Do Two Screens More Than Double The Fun ? #NaBloPoMo

My life seems to be dominated by screens lately.

TV screens, computer monitors, tablets and smartphones all seem to be breeding around me. And some days I struggle to remember what the world looks like other than through a black border. Remember what it was like catching public transport and just looking out the window or reading a physical book? Me neither.

arbitrageLast month, work decided to give us dual screens in an endeavour to reduce the use of paper and in a tacit acknowledgement that one screen is just not enough these days. With the proliferation of emailed attachments and emails in general, precious productive time was lost switching between several windows, cross referencing the material in each. Now we can have two documents open at the same time,  move text between the two and compare and contrast. And I have to tell you, when I’m at work getting in on the dual screen action, I feel like I’m in arbitrage (which in fact  no way resembles my real profession). I imagine myself scanning the screens, frantically switching between them, watching the ticker tape of the NY Stock Exchange on one and the FTSE index on the other, waiting for the moment to yell “sell, sell, sell now!”. To me the two screen revolution started in the world of stock broking thanks to films like Wall Street. Of course now that the rest of the world has caught up to the dual screen phenomenon, these guys now run on four or more trying to keep pace with global markets.

Of course when I upgraded from one to two, the heat and light level emanating from my desk rose considerably turning my work space into a tropical paradise zone. I wonder whether we will stop at two or if work will attempt the triple with a back-end pike – degree of difficulty 4.5.

The dual screen fun has not stayed in the workplace. It has also crept into my home.

Naturally, the teens have for some time partaken in the world of multiples. There is no such thing as just watching a TV screen to them. They chat, play computer games, watch YouTube videos and listen to music all whilst watching TV.  It took us poor hapless parents quite some time to realise that by looking down at another screen, the Teens were not giving us a signal that it was quite permissible to change the TV channel. The slightest move in that direction would solicit a “Hey, I’m watching that”.

How exactly? Would that be through their nostrils or their toes?

So having joined the revolution, I now understand that having two screens can mean more than double the fun – particularly when the activity you are doing on the second screen is webcamconnected to the TV screen. This happens particularly when a TV show promotes a commentary through a Twitter feed or when there is a show that pretty much everyone in the country watches. We have a couple of these, the most regular one being a show called Q and A. This is a weekly current affairs show aired live by our National Broadcaster comprising a panel of four politicians, celebrities, writers, feminists, social commentators, journalists etc. The panel members are deliberately chosen for their opposing views to ensure a lively debate.  Questions are posed to the panel by audience members who are pre chosen for their questions and a selection of Tweeted comments about the content or the panel members are put to air as the show is telecast.

The comments range from the insightful to the ridiculous, but in a stroke of pure promotional genius the addition of the Twitter feed has brought with it a whole new audience. Tweeps join the conversation Tweep to Tweep or post in the hope that their tweet will make it to air.  Whatever the case, this use of the #QandA hashtag adds another dimension to the TV experience and I’m definitely a convert. The conversation is fast paced, full of banter and is not for the faint hearted.

I think I would struggle though if the TV program was a very visual one. In the case of Q and A there is not much visual action as the show centres around seated panel members and about the most exciting you will get is the odd sneer or finger point.

However, the thought of becoming a TV watching bobble head is a somewhat scary notion.

So, my question is have you ever tried multiples? And has it enhanced your pleasure?

Does Your Kitchen Suck?

Actually, my kitchen doesn’t suck all that much except for that long agonising pause between the menfolk creating culinary magic and cleaning up the utensil carnage that follows.  Its the time when our family kitchen becomes the dreaded black hole, sucking up all the household manpower to return it to it’s natural state.

“My Kitchen Sucks” is the name given by my early teen son to a current television show airing here called “My Kitchen Rules” or “MKR” for short. MKR is ostensibly a cooking show in which teams of two fight it out in various tests and challenges to display their culinary skills. Every so often two teams have to take part in a sudden death cook-off in which one of the teams is eliminated. At those times, the show gets very intense, even more intense than some of the dishes that are created.  MKR has been airing four nights a week for the past month or so and its ratings are soaring.

For all sort of reasons, MKR is riveting.  The factors pulling me in to watch it night after night are, in order:

  • the mix of personalities appearing on the show
  • the incredibly hot French accent of Manu Fieldel, a French chef and judge on the show
  • the interaction of the said personalities both within teams and between teams
  • Manu’s French accent
  • the tactics  and brown-nosing to which some contestants resort to stay in the game
  • then there is of course, Manu’s French accent
  • the food
  • did I mention Manu’s French accent?

In short, the show is a fascinating study in human and not so human behaviour.  I generally don’t watch much television, so the fact that I religiously make an effort to watch MKR four times a week is eye opening!

Our family has taken to watching the show together, because it airs in prime time. When I say watching the show, I mean that all family members are in the one room and look to be facing the operating television set.  I am assured by the teenage members of my household that having a computer screen and a keyboard between them and the television screen only enhances their concentration and enjoyment of watching the show.

My Kitchen Rules

My Kitchen Rules (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the minutes before the show commences, the family gathers and assumes their positions. Its at this time the teenagers start their cacophony of complaints which I am tempted to set to music – it’s just so lyrical. “Are you really going to watch My Kitchen Sucks, again?”, “You don’t understand, NO-ONE at school watches it” and the ever present “Can’t we watch something else?” To which I dutifully respond “ Yes”, ”hmmm” and “no”.

Recently, I unexpectedly had to spend a night away from home. I thought this would provide much needed relief to my long suffering teens by presenting the opportunity for an MKR-free zone.  The circumstances were such that I could still watch the show that night and as I did I wondered what the teens would be instead watching during their emancipation. The show ended at 8.30pm. By 8.35pm, I had a text from my eldest teen “Mum, T and C got eliminated from MKR…. did you watch it?” The irony in those few words and the timing were delicious.

And my take away (no pun intended) from this incident?  First, opportunities for bonding arise in the most unexpected and sweetest of ways and second, I never met a French accent I didn’t like.

Bon Apettit  dear readers!