My tech dorkness supplanted the basic computer illiteracy that keeps AOL and Dell in business.
I was opening up desktops, speeding up computers, giving away free software and shilling for Firefox like it was Peanut Butter Jelly Time.
If you were my friend, and naked women selling penis pills kept popping up on your computer, then you have probably called me for help.
If you knew my father, then he probably brought me over your house to fix something.
If you were my cousin, you probably asked for my help, and then ignored it.
Here is what I thought deserved money or at least time in 2005.
10. Dell DJ Ditty / Mobi-Blu
I just think the MP3 player on the left is cool looking. Too bad it's sold at Wal-Mart.
The Dell Ditty is what the Apple Shuffle should have been. Only Apple can make people think that a screenless MP3 player is a new feature. The Dell player has FM radio, better battery life, built-in USB drive and a screen! Amazing.
9. Yahoo! Widget Engine
A free program from Yahoo! that provides will small applications that can perform various functions.
Many of the widgets are stupid and useless, but there are a handful of them that give you information more conveniently than Windows does.
8. uTorrent and Mininova
Who needs suprnova?
uTorrent and Mininova are respectively the best program and website for downloading, um, free open-source software?
Yea... that's what I use it to download.
Please don't call the NSA.
After downloading and installing the program on your PC, you can stream music and video from your home computer to any computer (as long as both computers are connected to the high-speed Interwebs.) A great way or sharing shit on your computer with others, not to mention I got through many days of work by watching Six Feet Under episodes via Orb.
6. Motorola v3 - Razr
The features of the phone are shitty and the Motorola user interface is garbage, but I'll be damned if this phone isn't pretty.
Ending the trend of increasingly bricklike and ugly phones, the RAZR let people know it was OK to have a phone in your pocket and not look like you just took your extra-strength Viagra.
Motorola realized their faults and already have new models planned with improved features and a new user interface. As well as plently of other phones with dumb four letters abbreviations such as the PEBL, SLVR and the ROKR. Those are all real phones.
5. Apple Mac Mini
It still hasn't gotten an Intel chip in it yet, but regardless Apple's Mac Mini is one of the hottest little things from Apple in 2005.
By fitting a full computer in a package only a tad larger than the 24 Season 1 DVD, it makes your Dell desktop look like a Hummer.
4. AJAX Web software.
More and more companies are creating products that are fully accessible from the website. With Internet connections getting faster and more common, these technologies will only increase in quality and frequency. Of course Google's GMail was of the first programs to use this technology and soon Yahoo! and Hotmail will copy the strategy for their email programs.
That means no software to download, and no computer to slow down with loads of unused programs and that's all that really matters.
The best I've seen are
- Meebo (IM software replacement)
- Yahoo! Launchcast (Internet radio, with personalized stations)
- Rhapsody (Online music store, with 25 free song plays per month)
- Pandora (Another personalized online radio thingy that needs improvement but is still interesting)
- Google Reader (RSS reader, extra tech nerdy, but it's good if know what it is)
And there are plenty more.
3. Firefox 1.5
Web browsing wars are back like cooked crack, as Juelz Santana would say.
Since seemingly coming out of nowhere in 2004, Firefox has taken nearly 15% of the market away from the Internet Explorer monopoly that was pulling down 98% easy and forced Microsoft to sort of improve IE.
Besides allowing people to feel tech-savvy, it's safer, faster and easier to use. I've cleaned enough IE destroyed computers to know.
2. iPod Video
Creative Zen Vision:M
A good example of "If you build it, they will come."
People kept saying, no one wants portable video players (PVP) because there is no content and there is no content because don't want PVP's.
Well Apple laid down first, and now everyday a new company announces some new video download program. Portable Video will dominate 2006 as people figure out how to shrink video and carry it everywhere. We have Apple to thank.
Creative jumped on board with their Creative Zen Vision: M player, which improved video playtime and format support, added some FM and audio recording. We've yet to see what "legal" ways they have for getting video on this thing.
1. Google Earth
Google Earth is a free software program that provides a virtual globe with detailed images of most of the world. Continuing Google's trend of aggregating what is already available, (satellite imagery) wrapping it in a pretty package and making it free, Google Earth is as powerful of a tool as it is frightening. And the community around it is impressive.
As with any good product, controversies have arose, mainly about the security issues of Google Earth. Alarms of detailed imagery helping terrorists and warring nations have popped up from a different country each month. Google says the imagery is years old and was already available.
Google Earth, like file sharing and online privacy before it, calls attention to the fact that the Internet makes previously available information easier to collect and faster to find. Is that good or bad? Besides, anything that gets banned by a Korean government is probably a good thing.
New Tech Predictions for 2006.
5. High Definition Stuff
Things look better in HD and HD TV's will become cheaper and DVD's with HD will start being sold and will confuse the hell out of everyone.
Because there are two formats, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. I'm riding with Blu-Ray for now (imagine 100 GB on one disc.)
But while the companies behind these formats fight it out, people will be confused with incompatible discs and other nonsense.
HD will tread a lot of water this year and that's bad for everyone.
4. Microsoft Windows Vista
Always two years behind Apple, I think Microsoft will finally release Vista this year and sort of catch up to Mac OS X Tiger.
Although a lot of the features are eye candy and OS X copies, they will bring a level security and attractiveness to Windows machines that has been lacking.
Too bad you may need a new computer to run it.
3. Toshiba Gigabeat S Series.
This is number three because it will actually come out.
Portable video players will pick up in 2006.
I am not going to watch Lawrence of Arabia on a 2.4" screen but The Daily Show might do.
The iPod video is popular enough that video content will be easy to get, so now it's up to other companies to make players with better features.
Toshiba's entry (same size as the iPod Video) comes in the same sizes (30 and 60 GB) and is identically priced ($300 and $400) comes with a built-in FM Tuner (iPod's don't have this) works with Tivo (or this either) and has 6 hours of video battery life (iPods have 2.)
What more do you need?
Sony claims they are coming back this year, along with iRiver. It's getting interesting.
2. More discardable cellphone technologies.
In 2004, it was the cameraphone. They still suck
In 2005, it was the music phone. They still suck.
In 2006, it will be the videophone. They will suck.
Instead of jumping on a new trend each year, cell phone companies need to focus on creating phones that actually do what they need to. Phones don't need cameras unless they are 2 megapixels; super MP3 powers unless they are building in 4 GB microdrives, or shitty V-Cast ESPN clips until cellphone broadband works properly.
1. The $100 Laptop
Although this project is incredibly ambitiously and worthy of success and a few Noble prizes, I think it will encounter the sad realities of the third-world and the governments that serve as gateways to those countries.
$100 is still a lot and who says these will get to the people. What about Internet access?