My previous father-in-law (yes, I have had two of them in my time – and two mothers-in-law) had a saying about modern technology: “All this cleverness we’re learnin’ “. Well, I’m learning a bit of cleverness with my new iPhone at work. I was offered one to replace my Palm Treo over a year ago, and I resisted it – partly because I’m not (in my heart of hearts) a “Mac-person”. I’m the boring “PC” guy you see in the ads.
Well, I finally succumbed, and at home the other night I was leafing through the apps store for freebies. I searched “Catholic” and “prayers” among other things. I found the Magnificat App, which really is very neat. It’s cheaper than the Divine Office app (ie. it’s free!) and it gives you a shorter form of morning and evening prayer and compline, along with the saints for the day, the calendar, a “meditation”, the propers and readings for mass for the day, and few other prayers and things. Very nice.
But of course, I also came across something called the “Catholic Confession” app. Well, I didn’t download that one, because I thought “That’s just some silly thing from someone who thinks you can go to confession on the phone or something”. Little did I know then that this little app is taking the Catholic world by storm. Fr Z has had his input, with an initial review, Fr Lombardi has had to tell folk that you can’t go to confession on a phone – even an iPhone – and The Age had an article on it today from the NYT. As everyone knows by now, it isn’t a replacement for going to Confession, but a tool to help Catholics do what many of them probably haven’t done for ages – ie. GO TO CONFESSION! Still, I don’t think I will be signing up for it. Ticking your mortal sins on a piece of networked apparatus seems to me a rather risky behaviour in a corporate environment…
But another piece of cleverness has also just been purchases for use in the office. I have this habit of printing off reems of articles from the Internet to take out into the garden with my pipe. This is so much better than reading off the net (or even off your iPhone), since it enables you to scribble and highlight and notate at will. For the same reason, I have resisted the urge to go out and buy a Kindle or some such electronic book reader. Reading is for me an interactive exercise and I like to liberally comment in the margins with my pencil (never pen – that would really be breaking the Code of the Librarians!).
Then just the other day, Pastor Fraser Pearce told me about a new ebook reader he had purchased. It is made by Sony, it is small enough to fit in your pocket, it will read all kinds of documents, including Word, rtfs, txts and pdfs as well as epub books. And, joy of joys, you can actually make notes in it – highlighting passages and writting your own notes with a stylus, which it then saves along with the file of the book in question (although it is a little difficult to write legibly with the stylus). It is also not backlit, but appears just like the Kindle readers. As you can gather, I have purchased one of these little jiggers, and after a bit of fiddling, have got it to work just fine. I intend to use it for all kinds of documents that I have to carry around with me to meetings and such. No more searching for this bit of paper or that, or wondering where I put that article or other. It’s all there!
The Sony Reader is available in two sizes, the 5″ screen and the 6″ screen. Scanned pdfs, which are images rather than text, are a little hard to read, since it wants to show you the whole page rather than resizing the text, but the small Pocket edition which both Fraser and I have purchased has the advantage that it really does fit in your shirt or coat pocket, which the larger one would not do.
All this cleverness we’re learnin’…