Friday, 13 August 2010

On devices

So, last month my Macbook Pro died - a logic board failure. My perfect, portable, emailing, browsing, report writing, movie watching, photo editing, ipod syncing sliver of aluminium (with backlit keys) was done. Priceless data safe, but expensive hardware now history. Well, fixable, but half the cost of the laptop again + shipping + duties = a laptop (+ shipping + duties).

I was peeved, but at least I had my work laptop and my trusty Google phone (nexus one). I could do most of the above list from my phone too: email, browsing, movies, photos, vids, music... and it stored or accessed the data for most of my 'stuff'. It dropped at 14:04 this afternoon, as I was lifting 4 year old daughter's birthday bike into the truck, and the screen cobwebbed. Again, data safe, expensive hardware consigned to history. This was a blow.

Barbados does not have an Apple store, or Apple-certified support centre. From a strict licensing perspective Apple products do not exist here. Nor do Google phones. Barbados is off the technorati map, basically. Having these items was not some status thing, for me - I've had macs and PDAs for years. They were, on reflection, talismans of my first world ties. I am still a technologist, honest! Look, I've got the decent laptop and phone to prove it. I may live in an IT backwater, but I wont succumb to the local ambivalence/antipathy/apathy/crumb-gathering towards technology. My tokens of civilisation. Gone.

"Good grief, geek, get over it!". Tell me, how would you feel if your TV broke, and it would cost too much to replace it. You'd like to think it wouldn't bother you: "I don't watch much TV anyway". We all like to think we're social, healthy, 'doing' kind of people who don't have time for TV. Try it. See how much you miss it. It's a passive addiction, like electricity: you don't think about dependence unless its not there. We don't have TV. We have an internet connected mac mini attached to a TV. All our content is pulled, there's no push, no broadcast, no channel-surfing chewing gum for the eyes. Content matters to me. Good content is rare in this part of the world: you can pay hefty premiums for dozens of US ad-filled, repeat-laden channels, or watch the single local channel, or pay hefty fees for a little more bandwidth and go seek on the infinitely various internet. If I'm going to pay big money for content anyway, I might as well get the most selective option.

So, the devices I use to access and manipulate content are important to me. And now two of them are gone in as many months, and I can't afford to replace them. They say that madness, true madness, starts with one of your senses going nuts: an unscratchable itch or a sound that won't die away... I'm about to enter content deprivation, and my senses are twitching...
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