Chris Long's Column - 'I hate digital everything'

I'm late delivering this column (so what's new... ed.), and I'm in trouble. I'd got the dates on the email wrong. What I want to know is why can't technology make me more organised?
Written by Chris Long, Contributor on

I've decided that I have had the wrong idea. I've been thinking that if a job is computerised it must be better than it was when it was being done by a brain. A simple statement -- take away the intelligence and it gets better.

Anyone for brain surgery performed by a PC?

I should have seen it when I tried to get to like my Psion 5. It worked for a while and we seemed to get on. I used it to write a one or two things on aeroplanes -- y'know, stuff like "boy is this seat uncomfortable", "I wish that baby in the seat next to me would stop crying" and "Why is it I always get the crap headphones and can never hear the film?" Having written these things I then put it away and decided to give up writing forever (stop cheering at the back).

In an effort to really make the relationship work I started loading names and addresses in it -- I really wanted it to succeed -- so I had a raft of numbers in there, numbers that I couldn't duplicate elsewhere (those of you with GCSEs will know what happens next).

All I did was leave it for three or four weeks -- and when I came back to it, nothing. The Psion didn't even power up, let alone still have my addresses: it needed new batteries to remind it what it was. Once the backup power's gone, that's it. Adios muchachos. At this point I went on the turn. How on earth can you rely on a technology that you can't leave alone for three or four weeks -- Notepads make no strange noises to tell me their spiral binder is going flat.

It is how we see this digital stuff. If it is digital it has to be brilliant and if its analogue its crap.

I've just been listening to a breathless news report on Radio 1 about a showing of the new Star Wars movie Phantom Menace. The cause of the breathlessness was that was being shown in DIGITAL. Yes DIGITAL, and the reporter proceeded to make out that this was a great thing and suggesting this may be the end of the cinema as we know it -- presumably because someone had kidnapped his family and was threatening them if he didn't go through with the story.

There was no discussion about the quality of the picture -- in fact just about the nastiest thing he could find to say about the current technology was "the annoying black speck that tells the operator to change reels". One couldn't help but feel that he was reaching on this. Presumably it will be a digital LCD panel or something similar projected onto a screen with a projector. just like in a cinema, maybe. Excuse me while I go outside and bang my head on the wall for a bit.

It was just like CDs and Mini Disks. They were pitched as an audio nirvana (no not the band, the feeling) but it didn't take us too long to realise that essentially they are just like records and tape, but without the fun. For example when a record failed it went CLICK -- Record failed... it went CLICK -- Record failed. Hours of fun listening to a jumping record.

When a CD fails it skips for a couple of seconds and stops -- no fun at all. You can tell when something digital goes funny on telly or radio cos you hear it go "GLLLLZZZZAAAANNNNNGGGGG". in a very unfunny way. Not like when, say, a tape stretches and evverryytthhhinnggggg ssslllooooooowwwwwwssssss doooooooooowwwwwwwnnnnnnn!

Lots of big laughs there.

We have to stop taking digital technology so seriously. It is spoiling our fun -- and ruining my scheduling.

If you see anything interesting or just plain silly on the Net or anywhere else forward it to Chris Long at chrisl@cix.co.uk -- he needs the laughs

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