Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The computer bites back

I went slightly bonkers when computers were introduced (for word processing then for DTP) at my magazine. The benefits were such it is clear I rhapsodised too much about them chez Bonden. Mrs BB avoided the infection and only agreed to receive a laptop some fifteen years later. In the intervening two years she has used it regularly but conservatively.

Those who approve of poetic justice will enjoy hearing the gift has rebounded on me. Take birthday presents. Given our age neither of us hangs about once a need is identified; we go ahead and buy. Marking Mrs BB’s birthday, now only days away, has always been difficult since Hereford is not Regent Street. But the Internet gave me an edge. Not now though. Mrs BB forestalls me by impulse-buying on her own behalf.

Second. Should the laptop go on holiday to the Languedoc villa in June? No, we all agreed; we’ll never be off the damn thing. But time after time last year facts – maddening in their immediacy – needed to be verified, checked or investigated. When my desktop was the only available computer the question didn’t arise. This year the insidious Hewlett Packard may keep me out of the pool.

SONGS OF PRAISE poetry primer
A man that looks on glass/On it may stay his eye
Or if he pleases through it pass/And then the heaven espy.
The exploding metaphor

All may of Thee partake/Nothing could be so mean
Which with this tincture "for thy sake"/Would not grow bright and clean.
Whence came the quotes?

Christian, up and smite them/Counting gain not loss.
Muscular accountancy

Herod then with fear was filled;/“A prince,” he said, “in Jewry!”
All the little boys he killed/At Bethlem (sic) in his fury.
Steady hand on the bathos tiller

Novel progress 6/3/10. Ch. 16: 3422 words. Chs. 1 - 15: 67,628 words. Comments: Hatch starts earning his crust.


marja-leena said...

Ach, doesn't that bug you, when the spouse does that just when you think of that gift for him/her for a special occasion!?

As for taking the laptop on trips, we too have mixed feelings about the extra baggage, thinking it would be a good break away from 'being connected'. Since I started blogging, I miss it too much after a few days. Fred uses his iPod Touch all the time away from home, whenever he can pick up the wireless connection.

Rouchswalwe said...

The first one's easy ~ handmade gifts only. The second one, leave the laptop at home but take your 3G internet-capable mobile. It's there for fact-finding emergencies but just unwieldy enough to prevent non-essential web browsing.

I am enjoying your primers, BB!

Relucent Reader said...

The Missus brings her notebook with her on our beach vacation, but I try to keep her too busy to fool with it.
My needs are less digital, a bag o' books will suffice;though one of those Kindles, Nooks (as Twain said, 'there's some rough work at the font' with names, esp. electronic gizmos) or similar look more and more appealing.

Julia said...

I absolutely agree about the phone. If you're in the market for one, try to find one that includes wifi, to avoid dreadful roaming data rates.

Julia said...

By the way, I really am amazed that a hymn would talk so about defenestration (see first hymn stanza).

Occasional Speeder said...

Good grief - that's a real BB conundrum - mobile phones are generally "piffle" - but one with the internet?? And it takes up far less "wine" space in the car boot for the return journey home. Do keep us updated...

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: I've no desire to blog when I'm on holiday. But there are innumerable times during casual conversation when one needs to verify a song, a film, an author, an event, etc, etc. No book or selection of books would provide the necessary references or easy method of accessing such info.

RW (sZ): So a papier-maché doll made from soggy tenners, then. As to a 3G phone, I always swore I'd get the cheapest phone and use it only to apolgise for lateness and booking accommodation at logis in France. Would you have me betray my iron-clad principles?

RR: Oh, we'll be taking books all right; Mrs BB has already accumulated a dozen for this purpose and more will be added. But how many dictionaries in different languages, DIY manuals, world atlases, encyclopedias, etc, would you have us take? And I will be taking the Sony Ebook Reader, if only to find out how RLS's "Kidnapped" ends.

