Did anyone else get a battering from Storm Debi (or any of her tempestuous friends) over the last few weeks? I had a couple of tricky drives to and from work, then one evening several trees came down and knocked out the power lines to the whole village for most of the night. It wasn’t the end of the world – we’ve got a gas cooker and a wood-burner which kept us fed and warm, and I’ve got a pretty sizable collection of candles thanks to the candle factory just up the road, so we weren’t stumbling about in the dark.
My first impulse on realising that the power was out was to look up how to report it to the electric company, and to see if there were any predictions for when the power might come back on. But of course, with no power, the broadband wasn’t working, so I was relying on mobile data, which quickly failed as well. Thankfully, many others had already reported it before I lost the signal, but for future reference, you can report a power cut to the national grid by dialling 105.
However, it was a strong reminder of how much we rely on electricity, and on the technology that uses it. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t need technology to entertain myself, in fact I had a very enjoyable time curled up under a blanket with a good book. But it was hard to shake off the urge to check my weather app, to see if it was due to be stormy the next day as well… or to see if there were any updates from the electric company about when the power might come back on… or to look up a word I didn’t recognise in my book.
Of course, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all that it’s a good idea to keep matches and candles and torches with spare batteries to hand in case of a power cut – this may be a helpful tips newsletter, but I’m not about to teach my granny to suck eggs, so to speak. I can recommend investing in a wind-up torch (in case you don’t have any batteries) or a power bank to charge your phone in emergencies though.
Wishing I was Mr Tickle
Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time really, I’m only 5’1”) my arms just aren’t long enough. If I’m trying to reach something on a high shelf, that’s OK – I can get a stepladder. But what if I’m trying to fit the entire Helpful Book Company staff into a photo? Then I can’t fit everyone in, because my arms aren’t long enough to hold the camera where we’ll all fit in. And a stepladder isn’t much help.
That’s where self timers come in.
You can set the timer on your smartphone camera, so that instead of taking the photo straight away, you tap the shutter button, and it counts down, say, 10 seconds, and then takes the picture. And that means you can prop your phone up where everyone can fit in the frame, set the timer, and make sure you get yourself in the group before the shutter goes off. It’s like a “selfie”, but you don’t need arms as long as Mr Tickle to do it.
Timers are a feature on smartphone cameras that usually aren’t readily obvious. They’re usually hidden in a menu somewhere, because they’re not something you’d use all the time (but when you do need them, they’re brilliant).