It’s Been a Bad, Bad, Bad Day

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Where do I start?

This morning?

When I got up at ten to eight so I could be ready by half past nine only to discover that it was now, for reasons that I really can never fathom, actually TEN to NINE?

I don’t do mornings at the best of times.

I am very slow in the mornings.

To find that, for reasons that I can never really fathom, I now only had a mere half an hour to eat breakfast, shower, do my hair, get dressed and get ready was a little bit too much to ask.

And definitely a lot more than I can cope with.

I should have given up then and crawled back into bed.

And yes, feeding me is a priority.  Without food, I cannot do anything.  In fact, I normally wake up at half past eight, have my breakfast then go back to sleep.  Without food, I don’t even have the energy to sleep!

But, somehow, unbelievably, I managed to do it.

I was frazzled.

And had to exit the house unpainted.

I don’t like going out of the house without my slap.

It doesn’t feel safe.

It’s definitely not kind to or fair on other people.

I was frazzled.

And then a half a dozen other minor things just didn’t go well.

You know, the sort of piddling trifles that really aren’t hugely important most of the time but when you’ve already had such a rotten start, they really don’t HELP.

I had to leave early, a proactive choice because I really didn’t have the energy to deal with a panic attack.

And by that point slowly crawling home on foot up a very nasty steep hill was actually preferential to staying put.

I came home.

I knew that I had a cake to make for this afternoon.

A basic, simple, straightforward cake.

(The previous one wasn’t, at all, and I will be telling you all about that another time but that cake does not belong on Bad Days, it was a surprising triumph (relatively)).

I made one exactly the same earlier in the week but plain not chocolate.

It took 45 min in the oven.

I started with just over three hours to go before I had to go out, me and the cake.

The cake, naturally, because this was already a very Bad Day, did not cook.

How can a cake choose not to cook?

I had to leave without my cake.

I was feeling so miserable by this point that I left the house in my slippers.

There was no way that I could face boots and bootlaces only to take them off five minutes later at my friends’ house.

I remembered my knitting bag.

And my mobile.

And the DVDs that I’ve been promising to lend for the last month.

But forgot my ‘handbag‘.

My handbag is also a security thing.  I feel safe with my handbag.

I didn’t feel safe without it.

It was the kind of day where having my handbag with me would make all the difference.

Well, probably not, but I’d at least feel slightly better equipped to face the Bad Day.

(Maybe I should start sleeping with my handbag as some sort of Bad Day prevention device?  Hmm).

(Come to think of it, I didn’t sleep well either).

It wasn’t too bad though.

There was a delectable cream sponge and profit-roles.

I like profit-roles.

Then I got the news that my external hard drive is irredeemably fudged.

I have lost my entire life.

Because, of course, my entire life is stored in data on a 500 gb hard drive.

Well, a lot of it was.

I think the Baby Photos were on it.

And all my downloaded knitting patterns.

And all of this year’s photos.

(Husband made a really cool shark biscuit the other day).

And all of the recipes that I’ve spent years writing up.

And probably a whole more ton of stuff that I have yet to desperately need and therefore miss.

I’m not bawling, not just yet.

But the Voice is trying to come back.

It’s just that I don’t like losing things.

And probably I do ‘hoard’ things, ‘useful’ things.

The kind of ‘useful’ things that probably mean that my life will go on, somehow, without them.

And husband says hoarding things ‘virtually’ is just as bad a vice.

But I just get so attached to things.

And I remember them all, just like old friends.

Each pattern or recipe or photo.

They mean something to me.

There is security in saving things, in having everything that might ever be needed.

And my blanky died.

Blankies are meant to last forever.

And I certainly wasn’t big enough to be ready to let go either.

So as I have no photos, I’ll leave you with a song.

A song that kind of describes today.

(Some of the lyrics might not be kosher, however).

Oh, and this evening I just found out that a dear old friend has passed away.

It’s been a Bad, Bad, Bad Day.

Can I go to bed now?

 

(So, of course, this link won’t work either).