Julia: I am forewarned about roaming rates. In the financial agony aunt column in The Observer there was a poignant tale about someone adding a dongle to his laptop for Internet connection in mainland Europe, using it among other things for downloading a film or two and ending up with a bill for $6000.

I thought you'd like the autodefenestration hymn. The last example becomes even more lugubrious by having "fury" sung on an ascending scale "fyoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ry". Gosh, I'd love to be able to tell you how it goes in crotchet and quaver language.

OS: Yes, and there's all that Tessa money to be got rid of. But see my response to RW (sZ) above.

Plutarch said...

Because of the obsessive nature of my blog, I feel impelled, against my better judgement, to blog on holiday. The lap top on the reception desk of our regular hotel saves me taking mine, but this year, the first when I will be in possession of a lap top of my own, I may well be tempted. The idea of a mobile phone with functions other than basic communication doesn't attract me, because I want to feel free to watch and listen the immediate world around me, when out and about. There is always a camera in my pocket. A mobile telephone that
sings hymns? Now that's a thought!

Julia said...

I found a midi file so can now imagine. I'm not sure which is more hash - the midi or the text! Both are entertaining though.

We are such information geeks that I use my phone (several years old and not very fancy, but it does have wifi) to google information quite constantly, particularly during meals or long drives. I also really like to use it to look up the weather forecast - an old sailor habit I can't break!

Anil P said...

A laptop is our third hand now. It's difficult to leave it behind.

Compulsion helps a tool enter our lives, then our lives enter the tool!

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: I didn't blog while on holiday last year but I did attempt to write verse with pen and paper. A horrible indirect and messy activity. I need to be able to see the lines clearly with no distractions. The computer is good because of its ruthlessness. Initially I worried I might want to return to earlier ideas and, therefore, I should retain them. Now, deletion is a shriving and exhilarating process. As they said in (I think) Salad Days: never look back.

Julia: I take it these mystical references to midi and text refer to the musical notation of the hymn. If that's the case I should have given you the first line: Unto us a boy is born. I shall now go and burrow away myself.

Anil P: Yes, our lives enter the tool. And without that tool we are diminished. That earlier pre-tool era cannot be happily re-visited any more than the Neanderthal period.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: Just burrowed: in fact the last eight notes rise and then descend. Also: as a self-confessed phone nerd you can get this hymn tune as a ringtone. That would make you unique in Prague.

Lucy said...

We only ever take the laptop if we know there is no internet access, and generally we don't. Carry a notebook and jot down those queries as they come up, then you can have an enjoyable Googlefest when you get back.

The phrase "for thy sake" is the tincture, the magic formula which when applied scrubs everything up to a pious high sheen; it's the proto-Protestant work ethic in its noble if dubious beginnings. George Herbert probably didn't clean out his own privy, mind you.

Can't stop, must be off now to do some divine drudgery.

Did you enjoy the solar system programme last night?

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: The marvels of blogging; someone snatches the baton out of your hand and runs much, much faster. For those unfamiliar with Songs of Praise Lucy's allusion is to yet another creaky (only the French word will do) échafaudage from the hymn already cited: Teach me my God and king.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine
Who sweeps a room as for thy laws
Makes that and the action fine.

Clonkingly, the lack of scansion in the fourth line returns yet again.

The Cool Kid said...

Hi BB,

If you will need access to the internet for looking things up such as authors, films, songs etc then I will happily allow you to use my newly acquired iphone out there.

I'm your granddaughters boyfriend by the way. We met once at her house around the time of her birthday last year.

Barrett Bonden said...

TCK: An excellent compromise. But check the cost of using it in France. In some cases it's astronomical.

Avus said...

"The rich man in his castle
The poor man at his gate;
He made them high or lowly
And ordered their estate"

I bet THAT used to please the squirearchy and made the villagers feel so much better!

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: So all those late Victorian self-help books (eg, Samuel Smiles) were basically preaching against the will of God. A tough row to hoe.