Saturday, March 19, 2005

not good news

Temperature at 3:30pm was 17.8 C, with wind 11 knots from East-South-East. Partly cloudy.

My sister and I both plunged into gloom by the news that the laptops have sustained more damage than initially thought. Windows can't be re-installed and there may be damage to part of the hard disk.

This is not good news, since we can't afford to replace two laptops. For the moment it's goodbye to happy-go-lucky evenings of recent months where I whiled away the hours with Internet radio, American comic-strips and downloading free e-books.

I shall have to consider how to proceed from here. You never appreciate modern conveniences until they stop working and you have to re-train yourself not to automatically reach for them.

Meanwhile, some people are finding that the Internet has made things a bit too convenient for consumers.

Newspaper Web sites have been so popular that at some newspapers, including The New York Times, the number of people who read the paper online now surpasses the number who buy the print edition:

"This migration of readers is beginning to transform the newspaper industry. Advertising revenue from online sites is booming and, while it accounts for only 2 percent or 3 percent of most newspapers' overall revenues, it is the fastest-growing source of revenue. And newspaper executives are watching anxiously as the number of online readers grows while the number of print readers declines," said the NY Times.

The only newspaper that has a strict pay-in-advance policy is the Wall Street Journal. This is unlikely to be taken as a model by other news outlets though -- the WSJ provides financial news, and most of their subscribers probably claim it back as a business expense.

Another complication is that some readers may be international: people who may never have seen an actual copy of the newspaper in the flesh.

Would I pay to read the NY Times on-line. It depends. $2? Sure. $20? Maybe not.

"When the National Endowment for the Arts last summer released 'Reading at Risk: a Survey of Literary Reading in America,' journalists and commentators were quick to seize on the findings as a troubling index of the state of literary culture. The survey showed a serious decline in both literary reading and book reading in general by adults of all ages, races, incomes, education levels and regions." - Washington Post

The problem amongst youngsters seems to be that both the quality literature and the popular novels of past generations have been replaced either by issues-oriented Young Adult fiction or by scrupulously politically-correct stories that stress strong female characters and avoid any hint of inappropriate subjects or treatment.

Back in my teenage years I was an enormous reader. I read almost everything - from Treasure Island to Moby Dick, from Rider Haggard to Graham Greene, from Punch to New Worlds SF. With the unfettered enthusiasm of the young, I romped enthusiastically through the literature of the 19th and 20th centuries.

By the time I was 16 I'd read all the original Sherlock Holmes stories (except The Valley of Fear for some reason) as well as an enormous omnibus collecting every short story written by H.G. Wells.

It's a wonder my library card didn't disintegrate from over-use.

But of course all this happened BTV

Before television.

Those blasted green parrots are still making themselves at home in our apple tree. You can hear them squawking away out there from any window at the back of the house.

No wonder we nicknamed them "the partygoers" the first year they dropped in on us.

Mitch Altman, a 48-year old inventor living in San Francisco, said that in the last three months he has sold about 30,000 of his key-chain-size zappers called TV-B-Gone, which can be used discreetly to switch off televisions in public places. "When you go to a restaurant to talk with friends, why should you have to deal with the distraction of a ceiling-mounted television?" Mr. Altman said.

I can understand this. I have never been able to make sense of the modern habit of putting large television sets in public places with the sound turned off.

Unless there's a big sports telecast, it's like watching a convention of goldfish as comperes mouth away wordlessly.

In fact I think I'd rather watch goldfish!

The only way this habit would make any sense is if the television sets were caption-enabled. This would give the people who wanted to watch the choice, while those who weren't interested could just turn their back.

But then I've found that it's only the deaf who are really aware of captioning. Other people look at you blankly if you raise the subject, even in hospitals or homes for the elderly where people with hearing problems might be expected to be common.


The Charles Street service station was selling unleaded for 99.9c per litre last week. This week it went up to $1.07 per litre.


The Ten Days on the Island festival continues to generate worldwide interest.

Some exhibitions have opened early for the Easter break, notably the exhibition at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Inveresk in Launceston of French Masters

Outgoing festival artistic director Robyn Archer says the event has a strong future. "It's just great that we can actually get people from quite remote areas," she said.

"I mean the [is] one example of the very interesting collection coming from a small island, French Masters"

"But people from smaller places come all the way here to go to even smaller places on the isle of Tasmania and communities really appreciate it."

The Ten Days on the Island festival officially starts on April 1.

No comments: