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Stuart Lennon

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Digital Overload

overload

It’s all got too much.

I have scaled the peaks of the digital life and reached the zenith. From here on, it’s downhill.

I have a Mac, a MacBook and an iPhone. I recently sold my iPad. This combination of very cool bits of kit mean that I am never more than seconds away from my Twitter feeds, (I have three) my Facebook profile, my Linkedin, my Pinterest, my Instagram. I am almost perpetually at Inbox zero. An email arrives and like a digital ninja, I am on it. Either it is responded to, archived, or deleted. I have resolved to read more – so I keep my kindle close to hand, and just in case, I have kindle apps on all of my other devices.

Should you need to get in touch, you can comment on this blog, drop me an email on one of several addresses, send me a text, message me on one of several apps and each of my machines will ding, vibrate or beep. You may rest assured that I will be aware of your communication in seconds.

I may of course, not respond instantly. I may be tied up. I may be updating my blog, scheduling my social media to tell you that I have updated my blog or even reading your blog. I may be checking that my feeds on feedly, medium, bloglovin and others that I have undoubtedly forgotten, are up to date. It is possible that I am resolving sync problems between my fitbit and my iPhone. How on earth can I lose weight if my phone is not correctly reporting daily steps? It may be that I am searching Myfitnesspal for the correct calorific value of 40g of porridge oats. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, right?

If I am setting off for a meeting, preparations begin the night before. Laptop, iPhone, Fitbit all fully charged, chargers in bag too. (Just in case). Location of meeting entered onto device to ensure map available. Ensure that all recent communications with person that I am meeting are instantly available on all devices. I can revise on the train. Check out linked in profiles, Google +, Facebook. What music do I want? Playlists up to date? Which headphones? Noise-cancelling? Right – best check the battery levels.

Then I need to update the calendar app – which in turn will update my wife’s calendar, so that she can be sure what train I’m on, where I’m going and what for. Obviously, her life won’t be complete unless she knows this. Once I get to London, I’ll take a quick snap and post some status updates. My friends in Ireland will undoubtedly be fascinated to know what the weather is like in London.

It’s a wonder that I have any time at all for work or relationships or indeed life at all.

At some point, the machines took over. The thousands of ways that technology was helping me, became the thousands of ways that it was oppressing me.

I’m fighting back.

I have ordered a diary. A big book made of paper and card. In it, I will plan my time. What an innovator I am. In this new-fangled thing, I will block off bits of time to check my e-mail, my social media and feeds. I’ll do these things at MY convenience.

I have ordered a ‘dumb’ phone. It can make and receive phone calls. It can send and receive text messages, although only by using the numbers as a keyboard, so you should not expect too much. With only a dumb phone, I shall have to keep myself ‘connected’ only at scheduled times and at my keyboard. I fear that the world may stop turning – but I probably won’t notice without ‘notifications’.

punkt_angled

Calorie control, both input and burn. Well, I am going to eat less food. I am going to eat more ‘simple’ food and less ‘complex’ food – i.e. avoid the manufactured crap pushed at us from all sides. When I walk the dog, I’m going to count the flowers or the birds and not the steps. Maybe I’ll try to walk a little further. I’ll know its working if my clothes start getting a bit looser.

I daresay that the iPhone with all of its apps and the fitbit will be waiting for me in the desk drawer, but I’m quite looking forward to unplugging. Although…what am I going to do in restaurants while everyone else checks their phones?

 

 

A to Z Challenge

atoz-theme-reveal-2016 v2

It’s that time of year again. The A to Z Blogging Challenge.

During the month of April I will be posting 26 times – working my way through the alphabet.

You can do it too. Sign up here. I will also be visiting as many other participant’s blogs as possible.

I did it last year, and it is a great way to make me focus on actually writing something every day.

This year – I am going to do a little differently and focus on a theme rather than random ramblings.

I am going to blog about my debut novel and stealing shamelessly a joke from Author Ben Adams, I can unequivocally say that the novel will be the best debut novel ever written by me.

I can promise you honesty, posts short enough that they do not require meal breaks, and maybe, possibly, an insight or two that will make you laugh or nod sagely. I’ll take either result!

Hopefully this exercise will force me to crack on and finish the novel. Editing is a new thing for me, and I find it hard. The hardest is actually getting on with it.

