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In the not so distant future

I sit alone in the living room, watching television. A barrage of advertisements loads up on my screen before I settle down to view a film. It's an hour and a half long, which at the going rate of 10 pence per minute isn't too bad for a rental these days, although I could have it at 6 pence if I wanted the unskippable advertisements included. That said, I could also pay for the 'premium' version which actually leaves out the digitally added product placements.

My wife pops down to see what I'm watching (the new remake of Kill Bill where they've cut out all the extreme violence. Since they're only allowed to colour blood blue in films these days, I couldn't bring myself to watch Reservoir Dogs). Although she's interested in it, her viewing card is already set up to watch the MPAA Awards (used to be the Oscars years ago) upstairs and it won't let her view two things at once, unless she cancels it (at full cost, of course). I'd need the unlimited card to do that and I'm not paying £500 a year extra to watch a bit more TV.

"My kid comes running down the stairs to see what I'm watching, but is disappointed as the television pauses and dims to black as she enters the room and triggers the parental controls. "

Pausing the film, I pick up my VoIP handset and call the local pizza house. They'll deliver me a large pepperoni and bottle of Cola for £20. I wouldn't mind the cost so much, but since they started putting loan and bank advertisements on the pizzas using food colouring it all seems so expensive. Hanging up the phone, I get a message on the screen advising me of the cost of the call; so much for free calls over the Internet. Whilst I have the phone handy I drop my mate an IM to see if he wants to come round and game for a bit after; there goes another 20p.

My kid comes running down the stairs to see what I'm watching, but is disappointed as the television pauses and dims to black as she enters the room and triggers the parental controls. "Sorry honey, but this film is for adults," I say, as the screen slowly scrolls through a selection of films suitable for a child. "It's raining, why don't you go online and play rounders with your friends?" This seems to cheer her up. She grabs her controller from her room and goes off to IM her pals from school.

After the film finishes, I drop the unfinished pizza slice in the food recycler, the box in the cardboard recycler and break down the cola bottle into the correct coloured plastic recycle bins. I hope they're not late tomorrow as they only come once a month now and I already have to take up 1/3 of my garden with the containers. I'll be really annoyed if I have to move them onto the drive, because that's going to mean I can't park my car there and avoid PRSVT (Public Road Stationary Vehicle Tax) on it. Mind you, I'd save a couple of pence a week Mileage Tax on the extra distance it takes to put it on the drive.

I get an IM from the house advising me Steve's at the door, so I turn on my music streamer and log it into a local radio station. I'm on a good service, it's about 0.5 pence a song, but I don't get anything recorded in the last year or so. To be honest, that's not that much of a problem because it's all generated by computer these days and Lara Croft has been Number 1 for months.

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Chris Caines


As Steve comes in the music shuts off, his RFID tag triggering the Transmission Rights scanner in my stereo (to ensure that only those who've paid for the music can listen to it). It's not a major deal, he's round so often he picks up 25% of the bill, so after a couple of seconds calling home it starts up again.

Obviously back in my day, if we were having a gaming session, people ended up forgetting their controllers or memory cards. Now that's impossible because unless it registers that Steve also owns the game (which is marked on his personal controller) then we're not going to be playing much of anything. I obviously use the phrase 'owned' in the loosest sense of the word because no-one owns any games anymore, they're automatically sent to the console when you press Start. Having Gigabit bandwidth might have sounded great ten years ago, but now you can't download anything to keep anyway, it's all streamed to your device.

"I obviously use the phrase 'owned' in the loosest sense of the word because no-one owns any games anymore, they're automatically sent to the console when you press start."

The best example is when I bought my new Microsoft XPC720 last month; black box with a green light on it... that's it. You turn it on, it hooks up to your wireless and you put in your public key, then it downloads the base Windows OS and any applications you've subscribed to and you're away. I remember having to download drivers, virus scanners and patches, but now all the hardware is owned by them anyway.

Steve wants to play Halo XXX (That's not some cool codeword, it is actually Halo 30) but I'm just so bored of it now since the film trilogy came out. Besides there's only so many screaming 14 year-olds shouting "Owned!" down my headset that I can handle. I opt for Battlefield Antarctica instead, just because I always take the side of the Penguins. I'm building a huge missile base under the ice and one day I'm going to beat the damn USA if it kills me. You know, my penguin-guys always seem so weak in this game and I just can't see how the old news reports claiming they killed 100,000 soliders is true. Mind you, with the oppression they suffered in the zoos, I can understand why the uprising happened.

Steve loads up the Dark Matter Ioniser he bought off eBay Gaming and heads over to my base. There's going to be a lot of fried bird again...