‘Light ‘ Phone Experiment Observations

So back in my post about the Light Phone 2 – I decided to give it a go with setting up my iPhone as much like a Light Phone 2 as possible and give it 2 weeks. Visit my first post to see what I stripped the phone down to. Here’s some observations.

Day Two

Already got weirded out a few times that I couldn’t check email on the phone. Decided I had to let it go. When I finally got to email on a desktop, I found that really, there was nothing there that important. I’m working on sort of settling into ‘not knowing’ what’s in the Inbox at all times. When I can accept that, it’s somewhat liberating. There was a bunch of news today based on a WSJ story about third-party apps sending info to Facebook and/or tracking users making me wonder about keeping Messenger on my phone. The caveat has always been that a few very close connections use it almost exclusively and it’s easy for things like sharing links and photos, but I am starting to wonder if I want to keep using it on principle.

I’ve also realized how regularly I use some browser bookmarks – and with only Safari on my phone and Chrome as my primary desktop browser, they aren’t available. I could of course duplicate them in Safari, but that defeats the point of trying to streamline things. This is one reason I’ve often jumped back and forth from Chrome to Safari in the past. I’ve always wanted one solution. Safari has always been clunky and slower than Chrome and is not the best browser for web development. I’ve also had issues with the Last Pass extension not working consistently in Safari on the desktop. I do like Safari’s ‘Reading List’ feature though – something Google is now using but is not available on desktops – yet – unless you’re using an Android device. Instead I just made a ‘Junk Drawer’ bookmarks folder in Chrome. Will have to consider if all this is a big enough deal to dump Chrome as my default browser on the desktops.

Day Three

So interestingly, other than weather (which I can check out on my watch), I really have no need check my phone at all until I get to work in the mornings now. Indeed with no email on the phone, unless I get a notification of a text or a call – I have no need to ‘check’ my phone at all. I have already on several occasions caught myself picking up the phone, unlocking it and staring at it like “what am I doing here” then remembering, oh yeah, there’s nothing here for you.

Day Four

I nuked Facebook Messenger. Told the few contacts I regularly used it with that I’m available via text, voice or email, take your pick. I’m down to only stock Apple apps. I realize that Apple is very likely tracking my usage and stats, but to some extent I have to think that their stock apps have no reason to share data outside the Apple OS. Most significantly, today I realized I no longer have any reason to take my phone to the bathroom. Ahem.

Day Five

Prior to this experiment, I was averaging an hour and a half of phone screen time per day – that was even without social media. Currently down to 20 mins or so. Today I added 2 apps back, Scanner Pro and my banking app – both apps that I use almost daily and I find very useful.

Day Ten

At home, my phone sits on the dresser. I don’t carry it around the house. Granted, my Apple Watch lets me know if there’s a call or a text if I don’t hear the phone itself, but I’m no longer really looking for it in general when I’m out and about. I put it in my backpack when I’m in the car. Bluetooth lets me answer calls – and I’m even thinking of disconnecting that. Do I really need to talk to someone on the phone when I’m driving? There was a time when we as a species didn’t and somehow we managed. As a parent of a kid currently taking driving instruction and who will be driving soon, I’m becoming more cognizant of what message I’m sending – even if it’s only subconsciously.

Day Twelve

I had to cave and put email back on the phone. Too much of life hinges on it. Hockey coaches, teachers, and a slew of other businesses/clubs/institutions all still use it as a primary and immediate source of contact or news dissemination even though there’s been tons of different articles proclaiming its demise as a communications medium. Also, email as an archive of information is invaluable and I didn’t realize how often I go back and ‘look something up’ or check an old email for reference.

I did really enjoy not having it on the phone and having to be more intentional about checking email at a desktop. I had established a habit of deliberately checking mail once a day – more the way you would with snail mail – and responding to and addressing issues at that time. This simple act had 2 pleasurable effects. First, there was the satisfying feeling of getting something done, i.e. “Ok, checked my mail, now on to the next thing.”

Second, the act of sitting down and responding to emails in one shot meant I spent more time with replies, especially with the consideration that I probably wouldn’t be getting back to check mail for another 24 hours or so. I could definitely see myself without immediate access to email – i.e. on the phone – once things involving kids slow down or go away all together. For now it will have to stay.

Disconnected the phone from the car via Bluetooth. Now when I’m driving, I’m just driving.

In Closing

One Screen to Rule Them All…

Overall, it’s been a positive experience/experiment. The only other apps I added back were my password manager app ( I do need access to passwords and such sometimes when at a client’s office or elsewhere and as IT/Support guy for our family I’m always getting asked for passwords) and the Voice Memos app which I do use for voice memos and also sometimes I just make recordings of sounds.

