Posts Tagged ‘IPod’

Socks no more

July 11, 2012

Helvi Oosterman

When I was a kid, we used to get hand-knitted woollen socks for Christmas. Mum was very busy and sometimes she had only enough time to finish one sock, and we had to patiently wait for a whole year for its partner. By the time I was ten, I had received roughly four and half pairs of socks…

Mum was lucky that she did not have to go shopping for the wool; it grew on the backs of our black and white Finn sheep, which was very handy. All she had to do was to send it to the local wool co-op to be processed into a knitting yarn. Some busy people called it  LWCO for short, but we had enough time to get the words out, and we used the longer version.

Our Mum was a gentle person, not one of those tough black and white people. She liked nuances and shades better and therefore she also asked the wool to be blended into soft grey. Of course in those days we had never heard of the Aussie Rules that tell you that girls ought to wear pink and that blue is for boys. We were blissfully ignorant of such rulings and were happy just to have warm feet.

Life was good; we did not even know that paedophiles existed in our charmed world. Our parents let us walk to school, so obviously no one had told them either about these bad people. In return we did not tell them of our adventures of swimming in fast flowing rivers and the games we played on breaking up ice floes in springtime…we knew of people who had drowned, but not THAT many…

Now the mums have to buy big black cars and become taxi drivers for their offspring, and by the time the kids turn ten they have sleepless nights before Christmas because they can’t think of anything new they still have to have. They have their laptops, WII’s, IPods, IPads and scooters and trail bikes, and socks and shoes to die for with labels etched into them. Even the pencil cases have to be bought only at some special Smiggle shop; pens and rubbers from K-Mart just don’t cut it…

On Christmas Eve Dad and Big Brother used to go to our own forest and came back with a proper Christmas tree, a spruce with sturdy branches, branches so strong you could hang  edible red apples on them, and of course home-made gingerbread biscuits and real candles firmly sitting in their holders…no, we never managed to start a fire…We made sure all the edibles were eaten before the 6th of January, the Finnish Independence Day, and also the customary date for taking the Christmas tree down and out.

Little Max saw a black plastic Christmas tree the other day at some shopping mall and thankfully thought it was horrid, so would have my Mum, if we would have talked about it too loudly on her well-kept grave.

They don’t make Childhoods or Christmases like they used to. I only hope that it is still politically correct to wish you all a very good Christmas…!

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A present of IPod for Grandson

April 20, 2012


The promise was rock-solid. The nine year old grandson was to get an IPod which he had saved up for with the help of grandparents who lived in self- denial. The denial was to do with unselfishly depositing money in little carton boxes at regular intervals so the grandkids could buy electronic things with buttons and batteries. The carton money boxes had names on them were well hidden especially when one of the boxes had been found with less money than before. After this discovery one of the grandsons was unusual emotional and getting very teary. He wasn’t the one who had less money in the box. He seemed all of a sudden full of goodwill and even made his bed and picked flowers for his Oma. Where did all this benevolence come from?

We held council and instead of holding an inquisition decided not to push the matter. The one whose carton box had been pillaged had become unusual philosophical and somewhat sanguine. We felt that the little brothers had come to a satisfactory financial agreement between themselves and with harmony and order returning between each other felt that our intervention would indeed have been superfluous.

The next stage for buying the IPod was to investigate all available options. I had heard of different IPod/Pad but as with most of those fashion items was totally an ignoramus of what they entailed or indeed what they did. I know that the grandson with a Pod was forever flicking the screen and clearly things were moving on the screen. They could play games, if pushing or touching a small screen can be called a game.

In my days we would lay small incendiary devices on tram-rails made of match heads and hollow metal pipes. My younger brothers had burnt down a disused town-hall in The Hague and another one had whacked frail old ladies with an even older umbrella while riding pillion on the bicycle. They were the games of former times. We were made of so much sterner stuff.

We thought a fair start would be to go and pay a visit to Dick Smith. He was after all the man of ‘buy Australian’. Didn’t he try and safe vegemite from being taken over?  Even though, personally, I was never enthusiastic about smearing brown stuff over a piece of white Tip Top, I was patriotic enough and supportive of Dick in trying to safe this iconic true Australian delicacy.

