Not looking forward to a greyscale 2022? Then look back to the past in 64 colours

Any colour you like as long as it's black. Or white


Something for the Weekend, Sir? Isn't 2022 great? What do you mean, "no"? Jeez, you lot are hard to please. If you're reading this, it means you're still alive. What did you want instead?

Hey, you may even still have a job. Given the way things have been going over last 20 months or so, that puts the two of us on top. You may have been hauled back into the office at some point – those printers won't unplug and plug themselves back in on their own, you know – which means you may have even enjoyed the opportunity to sample a few ideas from the Simple Sabotage Field Manual that I expounded exactly one year ago.

If you number yourself among one of the potential Great Resigners and haven't yet consulted this official Cold War gem of (literally) destructive office politics, now's your chance. I'll remind you again this time next year because you'll still be in the same job, I bet.

The first week of January is said to be the worst time to have a birthday because your all family and mates are bored with presents and parties, instead seeking their thrills elsewhere by avoiding booze (Dry January), not eating meat (Veganuary), applying Babybio to one's armpits (Januhairy), joining the incel movement (Virginuary), studying private parts (you get the idea) etc.

On the other hand, it's when the January sales start to get going. It's the perfect time to save money at the off-licence, at your butcher's, on depilatory creams, and more. Believe it or not, here on the European continent, chambers of commerce agree among themselves when to begin. Newspapers even let readers know the specific date when the January sales in all shops are due to start.

Some shops try to sneak in earlier. Weeks ago, one of my work colleagues in Belgium noticed that his local supermarket was giving away a child for every child you purchase. Yes, shocking isn't it? Before Christmas!

CES reckons the beginning of January is also the best moment for tech companies to make product announcements – IRL, in Las Vegas.

I am not there. I didn't bother to apply to CES 2022 for a press pass, given that I was turned down for last year's event – and that one was held entirely remotely via Zoom.

The CES product launches trickling through the tech pages of newspapers confirm I did the right thing. Nothing sums up the bleakness of 2022 more succinctly than BMW's concept vehicle with e-ink body wrap, unveiled on Wednesday. It might be an entertaining idea but what makes it so very 2022 is that commentators are calling it the "colour changing" car.

Those colours are black and, uh, [checks press release] white.

Yes, it's one up on Henry Ford but one less than a set of traffic lights. And what does it say about the coming 12 months? It promises that black and white will be as colourful as we can expect from 2022.

Given that the future doesn't look bright, and the present is unquestionably shite, the past is the only safe place to hide. I think I'll keep with the retro theme for another year.

To get me in the mood, I shall dedicate the rest of January to wearing high-waisted jeans, getting a mullet and eating Angel Delight. Best of all, I will spend hours trying to read the sports news on 20-year-old Nathan Dane's recreation of Ceefax, the BBC's ancient teletext service.

While the Corporation itself killed it off only a decade ago, most people had forgotten it ever existed long before that. Nor is Dane-o the first to haul back the good old 40-column screen-text format for laughs: it has been a pet project for just about every budding home programmer since the late 1970s. Reports of the more widely net-accessible of these used to turn up regularly in the much, much missed NTK email newsletter across the turn of the century, such as this one.

Yes, ersatz Ceefax may be only in eight colours but that's still a mighty SIX more than the whole of 2022 is offering.

No less heart-warming is the growing interest in retro gaming. Various studies and financial reports have been bandied around to suggest that the video games sector alone has now overtaken the whole home computing hardware industry in terms of revenue. So how does your average gamer like to relax after a hard day at the Borderlands? They play Pong.

OK, maybe not that retro, but still. I reckon the revival of old games is an odd side effect of the current boom in video games rather than a specific rebellion against it. Gamers are not laughing at them, they're having a bit of easy fun with them. They not saying "Wow this is shit!", they're saying "Wow, I don't need to kill anything in this game!" and "Look at all the colours! There must be oooh, at least 64!"

So here's something I should have included in last week's predictions for the New Year: just like vinyl before it, cartridge games will begin to stage a hipster revival. Expensive, yes. Unnecessary, absolutely. But sooooo tactile.

If you can't wait for this to happen, get yourself down to this auction of games consoles and retro computers on Saturday. Among the old PlayStations, Nintendos and Xboxes, lots include an original ZX-81 alongside its US version, the Times Sinclair 1000. Oh, and I think I spotted an original Atari 2600 and every console Sega ever produced.

Of course, if you own this kind of stuff yourself, keep an eye on these auctions: I suspect you will start seeing more of them in 2022 and you might get some personal satisfaction from watching prices going up rather than down. Bet you're happy you hung on to them, right?

Ten years from now, you'll be happy you hung on to your Blackberry. And please remember I told you to do it, as you drive past in your swanky colour-changing car as I resort to begging for loose change in Bitcoin on the street corner.

To see us out on a retro theme, here's one from 1977. Note how the band look entirely modern and the audience doesn't. Loving retro-retro for 2022.

Youtube Video

Alistair Dabbs
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. He says you can win extra brownie points for determining which members of the band are miming each other’s instruments in this clip. Answers in the comments, please. More at Autosave is for Wimps and @alidabbs.

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