back to article Ten technology FAILS

Nokia's N-Gage, Palm's Foleo, Motorola's Atrix, Apple's Newton MessagePad, HD DVD, Sony's Rolly, Sony's Mylo, Philips' CD-i, Commodore's CD-TV, IBM's PCJr, the Camputer's Lynx, Gizmondo, the Phantom, Atari's Jaguar, MySpace, Beenz - behind every iPad there are dozens and dozens of technology products that aspired to greatness …

COMMENTS

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  1. Purlieu

    VCD's

    If you venture out off the UK possible eastwards towards Turkey, you will find that VCD's are very popular, and a lot cheaper than DVD's

    1. Code Monkey
      Windows

      Re: VCD's

      So ... the VCD's a complete turkey except in Turkey?

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: VCD's

      VCDs were extremely popular in Thailand and places like that. Even 5 or 6 years ago. They were easier to pirate than VHS cassettes and karaoke was another popular use.

      I actually owned a Philips CDi which with the Amiga CDTV 32 (with MPEG-1 expansion) represented the pinnacle of market penetration in the UK, i.e. none whatsoever. This wasn't surprising given that VHS had better quality and most people owned recorders which could record off the TV. Fortunately the CDi was a prize in a competition so I didn't have to regret buying it.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: VCD's

        I bought the CD player add-on for my Amiga I might once have played a VCD on it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VCD's

      From what I remember, back in the early days of P2P file sharing networks most people were still on dial-up. This meant most video files were horrendously compressed anyway and as such you wouldn't really lose much quality splitting them and burning them onto 2 VCD's. A lot of early DVD players at the time supported VCD so it was a convenient way of getting downloaded films from your PC and displaying them on your main TV, especially if the computer and TV were in different rooms and running a cable was not practical. Players that could read data DVD's with VidX files on them killed off this practice and were subsequently killed off by TV's able to read from inbuilt USB ports.

      1. The Alpha Klutz

        Re:TV's able to read from inbuilt USB ports.

        And the reason they can do that: kick ass Linux based OS

        Imagine Microsoft releasing a Plays For Sure TV... you know it would be shit.

    4. 1Rafayal

      Re: VCD's

      I agree, Video CD's were a massive thing in the far east. You could get genuine copies of pretty much all the major films released over the last 25 years in this format, Video CD players were standard in a lot of homes in Japan for instance.

      Before the advent of DVD, I remember buying quite a few films on Video CD - and not pirated ones either, genuine, licensed by the studio copies. I still have one or two at home now.

      The format was so popular in Japan that there were a number of consumer devices that supported the technology, such as the Sega Saturn. The PlayStation also had a number of third party adapters that allowed them to be played on the console.

      Just because they didn't take off over here doesn't really make them a fail. Instead the way they were marketed in the west should be the fail.

      1. Whyfore

        Re: VCD's

        Still get them in SE Asia. They're a lot cheaper than DVDs (around 3 quid usually) but the constant switching of discs makes them hassle and the quality is pretty poor.

        I've also seen something out here which seems to be a precursor to VCDs that look a lot like vinyl discs (or maybe they're just massive VCDs to overcome the switching issue), but those are truly obsolete and I've never seen one in operation.

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: VCD's (@Whyfore)

          Are you thinking of Laserdiscs maybe? They're interesting because, despite the laser and its usual connotations, they're an analogue format — the video is always analogue and the sound was originally analogue but later could be digital, in exactly the same format as a CD. Since there was no compression and the resolution was about double that of VHS, the video quality was really very good.

          You got at most 60 minutes of content per side so you actually need to swap them more often than video CDs though usually that just means flipping them over and high end players could do that for you, often by having two read heads like a floppy drive rather than by physically moving the disc.

          There were a bunch of weird approximately LP sized video formats in the late 70s and early 80s; for a real oddity look up the Capacitance Electronic Disc, which is grooves read by a stylus just like a record.

          1. RAMChYLD
            Thumb Up

            Re: VCD's (@Whyfore)

            @ThomH nope, Whyfore's right- VideoCDs were and still are extremely popular in certain countries in South East Asia even though they're declining in usage.

            See, when they were released, VideoCDs were still comparatively cheap when compared to Laserdisc players, and their smaller disc appeals to collectors. I remember that a single VideoCD movie cost around RM30-50 during when VideoCDs first came out, comparatively Laserdiscs still cost over RM150 for a single movie. And a single VideoCD player costs around a third of a Laserdisc player. As a result, they swiftly knocked Laserdisc out of the market.

            When DVDs came into the market, VideoCDs had become cheaper and the price of players were so affordable that practically everyone had VideoCD players then. For a comparison, DVDs cost some RM80 a movie. Comparatively, a VideoCD movie costs only RM20 by then. Crazy thing is, you could get a china-brand VideoCD player for RM80 (which is practically what everyone over here has, though the player I own was a much more sophisticated Thompson 3-disc jukebox which removed the need to change discs every hour).

            And well, with the release of blu-rays, the price of DVDs are practically falling, and VideoCDs are technically only ever used for karaoke or kiddie genre flicks, as their now very low price ensures that even schoolkids with very small allowances can still afford them.

            (The fact that VideoCDs lack copy protection and regional locking outside of basic PAL or NTSC (which actually only refers to the frame rate of the movie on the disc helps, particularly with importers and pirates)

            1. ThomH Silver badge

              Re: VCD's, etc (@RAMChYLD, others)

              I'm not sure how CD Video or Video CDs match Whyfore's description of "something ... which seems to be a precursor to VCDs that look a lot like vinyl discs (or maybe they're just massive VCDs" — wouldn't those be like VCDs but exactly the same size (and in one case, exactly VCDs)?

              More constructive question: does anyone else remember the Reel Magic, an MPEG1 decoding expansion card for PCs circa 1994? Other than Video CDs, I think Return to Zork had a version that supported it but that's about all. I once saw it being demonstrated with a standard retail copy of Top Gun as evidence that fast motion sequences weren't a problem, but the detail of the story was that somebody had spent weeks painstakingly tweaking the compression of that title. So not a fantastic sales pitch.

