My first computer technology experience involved buying a Sinclair ZX81 computer, and in a way it was my first technology disappointment. It was a small, light ‘home computer’ that came with 1k of memory (though I did get its 16k expansion pack) and fed its monochrome output to a television. It was, in its own way a fun device to use and could even play a far better game of chess than I ever could. (You try today to get someone to write a fully working chess game using less than 16k of ram!) However what let it down was an awful membrane keyboard, but what really killed it for me was an unreliable program loading and data saving system. The device had no internal storage system so you had to use a domestic cassette deck connecting its headphone and microphone sockets into the side of the ZX81. This was so temperamental and unreliable – getting the cassette player playback and record levels correct, sorting out cassette start and stop routines – it made using the ZX81 a real pain.
I could see that computers were the way to go, so later replaced this with a Commodore VIC-20. What I liked about the Commodore (compared to the then available Sinclair Spectrum) was that the Commodore had a really nice typewriter style keyboard and its own dedicated cassette tape drive for data storage.
Another technology first was my first mobile phone – a Sony CM-R111. This was a wonderful device. It could only do one thing – make phone calls – but I really loved it to bits. A small device which almost fitted in the palm of your hand (at the time when so many were large chunky ‘bricks’) and with a rather novel flip-down microphone. This was at the time when the mobile system was an analogue one, so no text messaging or fancy data systems, just simple phone calls!
A few thoughts on the iPhone 5 (& what I would have liked).
So the iPhone 5 is out and clocked up record sales. Not surprised, quite a few people I know have been delaying their phone replacement, living with old, even faulty phones waiting for the new device to come to market.
It’s quits some phone (even allowing for the farce over the map function and some wi-fi problems) however the trouble is that there’s nothing there that really makes it stand out from the opposition.
The first iPhone had its touch screen interface which was far better than anything else then around. The 3G / GS gave us high speed Internet. The jump up to 4 gave the Retina screen, the best of its type at the time, but with this jump up to 5 – there’s nothing really special that stands out. A slightly larger screen, but still just ‘average size’. 4G, but many others have that. Maps that don’t work too well… and so on.
Here’s something that would have got my attention (not my idea but I can’t remember where I first read it), and that would be to take the baby watch size iPod Nano and integrate its functions in with the iPhone 5.
Wear the Nano as a watch (as many people do) but whenever a text or email arrived on the phone it would be displayed on the Nano. The phone rings, caller information displayed on the Nano. No more having to go digging your iPhone out from your pocket or bag only to find it’s someone you don’t want to talk to. Pictures or music on your iPhone, route them through the Nano.
Within the limits of its small screen have it as an iPhone remote controller. Now that would have got my attention.
I got my Kindle as a late Christmas present for myself (Jan 2011) so I’ve had it for a few months now and am very impressed with it. As for why did I get it – my local Borders bookshop closed and I hand’t realised how much I had got used to sitting in the Starbucks inside the book store reading, and I was missing that experience.
Having that Borders there, with the ability to browse the shelves and then sample a chapter or two of the book over a cup of coffee had resulted in me buying far more books than I ever used to. On-line stores may have cheaper headline prices, but for me the advantage of having the book in front of me where I could see it’s condition, not worry about hidden postage costs, no having to wait in for any delivery service or have the problem of wrong item sent, all that sort of stuff meant that I was a frequent Borders visitor. (Also met some amazing people while there.)
Anyway, back to the Kindle. It’s only designed to do one job and it does that job very well. It is light weight, including the fancy cover I’ve got for it it’s no bigger than a paperback, and the claimed one month battery life I’ve found realistic. As for the ‘reading experience’, it’s excellent. When reading off my iPad or computer I’m always aware I’m reading from a computer screen, but when using the Kindle then I’m just ‘reading’ and can happily get fully immersed in the book. It may not have the same feel (or smell) of a paper based book, but if something like this can encourage more people, especially children, to read more, then great.
Whether the older generation like it or not, the younger generation is a technology aware generation, so if you want them to read then accept the fact that electronic rather than paper reading will be the preferred route for many of them. Better Kindle reading than no reading!
As for available material, almost everything written before the 1930s now out of copyright which means there’s a vast amount of free material available. For the first time ever I’ve found myself reading Dickens. We all know the films such as Oliver Twist, but how many have actually read the books. I’m currently part the way through Darwin and On the Origin of Species and also Knowles and The Legends of King Arthur. I’ll shortly download some more Jules Verne.
So I’ll definitely give my Kindle a big thumbs up. I got my device from a local shop and headed straight down to my favourite Starbucks to investigate it. I was disappointed to find there was no pre-installed reading material so you couldn’t just take it out of the box and start reading, also the ‘getting started’ instructions I found feeble. However those problems were soon sorted and I am now a very happy Kindle user.
I can quite sympathise with Alex Day over closing off much of his ‘Nerimon’ internet stuff. I like YouTube (& BlogTV), but things like twitter, well, now the novelty has worn off it’s becoming more irritating than anything else. One trouble for me is that it can be very fast-moving, and if you have more of a life than just sitting on the internet and having a twitter browser page open, then it’s very easy to get left behind in some conversation. Don’t look at it for a day and you may have pages of tweets and ‘half complete’ conversations to work your way through. Facebook, I just keep that because many people use it as a way of highlighting YouTube Gathering. Bebo, once very popular with the student crowd around me so having access to it was handy, but it’s fallen out of favour and I never bothered with it other than as a back-up blog channel. I quite like DailyBooth and will probably stick with that for a while.
I like the internet. I want to use it. I enjoy this sort of technology stuff. My first e-mail address, or mailbox as it was called then, I got over 20 years ago. But I want it so *I* use *it*, not to have it control and dominate my life. I guess it does dominate – I’d be totally lost without it – but I still want it such that *I* have control and *I* decide over when and how I use it.
So go for it Alex, and everyone else who wants to. Get rid of the non-essential crap that just distracts you away from life. Keep the core elements, the rest will still be here if you want to return.