Happy Christmas from the Boagworld Show

Paul Boag

In this Christmas special we hear stories of christmas past from Chris Coyier, Sarah Parmenter, Dan Edwards, Bruce Lawson, and many, many more.

Paul Boag:
Hello and welcome to the Christmas special.

Marcus Lillington:
Welcome to Christmas.

Paul Boag:
Welcome to Christmas is now official?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it’s okay now. What date is it?

Paul Boag:
Oh, I don’t know what date this goes out. This goes out – well, let’s think about it. Yes, because we need to edit this fairly quickly, 19th.

Marcus Lillington:
19th? Okay well that’s really properly Christmas. That’s only like what four or five sleeps to Christmas.

Paul Boag:
I might make it a little bit earlier than that.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
I will put it live as soon as I get it back basically. I want to get it transcribed.

Marcus Lillington:
Fine.

Paul Boag:
Because we just because …

Marcus Lillington:
Because that would be the right thing to do, wouldn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Yes. We’ve literally just been doing an interview for next season with Robin Christopherson about accessibility. Oh no, sorry.

Marcus Lillington:
No, inclusive design.

Paul Boag:
Inclusive design and it was brilliant. That’s a really good one. Season 11 is going to be such a good season.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, full of other people.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s why it’s going to be a good one. So how are – are you excited about Christmas?

Marcus Lillington:
Of course I’m excited about Christmas.

Paul Boag:
Are you really? What are you looking forward to? You don’t have to pretend for the podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, my wife said to me the other day – come on – Diana, my mother-in-law said what do you want for Christmas? I said, I don’t want anything.

Paul Boag:
You boring arse.

Marcus Lillington:
I genuinely don’t want anything. That’s not true.

Paul Boag:
People who reach a certain age.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve got everything. That’s not really true, but what I like is the kind of food and drink and all that kind of side of Christmas. There are – most of the things that I want as in gadget-y stuff.

Paul Boag:
You have already bought?

Marcus Lillington:
No, is too expensive. At the moment I’m looking at – Pete who I see through the door, waving at him, he can’t see me. He brought that – his camera in with that wonderful 50 mm lens on it and I want one of those and it’s 270 quid. And it’s like well maybe Caroline might spend that kind of money on me, but I don’t want her to because we’ve just had a ridiculous holiday. I’ve been away on holiday, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Shut up.

Marcus Lillington:
So we’re trying to not spend too much money. So it’s that kind of – that’s probably the smallest and my digital camera – my digital SLR was one of the first ones to come out.

Paul Boag:
Oh, so that really needs replacing.

Marcus Lillington:
So I need a new one.

Paul Boag:
Obviously.

Marcus Lillington:
I do and that’s like well I think – I need a D7 or something like that for a ₤1000.

Paul Boag:
You don’t.

Marcus Lillington:
So yes, so – but anyway basically, bottom line is there is nothing for like 50 quid out there that I particularly want.

Paul Boag:
See you need to …

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe there is – it comes back food and drink every time.

Paul Boag:
Right. You need to get into gaming. That’s the answer.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve just because – sorry I’m picking things up off the floor. You and I have had this conversation that Christmas time is a time when I will play games.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Far Cry 4 that’s what I’m going to be doing over for Christmas. I’ve got three weeks off. I should easily be able to finish the whole thing.

Marcus Lillington:
Year Walk is the one I’m going to be playing.

Paul Boag:
Year Walk? I’ve never even heard of that.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s kind of weird arty Scandinavian get lost in the forest with weird shit happening kind of …

Paul Boag:
What platform are you going to be playing this on?

Marcus Lillington:
On my Mac.

Paul Boag:
On your Mac?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
It’s not very good for gaming, Macs.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, but its about – it’s …

Paul Boag:
Yes, you like puzzle solving games, don’t you? I like blow them up games. If they don’t explode, I’m not interested.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I don’t have a games console. That would be a complete and utter waste of money. It would just sit there and be something that gathered dust.

Paul Boag:
But they’re quite good now for things like watching Netflix, BBC iPlayer, playing DVDs, Blu-rays that kind of stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
I have a DVD, Blu-ray player. I have Apple TV, which I – again, waste of money.

Paul Boag:
There you go.

Marcus Lillington:
Utter waste of money.

Paul Boag:
But that’s what Christmas is about, wasting money. No I’m looking for…

Marcus Lillington:
Sorry, what are you – Paul – I rambled on for ages.

Paul Boag:
Three weeks – three weeks off, that’s what I’m looking forward to.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, obviously, yes. Not that I’m having three weeks off.

Paul Boag:
Three weeks off, food and drink and computer games, that’s all I care about. That is my Christmas.

Marcus Lillington:
Saturday had the kind of weather that I really like as well and I hope there’s some weather, because another thing I like doing at Christmas time is going out walking.

Paul Boag:
Strange man.

Marcus Lillington:
With the dogs.

Paul Boag:
Yes, see that’s quite nice.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s great fun and – but what you want is the same – is the weather that when I wake up on Saturday morning and it was – it looked like a Christmas card. It wasn’t snowy, but it was just like bone hard, really heavy frost out there and the sun was twinkling in the sky.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s what you want.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely gorgeous.

Paul Boag:
That’s lovely.

Marcus Lillington:
So I’m hoping that everyday is like that over Christmas.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Yes, because we very rarely get – we’re talking about weather again. We very rarely get snow on Christmas day. I remember it once.

Marcus Lillington:
It rains, it rains normally. Too early isn’t it? If we get snow it’s in January usually.

Paul Boag:
Yes, okay. So should we talk about what we’re going to do in this episode?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes because I don’t know. Well I do know you did tell me.

Paul Boag:
I did tell you, but I will tell you …

Marcus Lillington:
Tell me again.

Paul Boag:
So we – I want – the Christmas special is always a really difficult one to do, right? Because we’re a web design podcast do we just pretend that we’re not a web design podcast like Unfinished Business does, which is Andy Clarke’s podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
What did Andy do?

Paul Boag:
Well he didn’t do a – I don’t know what he is doing for Christmas, but I went on his recently and he did a Doctor Who Special where we talked about Doctor Who.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s right. Yes, and I sneered at you.

Paul Boag:
You sneered at me. But we didn’t in any way talk about web design. I like to have at least some form of tenuous link. I also, because we’re on a season break, I’m as lazy as possible.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, get other people to do your show for you.

Paul Boag:
Yes, so that’s what we’ve done. So essentially I’ve asked three questions. The first question I asked everybody to comment on was what was their favorite vaguely technological present when they were a kid?

Marcus Lillington:
Can I ask you what you mean by technological? Electricity had only just been invented when I was a kid.

Paul Boag:
I really have got this very, very open. This is very kind of …

Marcus Lillington:
For example is a bicycle a piece of technology?

Paul Boag:
Yes, I’m thinking more electronic-y.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
If I’m honest. But anyway …

Marcus Lillington:
Struggling with that one?

Paul Boag:
That’s fine. It’s okay. You don’t need to answer these if you don’t want to. Then we’re going to – we’re going to hear from my son, because my son has some opinions, very much like his father. And he is going to judge the technological presents of Christmas past in the eyes of a millennial or digital native or whatever he is. This is kind of …

Marcus Lillington:
They all be rubbish, surely. It will all be tat.

