Take The Computing Out Of Computers

If you’re at all tech savvy, then there is always going to be one phone call you dread. That moment when the parent with the computer calls you up unexpectedly to say “I think I might have done something to my laptop.” Or worse, “it’s gone funny.” And then expecting you to do something about it. Sadly, I don’t have enough command-line-fu to be able to drill into their file system over VPN and figure out what they’ve managed to do. Although getting them to delete the hundred gigs worth of material in the trash often work wonders.

I met Rev Sherlock for a livener yesterday, and he took the opportunity to wave his iPad at me, the dirty bugger. He loves watching me trying to explain why my netbook was really a much more sensible choice while the big WANT sign above my head flashes and klaxons. I hate Rev Sherlock.

Over the course of the conversation, we commiserated with each other over the endless hours and unpaid tech support we’ve done on behalf of our parents. The conclusion was reached that actually, an iPad isn’t such a bad idea for the person who thinks that file structure is something to do with building a cabinet. There’s very little you can do to the inner workings of the device, but it’ll get you online, playing music and videos and even handling basic word processing in a trice. All the primary boxes ticked. It’s just a shame that you need to hook it up to a machine with iTunes to manage the media.

Potentially, the new Google Chromebooks could solve our tech support woes. Putting content onto the cloud and running a minimal hard drive solves that annoying sync issue. However, depending entirely on the interwebs has its own issues, and gods help you if the wireless goes down. Might be worth splashing the cash on a 3G model. Dunno about you, but the prospect of troubleshooting a hinky wi-fi over the phone fills me with chills.

It’s good to be a geek, but there are times when it’s good to get the computers out of computing. Especially when you find that you’ve spent an evening troubleshooting your parents instead of repartitioning your significant other. So to speak.


Padded Out

the wonders of nature.jpg
Rampaging elephants couldn't tear me away from this article on how technology is disssociating us from the wonders of nature.

The time has finally arrived. This Friday, the 28th, the iPad will finally be on sale in the UK. I can already, with a sinking heart, report some of the things that will happen on that day.

There will be photos in all the papers of Steve Jobs holding up the iPad in his keynote at the Macworld conference back in January. You will recognise this photo, as it’s the only one the papers have been using to illustrate news about the device since its announcement.

There will be a sad and slightly droopy queue of obsessives outside the Apple Store in Regent Street, who just have to be there to pick up the iPads they preordered, rather then have the devices FedExed to their front door like a normal person.

There will be live-blogging. Dear gods, there will be live-blogging. Each and every one of these will include the phrase “The queue is starting to move. No, wait, false alarm.”

These people will be interviewed by BBC Breakfast. They will look slightly desperate, and a little crazy. They will be condescended at by an over-styled moron who has to get his eight-year-old daughter to sync his iPod. There will be an in-studio interview with an advocate like Rory Cellan-Jones, or Hugo Rifkind of the Times, who will gush like a perfumed faucet about the device. The phrase “game-changing” will be used to excess. This will be followed for balance by a spokesman from Sony, whining that it’s really just a big iPod Touch.

The queuers will be applauded by Apple staff when they finally pick up their iPads. They will feel the urge to hold their newly-purchased devices above their heads as if it’s the World Cup. They will look a little desperate, and slightly crazy.

Any coffee shops with wifi in the immediate area around Regent Street will be absolutely fucking unbearable until about 4PM, when purchasers get bored with the novelty of reading the Times or watching Star Trek on their new toys and go home to irritate their partners instead. There will be much discussion of the on-screen keyboard, and everyone will be insanely jealous of the smug git in the corner with the venti macchiato who splurged on the keyboard dock. He will merrily spend the afternoon whooping it up on Twitter instead of doing any actual writing.

Meanwhile, those of us in the know will be patiently waiting for June the 8th, and the moment at WWDC when Steve Jobs digs in his pocket.