Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wish List...

The following is a post written by contributing author, The Nerfherder Dad. Rob will return from vacation in another week.

Let’s get one thing straight right up front: I am not as political as the Nerfherder, nor do I aspire to be! I enjoy watching TV – even junk TV like The Apprentice or Deal or No Deal, and I consider myself an expert on sitcoms thru the ages. But having grown up in New York City, and being a part of the hippy generation (am still a child of the 60s), my wishes have always been driven by what’s hot in pop culture!

Given that, why should things change in the 21st century? This past week saw the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show come to Las Vegas, and if you care about new tech toys, this was THE place to be! This brings up my wish list... For many years, I keep this list of things I really would like, but can’t justify getting them for the life of me! I keep the list so if any of my 4 children ask me “Dad, what do you want for your birthday?” I can start rattling off things from the list … and then they’re sorry they even asked. Yup, I’m cruel. My wife loved the idea … so now I keep a list of things I know I should get her … but I’ll never be able to! Sigh!

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the list with you … as you should all be techies if you read the Nerfherder regularly! And I’ll try to sprinkle in things I want … but that I don’t think anybody sells! If you have ideas about stuff you want, let me know them too, and we’ll make a bigger wish list!

So here goes: At the top of my list is small SUV/Crossover-type car … which of course is a hybrid, and gets at least 50 MPH highway. Yeah, that’ll be in my parking space in my lifetime! But seriously, you know how you can grab both ends of a dining room table, pull it apart, and put in the ‘leaf’ to make the whole table bigger? Why can’t the carmakers do something like that: allow for an expansion area for those times you can’t squeeze everything into the car on that vacation trip?

Ok, that’s crazy you say … but while we’re driving, what about GPS’s? Damn things are so chatty … but they can be of great use (even though they sometimes get very confused.) Something’s missing though for me … why can’t I simply talk to it? Like just say “find nearest Chinese restaurant”. It talks to me! Why can’t I talk to it? And maybe more important, why can’t the damn thing be hooked into the traffic reports and work around them? Is this too hard? The traffic data IS data you know!

Little things: like many of you, I have a nice screen from my cable company that displays all of the programs by channel and hour. Why can’t the damn remote have a scroll wheel (like the wheel button on a mouse), or even an iPod kind of circle thing? Is this technology too tough for people to build? If I’m going to be a couch potato, someone needs to build necessary tools to increase the experience!

Phone stuff: I’m sure many of you have your own Wi-Fi setups at home … cool, yeah yeah yeah. And with VoIP, I can make a call over the Internet at a truly minimal cost that simply sounds great. So can’t somebody figure out how to make my cell phone kick in as a VoIP phone in the house using Wi-Fi, but use the outer world network for all ‘external’ calls? Am I asking for much???

More on phones: Voicemail is a wonderful thing … but what about visual voicemail? Right now, my provider (those V guys) provide fine service … but when I have to call in to get my messages, I have to listen to my oldest message first, then the next one, then … hey guys, sequential processing is 30 years old?? With displays on all current cell phones, not just the Smart phones, why couldn’t there be a simple list displayed of the caller, the time, and the duration of the call. Then let me scroll down and select the message(s) I want to listen to … duh!

Text messages: well, my thumb has never gotten the workouts it gets lately! But shouldn’t there be an easier way to convert a text message to an email, and visa versa? C’mon!

Little things I love: have you tried Google Maps? I love it that I can double click on the map and zoom in, and that I can click on my mouse and drag it to a new location on the map, while the updated map is filled in underneath. LOVE IT!

But speaking of dragging: we really need more touch screen stuff all around technology. Last month, I went to a technology conference where I got my hands on an iPhone … and contrary to the Nerfherder who abhors Apple technology, that touch screen was simply wonderful! I love turning it … and using my fingers to browse thru my list of contacts. If only they could work on eliminating the fake keyboard and concentrate on voice input instead? Hmm, don’t iPhones already have microphones???

Stuff that sounds great: Something called a Slingbox, and a Slingcatcher. The box streams media files from your TV to your laptop anywhere you are on the Internet, while the catcher simply streams your TV to another TV! Can they make ‘em so they stream my own content to my PDA, Smartphone, or dumb phone too?

Can’t believe I liked it: I brought my iPod to that conference last month, and they had an iPod speaker system (Bose I think) where I just inserted my pod, and it played (and charged) right thru the speaker … quite delicious. I didn’t have to fiddle with stereo equipment, fumble for the pod cable, nor bring a laptop or charger. And the sound was, delicious. I’m seriously considering going that route in my living room!

Finally, something old fashioned: I really would love a new chair for my home office with 2 arms, a back and wheels so I can kick away from my desk every now and then like I did when I was a kid.

Ok … that’s about it for now. Again, if there are toys you use and you can think of features that would make ‘em better, let me know ( Maybe somebody out there is actually listening!!

Thanks NerfBoy, for the opportunity to talk to your people … now, for us old folk, its back to my dinosaur cave!


At 6:10 PM, Anonymous The Nerfhereder's dad's friend said...

The GPS real time traffic system is in my BMW 535. "Attention, traffic problem", and the thing reroutes us. VERY COOL!!


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