Geelong Advertiser, Thursday, 22 February 2007, p. 19
I know how those people in Britain felt in 1752 when the United Kingdom and its empire finally adopted the Gregorian calendar rather than the Julian one, resulting in the loss of eleven days to bring the calculation of dates back into line with the cycles of the moon. It happens to me much more regularly than that and occurs every time I change some aspect of my technology. A month ago it was a new computer, this last week it was a mobile phone. But invariably it results in at least one day out of my life as I struggle to get the new thing to work. First to work at all, and then to work like the old system, which might have been slow and outdated but always seemed to get me to where I wanted to go or do what I needed to do. My wife always wonders why I bother to change at all, but soon comes to appreciate that the new system has its advantages—eventually.
I should have learned my lesson. One of my colleagues, some years ago, said, ‘I know where you want to be. You want to be at the cutting edge of obsolescence’. In other words I want to have all the bugs worked out of the system before I adopt it, rather than chasing the absolutely latest thing. My aim has always been to find something that enables me to do what I am already doing better, more simply, quicker or just more easily. But now and again I take a punt on the new and usually get stung.
Let me tell you the mobile saga. We have been told that Australia now has this marvellous third-generation mobile phone network with considerably increased coverage and much faster speeds, allowing voice, data and video material to be up and downloaded at warp speed, or just short of it. I have been toying with the idea of upgrading my mobile for some time. It is perfectly effective, a little bigger than the modern ones, but does my jobs pretty well. It enables me, for example, to send my match report from the Melbourne Victory game from my computer via Bluetooth, a wireless link to the phone, to the Geelong Advertiser within seconds of the conclusion of games at Docklands.
Incidentally, this phone replaced an earlier version which was double the size with half the features, an example of Moore’s law in action. In 1965 Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubled every two years. This meant that electronic gizmos using them could get smaller and smaller. Locally, Barry Jones wrote in Sleeper’s Wake about the micro-electronic firm which expanded so fast it had to move into smaller premises. Mind you, my first mobile phone was one of those boxed machines with a handset like a home phone, which was so big and ugly that I knew it was the one thing my son would not be seen dead with. I had to use that until he got a small up-to-date one and then I could upgrade.
Anyway, back to my mobile upgrade of last week. I got a lovely new 3G machine only to find that it was not Mac compatible and I happen to use that kind of computer. After some hours of fiddling, trawling internet chat sites for technical advice (and getting some brilliant help from people who inhabit this world), I finally decided that it was not going to work in the short run. So back to the shop within the cooling-off period to end that contract and get back to my original phone. Of course, you know what is coming next. My old phone would no longer connect with my computer as it had done. So another day spent fiddling with that, getting more and more frustrated, especially after a fruitless hour talking to a series of young Indian people in call-centres who kept telling me it was not their problem.
The deadline for the Grand Final looms. I have a useless brick, not a mobile phone. Panic. Then suddenly this morning, I tried another tack. Replaced the SIM card in the phone and found myself back in communication with the rest of the world. There were supposed to have been riots when the eleven days were pinched in 1752. I nearly started one myself.