Notice to Airmen

Air Ministry DirectionsYour correspondent is pleased to announce a return to blogging duties.  The past few weeks have generated a perfect storm of geek work that has been a lot occupying my attention of late.

A week or two ago, my wife’s somewhat aged HTC TyTn mobile phone was causing her excessive frustration.  I know this because I saw her smash it against a tabletop several times after it dropped a call for the millionth time.  Like any smart husband I subsequently deduced that it was in my best interests to find my wife a replacement smartphone that was less aggravation-inducing.  After doing some research and soliciting advice from owners of various platforms, I could not escape the conclusion that the iPhone was the most polished and reliable device in its class.

Despite significant inner horror at the prospect of joining the Steve Jobs Cult, I picked up a pair at the right price; my own mobile phone was actually an old Motorola RAZR on loan from a friend, and strictly speaking, I ought to get it back to him.  I was pleasantly surprised at home quickly one can get acclimated to the iPhone GUI and gesture conventions, and overall I am happy with the device.  I find it to be a fairly decent netbook replacement for many tasks, blogging excepted.  This I blame on the inelegance of the clunky WordPress app, rather than any inherent failing of the hardware.

The arrival of these new miniature beasts led to another reckoning which I had put off for many years.  My MP3 collection is not especially large—the whole of it can actually fit on the device—but virtually none of it is properly tagged, as it was encoded back in the days when ID3 tags had only just been adopted.  iTunes relies on these ID3 tags to organise and present your music, so the lack of proper tags in your music files presents a great impediment to using the device effectively as an MP3 player.  So I am slowly but surely working my way through the song library, filling in details like the artist, album name, track number, genre, composer, album cover art and so on.  Not to mention the great tedium of re-ripping and replacing those files which are encoded at bitrates which we find tinny and unsatisfactory today.

The iPhone’s greatest problem, though, is that it has a multiplicity of potential functions and roles, and there are thousands of free and inexpensive 1- or 2-buck apps to help it fit each of them.  Some of these (but by no means most of them) are games.  The natural temptation is to try a great many apps and games, resulting in the device becoming a giant vortex of time-wasting.

Then there was the destruction of my primary home workstation, only a couple years old but running a creaky installation of Windows XP.  The system registry died a horrible death, and after struggling with it at length I realised it would be easier to load Windows 7 instead.  The good news is that due to wise network storage policies and rigorous backups, I didn’t lose any user data.  Also on the positive side, Windows 7 has behaved very well; I have not run into any application or game that requires the use of the much-heralded Windows XP mode.  About 90% of the application software was reloaded within 48 hours.  The bad news is that my two MS Flight Sim installations—which had probably a thousand addon aircraft, sceneries and utilities—will take a couple of weeks to reinstall.

Minor chores, in the grand scheme of things, but they are getting sorted out slowly but surely.

Category: Miscellania
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