Your roundup of tech, culture, and nostalgia for

August 29, 2023 // Web version //

TimeMachiner. Tech, culture, nostalgia. By Aaron Crocco
Inside Today's Issue:
SegWhy
This Flying Car is Electrical
Bike Brick

Read to the end for a post about smart footwear.

Learning about the death of Bob Barker this past weekend was tough. The longtime gameshow host lived to 99 and for anyone, that is a fantastic run. It's impossible to talk of Barker without also talking about The Price is Right. In my opinion, one of the greatest gameshows ever.

Coming down with a cold as a kid or staying home from school for whatever reason meant one thing: The Price is Right at 11AM. The music and graphics would come onto the screen and you'd hear Rod Roddy repeat his signature phrase of "Come on down!" inviting the first contestants straight from the audience to play the game. I always dreamed of going to a taping and getting my name called. Heck, I went to a touring event of Price years ago hosted by Allen Thicke and was so nervous every time they called someone from the audience. I didn't get picked but I sure as hell bought a t-shirt afterward.

Barker was fun, chatty, knew every game inside-out, and just kept the festivities going. What looked like a party in the studio seemed to be perpetuated by Barker's enthusiasm to win each game and have a great time. Each time a contestant won a game you could see how genuinely happy he was. You knew he wanted that person to win the most on Plinko or get that car on Lucky Sevens.

The Price is Right is what childhood sick days were set around. It was a way to mark the day in a way you never could during a normal school day. Barker was part of my childhood in the likes of Thundercats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And even as a kid, I knew he'd sign off with his signature catchphrase asking to spay and neuter your pets. He was an animal advocate and used his position to take a few seconds each day to take action on an important topic. It was so important to him that even today Drew Carey continues the tradition. Price has not had a gap in that humble request since the day Barker first said it.

Unrelated to Price, I remember watching the Adam Sandler film Happy Gilmore which features Sandler as a terrible hockey player who decides to go into golf. In one scene Sandler is on the course and Barker comes up and the two get into an argument and then a fistfight. This was so funny to watch because not only did Barker decide to cameo in the movie, but also participate in a physical scene with Sandler. The whole scene is on YouTube and even watching it now, I'm laughing. All because Bob Barker was a great sport in doing this scene.

The tough part about Barker and Price is that it is of a bygone era. Before streaming or TiVo or on-demand, or even the internet, there is very little chance the show or Barker would have broken out today because times have changed so much. But in landing when it did on the timeline, Barker earned his place as a household name and Price earned its place as one of the few gameshows to stand the test of time. Just as Trebek was integral to Jeopardy and Pat & Vanna are Wheel, it is abundantly clear that Price and Barker needed each other. And it was magical.

In that vein, I'll sign off with this: Please help control the pet population and have your pets spayed or neutered.

I hope you have a great week.

-Aaron

PS: If you're enjoying my work here on TimeMachiner please forward this email to a friend who'd like it too. It helps me grow. Thank you. 😊


TODAY'S RANDOM FACTOID

In a room with just 23 people, there’s a 50-50 chance that at least two people have the same birthday. Source



SegWhy
The Segway is two things: a thing mall cops ride and a thing you may ride on a tour. That's it. And what a fall from grace it is for this weird device, because it's an innovative piece of tech that never stood a chance. For the unfamiliar, the Segway was marketed as a revolutionary way to get around when you didn't want to walk and distances were too short for a car. Dean Kamen invented it and tried to market it as "the "the next big thing." We know that never panned out, but the "why" that defined its failure is a fascinating look at this weird piece of technology. A great piece from Company Man has pieced together the five main reasons nobody ever bought this thing. And yes, there's Paul Blart reference too.
Show Me This Story
This Flying Car is Electrical
The year is 2023 and we still don't have flying cars. We likely never will and based on how many people drive, I am not optimistic it's really a good idea. Heck, we've been here before. But that won't stop companies from trying. As Natalie Neysa Alund reports at USA Today, yet another aspiring company looks to make this a reality. This week, Alef Aeronautics revealed its flying car “Model A" was granted legal permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to test run the vehicle on the road and in the sky − a move needed before it can be released to the public. Alef is the first company to receive a Special Airworthiness Certification from the FAA, the company said in a news release. The certification limits the locations and purpose for which the vehicle is allowed to fly. The vehicle will also need to meet National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration…
Show Me This Story
Bike Brick
Yet again we find another glaring example of why you should never buy physical devices that depend on a cloud service or app or company remaining in business. This time around it's VanMoof and its series of e-bikes. The Dutch company is now bankrupt leaving customers with bikes made with non-standard parts and features that won't work without its app. Rob Schmitz at WGBH has more. VanMoof's creators fancied their company to be like Apple — creating unique products that would spawn its own ecosystem — but Hartogs says the company ran out of money because, unlike Apple's products, VanMoof's specialized bikes often broke down, and their maintenance shops and generous warranty policies couldn't keep up. WGBH Not only have the parts availability become a major issue but riders will have the added anxiety that features they paid for will vanish one day without notice. All VanMoof could muster was…
Show Me This Story
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