              1. RAMChYLD
                Boffin

                Re: VCD's, etc (@RAMChYLD, others)

                Ah, yes. The Reel Magic. It was an ISA half-width full height card, right? My mom fell hook, line and sinker for it and actually bought one for our PC before we bought our Thompson 3-disc jukebox.

          2. Steven Gray

            Re: VCD's

            @ThomH I know about Laserdisc - however there was a short lived format called Video CD (not to be confused with VideoCD, which is what the bulk of this thread is about).

            Video CD was a 12cm version of Laserdisc, 3 minutes of analogue video with digital sound plus space for a few more CD audio tracks. Presumably you needed a Laserdisc player to watch it.

            I have a (apparently rare - I just looked it up) copy of a Level 42 (what can I say? I was young) CD Video single.

            It lives in my CD dungeon and no the video track isn't recognised on any modern kit.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: VCD's

              Can I make an offer for it?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "CD Video", not "Video CD"

              Steven Gray: "Not to be confused with VideoCD [which] was a 12cm version of Laserdisc"

              Right idea, wrong name. (*) There *were* two different formats with confusingly similar names, but the 12cm Laserdisc-based one was called "CD Video" (**) and the later all-digital format- the one discussed in the main article- was called "Video CD".

              As others have said, CD Video was an analogue video format (albeit with some digital audio). Whereas Video CD was essentially an earlier version of the DVD using an older version of the compression scheme and CD-ROM based discs.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD_Video

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_CD

              (*) Though to be fair I suspect this was a typo, as you use the correct name later

              (**) From vague memory, and having brought this up elsewhere, I think the "CD Video" brand may actually have been used on some larger (10 or 12 inch) Laserdiscs in some markets, but don't quote me on that.

          3. Wilseus

            Re: VCD's (@ThomH)

            "Despite the laser and its usual connotations, [LaserDisc] is an analogue format — the video is always analogue and the sound was originally analogue but later could be digital, in exactly the same format as a CD."

            This isn't really true. LaserDiscs were every bit as digital as the CD is. Unlike DVD or Video CDs though, they simply stored a digitised SVHS signal. When played back, the laser still reads the video data as 1s and 0s and then feeds that bitstream though a couple of DACs to recreate the original SVHS chrominance and luminance signals.

            Likewise, the audio was always an LPCM digital bitstream, just like on a CD, but later they supported a Dolby Digital 5.1 bitstream in place of the LPCM one.

            1. Michael Strorm

              Laserdisc *is* analogue

              "This isn't really true. LaserDiscs were every bit as digital as the CD is. Unlike DVD or Video CDs though, they simply stored a digitised SVHS signal."

              Wrong.

              The main video signal on Laserdisc *is* an entirely analogue (i.e. non-digitised) representation of a composite video signal.

              It's true that the Laserdisc video signal is stored via a series of discontinous (on/off) pits and lands. That sounds fundamentally digital, doesn't it? (Especially as digital CDs and DVDs also have physically similar pits and lands).

              However, it's not. The signal is encoded via the *length* and *spacing* of those alternating pits and lands (using analogue "pulse width modulation"). Since that length/spacing is fully variable and non-quantised, that makes it entirely analogue, and not digital.

              1. Bad Beaver

                Re: Laserdisc *is* analogue

                Sidenote: Even the AC-3 signal on Laserdiscs is stored in a RF-signal and you need a demodulator to turn it into digital. They also started out with analog sound only, digital stereo channels were added later. You can often find discs where the analog and digital channels hold different content such as different languages or directors commentary.

                1. Michael Strorm

                  Re: Laserdisc *is* analogue

                  "Sidenote: Even the AC-3 signal on Laserdiscs is stored in a RF-signal and you need a demodulator to turn it into digital."

                  In that case, it's still a digital signal though; you don't "turn" it back to digital (which would imply that it had been converted to analogue then re-digitised). If the system is intentionally designed such that the digital source is modulated, and can later be recovered in its original form via demodulation, then it's still a digital signal.

                  Digital signals can be modulated, transmitted, whatever. They might be affected by noise, but that doesn't change that they're meant to be digital, e.g. with digital radio transmissions. That's not to say that they can't be corrupted (*), but that provided the damage isn't in excess of the system's operating limits and/or error recovery systems, the original "perfect" signal can still be retrieved.

                  This contrasts with Laserdisc's encoded video, which- despite the use of pits and lands to encode it- remained entirely analogue from start to finish, for the reasons given above.

                  (*) In the simplest digital encoding, we might represent a "1" with 100% signal and a "0" with 0%. (**) Some noise might get in to that, even with some background hiss, we know that 10% level is probably still meant to be a 0, and 90% or 110% is still probably a 1. On the other hand, if we get a signal at 50%, is that a corrupted "1" or a "0"? And a 0 might be pushed up to a 1 by burst of high-volume interference. We can spot errors using a checksum, and recover from some minor corruption using digital error recovery.

                  (**) Most digital encoding and transmission schemes are *far* more complex than this though :-)

                  1. Bad Beaver

                    Re: Laserdisc *is* analogue

                    I did not mean to imply it was not digital, sorry for not making that more clear. Just pointing out another LD oddity.

              2. Steven Gray

                Re: Laserdisc *is* analogue

                @AC Yes, a complete typo - in fact reading it back I'm sure it's been tampered with!

                @theodore Actually not worth that much and easily obtained after a quick google :(

                @Michael Strorm Thank you for your succinct explanation of how analogue video can be stored in a laser readable format. Of course this is something I could easily have googled... but for years it bugged me I didn't know the precise answer. But when my daughter asks the question some time in the future, I'll be Grampa Simpson shouting 'Maaatlooock!' at the TV...

                Interesting discussion nonthelemaaatloooock!

              3. Wilseus

                Re: Laserdisc *is* analogue

                Fair enough then. I stand corrected!

        2. Michael Dunn
          Meh

          Re: VCD's

          Remember the Phillips Laser Disc? With the New Doomsday Book project.?

