Sunday, December 5, 2010

Solar Powered Parking Meters

Goodbye to the old Minneapolis parking meters, hello to our robot-overlord future. New "smart" meters showed up downtown last week, and they're so advanced you would not be surprised if they uprooted themselves from the sidewalk, joined forces, marched down the street and demanded a pension plan.

They take plastic; they're hooked up to Wi-Fi; they can warn you of upcoming no-parking times, and possibly dispense a nice hot beverage and a fortune. ("A red-striped envelope may appear on your windshield.")

Some of you are thinking: Do they take actual coins? You know, money? Yes. But why would you do that? If your credit card gives you airline miles, load up the meter with 15,000 hours and get enough miles for a free Vegas flight. Score! But yes, they take quarters, and dollar coins as well, even though no one uses dollar coins, because no one trusts them. We've all put in a quarter, got nothing, throttled the meter or punched it with the heel of your hand -- then you put in another quarter hoping it will work this time. This is the entire premise of Vegas.

Since the new units are hooked into the city's Wi-Fi network, they'll probably be hacked some day, and you will get spam e-mail. Dear Sir. I am a parking meter at Portland and 7th in Nairobi, and have come into several millions of dollars. I am of need your assistance to dispose of the moneys. Also: They're solar-powered, so parking will be free during eclipses. But they'll only get better! No doubt they'll be accessible via the Internet some day. You'll get a text when it's about to expire.


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