The distribution board for my house is tucked away in a cupboard which you can only just get your head into if you lie on the floor. In fact you have to access it through another cupboard, so that your shoulders are in one cupboard and your head in another, hidden behind it. The concealed cupboard with the distribution board is actually at right angles to the first cupboard you have to climb into. This is wrong stuff.
The distribution board itself is antiquated and doesn’t adequately protect human life against electrical faults. For this reason almost any work on the house’s electrical supply requires it to be changed. It is wrong stuff.
In order to change the distribution board it needs to be isolated from the main electrical supply. There is no isolation switch between the meter and the distribution board meaning that it cannot be isolated. I need hardly point out that this situation is utterly wrong stuff too. I’ll be calling the electricity distributor in my area and asking them to put one in. Let’s hope whoever turns up to perform this task isn’t a fatty. That would be utterly wrong stuff.
Apparently electrical distributors can be a bit funny about installing these isolation switches even in the most accessible of locations. More wrong stuff. If they put it above the meter, the customer has to pay for it even though having one is the only way of making an electrical installation in a domestic dwelling properly safe. Know what I call that?
Nowadays it’s the name of a recently ascended deity. I’m surprised that we were not given a public holiday to celebrate Steve Jobs life, so great was the eulogising. The praise was universally gushing, the fervour religious in tone and the fact checking none existent. Let’s look at the facts.
People who invent stuff benefit us all. As the Guardian pointed out, Jobs could at least claim to have invented himself. Beyond that he didn’t actually create anything much. What he did was make dirty things shiny. He was a polisher and a salesman. It also isn’t really true that he made us use computers in our own homes. Bill Gates did that with Windows 95. Jobs was, by all accounts, a complete control freak and a very persuasive man. He got what he wanted. He wanted lots of money. The wealth he amassed sits with his executors right now. If he gave money to charity, it must have been in secret. Compare that to the much maligned Bill Gates who isn’t just spending his wealth on charity, he’s managing the spend and publicising it, thereby encouraging others to do likewise.
What then is Jobs’ legacy? We’ve a generation of people who have been obfuscated from learning anything much about how stuff works, who have lost the use of the other fingers on their hands because only one can be used and who expect everything to be massively overpriced. He fed our collective obsession with status. I was a Mac user for a while. There was a time when it did some stuff much better than other personal computers. Those times are long gone. The Mac is basically an overpriced machine, the ipod an mp3 player and the iphone an exercise in accesorisation. What’s the point of thousands of apps to do stuff when only one browser plugin was required instead? Obviously, I’m talking about Flash here. He didn’t give the consumer what they wanted, he told them what they wanted, he persuaded them what they wanted. Jobs’ real legacy is producing an anti-mugging device. No-one will ever mug me for my phone because it doesn’t come from Shiny Shiny Land.
The computer revolution has had many many players involved and has been a long time coming. It was not dependent on any one individual. Animated films were not going to stay stuck at the pre-War cartoon level forever but for Jobs. Whilst one should not speak ill of the dead, obituaries should include critical analysis. All those Apple employees who now worship at the church of St Jobs are actually just preserving their career portfolios. Here was a man who came along, sold other people’s products, amassed a vast fortune, didn’t appear to care about his factories’ conditions (child labour, environmental poisonings and unusually high suicide rates) and actively dumbed down an industry which should be liberating us all.
Macs are used by two types of people. There are those who have been in the habit of using them ever since the period when they outshone other work tools in certain industries, notably graphics and film. Fair enough. Most users those buy them because of what economists call ostentatious purchasing. Look at me, I’ve got an Apple product, I’m special. Iphones are used because a massive advertising campaign persuades an ignorant public that it is the only tool in town.
Many are now debating whether Apple will continue to flourish or whether it will wilt and die. The more interesting question is whether consumers will allow themselves to continue to be treated as meaningless cash till fillers or whether people will start to learn how stuff works.