The Information Age

Ever wondered why it’s called the information age?

Well it’s because we’re now generating such vast quantities of electronic data every day. Eric Schmidt is the CEO of Google – a company that knows a thing or two about data. Speaking earlier this month, he stated:

There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, … but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing…

For non-techies, 5 exabytes (5EB) probably means as much as “one-point-twenty-one-gigawatts” did in Back To The Future, but take it from me that’s a lot. In PC World terms, 5 exabytes is 5,000,000,000 gigabytes. Average computers have hard disks around 500 gigabytes in size. And now we’re generating that every day.

That’s why it’s called the information age.

iPod? iCan’t

Nope – just tried again and I can’t justify buying an iPod. Let it be known, iPod Touch, that I was seriously looking in your direction, but still couldn’t convince myself that you were worth a quarter of a really good lens for my camera.

For all they’re shiny, trendy and (according to the media) essential to ensure you have any friends at all, I just can’t see any point in me buying one. To me, the whole iPod ethos appears to be based around how much freedom the device gives you when you’re “on the move”. It therefore seems that my inability to purchase is essentially based on the following fact: if I am moving from one location to another, then 99.9% of the time, I’m driving. No public transport, no walking: just as sole captain of HMS Ian’s Honda.

My car is not iPod compatible, but has a sublime 8-speaker sound system with 6 CD auto-changer. All can be controlled without my fingertips leaving the steering wheel. So I don’t see any point in using one in the car.

When not driving, I live the majority of my life at home or work. At work, the scope for personal entertainment is minimal. I occasionally listen to music from my laptop, but that’s not too often. Anyway, I’m not buying an iPod just so I can listen to the occasional tune while working.

At home I have no requirement for hand-held entertainment. Music? Just pop the stereo on, which can stream any one of the tracks in the 16GB music collection instantly. Or go upstairs and work on the computer and do the same.

More expensive iPods allow you to watch movies. Whooop-a-dee-doo! Let’s peer at a tiny, highly-reflective screen for two hours while getting wrist cramp holding it upright for that long. If you remembered to make sure the battery was fully-charged. No thanks. Should the time arise when I can watch a full-length movie at home (and I believe the last time that happened was 2007), then I’ll do it lying on the sofa with a decent screen, sound, wine, and crisps.

Games? No thanks. I’ve got a GameCube sitting downstairs ready to go and I rarely get on that.

“Surfing the Internet”? Hmmm… With such a silly little screen, I’m thinking it’s going to be less like surfing and more like paddling while lying on a lolly stick. But! they all cry. You can zoom the screen just by swatting your fingers like this! And? Why should you have to? Besides, unless you go for the iPhone (or the monumentally expensive iPad), you can’t surf while out and about anyway.

And that’s another thing. What exactly do people use the Internet for when they’re out and about? Note that neither looking at a picture of your m8 and commenting “OMG!!!! LOL!!!!” on some social networking site, nor cheating with Wikipedia in a pub quiz, counts as real usage. The only real demo of mobile internet I’ve seen and thought “that’s clever” is of maps to get you from here to a given location. And possibly buying tickets online just before you arrive somewhere. Based on recent mobile Internet usage figures, there must be a hell of a lot of lost, ill-prepared people out there.

An iPod would replace my 2003-vintage HP iPaq 5550, which is now starting to show its age in terms of connectivity and compatibility. But at least it had a to-do list application available out of the box.

Making an Impression

It’s late and I can’t sleep.

Switched the telly on, to find there’s sod-all to watch. BBC 1 are currently broadcasting The National Lottery Friday Night Draws. Hosted by Ronni Ancona, it’s a pre-recorded 10 minute slot which essentially reads out the results of three lottery draws. None of these draws have more than seven balls pulled out of the magical spinning machine. That means they need to fill some time to pretend it’s worth a show in it’s own right and not just a voice over between real programmes. Fortunately the guest presenter is the aforementioned impressionist, so naturally, she needs to do an impression to provide some light entertainment.

But why?

Why do we need to suffer a badly-contrived pun joke, told in the style of Lorraine Kelly just for the sake of some filler to a show which shouldn’t exist in the first place? It isn’t a natural conclusion that if the presenter is an impressionist, then we should be dealt some crap which didn’t make it into their own sketch show.

