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Young Geoffrey

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Young Geoffrey steps into the 21st or, The End Must Be Nigh! [Oct. 13th, 2012|10:28 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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I've almost never been an early adapter. There were long periods during my childhood when we didn't have a telephone, and a couple of years when what electricity we had came via about half-a-kilometre of taped together extension cords laid on the ground between my grandmother's house and ours (the result powered two light-bulbs, possibly a radio and an enormous old black and white television set that took about two minutes to warm up when turned on; also, we had no running water and I shat in an out-house even at -40).

(I would add that I walked 40 miles to school — uphill both ways — but everything in paragraph one is true.)

Anyway. I didn't own a colour television until the late 1980s and it wasn't until about 1990 or 1991 that I started to catch up — a little — when I bought my first computer. An IBM-compatible 368 that came with 2MB (yes, mega-bites!) of RAM and a 40 (count 'em!) 40MB hard-drive. The beast came with Windows 3.1 but I quickly realized it was a useless piece of crap and just stuck with DOS programs, text-only all the way.

That was the internet to me until the mid-1990s, or later. Green words on a black screen, and when an early version of Commander Keen got installed, the colour and movement were pretty damned awesome.

Anyway ...

As the '90s segued into the 'oughts and I found myself somehow working in the tech field rather than toiling in what is now known as Administration but which I called just being a secretary, people I knew started wearing belts, and sporting on these strange devices something similar to a holster for a six-shooter, as one might have seen in Texas in 1882. Only these guys (and they were, mostly, guys) were sporting telephones, not pistols, but — beyond being able to let someone know you'd be late for beers, I couldn't see the point of paying for toys, for Christ's sake.

But come the turn of that benighted decade, I repossed a cell-phone I'd bought for my (soon-to-be ex) and decided — what the hell — that there might be something to being able to let someone know I'd be late for beers. That I could do it via text-message was even better.

But game consoles? Even if they'd play pretty awesome-looking videos? Please. I had a computer, as well as a VCR that played both DVDs and VHS tapes! And what did I need a camera for? I had a camera, with 4 megapixels, baby!

When I moved to Ottawa now three years ago, my phone gave up the ghost, so I switched providers and got another. I had a full qwerty keyboard, when was nice for texting and a cheapo camera, which was slow and took only low-resolution images. My camera itself — which had a 4 megapixel resolution and which had cost 500 bucks or so when I'd bought it four or five years before, died during the move as well, so the idea of getting something better for picture-taking nagged at me from then 'till now.

But I didn't need a camera, not really. And neither did I need a "better" phone.

But. Butbutbut ... But time marches on, and friends show off their handsome Blackberries, and every pilot and flight attendant I drive around has some sort of high-fallutin' beast that does everything but give blow-jobs, or so it seems.

Long story short, the idea of being able to check email while on the road, or maybe post a tweet, or whatever, has been working on me, a phantom syren whose once-shrill song has slowly turned nightingale sweet.

Today, I yielded. Intending only to brunch on dim sum with Raven, and then to pick up some greens at the local Chinese market, we stopped in at a Wind outlet on a whim. And after probably close to an hour, I came away with the New Devil in hand.

Yes, a smartphone, with internet access, an Android operating system and a camera that provides eight megapixels. It also shoots video in "HD" (Aightch-Dee? Wat dat, Paw?) and gives me the current temperature and weather conditions as soon as I power it up. I can check email and browse the web (videos look ridiculously good; seriously, the screen resolution is awesome!) and god only knows what else. Presumably, I can even make phone calls with the beast.

I might no more, but Raven took it away from me as soon as we got home and I very nearly had to resort to fisticuffs to pry it from her delicate fingers.

Anyway. Here I am, now armed with a smart-phone, a technology that would have given just about anyone fits of incredulity even 20 years ago (and maybe 10). To paraphrase a recent post by Warren Ellis, we are living in Science Fiction and I have just been jolted into remembering it.

Do I need a "smartphone"? Of course I don't. Will I need in a year, or a month, or maybe even in as little as a week? I rather suspect I will.

I also rather suspect the exploration of its capabilities will lead to more specifically tech-related posts from me than all of my computers and other bits of the recent future ever have.

This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/244315.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mijopo
2012-10-14 02:12 pm (UTC)
I had a smartphone for a while and gave it up. I must say, it feels absolutely primitive to have only a phone with texting and phone calls now. (I do have a work BB, but it has all functionality except for web browsing (no personal sites like FB or email) and email turned off)
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-10-14 03:55 pm (UTC)

Why?

