HardwareAlternative Gadgets

Alternative Gadgets

For anyone that has read this section of the magazine before, I know exactly what you’ll be thinking right about now. You’ll have seen the theme for this month and instantly assumed that I would take this opportunity to, once again, vent my frustrations at the modern world of alternative fashion and behaviour.

Usually, my friends, you’d be right.

I’d love nothing more than to use these pages to spread my usual messages of conformity and conservatism, utilising this monthly epigram of mine to make sure you all learn the dangers of the “hipster” life. But this month, in this strangely sunny September (I know it’ll be October when you’re reading this, but kids one day you’ll learn that nearly everything is either written or recorded long in advance *shakes fist in a distinct rage at Big Brother for shattering childhood dreams of live comedy*), I am going to change the often satirical, but more often juvenile, pages of the Gadgets section. That’s right you alternative types, you can rest easy for the next 30-odd days, safe in the knowledge that I will not be attempting (unsuccessfully) to convert all of my readers to the life of the herd-following sheep. This is not to say I’ll be advocating your lifestyle, oh no far from it, however I will not be taking every liberty I can in a family magazine and completely ignoring the implication of serious technological reporting given by the title of this article. That said, please don’t assume that you will actually learn anything whilst reading the next 1500 words, no matter how hard I try I will never have the patience to actually research these products properly. A fact that I’m oddly proud of. Take from that what you will.

This month, I have chosen to actually earn my wage and try to bring you gadgets that stick to the theme of the magazine. We’ll be celebrating, still in an unmistakably sarcastic tone, the gadgets out there that seemingly offer us absolutely nothing but an alternative to the norm. That’s right, these products, including Lord Alan Sugar’s Amstrad E-m@ailer and the once-fabled TV Remote Gun, are symbols of the efforts made by those who truly have no sense of originality. Those who simply see a well-established gadget that has changed the world around them, and have the astounding self-belief (more accurately, Lear’s hubris) to think that they can change them for the better, providing the adoring public with, in an ideal world, a new design that will not only change the market, but the lives of the masses. In reality, as you’ll see here, on the whole we end up with pretty useless shit.

YourBell USB Doorbell

I’m going to assume here that, because we live on an island of culture and at least relative class, we’ve all seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Given this fact, I will also assume that we all remember the scene in which Ferris cleverly uses a system of tape recorders and technology that a high-school teen simply wouldn’t have been able to master in the short time his parents were out of the house to fool Ed Rooney into believing that the hero (or if your beliefs align with mine the antagonist) is indeed sick in bed. Now, don’t try and tell me that the first time you saw that movie, you didn’t see the potential behind this trick. Pah! Fooling your head teacher into believing you’re ill is nothing compared to what could be accomplished. Try to imagine the look of intense joy on the faces of all when they ring your bell, expecting the sultry old “ding-dong” that has become such a quintessential sign of the British household, only to have your voice bellow out, shouting words of your choosing at them (what they are very much depends on what kind of person you are, no judgments here). Now, the novelty bell has been around for some time, but it is only now that we are able to load our own MP3 files to a USB drive and upload whatever kind of sound we choose to be the first greeting that guests receive at your home. I kind of ran out of things to say about this after the Ferris Bueller reference, simply because I can only question what you can say? A not so subtly sarcastic congratulations to those who, in their infantile mind, decide to upload themselves telling people to “F@!k off!” loudly down the receiver (would you look at that, judgment after all), and I dread the day I turn up at someone’s house only to be instantly disgusted enough to turn and leave the moment I hear the latest House music song being blasted at me (I understand the “irony” you buffoon, and I hate you for it…lots of judgment, what else did you expect?). All in all then, as with most of the products here, I struggle to find the point in this. Nobody gains much other than a few cheap laughs and an awkward entrance into your house, and the thing costs $90.00.

If you must subject your “friends” to this, try the YourBell (come on) website                www.bcsideas.com/yourbell.php.