I find this rings true for impressionists in general who appear on TV outside of their own take-it-or-leave-it type of entertainment. Take Rory Bremner for example. Every interview I’ve ever watched or listened to has consisted of a collection of tall stories manipulated to fit around his repertoire. Plus the one about John Major. Nothing insightful about the man himself, just the live version of a demo tape (and that includes a couple of interviews with Sir Michael of the Parkinson). Even non-chat shows, such as Have I Got News For You usually ends up with one or two impressionists per series and it’s the same story.

Why do they do it? No other profession appears to come on TV and be mandated to show their day job. I can’t imagine Lewis Hamilton sitting alongside Parky in his “works vehicle”, blipping the throttle every now and again. Give it a rest: just make an impression; don’t do one.

Weighty Issues

There’s an election on, in case you hadn’t noticed. Politicians are fighting for their seats like 5-year-olds in a game of musical chairs. Except you believe the children, and they’re less boring to watch.

The real weighty issue, however, is not which way the vote will go in May, but more the heart-warming case of “Jane” who has rediscovered life now she’s a bit thinner thanks to Slimming World.

We got a flyer through our door yesterday with her wonderful story, advertising the fact that you too can lose some weight if you join this club. What first drew me in was the headline on the front of the leaflet:

because of Slimming World, life’s never been so good!

This is above a picture of a happy mother throwing her toddler in the air. Really? Wedding day? Birth of first child? Neither of these rank above losing a bit weight? Anyway, inside, the marketing continues with a small caption above her picture:

Jane Milner, 34, from Halifax, lost 2st 9lbs with Slimming World after the birth of baby Caitlin.

Now there’s two things wrong with that snippet. Firstly, why are they always from bloody Halifax? Every competition winner or true-life story that gets bandied about always contains somebody hailing from Halifax. What is it about that town? Looking at this woman I find it hard to picture her pottering around a village in West Yorkshire and calling everyone “duck”. Are you really from there or is that a fib because it sounds more appealing to the fat commoners than your real home in Henley-on-Thames?

Secondly, judging by the baby in the photo, I think she lost 37lbs because she gave birth to baby Caitlin, not after. The poor thing has obviously inherited the chunky gene from her mother. I’m saying Caitlin is a “her” though, only because I thought that was a girl’s name. The picture, however, shows a very boyish little thing with pudding-basin haircut and all dressed in blue, so I’m not sure.

As you’d expect, they’ve also got the obligatory “before” and “after” photos of this slim-line woman. Being honest, I prefer her before the weight loss. She wasn’t one of these 30st bag of spuds with a waist measured in yards – actually quite pretty and not exactly looking like she needed to lose weight in the first place. The “after” picture is obviously well done on a professional photo-shoot, where everything is arranged to be just perfect. Working upwards, the shoes have high heels and are covered completely by the mega-long boot-cut jeans to accentuate the legs. She’s turned towards the camera at enough of an angle to show she’s still got a bum, but now it’s nice and trim (I should really point out that even my arse looks trim from the front). She’s got her back arched to continue the eye-line and is holding the child across her front to cover any residual tummy that even a liquid-only diet can’t shift.

Not bad so far, but then things go really wrong. I don’t know whether it’s make-up or what, but it looks like she’s had a face-lift that would make even Anne Robinson think “ooh – that’s a bit much”. Plus, because of the contorted angle, it looks like she’s got some wrinkles round her neck that makes me think that “aged 34” is a reversal of the digits.

As with all of these things, if you’re paying £14.95 a week (according to the small print on the back) you want advice that’s more than simply “more exercise, fewer Mars Bars”. Helpfully, they’re on-hand with the pseudo-science as demonstrated in the bigger quote from happy Jane:

“I love Food Optimising, because I can eat …”

Food Optimising? Note the preservation of the Capital Letters to show how Important and Clever this science is. There’s a quick list of her favourite daily menu, just to show the world she isn’t rationed to one rabbit-leaf per meal. I find breakfast particularly hard to swallow, both physically and metaphorically:

Breakfast is a bacon and egg sandwich and a big bowl of fruit salad. Now look – our views on what is classed as a bacon and egg sandwich are obviously polar opposites. The picture I’ve got in my head is by no means anywhere near close to staying underneath the guideline amounts of fat intake. For the week.

All this thinking about food has made me hungry. Now where’s that gateaux?

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