I want a new drug

I want something to buy. Some piece of technology.  I've got the money, but there is nothing out there.  Nothing that gives me a buzz, like it used to.

I'm not saying that I have every gadget, gizmo and thing-a-ma-bob that's available.  Quite the contrary.  My collection of tech toys is rather limited, for a guy like me.  I've got the PC, but I've had one for the last twenty years.  It's been upgraded, repurchased and recycled, but it's still just the PC.  It does what I do with it.

I've got a cell phone, but not a fancy one.  One that does the job.  Most of the time I don't know where it is.  I think I left it at work.  I don't use it much, there always seems to be a land line somewhere in reach.

I think the last gizmo that gave me a thrill was the TiVo.  It fit right into my lifestyle.  You see, I never got the hang of the VCR; too manual.  I'm a programmer.  I like to set up rules and leave the details of operation to someone or something else. 

I don't buy new things too often.  When I do, I do it because it really makes sense for me.  There are lots of new things to buy, especially for a employee that can get a lot of it at discount.  But I don't.  I have the money.  It's burning a whole in my wallet.  But I resist. 

I really want to like the media PC.  Heck I want one just to fiddle with it.  But it's not solving the right set of problems yet.  I've got a HDTV wired up to a bunch of AV components.  I hate AV components.  What the frig is the 70's era architecture doing my new millennium world?  I don't want wires, left-right audio.  I want it all digital.  I want it all wireless.  I want it all packaged together in fashionable little box.  I don't like sprawling cables.  When I look behind my TV I shudder.  It's a scene out of the movie Brazil.  I know how it all works, but I don't want to have to know. 

I've got eight remotes!  Heck, that's nothing.  I know others with twelve or more.  This has got to stop.  Sure there are universal remotes.  Five of the remotes I have are 'universal.'  Yet, there's always a crucial button or two that won't get replicated onto someone else's remote.  So I still need them all.

I want to solve the audio problem.  My wife wants the music to play throughout the house.  That would be great.  But I don't want to run the wires.  I found wireless speakers from a bunch of makers, but they are junk, no base and a lot of static. I've found from trial-and-error that I don't really want wireless speakers, I want wireless receivers.  What I want is the sound you get from good shelf system, in each room. But its hard to find such systems.  Either stores sell junk aimed at teenagers, or they sell component systems aimed at people who still think audio belongs in the 70's.  And heaven forbid if you can actually find a system that has both external audio-in and out in the same device.

I figured out a scheme where I can buy PC-network technology for streaming A/V over Ethernet.  I can connect up a wireless Ethernet card to each.  This ought to work, if I could find the good receivers to send the audio into.  But do I really want to have 3-4 transformers, sets of wires, etc running to componentized stereo's in every room.  It's starts making the back of my TV look neat and tidy.  AND its not cheap.

If only the right thing existed, I'd buy it today.  I need the buzz that comes when a really good piece of technology just fits right in to my life.  Not the gee-whiz buzz of getting some new toy that fades after a week.  I want a buzz so strong that I find myself preaching about how good it is a year later.

But I digress



Comments (23)

  1. Music playing throughout the house is a Media PC. Buy a Media Center PC and a couple of those Media Center Extenders (which don’t, technically, exist yet, as such, but never mind these little details), and store all your music on a central server to play anywhere.

    As for the cabling, HDMI connections (which carry digital multi-channel sound and DVI digital video) will be appearing on HDTVs later this year and should help enormously in the decluttering process.

    Otherwise, how about a TabletPC?

  2. bilbo says:

    see if you can find something here:


  3. Matt says:

    I’ve got music on the PC. It’s great because its like a huge juke-box. I think the software side of the equation is near ready. The hardware needs to follow.

    The problem with the MediaPC is that it needs a monitor to control it. It’s set up for video primarily. I need a media-center PC with a built in mini-monitor. That would be killer.

  4. Matt says:

    I really do think the tablet PC is cool. The hardware is just not right yet. I want one. If the tablet could be light enough, and durable enough and the wireless audio problem is solved, I’d run the music off the tablet. That’d would solve the monitor problem and it would be ultra convenient for anyone to modify the play list. I really want these PC’s to be ultra-ultra light, and strong enough to take some abuse from my son. That would be something.

  5. Ivana Vackoff [MSFT] says:

    So, thats how you got the XP loony and Longhorn spastic UI theme then? Drugs was it?

  6. benwu@microsoft.com says:

    Forget the rest. YOU WANT THIS:


    I just got this and its amazing. 802.11 (wireless network) IN and RCA out (also optical connections, etc).

    Basically, it lets you connect your wireless network into your stereo and then select your entire mp3 collection using an LCD remote.

    Simply amazing. Only catch is that your computer has to be turned on somewhere in the house. Not that big a deal.

  7. Matt says:

    That might just be it. I’ll let you know.

  8. Ivana Vackoff [MSFT] says:

    The only catch is, you have to get anally rammed up the arse by Creative Labs drivers and theyre bundling of AOL etc etc

  9. Rev. Jackson says:

    Jesus is the answer.

  10. Matt says:

    I didn’t know he still did gigs.

  11. Padgett says:

    Mate, I know how you feel.

    You might want to take a look at the squeeze box:


    Wireless music distribution for your home. Plus an open API for programmers who want to add value to their music server software…What more could your wallet want?

    I subscribe to the gizmodo (http://www.gizmodo.com) rss feed (http://www.gizmodo.net/index.xml) for my daily dose of tech toys.



  12. Ivana Vackoff [MSFT] says:

    Please, we dont want to know about your SLIM DEVICES. PERV.

  13. Eric TF Bat says:

    Try this: don’t just think outside the box; discard the box entirely. You want a new gizmo to be proud of and boast about? Forget hi-tech, go for quality: get a Leatherman (http://www.leatherman.com/). My fiancee gave me one for Christmas. It’s got knives, pliers, screwdrivers and a bunch of other bibs and bobs, and it goes right on your belt. It’s simple, useful and it has (are you sitting down?) a twenty five year frigging guarantee! It’s also got considerably more Geek Cred than any gizmo on your list, even among Microsoft Brand [TM] Geeks.

  14. Matt says:

    Yup, those are nifty.

  15. Huey L says:

    Re the remotes… Try the Harmony SST-659 (http://www.harmonyremote.com). Not only will it fix your tech jones, but you’ll have 7 less remotes.

    Plug it into the USB port and use the website to tell it what devices you have… Had to tweak a little, but well worth it to eliminate 6 remotes.

    Coolest purchase I’ve made since Tivo.

  16. Eric Gunnerson says:


    The Pronto will probably do what you want for remotes. It’s out-of-the-box experience isn’t great, but if you’re willing to use ProtoEdit, you can get it to do a lot.

    I still keep my TiVo remote around, but the pronto is good enough for everything else

  17. Omri says:

    for WLAN-to-RCA, try slim devices’ squeezebox (http://www.slimp3.com/)

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