Friday, 29 October 2010

Technology queen

Glen Trool

Mulberry vodka
 Home again after a few days on the Solway coast.  Much wine was drunk, dogs were walked, cards were played, and mulberry vodka sampled (much nicer than it smelt) but oddly enough no work whatsoever was done, in spite of my vow to do AT LEAST two pages every day.  Instead I spent a lot of time playing with my spanking new iPhone.  I do this every time, resisting new technology for years, digging in my heels and refusing to have anything to do with computers/CD players/video players/mobile phones etc etc, and then become a zealot overnight, just as everyone else is moving on to something new.

Roxy, much walked

Unlike most technology, though, this new phone is a thing of beauty.  There’s something positively sensuous about the way you stroke the screen to move around.  And it has an iPod!  This is also something I’ve spent years saying that I’d never use, and yet here I am addicted already.  I discovered that if I turn the phone on its side, all the album covers pop up on the screen and you can riffle through them (more stroking).  I was thrilled by this, but absolutely mustn’t, mustn’t, mustn’t show anyone else this trick or I will be an official phone bore, and after years of complaining about being made to admire other people’s phones too.  (But it is v cool.)

Going completely the wrong way
The stroking is lovely, but I don’t like the feeling that the phone is actually cleverer than I am.  I’d have thought texting was a basic function, but no! I had to get a 14 year old to show me how to do that.  It also has a compass, which I’m sure would be helpful if I only knew how to use one, and GPS, which ought to come in handy too.  We could have done with it at Glen Trool on Monday, where we had something of a boggy detour along the loch shore, and then got completely lost in the woods, knee deep in moss, before we finally found the right path.  (Hey, who spotted the metaphor for writing a book?  Or for life, come to that?) 

It looks innocent enough ...

I get that nasty sense of inferiority whenever I sit at my computer too.  Like most of us nowadays, I have a complicated love-hate relationship with my computer.  I wrote my first three books on an electric typewriter, and who wants to go back to the days of Tippex and carbon copies and renumbering all the pages by hand when you’ve only added a couple of lines?  But at least I was the one in control.  Now it feels like my computer is the one with all the power, and I am convinced it knows just how dependant I am on it.  The closer I get to my deadline, the more skittish it gets, freezing, closing down, refusing to connect to the internet, sending me smug error messages ….  My preferred technique is to bang the mouse around, clicking furiously and shouting at the screen, which amazingly appears to make no difference at all, and then I have to spend hours on the phone to some technical wizard, by the end of which I am practically weeping with frustration.   Am already feeling twitchy about the end of November (my next deadline).  Perhaps I should start making little offerings to keep the computer sweet … delete a few photos, or give it some more megabytes or ram (whatever they are) or at least dust the screen. 

Or I could stop rambling and get back to work on the book.  First draft done, so now it’s back to the beginning in the hope that it’s all going to come together miraculously …


  1. When my computer gets a virus I often wish for the days of the typewriter back. Actually I met someone just recently who told me that she has a theory about computers and stress. The higher your stress level the more likely it's going to blow up. She blew a fuse for the whole house and killed her computer while completing her Masters.

    It's a funny conundrum and my compouters have always kicked the bucket right when a piece of work is due...

  2. Aaaarrgghh, that's a terrible story, Lacey!

    Having put up this blog, I went downstairs to make myself a coffee, and when I came back the screen had gone blue, with a threatening message that my computer was going to start destroying information if I didn't do something about a new device (presumably the iPhone) that it had decided it didn't like, in spite of having worked perfectly well before. That was a bit of an aaarrrgghhh moment for me too. Clearly I didn't get to the duster quickly enough!

  3. Ah the Blue Screen Of Death! I know it well. I think the safest approach is to treat your computer like a sentient being that's incredibly powerful but not very smart (they're the most dangerous ones). Talk nicely to it but tell it whopping great lies like: "This isn't important stuff I'm working on right now so please if you're going to delete something let it be this and not that photo of me last summer in the bikini before I lost weight because I'd really hate to lose that!" Guaranteed to work! Either that or have a computer genius in the family (ie anyone under the age of 15 ought to do it).

    BTW your holiday (minus the vodka *shudders*) sounds lovely.

  4. Great tip, Elissa. It sounds just like that great scene in Three Men in a Boat, where he's pretending that he's not waiting for the kettle to boil! I'm off to delude my computer into thinking that I'm not in the least bothered that it's now November because I've got masses and masses of time to rewrite my book entirely before the 26th ...