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Keeping Safe in a Changing World

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Old-Fashioned Phone Box

The world has changed, in some ways it has got bigger but yet it has got smaller.  Regardless of international time zones, communication from one country to another has never been easier yet, in contrast, these very technologies have also made our world bigger connecting us instantly to more people in more places and to an awful lot more information.  How do you see all this panoply of technology, as friend or foe?

It seems the biggest worry for most people is how to keep themselves and their families safe.  It’s no longer a question of not talking to strangers and locking the front door at night, the challenges have changed and as the first generation we don’t exactly know what the rules are.  When we were children, parents could confidently set ground rules regarding the use of the landline and when and at what age their children could go out alone.  The challenges were straightforward, understood and across entire communities parents were probably all making similar judgements, they could base it on what thousands if not millions of parents had done before, what their own parents had decided for them when they themselves had been young.   But today?  How can a parent decide solely through experience when to let their child have a mobile phone or their own email account?  Those things probably didn’t even exist until those parents were all adults!

It’s a little crazy and people seem to veer from one extreme to another, some view the Internet and associated technologies with distrust and suspicion and avoid it at all cost whilst others jump on any passing bandwagon with carefree abandon.  Personally I would advocate a more balanced approach, somewhere in the middle, my rule of thumb is if you don’t need to use it then don’t.  It may be all your friends (or your children’s) have signed up for some great new service but do you really need to use it?  Anyhow, if you give it a while, the creases will be ironed out if it’s still around and as popular which means you’ll have less headaches when you start using it yourself.

It seems that patience can indeed still be a virtue in this hectic-paced modern life of ours.  We just have to choose which bandwagons we’re prepared to ride and why.

I Made a Stamp

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Glass Chess Pieces

As you have likely heard, small things please small minds.  I love small things.  You may draw your own conclusions.

Tonight, I had to package up a parcel to send to a friend in Europe.  I was very chuffed when I managed to get all five foot of draught excluder into something about A4 size (albeit somewhat plumper).  And yes, it would be me who is sending a five foot draught excluder to Europe.  (I’ve never actually sent anything to the country in question but I have sent something from.  An A2 canvas painting of the Titanic sinking.  Cheerful stuff, not exactly my taste.  But my friend was ecstatic that I’d persuaded the post office to take it).  It seems that I have something of a track record when it comes to posting random things.  You’ve seen other evidence.

Postage is ridiculously expensive these days.  I remember the uproar when the European airmail stamp hit 36p.  These days I think first class is more expensive than that now!  (I possibly sound remarkably old when I make comments like that).  Anyway, I like to know what I’m getting myself in for before going down and doing battle in the post office.  I find that the post office is indeed somewhere where knowledge is power.

I grew up in a small town (England-style, not US).  The post office had long queues, especially on pension mornings, because that was back in the days when everything was done in cheque-style books that had to be religiously stamped to death by the post office clerk, but was always helpful.  Actually, the library was the same.  The librarians were friendly and helpful.  I never had a fine in all the twenty plus years that I was there.

Then I moved here.  We have a bigger library and a bigger post office.  The librarians resent any disruption to their frantically busy task of sitting behind desks and I also have had more library fines than fillings, which is saying quite a lot with my dental history.  The post office has cordoned queue control and the whole thing at rush hour rapidly turns into Ellis Island.  With the appropriate interrogation and suspicion of course.  You don’t really want to risk asking a question in either of those places.  Your mission is simply to get in and out as quickly as possible, preferably still alive and with most of your income intact.

I make it my job to know how much my postage will cost and how it’s going where it’s going.  I write down all and any information that they may require for any random forms that must be filled out as fast as possible.  This way I can minimise the stress and confusion that results in what basically amounts to buying a stamp.  (If I’m armed with knowledge, I don’t get stressed and confused at all.  The clerk only does a little bit).

I have to agree with Tilly Bud, the service industry just inspires terror, trepidation and guilt.

Anyway, back to the stamp.  I was inputting all my variables and trying to find the most cost-effective way of sending a five foot draught excluder to Europe with not too much delay when it came up with strange little option.  I’m not a fan of the post office’s website, it’s never been particularly efficient and I tend to rely on my stash of printed price guides rather than their high-tech solutions that get me nowhere.  (I’m particularly suspicious how every time I try to find surface mail rates, it directs me only to expensive parcel services.  And in recent months it has seemed that whatever I do, I end up in some other online shop being told to buy huge books of first class stamps.  Not impressed).

