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December 7, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher: My week of Web-only TV

Posted: 05:06 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it.

Welcome back you all!

This week I'm going to give up my TV! Not watching TV - just the TV set itself.

Instead, I'll see if between now and Friday I can watch all the TV I would normally watch - which is a lot - online, legally, on my computer or smartphone. I'm also traveling for work this week, which may throw a new wrinkle into this experiment.

To add some more fun to the mix, I'm working with the great folks at CNN's iReport to challenge our audience to try this tech torture themselves this week, then report back to us on how it went. View their challenge here.

We still hope you'll comment below and keep the conversation going. Also head on over to my Twitter account (Topheratl) and join the conversation there.

To help you get started, I've made some short videos that walk you through the sites I'll be using to watch TV online. The first one is about Hulu.com

Editor’s note: Topher Kohan is the search engine optimization (SEO) coordinator for CNN.com, a “Star Wars” aficionado, a tech dork and an all-around good guy. (No, really, he is — just ask him.)

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September 18, 2009

Tech Torture, Day 5: Back online at last!

Posted: 04:14 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it. This week, Topher must avoid all Web-based technology when he’s outside of the office.

Hello all,

Well after the trials of Tuesday and Wednesday, last night was easy: I went out and met some friends to watch the Georgia Tech game, so I didn't miss the Internet as much.

I've been asked two questions about this experiment:
1) What was the hardest part? and 2) Was I able to go without Web access for 5 days?

As for number 2: Yeah, I did it, but it was only for a week. I'm not sure I would want to change my life that way for much longer.

The answer to the first question surprised me. I like to have a set routine in the morning, and part of that is spending half an hour on the computer before I leave home - checking my e-mail (work and personal) and then responding to messages from CNN's international units.

Not doing that this week really threw me off.

So that's it for this week. I want to thank you all for reading and taking the time to comment. Please drop me a comment about what you thought of this "Tech Torture" and what you'd like to see in a future TTWT.

Also, hop on over to Twitter (Topheratl) and let us know what you think.

Editor’s note: Topher Kohan is the search engine optimization (SEO) coordinator for CNN.com, a “Star Wars” aficionado, a tech dork and an all-around good guy. (No, really, he is — just ask him.)

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September 17, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher, Day 4: This is hard

Posted: 06:25 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it. This week, Topher must avoid all Web-based technology when he’s outside of the office.

Welcome back all,

Just a quick update to go with the video: Last night was maybe the hardest I've had this week. I know I'm being a bit of a whiner, but I kept thinking of things I needed to get done - and all of them involved my computer. I think I felt extra motivated to go online because I knew I couldn't.

I love all the comments I am getting, even the ones just blasting me. I appreciate both sides, because we want TTWT to be a conversation. I want you all to keep telling me what you think about my experiment, and about your experience with giving up tech.

Ok hop on over to Twitter (Topheratl) and let us know what you think.
If you start to follow me on Twitter, please take the time to say hi and let me know you found me through this blog.

One more night of this unplugged misery left! We'll see how it goes.

Editor’s note: Topher Kohan is the search engine optimization (SEO) coordinator for CNN.com, a “Star Wars” aficionado, a tech dork and an all-around good guy. (No, really, he is — just ask him.)

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September 16, 2009

Tech Torture With Topher, Day 3: Bored silly

Posted: 04:55 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it. This week, Topher must avoid all Web-based technology when he’s outside of the office.

Hey all and welcome back!

So Day Two is done and I am well into Day Three by the time you read this.

My big takeaway from this experiment so far: I love being connected, and even if I did not realize it before, I like to live my life online.

I was bored out of my mind last night and had no idea what to do with myself without my computer. Lucky for me, my wife and I went out with some friends for dinner - that got me out of the house, and I had actual human interaction.

But I'm finding the times right before bed and after I get up in the morning are the hardest. I want to check in and see what’s up, read Facebook, check my work and personal e-mail. I am not doing that, so I feel a little lost.

I'm also doing the Weight Watchers thing, and so I use the online version of the tools. Because I cannot get on the Web after I leave work, I have to change the way I track things. I know this does not sound like a big deal, but it really throws me off.

So clearly I am having issues with this. Question of the day: Can cutting down on my time online make me a better person?

Let me know in the comments below, and as always jump over to Twitter (Topheratl) and join the conversation there.

Editor’s note: Topher Kohan is the search engine optimization (SEO) coordinator for CNN.com, a “Star Wars” aficionado, a tech dork and an all-around good guy. (No, really, he is — just ask him.)

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September 15, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher: Day Two

Posted: 06:43 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it. This week, Topher must avoid all Web-based technology when he's outside of the office.

Hello everyone.

Day One is in the bag, and it went pretty well - except for the part Monday night where I had to briefly break the TTWT rules.

Until last night, I didn't realize how many times at home I just get up and go to the computer for no reason. I'd just sit in front of my computer and mindlessly surf the Web or log on to WoW and play - not because I really wanted to, but because it was there.

