04 April 2010

De-evolution in action

In 2009 when i switched on a light...it came on. Instantly. All my life in the 20th and 21st centuries, that's the way a light bulb worked.

In 2010 i switch on a light...and it takes seconds, many seconds, before i have the equivalent of 75W of lumen.

In 2009, when i turned on the hot water, after a brief wait, i would scald my soapy hands under the hot water, turning on and mixing in some cold water (i had two-valve faucets in the bathroom sink, bidet and shower). If i took a shower longer than 15 minutes, my 50L electric boiler would exhaust its supply of hot water. It would take roughly an hour or more before the boiler would reheat another 50 liters. Not to mention the toll on my electricity bill.

In 2010, when i turn on the hot water, i have to waste two liters of water before my new gas-powered water heater, with a mighty whoosh of ignition, spits out hot water. And when i scald my soapy hands i turn the mono-valve to near-center position where there is an near-imperceptible drop in temperature. If i put the mono-valve position to less than center, the water heater shuts off and i'm left within seconds with cold water. If i shut the hot water off, wait a moment and turn it back on, another two liters of cold water run by before the entire process repeats.

I've yet to see the electric bill.

In 2009 when i wanted to watch television, i switched it on...and it came on. Pretty much instantly. Audio was immediate, the cathode-ray tube warmed up and in 3-5 seconds i was seeing an image. I changed channels, be it network TV or satellite, and they changed...instantly. It would take roughly a half a second, a perceptible but brief moment. When i watched television i watched it in a 4:3 format. Some programs had a horizontal stripe running across the top and bottom of the screen (known as letterboxing, usually when a cinematographic film is being broadcast). But this was a mere PAL analog signal, only 720x576 pixels.

In 2010 when i watch television, with the new 21st century High Definition digital signal, i switch it on...and i wait. Sometimes nearly a minute. Ok, maybe not a minute but an incredibly long time for a television to display a broadcast image. Oh, i'm seeing an image almost immediately, two lines of white text in the upper left corner of a black screen telling me i'm (going to be) watching an HDMI signal either in 1080i or 576i...when the decoder in the flat-screen LCD TV finally decides to decipher the digital signal it's receiving. And when it finally does decode an image to the screen, it's usually distorted. More often than not, my intelligent digital television can't differentiate between a 4:3 PAL signal and a 16:9 PAL signal. And thanks to the love between the italian government and Sky Italia, i can't watch HD DTTV while watching satellite. And thanks to the fact that the italian Prime Minister, ergo the head of the RAI, is also the co-founder and largest shareholder of the largest italian private broadcast network, the RAI still doesn't broadcast normally in HD, while all three Mediaset channels broadcast regularly in HD DTTV.

All this is when you can actually receive a DTT signal...

When i was a kid, videophones were the stuff of science fiction. The Jetsons had them. The crew of the Starship Enterprise had them, but only onboard, come to think of it.

In 2009, cellular telephony had already achieved the ubiquity and reliability (or unreliability) of landlines. But VoIP, now that was
finally becoming commonplace. “Jane, stop this crazy thing!!”

In 2010, the conversations via Skype between my wife and her mother are usually along the lines of...
“I can't hear you...”
“I can't hear you...”
“Is the webcam plugged in correctly?”
“I can't hear you...”
“Grey, what's wrong here?!”
...and so forth. My niece and i via iChat are often reduced to pixel art, when iChat actually allows us to video chat instead of throwing an error. My brother knows when i can't hear him on Skype because a wave of amplified ambient noise floods his speakers.

Is this all a "get off my lawn" rant?

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