt II. A new social media service has poked its head into the emergency reaction game- Foursquare.  For those who are still unfamiliar, Foursquare is a location based, social-networking service, where users “check in” to different establishments to notify their friends of their whereabouts and collect badges.  One of the more highly sought after badges, The Swarm Badge, is acquired after you check in to the same establishment with at least 49 other Foursquare members simultaneously.  Within a half hour, someone created the check-in location “earthquake”,  and over 70 people checked in.  I’m guessing this is the first time the service has been used to check into a establishment-less event.  I’m also guessing it’s not the last.  Either way, I got me a Swam Badge, suckas!

My takeaway from this: Apple needs to invent an iPhone holder which you can put inside of your body.  Maybe a surgically attached Kangaroo pouch.  The iPouch?

Get on it Jobbs

Spit is So 20th Century – New Years Resolution 2010 pt. 1

What’s both the easiest and most common way to spit in someone’s face (aside from actually spitting)? You could ask someone if they’ve put on weight. Sure, you’ll drive the female population into some form of eating disorder, but then again most guys will probably thank you for the compliment. You could try insulting their mother, but families are so dysfunctional today you’re either inviting an unintended therapy session or rousing a point of agreement. Read more