Maybe too geeky? • 21 September 2007 • The SnowBlog
Maybe too geeky?
Will I have to start putting a 'G' on these sorts of posts to give you fair warning, the way I do now with the fearsome 'P' for politics? It's just that we live in a geeky time. I've been reading and enjoying Stephen Fry's first blog post. [<- link was broken, now fixed] And is he writing about film-making, or opera or perhaps the Victorian Novel? No, he's giving an off-the-cuff and encyclopedic run-down of the history of SmartPhones. That's mobile phones with extra, computer-like features, to the jargonless among you. If you've a mind to read his post, maybe you should do that, and then, if you feel like it, you could nip back here and read my comments about it below. Ta.
Turns out Stephen is hacked off and disappointed with most of the exciting new gadgets that cross his path. Now, if I had achieved the pressure-equalising level of fame required to talk to Stephen (see previous post) I'd tell him about people who get fed up with the way their mobile phones work and write their own software for them. My phone is chock full of features and settings that neither Orange nor Microsoft intended. I don't mean just adding programs, I mean altering the operating system. For instance, with a press of a button I can lock the flash on the phone's camera on, and use it as a torch to find my front doorlock in the inky blackness of the night-time countryside. I've also got a screen for turning off various annoying features and adding other more useful ones. All of that is impossible with the standard phone. And it goes without saying that it comes with built-in software for reading books on its big screen (if only the display was a leeetle bit better...).
I don't think it will be long now before there's an open source operating system for smartphones that does exactly what the community who write it want it to. And you can bet it'll be a hell of a lot better than the off-the-shelf corporate offering. And it will also be free.
In fact, consider this idea (that I read in the brilliant Make magazine). What if our mobile phones all acted as base stations for each other, passing other people's calls on to the next phone in the line, all without us being aware of it. Any dense population centre would then have a mobile phone network as soon as it had enough mobile phones switched on. Maybe no need for network providers or phone bills. I doubt that Orange will introduce such a feature any time soon, but that doesn't mean they can necessarily stop the world coming up with it.
As ever, most of us had better hope that the ingenious geeks out there never pay too much attention to the world of books. Otherwise the publishing game-board will be up for a good hard shake.