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Geeks in the land of “Are We There Yet?”

October 27, 2004

Slate’s Paul Boutin talks about the new Photo iPod and XM’s new “MyFi” portable satellite radio recorder.

Why is it that new technologies always fall just short of the mark?  The new Treo 650 doesn’t have WiFi (the old one had a puny display and no bluetooth).  The Photo iPod has a tiny screen, and no video capabilities.  Meanwhile, nifty devices like the iRiver players have decent sized tiny screens, but no AAC, no iTunes Music Store, no iSync, etc.  XM freaked when people started playing “pvr” games with the XM PCR and pulled it off the market, to be replaced by a device that’s portable and timeshifts, but only within proscribed limits.

The technology is constantly just shy of our expectations, and what things could be.  When the the idle hands of the nerd’s workshops get together to try to make lemonade with the lemons we’re offered, they run afoul of manufacturer’s pullouts and lockups, or DMCA and lawyers.

And so it goes—such is the paradise of the techno-wonks, toiling in the vineyards of “if it just did this…”

Podcasting is yet another hopeful sign, or it will be as soon as the content arrives, and until the lawyers turn up in its wake, but as Boutin points out, it’s still not real time—he quotes Adam Curry as saying to him “If Osama Bin Laden gets caught, you won’t learn about it from your iPod.”

Right. So there’s a bright spot after all, then…



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