          1. mickey mouse the fith

            Re: VCD's

            When I worked as an amusement tech back in the 80`s we had a few laser disk based machines. I was quite suprised to see a domestic laserdisk player powering our dragons lair machines, although this was probably why the things were so unreliable. They used to overheat a lot as they wernt designed to be hammered for hours on end, jumping and seeking constantly. We also had problems with dirt and sand getting inside the player, which made the thing jump and malfunction. If I recall correctly, we ended up dumping all the laserdisk machines because of the amount of service call outs. The LP sized gold disks were amazing to behold though.

            Some of the LD games were actually quite good, Firefox and mach3 were my faves, although Astron belt and Road avenger get a look in as well. Dragons lair was just a very pretty money sink, not much in the way of gameplay at all.

          2. 1Rafayal

            Re: VCD's

            @Michael Dunn

            I do, if memory serves wasnt that part of an interactive project with the BBC?

            I seem to remember reading somewhere that there was a BBC Master hooked up to a LaserDisc drive, probably due to the amount memory needed to store so much data.

    5. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: VCD's

      You forgot Linux on the desktop.....

    6. stuartnz
      Thumb Up

      Re: VCD's

      Also India - the online store I buy my Hindi movies from has almost every movie in both DVD and VCD formats, except for those which are ONLY in VCD.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah memories...

    My boss in 2005: "Should we get on this Second Life thing? I keep getting asked why we're not on it by Analysts".

    Me: "No, its fucking rubbish". You never get credit for the dodged bullets do you? On the other hand I owned a Newton :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah memories...

      At big blue in about 2005 we were advised from on high that we should be holding meetings in the second life office (rather than use conference calls etc), and be taking part in the new virtual world.

      I wonder how much they paid for that island?

      1. Jesrad
        Gimp

        Re: Ah memories...

        IIRC IBM had 4 private islands that had public access, that size of land amounted at the time to a front payment of $4500 plus a monthly fee of 4x$299 = $1196. They may have as many hidden regions too.

        I bet they paid a lot more on staffing alone (providing content for the islands, which I remember was done through SL contractors - really the smartest option ; and populating the islands with at least a couple PR employees).

        I had 5 such islands at some point. SL was never more than a game to me, and a lucrative one at that - it paid me a brand new car. I bailed out when Linden Labs announced it'd enforce both US federal regulations on sexualized content and casino games, and the EU's VAT to all european players.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Ah memories...

      I attended a conference in Galway where there were various speakers talking about the future of the internet - semantic web etc. One speaker quite seriously believed that Second Life was going to replace the internet, that companies should be building out a presence on Second Life. I thought he was delusional.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah memories...

        I think I attended one very similar. Lots of big consulting firms marketing droids were there trying to say that people were living in second life, and that the property "value" would keep going up. They could only really reference one woman who bought up a load of land when SL first came on line that she then rented out to people. All in all it was bonkers. Can you imagine if the boss said - right chaps, need you all to have a level 80 tank/dps/healer so that we can have Raid-Meetings.

        oh rly.

        1. Mike Flugennock
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Ah memories...

          I think I attended one very similar. Lots of big consulting firms marketing droids were there trying to say that people were living in second life, and that the property "value" would keep going up...

          Ahh, yeah. Second Life. One of those things that was all the rage, and suddenly disappeared without a trace. At the Web design studio where I was working, almost everybody was on it, and wouldn't shut the hell up about it, and kept pestering me to get into it (kind of like Farcebook now).

          Also... am I the only one here who reads these reminiscences about buying "land" on Second Life and thinks of the 1920s Florida real-estate bubble?

    3. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Ah memories...

      I wonder if that boss is still around and now berating his staff because the company is not on Facebook?

      Same shit, different year.....

      1. Michael Strorm

        Re: Ah memories...

        "I wonder if that boss is still around and now berating his staff because the company is not on Facebook? Same shit, different year....."

        The difference is that people do at least use Facebook at a level matching the hype (much as I dislike it personally).

        OTOH, even at its peak, the media obsession with Second Life far, *far* outweighed the number of people who ever actually used it.

        Its prominence was probably because it fitted a cool-looking cyberpunk vision of the future and was suited to self-publicising navel-gazing from the few who actually did take part. This would explain its appeal to TV and media journalists who were worried about being seen as out of touch and missing the next big tech thing. They wanted to get there first.

        But actual real-world even-my-Granny-is-on-it levels of popularity? It never even got close.

    4. BigAndos
      FAIL

      Re: Ah memories...

      I used to work in IT for a major media company. At the time they were laying off thousands of people, "offshoring" others and we couldn't even get budget for the most critical of infrastructure they spent thousands of pounds hiring people to staff a "virtual news room" in Second Life. Those were sensible investment priorities, eh?

  3. Chris Miller

    Palm Pilot never tried to be anything more than a digital diary and contacts list.

    There were soon plenty of third-party apps available for it, including (IIRC) a first-person shooter.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: Palm Pilot never tried to be anything more than a digital diary and contacts list.

      I had a satellite tracker on mine :-)

      //worked a treat!

    2. John Gamble
      Boffin

      Re: Palm Pilot never tried to be anything more than a digital diary and contacts list.

      Not to mention a limited DBA app for off-site Sybase monitoring. I owned three Palm Pilots all told, and never regretted it.

      (There was also a bridge [the card game] and a rogue app, which of course I never used on company time.)

      1. garbo
        Happy

        Re: Palm Pilot never tried to be anything more than a digital diary and contacts list.

        Still use a Zire 71 as calculator, backgammon and chess player. Tethered to my old SE K750 used to connect to the net, sent email, etc. Even took pix. Superb machine, unbreakable OS.

        1. PhilBuk
          Happy

          Re: Palm Pilot never tried to be anything more than a digital diary and contacts list.

          Ditto - still using a Tungsten E. It's on its third battery but it's trivial to replace. Keeps my contacts (about 200) and accounts/passwords (about 250 business and 100 personal); that's all I use it for, but it does those jobs suberbly well. The data is backed up and accessible from the Palm Desktop. I have a few bits of info on my iPhone 4 but a touch keyboard is nowhere near as good as a stylus and Graffiti. Oh, and I've re-soldered the on/off button about twice.

          Phil.

    3. CCCP
      Thumb Up

      Re: Palm Pilot never tried to be anything more than a digital diary and contacts list.

