3 Things I said goodbye to in 2016

Some years go by without a lot of reasons for them to be remembered in great detail afterwards. 2016 will not be one of those years – for readers in the distant future: google ‘Brexit’ or ‘Trump’. Looking back to what happened in my personal everyday life, it turns out to have been a year of saying goodbye to some things.

Ever since I consciously made an effort to go paperless (as  reported in an early blogpost) I have intensively been using a tablet, also for business purposes, e.g. for taking notes during meetings or interviews. But that caused me to be running around at times with 3 devices: a laptop (as there is no comfortable way to perform on a tablet all the tasks I use the laptop for), a smartphone (same remark) and a tablet. And also in this case, I felt three to be a crowd. So at least one of the devices had to go. And as careful consideration soon proved both the laptop and the smartphone to be more indispensible than the tablet… the tablet it was. Not that I completely ditched the thing (it’s an e-reader now, as well as a device for watching videos during workouts), I just stopped using it for business purposes. and by consequence it is no longer making the daily trip to and from the office.

Complex apps
This obviously  meant I had to work out alternative solutions for the tasks I had been using the tablet for. That mainly came down to revising a number of apps, and more specifically the way I was using them. The overall outcome: I decided to use more apps that were particularly good at doing one specific task – and by consequence relatively simple – and less apps that were designed to do multiple, and often quite distinct tasks – and therefore relatively complex. A good example are apps to make notes. I had been dabbling with both Evernote and OneNote, but in both cases the product management team seems at some point to have decided that it might be practcal for the users of their app that feature x, y or z would be added. or – for that matter – why not all three? And then another set of extra features, and why not yet another one? The result was definitely not what this user considered to be practical: a more complex path to do what I wanted to do – make a note or a list. And more clicks to do just that. I hate more clicks.

So In this case I switched to Simplenote. The name says it all. Simple to use, with a limited set of features, but chosen cleverly. Less complex apps are usually also smaller, using less memory and faster – nice extras. Evernote and OneNote are still in use, but each of them only for one particular task for which they have proven to be the most convenient solution, based on the criteria that matter to me (Evernote is great for making annotated screenshots, OneNote is very good as what could be called an interdevice clipboard).

Loyalty cards
In the process of switching to Simplenote I also decided to get rid of the small notes in my wallet, gently provided by for example my bank and internet provider, with login credentials or telephone numbers to call when losing a credit card. Obviously the content of those notes is now in my cloud-based Simplenote account (and equally obviously with the sensitive data slightly encrypted, as they also were on the paper notes – surely you will understand that I am not going into further details on this particular point). That made my wallet a bit lighter, but not a lot. About half of my wallet’s content were not these memo notes or bank cards (I hope the technology and security of payment and banking related matters advances far enough to be able to say goodbye to those next year – the cash money will unfortunately take longer, I’m afraid) but loyalty cards.

I have been accepting/collecting those without giving it much consideration, as they were supposedly a nice way to save some money. How generous of the companies and organizations providing them! So I decided that now was the time to make a round up of what all that loyalty had brought me. Not much, it turned out. Virtually nothing to be more specific. The acclaimed advantages of most of these cards and the programs associated with them can be divided in two categories, but neither of them have brought me substantial gains.

The most common type is the one whereby you need to collect a number of points / stamps / stickers and upon reaching a predefined number of them, you get some kind of reward: the next one for free / a discount on the next purchase / some gadget that you were never going to spend any money on (an will most likely break down upon second or third use). But there is always a catch: the value of the gift is microscopic in comparison to the amount of funds you need to part with to obtain it, or there is a strict limitation in the period of time allowed for reaching the proposed number of purchases entitling you to the advantage, that you would be forced to make purchases of that particular item much more frequently than you were planning to.

The other type is a loyalty card typically provided by supermarkets. It entitles you to a discount on selected products (most often as part of the marketing strategy of the retail chain or a vendor supplying to them). But if you take a closer look, the products the discount applies to are from the well known brands, where the cost of the aforementioned marketing strategy is calculated into the price of the products. Store brands, proven multiple times in research from consumer organizations to be at least of the same quality level as ‘regular’ brands – which should not come as a surprise, given the fact that the stored brands are often manufactured by the same companies as the well known brands – are never discounted. And even taking the discount into account, the price comparison brand vs. store brand is usually in favour of the store brand.

The overall result: my wallet is by no means in need of any diet whatsoever as a new year’s resolution – half the weight is gone already.

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