Category Archives: technology

Media junkie

It has occurred to me I may have repeated my thoughts while blogging. I’ve decided this is probably due to two things. One I have a very bad memory and can’t remember what I may or may not have written before.¬† So for that I can only apologise.

And two, my life probably just isn’t that interesting. I am therefore not on twitter and was never really that into the idea of Facebook updates even before people got paranoid that they were being stalked by various governments, terrorists and marketing agencies on it.

I just don’t have such an interesting life. I don’t think anyone really wants to see a picture of my lunch. Or the fact that I don’t travel around daily which means if I was to instagram my life there are only so many times you want to see the road I walk down or the flowerbed outside my office unless you are really into seeing how the homeless guy is doing or that the flowerbed has been weeded since last week. It would literally be like watching paint dry. While leftovers chucked out a lunchbox, even if strategically organised around a plate are still going to look like leftovers jumbled up.

As much as I’d like to therefore give up my job and just aim at meaningless reviews on the internet in pseudo ironic ways and get paid to do so, that just isn’t going to happen as a result. Then again I suppose if I didn’t have a job and that was my job I might have more time to sit in random hipster coffee shops posting pictures of the fern leaf pattern in my low fat almond milk latte, followed by hashtag great yoga sesh and snippy limited character commentary on the cat next door. (Which also isn’t going to happen as there is no cat next door. Then again, I’m not sure half the people online don’t just make stuff up occasionally as they are so busy visualising their lives through the eyes of others they may not actually be living it.)

 

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Obsolete

I was debating the merits of the fax machine the other day. I was watching a tv programme where the character hilariously acquired a fax machine despite it being completely obsolete technology. And then promptly had it stolen – which in itself was diabolical because it was basically dinosaur equipment.

I am actually old enough to remember when every business had one. At the time I started work although some of the staff had email addresses, most communication and instruction that had to be written and communicated was via fax. Even in the so called first world UK I’d fill in timesheets as contracted staff and have to post them in the mail or fax them to the agency that hired me.

I realised a lot of millennials won’t even have a clue what this entails. The thermal sensitive paper. The bleeping sound of the machine as it accepted a transmission. How quickly things have changed. It’s a bit like my being unable to understand how people slaughtered their own chickens if they wanted a Sunday roast or having to pack an entire trunk of clothing and get on a ship if they wanted to cross an ocean.

The new generation all instinctively use tablets and smartphones the way I used to be able to programme a vcr, confused how the older generation didn’t ‘get’ that ‘obviously’ you just click these buttons or swipe left then right and then the machine does what you want. A colleague complained he upgraded their television and the kids ran up to it and expected it to swipe left and right to change channels, leaving grubby handmarks all across the new screen.

One can only wonder what the future will bring next. I always thought I’d keep up with it but when I look back at how rapidly things have changed, I do wonder if I’m going to be like my parents with new technology and potentially trapped in my house when I’m unable to work out how the smartlocks on the doors interact with the biometric chip in my hand!

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Trashy TV

I have a secret which I don’t really like to admit. I love a bit of car crash ‘documentary’ television now and then on the sly. I was fascinated with the pure white trash value of Honey Boo Boo and was actually sad when it was cancelled – as I loved being both horrified by the family (who seemed to have a dim grasp of hygiene and food nutrition, never mind language) and enamoured by them as they managed a certain level of communication that my family is often not capable of. Not to mention they seemed to be fully aware they were complete rednecks, even going to a ‘redneck festival’ at one point.

I followed the Duggars for awhile. Their lives were horribly dull but it fascinated me they were the polar opposites of Honey Boo Boo’s family as they followed a strict Puritan lifestyle and populated the earth like rabbits believing it was ‘God’s will’ . The joys of internet downloading meaning I could fast forward the dull bits and wonder at a family so religious they don’t allow dancing or trousers/pants on their daughters (who all have to also keep long hair and never expose their shoulders) and yet the girls spend literally hours doing hair and make up. The home schooled younger children seem to live a blissful barefoot life with minimal education beyond the Bible and hands on visits to places to learn practically while many of the boys wander around like Davey Crocket Macgyver type characters. In the early episodes kids as young as nine were assigned a drill and allowed to walk in sandals to help put their house together- isn’t that child labour?

The Duggars like Honey Boo Boo have come under huge scandal lately with abuse stories and tales of rebellion rife. They really were better off before anyone hit puberty and it was all really a lot more fun when there was no real drama.

I followed some overly dramatic tattoo show at one point which was confused whether the stars of the show were the tattoos or the tattoo artists who bickered and squabbled like high school premadonnas. The body ink was interesting to see but the show was also clearly built on these highly emotion ‘reality show’ moments created which must surely have been at least partially contrived.

