I Can't Tech It Anymore

Y. Peter Kang is a senior citizen discount at Denny's. Send the Moons Over My Hammy to [email protected]





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Books like "Brave New World" and "1984" are favorites of mine. I'm fascinated by how technology is increasingly shaping the way we live. As a result, I have become a technology whore. I was on the Internet when it was UNIX and nothing else and I was down with MP3s when they were MP2s.

I recently bought a CD recordable/rewritable drive commonly referred to as a "CD burner." Why did I buy this? Because I wanted to make "backups" of music CDs. Yeah, that's it - backups. MP3 technology has allowed me to make custom mixes of CDs of my liking. All I have to do is go onto the Internet, download the latest MP3s from a site that has everything - I mean everything - and burn them onto a CD. I will never buy a CD from Amoeba ever again. And it's all free. And legal. Well, it's actually not that legal. Although thousands of MP3 files on the Internet are authorized for distribution by the copyright owners, others are not. Pending lawsuits have created a gray area in terms of copyright violations. But what do I care, right? If the cops bust down my door in an elaborate MP3 pirate bust, I'll just say an older boy made me do it.

With the latest addition to my collection of technological gadgets, I have come to realize how much of a wired person I am. My room is filled with machines. These machines are flooding my body with EMF garbage. They come from the TV, VCR, PlayStation, cordless phone, cell phone, pager, computer, the laser from the CD burner and the laser in the DVD player. Every plug is used up. These machines have been scrambling my brain. I am bombarded with noises that hum, beep and vibrate.

Why do I need all these things? I don't. But I'm a sucker for new technology and I always need to get the latest digital novelty that I may or may not use. I think it comes from my upbringing. When I was a kid, I fondly remember the time my dad proudly showed us the latest technology he brought home. It was a Sony Beta VCR. Bad idea.

I have my eye on a new gadget. Sony recently released a portable big screen TV. Called the Glasstron, it slips onto your face just like glasses to give you the feeling of watching a 52-inch TV screen from six feet away. The attached headphones deliver stereo sound and it easily connects to your VCR, DVD Player, camcorder, even PlayStation. The only drawback is that you look like a big dork. But that's OK. Next time I have a spare 500 bucks I'm gonna get it. That means I'll only have to write 24 more columns and that Glasstron is mine.

But as much as I think about the drawbacks of all this new technology like a grumpy old man, sometimes technology simply amazes me with how much it can do. One of my friends attends lectures for his electrical engineering class in his room. Yes, that's right. He sits in his room and watches the lectures, which are videotaped and put online. His cable modem allows him the high speeds necessary to watch them without the hassle of waiting for them to download. As a result, he never goes to class. Nice, huh?

Here's another example of the brave new world we are living in. I used some online coupons to buy textbooks. It was great; I got at least 50 percent off of my books, delivered right to my doorstep two days after I ordered them. It would have all worked out, except someone stole the package off my porch. But isn't technology great?

One thing the Internet has definitely made me do is become more of a damn consumer. I get on one of those online auctions, see all the great stuff and it's like I have to get it. It's so easy to get caught up in the buying frenzy. And since you're just bidding on them and not guaranteed to buy the item, it's so much easier to pull the trigger and bid on that Ginsu 10-piece knife set for $2.99. As seen on TV!

So far I've bought a scanner for my computer, a monitor, a digital camera, a Sony PlayStation, a BB gun, Back to the Future on DVD ("It's the Libyans!"), 10 X-Men comics and two used T-shirts from some guy in Georgia. (I bid 50 cents for them.)

This new way of buying things is just the beginning. A tech company called TeleVend is changing the way we look at ... vending machines? Say you're thirsty. It's happened to all of us. With their technology, you dial a seven-digit number using a cell phone or a keypad on the vending machine itself. A remote server is signaled which identifies you, does a credit check and sends billing information to the phone company, and it then bounces the signal back to the vending machine. Out comes a big fat juicy soda. Or a glow-in-the-dark prophylactic. Ribbed. The nerds say that everything is going wireless.

According to Gedaliah Gurfein of TeleVend, "What we've really done here is try to create a new level of credit, not introduce credit, but create credit at the level where now the mobile phone becomes a credit card." Paper money is on its way out, electronic cash is in.

So what's next on the list? I think the next logical step is for personal bar code symbols to be tattooed on one's forehead or hand. Whenever you want something, a chip in your brain sends digital signals to Satan, who then gives you a big fat juicy soda. But there's one catch. Satan charges a 10-percent processing fee.

He thinks he's so big. Well, he's not the boss of me.

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