It's useful, eBay. But I hate the whole rigmarole of it - the packing of stuff, the idiot questions, the usurious fees demanded by eBay and Paypal as a result of their monopolistic dominance of the market. So I only do it in lumps, when it's worth swallowing the pain of the whole experience. Which is what I've just done - with considerable success on the sales front.
But what makes me most pleased is receipt of my first ever negative feedback: Knowing that the Portuguese hold us in such regard has made my day.
There's nothing more inclined to leave you questioning the point of your own existence than finding yourself in an extended conversation about apps. Appchat is just awful, because - almost inevitably - one of you is going to end up feeling superior / pitiful / like there must be more to life. And the other won't have a clue, so enthralled are they by the latest AppStore 59p sacrifice at the altar of The Jobs.
So I'm not doing any more conversational appwank. This is what's on my iPad as of today. I'm not prepared to discuss it any further.
Connecting computery stuff directly to an IP network is nothing new - but, years ago, doing anything to the computery stuff would require establishing a telnet session with it and typing in a series of arcane commands, which it would respond to in some form of geek gobbledegook. This is why geeks could command megabucks in years gone by - they had to speak the jibberish of network devices, no-one else in the company had a clue what they were doing and a sulky refusal to bother could bring a company to its knees.
Things are rather different nowadays. If a device is designed to connect to a network, the manufacturer, as a matter of essential courtesy (and to minimise the geek bill), will have built a tiny web server into it. In much the same way as typing www.timfg.com into your web browser sends an instruction to a server in the US to despatch back the home page of this site, typing 192.168.1.13 will instruct my printer to send back the home page of its configuration interface. Or, at least, it will if my laptop is on my home network. I could configure access to everything on my network from the internet if I really felt that I needed to check my printer's toner cartridges from a beach somewhere, but I don't. Really, I don't. I won't entertain any 'Bet you do sometimes' piss-taking either.
Connecting up the printer and tweaking the DHCP settings in the router to allocate it an address that won't ever change - the aforementioned 'static' IP - I started thinking about the extent to which this principle is going to extend to devices that aren't just 'computer stuff'...
There are four network devices already serving up their existence on the network:
But there are many more devices occasionally (or permanently) attached - a small subset actually active in the 'Router' picture above-left. Off the top of my head - and I'll probably forget something - this house contains: Several PCs of one form or other, iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, TVs, Blu-Ray players, XBoxes, Sky boxes... a mass of kit that might need a connection to the internet to carry out a primary function. Where it makes sense, these devices can all be configured or controlled over the network too - and it's that aspect that will drive a huge increase in the number of devices on home networks over the next few years. Connect to them with a web-browser, for sure - it's the lowest common 'standard' - but this means apps for tablets and phones, dashboards that collect together the status of the household, alerts to important changes in status and routine acceptance that we operate everything from some flat-panel display. Probably with Siri-like voice commands if we're of that bent.
Domestic houses are full of devices that need power. If they need power, they probably need some input to make them do whatever they're designed to do, even at the most simple level - a lamp may be on or off, for example. If they need some input to work, there's probably value in being able to do it remotely - and, beyond that, for the device to be able to communicate with you about its state, because something's gone wrong with it or it's just feeling generally unloved. Extend that principle a level further and you begin to see that, actually, it might make a lot more sense for it to tell the manufacturer that it needs attention and book an appointment for the local agent to come out with a spare part, offering you a range of appointments to choose from. All this is not just possible, but easily implemented today - once devices equipped like this become readily available and manufacturers begin to implement the back-office capability to make it happen. In many cases, they already are - most TV's nowadays expect to to be plugged into the internet to offer their full range of capability. But this goes way beyond multimedia delivery - the house of the very near future (and I mean a few years at most) will routinely be equipped with IP-connected:
And I won't go on - you can speculate further into the future, ad-infinitum for your own pleasure. If you've never given it a moment's thought, then you probably should start - the world of the very near future is going to be radically different, all because you have a magic box in the house that delivers wireless internet. An obvious ramification is terminal laziness and obesity - so expect your IP-enabled gym-equipment to get increasingly naggy too.
'The Digital Dashboard is actually working fine darling, I've just told it to disable the TVs and the fridge door until the bathroom-scales let it know that you've shed the love-handles...'
...to Wallington Girls, Oxbridge, a long, successful and rewarding career in something hugely lucrative and a guaranteed comfortable retirement for me and Al. Well worth a few quid in downpayment.