New technology isn’t always logical | Alun Newman

Most people remember their first video recorder.I was so excited when my dad finally buckled to family peer pressure that I danced around the front room and broke some of my sister’s china tea set.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 9:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 9:59 am
Alun doesn't think there's anything wrong with a landline telephone.

I was sent to the kitchen to calm down.

I didn’t. I was in a hazy dream world of new technology. The possibilities seemed endless.

We could record The Dukes of Hazard, Grange Hill, Monkey or even Dallas.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

What more could anyone want from technology than the ability to save the things you love.

It even had a barcode scanner on the remote control that you ran across the bar code in the Radio Times and it set the video for you.

I can’t think of an occasion when that ever worked.

It seemed to only work for Panorama or World In Action – two shows that very nearly put me off TV altogether.

My dad refused to keep buying the Radio Times as well so that fizzled out.

The last Blockbuster video Store in the world is in Oregon, USA. It’s now also an Airbnb and occasionally a film set.

People visit from far and wide for a trip down memory lane.

Of course, the trip down memory lane won’t include reminiscing about videos not playing, being scrambled or in fact, the wrong video in the box.

At least they weren’t as bad as DVDs that you hired. They came with promises that you could spread jam on them and they’d still work. Rubbish!

Hiring a DVD was a gamble in itself. Would it be scratched, jump or freeze just as you're about to find out who the murderer is?

None of this surpasses the living hell of trying to choose a movie with different age children who can't agree.

The past can often look better, as you choose to edit it accordingly. I was wondering what children would lament and reflect on for their tech breakthroughs. Some may remember when 4G came out. The difference was minimal so that’s unlikely.

What about the birth of Google Classroom? That’s not very exciting either.

I decided to ask around over dinner what has changed in their lifetime, that now looks out of date.

One of my children commented that only old people now had phones with actual buttons on (I have one and it is a pain. It’s for emergencies).

Could they be a generation that will see the demise of the button? That’s it. No more buttons? No great stories. No tales of woe.

Just look, it’s got buttons how quaint. Maybe.

While we ponder what this generation will reflect on, do take time to laugh at them as well.

A while ago on YouTube, a dad posted a video of his son. He had retrieved the video recorder from the attic. Plugged it in and left a video on the floor. He asked his child to put the film on.

It’s great. The kid’s pushing and touching all kinds of things. Waving hands in front of it like an Xbox. Speaking into the remote. Trying to open the tape. It’s brilliant.

It demonstrates that new does not mean logical. It doesn’t always mean better. It sometimes is just different.

Landlines may be old school but they are better for a conversation than anything we’ve come up with yet. It may involve moving, using a hand and potentially a button – but it’s still brilliant!

I made a fool of myself… again

My younger brother sent me a message last year with a photo, saying he was swimming on the rooftop of The Ancient Roman Baths in Bath.

I replied that it looked nice.

Recently we had a day stopover in Bath and I thought we’d pack our towels and costumes and rock-up for a dip.

Just like the Romans.

Due to Covid-19 and the fact I couldn’t see changing rooms on the website, I thought I'd better call.

Thank the Lord I did.

The very nice man on the phone advised that no one has swum in these ancient baths since the early 1970s.

There is also no rooftop facility. The Romans were good but not that good.

If it hadn’t been for the current pandemic, we would have all turned up as if it was the Pyramids Centre and looked like a right bunch of idiots.

My brother never explained, because... (here’s the best bit) I might go there one day.

Only those closest to you, who love you the most, will invest time in winding you up and wait more than a year if they have to.

In the hope, you’ll make a fool of yourself. It’s what makes families so good.

So capable of knocking off the rough edges.

Now all I have to do is formulate my comeback plan!