Young boys dreaming of becoming world-class baseball players may sleep with their mitts under the mattress, hoping to break them into playing condition. Adults with major security concerns may instead sleep near a weapon, by their bed or even under the pillow. For me, it's my Phone that is my bedside companion. And it has just about as much to do with being a dad as it does with being a geek. And heck, if there were a security concern at any time, maybe it could double as a thrown projectile in a pinch...
As the father of five month old twins, waking up in the middle of the night is commonplace. While Matthew and Sarah have gotten a lot better recently about going to bed on a regular schedule and sleeping through the night, there are nights when things go completely awry, and my wife or I find ourselves up at 2, 4 or 5 a.m. So rather than sit idly, holding a bottle, and trying not to keel over from fatigue, I have been reaching for the iPhone and catching up on e-mail and the Web instead.
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone without a built-in keyboard or stylus, many thought the decision daft. But one beneficial byproduct of the iPhone's streamlined interface is that it is incredibly functional, even if held in one hand. I can tap on Safari to launch the Web browser, and tap again to hit frequent bookmarks. I can tap to read e-mail and delete messages. While I won't be typing out long e-mails or making blog comments in the middle of the night, I am catching up when others are sleeping. Even if we are able to get the kids back to sleep and I end up hitting snooze on the alarm through 7 or 8 on some weekdays, there's a good chance I've already caught up and read the night's activity - seeing who has found me on the various social networks, who has left Disqus comments, and if anything major has impacted world news.
So if you're in a different time zone than I am and you see some "likes" on FriendFeed or Google Reader shares that seem out of place or come in what had otherwise been a quiet time, you can bet this is what's happening.
The kids are in bed now, and have been since 9 p.m., thank goodness, but I know that won't last. When I finally power down and try to get some sleep, the last thing I'll do before turning off the light is put the iPhone down where it's easy to reach, and make sure it has enough power to let me catch up overnight.