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July 1, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher: I want my phone back!

Posted: 05:10 PM ET

Hello all,

It's Day 3 with no smartphone and, wow, this sucks.

I feel disconnected, and not part of the collective online world. I know - lame, right?

I keep having the feeling I am one or two steps behind in my work because of my lack of connectivity. I know this is crazy, because I added it up and between my home and office computers I'm very close to being as connected as I was when I had my iPhone. But it still feels like I am missing things.

I took my laptop to my meeting yesterday and found myself more distracted than if I had my smartphone. Because I had a full screen in front of me, I was peeking and reading in ways that I would have never done with just my iPhone in my pocket.

I got some great comments on yesterday's post, including one from Josh that I talked about in this video that I think you all will like once you watch.

Thanks for watching and keep the comments coming! It's the only way to keep this conversation going, and it always raises new and exciting discussions I never would have thought of.

Here's a question I asked in the video: What is the one piece of technology you own that you could not live without?

Please take a minute and drop a response. And jump on over to Twitter to join in that conversation.

Other post in this series:

Tech Torture with Topher: Bye-bye smartphone
Tech Torture with Topher: I want my smartphone back!!
Tech Torture with Topher: My Phone's Back and all's Right With the World

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Deanna   July 1st, 2009 5:22 pm ET

I can live without most things but I'd be sad to not have my cell phone. Between calling and texting, it's the one gadget I use several times a day. No web on cell for me yet but maybe at the next upgrade.

Derek   July 1st, 2009 5:33 pm ET

Topher – It looks like you are about to develop the shakes from smartphone withdrawal. I'll let you look at my iPod touch if that will give you a quick fix.

Steve   July 1st, 2009 5:38 pm ET

I use the PDA, the cell, the computers all day long. But the piece of technology I'd most hate too lose is the one you never think of: the Metrocard.

Scott   July 1st, 2009 5:58 pm ET

I find it tough to feel sympathy for your iPhone withdrawals when most people in this country can't afford an iPhone or the service to go with it. Many are struggling to find jobs and provide for their families, and yet you are over here complaining about how tough life is without your iPhone.

I don't know, call me insensitive.

Chris   July 1st, 2009 6:01 pm ET

You're a braver man than me – I can't imagine giving up my Blackberry for days (hours, yes...days, no). What else could I not give up easily (besides chocolate pastry?) – the computer at my desk would be one. I was discombobulated when the power went off a while ago and I had to wait for it to reboot. I was disconnected for about 90 seconds and felt like a fish out of water. And I couldn't give up texting for a day – that would cripple me. One unusual device that I work with in my accounting duties is a remote check scanner – if you took that away I would have to actually drive to the bank (and fill out forms and stuff). I've actually spoken on behalf of my bank as they try to woo other remote depositors – you could take my TellerScan away over my cold dead body. What COULD I give up? My bluetooth earpiece, my MP3 player...that's about it.

Haon   July 1st, 2009 6:39 pm ET

WAAAAAAAAAAAAA, shut up and do something other then cry about your phone.... god people can be so annoying when they think we actually care what they have to say.

Pierce   July 1st, 2009 7:24 pm ET

I couldn't live without the internet other wise whats the point of having a computer. One time we were going on a long trip I had a MacBook 2.4GHZ and I didn't even use it, So I ask my dad for his IPhone and I used up the entire battery on the Internet

Jack Frost   July 1st, 2009 7:27 pm ET

my pacemaker.

JD   July 1st, 2009 8:01 pm ET

The one piece of tech I couldn't live without certainly is my iPhone.

A lot of this is because of the fact I currently live and work in a country where I have, at best, a very tenuous grasp of the language. Without the myriad language dictionaries and translation apps loaded onto my iPhone, I truely would be lost when trying to do even the simplest of tasks (such as understanding when my drycleaning will be available, or telling a food server I have an allergy).

Another part is that my location, including time and date differences from most my friends and family, makes it very difficult to stay in contact with those I care about. The ability to have one device – which fits in my pocket – that provides me access to almost any form of communication I might use (e-mail, online, or telephonic) is a true marvel of modern technology.

Finish it off with the numerous time-killing apps and games to keep my mind suitably occupied when I have free time, and the iPhone has quickly become one of the most indespensible items I carry on a daily basis.

And the greatest irony is... I'm a die-hard PC person, who swore I would never own any Apple product.