      And there was this nifty news fetching/storing app - can't recall its name... Anyone?

      Anyway, it meant you could easily read all the news pages you wanted on the tube. Proper text layout and size, no (few) ads and no net required.

      Not so easy to do that 15 years later....

      1. whitespacephil

        Re: Palm Pilot never tried to be anything more than a digital diary and contacts list.

        wasn't it called AvantGo! ?

  4. LordHighFixer
    Mushroom

    Secondlife Is still Alive.

    Its not for everyone, but there are new users signing up daily. I understand how some people have no imagination or need to be directed on what to do, and if that is the case then SL is not for you, stick to the kiddie games like world of warcrack, or similar titles where you know what is expected of you and little imagination is required. I think the biggest fail for secondlife is the steep learning curve and lack of advertising. I have been in it for over 5 years and have no intention of quitting any time soon.

    So, go there, join now. I know none of you have lives in the real world. You are here, reading this aren't you?

    1. David Hicks
      Thumb Down

      Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

      I can get away with reading the reg at work, not so much an immersive 3d environment....

    2. Andrew Moore
      FAIL

      Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

      The main fail of SL is it is shit (as pointed out further up thread). The only people that are still there are complete saddos who are trying to convince themselves that it will become relevant again.

      1. AbortRetryFail

        Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

        Why so judgemental, Andrew Moore? People do all sorts of things and have all sorts of hobbies that they personally enjoy. They participate because it gives them enjoyment, not from some attempt to be "relevant".

        For example, I simply can't get my head round football fans. I don't call them saddos though - why should it bother me what they do?

        Likewise, many people still refer to people who have any interest in technology as "saddos" and "nerds". Which makes your comments all the more ironic.

        Live and let live, and vive la difference, I say .

        1. David Evans

          Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

          Secondlife is all very well as a hobby, but in the mid-noughties people were seriously touting it as a new navigation paradigm. I was contacted by a headhunter asking me to flog e-commerce storefronts for it. Coming from a gaming as well as an e-commerce background, I took one look and ran a mile.

        2. toadwarrior
          Gimp

          Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

          Obviously you are not a true nerd if you don't start a jihad against everyone that doesn't agree with you on everything.

      2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

        @Andrew Moore: again?!

        "...who are trying to convince themselves that it will become relevant." Fixed that for you.

        1. Charles Manning

          Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

          "...who are trying to convince themselves that they will become relevant."

          There. Fixed your fix!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Secondlife Is still Alive. @Andrew Moore

        Exactly, I did spend time in SL, and I did build things.. BUT the limiting factor was the finance side of things, you had to pay to upload files.. so your main source of content, which would be students and the un-employed looking for an escape, i.e. people with little money, can't get into the content creating...

        Plus the SL viewer was shite and last I tried it, still is shite!

        I love the idea though, of a virtual world you can visit for a bit of R&R, a pre-cursor to holodecks etc.. but nah.. not good enough to keep peopel interested...

        1. vernes

          Re: Secondlife Is still Alive. @Andrew Moore

          I have one SL account, it's the free account.

          I never spend a cent on it, I have 800 euro's in Linden Dollars for assing around second life.

          These stories about how Second Life was too difficult for them reads to me like people going to the forest and explaining how they were unable to find any trees.

          Clearly they have no concept on what trees actually are.

          And articles like this one confirm to me that fact checking is not one of the mandatory steps in today's journalism.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

            as Playstation Home?

            Similarish concept, though it looks like the latest Tony Hawks skateboard game, minus the wheels. This line from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_Home could do with being rephrased:

            "Home allows users to create a custom avatar, which can be groomed realistically."

    3. Z-Eden
      FAIL

      Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

      Ahhh, second life. A place to go for those with no life in order to try and create one.

      Only, they end up creating weird bizarro sexual fantasy worlds...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

      " I understand how some people have no imagination or need to be directed on what to do, and if that is the case then SL is not for you, stick to the kiddie games like world of warcrack, or similar titles where you know what is expected of you and little imagination is required."

      World of Warcraft is a game, as such it has well defined rules and objectives. Some people find competing with each other within this rule-set to be fun, others do not. Second Life is a simulator and as such has few rules and no objectives beyond the nebulous concept of 'be free and express yourself'. Unfortunately expressing yourself to any real extent in SL requires coughing up real world cash. The more you want to deviate from the norm the more money you have to pay.

      Don't even get me started on the buggy client, lacklustre graphics engine or the fact that most of the actually interesting content is user created and yet those same creators have to pay the game developers real money for the privileged of making their simulator better.

    5. asdf Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

      General minus knows whats up in Second Life. Best griefer out there imho. Sados loved to be tortured.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRHC3GUsDUY

      www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPMEC2mcorY

    6. garbo
      Devil

      Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

      "So, go there, join now. I know none of you have lives in the real world. You are here, reading this aren't you?"

      But then, You are here, writing this aren't you?

    7. Dave Bell

      Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

      I think that's a fair summary. A significant flow of new users, but most of them give up. It also struggles with more than a handful of people in the same place, and uses huge amounts of bandwidth.

      As for the lass salubrious elements, there has been sex in such games since the days they were text-only.

      I think Second Life is a technology that failed to deliver on the hype--I recall some hype from The Register--but it survives. There are better alternatives for corporations and schools, such as OpenSim, which allow everything to be on an internal network. I think Second Life is going to be the big public-access virtual world for a long time. It's going to be small.

      It's not going to be much use in a world of mobile-phone data delivery to smartphones and tablets. Not enough screenspace, and too much data to be paid for.

      1. Derezed
        Meh

        Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

        There's this thing that allows you to see advertising, browse shop fronts and do lots of things online, or 'virtually' as some kids call it. It's called the Internet and doesn't involve walking around some bullshit world looking for stuff (using a tool called 'Google' one can find shopfronts and heart's desires immediately).

        All I know is a handful of deluded academics, greedy pyramid sellers and PR departments love SL. A really, really good reason to hate it. I think I tried it once...entered 'the world' thought "this is shit", then never went back.

    8. dogged
      Trollface

      Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

      Somebody get this man a rain of cocks, stat.

    9. jnewco81
      Trollface

      Re: Secondlife Is still Alive.

