Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Work and Fun; Mind and Body

I own a Windows Mobile device, and it doesn't suck. It's about a sexy as a Swiss army knife, but I can get it to do just about anything I want it to. In particular, I was really excited to discover that Pandora built an app for it finally, so now I can feel smug about not paying for satellite radio while I'm driving out of bounds. Assuming cellular coverage. Assuming that I will ever drive like that again.

I live in the miracle spot on the planet, where I can walk to almost everything, as I just now did again to have my blood drawn. They took me right in. Almost primitive. Almost medieval. My insurance will pay, thank God, for my driving too much and throwing a clot to my lungs. Or was it the stresses and strains of the move? Or just genetics? Or bad luck. La la la la la.

The real problem with Windows Mobile in its current embodiment is that there are way too many clicks required from too many different buttons to get anything useful done. Interestingly, I heard right directly from the mouth of someone I know who was once at the very pinnacle of the marketing for this version, that Microsoft was then divided about the direction of mobile toward business or entertainment. The device, officially, was a kludge. It didn't know what it wanted to be.

I've held in my very own hand now both the iPhone and the Android. They make my Windows Mobile phone seem primitive. In particular, web browsing seems actually to work, without requiring endless fussing and waiting for non-mobile-optimized screens to come into view. With Windows Mobile, it's a crap shoot whether you will be able actually to use the web.

The current intel on the topic indicates that Microsoft will make a clear distinction going forward between the business and the consumer version. Pretty much the way they did with Vista for the desktop. Following on a trend they began with XP.

As somewhat of an insider to why businesses refused to move beyond XP, I beg to differ just a tad from the conventional wisdom; that it was the hefty horsepower requirements for the hardware, or the security and learning curve hurdles for the IT staffers. In plain English, they just added more complexity without granting any game-changing cool. There was no real payback for investments against users' learning curves. And you couldn't trust that it would simply work.

I had Vista on my work laptop, and it didn't suck. There was no real stretch for me to swap out old metaphors for newer ones, so my learning curve from the operator side was about two seconds.

But there also wasn't really any new return apart from a somewhat cooler interface, and the shift would be a burden to people who just wanted to get their work done. Actually, plenty of times, it did get in the way of me getting my work done. Too many ways in to the same spot, or something like that. Too many clicks from too many different buttons.

I got tired of the whole game and took to Linux, which, frankly, is just as big a pain in the butt, but without anyone to complain to. No pay, no complaint. It calms me down, even when I have to blow time figuring stuff out. At least no-one's gaming my enthusiasm.

I'm a little bit embarrassed to find out just this morning that there really is a better browser out there for my primitive and uncool phone. Opera. It's a cinch, and fills in my cool-lust for a moment longer while I wait for the Verizon contract to expire so that I can afford new hardware. Which I will contract for just before the cooler stuff comes out. Which doesn't make me any stupider than you are.

What makes me stupid is that I pretty much figured that Microsoft's browser would be as good as any. It still surprises me that it isn't. What could they be thinking?

I'm in no position to say so, but I do think it's a big mistake for Microsoft to keep their commitment to this big fork in their road between work and play. My daughter swears she wants a Blackberry now, because she really can't stand touch (she's a thumb jockey, with speed you wouldn't believe). And the Blackberry was supposed to be a purely business product. But she's all about communication, and not at all about business. Plus, the price attracts her. She'll be disappointed simply because that's in her nature. But there's no arguing against someone's wants, you know?

Microsoft's spokespeople, and um, their higher ups, are known for being a bit, well, touchy on certain subjects. So, a recent headline was funny in an obvious kind of way, when it announced that Microsoft gets touchy at the pornographic trade show. But really, touch is what it will be all about, for business or pleasure, and Microsoft might be about to get a clue again. From Apple. As always.

And speaking of Apple, a funny news item today pointed out that Steve Wozniak has both an iPhone and an Android. But my boss, friend, and partner in business crime, who owns an Android and improbably just had his first chance to play with an iPhone the other day, points out that Wozniak was what had to depart from Apple before it could find itself. Jobs is a fashion designer. Woz is a computer geek.

From the vantage of Windows Mobile, the new Android on HTC hardware looks about as cool as the iPhone, but the boss assures me it's not. Google has welded itself in to the point that it's done what Apple does, but without the designer chic. Of course the Woz would like it. He's a geek like Bill Gates, and not a proper nerd the way Steve Jobs is. I might be mincing my words, but how would I know? I'm just some guy.

Steve is the Mom, which is another word for benevolent fascist dictator. Trust me, I know this. I've read my Dr. Suess. Mom gets in the way of your having fun, depending on how you look at her. Or she makes it possible. But in any case, you'd better do what she says, unless she's like my Mom, in which case she spoils your fun in other ways, like making you feel as though you must succeed for her to be happy. Which pretty much protects you against all kinds of fun. Ever.

My own Mom will be praying for me to get that job representing China to the world. Yeah, yeah, I love your new love, but get a job and make your Mom happy. Well, maybe she's just jaded on the topic of love. Maybe all of us must push the ones we love toward that flame which nearly killed us, by any other name. Do like I say and not like I do. Love is what imprisoned me. A job would be liberation. Build your prisonhouse with a necktie on it.

