As I get ready for the new year, here’s a look back at some of the formerly cherished tech toys that bit the dust this year. Call me crazy, but these are actually some of my favorite ways of looking back at the way life changes over the long haul–whether it’s the year we got rid of all our VHS tapes and record albums or the ever-morphing setup of our home networking, it’s actually sort of fascinating to watch the passage of the years by looking at what got dumped on Craigslist or thrown into the garbage bin.
DirecTV and associated DVRs
Cause of Death: Hulu Plus
After years of looking askance at the “cord cutters”, I got a really good look at our $100+ satellite bill and decided to see how easy it would be to get the same programming elsewhere. This led me to discovering Hulu Plus, particularly the $12.99 commercial-free version, which we found allows us to stream not only almost every show we watch, but countless other fascinating shows ranging from ancient British science-fiction to full seasons of our favorite comedies–all without the need to rapidly skip forward on the DVR to avoid commercials.
What doesn’t it have? For us, the pain points–if they even deserve the name–were the loss of current season of Project Runway, the Superbowl, and Big Bang Theory. But with so much other programming available, we found it easy to ignore the missing reality shows until next season, and the addition of an on-air antenna seems to promise to solve our other limited programming gaps (with the further option of simply waiting a few months until the DVDs come out which we can grab from Netflix). I also gave up watching any amount of news, but found I don’t miss it a bit, especially given how prevalent coverage is over the internet.
If you’re a big sports fan, this might not be the move for you, it’s been a huge win for us, and probably the hardest thing to getting rid of Satellite proved finding a way to dismantle and dispose of the dish that had been mounted on our house ever since dropping cable a decade earlier
Google TV from Logitech
I actually won this unit a number of years ago at CES, and I was thrilled to use it to easily search for shows using the Bluetooth keyboard in conjunction with the DirecTV DVRs it was hooked up to. This is also notably the device that nearly drove Logitech into the grave, since they invested so hard in what became a spectacularly unprofitable product for them.
Cause of Death: The XBox 360 sitting next to it assuming all its TV app duties, and the dropping of satellite in the Bickford household.
Two Mac Minis, Three Shuttle XPCs, and Various Firewalls and Network Gear
Cause of Death: Network consolidation
It’s sort of fun setting up a vast and varied network of computers, tying together multiple office locations and business domains, while managing backup, mail service, and all the other fiddly bits that go into running a business.
As it turns out, it’s even more fun simplifying the whole mess and having way less “support surface” to worry about. This is what happened when AT&T Fiber moved into the building this spring, triggering a re-think of our whole network infrastructure, a very messy (and expensive!) shut-off of our Comcast Business internet at the office, and the unification of two of our corporate “domains” under one roof. The whole process took months, but if felt great every time we got a chance to bin an old server and simplify the overall picture in a new, simpler, and faster network setup.
Circling the Drain: Dell 2309WFP Webcam-enabled Monitors
Cause of Death: Windows 10
I like this monitor. The color reproduction is a little overly bright, but I still liked it so much I bought three of them and distributed them to various folks at home and office as it’s both a practical and affordable monitor, as well as packing a decent little webcam into the bezel which is perfect for Skype. Unfortunately, I discovered today that the the webcam is also incompatible–in a blue-screen kind of way–with Windows 10. The only solution is apparently to disconnect the USB port, disabling the camera, and reducing a great monitor to a merely average 23″ panel. I think it’s time to start moving these toward the door…