The Wonders of Technology

Sometimes it looks good. Sometimes it sounds good.
Other times it looks gimmicky and unnecessary, but you want it anyway.
Technology is a help to those that understand it, and a hinderance to those who don’t.
So here’s some real-world examples of where I’ve found it very helpful recently.


LateRooms.com recently enabled me to book a double hotel room, at a hotel in Shropshire, which had a gym, sauna, and swimming pool, all for the princely sum of £39 for the night.
It included breakfast too, but not dinner.

Having got to the hotel, I spent a period flailing my arms around in water and not drowning, while my girlfriend swam up and down with considerable ease. Eventually we both got a bit hungry.
Where shall we eat?
At home I could look online, but I’m here now, in a hotel, with no laptop.
How to find a local restaurant in an area I’ve never visited before?

Bring on Vouchercloud.
Using the handy location search, it’s a free app that could pinpoint my position using the GPS in my iPhone, and got me a discount on local eatery Frankie and Benny’s. I’ve never eaten there before, and I’d never even heard of it, but I now know it to be a nationwide chain.
The food was alright (I would have said “good”, but the sweetcorn was soggy), although the restaurant a bit quirky, in that it plays loud old music, and every 15-20mins, the song skips to Cliff Richard’s “Congratulations”, they bring out a cake and sing Happy Birthday to someone.
Side note: I’ve seen the cake thing in TGI Fridays before, on a work colleague’s leaving do, when someone told them it was his birthday (it wasn’t).

The next morning, after enjoying our inclusive-breakfast, we leave the hotel.
The plan was to spend the day looking at a few museums, then travel back home.
However, we spent a long time out, ended up quite tired, and neither of us fancied driving home.
We hadn’t had the foresight to book a second night at the original hotel, so I pulled out my iPhone and went to Laterooms’ website.

Sadly, O2’s signal at Ironbridge is practically non-existent.
We drove for a bit until I had a signal, then attempted to use Laterooms’ website.
It just doesn’t really work on the iPhone.
Not because of the iPhone’s lack of Flash support either. The website is just too big, and too awkward to navigate.
I managed to get it almost as far as booking, and then it wouldn’t let me enter my billing address for some reason, so wouldn’t complete the transaction.

I went to the App Store to see if Laterooms had an app. They don’t 🙁
However, I found a free app called iRooms, that works pretty much the same way.
Through this, I found a hotel near the first one. In fact it was right across the street.
We were on the 5th floor, and the lift was broken, but never mind.
It was £6 more at £45 for the night, and didn’t include breakfast or dinner.
It did have a pool, but the novelty had worn off a bit, and we were both quite tired.

Never mind breakfast though – where are we going to eat tonight?
There wasn’t much else locally that we fancied on Vouchercloud. I tried looking at Google Maps, but some of the restaurants sounded terrible, and others that sounded nice seemed to have closed down when we attempted to find reviews.
Back to the App store to look for some form of location-based nearby-restaurant search.
I found the free AroundMe app.
It’s essentially just the “points of interest” section that you would find on a sat nav, but it uses Google Maps to find places and direct you there.
And thus a nearby Indian restaurant was found.

The food was great. The service mixed, and one member of staff insanely rude.
I asked for pineapple juice and was told that young trendy people don’t drink pineapple juice, and thus they don’t sell it.
Any excuse.
Just Coke or orange juice again then is it?
The typical restaurant with the usual shit-poor selection of soft drinks, then.
And considering it was a Saturday night, I can only assume the young trendy people were all eating elsewhere, as there was only 6 of us in the entire restaurant.

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel room, and put the TV on.
I was surprised to find it wasn’t a digital TV, nor did it have Freeview. How do I know what’s on later?
The free iPhone app for the http://www.tvguide.co.uk/ website solved that problem for me.
It couldn’t however, help with the fact that it being a Saturday, there was nothing on.
Never mind eh?

We checked out of the hotel the next morning.
My girlfriend hates to leave anywhere without having breakfast. We’d exhausted the tea/coffee making facilities by this point as well.
As our hotel price didn’t include it, and breakfast was an additional £16 for the two of us (on a £45 room, seems a bit expensive, surely?), AroundMe found us a nearby Sainsbury’s with a cafe, where we had cereal, tea, and pastries for less than half that.
I even got the chance to read (and mock) the Sunday tabloids. Footballers sleeping with prostitutes, eh? What’s on page2 – bears shitting in woods?

And thus concludes a weekend of useful technology, blended in nicely with some historic museums.
I interspersed my sightseeing with Twitter updates, and photos on my iPhone. In fact, I’m moderately embarrassed to say I only got my proper camera out once, I think.
Is convergence of technology finally here?

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