Taking Stock - September 17, 2012

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THE march of technology is something I’ve always resisted.

And for good reason – like the chaps who set our Promenade sparkling every autumn with nothing more than strings of lights and plenty of imagination, I’ve always believed things should be as simple as possible.

And while, yes, I’ll agree broadband and the suchlike have changed our world beyond recognition, I’ve always tried to keep myself well behind the curve.

But, wouldn’t you know, I’m finally a convert thanks to my latest acquisition – a smartphone.

Like my dad (who thinks comb-overs are a fashion must and will only wear one very specific and simple model of digital watch) I’ve always believed a phone should be, well, just a phone.

I will now admit I was completely wrong – but only after I’ve checked my e-mail, looked up the latest price of hotel rooms in Barcelona and summed up my thoughts in 140 characters or fewer on Twitter. My new indispensible friend can tell me where I am, how to get to where I want to be and where I can buy a sausage roll on the way.

Of course it’s not clairvoyant enough to be able to predict when the next bus will turn up - that would be asking too much – but I can at least catch up on the headlines while I wait, so long as I accept the fact my new pride and joy will most probably be stolen before the next service arrives.

All these essential new ‘apps’ have got me thinking about the gadgets I’ve had in the past, most of which have been entirely useless.

But which could possibly have been the most useless of all? The free pager my bank gave me when I started university must rank pretty high on the list, alongside the key finder which I conveniently lost.

But the prize, without doubt must go to the scientific calculator which I, along with every other high school student, was forced to own.

Maths has never really been my strong point. I still have to count with my fingers and things could get tricky if, at any point this season, Fleetwood Town score more than six.

So, on the surface, calculators are a good thing – I still use one every month, even if it is just one of the gadgets on my phone.

What I never understood was the need for all the buttons across the top.

The pie function, I’m fairly certain had something to do with circles. What the other bizarre symbols and strange abbreviations were for, I most certainly could not say but I suspect witchcraft may have been involved.

To be honest, all I was interested in, along with the rest of teenage humanity, was making a number of vaguely smutty words if I turned the screen upside down.

I guess that’s why I’m so taken with today’s technology not only does it work but it actually does something useful.

Now there’s a turn up for the gadget books.