Blogs tagged as No Tech Day

  • I enjoyed No Tech Day

    I really enjoyed my no-tech – low electricity day! I guess I found it easy because I don’t have too many electronic gadgets to do without, and I never watch TV. I warned my family that I wouldn’t be accessible by phone on Saturday. To make my life a bit more challenging, I thought I would try to manage without electricity as well. So when I went to boil the water for tea, I used the gas cooker. (Cheating, really, because it has an electronic ignition.) But after I boiled two saucepans dry, because I got sidetracked, I realised I was rapidly exceeding my carbon footprint, and went back to the electric kettle.

    Apart from that, I made one landline call – to resolve something I didn’t want to wait till Monday for. And I did use the washing machine – which I guess I could have waited one day to day.

    So I spent a pleasant day in the garden, socialising with my neighbours (we live in an apartment of a shared house with 5 other families, so no need to travel to see people), with just a spade and fork for technology.

    I had intended to do without electric lights, since it was WWF’s Earth Hour from 8.30-9.30. But I forgot to cook supper early enough, and had to have lights on in the kitchen. I ate my meal by candlelight, then read a book until the end of Earth Hour at 9.30. 

    What did I miss most? Listening to music in the evening, and calling up friends.

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  • Not so no-techy……

    I’ll come clean: I was a very poor no-techy. 

    My No Tech Day endeavour was broken even before I woke up, when my radio alarm came on automatically (as it always does) and I spent a full hour pleasurably listening in for a snug Saturday morning – before remembering that this was breaking The Rules!  I immediately felt the loss switching it off: the sounds and voices that emanate from my digital radio provide an accompaniment to my life – and source of information and engagement (Radio 4 all the way!).
    I managed to do without my computer.  Which, in many ways, was neither here nor there.  I caught up on emails and internet banking on Sunday instead of Saturday; and was glad to be free from wasted hours surfing the net, watching Youtube and playing mindless games of solitaire.  No, I have no trouble banishing my computer away into its case.  For a day.  A full weekend?  That would be a different story!

    I didn’t do so well on the mobile phone front.  On Friday night, my aunt, uncle and small cousins made a short-notice suggestion to visit for the day on Sunday; there were arrangements to be made, and I had to postpone alternative plans for a visit to London.  Nope, couldn’t do without my mobile phone that day: I am truly beholden.  This is the real value of modern communications technologies: they’ve allowed us to make plans at the last minute, without much need for advanced forethought.  Hurrah for that!

    Finally, two technologies that – without intending to – I didn’t use on Saturday, but which I would never be without permanently:

    1. my bicycle;
    2. my washing machine!

    After the wheel, possibly the two best inventions in the world, ever.  Forget all the fancy gadgetry and flashing lights of consumer tech.  These are the real practical technologies that make my life better.  A life of walking 10 miles to work and washing by hand would be a real drudgery.  In my opinion, that’s the kind of ‘intermediate’ technology that the founder of Practical Action knew is really transformative for people’s lives.

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  • A life of idleness?

    I’d warned the family that Saturday was going to be No Tech Day, so after my husband had made me a cup of tea (I didn’t want to put the kettle on!) he & my son took themselves off to the allotment to put up the greenhouse – leaving me by myself.

    Alfie's christeningNormally I’d have had the radio on all day – but the house was strangely silent.  I’d thought about stripping the old wallpaper off in the bedroom – but without the steamer I decided to put this off until another day.  Instead I started reading, and then my son and his wife came along with my new grandson – Alfie.  We all decided that we’d go up to town and luckily they invited me to lunch (another escape from any technology!)

    I took a leisurely stroll back through the nearby park – chatting to several neighbours who were out enjoying some welcome sunshine.  Back home I picked up my book again and spent most of the day engrossed in that. 

    In the evening husband, son & myself chatted about technology (after all the telly wasn’t on) and how difficult life would be without it.  I’d had a pleasant enough day. For me it had been easy – either getting others to help out or to postpone activities – but if I had to live without the basics of electricity or water I realised how difficult everything would be.  I started to think about what life will be like for Alfie in another 20 years and how much technology will have moved on – how would he cope if he was asked to do No Tech Day then?

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  • Crazy No Tech Day….

    I was down in Poole for the weekend staying with the ‘in laws’.