And on that bombshell, I’m off for a haircut.

Comment. Agree, Disagree. I would love to hear from you.

Battling BT

Abbotts Ann Wood

Isn’t it beautiful? Spring is most definitely on the way to Abbotts Ann.

The photo has nothing to do with the post, I took it walking the dog this morning.

Happy Mothers Day to all you Mums – and especially to mine – Pat.

I always have a thought today for those not lucky enough to still have their Mum’s around. I am sure that they must all miss them a little more today.

After my recent much up with Sky (see here) I thought I had the measure of the communications giants. Then, my phone line stopped working.

I work from home, so we have two landlines. One for corporate-cobra use and the other for personal calls. It was my corporate one that was not working. There was no dial tone at all. Strangely, the broadband on that line was working fine. A distinct advantage of having two lines is that I was able to take the handset from the line that was working, and swap it with the one on the line that wasn’t. This eliminated the handset as the cause of the problem.

At this point, I channelled my highly technical training in IT Problem Resolution. Yes, I turned everything off, unplugged everything, had a cup of tea, reconnected everything and turned them on. No change. As everyone knows, an IT issue that survives the ‘turnitoffandturnitonagain’ treatment is truly serious.

Undaunted, I turned to the internet and British Telecom’s (BT) troubleshooting pages. Just as an aside – I think that BT may in fact be 35% of the internet. Their website is GIGANTIC. It is impressive that such a massive thing could be so singularly crap.

Where was I?

Ah yes. I went through the online troubleshooter. Essentially I told it the number I was concerned about and clicked ‘fire’, then the page crashed. After four or five repetitions, both the computer and I got bored. I turned everything off and on again. I tried the line test again.

“Not a clue mate. Get in touch.” I am not sure that was exactly the wording used, but it was the gist of it.

I clicked on ‘chat to us online’ and relayed my problem to the dialogue box. A response came through.

“Please wait. I’ll test the line.”

“Sorry for the delay – the test is taking a while.”

“Sorry to keep you”

“Hmm. The test doesn’t seem to be working”

I am 99% certain that the helpful fellow had been hitting the exact same ‘fire’ button as I had. Still, he was not to be deterred.

“Could you switch everything off and then on again?”

“I have tried that. Doesn’t help.”

“Oh. Perhaps I could telephone you and we could check some things together? Do you have a mobile?”

“Its OK, you can call me on my landline. The number is…”

“No sir. Your landline isn’t working. I need to call you on..”

“I have two landlines.”

“Two?”

“Yes. Two.”

“Two? In the same place?”

“Yes. One of work and one for personal use. I suspect that I am not unique.”

There was a pause.

“Ok.”

Now, my cheery friend and I were able to chat on the phone across thousands of miles.

“We need to see if the problem is with your hardware..”

“Let me stop you there. I swapped the phones over – and the phone which I am currently talking to you on, does not work when connected to the other line. So, it’s not the hardware.”

A lengthy pause.

“You have a spare phone?”

“Not spare exactly. It is the home phone, the one attached to the line that we have for personal use.”

“You have two lines?”

“Yes. I have two lines.”

“In the same house?”

The conversation was reminding me of a Monty Python sketch.

“Shall we just agree that it is not the hardware? What next?”

I’ll spare you a line by line account, but the process rambled on – with my correspondent struggling anytime I gave an answer not covered in the script in front of him. Overall, he should be commended though. He reached, and possibly even surpassed, the standard of utter uselessness required by BT – and, in his second language too. Good man.

At one point, I was unscrewing the faceplate from sockets under his instruction. When I asked what hourly rate I should invoice BT for my work, there was the familiar quizzical silence.

The call ended thus. I paraphrase.

“I have made an appointment for an engineer to visit you. I must remind you that if the fault turns out to be caused by storm damage, building work, we are and tear, psychotic mice or anything else within the boundaries of your property, BT will add a charge of £129 to your phone bill for this visit. Is that OK?”

“Certainly. In the spirit of fairness, I apply the reverse of those terms to BT. That is to say, if the fault is outside of my property, I will deduct a £129 from my phone bill.”

“Ummm…I’m not sure that…”

“Never mind. Send the engineer.”