Thursday, November 02, 2006

Phone or super-computer

Stan and I are both geeks of an order of magnitude normally associated with nerds. We do not fall into the nerd category though. I have no interest in science fiction ergo non-nerd and Stan is a world authority on musicals (empirically proven by the pub quiz in St Albans). Yes, I have questioned his sexuality.

The reason I write the above is that I am currently in a state of immense excitement. A few days ago I received a call from my mobile phone provider informing me that I was due an upgrade to my handset. This is particularly fortuitous in that I had nearly bought one at the weekend. The one that I have is the mobile phone company branded one. It runs Microsoft's CE OS and I loathe it with a passion. My Linux box used to boot in approximately a quarter of the time it takes me to "boot" my phone. In my world, you boot PCs not phones. You switch on phones like you do lights.

The handset that I have at the moment performs more operations than I need by a nautical mile. I hate it with a passion. Thirty years ago, you would have needed a large room to house the power that I carry around in my pocket. Thanks to the advent of 0201 and 0101 passives, I have the equivalent of NASA's 1960s computer power and it fits in the palm of my hand. Progress is unrelenting.

I used to work in the electronic manufacturing business, first in Europe, then in the US, then in Asia and spent about 8 years walking around the various plants that make the phones. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, Nokia were by far the most impressive. Back in the day when Motorola used to make their own phones, I was surprised any of them ever worked. They were so focussed on statistics that they forgot about the primary aim; make the damned thing work. Walking down the Motorola lines, there were machines for as far as the eye could see, hammering down passives, ICs, SOICs, BGAs and RF shields by the thousands. A phone every 20 seconds. It all looked very impressive until you got to the end of the line, where armies of drone workers sat with ICT equipment and soldering irons. That is the face of Moto that you never get to see.

I digress.

Anyway, as I sit here typing, waiting for my new Nokia (read Cray) to arrive, I'm like a kid the night before Christmas, just waiting to get the bugger in my hands. At last, a phone I actually want to own!

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