      There's always one

  5. Steve I
    WTF?

    What do you mean "For every iPad there's a failure? The iPad should be listed in with this lot for it's lack of innovation, 2nd-rate (if that) technology and poor feature set.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Did you post that from your iPad?

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Steve, please tell me that wasn't a troll. It'll make my day if someone that stupid reads the Reg.

      1. Steve I
        Thumb Up

        Not quite... :-)

        I was just wondering if anybody could be so anti-Apple as to give this a thumbs up, when lo and behold...!

        1. Steve I

          Re: Not quite... :-)

          JDX - I managed to post rabid pro-iPad/Android/Blackberry/Win8 comments, dissing every other platform, in the review of the Google Nexus - the up/down ratio was interesting as was the fact that people will up or down vote the most stupid, illogical comments, if it doesn't say the right thing about their adopted mega-corporation...

          1. JDX Gold badge

            Re: Not quite... :-)

            I'm a bit sad, but also relieved, to hear that.

            Carry on.

            1. Steve I
              Go

              Re: Not quite... :-)

              I should stop really - I'll end up turning the discussion of iOS and Android pros and cons into a farce...

              1. sisk Silver badge

                Re: Not quite... :-)

                I'll end up turning the discussion of iOS and Android pros and cons into a farce...

                You mean it's not already?

            2. Steve I

              Re: Not quite... :-)

              "I'm a bit sad, but also relieved, to hear that."

              No need to be sad - 10 people (at the moment) actually thought that was a reasonable comment...

          2. Fibbles

            Re: Not quite... :-)

            If only you could see who the upvotes/downvotes came from. The subsequent fanboyism league table would be a good Friday read.

      2. Philip Lewis
        Paris Hilton

        You don't read these forums often, do you? (@JDX)

        Were you a regular, you would realise that The Register forums are full of people that stupid, in fact the intellect level evident from posts seems to have been in sharp decline for a number of years.

        Mention Apple = hatred+bile+mindnummingly stupid commentary from the commentards.

        Interestingly, the article mentioned several of the ancestors of the iPad, and it takes a certain sort of defective mind to fail to recognise they elegance of Apple's solution.

        paris: because she has the same first initial as me, we are linked

  6. Victor Ludorum

    Not to mention

    sixdegrees.com, the Facebook/LinkedIn that was five years too early...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmmm

    there were a lot more items that should have been in that list but were not.... over the years there has been many a great product that just missed the mark, and ultimately replace by something not as good...

    betamax video was far better than VHS, but was left behind... ARM processors, although now flourishing, imagine computing if ARM got the development that x86 cpus got ? RISC OS, again, still in development, but imagine if it got the audience windows got in the early days... Acorn Archimedes, 32bit processors 5 ti 6 years before the PC market !! , Saga Saturn Console... WAY before its time !! and while we are on saga, the SEGA Mega CD? video phones?....... mini disk, why did 8 track fail when compact cassettes flourish?

    1. Darryl

      Re: Hmmmmm

      I can answer two of your points... Betamax wasn't 'far better' than VHS - it was a little better, but the tapes were too short to record anything like a movie without switching to slower speeds and negating the benefits. The later extended versions of Betamax were lower quality, while VHS kept improving. If you're talking about Beta, which was used by TV stations, that's a different animal - much higher quality (and much larger tapes)

      And the reason 8 track failed was because of its short usable life... I'm old enough to remember trees on the side of the road draped in long gossamer strands of Dark Side of the Moon after someone's 8 track ate yet another tape. While 8 tracks were more convenient, cassettes were a lot more reliable.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Beta vs Vhs

        Most common tapes L750 and E180

        L750 is a smaller sized cassette and records 3 hours 15 minutes, E180 3 hours.

        Quality top end Sony deck beats all others, SL-HF950 was brilliant in super mode.

        BTW the tape length of an L750 is 750 feet

        Beta was just better!

        1. PhilBuk

          Re: Beta vs Vhs

          Yep, but Sony kit cost a bomb and - all the pr0n was on VHS. That was the real reason why VHS 'won'.

          Phil.

      2. Jess

        Re: Hmmmmm

        it was noticebly better on video (but the sound was a tiny bit worse.) it processed sync pulses differently and hence was better for copying (since it was a compact Umatic, in effect) and macrovision didn't mess it up.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Hmmmmm

          Beta HiFi sound was indistinguishable from Vhs HiFi despite the 20% faster writing speed, but Beta mono was worse.

          It only needed 1 decent sync pulse to work as it was designed to deal with bad signals.

          Yes I did copy a few rental DVDs to SuperBetaHiF in anamorphic mode, best looking home video tapes I have seen until DV.

          Also copied 2 films I had to get exchanges on, until I got the replacements back.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmmmm

        "Betamax wasn't 'far better' than VHS"

        Quality WAS better on betamax and on the higher end machines the long play mode was still better than VHS , but it was all about cost.... JVC basically gave away VHS machines to the TV rental companies and initially licensed the format to other manufacturers at next to no cost....

        The money was made back on the licensing of format to film distribution companies. The fact that VHS was in almost every video owning home made it a easy decision for the distributors to support it their end .

        I know quite a few people that had bought betamax machines but supplemented it with vhs for film rental but used the betamax for personal recordings....

        and where does V2000 or VCC come into the story..... much better than both Betamax and VHS but just arrived at the party too late !!

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Hmmmmm

          V2000 was better for trick play, but not outright picture quality, remember they all were helical scan systems and VHs had the smallest drum.

          Beta 74.5mm

          V2000 65mm

          Vhs 62mm

          Beta used the highest frequencies of the 3 for both colour and luminance.

          Super formats, SVhs tried to be better but still used Vhs colour resolution so quite often looked like a water colour. For normal use the lower resolution but higher colour resolution meant that a Super Beta recording (300 line) was nicer to watch than SVhs (400 line). PAL never got ED Beta (500 line).

          Please note these tests were carried out with a Panasonic SVhs and a Sony SuperBeta, decent tapes, decent TV via Scart.

          Oh and for serial copying Beta holds out much better, no need for image enhancers either, you often saw the small print not suitable for Beta on them. Vhs->Vhs is a bit worse than Beta->Beta->Beta. Beta->SBeta->Vhs was better than Vhs->Vhs.