This time I found, with remarkably little hassle although I did keep ending in the first day covers (the post office is apparently more keen on Doctor Who than I am), something called a ‘price finder’.  That’s my kind of thing.  Input, quote, use information against post office staff.

So I inputted.

Was very surprised by the rate.  (My draught excluder might be huge but it’s comparatively light, I can send it as a packet rather than as a parcel.  (Please don’t even get me started on dissecting that logic that means a parcel to the same destination of the same weight and dimensions is four times as expensive as a packet)).

Then freaked.

(I do that).

Next to the delivery options (it’s a little like flight tickets, please don’t choose our cheapest option), there is now a small box that says ‘buy and print’.

I’m scared by new things.  Especially when they involve technology.

And the post office.

And parting with money.

I asked husband if he’d like to come and test this for me.

As he was already in bed, he answered in the negative.

I was left to face the decision alone.

Me and one small red button that isn’t even a real button but a picture on a screen.

I pressed it.

And had to input a billion more things.

And then part with some money.

And then it asked me to print my label.

I don’t trust printing things from the internet.  They’re usually never designed to actually fit any known paper formats or printers.  And why is it that every time you do print something from the internet, it has this obsession with printing just two lines on the next page and wasting an entire sheet of paper?

I printed.

Then realised that my ink cartridges are at the invisible stage.

So I held my breath.

Because you know that’s going to make a difference.

I printed a stamp!

Not just a stamp, it had insisted on printing the addresses too in its own queer format (I prefer a nice, funky coloured marker personally) and it said paid for and lots of other official things.  And it had one of those new fangled squiggly barcode box thingys!

I have a stamp.

‘Stamp’ prints on a quarter page of A4.  (Don’t get me started about waste).

I took ‘stamp’ to husband to cut down.  He insisted on doing it with a ruler and pencil as he’s something of a pedant when it comes to precision.  But that’s why I gave him the ‘stamp’ to cut anyway, he can actually cut straight lines.  I can’t draw them.  Even with a ruler.

‘Stamp’ is now affixed to very squishy parcel (it bounces).

But I am now faced with another dilemma.

Clearly, I can repeat this process in the future.  I will be able to buy exactly (well, maybe, that might be dependent on what mood the website is in) what postage I want when I want it.  (Although most of the time, it will require traipsing into town to the main post office to find a fat mouthed post box, most if not all of the branch post offices around here have closed now, a discussion for another day, I’m sure).

But …

… is this a good thing?

Much as I hate the hassle and stress of the post office, I don’t want to be responsible for anybody, however grumpy, losing their jobs.  If we all end up buying our postage online, what will happen to our post offices?

Where Will Our Words Be?

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Find My Stone

Writing is a pretty useful form of communication, we tend to write off (pardon the pun) entire civilisations as uncivilised or primitive simply because they didn’t develop a writing system and their oral histories have been lost or ignored.  Writing can speak to not just two parties, the writer and the recipient, but the written word stays etched to talk to future generations and societies in a way that oral communication just cannot.

When I reflect over the couple of decades that I have been alive, I am constantly amazed by the rapid changes in technology.  When I was little, LPs (or records) were still pretty normal things.  I can remember CDs being developed but most of us still played cassettes.  Using a similar ribbon technology, video cassettes were what we watched our films on and recorded interesting programs from the television on.  We didn’t worry about scratches but ‘chewed’ tapes.

Technology was breaking new ground but it still wasn’t portable.  The fax machine allowed instant communication from one place to another, even internationally but we still had personal cassette machines with bulky headphones (those seem to have returned for some reason) and carried ten pence pieces for emergency phone box calls.

I’m an unintelligent nerd or geek (I have no aptitude for the prerequisite sciences and maths or even computing) so I spent a lot of my later school years helping in the library.  I think that the changes I saw in my time at school say the most about these rapid shifts of technology.