The Organizational Demon in my head is satisfied as well because what I’ve got fits on one phone screen with no empty spaces and no swiping. I’ve kind of made that the ‘box’ I’m confining myself to.

Ultimately, in answer to my original query of whether or not I could switch to the actual Light Phone 2 – I think the answer would be, yes – but only at a point when my family calendar was considerably less packed – and I’m responsible for accessing less information on behalf of others. There’s still the issue of photos – which I do use my phone for a lot, so in an ideal world, my ‘light phone’ would still have a camera. For now I think I’ve ‘lightened’ my current iPhone considerably as well as lightening my usage of it, both of which have been positive.

Apple ‘Light’ Phone Experiment

My buddy Steve posted over on his site about ordering up one of the forthcoming Light Phone 2’s – basically a stripped down phone that does calls, messaging and that’s about it.

The prospect was appealing to me, and fatefully enough checking with my mobility provider tells me that the contract is up on my trusty iPhone SE at the end of this month. Fate? I dunno.

I’m painfully impulsive when it comes to things like this so as hard as it is, I’m going to exercise discipline and not pull the trigger immediately on a Light Phone. Instead, I’ll use Steve’s experience with it as research.

However, it occurred to me that one could practically render the iPhone a ‘Light Phone’ by dumping all the apps, or as much as the OS will allow, so as an experiment, I decided to do that. The surprise was that it was really hard to think about not using some apps, let alone deleting them – a telling indication for sure and perhaps a reason I won’t be able to go for the actual Light Phone in the long run, but we’ll see.

For the record, I’ve neutered my phone down to:

Lean Mean Home Screen
  • Activity App – Syncs with my Apple Watch;
  • App Store – must use, can’t get rid of it;
  • Calendar – even thinking about getting rid of this gave me the shakes. Trying to keep track of 6 family members without access to this would be a nightmare. Probably the reason right here that I’ll never go Light Phone;
  • Camera – can’t get rid of it;
  • Clock – can’t get rid of it;
  • Contacts – basically for phone/messaging purposes;
  • Facebook Messenger – still my main source of comms with many people;
  • Find iPhone – can’t get rid of it;
  • Health – can’t get rid of it, and I actually use it;
  • iMessage – can’t get rid of it, don’t want to;
  • Music – this was a tough one, but I use the phone to listen to music on the bike trainer and other places, so I kept it. I don’t use it in the car or at work though;
  • Notes – I use Notes for everything. All the time. I’ve got so much stuff in there;
  • Phone – can’t get rid of it, don’t want to;
  • Photos – can’t get rid of it;
  • Safari – can’t get rid of it;
  • Settings – can’t get rid of it;
  • Wallet – can’t get rid of it;
  • Watch – can’t get rid of it, well, if you want to use the watch;
  • Weather – I can get rid of this, but I need it in order to display weather on the watch, which I do use often.

I buried all the apps in a folder on the task bar at the bottom because they can mostly be accessed by a swipe right and/or search. For the most part, swiping right, Siri is pretty good about knowing what app I’m looking for and offers it up via witchcraft.

Notable exclusions/things that gave me pause about deleting:

  • Email – yup. No more email on the phone. This could prove problematic as lots of family business and updates are sent via email, but we’ll see;
  • ScannerPro – an app that I used to scan paper documents to GoogleDrive. Very good at what it does and useful for getting rid of paper clutter. I don’t use it often, but when I do, it’s great. I’m already thinking I will re-install this the next time I want it without hesitation;
  • Banking App – not sure how often I actually used this – guess we’re gonna find out;
  • Password Manager – all my passwords are still accessible on my desktops, but sometimes I had to look one up;
  • Chrome – I loathe the Safari mobile app. Also use Chrome on my desktops so I won’t get bookmark/history sync anymore;
  • Feedly – I can access this on desktop too, but on the phone it was my go-to time-killer. Got a few minutes? Find some articles on Feedly. Guess I’ll have to stare at a wall, or – gasp – talk to strangers now.

So that’s it, one screen. I’ll see what this gets me. Going to go two weeks from today and then review how things went and post up here.

