Happy Father's Day

I'd wondered how long it'd take before I ended up linking to my wife from this space. That time has come.

Today, as hopefully you've remembered, is Father's Day. I've got two daughters. I've got more smartphones and tablets and computers and other geeky stuff than probably one person should have -- even one with my job. Inevitably, this tech ends up in dirty, sticky, little hands, to sometimes disastrous, sometime hilarious results.

It's amazing to watch a child not yet 2 years old swipe to unlock a phone. Whether she figured it out on her own, or saw her sister or mother or me do it, I'm not sure. But here's a kid who can't say more than a dozen words and for whom not falling down that many times a day is quite the accomplishment. To watch her pick up a phone with purpose, quickly unlock it and then proceed to rearrange the home screen beyond all recognition is worth the aggravation of taking an hour trying to restore things to a semi-usable state.

It's also interesting to see how far a toddler can throw a glass smartphone, much to the chagrin of the device in question.

Yes. My kids, like yours, are geniuses, smarter than any kids before them. They swipe to unlock. They use apps. They watch videos. They fling birds at pigs. They draw. They learn.

Back to my wife, though. She's now the local columnist at the newspaper where I worked for nearly a decade. (She's been there for 13 years or so now, previously as an editor.) She's also inundated with the ridiculous amount of tech in this house. Her most frequent question to me after "What the hell is that?" usually is "OK, then what does it do?" But, like any good wife out there, she helps this over-teched dad keep things in perspective. From her column today:

I want (the dads of my generation) to get credit for teaching their kids that picking on someone just because you can, or because everyone else is doing it, is wrong every time, on the playground and online.

I want them to get credit for teaching their kids to use a computer and an iPad and for making them put those things down and go play outside for an equal number of minutes.

... I want them to get credit for teaching their kids that without the Pixies, there never would have been Nirvana.

Well said, wife. Happy Father's Day, y'all.

Perhaps I should have used the whole fist?

The reaction to last week's news that Verizon will be adding shared data plans -- as in buckets of data that can be shared by multiple devices, and not necessarily to the benefit of your wallet -- was nothing if not expected. As I said in an editorial that followed the announcement, we tend to not like change, and the carriers don't exactly change things in our favor very often. But we're also at the mercy of the carriers. We only have so many options. And while there's more parity than ever between the carriers  (and with Sprint and eventually T-Mobile moving to LTE, the playing field will level itself even more), the current two-year contract system means, fear of cancellation fees and overall confusion over the way things work mean that, for the most part, we're going to have to bend over and take it.

Thus, last week's picture of a man in a doctor's office, about to get a finger where most folks don't like digits to disappear.

Apparently that symbolism wasn't strong enough. But the simple truth is we're all in that position, and it's up to us to minimize the damage done to our wallets. If that means switching carriers, by all means switch carriers. If that means backing down on your plan to lower your bill, at the risk of possibly going over, then you should at least consider it. Otherwise, all that shouting is being lost in the wind.

But if you think I particularly like the idea of any business egregiously overcharging us just because it can, you're dead wrong. Companies have to make profits. And they're going to try to get away with as high a margin as they can. Just make sure you're getting your money's worth, at least as best as you can. Perhaps the illustration of a man bracing for a prostate exam wasn't strong enough. Next time I'll use the whole fist.

Now, onto happier visuals.

Good design is easy and hard

Google's Romain Guy last week tweeted links to a series of fascinating blog posts from Cyril Mottier, the lead software designer at Prixing. Mottier goes into pretty exacting detail about application design, the technical mechanisms of how to do things and how they work, as well as the visual design involved.

I don't pretend to understand the code side of things. But it's a great reminder for those of us on the user side of the equation of just how much work goes into apps from a design standpoint, and how it has to work with code.. It helps you to remember that good work takes time.

It also makes me continue to wonder why the hell a company like Facebook has such a slow, janky application.

Mottier's blog is here. You can read the posts in question here, here and here.

This ain't gonna be easy

The Samsung Galaxy S III starts hitting shelves of U.S. carriers this week. First up: Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T on Thursday. Verizon's coming ... eventually. 

At some point I'm going to have to make the call. I'm going to have to decide between the HTC One X and the GSIII. (And Alex Dobie has assured me that this one's mine to decide. That wuss.)

That should make for some interesting comments.

One week till Google IO

It's so close, I can taste the smell of a few thousand nerds packed tightly into the third floor of Moscone West. We're a little more than a week away from Google's annual developer conference. This'll be my third. Jerry Hildenbrand's making the trip again, and we're bringing Alex Dobie over from England, too. We'll have plenty more coverage this week leading up IO. Stay tuned.

