Here's an interesting column from one of my favorite NY Times/NPR people.
October 18, 2007
By DAVID POGUE
As a tech writer, I'm in the business of providing answers. Sometimes people ask me questions one at a time ("What camera should I buy?"), and sometimes the substance of the question is implied because I have a tech column ("What's new?").
But I've got a lot of questions, too—a lot of them that I don't have answers for. In fact, I've been keeping a little list.
Some of them are answerless because nobody knows the answer. Some may have answers, but only industry insiders know what they are. And still others are answerless because they're incendiary hot-button issues, and there's no consensus.
I thought: What better way to find the answers than to lay out my list for the reading public?
So here they are: Pogue's Imponderables.
* Why is Wi-Fi free at cheap hotels, but $14 a night at expensive ones?
* What happens to software programs when their publishers go out of business?
* Would the record companies sell more music online if it weren't copy-protected?
* Do cellphones cause brain cancer?
* What's the real reason you have to turn off your laptop for takeoff?
* Why can't a digital S.L.R. camera record video?
* Wi-Fi on airplanes. What's taking so long?
* Who are the morons who respond to junk-mail offers, thereby keeping spammers in business?
* I'm told that they could make a shirt-pocket digital camera that takes pictures like an S.L.R., but it would cost a lot. So why don't they make one for people who can afford it?
* How come there are still no viruses for Mac OS X? If it has 6 percent of the market, shouldn't it have 6 percent of the viruses?
* Do shareware programmers pay taxes on all those $20 contributions?
* How are we going to preserve all of our digital photos and videos for future generations?
* Why are there no federal rebates or tax credits for solar power?
* Why do you have to take tape camcorders out of your carry-on at airport security, but not the tapeless kind? Couldn't you hide a bomb equally well in either one? (Actually, I have about 500 more logic questions about the rules at airport security, but I have a feeling they'll remain answerless for a very long time.)
* Laptops, cameras and cellphones have improved by a thousand percent in the last ten years. Why not their batteries?
* SmartDisplay, Spot Watch, U.M.P.C., Zune… when will Microsoft realize that it's not a hardware company?
* Why don't public sinks have foot pedals?
* Why don't all hotels have check-in kiosks like airlines do?
* Five billion dollars a year spent on ringtones? What the?
* How come cellphone signal-strength bars are so often wrong?
* Do P.R. people really expect anyone to believe that the standard, stilted, second-paragraph C.E.O. quote was really uttered by a human being?
* Why aren't there recycling bins for bottles and cans where they're most obviously needed, like food courts and cafeterias?
* Why doesn't someone start a cellphone company that bills you only for what you use? That model works O.K. for the electricity, gas and water companies —and people would beat a path to its door.
* Why doesn't everyone have lights that turn off automatically when the room is empty?
* What's the deal with Palm?
* Why are so many people rude on the Internet?