Changing platforms

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I think that, in the manner of these things, the relationship was cooling for years. Me and Apple were an item, but when the relationship started Madame and me were both working full-time and we could (sort-of) afford it. There were moments I can remember when the chill started, like the day the Apple Store declared my laptop too old to mend, and I no longer fitted the customer profile they were after. They seemed to think I was too old and too hard up to bother with being polite to. A visit to the Apple Store started to seem like attending church, with young acolytes gliding effortlessly on an invisible field of moral superiority.  Uninvited updates to my phone would suddenly disable apps that I’d paid for; they fixed the software so that the phone would die, like one of the robots in Bladerunner, at the press of a button by the Tyrell Corporation, and they tried to charge me more than the phone was worth to replace the batteries. My laptop grew ever slower  as programmes grew more and more bloated with Bow bells and steamship whistles that I had no need of, and the desktop headed off into senility.  Indifference turned to hatred.  I wanted to stand in the middle of the store and shout “I just want an effing lead” so I could be escorted out by the ever smiling white robed security advisor. Then, in the summer – horror of horrors – I noticed that my son’s photos were much better than the ones I was taking on my iPhone 6. I had to do it secretly, but I started to back things up on the non-Apple cloud.

One thing led to another (how often have I heard that phrase as a parish priest!) and the parting began to be more a matter of ‘when’ than ‘whether?’ But it was the offer of my son’s old (not very old) Pixel phone that pushed me over the edge, and on Saturday we sat down together in Birmingham to seal the deal.

Normally I avoid platform changes because the idea scares me to death. That suits the major players who rather like scaring their captive customers to death at the thought of going somewhere else. And the scheming goes all the way down to street level – the Saturday handover failed to work due to some obscure security settings I could only access at home and so I naively brought the gift phone home and set out to buy a lead to connect it to my iPhone. However it seems that even independent phone repair shops have some kind of rule of ‘omerta’ going on regarding platform switching, and I’m still waiting for my son’s widget to arrive in the post.

I’m moving to Android – there, I’ve said it! I need a bail-out option as my Apple stuff gets older and the astronomical price of replacing them moves ever further out of reach  I’m moving because I’m hacked off with Apple products and I’m moving because the vast majority of writing I do lands up on this blog, and the Google products integrate almost seamlessly with WordPress as opposed to endless directory searches for photos. I’m content to have cut-down online versions of the clunky programmes whose features I never use. All that stands between me and the future is a mountain of accumulated data, contacts, emails and blather that I felt sure I might need ….  one day ……. maybe?

One of the surliest customers to deal with on the failed switch was contacts – way over 600 of them and so in the absence of the ‘moving-stuff-over’ widget, I thought I’d have a clear out after I moved them across manually.  This in itself had me frothing at the mouth with frustration as barriers were constantly thrust in my way.  This weeding is where it all gets a bit metaphysical, because although many contacts were no-brainers – like the suprisingly large number of deceased contacts – there were many others I remembered well, some even with affection. Highlighting them and pressing the ‘delete’ button became a much more serious, almost cathartic process. There was no hierarchy of usefulness or prospective gain in the selections.  Many of the names went back to activities that I was engaged in years ago – names and phone numbers of builders, suppliers of candles, BBC producers. Some were people who carved me up in some way – button pressing became a pleasure there; and some were left in because I remembered them fondly. Within a couple of hours I’d whittled them down to just over 200 in a list that looked like it truly belonged to me.  So I’m sorry Phil and all the rest, it was great but it’s over now and yes, it was Phil the funeral director I was dreaming about this morning when I woke up. He was running a wonderful butchers shop somewhere in France, and he invited us down to the local cafe for a drink. I couldn’t tell him that I’m not that person any more.  I can’t hack any more grief.

Next job will be to reduce my email providers down to one.  Now I’ve got the list of contacts sorted I’ll email them all and give them my one and only address. More clearing through the thickets, I think.  Big ticket programmes will have to go too, subscriptions ended so I can keep the ancient machines running for as long as possible – it’s all very exhilerating – this decluttering business.  And if you’re reading this you’re not among the fallen, I promise.

So tonight, I hope, will be switch-off day for the old phone. I’ll lie them together on the table – connected by the new lead – and with one click, the iPhone will say, in an electronic sort of way: –

All that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you.

And the Pixel will say “thanks mate” and after a few quiet moments the corridors of the iPhone, once hectic with malware, spyware and foreign security agents clogging up the arteries will fall silent and I shall remove the SIM in the reverential way that Phil the funeral director would adopt for the the removal of pacemakers and other explosive devices from the deceased, and the screen will go dark.  Well that’s the theory at least. I fully expect a bit of tooth gnashing as well, and then onwards and – well – onwards, I suppose. I just want to write about borlotti beans and when the equpment gets in the way it can only end in tears.

Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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