Why I'm grateful for mobile tech

Published: November 25, 2010
The concept of gratitude has been an overarching theme for me lately, and not just because it’s Thanksgiving. Not long ago, I got to step outside my geek bubble and see what this technology can do out in the real world. And simply put, I was beyond moved. 
It all started with my father-in-law’s trip to the doctor. He got some bad news that his cancer returned a while back, and despite his stiff upper lip and brave face, it was clear that things would be difficult to overcome this time. This is a tough situation, no matter the context, but it seems especially hard watching “Pop” go through this. 
To tell you the truth, I hit the lottery when it comes to in-laws. My mother- and father-in-law are amazing, loving people who worked hard their whole lives to take care of their family. Through it all, Pop has always been as tough-as-nails, but balanced with an infectious zest for life. I love that his inquisitive nature had him learning how to use a computer when he was in his 60s, and that he put those newfound computer skills to use with some Carvewright software, creating custom works for his neighbors, grandkids and church. 
In short, my father-in-law is a great guy. And through everything that is happening with him, he’s still a pistol. At least on the inside. 
On the outside, the chemotherapy is waging a war on him. He wants to go work in his woodshop, but it’s hard when even stepping outside is exhausting. He loves talking to new people he meets, but more than a few minutes, and he’s winded. He wants to take comfort reading scripture at night, but he doesn’t, because turning the light on to read wakes his wife, and he physically can’t take it to another room without help. 
He spoke to his daughter about his, and she had an excellent idea. Why not give him a mobile device? Maybe his featurephone can’t help him, but smartphone or an iPod Touch could. And since the screens are backlit, there’d be no need to turn on a lamp. 
It turned out that my husband had a spare iPhone, so I set about the task of setting it up. I got things started by creating an iTunes account for him, downloading a few apps and eBooks, and syncing his email onto the device. 
He’d been feeling so disconnected, held hostage by this sickness against his will, and in one fell swoop, he was suddenly connected to the world again. I may not be a religious person, but the thought of him being able to read his bible whenever he wanted moved me beyond words. He loves capacitive screens now! One touch, and he can communicate with this friends and family. And I guarantee, once he’s had more of a chance to experience some game apps, he’ll be able to whup any challenger’s butt. 
I’ve come to the conclusion that platforms don’t matter. Everyone has their favorite — be it Android, WinPho, WebOS phone, or BlackBerry — and different things work for different people. What does matter is functionality. What these OSes can do, all of them, is incredibly powerful. It doesn’t just offer productivity or entertainment; it quite literally can change people’s lives. It did exactly that in this case.  
I have so much gratitude in me this week, it’s almost startling. In general, I’m pretty thankful for a terrific job, amazing co-workers, a fantastic readerbase, my good health and my loved ones. But this week, in addition to that, I got some thing else — an opportunity to step outside the bubble of geekery and see what mobile tech can do out in the real world. And I am so humbled and grateful that I get to have any part of it. And that I get to do it everyday for the best readers anywhere is just icing on the cake. 


Thank you for allowing me and the whole team do what we love. Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.