          Copying - why?

          Well it started on a SL-F1 copied to a SL-HF950, then to either a VTCM40 or a Panasonic I cannot remember the model of but cost my dad a lot.

          Video Compact Cassette - the only format worse than Vhs

      4. Stevie Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Hmmmmm

        Total Bollox!

        Beta copies of movies and shows I recorded in the early 80s on my Dad's machine (PAL) still play and look like I made 'em yesterday despite being played to death in the case of The Young Ones and The Revenge of the Pink Panther. I had no problem in getting films to fit without reducing the speed either.

        Stuff I made on a top-of-the-line Sony VHS with a flying erase head and jog shuttle looked crap upon replay the first time.

        You sir, are spouting "everyone knows" instead of proppa nollige.

        I call shenanigans on your miserable head.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Hmmmmm

          I recently archived a load of old recordings to hard disk.

          Played back on the machine they were recorded on in the 1980s, via DV to convert to digital, then firewire.

          A lot of recordings held up brilliantly, especially the ones on Pro-X L500s, some of them ended up on a professional DVD of a preserved railway, and my recordings were a lot better than the others they had from that period (I still remember his portable Vhs on a small trolley, I could carry my SLF1).

      5. Dexter

        Re: Hmmmmm

        And the reason 8 track failed was because of its short usable life... I'm old enough to remember trees on the side of the road draped in long gossamer strands of Dark Side of the Moon after someone's 8 track ate yet another tape. While 8 tracks were more convenient, cassettes were a lot more reliable.

        --------------

        You can record stuff onto cassettes; 8 tracks were read-only.

        1. Mike Flugennock
          Facepalm

          Re: Hmmmmm

          You can record stuff onto cassettes; 8 tracks were read-only...

          Actually, there was a stretch in the early '70s where you could get 8-track recorders, and some fairly high-end ones, too (at least inasumch as 8-track could ever be "high-end"). Many component systems offered by major manufacturers offered 8-track recorder options.

          I once owned an 8-track recorder -- bought second-hand -- which I fooled around with for a while. Back in high school, an audio freak friend of mine owned a quadrophonic system -- talk about a technology FAIL -- with an 8-track recorder in it. Yeah, that's right, a quadrophonic 8-track recorder. Four mic inputs, four mics -- jeezus, we had fun with that thing. My friend used it to record his band's rehearsals.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Beta

            >Yep, but Sony kit cost a bomb and - all the pr0n was on VHS. That was the real reason why VHS 'won'.

            Sony explicitly barred pr0n from being ontheir Beta platform. Having learnt from history, they deliberately inferred that the would raise no such objection to 'adult content' studios releasing their content on Blu-Ray, during that Blu-Ray / HDDVD skirmish.

            1. Wilseus
              Trollface

              Re: Beta

              > Sony explicitly barred pr0n from being ontheir Beta platform. Having learnt from history, they deliberately inferred that the would raise no such objection to 'adult content' studios releasing their content on Blu-Ray, during that Blu-Ray / HDDVD skirmish.

              Sony learning from history? That doesn't happen often!

      6. Mike Flugennock
        Devil

        Re: Hmmmmm

        And the reason 8 track failed was because of its short usable life... I'm old enough to remember trees on the side of the road draped in long gossamer strands of Dark Side of the Moon after someone's 8 track ate yet another tape. While 8 tracks were more convenient, cassettes were a lot more reliable...

        ...not to mention the fact during the course of an album, the 8-track cartridge player had to switch tracks four times, meaning that longer songs were often faded and split in odd places in the 8-track versions of albums. The listening experience of albums like Dark Side Of The Moon or Close To The Edge were pretty much shot to hell with that goddamn' KERCHUNK every fifteen or twenty minutes. The impact of the famous "side 2" of Abbey Road was murdered by track switching. Oh, yeah, and the hiss. CD aficiionados like to rag on cassettes for surface noise, but 8-tracks took the prize. HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS...

        Cassettes were smaller, sounded better, and you could fit a whole album comfortably on one side of a 90-minute tape, or one side of an album comfortably on each side of a 60-minute tape. They got even better as time went on -- chromium oxide, metal oxide, 100-minute tapes...

        (Spawn Of Satan icon because, well.. 8-tracks.)

    2. Suburban Inmate

      Sega Saturn

      It was a dual 25MHz CPU job, with the second reportedly shoehorned in after Sega got wind of the 33MHz CPU in the PlayStation. The result was a console that was an awkward steaming turd to code for.

      Developers coded the simpler and quicker PS versions first, then porting to the Saturn some time later or never at all (sometimes a fat wad of Sony readies aided the decision making), with the product quality suffering along the way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sega Saturn

        It was a dual 25MHz CPU job, with the second reportedly shoehorned in after Sega got wind of the 33MHz CPU in the PlayStation. The result was a console that was an awkward steaming turd to code for.

        so, bloody lazy coders strike again !!!!

        all coders want is machines they can just copy and paste code into difrent SDK's...

  8. steward
    Facepalm

    Bob...

    A lot of screwy-looking boxes.

    I think it's called Windows 8 now.

    1. Armando 123

      Re: Bob...

      ... but without a floppy-eared dog. And as a beagle rescuer, I will always give more of a damn if a floppy-eared dog is involved.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bob...

        But has that damned paperclip survived?

        Hello, it look as if you are trying to post a comment on The Register. Would you like some help with tha aaa aaaaa aaaaaAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Happy

      Re: Bob...

      Correct.

    3. Fibbles

      Re: Bob...

      A small part of me really really really wants something like Bob for navigating my computer (though with proper 3D rendering). I know it'd be slow and clunky compared compared to a WIMP but it'd look damn cool and I could finally pretend I'm living in the VR future that sci-fi has been leading me to believe is just 'a few years away' ever since I learned to read.

    4. Don Mitchell

      Re: Bob...

      I was in MS Research when Bob was still being developed. Supposedly, billg was given a demo, and after a few minutes he said, "Get that f****** clown off my screen". The hungarian prefix for the active agent object was subsequently changed to tfc.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: Bob...

