Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Amazon’s square peg, round hole

This post is hardly cutting edge; a search shows people asking the same question as my mother, only three months ago. Not quite the same, my Mum’s phone call said she couldn’t find the option to switch off the radio on her Kindle; it wasn’t until after we’d hung up, having agreed to her stopping by after church because I had no idea, that I realised she meant wireless. And indeed this wasn’t a case of her forgetting how, or having lost the hand-written instructions she makes for every device, be it DVD player, iPod or this, her latest device. The wireless on/off option had disappeared. It wasn’t on the main menu, nor had it moved to the settings sub-menu.

Only of course it had. If I’d looked more closely at the blurb under ‘Airplane Mode’, which I’d briefly registered as not having seen before, or if I’d even given some thought as to what ‘Airplane Mode’ might be, I’d have realised this was the wireless option, relocated and renamed and with the on/off options therefore reversed. Presumably done with the noble intention of consistency with other products, the iPhone for example, that’s still a crap user experience.

An iPhone has several functions transmitting a signal and ironically, depending on the aircraft operator, since ‘Airplane Mode’ isn’t standard, it allows you to re-enable the Wi-Fi independently. So if Amazon is determined in its effort to be consistent, to a term that isn’t, it needs a specific option for switching the Wi-Fi on/off, in addition to its ‘Airplane Mode’ - which on my mother’s Kindle can only switch the Wi-Fi off/on. Or perhaps Amazon should concentrate on applying patterns where they fit.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Understood by all and with value to none

The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics was what I’d feared of the opening ceremony. An antithesis of that glorious spectacle it was a mess of ideas, a shambles, a ‘history of British music’ degraded to a party or some such excuse. Early on we were treated to an extended montage of athletes crying, and with subtlety suitably bludgeoned it was on with the show.

Fashion supermodels in the Olympic closing ceremony
And what a show; the stage imaginatively made up in the style of the union flag, the athletes were kettled within and encircled by several billboard trucks driven to the tune of David Bowie’s Fashion. From each truck emerged the fashion supermodel pictured who then, to prove his or her versatility, walked to the centre of the stage and posed fashionably. Some marvelled, some wondered. It was this sense of the unknown, this crazy sense of danger that kept me watching; here, some supermodels standing upright; there, a middle-aged pop group aboard a flatbed, none of whom wore seatbelts, one of whom, the saxophone player, dangled from a wire; it was madness.

Or was the highlight Liam Gallagher and his new band, whose ‘new arrangement’ of an old Oasis ‘classic’ amounted to singing out of tune? Not a problem with recorded slots, of which there were several including the aforementioned Bowie, and of course John Lennon whose challenging contribution - “Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do” - caused the more enlightened athletes to vanish in a puff of logic.

Not to be outdone, George Michael - who was able to attend - in a paean to the great days of Top of The Pops, mimed to a recording of his new song. It’s an outrage, suggested various commentators afterwards, to use the occasion to plug your latest single, and who presumably thought the Spice Girls and The Who had appeared for philanthropic reasons. There were lights, there were fireworks, an emotional time was had by all. I’d liked Michael’s performance, preferable anyway to the adoration inexplicably given to five wannabe pop stars screeching “spice up your life”, which was my daughter’s favourite moment; my daughter is ten.

Saturday, 11 August 2012


Mo Farah. Olympic 10,000m champion. Olympic 5,000m Champion.
The party is almost over and as befits two weeks of almost non-stop entertainment, I am due an almighty hangover. I’ve enjoyed the Olympics so much that a verbing medal no longer perturbs; though a podium probably would; small steps and all that. So good, I couldn’t manage the upset required at Aiden Burley’s asinine comments on multiculturalism during the opening ceremony, nor the daft notion that ‘super Saturday’ - a day on which Team GB won six gold medals - somehow proved the Conservative MP wrong. He was wrong, but the ‘proof’ was equally silly.

So many sports, some of which I was only barely aware, yet sensible to this: whilst it has been fun, I am no more motivated to get on my bike, take up running, dive back into the pool or punch or kick someone for sport; at least, no more inclined than I was before all this started. Many I know, will be; some of whom may medal in the future. You see, I am trying.