Bookmark our Google IO page now. You're not going to want to miss this.

 
There are 24 comments

Derek_B says:

"Apparently that symbolism wasn't strong enough."

I'll never quite understand the internet phenomenon where someone is upset about something and you agree with their position, but not quite strongly enough for their tastes and then you become the target of their anger.

IceDree says:

Excellent write up Phil as always & Happy fathers day !
Enjoy the day

PhoneJunkie says:

Very nice piece Phil, thanks for sharing. Happy Fathers Day!

robk84 says:

Cease to resist kissing me goodbye drive my car into the ocean... I love the pixies!

DRKayak says:

Your a lucky man Phil. Give your wife a great big kiss.

Timelessblur says:

And the question comes up, how many of Phil's devices/review units have met their death by his kids?

I'd answer that, but I really don't want to jinx anything. :)

Small_law says:

Sticky, dirty gadgets are unacceptable. My recommendation: Zeiss lens cleaning wipes. Begone filth!

Droosh says:

It's also amazing to find that your 2-year old can not only fling birds at pigs but charge your Google Play account numerous times for "neat" space eagles that teleport in and blow everything up.

This results in our kids teaching us dads the value of learning how to set up PIN codes on all the numerous devices in order to stop in-app purchases.

Happy fathers day everyone!

ItsaRaid says:

What happened? The Comprehensive Argument between OneX and the S-3?
Its still pending, and folks are panting to lay their eyes on that one! Alex....when ya gonna let her rip?

FanDroid619 says:

Happy Fathers day Phil! Excellent column you've got there as well. Thanks for the delightful read. Now as for the "Share Everything Plan", my wife and I have decided that the best option for us at this point is to just save up for our next phones and pay the full un-subsidized price for it and keep our unlimited data plan. Problem solved. Cheers everyone and Happy Fathers day to all you fathers out there. =)

Droidbert says:

imo its really stupid to have a holiday about fathers.. or mothers.. EVERYDAY is fathers and mothers day.. no need to thank your parents only once?.. i know i'm gonna get hated on for this but it's just my opinion,and hopefully you guys can see it that way ..i say Hats off to good parenting and the gift of still being alive lol. :)-

..however,non da less this is a great read .. keep it up phil.

Mr.Froyo says:

I read columnist as communist

Eldwafio says:

Youngsters are amazingly clever. My lad at the ripe age of 4 asked to play with an old nokia music xpress on my book shelf. Wihin 3 minutes of getting in he car, he'd turned it on, unlocked it and navigated the menus to find games I didn't know were on there! he also plays a mean forza 3 and goes bonkers to Hocus Pocus by Focus :-D happy fathers day Phil and to all the dads on here

Hocus Pocus by Focus. That is one hell-cool kid you have there!!

Playboy E says:

.

It's official! Phil's kids prefer the One X!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads on AC!

I Monarch says:

Why is there no SIM tray and SIM card in the One X pictured? Did you already pop it out for the Galaxy S III?

petaf says:

Happy Fathers Day, Phil! Great piece!

larrytxeast says:

A father of 2 kids ages 3 & 5 here, and I can tell you, my kids are not allowed to EVER EVER touch my phone. EVER. As for playing on an iPad or playing outside, they play outside period. The school will teach them soon enough when it becomes necessary to do their homework, I don't want them dependent on such for their entertainment. There is a TV in their room and even that is ONLY because the very few times I allow Dora the Explorer etc to be played around here, I don't want the living room blaring with that noise pollution, let it go on in THEIR room. Even then, it's nothing for me to have their TV unplugged totally off 100% for over a week.

Oh, and I think picking on someone online is perfectly fine if we're doing it under aliases. Real names, not so much, but aliases--heck, that's half the fun of life. If I'm "larrytxeast" I can really get nasty about how much I hate anything Apple, even though I have good friends who use Apple & I really am okay with them personally. I'd never get in a heated argument with them personally about that sort of thing, no friendship is worth that, but when we're all aliases, let's have at it.

LRH

gregmcph says:

Well, I'm a dad with teenage daughters, which is really expensive tech-wise.
One daughter has been called "povo" (as in poverty) because she sports an old HTC Aria for a phone. The other daughter has an iPhone 3gs, which of course is also not socially up to snuff.

butters619 says:

Where is your SIM tray?

15israellai says:

A late Happy Father's Day Phil. Cute little girl you have there.