Saturday 16 February 2013

Walkman, Kindle, Grid or HS2 (1)

An eclectic mix of subjects to cover in a three part series starting today. Skirting through  books, music and HS2. Later having a pop at the national water grid, majo changes on the high street and on to various environmental issues.

Are you into listening to music or reading books?

I have had a digital Walkman (I purchased it in Bahrain duty free some years ago now saving a fair few quid at the time) which has about 100 plus Cd's installed. It contains all the music Cd's I have purchased over the years. Which is good, because the Walkman consumes a much smaller space than a whole rack full of Cd's would on the boat. We have a small headphone splitter so that we can both listen if we want, in bed of an evening. On a night, I like to listen (with the ear buds in place) to some of my favourite music whilst I drift off to sleep. I also like to read my Kindle. However, the Gruffallo does not like being disturbed if I have the light on. I usually have one or two talking books on the Kindle, for occasions when the lights are banned. But I always seem to go back to listening to the Walkman.

This started me thinking about the various kinds of music that I like to listen to. Most of the music comes from the 60's through to the early 90's with a bit from the present day. However, even the most modern stuff is from singers and bands that have been around for a long while. With quite a few of the Cd's being the "Best of -----" compilations. I find that eBay is a good source of Cd's often the prices are much cheaper that that "UK tax dodger" site. Even when it comes to the Kindle, I try and get my reading materials from other sources. I have joined one or two web sites where I can download a new book for free - the payment for my free reading materials is to provide a critical comment about the book.

What's happened is that the whole new plethora of IT technology such as the Kindle are almost surreptitiously changing our lifestyle. Bit by bit and in so many different ways. The changes are not only effecting us, but also the shops on the high street. Especially those ones that are increasingly going out of business - Jessops, JJB sports, Woolworth, MFI, Blacks, Comet, Blockbusters and HMV have all gone to the wall. It is hard to escape the fact that a rise in consumer activism and choice – fuelled, of course by the Internet – lies behind our high streets’ current woes. The problem is that we want our towns and cities to thrive, and to be interesting and enjoyable places to visit. But most of us don’t want to pay that extra few pounds for a Cd's or a digital camera from a bricks-and-mortar retailer when we can get the same product for less on-line. Business is changing as people move away from the high street and onto the Internet. This move also includes a steady flow of people working from home. The common denominator is access to the Internet.

The Gruffallo recently purchased a new washing machine for the boat. We had a look in the high street shops at all the various models available. Even with special offer deals - the high street stores charges were well above the on-line prices. We purchased on-line, it was delivered to the boat at a time and date of our choosing. In fact they were 10 mins early.

The demographic IT profile of our nation is changing from people used to shopping on the high street to people who are comfortable with IT and the use of the Internet. Any business worth dealing with has to have an Internet presence.

Now we have the high-speed rail link being bandied around as the "way forward" proposed by the Nymphets in parliament. Who are looking at the business interests of their best friends. In payment they will get a place on the board when they leave parliament. They think that the answer is chopping off, half an hour of travel time between Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and London. They are going to spend around 30+ billion pounds or more. And take well over twenty years to do it. Now, think back over the last 20 years and what has happened with IT technology and the Internet. Twenty years ago you would not have predicted the stunning changes that have taken place on the high street. Gone are the big stors to be replaced by charity shops.

But we have a much better idea of what will happen over the next few years with IT.  Even more interaction and work over the Internet. We already use applications like skype to chat with family and friends around the world. It seems to me that over the next few years more changes will be made based on cost savings both in time and money. This is how business will develop and run in the UK. Telephone any big business today and you will be chatting with "customer service" located in India or Malaysia. The world is shrinking every day through the use of the Internet.

Look at the phone in your pocket its not so long ago that mobile phones the size of a small suitcase came on the market. Now the phone is the size of a large credit card - complete with digital camera and with a built in computer running applications. A GPS system that will direct you to the nearest ----- whatever you want. Once more with limitless access to the Internet to browse at your leisure, plus you have text messaging and voice mail service and if you are very bored you can play a few games.

When it comes to travelling longer distances between points A and B we already choose to go by bus. The Gruffallo often goes between Sheffield and Birmingham which takes around two hours. If booked a couple of weeks in advance the return journey will cost less than £16 pounds. The same journey by train costs around ten times more!

Continued in "Walkman, Kindle, Grid or HS2 (2)"


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