Celebrating the gadget freak. Why should we grow up, anyway? (February 2011 issue)

  • Sean Woods on the SABC3 breakfast show, Expresso
  • Anthony Doman on the SABC3 breakfast show, Expresso
  • Buzz
Date:17 January 2011 Tags:, , , , , , ,

Popular Mechanics enjoys a regular Monday slot on the vibey SABC3 breakfast show, Expresso, where three of us – deputy editor Anthony Doman, associate editor Sean Woods and yours truly – take turns to demonstrate a variety of gadgets in a penthouse studio just a block from the sea.

Together with presenters Michael Mol, Liezel van der Westhuizen, Katlego Maboe and Ewan Strydom, we’ve showcased a motorised scooter, remote-controlled searchlight, radio-controlled helicopter, laser harp, unicycle, wireless microscope, electric outboard, and all manner of similarly interesting stuff. And we've learned this: as a conversational ice-breaker, the cool gadget has no peer. Its male-bonding qualities are boundless. Here’s the thing: when we talk about how badly we want it, absolutely everyone understands. Yes, even the female of the species.

At the risk of sticking my neck out, I would say that few men outgrow their love of gadgets. They may become self-conscious about these yearnings as they grow older, and in extreme cases they may lapse into a (thoroughly unconvincing) state of denial, but frankly, there’s no point in trying to fight it. Since the gadget gene almost certainly proffers an evolutionary advantage, it’s unlikely to fade away. That established, we move on to the contents of this issue – a shamelessly eclectic mix of articles encompassing scientific research, technological breakthroughs, an impending revolution in Twenty20 cricket, wild bikes (Ducati’s new Diavel should get your heart rate up), weird concepts (would you believe a Bolshoi-choreographed ballet by 42-ton battle tanks?) and, of course, cool gadgets – all of them desirable.

On a more sombre note, we join Terry Gudaitis, a leading authority on cyber security, as she explores the challenges and risks posed by social media (“Good company, bad company”). As Gudaitis points out, the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and other mobile devices has made the Internet an “anywhere, anytime” environment in which sensitive company information often leaks outside the corporate perimeter.

If you live in a cave and communicate via passenger pigeons, no problem. For the rest of us, however, the risk of “data leakage” is of real concern, with consequences ranging from brand reputation damage and lost productivity to potential physical harm to employees. Does this sound a little alarming? Good.

In case you missed our earlier announcement, please be advised that the year 2011 is now well under way. We look forward to its revelations and challenges, and to sharing them with you.

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– Alan Duggan (aland@ramsaymedia.co.za)

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