Paul Boag:
No, no. There were certain ones that he actually was willing to tolerate.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
And then we’re going to – after that we’re going to look at – I’ve got to remember what we’re going to do. Yes, we are going to look at the future after that. We are going to say …

Marcus Lillington:
How do we do that then Paul?

Paul Boag:
We’re going to – I’ve asked people to say what they think they will get for Christmas in 10 years time. And then we’re going to round up by saying – answering the big question, has technology ruined Christmas? So that’s what we’ve got in store for this podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
Fine, okay.

Paul Boag:
Right. Should we kick off then? All right, so we’re going to look at presents of the past. Do you remember what you – have you got a kind of vaguely techie present that you remember?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
What is it?

Marcus Lillington:
It was the Binatone games console that you plugged into your tele that had the tennis on it.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Did you have the guns as well?

Marcus Lillington:
God no.

Paul Boag:
I always – even to this day, I don’t know how those guns worked?

Marcus Lillington:
And I don’t – well, I’m saying that, no I don’t know how we controlled what was going on the screen. Must have some kind of little – this is a long time ago.

Paul Boag:
I can’t remember, it was black and white wasn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
In the mid ‘70s, this was.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
My best present – Christmas present was a Raleigh chopper though.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but that’s not …

Marcus Lillington:
Five gears.

Paul Boag:
That doesn’t count. Choppers were cool mind, I had a chopper.

Marcus Lillington:
Fantastic bike, but yes, not techie enough.

Paul Boag:
With the beep thing there was definitely a game where you had a gun and you pointed it at the screen and you had to shoot things on the screen.

Marcus Lillington:
Do you know what? I think I’ve still got that Binatone game.

Paul Boag:
Have you really?

Marcus Lillington:
Do you reckon it’s worth loads of money?

Paul Boag:
But I don’t know how that gun worked, because how did it – I don’t know, I still don’t know how it worked.

Marcus Lillington:
It would have been plugged in by a cable.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but how did it know whether I’d hit the thing on the screen or not? Must have been – I don’t know. Anyway, so I’m sure somebody will tell me in the comments.

Marcus Lillington:
But anyway that was genuinely electronic kind of computer-y games-y that was definitely, well maybe ’76, ’77 something like that?

Paul Boag:
Yes. There were a couple …

Marcus Lillington:
And it was amazing, because we played it all – the whole – that was it. All the board games went out the window …

Paul Boag:
Oh yes, that’s far cooler. There were a couple that I remember. One is do you remember Simon Says?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
That you had that thing – that was awesome. I used to really enjoy that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I forget you’re quite old as well.

Paul Boag:
Yes, yes. I’m not quite as old as you, but I’m still quite old. And the other one was Bigtraks? Do you remember Bigtraks? So Bigtraks was essentially …

Marcus Lillington:
No. Actually yes it doesn’t work.

Paul Boag:
… like a little tanky thing. Probably about that long and about – that’s not helping on a podcast is it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it’s about that long by about that wide.

Paul Boag:
And it had a – like a keypad in the top and you could program in commands and then it would drive the route that you say, so you could say go forward five lengths and then go left…

Marcus Lillington:
No, that means nothing to me at all.

Paul Boag:
I bet if I showed you a picture it might do it.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
Bigtraks, oh I’ve spelt it wrong. But that was quite cool – I used to quite like Bigtraks.

Marcus Lillington:
What about – because I’ve – yes, I got the Action Man Helicopter, but that’s not techie, is it?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know. Do you remember that?

Marcus Lillington:
Nope, not at all.

Paul Boag:
That’s interesting.

Marcus Lillington:
Action Man Helicopter was probably my most wowie Christmas present ever.

Paul Boag:
Did it have? I’ll tell you if it counts or not, did it have like kind of buttons and flashy lights and it would speak things and that kind of stuff?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it did noises, but it didn’t – the rotors didn’t go round, well unless you pushed them round with your finger.

Paul Boag:
Well, yes. But it made noises and yeah that counts.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
There was all kinds of…

Marcus Lillington:
There you go. Well, I’ve done loads.

Paul Boag:
There were loads of things like that weren’t there? There was like – a bit late for me, at the end of my kind of toy period. Star Wars used to have – I used to have a Millennium Falcon where there were – you could press buttons.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I guess the Action Man Helicopter was similar to that.

Paul Boag:
Yes, and it had another button you could press and CP30 – 3PO …

Marcus Lillington:
C3PO.

Paul Boag:
Yeah I was right – would make noises and R2D2 would beep and that kind of thing. So yes, there were definitely those kinds of things. Oh, do you remember the Incredible Hulk figure with stretchy arms and you could pull it …

Marcus Lillington:
No, I shake my head again, no.

Paul Boag:
You don’t remember anything. Senility setting in, that’s what it is.

Marcus Lillington:
Do you know what, actually this is – it’s scaring me. I’m trying to think right Christmas when I was a kid.

Paul Boag:
I know. I thought when you get older you have more vivid memories of your earlier years or is that just an urban legend?

Marcus Lillington:
I can remember being – I can remember counting down to Christmas every year.

Paul Boag:
Oh, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I mean, it was like major.

Paul Boag:
Yes, my son is going nuts at the moment.

Marcus Lillington:
But I couldn’t – but I can’t remember – I was given an advent calendar this year, because my daughter said I don’t want that it’s full of chocolate, so I was like I’ll have it then. I’ve opened one door.

Paul Boag:
That’s pathetic.

Marcus Lillington:
It is pathetic. I’m saving them all up for Christmas Eve where I’m just going to scoff the lot.

Paul Boag:
So that’s funny. James, like my son is so literal being Asperger’s and stuff, so he got given a chocolate calendar, normal thing by his gran. And I said to him, I said to him you don’t want to wait for those, just cut off the back with a scalpel and he bloody did it. So he removed all the chocolates at the back. He covered it up again and it looked perfect. So there we go. So let’s move on …

Marcus Lillington:
And he is on the show.

Paul Boag:
And he is on the show later yes, awesome. So there were lots of different kind of areas, but obviously computers were a big one. Right, people’s first computers. So we’re going to kick off by listening to some of the computer presents people had, because this is really quite funny. So Brett from Happy Cog kicked just off with his story about when he first got an Atari.

Brett Harned:
Wow it was a life changer. My dad hooked it up on our old TV that had knobs to change the channels, wood paneling on the sides and possibly even an antenna. I can remember playing Frogger on that thing for hours on end and loving it. I can also remember my hands being really tired after hours of playing Atari.

Paul Boag:
Bret obviously really loved his Atari ST but not as much as Danny loved his Amiga.

Danny:I actually cried when I got it. Probably more so because my parents made out that they couldn’t get me it for Christmas, and I’d have to wait another two weeks or something. So the surprise of getting it on Christmas day was a little bit overwhelming. And yes, I got the 512K extension oh yes.

Paul Boag:
So as you’ve heard, Danny was fairly proud of his whole 512K there. Makes Leigh look quite small fry in comparison.