In middle school, we each had a certain number of green card square pockets or envelopes with our details on.  When you wanted a book from the library you handed over one of these cards and the librarian (or monitor) would take the slip of pink or white card from the book and place it in your ‘library card’ before filing it in a special long wooden rack.  The books kept those tongues of cards for much longer than there was this primitive borrowing system.

My senior school was high-tech.  It had a computerised system.  Probably DOS based.  Green characters on a black screen and a multitude layer of menus to allow for navigation.  We didn’t have cards anymore; our records were all digital, a window of dates and titles with our personal details.  It wasn’t even a window like we’re used to on these modern computers, more like a frame.  You’d have to go back rather than close it.  And minimise certainly hadn’t been invented.  I think the county library system was similar too.

Every week the library issued reminders for overdue books.  It was laborious and accompanied by the unique screech of a dot matrix printer.  Would today’s children recognise that noise?  Or even the special paper that was required to fit within the teeth of its plastic cogs?  We helping students would spend a long time peeling the punched edges from the paper then guillotining them into slips.

An unwanted ream (about five reams of modern printer paper) was also sometimes gifted to families for their children to use it for drawing paper.  There were streamers to be made from the edgings and on the back was a magical system of green lines (on some but not all versions) that looked temptingly like musical scores.

The library system was backed up each night on a five-inch disk.  Even my husband doesn’t remember those.  His idea of a floppy disk is the three and a half-inch disks that were rigid plastic (sometimes, excitingly, in bright colours) that we used to back up our own work.  The five-inch disks were properly floppy.  A little like a bendy LP or record.

Before embarrassment finally won over, I saved countless stories to three and a half-inch disks.  How much did those store?  A mere megabyte of information?  My camera now produces files of ten megabytes so that kind of explains why we outgrew that technology.  But mind you, cameras didn’t make files back in those days.  They were still using negatives, another ribbon technology.

Words are supposed to be permanent, a lasting record or memoir of who we are or were.  But what happens when the technology changes this fast?  Or when the writing becomes digital, embedded within legacy recording systems?

We can look at cave paintings from thousands of years ago and touch another hand, another human, his tangible marks connect us.  Even vulnerable paper has left us an enduring legacy of countless billions of pages filed in libraries and archives.

Sometimes we struggle to decrypt ancient writing systems; we need discoveries like the Rosetta Stone that allow a translation between different forms, some now defunct.   But the words were still there.

What about our words?  Have we lost them forever?

PS.  If you find that stone, let us know.

Old News

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We found some old newspapers (parts of two) serving as insulation under the itchy coo in the loft so if you’d care to browse some of the articles making the news back in 1964 and 1956, I have pictures to share with you.

The 1956 paper seems to be a copy of the Dispatch, possibly of the 22nd June.  We’ve only got a few shreds of it.  But it’s still interesting to find a newspaper (or remains of) which is older than our building (this block of flats was built in 1957).  We found complete sheets from the Saturday, July 11 1964 Daily Mirror (a newspaper name which is perhaps more familiar and yes, the date was printed in the American style, you can check below).  The newsagent had written a surname in the top corner so someone must have had a regular order.

The next few posts will probably be knitting-based so my apologies if you’re not the biggest fan of the craft but hopefully I make it interesting for knitters and non-knitters alike; knitting often becomes a metaphor for me to explore and discuss bigger ideas, issues and themes so even if you don’t knit, read along and see, for example, how fear can hold us back and how our hobbies can be barometers of growth and change.

And now for the headlines:

