Salvation for a Chronically Late Adopter

Two weeks ago, I blogged about my inability to recognize how new technologies would change my life for the better. I typically wait years to adopt things, then do so grudgingly, only to find within days that I don’t know how I ever lived without them.

I asked our readers to offer suggestions about my next life-changing technology. The enticement: a signed copy of Freakonomics, a Freakonomics yo-yo, or a Freakonomics fact-a-day calendar to the winner.

One thing I learned from this exercise is that I’m not so far behind. Among the great suggestions that I already own and love are satellite radio, noise reducing headphones, a fancy carpal tunnel-reducing keyboard, and a high-end laptop.

There were also some suggestions that I had tried and either abandoned or didn’t get excited about, like HDTV, text messaging, and the George Foreman grill.

This blog post, however, is brought to you courtesy of the winning suggestion from blog reader Joon: a wireless card for my computer that enables me to access broadband Internet service wherever there is cell phone service. (Actually, an assist goes to Dubner, since I wouldn’t have understood what Joon was talking about had Dubner not explained it to me.) Riding in a taxi at five o’clock in the morning on the way to the airport, here I am hooked up to the Internet, able to write this blog entry. If it weren’t for Joon’s suggestion, I’d be sleeping instead — perhaps happier and less car sick, but unquestionably less productive. Joon has changed my life. We will see whether it is for the better or the worse.

Honorable mention goes to Randy, who suggested It is a Web site that builds personal radio stations based on your music likes and dislikes. I’m not sure it will change my life, but it sure is a lot of fun to see what song will come on next. I turned it on just now, and the first song it played (even though I hadn’t specified on the site that I liked this particular song or band) was my single favorite song, “Dakota,” by Stereophonics. I was suitably impressed. A signed copy of Freakonomics (or one of the other prizes) for Randy also.

Thanks to everyone else for the great suggestions. I suspect it won’t be long before I have GPS, multiple computer monitors, an all-in-one washer dryer, and VoIP.


If you want to find out what you are missing by not being an early adopter, read customer reviews of recent devices (atsc hd dvrs is a good one). It can be more a matter of what you are saving by not being one.


Thanks Steven for the post as it brought to my attention Randy's Pandora suggestion. I've been hooked to it since I tried for the first time that day.

When I tried with classical music, Pandora recognized the petition and a message came up saying that Pandora didn't carry classical music yet but they were working on it. These guys from the Music Genome Project are awesome.


I could not get to Pandora from Canada. I believe that they are working through some licensing issues.

Tim Westergren

hey Steven -

Glad you're enjoying Pandora. Really appreciate the nice post.

Per Charles' comment, we are indeed hard at work on Classical, stay tuned... it's goint to be great!

Cheers. Tim (Founder)


I'm guessing you don't watch a lot of tv, but TiVo changed my very small, idle life.


All in one washer-dryers are terrible. you can't do a wash while you're drying. a load takes forever.


Speaking of the George Foreman grill, as a recent convert to downtown condo living, I would spend a lot to buy an indoor grill that could resemble the outdoor BBQ that I left behind in the suburbs

B. Riley

Pandora is amazing! Once you try it with a Squeezebox, you're a lifetime subscriber. We are all going to need to help them through their "licensing issues". In reality, they are OUR issues.



dang, wish i got in on this (nyt partial feed at fault).

As for pandora, lots of people like it. personally, i prefer Instead of pushing recommendations to you, analyzes what you listen to and based off their gigantic database of user listening habits recommends music that others with similar taste enjoyed.

as for HDTV, i'd recommend going backwards and ditch cable/sat TV altogether. as much as cable and satellite co would like to deny it, eventually everyone will watch tv over their broadband connection. i haven't paid a cable bill in over 2 years. I get all my tv shows from bittorrent trackers, or from online streaming services. The market is about to release a whole host of boxes that will make taking content from your high end laptop to your big screen easy as cake (slingcatcher, divx licensed gejbox?, apple tv to a lesser degree).


Thinking about your prize offerings, I began to wonder: Is there anything I can do with a signed copy of Freakonomics that I can't do with my unsigned copy? read: Does signing the book really add value? and why?


You should have gone for the anti-gravity suit. They're a blast.


I'm guessing you don't watch a lot of tv, but TiVo changed my very small, idle life.

I love TiVo. Between my wife's and my careers and our three year old son we don't get too much time to watch TV, but TiVo has made it a lot easier to keep up with the handful of shows we actually like. Much easier than the cable company DVR.


You're not missing anything by being an early adopter. Look at the Iphone. The early adopters got hosed, big time. You get high prices and buggy service with early adoption.


Along with the pandora and suggestions. There is actually a "mashup" of the two hosted by named "" (You will need a username and password to use it though)


I'd just like to echo #5 and #12. TiVo is the single greatest invention of the 21st century. I realize we've still got 93 years to go in the 21st century, but I'm calling it now... it's the best thing since sliced bread -- no, it's better than sliced bread. If I had to choose between losing my TiVo and having to rip bread apart for the rest of my life instead of slicing it... I'd keep the TiVo.


I agree with the DVR function, but TiVo requires you to have a phone line and pay a monthly fee. I prefer to use a software called BeyondTV (website is snapstream .com) that connects to their TV guide through the internet, no monthly subscription, can record HDTV (how many hours depends on your HDD size), etc and has the functionality of becoming a server for other TV's/PC's. I live in a rural area but can pick up HD signals from my antenna in the garage, record the shows and watch them when I want (and taking 20 minutes less per hour!). I've used it for a year now and haven't looked back.


Wait until you get older. You'll find the electric nose hair trimmer with the rotating blade an incredible improvement over tiny scissors, especially if you are left handed.

Dennis Mancini

I think the greatest thing since the fall of Berlin wall is happening right before our even almost everyones are shut. I am convince the next big change is LifeCasting via Social Networking. Take a look at what Ronald Lewis is doing and will be simply amazed. I have a write up of him on my blog.

Dennis Mancini

I have been wondering when wireless electricity will become available?



Tivo may "require" you to have a phone line, but there's no actual reason for it. I've left my Tivo's unplugged for well over a year and have no problems. There is a small monthly fee (unless you were one of the ones that bought the lifetime license back when they were offering them) but the functionality is incredible. I had to switch to DirecTV's DVR to get their new HD feeds and still don't like it as much as my Tivo (from DirecTV back when they partnered with Tivo) that I still have on my non-HD TV (though it's a HD Tivo as well, just can't get the new DirecTV HD feeds on it).