Leigh Howells:
The coolest piece of technology I got as a kid was my Sinclair Spectrum, ZX Spectrum 16K model. I think it was the Christmas morning of 1982, yes I’m old I know. It was just – it was just the beginning of everything for me. That wonderful moment as I loaded up from tape Manic Miner and heard the wonderful sound of the opening music which kind of went – which was quite a feat considering the Spectrum could only beep. Somehow Matthew Smith the programmer has managed to produce multi channel sound from this amazing rubber-keyed beast. And for Spectrum apart from games, I mean it was what I learned – how I learned programming and all my interest in producing graphics and fiddling around with color and fonts and everything else it all started there. So best present ever and I think my parents worried about it at the time, what would I actually do with this thing, but it formed the foundation of everything I’ve learned since.

Paul Boag:
Leigh wasn’t the only one to find his career kicked off by his first computer. Jon Hicks, discovered that he could design icons on his first computer and we all know where that led.

Jon Hicks:
The whole family for Christmas got an Acorn Electron Computer. Now other people in this sort of era were getting things like Sinclair’s or Commodore’s or even a BBC Micro, but the Acorn Electron was fortunately being sold a little bit cheaply. So it meant that we could pick up this Acorn Electron and we could actually afford it. For me that the really cool thing apart from just having something to play games on was the fact that I could change the icons on games whereby you could fill in the squares on this grid and work out what’s called a VDU statement and create your own little characters. So things like a driving game, you could change the car to be like sort of crude X-wing and then suddenly this driving game actually became like a sort of a trench run kind of game. I like to think that’s where the kind of the whole icon thing came from, but I don’t think it is. But it was very cool.

Paul Boag:
Of course, while the old fogies amongst us were all faffing around with our Spectrums, and Amigas and Ataris, the younger generation were going mobile.

Sean:
I think the coolest bit of tech that I got for Christmas must have been my laptop, because I found it allowed me to do everything I was doing already, playing games and making web sites and the things that I was really enjoying, but I was able to take them other places. So I would go to my friend’s house or I would go down to the lounge. So it really allowed me to do the stuff that I enjoyed doing more socially instead of being stuck in a room which is more the stereotype.

Paul Boag:
That made me feel really nostalgic.

Marcus Lillington:
It did. Particularly Leigh. Two things he said, one that he started programming on a Sinclair Spectrum. Says a lot, doesn’t it?

Paul Boag:
I did that. Yes, it does. What do you mean?

Marcus Lillington:
I played Manic Miner as well and I’m sure I’ve played – he never finished it or something. He said there was one level that was impossible. I thought well I did it. So there.

Paul Boag:
There you go.

Marcus Lillington:
I love Manic Miner. I used an Atari STE for music programming.

Paul Boag:
Oh did you?

Marcus Lillington:
I’m that bit – I’m that much older. I was, you know, about 20. I suppose when that one came out and I bought it to do music programming on. It was like Notator, which turned into Logic which is what I’m recording this on now.

Paul Boag:
No way.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, there you go.

Paul Boag:
Isn’t it funny? Yes, it was the whole thing I thought was really – it was really good. Really interested to see where people kind of started with their computers and the thing that particularly got me was that one right at the end, I think it was Sean, that talked about his laptop you can carry on so funny I was playing a video to my son of Steve Jobs when he announced the first laptop. And he’s standing on stage and then suddenly it’s in front of him and everything and then he picks it up like this and he puts a hula hoop around it.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s right, yes.

Paul Boag:
Just so funny. And James was going why is everyone clapping? Why is everyone clapping? Because you can move your computer, it was very exciting. So yes, that was computers. Obviously, there was games consoles as well. So I’ve got a little bit about the various game consoles that people had when they were younger. [Music]

Like so many of us, Brett didn’t stick with the Atari he mentioned earlier. He moved on to games consoles.

Brett Harned:
About four or five years later, I remember getting a Nintendo system definitely one up in the Atari. That blew my mind on a whole new level I wanted it so badly. There is definitely a VHS video of me doing a back flip into the couch in the living room when I opened it, because I was way too excited.

Paul Boag:
But Brett wasn’t alone in moving across to his games console. Ryan Taylor was closely behind.

Ryan Taylor:
Okay. So one of my best technology presents for Christmas when I was a kid, I remember distinctly getting the Sega Megadrive, and me and my brother were really excited about this. It was the one with the cartridges that you plugged in and it had the controller which just had the three buttons on it, none of this 25 button malarkey that you get with the modern controllers, you just had the three. And we were playing games like Golden Axe and Sonic the Hedgehog and Ridge and things like that. And that were a really exciting Christmas. You couldn’t get us off that.

Paul Boag:
The best thing about a games console is it, it really brings about that Christmas spirit of peace on earth.

Ryan Taylor:
And I remember a few months later that one of the three buttons on one of the controllers actually broke, you couldn’t press it anymore, so we were playing a game like Street Fighter and we’d be having to make rules like you can’t do throws because the third button controlled the throw. You can’t do throws in this fight and then you’d go oh you did a throw, you won, no, no that’s cheating, that’s cheating so we’d have massive arguments about who was in the right and who was in the wrong. I accidentally knocked it, I accidentally knocked it, it weren’t my fault. Let’s do it again. And so, that were good present. [Music]

Paul Boag:
I love the – I did a back flip.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do a back flip. So I’m just impressed full stop with that.

Paul Boag:
Even as a kid, I don’t think I could do one

Marcus Lillington:
Gymnastics were never my thing.

Paul Boag:
No, not really mine either. It’s like right up there with Danny crying when he gets his whatever it was – computer.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, that was cruel parents.

Paul Boag:
Yes, we’re very cruel at Christmas. It’s like at the moment – now is my son likely to listen to this? No, he is not. At the moment, there is this one particular kind of Warhammer 40,000 figure that James wants. And he is desperate to know whether I’ve got it or not and I’m just lying to him, barefaced lying. It’s just wonderful, it’s great. That’s what parenting is about, isn’t it? The joy of torturing your child.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, they’re smaller, so we can bully them.

Paul Boag:
Except eventually they end up looking after us, damn. Right, so let’s move on. The other category of present that seemed to kind of reoccur a few times is like building type presents when you build things. The kind of LEGO-type stuff. So let’s hear about those. Bruce Lawson demonstrated his technical skills at an early age when he got a circuit board set.

Bruce Lawson:The coolest bit of kit I got for Christmas when I was a kid was called the 65 in one. It was like a wooden tray, about the size of a tea tray and there were lots of electronic components in there and they were connectable up with these – they gave you loads of wires. And you connected them using strings which were connected to the components. There was a big work book with lots of circuit diagrams, so you could make all the electronic circuits like a lie detector and a sound meter and a crystal set radio and then all these little cartoons would explain how it all worked and it made me love electronics.

Paul Boag:
Dan James on the other hand preferred something a little bit more LEGO orientated.

Dan James:I got a giant package of constructs which was kind of a competitor to LEGO. It was more – it would be if LEGO was Apple, constructs would be Linux. So I got this giant package of constructs and it consisted of little connector pieces and different size beams that would connect the little connectors. And then it also had a motorized component as well. So you would get a whole bunch of little motors, little – they looked like tiny little fan belts or O rings and then gears that would attach to different parts of the toy and you could make pretty much whatever you wanted. You could make vehicles, you could make things with elevators that kind of stuff. So it was amazing in that you could build pretty much whatever you could imagine.

Paul Boag:
Dan James wasn’t the only one to mention LEGO. Joe Leach also mentioned it, but he gets special brownie points, because he related it to web design.

