I have seen the future

Well, a tiny fragment of it!

I find myself (once again) in the Athens of the North – not as a result of a rather convenient abduction, but by booking (and then taking) a flight with FlyBe. This does spare my Facebook friends from the usual flurry of activity occasioned by the traditional long train ride – but leaving at short notice, flying was vastly cheaper (and faster) than the surface options.

Flying from Southampton is surprisingly painless – the airport is a short bus ride from home and formalities at the airport can be completed in a matter of seconds. There is also no long queue (or, indeed, any queue) of planes waiting to depart ahead of you and so my flight departed (and arrived) well ahead of schedule. Sadly, for the economics of FlyBe, the plane was mostly empty and so we were allowed to spread out from our default positions (all packed together over the wings), but for the first time in my flying experience this spreading out was constrained by the passenger weight-distribution in our Dash-8 (basically, we could all move nearer the back of the plane, but not even a single row forward – presumably to avoid the aircraft face-planting on the Southampton tarmac).

This more rapid (if less green) route north meant that I could have breakfast, a serious gym session, shower and lunch in the south and still be in Edinburgh for leisured consumption of emergency cake in the Filmhouse cafe followed by the 18:00 screening of the Skeleton Twins (great fun, despite roughly four attempted suicides – on screen, not amongst the audience) at the Cameo. Whilst I realise this capability has existing for many years, it still seems like a form of magic to me – though not, in fact, the vision of the future to which the title refers.

Talking of the Cameo, can I thoroughly recommend Cameo 2 to GofaDM readers. It is quite unlike any cinema I’ve visited before, it has a large and very wide screen but only three (3!) rows of seats. I think it may be (almost) the perfect cinema – why are all others narrow but deep, when wide and shallow is so much better? But, no even this is not the future.

After the film, I went to Tuk-Tuk, the only known source for the finest (IMO), if least authentic, naan in the world – I refer, of course, to the cheese naan. Forget your peshwari or keema, cheese is the filling that naan was invented for!

OK, I’ve teased you for long enough – now to the future bit. I am staying with a friend and he has been upgrading a number of rooms in his house (and is partway through a major extension). My room has been refurbished and as part of this work, the mains sockets have been replaced. As well as the usual two 3-pin mains sockets, there are also two USB charging ports provided – what a delight for the traveller and how practical in almost any modern home. The number of devices which need a USB power feed, but end up using a whole 3-pin mains socket leads to the proliferation of multi-plug adapters and extension cables in every home. It’s like having four sockets in the space for two and would be a boon for the foreign visitor (but also the local) as you need to carry far fewer plugs/plug adaptors with you. It could even lead to fewer hurt feet, with fewer currently unused 3-pin plugs lying inverted waiting to punish the unwary, barefoot pedestrian. The campaign for this to become the standard for all homes starts here!

2 thoughts on “I have seen the future

  1. matathew says:

    These USB sockets do indeed sound fun, but I wonder whether what you have actually seen is the past? In the bad old days, British homes were each wired with three different socket sizes (2A, 5A and 15A). This arrangement (BS546) was rendered obsolete by the universal use of 13A sockets (BS1363). I have always assumed that this standardisation of domestic sockets was perceived as a huge step forward. And it was all going so well until you mentioned a “plumbed in” 5 volt DC socket…

    It would be interesting to compare the installation costs with the alternative of a few electronic transformers with multiple ports at £5 each.

    It seems that BS1363 dates from 1947, and the USB-A from 1996, so we will wait to see which remains in everyday use for longer.

    • Stuart Ffoulkes says:

      I suspect that the future would not emerge from a purely economic argument smelling of roses (or even miniature heroes). I would go with an argument on aesthetic grounds myself, the “plumbed-in” solution looks so neat and tidy – it should also be more efficient as it relies on a transformer to achieve its magic rather than a Zener diode.

      I strongly suspect the writing is already on the wall for USB-A as I have seen serious discussion on the creation of a USB plug which is indifferent to which way up it is inserted, as the current asymmetry is one of the most pressing issues currently affecting humanity.

      Still, it would be nice if there was a single standard plug and socket for all devices requiring low voltages (and there are so many) – whole drawers could be freed from their current burden of chargers to become useful members of society once more (not to mention the savings in resources and avoided landfill).

      My bike pump can mould itself around either of the common valve types – perhaps a similarly polymorphic electrical socket is the future we should be striving towards?

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