Adventures with a dumbphone, Part Five

All my earlier wibbling about text input reminded me of a cool tool I used a few years ago: it’s called ‘Dasher‘ (free download — for Windows). I haven’t visited the Dasher Project’s website for a long time. Popped over there to find that it was last updated in March 2016. Being a little surprised by this (did I mention it was a cool tool?) I did a little digging. The brains behind the project belonged to David J.C. MacKay FRS. Sadly, it turns out he passed away in April 2016; I guess that explains why the project now appears to be in the doldrums. No wonder I’m unable to find a Dasher app for my ‘phone :(

Sinclair Cambridge calculator

By Palmiped – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It was *cough* years ago that I used to put the majority of my pocket money into a building society account. One day, intrigued by the promise of a device called the ‘Sinclair Cambridge‘ pocket calculator, I withdrew a big chunk of my savings to buy one, and marvelled at how I could press buttons to add, subtract, divide and multiply. The very next month (I kid you not) a newer version was launched: the ‘Sinclair Cambridge Scientific’. It could calculate square roots and trigonometric functions. To add insult to injury, I bought mine for a fiver less than its predecessor had cost me (and that put paid to the balance of my hard-won building society savings).

This taught me a valuable lesson:
Early Adopters Get Kicked In The Teeth.

‘There’s no such thing as coincidence’ is something I hear a lot. I don’t believe a word of it myself, but still I find it passing strange that today I somehow stumbled onto an article entitled ‘Fast Charge: It’s over for the smartphone – we just don’t know it yet‘! So here’s me, just beginning to experiment with technology that’s now in use by about half the population of the planet, and apparently I’ve missed the boat. Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

Admittedly, the author of this article, one Chris Smith, can readily be accused of employing an attention-grabbing headline that disguises the real thrust of his argument. He says:

After a decade of relentless growth and utter dominance, the not-so-humble handset has peaked, and the entire experience is as good as it ever needs to be. The pinnacle has been reached, be it in the context of power, speed, design, battery, cameras, display or apps. I’m not saying manufacturers shouldn’t chase perfection, but the wishlist has been exhausted.

Now, this is something with which I can sympathise. Once you’ve designed and built a screwdriver, it would be a mistake to try to engineer it to behave like a hammer as well. This may be bad news for those who manufacture screwdriver-wannabe-hammers, but I take it as good news for the rest of us. And especially for me, since (assuming that Mr Smith is correct) I’ve begun to adopt the technology at the peak of its development. Valuable teenage lesson learnt and profited from — yay, me! Half the population of the planet have been beta testers for this technology, and now I’m benefitting from all that hard work. Oi! Stop throwing those rotten tomatoes at me!

I’m still struggling with it, though. There’s a ‘Messages’ app that’s been there from the beginning. (Is it for SMS ‘txt’ messages? I dunno.) I open it and it says “2 unread messages”. Can I figure out how to read these? Hear that hollow echo. On a PC I’d be looking for a ‘help’ option in the menu by now, but the apps in these new ‘phones seem to be designed with the assumption that if one can’t figure out how to use something and needs help, one must be something less than human :(

About peNdantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
This entry was posted in ... wait, what?, Communication, Computers and Internet, History, memetics, Strategy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Adventures with a dumbphone, Part Five

  1. Pingback: Adventures with a dumbphone: Morse Mania | Wibble

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