A minor techno-fear, and more circularity

Saturday December 25, 2004

Present time comes after breakfast (croissant and orange juice) and showering. And tidying up so all is ready for the day.

Then we retire to the living room, pull the presents from under the tree, and rip wrappings off, unpack boxes and litter the entire floor ankle deep with discarded packaging in a frenzy of “Oooohs” and “Ahhhhs”. Normal for Christmas, in other words.

My main present of the day was a new, Roberts ‘Gemini’ digital DAB alarm clock radio for my nightstand. This frees the old one, and its predecessor, for eBay. One day soon…

The justification for this somewhat premature replacement of a perfectly good Sony Cube radio is that FM reception here is spoiled by a hostile neighbour with an electric fence, poorly maintained, which issues a ‘cra-a-a-a-ck-tick!’ on the second, every second, night and day. The new digital DAB band is immune to such things and gives crystal clear CD quality reception as well as access to new radio networks such as BBC Radio 7. I like Radio 7, which is mostly light comedy, including a good deal of archive material. That’s a wonderful thing to have whispering in your earphones on a sleepless night.

So that was a hit. Then I started on the first of what are supposed to be a small number of frivolous presents, hefted it in my hand and found it to be rather heavier than is normal for frivolous.

I must have frowned a little, in puzzlement, because Graham said, somewhat shamefacedly: “I’m not at all sure about this one now…”

“Oh, don’t be silly…” and I ripped the paper off and exposed a plain cardboard box with ‘Dell’ written on it. Shock. Horror. Inside was a glittering new DELL Axim pocket PC, the cheapest and simplest in the range. I was somewhat overwhelmed, and said so. Partly out of sheer funk and techno-fear, otherwise because I truly hadn’t expected anything like it.

“Oh,” I said, “but you’re the Bingely-Beep man in the family!”

“Time you came out of the dark ages and threw your memory book away.”

I considered, quietly, for a moment. “Well, ok. I’ll give it a good try.”

“That’s all I ask. And, if you can’t, really can’t get on with it then you can junk it.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “If I really can’t get on with it I shall sell it on eBay and buy some nice new notebooks.”

I suspect that, if it weren’t Christmas, I’d have got a “Grrrrh” for that.

Anyway, I got to playing with it in the evening, and learned how to make it recognise my handwriting and turn it into neat, typewritten text. It’s early days yet but, once I’ve learned my way round the system, and especially Pocket Word, I might, just might become a convert to the electronic notes age. I shall not call it a bingely-beep, though. I shall name it Mr Bingely-Boop, I think:


Stickford, Apr,'04
Please to meet and greet
Mr Bingely-Boop


Graham’s main present, by request, was a new mobile phone [cell phone] of medium capabilities and in the middle price range to replace the tinny little thing he bought in an emergency during the summer. Me, I’d consider a new mobile as the most boring present in the world, but Graham’s delighted with it. The only redeeming feature of it so far as I’m concerned is the built-in phonecam, which seems capable of far more decent work than I’ve seen before. He tried it out indoors, and beamed one of the resulting pictures, of a much puzzled Dolly, to his PC, using the Bluetooth connection. I was just about to shy away in another attack of techno-fear when I caught sight of Dolly on the PC screen.

“Hey, that’s rather good,” I said. “Can I have a copy, please?”

“You haven’t got Bluetooth. You couldn’t get on with Bluetooth, so we took it off your PC if you remember.”

“Yes, I know,” I said, handing him a safe and familiar square of black plastic. “But I have a lot of diskettes.”

That did get me a “Grrrrh”, but it also got me a nice new picture of Dolly which, with a minor bit of Photoshop enhancement, is more than presentable:


Stickford, Apr,'04
Tell them to leave a message
phonecam photo


“I think I may get myself a new mobile phone, with a camera, when we move to London,” I said.

“Oh, that’ll be fine. We shall have a complete, fully linked-up WiFi home network in London, so you’ll be able to beam stuff around from all over the place.”

“Oh dear,” I said. “I knew there’d be a snag.”

“Think of it as a challenge. That’s what you used to tell me.”

And you know what? The awful thing is, that is what I used to say back in the days when I wore suits, carried a wristwatch, and lectured the poor unfortunates working for me when they had the audacity to complain that they had a problem.

Well, what goes around comes around, as they say. Or, be sure your sins will find you out, as I tend to say these days. That’s the problem with discarded axioms and minor sins. They both have a way of coming back and slapping you round the face like a wet flannel on a cold morning.



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