Category Archives: Technology

Music and Murdoch

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play at the Glastonbury Extravaganza. Music, picnics, cocktails, fireworks, dancing fountains, a thrilled and enthusiastic audience... put THAT on an MP3

I think we can all agree that Rupert Murdoch is an arse, for so very many reasons.  At the moment there’s all the stuff with the ‘phone hacking and the media buy-outs.  All ghastly, no doubt about it.  But he is an arse for more reasons than that.

Technology is changing the consumption of music.  As a child or teenager, the sight of an undisguisable LP under the Christmas Tree was a beautiful moment and record collections were prized and protected.  Young people would gather to, genuinely, listen to records and music was shared and joyfully consumed.

CD’s then made one’s record collection more portable and less bulky, whilst remaining scrumptiously tangible and ‘on show’ as a testament to one’s taste and general grooviness.

But now there is the MP3 player.  I love my iPod with a big love, but I use it in the same way that I used to copy my LPs onto cassettes; it is a way of making my physical music collection portable.  I also download podcasts which is utterly marvellous because now I never have to miss my favourite programmes from my beloved Radio 4.  I then burn these podcasts to disc, catalogue them and place them on a shelf so they become REAL.  MP3 files don’t feel really real to me – they feel like a backup.  But before you say it, I am clearly an old git.

The one thing that seems to have evolved from the intangibility of downloads is that live music is more popular than ever.  The public spend on live concerts has rocketed in the last few years and, if that is a side-effect of digital music, then hooray to that.

There is nothing, but nothing, to compare to the joy of hearing live music performed in front of you.  I remember, as though it was yesterday, the night that Sister the First took me to the Albert Hall to hear the soprano, Margaret Marshall, perform.  I was twelve years old, we sat in a box to the right of the stage, and I had never heard anything so enrapturing and beautiful in my life.  I could feel the tears in my eyes as the combination of her voice, the orchestra and the company of others enveloped me and swamped my senses.

The point is that the people who make the music are playing the music, right there in front of you, and everybody present shares your enthusiasm and your desire to be there.  I have floated to Madame Butterfly, roared along with The Proclaimers, crooned (in harmony) with The Andrews Sisters and lost half a stone through excessive pogo-ing  to The Undertones.  Live music is brilliant beyond words.

Not according to Rupert Murdoch though.  According to Rupert Murdoch in The Times a couple of weeks ago, “If you love music, instead of paying £100 to go to a great concert, you pay 99 cents to get it on your iPod and you’ve got it for life, wherever you are.”  Not instead of, you tosser – as well as!

And while we’re on the subject of Murdoch, here’s another tossy thing he said to the poor beleaguered Times correspondent (and I paraphrase):  All children should have computer tablets and through such advances … the finest teachers in every course, in every subject, in every grade will be available to every child.

Now, children.  Can you guess who owns 90% of a $360 million company called Wireless Generation in Brooklyn, USA?  And can you guess what they sell?
Well, well, well.

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Filed under Education, Poetry, Literature, Music and Art, Politics, Technology

Blackberry Surprise

My Currant mobile phone *

The Wartime Housewife is very excited.  I have a very old Nokia mobile ‘phone that does everything I want it to do i.e. make and receive telephone calls and text messages.  But over the last week, it has begun to let me down.  Every five minutes it beeps and tells me I have a sim card error.  It has taken to sending all my texts three times.  I fear it may be suffering from dementia.

Boy the Elder has also lost his mobile ‘phone so I frogmarched him down to the High Street Shop and made him hand over his pocket money to purchase a new one.  I warned him, he paid the price.

While I was there, I asked about the possibility  of replacing my old ‘phone without having to change my number.  I have been on pay as you go for years and I only top up by £10 a month, but, crucially, all three of us can currently remember my mobile number.

A radiant male child in the guise of a shop assistant began to ascertain my current and imminent telephonic needs and, as I talked, a gleam came into his eyes and his tiny hands began to tremble.

