Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Its complicated

I remember as a child in the 80's the plastic orange box of tricks that was a Binatone Games Machine, you'd plug it onto the back of the telly, take a controller (a smaller orange rectangle with a nob on it) which was hard wired in, it didn't unplug far less work wirelessly, we'd then move a bar up or down on either side of the screen with the (ahem,) nob which bounced a rectangular 'ball' back and forth. Variations were available, at the flip of a switch you could double the size of your rectangle (or bat,) you could if you were feeling particularly fearsome double the speed of play and if you felt the need for a change, with the flip of another over-sized paddle switch you could change the game to football - which if memory serves added extra bats into the game.

I have sitting beside me several of what can only be described as ladies who have kids, one of whom recently told me her two year old son could turn on her iPhone, go to the you-tube app and download peppa pig cartoons.

I asked my mum recently when she looked at us playing these games if she wondered how we took to it all so easily, I'll be the first to admit, it was only a nob which could be twiddled one or the other (which for young boys, was never a new activity anyway,) not as we have with today's game controllers which bristle with buttons, joy sticks and touch pads. She said no, she never wondered, she never thought about it at all, she was just happy we were amused and not setting fire to or otherwise destroying the village in which we lived.

The thing is, I replaced my phone recently, I went from a bulk standard 'mars bar' type phone to a so-called smart phone, I'm seriously thinking about giving it to my colleague's two year old to set up, what a fucking ball ache. Even unlocking the screen is a challenge, I slide a finger along the screen where indicated but instead of opening the home screen, it takes a picture of my legs, (if i'm sitting, if not its of the middle distance.) I realised if you rub one way it 'quick launches' the camera function, (bringing new meaning to rubbing something up the wrong way...) If you wheech your finger properly, you are rewarded with a clock and a jumble of small icons.

I managed to copy contacts over, delete them, copy them over again, link them to themselves so they appeared twice, delete them all, restore them from the old phone's memory, unlink them (I think) then eventually copy all but one on to the new phone then delete them off the SIM memory, you have to delete the SIM memory because if you want to use caller text groups (which I do) you need to use the phone memory and typically, if you leave them on the SIM memory, they appear twice in the contacts folder.

Another thing I learnt which snuck up on me, is not having a text spam filter, my mars bar had one, a folder into which you could deposit number from which you did not require PPI reclamation or debt management advice, offers about wine or land investments and other texts which are as interminable as they are unwanted - with the block removed, I and my new phone was instantly deluged with offers of assistance and do you know what? This phone won't filter out spam texts. Almost 18 months ago I requested an insurance quote from that stupid meerkat website and forgot to check the 'don't fucking harass me box' - to my regret ever since.*

That said, the new phone is sleek and shiny, the screen is crystal clear, I can watch videos and fire chickens at castles and I can download apps (perhaps there's one for blocking spam texts?) Thinking back, sitting in front of a huge telly controlling monochrome bats with nobs, if a time traveler dumped a smart phone in my lap, would I have been able to operate it? (Leaving aside that, as an adult with all my modern knowledge, no sneering at the back, I have trouble even now?) Is it now instinctive among young people?

Looking back, what would my younger self think about the kind of things we now take for granted? I love Google Maps for example, imagine in 1984, being able to stroll along a street in Petatlan and look in to the windows of houses there, seeing how Mexicans live (because that is where Petatlan) from the comfort of your own home? These days, I think discussion are cut much shorter because answers to questions are so much more readily available, no need to sit and argue the toss over whether a Komodo Dragon is venomous or not (it is, I just checked.) And of course, the elephant in the room; pornography. What would my 12 year old self think about the sheer volume available not to mention the variety, I imagine my eyes would pop right out of my head.

Anyway, the point of this self-indulgent entry (is it too soon after mentioning porn for this turn of phrase?) is self-congratulatory in nature, I've modernised. Its not an iPhone although I will admit to considering it for a period of time not in excess of a millisecond, I'm not saying what it is because some technosnob will no doubt appear to tell me what an arse I am for buying that particular phone.

I should also say, normally I engage in deep tortuous thought for weeks in advance of a purchase like this, weighing up issues like; does this phone record telephone calls? Can I superimpose a clown costume on a person who's picture I've taken? Or can I store nuts in the battery compartment? - trust me, I am the king of option paralysis. This time though, I looked at the price, noticed it was water proof and told the woman; 'I'll have that one please'.

Now if I could just get it to shut up, it keeps making noises, I know its trying to tell me something but I have no idea what; its doing things in the background the nature of which I cannot identify, it could be doing anything, from playing Pong to downloading pornographic images of clowns...

* Are you being bothered by nuisance texts? Here's what I do, only if I'm bored mind, not all the time, I'm not a crazy person... Take the mobile phone number from which the problem text was sent, find a website offering a call back service either in the same line of work or something else as annoying, stick some false details in the call back form, (you know, name - Barry Soap etc) then use the mobile number as a contact. If enough of us do this, all these odious companies will end up doing; is bothering each other:

Caller 1 - "Hello, do you have PPI you could reclaim?"
Caller 2 - "Do you have PPI  you could reclaim?"
Caller 1 - "Hey, I asked first!"
Caller 2 - "So what, I asked second!"


  1. Geeez, you're evil. Fancy doing that to nice people who want to get your PPI back for you, ahem...

    Anyway, yes, I agree. I'm kinda lost for months every time I get a new phone/computer/tablet...

    But yeah, you can learn anything when you are a kid, and the older you get the more difficult it becomes.

    When I was 12 I knew all the words to every song that was in the charts; I only had to listen a couple of times and it was there... Now I have 1D's song stuck in my mind, because I keep hearing it at the gym (and it is very catchy), and I'm going around singing "Some how, I'm gonna get you, I'm gonna find you I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha, somehow la la la la la la la"... lost.

    Oh well... next comes grey hair and wrinkles, I guess.

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  3. Aye.

    1D... Oh dear, but you have to be excused because they are covering a quality song from a while ago.

    I think there's a stage of development just before grey hair and wrinkles. A song from when you were young will be on the radio, it 'll take you by surprise and fill you with a nostalgia for days gone by, except, if you stop and examine those memories properly; they're actually a highly polished version of a shit to average existence only punctuated by moments worthy of such nostalgic recall.

    Maybe that's just me though.


  4. William.

    I have no idea if you really are the handsome man your avatar suggest, an ad-bot which has been programmed with a sense of irony or just because I mentioned the dreaded PPI in the main body.

    Either way, I'm leaving the post up.



Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?