Clement   July 1st, 2009 8:27 pm ET

Topher, I totally feel you. The piece of technology that I can't live without is my smartphone. It's the only way I can communicate to people anywhere especially during emergency situation.

My iPhone 3GS was in service because there were 3 dead pixels. Apple told me to send back to replace the phone by mail so I had no iPhone 3GS for 6 days. In the last 6 days, I was using the Nokia N95 8GB, beside having a better camera with 5 Mpix, the web browsing and email experience were far behind the iPhone 3GS' snappiness. So on Monday, I finally received my iPhone 3GS brand new replacement! What a relief!

Donna   July 1st, 2009 10:41 pm ET

I'm loving your blog Topher! The piece of technology I can't live without? Online banking.

Dave   July 2nd, 2009 12:24 am ET

My Iphone. I can live without my laptop for a few days but my iphone keeps me connected to my friends and to the world! It's also gotten me out of trouble a few times too! At least if I loose it now my data will be secure because I can wipe it remotely.

Darkanion   July 2nd, 2009 12:45 am ET

Either would be tough, but I think I could give up TV and the DVR easier than my desktop PC and internet. The piece of technology I would MOST like to get rid of, though, would be my work pager! 🙂

the messenger   July 2nd, 2009 4:29 am ET

my ihpone ,i can`t live home with out it ..
in fact am posting for it now =)

Dan Casey   July 2nd, 2009 5:57 am ET

Question: `What is the one piece of technology you own that you could not live without?'

Answer: PENCIL (N. J. Conte, in 1795) AND PAPER (Tsai Lun, China, 105 A.D).

Sam   July 2nd, 2009 6:58 am ET

Useless! You are a real torture. I feel that without your torture, CNN will be perfect

Sean   July 2nd, 2009 8:09 am ET

The vending machine at work... without it i would look like david beckham but be depressed and decaffienated

Derek   July 2nd, 2009 8:20 am ET

Since when is an Iphone considered a smartphone?

Derek L   July 2nd, 2009 9:07 am ET

I couldn't get along without my glasses. Maybe not the most advanced piece of technology, but certainly the most important in my world.

Michel, Chapel Hill   July 2nd, 2009 9:10 am ET

My car!

Jeremy   July 2nd, 2009 9:22 am ET

I know what you mean, just today I had to take my BMW 5 series instead of the Lexus GS 350. And wouldn't you know it my Samsung 55 inch 1080p 240 htz tv went out yesterday. Gosh, can't I catch a break here!

Tom   July 2nd, 2009 9:57 am ET

running water.... Being dirty and thirsty is way worse than being unamused

roger wright   July 2nd, 2009 10:07 am ET

After 20+ years in the IT field, 9 of those years at IBM and now working for a major telecommunications company, I can honestly say I would love to ditch my electronics. Yup that's right I would breathe a sigh of relief if IF I could just toss all the cell phones and PDA's in the garbage. I am much happier to pick up a phone and call someone than twitter or blog or facebook. I sit with people who will email or IM me even though they are less than 100 feet from me. I will get up and go visit rather than use electronic methods. There are people on this floor who work here every day and yet only see each other a few times a month. Anyhow good luck with your attempt to get the electronic monkey off of your back.


Sho'   July 2nd, 2009 10:28 am ET

My laptop

dax   July 2nd, 2009 10:29 am ET

im a long time iphone user and recently it was out of service for 2-3 weeks. It was nice kind of nice, although people couldnt get ahold of you it allowed for more face to face instead of being distracted by your phone. i listened to people better, lost track of time, and felt more connected with people instead of the internet. thats how it should be. once i got it back though i was very happy 🙂

Greg   July 2nd, 2009 10:40 am ET

I can't live without my pacemaker.

OK, so I don't really have a pacemaker, but it was such a good line, I couldn't resist.

While I enjoy all of the electronic gadgets I have and use (there are MANY), I think the technology I really can't do without is my gas-fired, thermostat-controlled HVAC system in my home. Keeps us cool in summer, warm in winter, all without me having to think about it much on a day-to-day basis.

Chad   July 2nd, 2009 11:09 am ET

I love my Blackberry and use it for a whole range of things. I use it for the weather, facebook, web browser, calculator, calendar, address book and to manage tasks. I also to use it to find places to eat, things to do and movies to see on the fly while I am out and about.

