Celebrating our 30th anniversary

30 years of gadgets, computers and video games from my fabulous life

Network World 30th Anniversary: Jump in the Cool Tools time machine to see what things Keith was obsessed with over the past three decades.

Celebrating our 30th anniversary

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The 2000s: Millennium fever and smartphones

palmpilot Flickr/Quagmire's Photos

2000: My time on the Cool Tools column begins! The column was originally started by another Network World editor, but I took it over after he left and made it the monstrosity and legend that it is today (at least in my own mind). Got to experience the Palm Pilot and its series of PDAs – I believe we were able to purchase some Palm III devices for the staff this year.

2001: Obviously, September 11 was the big event of the year (some would say decade as well); for me it also had a significant technology component. I was set to go down to the Networld + Interop (now just called Interop) event in Atlanta, my flight was on 9/11, but I never made it onto the plane. I heard updates on the radio on the way into Logan Airport, so by the time I got to the gate I was looking for updates on a cell phone I was testing at the time. It used WAP technology to connect to email and alerts (remember the whole “WAP is Crap” slogans?), as trying to connect via cell phones was tough that day.

linksys Linksys

2002: My favorite device this year was the Linksys WRT54G, a home network wireless router that used the 802.11g protocol, and one that greatly speeded up Internet access for many homes. I had switched over from dial-up broadband/DSL to cable Internet access when we bought our new home in 2001.

2003: This was the year I really got into my iPod – it had been out for a few years, but the rise in digital music (and my Napster obsession) meant that I had a lot of digital music. Lucky for me, this was the year Apple released its third-generation iPod and also started selling songs on iTunes for 99 cents.

2004: This was the year Facebook was founded, but I didn’t really experience the joys of cat photos, political rants and inspirational sayings until a few years later – after they opened it up to regular people instead of just college students. For me, the year was spent trying to listen to my iPod in the car – luckily I was using the NewerTech RoadTrip car adapter, which let you listen to the music via tuning your radio to an unused frequency. Thank goodness AUX ports started showing up in cars.

2005: This was the year my first daughter was born, so like all new parents we invested in a home video camera. It was either a Panasonic or Canon camcorder that cost a lot of money and recorded information on little cassette tapes. I still have those tapes sitting in a drawer somewhere, thank goodness that most of that was converted to digital cameras and smartphones a few years later when we had our second child.

2006: My favorite device for this year was the Pleo robot, which debuted at DEMO 2006 early in the year. It was also one of my favorite videos that I did for the burgeoning Network World video section.

2007: This was the year the iPhone debuted, as well as the introduction of “iBaby 2.0” (my son). While I was able to review the original iPhone, I didn’t actually own one until 2008 when I bought the iPhone 3G (and Apple had opened up its App Store)

2008: Smartphones were in full swing by then, but the big news for me (and lots of other people) was the debut of the Roku Internet TV system with Netflix service. At the time there wasn’t a lot of content, but that quickly changed (some would argue that Netflix still doesn’t have a lot of current content, other than their original series). TV watching would never be the same after this.

rockbandkeith chrisknightcredit Christopher Knight

In 2009, I could really "Slash" a fake guitar.

2009: With my third child now on the way, I had less time to enjoy my gadgets, but I still found time that year to get totally obsessed with Guitar Hero and Rock Band (see above). Sadly, most of that gear (guitar, drums, even a keyboard) sits down in my basement collecting dust, which is why I didn’t really get excited for the recent new versions from both of those companies. No way, guys, I’m spending too much of my money on Disney Infinity figures now.

The 2010s: The Internet of My Things

marleyipad 2010 Keith Shaw

My original iPad and daughter, who still thinks the device is hers.

2010: The year belonged to Apple again, as it debuted the iPad. I still have the original one somewhere – I can’t really remember because one of the kids took it and didn’t put it back where it belongs, like they do with EVERYTHING.

2011: This was the year I officially made the switch from Windows computers to Macintosh – my first MacBook Pro is still going strong (well, it’s a bit slower, but still preferred over Windows 8).

2012: Back to the iPhone well for this year – this was the year I got the iPhone 5, making me current with other iPhone users who at this point really liked upgrading their phones this year. I had a brief flirtation with the Samsung Galaxy S3, but that was a quick fling.

kidswatchingipad Keith Shaw

Just another typical day in the Shaw house, with kids streaming videos from a centralized NAS box.

2013: While network-attached storage (NAS) devices had been around for a while, it was during this year that I really got into them, thanks to the Seagate Central device. After having compiled a large amount of digital files (songs, videos of my kids, photographs galore), I really needed to centralize my storage so that we can not only protect those images, but also access them on the number of devices we now own in the home (phones, iPods, iPads, TV devices, video game consoles, etc.)

2014: During our testing of the holiday gift guide this year, our testers got OBSESSED with the Lenovo Horizon 2 Tabletop PC, which gave you a multi-touch display for games, apps and other activities, with a computer built in underneath.

2015: While I still love my iPhone 6S (which came out in 2015), my MacBook Pro (work version, not the home one that’s a bit old), I have to say my favorite device is my PlayStation 4, which Santa brought us in 2014. The system is now my go-to device for most of my gaming (and my son’s gaming), that it’s central to our life experience these days.

2016: I have a feeling that perhaps we’ll finally see some good VR; Sony just announced its $399 device, and the Oculus Rift ($599) and HTC Vive ($799) are expected later this year as well. Whether this is another fad (Google Glass, anyone?) or the start of another big shift in gadgets remains to be seen.

That’s just a small window into my life of gadgets, work experiences with technology and video game fun (there were a lot more obsessions I could have brought up). I hope that this sparked some memories, and perhaps we’ll do this again in another 30 years, via our Internet-embedded-into-our-heads live video chat that will be all the rage in 2046.

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