The Consumer Category
We bring you the chic and unique, the best and most bizarre shopping offers both online and offline. We offer you tips on where to buy, and some of the less mainstream and crazy, individual and offbeat items on the internet. Anything that can be bought and sold can be featured here. And we love showcasing the best and worst art and design.
TECHNOLOGY has been rocketing along so quickly, it’s difficult to put on the breaks, stop for a moment and get a perspective. Sometimes you just need to dig your heels in and take a look backward. As the current rushes you madly onward, it may do you good to just pause and see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time.
Taking a look at progress in technology as whole is much too broad; our heads will likely explode if we try and take it all in. Instead, let’s just look at your phone – that thin little rectangle you have in your pocket or are looking at right now…
It can do more than Hubot could ever dream of. And while it is unlikely Hubot was capable of dreaming, it could play AM/FM radio, check the temperature, tell the time, and play Atari 2600 games. Hubot came with a price tag of $3495 in 1981 – adjusted for inflation that comes to $8957 (£5432). For that kind of price, Hubot better be able to do dishes, kill intruders, and stimulate pleasure centers on command.
Alas, it did not. But let’s look at a single function on your mobile device that you likely take for granted: voice messages.
To read this advert, it sounds as though your very life is going to change thanks to an answering machine. Indeed, the Phone Butler will rid you of your cumbersome existence, and introduce you to the jet-setting world of recorded phone messages.
Now you can spend your vacations and nights out on the town with complete ease, knowing that all your calls and messages are being handled efficiently, and are waiting at home for you!…. Don’t worry about missing calls while you’re out doing yard work, in the shower, shopping, sunbathing, or socializing with the neighbors, you’ll never have to make a run for the phone again!
It’s hard to imagine that something as commonplace as voice messaging was sold as an answer to prayers just a few decades back. That would be like saying having no phone cord was a miracle of science – hey, what a sec…
“You see, with our cordless phone you’re not tied down by the cord – because there is no cord!”
No longer was mankind tethered; he was free to roam from patio to garage to toilet with splendid freedom. Advertisements announced this latest break with great fanfare. Of course, no longer being “tethered” meant you were also never out of reach. So, in a twist of fate, going cordless resulted in less freedom. Who knew?
In the ‘80s, you knew you “made it” if you could conduct business from your tub… preferably while sporting a self-important smirk. Once again, the advertisers are driving the point home that your tech devices no longer require terminals – they are wherever you are. Our younger generations will never know the type of world where you have designated phone and computer locations – things haven’t just become portable, they are damn near bodily appendages.
Another thing future generations will never know is the telephone queue. The very thought of actually having to wait your turn to use a phone is madness. But there’s a flipside to this: If you knew you had to spend a painful amount of time waiting in line every time you had to make a call, wouldn’t you use the phone less? And if so, might you be doing something more enriching or enjoyable with the time?
That’s crazy talk. Let’s move on.
One thing that we’ve all collectively dreamed about in our science fiction is the “video phone”. Every futuristic depiction worth its salt had one. Of course, now Skype, Face Time and the like are just boring parts of life – no more shocking than your washing machine or toaster oven. Who would have thought that a technology so anticipated would so quickly be taken for granted?
Well, we could stand in amazement at the many examples of brilliant communications technologies which have become mundane overnight. However, the current is quickly pulling us onward. No time to linger in quiet appreciation; in the time it took you to read this article, at least three of your tech devices have gone obsolete.
VISITORS to 1920s NYC could study the Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book. As any reader of P.G. Wodehouse’s Psmith, Journalist will now full well, New York was a dangerous place back then, overrun by gangs, slum landlords and shysters.
THESE days the King’s Road looks not unlike many other high-streets across the country, albeit a bit posher. If you stroll down the road you’ll see, just like anywhere else, Boots, WH Smiths and the ubiquitous coffee-shop chains. In fact, always a trend-setter, the King’s Road was where Starbucks chose to open its first ever UK coffee-shop just fifteen or so years ago in 1998. Of course it has a McDonald’s like anywhere else but the King’s Road McDonalds is a bit different to most – it used to be the Chelsea Drugstore.
FACES of the day: Visitors view a photo of the ‘Grieving Parents’ statue during an exhibit, World War One, 1914-1918, at the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. The statue of the Grieving Parents, by noted German sculptor Kathe Kollwitz, is a tribute to her youngest son, Peter, who was killed in October 1914 and is buried in the Vladslo German Cemetery in Belgium.
The eyes on the father-figure, left, gaze onto the ninth stone before him, on which his son’s name is written.
The statues of she and her husband Karl:
The artist’s own burial plot in Berlin-Friedrichsfelde is beautiful:
WHEN do you know if it’s true love? Japanese lingerie manufacturer Ravijou has taken the guesswork out of foreplay by inventing a bra clasp that only unhooks when “true love” is detected. If that significant other is only after a quick fumble or your valuables, the clasp stays closed.
CANADA has closed it borders to Marmite, Irn Bru, Bovril and Penguin bars.
A Mr – get this – Tony Badger, owner of a British foods shop in Saskatoon, central Canada, says his goods have been impounded. He told CKOM news: ““My understanding was we were importing legally. We’ve been declaring it through a customs broker and we’ve never had an issue until now.”
Here’s a look around the shop, with authentic 1950s intermission music in keeping with the general theme of Canada being 60 years behind the UK:
FANTASTIC haircut news: the bill to cut Kobe Bryan’s hair for a Nike shoot ran to $860.
This is Kobe Bryant:
No. That’s him on the right.
