Monday, January 01, 2007

Television, The Drug Of The Nation

I can't help noticing it's the first day of 2007. (Note: This is a lie. Every fucking day is the same. Really.)
Richard and I met up with Mitch Altman, inventor of TV-B-Gone and his friend Peter, who helps run the TV-B-Gone business. We met at the world clock in Alexanderplatz and then took an underground train in search of food. We ended up having dinner at an Indian restaurant. The staff were very impolite but the food was ok. Peter told us many tales of impolite staff in Germany.

Peter and Mitch took us to a Ben And Jerry's ice cream parlour. I had ice cream like I've never tasted before. I didn't know anything about Ben And Jerry's, an ice cream company started in 1978 and now owned by the delightful people at Unilever. I now know a little more than nothing, which is probably as much knowledge as I need on the subject.

Mitch turned off the TV in the corner of the ice cream parlor when we arrived. He and Peter have turned off the TV several times there over the past few days. We talked about the conference, the success of TV-B-Gone, the hacker ethic and many other topics. We were joined by a friend of Peter's from Hungary. Conversation turned to Russian literature and the works of Stanislaw Lem, a Polish writer who died last year. Before leaving Ben And Jerry's, Mitch turned off the TV again.

Mitch, Richard and I walked to Alexanderplatz. Richard felt ill so he went back to his hostel. Mitch and I went up the famous Fernsehturm (Television tower) You can read about the tower here. We discussed possible variations on TV-B-Gone such as using a laser diode instead of an LED. We also talked about Mitch's next product, an electronic relaxation device. Mitch is going to have an article about the device published in the next issue of Make magazine. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Mitch and I went for an extremely long walk, choosing whichever direction felt best. At around midnight we found a Turkish bar/cafe which had an awesome mezzanine floor and a palm tree. We ate falafel and observed young Turks running free.

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