Category Archives: Smartphones

Stupid is as stupid does

Sent from my iPad. Sent from my iPhone.

These are two of the most stupid lines you encounter at the end of an email or a text message these days. They serve the valuable purpose of informing you that the sender of the message has purchased one of these devices from the Apple Computer Corporation and is using it.

That’s certainly newsworthy enough for you to know about it, isn’t it?

Exactly why anyone, of average intelligence and above, would allow themselves to be used as an advertising hoarding is beyond me.

The iPad is nothing special. The same applies to the iPhone. Both consumer devices have been taken up in large numbers, sure, but are now losing ground to others that are running the Android operating system.

I have not found a single other device that creates a default tag to every message. Neither have I seen a user of any other device who would not delete such a message right away.

But for many businessmen, whose knowledge of computers extended as far as being able to spell the word correctly about 75 per cent of the time, buying an iPad is a way of appearing cool and with it. So they have to let the rest of the world know they are in the loop.

The same applies to many iPhone owners too. My doctor, for example, has more money than he knows what to do with, and has an iPhone 5 with a snazzy case. He can just about manage to phone his wife – that is the only reason he needs a mobile phone.

Apple users have long been known as snobs. They think the fact that they can afford to buy devices that are priced much higher than the corresponding devices for other operating systems makes them in some way superior.

Mitt Romney has plenty of money too. He is not exactly an individual one would describe as smart. Or savvy. Or educated.

Maybe Apple users should bear that in mind.

Subsidising stupidity

IT IS not uncommon these days to witness people walking the streets of any city, apparently fully engrossed in some very important activity on a mobile device.

These folk are oblivious to their surrounds and expect the rest of those who are walking alongside or in the opposite direction to avoid them, not the other way around.

In other words, they expect the rest of the crowd to look after them. Their stupidity in not being bothered to look around and navigate safely along the pavements should be subsidised by everyone else.

There have been cases reported in which people have died by falling into manholes; they were so engrossed in some extremely important activity on their mobiles that they fell down manholes and their sojourn on earth ended abruptly.

Yet we continue to subsidise such stupidity on our sidewalks every day.

A young woman came within an inch of crashing into me some weeks ago and was taken aback when I told her she was stupid and that she should look where she was going.

The next time this happens – and there will be a next time given the number of nitwits who traverse the paths of the city I live in – I will experiment with knocking the mobile device that is the source of the distraction out of the individual’s hands.

It will be an interesting experience if nothing else.

Smartphones. How about dumbphones?

Smartphone. Nice word – is the phone meant to be the smart one or does it make the user smarter? Or is it the case that the phone increases the chances of error to the extent that people do tend to make more errors?

There is a sense of arrogance evident when people use smartphones, forgetting that if they are stupid then they will end up doing stupid things.

Any computer can only be programmed by human beings. Humans are prone to make errors. And those errors will reflect themselves in the way computer programs behave.

The classic example is the message that one receives at the venerable DOS prompt after entering a command that means nothing to the operating system. The computer responds “Bad command or filename.” End of story.

With a human being the reaction is different; if one were to ask one’s child to go to the bedroom and fetch a red shirt lying on the bed, the child will use his own intelligence when he finds a blue shirt lying there instead.

The kid’s reasoning will run thus: “Dad must have made a mistake, I better take the blue shirt with me as he must have meant blue instead of red.” The computer cannot reason in this manner.

But the line of demarcation is never made clear by the makers of digital devices who always paint the device as having its own form of intelligence. And when those of rather feeble intelligence are the ones spreading the message of technology, the question does tend to get confused.

Technology has come from a long way from the timw when computers tended to malfunction every time women wearing nylon underwear stood close to the machine. But it is still the case that the intelligence lies with the human being, not the machine.

There are many cases where an inefficient organisation computerises every one of its functions and then wonders why it doesn’t become efficient overnight. Those who are in charge do not realise that computerised inefficiency is worse than the other kind.

Do smartphones make people smarter? No, these devices have the capability to make it easier to carry out some functions which were done in a more laborious manner in the past. The apparent ease with which things can be done also makes it possible to make more horrendous mistakes.

The human is the smart one. Or, dumb, as the case may be.