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Question: What is a pen used for?
Answers: To write, to draw, to use as a blow pipe for sending balls of wet tissue to your classmates’ heads, to show that we’re very rich if the pen is a Mont-Blanc …
To rewind a cassette of course !!!
And yes, do you remember, wrinkly old reader friends, back in the days of the Walkman, when we rewound our tapes with a pen to save batteries?
We all had one of these ‘magic’ machines, which allowed us to listen to music everywhere. And what a joy, how cool it was to get around with our favourite music in our ears, at a loud volume, without boring passers-by on the street or passengers on public transport! I had my first Walkman around the age of 15. I forget the brand but I remember that it was yellow and black, that it weighed one or two kilos, and that the headphones had orange foam.
But on the other hand this technology consumed mountains of batteries (sorry planet), especially to rewind the cassettes. That’s why we used the pen technique. An effective technique that has proven itself, even if it was still annoying to rotate the cassette on this pen for long minutes. Let me take this opportunity to say that for this task, the BIC pen was the best, tell me if I’m wrong!
Simply listening to music also consumed a lot of battery power and finally, to keep this greedy machine working you had to pay a fortune! So, tired of spending part of my beer budget on batteries, I decided to steal them from supermarkets. Uh … well not for long, just a single attempt – and it failed. I got caught directly by the security guards. So I kept putting my hand in my pocket and digging into my drinking budget to assuage my musical sin!
However, this technology, in addition to being expensive, left something to be desired. I’m sure you’ll agree. How many cassettes were eaten by these devices! How many times did I think about trying to extract the tape stuck behind the tape head without damaging it any more? You too did the same, didn’t you?
And very often, after this incident, the band relaxed and the sound then became … weird. And did you notice how this new version of your favourite song stays in your head with this sound defect?! It’s incredible! A long time after, it’s still impossible to listen to this song with normal sound without ‘hearing’ the ‘degraded cassette’ version! Researchers should look into this phenomenon, I say!
The cassette player remained popular for a long time because it was unique. But despite practical improvements, such as auto-reverse or the integrated mini speaker (with its rotten sound), the years passed and the walkman has become obsolete. And thanks to technical progress, we then got the portable CD player.
It was already much better but much more expensive! You had to pay a large sum to buy the first models. Fortunately, after a while, the prices became affordable and I was finally able to get one. And then, I no longer needed to have a pen at the bottom of my pocket to rewind the cassettes, no more degraded soundtrack, but I still had to buy batteries and batteries and batteries… because once again, this thing was eating energy!
However, the sound quality was much better and the reliability was close to 100%, even if sometimes the disc skipped and again, we had to stop the device and find a way to solve the problem, or simply change the disk.
But all of this is ancient history.
And yes, today, we have quality technical devices, with great reliability.
Let’s start with MP3 or MP4. This gadget is very practical because we can put all our music in it, if it has enough memory. There’s no need to buy batteries, since it operates on a rechargeable battery. You can choose to listen to the songs in order, or randomly. You can very easily change the ‘disc’. It is much smaller and lighter than a CD player or Walkman. Also, you no longer had to carry around a box with cassettes or CDs when you went on a trip.
There’s a small drawback anyway. Maybe even two! The first, like all technical odds and ends, is that it’s quite expensive to purchase, even though prices have dropped considerably in recent years. The second is that you probably use it every day, and always outside, so if the battery is depleted, you can’t just go to the supermarket to buy batteries. You have to wait until you get home, or if you have the cable in your bag, you have to go to a place (a cafe, a train station…) to be able to plug in your device and charge it. But to charge it takes a lot of time! To avoid this problem, it’s therefore necessary to think of recharging it during the night while sleeping.
Of course, the most popular and practical device for taking music with you today is the phone. Notice, I say that, but actually I don’t know because I still don’t have a phone capable of carrying music. I just have a phone to ……… call!
And yes, it’s a bit stupid what I say, but a phone that is made to phone, it’s what the original idea was, it seems to me. Am I right? And for music, I use an MP3 player. Again, a device specially designed for that.
And to finish in style, we can’t help but talk about the smartphone. Uh … again, I speak without knowing, since, as I write this article, I don’t have one. But I see all around me thousands of people walking like robots without brains, headphones sunk into the ears, eyes fixed on their screen.
And if I understand correctly, thanks to this device, we can listen to all the music we like. We can even listen online, watch clips of our favourite songs, comment and interact with the other robots around us. Tell me if I’m wrong!
So this is the future, and I, a stupid old man, have to get used to it, even if it’s a little beyond me. Okay, I’ll do my best, but I’m not hiding from you that all these lobotomized robots out there scare me a little.
Do you feel the same or do you embrace this ‘new’ technology? Tell me in the comments!
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