I’ve just spent the last few weeks trying to re-establish a wireless connection in the flat in which I live. We recently changed broadband providers and the migration from our old set-up to our new one has been less than smooth. Much less.
My competence with computers falls into the category of “enough knowledge to be dangerous”. Like weekend fettlers who disassemble the carburettor of their Ford Sierra only to call in the AA on a Monday morning. Or DIY plumbers who proudly finish their new bathroom before receiving agitated reports of leakage from the downstairs neighbours.
If you ask me to fiddle with my network settings, I’ll naîvely wade into my Mac’s System Preferences and start fiddling with IP addresses, DNS servers, TCP/IP, PPPoE, MTUs and the like. I just wish I understood it all. Or do I? This is no fun. This is not what computers are for.
For a non-techie like me, it’s like entering a bizarre world. It looks like OSX, but gone is the logical simplicity of files, folders, buttons and sliders which usually makes using a Mac so idiot-proof. (On a Windows machine, of course, I’d be patronised beyond belief. “Do you want a ‘WizardTM‘ to help you set up ‘My ComputerTM‘ with one of ‘My Special Network PlacesTM‘?”)
It seems that Apple, smart as ever, already know that things should be easier, so I read with interest that they are working on a cunning plan. I don’t fully understand the technical details, but the story on the MacRumors site suggests that plans are afoot to use RFID technology to help networking products exchange basic information with each other, enabling them to then automate the rest of the process. RFID is the whole business of little tags whose embedded information can be simply read by a nearby device. The kind of thing that’s currently used to automate regular payments on toll bridges, or to identify stray pets and bicycles to police and thereby reunite them with their owners.
I don’t understand the technical intricacies of this RFID idea any further. But that’s the whole point – I don’t want to!
Imagine if your computer, partner’s computer, router, printer and everything else just introduced themselves, Bluetooth style, to each other so you didn’t have to worry about IP addresses, manual, DHCP or otherwise. I want setting up my computer and that of my housemate to be as simple as downloading pictures from my camera, deleting some music, or adding to this blog.
Let Apple handle the questions of how that stuff actually works. That’s their job – I have better things to do.