My Valuable Extra Phone

Back when we went to London for Worldcon (and then I went to Sweden for a workshop), I bought a smartphone in Heathrow thinking I could sell it back when I left. That turned out not to work the way we thought, but it's served me well ever since as an e-reader. It can't connect to the local cell network, but I can download stuff via wi-fi, and it's small enough to hold in one hand, and back-lit, which makes it nice for reading in bed and on planes.

The lack of a cell connection, though, means it's just running on its onboard clock, so has gotten out of synch with my US phone. But even that is impressively good, and as I explain at Forbes, would've made me rich in 18th-century London.

So, you know, if that sounds interesting, go over there and read all about it...

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And yet... how fondly we remember the old K6 phone boxes with their 'pay-on-answer' dial phones. Lift receiver, listen for dialling tone, dial the number... then listen for rapid pips and press a 10p coin through the slot.

They couldn't give you television on-demand, but they were reliable, and the audio was crisp and clear. They were part of the 'civic commons' that included public drinking fountains, clean public WCs with attendants, and benches for just sitting down. The moves toward getting rid of all that are part of a trend toward a mean and unfriendly society. One has to wonder when the last public loo will disappear, replaced by everyone having to carry an iPee. Or perhaps instead we'll come to our senses.