1956 - Non-Stop Flight to Moscow
1956 – Non-Stop Flight to Moscow
1956 - Do You Have a Washing Machine?
1956 – Do You Have a Washing Machine?
1956 - Don't Plunge Good Girls into Evil
1956 – Don’t Plunge Good Girls into Evil
1956 - Keep Girls and Boys Apart
1956 – Keep Girls and Boys Apart
1956 - Celebrity Quotes
1956 – Celebrity Quotes
1956 - Breaking the Laxative Habit
1956 – Breaking the Laxative Habit
1956 - Parrots have Accents
1956 – Parrots have Accents
1956 - Somerset Cricket
1956 – Somerset Cricket
1956 - Cricket: England v Australia
1956 – Cricket: England v Australia
1956 - Vaccination Failure
1956 – Vaccination Failure
1956 - Television's Wheelchair Girl
1956 – Television’s Wheelchair Girl
1956 - The Truth about Rupture
1956 – The Truth about Rupture
1964 - Daily Mirror for 3d
1964 – Daily Mirror for 3d
1964 - Passengers Grounded
1964 – Passengers Grounded
1964 - Frenzy in Beatlepool
1964 – Frenzy in Beatlepool
1964 - Topless Girl on Bus
1964 – Topless Girl on Bus
1964 - Same Sized Columns
1964 – Same Sized Columns
1964 - Almost Round-the-Clock Radio
1964 – Almost Round-the-Clock Radio
1964 - Cat with Puppies
1964 – Cat with Puppies
1964 - Accident on New Forth Bridge
1964 – Accident on New Forth Bridge
1964 - Bullivant Shatters Record
1964 – Bullivant Shatters Record
1964 - Great Mirror Armada
1964 – Great Mirror Armada
1964 - Fishing Column
1964 – Fishing Column
1964 - Rain at Times
1964 – Rain at Times
1964 - Home Movies for 39 Guineas
1964 – Home Movies for 39 Guineas
1964 - Straight Pineapple Juice
1964 – Straight Pineapple Juice
1964 - Hotpoint Twintub
1964 – Hotpoint Twintub
1964 - Felix Catfood (Supermarkets not Available)
1964 – Felix Catfood (Supermarkets not Available)
1964 - Russian Watch
1964 – Russian Watch
1964 - Trend for Exotic Pets
1964 – Trend for Exotic Pets
1964 - The Difficulties of Polygamy
1964 – The Difficulties of Polygamy
1964 - Admitting to Being Lost
1964 – Admitting to Being Lost

What do you think?  Has the world changed in the last fifty years or not?

A Book Revolution

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‘Revolution’ is probably the best word for it; it’s a real change of scene, a shake up and one that may only be welcomed with a rallying cry by a certain demographic, a particular group or even a minority.  Revolution is not a wind of change, a tide change in the sea of mankind, something that comes slowly and peacefully, something that although not necessarily welcomed is inevitable.  Revolution comes with a battle cry, it is enforced and championed.  Revolution is divisive and threatening, the world turned upside down, for better or for worse.

People take sides when there is a revolution.  When the wind of time blows change, it is easier to remain passive, to remain unaffected even.  The change creeps in like a sea fog, slow and insidious.  Revolution is the tornado, swirling and destroying everything in its path.

You’ve possibly taken sides already in this revolution.  Being a slightly backward, head in the clouds type, it’s taken longer for the revolution to catch up with me.  I was first aware of it all through the reactions of other people, mainly those who feel that this particular revolution is the end of the world and of all that is good and proper.  I read this kind of reaction across the internet and on blogs and wondered.  I wondered where I stood and whether there was a truth in their arguments.

I’m an old-fashioned type; I don’t join bandwagons, especially not technological bandwagons.  If I need to use something, then I will slowly come round to using it.  Usually a few years after everyone else.  It works for me.

But I found myself in the revolution’s path and then I had decisions to make.  I had to make them quickly, quicker than I would usually anyway, and I did feel a little pressured to go a certain route.  I wanted to read a work that a fellow blogger had had published, through solidarity at the very least.  But yes, it was in that revolutionary, new, world-changing, life-changing format.  The e-book.  Or electric book as I call them.

Well it was free to download the software, not too much for the book and there was no commitment.  Maybe it was time to plunge into the storm waters.  I’m not one to condemn a new-fangled thing without actually trying it myself.  So I tried and I tested.

Personally I don’t understand the arguments that some are using that suggest that authors will never be able to make their way in the cut price electric book market.  I wouldn’t have said the chances of authorship generating a reliable income have ever been particularly high or likely.  There are other shades of the argument that I understand even less, authors being forced out of the market, authors not receiving enough for their work so I can’t really comment on that.

