Sometimes, writing about technology can be a little overwhelming. Keeping up on the latest gadgets is fun, but they proliferate like good mushrooms on a hot day. Yet there are some basic rules that can help even the busiest farmer trying to make sense of it all. This week I'm filling the blog with a few thoughts and ideas that have occurred to me over the last few days as the heat of summer has really piled it on.
First, if you're using a cell phone and your contract is up, make the move to a smart phone. I know, I know, I like gadgets but even my two-year old iPhone remains a potent tool that I can carry everywhere. I keep up on email, can tap social media networks to track issues and I rely on it to monitor weather and markets.
Second, pick a winner. Basically, stick with the two big winners in the smart phone market - either an iPhone or an Android-based phone. Interestingly, there are different Android operating systems out there - so seek the phone with the newest version of Android you can find and ask your provider about upgrading as that system changes. Apple iPhone users don't have a problem if you connect to iTunes regularly your phone is automatically updated, and the new iCloud system as it comes online this fall with the latest operating system will update your phone over the air.
Recently a tech survey showed that 98% of iPhone users were using the most up to date operating system while less than half of Android users were. Given the security issues with any computer, keeping your phone updated is important.
Tough weather brings it home
My hometown area of Vinton, Iowa was hit hard by high winds early Monday morning. The devastation is hard to contemplate even when I'm viewing aerial video online.
Yet I could see that information online almost immediately from anywhere in the world. I knew that no one was seriously injured. I know that the cleanup will be long and hard, and all from great Web reporting and Facebook.
These days we get our news in a number of ways. I'm not going to lament the rise of user-generated news because I got a better picture of the damage seeing photos submitted to local TV news stations from residents. Old-line journalists are griping about the lack of "credibility" of news sources, but when a crisis like this hits, we all get better coverage because those affected share their stories, pictures and video.
In these connected days, this helps remind us that we're all part of an important community too, and we should keep that in mind for all things. Facebook - a social media tool farmers should consider using - helped me connect to more information. And I was able to share with my friends stuff I found online too.
Social Media as lifeline?
There are folks out there that complain about Facebook, chuckle about Twitter and don't get FourSquare (OK so I don't use that either, but I do understand it as a connectivity tool). But keeping connected to distant family, or others using Facebook has value.
Whether it's photos of flattened corn from a Northern Illinois farmer showing the extent of storm damage on his place, or a note from one Facebook friend to another reassuring them that no one was seriously hurt in Monday's storms in Vinton - this is powerful stuff.
Add in that you can create tools on Facebook to help inform landowners what you're doing on their farms; communicate new ideas and connect with others to share ideas and this social media thing could be of use. What the heck 500 million people couldn't all be wrong could they?
Keeping up on all things agriculture
So here comes a shameless plug but it's meant to be valuable to you dear reader. Keeping up on all the technology you need to deploy in your operation is important. Whether you're buying new equipment or need to understand the latest in crop protection technology, it's important to know what's coming down the pipeline.
How the heck do you do that? Make plans to hit your favorite fall farm show. Of course, from my perspective there's none better than the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days. I told you there would be s shameless plug.
Farm technology is changing pretty fast. One day at one of the big fall farm shows is a business expense worth deducting! Make the investment.