Why a guide? Malcolm nails the problem of email: Email is a
medium of bad writing. Poor word choice is the norm—as is tone
deafness. The problem of tone is, of course, the problem of all
writing. There is no “universal default tone.” When people wrote
letters they had the same blank screen to fill. And there were the same
boneheads among them who alienated correspondents with their ghastly
I agree that, in terms of how emails are written, there shouldn’t be
much of a difference with any other form of communication. But there is.
I was talking to two women at university last week - one aged 40, the other 20 - and was surprised to learn that both of them still write their essays by hand. Sure, they both have computers, use email and the Internet, but they said they couldn't "think" and edit via the keyboard.
I finally caved in and asked Santa for a mobile phone this Christmas. I still haven't memorised my new number, but I'm gradually familiarising myself with my LG clamshell phone, which makes a lovely computer-like clicking sound when it snaps shut and fits into the palm of my hand.
Perhaps I should have waited a bit longer, as Apple has announced their new iPhone. I'm a Mac user which by definition makes me an Apple aficionado. I'll always go with an Apple product if I can. I'm hoping their new phone takes awhile to hit the marketplace as otherwise I'll face an ethical crisis about wanting to ditch my new phone for an even newer one.
Today I bought a new printer. Actually, a printer/scanner/photocopier in one - a Canon Pixma MP500. I'd been printerless for almost two years - well, I'd had the printer sitting on my desk, with no ink in it. I finally came to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to be able to get a new ink cartridge and literally threw the old printer out a few months ago. (I've been getting by, in case you were wondering, by printing things out at work (not that I needed to print very often). But the time had come to have a working printer at home and to replace my scanner, which, being about five years old, was almost obsolete (I had to use it with the old operating system Classic 9, and couldn't use that on my very new Apple laptop.)
When I was in the Apple shop buying the printer (etc), I saw a tv-computer for the first time - that is, EyeTV on a very widescreen computer. The salesboy showed me how I could potentially use my new laptop as a digital TV by buying a small aerial/antenna and a modem-looking device for about $250. Then tv programs could be saved to the hard drive, burnt onto DVDs and later replayed on an iPod while travelling to work (for example).
I won't be doing that for the forseeable future although I can see that it's a very ergonomic and efficient and attractive way to go.
If I were 20 or even only 30, perhaps I'd jump at these new technologies. But having now lived through a hectic pace of changing technology for the past 45 years (since I first put on a record by myself), I can't cope with the idea of yet another total revision of the way things operate. Which sounds conservative and middle aged of me, I realise. In the shop, I was thinking about that. Thinking that I never feel that I get any one hardware or software completely under my belt before it becomes obsolete. I just skim the surface, in the limited time available to me. I have countless warranty agreements and installation CDs floating around my office, half of them redundant. I have leads and wires and connectors and haven't a clue which machine they belong to. I was talked into buying a ZIP drive about nine years ago which I used
once. I still have it but I believe I no longer need it, not with the
ability to burn DVDs on my computer. I have two old computers in the attic (actually three -a friend just gave an old iMac to Olle, who keeps asking when we can set it up. The mere idea of having to set up his computer exhausts me, when I don't know how to do 25% of what my G5 or new Apple laptop are capable of.) I spent this evening setting up the new Canon. Over the next few weeks I'll stumble my way into learning how to use it, only learning exactly what I need at any given moment.
Before I went away I set up an Airport network at home and out of the corner of my eye read that I can use it to relay music through the house somehow. I can't see myself putting that into action - I don't have the time or the driving need to figure it out. I'm happy playing CDs on the CD player. And tapes in the tape machine.
I've never read Future Shock, despite which I feel as if that term resonates perfectly for me. As does 'information overload'. Although I love my new laptop and my new Olympus digital camera, I feel a certain cynicism about any new technology. I've seen too much of it come and go. I'm almost braced to discover that my camera won't work with the new printer or some other spanner in the works. After all, I bought a digital video camera just four years ago which doesn't appear to work with the new G5 I bought only three and a half years later. So I now have all these recorded digital tapes sitting around in drawers which I'm unable to transfer to a computer in order to edit them and put them on DVD. Just thinking about it makes me depressed - I feel out of control, always out of step, out of time, always running behind, never quite with it. Overloaded and future shocked.
Two articles about bias and imbalance in Wikipedia: one on the Wikiproject to 'counter systemic bias'; the second claims (a bit snobbily, I think) that the ability to discern the 'truth' and talent are not necessarily democratically distributed attributes. (Written by a very frustrated editor, by the looks of it.)
