My love affair with Apple continues after the ease of setting up the now restored MacBook Pro. Plug in the portable hard disk, select migration assistant and go for a walk around Cardiff Bay. When I get back, everything is now restored to the state it was before MacStompingMan otherwise known as a Courier picked it up Monday morning. For me my MacBook is a tool, it's not a toy or a hobby. That means I don't want to spend several hours selecting things, moving them around, configuring setups and the like. It's the same with the whole App environment, as I know to my cost developing for Android is five times the cost of developing for iPad/iPhone due to the number of environments.
I sometimes think that so called open standards are simply a job creation scheme for technies, the last ideological refuge of techno-fetishist period. Interestingly I was reading a column by Wendy Hall in the New Statesman this morning over breakfast which identified the growth of hardware based games as a problem in the genesis of IT. For those of you who don't know she is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton and was recently named as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK. Incidentally to overseas readers, don't the title of the awarding body (Women's Hour) confused with some cakes and charity group. Its one of the best magazine programmes on Radio 4, which is a high standard to reach, and with a broad following from both sexes including yours truly.
Back to that New Statesman article. In it Prof Hall points out that over a third of computer studies students before the late eighties were women, but by the end of that decade the numbers were minuscule. I'll quote what she says:
…in the mid 1980s the new personal computers such as the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and the BBC Micro began to emerge. There was very little you could do on them except program in BASIC or assembly code, or play the limited set of games that was available for them – mainly war games. As a result, they were marketed as toys for boys and we managed to dissuade 50 per cent of the population from working with computers in the space of half a decade.
The toy mentality still persists, with the idea of gaming, the elite player etc. etc. It was there when I picked up by MacBook and asked about setting it up again. Instead of saying Use Migration from the applications menu which is what I wanted to know I got Just plug it in and restore what you need. Attempts a conversation about defraging etc got the somewhat patronising I reinstall everything every year to which I decided not to make the response That's obviously all you have in your life.
Tools are things that work, and do a job for you. It's about time the gaming generation got to grips with that and realised that they need to be a craft discipline.
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