Category: Hardware

Your Pocket Vibrator and You

Cheating! That’s what I like, and it’s what I’m going to do right now. Three months back when I was still writing about Second Life, I tangented on the subject of text-messaging:

Hell, when I first heard about text-messaging, I scoffed. Scoffed, I tell you! I even remember whennish and whereabouts I was: walking down the Embarcadero in 2000 with my supervisor at CNET, a fellow who was much more on top of cutting-edge technology than myself. He was telling me about something called text-messaging, which was either just introduced in American or was about to be, but was all the rage overseas. I was five stubborn years away from even considering a cell phone, and text-messaging sounded like the most impractical thing ever. Words on a cell phone screen? And typing them via the number pad? Puh-leeze. As if.

The obvious punchline is that I’m now a text-messaging addict. A junkie. A filthy carpal-thumbed 160-character whore, I am. I got my first cell phone in October 2005 for use during a well-intended if poorly-attended book tour. (If you ever want to read to six rows of empty folding chairs near the Canadian border, drive to Bellingham, Washington. Builds character.) Empirically speaking I would still be alive right now, but emotionally I suspect the trip would have killed me if not for text-messaging. Waking up to messages from my girlfriend Vash made waking up seem worth the effort at all, and furiously thumbtyping back and forth with a friend during a particularly rough patch somewhere between Portland and Seattle was an excellent outlet.

Damn, quoting myself like that was all meta ‘n shit, wasn’t it? And certainly not narcissistic. It’s all true, though, and the ensuing quarter of a year has done nothing to diminish my love of the textiness.

my window.A lot of people call it impersonal. I think it’s like any other form of communication: it’s as personal as you care to make it. Some of the coldest, most meaningless conversations I’ve ever had have been face to face, and I’ve been known to get teary standing on a streetcorner clutching my vaguely communicator-esque phone, SMSing away. (Last Saturday night around half past ten at Church and Market in San Francisco, dressed in black, long blonde pigtails, smeary eyeliner? That was me.) Language is too powerful to be entirely stymied just because it’s on a screen 1.25″ wide and 1.5″ tall. If they have a personal context, the word no can be devastating or yes uplifting or vice versa no matter how they’re conveyed.

AppleTV: Bigger Disappointment Than Deal?

AppleTVApple is shipping its long-awaited AppleTV today, and from everything that I’ve read, instead of being the final step in getting computer video to the TV, it’s actually a huge disappointment in that regard.

Rather than taking this opportunity to seize what is still a wide-open market, Apple has instead opted to go after a narrow market share: the people who have downloaded videos, etc over iTunes. That’s it.


That’s What I Like: Remastered Analog Music

PeteFloydMarilynDylanAs a teenager, I was seldom without my Walkman. Among my more prominent memories of 1986 is of sitting on the bus on the way home from summer school (frackin’ Algebra), listening to the MCA cassette of The Who’s Odds and Sods, trying to decipher the lyrics to “Put the Money Down.” It was one of my favorite Who songs; I loved the synth line, the peculiar rhythm, the sense of longing that was conveyed by the emotions of the vocal. The words themselves surely meant something deep and profound, the way that most of Pete Townshend’s music felt to me at the troubled age of thirteen, but I couldn’t figure out what Daltrey was singing most of the time, no matter how loud I played it. And I played it loud, right into my fragile aural canal. Is someone’s phone ringing, or is that just me?

It wasn’t just Daltrey’s phrasing and/or Townshend’s frequently obtuse imagery keeping me from unlocking the mysteries of this particular universe. Hell, it could have been a spoken word piece done in a perfect Northwest Fresno dialect and I probably still wouldn’t have understood, so muddy was the sound of the store-bought tape. Based on what little has been written about the song—as usual, nobody else likes it as much as I do—”Put the Money Down” is another in a very long line of Townshend songs about the travails of being a rock’n’roll star. A life which bore no resemblence to mine, to be sure, yet I connected with it in that way that most depressive teenagers do. (Oh, the spin that Pink Floyd’s even more alien The Wall would put me into shortly thereafter!) That I didn’t pick up on the recurring theme is why I could never be a rock critic. For that matter, I’m still surprised whenever I discover that a Neil Young song uses a C-D-G chord progression, even though they all do. It’s all one song.

An iPhony Controversy

Please don't sue me for posting this picture! In what seems like just seconds after the announcement of Apple’s iPhone and its pretty icon-filled UI, clones of that UI have already appeared as skins for devices which — unlike the iPhone — have the advantage of actually currently existing.

Skins appeared for Windows Mobile devices and the Palm Treo, and one of the skins is called the “iPhony,” about which, ha! Apple, of course, has no stomach for jokes — even good ones like “iPhony,” hee! — and has wasted no time sending out cease-and-desist letters..

Am I the only person who enjoys the irony of Apple instigating legal action over people instacloning the look of a product when it currently doesn’t even own the name of that particular product?? After all, Cisco could come out with their iPhone tomorrow, you never know!


Why The HD-DVD / Blu-Ray Wars Are Not Over

documentary_dvd_mission_accomplished.jpg After no doubt unfurling a huge banner in its offices that said “Mission Accomplished,” the Blu-ray Disc Association has declared that major combat operations in the Hi Def DVD Wars are over, and Blu-ray is the victor.

Oh yeah? Sorry, Blu-ray Disc Association, but I think that you are obviously suffering from an extreme case of “premature evictoration:” the declaration of a victory long before your opponent has actually been vanquished. As if just saying you won makes it so.

Sure, some of your backers might buy your load of B.S. — because you’re saying what they desperately need to hear — but it’s entirely possible that three-four years from now, you’ll still be bogged down in the trenches, begging for a surge in advertising dollars that will hopefully spur sales.