Thursday, December 24, 2009

A game for Christmas

When you are feeling sated and dull-witted after eating your Christmas dinner, try this little test to wake up your brain cells. Save the picture and print it (preferably on card). Then cut the image up into its four separate rectangles, and follow the instructions given.

Best of luck!

Seasonal greetings ...

... to all my readers. No time this year to create a special Christmas message, I'm sorry to say, so here are a couple of seasonal pictures from my biographical collection. In the first one I am the one kneeling, and the picture was taken at Oberlech in Austria in March 1955. The second was was taken at Megeve in France in March 1954. It's sad to relate that I never learned to ski - I was too much afraid of hurting myself!

I hope to be here more often in 2010.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Big bully State?

Martha Lane Fox, Government Champion for Digital Inclusion, is quoted today as saying that the government should make its services such as Council Tax payments, TV licensing and so on, only available on line, to force people to use the internet. The argument is that it would save millions of pounds if these transactions could all be conducted on line.

I read this in the Digital Unite blog as I ate my breakfast, and it made my hackles rise. I don't like getting angry so early in the day, so I immediately wrote a comment, since the blog post was inviting our views. I shall share share them with you here as well.

Those who know me (a runner-up in Digital Unite's 2008 Silver Surfer Awards), will know that I started to use a computer 10 years ago aged 71, and that now I could not live without it - it is my magic carpet. But that does not mean that I want to see non-users forced to go on line, at risk if they don’t of being in default on payments or licenses that are legal requirements.

In addition to training, would government provide an adequate and reliable broadband service, buy computers for all those who don’t have them, pay for their ISP and security subscriptions, and for printers and the peripherals. My guess is that, like me, many older users would be confused and daunted by online billing, form filling etc, and would want to print everything off. Indeed, I think many people would be panicked by the mere idea of it.

It doesn’t sound like a nanny state to me (as Ms Fox suggested it might), it sounds like a big bully state. Government has a duty to provide the services that people need, not to coerce them into using services they do not want. For goodness sake, at least where the retired are concerned, leave us in peace to embrace such technologies as, individually, we feel able for and are comfortable with. If some of us feel that a computer would be an alien and unfriendly presence in our lives, we are entitled to be allowed to live without them. When our generation has gone, and those who remain have all been familiar with computers from childhood, perhaps that will be the time for Martha Lane Fox to wield her stick.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Postscript to last post

When I agreed to lead a group to set up a new website, I set up a special mailbox in which I keep all email correspondence about the website. At this very moment I have noticed that, since the first mail in January asking me if I would take it on, there have been 1000 emails passing into and out of my computer on this topic. Did I say busy?!