Friday, 31 August 2012

The Future-Phone

I hold in my hand, a smartphone. Now, like many people who have spent the last 5 years living in the past, yearning for the days when all a man needed to fix anything in his house was a screwdriver, a socket set, and a bit of mechanical knowhow, I have never had a smartphone before. Obviously, holding it in my hand is making it difficult to type, so I'm putting it down on the desk beside, but the point is still valid: I have a magic touchscreen device which can play music and make phone calls and has a built in VCR and all the other usual features.

After the minor hassle of sorting out a contract in order to get and use my phone (£853 a day or whatever it is), I received the phone the day after I ordered it. Well, hypothetically it was delivered then. DPD said they would deliver it between 08:00 and 18:00. "Fair enough", I thought. "Set themselves an ambitious ten hour window to turn up at my house for less than a minute. They love a challenge, don't they?". I can be witheringly sarcastic inside the solitude of my own head. Well, as if hearing my complaints that "Some time today" was a little vague, they sent me a new text telling me that Alex, "my DPD driver" would be there between "17:02 and 18:02". It's that extra two minutes either side which really lend it the glorified air of impending accuracy. "They've calculated this down to the nanosecond back at the transport lab!" I mused to myself. "I shall strive to be in during that very specific hour!". 17:02 rolled on, in the manner time is rather accustomed to, and I sat, nervously, excitedly, beside the door. 17:32 came and went, and the eager joy on my face started to turn to anxious panic, like a barometer that has shifted suddenly from "Set fair" to "Batten down the hatches, it's a big storm!". 18:02 flickered past my eyes, shamefully, embarrassed about its presence and the accompanying shame that came with it for DPD. They were late! "Well, now, what's a couple of minutes between friends, eh? Me and Alex! We're on first name terms. You can't blame him for being a couple of minutes late!". I had a thing to do that evening (For those of you wishing to keep fully informed, imagine it was, say, an ambassador's function, or perhaps a well-heeled millionaire's bachelor party. It really doesn't matter. It was an unavoidable event), but I wouldn't have to leave for that till 7:30. "88 minutes late, he'd have to be, for me to miss him! Haha! Can you imagine such a thing!". I chuckled to myself at the minorly amusing set of circumstances I'd laid out before my very eyes. Alex would never do that to me. He wouldn't betray me like that. And truth be told, he didn't betray me like that. He turned up fully 97 minutes after we had agreed, unilaterally from HIS side, that he would attend. I was already gone, so he put a little cheeky note through my door. "Sorry we missed eachother!", or words to that effect. Just a friendly note, with overtones of "Tsk, what are we like eh, me and you?! You go one way and I come in the other! Haha, Us, eh?!". No, Alex and DPD, YOU. I was in for 11 and a half hours waiting for my phone to arrive. I had sat, eagerly, to watch you crush my dreams to ashen dust in your misshapen paws, for nearly half a day. We live in a world in which I can hold a magical touchscreen device which connects to the internet, sends and receives messages instantly, and comes with an auto-rewind function, and yet you couldn't drive to my bloody house in over ten hours?! Fortunately, Alex and I worked it all out (I think we both said a few things we regretted, admittedly mainly me), and then, promptly the next day, Alex turned up with my phone.

And from there, I powered it up, and indeed, left it powering up as I went to do another thing (I'm a very busy man: These evening soirĂ©es with Gloria Hunniford or whatever it is you imagine I do; they don't attend themselves you know). And then, later that very night, I turned it on, and went through the tedious rigmarole of setting it up, which involved a more in-depth grilling than some policemen give prime suspects implicated in a gruesome murder (and which also involved transferring my number from my old phone to my new one, a process made about as quick and painless as an emergency enema with no anaesthetic). But then, THEN, I had a portal to the very future itself.

First thing I did, obviously, was try and load it with purchased music. Given that I have spotify (I may have been ignoring the smartphone revolution for nearly 5 years, but I can't afford to miss out on all that music), this means I primarily loaded it with music I bought legally in the past. This means, obviously, that it is shockingly bad. You only buy Kate Nash's hit song "Foundations" once, before you learn your lesson (This is accompanied by Lush Life's "The Music Sounds Better With You" and Bitman and Roban's "Despues de Almuerzo". But balanced out by the whole albums of "Low Vs Diamond" (Yes, I am that obscure. Get me. Oooh) and Jet's debut "Get Born", I reckon), so I'll need to rectify this at some stage.

Next thing I did was use it to get my mail. "Now I can get pointless updates from companies I deeply regret allowing to contact me WHEREVER I am!" I thought to myself, with a little wry smile. Witheringly sarcastic, see? That's sort of a call-back. This was surprisingly painless (I had to set up a similar thing once a while ago, and trying to get it to work was like having a tattoo done by a toddler, in that it was very painful, scarred you for life, and wasn't something you'd want to discuss with your neighbours), so this pleased me! Success, 1-0 to the phone in the game of life.

Then I had to insert my friend's contact details. This was a tedious process (I can hear you all shouting already, "I've got this one, I've got this one! "All your friends eh? Must have taken you nearly a full minute!". Nailed it! Haha! Come on guys!". A wittier man than me would have a scathing riposte prepared for that sort of obvious put-down, but all I've got is the factual correction that, because of my relatively low typing speed and the newnesss of the phone (and accompanying keyboard) in my hands, it took me almost 5 minutes. Schooled.) from beginning to end, not least because I had to dig out close friends' contact details. Phone numbers was fine. When the phone started asking for their addresses and childhood schools, I bailed on the process and left them with half-complete forms (I'm not sure how much information these things really need, but I filled in the fact one friend's favourite film is The Lion King, another friend's favourite breed of dog was the Maltese, and finally that one of my friends is 6 foot 1 inches tall.), which angered my OCD tendencies a little, but pleased the procrastination and laziness centres of my brain too much to let that worry me.

