Back in the day, when cameras weren’t digital and game shows ruled the world, people would often take two photos of the same thing; one to put into, say, a frame that they could hang on the wall or place on their desk at the office, and one for their photo album. For example, there’s a family gathering and at the end of the night everyone huddles together for that big family group photo shot. The person taking the photo would press the capture button twice, so that when you go to get the photos developed — which was a whole process involving going out of your house and to a shop or store of some kind where you had to give them your film so they would get the pictures out of it — you would have two of that group family photo. Now, of course, this doesn’t really make sense with smartphones and mirrorless cameras and whatnot where you can take a photo, make a billion copies of it with no problem and send a copy to every device in your life including those digital photo frames that were popular for like a second during the ‘00s1. Unless you’re still using film at your family events.
So clocks and calendars definitely still exist, for sure, but this is the modern age where we whip out our phones whenever we want to check the date, time, weather, stock market, how far away the Uber is — basically everything. I, however, always like having a clock somewhere in view of my desk, preferably on the wall, just in case my phone is taking a nap on the other side of the room or is out of battery and I need to know the time immediately. I know, I know; clocks also need their batteries changing. But you only really replace the batteries on a wall clock like, what? Once or twice a year? That’s no big deal at all. Although hanging the clock back onto the wall and catching the hook on the first try is a bit of a challenge.
Calendars, however, I think have become more obsolete. Or have they? I don’t know, to be honest, but we have to admit that a calendar on the wall isn’t as common as it used to be once upon a time. There was a time when every home, every office, every dentist’s waiting room everywhere would have a calendar. Calendars on the wall aren’t as essential anymore and although every device from a sleek-looking smart watch on your wrist to a 55-inch smart TV that you bought for your bedroom because you got a raise at work and thought was a good idea at the time has some kind of a calendar on it. So why would you need a flipchart-type thing that you hang on the wall and have to actually physically cross out each individual day and change the page once a month? Because they were cool. Now I guess they have more of a nostalgic, vintage appeal but I really do like having a paper calendar on the wall too. I especially like those small calendars where each day was on its own individual page that you had to tear off every day that you traditionally see shown in offices in old movies and stuff. Even though they were a huge waste of paper.
Okay, so this one was huge. Like VHS tapes, which I talked about back in Kanis Majoris No. 1, DVDs were the way to watch movies once upon a time. I’d say, from my point of view, the heyday for DVDs was from the late ‘90s to around 2010 which is when streaming became the new medium for watching movies. So, if you are young enough to not be familiar with DVDs — in which case you’re around 10 years old or younger and I’m not sure why you’re interested in this magazine at such a young age — it was basically a disc where one side was shiny and the other side was printed with some sort of artwork, kind of like a CD. Which was like a DVD, but for music or software. With me so far?
So the good thing about having a movie — or many movies, in some cases — on a disc was that you could play it as many times as you like and there was no buffering like when streaming a movie online on a temperamental Wi-Fi connection. The bad thing was: if you got the shiny side of the disc scratched or dirty in any way, it could affect the playback of the movie. When you leave your DVDs out of their case, for instance, or put multiple DVDs into the same case when you’re only really supposed to put one or if you had an ultimate frisbee session in your living room with your DVDs, like we did, then sometimes your DVD would get damaged; scratches would appear, sometimes the disc would break. And then after that, if you put the scratched DVD into your DVD player, the movie might just freeze at a certain point or fail to play at all. Which was not fun, because if that happened, there was not much you could do but find something else to watch or go play outside in the real world.
Another cool thing about DVDs was the menu. See, when you played a DVD, it wouldn’t just start the film like a VHS tape or a movie on Netflix that just starts when you hit “play”. No, DVDs would do something a lot cooler. They would present you with a menu which would have a few options. Usually, the first option would be “play movie” which you could use your remote to select and, yeah, play the movie. But there were some other options, too, such as “select chapter” in which you could jump to any “chapter” you wanted in the film2 or “subtitles”, in which you could change your settings for subtitles. My favourite option, though, which was present on a lot of DVD menus, was the “special features” option. This would usually include interviews with the actors, a short making-of-type documentary showing various behind the scenes footage of how the movie was made or some other bonus features relating to the film. The thing about these menus is that they would be visually styled to match the film. You can search online to see what I’m talking about.
And then, finally, there was another thing about DVDs that made them so unique. Well, I guess VHS tapes also had this, but you could basically make your own DVDs. All you had to do was take a blank DVD (which you could buy very easily from any store) and burn a video file from your computer. Remember when computers used to have disc drives? That’s what that was for. The idea with this was that you could, you know, make family home movies and stuff like that. But what actually happened in reality was people would pirate movies from the internet, burn them onto blank discs and sell them for a quick buck. Which was pretty cool — I mean, what? No. It was illegal and I never took part in that kind of reprehensible behaviour. Wink, wink.