I don't seem to be able to look at any Typepad weblogs tonight - including my own. But I can access the Typepad controls - obviously, as I'm writing this post. I'm not computer-literate enough to know if this is an ISP issue, a Typepad issue or a my-computer issue. I only bought my wonderful new G5 iMac about six weeks ago. I had a Mac specialist man who charges about a thousand dollars an hour (I exaggerate, slightly) come to my home this week to help me sort some things out and he told me there's a hardware problem with it - a logicboard issue, he thinks. So I have to take it back to the shop and get it fixed (under warranty, but still, it's a nuisance). I don't know when I'll get to do this as I'm working fulltime the next three weeks, going camping next weekend, throwing a child's birthday party and attending three other adult parties the following weekend and so on. The shop's only open 9-5.30pm, approximately the hours I'll be at my place of employment. Anyway...
I bought co-parent an iPod shuffle to make up for the fact that I bought a new computer and she's not a computer user. It's taken me six weeks (what does this say about my priorities? to take it out of its box and connect it to the keyboard and transfer some music onto it. I did manage to get one album onto it [Bollywood Chill] but it's not clear whether the second album I put into iTunes [20th CenturyBlues - Marianne Faithfull] made it across to the iPod. Still, I now have Marianne as a soundtrack as I type this, which is pleasant.
I watched a baby-bird-newly-out-of-the-nest drama this morning. As I was walking the dogs down a street of apartments, I noticed a baby currawong, still with some downy feathers, sitting on the bottom of a metal gate, only a few inches off the ground. It sat completely still for five minutes as I stood and watched it. (The dogs were completely oblivious.) I spotted one parent up on an electricity wire but I couldn't tell if it could see its baby. A man nearby was using a leaf-blower - I hate leaf blowers, think they should be banned, what a noisy waste of petrol/electricity, no wonder we westerners are getting fat - it was so loud I worried that the parent bird couldn't hear the baby if it cheeped. I rehearsed the idea of running over and telling him to stop blowing leaves because of a baby bird, but even as I imagined it, I knew it was an impossibility. So I carried on with the dogs.
When we returned an hour later, the baby had managed to hop about four feet up the trunk of a nearby sapling. Both parents were up on wires watching over it and one of them flew down and fed it something. I couldn't see any cats around but there seemed to be more car traffic than usual down that street. The hazards of urban life! I hope the baby survived and is safe in the nest tonight.
Last week I mentally composed a post about how Olle had suddenly discovered online games. This was his first use of the home computer in about three months. I think what inspired this is that during their weekly computer lesson at school, they are allowed to play games in pairs if they finish their lesson project. (I have no idea what they are currently 'studying' in that subject.) He and his friend Oscar had played Rockin' Soccer and Olle came home and wanted to show it to us.
He knows enough now that he can turn on the computer (I have a four year old iMac at home), open IE and go to the Yahooligans site via Favourites. I suspect that most other modern kids have been able to do that kind of thing since they were three or four, but for Olle it's a great achievement and he is thrilled with himself.
So for the past two weekends we have let him play on the computer for a couple of hours a day. He wanted us to play with him but most of the time we found reasons to decline. The rate of screen-freeze has soared and I hate to think what else he was getting up to (accidentally). Then on Friday I noticed that everything that was usually under my Apple icon was no longer there. I hunted around a bit and moved some files around in the System folder. That brought back at least the Latest Applications and Documents, which is all I needed (I thought).
On the weekend I found I could no longer download email to my home inbox. I thought this might be because there was some huge spam file in my account. But I found I couldn't access my webmail either. My account is with Ozemail and they have recently changed the webmail interface. I wondered if that was it?
Somehow yesterday, in trying to sort this out, I turned something on or off and suddenly my dial-up connection had vanished. I can't open any of the relevant control panels and all my TCP/IP settings appear to have disappeared.
Of course, I tried phoning Ozemail. Here is the crux of my complaint (and for some reason the enormous personal wealth of Malcolm Turnbull who is my local MP figures in my emotions about this...) Ozemail's technical support now has a voice message which tells me that because they don't want me to have to wait on the line, they suggest I call back later.
I've called back later several times at various times of the day and night and got the same message. In other words, there is no way you can ring technical support.
From work I put in a Help request, but that says they will get back to me by email. Of course, I currently have no home email. Anyway, I recently put in a similar Help form, duly received an automated acknowledgement of same - and then never heard from them again. (I had to resolve that problem by waiting on the line for 15 minutes, but I'm not allowed to do that any more.)
What am I supposed to do?
Well, what I am going to do is buy a new Mac this afternoon and get wireless broadband. A colleague tells me he got it recently and it was easy peasy to install and works just fine. (I'm slightly worried about the possible health effects of all these waves flloating around in our house, but we watch TV, so what are a few more electromagnetic rays? if that's what they are.)
So I think I'm ditching Ozemail, unless they get back to me soon. (Just what was their annual profit last year? I don't know but I think we're talking millions.)
I suppose now we will have our lives ruled for awhile by the wonders of children's broadband online games.
Now here's an odd computer virus - the Sober Q virus makes an infected computer send out emails in German with links to rightwing German websites. Various theories about the politics of this can be found here.