        I got kicked out of the Bob launch party in Toronto. I asked the politically incorrect question, what do you call quadriplegic in a swimming pool. I got the last laugh when we only sold one copy.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pointcast

    Pointcast did have some logic ... it was back in the days when a 56k modem was cutting edge so surfing the web was a slow process so it seemed like a good idea that when you weren't using your PC instead of just running an inane screen saver your PC was actively downloading a collection of news stories/articles/etc from categories you'd said you were interested in ... this worked at its best in the US context where your modem dialled up to a local, and thus free, number so there was no cost associated in leaving your PC on connected all the time.

    However, on the other side when it was at its height I spent a few months working in HP in Palo Alto and I remember reading a missive from the IT dept there telling people not to use PointCast on company PCs since there networking monitoring had detected that 25-30% of all the incoming network traffic to the HP intranet was coming from PointCast!

    1. Nate Amsden

      Re: Pointcast

      I loved Pointcast myself, not so much for the client but it made an awesome screen saver, with all the various things to look at, stock tickers, weather, news, etc. All of the animations were nice too, if it was around today I'd probably run it on a dedicated monitor just for the screen saver.

      It did use quite a bit of bandwidth, I was consistently the top user of internet bandwidth at my company by a factor of about 10x mainly due to pointcast. Not that it was a problem for me, the IT folks (who were my friends) didn't care.

    2. Ilgaz

      Thanks to operators, pointcast is back on mobile

      Did you see google currents on Android? If you got an Android device, make sure to check it out.

      Stupid operator limits made a lot of people use it, the pointcast from google. Using something like that while you have 14.4 mbit+ connected device is absurd but needed.

      Its cache dir on sdcard is horrifying 400M btw. So, this is how these things work.

      If pointcast guys gave simple instructions or just compiled& shipped a custom "squid" cache server, companies wouldn't hate them.

  10. AbortRetryFail

    Gizmondo

    I was hired as a contractor to work with Gizmondo, and it really was a pile of shite. But then again, since the whole thing was allegedly just a front for syphoning off large sums of Venture Capital (allegedly) which included crashing a Ferrari Enzo (remember that?) then I don't think it really mattered.

  11. Wanda Lust
    WTF?

    Waves of nostalgia

    What's with all these articles of nostalgia, does El Reg have a hunch that the Mayan prophecy will come to pass?

    1. Darryl

      Re: Waves of nostalgia

      Maybe they've just received the demographic reports that say most of the readers are old farts like me...

  12. What of IT?

    BOB...

    I remember when Packard Bell's... eeeuurgh, used to use one of those shiddy BOB like interfaces. It were right crap, and so was the hardware. and to think, PC World used to charge upwards of £1200 for a shiddy desktop with a patronising GUI.

    1. Pete4000uk
      Alert

      Re: BOB...

      Remember? One of them was my first PC!

      Still got it in the shed, complete with its DVD decoder card installed (remember them?)!

    2. Test Man
      Thumb Up

      Re: BOB...

      Yep, the "Navigator". I (my dad) bought one. 4MB "beast" with CD drive... for £1500! What mugs we were!

  13. mark 63 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I remember the horror i felt when Bill G started explaining how the desktop was gonna become a "Webtop"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fortunately...

      Bill G has a nearly perfect track record at having his predictions for the future of tech fail to materialise.

      1. Wyrdness
        Devil

        Re: Fortunately...

        Bill Gates predicted in 2001, that fondleslabs would caputure a huge amount of the PC market. Of course, Microsoft (in an alternative Ballmer-less universe) managed to capitalise on that prediction and become market leaders, leaving Apple and Android far behind.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Fortunately...

          So that's why OS/2 flopped: Bill wrote that it would become the next desktop OS. IBM's marketing ineptitude couldn't match that, even though they apparently tried quite hard.

          (It's in the foreword to an OS/2 book*) I have somewhere)

          *) those quaint piles of sheets of macerated tree pulp, adorned with black (usually) pigments

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Alternative Ballmer-less universe?

          Nope, not even in an alternate universe. I think the stuff Bill G is doing now is great. But he never had the sort of vision that (like him or hate him) Steve Jobs had at Apple.

        3. Ilgaz

          Who to blame?

          PC tablets failed mainly because of battery life, heat. "Intel" as in Wintel deserves a lot of beating because of their fixation to CISC.

          Now they are paying the price and still insist on it, pathological obsession.

  14. Horridbloke
    Headmaster

    CDI != VCD

    The Compact Disc Interactive things were not a "VideoCD rebrand", but one of the rubbish early-nineties attempts at doing a console based around a high-capacity (for the time) optical disk. I remember seeing reviews of games for CDI.

    I think most of the CDI units could play VCD but needed an additional hardware video decoder costing in the region of £200 - a lot of money in those days.

    1. Alan Bourke

      Re: CDI != VCD

      CDI was sort of like playing crap FMV games on a Sky box.

    2. Steve I

      Re: CDI != VCD

      Wasn't there an MPEG-2 board available for the Commodore CDTV, to enable VCD playback?

      1. Horridbloke
        Pint

        Re: CDI != VCD

        I think (and have just wiki'd to verify) it was the later AGA-based Amiga CD32 that could take a decoder to play Video CDs.

        I remember viewing a Video-CD demo in the big Virgin store in Birmingham. It was playing on a fifteen inch telly and the compression artefacts were appalling.

        1. Steve I

          Re: CDI != VCD

          Ah - but did you know at the time that the artefacts were awful or was seeing video of a shiny disk impressive in itself?

          1. Horridbloke

            Re: CDI != VCD

            Consumer digital video was a huge novelty at the time. In the twenty years since then we've become accustomed to horrible blockiness and strange motion smearing - only a few years ago I was astonished that people seemed happy with the terrible image quality on Sky - but back then it was strange and terrible. The big selling point for Video CDs according to the magazines pimping this technology was - wait for it - rock steady freeze-frames.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Gimp

              Re: CDI != VCD

              "The big selling point for Video CDs according to the magazines pimping this technology was - wait for it - rock steady freeze-frames."

