Thursday, January 9, 2014

Midwinter slump, and cyber-eavesdropping

I got to go to London, again, over New Year's, this time with my husband. We saw a dozen shows ranging from foul-mouthed comedy to opera, ate some terrific food, and just soaked up the differentness of it all. I even scored the Downton Abbey Series Four dvds, as a birthday present for myself, and an Archers encyclopedia, in the Oxfam bookstore on the Marylebone High Street.

We were back Sunday night, I was off school Monday because of the polar vortex, which was a lovely way to get over the jetlag, but now that make-up day is schedule for President's Day, which I was planning to spend in New York anyway, so there goes all my personal leave -- by February. April and May are never-ending in schools as is, and my year is unprecedented in terms of stresses. I have my USSBY co-sponsored sessions at the ALA conferences in January and June, and the state conference in my hometown (where I'm presenting, hosting events, helping with speakers, and assuming the presidency, all at once) this April. I still have my dissertation to finish up/defend, and am at this very moment begging to be allowed to register for another four-figure tuition bill for this semester and write up some application my advisor wants for university funding for conference expenses.

I keep feeling as if I should be a little happier than I am. I feel like I'm paying the piper for some past songs, and, while I'm dancing as fast as I can, I just can't keep up. I guess I've noticed that there are a lot of people who don't even try, and that's what's driving me nuts.

My  vacation DID have me peering over lots of shoulders at devices. My takeaways:

Mobile data access abroad still sucks. I've got my second UK SIM card in my iPhone 4, this one ostensibly data-only, but it stopped working altogether a couple of days into the trip. As a week's AT&T roaming mounts up to enough to buy another international ticket, what's a web-addicted girl to do? Meanwhile, our hotel offered simultaneous wifi device connection, so that's something. But even Costa Coffee wants a UK post code for a half-hour's wifi.

People LOVE Candy Crush. Odds are about even that person tapping on their phone is playing it. 

Twitter is dying the death of a thousand (PR) cuts. Does every performance at the Royal Albert Hall really demand a hashtag? And the most of the people using the #ArtistRAH on New Year's Eve seemed to be part of the performance. So much for generating buzz. Meanwhile, kids on the tube were buzzing about Tumblr's gif-y reception of Sherlock, "less than an hour" after the season debut. And snapchat is just as buzzy there, judging from the teens I sat near at Cirque du Soleil. "Where you in London all day? Oh, right, you snapchatted me."

Choose your poison. Cute patterned Cath Kidston cases for Samsung Galaxies are an exciting suggestion of less iOS-centricity. Meanwhile, I saw several people reading The Times via its app on iPad minis. It was gorgeous and legible.

People want to be comfortable, damn all else. The largest line I saw was the controlled access queue for the Ugg store in Central London, and every-other-tourist sports a pair and lots of locals, too. All I can think is that there will be a delayed boon for podiatrists.

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