Here is a Bunthorne gem from today's Guardian crossword: Frantic SOS:" Save species!" (Mine and yours are exemplified here!) (10, 4)*
Computers and cell phones are about as personal as gadgets can get. (And thank you for not mentioning vibrators.)
In '94, when we acquired a computer, we used it jointly. I played Minesweeper, the Resident Mathematician installed software and taught himself TeX and LaTeX and our son and heir played various complicated role-playing games and learnt about fifteenth century Germany and civilisation via those games.
We each had our directories and I copied my poetry and attempts at creative writing to the hard disk. The only privacy was password protection.
The computer kept evolving, as esoteric things like motherboards, RAM and suchlike kept getting upgraded. But it was the same computer, and all I used it for apart storing my deathless prose was to play Minesweeper.
In '99, the Resident Mathematician got Linux fever. I refused to be infected. So we parted ways and he acquired a new computer and went the Linux, Via voice, Festival and Emacspeak way. We were amicably divorced, you might say, but still on talking terms, as our computers were networked. This had to be so, as I used the printer the most (I used to take printouts of crosswords almost daily), and so it was at my workstation. If he wanted to print, which was a rare event, we had to have communication channels.
Then we gave up on dial-up and acquired DIAS, and about ten months ago we embraced broadband. Our computers got so personal that I wouldn't know how to turn his machine on or use it. It has no point and click options; the Resident Mathematician would be flummoxed by my machine, too, it wouldn't speak to him. These become so private, and as we set preferences and make things easier for ourselves we resent the sight of even a maintenance man sitting at our desk to troubleshoot.
It seems like an invasion of privacy.
The Resident Mathematician doesn't use a mobile phone. I do. That phone is the most liberating thing I acquired. It allowed me to stay away from home for periods longer than a couple of hours without feeling edgy. I could keep in touch.
The phone is customised too. I set ring tones, alarms, and tones for messages and assign ring tones for friends. I store a lot of numbers on the phone that aren't written down in my phone book. The messages I receive and send, they are private communications. I might make an overseas call and hand the phone to the Resident Mathematician to speak, but the phone is mine, intensely.
And every now and then I change the settings, and use different ring tones. Last night I changed my phone settings and was struck by something. There is a provision for setting a greeting message.
So, here is a question.
What sort of a person would key in a greeting message that will flash when the phone is turned on? Who but self will see that message? It is not as if a friend or relative is going to turn your phone on, is it? So why would anyone bother to write a witty message to self that comes on when the phone is switched on?
Do you have a greeting message to yourself on your phone? Come on, 'fess up.
* Possessive case.