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Black Friday Almost Over, Cyber Monday On Its Way

The Google Home Mini and the Acer Aspire i5 desktop computer

In 1957, my mother gave me a transistor radio for my 7th birthday!

We lived at 2165 East 2nd Avenue in Vancouver, just off Garden Park, on Vancouver's eastside. I knew my neighbours, a polyglot amalgam of "displaced persons" (displaced from WWII), refugees from a Europe of destruction who had arrived in Canada to pursue a life for their families.

Although the television had been around for almost a decade in common use by the more well-to-do among the population, no one on our block had a TV — there were doctors, plumbers, nannies, seniors, construction workers, and no one thought to purchase a television, particularly given that TVs were going for around $400, or about 10% of a man's average annual wage (the average hourly wage for women: 35¢). When times were tight, and families were large, and folks were just simply trying to find a way to scrape by, purchasing a $400 TV (with an outlay of another $50 for a rooftop aerial) was simply beyond the means of the common folks.

1957. Watching television through a shop window.

If we wanted to watch television, we'd head up to Commercial Drive, and watch the TV in the Magnet Hardware window.

Of course, all the kids on our block clamoured for a new TV (not that any of their friends owned one, mind you) — but, alas, that was not to be. Fortunately, the price of a black-and-white TV dropped dramatically in 1958 with the introduction of the colour TV (introduction of a new technology always results in a price cut for "older" technology), and most families, including mine, bought their first television that year, parents finally capitulating to the incessant, heart-rending pleas of their gentle children.

1957. Transistor radio and leather case.

1957. I was about to go into Grade 2 at Lord Nelson Elementary School. My birthday fell on the 223rd day of that year, on August 11th, an otherwise inauspicious Sunday, except for the fact that at midday, thanks to my mother, I found myself in the possession of a brand new $49.95 (plus tax) leather-cased transistor radio! That's right, my mother worked more than 150 hours to get me my much-prized 7th birthday present — making me the only boy on the block with a portable transistor radio. I was thrilled!

On another day, I'll tell you what the impact of being the first to own a new tech toy had on me, what it meant for a career that I would pursue less than a decade later, and how it came to be that over the past 40 years, I have continually found myself on the cutting edge of new technology, as an early adopter. As I say, though, I'll leave that story for another day.

Black Friday 2017

All of which brings me to Black Friday, a day I cannot resist even if it is Buy Nothing Day. On Friday, I purchased a new Acer Aspire Intel Core i5 desktop computer (even though I can't afford it, cuz I'm a pauper) — as a consequence of my 8-year-old, once state-of-the-art custom-built computer having been on its lasts legs for some months now. A friend assured me today that my new computer is a piece of junk. Oh goodie.

A fairly mundane picture of my new, much-needed computer may be found at the top of today's column — alongside my brand spanking new Google Home Mini which, truth to tell, I don't really need but it was half price at only $39.95, and I've been falling behind on my cutting edge tech persona. At about $40, I think I can indulge my techy side this holiday season.

As you may know, I love radio (even to this day). Just by saying, "Hey Google, play BBC Radio One", within seconds BBC Radio One will begin playing through the Google Home Mini speaker. The same is true of hundreds of other radio stations. I've used my Google Home Mini to set alarms and reminders, check sports scores, stream music from Spotify, or from my iTunes library (of more than 5000 songs) employing Bluetooth.

If I purchase a Logitech Harmony Hub I could control my home theatre by voice command. Or, if I purchase the Phillips Hue Starter Kit, I could also control all of the lights in my house, and set the lights to turn on at a specific time, so when I enter my Co-op apartment, I won't be entering into darkness. I could even set each individual light to a specific colour.

Yep — an indulgence. I won't be purchasing the Phillips Hue system or the Harmony Hub anytime soon, but it's nice to know that they're available.



Posted by Raymond Tomlin at November 26, 2017 8:20 PM in Web & Tech

   

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