The blond girl at Dick Smith wasn’t too helpful and decided to; rightly so, put me in the geriatric section of IPod buyers. She kind of looked me up and down. I retaliated by staring over her shoulders at the same movie that was being played on about twenty screens against the back wall. Twenty green monsters, deep in a forest, were all blowing smoke from their nostrils, all in perfect time. I asked her earnestly if an IPod would support a shopping list and if it had a smoke alarm in case of forgetting about the pizza in the oven.  I think she got the hint that her sales service was somewhat lacking.

We then walked across the usual parking dessert of a major shopping centers, through a food court in full swing with dozens of hungry shoppers bent over their Big Macs and slurping slushies and walked into a BigW store. Now, there was a service. A sharp young man of about 17 explained very crisply the how’s and why’s of an IPod. It turns out it is an Apple product and that there are other similar products which are different and have different names. He was resolute in his explanations and ,above all, kept the information simple and precise.

This coming Sunday we will return with our grandson and his carton money box and buy him the Apple IPod.

There is hope for all of us.

Giving up?

March 27, 2012

If there is one thing that could tip me over the edge, it would be that modern phenomenon; the mobile phone. I have always been a difficult customer, perhaps not meant for anything much more complicated than opening an umbrella or rinsing out the tomato- sauce bottle.

Perhaps my inherited frugal gene is to blame, forever ferreting to save and scrounge for the maximum that costs the minimum. My days of hanging around a phone waiting for calls from friends have long since gone with most calls now coming from unknown sources urging me into the world of a Black-Berry or some other mysterious device. Change your plan through us, they text. “You’ll save with us”, is the lure that got me last time and is now the cause for ‘over the edge tipping.’

I have become a victim of a device that connects five other devices. It does so wirelessly but not effortlessly. All you need do is insert a little card and you get connected to all those devices. That card is called Sim-card. Don’t be fooled by its short name. It’s holding the whole world to ransom. It’s a terrorist in disguise.

My own aim has always been to seek simplicity and certain disconnectedness. This aim is probably steeped in wanting as little responsibility as is humanly possible and… A kind of laziness not to get involved in anything distracting me from …whatever it is that fills my head at the time, most likely, nothing much really.

My dream still is to live in a square room made of straw bales. It would have a wooden floor and a cozy wood heater in the middle. I would live out of a suitcase and eat simple food, may be lentils or smoked pork spare ribs with apples cooked with rhubarb and crumble on top, a simple glass of red wine afterwards…Sleep on a kapok mattress and read Patrick White’s Voss under a kerosene light.

With the $30. – Pre-paid mobile connectivity, it kept me reasonably in touch with any emergency that might pop up. The emergency might be a call from the hearing-aid centre for an appointment or a cheerful reminder that 80% credit has been used up, nothing much more than the most mundane of calls.

I often wished I could get an insight why so many are glued to those devices. If not held to their ears they have them in their hands and they are so busy flicking up and down, even sideways. What am I missing out on? What sort of fascinating world is escaping me?

I believe that undertakers are flat tack with people having been run over by semi-trailers while crossing the road and stroking their IPods, IPad and multiple other connect devices with numerous Apps and Blackberries stand alone. What a riveting world it all has come to!

My latest sojourn into that, to me denied, world of devices was an invite on my $30.- pre-paid for a WeiWah wire free Wi Fi modem that would connect up to five devices. Can you imagine; five devices? It was guaranteed to open a world hitherto unknown to me. Not only that, for a mere $49.95 a month it was going to give me 10 gigabytes of this ‘open world’. It was just too tempting.

Of course my ignorance in those matters I keep close to my chest. Not wishing to show my ignorance and lack of confidence in general, I quickly nod in agreement when experts try and inform and instruct me on device connectivity. Any gadget that uses electricity, especially if it has a screen with options and menus instantly fills me with dread.” Open up tools, please”, they tell me. “What tools”, I ask. I then quickly resort to seemingly understanding it all.

I can’t tell you how close I came to tipping over the edge. Optus must now be having conference calls over it. I became the despair of the Philippines call centre. India gave up on me a long time ago. No matter how patient they all were, nothing connected, nothing worked. I removed the dreaded Sim-card, wiped it and even put it in reverse, all to no avail (as they say in romantic novels when the hero just can’t seem to be able to seduce a recalcitrant virgin).

I must have spent an entire year of $49.50 per month in trying to find this so much desired connectivity. It finally turned out the mini Wi Fi WeiWah wire free was faulty. So, there you go. All that modernity, all those wonderful opening up of a new world, once again denied through a mere faulty ‘device’.

