Tags: technology

Baby and me

Boom. Boston went Boom

The return of The Droz Report:

No prayers for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings

Photo by The Phantom Photographer; image manipulation by Geoffrey Dow.
Boston Marathon bombing aftermath

April 16, 2013, OTTAWA — Whenever my Facebook newsfeed starts filling up with prayers and expressions of shock and sadness about tragedy halfway around the world, I find myself wanting nothing more than to scream at all those well-wishers to shut the fuck up with their ritual grief, whether caused by a tsunami, a famine, a school shooting, a bombing in Boston ...

You got me. I'm already sick to death of hearing how you feel about the bombs that went off in Boston yesterday afternoon. Yes, it was an awful thing, but if you don't live there, or know people who were directly involved, I would prefer you keep your ostensible pain to yourself.

Offering up your prayers or good wishes might make you feel a little better, but it doesn't do any tangible good. And it's not like these things occur in a vacuum. Most of the major problems facing women and men in this world are caused by men and women. Even the damage caused by hurricanes usually has a human cause in there somewhere. And since that's almost always the case, platitudes aren't the answer, nor are prayers going to help.

Thinking might help. Political activism might help. Even donating to the Red Cross might help.

It's not the sincerity of the well-wishers that bothers me, but the lack of seriousness.

If you want my take on yesterday's terror attack, without a platitude in sight, click here. Comments, arguments and calls for my head are welcome here, or there.

This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/253411.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

Baby and me

Young Geoffrey steps into the 21st or, The End Must Be Nigh!

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.