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Dork Talk

Just when I start wondering if the Guardian on Saturday is worth the £1.50 price tag, it gives me a supplement on Baking (I happily admit Dan Lepard, their weekly baking columnist, is prone to causing me to cook far more cakes than I should) and a such an excellent review on a new piece of technology that I actually want to buy it. I'm not going to, mind. I have a long history of never quite loving portable music players even if they are the bestest thing ever.

My Sony Walkman was primary used on trains (where its batteries always ran out somewhere near Four Oaks, the radio never got a signal and you always needed a pen in case you had to respool a tape). It did give me an abiding memory of being huddled up in many layers as the train juddered its way into Birmingham in the snow, with 'A New England' by Kirsty MacColl playing. My CD walkman was cheap and never liked doing anything very much. I only have an iPod because the chap gave me his Mk1 when he got a Mk-whatever-it-is: I'd not got one before because a) I'd have had to hack it to work with the old Win98 PC and b) years of never loving portable music players meant I doubted I'd find this new thing any more fun. I still only take it with me about 1/3 of the time: its primary function is playing mp3s from my PC in the attic downstairs in the lounge/kitchen via the little iPod docking speakers and thus saving me from burning CDs.

However, the Guardian did a rather smart thing during their sly revamp of the Weekend magazine: they've employed Stephen 'luvvie' Fry as their tech writer. His Dork Talk column is a delight because he cares not only about the specs of a bit of technology but about how we interact with it physically and emotionally. He's a Mac fan (the only reason he bought the second ever Mac sold in Europe is because Douglas Adams beat him to the first) but isn't too evangelical about it. This week, he tried a Windows only Eco Player by Trevor Bayliss. And adored it. He writes so enthusiastically that my gut response by the end is "want one!". I don't need it but it sounds fun. Also, that pesky "running out of juice" thing which has always annoyed me about portable players is resolved as you just have to spend a minute winding it up again. How smart is that? No need to drag around power leads or spare batteries, and when the oil and electricity run out in the future and we all revert to Survivors-style living, I'll still be able to listen to the Pipettes.

Fry, like Ben Goldacre (another good Saturday columnist), publishes his Guardian columns on his blog, so you can read them - and comment on them - for free. Although not, as I do with the magazine, in the bath.

ETA: ooooh! My web-host has wordpress 2.3.1. available for install! Geeky joy ahoy!!

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Posted @ 12:21 pm on Sunday, November 25, 2007
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