This week, as children across the land burden the laps of portly, temporary mall help to cast last minute wishes for footballs, tinker toys and Red Rider BB guns, I'll be sitting at my desk, fingers-crossed with a few holiday fancies of my own. I'd like to think I've been a well behaved boy this year, so in addition to old standbys like world peace, good will toward men and a substantial lottery win, I'm asking for these five tech-related gifts—as infuriatingly unlikely as they may be.
In case you didn't hear, the first-ever 3-D broadcast of an NFL game recently went down. Don't worry if you missed it, because your old buddy The Grouse was present to bring you this report from the front lines. Or, the line of scrimmage, as it were.
The NFL hopes to someday bring 3-D football to the pigskin loving public at large. This preview was a demo of what we might someday see play out in movie theaters across the country. That's right—the game was shown in the same type of movie theaters you'd watch one of those Disney 3-D movies in, which should be your first clue that this was definitely a different way of watching football.
If the late-'90s dot-com boom was the original Golden Age for awful TV tech ads, then today we are surely living in the Renaissance. Yes, back then we had the Pets.com sock puppet and lots and lots of chimps, but take a spin around the dial and I think you'll agree that there are now more technology-related ads on television than ever—most of them quite terrible. Here are the ten that bug me the most, and I invite you to please cut loose in the comments on any offenders I neglect to mention.
As part of my ongoing, personal economic bailout plan, this week I began tinkering around with a couple of the free, online office suites that are available. After all, why shell out a few hundred clams for Microsoft Office when others are giving it away for free? Unfortunately, after a week of getting to know Google Docs and Zoho Writer, here I am typing this week's column from the comfort and safety of a bought-and-paid-for copy of Microsoft Word. Why? Because I came to realize something about myself over the course of this week: At 30 years old, I'm already an old fart.
More on that later.
About seven years ago, I tried to free myself from the oppression and misery of running Windows ME by installing Linux on my PC. Ever installed the Linux operating system? It’s not for the faint of heart. So, when it was recently reported that Linux-based netbooks are being returned at a rate four-times higher than their Windows-based brethren, I can’t say I was surprised.
I bet the ’80s was a good decade for Energizer, Duracell and their ilk. I mean, it was a good decade for sharkskin, too, but the ’80s had to be the absolute peak for these battery makers. Suddenly, it seemed like everything required portable juice: that new-fangled wireless TV remote, the Walkman, my futuristic calculator watch and, of course, all of those awesomely high-tech electronic toys like Simon (which actually had its launch party at Studio 54!).
With the new fall TV season currently kicking into warp speed, there's no time like the present to finally take the networks up on all those offers to "Check Out Full Episodes Online!" In fact, I'm willing to bet that there's enough network and cable TV available online for free (or just about) that with a little hard work, I could completely replace the traditional $50+ per month TV viewing paradigm with a 100-percent Internet (for which I pay next to nothing) experience.
Backing up my computer’s hard drive has always been like flossing: I know I should be doing it even though it’s one of life’s more prickly pains in the butt. Both chores are the kinds of thing you can never fully appreciate until something goes horribly wrong, like a hard drive fries or some teeth start jiggling loose.
I like to think I'm protective of my sensitive personal info. I rip bills and credit card offers into confetti before throwing them out, I never give out my Social Security number, and I can spot a phishing scheme with the best of them. But I've recently come to realize that the safeguarding of my most intimate personal details is completely out of my hands.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but they neglected to mention that it’s also a crushing chokehold on the windpipe of creativity. Nowhere is this fact of life more apparent than in this fall’s lineup of upcoming and recently released video games. Look a little closer and you’ll realize—with a few exceptions—that it’s not just this season’s selection of pixelly diversions that suffer from a general lack of originality; it’s a long-running ailment endemic to the entire video game industry.