There does seem to be a degree of snobbery involved, isn’t there always?  As if there is now some difference in quality and stature between a published author in print and a published author in electric.  It reminds me of the days when professional photographers tenaciously clung on to their old film cameras, a last bastion of quality and skill before the digital tide swept them all away.  But is being published in any format a mark, a guarantee of quality?  Not really.  I’m sure you’ve tossed books aside in disbelief and despair.

It’s an idea that has quietened down lately but you do sometimes hear fanciful worries that tomorrow’s generation won’t be able to read at all, tales of how email, text and social media are destroying the written word, evidence that today’s generation are already video and image dependent.  I think that’s what I like most about this electric book concept.  For those whom everything must now appear on-screen, the electric book brings them the classics and literature that they would otherwise neglect on a dusty library shelf.  It is in a format that they understand and appreciate.

I take comfort that the written word isn’t dead, it may have changed somewhat in the form that it has taken but literature hasn’t died.  I don’t think it will.  I remind myself that the written word has been presented in many formats throughout the last few millennia.  Do you still mourn the loss of the scroll or the codex?  Are you bitter that these forms were superseded by newer technologies that eventually were proved to be better, easier or more up to date?  I remind myself that the writing process has changed too.  Were you allowed to write in biro in your school?  Did the gel pen come into being in your lifetime?  Do you really want to go back to hand composing thousand page documents with a quill or are you grateful that the typewriter and then the computer appeared on the scene?

Yes, we rankle at change.  It is part of our human nature.  We may have preferences; if you wish to write with a quill in homemade ink on a scroll in the language of Chaucer then I have no problem with that or you.  It is your choice.  But published writing is not just about the author, it has to be marketed.  The market, perhaps to a certain extent dictated by the publishing houses, decides what is written about, by whom and for how much.  That market changes.  And authors change too.  Writers no longer serialise mega novels in newspapers.  There is limited magazine work too now.  Do you change or do you cling to the past?  It’s a difficult question, one that each writer must address personally.

I don’t see the electric book as dumbing down either.  There’s plenty of frothy, soapy fiction out there in print.  I’ve used my software to acquire copies of classics, some of which have long been unavailable in print.  It has been educational.  I’ve read a guide on camping published in the 1870s which advises on how to make the ancestor of our modern sleeping bags and to always take a Bible with you.  I’ve read a manual on healthy living which amongst plenty of sound ideas also advocates that fruit has no nutritional value.  I can read in several languages with a dictionary built-in to enlighten my reading.  (I’ve been meaning to plough through Les Misérables for the last five years but fifteen chapters or so of historic furniture descriptions made it such heavy weather that the project has been repeatedly shelved, there’s only so many times I can look up words in the oversized dictionary).    Electric books have introduced me to new writers and new ideas, mainly historic because I’m working my way through the ‘free’ section with the appetite of a bookworm glutton.  This surely can’t be a bad thing that all these works have now become accessible again?  In fact, in my experience, the electric book improves literacy because you can just look things up at a click of a button, you don’t just lazily gloss over the words you don’t understand.

The other thing that I really appreciate with this electric book technology is the access.  I’m currently using software on my computer but there are specialist readers available.  Small, discreet, portable.  Even if you’re the biggest fan of paper, surely that has some advantage over lugging both volumes of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece with you?  Plus the dictionary, remember?  In terms of disability, this is huge.  You don’t have to struggle with the weight of book(s); you don’t have to turn pages as soon as you get both the book and yourself comfortable; you can adjust the brightness of the screen and whether or not it’s the classic black and white.  Now, let’s go travelling.  For today’s generation, never mind tomorrow’s, then I think this technology is going to entertain those frisky young aeroplane passengers for hours.  You can have videos, magazines and books at a touch of a button and without an entire backpack stuffed full.  Never mind the little ones; it’s going to keep attention span limited folks like me quiet on plane journeys too.  I can end up carrying about five different books on a flight, I read fast.  That’s without counting the dictionary.  Plus if they can get all the magazine subscriptions available, imagine what that would do to reduce paper waste.  I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there who read and chuck their dailies, weeklies and monthlies.  I hoard.  Electric versions would save space.  I can imagine having a library of knitting patterns on it, being able to zoom in for detail and not having to retrieve a very crushed piece of dog-eared paper from the bottom of my bag annotated with cryptic references.

