Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Toy and Story

Had a day away from the office yesterday.

I think I got a lot out of it too, as I've learned enough now to look in the right places to pick up design traits and I've gained enough experience to say whether those traits are good or bad. I've been used to a project designing in the technological age, this was something with bits conceived in the 1950s.

Old tech can be the best tech. What you really want from machines and devices is for them to work. You want them to be fit for purpose and to perform that purpose every time without error. Talking cars, my current car is phenomenally complex compared to my first. Which is the more reliable ? My current car by a long way. The systems built into a modern car make it work every time and consistently. My Fiesta had a carburettor at the heart of its engine which, while it was too simple to go wrong, depended on fine settings which would drift over time. It works - but not perfectly.

Ok, that's "bad" old tech. "Bad" new tech is things like my last phone which starts with a simple idea (be a phone) and adds stuff to that, losing reliability along the way. Whereas the old car would always run (given a bit of coaching for conditions sometimes!), the Android phone was unreliable. I gave up on it because it was causing me to miss phone calls.

And that's another lesson from yesterday. Yes, some of it may belong in a museum but it works, it's reliable and in its own way it is perfect for the purpose whereas the modern tech of my last project can just get in the way because it throws in so many Good Ideas that it doesn't have the capacity to perform its primary purpose.

(Don't get me wrong - the last project produced awesome kit but some of it could have been ... Better)

I've digressed there more than I wanted to ...

I can't say much about what I was up to yesterday but I can tease by saying it involved danger, wonder, curiosity, awe, stimulation, learning and all sorts of other stuff. We had great hosts who took us into their world for a day and allowed us to see things not very many people do. But I can't tell you here what those were :-).

Toy ?

Been enjoying the new iPhone more :-) The Android phone was crippled for battery life and I struggled to add content to it like music. iTunes is a fantastic interface for getting content on to a device. Apps were ok through the Android store but the tiny screen size worked against it.

The iPhone isn't perfect but so far, it's a revelation compared to that crude early model Android phone. (I'm sure they've improved since mine but I had one that was locked into fairly early, bad, software). I left my iPod Nano at home yesterday but was still able to listen to a few albums on the coach. I had a book with me but I've missed out on so much sleep lately that I just wanted to close eyes & listen.

You'll hear all sorts of things from Apple evangelists about how iPhones are great. The functionality is incredible and the user interface is decent ... but there are flaws. Apple's UI has always been legendary but they're also developing very poor software quality. And quality is king.

Issues ?
iTunes 11 losing functionality - glad I could go back to an earlier version. Apple will force you to upgrade software in order to keep connectivity. I was on iTunes 10.5 before changing, which was too old, iTunes 10.7 or later was needed.
Lack of a "be quiet" button - maybe I've not found it yet but it is a vital feature to be able to go into a meeting and quickly and quietly put the phone to silent or vibrate only. I've not found that yet.
Reliability - the phone seems fine but sync is an issue. I got home yesterday and my laptop refused to see the phone and wouldn't sync anything to it. Dunno the cause but it needed a factory restore of the phone to sort it out.

That factory restore is a Good & Bad. I wouldn't expect to use that feature but the backup system made it seamless. I didn't have to do anything to the phone to get settings back. Being able to use the phone for the day with no battery life issues is a Good Thing and I've forgotten what that was like - the Android phone was very heavy on its battery.

Yep - I have a few niggles.

But that isn't going to stop me heading back to the shop on Friday (maybe - time permitting!), telling them that I'm happy with it. I feel some accessorising coming on ... :-)

PS And a bit of hunting for more clothes. I'm shivering ! And I'm wearing multiple layers in a house that should be warm ...

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