Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 6/1/2003First day back at work after the school holidays, where I spent as much time as possible away from anything Qwerty.

Monday 6/1/2003
First day back at work after the school holidays, where I spent as much time as possible away from anything Qwerty. Fun moments included watching a bonfire as big as a house melt the paintwork in the wee Scottish town of Biggar, watching some William Wallace beardalikes pulling a burning Viking longship through the centre of Edinburgh, and discovering just what Special Reserve Premium Strength Absinthe tastes like (a Liquorish Allsort dissolved in 90 percent alcohol, if you must know. Store below 19 degrees Celsius, it said on the label). Exciting though this was, it couldn't match the exploits of correspondent Geoff Einon, freelance journo and skier of this parish. He took himself off for a festive frolic in the snow -- and, like all sensible mountain-goers these days, took a mobile phone along. In this case, it was his spanking new Christmas present, an Orange SPV running Microsoft's exciting, groundbreaking Smartphone 2002. Take it away, Geoff... "After an impromptu and spectacularly unsuccessful Eddie the Eagle impression somewhere on a red run in Les Contamines I found myself in a rather painful heap in the snow. More painfully, it soon became apparent that my right leg was no longer working and not available to support locomotion. To summon assistance I extracted my new SPV from my pocket and turned it on. Since the SPV uses a typical Microsoft operating system (and in contrast with my iPaq which comes to life instantaneously), the SPV takes about a minute or so to boot up. I spent this time pondering my fate and speculating whether the mile or so trip down the mountain would qualify me for a helicopter or skidoo ride. The next time I looked at the phone it appeared to have turned itself off -- so I tried switching it on again. When it eventually came to life I could not get it to dial -- a closer examination revealed the legend 'Radio off' displayed very legibly on the SPV's excellent screen. No amount of menu searching let me find anything that would turn the phone's radio back on. At this point I remember making a few comments about the dubiousness of Bill Gates' parentage. I eventually managed to flag down a passing skier who let me use her Nokia phone (which switched on immediately) to call for help. Later analysis revealed that the problem arose because of the SPV's implementation of the ON/OFF button. It needs to be depressed for a couple of seconds to function as an on/off switch. If pressed and released briefly it summons a 'QuickList' menu -- where one of the items lets you turn the radio -- presumably to let you watch movies on the thing when airborne on something more reliable than two planks of wood. My conclusion is that during my attempts to switch the phone on I must have inadvertently selected the QuickList menu and then selected the Radio off item. It took quite a bit of frustrating exploration to find the QuickList menu again -- so I was without the use of the SPV for another day or so." So there you go: if you must place yourself in life-threatening situations with a modern information appliance as your only hope of rescue, don't pick something with an obscure user interface.