The time has come when I ought really to start promoting this blog seriously. And that means inviting people to become my friends.
Maybe its a generation thing but I havesomething of a resistance to inviting people to be my friend. “How Billy-No-Mates is that?” I think to myself. I am the same with Microsoft’s systemic anal-retentiveness; ‘my computer’, ‘my documents’, ‘my music’, ‘my pictures’ etc. “Its a bloody PERSONAL computer,” I want to shout, “whose stuff would it be for God’s sake?”
You only have to look at Bill Gates to know that he would have beenBilly – No – Mates at school, the kind of kid who would write on each text book’s fly leaf “This book belongs to W.F. Gates, form 3b. Anybody removing this book from the desk of said W.F.Gates will suffer death by being force fed lumpy custard.” You know the type, the one who always shaved the paint off the top inch of his pencil so he could write The BFG, hys pencille or something. And when he grew up, his only friend was a computer.
Now I used to work with proper computers. By that I mean computers that although they were big as a small house and had less memory than a goldfish with Alzheimer’s disease they did not require ninety percent of their processing power to run themselves. (ho yus, back in my day we ‘ad propah computers, driven by steam they wuz and with lots of shiny brass fittings what had to be kept polished or the FAT controller would have your guts for garters. None of your beige plastic then, we took pride in our computers. And we respected other department’s computers too, you could leave the front door of your computer open all day in them days and nobody would steal your password or plant a virus.)
Computer people had lives then. We finished work -flexible hours of course, genius does not work nine to five – went home and did real things like home improvements, car maintenance, poetry performances (I was weird OK.) We did not get twitchy because we were away from the computer.
All that changed with the advent of the IBM PC architecture.
With proper computers only a logical but pragmatic minset could understand them. Because the operating system on an IBM PC was designed by geeks only geeks understood it. Well, only geeks wanted to understand it, it was a power trip for them.
The advent of the 486, the first IBM PC that was remotely useful for anything meant the Biblical prophecy “the geeks shall inherit the earth” came true. The old guard realised we had witnessed the end of civilisation as we knew it and went off to be Management Consultants. There was a big demand for consultants, geeks could do anything with personal computers except what they were supposed to be doing.
“Look!” geeky-boy would say proudly, “when the user hits control/f a row of dancing mice pop up.”
“Yes, but what happens to the effing payroll calculations?” the consultant would ask through clenched teeth.
Things became progressively worse through the advent of the net, the launch of Win 95, the launch of Win95-in-full-working-order-so-it-is-now-called Win98, the roll out of broadband to the domestic user.
In 1992 I used to log on to the net with a 4800bps modem and get very uncomplicated text pages of useful stuff in a matter of seconds. Now I log on with a midband connection (that BT rather cheekily call Broadband) to a server that is not running fast enough to push a 56kbps modem to its limit and I wait for several minutes while a load of irritating and frankly bloody pointless Flash graphics download. And when the full page has arrived, because Flash is not a suitable tool for building text pages, the characters are so tiny that that they could not be read from twelve inches away through powerful binoculars.
My computer tries to engage me by convincing me that this is MY world, where I can contact MY friends, and share with them MY documents, MY music and MY pictures, direct them to MY favourite websites via MY links.
MY arse! I’m off to the pub.
I think blog sites have become so popular because they bypass the webbie bullshit and get back to delivering readable material in a simple presentation.
Billy-No-Mates is a character in VIZ comic. For the benefit of American readers, VIZ is strictly for adults.