Pronto Neo prompts thoughts

Today I spent four hours programming the remote. Four freakin’ hours. It’s a Philips Pronto Neo. One of those fancy ones with an LCD as well as regular buttons, where you can basically design whatever set of buttons you need or want to operate any concievable piece of equipment. It was expensive, and a pain to set up, but—and here’s the point—it has replaced nine other remotes. Hopefully it has replaced them completely, as I believe it handles all the functionality of the nine.

St Petersburg, day 2

We walk to the waterfront again in the morning. In the daylight we can see how shabby all the buildings are. It was once forbidden to take photographs of the bridges; they were considered military targets. Nobody seems to care now. We go in to a featureless shabby building. It turns out to be the bank; there’s a guard behind a screen in the outer lobby. Everything looks typically Soviet—faded painted official notices, dim lighting, institutional color paintwork, bored clerks.