Vanishing Tech

This barely qualifies as news, I suppose:

The beginning of the end for the DVD player: John Lewis will no longer sell the gadgets as they are replaced by streaming services (joining VHS, cassette tapes and floppy disks in the dustbin of defunct technology)

As the owner of dozens of DVDs, I guess I’ll have to buy a backup (or two) DVD players for the inevitable time when you can’t find the blessed things anymore.  As it happens, I have a multi-format Blu-Ray DVD player at the moment — multi-format because I have both PAL- and NTSC-format DVDs:  a heritage of buying DVDs in Europe and Britishland during my various travels Over There.  Of course, Philips no longer makes the model I own, so I’ll have to pay the “Sony premium” for my backup.

Gah.

Look, I understand the March Of Progress and all that, and I know that technology becomes outdated after a while.  I just wish that the “while” would last a little longer.

And no, I’m not going to “stream” movies — at least, not the movies that I love and want to watch over and over again — because as any fule kno, what the “Cloud” giveth, the Cloud can take away (often without warning) and I refuse to be held hostage by the fucking movie studios (e.g. the horrible Disney Corporation, or Netflix).  The ordinary movies (i.e. most of them) I can watch once and never watch again without regret;  but the gems?  oh no, I wantssss them all, my Precioussss, so that I can enjoy them anytime I want and not when Global Entertainment MegaCorp says I can (or can’t, a pox on them).

Ditto books, by the way.  I’ve talked before about why I can’t use Kindle (see below* for the Cliff Notes version), so forget e-books of any kind whatsoever.  And I have hundreds of audio CDs, ergo I have a couple of backup CD players for the time when the poxy recording industry [50,000-word rant deleted]  decides that CD ownership is a Bad Thing.

Possession isn’t just 9/10 of the law when it comes to my viewing, listening and reading pleasure:  it’s all of the law, and I intend to keep it that way.


*I’ve never bought into e-books.  I tried a Kindle, but it might as well been kindling for all the appeal it has to me.  Here’s the reason why: my eyesight is failing [Old Fart Problem #4], which means I have to increase the font size to see the words properly.  Problem:  I read at about 2,000 words per minute (always have), which means that I get a blister on my thumb from hitting the “Next Page” button on a Kindle, and anyone in the room with me will eventually complain about the noise of the constant rapid-fire clicking.

And that’s the other problem, right there:  I love the feel of a book in my hands.  I love the ability to flip backwards to re-read a passage that turned out to be important later on.  I love the fact that once I own a book, it can’t be taken away from me electronically by some algorithm which decides that I’ve had the content “long enough” (as though there’s an expiration date on ownership).

Another RFI

This time, it’s for a cordless screwdriver, of this ilk:

Confession:  for most of my life I’ve used a variable-speed electric drill to drive screws home, because my experiences with the battery-type were universally bad.  But my Bosch drills are too cumbersome, too powerful and too heavy for furniture assembly — they’re fine for construction, less so for cabinetmaking — and as I’m about to assemble some Ikea bookcases in the near future*, I need a decent cordless screwdriver.  As always, I want to buy quality — not professional, but close to it — because if the damn thing breaks in mid-task, I will not be responsible for the rage which ensues.  Ditto if the damn battery only works for ten minutes before expiring.

All recommendations will be gratefully received.


*Don’t chide me, I have very specific dimension needs, and the Swedish joint is the only place which has suitable bookcases — believe me, I’ve looked.

Printer Update

Unless anyone tells me a serious horror story, I think I’m going with this combo:

Simple, cheap, cheap-to-run, duplex and small footprint (remember, I’ll be in an apartment with limited counter space).  And I’m not into the Amazon replenishment thing, given that each toner cartridge will last me about a year, and by buying two, I’ll just buy a new one each time the first one runs out.

I’ll only be ordering it around the end of the month, so feel free to disapprove of / shoot down my choice.

And many thanks for all the advice.

Help Needed

I need to buy a vacuum cleaner but never having bought one before, I have no idea what type, model or brand to get, so all recommendations (based on experience only, please) would be welcome.