Joe Leech:It’s probably fairly predictably LEGO, but what I loved about LEGO and how, why it’s kind of stayed with me until now is the fact that it just was the very basic sort of building, basic blocks, basic colors, basic everything and it kind of reminded me a bit of good old aged HTML and CSS where you can kind of take the basics of these very, very simple technologies and make something epic. And that was always the best thing about LEGO was making something from loads of very, very basic bits, something really special and huge like a massive concept spaceship or a super tank or a house or anything that you possibly wanted and that was the thing I loved so much about LEGO. [Music]

Paul Boag:
I think the LEGO one was a bit of a push. There was no technology aspect to that.

Marcus Lillington:
No technology in that. If I couldn’t have my chopper bicycle, then …

Paul Boag:
He doesn’t get that. The only reason I allowed his in was because he related it to web design.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
So if you can relate your chopper bicycle to web design then it …

Marcus Lillington:
They were great for doing wheelies on.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And how is that web related? Because – both starts with a W. There you go.

Paul Boag:
What I liked about the chopper bike was that fact that you could – it was a really good bike to learn on, because it had such wide tires, it was – friend of mine was trying to learn on a racing bike, very difficult.

Marcus Lillington:
We used to – what we used to do, because I actually managed to break the frame on my chopper. I imagine it’s from jumping off things basically, but the back chopper wheel on a racing frame with a racing front wheel was a fantastic bike. It’s what kind of grifter turned into, you know grifter? We didn’t have grifters in when I was young. So we had to make our own.

Paul Boag:
Grifters came along when I was around. So it was just those few years difference.

Marcus Lillington:
I really wanted one, but I was a bit old when they came out, so it’s like I didn’t get one.

Paul Boag:
Oh, that’s so sad.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it is very sad.

Paul Boag:
We had some other kind of miscellaneous presents that don’t fall into any category but some of them are so good that I desperately wanted to include them. Sarah Parmenter was the only women that submitted some suggestions to this podcast and thank you Sarah for doing that. And I have to say you’ve done a particularly good job at holding up the kind of women’s end of the present market.

Sarah Parmenter:So it was called a Julie Doll so being a girl that’s not uncommon. But apparently it was the first talking, responding to movement, light and temperature doll that there was in the market and according to the good old World Wide Web she was about $112 in 1987. So goodness knows how much my parents must have paid for this. I didn’t come from the family that had a lot of money, so I can only guess that my dad thought it was like the most amazing piece of girly tech that he could have possibly got me for Christmas and it was pretty amazing actually. So you would have books and she had like a sensor in her finger and you would run it over the books and it would help you to learn to read, and stuff like that. It was actually pretty cool. But I’ve just looked up what she looked like on the internet and I’ve got to say if that was sitting in the corner of my room, I probably wouldn’t sleep at night as an adult.

Paul Boag:
While Sarah looked after her physical doll, Dan Edwards seemed to be looking after his virtual one.

Dan Edwards:I think the coolest piece of tech that I got when I was a kid was probably a Tamagotchi. What was it, not even like a little one inch screen something like that, that would eat all the time and poop all the time and I remember just being obsessed with it. I’d take it to school with me and yes, that’s got to be probably the coolest tech thing I got when I was a kid.

Paul Boag:
Although I was a little bit too old for the Tamagotchi craze and can’t really associate that well with Sarah’s excitement about her doll. I can remember getting really excited about Patrick O’Keefe’s suggestion.

Patrick O’Keefe:It was our first VCR. And I was three at the time, I had just turned three. For Christmas my parents bought a Panasonic VCR for $500. This was a really big purchase for them. $500 now is a lot of money, but $500 back then, adjusted for inflation it’s about $1,050 in 2014 and it was even more given where they were at in their lives at the start of building their family. So this was a purchase they had planned for, they had saved for, they had waited for VCRs to come down in price, because the first VCRs were well over $1,000. So they could finally afford a VCR and it was a game changer, because before that you could only watch was on TV, now you could watch whatever you wanted when you wanted at least if it was in your VHS library. And of course after that, that leads to DVD players and Blu-ray players and DVRs and recording and streaming on demand. And so, it all kind of kicks off this ability to watch what you want, when you want.

Paul Boag:
So, yes, I love the VCR one. I really remember that ever so vividly.

Marcus Lillington:
My mom and dad bought a video recorder as we used to call it, not a VCR.

Paul Boag:
Oh, no we didn’t use VCR.

Marcus Lillington:
And it had analog buttons, so like big push down button. But what that meant was is this was back in the days of actually editing stuff as I was watching it, particularly things like The Old Grey Whistle Test and any music programs and I could be holding the pause button and it would and if I let it up it was immediate, because – and the digital ones didn’t do that. They’d go [indiscernible] and then you’d get somebody talking over the end of the song. So yes, I did love the old video recorder.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it was – I just remember my first trip to a video rental store as well. And suddenly there are all these things I can watch. I can watch any of this.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, amazing.

Paul Boag:
Yes, amazing.

Marcus Lillington:
And dolls are just freaky.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely, dolls are indeed freaky. But yes, so that was the kind of different suggestions people had. I think there are some real classics in there. I think there are some things that were absolute game changers that I remember so fondly. Unfortunately my son doesn’t share the same level of excitement about that list as maybe we do. Okay, James.

James Boag:Hello.

Paul Boag:
Hello. Welcome to the podcast.

James Boag:It’s exciting.

Paul Boag:
Is it exciting?

James Boag:Yes. It’s very exciting.

Paul Boag:
Okay, that’s good. I’m glad you find it exciting.

James Boag:I think it’s exciting.

Paul Boag:
I hope you’ll find it exciting. It’s nearly Christmas now that’s exciting.

James Boag:I know that is exciting. Is this the whole podcast talking about …

Paul Boag:
How excited you are.

James Boag:… how excited I am about the podcast.

Paul Boag:
You’ve got a job on this podcast.

James Boag:It’s the weekend, dad.

Paul Boag:
It’s not yet, not quite.

James Boag:We’re having a holiday day.

Paul Boag:
You’re having a holiday day – the benefits of home schooling but there you go. So anyway, as part of this show, what we’ve had is lots of people submit toys that they got as a kid at Christmas. Now these tend to be people that are a little older than you, probably most of them are not quite as old as me, although some of them are and we’re going to talk about their various presents and I want you to rate them as to whether you would find it an acceptable present, alright?

James Boag:Okay. This is going to be interesting.

Paul Boag:
The first one is probably the best I think. Well the first and the last, I’ve kept the first and last the best. First one, okay, a ZX Spectrum. Now have you seen a ZX Spectrum?

James Boag:I’ve heard of that.

Paul Boag:
Have you seen a picture of one?

James Boag:No.

Paul Boag:
Let’s find a picture of the ZX Spectrum.

James Boag:Okay.

Paul Boag:
Right. So, ZX Spectrum, okay. So this is what they look like, now that’s the one I had.

James Boag:It’s a keyboard.

Paul Boag:
That’s it.

James Boag:But it’s a keyboard.

Paul Boag:
It is a keyboard.

James Boag:Why do you want a keyboard?

Paul Boag:
It’s more than a keyboard.

James Boag:It looks like a terrible keyboard.

Paul Boag:
It’s a rubber keyboard, right. And what you do is you plug it into your TV, like a games console, but and here is the cool bit, you would have a cassette – you don’t even know what a cassette recorder is.

