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April 20, 2008

Bish Bash Bosch

Well, that was something of a relief.

Our dishwasher had packed up - wouldn't empty, time to complete indicator numbers going upwards, plates coming out with gubbins still all over them.

I've been pretty cavalier in the past about fixing washing machines, in fact my tips for how to unblock the pump on a hotpoint remains one of the most popular posts on this blog.

But dishwashers? Um...

It's like the difference between manual and automatic gearboxes. There's all this extra stuff going on that you never had to worry about before. Things that are definitely 'mechanisms'.

However, I was a little reluctant to pay a fortune for a man to come out just to fix a part which was most likely only twenty quid.

So, after a lot of poking around online, googling various combinations of "repair bosch dishwasher" "Not emptying" and "SGS66A02GB/17" I found this wonderful bit of advice on how to open the main pump and clean the inlet. I managed to find the tiny packet of Torx drivers I bought for upgrading the TiVo in a cobwebby corner of the cellar and...

Sleepyhead, I salute you. Two lemon pips nearly cost us a hundred quid...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2008

Blogging - is it now the equivalent of longhand?

I've been puzzling about the lack of activity on this blog for a while now. Given that it used to be such an important part of my life, my stage on which I performed (or showed off, if you're being less charitable) why has it fallen apart.

I suspect that, like many of those who first rushed into the internet, email and the anonymity of digital media gave a chance to practice social skills who'd never been much good at it in the first place. Some of us didn't get any better and desceneded into ranty madness, some of us grasped at this second chance we'd been given with both hands.

And as a result, after fourteen years of being online, I'm largely able to function in Real Life.

In many ways, I have come full circle and now have the skills and attitudes that enabled others to look at this new-fangled internet in 1994 and wonder why I was so excited about it and what people might actually use it for.

Like many others recently, I've become part of the cult of facebook, and then the newer cult of twitter. (Sadly I only know about four people on bebo, and so it's still not quite gelling for me as an experience) And I have to admit, I really rather like the ability to summarise my current state of mind in a witty epithet. It's only having to come up with a cool riff, but not have the hassle of turning it into an actual song.

And I've also been surprised at just how much subtext others have been able to infer from my status updates. This 160-character bursts out into the ether have subliminally conveyed an enormous amount of information about me, to those with the ability to understand it and the context which might make me respond to that.

(I'm assuming someone far cleverer than me has long ago made the comparison with synapses and the very simple messages that pass between them? "Oooh, for braincell 484,322,198 to be issuing that chemical out of that nerve-ending they must be seriously worried about the new wallpaper". Matt Locke had a phase of regularly citing an old Heinlein story about the computers running a city starting to treat humans as mere objects in a network to be optimised. And Steven Johnson referred to the collective intelligence of ants by saying "you wouldn't want one of your braincells to become sentient on its own, would you?")

Existential paranoia aside, because even if there is a wider game afoot it wouldn't actually make any practical difference, it does make me wonder the relative purposes of these platforms.

For a while I'd trusted in technology to fix it for me, enabling me to make the most of my rare contemplative moments on the train. But sadly it seems that the blogging tools on the Nokia N95 will only ever get better at posting rich media, not enabling you to add mere text to MovableType. (I even considered digging out my old coding goggles to crack that one)

This route would also have another issue - that I would be condemned to purely broadcast, not to read refer and comment on what's going on elsewhere out there on the net. And while I'm pretty self-absorbed (haven't fixed that bit in the 14 years online) I still need the occasional external stimulus...but I'm not sure I can really be arsed to keep up with every one of these RSS feeds any more.

So for now, I've decided that the blog will get used, but it's for the sheer hell of occasionally doing something the hard way and stringing ideas together in a logical order. For pleasure, or maybe catharsis, rather than as part of making a powerpoint for work.

So if you are one of the rare readers of this blog (and bless you for keeping this dormant nonsense in your blogroll if so) from now on you might need to imagine me writing this with a quill pen, in ink, at a stand-up victorian writing desk.

And perhaps with a small glass of madeira close by...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:58 PM | Comments (1)