Greatest Gadgets?

The other night I dipped in and out of a Channel 4 countdown of Stephen Fry’s top 100 Greatest Gadgets.

An interesting postulation and countless people jumped on Twitter to claim that the Internet was the greatest ever gadget. The fact that the Internet isn’t a gadget appears to have escaped them. Many others suggested things that either also weren’t gadgets as defined in the dictionary or weren’t actually invented by man, like the wheel for example. A wheel is simply a circle which is a natural feature that was just harnessed by man, along with the inclined plane, electricity, radiation and fire.

I have to agree with the item that Mr Fry chose as his number one: the lighter. The apple corer he demonstrated during the programme was brilliant but we could quite happily live without it. The impact that a handheld, on-demand flame could have on a person is life-changing. Fire sets us apart from the beasts and in lots of parts of the world, being able to control it is a valuable, hard-learned skill.

As an aside, in one of the celebrity talking heads that seem to be mandatory in programmes like these, Suzi Perry lauded the digital camera claiming that its ease of use means that “everybody can be a professional photographer”. What tosh. Just owning a digital camera doesn’t give you the experience to know how to light a scene, the eye to compose a shot, which lens to use or any of the myriad other things that are necessary to truly be a professional photographer. A dedicated website — as is so often the case — exists to highlight this:

Stupid questions

So I’m lying in bed last night and just about to fall asleep when – out of nowhere – a thought enters my head: “How does a deaf person’s smoke alarm work?”

Well that was me wide awake again for another couple of hours, resisting the urge to wake my blissfully sleeping computer to Google the answer. I somehow managed to wait until I got to the office in the morning to find out the answer: flashing lights and vibrating pillows.