James Boag:I know what one of those are, those weird things that you put it in.

Paul Boag:
Not push it in the front – you can put it – anyway, that’s beside the point. So you’d connect a cassette recorder and to the back of it into the sound ports into the computer, and you’d load the programs, okay. So instead of having like a DVD like we have with games, well actually these days you’d download them.

James Boag:Download them off Steam.

Paul Boag:
But you would put your cassette in and it would load the game by making noises that the computer would then understand. Now it would take about five minutes to load the game.

James Boag:Five minutes?

Paul Boag:
About five minutes to load the game.

James Boag:That’s worse loading times than Skyrim.

Paul Boag:
And you have to load it every time.

James Boag:Right.

Paul Boag:
And sometimes it would fail and you would have to start all over again.

James Boag:That’s crazy.

Paul Boag:
Okay. But here is the best thing.

James Boag:Why would you use that?

Paul Boag:
Because that – this was cutting edge technology.

James Boag:Cutting edge?

Paul Boag:
Cutting edge, it really was.

James Boag:Right.

Paul Boag:
Well, consumer cutting edge. Now, the most interesting thing, have a guess how much memory that has?

James Boag:A gigabyte.

Paul Boag:
A gigabyte of memory?

James Boag:Yes, I’m being pessimistic.

Paul Boag:
You think that’s pessimistic? Okay, think not in terms gigabytes, just forget gigabytes. So underneath gigabytes is megabytes and then kilobytes, so go …

James Boag:A single kilobyte.

Paul Boag:
16 kilobytes. Now we’ve just bought for your Christmas, what are you having memory? Can you remember how much it is?

James Boag:I think 16 megabyte?

Paul Boag:
16 gigabytes.

James Boag:Gigabytes.

Paul Boag:
Oh no.

James Boag:I’m confused.

Paul Boag:
Yes, 16 gigabytes.

James Boag:I get – it’s all bytes. Can’t they have little mouthfuls instead or something like that.

Paul Boag:
Okay, so …

James Boag:Giga little mouthfuls.

Paul Boag:
If you were given a ZX Spectrum is that a good present or a bad present?

James Boag:A bad present.

Paul Boag:
Okay. You don’t want a ZX Spectrum, okay. They’re probably worth a little bit now as collectables, probably.

James Boag:Yes, they are.

Paul Boag:
Right, okay. So that’s that one. Right let’s have a look at the next one on the list. Next on the list, right, games consoles, okay.

James Boag:Right.

Paul Boag:
You got what a PlayStation 4?

James Boag:Yes. Well, you have …

Paul Boag:
Well, I’ve it. Let’s be honest, I’m the one that plays PlayStation 4, because you’re a PC gamer. Okay, PlayStation no, right. This is pre-PlayStation. This is a Nintendo.

James Boag:Nintendo? What, a Nintendo was cool?

Paul Boag:
Just Nintendo.

James Boag:Nintendo. Only Nintendo?

Paul Boag:
It had the controller, you know you have all those hundreds of buttons now, three buttons that was it.

James Boag:What was it – one of those which have like those – like an Xbox controller but with an unnecessary huge spike coming to stab your chest?

Paul Boag:
Original Nintendo, I’m just – I’m searching on it. Here we go. This is what – that there, that’s the controller.

James Boag:Oh, I’ve seen a picture from those. Oh, yes, I know those I think, yes.

Paul Boag:
So how do you feel about this? This good?

James Boag:Maybe, if I could play Zelda on it, yes.

Paul Boag:
Oh, you like the idea of original Zelda.

James Boag:The original Zelda actually sounds quite cool.

Paul Boag:
No it’s really interesting, because a lot of the games you play today are like 8-bit games that would probably run on a Nintendo.

James Boag:Yes.

Paul Boag:
So there you go. Okay, so Nintendo is a possible. That’s a possible present.

James Boag:Nintendo is a possible one.

Paul Boag:
Okay, next one. Right, next one, well somebody suggesting something called Connects, right.

James Boag:Connects?

Paul Boag:
Yes, Connects. They described it as a bit like LEGO, right. But LEGO that had motorized parts. So you could make cars, and elevators and things like that. You quite like the sound of that one.

James Boag:Yes I quite like the sound of that.

Paul Boag:
Okay. So that’s a yes for that.

James Boag:Yes.

Paul Boag:
Right okay that’s good. Okay, next one on our list, a circuit board. So you had a circuit board where you could connect say different parts together using springs, run current through them and you can make things like a lie detector …

James Boag:I think we already have – we still have those.

Paul Boag:
We have something like that.

James Boag:Yes.

Paul Boag:
Do you like that one? Is that a good…

James Boag:I’m not a big – that fussed about those.

Paul Boag:
You’ve now moved on to – tell them about pound a toy, that’s your virtual equivalent of that.

James Boag:It’s really hard to explain, it’s like a physics simulator except 2D.

Paul Boag:
Pixel-y.

James Boag:It is pixely, but it’s got nuclear elements and it interacts with different nuclear elements and if you put them together, so you can basically make nuclear bombs and other explosive devices like lasers. Nuclear shotguns.

Paul Boag:
Could you not have kind of emphasized the educational values?

James Boag:There is none.

Paul Boag:
Yes, there is, because you can combine different tech – elements and see how they reacted with one another.

James Boag:Yes, but in your reference, you don’t go around – you wouldn’t go to school and say alright we’re going to play pound-a-toy today, they’re going to look at how water drips through something or other and condensation or something like that.

Paul Boag:
So you would have sold it by talking about we’re going to build a nuclear bomb.

James Boag:Yes.

Paul Boag:
And see what we can blow up with it.

James Boag:My friend Charlie, actually …

Paul Boag:
He’s built a nuclear bomb, has he?

James Boag:Well, I told him about it and he wants to play it now.

Paul Boag:
He wants to play it. So you’ve managed to sell it to him, okay. So that’s – a circuit board is no?

James Boag:Explosions.

Paul Boag:
Right.

James Boag:Explosions, yes.

Paul Boag:
What about Tamagotchi? Do you know about Tamagotchi?

James Boag:Tamagotchi I think I used to have one – no wait a minute.

Paul Boag:
You had something a bit like one.

James Boag:Tamagotchis are like those little – yes, I think I did. Wait a minute no, they were like – had round plastic little things where they were like …

Paul Boag:
Like this?

James Boag:Yes, those. Those, I used to have one.

Paul Boag:
You did use to have one.

James Boag:I did.

Paul Boag:
I remembered yes you did, so they’re still around?

James Boag:Yes.

Paul Boag:
So what do you think of Tamagotchis?

James Boag:I loved them when I was little. I think – I don’t know whether it’s cool or not.

Paul Boag:
You’re all smiley, you’ve obviously got a warm feeling towards Tamagotchis.

James Boag:Yes, I remember playing them in church.

Paul Boag:
Rather than paying any attention.

James Boag:Yes, why would I do that?

Paul Boag:
So Tamagotchis, they get a yes or a no?

James Boag:Yes.

Paul Boag:
Okay, all right. All right, that’s good. Right, Julie, I think it’s Julia Doll – now this is a doll. So you’ve got to imagine you’re girly now, right?

James Boag:No.

Paul Boag:
Here we go. No? You don’t know anything about this.

