Then (and then) and now

I found an article comparing consumer technology of 1996 with the consumer technology of the present day. The only issue was that the present day in question was 2009, because that’s when the article was written:

Gadgets have moved on a lot since the 1990s. We look back over two decades of progress.

It’s 13 years. 1.3 decades. Just saying.

Anyway, apparently the latest consumer technology in 1996 was the minidisc player (I still have two of these), the 3.6MP Canon Powershot 600 at £609 (I couldn’t afford one of them), and the Gameboy Pocket (I still have one of them somewhere, too).

By 2009, music had moved on to the ubiquitous iPod (I still have two of these), the 14.7MP, 5x zoom lens Canon G10 at £499 (my blog tells me that I bought my 10.1MP, 18x zoom lens Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ28 for £329 in 2009), and Ds Lite – “Wi-Fi connectivity means gamers can compete wirelessly” – (I was too old for this in 2009).

And now, a decade on? Try finding a iPod these days – just stream everything through your cellphone. A budget of £499 will land you well into the “specialist” sector of the compact camera market with the 21.1MP, 65x zoom lens Canon PowerShot SX70 HS (and 50 quid change, nogal), and Nintendo are still heading up the handheld gaming market with their Nintendo Switch (it also has “wi-fi connectivity”) (woo!).

Of course, there’s absolutely no point smirking about the past or boasting about our current amazing consumer technology, because when this post is revisited in another 10 years or so, 2019’s amazing streaming, cameras and gaming will be as laughably shit as these 2009 and 1996 versions seem to us now.

Personally, I look forward to seeing what DJI have come up with in the next decade. Their advancements in the last few years have been nothing short of incredible, and if by 2029 I’m not able to fly my drone out to get a pizza just by thinking of pepperoni, I’m going to be bitterly disappointed.

59 minute zipline

Google gave me this gem this morning…

Fantastic, but I’m going to need a bit more information now. Fortunately, there’s a whole internet out there, so a bit more information wasn’t a problem.

The zipline in question is Límite Zero. And yes, it’s all true:

Our visitors are provided a unique experience crossing over the River Guadiana from Spain to Portugal on the first cross-border zip line in the world. Along the 720 metres joining the two countries users cross over the river at speeds between 70 and 80 kilometres per hour, literally flying through time and gaining one hour because of the time zone change between both countries.

So technically, the ride actually lasts 59 minutes.

Once you arrive in Portugal (there’s absolutely no mention of needing a passport, but then if you’re in Spain then you are probably allowed into Portugal anyway, right?) you walk down to the river that you’ve just whizzed over and you catch a ferry back to Spain. Your ferry trip is included in your zipline price. Bargain.

I have once swum across the border between South Africa and Namibia and there was also an hour difference in time then. It was also much slower than 70 to 80 kph. Chad le Clos, I am not. However, it was much quicker than actually legally going across the border. And with fewer passports involved.

Límite Zero isn’t going to make it onto my bucket list, but if I ever do make it to the south of Spain, I might shell out the €20 for a ride. After all, it is a pretty unique experience.

Deadpan Robert Smith – preserved for posterity

I spotted this on twitter and shared it amongst friends yesterday, but I just heard it played again on 6 Music and couldn’t help but laugh.

It needs to be preserved on more than social media.
So here it is on 6000 miles…

Robert Smith of The Cure – fresh from touring SA – simply slaying the unfortunate squeaky interviewer as the band were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

I didn’t go to see their recent local concert – I’m not really enough of a fan – but by all accounts, they were really impressive.

And this is the sort of line you can only get away with when you’re big enough to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I guess.

Short stories…

How cool is this idea?

Short Story Vending Machines.

Yep. Soon to be installed at Canary Wharf tube station in London, commuters can choose from a selection of one, three or five minute stories across a range of genres.

Pros: More people reading stuff. It’s good for the soul, you know?
Cons: LITTER! (and if you look at the number of free newspapers left on floors and seat across the Underground network, you’ll know what I mean).

Also in that story, this line, featuring one of the best words ever invented:

The idea of selling books from a machine is not new; in 1937, Penguin founder Allen Lane installed a “Penguincubator” on Charing Cross Road, a slot-machine book-dispenser that biographer Jeremy Lewis wrote: “shocked his more conservative colleagues”.

Sadly, it only sold books. ‘Sadly’ because if there was anything that 1937 London could have really done with more of, it would surely have been penguins. Well, penguins and an absence of impending global conflict.

But it seems that book vending machines go back over a century even before Lane’s Charing Cross effort.

The first book-dispensing vending machine was built by Richard Carlile in England in 1822. Carlile was a bookseller who wanted to sell seditious works like Paine’s Age of Reason without being thrown in jail.

However, it would seem that this was no automated process. Carlile or some other individual was likely sitting in the back of the machine and handing the books out through a slot at the bottom as the money came through a slot at the top.

The machines at Canary Wharf won’t have people inside them. Technology has really moved on in the last 197 years. The short stories will be free and won’t actually be books – rather just sheets of paper.
They’re already in use across France, the US and Hong Kong, but not in South Africa, where the dual challenges of eleven official languages and rampant theft would mean that the stories would be difficult to share, and the machines only temporary at best.

Straight lines

Spotted earlier and pocketed to share.
And I’m ashamed to say that this took me some time to work out, despite the helpful title:

All the bearings are moving in a straight line!!!

I didn’t sleep well last night, ok? Everything is taking longer than it should do today.


Anyway, surely a better way of putting it would be:

Each of the bearings is moving in a straight line!!!

Either way, it’s strangely mesmerising.
I am strangely mesmerised.