Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Amazing Technologies Everyone Loves

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to anyone reading this, but I’m enthusiastic about technology. I like to try new stuff really early–hey, it’s my profession, so it’s a tax writeoff–and I’m patient with products that are less than perfect. (My GPS system occasionally leads me on a wild goose chase miles from my destination; I adore it nonetheless.)

But none of this means I’m a devotee of every technological breakthrough that comes along. Actually, there are some which seem to have plenty of fans that leave me cold–even though I sometimes admire them on an intellectual level, or at least concede that they might be fine for other folks.

After the jump, six of them–and as far as I can recall, this is the first time I’ve announced in public that I’m not a fan. You read it here first.

Bluetooth. Or, more specifically, Bluetooth headsets. I know I should use one, if for no other reason that my home state has outlawed using cell phones while driving if you’re not using a hands-free system of some sort. But I’m always fearful that the headset will fail to connect with my phone; I forget that it needs to be charged; I can’t remember which button does what. After futzing with multiple Bluetooth models (including ones from Aliph and Plantronics which are clearly impressive) I’m going back to a wired headset…even though wired headsets are so obsolete that it’s getting hard to find ones that aren’t kind of junky.

I enthusiastically offer a full-text feed of all Technologizer content. And I use Google Reader a bit, especially when putting together Technologizer’s 5Words. But I do most of my reading of Web content the old fashioned way, by visiting sites. For a long time I was embarrassed to admit that, since most of the sophisticated consumers of information I know are dedicated feedhounds. But I’m no longer ashamed to tell folks that I just like visiting Web sites, hanging out, and soaking up atmosphere that you just don’t get if you read the same comment as a feed. I agree with what Jeffrey Zeldman once said, as paraphrased by WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg: Offering a feed is like storing your groceries on the sidewalk so people can eat your food without sitting at a table with you.

Mice. Okay, so mice barely count as a technology anymore–I first laid hands on one twenty-two years ago. And I can’t really claim to dislike them–if I sit down at a computer that has one, I’ll use it. But I’m a lefty, so the majority of mice on the market–all those ones elegantly sculpted to fit the right hand–are by definition poorly suited for use by me. Which probably helps explain why I never, ever plug an external pointing device into a laptop: Touchpads are wonderdully ambidextrous. And hey, they don’t take up any additional space in my briefcase, either.

When I’m using a desktop computer rather than a laptop–an increasingly rare scenario lately–I tend to use a Logitech trackball. It too works equally well whether you’re a southpaw or a righthander, and eats up less space on my messy desk than a mouse.

Blu-Ray. Or anything else than involves high-resolution video. I’d rather watch stuff I like to watch than stuff that looks great, and only a tiny sliver of the planet’s entertainment is available in high-def yet. Lemme know when this, this, and this are in HD, and I’ll get excited. (For similar reasons, I was a relative latecomer to DVD–at least for someone who claims to be a gadget nerd–and still have plenty of VHS tapes hanging around to this day.)

To complicate matters, I fret about investing money in a Blu-Ray player and Blu-Ray discs when it’s so obvious that the format will eventually be replaced by digital downloads that involve no shiny discs at all. In this case, postponing going fully HD actually feels like the more forward-looking move–it may leave me in better shape to build a library of HD downloads than if I’d poured money into Blu-Ray.

Shuffle. As in the audio player feature of that name. Yes, I know I just gave a positive review to an MP3 player built around the idea that playback of music in random order is cool. But–and this is probably my age and vinyl roots showing–I still think of songs in terms of albums. If I get in a Beatles mood, I want to listen to Revolver. With the songs in the order that the Beatles intended them to be. Not always, But usually.

Direct-to-printer photo printing. This one probably isn’t too controversial–I’m guessing that the majority of people reading this story still upload photos to their PC before they print them, even if their printer can output snapshots without a computer being involved. For me, the whole point of digital photography is to do all the things a PC makes possible–improve photos, organize them, archive them, and upload them to the Web. Why would I want to avoid having the opportunity to do all that? And yet printer manufacturers lavish attention and expense on features for PC-less printing, like color LCD screens, memory slots, USB inputs, and embedded software. None of which I have any desire to use.

Modern CPUs. Ever since that nasty Pentium bug, I’ve sworn off any chip more recent than a trusty, time-tested 486. Kidding!

Note that I’m not saying that I’ll spurn any of the above technologies forever. They could get better, or I might just come to understand that they’re valuable in ways I don’t yet appreciate. Feel free to respond in comments and make the case for any of them–or, for that matter, to tell me about the amazing breakthrough technologies that you live happily without.

Latest Antivirus

Free Antivirus Downloads
PC World's Top 10 Antivirus Tools. Protect Your PC - Download Now!