I thought I had it all sorted out. An Android G1 phone from T-Mobile would let me record my tracks with its nifty GPS function, and effortlessly upload them to Googlemaps. In between times, I could fire off the occasional photo to Twitter, and maintain a steady stream of random Facebook banter using the ‘always-on’ internet. And the phone does all those things, as recounted in a couple of work posts (1,2.) Here’s my test track and here’s a picture I was able to share with my Twitter readers. But it has a fatal flaw – T-Mobile coverage is puny on the Edge Hill campus, making it redundant as an actual phone…
So back to the drawing board. People keep saying iPhone, but I have an aversion to this device for two reasons:
1. It reckons itself…
…if an inanimate object can indeed ‘reckon itself’. Let me tell you a story. When I was in Junior School (seven or eight years old), there was a competition that involved making a fancy-dress hat at home. So we kids, helped by our parents, made assorted hats from things like card and felt. Mine, for instance, was a wizard hat made from a cone of paper with some stars and moons crayoned on to it. All harmless fun for the families. However one of the Dad’s took this on as a serious project, and made a hat that was also a functioning, miniature carousel. Horses rotated and went up and down. It played a tune. It glistened and gleamed. Obviously the embarrassed child beneath this item won, but he had to endure waves of mingled contempt, envy and pity overwhelming a bit of reluctant admiration from the rest of us. Who was his dad anyway? Batman villain, the Mad Hatter? A NASA scientist? I guess we all lost a bit of innocence that day, and I certainly still bear the scars. The iPhone reminds me of that hat – it is too good.
2. It’s expensive
My deal with T-Mobile cost £20/month, whereas the cheapest iPhone deal I can see is around the £30 mark. That’s an extra £120 a year, a not inconsiderable sum: enough, for instance, to commission a full re-enactment of De Sade’s ‘120 Days…’ in a Poundland shop (‘Anything You Want – for a Pound’). Don’t they know there’s a recession on?
So what now? It has occurred to me that expecting ‘converged’ devices to do many things well is unlikely. Cameras in phones will never be as good as actual cameras, for instance. So the current plan is to
a: buy a GPS logger to record where I’ve been, create accurate routemaps, position photos on them (Amod AGL3080 GPS PhotoTracker to be precise) and
b: buy a Macbook so that the processes involved in getting photos together, blogging etc are more elegant and enjoyable.
Advice from owners of such devices welcome.
As for perpetual internet, unless iPhone gets cheaper (and I can forget that damn hat), or the new Android from Vodafone has an affordable deal, I guess I’ll have to live without it. Which might be no bad thing. Forest Wisdom turned me on to a great little book called Journeys of Simplicity by Philip Harnden, which looks at the experience of travelling light through the medium of packing lists and inventories of possessions for folks as diverse as Peace Pilgrim, Basho and Thomas Merton. I keep coming back to the section quoted by FW, a brutally simple equipment list for a transcendent walk and a reminder that ‘enough’ can be very little:
Werner Herzog’s Winter Walk from Munich to Paris
Boots, solid and new
sweater and scarf
thin plastic poncho
Acquired along the way:
sticking-plaster, for blisters
Shell Oil road map