This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

The End of the Hotel Room Key

Posted by: James Lileks under Outstate, Technology Updated: January 30, 2014 - 12:25 PM

A few things floating around on a wintry Thursday.

TECH Have a mental image of the people who come up with tech that lets you call the police under an assumed name and fake number, and send cops to someone’s house as a joke, or harassment? Compare with the real thing.

Elsewhere in technology: Your room key in your phone? Oh, sure, why not.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has begun a pilot program in two of its major hotel locations in Manhattan and Silicon Valley, which does away with keycards altogether by allowing guests to enter their rooms using just their smartphones.
 

Eventually the room keycard will disappear, another piece of venerable urban detritus replaced by its virtual analogue. The old “drop in any mailbox” keys are rare these days, replaced by the thin plastic cards the front desk can deactivate if you were a jerk on check-in and need a little comeuppance. (I believe that happened to me once, and I wasn’t even being a jerk, unless “polite-but-firm” is somehow beyond the pale. The more you read blogs written by anonymous hotel employees, the more you suspect they hate everyone on general principle.)

While it’s certainly more convenient, it’s a pity: those keycards are nice mementos of trips past, and can be interesting examples of branding design. A screenshot of the hotel’s door-opening app isn’t quite the same.

Note: in 30 years, there will be hundreds of keycards in antique stores, as the hoarders - er, collectors die off and the survivors sell the shoebox full of useless stuff to someone who’ll take it off their hands.

HISTORY NPR reports on the explorations of the oldest Roman temple ever found, and note how early the Romans were terraforming their domain.

It’s discoveries like these, Ammerman says, that debunk the idealized image of ancient Rome — the immutable and eternal city — as a place that never changed.

I suppose it does, but I don’t know anyone who thought it never changed. Obviously it’s changed. A lot. Anyway, that’s the quote from NPR. Let’s see what Gizmodo did with the story:

This discovery is an important one. It debunks the myth that ancient Rome never changed—when in reality, it was a dynamic, transformative city very, very early on.

Apparently the myth was so strong, so prevalent, that the Giz writer felt compelled to mention this as well. Or, as Tom Lehrer put it: Paraphrase! Disguise the source text with a wordy haze!

CARTOONS The head of Filmation has died. He gave us this, which had Ted Baxter shouting authoritatively:

And, of course, this. The most famous upside-down theme of my childhood; this is the theme in a parallel universe.

I remember waiting for that show with such great expectations, and being somewhat dismayed that the animation consisted of people leaning into the frame at strange angles.

By the way, that’s from a fan-made remake of the animated series. The appetite of some for these things I do not understand, but I’m the guy who posts old pictures of boring restaurant interiors, so never mind. (via Cartoon Brew.)

Off to the Boat Show; see you around. 

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