Keith Shaw Cool Tools chat transcript

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What's your favorite old-school gadget? Maybe something that others would consider obsolete, but you still love.

Keith_Shaw

People were amazed that I held onto one of my cell phones for four years, but I eventually got a new one that I've had for only a year now. I still use one of the original 2nd-generation iPods (the one with the black and white screen and not compatible with any of the iPod docking stations). But other than that, old-school for me usually means it's past 6 months old.

Moderator-Julie

Keith is working on another live question. So here's the answer from one submitted in advance.

Q: I like the convenience of USB memory sticks for traveling, but am not sure how to secure that data. What's the best way?

KEITH SHAW: Glue the memory stick to your hand, or tie a string to it and yourself so the device never gets lost or stolen. Apart from that, the next best idea would be to check out USB devices that have native hardware encryption and mandatory password enforcement, so if the device is lost the data is useless to anyone who finds it. I recently tested some SanDisk devices (the Cruzer Enterprise) that do a great job of keeping the data secure.

rgreives

What gadget name would make you never guess what it was?

Keith_Shaw

Well, nobody really knows what a Treo is, but I think you're thinking of something else...

Ticktock

How would you define Web 2.0?

Keith_Shaw

That's a good question. There's been so many definitions flying around, it's hard to keep up. Is Web 2.0 the ability to become more collaborative with co-workers, friends, and the outside crowd? In this case, this chat would be considered a Web 2.0 tool of sorts. Is it the world of blogs, wikis, podcasts? Is it social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn? I guess the answer is yes -- anything in the Web that can get some attention would qualify as a Web 2.0 tool at this point, until someone starts suggesting that we're in the Web 3.0 world (which some say already exists in terms of 3D virtual worlds like Second Life)

Hmonroe

Did you ever use a typewriter?

Keith_Shaw

I learned how to type on a manual typewriter in high school, then took a 2nd semester of typing on electric typewriters, but mainly I took the second semester as a way to meet girls (the ratio of girls-to-guys in typing class was much higher for me). I typed a lot of papers in high school and early college, but then moved on to computers. I can still type between 60 and 70 words per minute, so if this gadget columnist gig doesn't work out I can always get a job as a data entry specialist...

Moderator-Julie

Keith is working on another live question. So here's the answer from one submitted in advance.

Q: GPS vs. in-phone services, what gives?

KEITH SHAW: I think in the long run, in-phone services for GPS and mapping will have an advantage over stand-alone GPS devices, if only because the maps reside on the network, and can be updated faster than with maps stored on a local device. But the larger screens of the stand-alone devices are very appealing to users who need this technology as part of their job. For the occasional user of GPS, I'd recommend going with an in-phone service like VZ Navigator (Verizon) where you can get a 24-hour pass for $5 or so, rather than spending $200 or more on a GPS device. How many times in your daily life do you really need to find someplace new?

Radiogirl

What gadget can I buy as a gift for a husband that seems to have every gadget out there?

Keith_Shaw

Buy him a sweater. It's amazing, that with all of the gadget testing I do (including for the NW holiday gift guide), by the time the holidays roll around the only thing I want is a nice L.L. Bean flannel shirt.

Junkmail

As a parent, will you be providing your kids with cell phones for safety?

Keith_Shaw

By the time my kids are old enough to start begging me for a cell phone, we'll probably start with the ones that are specifically geared towards them -- the ones that only allow specific numbers to be dialed, where they can't spend all day talking and ring up the bill. The phone will also likely have GPS tracking so I can find out where they are at all times.

Hmonroe

You have kids - what do think about technology that monitors your childrens' activities? -- convenience, bad parenting or too 'big brother'?

Keith_Shaw

Good question, it's something I'm going to have to address probably sooner or later. I think these tools should be used to complement parenting, not replace it. It sounds really "Big Brother" when you're reading about these tools, but then when you're faced with your own kids, you probably say, "the heck with that" and install the software. I know there has to be some trust between parent and child, but I guess it depends on what age the kids are when you install the software.

careyblast

Any favorite baby gadgets?

Keith_Shaw

There's a "baby laptop" toy out there (hopefully not made in China) that is a godsend for parents who bring home their real laptop and have their toddler run right over to it and bang on the keys. The baby laptop is more durable.

Moderator-Julie

Keith is working on another live question. So here's the answer from one submitted in advance.

Q: What's the most overpriced gadget (or type of gadget) currently on the market and why?

KEITH SHAW: Any smart phone or similar device that costs over $300, and charges $50 or more per month for unlimited wireless data service. Those costs can, and should, come down.

Bubbatronics

What makes a tool cool?

Keith_Shaw

Great question, I battle with this question on a daily basis... I think if the device can "advance the story" in terms of productivity for end users, if it does something more than the last gadget does (not a "me too"), then it's worthy of a look. That's why I'm not really excited about iPod knock-offs, etc., because they may have additional features, but nothing that's earth-shattering. One of my favorite toys from last year was this great stereo system that let me convert all of my old record albums onto CD -- it solved a problem and did it easily (the TEAC GF-350)

C

What other technology Web sites or blogs do you read, besides your own?

Keith_Shaw

Who has time to read other blogs? It's hard enough to try and keep up with all of my own stuff.... Seriously, I look at Engadget and Gizmodo (who doesn't), and then scan regular news sites as well for new tech gadget stuff. A lot of the time, I get what I'm looking for just from all of the PR pitches I get from technology companies... :-)

Moderator-Julie

Keith is working on several more live questions; keep them coming!  Here's the answer from one submitted in advance.

