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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Technology bites back!


Illustration: John Shakespeare

For a person who has been in the forefront of technology, when it comes to gadgets, all of his spending life, I am surprisingly opaque when it comes to the hardware.  As I type I am surrounded by a positive Bolognese of wires and an obsolescence of machines, but I am still a fingers-on-the-keys and bugger the mechanics of what I am using sort of person.  I still have a touching faith in the belief that makers of computers are on my side and that they are and have been doing everything that they can do to make my computing experience as joyful as possible.  Self-delusion of course, but it keeps me sane.
            Which is all a way of building up to the fact that things are not working as well as they should be.  Various arcane messages have been flashing up on my computer screen that, I think, indicate that things are not working at an optimum level.  As I have no idea what to do in response to these messages I have, of course, ignored them.
            This was a Bad Idea and I have paid the price as the machine has slowly but inevitably ground down to impotence.  That infuriating little circular symbol of many colours, which is an indication that the computer is thinking, and is going to ignore your commands, has become a more permanent icon on my bright screen.
            Eventually, of course, I had to follow the implacable advice of Toni and go to YouTube and discover What To Do.
            Eighteen pages of advice later I was more in a cold sweat panic than surveying the possibilities of restoring my machine to working order.
            Eventually, of course, I bought a program to do what I am sure Toni would have done at no cost whatsoever.  As the dreaded little circle of colours has reappeared during the typing of this missive, I am not sure that the payment of money has had any real effect, or indeed affect – I am still not sure about the correct use of those words.
            However, in the world of real facts, I am able to type without total frustration and that, in itself, is something.  We will have to see what happens when I try and add the Internet to the mixture – that usually does something more interesting and unexpected.
            I think that my basic point is that as a dedicated user of computers and so forth, I really do think that they should be just a tad more responsive and, dare I use the word, kind.
            However, they are not, and I constantly feel like throwing whatever device I am using away from me with extreme force.
            At which time, of course, I need to remember that I am of the generation where schools had only one BBC B computer to their names and counted themselves lucky.  I am of the generation that used an early version of Windows where the sacrifice of a full-blooded cockerel was sine quo non for anything to work.  I am of the generation when things simply didn’t work.
            But I thought that things had changed.  I put this down to the fact that I had a Mac at a fairly early stage of my computer development and got used to an operating system that seemed to be user friendly.  And when Windows stole the operating system that Apple had already stolen in their turn I thought that things had finally got to a stage where you could relax: the computer was on your side.
            Well, that didn’t really happen, and, in spite of the developed sophistication and complexity of the computers, they still have the unerring capability of reducing you to stuttering imbecility at a single keystroke.  But I wouldn’t be without them.
            So, it is with increasing excitement and ill concealed impatience that I await my latest gadget.  I am not sure what “between 3 and 5 working days” to get it to me actually means to the distant Chinese factory producing the mobile phone that I have ordered (apart, of course, of it not being “between 3 and 5 working days”) but, in spite of the fact that I rarely use the phone as a phone, I cannot wait for the gleaming (golden) outsized piece of bling to arrive and for me to get down to the serious business of not understanding its most basic capabilities!

If I want to frighten myself, I just sit down and try and work out how much my parents and I have paid over the years for my poor sight.  Admittedly in the early years of my sight deterioration I had a pair of round NHS black wire rimmed curly ear ended things that made me look, as my father so caringly pointed out like, “the Owl of the Remove”!
            My glasses became a little more presentable over the years, but the price and the delay in getting them made – as well as the sheer discomfort of wearing the bloody things made them a Necessary Object of Dislike.  I am sure that there is another blog post of a disquisition on the number of NODs that one has in one’s life, but this is not the time.
            As soon as it became a practical possibility I turned to contact lenses.  I was so keen to have them that I even paid part of the cost out of my own money!  I think it was this measure that persuaded my parents that I was in deadly earnest and they ponied up for the rest.
            I still remember my first fitting for lenses.  They were eventually placed on my eyes and, as they were made of hard plastic, the eye did its best to get rid of them.  It was impossible to raise one’s eyes from the downcast position because of the extreme pain.  Having got the things in, I was then sent from Windsor Place in Cardiff where my optician was situated, to wander around town for an extended period of time to allow the oxygen (in the centre of a city!) to do its stuff and see if my eyes would accept the lenses.
            I stumbled back into the opticians after having looked like a self-effacing picture of modesty, emitting yelps of pain when I forgot and raised my eyes.  I persevered and became a confirmed contact lens wearer.
            Recently I have gone back to my glasses, but fickle as ever, I have now decided to return to the lenses.
            And how much easier is it when they are daily lenses and made out of accommodating plastic.
            My problem of being short sighted and long sighted at the same time has attempted to be coped with by a variety of contact lens prescriptions – none of which has worked.  I have therefore decided to go with a contact lens prescription for normal seeing and using magnetic glasses for reading.
            The magnetic glasses are hideous and I am not sure how you are supposed to transport them.  I know that the fact that they ‘break’ means that you should wear them around your neck, but how does that work when you are driving?
            Something else to complicate my life.

Well this writing has seeped on over days and I am going to post it to get it out of the way and allow something new to take its place.


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