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What geeky gadget should I buy and when?



No tech geek, or geeky tech reporter, can resist a ‘year-end’, ‘best-of’, ‘most (blank) of 2005’ list.

Some might call it holiday filler, but personally I enjoy the long look back and endless tech lists the reporters put together. Technology moves so fast these days that it’s really the only way to see how far we’ve come, and take stock of our successes and failures before we get hit with the next wave of tech news.

In the most recent online Wired Magazine ( www.wired.com ), there are no less than seven retrospectives – ‘Best and Worst Punditry of 2005’, ‘Most Predictable Stories of 2005’, ‘2005’s 10 Sexiest Geeks’, ‘Worst Tech Moments 2005’, ‘Best Tech Moments of 2005’, ‘The 50 Best Robots Ever’, and ‘2005 Foot-in-Mouth Awards’. PC World ( www.pcworld.com ) kept things light with just three year-enders – ’50 Greatest Gadgets form the Last 50 Years’, ‘Readers Choice: Best Vendors’, and ‘The Biggest Winners and Losers of 2005’. Mac World ( www.macworld.com ) kept things even simpler with ‘The Best Mac Hardware and Software of the Year’.

After going through the lists, and separating the wheat from the chaff, I’ve come up with a list of my own. Please forgive me.

Most Confusing Marketing Strategy

I used to want an iPod, then Apple (www.apple.com) came out with the iPod Mini. Then a colour iPod, then an iPod Shuffle, then the flash memory iPod Nano, and now a video iPod so people can squeeze a few more hours of television into their busy day. Next year it’s already been rumoured we can expect an iPod cell phone, a wireless iPod, a new line of larger capacity iPod Nano’s (current maximum is 4GB, future maximum is 16GB), and a video iPod with a larger screen. So the question is what the hell should I buy and when? And how long can I expect to go by before I wish I’d held off a few months and bought something else? Unfortunately Apple is really guarded about its future releases, and sues people who lead or disseminate that kind of helpful information.

Tech CEO Who Most Needs A Kick In The Crotch

That would have to be Andrew Lack, the CEO of Sony-BMG. Earlier this year Sony BMG was caught bundling music CDs with Digital Rights Management (DRM) spyware that snoops on listener habits and is supposed to prevent people from making copies or converting the files to non-Sony formats – a feature easily foiled with an ordinary piece of tape. It turns out the spyware rootkit was undetectable and therefore could not be removed by conventional means, while also giving hackers the ability to hijack your computer. Sony released a patch, which did pretty much the same damage as their rootkit, then released yet another patch to fix the situation. In the whole process, Sony created a perfect template for virus writers everywhere.

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