Q: If you had to get rid of all but three electronics that you own (excluding appliances like a fridge and dryer) what three would you keep?

KEITH SHAW: TV, iPod and cell phone.

rgreives

There has been much dispute of the difference between a dork and a nerd (tech speaking). What is your take?

Keith_Shaw

I think it's a matter of what you'd be proud of calling yourself. I consider myself a nerd more than a dork, I think that has a negative connotation. It's a good time to be a nerd (tech-wise), and not such a bad thing anymore. Geek also counts.

Hmonroe

What is the first gadget you ever reviewed? And, when was it?

Keith_Shaw

For Network World, it was a Sprint attachment that let you take a Handspring Visor (remember those?) and turn it into a cell phone. This was in 2000 I believe. But before that I was always into giving opinions on things -- whether writing editorials at the local newspaper or writing theater reviews for the Syracuse Daily Orange in the '80s.

Bubbatronics

Best gadget for the car is...

Keith_Shaw

I'm not really a fan of gadgets in the car at the moment, because anything that distracts the driver is not really good for the rest of us on the road. Probably a GPS device that stops couples from arguing about driving directions…

Moderator-Julie

Keith is working on another live question. So here's the answer from one submitted in advance.

Q: If you could run over one of your wife's gadgets with your car, which would it be and why?

KEITH SHAW: I love gadgets and I love my wife, so there would never be any reason for me to run over anything with the car.

Redbarn United States, and then blatantly copied overseas, especially in China - the latest example being the iPhone?  What gives?  Is this good or bad, and why?

How do you feel about technology being developed in the

Keith_Shaw

Piracy is bad wherever it happens....

Shack

Do you plan on covering things like new apps that become available for the iphone or just sticking to cool hardware?

Keith_Shaw

With my schedule it's a lot easier for me to stick to talking about hardware -- for some reason, software really hates me and doesn't want to cooperate with my systems, and it takes longer to review than hardware. But if there's some really cool app out there, I'll always take a look.

Radiogirl

Have you seen the Microsoft Surface? What are your thoughts on it -- or on home entertainment gadgets?

Keith_Shaw

I haven't seen one up-close-and-personal yet, but at SIGGRAPH 2006 in Boston I saw something that was eerily like the Surface (it used Windows XP underneath) by Mitsubishi. I think the Surface as currently pitched might be a big mistake -- these large expensive systems that will sit in hotel lobbies and other public areas are ripe for breaking. But the touch-screen technology on them is pretty cool. I think it will be a long time before you see this type of technology in the home, unless they can get the costs down quickly.

Moderator-Julie

We are almost out of time. If you have final questions for Keith, please submit them now. Here's the last Q&A from one submitted in advance.

Q: Do you think any brand will ever be cooler than Apple?

KEITH SHAW: The Keith Shaw brand is close to becoming cooler than Apple, but I need to start wearing more black mock turtlenecks when I go out on the road. The closest in terms of cool cachet would be Google -- they still get as much attention from the press in a lot of things that they do. It should be interesting to see how the world reacts if they come out with a G-phone.

Hmonroe

What gadegt are you asking Santa for this Christmas? And, what do you think will be the hottest gadget this holiday season?

Keith_Shaw

I'll answer the second part first. One of the hottest gadgets for this holiday season will be the Pleo robot from Ugobe. This is going to make Furby madness seem like kid's play. They've already sold out of their online pre-orders, so the only way you'll be able to get one is through the retail stores like Target, Best Buy, etc.  We've been waiting for more than a year for this robot to come out -- it's really lifelike and different from anything else you've seen. In terms of what i'm asking Santa for this Christmas, I haven't figured that out yet. I might ask for a new iPod to replace that old one I've been using.

ticktock

Do you think we are catching up with Asia/Europe in cell phone technology - if not, when?

Keith_Shaw

I think the U.S. won't catch up for a while, because of the fact that there's always going to be wireless technology competition, and in Asia/Europe, there's just one standard officially. Plus the cultural differences -- smaller geographic areas mean cell phones are used more than they are here.

careyblast

Ever given your wife a gadget gift?

Keith_Shaw

Yes, I have bought her several iPods and Macintosh computers over the years. She always gets the new stuff, and then I get the gadget hand-me-downs.

Redbarn

Do you think Microsoft will, in the next twenty years, continue to see their share of the OS market continue to shrink?  How bad will this get?

Keith_Shaw

That all depends on whether businesses feel the need to switch their desktops to a different OS. With everything moving towards a Web-based world anyway, the OS behind the desktop may not matter any more anyway. Any machine that can access a Web application will be just fine for most people (as long as it can also play music).

Moderator-Juliehttp://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=cooltools

Remember to keep reading Keith's column and blog at

Watch his videos at http://www.networkworld.com/video/

And listen to the Twisted Pair podcast at http://www.networkworld.com/podcasts/twistedpair/

Mark your calendars more chats at 2 p.m. EDT

August 28, The truth about NAC with security expert, Joel Snyder.

September 19, Enterprise messaging demystified with Michael Osterman

October 1, The road to infinite capacity with Amazon.com CTO, Werner Vogels

All schedules and transcripts are at www.networkworld.com/chat

Keith_Shaw

Thanks a lot to everyone who showed up for the chat! Send any other questions or feedback to me at kshaw@nww.com.

Moderator-Julie

Thank you for attending.

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