Google+ Hangouts is one of the coolest things about Google+. Unfortunately, however, I don’t have anyone to hang out with. So I decided to use it as a babysitting device while I left my children unattended.
Okay, just to clarify, I didn’t leave to go shopping or to party or anything like that. I was only at the next door neighbor’s house, and the kids were playing video games in our family room.
The first thing I did was start a Hangout on our desktop computer with an HD webcam which follows your face like a creepy Mona Lisa. Any old webcam will do though, you don’t need the Mona Lisa one. I invited only myself to the Hangout. The next thing I did was stand up my iPad at a different angle, so I had two angles of the same room, and joined the Hangout as myself. Lastly, I joined the Hangout again on my Android phone, walked next door, and talked with my neighbor whilst keeping the phone on and I could see and hear them from two different angles.
Naturally, the kids took the opportunity to ask me if they could have Doritos and if I knew where certain Pokemon cards were.
Fun fact: Webcams make you look 30% uglier than you do in real life.
So this morning I decided to take a nap. I usually don’t take naps because they never end well, and this was no exception. However, considering that I finished my dissertation last week and couldn’t face cleaning the kitchen just yet, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
It must be pointed out that thanks to Cracked.com, I watched this video yesterday:
There is not much to say about that, other than, quite obviously, it will burn a hole into your subconscious and bury itself there like one of those parasitic flukeworms. So you have been warned. Sorry if you already watched it and didn’t heed this warning, but that’s not my problem.
Anyway, I did happen to fall asleep, in my bed, only to wake up in some alternate reality where I lived in an apartment in a high rise somewhere. That wasn’t so bad, except I couldn’t find my dog. I knew my kids were on a field trip, but the dog was nowhere to be found. Then a cop knocked on the door, and said, “Would you come with me, please?” I followed him through this vertical maze-like labyrinth, and then he turned around and was a zombie, so I decided to make haste. Luckily, I could fly, so I flew back to the apartment and decided to take a nap.
Here is where it got sticky. While I was taking a nap, I was accosted by a bear. I did some kung fu moves on it and the bear turned into a bunch of bats. I decided that I needed to wake up from this dream, which was in this other dream, and I couldn’t do it. I told myself to wake up, I tried to open my eyes with my fingers, and I flailed around within the dream. To no avail.
So then I told myself, “Now you’ve gone and done it. You are in a freaking coma. Your family is probably gathered around your bedside wondering when you will ever wake up.”
I decided to just relax and wait for Leonardo DiCaprio to show up, but just then, I emerged from the dream, expecting to be in my apartment in the sky, only to find myself back in this reality, with no zombies or bears in sight. Then it took me a few seconds to place where I was exactly. Then I went back to sleep.
There is no lesson in this other than taking naps during the day may mess with your psyche. And bears in any realm are murderous killing machines with supernatural powers.
Put aside the zombie apocalypse, the rapture, and all those other dystopias we’d like to avoid. Let’s talk about the fun future – you know the one, with the flying cars and robot maids and whatnot. You know you always thought 2012 was going to be fabulous in terms of futurey stuff.
Here’s the checklist. Let’s see how we’re doing.
1. Flying Cars
Overall Grade: F (Never gonna happen)
The epitome of a futuristic society, the flying car, sadly, was probably never meant to be. It’s just too impractical. Traffic is chaotic enough without having to add another dimension to it. Imagine trying to parallel park something like that. Impossible. Plus think of how often you hit squirrels while driving a normal car, and multiply that by any number of birds.
Consolation Prize: The self-driving car may be better for humans in general, as long as it never learns to text whilst balancing a latte between its legs.
2. Robot Maids
Overall Grade: C (Still has potential)
There is, of course, the Roomba which will sort of vacuum up your mess. It will not make your bed, do your dishes, fold your laundry, or do anything more than just marginally useful. In fact, most people that have Roombas will pretty much agree that they are crap and are only good for one thing.
Then there is this Korean robot maid which is more of what we had in mind after years of watching The Jetsons. But I can’t buy one of those just yet. Strangely enough, when you search for “robot maid” on Amazon, it again comes back to cats. Always about cats on the Internet, isn’t it?
Unlike the flying car, the robot maid still has the potential to become reality. Until then, you will have to hire a cleaning lady, or if worse comes to worst, clean up yourself.
3. Giant Two-Sided Touch Screen Thingies
Overall Grade:B (Getting there)
You’ve seen them in bunches of movies, these futurey looking screenamabobbers upon which you can do futurey computery stuff. In Minority Report, for example, Tom Cruise used one to expel thetans from his eyeballs, or something (it’s been a while since I’ve seen it). It seemed inevitable that something like this would exist at some point.
And now we can say, “Yes, it does!” Of course, it’s only like two inches square at the moment, and doesn’t really look that great compared to the eyeball thetanater, but it’s all about potential. Just think in ten years or so we may have some hilarious Youtube videos of Justin Bieber walking into one of these babies. See, potential.
I don’t really even need to discuss this one, really. We all have seen them and plenty of us have one. There are other cool things that Star Trek may have predicted, but I never watched it and I really don’t care enough to start now so I will just dismissively move on to the next thing on the list.
5. Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator
Overall Grade: F
I am just going to give this one an F because although space modulation does exist, it’s actually boring compared to what Marvin wanted to achieve with his device. And not as cute, in such a menacing and destructive way. We do, however, have lasers that can remove body hair now.
6. Smart Homes
Overall Grade: B+ (Almost there)
It’s happening! We already have Internet-connected refrigerators, and soon we have wireless control of everything in our houses. I would have given this one an A if my house actually did anything fun, but it doesn’t yet, so this will remain a B+ until I can flush my toilet from my couch, which would come in handy for someone that lives with a bunch of boys who never remember to flush.
The smart home of, say, 2017, as predicted in 2012 will totally blow away that smart home of 1970 as predicted in 1965. Those people had their sights set so low. Suckers.
7. Video Phones
Overall Grade: A
It took a long time but we are totally there now. Thanks to the Internet, you can see anyone, any time, anywhere, and whether or not they are wearing a shirt. Video conferencing has been around for a while, but on-the-spot informal video calls are relatively recent with the innovation of Skype and similar apps. With Google+ Hangouts you can even host your own pseudo-party, where you don’t even have to pay for food.
There are, of course, plenty of people who still would rather be heard and not seen. You know the ones, with their corded rotary phones and doily-covered tea tables. You can still call them if you want to make them happy, and even host a Google hangout to make fun of them while doing so, because they would never know.
Overall Overall Grade: B-
Conclusion: We are indeed living in the future, but it’s slightly less cool than it could have been.
Or to quote the Boss:
Don’t worry, darlin’. No baby, don’t you fret. We’re livin’ in the future And none of this has happened yet.