Where are the straw bales?

They work till they drop.

February 8, 2012

They stand until their legs swell and they can’t walk, and they perform repetitive motions on the production line for so long that some permanently lose the use of their hands

According to the New York Times, that’s what life is like for people working at a factory in Shenzhen, China, where Apple manufactures iPhones, iPads and other devices. To cut costs, managers even make workers use cheap chemicals that cause neurological damage.

Apple is hyper-conscious of its brand and reputation — so after this unprecedented international scrutiny, they’re scrambling to persuade the world they care about their employees. There’s never been a better time to demand Apple look after its employees.

Mark Shields, a self-described member of the “cult of Mac,” started a global petition on demanding Apple exert its influence on its suppliers to improve working conditions — click here to sign Mark’s petition right now.

Conditions are so bad, that there has been a rash of suicides at the Foxconn plant, and 300 workers recently threatened to jump off the roof over a safety and pay dispute.

In short, as one former Apple executive told the New York Times“Most people would be really disturbed if they saw where their iPhone comes from.”

But Apple knows it can play an important role in ensuring safe and fair working conditions for the workers at its suppliers, like Foxconn. Since 2005, the company has performed hundreds of audits of their Chinese suppliers — exposing numerous violations.

But that’s where Apple’s commitment falters: the number of supplier violations has held steady year to year and Apple hasn’t consistently publicly stated which suppliers have problems or dropped offending suppliers.

Click here to sign Mark’s petition demanding Apple change the way it does business.

The bottom line, Apple executives admit, is that they’re not being forced to change.

One current executive told the New York Times that there’s a trade-off: “You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories,” he said, or you can “make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards.

And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China.”

That means public pressure is the only thing that can force Apple to ensure its suppliers treat workers humanely. If enough people sign Mark’s petition — and tell Apple they care more about human beings than they do about how fast the company can produce the next generation iPhone — the company could be convinced to make real change for the workers at Foxconn and other factories. Sign the petition now.

Thanks for being part of this,

Nick and the team

“Boredom”, a new artform.

December 12, 2011

“Boredom”, the modern Art form.
My father used to say that if you are bored it is because ‘you’ are boring. They were wise words. Parents knew more then. If fifty years ago someone would have said that in the future a majority of people would spend a large part of their lives staring at small square objects, they would have called for a strong nurse with a straightjacket and some tablets. My parents would probably conclude by saying, “you and the whole world have all become boring”.

Yet, today this has become the norm. No matter where one goes, it is the same sad sight. There they are, all stooped over their IPod, IPad, Kindle, mobile phone or some other small square object. It seems to have overtaken all in its path, a tsunami of hundreds of millions worldwide stooping down, staring at their laps, oblivious of climate, people, geographical situation or indeed life itself. Who on earth would have thought it even remotely possible?

How did this come about and why? Years ago, we used to talk, look at each other. Do you still remember the sound of words when people opened their mouths? We exchanged ideas became animated and bounced of each other’s differences and enjoyed social intercourse. Trains and trams had passengers that talked, used real words with utterances of sounds. It’s eerily quiet now on the train, heads bowed in obedience to the square gadget. People and voice connectivity has now been replaced with a set of electronic devices which connects us, supposedly, to a different level of public togetherness which is called ‘social media’. We have books now which instead of words in a certain and highly individual order, as in the past, have now been replaced with ‘face books’. It’s all part of this phenomenon of ‘social media’, and is a world- wide movement keeping us ‘in touch’. In touch with what? In touch with that square object in your lap, isn’t it?

Together with keeping in touch through the new ‘social media’ there has been a marked decline in children on the streets. There is no more need for that because they all keep in touch with each other through their electric Face- books. It even shows a picture of your friend, what more could you probably want from friendship? You exchange sharp little messages, such as “I am here, where are you”? Or, “how many friends have you on Face-book?” “I have thirty six now, but have dumped Sharon”; “she is such a bitch”. “Have you still got Sharon on yours?” Nah. (Three months later Sharon has hanged herself).

