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AT LARGE: But it pours

AT LARGE: But it pours

You want to know why rainy days are so depressing? It's got nothing to do with the little bits of water flying about and getting on everything. Most of the world is water and we're used to that by now. The problem is umbrellas.

Have you ever noticed that umbrellas are almost exclusively black? Why is that, exactly? Are rainy days not Dickensian enough, so umbrella manufacturers have to make them even more dreary by filling the streets with a jostling parade of little black domes?

The exception is kids' umbrellas. Kids get umbrellas in bright pink, or yellow, or orange. I know one six-year-old whose umbrella looks like a frog when it opens up. She waits for rainy days so she can have the joy of seeing it.

We don't want kids to be depressed on rainy days, but somehow it's okay for adults. Not fair. My suggestion: increase morale and therefore productivity by marketing umbrellas for grown-ups in a range of bright, cheerful colours. I'll have one.

On to other things.

I saw a bizarre thing in a Dick Smith Power House store recently. And no, I'm not referring to the bins near the checkout with gelatine powder, peanut butter and some sort of Vegemite clone stuff in them. If the Electronic Dick wants to diversify, I say let him. Can't say I can understand why anyone would want to make a substance that's identical to Vegemite on purpose, though.

That's not what I'm on about here. In another of the bins near the checkout, along with miscellaneous lengths of cable selling for a buck each, there were dozens and dozens of boxes of software designed to "ready your PC for the year 2000". Naturally, the software was running at a major price reduction.

The really bizarre thing was that I watched someone walk up to this bin full of software, read the back of a box, and purchase a copy. I toyed with the theory that perhaps he required some coasters for an imminent dinner party, but surely he'd have bought half a dozen copies in that case?

Y2K software has to be practically the definition of an unnecessary application at this point in time. I'm not saying it was never necessary - poo-poo to all of those who now claim it was just hype. I'm just saying that the year 2000 has arrived, and indeed passed from us. Even if you were one of the very odd folks who thought the Millennium Bug would strike in 2001, because that was the real change of the millennium (and I'm so not going there), it's halfway through 2001. Months have passed, with little in the way of technological catastrophe (except that thunderstorm when my TV got fried, but I'm not ready to blame that on software).

Simple diagnostic: if your computer works at this point in time, it is ready for the new millennium. The software that this fellow was buying would presumably, if it is honest, tell him the same thing. Only difference is, I could do it for free. (If the software is dishonest, it would tell him that his computer is not ready for the millennium, and he must, post-haste, run out and buy new applications, peripherals and a glare screen to protect against harmful radiation).

I didn't stop him making his purchase, a fact for which I feel slightly guilty. Normally I manage to balance my channel championing with a measure of consumer advocacy, but I think on this occasion I was more interested to see if he would actually go through with it and spend money on this inherently useless product. I suspect that there were probably Dick Smith employees monitoring him as well, watching on closed-circuit cameras, following him through the process of browsing, deciding and then purchasing. I can hear them now, whispering in their little booth through clenched teeth, "we got one".

They would have taken his name and address details, of course. For some reason, this information is gathered every time one makes a purchase at Dick Smith (if I glower at them, they only take my post code). But they'd have been sure to get as much info as possible on this guy. No doubt he will soon find himself the recipient of many helpful suggestions from the Electronic Dick regarding gadgets and software he may like to purchase.

He'll have one of these ultrasound tape measures, surely. Or a caller-ID thing that puts the number up on the TV screen in case you're too lazy to even look at the phone. Or maybe some stuff that looks and tastes like Vegemite, but isn't.

Somebody's got to buy it.

Matthew JC. Powell is showing his true colours, he doesn't eat Vegemite. Berate him on mjcpowell@ozemail.com.au


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