The prisonhouse of language is still and always will be what kills us in the end. The one big taboo remaining now is not what people look like, but what they talk like. It's alright to be big and black and beautiful.

But if you want to be in power, you have to talk white, which our mayor here in Buffalo does to some comical degree. You'd think he was doing a Saturday Night Live skit of a black playing white, but then I'm challenged about what's earnest and what's ironic. I don't know him at all, and I just moved back here, so for all I know he really is a homie. I'm sure he just can't help it.

Windows has always seemed like a really nerdy snooty attempt to be as cool as the Mac, but more, you know, businesslike. The folks over at Apple just got tired of trying to sue MS for ripping off its graphical interface ideas, which were granted to the world by Xerox in the first place, OK! Just like the Beatles got tired of trying to sue Apple for their record label and probably gave up the fight when Apple put in the sosumi sound which was plainly a punny rip-off of the Beatles' ownership of the Apple name in the music space.

And last night as I was reading my Kindle owners' manual (I still think that's about the funniest thing in the world, like if you can read this, then, um, you really don't have to, ha ha, get it) I vaguely remember a Beatles "tribute band" being up on TV. Public TV, needless to say, since commercial TV would never air something so, well, um, nerdy. Imitators of the Beatles, who sounded better than the Beatles ever did. Rain, maybe? Mockery being the highest form of flattery, right?

So the point, dear reader, is that there is no such thing as meaning which does not descend somehow from metaphors rooted in the body. Microsoft, of course, is still living in a universe where the mind/body duality holds true. They should get a clue, and so should we all.

Well, so is Apple which is the analog of the Cherry 2000 up against Microsoft's earnest marketing Goliath (central casting is such a hoot). Google coyly slips in as if they were really just rolling out of bed, dressing the way those kids do down at the cool coffee shop. Just another version of the Cherry 2000, if you ask me, where dressing down is a way to dress up your inner hotness.

In actual fact, there is no way to tease the mind from the body or vice versa.

The earth isn't suffering a population explosion. I should say, the earth won't suffer a population explosion, just like it won't suffer any more wanton lust. Regulated lust, of the sort which 50 somethings who are eligible for AARP experience, is about what the world needs more of right now.

And you know, at my age, you can actually fall in lust with words and words alone. It's become a cliche with Facebook, that place where you can reconnect with the hotties you failed to score with back in the day. And I've become a non-sequitur. Which is where I belong.

One thing I know for sure though is that it's always the fashionistas who control our destiny. They help to guide our lust, which, frankly, is toward ever more of what the young want. So much so that we end up wanting the young, which is just gross.

Back when I worked in a boy's boarding school, the joke was that saltpeter was added to the food to keep the lust factor down. Which wasn't such a funny thought for the teacher crowd. I only know I gained a lot of weight, which I'm still struggling to shed. Certain documented cases of misplaced lust prove that something wasn't right at that place, beyond a reasonable doubt. (reordering analytic English is such unmitigated fun).

The earth requires some analog to that fictitious agent supposedly also used in prison. Which in Arnold's case went right to his head. We all know about the rest of body builders' body parts. Well, I don't, but it's funny to say, like "nice Hummer; sorry about your penis" which you really wouldn't want to say out loud in public since you might get beat up. But then I have the earnest legal structure to back me when I take on hizzoner. These lawyers take everything so seriously, when all that's meant is punny fun.

The mind stands in for the body standing in for the mind, metaphorically speaking, which is the only way speaking ever happens, and which is why machines will never quite do it for me. But if all they want is $50 to put a piece of hot technology in my hands, what the hell. I know I'll be disappointed, just like all those guys who frequent pay-for-sex. But I can't really help myself. I can't get anyone to talk to me in person.

And there's just too damned much reading to do. I have to curb this writing.

So, here's a funny thing which happened in real life just now. My Microsoft Windows PDA super-nerdy Internet connected device stopped connecting to the Internet. Really. I didn't drop it, I didn't do a thing but look at it. Of course I felt mildy guilty for having loaded up the Opera browser, which I immediately removed. Then I did what they call a hard reset. Then I spent an hour or so on the phone with a really nice tech-guy from Verizon, and they'll be sending out my warranty replacement.

But - and here's the good part - I resisted techo-lust. It was pretty easy, considering that the really cool stuff is in a state of near perpetual flux now, and I just can't wait to see what's after what's next. Plus I really shouldn't be signing new contracts without having a job. The poor guy sounded alarmed: "will you be leaving us after your contract expires?" Oh no, I said, wondering if I really need such an expensive contract with such good coverage if I'm going to be walking everywhere.

But getting wired and staying put isn't so easy either. They still expect you to have a phone to carry the DSL, or a TV contract to carry the cable modem, and the FiOS is way out of my sight. Hmmmm. It's still cheaper than cellular, though.

Now, there's an anti-lust treatment right there. Do the math, and see how much she's really charging for your disappointment. Sorry to carry on so long. This started out being funny, and then the cosmos played another joke on me. Random? What's random? Who's being random?

No comments: