My top 3 tech victories in 2011. What are yours?

2011 has been a milestone year for me where tech achievements are concerned, and these are my top 3. Perhaps my experiences can inspire some of you to do the same in 2012!
Written by Stephen Chapman, Contributor

With the end of 2011 sitting just around the corner, I decided to take a moment to reflect upon all the things I've accomplished this year where technology is concerned. I decided this would be the year that I broke down mental barriers of mine and gave some new things a shot, and as it turns out, 2011 has been a pretty victorious year for me! Here are my top 3 tech victories in 2011:

1 - Learn OS X: Long story short, I've been a Windows power user for most of my computing years. Though I've never been one for OS wars, I just never saw a need for OS X in my life (which may or may not have translated on the harsher side of the spectrum at times). Well, I decided it was time to take the plunge and see for myself what all the hype was about with OS X.

My chosen device to explore OS X on was a MacBook Air. It wasn't without my fair share of kicking and screaming and being annoyed by one significantly persistent bug, but I've finally learned and have adjusted to OS X.

Thus far, I still prefer Windows by a wide margin, but I will continue to use OS X to the point that I consider myself equally as much of a power user as I am with Windows. I don't dislike OS X, but I'm not losing sleep at night if I don't get around to spending some time on my MacBook Air before bed. Likewise, I look forward to the day when Apple decides to drastically overhaul OS X (I think it needs it -- at least where the UI is concerned, because it looks antiquated to me).

2 - Buy an iPad: I'll let this post of mine speak for itself where the iPad 2 is concerned, but the long and the short of it is that I whimsically decided to shell out the cash for one. After spending a significant amount of time hating on the thing before ever having seen one in person, I couldn't be happier with owning one now.

[Gallery: Top 10 favorite iPad games]

To quote a passage from the aforementioned post I wrote about my iPad:

I absolutely, unequivocally love my iPad 2. I am amazed by how much I’ve managed to find to use this thing for, and almost 2 months later, I’m still finding new uses and implementations.

I know this isn't much to say about the iPad here, but seriously, go read this post and you'll see why I'm pointing you there instead -- especially if you're in the market for an iPad, whether it's for yourself or in consideration for someone else!

3 - Switch from PC to console gaming: In recent years, my primary focus as a gamer has been FPS (first-person shooter) games. I've been a Quake trick-jumper since back in the early days of Quake 2, I can walk circles around a person in FarCry while keeping the crosshairs on their head, and I like seeking out map glitches for places to camp so I can laugh my butt off while people try to figure out where the heck I am. I'm a precision gamer, and when it comes to FPS games, consoles have always been a huge turnoff to me since the controller yields less precision than a mouse/keyboard combo. Well, I decided to bite the bullet and finally invest the time in getting decent with FPS games on a modern console's controller.

After freeing my mind, I finally adjusted to what I still consider to be a wonky way to play FPS games. I started with Crysis 2, then Battlefield 2, and have since played through those, Battlefield 3, and Crysis. Unfortunately, the way an FPS game must be played on a console is so severely lacking to me; however, there's an insanely awesome upside to this: I've now opened myself up to PS3's game ecosystem. All the games I've been missing out on because I've been a stubborn PC gamer for years... No more! And because I've now become familiar with the PS3's controller, by similarity, that makes an Xbox 360 controller not feel so foreign any longer.

The bittersweet part of the whole thing is coming out on the other side of it all and realizing how long it has taken you to get there -- and for what? I've never been much for brand loyalty, but platform loyalty is another story. I don't see myself getting away from the PC any time soon to play FPS games, nor do I see myself ever finding OS X to be my primary OS or iOS to be my mobile phone OS, but at least I've put some honest effort into adopting all of the aforementioned and giving everything a fair shot.

So, perhaps the most significant accomplishment of mine this year was opening my mind (and my wallet, good grief) to Apple products. After all, they take up 2 of the 3 spots on this list above.

Now, what about you? Did you have any breakthrough tech feats in 2011? Any mental hurdles you overcame where brand/platform loyalty is concerned? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

-Stephen Chapman


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