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The digital age has brought with it many inventions and breakthroughs that have made our lives better. But there are also those inventions that weren’t so good. In fact, some of them are bad — very bad. If only we had known back then what we know now…
I’ve owned a few of the following products (more than I’d like to admit). But looking back at it all, they were all horrible. It sill amazes me to know how bad they really were. So, if you happened to purchase one of the following products, don’t feel too bad. Many of us did. Just take this opportunity to laugh it off and realize that in a few years we will be able to create a new list that isn’t so different than this one.
They had fur, they had their own names, they had their own language , and no one could resist them at the time. It was called Furby. Mine was named Miko (or Meeko, or something like that). And because I was so young and silly, I just had to have one. But once the novelty wore off, we all were eventually living in Furby hell. From a mechanical mouth with a tongue that you were encouraged to stroke constantly to the unbelievably annoying sounds the damn thing made in the middle of the night when you accidentally aggravated it, the whole Furby experiment was better off never being made.
Remember back when you actually purchased these things called discs for movies? Okay, some people still actually do it, but do you remember when it was all about Blu-ray vs HD-DVD? Some of you likely experienced the Betamax and VHS battle in the mid to late ’70s. It’s just history repeating itself, and we will likely see it again with DRM formats in the cloud.
But for those who were convinced that HD-DVD was going to be the future of home entertainment, well, it pretty much sucked for you. The players were expensive (although not as expensive as the Blu-ray ones), the HD-DVD discs were expensive too, and they are now pretty much obsolete. But I knew Blu-ray was going to win all along. Why? Because it had the coolest name. Still, can’t we settle on a single format and be happy? It would make life so much easier.
Everything before the iPod
I received a Diamond Rio MP3 player for my birthday one year in the early 2000s. It was actually an MP3 player that looked like a USB thumb drive. It was ugly, and it actually had two separate parts for the battery and for the USB portion. Don’t get me wrong, — it worked, but it wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience, especially after Steve Jobs announced the iPod. And to think: people actually carried around a thing called a “boom box.”
Dedicated GPS devices
If you ever spent a few hundred dollars on a GPS device (raises hand), it wouldn’t be surprising if you regretted that purchase. Look no further than all the technology packed onto smartphones. They have built-in GPS receivers! They also (sometimes) give you better than dedicated GPS devices.
Sure, before the whole smartphone thing took off, GPS units were incredibly valuable. I’m sure they saved many people the headache of having to know where they were going, and it saved them from, you know, actually having to pay attention to the road. But if I had known that my phone was going to eventually be a GPS on its own, I would have been happy with waiting and being lost for another few years. (Oh, wait, us men don’t need directions!)
Sega CD & Sega 32X
If you were one of the unfortunate few who purchased a Sega CD, I feel bad for you. If you were one of those who purchased a Sega 32X, I also feel bad for you. But if you were one of the few who actually purchased both, welcome to my world. I was a young tike at the time, and I was fortunate enough that my father obliged my curiosity in gaming and technology at a young age. But even I felt ripped off by Sega after my father purchased a 32X and Sega CD for me. We never actually purchased a single game for Sega CD (I received Sonic CD in the mail for free for some reason). And Sega 32X? I had one, maybe two, game total to show for it. What was the point?
Ah, Windows Millennium Edition: better thought of as Microsoft’s bastard child. It is an operating system that screwed its users in so many ways that it pains me to even discuss them. It had bugs. It had problems. It looked really crappy. But, most importantly, Microsoft released Windows XP — a superior operating system in every imaginable way — only a year after Millennium Edition. It honestly hurts my heart every time I see a computer running Windows ME.
Everyone who has used a Windows computer over the past few years knows the name Norton — they know it well. Norton provides antivirus solutions for Windows computers, and we knew this because the product typically came preinstalled on most new computers. We also knew it because of how much the product pestered us to upgrade virus definitions and to renew subscriptions. Yet even though we had antivirus protection, it still didn’t prevent huge virus outbreaks from occurring nor infecting computers. It’s effectiveness will always be in question. There are many alternatives to Norton’s offerings that won’t bog down your computer — and even Microsoft has their own security offering — but if you want the most protection possible, stop downloading porn already!
America Online (AOL or, as it’s now called, Aol) and I go way back. After switching from CompUServe to America Online, I was browsing the Web at a lightning-fast 22.8k. “You’ve Got Mail” was a joy to hear at the time (although it got annoying after awhile. Unfortunately, a limited portal page, horrible email interface, and bombardment by compact discs ruined the overall experience. It also didn’t help that the company insisted on charging our family several months after we cancelled the service (it required several calls for them to actually cancel and refund the charges). For all that, I can never respect Aol. Never.