Cherished item 001

I know the photo omits the spit and polish of a Vogue magazine cover shot, thats because this is a work-a-day tool that had ‘some work done’. Its a Dualit Combi 2+1 toaster which I bought in 1997 for a very very princely sum. I’m embarrased at the amount I spent on a toaster. I could have bought ten, yes ten fertile acres of the panet Mars which we now know can produce enough potatos to feed a working martian biologist.

What makes this special is the quality of toast and critically, it is repairable. I grew-up in the 70’s when petrol was scarce and TV’s were rented on account of their high price. Back then we repaired electrical items when they broke which happened more often than today. I hear people say “They don’t make them like they used to” which is the same trope as “the sun always shone on my childhood summer holidays.” Its not that design or manufacturing standards were woeful in the 70s, but plastics, product testing and high reliability know-how was. Bakelite (an early plastic) was used everywhere and became brittle then failed. You were crossing fingers every morning for a 70s British car to start although the reasons for it failing include poor design, manufacturability, management, training, materials…

Back to the toaster, my beloved chrome toasting box. It toasts bread every single day from two to twenty slices a day (if the house is full) – perfectly. I’m talking Rolls Royce toast ready in a jiffy. It has manual levers to lower and raise the bread/toast, a rotary mechanical timer that ticks like a roadrunner time bomb, a clam basket for making toasties, a toasting light and crumb tray. Its a bugger to clean and keep clean so has accumulated years of perma-grime.

Recently one of its four heating elements failed which meant the backup £6 Asda was deployed until old faithful was repaired. This is why I like this toaster. The maker, Dualit sells spares online or over the phone. So after a short call and three days the postie delivered the new element. Dismantling the toaster is not tab A into slot B easy and requires some tools however it is repairable in 30m.

This is why its cherished. Our expensive workhorse performing one simple duty perfectly every day of the year, ready for its next 20 year stretch. Repairing it is a pleasure and rewarding. Pity we have gone through six kettles in the same period. Embarrassingly expensive to buy, cheap-as-chips as it stretches into toaster teens.


Hold still, until my iphone reboots

Ever the photographer I’m keen to capture family events big and small, I ask my youngest child to stop hugging his mum goodbye and stand in front of his departing ski bus. A few friends join the line-up as other parents whip out their smartphones and get their shot. I can’t.

I  ask the kids to wait a second as I fumble with my iPhone 5S. I get taunted “Come on dad, hurry-up”, but I can’t.

“My phone is re-booting”

Not since having an HTC Tyan Window Mobile 6.5 phone reboot mid-call have I ever tasted such a halting bitter technology fail. And there is more.

On Sunday I was listening to music on my iPhone, it was a half-hour into Penthouse and Pavement (Heaven 17) when the music and screen died. Jabbing the on/off and home buttons did nothing, then the white bitten apple appeared. Another reboot.

The cause is the hidden system Springboard or application launcher within iOS7 which is failing and what you see is the blank screen for 20-30 seconds as springboard reboots or worse a longer device reboot. My fail rate is 2-3 reboots per week on iPhone and 1-2 on an old iPad 3 and has worn me down from anger to tolerant friction. In December while going through photographs springboard bailed. Blank screen. Anger. Immediate 2m walk from Starbucks to Genius Bar across the street. I knew this was just flaky iOS7 software, the genius did too, but he was so irritating using that Genius-speak. The sort of language that cannot acknowledge:

  1. Our product or service has a fault.
  2. The fault is out with specification.
  3. Our bad, sorry.

After testing he declared “this is normal”

“Aye right” was my reply.

Since iOS 7 launched many have suffered and the fix is coming in 7.1 (currently in beta testing). Despite my iPhone wanting and getting the China only (!) iOS 7.0.5 patch, problems continue. What is unacceptable is the length of time Apple has left Customers with such a severe and highly visible bug.

What made me write this was opening up iMovie (latest desktop version) to create a short portrait of someone only to discover it can no-longer split media clips (10m+ video clips) since the last update.  Back to Adobe Creative Cloud.