I have said (and will continue to say) that I would feel naked without my BB since I depend on it for so much, but every once in a while it is nice to turn it off and "unconnect" from the world. That being said, I could never go back to a normal phone. I like having options at my fingertips at all time.

I am going camping this weekend for the 4th and as soon as I get home from work the BB gets turned off and placed in the glove compartment until I am home. It is there in case of an emergancy, but a little down time never hurt anyone in the long run.

Robert Alderton   July 2nd, 2009 11:45 am ET

Just stumbled on this. Wowwww. Is this really what we've collectively come to. Yes I have a smartphone, personal computers, laptops etc. I use them ......FOR WORK. I'm connected during business hours after that I WANT DOWNTIME for family stuff. I don't do Twitter, I guess I don't want the world to know my every move, and I want to talk and meet with people in person...What a concept !!!!

CitznFish   July 2nd, 2009 11:54 am ET

There's more than one Topher in this world? How disappointing. I thought this was going to be about Topher Grace

Matt, San Diego, CA   July 2nd, 2009 12:27 pm ET

I cannot live wihtout my computer/internet. I would most likely go crazy after about a week. I went camping for 3 days recently, no computer, no phone connection.... so no internet. And let me tell you... the feeling of not knowing what's going on in the world is both terrifying and relaxing at the same time. On one hand, it's nice to get away, on the other, makes you feel like one of your senses isn't functioning properly. Almost as if being connected is a sense we've adopted in some way.

Buck   July 2nd, 2009 12:41 pm ET

What's the one technological thing that I do not think I could give up? Air conditioning. Yes, I know that wasn't what you were after, but it's 101degrees outside!

Someone   July 2nd, 2009 1:07 pm ET

My BlackBerry

Todd   July 2nd, 2009 1:40 pm ET

This is funny, because on the day you've given up your iphone, mine broke. And I am still without it to this day. I'm anxiously awaiting the replacement in the mail. And I can feel your pain my brother. I find myself always wondering if I got that latest email/text/posting. It is torture without my phone.

Andy   July 2nd, 2009 4:27 pm ET

without an iphone..... deos it tether? no? is it priced based on features ? no? is it locked down too much to rely on expensive carriers? yes? can i download open source/freeware functional apps? no? does it have an fm radio? no? oh well.... guess I would be more "hopeless" with it than without it.......

Debra   July 2nd, 2009 5:17 pm ET

I would find it difficult to live without my Sony Vaio ultra portable laptop. It's less than 3 lbs., has an HDMI connector, wifi and bluetooth, and is small enough to fit into my purse. I use it to watch TV, online video, play CDs and DVDs, talk on the phone around the world, surf the Net, perform work tasks, handle my financial affairs, and play games.

Joe   July 2nd, 2009 6:43 pm ET

I think it comes down to when someone was born. i was lucky to enjoy the progression of vinyl to CDs to digital. But in our fast paced lives where priority overnight letters aren't fast enough, we get on the treadmill and keep going faster and faster. Anyway, I REALLY enjoy my toys but could likely do without it all. Maybe as you get older you find it is more important to achieve some type of balance in your life. It would be a joy to not have to read every inane twitter comment that comes across

Dave   July 2nd, 2009 7:12 pm ET

@ANDY – WITH an iPhone….. deos it tether? YES? is it priced based on features (BUT ALSO STYLE?) ? YES? is it locked down to ONE carrier CHARGING THE SAME AS OTHERS WOULD? YES? can i download open source/freeware functional apps? YES – IF YOU JAILBREAK IT? does it have an fm radio? YES – THERE ARE MANY APPS WITH THOUSANDS OF RADIO STATIONS. oh well…. guess I would be more “hopeless” withOUT it than WITH it…….

Ivy   July 2nd, 2009 8:26 pm ET

I would definitely miss my cell phone... its nothing all that special. Its a Samsung Hue II from Alltel. The only thing I really use my phone for is texting and taking pictures of my boy, but without my phone I go nuts. Especially if I'm in the car and I have my son with me. I'm always afraid that I'll break down, and if I don't have my phone, I'll be stuck on the side of the road with a 2 year old for hours!

