You know how geeks, even ancient geeks, love to show off their technology? So it was last weekend in Rome when I decided to demonstrate to admiring friends how I could watch British television on my iPad. Thanks to my Slingbox, I cried, I can tune in to any programme and, even, set up recordings and watch pre-recorded material from my recorder. How? Simple: call up Sling Player on the iPad (sadly only in iPhone format as yet) and press connect. Success: Within seconds I was lord and master of the home-based Humax, ready to surf the channels and bring up Coronation Street. Sadly, when I pressed the virtual power button to switch on the home video recorder I was met with total dumb insolence. Try again. Fail again.
Not daunted, I checked the settings and verified that I was indeed connected to homebase. But why no action? The answer was simple and extremely low tech. My cleaner, Tatiany, had been doing her thing the day before I left home. She's extremely thorough and dusts everything to death. It was no surprise to find, then, that she had dusted to one side the two infra-red transmitters that Slingbox uses to communicate with the recorder. These sit on little protruding plastic paddles that stick (not too successfully, as it happens) to the top of the unit.
This all goes to prove that technology is pretty reliable, but the old arts of housework and tidyness are unpredictable. Geekily, I was a bit disappointed to find the fault to be so low-tech. Maybe in future I should issue a cleaning Vebot and just let the dust gather around the techie bits. As Quentin Crisp famously said, the dust doesn't get any thicker after the first 25 years.