When the brave new future of intelligent machines and smart materials finally dawns, one of the things I’d like to see early on is this: a Swiss Army knife that works out what tool you’re most likely to be reaching for, and re-arranges its own internals so it’s that way around by the time you pick it up.

I mention this because of a curious situation with a Leatherman tool in my possession. It’s a pretty thing, with useful pliers, a moderately large blade, and – crucially – a corkscrew. But somehow, every time I pick it up to use one of these things, I instead proceed to open up the scissors.

I’ve had it two years. You’d have thought I’d have learned its various orientations by now, but apparently not. Scissors. Every time. If I throw it in the air so it tumbles, catch it, and open the thing to hand – scissors. Statistically, this doesn’t seem possible. Perhaps smart materials are already with us, only they’re a bit stroppy.

1 thought on “Leatherman”

  1. As a proud owner of a Victorinox “Swiss Champion” for, oh, about 11 years now, I can sympathise with the growing pains. Rest assured, however, that very soon you’ll cross the boundary and become one with the tool. It helps if you put the corkscrew to good use, if you get my drift.
    I did want to clarfiy something, though. Are you really asking for Swiss Army knives to implement “Smart Menus?” AKA Microsoft’s “Totally Randomly Arranged Menu System” (ok, that’s tramS, but what the hey), AKA the single most confusing option ever to be presented to an unsuspecting basic computer user.
    “Where did my Save option go? It was on this menu before….. Oh look, it just appeared in the middle. OK.”
    [Time Passes]
    “NOW where the hell has it gone… Oh, it’s at the bottom now… wait, more stuff just appeared and now it’s in the middle again.”
    [More Time Passes]
    “OK, why the hell is Save at the top of the list and where have Open, Close and Exit buggered off to!?”
    The thought of having to search my penknife for the corkscrew because it things for some reason that I need a phillips screwdriver will get me into that nice Pinot Noir is just not something I relish.
    What I relish is the new SwissChapm XLT (though counting the keyring as a feature is a bit of a cheat. I mean, who the hell is going to attach their keys to a 1/2kilo keyring?) Or the SwissFlame, for camping you understand. Ah, who am I kidding, it’ll be a warm day in a Minnesota winter before I give up my current trusty knife…

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