Personal technology I can’t do without

I do love making lists, and I’ve been indulging myself by making lists of the technology I can’t do without: hardware and software have been covered. Here II list the personal gizmos and tools that keep my life on an even keel.


I have a relatively low-tech smartwatch – a Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6. I’m mildly interested in how many steps I do, or how well I slept. But the band’s primary function is an alarm. I get up earlier than anyone else in the household, and the band’s buzzing against my wrist gets me out of bed without waking anyone else up.


If the band fails (which happens rarely, and usually because I forgot to charge it), my cellphone alarm goes off 10 minutes later. I have a Xioami Redmi Note 9, which has served me well for several years. I use it for work, a lot, but it has the usual personal uses: on-the-go searching, checking the time, seeing when the next load shedding slot is, taking photographs. One thing though: years ago, I removed the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone, and have never regretted it. My scrolling time went down, and my reading time went up.


This is so ingrained in our lives that we don’t think of it as tech anymore. But – I use the television for both work and entertainment. I have one running in my office, tuned to Al Jazeera, and I keep an eye out for breaking news as I go through my days. For entertainment, there’s Netflix and Britbox and Amazon Prime (on a free three-month trial, for now).


Our household is addicted to timers (not kitchen timers; these are the kind that plug into an electrical socket and turn things on and off at scheduled times): they run the pool pump and the wellpoint pump too. In the winter, there are two that turn on a heater in the bathroom and the electric blanket in our bed. This system is a little challenged by load shedding, but it still works..

Bluetooth Speaker

I am of an age to remember portable radios and cassette players. But there’s something about carrying a phone and a Bluetooth speaker and then being able to listen to music wherever I happen to be that still feels a little otherworldly, as if I really have arrived in the future.

I sometimes wonder if there’ll come a time when some new technological development will seem a bridge too far, too complicated to get my head around. And then I get a WhatsApp from my 84-year-old mother and know that won’t happen.

Main picture: Steve Johnson, Unsplash

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