MEN’S fashion is a great sauce of chuckling. Get a load of American fashion designer Thom Browne’s men’s Fall-Winter 2014-2015 fashion collection, presented Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 in Paris.
He should have called the collection Bug Money or Mugs Money:
MANY of you will remember the Hostess snack adverts that appeared in comic books throughout the 70s. They all had the same basic story: a villain is subverted from his diabolical plan by a well-known superhero… and the help of a sugary cream-filled cake.
This may be genius marketing (after all, comic books and junk food go well together), but it’s also a bit troubling because it calls a few things into question:
- Exactly how special are our superheroes (Batman, Spider-Man, etc.) when all it takes to vanquish an arch-enemy is a box of Twinkies? Subsequently, doesn’t this call into question the severity of the threats in the first place? I mean, if Lex Luthor can be stopped by a package of sugary sweets, what does this say about his evil villain status?
- What ingredients are in these treats? These superheroes and villains possess incredible powers, yet it’s the snack cake that wins every time.
Norway’s Curling Team Are Early Leaders In Olympics Fashion Stakes With Their ‘Life-Changing’ Trousers
NORWAY’S Olympic curling team is in fine fettle for the upcoming games in Sochi.
The Norwegians have form:
The designer is Christoffer Svae, who tells the AP that he asked a company called Loudmouth to jazz up the team’s kit:
“It’s definitely been life-changing for us,” Svae told the AP. “Not so much in the everyday but when we travel around the world for curling, it doesn’t always matter if we do well or not, people still think that we win stuff because we are always in the media.”
“I don’t think you’ll see a lot of the other teams do the same that we did,” Svae added, “they feel it’s our thing.”
If you look closely at the new kit, you can see a boy in tricycle riding up the zigzags.
ARE you scared by the “Anorexia doll”? The Sun says there are “Fears over toy snubbing food”.
Daniel Jones reports:
HEALTH campaigners want to ban a new doll that refuses to eat — claiming it encourages anorexia. The interactive baby turns her head away when a child tries to give her food. Critics say the £34.99 Nenuco Won’t Eat set will make toddlers think that refusing food is normal behaviour.
PLENTY of small companies out there have found themselves sliding down the Google search results after they paid some consultant or other to improve their web rankings. Because the consultants then go out and buy links from blogs and other websites: something that tricks the Google search engine into thinking that the site is more important than it is.
EVER looked at the world and become suddenly depressed? You realise that everything ugly you see, is man-made. So, your attentions turn to nature, where everything is beautiful. And vicious. And cruel. And bloody.
In a bid to couple the two worlds, some weirdos have decided to make models – which you can buy – of unborn babies. That’s right. You can now pay money for something that still lives inside a woman you know.
BEN Wilson is the chewing gum artist. We say ‘the’ because we can’t find anyone else who paint of splats of discarded, squashed gum. He is the self-styled ‘Chewing Gum Man’. Today, Ben was painting pictures you can take home on the sole of your shoe on the Millennium Bridge in London.
BRANDENBURG Germany is enticing tourists with a calendar featuring a photo of an expansive cottage. It turns out that this holiday home once belonged to Hermann Goering, the German politician. The German federal Government is aghast, ordering the calendar to be pulped. You won’t get to look at Himmler’s en-suite (March) or Martin Bormann’s spare room (also March. In fact, it’s all March.)
FLASHBACK to June 1, 1932: Five members of the Alcohol Prohibition Research Committee depart on the bus Diogenes, named after the man who sought in vain for an honest man, in New York City. The membership is seeking one drunk who has been reformed by the 18th amendment in their campaign against the liquor ban. From left are, Stephen Duggan Jr., assistant investigator; Russell Salmon, chief investigator; Ernest Boorland Jr., member of the executive committee; Robert Nicholson, assistant director; and Paul Morris, director.
The failed Prohibition experiment ended on December 5, 1933,
CHILDREN in Restaurants Watch – Part 2: The Squeaky Shoes.
“They want to help children with disabilities and this was just something that happened in their cafe and they are not proud of it,” says Catherine Duke.
Last week, an assistant manager at a Savannah Panera Bread, told Duke’s 2-year-old daughter to remove her shoes. A customer had complained they were squeaking “too much”. “We weren’t welcome with the shoes. It was very blatant,” adds Duke. “Emma has an undiagnosed developmental disorder that prevented her from walking until she was 23-months-old. These are special shoes. They squeak when she walks properly.”
FACE of the Day: World Scotch Pie winner Stephen McAllister, from Kandy Bar bakers in Saltcoats, celebrates after being presented with his prize at The Scotch Pie Awards at Carnegie conference centre in Dunfermline.
LADY mannequins inside the American Apparel store window displays on East Houston Street in New York City are now sporting full bush, Gothamist reports. Under the flimsy, translucent undergarments of each of the bespectacled female dummies sprouts a dark hairy merkin. There’s no doubt that the controversial exhibit will stop pedestrians in their tracks, and really isn’t that what founder Dov Charney and his team really want?
Insert snarky comment here.
THE music streaming service, Spotify, now allows unlimited free listening. This is seen as a great step forward: the company’s technology is getting better, they’re getting better at selling ads and all that sort of stuff. This may or may not be the actual reason they’re lifting their previous limits though:
Spotify’s advertising engine and paid customer conversion funnel are finally working well enough that today it eliminated all limits on free, ad-supported web listening in all countries. It’s an important milestone for the scalability and sustainability of Spotify’s business that contrasts with other streaming music services like Ex.fm and Rdio that are stumbling or shutting down.