Sunday, June 24, 2012

Words fail

Because I was spending a fair portion of each day sitting in a chair feeding Max, we hit upon the idea of buying an iPad to enable me to read the news, answer emails, and play games; I'd been a bit sneery about the idea of iPads and couldn't see the point of them, but now I am a total convert. When Max grows up he will be completely au fait with the idea of touchscreen operation - it will probably be old hat by the time he's 5 - but it's still a wonderful novelty to me: close your fingers, or sweep the screen, and everything is available to you. Although I dislike the glacial speed of typing on a touchscreen keyboard, and there are some other slightly irksome features of the interface, it's about as good as a small portable device could be, and I find myself irritably swiping in vain now at the screen of my Kindle, which at the time of purchase, barely 12 months ago, had seemed like such a miracle.

Apple's refusal to enable Flash on its mobile devices has, indirectly, led to a strange brush with the bottom half of the internet. I can't play (Flash-powered) Facebook Scrabble on the iPad, and have had to fall back on its predecessor, once called Scrabulous back in those early Facebook days, and now forced to call itself Lexulous and make some significant changes to the gameplay, including the provision of eight letters, not seven, which at once makes the game easier and necessitates a bigger board. Just as you can with Scrabble, you can play with random, more-or-less-anonymous strangers and if you wish, leave comments for them. In hundreds of games of Scrabble, my messages from them were never much more controversial than the occasional "Good luck" or "Good evening from Auckland". 20 or so games in to Lexulous, I've encountered perplexing, albeit very different, remarks from two opponents. The first one began with a torrent of personal abuse aimed at me. At me personally, because he'd seen my picture, and thought it might be... funny? or provocative? to heap abuse on me. Maybe he was deploying  abuse to make me quit and thus to take the win; maybe he was just very angry for some reason. The abuse was racist, so he wasn't the sharpest tile on the board. I wondered whether to respond, decided against it, got more abuse, maintained a dignified silence, and got my revenge by winning the game.

That was pretty vile, but manageable; the second was just plain creepy, although in hindsight our exchange was also quite funny:

Creep: Did you see my invite?
Me: No, Lexulous can be a bit funny like that, messages don't get through.
Creep: I asked for players who wanted to have a naughty side bet on the outcome of the game.
Me: [Silence as I try to work out how to get out of this gracefully]
Creep: So, are you up for it?
Me: No thanks.
Creep: [Quits game in fit of pique and takes the loss]

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