Thursday, April 18, 2024

THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Technology keeping us in touch


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I am back from enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation just outside of Boston with family who have made that part of the world their home.
During the time I was there doing little or nothing apart from liming in the malls and my much favoured electronic stores like BestBuy, it occurred to me that as far as I was from Barbados, Barbados was but a split second away.
Not so very long ago, on such a holiday I would only be aware of the happenings back home if somebody called me or I called somebody “long distance”, or from gossip going around in that part of the world. Technology has changed all of that so dramatically that even without my laptop computer or tablet, my mobile phone keeps me home away from home all through the day and night.
I returned to Barbados after three weeks but fully aware of everything that had taken place every moment of every day that I was away. For example, I was familiar with every Crop Over song that had been released on air during that period through an App on my BB named TuneIn Radio, which allows me to tune in and listen to any radio station in any part of the world. If it wasn’t the party stuff on Hott 95.3FM, I was getting it on Slam or CBC’s 98.1 The One. I also got my fill of social commentary on CBC’s 94.7 and VOB 92.9.
In between the music I kept up-to-date with things political, religious, economic and even same-sex with the likes of Peter Wickham, Denis Johnson and David Ellis on Down To Brass Tacks as well as my old friend John Lovell, among others on the CBC side of the airwaves. And before you cuss me, YES Carol Roberts, I was also in tune with you and Denis Johnson making Fireworks every day. Unfortunately, while there is similar online access to TV stations around the world, including Caribbean neighbours like Trinidad and Jamaica, only CBC-TV’s 7 p.m. news is available, with the result that I had to wait until I was back to see and hear what the Admiral was up to on his Festival Stage.
If that sounds like information overload, on top of all that were the non-stop pings of the never-ending stream of conversations with family and friends on BBMessenger and WhatsApp which, of course, included the latest gossip.
In fact, it was via BBM one night that I received a message of panic from my home concerning eerie beams of green light shining down over the house from up in the skies. The description of this phenomenon matched the beams, which the alien ships in the movie Independence Day used to destroy cities around the globe. So I made an immediate old-time, long distance call to my next door neighbour Roger Gill to see if he was aware of what was going, but he was just as perplexed and concerned about the unexpected development. Some time later he called back to tell me he had discovered on the compound of the Caribbean Met Institute on the other side of the road that the beams of laser light originated from a container in the area as opposed to coming down to earth from somewhere or something up in the skies.
The beams attract people every night like a Coney Island, and I am just hoping they are laser versions of the HARP gun of some years ago in Barbados.
• Al Gilkes is head of a public relations firm.


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