This suitably done, I sent out 5 test text messages, of which one person replied. "Good!" I thought. "Working at exactly the same rate as my old phone". One of these messages was a message to a friend about the fact I was using a smartphone. This is the sort of non-stop thrill-a-minute tedious information you can expect from me if you ever become a close friend. The point was rather, I was using my phone at that very moment to listen to a mash-up song (Dave Brubeck and Radiohead, since you ask. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, ended up being delicious. And that's where the recipe analogy breaks down. The more you know), and reached down to my pocket to get my phone and text a friend about it ("thrill-a-minute" was not overstated, clearly), when I realised "Oh my god! I'm ALREADY holding my phone!". This revelation caused me such delirious joy I sent out a text instantly.

I also checked that it does in fact, browse the internet. It does. I have been on the internet before, and was connected to the wifi in my house, so I was pretty underwhelmed by this (Despite the fact that I'm wirelessly receiving information from global servers directly to a small box in my hand, I am underwhelmed. What minor miracle of technology will I have to see before I am again, wowed?). When I'm out and about though, I'm sure I'll look at it and go "OH MY GOD. I'm using the internet. On a BUS! I can get a news source that ISN'T the Metro! And it might contain news, rather than poorly written articles about celebrity gossip, the traditional non-story, usually heavily pictorial ("Me and my waterskiing Daschund!", say, or "What happens when a parrot and a kitten become best friends!"), and some minor coverage of, say, civil war in Syria" (Witheringly sarcastic again! Can you just imagine what a laugh-fest it is in my head? No, you're wrong. You can't. Good effort, though).

I haven't even added any apps to it yet. And they're probably the best bit! But I will. And when I do, hoo, boy, the world better be ready for me, because let me tell you, me and my smartphone will be ready for the world.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Frankie Says Retax

Woah, what's that?! Biting satire from nowhere? Weren't expecting that, were you? I didn't think so.

Nick Clegg is asking for an emergency tax. The emergency being an economic disaster that was widely predicted, and easily preventable. It's a bit like living in a flood plain, in a house made out leaky bricks, that everyone tells you will flood when the rains come, and after it floods, going to your neighbours and saying "Oh my God, my house has flooded, can you believe it, please, lend me a couple of billion pounds, just to help a poor man like me get back on his feet". I'm not sure when we (ie: Politicians, in particular Gideon Osborne) started calling already very rich people "Wealth Creators". If someone hoards newspapers in his house for a decade, he's not a "newspaper creator", he's mental. This is apparently "Pre-Conference Talk", which in generalised terms, is that bit before a minor scuffle in which one party accuses the other of "thinking he's hard", and the accused responds with "Oh, yeah? Wanna go? We'll go right here!", before increasingly specific threats ("I'll shove my boot so far up your arse, you'll think Clarks have started making hats.", etc) that will inevitably, come to nothing and fizzle out amidst complaints of "Leave him Terry, he's not worth it!" and "Back off Darren, you're already on probation!". I'm idly waiting for the Tories to respond with something like "What are these benefit cheats doing eating more than stale bread and water! Unbelievable!" and calling for an end to "Compassionate Conservatism" (They already did that. If this is compassion, I am deeply worried as to what they would be like enraged), and for Labour to complete the Holy Trinity of poor politics by accusing the coalition of "Infighting" and saying "If they can't work together, how can they expect to work with the nation?". 

Other news in Britain includes the revelation that the honours are going too heavily towards celebrities and businessmen (And indeed, civil servants, Sir Jeremy Heywood or Sir Bob Kerslake, for example), simply for doing their jobs, rather than going above and beyond the call of duty. Certainly, if the Chief Executive of a FTSE100 company saves an orphanage with his own wealth creation programme, it's more than fair to reward him with a gleaming trinket freshly minted by the Queen herself (That's why they apparently limit it to a quota: Because the Queen stays up overnight once a week minting medals. In 1974, she had to stay up for 4 days in a row before the New Year's honours, having fallen behind earlier in the year, leading many people to claim they had misshapen and incorrectly spelled awards), but if he's simply come into his office everyday and sat at his desk and done his job, that deserves a reward no more than turning up to McDonald's everyday entitles the man in the crap cap to an OBE (I'm a little bitter: I've been rejected by McDonald's 6 times).The honours are supposed to reward those who make a real effort to improve life in Britain, and unless Sir Fred Goodwin did all his work voluntarily, I'm inclined to think he, and I know this might seem outlandish, was motivated solely by greed, heaven forbid such a thing to be true.

Still, it could be worse. We could be living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where Blizzard have just cut off access to that most vital of services: World of Warcraft. US Trade Sanctions have led them to cut off their service in Iran. Surely now, the clamour in Iran for them to stop trying to build a nuclear power station will be overwhelming. Millions will be out in the streets, every day, and won't rest till they get their virtual game back. Iran will be forced to cave. It's not like they've ever had to face protests before. Except when they did, over Ahmadinejad "winning" an election. But they kicked him out straight away, because the people's word is law in Iran. Wait...Wait, I'm just getting message in now that Ahmadinejad is still in power there, and weeks of protests changed absolutely nothing. Tsk.

Finally, a joke. I haven't been writing much of late because the police stopped me. I'm still on Proseation.