TV Remote Control Gun

Gun crime is not funny. Pretending to lay prone behind your sofa fighting the enemy using your TV remote as a gun is. Don’t look at the page (and subsequently me) like that, we’ve all done it. At least all the guys reading have, gender stereotypes aside it just happens when you’re young. The biggest problem facing our youth today is not obesity, human trafficking or poverty, it’s that remote controls do not provide an adequate grip for situations which require immediate evasive action in your own living room. We’ve all seen the pictures of controls that have gone through screens or smashed light bulbs (you haven’t? You don’t spend enough time on the internet my friend), and only the manufacturers of meager controllers that cannot handle an extreme warzone can be blamed for these damages, not a child’s imagination. Luckily we don’t live in the U.S.A, and it’s actually pretty difficult for a child to get their hands on a gun, however the country’s death toll’s gain is often our imagination’s loss (please don’t read into that, I’m not advocating anything untoward), Thank god, then, for the Sharp Shootin’ Remote Control Gun. Whilst I’m not entirely sure whether that is an ingenious marketing ploy by Sharp the electronics company, the product itself is one that, although useless and offering an alternative to changing channels that is actually a step backwards from the standard remote (it can only change one channel up or down), the technical details of this gadget matter not when it allows us to realise our greatest and most animalistic childhood dreams. That’s right, our generation’s memories revolve around TV, have fun with that psychology students.

This must have item is available in a few places online, but I’d try Firebox. I can only find the Euro price, but with the market how it is, 20 can’t translate to anything too scary.

Amstrad E-m@iler

There once was a very deep schism within my soul that tore at me daily. I lost hair, sleep and, at times, complete control over my body because of it. The crux of the problem was one man (this isn’t me coming out in Gallery), one symbol of the wealth and entrepreneurial talent that every part of me wants, and yet one incomprehensible clown that constantly, and seemingly purposefully, made me hate him to his very core. This man, this legend, this intolerable thorn in my side is the one and only Alan Sugar. The man who, using a business acumen that is the envy of all who believe in the foundations of capitalism and, minus the negative connotations produced by almost every Hollywood film in the last century, the American Dream, built an empire on the back of his first company Amstrad. And then somehow managed to turn economic success (he’s still worth £1.04 billion) into a television show that pits complete wastes of oxygen against each other in business tasks that, as proven by the BBC’s Young Apprentice, actual children can accomplish. All whilst he sits in a glass office gently petting and polishing his God complex, whilst getting rid of the only man that the nation has collectively loved on a competitive television show, Nick Hewer (however the new and improved Countdown with him as host is perhaps some of the finest programming ever seen on Channel 4). Anyway, enough about my incredibly confusing feelings towards Lord Sugar, it’s time to focus on one of the unmitigated disasters that he has successfully managed to sweep under the carpet when it comes to our generation, that dastardly genius.

As we all know, email is a relatively modern method of communication in the grand scheme of things. Yes, it started early, but it didn’t really kick off outside of businesses for a number of years, and really since the introduction of the system onto smartphones it wasn’t used to its full potential. So, as with any relatively low-key application or method of communication, it seems logical that it should be initiated into larger systems like the computer first, allowing its popularity to build until it became a widespread phenomenon and required its own products to perform all the necessary functions that it could (this is the days of early computers, so slow processing speeds meant that if you were sending anything larger than an RSVP you were better off writing and delivering it by hand). However, Sir Alan and the good men at Amstrad saw this as an opportunity to cash in on the market early, and thus the Amstrad E-m@ailer was born. It’s not enough that typing that name is one of the most infuriating things on earth (the number of times I’ve seen E-m”iler in the last 10 minutes could turn a good man turn bad, to borrow a phrase from Morrisey), but the design of this monstrosity was so unappealing to the eye it made the ear-splitting tintinnabulation of the fax machine seem like a warm hug. All in all, to use a phrase that the Cockney Prince of London would understand, Sugar really cocked up. This wasn’t a machine offering an alternative to something great, it was a mediocre effort to join a race that had already started. You can still get these on the Amstrad website, so just Google it. I can’t see a price but if it’s anything more than £15 it should be considered a hate crime.

And I bet you were expecting a “You’re Fired” joke. You should know me better.

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