The latest offering I caught on Netflix in this genre this weekend was a girl based in America creating couture Japanese ‘Lolita’ style dresses and her bevvy of models and assistants. She looks young and innocent and claimed to have a boyfriend based abroad who would pop up on skype now and again. This show once again made me wonder at the star(s) of the show. There is a sort of naivety and a I-am-oblivious-to-the-camera attitude. There are hints of the models having other jobs and scraping to get by. But everyone is always immaculately attired, even after ‘all nighters’ or very coolly scruffy. And I suspect incredibly savvy. This girl probably looks younger than she is but was clearly clever enough to put together a successful business even before the show started paying her to be on it.

I wondered if her boyfriend was actually an actor too given she has been in the states for four years, when did she meet him? And his name is not particularly typical from her nation (neither was his accent to be honest). Given at least part of the show is based on her actual life it’s always good to provide a barrier between you and possible stalker types.

I debated if anyone would ever be willing to film me – or is my life just that dull? And even if they were, could I deal with all the PT in looking like I ‘just got out of bed’ but am somehow still teasingly tousled and cutely attired, not just dishevelled in an old t-shirt? I’m not saying reality tv is an easy way of making a living but ALL these shows always seem to land up at some point at a luxury spa/hotel and touring some extravagant place I could never afford. Even Honey Boo Boo. One could do worse.

 

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FITBIT

So last year I came down with a cold/cough thing that seemed to last forever. (In point of fact, although I am now ‘healthy’ I still seem to be getting up every morning and hocking up a tiny phlegm ball – like a smoker or a distressed cat with hairballs – note: I am not a smoker or a cat).

At some stage while waiting to heal I developed this insane urge to firstly ‘treat’ myself so I felt less sorry for myself and secondly I started to wonder how much my fitness levels were dropping off because I was in some state of imposed bedrest involving work-food-sleep-work-food-sleep-work with no social life per say as I was too tired (and coughy) to be much fun.

Somewhere in the midst of this I decided what I REALLY wanted was a fitness tracker with a heartrate monitor that doesn’t look like one particularly. (which really narrowed the field) And I didn’t want to pay full price. So I got a really nice little fitbit off ebay from a very nice gentleman who let me pay immediately without bidding as I can’t deal with the bidding auction frenzy thing that was in perfect condition and I then scraped the face all by myself on the first hour of wearing. (sigh)

So this thing has been tracking my movements for about a month but I’m getting a bit bored of this. I miss the two watches I own as there is no point in wearing a normal watch if you have a tracker with time attached to it already. The watches are just more comfy as on my wrist as the tracker doesn’t wrap sufficiently and personally I feel it consequently keeps poking into my arm in a way that it would not if I had a fatter arm (not that I want a fatter arm). This is despite what is a serious charm for my shallow self of being able to easily switch out the straps to suit fashion/activity etc. Two completely different straps fit differently but still the straps can only bend so far and the little light sensor things dig into my arm.

I am more fascinated than I thought I would be at this wearable tech. I keep worrying – especially since my wrist feels dented by the tracker – that the little light sensor things are going to give me cancer. Has anyone tested this? Or am I doomed anyways due to too many hours on early design mobile phones (think Motorola brick)? Is this thing really accurately monitoring my heartrate anyway or is it just making up some kind of guestimate that is also based off my blood pressure etc? And how does that sleep function work anyway? It actually subtracts time off for being ‘awake’ even though you are in bed. Occasionally when I think back I can vaguely remember being awake in the night as I tried to turn over or had a duvet war with Plus One but there are other periods of ‘awake’ I do not recall and I seem to have big problems hitting REM (Although this may be due to the fact that I’m plain not sleeping enough as there isn’t enough time in the day).

Strange to think though how ‘normal’ the whole concept of these trackers has become. Since owning one I notice them in various shapes, guises and brands on other people. And it’s astounding how many people of various fitness levels, sizes, ages, wear one. Will the ability to track our motions become so bog standard in the future we won’t even think about it? Like we don’t think twice now about being late meeting people because we are all connected via phones.

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Filed under Fitness, modern living, technology

The things we surf

Was just debating the stuff I have looked up on the internet over the past year. And what these idiotic search engines that stalk and memorise the sites I go to must profile me out as.

My searches have included:

  • Video footage of a guinea fowl running (they cheer me up no end without fail)
  • Where is Dawid Malan the English cricketer from because with a name like that can he really be English?
  • World War 1 flying aces
  • Properties near my house
  • Places – tourist traps, hotels, transport – where I might one day go holiday if I had a sackload of money
  • Furniture
  • The option of getting an owl as a pet – specifically a burrowing owl
  • Body fat muscle ratios of women
  • How to make a yorkshire pudding
  • Restaurant menus in places I will never go eat at due to location/price/menu choices
  • How to grow various vegetables (which I have promptly never bothered to grow)
  • Random items on Amazon – rarely books – that I might one day want to own from jewellery to toasters
  • The fourth state of matter – I thought there was only gas/water/solid but the Science Museum said plasma counted (I think it was plasma)
  • Currency exchange rates
  • What time the shops open
  • Where is the bank
  • News24
  • Which universities were top in the world
  • Cellphones that could explode on planes
  • When a Brazilean musician is touring again internationally

The thing that I really resent is that these searches ARE being tracked as I’ve been getting adverts appropriate to these random searches.