Yes, I have decided to be open and try this new technology.  And I am genuinely impressed.  I don’t know if I welcome the revolution entirely wide armed but I’m not going to clamour against it.  There are disadvantages.  The costs of investing in the new technology, especially for the readers, I think that’s definitely what is going to make sure that paper books are around for a good long time yet, because you also need a power source to charge them up at.  The so-called Third World (does anyone know where the second went?) will be very unfairly disadvantaged in this revolution, as sadly is so often the case.  Although bringing the revolution to classrooms has decided benefits, I worry about the other ‘class’ divisions.  If you’re carrying an electric book reader as a student or as a tourist (up to date guides would definitely be an advantage in my case, especially without having an entire suitcase of them either), doesn’t that make you vulnerable to theft?  Personally I can’t see authors being harmed in this revolution, they’re adaptable folk and anything that brings their work to a wider audience has got to be a good thing.

I know that, personally, I will continue to value the smell and feel of paper, the books in the colourful jackets or the ones in historic bindings.  They will always have a place on my shelves and in my heart.  No revolution can change that for me.

Yes, the world is changing but whether you change with it, is up to you.  How you see that change is also up to you.  But if you’re blogging about how bad this new technology is then I do perceive a certain hypocrisy or inconsistency in your stance.  Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, whoever else you list as a literary great, did not have a blog.  Blogs are new.  A new way of writing in a changing world.  Just like that gel pen and the sticky notes you have on your old fashioned desk * next to your new technology computer.

* Although any of those literary greats of old may quite likely struggle to identify said desk as such as it’s now made in pretend wood, shiny in some garish colour or over pronounced  fake ‘grain’ and was probably fixed together by yourself from a flatpack with limited instructions and has a distinct wobble every time you use the printer, very different to a properly old-fashioned desk.

Technology Advances … and Entertains

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I know, I know, it’s been a while.  I’ve had a busy week and I just haven’t been able to get my head into posting and writing.  I’m very sorry.  This is just a quick post to tell you about a new feature that I’ve just discovered whilst opening a PDF document.

I opened up my PDF reader (the usual suspect of course) and happened to decide to check out the options under the View menu.  There’s a new feature!  Oooh.  (Thinking cute but strange green alien clones right about now).  Or at least I think it’s a new feature, I’ve never seen or heard anything about it before.  Have you?  It’s called ‘Read Out Loud’.

Now, this sounds like a good idea, pro-disabilities amongst other things.  You can now have your document read aloud to you without having to have specialist (aka expensive) software.  I had to experiment.  It took a while to think about it, maybe it had to install something, maybe it’s just the treacly state of my computer.

Right, if you’re thinking ‘read with mother’, I think I was, then you’re going to be disappointed.  You have to click on a word for it to ‘read’ it.  One word at a time.  Or part word.  It seems to not be able to join the letters up as confidently as a four-year-old might.  It makes for some interesting sounds.   Or it just settles for telling you what the odd letter is here or there.  O-K.  Oh, and to make it even more intellectually stimulating, it says ‘blank’ every time you click on a space.  Just in case you didn’t realise that it wasn’t a word after all.

Disappointed?  Yep, me too.  You can’t even rely on it to reliably inform you how to pronounce unknown words.

Maybe I gave it a little bit of unfair road test.  My document was in French.  Which when ‘read’ aloud stiltedly in a heavy American accent sounds a little bit funny.  The only two big words I could get it to ‘say’ were ‘travaillent’ (work, as in they work) it came up with tra-vail-ent and then there was ‘aujourd’hui’.  I’m surprised it even attempted aujourd’hui.  It’s a very big word with an apostrophe to throw the ‘voice’ completely off track.

It was worth trying just to hear a new version of ‘aujourd’hui’.  Or-jurd-u-i.  I kept clicking on the word.  Small things.

I think I need to try this in English.  Who knows what new words await.