Dollop 14 – Ultravox, Kettles, And A News Update From The Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster

Download the audio Dollop here

Yesterday was a great day for equality. A member of the Church Of The flying spaghetti Monster won a battle to be allowed to appear in his driving licence photo wearing a colander on his head. He claims that the colander is part of his religious dress and that denying him this right would be discrimination. Fortunately the powers that be saw sense and, after a bout of indecision, acquiesced. I did think about trying to conduct another interview with a member of the Church Of The flying Spaghetti Monster, but thought that two blog posts in a fortnight containing loads of pasta puns might test your tolerance levels a bit too much.

Last night I listened to some music on Tidal (which is a service similar to Spotify but with better audio quality, and it also pays double the money to artists).

I noticed how many versions there were of Ultravox’s Vienna. I don’t mean cover versions, but remastered versions of the exact same song. There was the original 1980 master, then a 2003 remaster, a 2008 remaster, and a 2009 remaster. I can understand why they might have wanted to remaster the original 1980 recording, after all, it was twenty-three years ago, and technology has moved on quite a bit since then. But surely technology hadn’t moved on so much to warrant yet another remaster five years later? And then another remaster a mere year in the future? Surely that’s just a step too far.

The good news is that Ultravox seem finally contented with the 2009 remaster, as there doesn’t seem to have been any more remasters since then, although surely it’s only a matter of time; the 2009 remaster is starting to sound a bit dated now.

When I say remaster, I don’t mean that these songs have been rerecorded. All that has happened is that a producer has fiddled around with the levels a bit, altered a few compression and equalisation settings, and maybe adjusted the stereo placement of some of the instruments.

“ah, yes, I notice that the tambourine is up half a decibel in the 2009 remaster; about time it got that extra level of prominence that it clearly deserves. The 2008 version took it down 2 decibels, which was, quite frankly, a travesty, but I’m glad they’ve seen sense finally.”

In other news, we have a new kettle. Normally I wouldn’t bother to tell you about the purchase of fairly standard domestic appliances, but this kettle is a special kettle. It is a kettle that you can control by your phone, tablet or Apple Watch. The app has a bland uninspiring name, so much so that I can’t actually remember it; however, I think they missed a trick by not calling the App Poly. It should also be voice activated, and when you want to use the kettle, you merely have to say, “poly, put the kettle on” and the app will oblige. I also had an idea for the Apple Watch version of the app. When the app loads up, it should show the words, “an Apple Watched kettle always boils.” Sadly this wouldn’t work for the phone or tablet versions. However, if the phone and tablet apps are anything to go by then that particular statement would be incorrect anyway, as in actuality, the kettle only seems to boil after the thirtieth attempt, by which point you might as well have just crossed the room and turned the bloody thing on. I think that this is a case of technology going one step too far, adding a needless level of complexity to the most straightforward of tasks.

My two housemates Ben and Elsa have spent about a day trying to work the thing. Firstly, you need to make sure that there is actually water in the kettle. This means that you have to remember to fill the kettle back up as soon as you’ve made your tea, otherwise you won’t be able to use the kettle app because we haven’t yet reached the technological age that means the kettle can turn on the tap and fill itself. I would argue that this, rather than simplifying the tea making process, complicates it, because you have to train yourself to remember to fill the kettle back up after you’ve made the tea, and who is honestly going to remember to do that? You know for a fact that you’re going to forget, so the next time you want tea you’ll need to go into the kitchen and fill the kettle up before you can use the app, which would be stupid because you’re literally standing at the kettle, so why not just press the button on the actual kettle?

Of course, you could, I suppose, fill the kettle to the brim so that you maximise the number of boils you can get before you need to fill it back up again. But this adds a whole new range of problems. Firstly, this is far from environmentally friendly, nor is it particularly energy efficient. This kettle has the potential to double your electricity bills, not to mention the extra power being used to keep the kettle’s in-built wifi receiver running 24 hours a day. I mean, you could turn the kettle’s wifi connectivity off, but then you’d have to keep going back to the kettle every time you wanted to use the app just so you could turn wifi back on, which again, would defeat the whole purpose of having an app, because you’re right by the kettle.

Also, having the kettle filled to the very top would mean that it would take much longer to boil than it ordinarily would. It would be a massive waste of time and energy, especially if you were just making one cup of tea. You’d have to boil an entire kettle’s worth of water.

So far, we have been able to boil the kettle from the dining room, which is about ten metres away from the kitchen where the kettle is housed. We did try boiling it from my bedroom, but we got an error message telling us that the kettle was not in range. Surely that’s the whole point: if the kettle was in range then I’d press the bloody button on the kettle and boil it the old fashioned way. But this is 2016, and apparently that way just isn’t cutting it any more.

Eventually, we got it working again. The app advised us to go to the base of the kettle and reset the wifi receiver. We were then able to go back up the stairs and boil the kettle from my bedroom. But then we had to go down the stairs again to make the tea. This is the most ludicrous and pointless invention. It’s only a matter of time before it breaks again.

I don’t think I’ll be using the app part of the kettle. I am happy with the traditional way of operating kettles, plus, with all the stress that using the app causes, I have the feeling that if I used it, the only thing that’s going to be steaming is me, because the kettle certainly won’t be.

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13 thoughts on “Dollop 14 – Ultravox, Kettles, And A News Update From The Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster

        • Nothing preprepared; that would be cheating. It will be interesting how I manage to keep this up while we’re on tour, especially during March when we’re in Australia for three weeks. Half the challenge will be uploading the thing, as Internet access will be much more patchy on the road. The process is writing it, recording it, editing out my stupid mistakes which are many and frequent, uploading the podcast to the server, releasing both written and audio versions on the website, manually editing the RSS feed to get the podcast episode up on ITunes and such, then promoting it on Twitter and Facebook, plus reading and replying to my hoards of adoring fans. Then it’s about time to start all over again and release the next one. But, I am enjoying it a lot. Apparently it takes about 30 days to build a habit and change the way your brain views the task, so in fifteen days time I should be incredible at this. What was that you said? I am already? Well, that’s nice of you to say, but I couldn’t possibly agree.

          • In my opinion you are doing great. The content is high quality, interesting and funny, though I was not so keen on the bad lanuage in the earlier Dollops because I like my parents to hear them too. In a way it’s like a 24-hour news channel bundled up in to 10-minute Dollops.

          • There is no way I am doing a 24 hour rolling service. Ten minutes a day will do for now. Glad you’re liking them. I think you’ll be safe in playing your parents yesterday’s Dollop, unless they happen to be the bosses of a kettle app development company, in which case maybe steer clear.

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