Sunday, 19 May 2013

Technological storms and the calm beauty of spring


After a couple of weeks of being driven absolutely nuts by technology and even more nuts by so-called internet service providers and the people at the end of the 'phone (when they are, finally, at the end of the 'phone) there was a final straw moment last week when our printer stopped working.

We had to spend an entire morning sorting it out.  Firstly establishing that it was more cost effective to just chuck it in the "Small Electricals" skip at the Sort-It Centre and buy a brand-new one.  This seems to be the case with almost everything now.  No repairs - too expensive.  Just throw it away and buy another one.  Don't worry about the ecological implications.  Just buy more stuff.

Then driving to the nearest out-of-town shopping centre (nothing available in our small town).  Then agonising over which of the thirty or forty makes and models to choose.  Which was most reliable?  (None of them are particularly, we were told by a surprisingly truthful salesperson).  Which would be cheapest to run in ink cartridges?  (Not possible to work this out apparently).  Which would best suit our purpose?  (We only need black and white pages and a very occasional burst of colour - not wireless, high definition, auto duplex-printing, cloud-connecting, pict bridge, optical character recognising magnificence.)

We picked one.  We were not filled with confidence.  It took half an hour to unpack and plug in.  It took the rest of the afternoon to install.  (I know, I know, it isn't supposed to.  But with us, it did.  There were error messages and tantrums.)  But finally it was done, and it will probably last around two years, like the previous ones we have had.  And then we will throw it away and begin again.

All this got me thinking about how it used to be.  You had a typewriter.  Lots of them are still around now, decades later.  Still working perfectly.  If they aren't, they can be repaired.  Once you had your typewriter, which was probably Made in England, you just needed some ribbons, some paper and some carbon.  If you ran out, you popped along to your own town centre and bought some more.  Forty minutes later you'd be back home and typing again. 



My other half, who is constantly being asked to provide copies of documents he has produced that his clients have misplaced, asked what happened when pages get lost.  Well, they were possibly a little more careful with them before the time of photocopiers and computers.  And obviously there was a lot less paper around back then, before paperless offices existed.  Because of course paperless offices don't actually exist.  It's a nice idea, but we all know it's a fiction.  Back then, there was a letter, perhaps a page or two, with all of the information carefully set out.  And it was posted to you, and you put it on your file.  It didn't get lost in the overflowing filing tray along with the fourteen faxes and seventeen emails that had come in the meantime, containing the information that had been omitted or superceded.  The file was smaller, and your secretary knew where it was because she worked for you and she knew everything about everything.  She didn't have five bosses and hundreds of files for each one because of the vast amount of documentation produced by slapdash computer-happy paper pushers.  (I should add here that I was one of these, by necessity; if you have an office job, you don't have much of a choice, it's the way it is.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying life was better back then.  Just that we have got lost along the way.  Overwhelmed by our inventions and the things we have made it possible to do.  And I do apologise for ranting, but it has been building for days.  It had to come out.  I still can't reply to comments on my own blog, I have to do that from a different computer.  I am still in a "discussion" with an ISP which is making my blood boil.  But I do feel better for sharing.  Thank you! 

I did actually have a lovely calming afternoon today.  Soft spring sunshine, late spring flowers and boys having mini-adventures in the trees.



We went to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which is always fantastic.  There are fewer birds in the summer, but at this time of year there are ducklings, goslings, cygnets and little coots and moorhens everywhere.  These are the young of the swans I photographed building their nest a few weeks ago.


They really were gorgeous.  The two on the right of the picture actually fell asleep for a while, and bobbed gently along together, snoozing away.

On the bank, the first of the yellow flag irises was just breaking from its bud.  Beautiful. 


An afternoon outside with three little boys is the very best medicine for all that ails.  Hope you had a great weekend too.

17 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post, do not apologies for ranting, every word is true. We live in a throw away society where nothing is built to last. My Mom had the same vacuum cleaner for the first 25 years of her marriage, I think I'm on at least my 10th in 20 years it drives me mad. See I'm ranting now. Shall go and look at your pretty flower pics and calm down ... Sarah x

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    1. Thank you for your sentiments Sarah, glad you feel the same.

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  2. So very true and I utterly agree....the only things we have that seem to last are the ones we've inherited from our grandparents!

    Nina x

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  3. A post of two halves so to speak.
    Printers are a real pain when they go on the blink so I sympathise and agree with all you say.
    A visit to Slimbridge is always worthwhile. Lovely photos. Flighty xx

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    1. Slimbridge is indeed always good. We go often and it never fails to please.

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  4. It is such a shame that many things these days seem destined (designed!) to break in a year or two. Such a shortcoming. Such a problem. I feel you on your frustration with the setup of a new machine. I have no patience for that stuff! And I like your comparison to the type writer.

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    1. Thanks Devon, I LOVE my typewriter and I love things written on it. I just have to be careful not to make mistakes - there's no delete key!

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  5. Poor you re the tech problems - always a nightmare. Built-in obsolescence - what a horrid phrase! Slimbridge is great, isn't it. We haven't been since last year, but it's always a pleasure. x

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    1. We love Slimbridge. It's only about twenty minutes away so we go regularly, especially as the oldest boy is a really keen birdwatcher.

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  6. It annoys me sooooo much that things aren't built to last any more. It really does drive me crazy...this 'just get another one' attitude!! Your day out looks lovely though...those swans are adorable!!!

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    1. It drives me absolutely insane as well, I never miss an opportunity to bang on about it. Something must change I think, it cannot go on like this indefinitely.

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  7. You have my sympathy! I feel the same. And I hate how after a year or so mobile phones stop charging properly - it's like they know you'll upgrade to a better one anyway.

    But your afternoon out looks lovely, very calming. x

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    1. So irritating, it really is. Nothing lasts. Nothing is meant to last. I'm a real creature of habit and I hate having to get new stuff, I just want my old stuff to carry on!

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  8. Planned obsolescence, I hate it too! And Gillian's comment, about them knowing you'll upgrade ... they do. It's called value engineering ... if in 12 or 24 months your phone will be both technologically and stylistically obsolete and so you'll choose to replace it, why make it from anything other than the cheaper less durable components? What I find scariest of all is that this is a science and whole books have been written about it!

    Lovely typewriter!

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    1. It is scary, and so very wrong.

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  9. I used to have a typewriter when I was a kid and I absolutely loved doing my creative writing on it (although as a complete perfectionist verging on OCD making mistakes were a pain as I'd have to start the whole page over). I usually buy my electronics second hand or discounted, and I spend a long time doing research and reading reviews before I buy anything to make sure I'm getting quality for my money. (I just had my camera sent in for repair and they are trying to charge me just under £300 to get it fixed. I mean, I could buy exactly the same camera brand new for that money. It's a complete joke). I hope your relationship with your printer improves and that you get many smooth years of use out of it. Technology is a total headache sometimes :/
    http://myfroley.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm the same - lots of review reading and research. £300 is a ridiculous amount for a repair as you say. Hope you get it all sorted soon, it's not nice to be without your camera, although your phone photos are fantastic.

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