SECRET LIFE OF MACHINES 2, UPDATE 2004
wrote the second series in 199-91. Looking at the films again, they seem to have aged surprisingly well. Of
course the machines themselves have changed so they all need an extra scene to bring
them up to date.
car film was made before the current fashion for SUV four wheel drives.
SUVs provide a bit more protection for the occupants in most collisions
(because of their weight) but are more likely to roll over. They also use
much more fuel and the high bonnets make them more lethal if they hit a
pedestrian. Car electronics have become ever more complex, making cars
more difficult for independent garages to repair, and the price of steel
scrap has collapsed, so people now have to pay to dispose of their old
cars and many just get abandoned by the side of the road. So in many
respects, cars have got worse.
have continued their incremental improvement, particularly turbo diesels.
Today diesels make very little more noise than petrol engines and are
fitted to large numbers of cars. Battery and fuel cell powered electric
cars have made some progress, but don’t really seem much closer to
replacing the internal combustion engine.
watches haven’t changed much. Some of the early electronic designs have
come back into fashion as ‘retro’ styling. Watches combined with
phones and cameras have been tried, but don’t seem to have become
popular. One element I might have added is the mystery of why the clock in
a personal computer, with its sophisticated quartz timing circuitry, seems
unable to keep accurate time!
telephone film was made when mobiles were still large expensive devices,
used by a tiny minority of people. No one at the time foresaw their
phenomenal growth over the last ten years. The technology is amazingly
sophisticated, with every call seemlessly swapping from one transmitter to
the next as you move about. The social changes have been equally rapid. I
still find amazing today to walk down a street, watching people chattering
away without any embarrassment A few weeks ago I even saw a woman
apparently arguing with herself – I assumed she had mental health
problems until I realised she was shouting into a hands free phone.
sets haven’t changed much, though I guess the recently introduced
digital radio services could soon become popular. These transmit digital
data and need a complete computer to decipher the signals, so digital
radio sets are currently still expensive and coverage is patchy.
now rarely see video recorders in people's homes. DVD players are now cheaper than video recorders
– their mechanics are certainly much simpler. There is still a question
about the longevity of the disks, particularly the home writable formats
like this DVD+R – I hope it won’t be unplayable in a few years!
Hunkin, Jan 2004