Monthly Archives: October 2012

Ethical Dilemmas for the Technologically Privileged, Selfish and Incompetent

My phone was stolen. So I do need a new phone. I am currently using my aunt’s old phone, which is fine, texts, calls, alarms, no problem. However… I miss my old smartphone. Not just because it was shiny and kept me in contact with all my friends and had access to the internet and all manner of silly games if I was stuck waiting for a bus with no-one to talk to and no book to read. I think all those are big reasons why smartphones are popular, but the reason I feel like I *need* one is because actually, being able to check your emails, read over documents people send you, add things to your calendar — which then syncs with your email calendar and then beeps to tell you not to be late, and do any number of other useful, grown-up things, is brilliant. To someone like me, who really struggles to remember things like doctor’s appointments and even regular weekly rehearsal slots and so on, it’s a lifesaver. And when you’re desperately trying to get somewhere, and you’ve got no sense of direction and you’re going to be late? Google Maps. In your palm. Bang.

So I do feel rather lost without my smartphone. I’ve not had it for three or four months now and I still miss it and I still struggle without it.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that, wonderful as it is that my aunt has given me her old phone ‘for as long as you need it’, I do need to replace my beloved smartphone sooner rather than later. Cost is a consideration for me at the moment, but I’d rather get something pricey and futureproof (ish) than something outdated or poorly made which won’t last above a year. I don’t like buttons, I’ve decided – when my hands are cold or I’m walking and texting it’s far, far too easy to inadvertently delete or send texts when I’m not ready, which wasn’t a problem at all with the iPhone I used to have. I do want something which is a pretty object to have in my handbag, let’s be honest. And maybe the crucial concern is that I don’t have much patience with technology. I have plenty of friends, and a boyfriend, who can pick up anything electronic and use it straight out of the box. It’s like my friends are all Chip-Whisperers or something. Yes that is a thing. It is a thing which I am not. But I can’t stand being confused by technology and I can’t stand it if I don’t find it reasonably intuitive and I can’t be doing with spending too long ‘getting used to’ how it works.

So for me the iPhone was pretty much perfect. It worked right out of the box, there were definitely shortcuts and things I didn’t know about for  far too long but once I knew them they seemed like magic to me, and had I never discovered them, my life would not have been the poorer for it. It practically talked to me and told me how to do everything I needed to do.

I’m worried that other smartphones won’t do that. I don’t know – and I don’t know how to find out. Ideas?

The thing is that up until about ten minutes ago this wasn’t a problem. I was just  going to find an iPhone that was as new as possible, preferably a fully refurbished 4S or something, at the most affordable price I could, from somewhere reputable, and that was going to be lovely.

And then I thought, ‘shouldn’t I try to be vaguely ethical about this’?

The answer is that no, you can’t get an ethical smartphone. Wherever you look, the workers are unhappy, trade unions are a rarity or a sham, they’re working with toxic materials in unsafe conditions under regimes that we don’t really like, and it’s all a bit horrible. Out of twenty, the highest any phone manufacturer scores is 10.5 (taken from this article, courtesy of Ethical Consumer, which I can’t afford to pay to read). Amplicom don’t make smartphones, but we’ve all heard of Blackberry, in 2nd place, who do.

I don’t want a Blackberry though! They’re clunky and buttony and complicated and I’m neither a lawyer nor an MP so I just shouldn’t have one!

Apple score 7. Is that OK? No, it’s shit, it’s 35 percent of ethical, which is hideous. But if the best I’m going to get is a grudging 50%, is that OK?

I hope that last paragraph or two explain the title completely. #Firstworldproblems indeed… .



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Right, chaps.

I just read a few articles about Excitingly Maverick Tips and Tricks to help you Get A Job. I hope you can sense the dripping sarcasm – I tend to feel that when there are thousands of us graduates clogging up the job market, no-one’s approach is likely to be ‘innovative’, if only because several hundred other graduates across the country have probably had the same scintillatingly new idea, and things that are getting written into articles about how to get a job are almost certainly ideas that, whilst not being what your parents are advising you to do (nothing wrong with parental career tips, but…), have gained a certain level of establishment.

For example: use your online presence. The obvious bit of that is make your facebook private. There’s nothing embarrassing on my facebook to the best of my knowledge, but all the same I don’t particularly want any employer to know what I was like when I was seventeen (the answer is eyeliner and alcopops in case you were wondering).

