Monday, 16 November 2015

Late For The Party

Come back later, we're closed...

I am someone who is never knowingly early for the party.  I was early for a party once, and felt like an idiot for the excruciating hour before anyone else rocked up.  It wasn't quite as mortifying as the day I brought my packed lunch to primary school the day before our class trip to London – I can still see my green tartan duffle-bag hanging there on my peg like a decomposing albatross – but I learned my lesson.  "Fashionably late" is the thing; unless we're talking about catching a train, in which case "neurotically early" is still my preference.

However, in these fast-moving days, I often find I am so late that the party is pretty much over by the time I arrive.  Now, let's be clear: I am talking metaphorically here.  I haven't actually been to a party in years.  Do people even still have parties, I wonder?  The idea of having your house gate-trashed by a whirlwind of uninvited strangers seems like something that belongs back in the 1970s, along with Watney's Party Sevens, a "bopping" room with a stereo, and couples rolling around on the coats dumped on a bed upstairs.  That probably merely shows how long it is since I was invited to a party.  Anyway and whatever, the parties to which I am so very late these days are not that sort of party.

I'm talking about things like social media.  I think I've already described how, in my previous life as a library IT manager, an entire university was late for the smartphone party.  For all the right reasons, of course.  Before 2009 no-one in a position of responsibility owned a smartphone, or could imagine what kind of fool would want to run their life on the tiny screen of a phone, FFS, when generous quantities of full-size PC workstations had only recently been provided for students and staff to use all around the campus.  Besides, we couldn't and shouldn't be running things on the basis of what only the richest students could afford.  I mean, have you seen what those things cost?  In 2010 the ownership of smartphones among the student body was estimated at below 20%.  Above all, there was that justifiable phobia in IT circles about being an "early adopter": let someone else find the show-stopping bugs in the first release of that exciting new product.

Well, you know how that one went.  We had to run to catch up, and in the process I had to learn very quickly about providing Web Services from our library server and how differently the various smartphone operating systems would implement the exact same "service" (Blackberry is not the only fruit, Vice-Chancellor).  Just to make things interesting, at the same time we had to migrate our operating system to Linux and our database to Oracle, in order to relocate the whole library package "virtually" onto a new remote university data centre.  It was around then that early retirement began to seem attractive.

However, one upside was that for six months or so in 2011/12 I was loaned a brand new Apple iPhone 4s, a sleek white beauty, so that I could monitor the implementation on iOS of the new university and library "app".  I was smitten, but knew I would never be able to afford or justify the ownership and upkeep of such a gorgeous, high-maintenance thing, so I made do with a series of perfectly adequate Android phones.  Until this month, when I suddenly had the urge to experiment with phone photography.  At which point, a "free with this contract" Android phone – or rather, the camera in it – suddenly became inadequate.

So, having found myself a new iPhone 4s (white, naturally, and now comparatively cheap – though have you seen what the actual latest versions of these things cost?) I'm boldly setting forth into the far-from-unexplored and probably exhausted territory of iphoneography.  Late for the party?  I'll say.

But, I promise: no selfie-stick, no grungy filters, no food.

UPDATE 18/11/15:  Looks like I'll be later than I thought...  The bloody thing was faulty, and after a very enlightening chat with Apple Support (who are brilliant, btw) I sent it straight back for a refund... Lesson learned -- don't bargain hunt for top end equipment!


Zouk Delors said...

No food? Come on, Mike! If it's worth cooking, it's worth taking a picture of!

Mike C. said...


I was in a restaurant in Brighton where the lighting was so dim that the entire table next to us was using their phones not (annoyingly) to photograph the food, as I had originally thought, but to illuminate and read the menu... Handy!


Zouk Delors said...

Probably using a menu-reading app ...

Wasn't there a story a while back about a restaurant that didn't allow patrons to photograph their offerings?

Mike C. said...

Must have been using some version of Noodle Translate (sorry...)