    I decided to give up my mobile phone and computer for the day. This proved to be no great handicap to playing Crazy Golf and Football on the beach in the rain.

    So I had a lovely day without them.

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  • In Nepal every day is a no tech day

    Imagine what it would be like to have ‘notech’ for two hours every day

    That’s just part of the everyday life in Nepal. On No Tech Day I was working in Nepal, having spent a week there visiting Practical Action’s projects gathering information for future education resources. 

    Every day whether you are in a small town or the capital Kathmandu you will have to adjust your life to accommodate two hours without any electricity.  The National Grid in Nepal just can’t keep up with demand so the solution has been a rota system.  Details are given out when the 2 hours will be (it differs week to week) and you just have to accept it!  Which for me meant two hours where I couldn’t recharge my camera or work on my laptop and at one stage it was too dark in the hotel room so I had to sit outside!

    In the UK we consider it a huge convenience if the electricity in our street goes off even for a few hours, maybe because of road works, and we make quite a fuss about it.  So let’s spare a thought for those people who run business and homes in Nepal. And let’s all be more active in working towards finding a solution to the looming energy crisis so that we will never find ourselves having to live with a situation like that.

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  • No Tech in Norfolk? Nearly

    Norfolk, UK, Shipdham | March 30th, 2010

    In the no-tech day I went to Norfolk and disconnected from my laptop, the internet and my MP3 player… ah! and my mobile phone. 

    After several weeks of being wired to “The Matrix” it was great to breathe some fresh air and walk by the sea. 

    I love technology, and I love it more than I should, and had the No-Tech Day not existed, I am sure I would have at least plugged myself into my MP3 player, but that weekend was the perfect moment for me to have a no-tech day.

    OK, I confess… I could not do without the TV… that would have been too weird, wouldn’t it?

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  • Resorting to the web

    Things started well on my no-tech day … Before breakfast I biked down to a friend’s field to check on a dozen sheep.

    Lambing has been sporadic and very spread out so far (the ram must have been lazy or getting on) but I was in luck on Saturday – a ewe had taken herself off to the top corner of the field and had just dropped twins. Always amazing to see how quickly they get up and are on the move, looking for colostrum. One of them was looking very pathetic so we decided to bring them down to the barn.

    Older lambs needed turning out but not until they had been docked and castrated – a simple process using a very simple technology – a tight rubber ring which eventually causes the unwanted bits to shrivel and drop off.  I’ve done it plenty of times but it’s never nice to see the initial discomfort it causes them. A big two-day-old single lamb was a tricky customer – it’s important to put the ring in exactly the right place. It looked OK to me but afterwards he was really unhappy, showing signs of stress and flopping around in the corner of the pen, panting excessively. My friend was concerned so I agreed to take another look in an hour.

    I biked home and had breakfast, a quick call to my Dad confirmed that it would be perfectly fine but I was worried so … I googled “lamb castration distress” and had a quick read-up about scientific trails that measured cortisol responses in lambs after the procedure. Of course it was fine, so I am annoyed with myself that I didn’t trust my instincts and the experience of Dad but instead resorted to the web, just because it was there!

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  • Not a tech addict… but when is a tool a technology – or are they the same thing?

    I have to confess that, a bit like Adam Hart-Davis, I didn’t find giving up my gadgets too much of a strain – especially at the weekend. I dutifully put my mobile phone away and ignored my laptop. I don’t own a games console. Perhaps I was cheating slightly because I still stuck the radio on and used my electric toothbrush.

    The day did make me think about tools and technology. If we gave up all technology for the day, we won’t get out of bed. And maybe we won’t be in bed in the first place (think of the technology in the sprung mattress and micro-fibre, hypo-allergenic duvet!). By mid-morning I was peeling a potato to make lunch, using the fab new peeler I recently bought. The other one used to just take huge chunks out of the veg and then get clogged. As a vegetarian, a decent peeler seemed like a fairly essential tool. But turning this peeler round in my hand I was thinking about the technology and design employed in this simple piece of equipment: the comfortable handle, the super-sharp blade made of the right sort of metal and set at just the right angle to smoothly peel thin strips off my potato.

    It’s good to give up our gadgets, but of course, Practical Action’s view of technology is much broader than that. It is about having the right tools for the job: tools which are designed and used in ways which make people’s lives easier, and lift them out of poverty.

