Saturday, 29 June 2013

As Easy as Clicking the Mouse

I posted a wee while back about my disillusionment with Virgin Media and how they didn't seem perturbed when the lovely Marion (thereafter referred on this blog as The Guv'nr) decided to change our cable television, Internet and telephone provider. After a wee bit of research, the Sky TV deals seemed particularly attractive and we changed provider about a month ago.

So far, so good as far as Sky are concerned. We opted initially for the basic tv package but found that despite the dozens of channels available, it would be beneficial to pay £5 extra each month for a much greater choice. Thus, we decided during the week to go for Sky Entertainment.

Now, The Guv'nr and I have not been blessed with much luck recently when it comes to new technology. Our new 'smart' tv wasn't smart enough to pick up our Wi-Fi connection when we purchased it last summer and the smart mobile phone I purchased towards the end of last year - admittedly at the lower end of the scale - wasn't so much smart as clueless (it confirmed to me the old adage of you get what you pay for as being absolutely true)

It was with this in mind that The Guv'nr and I decided, with some trepidation, to upgrade our Sky TV package. We opted for the sadly all too common form of communication to enable this action - we did it on line (remember the days when people actually spoke to each other?) However, our fears were completely unfounded. Seconds after clicking the mouse to confirm we accepted the terms and conditions, Sky Entertainment was on our not so smart television screen. As easy as clicking the mouse.

Which, as Virgin Media may wish to note, is how it should be....

Monday, 10 June 2013

Iain Banks 1954-2013

So they're back. The last time the Tories were in power I used to think of them as the hyena party, because they tended to pick on the most vulnerable members of the herd: the young, the weak, the old. Now, after flat-out lying about the inescapability of cuts and the reason we're in this mess, this bunch of upper-class landed louts, this cabinet of share-portfolioed millionaires, this gang of Greedists – along with their willing chums, the hopelessly deluded, now credibility-free Lib Dems – have returned to cut and butcher their way through our society again, picking on the young through picking on their parents, picking on the poor and the vulnerable, the disabled and disadvantaged, running down precisely those least able to help themselves, the very people any decent society ought to be doing most to help, while the bankers and the City boys sip their Cristal and drool over their upcoming bonuses.

A little has changed; the grey vote has held off direct attacks on today's pensioners, but even that is temporary; the old too will miss the buses withdrawn from service and the police removed from the streets, feel ignored and cut off when their local library closes and the remaining post offices turn into charity shops; and the old will suffer most as a hyper-stressed NHS tries to cope with the trauma of yet another needless privatisation-inspired reorganisation. The hyenas that lope and crunch their way across the plains are blameless; just animals behaving as evolution has shaped them, quite free of morality, ethics or guilt. We might have expected better from our own species, but no; the snarling horrors have returned, and we'll rue the wasted years that let all three major parties swing so decisively to the right and present us with so little real choice at the last election.

Iain Banks one of Scotland's greatest writers died on Sunday aged 59. Above is his letter to The Guardian in 2010. His is a sad loss to Scottish literature.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Terrors on the Beach

Be afraid....

Sticking it to the Hard Drive

It's remarkable to think it's nearly 15 years since I first got a computer that had that miracle of communication  - internet access. In the late 1990s technology, although advancing, was some way from the rapid, mobile machine it is today. Back in 1998 I got a desktop computer - laptops were still way too expensive for my meagre income and mobiles were something that hung from a baby's cot - and it took pride and joy in my lounge (okay, I lived in Dalkeith at the time and for lounge read living room)

15 years ago, broadband was light years away from Midlothian and my first proper home computer had 'dial-up access'. As now, of course, it was connected to the telephone line but not only was dial-up notoriously slow it meant that when anyone was trying what is now considered to be an old-fashioned method of communicating i.e. talking to someone by telephone, all they got was the engaged tone. Which was quite infuriating when there was something worth surfing the net for e.g. reading webpage after webpage on Hearts glorious Scottish Cup win in 1998 and no one could get through on the telephone.

Dial-up was also temperamental and wholly unreliable. My daughters will tell you I frequently kicked my hard drive which sat under the table when I heard the dreaded 'click' sound when surfing the web - this meant I was being disconnected. It didn't do my computer much good but it made me feel a whole lot better. Naturally, treating my poor downtrodden computer like a technological punch bag didn't do it any good and I was soon looking at another expensive replacement. It would be another five years before broadband arrived in my area and computers could breath easy.

It's all so different today, of course. The nation now relies on broadband connection  - not only relies but expects and demands it. Companies such as BT, Sky and Virgin fall over themselves to offer you their products. It seems the UK, nay the world, can no longer function properly without broadband. With the rapid development of Wi-Fi the world is becoming a much smaller place particularly with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and products such as Skype where you can converse face to face with someone on the other side of the world - without leaving your living room.

Something almost unthinkable a decade and a half ago when RAM in the Smith household meant me sticking my right boot on the hard-pressed hard drive....