Monday, 18 April 2011

Strange but true - I have accidentally jumped on the iPad bandwagon: I got one I didn't even want. And is Turkey getting even more authoritarian?

Through what can only be called stupidity and misfortune, I am now the owner of an iPad. But before I am charged with jumping on an ibandwagon, trying to appear cool or any of the other nasty things which are said about iPad owners, I must point out that – this is where my stupidity comes in – I bought it by mistake. Well, not quite by mistake, but accidentally. It happened like this: I often visit eBay and keep an eye on various kinds of items, even items I know I shan’t want to buy. Why I do this, I don’t know, but I do it. One day, I spotted a ‘new, factory-sealed iPad 1, 16gb with both wi-fi and 3g’ so the more expensive sort. Ten minutes before the end of the auction the price was £380. At the point the excessively childish part of my nature kicked in and I decided to bid merely to bump up the price. You might claim this was unfair on the eventual buyer who would thus be paying more than he or she need to, to which I would respond that I am doing the seller a favour, ensuring that he or she gets a better price. So it’s a stalemate and lets drop the matter. The point is that I did bid, to £390, and someone else responded, raising the price to £400. So I went to £410 – and there were no further bids. Poetic justice you might say, serves you right. OK, point taken. But I now owned an iPad I didn’t want and never planned on buying. Furthermore, reselling, the obvious solution, was by now less attractive as the week I bought the iPad, Apple launched its successor, the iPad 2, which was not only faster but now had a camera. So who was going to want that first iPad. I left it in is sealed box for three weeks, while I debated what to do with it. I had previously seen one and had admired its design. But there was no way I could convince myself that the iPad could do anything my iPod Touch (fourth generation with camera) and one of my many, many laptops couldn’t do. Curiosity finally got the better of me. And, anyway, as I had by then bought a silicone screen protector and a case to keep it pristine, it was obvious that subconsciously I know I was going to keep it. Well, so now I’ve got one. Now here’s an odd thing: after a few hours, using it seems ‘more normal’ than using the iPod Touch. That now seems to have ‘rather a small screen’, whereas the iPad screen seems to be the ‘normal size’. I have also been reading newspapers and magazines on it, and – although I hate to say this – it does feel perfectly normal doing so, so normal, in fact, that I am persuaded that increasingly in the future the number of people who will read their daily paper and magazine using a tablet will increase substantially. The Daily Telegraph app is well thought out and when it introduces an ad – a full-screen ad at that – it doesn’t feel half as irritating as one might imagine. The ad can be ‘swiped’ away in a moment, but the point is that given such full-page ads are possible and, because of the size of the screen, don’t look rather silly, advertisers might feel more inclined to spend money on such advertising, making the web more of a market. So even though I loathe the ‘Mac community’ for its smug self-regard and the way bloody Steve Jobs has been canonised, I can’t deny that launching the iPad was rather more visionary than I first thought. Naturally, many companies – Dell, Samsung, Sony and HP to name just a few – are have now developed or are now developing their own tablet – and, bad news for Microsoft – many are also developing their own operating systems or using Google’s Android – so it would seem the idea will take off. It will be interesting to see what has evolved along those lines in ten years.

. . .

My sister contacted me from Istanbul last week to tell me she can no longer log onto Google blogs to read what I write. That kind of net blocking can only be done at an official level, and not even I am conceited enough to believe I have pissed off the Turkish authorities. A few days later, she was in touch again with the explanation: it seems so blogger somewhere had written something nasty which the Turkish football authorities objected to. Result: Google blogs are banned from Turkey. Well, that’s the official explanation at least. Unofficially I should think it is just another example of the Turkish government’s growing authoritarianism, which my sister has plenty of stories about. We in the West have been getting into bed with all sorts of people for ‘strategic reasons’ – why, until recently even Gaddafi was regarded as a man who was now again wearing clean underpants – but we really should be very careful indeed. There are still voices which demand that Turkey be admitted to the EU – quite what they would do if that happened and for one reason or another Turkey again invaded Cyprus can only be guessed – but then the supporters of ‘the project’ aren’t universally known for their wisdom. Oh, and by the way: the honest money these days isn’t on whether Greece will go bankrupt despite the EU bailout but when. And Irish government bonds have now been rated at junk status. Thought you like to know. Do have a happy Easter break.

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A week or two ago, the Press here in Britain astounded us with the house in Swansea which bears an uncanny resemblance to Adolf Hitler, and today I can proudly present you with an image which is quite possible even more astounding: the jelly bean which looks like Kate Middleton. Enjoy (as they sometimes say in trendy bars in London, and elsewhere I should imagine.

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