Thursday, 4 February 2010

This episode is brought to you by the letter W

That's W as in wifi, without which my life this week would have fallen apart.
I have been a Luddite all my life, basically suspicious of anything with a plug. I don't like gadgets, my husband has to load my ipod for me, and I prefer paper to screen. I kind of regret the passing of the quill.
But now, finally, I get it. The point of technology is to liberate parents (and anyone else who wants liberating) from having to be in the office: to let you pretend to be at work when you're at home/on the move, and to flip between home and work mode wherever. Like many women, I've wasted so much time being intimidated by something that was actually on my side.
I don't know who invented wifi, or how it works (electrickery in the air?). But for itinerant freelance tramps like me with no office, the ability to flip open a laptop in St Pancras eurostar terminal and via free public wifi check your email, file an article to a magazine and check some facts before going off to another interview, literally makes it all possible.
Wifi at home, meanwhile, means I can surreptitiously check my emails in the kitchen without the boy really knowing what I'm doing - rather than going to the proper computer in what is laughably known as the study (cum spare bedroom/dumping ground for everything not yet unpacked from the move/home to heaps of paperwork and mouldy coffee mugs abandoned by my husband).
I realise the rest of the world already knows this. So please drag me into the 21st century. What techy stuff makes life bearable? What tricks am I missing?
Oh and on technical matters - some have complained that the light-text-on-dark-background thing this blog had going on is hard to read. Hence the revamp. I'm not sure which I like better: let me know what you think, and democracy shall prevail.....

23 comments:

  1. You're probably already onto this one, but "cloud computing" is the thing that makes me want to fall to the ground and weep for joy. Saving all my files online means that, if for some reason my own computer isn't available to me, I can still access all my work stuff. I use Google Docs because I'm a simpleton and it's an easily-accessible tab from my Gmail account, but there are a ton of others out there. It's essentially Google's versions of Word, Excel, etc, but held remotely (and easy to pull down into the MS versions to email to others). If you're co-working on projects (possibly less useful for you?), you can give other people access to them, too, without having to endlessly email each other various iterations of a document.

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  2. on the revamp: really liked it how it was before. Thought whitewash team had been in when I came on site to be greeted by inverse version. Just my opinion, but much prefer the light-on-dark.

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  3. TweetDeck. For the social media stuff. If you're a tweeter/ facebooker/ etc. type. Puts it all on one, real-time updating page.

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  4. I prefer the dark on light - easier to read! I'm so far behind in the technology stakes I haven't even got an IPod. But I married a techie and that has been a good thing for we too have wifi and I love it. Current favourite gadget, a radio that works off wifi so we can listen to any radio station that works on the internet. So Hello Today Programme even though we live in Bosnia. Wonderful.

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  5. mine is light on dark.... i'd read before that people don't like it, but i really do like the black background. sorry brit in bosnia! you're good to persevere.

    my new thing is sneakily scanning the web - and blogs - on my iphone while sitting in my 20mo room for HOURS while he falls asleep. or not!

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  6. Share your techno -fear I hate it when people ask you who supplies your electricity. If you push me I `d say it just lived in the wall but you feel you ought to know for sure

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  7. Accessibility guidelines are quite clear that dark on light is preferred. Text on a dark background apparently gets increasingly hard to read as people get older. That doesn't have to mean black text on white, but a good contrast.

    One step up from wifi is to get mobile broadband so that you can talk to the internet more-or-less anywhere that you get a mobile phone signal. That is useful on the train, and also if you need a quick bit of internet access at someone else's house or at playgroup or somewhere random (including a hotel with expensive internet charges). I took part in an international conference call where the rest of us didn't realise that one person was sitting in a motorway services car park using one.

    I love my Android phone (like an iPhone but more capable) that also plugs in to give me mobile broadband for my laptop, or you can go to any mobile operator for a dongle to plug into your laptop, or even just a SIM if your laptop will take one. You can get pay-as-you-go deals or contracts.

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  8. I'm totally technologically incompetent too, so can't come up with any hints or tips I'm afraid (although I am loving my new iPhone - like Babies who Brunch I find it very handy while "staying here for a little while" while L goes to sleep...

    Just came over actually to thank you again for the Red article. Haven't had any direct evidence of new readers because of it (in the sense that no-one's mentioned it), but I suspect I must have done as have definitely increased my readership over the last month.

    Many thanks again.

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  9. blimey you've got me there, you know more than me and my kids know more than both of us.

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  10. I have a dislike of SatNav and the like, much preferring a simple map. But I do have Google Maps installed on my mobile - it uses the phone signal to work out where you are (it can sometimes be off by a hundred yards, but is usually accurate enough to work out where I am). It has saved me quite a bit of time when I'm in a strange town and need to find a specific street.

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  11. An iPhone without a doubt has made breastfeeding and sitting in the car or outside the house with a pram whilst littl'un finishes a nap less frustrating for someone who feels they ought always to be *doing* something. The apps like google maps means finding meetings without having to be "talked in" by the receptionist and the email account means that I can blitz my inbox whilst smiling through the boring irrelevant bits of meetings, etc. Only gadget to change my life.

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  12. Love the new look - very chic !

    I adore wifi (and my iphone) - I can keep in touch with my life whilst stuck breastfeeding or whatever !

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  13. I prefer the dark-on-light personally. And just to echo those who already posted, the iPhone is fabulous. I too breastfeed my baby and with the iPhone I can at least clean out my inbox while the little one eats... and eats... and eats.

    http://ashleyenfrance.wordpress.com/

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  14. You might want to try Dropbox, very handy for syncing files on any computer you use.

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  15. Hello. I have to admit that I - read and enjoy - your blog on the baby nightshift on my iTouch. Two things from this: iPhones and iTouches have been a fantastic development between having my first child five years ago and now this one. I completely concur with other comments that they make checking emails and news wonderfully easy - and surreptitious. They're also a brilliant and indestructable distraction tool for children when you've downloaded apps such as Bubbles, or the Koi pond.

    The other point about reading your blog on one of these is that, although I like the look of the previous design, this black on white is a he'll of a lot more accessible.

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  16. The downside of them is that they try to think for you - hence "he'll" instead of the "hell" I tried to type.

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  17. 以簡單的行為愉悅他人的心靈,勝過千人低頭禱告........................................

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  18. Boring, boring me, but my one trick to make techy life bearable is always - take backups.

    Something will go wrong at some point. Backups are then your friend: you get to restore your data whilst feeling smug about having done a backup rather than bashing head against wall shouting, "Why didn't I backup anything more recent than my 1993 shopping list? I don't need to know I needed more baked beans in 1993."

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  19. A Blackberry. One of the greatest things to ever happen to me.

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  20. As someone who enjoys a good story, you may be interested in the people who invented wifi. They were at CSIRO, Australia's public science agency. They recently won a David vs Goliath(s) battle over the wifi patent. See, for example, this article from The Australian newspaper.

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  21. thanks for all the techy tips, keep them coming! and for wifi link joanium, i never knew....
    on the design side, looks like dark-on-light is favourite, and as myopic old bat myself i am swayed by readability argument. especially after liz pointed out half of you are probably reading it by squinting at a phone in the dark while breastfeeding (oh god, i remember the days...)

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  22. Skype. Brilliant. Video chats with people far and wide for free.

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