03 February 2015

Someone missed the 80’s - where I dreamt of a “COMPUTER THAT I CAN CARRY AROUND WITH ME ALL THE TIME”. In fact I use this ability WAY more than the bit that is the phone. Frankly I hate being that contactable (although I get into trouble with my wife if I am not).

This is a response to part of RobertKibble: What’s annoying one of my loyal readers this morning? Smartphones. Yes, it’s a guest rant.

As a kid, I sketched totally fantastical designs of portable systems with horrible tiny one line LCD screens (rather like the Sharp BASIC programmable calculators I couldn’t afford then). I thought of devices that would use RF to talk with others in the neighbourhood to swap files like we did with floppies at school. I saw a tiny portable TV, and thought how amazing it would be to try and turn that into a portable computer - even if it would weigh a lot. I probably wanted it to work a lot like a Speccy or C64 since those were my computing world at the time.

I’ve always done computery things. When I started regularly doing bus or train journeys (which by the time I was at uni was a life defining habit), there was a lot of time to kill. Reading a fiction book is fine (and I do), but I like to self-educate a lot. So I read non-fiction. Maths texts, computer texts, science texts. And I rapidly get itchy fingers to try stuff.

Having a portable computer that I can use with networking as a terminal to one of my servers, or even standalone with a little programming app is amazing. I still remember just how green with envy I was when I saw the first guy walking into college with a Psion and programming it right there… I’ve bought portable tiny computers for a long time - from awful little Roladex personal organiser (a grand disappointment), through the Palm series, the iPaq series, and now smart-phones (my first of those was a Nokia S60 series). The current Android smart phones are delivering this pretty well - not so much the IOS closed EcoSystem (did you say computer, or fisher price toy?)

Then there is gaming - a part of my life for a pretty long time, much less now that I do more of the self-learning stuff though. Having portable gaming things was also something I’ve been into - from the Sega GameGear (sorry - kind of missed the original GameBoy), the Atari Lynx, the Game Boy Color, the GBA, Sony PSP - and so on - I’ve owned a series of them. SmartPhones were initially really quite rubbish, and still dont entirely hit the spot. They do emulate a load of the earlier systems, and there is now an Amiga Emulator for the phone, Mame as well. I have less time for gaming - but smartphone gaming has definitely become a thing.

Add on the rest of the internet, Wikipedia, IMDB, Google, my email, various online groups - and the phone becomes a valuable tool for learning and looking up. Although facebook - thats a bit of an addictive timewaster and I kind of wish I was better at restricting my use of it.

Yes - I have every reason to have a computer in my pocket. I just wish people wouldn’t ring me on it and interrupt my valuable computing. As for the Fiction books, I even mostly read those with a phone too - generally large Fantasy books take up way too much valuable backpack space.

However, the word “smart”, is definitely still marketing toss, on that I can definitely agree. So is trademarking the lowercase “i”.