Back in the dark ages, in a small village in the north-west of England, I took some sort of secretarial course after university-before-work-limbo-land.
The course included shorthand and touch-typing, something I’m practicing now albeit rather erroneously. At that time I think all the machines were large electric typewriters with exotic revolving balls and shiny right arms, put to bed at night with heavy plasticized covers of drab grey-green. The classroom was upstairs in a building veneered with dirty once-white stucco on the upper story, the lower sank below the level of the adjacent road as it swept down and around a curve at the west end of the village.
Other components I vaguely remember are something along the lines of where-do-you-see-yourself-in-five-ten-fifteen-years? Forward planning at which I was completely hopeless and whatever mad plans I set down on paper couldn’t have been further from the truth of what was to come. At the age of 21 I was still stuck at a desk staring out of the window trying to find the answers. The course also included, across the way in a rather dingy old one-storey brick building...
Programming. Reading holes punched in cards, index cards in long trays. Dark green cardboard, brass reinforcements on the corners of things and around holes. Writing programs as flow charts – ‘if this, then that. If that, then this...’ I think I understand the basic concept of every thing (there’s a statement!) - zeros and ones, offs and ons, nos and yeses, that’s all computing is. In the decades that follow like lightning and treacle, every nuance of colour, movement, shade, tone, hue... it’s all a combination of gazillions of yeses and noes that add up to maybes and just abouts to give the semblance of depth of reality.
I saw a few clips of ‘VR fails’ yesterday. My visceral reaction might be labelled as shock and avoidance, why? Why would one put oneself in such a divorced state? To completely sever visual, audio input and override it with something else... BUT while ambulatory in the world. I watched people masked in VR goggles launch themselves into space at whatever they were experiencing in VR, but in reality, they plunged head-first through the screen of a 44” TV, or into the wall, or ricochet off various hard-edged pieces of furniture. I guess this is the Darwin awards in full play.
I was thinking of the plumbing setup beneath my house which I can’t pop down to check on with my brokebackleg. A simple alarm in the barrels for the water treatment could be installed to trip when the level gets low enough for a restock reminder. Would a visual alarm be sufficient or should it be aural too? Or maybe, yes, we live in a fabulous digital world and I now have brilliant wifi in my home thanks to Starlink – I saw Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2022 photos of Elon Musk’s mum yesterday too. Talk about six degrees...
Anyhoo, so we can install a simple trigger in the barrels... to a wifi app of course. Since we can do that, we can install a ladder trigger that measures how much media has been used over time and send predictive shopping reminders or alerts for sudden increases in usage and all those fun kind of things. The installers/manufacturers will eventually include such things with the original installation and information will feed back to them to enhance development for future revisions. That would make sense wouldn’t it?
So the computer needed to effect that kind of response to a simple trigger... would be...
the size of a couple of small houses with a lot of cogs and wheels and interesting things turning and intermittently clicking and occasionally whirring and sometimes chuntering along... flickering reams of cardboard directives fanning past reading teeth and disappearing into a dark collection tray sucked deep into the maw of the brass-trimmed dark green Dream Team Most Progressive Modern Home Efficacy Butlering Automatrom.
This handy home-monitoring system can be efficiently operated by a mere six servants, four at slow time or when away from home. For operating purposes, it requires, per day, one ton of coal to feed a large furnace to power a small electrical generator to drive the various wheels and cogs and gyres and pipes and rods that constitute the functional guts of the aforementioned Automatrom. A large stock of goose grease and pig fat to keep the various moving parts moving freely, a bathtub of water to cool overheating elements, and a large stock of card with which to replace and add additional directives on a go-forward basis.
A blessed and inexpensive solution to the question of when to refill ones’ water softener or filter reservoir at home.
Or, a nano-chip less than a sixth the size of my little fingernail, plugged into a solar panel 6x6” 5min per day.
Or, an able body and a memory so I go take a look at things on a regular basis and act accordingly.
Such is life. Or is it?
Leave a Reply.
I was born. A whole pile of stuff happened and continues to do so...