Skymall

A close reading of Skymall. - By Ron Rosenbaum - Slate Magazine:

The ad for the SnacDaddy® chicken-wing array tray—headlined 'Where the wings have no shame'—appears in the Late Spring '07 issue of Skymall, which I found in the seat pocket on a Delta flight. This was just pages from an ad for 'the world's largest write-on map mural,' probably useful for keeping an eye on the fast-moving global catastrophe that will make your many handcrank devices the envy of your crank-deprived neighbors. And a few pages on, we find the 'crank-powered walkie talkie.' (The crank, handbred in Vermont, is sold separately.)

The issue also features the 'upside-down tomato garden,' the 'remote controlled robotic hammerhead shark,' the 'pop-up hot dog cooker,' the 'million-germ-eliminating travel toothbrush sanitizer,' the 'window-mounted cat porch,' the 'world's smallest indoor remote control helicopter,' the 'Turbo-Groomer® COBALT' nose-hair trimmer, the 'Sudoku glass tabletop set,' the 'Solar-powered mole repeller,' (what, no handcrank in case of nuclear winter?), the 'versatile mock rock in five sizes.' (For those unaware of the purpose of a 'mock rock'—since real ones are not in short supply—they are designed to 'hide problem areas in your yard or garden.')

Back when I was traveling every other week it was normal for me to flip through these magazines. I wanted gadgets - lots of them! The ultimate gadget for me was my Sony Clie - camera, web browser, PDA, music player, photo viewer, etc., all with a pretty big screen for a small handheld device. Eventually the camera died, and the Bluetooth ecosystem I had set up that allowed me to browse or send email anywhere collapsed, and the Blazer browser quit working because it required a proxy system that shutdown, but it's still, several years later, a cool device. (I now download my news to AvantGo in the morning and read it later if I'm in the mood.) I had little cameras, my phone that talked to the Clie, a laptop, various music players, and so on.

But now that I haven't been on an airplane for three years I find I don't care very much about collecting gadgets. When I was traveling, I felt like a "man on the move", and that required me to have many clever portable gadgets.

I enjoyed traveling but now that I'm not doing that (no trade shows, no E3, no GDC, no 26 hour trips to Atlanta and back) and I'm not a "man on the move" I'm just a guy who wants to listen to music in the car or when I want to block out the noise at work.

Life is simpler, in my relatively gadget free world. I still have the Clie, and carry it around, because it keeps my appointments, although my appointments are linked at work and at home via a network, so I'm not really sure why I carry the Clie around. Mostly habit, I guess, and reading AvantGo is cheaper than buying a newspaper.

I also carry around a stupid number of memory stick and/or itty-bitty hard drives. I'm not sure why. The Clie has room for a multi-gig memory stick. My iPod generally has several gigs free where I can park stuff. I guess I have some kind of compulsive pack-rat mentality for dragging data around.

I thought it would be cool to have a sample of every kind of computer media I have used over the years, from paper tape, to cards, to 8" floppies for the Terak machine, to data cassette tapes for the Apple and Kim-1 computers, to the 20 megabyte hard disk the size of a washing machine, to various tape formats (including 7-track and 9-track tapes, and DEC tapes! [they were awesome], zip disks, memory sticks, DAT drives, and so on. But instead I think I'll try to track down pictures of them.

And maybe store those pictures on my Clie ...