James Boag:They look – that one is creepy. That is so creepy.

Paul Boag:
Now that is really interesting, because that’s exactly Sarah, who submitted this as an idea. She said that she doesn’t think she would like to have one of these in her bedroom now as an adult, because they look so creepy.

James Boag:The eyes.

Paul Boag:
It’s that one that gets me, this one looks like – there is one we’re looking at that looks like she is on drugs.

James Boag:Yes.

Paul Boag:
So now I need to try and sell you it on Sarah’s behalf, because Sarah – have an open mind James, because Sarah really liked it, because it was intelligent. It could sense movement, it could sense when you were speaking, it could sense light and dark, but also it had a …

James Boag:So it could be really creepy when it was dark, because …

Paul Boag:
I’m watching you.

James Boag:Yes, that’s the point.

Paul Boag:
But it had a magic finger too. Apparently you could – don’t laugh, no come on I’m going to sell you. I am going to sell you Julie’s doll, so you have a book, right?

James Boag:Right.

Paul Boag:
And you can move the finger across the words in the book and it would say them out loud and you could learn to read. Now, that sounds cool, doesn’t it?

James Boag:No.

Paul Boag:
No.

James Boag:It just so creepy.

Paul Boag:
Look, I have worked very hard, I’m talking to the listener now. I work very hard for my son to expose him to a range of things. It’s not all about boy’s toys, he doesn’t need to be a stereotypical boy? Yet, Julie’s doll, no.

James Boag:No.

Paul Boag:
Dolls are not?

James Boag:No.

Paul Boag:
No dolls?

James Boag:No dolls.

Paul Boag:
No dolls.

James Boag:Learn.

Paul Boag:
I’ve tried.

James Boag:Zero.

Paul Boag:
Okay. Next one. Now this is the last one. The VCR, the video recorder, now tell the listener about our Deep Space Nine experiences at the moment.

James Boag:Deep Space Nine, awesome.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. We’re watching Deep Space Nine.

James Boag:Yeah. Deep Space Nine is amazing.

Paul Boag:
What is it about the experience of watching Deep Space Nine that you find weird? I am thinking DVDs.

James Boag:Oh, that you have to put a DVD in every time you want to change every four episodes.

Paul Boag:
And you’re used to all of our movies and TV programs being on Netflix and stuff like that.

James Boag:Yes, yes.

Paul Boag:
So you think DVDs are weird.

James Boag:Yes, I do.

Paul Boag:
Let me introduce you to the VCR. The VCR was before the DVD, okay? So this was a VCR player that you’re looking at here, okay? These are the tapes you would put in them, alright?

James Boag:Yeah.

Paul Boag:
And they were magnetic tapes and you would put your tape into the slot there, okay? And then you could watch your program. So it’s the first time you could ever watch something that wasn’t being broadcast live on TV.

James Boag:Right.

Paul Boag:
So before that…

James Boag:That’s good.

Paul Boag:
Which is good. Yes that’s a big progression. Now, had a few downsides. One is that it could only hold about three hours of TV on it, okay? So you had to change them a lot like DVDs. The other problem is because it was a magnetic strip that was being pulled out and round some spool things so it could be read. It tended to degrade over time. So it got worse and worse and you would get these fuzzy lines across your picture and things like that. So that wasn’t quite so good.

James Boag:No.

Paul Boag:
But you used to go down to – so if we wanted to watch a film, right, Home Alone, okay?

James Boag:Okay.

Paul Boag:
You would go down to a shop where you could hire Home Alone, bring it home for 24 hours and watch it and then you take it back to the shop.

James Boag:That makes sense.

Paul Boag:
That was pretty good.

James Boag:Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So what do you…

James Boag:Unless you’re a loner and you want to just be in your house all the time, then it’s a really big problem.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, which is good. So because you don’t like leaving the house, do you? No, definitely not, disgraceful.

James Boag:Never seen sunlight.

Paul Boag:
Never seen sunlight, you now make it sound we keep you in the cellar somewhere.

James Boag:Yes.

Paul Boag:
We don’t…

James Boag:I’m Harry Potter, yes!

Paul Boag:
So what do you think? VCR, yes or no?

James Boag:No, I am fine with the Apple TV.

Paul Boag:
But if it wasn’t for the VCR, there would be no DVDs…

James Boag:There would be no – yeah.

Paul Boag:
…and no Netflix and no, any of that. DVDs – sorry, not DVDs, DVRs, so Sky Plus, all of that kind of stuff wouldn’t have existed if we hadn’t first had video recorders.

James Boag:For that, maybe.

Paul Boag:
For that maybe, you could put it on, you could have it as a retro thing on a shelf somewhere just looking cool.

James Boag:Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Okay. So overall, what are we saying? Are we saying that presents of my era are better or worse than presents of today?

James Boag:Well, as I am biased towards my time…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, so you’re going to go for today?

James Boag:Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So a lot of people have said that Christmas, it shouldn’t be about looking at your iPhone and playing with your iPad and computer screens, it’s all about screens these days isn’t it? We should spend more family time playing board games and things like that. So this Christmas day I am going to ban all technology is that alright with you?

James Boag:Yes, I am calling your bluff yet again.

Paul Boag:
Because you know that I wouldn’t be able to do that either, don’t you? What…

James Boag:Just to see your face.

Paul Boag:
…just to see my face…

James Boag:Yes.

Paul Boag:
…as I start sweating because I am not allowed to interact with any technology for an entire day. We are possibly the geekiest family on earth. Thank you very much for joining me today on my podcast. You may now go.

I think that – my son is far too clever these days. He’s started learning that when I say things like I am going to turn off the Internet, he knows I won’t really do it because I couldn’t live without it either. Far too smart.

Marcus Lillington:
It did make me think that the actual best game at Christmas…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
…by a long way…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
…is cards for money. It just is.

Paul Boag:
I thought you were going to say Twister.

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe when I was younger. No, no. But that sort of Christmas evening, sat down, you’ve got maybe six people and you play games like cheat…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s just the best.

Paul Boag:
It is, it’s so much fun.

Marcus Lillington:
With no technology at all.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. We don’t tend to play it for money. Obviously, we are not quite like your family.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s even better, well wait till James grows up a bit and then he will be up for it.

Paul Boag:
Play for money.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
I like that sound. Well, let’s turn our attention to the future.

Marcus Lillington:
The future.

Paul Boag:
So, yeah, we had some good feedback in terms of what the future might hold, alright?

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
…and presents of the future. Interestingly, there was a reoccurring theme that came across quite strongly.

I think we can all agree that Chris Coyier’s vision of the future is definitely one that we can get pretty enthusiastic about.

Chris Coyier:In the year 2025 or this will be Christmas going into 2025, this is what I really hope is the top present will be like gadgets and so like phones and laptops and that stuff because I think those things will still be around for sure. But the ones that have like near infinite battery life or battery life that lasts like months or even years, you know, people will want the phone or the laptop that they have to charge like once or twice a year. I think that’s going to be the hot new item.

Paul Boag:
And then Leigh takes this eternal battery life to its natural conclusion.

Leigh Howells:
I kind of expect some kind of wearable wristwatch device which will actually be my laptop, have enough power in there to kind of power the center of my digital universe somehow maybe with projection, keyboards, wireless connection to a really big touch screen that kind of thing. I’m kind of hoping that will be – this device will always be on you and the battery will last for years.