Did you give it up, that is?
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[User Picture]From: mijopo
2012-10-14 04:19 pm (UTC)

Re: Why?

Oh, it was just too expensive. I switched jobs, my old company let me use my company phone for personal stuff, so it was free, the new one most definitely does not. If I use my BB for just calls and texting it costs me $30/mo, if I want a reasonable amount of bandwidth for email, web browsing, Twitter, FB, etc. it's ~ $70.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-10-14 04:43 pm (UTC)

Re: Why?

Understood. I was paying circa 40 bucks a month on the old plan for 150 minutes of prime-time talk, voicemail and unlimited text-messaging.

The new one (with paying for the phone included in the payments, not extra) unlimited in and out-bound local calling, text and data. (Raven used about 50 megs of data while playing with the thing for an hour or so yesterday, so unlimited is basically a necessity.) All for about $45 a month, after taxes.

The only downside is that the company, Wind, has very limited coverage. I have 13 days to explore other options.
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[User Picture]From: abomvubuso
2012-10-14 07:00 pm (UTC)
Hell, I haven't created a FB account by now, so you're not alone in being a late adapter! :)
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-10-14 09:59 pm (UTC)

You've outlassed me, sir!

And now that I think of it, maybe I'm not such a late adapter as all that after all.
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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2012-10-15 01:29 am (UTC)

Welcome to the Future

I forget are you even on the Twitter?

I love my smartphone. Which is really a portable computer with a phone thrown in.

Check out the Instagram app if you get a chance. I love it. I can recommend some people to follow on Instagram that AREN'T just posting pics about food and cute animals.

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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-10-15 02:21 am (UTC)

Re: Welcome to the Future

Twitter? Technically, yes. https://twitter.com/ed_rex. So far I don't think you've missed anything there that you woudn't have seen here. But who knows what the future holds?

As you say, this smart-phone is a computer that includes a telephone function. (You know how old school I am because I got really excited that it also has FM radio capabilities.)

Instagram? I dunno, will it be useful or just fun? Is it even possible to tell? I want this thing to be more of a tool than a toy, so what I've (just) read about Instagram kinda scares me (because it intrigues me).

Meanwhile, I have a shit-load of writing to do in the next month ...
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[User Picture]From: pakaboori
2012-10-16 05:48 am (UTC)

well done sketch, y.g.

I really enjoy the prose composition of this post. You've hit the right notes of deprecation and genuine wonder to turn the mundane into the entertaining and thought-provoking without coming across as false. And you make it look almost easy, you bastard.

(have recently read Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers (worth an attempt if you've never met it before, maybe a revisit if you have, though I don't know what your patience is with the indulgent literary experimentalism it features and that will entirely determine whether it is actually worth the attempt to you or not), thus am particularly in the frame of mind to enjoy lines like 'does everything but give blow-jobs' and to engage in masculine-tinged comradely slur-slinging. and also to actually write stuff, though that seems to be sublimating into things like this unnecessarily verbose comment ;)
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2012-10-17 08:20 pm (UTC)

Re: well done sketch, y.g.

Thank you, thank you ...

And you make it look almost easy, you bastard.

One of my favourite cousins told me more than once that my best writing was my informal stuff — stuff that (it turned out) I usually posted first draft. As was this one.

So what's weird, and frustrating to me, is that it is (relatively) easy. The hard part is in convincing myself to trust myself. Instead, I tend to labour (and labour) over my prose and end up with a kind of generic journalism-ese that might be technically better but that I suspect lacks personality.

Or not. But you haven't recently popped up to tell me one of my "formal" reviews was good prose ...

Speaking of which, I noticed your review/post/essay on the Cohen. Yours was possibly the first time someone has made the book sound interesting to me. I'm kind of guessing that it would make a rather good counterpoint to Atwood's Edible Woman, for some reason. I've put in on my to-read list, thank you.
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[User Picture]From: jade_noir
2012-12-10 12:11 am (UTC)
I love this post...

For me, being of a younger crowd, this would be very different thematically. For my age-group, technology advancement in the social communication realm matches with time that coming of age stories take place. I suspect that some movies will revolve around this theme once times are separated enough to become collectively nostalgic.

I do not have a smart phone but most people who are my age and working/have rich parents do. They rely on them pretty heavily. My boyfriend has one which he uses to tell him how to get places. I write my addresses down and do the best I can to find them.

Best of luck with the new phone!
I know that I am commenting on previous posts but I took 6 classes this term and things get a bit busy.
<3 Nellie
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