(For the article on ‘Whatever happened to the Red Guitars’, check back later. They’ll be filed next to ‘Kissing The Pink’ in an article on ‘Why The 1980s Was Actually Quite A Good Time For One Hit Wonders Now I Think About It’. Or something like that….)
I’ve worked in technology, or somewhere near it, for pretty much all of my adult life. And, insofar that you can love something that’s essentially a terribly complex twist of cable and metal and silicon, I absolutely love it.
My first job involved coding on mainframes, and my finest hour was the completion of a project that delivered two green screens to process car insurance changes for Foreign Use. Without a trace of irony, the screens were called FU1 and FU2. It was really neat because we produced something that automated a really painful process, and the process of pulling these screens together was considered something of a dark art, which made us feel pretty special.
Later on I progressed to networks (computers could talk to one another – awesome!), then applications like word processors (no more Tipp-Ex!) and email systems (which, on reflection, may have been where it all went wrong). More of this another time, but, suffice to say, it was a fabulous period in technology, and some of us were lucky enough to be riding a pretty big wave.
Or so we thought, until a really big wave came along and we found ourselves talking about third generation languages, relational databases and smart ways of delivering business solutions. Suddenly we could start plugging in technology that looked and felt cool and didn’t have to take two years to deliver. What a wave!, we thought, as we tried to ride it.
Then another couple of really big waves came along, one called personal computing, and another called the Internet. And suddenly technology was everybody’s friend, and it was ok to come out of the closet and say that you loved this stuff, without sounding like too much of a nerd.
Then we got apps that everyone could write, complete interconnection, cloud services, mobile applications, (relatively) safe payment systems, online music and a glorious jumble of technologies that made you excited and proud to line up with. Technology is now both good and cool.
But, you’re no doubt be asking, is the coolest and best use of technology that the Emu has ever seen during this glorious 30 year relationship. Well, I’ll tell you…
Last weekend included a Saturday night that neither Mrs E nor myself were particularly looking forward to. We had given in to Jr Emu#3’s longstanding request for a 17th birthday party, and, worse even, had conceded that there’d be no better place to hold it than at our house. Frankly, Mrs E and I both needed our heads examined.
Anyway, it wasn’t toooo bad. They were all lovely kids when they arrived, and even after a couple of illicit hooches they were all quite charming, with a couple of notable exceptions. I (& I hope #3) will remember for some time his parents unblocking a vomit filled sink with one of the guests permanently attached to the toilet. Delightfully, when one of the more sober party goers asked if our guest was ill because he hadn’t had anything to eat, Mrs E was able to describe his last meal in some detail, including specifics on both pasta and sauce type.
But I haven’t told you the best bit. I’d asked #3 to pull together a Spotify playlist on his phone, which he did, and I’d provide the amplification, which I did. And we plugged in for a quick trial and all was well. His tunes were, as the youngsters say these days, bangin’. All was well, albeit a little annoying when his chums found the volume button, as the party ramped up.
Meanwhile, #3’s two older brothers, currently 6,500 miles away, almost on the other side of the world, were enjoying a quiet coffee in a cafe in Buenos Aires, as you do. And this cafe had wifi. Did I mention that we all use the same Spotify account? Well, we do. And because we do, and because it did and because they were, they were able to not only see what was playing, but to take over the phone and play their own choice of, well perhaps, less bangin’ tunes.
And so it was, with the party in full swing and some sort of ridiculous dubstep/trance/ rap nonsense making its noisy way down to our kitchen (where Mrs E and I were sat, largely occupied with directing pissed up 17 year olds to the toilet), that we heard the unmistakeable first few bars of ‘Fun Fun Fun’, certainly one of the high points of ‘The Cat In The Hat’ film soundtrack.
Separated by hemisphere and ocean and connected by unknown servers, satellites, undersea cabling and networking applications that are too cool to even describe, four of us are cracking up like you wouldn’t believe. Admittedly, it’s a return to a low form to basically point and laugh at #3 on his birthday party, but, all the same, it made us very very happy. Good technology? I should cocoa.