Kick it!-June 6, 2021

It’s my first-born daughter’s birthday and this has nothing to do with her.

I was watching something the other day and a character wanted something out of a food dispenser. A young boy came along and asked what he wanted, and then proceeded to put his hand and arm up through the dispenser hole to pull out a few of the desired items.

It brought back childhood memories of trying to use these machines, often inside train stations, where they were popular in England, and being stymied when they did not give the products for which we’d paid. The tradition in England was to give the machine a good shake, to dislodge something, and if that failed, to give the machine a good thump with the fist or a kick. It worked, most times.

I’ve not used a vending machine for well over 30 years.

Things have changed. They used to just give sweets and snacks. Now, you can get electronics. In some countries, you can go to places where only vending machines are available and you can dine off their contents.

I think the connection in my my with my daughter is that, once upon a life, kids used to be why such machines were used, to give a quick satisfaction and also because little kids were thrilled by seeing how things worked. But, I never used them with my child.

Some people found many ways to bilk machines, eg with fake coins or foreign coins of lower value. I’ve known these tricks, eg the old Deutschemark was the same size and weight as an old British 5p coin, which was about 1/10 of the value. British tourists used to load up and get more bang for their pound with this little piece of fraud 🙂

#COVID19Chronicles-265: December 29, 2020-Some thoughts on streaming trends

This year has seen many well-established trends get flipped into the air. One of these is how people enjoy visual entertainment. With more people forced to stay at home and not congregate, watching at home has become a much bigger feature of life. The already popular trend of streaming video content was boosted.

In recent days, Warner Brothers showed their new policy of a new blockbuster film opening in cinemas but also being streamed, immediately, with the release of ‘WW84’ (that’s Wonder Woman 1984, to you), for 31 days:

It hit records, for the pandemic, though far below previous levels.

It grossed an ‘estimated $16.7 million in revenues over Christmas weekend, the best three-day debut at the distressed domestic box office since the novel coronavirus began’. This was the lowest number in decades for a Christmas winner. The film opened in 2,150 cinemas in the U.S. and Canada on Dec. 25. The sequel has now earned $85 million at the box office, including a foreign tally of $68.3 million. As in the U.S., there are a number of theatre reclosures across Europe and other regions. (One territory that has rebounded is China, although WW84 hasn’t found its footing in the Middle Kingdom, where it finished Sunday with a 10-day total of $23.9 million.)

But, we’ve been headed this way during the pandemic, as people have watched more, especially during lockdowns:

What’s interesting is that people have started more viewing and completed it. They have also gone more for news than plain entertainment; not surprising, when one thinks of the nature of the global pandemic and its course.

Streaming subscriptions have surged, and people are using every means to enjoy visual (and audio) content, especially on devices:

Free trials from streaming services flowed like water during the pandemic, and many services offered bumper offers, up to 30 days, instead of 7-days:

But, we are now seeing that people are getting burned as free trials come to an end and the sticker shock of monthly subscriptions hits much to the surprise of many. This was not just a feature of streaming services, but also online retail:

It seems fitting that around Christmas there’s a twist to the financial headaches that people face after the holiday, as they now have to scour their accounts for unexpected charges for the fun they have have had. It’s been that kind of year.