Be careful what you wish for

The chief engineer had spared no expense to provide his only son with a plethora of high-technology equipment for Christmas, knowing how delighted he would be when he discovered the grown-up boys toys in his stocking on Christmas morning.

Aside from a rather magnificent notepad computer, the chief engineer’s son had also been blessed with a mobile phone with a built-in GPS system and camera, as well as a radio-controlled helicopter and a standalone rocket launcher.

No one could have been happier or more grateful for the treasures that he received, and the son heaped much praise onto his father for his generosity and kindness, much to his dad’s delight.

But after the Christmas tree had been taken down and environmentally disposed of, the teenage son became less enamoured with many of the presents. Indeed, by the middle of the following year many of them were doing no more than gathering dust in a cupboard under the stairs.

The chief engineer realised what had happened. While the products may have had some initial appeal to his son, they had done very little to challenge him intellectually. But the wily chief engineer knew immediately what he had to do, and urged his son to take the technology from his Christmas gifts and to repurpose them into a product of his own making.

The chief engineer was delighted when his son took him up on the idea. Indeed, the son spent days, if not weeks, in his father’s garden shed carefully dismantling the lovely presents that he had been given, creating a bespoke design that he knew would be unlike any that had gone before it.

Sadly, however, for his efforts developing his own startlingly original product through re-purposing the technology of Christmas past, the young would-be engineer was rewarded by a court sentence in which a magistrate ordered him to spend 120 days performing community service.

The trouble began when he decided to equip his remotely controlled helicopter with the camera, GPS and mobile communication system from the phone, as well as I’m sorry to say, the rocket launcher. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he had also seen fit to trial his new system by using the notepad computer to remotely fly it over the town hall where he had dispatched a rocket from it at the windows of the Department of Education.

Needless to say, the chief engineer was horrified when he learned what had happened, and was quite relieved when he discovered that the court had seen fit only to issue him with a lenient sentence, citing the fact that it was his first breach of the peace and no one had been injured in the incident.

This year, of course, the chief engineer is thinking twice about what to buy his son for Christmas. The last time I spoke to him, he told me that he was steering well clear of anything even remotely high-tech, and certainly no tech at all that could be remotely controlled.

Dave Wilson
Editor, Electronicstalk

Dave’s comments form part of the weekly Electronicstalk newsletter, which also includes a round-up of the latest electronic products and services for engineers. To subscribe click here