Country vicar 0 - evil technology 1

My father, the retired country vicar, is used to the vagaries of technology. At midnight on Christmas Eve, for example, a 400v electrical surge took out just about every electrical gadget in the family home, with much buzzing, banging and smoke – leaving us to cope with candles and claret.

My father, the retired country vicar, is used to the vagaries of technology. At midnight on Christmas Eve, for example, a 400v electrical surge took out just about every electrical gadget in the family home, with much buzzing, banging and smoke – leaving us to cope with candles and claret. (We managed.)

The electricity company turned up on Boxing Day and dragged 20-odd deceased chargers, power supplies, radios, TVs and computing gizmos away for resurrection or replacement. Among those that did not return from the valley of electro-death were my parents small collection of portable radio/CD players: new ones were provided.

But – misery! First of all, the dual-tape ghettoblaster was replaced by a single tape unit, nothing else being available. As my father is used to copying tapes of music he's made – he was a choral scholar at St John's, Cambridge, and still sings and composes – this was annoying, but not critical. After all, it's easy to lash up a tape-to-tape system.

Today was worse. He now composes, edits and records his hymns and carols directly on the computer, and burns them straight to CD-R. He makes copies of these for various commercial and non-commercial purposes – and he was due to play one at a talk he was giving. For the first time since the Christmas Explosion he popped a disc into one of the CD players prior to going out, just to check everything was all right.

Not a crotchet. He tried lots of disks on all of the replacement CD players. Nothing worked. He contacted the replacement people.

"Oh, that's right." they said. "There's been too much copying, so new CD players won't play recordable CDs"

I can't find any proof for this online, and I can't find lots of people complaining, so whether this is true, a brush-off or an unfortunate coincidence remains to be seen. I've told my father to send the CD players back with a clutch of his CD-Rs, and not to let them off the hook until they've come up with the goods (and they'll get to hear a lot of my father's singing. Heh.).

Meanwhile, I made the mistake of suggesting that he take his laptop to the talk. It could play the audio, but "very quietly – I can hardly hear it", said my father. If you've ever tried to talk anyone over the phone through the miserable morass that is the user interface to Windows audio, you'll know how badly I failed to solve that problem. In the end, he just sang the stuff.

But for an industry that keeps taking decisions 'to protect content creators', it really has a strange way of showing its love.