Paul Boag:
I would so kill for a battery that lasted for years.

Marcus Lillington:
Just people don’t think big enough. Do they?

Paul Boag:
In 10 years.

Marcus Lillington:
In 10 years’ time…

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
…I will be going off to the clinic to get…

Paul Boag:
I don’t want to know, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
…to get my extra 100 years of life.

Paul Boag:
You reckon?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
No, not in 10 years.

Marcus Lillington:
No, in 10 years, no but it was fun to have that thought.

Paul Boag:
I’ve got to say, I do agree, people don’t think bigger, think big enough because the next one, actually is talking about virtual reality and that kind of stuff. I remember playing with…

Marcus Lillington:
We’ll be dead, there you go.

Paul Boag:
Yes we’ll be dead.

Marcus Lillington:
The machines will have taken over.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, probably. No, I remember playing with virtual reality headsets when I was at IBM in 1994 but apparently it’s going to be the next big thing.

Apparently, Ryan Taylor is fairly confident about what the future will hold.

Ryan Taylor:
There is a general consensus that VR is going to be a big thing in 10 years’ time or certainly over the next few years, it’s going to get better and better and better and – yeah, Google Glass-type glasses for doing all that stuff would be great but what I really want to see is contact lenses. I want contact lenses in so nobody knows I’m wearing them and they are just discreet and they’re just feeding me information. It sounds really creepy that doesn’t it, nobody knows I am wearing them. But yeah, I think it’ll just part of – where everybody’s just got them it just becomes part of everyday life.

Paul Boag:
I am certainly excited about Ryan’s vision of the future especially when it’s combined with what Sean suggests.

Sean:
We’ve got the tools such as IR projection on glasses and also Leap Motion. So I think it’s possible in 10 years’ time that we might be able to have a polished version of what Iron Man does which is play with 3D objects in the real world like as if he is holding them, with his computer. I think that’s a really cool idea.

Paul Boag:
Some people didn’t seem to take my question about the future particularly seriously, unsurprisingly Bruce Lawson was leading the charge on this count.

Bruce Lawson:And I think the big present in 10 years’ time is almost certainly going to be the time machine which I am going to invent in 2024. My kids got it last year because obviously I came back in time and gave it to my kids early.

Paul Boag:
Unfortunately, Brett was quick to join the silliness.

Brett Harned:
Maybe Google Glass for animals.

Paul Boag:
Then Danny just made things worse.

Danny:A technology that would read my mind and so that I could give it a bit of a mind command and it would do something for me.

Paul Boag:
Danny obviously doesn’t want much. Fortunately, Dan Edwards is here to bring a bit of sanity to proceedings. This is something we should definitely get in 10 years.

Dan Edwards:I think the coolest tech present for 10 years from now has got to be the hoverboard. I know that there was one recently that was kind of like a prototype, I think it cost like $10,000 and only works on a metal surface. So I think the time when we can unwrap a hoverboard and just put it in your living room and start using it, that is the hoverboard that everyone really wants.

Paul Boag:
So there you go. I – see Bruce thought bigger with his time machine. I felt that he is the one that really has dreamed about the future.

Marcus Lillington:
A time machine going into the past is impossible.

Paul Boag:
Why is that? You’ve been watching too much sci-fi.

Marcus Lillington:
Because of the grandfather thing.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
You go back and kill your grandfather which would immediately make you not exist, yes. So it’s just like…

Paul Boag:
You’re just making up excuses. I’m sure it’s possible.

Marcus Lillington:
There you go. But a hoverboard, well, I’d fall off it, but yes.

Paul Boag:
You’d like a hoverboard, would you?

Marcus Lillington:
I’d like a hover car like in Star Wars.

Paul Boag:
Would you like your dogs to be wearing Google Glasses? It would be quite interesting actually, wouldn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
What would you feed to them? I guess you’d have their view.

Paul Boag:
You’d have their view.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Seeing what they are up to and stuff. You could actually already buy cameras.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
That hang around your dog’s neck, so you can know what they get up to. I mean with a cat, that would be even better because they just disappear for days on end.

Marcus Lillington:
It would be freaky. Yes, actually. What – yeah, that would be quite scary watching what a cat got up to.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But dogs just kind of go ploughing through shit.

Paul Boag:
Ploughing through shit, yes that’s probably quite a good way of looking at it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So anyway, so we’ve looked at the future, we’ve looked at presents of the past, now, we are going to look at the impact that technology has had on Christmas. And we begin with kind of well, I am feeling that the future has – sorry, that Christmas has definitely been improved because it’s improved our communications.

For me, Bruce Lawson hits on probably the most crucial way that technology has helped make Christmas better.

Bruce Lawson:But it’s made Christmas a lot better because I live in – because I have a family that’s multinational, it’s really great just being able to use the web to quickly connect up and see your relatives across the world and wish them happy Christmas.

Paul Boag:
Leigh makes pretty much the same point. But uses a completely out of date, old-fashioned reference to make the point.

Leigh Howells:
I think technology has done some good at Christmas. Take the SMS message, for example, it gave people a way to wish people happy Christmas and happy New Year if they could get their messages through at 23:59 on both of those evenings. So that allowed people to actually say things to people a long way away which they couldn’t easily without giving them a call which wasn’t always appropriate with time differences and everything else. So I think that did some good.

Paul Boag:
Unfortunately, Leigh, Joe has a bit of a problem with the text messages you send him. But does totally agree with Bruce.

Joe Leech:I suppose let’s get the worst out the way, and the worst thing I think about technology at Christmas is all those thoroughly annoying group text messages you get from those people you’ve never heard of except at Christmas Day when they send you the same happy Christmas text message every Christmas morning. How has tech helped me at Christmas? Well, obviously things like Skype which mean that we don’t have to travel so much in the car up and down the country every Christmas which is the standard thing I think we do here in the UK.

Paul Boag:
When it comes to talking about the benefits of Christmas, I think top of my list is Ryan Taylor’s suggestion.

Ryan Taylor:
Amazon is an absolute God-send, if it don’t come through the post you’re not getting it from me. I hate going round shopping centers and buying presents and it being really crowded and it’s just like a big free for all.

Paul Boag:
If it doesn’t come through the post, you’re not going to get it from me. Totally agree with you there, Ryan. But I also agree with Dan James’ assessment of Christmas.

Dan James:I would say that you spend a lot less time setting things up now at Christmas than we did, say, 10 years ago. I remember getting technology, computer or printer, GPS, anything 10, 15 years ago and you would spend most of the day trying to get printer drivers to load or Wi-Fi cards to install properly that kind of thing.

Paul Boag:
Too many Christmas days have been ruined in the past by setting up gadgets. So I couldn’t agree with you more, Dan. But the prize for probably the most profound and moving way that technology has improved Christmas comes from Jamie Knight. You should know about Jamie that he is autistic and so that will help explain what he says now.

Jamie Knight:
However, one useful technology over Christmas for me is that I actually use it with augmented speech. So if I am really anxious or I am really stressed I struggle with language, and knowing it’s there and having my phone around which has got some speech software on it means that I always have the option to communicate. So overall, technology has been a massive improvement for Christmas. Gone are the Christmas meltdowns and anxiety-fests to be replaced with a very quiet, very calm time preparing me for the New Year.

