Paint your wagon (with electric circuits) but leave my crotch alone

Is it just me or is it hot in here?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? The contents of my pants are hot.

Given recent experience, I would venture to say they’re even too hot to handle. Getting too close to those hidden quarters of the scorching Dabbs family jewels could cause one to swoon in a dead faint.

I know this because my smartphone told me.

Well, it didn’t actually tell me. And no, I don’t have an app for that. It was my smartphone itself that swooned in such close proximity to your humble author’s unmentionables.

It’s this summer weather, you see: for a working man about town, this is the season of not wearing a jacket, leaving me short of options for where to carry my phone.

Keeping it in a man-bag or backpack is not an option. I’d end up just like those annoying people in cinemas and public libraries and especially on the "quiet carriage" of a train whose muffled ringtone can be heard from the depth of some capacious carry-thing and keeps ringing for the next minute and a half, growing louder all the time, while the slow-witted owner slowly sets about retrieving the offending device.

No, really, why does it take them so long to shut the thing up? Did they not know they had a mobile? Are they sitting there for the first half a minute of their ringtone blaring away, assuming that it belongs to someone else while marvelling at the coincidence that another person on the same carriage should also have a ringtone of their kids singing Happy Birthday to You Igbertia?

Even when they do belatedly extricate their bleating electronic annoyance generator from their bag, they spend the next half a minute holding the thing directly in front of their face as the ringtone continues to yell out incessantly – volume setting at 11 – as if checking that it really is their handset that is making nearby windows to rattle, babies cry and dogs howl, and wondering what to do about it.

No, this approach isn’t for me. My smartphone is always set to silent vibrate if I want to answer it, or send the call to voicemail if it’s the daily unsolicited call I receive from Kashflow trying to sell me its irrelevant credit card payment system, as quickly as possible.

This means either carrying the device in my hand all day or slipping it into a trouser pocket.

The problem with the former solution is that I’ll end up looking like a cosplay London rioter or other such working-class-hero thinking it makes them appear down wit’ da kidz. In a way, I suppose it does make one look "street-wise" but only in the sense that other people will assume you are lost while following directions on Google Maps.

At best, you’ll look like you’re affecting a "plastic cool" vibe associated with the likes of tech-pop idiot royalty Will.I.Am, which, take it from me, sends out the wrong kind of message entirely.

No, the only option is to pocket my smartphone, disconcertingly close to my "meat-and-two-veg"… or, since I went vegetarian this year, to my "three-of-my-five-a-day".

All this is fine until the summer really kicks in and gets warmer still. At this point, I discovered, my smartphone can no longer take the balmy hot weather plus the quantifiably scorching hot contents of my pants and switches itself off entirely.

The effect of a warm front moving in from the south – no, not another euphemism for my wedding tackle, I mean the occasional hot weather that we get even in Britain – plays havoc with everything from train tracks to electrical systems.

With this in mind, I wonder how this might affect emerging products such as AgIC’s circuit marker pen, which the company reckons anyone could use to draw simple electric circuits by hand anywhere using its silver-solution ink.

Not to diss the idea – it could be a lot of fun in the classroom and it’s much safer than arming tweenagers with cheeseboard and soldering irons – but some of the purported real-world applications worry me. One suggestion was to draw electric circuits onto walls in the homes of elderly people, conveniently and inexpensively connecting them to smart sensor devices throughout the house.

Given that my most recent experience of builders taught me that they are unaware that the waterproof silicon gel is supposed to be applied to seams inside a shower unit rather than on the outside, I wouldn’t trust them enough to leave a metal teaspoon in their mug of tea, let alone arm them with a pen for drawing electrical circuits around my house.

All you need is a bit of clumsy penwork and one of these aforementioned elderly people will rest one hand against the wall for support, a dripping cup of Horlicks held shakily in the other, and promptly vanish in a plume of smoke. It would make for great headlines in Fortean Times (“Is this a new age of spontaneous combustion?”) but not great for enhancing life expectancy.

Horlicks aside, temperature and even the clunkiest of electric kit are often in conflict. I used to work at a publishing company that was forced to vomit its staff onto the street several times a day throughout the summer months because warm weather triggered the fire alarm. The problem was investigated many times and declared by all the experts we called in as “unfixable”.

Just think what would happen on a hot day in your smart house with all that hand-painted circuitry all over the place.

Your wallpaper would go mental.

Short of pointing desk fans at your walls, praying that the cack-handed circuitry hadn’t already disconnected your power sockets and redirected the full live charge to your IoT toilet seat, I wish you luck.

Me, I have to face the fact that, as far as my smartphone is concerned, the contents of my pants might be hot but they are, quite literally, a turn-off.

Alistair DabbsAlistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing. He apologises for the lack of a column last week but he is told that it is not well-read during these balmy final days of the vacation season. A bit more social network sharing would help correct this, dear reader (hint). FBI* UPDATE: Alistair’s weight-loss smugathon continues, taking the total so far to 13kg.

* FBI = Fat Bastard Index


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