Several times last night I started for the computer, then caught myself and sat back down on the couch. I felt a little antsy - I didn't know quite what to do.

So instead I watched some TV and then read a book before I went to bed. Yeah, I was in bed and asleep a lot earlier than usual - not a bad thing, really. I could always use more sleep. Can't we all.

I confess: I did have to break the rules for half an hour last night because of the death of Patrick Swayze, which was big news on the Web. Because I'm the search-engine optimization guy for CNN.com, I sometimes have to do my job at all hours. Once I was done, though, I logged right off.

So far I'm noticing myself getting to work earlier and staying later to get stuff done I would have taken care of at home. But it's all good.

So what do you all think? Is this way too easy? Do you ever disconnect from the Web once in a while?

Let me know in the comments below or check out the conversation on Twitter (Topheratl). Thanks for reading!

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September 14, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher: Topher unplugs

Posted: 04:43 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it.

Welcome back everyone! It's time for a new Tech Torture with Topher, and this week's torture is gonna be a tough one.

From now until Friday night, I'm trying to give up all Web-based technology when I'm out of the office. That's right: No home computer, no iPhone Web surfing, no World of Warcraft, no Twitter updates, no tinkering with my fantasy football teams.

Gulp.

In the digital age we're all used to staying connected in our off hours, whether it's answering e-mail, working on freelance projects or just goofing off on our computers or smartphones. So once I leave CNN here in Atlanta I won't use my iPhone for anything but making and receiving phone calls. And I'll leave my home computer turned off.

Two exceptions: Since I can't do my job without the Internet and I don't want to get fired, I'll be allowed to be online here at the office. And if there's a work-related emergency when I'm at home, I may have to get on the Web for a few minutes.

So, let me know what you think. Does this sound easy or hard? What will this teach me? How should I spend my newfound free time?

Drop me a comment below and lets start a conversation. And as always, jump on over to Twitter (Topheratl) and join the dialogue there. (If it's nighttime on the East Coast, though, just don't expect me to tweet back.)

Editor’s note: Topher Kohan is the search engine optimization (SEO) coordinator for CNN.com, a “Star Wars” aficionado, a tech dork and an all-around good guy. (No, really, he is — just ask him.)

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August 14, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher: Wrap-up

Posted: 05:24 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it. This week, Topher is trying to conduct all his digital business only on his smartphone while traveling for work.

Hello all!

Well, after a week of conducting all my work only from my iPhone - except for that one e-mail problem, which required the services of my laptop - I believe this thing could work.

As I say on the video, if you plan ahead of time you can go to a conference and work just fine with only a smartphone. The next time I travel I might still take my laptop, but I will definitely leave it in the room when I go to meetings and out and about.

So that's it for this edition of Tech Torture with Topher. Thanks for reading, watching and commenting. I'm looking for ideas for next month's TTWT - a non-iPhone-related torture, please! - so feel free to drop a comment on this post with any suggestions you might have.

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August 13, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher, Day 4

Posted: 02:20 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it. This week, Topher is trying to conduct all his digital business only on his smartphone while traveling for work.

Hi all! Here's a quick update for Day 4.

I had a good day yesterday with just my iPhone, although I had to cheat and use my laptop to get an e-mail that was too old to appear on my phone, which only displays my most recent 200 e-mails. I believe this is an iPhone-specific issue. I also know that if I organized my mail better, this would not be a problem.

Besides that, I am working just fine on the phone.

What do you think? Is this a way you would travel? Would it work for business, or just for personal trips? Drop us a comment and let us know.

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August 12, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher, Day 3

Posted: 04:48 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it. This week, Topher is trying to conduct all his digital business only on his smartphone while traveling for work.

Hello all! I'm in San Jose, California, on business and getting ready for Day 3 of TTWT on the road.

So far, working only from my iPhone has been easier than I thought it would be. That said, it does have some issues: A really bad battery life, and no way to recharge or change the battery when I'm away from my hotel room or don't have my bag with me. Yes, my battery died, leaving me cut off from all digital communication.

Also, you can't view Flash sites on an iPhone, and that has caused some problems for me. I also don't recommend trying to view Excel spreadsheets on an iPhone.

But, all and all, it hasn't been that painful - yet.

For more details, check out the video. Thanks for reading, and watching, and please drop a comment below and let us know what you think of this week's "torture" experiment.

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August 11, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher, Day 2

Posted: 03:39 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it. This week, Topher is trying to conduct all his digital business only on his smartphone while traveling for work.

So here we are at Day 2! Yesterday was a travel day and an easy day for only using my iPhone - I was on a plane most of the day, so there wasn't much need for my laptop.

Today will be the first big test: I'm attending a conference in San Jose, California and have to resist the urge to carry around my laptop. Tomorrow I will have a full update on the ups and downs of this adventure (misadventure?).

So with that, please take a look at the video, leave your thoughts in the comments and jump on Twitter to follow the conversation there. Thanks!

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Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

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