How often do you use a map? And I mean a paper map, not an app on your phone. Okay, here’s a better question. When was the last time you used a paper map. Do you even remember? Or here’s an even better question. When was the last time you needed a paper map?
For me, the answers are probably the same as yours. I honestly cannot remember the last time I used or even needed a map made of paper. And that is a little saddening, to be honest. Because you can probably guess by now that I love old-school stuff; analogue clocks, wall calendars, alarm clocks, catalogues, newspapers. Maps also belong on that list. I like a good paper map where you can fold it up and keep it in the glove compartment of your car. Speaking of which, how did people used to drive and follow a paper map at the same time? It must have been a nightmare. Because as cool as paper maps are, in my opinion, they were bloody inconvenient. I mean just folding it up correctly was a task and a half.
In London, we used to have this thing called an A-Z3 which was this book you could buy and it would have the entire map of London in book form. Those of you unfamiliar with this concept are probably wondering: how on earth do you turn a map into a book? Let me explain. So you would open the first page and it would have the entire area that the map covered. So in the case of the London A-Z, the first page had the entire map of London on it, with page numbers for each specific area of London — a contents page of sorts. So for example if you wanted to have a close-up look at Camden Town, an area in north London. You would go to page 64 and 65. Then when you open page 64 and 65 it would have a more zoomed-in, detailed map of that area. Then, if you wanted to go a little south, let’s say to the area of Marylebone, there would be a small number at the bottom of page 64 telling you that if you wanted to continue south, you’d have to go to pages 82 and 83. Or you could just go back to the contents page and find a new area to look at. And no, this book did not, in any way, announce directions to you as you drove through the streets of London, so I have no idea the pain drivers had to have gone through of flicking through pages and following the route whilst making sure you didn’t swerve into oncoming traffic.
It’s Friday night and you want to order some dinner. What do you do? It’s simple. You just have to whip out your phone, open the food delivery app that you probably have in on the first or second page of your apps on your phone and scroll through the various choices and offers available. Let’s say you want Chinese. You can filter by cuisine, distance from your location, price and within seconds, you’ve chosen what you want, paid and somewhere across town is a restaurant that’s now received and preparing your order.
It didn’t however, always used to be this way. Back in the day, you had to call the restaurant on the telephone4 and order over the damn telephone. That’s right. And to choose your food, you had to look at their leaflet that had mysteriously appeared in your house somehow and pick what you wanted. Sometimes it would take a while as you browsed through the dozens of leaflets you had laying around and picked out something for dinner before calling up the place and finding out that the leaflet you have is actually outdated and they’ve since changed their prices, menu, location and entire choice of cuisine. Wait, who am I kidding? You probably know all this. Because it’s only really quite recently that apps and websites became the way to order food. We all remember having to do that, right? And then paying with cash. Yes, physical cash. Remember that?
Speaking of which, cash is also something that is becoming less and less common, isn’t it? I mean, yeah, it’s still definitely around. And depending on which part of the world you’re in, cash might still be around more or less than other places. But I miss cash.
Even though it’s not gone, cash is becoming less and less common. Here in Indonesia, cash definitely still holds value for giving tips, buying things like street food or goods from a local market, but cashless options that involve downloading an app onto your smartphone are becoming more and more commonplace. No matter what country or currency, cash looks cool. It feels good to have a physical object rather than just numbers on a screen — for me, anyways.
However, cash does have its problems, of course.
Firstly, having the right change is always an issue. Like you want to buy a drink from the vending machine but you’ve only got one banknote3 with a very high value and the machine only takes coins. Or you take a taxi and at the end of the journey you want to pay the guy with a banknote higher than the fare amount and the driver just says to you that he doesn’t have any change so you end up just giving the guy the entire banknote and a huge tip in the process. Which actually happened to me once when I took an already-quite-expensive taxi ride home from the airport in the early hours of the morning and arrived to find I only had two 100,000 rupiah banknotes in my wallet to pay for a fare that was around 120,000 rupiah.
Having money in paper also meant that it was possible for people to counterfeit banknotes — like street artist Banksy did with £1 million worth of £10 banknotes in 20046. Now that they have plastic notes in a lot of places, however, which makes counterfeiting a little more difficult — but let’s see how long that lasts before it’s all replaced by apps, cryptocurrency and online marketplaces selling digital image files7.
Documentaries can be educational and fun, but have you seen these? These are some of the best documentaries of all time (that I know of), that you absolutely cannot miss. Unless you don’t find them interesting or don’t like documentaries in general. Which I can understand, I guess.