I was just thinking that thought the other day after a number of successful applications of it, then, of course, disaster struck. Okay, it wasn't disaster, more of mild inconvenience, but first the good stuff.
Firstly I wanted to attend a Microsoft organised developer conference entitled Build which this year is to be held in San Francisco in early April. The problem was that it sells out quickly, not as fast as Glastonbury, but I needed to be quick and the web site opened for registration just after my flight from Dublin was due to land at Heathrow. I probably had a couple of hours grace but in that time I was due to be on public transport, namely the Piccadilly Line on my way to a bridge match. That's how a technology came to my rescue. Due to a combination of a very good internet connection (4G which was giving about 20Mb/s for those who care) and a web site that was relatively mobile-friendly (I could have done without the mandatory user survey half-way through but I digress) I managed to register and pay for the conference whilst still on the Tube.
The next success story was similar, I checked in for a flight to Dublin and also bought my Heathrow Express ticket from my mobile phone whilst on the Underground, this time using the wi-fi service now on offer at many stations. It was at this point that I started to get blasé, what could go wrong?
Things were fine initially, I passed through security using the boarding pass QR code on my phone and arrived at the departure gate. I then spotted a WH Smith's and decided to buy a bottle of water. It was a small shop just a few square yards and only sold a few magazines, newspapers and bottled water. There was a large sign in front of the water stand, Free Bottle of Water with the Daily Telegraph, and although it's not my newspaper of choice I'm naturally thrifty and the crossword would occupy me on the flight so I decided to check out this offer. The lady manning the till was on the phone, business or pleasure I don't know, but she was in no hurry to serve me. Eventually she told the person that she had customers and turned to serve me. I asked how much the water was, I had noticed the Telegraph was £1.45 and wanted to see how much of a deal the free water was. Of course she didn't know, this is despite the fact that water was the only drink they sold so unless she had just started work that week it would seem impossible not to know the price, she'd have to scan the bottle. The price was £1.40 and I thought the Telegraph was worth 5p so I said I'd take her up on the offer. She now broke the news that the offer was no longer running, despite at least three signs were proclaiming it. When I opined that the signs should be removed she gave me a look that suggested I had made a low cash offer for her grandmother to be my personal concubine. Anyway I offered her the money for the water, a £2 coin, and the till promptly refused to acknowledge that I wanted to buy it, it kept returning to a somnolent state and refusing to open the drawer. After half a dozen attempts she said she was sorry, she couldn't sell it to me. I offered to give her the exact money but to no avail, compu'er says no, as the Little Britain phrase goes.
I walked back to my chair empty-handed, thinking that perhaps technology wasn't the bee's knees after all – this wouldn't have happened at Arkwright's. And the worst of it - what do you think she did as I sat down – did she pick up the phone and make a call to head office that the the till wasn't working? Of course not, she just stood there, waiting for the next customer who would no doubt be equally frustrated.
If only they could replace shop assistants with technology – oh they have – in places such as Tesco, they're known as self-service checkouts, the most frustrating invention known to humanity, but that's another story for another post.