Replacement for a Smartphone…?!
And I found it in a box on the street
You don’t want to hear me rant about smartphones, you know about them, you know they’re unhealthy, tech billionaires don’t let their children have them, they’re built by 3rd world slaves, they listen to everything you say, they track you wherever you go… the list goes on.
But the fact is, my banking app is so easy with a smartphone.
Man, that sounds gross when I actually read it back to myself. Time to get off the stupid thing.
The gateway drug
The thing about smartphones is that they can do anything so there’s almost always a way in to your life. My thing is music.
I’ll sit and pick songs for playlists for hours at a time. I might make a coding list of songs that go well in the background for concentration, or a list of intense dance music for riding my bike to, or maybe noughties indie music for when I’ve got friends over (we’re all in our 30s lol), then there’s playlists for different decades or long compilations by a favourite artist then sometimes I make lists of new music I’m testing out.
But to my phone the music is just a gateway drug, so it can get me onto the hard stuff; like youtube and whatsapp and then it’s notifying me with promotional emails that lead to gumtree and ebay, then there’s discord or teams or slack for work then there’s frikkin’ amazon for buying stupid books I’ll never read, or getting into board games the family will play once then never pick up again.
But the big one is youtube. I’d be listening to youtube videos in my headphones while I was cycling around without even watching the video, it’d just be on in my pocket with the screen on. I’d be listening to gurus mainly, it’s a corner of the internet, some people call it “insight porn”. Videos that last up to three hours of just people talking about politics, philosophy, religion, science. Super interesting stuff but endless, and probably a bit over my head.
When I watch too many guru videos I start saying opinions I don’t really have, just things I like the sound of, or I’ll be really passionate about a political issue in the US, completely irrelevant to my own country. I start to think of the gurus as friends and I stop talking to my actual friends because they don’t know what I’m talking about. I also start talking in this particular way, like I’m projecting my thoughts to everyone around me. Everything becomes a speech, not a conversation. I just mimic the gurus.
Man youtube. My dad’s totally hooked on it as well. Loads of guys are.
A real find
The solution appeared in the real world. I was walking home from the shop and found one of my neighbours had left a box outside her home with a label saying “Take me”.
It was a box of things left by a previous tenant, she said they wouldn’t be coming back because they owed her money and apparently they hadn’t parted on good terms.
The tenant had been a bit into music and one of the things that had perked my interest was a pair of Beyerdynamic headphones. They were the cheaper range but still a good pair and long-lasting. You can take them apart and each section is separately replaceable, they’re used a lot in recording studios for that reason.
The other thing I found was a digital dictaphone. I think it’s made for meetings or for students to record lectures with. I didn’t pick it up to do either of those things but, I used to be a musician and music-tech stuff is always something I’ll probably find a use for, even if there wasn’t an immediate use for it, I thought it’d be fun to find one.
Turns out this thing is wicked
I’ve started using the dictaphone as an mp3 player. At first I thought It’d be a good way of getting off my phone but I was a little bit like “ok, let’s see how long this lasts”, because it does funnily feel a bit silly.
It’s a little bit clunky, there’s almost no point in trying to file manage with it, copy and pasting or moving is doable but it’s a nightmare. Also there’s no bluetooth so I’ve gone back to using wired earphones which are a bit annoying and they catch on things.
But there are some serious plusses to using this thing over a smartphone! Don’t believe me? Read on, dear reader, read on:
1. First off, it’s got a special Temp button which can save any position of a file you’re listening to. So when you listen to a long podcast file or audiobook you can mark little positions in it wherever you want and skip between them.
2. You can plug it into any computer and it just appears. No extra apps, no authentication, no bs. It’s basically a USB stick with super-powers.
3. It has a little pixley black screen. It doesn’t strain my eyes and it’s super low powered. It also auto-sleeps, which is pretty slick for a USB stick.
4. It takes just two AAA batteries. It can recharge them with USB and they typically last about three days of use. Yes three days with just two AAA batteries. Also I can buy AAA batteries anywhere and will probably be able to buy them for the rest of my life so unless the dictaphone breaks completely there’s no reason for me ever to buy another one.
5. It takes a 16Gb mini ssd. I haven’t actually needed this yet but a great bonus. It also has 8Gb standard, which is pretty decent and more than I ever have on my smartphone after all the apps have taken up the space.
6. Dedicated buttons. I can play and pause, skip, change the volume, lock and even turn this thing of from inside my pocket without looking at it. I can also use it with gloves on.
Now, I’ll often forget my phone when I go out
No one really calls me anyway, I’m a dad. I don’t really do hanging-out anymore. I’ve got my family, I’ve got work and now I’ve got my little mp3 player. That’s me sorted!
[Bonus content coming up. I’ve just worked out how to make a bash script that’ll create playlists for my mp3 player using