Friday, February 11, 2005

Douglas Adams

Many events and influences led to my starting this blog. As this is day number 42 of 2005, it seems appropriate to mention Douglas Adams.

Mr. Adams is well known in geek circles for authoring "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." What I like best about his works is that they're filled with humorous examples of how technology fails. The more sophisticated it is, the more utterly infuriating it becomes to operate. And it fails us at the most inopportune times.

One of my favorite examples of this is the motion-activated radio on board the Heart of Gold. You don't even need to get up to change the channels or mute it. On the other hand, you have to sit awfully still if you don't want to change it inadvertently. Obviously the engineer who came up with that idea wasn't too fond of dancing.

If you think that's silly, consider the earliest CD players. (And at the risk of showing my age, remember their precursors, vinyl?) You certainly couldn't jump around too much without causing the player to skip. So audio equipment was anchored to walls, and the individual components placed on foam isolators.

Another example. How many of you cell phone users have repeatedly said, "I can hear you. Can you hear me?" Pretty soon we'll see phones equipped with the popular ICHY button, which will automate this. Come to think of it, why stop there? Why not have these buttons, too:

"I'm fine. And you?"
"Hi! How are you?"
"This is true."
"Can't make it then. How about next Tuesday?"
"See you, later."
"Take care."

If those last three seem vaguely familiar to you, does the term "sig" or "signature" help?

Before I end this entry, I'd like to encourage you to point your browser to the online Guide, hosted by the BBC, which you'll find here.

Bye. See you later. Take care. Whatever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The best sound is still vinyl. Err, I mean, sucks that the great diviner of "42" has died. I just got the last two books of the Hitchhikers series from the library. Here's to you, Dougie.