57 minus 56: Technology Inventory

Posted: 22 June 2021 in 57 minus, social media, tech
Tags: , , ,

Housekeeping Note: This entry kind of got away from me a bit, and didn’t end up going where I thought it would. As I get back into the blogging habit, that’ll happen less often. Or, at least, I’ll admit it less often.

I fully appreciate that with a title like that, those who’ve encountered this blog before might be forgiven for expecting a posts from me containing two fast fictions from the long ago: one of them using the word “technology”, the other ‘inventory’. But no. For once, a post title is exactly what it appears to be.

Have no fear, or – if more appropriate – have every fear: the entirely non-random archive fast fictions will return, probably on Thursday this week, and thence every Tuesday thereafter.

I just wanted to get a couple of original entries out of the way first, so no one felt… cheated.

So, yes, a technology inventory.

This is the second blog I’ve run; the first was on Livejournal and the technology and the software I’ve used has, understandably, changed as the years have passed..

I came to blogging relatively late in life; I started on Livejournal, back when you needed an invitation to join the platform, in August 2002. I was already in my late 30s. I can’t remember why I started blogging to be honest (more than a few people have wondered that over the years, I’ll be fair) but I suspect that like most things, I did it because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

(As a slight sidebar, whenever I’m asked online to give ‘a lesson for life’, I always have two I offer.’Regret your mistakes but never brood on them’ and ‘Life is a succession of well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.‘)

Back to the Livejournal blogging. I enjoyed it, it was easy to update, and – since it was half a decade before I joined Twitter came along – I used it for what I would later use Twitter: comments on comics, opinions about something in the news, links to other stories with a pithy observation, and occasionally something original. I often posted to it several times a day. And fiction.

Long form pieces from me on Livejournal were the rarity, and more than 500 or 600 words? Almost unheard of.

That was then. This is now.

How and why I blog have inevitably changed as other outlets became available. Goingcheep became my daily brain dump. Twitter became the place for concise observations (I’ve never gone in for the 30- or 40-tweet threads.)

But certainly, the tech and the software has changed beyond almost all recognition.

Along my life having changed fairly hugely in the past 19 years, the technology I use on a daily basis has changed almost beyond recognition since then as well.

This was, don’t forget, half a decade before the iPhone, almost a decade before the iPad, when laptops were more accurately described as ‘luggables’ rather than ‘portables’.

Now, before I go any further, I’m not talking about things like better screens and more storage. Were I to do that, it’d be ridiculous not to go back further and then we’d be in a whole

‘oh, when I were a lad…’


‘luxury! sheer luxury! we used to chisel our blogs onto slate, and then we’d be beaten to death by actual trolls… if we were lucky!!!’

thing, and writing about the first computer I used, the first mobile phone I owned, the first desktop I used…

(For the record, in order: a DEC PDP 11/40 at school, a Nokia 5140, and a Commodore PET.)

And so to the current tech I use, in no particular order, to write [other things as well, but yes] this thing, edit it, research for it, grab pics for it, etc.

An iPhone 12 Pro

I like iPhones. I didn’t get the first one released, but I did pick up the second model, a smartphone phone so delighted with itself that it used 3G that it made 3G part of the model’s name. I’d never had a smartphone previously, and I was so I impressed that despite not previously being a Samsung loyalist before then, I’ve stuck with iPhones since. I’m not sure how many I’ve had, but O2 were nice enough to give me a very nice deal to upgrade from my XR to a 12 Pro earlier this year.

I’ve been amused by one specific thing with the 12 Pro, I’ll admit, but again, to understand why I’m so amused by it, we have to go back a few years. No, further back than that. Even further. Back to before I even had a Livejournal blog. A friend of mine had an iPod. I genuinely couldn’t see the reason why on earth I should get one.

I remember saying something like “10,000 songs? Why on earth would anyone need 10,000 songs on tap? And why on earth would I need even 1,000 songs immediately available?”

It’s rare, you know, that someone will say something that so fits a gap in my thinking that the change is instant, with immediate effect.

Because what Al said was “Don’t think of it as 1,000 songs. Think of it as 4,000 minutes of sound.”

Because he knew me well.

Because he knew that I’d realise that meant I could have dozens of comedy shows immediately on tap, that I could have The Goon Show, and I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, and Round The Horne, and… and… and…

Exactly. So I got myself an iPod mini, the one with the anodised metal case. And, as I suspect was always Al’s plan, having the kit led to me rediscovering a love of music. And now, on my phone, I do have more than 1,000 songs. Heh.

But that’s not what I’m referring to when I say I’m amused by something on the 12 Pro. In the same way as I got the iPod for one thing and rediscovered my enjoyment of something else, with the 12 Pro, I wanted the phone for the increased RAM and faster operation. What I got, what I re-discovered, was an enjoyment of photography. Playing with the various camera lenses, seeing what the phone can do. I never expected that. It’s nice that still happens.

And the slab of glass and plastic and metal I use every day. Every so often I look at it, remember what my tech was like pre-smartphone, and just… flat out wonder at it.

iPad Air (2019)

And talking of wonder…

Unlike the iPhone, as above, I fell in love with the iPad from the moment it was introduced and got the first one a week or so after it was released in 2010. And I’ve replaced it with updated models and I quickly – thanks to Tony Lee’s recommendation – got an external keyboard. I genuinely can’t remember which of us said it first – ‘For 200 words, you can use the virtual keyboard; for 2,000, you need a keyboard’ – but it remains as true today as it was then.

I suspect Tony doesn’t realise how close I came to grabbing his keyboard, after he let me try it out, and just running away with it. I mean, ok, he was fitter than me, and stronger than me, and I had a bum foot even then, but it was closer than I’d like.

These days, I’m using an iPad Air 2019; it does what I want, when I want, how I want, with very few ‘this isn’t great’ elements. (For some reason, its memory management ain’t great, and flushing the RAM is regularly required but it’s a small drawback and a price well worth paying.).

I’ve an Apple Smart Keyboard I picked up earlier this year, to replace my 3rd party Bluetooth that died on me. Amazon, at the time almost gave away Apple pencils when you bought an Apple keyboard from them, so I grabbed one at a very heavily discounted price.

I’ve been using Windows laptops for a few decades in preference to desktops. But these days, it’s more for the smaller physical footprint and greater portability inside my flat than any other reason. The iPad has been my ‘laptop’ for a long time.

Again, when I consider what I can, and do, do with it, its capabilities still seem like science fiction to me half the time.

For all the “it’s 2021, where’s my fucking jet pack?” whinging I’ll happily propagate, my iPhone and iPad are gadgets and tech that I wouldn’t have thought I’d have a decade, two decades, ago. I almost typed “I wouldn’t have imagined a couple of decades ago” but the thing is… I could easily imagine them. I just never thought they’d turn from imagination to reality so quickly.

A lighter, smoother, faster, better laptop? Sure. I’ve used laptops way back to the gas plasma burn-your-hand-if-you-touch-them screens of the 1990s.

But iPads? A slate of glass, less than a cm thick that’s a video player, a word processor, a spreadsheet, a browser, an email device… that handles messages, games… a research tool… and something I can easily blog from? yeah, I didn’t see that coming in the first decade of the 21st century. Not from a decade before that, I didn’t.


Yeah, ok, I have one of them as well, but as above, I hardly use it, and only really then if there’s a Wndows application without an iPad equivalent…

OK, somehow I’ve written far more than 1,000 words and I really wasn’t intending to.

I’m going to pause it here, and in a future instalment, I’ll write about some software. Gosh, won’t that be exciting?

See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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