Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Monday, 13 October 2014

According to that well-known source of infallible guidance, the internet*, it's pretty hard to tell I'm not forty years younger than it says in my passport.

If only the internet could persuade my knees and hips of the fact.....

*You can take the test here:

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Stroll through Covent Garden market and past the stall advertising magic tricks, and you might spot a potential magic trick out on the square beyond.

The portico seems to have been eaten through, leaving the upper part floating in the air.

But on closer inspection, it's not part of the main building, but a separate and (as it turns out) temporary installation. I rather think the picture on the right caught the tail-end end of a TV interview with the artist.

It seems to be a big hit with the passers-by; and for those wondering how they did it, the unobstrusive market cart at one end might suggest a solution:

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Shiny, shiny

There's a particular sort of magical thinking that used to catch me in posh stationery shops: somehow that pen, that notebook, and those smart file folders would make my handwriting perfect, my thoughts positively lapidary and so tidily organised. Fat chance, of course, but something similar was hovering around while I was spending months gazing at seemingly endless variations of shiny new equipment,  my desktop being at least ten years old (in computer years, somewhere near village idiot age, I imagine) and Microsoft having decided to let the operating system decline into decrepitude without support (as I imagine may yet come to us all).

So finally I plumped for a laptop that can do everything the desktop does, only faster and with a much sharper screen display, and a convertible thingy that can replace my travelling netbook and be just a tablet as well. With touchscreens on both of them, the tappy-swipey generation gained yet another member.

It took a couple of weeks for the magical thinking to subside, and work out a routine for doing the same jobs as before, but much more quickly and smoothly (already, scanning my old photos has progressed to the 1990s, whoop-de-doo). For all the complaints people have made about Windows 8.1, I do find the extra options offered by the touchscreen rather useful - it makes scrolling through longer pages much more controllable than using the trackpad, for me anyway.

But superstition, not to mention experience, tells me that the more "intuitive" and "helpful" computers get, the more potential for trouble there is.  I wouldn't be surprised if those kindly people at AmaGoogleFacePal come out with some combination of eye-tracking and brainwave-measuring technology to place an order and charge your credit card for whatever seems to attract your attention on a web-page (Apple will have their own version, no doubt called iWant), without your having to twitch an eyelid. And by then we'll have become so inert we'll no longer have the physical capacity to send back all the things they get wrong.