Of course, interconnectivity is what we are all on about. We connect as never before and have even become intimate with our TV, also involving it with our need to socially be ‘involved’. Rhythmically we sway in front of it, our Wii consoles talking to us, interlude and interactive with music, keeping us in touch with ourselves and as an extra bonus keeping us fit. A newer version has hit the market. It is a device that mirrors our movement in front of the TV. This is so great for involvement of many of us with immediate proof of it and directly in front of us on TV and our own eyes. Think of it, hundreds of millions in the most extraordinary physical contortions in front of the TV all busy with ‘media’ in one form or the other. And then there is all that texting and tweeting to get involved with. It just never stops with all that ‘socially connectivity.’ It’s all so much me and more of me.

At school drop-off’s and pick-ups, again the same world of those little square devices, mothers, sometimes fathers, all on their e-phones, texting while waving a hand to their off-spring. How will language as we know it survive? Tweeting limits itself to one hundred forty characters. In days gone by, the art of writing was abandonment in using words not counting characters.

Mind you, there is light at the tunnel. Already the innovation in pushing more of those devices onto the market has calmed down. Perhaps, the limit has been reached. After all, we cannot just phone, but also e-mail, send pictures and locate where we are, all on the one gadget. What more could one want? It seems that apart from ‘astral travel’ electronically, the end of this rather silly ‘social media’ might have been reached.
In my area, the local skate-board park is busy with kids queuing up. Are they getting fed up with all those little gadgets? I sincerely hope so. Kids are not boring but those addicted to ‘social media’ are. They are so….. utterly boring.

Till Death us do ( and the IPod) Part

September 9, 2010

Till Death us do ( and the IPod) PartPosted on September 10, 2010 by gerard oosterman


There can’t be greater joy than in learning that the IPod has been responsible in a 20% increase in pedestrians being hit by cars crossing roads while caressing their IPods. Can you imagine? Well, actually I can.

During my ceaseless exploration and expeditions of large Shopping Malls, of which I have presently got a bee in my bonnet, I almost hit one IPod addict crossing River Road at Revesby last week. Of course, if I would have had more sense I should not have swerved and instead increased speed and aim straight for him. In a trance and totally out of it, this bloke of around 60 with a pony tail, not only was stroking or poking his mobile but crossed the road diagonally with turtle speed as well.

It was on a Sunday afternoon that we decided to see what happened to Nr 50 Mc Girr Str, Revesby, the abode where I spend so many formative years during the late fifties absorbing petuniated suburbia and its fenced off venetian blinded population of which bon-fire night was about the only time our street would be outside ‘en masse’.

I managed to talk Helvi in doing a double and combine it with the delights of a ‘Bankstown Square’ visit en route. Well, Bankstown Square exceeded all expectations even though we were a bit late of the Sunday. The car park was having gaps here and there; people must have had their fill of shopping and left. Some shops were also lowering their see through shutters. Never mind, it still did contain the vibes that are familiar to those that frequent those malls. In Bankstown it is where multi culture-ism is at its peak.  It is also the most horrible monstrously obvious a failure of aesthetics.

Dante’s inferno made visible in techno colour with an overwhelming hissing sound that, even for the deaf, dominated hearing aids and GPS’s. It must be the sound of the swishing credit card swiped and multiplied thousands of times combined with the licking of giant towering smoothies and slurping slushies by kids running amok. Bankstown square is where the hurling of credit cards towards the shops’ cash registers has reached the zenith of consumerism.  Not even Mr Harvey could have dreamt of such riches and from the poor as well. What proof of triumph over adversity could one still achieve?

Of course, nothing could have been further from Mrs Ross and my mother’s mind some forty years earlier. In fact it was the exact opposite, not to spend or loose, but to gain something from Bankstown Square. It was the year of 1966 that Bankstown Square shopping opened. It was after Roselands but even so, another 6 page spread in the papers and banners floating in the sky from twin winged planes that would take off from Bankstown aerodrome every couple of hours so.

What drew mum and Mrs Ross was nothing financial or need to consume. No, it was during winter that both used to get the bus on River Rd, Revesby to Bankstown Square in order to enjoy the warmth of the air-conditioning.  Waking up during winter was something and this, mum repeated endlessly, “not even during the war in Rotterdam”, had our family suffered cold as we did then in Revesby during winters. The locals were heroic as well as stoic and some in shorts defying the most flabbergasted of the Euro-centric. Mrs Ross simply spent entire winters in a good long duffel coat, wearing it both inside as well as outside, only to be taken off minutes before bedtime, diving below the blankets.

“Cold to the bones”, mum said as she and Mrs Ross used to step up into the bus to Bankstown Square. “It was so nice and warm there”, mum used to tell us.