Of course, I don't really plug the Internet directly into my brain... but I wish I could
Ahhh... Auntie Amazon delivered a nice new router this morning, and I've been swept up in an orgy of Googling ever since... plus being able to get Radio 4 over the net (for some reason the FM signal seems to be blocked here).
(Techno-babble warning: the following paragraph is best skipped if you're not into stuff computer-y.)
This is my new best friend; a Netgear DG834G wireless ADSL modem router (henceforth "Art Object #1"). It's a striking example of how network devices have moved from the realms of IT to become home appliances.
My old device (a D-Link DSL router bought in 2002) featured an impenetrable web-based interface and a minimal manual which assumed a detailed understanding of networking. In contrast, Art Object #1 includes a setup wizard in the web interface; it asked me if it should have a go at self-configuring, I clicked "yes" and aside from entering my username and password that was it. Connected in 30 seconds. And that's taking into account the fact that, as a Mac user, I couldn't use the Windows-only setup software provided on CD.
What's more, the layout of the interface includes an incredibly useful sidebar that contains explanations of the terms used in the interface, plus instructions on how to configure various options. I normally measure the success or otherwise of installations in terms of "swearing-time" - that is, the point where you end up fiddling with a device that should already be working, until some re-entering of data or re-insertion of a cable does the trick. I'd consider 35 swearing-minutes to be good going for configuring a router. Including unpacking the thing from the box, it took me all of five minutes get the broadband connection, and then maybe another 30 minutes to secure the network, but in fact that involved no swearing at all; most of the time was taken reading through the clear and detailed instructions, which I tended to do more carefully since they were presented right there in the interface. Brilliant. I not only love this device, I want to lick it all over.