RIP, RadioShack -- we don't know how good we had it

Supergeeks may scoff at brick-and-mortar stores, but these tech meccas were integral to hands-on interaction and discovery

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Or I may be tempted by products like PikMoments, a camera designed to do away with the annoying pic-limiting factor known as human will. PikMoments sits on a table or mounts on a wall and detects anytime you smile or laugh. Then it snaps a pic and steals a little more Web bandwidth from the rest of us by autosending it to your phone. It's not enough that petabytes of digital photos are choking any number of social networking news feeds because people believe we're all fascinated by the 45 pictures of last week's backyard BBQ or the ultra-high-rez snap of last night's glistening dinner. We're now turning the decision of what is and what isn't a photo-worthy moment over to SkyNet.

Speaking of social networking, I could soon be among the subjects of a site that's adopted the unusual strategy of catering to dead people. Passing Lives lets users pen obituaries for lost loved ones. The site then publishes the memorial, complete with a portal and a search engine. I don't think death and grief are funny, but you have to admit, adding a famous people-only tab as well as "popular" and "random" categories seems a little strange.

A corner store of one's own

Yes, I'm wandering all over the place with this one, but that's the point. On my side of the generation gap, we liked some general focus even when we're browsing, like Borders for books or RadioShack for wires. The random-but-related factor is part of the fun. Without it, I'm stuck with the umpteen tech headline sites decided was interesting that day. Or pumping a term like "motherboards" into Amazon's search engine and seeing a long list of thumbnails for just motherboards followed by the rubber love toys Bezos claims previous buyers also purchased. That's not nearly as fun as wandering away from Fry's motherboard section and bumping into a remote-controlled Angry Birds bath toy. It's like someone is trying to curate my ADD.

It's a gray-haired perspective, and it makes me feel old. Pretty soon my only criteria for a successful relationship will be how well the woman can drive at night. I'm going to miss electronics retail and grouse about it while sitting on the porch drinking Metamucil. When the last RadioShack closes forever, maybe I'll write a high-click obituary on Passing Lives.

This article, "RIP, RadioShack -- we don't know how good we had it," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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