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  • A no technology life is no fun

    I struggled with this challenge. Not because I couldn’t bear to part with a gadget but because I couldn’t find one I was strongly attached enough to make a day’s abstinence a suitably harrowing affair.

    It’s not that I dislike modern technology. Far from it – at work I am firmly embedded in a sea of e-mail, communicator conversations and a brilliant phone system which follows me around wherever in the world I am. Take any part of that away from me and I’d be completely lost (as was ironically proven last week when a glitch with our firewall cut us off for 36 hours from e-mail communication with all of our seven overseas offices and had the phone system going on and off like a belisha beacon).

    But this was a weekend challenge, so giving up work-related technology gizmos that didn’t count. And at home, although I am a great admirer of modern technology, I don’t actually get to use it that much. The iPod Touch gets played perhaps once a week when I have a quiet moment to fill (it would be twice, but the first time I try it the kids have inevitably flattened the battery and it has to be charged). The iMac (yes I am a lover of Apple technology) sits beguilingly in the corner of the lounge, but the kids are only allowed internet time at the weekend and if I want to use it I have to book weeks in advance. And my HTC touch screen phone (which I love principally for its ability to provide instant access to my office diary wherever I am), in honesty doesn’t get much use as a mobile phone (just checked my call log – a typical week is 8 calls out and 2 calls in). Giving up any of these for a day would be too easy. 

    As I said, I struggled and in fact ultimately failed to find a gadget I am so hooked to on a weekend I couldn’t easily give it up for a day. So I thought I’d mention another technology I had to give up at home, involuntarily and for just 12 hours recently. A few weeks ago the water mains burst at the bottom of our road. Thames Water was out quickly to affect a repair, but to do that they had to close down the mains. The first I knew of this was when I went to make a cup of coffee and the tap was dry. We have a combi boiler and so no cold water tank, so there’s no back up storage in the house. Once the mains is closed that’s it. I rang Thames Water to find out what the problem was. They told me of the burst main. I asked them how long it was going to take to fix. They said several hours. I asked if they were going to provide a tanker in the meantime so that people in the street would still have water. I surprised myself at how upset I was with their answer – “we only provide tankers if the water has to be cut off for more than 12 hours at a time”. 12 hours! But I needed a coffee! And I hadn’t had a shower. And what about cooking lunch and dinner? And (horror of horrors) how were we going to flush the loo?

    A quick trip to the corner shop and the purchase of 10 large bottles of mineral water solved the first couple of problems and I was planning a family trip to the local Sainsbury’s to use the loo there when, much ahead of the “several hours” estimate by Thames Water for supply to be restored, a gushing sound was heard from the kitchen as water started streaming out of the tap I had accidently left open.

    I’ve enjoyed reading the ‘no technology’ day blogs and hearing about the struggle to survive without this or that gadget. But in reality we would all really start to struggle seriously if one of the technologies that fundamentally underwrites our daily existence was taken away from us. We struggled in our house to come to terms with living without clean, safe, piped water in our house for just a few hours. But the reality in the developing world is that there are still something like 1.2 billion people without access to safe water at all. We would really struggle with a power cut after a couple of hours, but there are still 1.5 billion people in the world without any form of electricity and around 3 billion people still have to cook their food over an open fire because they don’t have access to a modern and clean source of energy in the kitchen.

    That’s not a no-technology day, It’s a no technology life. And it’s not fun.

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  • Easy peasy?

    So I thought I had an easy option for no tech day.

    I was off in my caravan for the weekend with the kids. Which meant no tv, no PC, all I had to do was turn my phone off.

    But as we trundled along the A45 (at 50mph – deliberately irritating Jeremy Clarkson if he was near by) my mind went through how this was hardly going to be a low tech day. First of all I need mechanical power and technology (a car!) to get the caravan to where we were going. On arrival the first thing I did was to switch on the gas so we could cook. Then I plugged into mains electric to power the water pump, microwave and halogen lights (caravanning isn’t what it was when I was a kid!)

    Even away from electricity I was struck by the technologies I had on my side. The carbon fibre poles which hold up the awning are only one example. It’s amazing to think that people have spent thousands, if not millions of pounds developing technologies to make my caravanning (a “sport” which admittedly only appeals to a minority) a slightly better experience, and to make my awning more affordable. What would the world be like if similar resources were dedicated to the technology challenges faced by people in the developing world? Probably a lot better…..

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