Low-tech gadgets, tried, tested and true

by Micheal Smith

Do we rely too much on high-tech gadgets? The answer is probably a yes.

I have seen this in many instances at home and elsewhere such as in a catering establishment that just had to buy one of those professional catering potato peeling machines. Oh dear! Those things do not peel the potatoes, they seem to glass paper them, and you still have to do some removing of “eyes” and such by hand. The use of this gadget did not last long in that place and it ended up unused and unloved in a store. They reverted back to peeling potatoes by hand with a small vegetable paring knife or a vegetable peeler. This worked and much faster too.

The same is certainly true for so many other gadgets, whether for the kitchen or elsewhere.

My favorite peeve, I know, is the Palm PDA I once had and that caused me no end of grief with crashing and losing data, which led me to revert to pen and paper again, and I have written about that before.

My pen and paper note taking system I find much more reliable and I find retyping something a lot easier and faster than having to reedit something on screen. Also, I could, theoretically, though not that I envisage this happening, have an MBT, that is a main battle tank to the uninitiated, run over the notebooks without me incurring any data loss.

Maybe it is a sign that I am getting old or that I was born in the wrong age but I find myself increasingly appreciative of the simple, dependable little gadgets of life.

A little like the amount of billions spent by NASA to develop a ball pen that could write in space – enter the Fisher Space Pen, aka the Bullet Pen; a pen that could write in low or zero gravity conditions. The then Soviet Union, on the other hand, spending zero on a writing instrument capable of working in zero gravity as it did not even need to be invented, it had existed all along: it is called a pencil.

Sure I would not want to give up my computers – I need them for doing my writing - or my cell phones, but low-tech, no-tech, no-battery and no-plug items are frequently less hassle than "improved" stuff.

The previous mentioned Palm PDA was an example in point here for not only was the product unreliable, the customer service was nonexistent.

Another favorite of mine as far as low-tech gadgets are concerned are the pinch-type (wooden) clothespins. I have put the “wooden” in brackets as they no longer always are wooden but still do a great job even if plastic.

Not only do they hold clothes on the wash line, they also fasten plant row-covering to supports in the garden and pinch shut cereal and snack-food bags to keep the contents fresh. Clipped over a metal clothes hanger, they provide handy drying above the wood stove for the endless damp gloves of winter.

My all-time favorite clothespins, on the other hand, but then I am prejudiced for my People used to make them, are the split peg ones that used to be maybe by Gypsies, the People of which I stem. I have seen some that were made carved and tinned some 100 years ago and which still will perform as well today as they did then.

There are indeed some modern gadgets out there that can be very useful and handy, but most are probably more beneficial to the sellers than they will ever be to the buyers, especially if they need constant outfitting with new batteries.

Just another of the joys of no-tech or low-tech gadgets.

© M Smith (Veshengro), 2009