Paul Boag:
I love the way that Jamie uses technology to help him out. It kind of goes back to what we were saying earlier with – when we interviewed Robin Christopherson this morning and he was talking about inclusive design and how technology makes life better for disabled people and Jamie is the perfect example of that, absolutely wonderful.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. And I have to say that I think group texting is fantastic.

Paul Boag:
Do you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
You disagree with, I think, it was Danny that said.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, if you’re in receipt of a text from someone you don’t know then, well, that’s a bit sad. Don’t you think?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, but I don’t think he was saying it’s people you don’t know. He was saying it’s people that only you ever communicate at Christmas, it’s like the laziest form…

Marcus Lillington:
Just ignore them.

Paul Boag:
…of communication.

Marcus Lillington:
Just ignore them.

Paul Boag:
I like it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I think it’s fantastic to be able to go, just a quick hi or whatever to lots of people.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Especially when you’re drunk.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m still alive. Yes when you’re drunk.

Paul Boag:
Texting when you are drunk on New Year’s Eve.

Marcus Lillington:
Because I have got a thing about Christmas cards.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. I hate Christmas cards.

Marcus Lillington:
I think should we really be sending them – well, but there are, there is definitely two sides to the argument. I don’t like the idea that we’re using up loads of paper and…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
…this kind of thing. But it is good even if you only send a card to someone just once a year to make that connection.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I guess so.

Marcus Lillington:
So it’s kind of like…

Paul Boag:
I don’t know what’s worse. Because the other more kind of – if you’re going to do that, some people send out a newsletter, don’t they, where they kind of cover what’s been happening.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
But it’s always – essentially it does just boil down to oh we’re such a perfect lovely family and our world’s great, which annoys me.

Marcus Lillington:
Wouldn’t it be great though, because we only ever get one or two of those and I’m always wanting to read it for and then he hit me and…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, we’re now divorced.

Marcus Lillington:
We are now divorced, yeah.

Paul Boag:
The kid’s in rehab.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
That would be much funnier.

Marcus Lillington:
That is the problem with those.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
I know people because I know a woman that always sends them to us, and she is really lovely. And she doesn’t try to kind of like yes, we’re the perfect family and she isn’t saying that but that’s how it come across.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Every time and it’s like don’t do it.

Paul Boag:
That’s the problem. But I can understand the logic behind them because they are actually a lot better in a lot of ways. I mean you send a card “Happy Christmas, love Marcus”. It’s not really a lot to it while something like a newsletter has more value to it but it does just come across as you being an arse.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, there is no in-between. It’s just making the connection, that’s what it’s all about.

Paul Boag:
But bringing it back to technology…

Marcus Lillington:
It’s when you get the odd one that’s got no writing in it at all though.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I couldn’t even be bothered to sign my name.

Marcus Lillington:
Who is this from? Trying to work out from the handwriting on the envelope. So…

Paul Boag:
Yeah. So we should all be basically sending e-cards. I hate e-cards as well, they’re flipping horrendous.

Marcus Lillington:
With dreadful music.

Paul Boag:
Oh no, and the poor animation and stuff like that. So…

Marcus Lillington:
So texts are good.

Paul Boag:
Text are good. Yeah, I am coming around.

Marcus Lillington:
Texts are good.

Paul Boag:
Got to say.

Marcus Lillington:
Although I have just and this is I am showing how crap I am at keeping up to date with things. I have discovered WhatsApp…

Paul Boag:
Oh right.

Marcus Lillington:
…instead of iMessage because iMessage just keeps falling over, somebody in our little group doesn’t receive it or they reply and it only goes to one person.

Paul Boag:
Right. So you all use WhatsApp?

Marcus Lillington:
So now we use WhatsApp, fantastic. Works a treat.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, nothing wrong with WhatsApp, absolutely and it’s cross platform as well which is really good.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, someone who has got – bought a Sony phone.

Paul Boag:
It ruins the whole system.

Marcus Lillington:
I know, apparently, it’s really good and the battery lasts a week.

Paul Boag:
That’s good.

Marcus Lillington:
On a smartphone.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that is very good. Anyway, so we want to finish off by talking about the meaning of Christmas and well no, we are not talking about the meaning of Christmas. What we’re really talking about is, has technology helped or hindered Christmas? Has it made it better or worse? So this is a nice profound ending to our show. So here we go.

Brett, refocuses us on what Christmas is actually about.

Brett Harned:
At its core, Christmas isn’t about technology or presents at all, is it?

Paul Boag:
And Dan paints a poignant picture to back up Brett’s point.

Dan:
Definitely, when I was a kid, we’d sort of sit around and play with the games that we’ve got, board games and we’d play charades and things like that. The TV would kind of maybe be on in the background but now, you know, when I go around to my family’s for Christmas, everybody is on iPads and their iPhones and taking selfies and posting to Facebook and playing with the latest videogame they got, something like that.

Paul Boag:
Dan James echoes the idea that maybe Christmas is becoming less sociable because of technology.

Dan James:Christmas is now almost instantaneously shared outside of the house, outside of the people who are there. I remember I would receive a gaming console or a toy as a kid and the only people that you could play with for better or for worse was in the house and you’d play it with your family and your immediate friends. Now, I think that you get a piece of technology and right off the bat, Christmas morning, as soon as the paper is off it. You can start playing with that toy with other people and I think it removes you from the here and now.

Paul Boag:
Sometimes, as Danny points out, it’s about being with the people in the room rather than communicating with those online.

Danny:I tend to agree with a lot of other people in that I think it’s made Christmas worse because it’s isolated us off a little bit more in some ways, granted that we can reach out to more people and wish them a merry Christmas. But I remember a couple of years back looking in the restaurant where we were eating over Christmas and kids were just kind of heads-down on their iPads or something and I found that a little bit sad.

Paul Boag:
Sarah Parmenter adds her voice to those who suggest that Christmas should be about friends and family and less about the latest gadget or gizmo.

Sarah Parmenter:I think that these tech things are, as always, they are wonderful but we’ve got to remember that there is no substitution for sitting around and actually talking with your family at Christmas. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Julie doll or a terrible tablet or an iPad or iPhone, I still think that there’s no substitution for real human contact, especially over Christmas.

Paul Boag:
But I don’t think anybody would suggest that technology cannot be great fun at Christmas. As Patrick says, it’s about how you use it.

Patrick:I think technology makes pretty much everything better and worse. With Christmas, I think it’s really about how you grab the bull by the horns and take control of what technology brings to your life during the holidays. I think it’s important to not allow technology to rob you of moments that you may not have the opportunity to experience again. And it’s not technology’s fault, it’s our fault as humans. For example, I am really aware of looking at my cell phone when I am around people that I want to spend time with. When I am eating dinner with my family, I don’t look at my cell phone, when I am spending time with friends, I try not to look at my cell phone. And so I just try to live in the moment. And I think that’s the best way for me to experience the holidays is to live in the moment. And I hope you have plenty of great moments this holiday season. Merry Christmas, happy holidays. Have a great one.

Paul Boag:
So I think Patrick said it all really. A very happy Christmas, a wonderful New Year, have lots of fun with family and friends and we will see you again for Season 11 in January. Happy Christmas.

Marcus Lillington:
Happy Christmas.

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