Sunday, November 14, 2004

Of new toys and new technology!

I had to do it sooner or later. Most new films and TV shows are coming out on DVD these days. You can still get videos, but with my local video library gradually changing over to DVD only, I felt as if I was still using vinyl in the era of CDs. (Mind you, there are some people who still refuse to use CDs, but that's another story). I knew DVD players were a lot cheaper these days - you can buy one at the supermarket for less than $70! Now, if any time, while I had some money from book royalties, was the time to invest.

And so, my friend Bart and I went out one night to Myers' Megamart store in Moorabbin. Bart loves new toys, whether they're his or someone else's, and is very good at choosing. I had to buy a new TV as well, because the tiny 34 cm set that has graced my lounge for 10 years just wouldn't take a DVD player - not in stereo, anyway. So we went all out. TVs are cheaper these days too. I'd hoped to get a Panasonic, a brand I have been happy with in the past, but the only Panasonic TV available for a price I could manage just didn't have the features I wanted, so I went for the LG, a new brand which is still inexpensive but good quality. It is 51 cm - quite big enough for me - and stereo. Bart and I decided on a video/DVD combo, because they're so cheap these days that if one part of it breaks down, it's not going to be a hassle to replace. It also meant that the old TV and video could go to my room and I could watch in bed. Bart bought me a DVD he saw me looking at, the special edition of Spartacus, and we did a very good deal on my new goodies, with delivery virtually thrown in.

A new era has begun. It's strange to remember when I recorded Star Trek on audiotape from the TV (I still have those). Then my thrill at the new VCR, and taping absolutely everything I'd ever loved. And now I have another new toy, which will let me keep my favourite stuff from being damaged, and gives me more room on the shelves while including more material. Wonder what's next?

But then, the years have brought me a lot of new things. I wrote my Honours thesis using a typewriter, and I was thrilled to have an office model instead of the portable I'd used in high school. Then my first computer at work, an Apple IIE, which didn't have a hard drive - you just shoved a program disk into one drive and your word-processing disk in the other. At home, I had an electronic typewriter which I'd bought with my winnings from the Mary Grant Bruce Award for children's fiction. It let you word process one line at a time before printing out. When I met Bart, he helped me get my first home computer, the Mac Classic II, which I still have and was still using only a few years ago, before I got a laptop lease at work. I'm on to my second laptop and the latest Mac OS.

And here I am, blogging on the WWW! My Dad, nearly 80, has become a "Silver Surfer" who needs his daily "fix" of the Net.

Go technology!

Friday, November 12, 2004

The "new" National Gallery of Victoria

I've only been back to the National Gallery of Victoria twice since it re -opened, with a flourish of publicity. I have to say, I miss the old one. They made a big thing of the fact that they didn't, after all, remove the water-wall, but last weekend, it was painted over - so you really couldn't see the water. The former Great Hall, with its stained-glass ceiling doesn't feel like a "Great" Hall any more. There are about four eating-places - one wasn't enough? Two, even?

What really bothers me, though, is that the large, warm, comfortable galleries have been reduced to small rooms, mostly dark, with hardly anywhere to sit and admire the paintings. Small though they are, they feel big because they're virtually empty, with maybe one small bench in the middle. The wood-panelling and the sunshine in the main entrance area are gone. Metal ramps from one floor to the next and the place is a rabbit-warren, with "exit" signs that just take you to the next gallery, not out on to a landing. Heaven help you if you want to visit the facilities! As for the displays of pottery and other relics, they're for all the world like the Homewares department in Myers!

Bring back the gallery I grew up with!