“I’m going to be really cruel now,” he said “I want you to look at these.” Whereupon he lead me gently to a row of gleaming units, with screens and buttons and slidey things; black, silver and pink shiny machines, some of which had no buttons at all. “For not much more than you’re paying now, you could have a Smart Phone, you could do e-mails and internetting and that, and have apps to take you straight to the things you like.”

As he spoke, his skin began to turn a strange wrinkly grey, he stooped, his eyes bulged slightly and he started to stroke the Blackberry, muttering “You could have one of these, precious, yes you could, you could, shiny, shiny precious…”.

“Pull yourself together,” I said.  “Stand up straight and take your hands out of your pockets when you speak to a grown-up!  Now tell me how much more it’s going to cost.”.  He stepped back, a strange faraway look in his eyes and we thrashed out a deal.  We filled in paperwork, he made ‘phone calls, he rang my current network provider, he offered me a free in-car charger.  We were there for an hour.

And I was declined.  It was very embarrassing.  I have a perfectly good credit rating, I’m borderline solvent and I hardly ever smell funny, but nonetheless I was declined.  I was bloody furious and I stomped off home in a huff, leaving the radiant child sobbing at his desk like an eighteenth century poet whose laudanum dealer has just left town.

My new Raspberry

When I got home, I rang Customer Services and spoke to a delightful woman with a reassuringly north-eastern accent (I love a Geordie, me).  She accessed my mobile ‘phone records, tapped my details into an on-line form and immediately offered me exactly the same deal for £10 per month less, urging me not to take out their expensive insurance policy as my home insurance would almost certainly cover it.  It took ten minutes.  My Blackberry should be with me by the end of the week.

I’m so excited (and I just can’t hide it).  I could be in the park or at someone else’s house or even on the lavatory or in the bath and be able to read your comments on my blog at any time!  I can up a bid on ebay even if I’m not at home.  It’s like bloody Star Trek in this house now, there’ll be no talking to me.  Oh hang on, yes there will…..

* don’t even think about claiming this is a spelling mistake.

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Filed under Life in general, Technology

One Ronnie

I’ve just found this on YouTube and now I share it with you.

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Filed under Poetry, Literature, Music and Art, Technology

The Wartime Housewife is very excited

I have just effectively been granted an extra two hours sleep.  My new computer has been set up and, although there are still a couple of programmes to be installed including my camera software and Photoshop (so no pics until further notice), I am up and running.

Yesterday afternoon, it only took 5 minutes to check, edit and reply to my e-mails.  The night before the same exercise took 45 minutes.  It was also taking approximately two and a half hours to write a blog, upload a photograph and publish it.   You chaps don’t realise how lucky you getting a post virtually every night – I can’t remember the last time I was in bed before 1am.  It’s so exciting I can’t tell you.

The old machine is going to be stripped down, cleaned up and installed in Boy the Elder’s room for the entertainment and edification of both boys.  A wireless router will be placed halfway up the stairs so we will all have internet access, on the condition that they don’t attempt to look at pictures of girls with no vests on, or games with too much fighting in.

I have a functioning webcam.  I can’t for the life of me think what I would do with such a thing, but if I think of anything, I now have the wherewithal to do it.  ‘Word’ has changed quite a bit and I’m going through the usual frustrations of things not being where I expect them to be and I was completely locked out of the whole system last night because I wasn’t listening properly when Wonderful Bruce from pcsorted was sorting my pc.

My darlings, the world of the speedy intraweb awaits me and once I’ve caught up with my sleep, I shall be unstoppable, I expect.

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Filed under Technology

No Post Today

The Wartime Housewife really is a bit rubbish with computers and if the slightest thing goes wrong, I wail and gnash my teeth in a way that I would never do in any other walk of life.  Luckily for me, Mr PC Sorted was on hand to provide me with another virtual lifeboat and I am back in business. Hurrah!  Up the wooden hill etc….