As for parameters:

  • Cost:  if your recommendation is expensive, I can deal with that as long as the thing is reliable. Spending extra money on something that lasts for ten years is not expensive, it’s a bargain. On the other hand, if they’re all fragile regardless of cost, then I’ll just go cheap and replace every year, if that’s your recommendation.
  • Capabilities:  Must be able to vacuum both wooden- and carpeted floors.
  • Dust storage:  Can be bags or washable cylinders, I don’t care (unless this is an important distinction, in which case please explain).
  • Weight:  irrelevant as there are no stairs involved.
  • Additional features:  if, say, a steam-cleaning capability is included, it cannot detract from the primary function, i.e. vacuum cleaning. Ditto a detachable hose cleaner; I’ve heard that while the flexibility is nice, the suction leaves a lot to be desired.

If y’all don’t know or have little expertise (like me), then ask yer wives and such.

Otherwise, I’ll just go with my gut instincts and get a broom, mop and a Shop-Vac.

…And So Much For All That

I remember people welcoming the advent of driverless cars with exclamations of: “I can take a nap!” or “I can catch up on my work!” or “I can play online games!” or “I can go out and get plastered and not worry about breathalyzers!”, all while being driven to the office / home / airport etc.

Sadly, as with so many things, it’s all bullshit because of Nanny Government:

Drivers of self-steering cars such as Teslas will be ordered not to take their hands off the wheel for more than a minute.
The new regulations from the UK government will target drivers who let go of the steering wheel thanks to lane steering, cruise control or emergency braking features.
Motorists who break the new rules will face points on their licence, a potential £1,000 fine and even prison.
It comes after legislation requiring cars manufacturers to install a feature to alert drivers when they have not touched the wheel for 15 seconds.

So the attraction of driverless cars is… what, exactly? Forgive me while I snort with derision.

Ahhhh, let’s forget about all that driverless crap and gaze upon a car which absolutely mandates self-driving, a 1957 Maserati 3500 GT:

None of that no-drive nonsense here: the 3500 line features a six-cylinder 3.5-liter engine driven with a four- or five-speed manual transmission, and it was in production for eight years (a long time for Maserati, in those days), attesting to its popularity. And if that pic wasn’t enough to persuade you, here’s the convertible version:

Those of you wanting one can form a line behind me.

When Technology Sucks

I have frequently railed against modern technology on these here pages, and just as often been called a Luddite or Old Fart etc. for doing so. Here’s the latest little fad, and its downside, which came under my baleful gaze:

BMW has claimed it is powerless to prevent criminals hacking into its cars.
In emails to a customer seen by the Daily Mail, the German giant acknowledged its latest keyless models were vulnerable to thieves using gadgets widely available online.
However, it insisted it cannot accept any responsibility for this.
The Mail has highlighted a surge in thefts using ‘relay boxes’ to extend the signal from owners’ key fobs to steal vehicles outside their homes.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but isn’t this “remote / keyless start” thing basically for those who are just too lazy to insert a key into a lock and turning it? (And spare me the “soccer moms with armfuls of groceries” spiel, please.) If I’ve missed some lifesaving feature that this technology brings, let me know about it — but be warned that I’m going to be a tough sell. The way I see it, it’s a little frippery invented to “improve” a product that doesn’t need much improvement (see: electronic seat setting “memory”) and simply adds yet another cost / opportunity to break and incur horrendous repair costs.

Also, as the above article reveals, it makes it easier for car thieves to steal your car, all while BMW et al. shrug their corporate shoulders and ask Pontius to hand over the basin when he’s done.

My VW Tiguan does have an electronic unlocking fob, and I use it simply because the actual keyhole is buried beneath a plastic shield in the door handle; but if the little battery inside goes phut, I doubt I’ll ever replace it. I’ll just take off the shield and go back to using the car key to unlock the door, as invented by God Henry Ford.

As for this remote-starting gizmo, I’ll only ever buy a car with one if you can permanently disable the wretched thing without voiding your warranty; otherwise, it’s on to the next model, or if all of them include that little thieves’ helper in the future, something a little more to my taste; something (duh) older:

You see, back in 1968 Mercedes didn’t screw around with unnecessary crap; they just made simple, gorgeous sports cars like this 230 SL. Sure, an enterprising car thief could probably nick it, too; but he’d have to work a little harder than just by buying a $5 relay box from Amazon.