SK   July 2nd, 2009 8:53 pm ET

Topher-Great experiment. You are doing something that is often talked about, discussed, thought about, but usually people assume (perhaps correctly), that they would not be able to give up their smartphone. The Sheraton Chicago received some press about a year ago, because they GM decided to offer guests the option to lock up their smartphone during their stay. I would say the only piece of technology I could not live with on a daily basis is the same as yours, my smartphone (a Treo 755p). Beside being my primary phone, I use it extensively for e-mail, work and personal, as well as texting, surfing the web (including extensively) and even as my digital camera (I have sacrificed quality for convenience). Then there are the PDA functions: primarily calendar and contacts. I also use my laptop a great deal, but could go without it for a short time (due to the smartphone, borrowing computers, etc.). I did give up Facebook for 6 weeks, and that was actually easier than I thought. I did wonder what was going on with some of my friends (maybe more acquaintances) and wanted to take a look at some of the changes being made, which I read about in the regular press.
All that being said, I would prefer to not be so addicted to my smartphone. I feel it is a distraction at times.

Mike Ron   July 2nd, 2009 11:59 pm ET

Topher – if I were you, I'd quit worrying so much about email, twittering, and smart-phones and instead start paying A LOT more attention to the gorgeous blonde on the next row from your cube (can see her over your left shoulder in your video).

Declam   July 3rd, 2009 7:12 pm ET

I am only a 15 year old boy, but i rely heavily on my iPhone, for leisure and school work. In the classroom, it serves to me as a recorder, a notebook, and a homework journal.
At home, it is a diverse multimedia player, which allows me to listen to the radio, read ebooks( yes, no more kilogrammes of books), listen to music, surf the internet, and watch my favourite videos.
Not to mention, i can use my iPhone to remotely control my laptop, from wherever i am, and also, to upload important documents to the internet, and access mail quickly and easily
i once lost my iPhone for 3 weeks, and was in crisis mode..

El   July 4th, 2009 3:05 pm ET

I couldn't live without the ability to be outside surrounded by nature. I can do without my laptop, cell phone and general connectivity to the outside world for at least a 4 day stretch. I find it sad that so many people in our society have become so incredibly dependent on technology that they would rather surf the net than actually spend time with their family...

Richard   July 4th, 2009 6:23 pm ET

My iPod Touch. The iPhone without the subscription fee.

Mark   July 5th, 2009 3:23 am ET


Jonathon   July 5th, 2009 2:15 pm ET

Your lame because you're being part of Apple's advertising machine. Looking on the tech page of CNN at the time I'm posting this there are three different references to the iPhone, including this one. No wonder Apple is selling so many of them, it can't be that hard when the company has half the media talking up the device every chance they get. It may be a great device (and it is,) but SHUT UP about it already. There are a great many other great devices out there, but you never hear about them for all the constant chatter about this one phone.

I hope that you and all the other media fanboys out there are satisfied. You've played right into Apple's little game, and done so both willingly and knowingly. You're not a reporter, you're not a journalist. Instead, you're part of a marketing machine. Congratulations.

Jacky   July 5th, 2009 9:11 pm ET

You're not the only one. I'm addicted to the iPhone too. I go crazy when I leave it at home..... Dang! How can a device be so addictive in such a short period of time?

OldDave   July 5th, 2009 11:12 pm ET

What technology can"t I live without? My flippin' glasses, bifocals and all.

Bob   July 5th, 2009 11:19 pm ET

Umm... this is a tech blog. Don't read it if you don't have a job, can't afford to feed your family, can't afford services, or god forbids, want to ditch your technology stuff. Go do what you love and the line is thataaway. As for me, I can't live without my BlackBerry and laptops.

Jonathan   July 6th, 2009 5:48 am ET

i Definitely cant go without my iphone-nor would i ever switch to any other platform for the time being. as far as not having your tech devices, its important to understand that computers are no longer an accessory or a business tool, its become a way of life for many of us. its ironic that this is where civilization is going at a very fast pace, and keeping up with technology is almost like "the new survival of the fittest".

Dan   July 6th, 2009 6:44 am ET

I was supposed to submit my iphone in for replacement back in Feb. I can't get myself to hand it in.

My iPhone does everything. I will never give it up.

Andi   July 6th, 2009 12:55 pm ET

I know that I can't live without the 'net on a regular basis. Every time we loose connection at home, that is the exact time when I really need to get a lot of stuff done! Music, email, random web pages, banking information & even work stuff. Got to love the handy World Wide Web!

Jeff   July 13th, 2009 11:00 am ET

I would try having someone do without a cars power windows for a week.
That's what I had to do for a while. What a pain in the bass that was... and that aint no fish story.

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