“Life Changing” gadgets

Last month, USA TODAY recently came out with their top 25 “Life Changing” gadgets, services, and inventions since 1982. Here is their list in their order of importance, and my opinion of same.

1. Cellphones – OK, it’s life-changing, but is it a good thing to be available 24/7?
2. Laptops – I now actually covet one.
3. Blackberrys – this is a technology that has entirely passed me by.
4. Debit cards – much of the protection one has purchasing on a credit card, such as challenging a charge, is lost on a debit card. I have one, which I use at the ATM.
5. Caller ID – I LOVE CALLER ID. Sometimes, I’m watching TV and the caller ID will show up on the screen; I can, and do, decide whether or not to answer. (Hint: if the ID says “unavailable”, I’m not.)
6. DVDs – I have some, and a player. It WAS one of the fastest accepted technologies.
7. Lithium rechargeable batteries – I have a few, but is this as wide-spread as some of the others?
8. IPods – don’t have one, but recognize they’re ubiquitous, even without me.
9. Pay at the pump – I’m surprised that there are ANY gas stations that don’t require some sort of pre-payment, given the propensity of some to “pump and run”. Use this one a lot.
10. Lettuce in a bag – I suppose this is a category that also covers spinach in a bag, pre-shredded cheese, and all of those things that offer “convenience” at a price.
11. Digital cameras – should get one someday, as I do recognize their value.
12. Doppler radar – it does make for pretty pictures during a storm.
13. Flat-panel TVs – maybe next time. My current TV I bought in 1987. Doesn’t have SAP or the V-chip.
14. Electronic tolls – NYS has E-Z Pass on the Thruway which is also accepted in Massachusetts and some neighboring states. It’s convenient, it saves gas, but it feels a little Big Brother to me.
15. PowerPoint – the 20th anniversary of PowerPoint was earlier this year. I’ve sat through innumerable PP presentations. I’ve DONE PP presentations.
16. Microwave popcorn – the popcorn manufacturers are right; sometimes, it’s two and a half minutes in one machine, four minutes in another.
17. High tech footwear – my daughter has shoes that light up when she walks. She LOVES this.
18. Online stock trading – making stock traders even more crazy.
19. Big Bertha golf clubs – couldn’t say.
20. Disposable contact lenses – my wife uses.
21. StairMaster – I find this amazingly boring to do.
22. Tivo – I LOVE the DVR, which isn’t Tivo, but close enough. Time-shifting my TV watching, I like. What I DON’T like is that I record more than I have time to watch.
23. Purell – do hand sanitizers really work? My wife uses them, and if she offers, I use them too, but I’m not convinced of their efficacy.
24. Home satellite TV – still have cable.
25. Karaoke – I’ve never done karaoke, but acknowledge that maybe one or two others have.

There are things that do seem to be missing from the list: Google, which is the way many people think they can find all the information they need; YouTube, which is not only an entertainment vehicle, but has had an impact on Presidential politics already; GPS, which provides us more sophisticated ways to get lost; Viagra/Cialis and all of the other drugs we need, or think we do; DNA testing, which has been HUGE in freeing people wrongly accused; e-mail, which maybe they’ve taken for granted; and of course, blogs. I think if I were doing the list, some or all of the above would make it, and golf clubs and Stairmasters, for sure, would be off.


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