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Modern Technology, A Brave New World

14 June 2020
Motorola 8500

Like everyone in the country, or indeed much of the planet. We are all sat here in isolation. But that got me thinking, imagine if this pandemic had occurred say 20 years ago. How much different would things have been without modern technology.

We all had phones 20 years ago granted, so we could talk. Now however look at the options. From video calls on your mobile, to Skype, Portal, Echo Show, zoom, numerous methods of larger screen face to face communication. Sometimes for the isolated just seeing someone as you talk to them can make all the difference.

One of our Photo Booths is a Del Boy Trotter 3 wheeled van. The props for the booth are all themed around the series, so we have Grandad’s hat, Triggers broom etc. We also have a couple of the original Motorola ‘Brick’ phones. You know the ones, size and weight of a house brick, battery lasted a week, put them in your trousers and the weight would pull them down. And if you were ever mugged you could use it to beat the attacker senseless.

Anyway we did a couple of days at a shopping centre in West Brom. Kids and their dads would rummage through the props box. When they came to the phone the kids would ask ‘Whats this dad?’

When told it was a mobile phone it was like, ‘What, no way, where’s the screen, how do you look at Facebook.’ Now phones are that small you can slip them up your left nostril. Though I can remember when this brick phone was modern technology, the original mobile phone came with a separate battery that you could just about lift.

Motorola 8500
Motorola 8500


Besides Google and the other search engines, we also have the NHS 111 number. Checking if your symptoms could be Corvid-19 is only a phone call or search engine away. At one time none of this existed. Instead you would have been calling your local GP. Or more accurately trying to. With thousands of people all worried and panicking, how long would it be before the local health services had to take their phones off the hook. They wouldn’t have a hope in hells chance of coping.

Not connected to the current situation, but think of the way some of the other sources of information have changed. We all had telephone directories, and Yellow Pages. Both of which were a struggle to lift they were that big. You try looking for something in the Yellow pages, it meant hours of wading through adverts trying to find what you wanted.

Now, you type it into Google and the information comes to you. Modern technology at its finest.

Yellow Pages
Yellow Pages

Medical Facilities

I had the misfortune to avail myself of our medical services recently. A burst appendix meant emergency surgery. I now have 4 tiny little puncture marks across my abdomen, 2 for the keyhole surgery, and 2 from the drains fitted to remove the poison. It wasn’t that long ago when I would have had a large scar across my body where they would have opened me up to remove it. Indeed at one time even an operation such as an
appendicectomy would have carried a high risk. I made the mistake in hospital when talking to the surgeon, of calling it an appendectomy, only to be told off because evidently that is an American term.

It is forecast that, like Italy etc we are going to see a lot of deaths from this terrible pandemic. But imagine if this was 20 years ago, how much higher would the death toll be. It seems that ventilators are going to be one of the key items to save lives. A consortium of tech companies are ramping up to massively increase our supply of the device. Could we have really done this twenty years ago, heck could we have done it ten years ago in the same timeframe?

Dyson Covent
Dyson Covent


At one time we had the 5 terrestrial channels. Sky, and a few cable services, if you wanted a particular film you needed to walk to the local Blockbusters and hire it. Now we have the massive list of freeview stations, Amazon Prime channels, Netflix, Youtube, Spotify and so on. There is an unbelievable amount of entertainment that can be accessed, streamed downloaded. Fair enough much of it is crap. But amongst it all there should be enough to keep everyone entertained to some degree.

We are all spoilt with access to almost any movie we wish on demand. At one time you visited your local video tape store, where hopefully they had the film you wanted in stock. If it was a popular one then the chances are you would struggle to get it. Once hired you fetched a tape like the one below back to play on your video machine. What you then got was a sometimes grainy fairly lowish resolution picture, with garbage sound. If the tape you had hired had been well used then the picture quite often would begin to degrade and become grainy, or have bits of the dialogue drop out. None of this 4k or 8k super hi res, with Dolby surround sound processing.

Video Tape
Video Tape

Working From Home

With the country in lock down, we have been told to work from home where possible. Now obviously a lot of us can’t. You would find the wife kicking a stink up if you tried to build cars in her front room. And most gardens aren’t going to be big enough to fabricate wings for Airbus.

For much of the service industry and creative media industry however its a different story. A multiplicity of conference software, and collaborative office and design software mean that this is a real option for a lot of people. Fast internet speeds are the secret sauce facilitating this. The dial up speeds of yesteryear just would have had us working at the speed of a British Leyland worker in the 1970’s. Instead some parts of the global economy are still ticking over, and hopefully can hit the ground running once we are released from lockdown.

Online Shopping

Part of the lockdown is that all non essential shops are closed. But how much of an inconvenience is this in practice. Unless we need something, like, now, we tend to buy online. The mighty Amazon stocks an awful lot of what we need. With its Prime service, delivery tends to be overnight, or indeed on some items same day.

Almost anything else you want can be ordered online, with rapid delivery, and in many cases for less than what you would pay in a bricks and mortar store.

Indeed my daughter has a steady stream of deliveries from various fashion and beauty outlets. So much so that a recent delivery driver remarked that ‘your daughter must have come back off holiday’, ‘How do you know shes been on holiday’ I asked. Dead simple was the reply, ‘Our deliveries dropped by 50% whilst shes been away.’

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