Something for the Weekend, Sir? Forget the stereotype: small is better. And as I get older, it seems to be getting smaller. Only last night I had to ask Mme D to help me look for it.
Next time I shall take more care over where I leave my spare microSD card.
Actually I have several of these lying about the house but I cannot place them all just at the moment, because I don't remember how many I have. I use them with almost all my devices, from laptop to SLR camera to smartphone – basically anything that doesn't run iOS (of course). It doesn't hurt to have a couple of spares lying about, even if I don't remember where.
Naturally they do not reside in the same places as the card adapters that enable me to use them in standard-size SD slots. These are scattered about too but I rarely ever find a card and an adapter at the same time. Now if I ever stumble upon one, I tape it to the cork board in my office just in case the other should make itself known to me later in the day.
As for USB flash drives... I must own a hundred of these little buggers, at least. At one point, there were so many that I ran out of people to give them away to. Once you've given a few to the children in their Christmas stockings five years in a row, you start to get a bit desperate to find new means of disposal. I was dumping shoeboxes full of them at charity shops, topping up the "Small Electronics" skip at the local dump, building scale models of HMS Victory out of them, spinning them like shurikens at a dartboard, handing them out like sweets in the school playground...
Despite my affection for them, their big problem is accelerated uselessness: their storage significance wanes quickly over time. Reaching down the back of my sofa this week, I rediscovered one of my favourite USB flash drives ever – a slick chunk of black plastic the size of a pack of Juicy Fruit offering the once-mindblowing capacity of 512Kb.
This discovery rather confirms my theory of where all the others of its era have got to. They got fed up being left around the house unused and so trotted off to form their own domestic USB flash communities where they could live out the next millennium in simple USB harmony, safely hidden from the fleeting humours of wayward humanity.
It would never have worked, guys. Eventually you'd have started an interdimensional war with Doug Adams' ballpoint pens and then where would we be? Anyway, whatever half-decent capacity drives remain to hand have been Tipp-exed with their capacity to save time. The rest I have magnanimously awarded their freedom.
The issue isn't one of storage in particular but miniaturisation in general. As I probably noted at least once before, new devices replace old ones in rapid succession – smaller, faster and ever more capable – due to the industry's necessary evil of planned obsolescence. We have reached a stage where practically every silly spy gadget in the 1960s Get Smart is old hat, clumsily old-fashioned even.
Certainly there's nothing to write home about when it comes to the "shoe phone" or the "tie-clip camera" – although my eyes water at the thought of the devious "razor ring".
It's curious, then, that technology fads contrive to push us in the opposite direction, especially when it comes to display size. TV is dead, they tell me, just as TV manufacturers bring out bigger, wider models. Small screens are the thing, they scream, while smartphones grow taller and insaner.
Seriously, sitting down quickly while a smartphone's in your pocket is the new Russian Roulette. It's a man thing: not so much "lifts and separates" as "shifts and castrates." At a recent developers' conference I attended, the speaker led an amusing role-play with the audience standing up, and when everyone sat down again all at once, the theatre exploded into a hellish riot of Hieronymus Bosch-like proportions, the auditorium filled with a cacophony of yelps, squeals and squirming as participants struggled to re-seat their pocket guillotines.
Now I hear that the next smartphone fad will be hinged dual-screens. They seem to love the idea in the Far East where all phones are manufactured but perhaps that's because they remember their parents having to carry little red notebooks around with them everywhere. There's even a successful Kickstarter-funded product called eOneBook that lets you read manga on an artificially thickened two-page e-ink reader device which, other than the fact that it's nothing like the real thing, is just like the real thing.
This in turn flies in the face of South Korean undercover tech, from what I gather from Dang Kim's spy memoir, The Spy Gone North. His task in the late 1990s was to infiltrate Kim Jong-il's inner circle to learn if the North had a working nuclear programme. A film adaptation has just been released:
What the trailer doesn't show is that the real-life Kim was packing a microphone in his penis.
One might call it the world's first organic telescopic directional mic, if not quite the type I'd like to have shoved in my face during a vox pop. In the event, Kim managed to record only very dull and non-incriminatory conversations; no doubt everyone on his right came out muffled.
Now while I pray to God that late-'90s electronics were already small enough for such a manly job, I can also imagine that even tinier and more capable devices might be secreted down there today. In fact, gents, we might be able to pack an entire smartphone in our schlongs. Given how we already struggle with our pocketed mobiles, we'd hardly notice the difference.
OK, so there'd be a temptation to enable all notifications on vibrate and we'd get arrested on an indecency charge every time we take a snapshot with the camera, but we'd be in good company. I read that semi-fictitious Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto has been going around threatening to "reveal himself". Maybe this is his way of admitting he has stuffed an iPhone XS down his crypto-chubby and is prepared to risk not just exposure but a severe crick in the neck in order to take a selfie.
Me, I think I'll keep my personal tech devices external for a while yet. I'm perfectly happy wearing a strap-on.