Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Choo kiko wapi?

Any old East Africa hand will tell you that that this is how you say Where is the toilet? in Swahili.

Happily, I have spent very little time in Dar es Salaam and have never thought it important to memorise this phrase or indeed to learn Swahili. In fact it is a long time since I set out to learn any languages at all; I first started to acquire a knowledge of colloquial English many years ago and I am now as fluent in it as one needs to be to cope with everyday life, though of course I have forgotten much and sometimes have to pause when writing or speaking while I struggle to find the right word.

But for the past three weeks I have been wrestling with a new and difficult language called Apple. Having realised after a quarter of a century of subservience to William Gates III that there is a world outside DOS and Windows which should be explored, I have acquired a MacBook. Through something called a Time Capsule (a menacing little white box which gets hot) it connects to an assortment of venerable equipment (though not, sadly, to my lovely old black 1985 vintage Apricot, which sits on a shelf in proud isolation), and I have to communicate with this dissonant assemblage in two different tongues.

It's rather like a European trying to learn Japanese: easy enough to remember that doitashi mashite means you're welcome, and that F11 on a Mac does the same as Windows-Shift-M on a PC, but the whole mindset is different: you have to unlearn things that always seemed naturally right, and acquire habits that seem perverse.

Anyway, during March I have made some progress, thanks to the help of a kind friend who set it all up and is instructing me in the arcane rituals of Macdom; besides being a poet of note he is a technological genius with more than a decade of Mac experience behind him, and today is his birthday.

I haven't as yet done anything useful with the MacBook, but I have played happily and created some pretty things, like this display of a selection of my websites and blogs:
[I shall not report further progress or indeed return at all to this topic; I do not wish to be like Stephen Fry, an erudite and witty man who nowadays spends much of his time writing unspeakably tedious articles extolling the virtues of various bits of electronic kit that take his fancy.]

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