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The Wartime Housewife has been Enhanced

My Office

Not in a surgical way of course, for The Wartime Housewife is already a perfect specimen of housewifely voluptuousness. 

No.  For tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I have finally been upgraded.  One scrumptious gig of Random Access Memory has been inserted lovingly into my hard drive and I can now run four – Yes Four!- programmes at once and still finish a perfect blog in time for the Ten O’Clock News. 

I can check my mail, write my blog, marvel at my ever soaring statistics and doctor photographs without once poking my own eyes out with a crochet hook in frustration and rage because of the binary alzheimers which has increasingly been my personal dis-ease. 

And if you’re lucky, I might even stop banging on about it to you, when I’m banging my own head on my desk at two o’clock in the morning.

For I have been visited by none other than Bruce Edwards, better known as ‘PC Sorted’ (or was that Inspector Morse?) the Domestic IT Specialist of this parish.  He cruised in like a rooster and upgraded me in a flash, then disappeared into the darkness, as the words “Just doing my job Ma’am” floated by on the mist-laden breeze. 

Actually I made the last bit up, but I want you all to share my joy.
I may even sleep now.

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Filed under Technology

I have finally Lost the Will to Live

Boy the Elder was given an iPod for Christmas.  Lucky boy.  But I already have an iPod which is linked to my PC.  Therefore I had to open a separate account for the boy so that he could do his own thing with his own iPod.  After all, how much Andrews Sisters can a 12-year old take? Except that I couldn’t work out how to do it.

The Wartime Housewife is not afraid of technology; I embrace it whenever it makes my life better (eg, iTunes, Amazon, ebay, blogging, email).  But I am hampered by two things.  Firstly, my PC is running on 1/4 of the RAM it needs to anything at all (this is in hand) and secondly, I’m just a bit crap.

So at 4pm today, after school. I began the process of Sorting Out the iPod.  I tried to contact Apple to find out how I could run two separate accounts on one computer but after an hour, I gave up and rang the Apple shop in Leicester.  The chap was terribly helpful and emailed me an information sheet telling me how to get started.  Unfortunately, it didn’t make clear which area of the PC I needed to be in, in order to accomplish the first task.  The Apple help menus just kept sending me round and round, but I didn’t understand where they wanted me to go or what information I would need when I got there.

Eventually  I worked out that I needed to establish Boy the Elder as another user on the PC itself and it made sense to make sure that he had all the relevant icons on the screen to do whatever 12-year olds do.  (I have excercised my parental controls by banning Rap Music and Drum & Bass but allowing Porn.  Was that wrong?)  And of course, it was all so gut-wrenchingly slow and at one point the whole thing stopped and I had to unplug everything at the mains and start again. 

I returned to iTunes only to discover that if he wanted to actually buy anything, he had to have a separate email account as well.  Right then, back to TalkTalk except that nowhere did it tell you how to open another email account.  It kept telling you that you could, but not how.  After another hour and a half of trying to get through to them, it transpired that Talktalk was down for maintenace and all accounts were inaccessible.  When I finally got through to the right menu, it made me log on for email bills rather than paper ones and complete a survey before it would let me go any further.  Did it.  Moved on.  Got an email account.

Boy the Elder bought his first track at 11.23 tonight.  Other than a break to drive into Harborough for fish and chips, then eat the fish and chips, it has taken me approximately seven hours to add one MP3 player to one PC.

I’m going to have another glass of Sloe Sherry followed by a mug of Ovaltine and then bed.    I tried to have an early night last night, but a recently bereaved friend rang me at 11.30 and stayed on for 2 hours and then Boy the Younger woke me up at 5am, because he’d had a nightmare about a scary blue man, and he didn’t go back to sleep until 6am.  Up again at 7am.

You will forgive me if I don’t do a blog tonight, won’t you?

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Filed under Children, Technology