The less obvious bit is ‘what do you let them find’? For example, blogs. If I’m going for jobs in medical writing, I ought to be able to demonstrate that I can write. Or at least edit. So I can tell them about the publishers and journals I’ve worked for and they can either recognise the names I’m listing, or go and look up the journals in question, and be quite reassured – and that tells them that I’m good at dealing in academic English. What that doesn’t tell them is whether I can only write and edit within those parameters, or whether I have some other tricks up my sleeve (medical writing covers all kinds of interesting bases).

I’m almost beginning to wonder if it’s time I tidied up this blog, and then put my name to it. So that if some day someone Googles me, they find me here, among other things, and realise that this is a perfectly edited, hilariously written, pleasingly styled wonder of a site which is in fact everything they want to see from someone they want to employ.

Better still, perhaps it’s tiem for a new blog (where I don’t let things like ‘tiem’, ‘hte’ or ‘becuase’ slide), regularly updated, full of bits and pieces I read in the news and then comment on myself (or shamelessly bowdlerise from Ben Goldacre if I’m feeling like going for that ‘maverick’ edge…), to dazzling effect.

Or maybe I just stick with the ‘traditional’ approach: tell them I am brilliant at everything, give a few examples within the text of my CV, and hope they don’t think that ‘evidence-based’ is a meaningful concept in any context other than the scientific…?


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I haven’t had anything to say on here for a while. I want to write things that are funny, interesting and relevant whether or not you know me, but actually I’m living a very insular life at the moment and being very inwards-looking, which isn’t exactly conducive to ‘broadly relevant’, ‘interesting’ or ‘funny’. Except a few kind people keep saying that they’d genuinely like to read about what I’m actually up to, so here’s exactly that.

I’m doing some freelance editorial work from home. It’s interesting to me, but if you’re like most people, the words ‘serial comma’ don’t exactly make you prick up your ears and the last time you tried to sort out a decent reference list for a piece of work was probably at university, and probably drove you close to tears, your sanity only saved by whatever was on telly in the background while you did it. For the record, I don’t enjoy sorting out peoples’ reference lists any more than you do, but there are definitely things I do enjoy about my job, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.

However, between this freelance work, and the work I did as a research assistant over the summer, I have discovered that I’m not hugely suited to working by myself for long periods of time. At the moment I’m all alone in the house throughout most of the working day. I get distractedly lonely and sad sometimes, and lunch break becomes a major treat with unhealthy food and whatever looks most sumptuously distracting on iPlayer to provide a major boost. Then I just have to keep on going until my housemates get home and my boyfriend gets out of placement and I have people to talk to again.

I’m also working as a demonstrator in lab classes for my old university – on one of the modules I studied myself back in second year. For those of you who didn’t do labs at uni, the gist of my role is that I wander around the lab and when people look up at me looking anywhere between puzzled, frightened and downright angry, I go and talk to them and see if I can sort out what’s going wrong in their experiment, explain whatever they don’t understand, or tell them where to find the kit they’ve already been told where to find but were ignoring the lecturer at the time they were told. At the end we have to check briefly through their results and calculations and sign to say that yes, they have done all the required work both during hte labs and in the previous week at home, and then we all go home. Good money, good fun, but only twelve weeks work.

In whatever spare ‘working’ time I have left, I am looking for jobs that get me out of the house and get me a more dependable income.

As for my own spare time, quite a lot is going on. I’m still with S, so this weekend we celebrated our first anniversary. We’ve just joined the local 20s-30s Ramblers and we’re planning on getting out of the city every Saturday we possibly can, and on my now-occasional free Sundays (you have no idea how exciting a ‘free Sunday’ is for those of us who sing…). We’re planning a few photo excursions around the city and out into the countryside, we attempted to bike to S’s new placement over the weekend and got destroyed by one of the hills, so S is going to have to do the whole thing by bus instead.

And I made a Regency dress! I will try to post photos when I can. It’s for a big annual fancy dress bar crawl. I found an empire-line dress which was more of a Victorian style in a quaint little vintage shop near where we live, and I cut the bodice away from the skirt, bought some white muslin to make a new skirt, and S made me a cape out of the old red velvet skirt! I’m going to use what’s left of hte red velvet to make myself a ‘reticule’ to carry money, keys, etc on the night. How I’m going to style my (still pretty short) hair on the night I do not know…!

One last thing. I’m knitting a baby sleeping bag for my cousin’s new baby. Photos to follow when finished and given to said cousin’s child. It’s going to be very bright and stripey. 



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