The Future Is Not Now

Surely as technology progresses it should become easier and easier to use? Long gone are the days where to use a computer, 14 men had to lug an entire machine into a building only for a scientist type to press 67 buttons, wait seven days and then see that the mechanical beast has only managed to add 2+2 in binary and nothing else. Instead we revel nowadays in our chips the size of atom’s teeth and being able to use computers to do everything from cook our tea to help us fly to the moon. That’s what I’m guessing anyway. Despite liking the idea of most newfangled gadgets I only have a few snazzy type devices including my laptop, a stubborn sat nav, an iPhone and a blu-ray player. The last of these was an extravagance that I never would have bought for myself, but my oh so lovely friends got for me for a birthday a couple of years back.

Since getting it, I have embraced its high quality graphics, often oohing and aaahing ‘how defined it looks’ which is a phrase I say every time I watch a blu-ray disc even if I really can’t tell the difference. It sounds like what you are meant to say and I think that even if I can’t see any difference my experience is enhanced by pretending too. Some films definitely do look better though. I can clarify this by trying to watch ‘Up’ when hung over which was both a terrible experience in terms of emotions – it is not a film to watch when fragile – but also because the colours were far too bright for my wincing eyes. Overall though, it is a lovely thing to have and I spend quite some time carefully choosing what to buy on such a format to get the fullest out of my lovely sleek black Samsung player, squished underneath my unnecessarily oversized TV that I am still paying off 2 years later.

For Christmas, courtesy of L’s amazing parents, I got given Frozen Planet on Blu-Ray, which I was overjoyed about. Finally I could watch polar bears being able too see every hair on their big faces, or see that weird caterpillar that freezes entirely for a year in such definition that I’d get nightmares about it for several years. Instead, as I put the disc excitedly in the player, it didn’t work. Instead of a beautifully picturesque frozen tundra, there was merely a black screen, the sound of an RP voiced woman saying ‘Frozen Planet Disc 1’ and then nothing. Checking each and every disc in the set (there are three) the same thing happened and I was concerned I had a faulty product. A bit of googling revealed far too many whiney people complaining about the Frozen Planet ‘cheated’ footage, a few complaining about Attenborough’s stance on global warming, ironically from people in areas that will die first when the floods hit, and then finally a small blurb that said I should probably update my blu-ray player.

We’re in the future right? Updating my blu-ray player should be easy yeah? Surely it just downloads it from the ether after I press one button? That’s how it all works right? No. Instead attempt one involved me stretching cables across my living room to connect it to our router, in a fashion that looked as though I was trying to set a series of trip wires to confuse the Mission Impossible team. After an hour of it downloading the update the machine then crashed, I tripped on a wire, knocked my Xbox into our Christmas Tree and nearly broke the telly. Attempt two involved copying the update on a CD which was then not accepted as a disc because I’d done it on a mac and Samsung are still angry about how much better the iPhones are than any of their phones nowadays and then finally I managed to borrow L’s laptop, copy a disc on there, load it up and now I can see penguins so clearly that I can definitely say they don’t dance like in Happy Feet.

Two days of effort to watch a disc. Seriously? Is this where we are now? Further developments to defeat cancer, telescopes that can see Earth like planets light years away and yet if I want to watch Frozen Planet on my own telly I have to spend hours and hours nearly breaking other things I own just to enjoy it? This future is shit. I’d love to go back to the 70’s and tell them its no way as cool as they imagined back then, but chances are making time travel work will involve three manuals, a phone call to customer support, finding you don’t have the right cables and then having to reset the system as it won’t sync with an iTravel remote or some shit. 2012, you better get fixing things.