Just a pity that if these people had any sense, they would realise there is no correlation between what I read on the internet and my own personal reality half the time.

 

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Technologically challenged

So someone pretty close to me – I shall not say who because it’s frankly idiotic and embarrassing – upgraded their phone.

I complained the day I synced my fingerprint to my work phone, I clearly had really rough skin or a big cut or something on the day. But it does not recognise the whorls about 90% of the time. Fortunately, the technology allows for five fingers to be imprinted. And my other finger mostly works.

So this other person says but they don’t think five fingers is enough… We all looked confused. Most people have a preferred finger or two per hand so four is usually more than fine with a spare for a loved one to get into your phone.

The phone this person used to use was just touch activated. Apparently (and we had a demonstration of how this worked) they sometimes use the one hand or the other. And almost all digits, including the RING finger. ‘HOW,’ demanded their other half incredulously, ‘are you using your ring figure on your non-dominant hand to activate the phone? Why wouldn’t you use your index finger, or maybe your middle finger which is longer? And why use the hand you don’t use for anything else?’

‘Oh, you know,’ said the person, ‘sometimes you are sitting there working and then the phone rings and you choose the closest finger.’

‘And it is your ring finger?’

‘Yes and then you know, sometimes the phone is on one side of the table and then maybe it’s on the other so you want to use your other hand and then when it’s IN your hand you want to use another finger… the phone needs to be able to accept more fingerprints because this is confusing to me.’

Perhaps, my dear. But only confusing to YOU. The only person I know who tries to apparently hit all sorts of random digits at random locations to activate their phone.

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Crush ’em

The Pokemon-go thing seems to have calmed. There have been less incidences of my being run over by random hipsters standing in spastic clusters pointing from their phone to spaces of air on the roadside. Funny how quickly some trends blow over. I thought it would last at least as long as those terrible little elastic bands loom band things that even the British Royals were seen wearing at some point. (No doubt gifted by some little child at a function instead of a more easily disposed of posy.)

One trend that still seems to be going strong is Candy Crush, more than two years on. I’m not going to lie, I play it sometimes on the train as it doesn’t take a lot of brain and uses up time when I’m too tired to read or have nothing to read. (I’ve also been stuck on the same level for weeks now so the allure is paling.)

I tend to try not to let people I know know I have it on my phone though. It’s like admitting to frequenting those dodgy no name brand fried chicken shops they have here, picking your nose, shopping at Ackermans and, in the Big Smoke, admitting you voted Brexit.

It was therefore astounding to me that two young strapping Aussies sat opposite each other on the train ¬†yesterday leaning over a communal phone. I think one of them was teaching the other about the game. Frequent exclamations of ‘ahh yeah’, ‘yeah, ah yeah’, ‘ah, that’s a bummer those chocolate blocks,’ emitting from the two of them. The guy who’s phone it was admitting with pride that it was a great little time waster while travelling.

Candy Crush, despite it’s name, it’s brightly jewelled graphics and cheesy cartoon characters, has transcended both genders and a huge age demographic. I’ve been surprised at who else has been playing it next to me on occasion.

Still, those two put me off a bit.

It might be time to find the next big thing.

 

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No fool like an old fool

The Pokemon-Go craze has hit the world. Well. Parts of the world with internet and phones that connect to 3G/4G services and wifi.

It is huge news in London as almost everyone here has a smart phone with few notable exceptions. Like the early 30 something weirdo in my office who’s too young to have a phone that only has buttons and a monochrome screen. For some reason he is the only person that young I know who thinks a tablet compensates for the fact that he can’t connect to any social media on his phone or googlemaps on the go.

He is also weird in other ways though.

Anyways. People catching Pokemon are just as odd. I thought it would mostly incorporate people in their 20s and early 30s who had watched the show. No it’s not.

It’s women and men in their late 30s and 40s too.

Apparently the makers of the app have said it hasn’t really helped the company’s overall stocks which are still down.

They missed a trick. They needed to strike better deals with cellphone companies before launch.

Apparently the app drains data like nothing else. My colleague was sulking yesterday as he’d run out of data allowance after catching a Pokemon on the head of the person opposite him in the office. He’d used the rest of it running around a park looking for them. We can’t get connected to the wifi in that particular corner of the office and he’d resigned himself to the fact that as that isn’t exactly mandatory to his job he’d have to sit data-less til the next month rolls.

Which is still a shade better than almost getting run over by cars jumping in front of things trying to catch imaginary creatures. Or, true story, hovering like vampires in a graveyard with phones pointed up, jumping around like idiots, trying to catch an invisible creature.

They are NOT REAL.

I got an actual update from a friend on his holiday to Sri Lanka that he was upset the rare Tamil Pokemon had been rendered extinct centuries ago by Buddist monks. Like that was really a thing.

He is also in his late 30s.

Talk about reliving your youth.

 

 

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