Thule Racks

Somewhere around 1985 my parents bought a Thule roof rack to carry our bikes on a move cross country. We strapped my Haro Master and the rest of the bikes to the top of the Corolla and took off. Worked great. The clamps in those days for road bikes held them upside down by the bars and luckily that worked for BMX bikes too. Later, when I was busy driving all over Northern Virginia in a Dodge Colt trying to be an extreme in-line skater, I got the rack from my parents and used it to haul around launch ramps on the roof. I think I even was able to use the same feet. The rack was one of the few things that came with me when I got married. In 2006 I strapped 2 of my bikes (I’d now obtained some VeloVice fork mount trays) to the same feet/load bars) onto my Subaru Outback along with a huge, used Adventurer box I bought of Craigslist and moved from Virginia back to Canada. Since then the rack was used once in awhile with that Subaru to haul bikes, but the Subaru died several years back, so then I used the rack on top of our Honda Odyssey van. After that, I bought my first truck and without hesitation bought a Thule hitch mount 4 bike rack. The load bars and feet went into storage in my shed. Last year I traded the truck for a Dodge Caravan and made sure it had a hitch mount. With the truck I was able to throw 2 little kid bikes in the back and get 4 full-size bikes on the hitch, so no worries. Well, now, the kids are all for the most part riding full-size bikes, so at first I was stumped. Then I remembered the load bars/rack in the shed. I thought it would be killer if I could use those same, 30 year old load bars now, unfortunately, it was not to be. Not because they weren’t capable – they’re still bombproof and in great shape – alas – they’re just barely not long enough to use on the van.  I could have used the stock crossbars on the van with the Thule box, but there wasn’t enough room on them to fit the box AND 2 bike trays. My peeps at Rad Edge set me up with new 65” bars and feet and we’re rolling again. Perhaps my kids will get these old load bars. I’m sure they’ll still be solid then.

Jeff n’ Joan’s

Thought I’d share my unsolicited (well ‘sorta-solicited’ – Randi asked me in the nice handwritten note that came with my bag to let them know what I thought of it) thoughts on my @randijofab Jeff ’n’ Joan’s bag.  /  I got one of these bags when they first launched ‘em –  I had been wanting a Jones Loop Bar specific bag for quite some time and had seen a few others, but none of them were compelling enough for me to pull the trigger. Once I saw that Randi was making one, I knew it was fate.  /  I’ve had the bag about 8 months now and I’m really happy with it. It keeps things handy and easy to access while riding. I use it a lot in what I call ’basket mode’ – open all the time so as to just grab stuff from it. Today it held my gorilla pod, phone, keys, wallet, gloves, and my double chocolate chip muffin with some room to spare. /  I often don’t close it fully unless I’m leaving the bike to go in somewhere or if it starts raining. The roll top and one handed magnetic clip make it easy to close up fast on the fly.  /  As with all Randi’s stuff, construction is top notch. For the most part I’ve found it pretty much weatherproof. Waxed canvas is not really touted as ‘waterproof’, but I think it should get you through most rainstorms and all but a complete submersion. The waxing on this canvas/bag does seem to be a bit more ‘water resistant’ than some of the other Randi products I have. I would assume you could continue to add wax to it as well over the years to maintain/build up water resistance.  /  I haven’t found a use for the mesh exterior pockets yet, haven’t needed them. They’re small, so basically for things like gels, change, or possibly your kids’ Pokemon coins. I could see making use of ‘em on longer trips, but I’m mostly using the bag on the daily commuter.  /  I’m happy to find that the bag doesn’t interfere with the alternate hand positions afforded by the Jones bar. On the contrary, when closed and rolled down it still allows for use of ‘loop’ hand positions as well as offering a bit of a padded resting spot in some cases.  /  Overall, I’m glad I bypassed the other Jones bar bags I’d seen and held out for this one. It works great, is well made and I suspect will be carrying my chocolate muffins for years to come.

45 North Greazy

Greazy. Some years ago I stumbled into @radicaledgebikeski to find one of these @45nrth Greazy caps sitting on a rack. It being the only one, and me being, at the time, a total 45NRTH fanboy, I snatched it up, ignoring the fact that I had an overflowing drawer full of headwear at home. It came home and went in the drawer.  I had another winter cap with flaps that was my go-to and I wasn’t changing things up. A couple of times I brought this one out to get ready for a ride, only to decide at the last minute that it was too warm that day and went with a regular cap. Back in the drawer. Until today. Today it got the call up. I was heading out for a nasty road ride in nasty weather and it seemed this would fit the bill. The temp was hovering around 0º C and the winds were kickin’. Wind that kind of blows right through you. I got kitted up and immediately remembered why I liked this cap the moment I picked it up. It had some WEIGHT. The merino wool had substance. That worked out well, because that weight meant that the earflaps stayed down over your ears nice and cozy no matter what. The cap fits pretty much skin tight, which is great, because it felt like it wasn’t even there under a helmet, other than the whole toasty warm bit. The brim is a good size and construction and the earflaps, in addition to staying put, worked great and didn’t cause problems with helmet straps or sunglass arms. It’s not the sexiest cap out there when you take your helmet off, so if you’re looking to score at the cafe on your ride, you might be out of luck. I have some other caps that are more stylish off the bike. However, if you’re looking for a practical, solid and well performing winter lid to keep your cranium and listening bits warm, you owe it to yourself to check one out.