Monday, May 01, 2017

Computer says 'No'

After giving the matter some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that technology is going to be the death of me. Like, literally.
            I say this because I was my friend John was giving me a tour of his new house the other day. ‘House’ is actually the wrong word to use. It’s like calling Beyonce a singer. Technically, it’s correct, but it kind of doesn’t tell the whole story. So, John…He lives in a mansion in Nassim Hill. It’s massive. You practically need to call an Uber to get from the bathroom to the dining room and once you’re there, you need one of those electronic carts you see scooting around Changi airport to get to your seat.
I had two pressing thoughts as he took me from the ground floor to his bedroom on the third floor. The place is so large, he had to install a glass elevator. And you get between floors with thumb-print identification. As I later said to Amanda, who was green-eyed with jealousy that she’d not been invited, it was like being inside an iPhone 6. 
“Nothing works until you press your thumb against the glass panel. It glows red,” I reported.
“Why does he need to live in such a big house?” Amanda wanted to know. “It’s only him and his wife!”
“You know, that was one of the two things I was obsessing over during the tour,” I told her. “He has three maids, a driver, and a gardener! That’s five staff for two people!”
“Some people have too much money,” Amanda pronounced, though you could tell from the wistful look in her eyes that she was wishing that she was one of those people. “What was the other thing?”
            “What? Oh, the other thing was what happens if the electricity was shut off? That whole house runs on electricity. Can you imagine if there was a power outage when you’re on your way up to your bedroom in the lift and you really needed to pee?” I shook my head at the horror of it all. “And it’s a glass lift, so the whole household could see you! And they have Toto toilets, too, so they won’t work either. And what if the electricity never came back on? You would literally die in that lift!”
            “Huh,” Amanda said. “I never would have thought of that. You really are weird.”
            And just the other day, I had a kind of nervous breakdown when I suddenly thought of what would happen if there was a digital apocalypse.
            “Is that a new show?” said Saffy, the world’s number one fan of any show with the word ‘apocalypse’ in it.
            “It might as well be,” I said. “Have you ever thought what would happen if something happened to the world’s servers?”
            Saffy cocked her head. “Like how?”
            “They get blown up or something,” I said. “Nobody has hard copies of anything anymore. It’s all up in the cloud somewhere. Remember when we used to file our papers in an actual file? Or we had CDs, books, DVDs. Address books with phone numbers. Diaries where we wrote things down. Photos!” I added. “We have nothing physical anymore. If we lose the cloud, we literally lose everything! All our music, our notes, our memories, our films. Pfft!”
            “Now that I think about it,” Saffy said, “I don’t even know what the cloud actually is!”
            “There you go,” I said. “One security breach and we’re all screwed!”
            Leave it to Barney Chen to find the silver lining in the whole scenario. “I’ll tell you who’ll be glad for a digital apocalypse and all the photos got lost,” he growled, his voice like tumbling boulders. “Orlando Bloom!”
            Amanda rolled her eyes. “Seriously, who goes kayaking in the nude?”
            “Hah?” Sharyn said. “Who eat kaya in the nude?”
            Kayaking, Shazz,” Saffy stressed. She reached for her phone.
            Barney frowned. “I thought he was on a paddle board?”
            “Kayaks, paddle boards, same thing,” said Saffy, expert Olympics commentator. She handed her phone to Sharyn. “Here you go. Feast your eyes on that paddle!”
            Sharyn breathed out slowly as her finger scrolled through the images. “Aiyoh! Why like that, one? My son hero is Lego-las, you know!” She spread her fingers to enlarge the screen. “Wah, he very big, hor?”
            Barney leaned over to peer over Sharyn’s shoulder. He sniffed. “I’ve seen bigger.”
            “Wah, if someone photograph me like dat, hor, I don’t know where to hide my face, ah!”
            Saffy says if photos of Sharyn paddleboarding while naked doesn’t shortcircuit and shut down the cloud, she doesn’t know what will.

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