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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll

I’m tech’d out and it’s only the second week in January. It’s my own fault: I typed “CES 2010” into Google and my PC exploded. Las Vegas is hosting this year’s “Consumer Electronics Show” (CES) and after the lead balloon in 2009 expectations are sky high for this year’s ding dong.

We’re surrounded by 3D TV; that’s the coming consumer product – every manufacturer has an offering; including Panasonic who are grossing out on a 152 inch plasma model. Everyone’s saying it ain’t like the disastrous 3D films of the 50’s (or the less than impressive sound equivalent of the 70’s – quadraphonic). This is the real thing. HD 3D TV!

Excuse me if I yawn. We have cable TV; we used to have around 1 zillion channels but after I was diagnosed with brain atrophy brought on by excessive viewing of crap TV we now have a counterable number of channels; and most of those are Shopping Channels. If I’m labouring the point, my apologies. Rubbish is rubbish. Making it clearer, more realistic, more gadgetsy doesn’t change that. The technology is impressive and the effort that’s been expended in bringing these wonders to market is prodigious. I just wish as much effort was channelled into the programmes these new devices show off.

It’s an age thing I’m sure but more and more I find myself watching black and white films. I even find “The Sweeney” good: I couldn’t stand it the first time around but then I was in my twenties and I had better things to do. When I’m watching one of the old British TV series, I find myself saying “Aren’t the roads quiet” or “Bloody Hell, you couldn’t park there now.” More telling I look at the living conditions at the time and can’t believe I lived like that.

Go back another 10 years to the mid ‘60s and it’s another universe. Cheek by jowl with the music and the burgeoning youth culture is a world of bowlers, deference and back to back tenements. Patrician politicians and Mods and Rockers, Christian Keller and the under belly of privilege set against “That Was The Week That Was” and “Up the Junction”. From this distance I cannot believe I lived through that and didn’t notice.

A favourite past-time is spotting the emergence of today’s technology on TV. The obvious place was “The Open University” programmes of the 70’s but they don’t repeat those; not even on Bravo. Computers, the huge reel to reel beasts would regularly appear on “Dr Who”, or wildly scientific sci-fi programmes like “A for Andromeda” (with Julie Christie), and “Star Trek”. But when did the first PC appear in a TV programme – after 1980 of course if you don’t count a Sinclair, Commodore or Atari.

The recent TV ad for Virgin Atlantic 25th Anniversary with its huge mobile and vinyl is, to me, very arresting, but when did I start to use a PC?

In the late 70’s our secretaries, we still had them, and typing pools, had electronic typewriters with a strip screen showing about 5 words. In the late 80’s we had a clunking networked system which only did very limited word processing and internal messaging. In 1994, when I bought my first PC, the internet went as far as CompuServe and Bill Gates thought that he could kill off the web. God how innocent!

Now, I have a desk top, a lap top, a note (or is it a net?) book, 5 mobile phones; my wife gets my hand me downs, and my immediate thought when the snow started was “I hope this doesn’t interrupt my internet access.”

Back at CES 2010, the other big thing, besides what Apple didn’t announce, is in car computing. It looks fabulous; if only I knew what it means. But all this is a side show. The real deal will be a super phone which will do all that my PC can do and more. I'm currently watching full length films on my Satio; next year it’ll be 3D who knows. Or more likely I'll be reprising an episode of “Minder”, as I blog and tweet and inanely game on Facebook.

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