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A Supercomputer in My Pocket

By Steve Jones,

I work with data on a regular basis, and I really depend on my cell phone to help me with both work and life. I regularly make notes and get ideas for articles and editorials from things that happen when I’m on the go. Without a smartphone, I’d be juggling a notebook and pen, perhaps pulling over and making notes that I’d transcribe later. Since I'm in different cars and vehicles with different bags, I'm not sure how well I'd be able to keep track of notes on paper.

In the last decade, as I’ve purchased and upgraded mobile devices, it’s been amazing to me that I can use many services to help me. I can log into something like Instapaper to save an interesting article I might write about later, or capture a few thoughts in Evernote. Or even send myself an email with an idea for a Question of the Day. I’ve done all of those things while in various points when inspiration has struck.

In the last few years, I’ve started to use some audio notes for tracking when I'm driving. I might hear something on the radio, or from a podcast, and need to make a note. The power of dictation apps, which have improved tremendously since the early Dragon Speech Recognition days on 486 computers. While I still don't completely trust audio recognition, what I've learned to appreciate is the ability to just record sound with an audio app that I can play back later. There are audio recording apps, though I often just use Evernote.

I use a lot of data transfer and storage on my mobile device. So much so that when I switched a couple years ago to the Google Fi, I was disappointed with only having 32GB of storage. It was amazing for a kid that grew up with 300kb floppy disks to think that 32GB wasn't enough, but it wasn't. I was constantly juggling space and deleting things. I recently upgraded to a phone with 192GB, and I'm hoping that will satisfy my need for pictures, video, and notes.

It's amazing to see just how far computing has expanded, giving us incredible capabilities on the go that were science fiction a quarter century ago. Many appreciate the ability to review a document or spreadsheet, or even view a Power BI Report from any device. While I don't often have the need, it is nice to know that I can catch SQL Monitor alerts and view data on my phone, or even restart a VM from a cloud shell from my car if I have the need. 

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