Friday, August 21, 2009

Objects of desire

Unless you live in cave, you are probably at least vaguely aware that speculation is rife that Apple is about to release, or at least announce, some sort of tablet device. Such a device has been rumoured for many years, but this time the rumours appear to have more substance. The wonderful folks at MacLife have gone so far as to do a detailed workup, with quite drool-worth graphics, of what such a device might look like, and what functions it might offer.

Now let me be quite open about this: I don't care if they call it an iTablet, an iPad (seems unlikely, too much like iPod) or an iBiscuit (iLibris, anyone?). I want it. But only if it will do the following:

Allow me to write, squiggle, doodle and otherwise draw upon the screen, and save my scratchings in some convenient format (JPG will do just fine). As someone who constantly jots things down, my life is absolutely littered with note pads of various descriptions: I can see 4 from where I sit, without turning around to check the shelves behind me. My chances of finding the one that contains the notes I need approach zero. Every conference or vendor event seems to give me another block of dead tree slices to write upon, and create notes that I can't find: there must be a better way.

Read newspapers, specifically the Sydney Morning Herald and the Weekend Australian. I do read newspapers online now, but I like to read a newspaper while eating my breakfast. I eat my breakfast in the family room (large room at the south end of the house, with no computers). Eating breakfast in my study is impractical because a). there isn't space on my desk to put down a bowl of muesli; and b). my white cat Percy expects to be able to sit on my lap while I'm in my study, but he knows that he can’t sit on me while I'm sitting at the table in the family room. It's about the only thing that the little idiot has ever managed to learn, and I'd hate to waste it.

Having access to newspapers on a tablet style device would have numerous advantages, for me and for the environment. Right now, when a newspaper arrives in my house, half of it immediately gets tossed into the recycling basket: I do not read the sports section or the real estate section, and I rarely read the enclosed advertising material (Dell, please note: sending me a flyer every day will not make me any more likely to purchase your products).

This is always assuming that my newsagent manages to deliver the paper: my local newsagent is a half wit, and I have the agency on speed dial, because they screw up so often. Any technology that would spare me having to deal with this particular business would be welcomed with open arms.

Then, when I've finished with the paper and my husband has done the suduko, the whole thing gets tossed into the recycling. Kilos of used newprint leave this house every week, much of it unread. We subscribe to the Sydney Morning Herald, so on Sundays the Sun Herald is delivered to us. The SMH is a OK as a newspaper, but the Sun Herald is the type of rag that you wouldn't used to line a hamster cage, for fear of upsetting the hamster. Shoddy journalism, verging on gutter press, it usually goes straight to recycling.

All this could be stopped, which would reduce the burden on the local council's recycling activities, and keep my house tidier.

If the new device would also allow me to read ebooks, and watch the occasional DVD, so much the better. But for me, note taking and newspapers are the big, must have features.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Of books and truffles

My husband Steve and I have a tendency to plan our holidays around food and what might be broadly defined as "cultural pursuits". We've just come back from a trip to Western Australia, which was planned around the Mundaring Truffle Festival (think underground fungus, not chocolate here). The Truffle Gala Dinner at the Loose Box Restaurant was sensational, and definitely something I would attend again, given a chance. The festival itself was a lot of fun, and I'm glad we went early, because a huge number of people turned out for it. And as usual, we ordered wine (which will probably get delivered to my office next week), and as usual we came back with half a suitcase full of books. Neither of us can resist a bookshop.

Next month we are going to Melbourne for a few days, to see the A Day in Pompeii exhibition at the Melbourne Museum and the Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. These two exhibitions are conveniently running in the same city at the same time, and we can combine seeing them with celebrating our twenty third wedding anniversary, which we shall do with dinner at a good restaurant. Steve wants to go to Grossi Florentino, so I've asked Amex to see if they can get us a table; if I didn't have American Express to do the organizing, I don't think we would get holidays.

We have more or less unpacked from the last trip, and the coffee table in the lounge is covered in new books, again. I've got more than 3200 titles loaded into Library Thing - all the new ones we just bought, and I've finished the doing the books in my study. I still have a very long way to go in other rooms, but I've made some interesting discoveries, and some observations. I have some wonderful books, many of which I intended to read long ago; and I've almost stopped reading for pleasure in the last few years: all I seem to read is technical manuals and journals.

So this is going to stop. I'm going to make time to read the books I want to read, and the technical manuals can wait. I joke about buying books to read when I retire, but given the sheer number of volumes in the house, I think I'd better make a start.


Bookmark and Share