              And we all know that every consumer video technological revolution is driven by the porn industry :-)

              1. PhilBuk
                Happy

                Re: CDI != VCD

                And freezing the relevant bits in 'Return of the Jedi'.

                Phil.

                1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                  Re: CDI != VCD

                  CDI - I remembered a demo unit in Makro, playing Dragon's Lair. This was around the time that 'FMV' and 'Pre Rendered Sequences' were buzzwords, and Boots could make you Kodak PhotoCDs.

                  ---

                  Re: Rock-solid freeze frames... I remember renting 'Desperado' on VHS, and finding one sequence was very worn and 'snowy' with noise. It was the bit where the leading actress was displaying her nekkid Blugarian Airbags.

  15. Mattjimf
    FAIL

    Second Life

    I had the "joys" of working in a call centre, where they also did Second Life support, one of the guys going through training to support fruit flavoured phones had worked on that part of the business and said that the amount of calls they would get from kids who hadn't been fed, washed or taken care of by they're parents because they were sucked into this "reality" was shocking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Second Life

      It aint even KOREA tho...

  16. Haku

    Hey whevever happened to VRML?

    When I joined the 'information superhighway' in the mid 90s I was looking forward to websites with a bit more depth to them.

    I'm still waiting ;)

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Hey whevever happened to VRML?

      When I joined the 'information superhighway' in the mid 90s I was looking forward to websites with a bit more depth to them...

      Hey, yeah, right on, pal. Why isn't the 3-D Web on the list of technology FAILs?

      Come to think of it... I'm generalizing here, admittedly, but there seems to be a sort of a pattern to a lot of the Internet/Web-based tech FAILs, in that the ones that blasted the most hype failed the most massively.

  17. TeeCee Gold badge

    Video CD.

    The other Elephant firmly placed in that room and standing on VCDs toes was the established Laserdisk.

    VCD offered smaller disks, but in every other regard it was nowhere near as good as Laserdisk so was doomed to die. Unfortunately for VCD, the number of people who cared so deeply about the size of their optical disks that the loss of single-disk convenience and quality was overridden was too small a market.

    DVD offered as good, or even better, quality than LD on the smaller disk size and succeeded.

    The only place VCD seemed to establish a niche was as a convenient format for moody download content, as it worked with relatively cheap recordable disks and the image files were small enough to handle. I believe it's still quite popular in places where piracy is rife and bandwidth is limited for that reason.

    1. Steve I
      Go

      Re: Video CD.

      Laserdisks are lovely :-)

      Picked up loads (i,e, my collection went from about 15 to 100+) when DVD started to pick up in the late '90s.

      Picture quality of the best LDs is close to DVD, sound quality is the same (or perhaps better, as I believe it's less compressed) and some of the LD box sets (espeically the Disney ones) are really nice with books, artwork etc - like comparing album art for a double LP vs a CD. I'm sure LDs will be more collectible than DVD for this reason.

      LD may also be the only place where you can see Han shoot first (Star Wars) in digital 5.1 surround sound - I'm not sure if the first realese of SW on DVD had Han or Greedo shooting first.

      1. Steve I
        Go

        Re: Video CD.

        Also, for over a decade, until DVD came along, Laserdisk was the premium home video format. What else would you run through your projector & 100"-screen home cinema - VHS?

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: Video CD.

          Do you actually see Han shoot first, or do you see a bit of it and then need to turn the disc over?

          I thought laserdisc discs degraded, melted or otherwise were largely unplayable unless you treated them perfectly. Any problems with LaserRot?

          1. Steve I

            Re: Video CD.

            Indeed. Actually, most of the breaks for disk side-swaps are in sensible places, although I'm glad I picked a player that did the flip automatically (5 or 6 seconds of black screen) and CLV(?) disks got about 1hr per side, so one disk for a typical film.

            Not sure about rot though - I will have to check some older disks thoughly now that I don't have too mess around with video cables to play a disk, as it's all routed through the new amp (although the 4K upscaling is probably of little benefit...)

          2. Peter H. Coffin

            Re: Video CD.

            Nope, all of my Laserdiscs are still in good shape.

          3. Bad Beaver

            Re: Video CD.

            Bah, humbug ;) You need to really make an effort to harm a Laserdisc. Like break them, throw them at the wall and crack them, burn a hole in them with a lighter. They are tough. A friend once forgot one in the car in summer and it warped to the shape of his dashboard… we just got it re-heated in the sun on a flat surface for a day and it played fine again afterwards.

            Laser Rot is an issue that happens via contamination in production, eating away the disc from in between the layers:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_rot#Laser_rot

            There is nothing you can do about it except playing the disc on the ultra high-end Pioneer HLD-X9, the red laser of which can supposedly "see through" the rot in most cases. It tends to be cheaper to replace the disc, though, that player does not come cheaply.

      2. graeme leggett

        Re: Video CD.

        Laserdisk was the way to pick up somethings in good quality with subtitles as opposed to US NTSC VHS with dubbing.

        Could be pricey though, Pioneer NTSC/PAL output Laserdisk players being expensive and rare secondhand.

        And then DVD really took off and made everything available in a much more convenient size

        Hence my defunct Anime collection on LD somewhere in the loft and a LD player in garage.

        1. Steve I

          Re: Video CD.

          "my defunct Anime collection on LD somewhere in the loft and a LD player in garage"

          If you have the player and the media it's not defunct... :-)

          You could at least copy them to DVD.

          1. Bad Beaver
            Thumb Up

            Re: Video CD.

            Seconded! Getting my collection onto a harddrive is one of my projects for 2013. My player will not last forever. Speaking of it: get that player out of storage and use it every once in a while!

  18. Peter Simpson 1
    Coat

    Just threw out

    - a Palm V.

    Audrey is still in a box somewhere (but I got her cheap -- $75 from Tiger Direct IIRC)

    So that's two for me

    //it's the one with the pockets filled with techno-trash, thanks

    1. Dexter

      Re: Just threw out

      Just sold my old Palm IIIx, complete with folding full-size keyboard, after 12 years faithful service - still working fine, but I no longer had any computers with an old-fashioned RS232 interface to sync with, and the desktop software would only run on my old machines. Palms were very good machines.

      Replaced with an iPod Touch, which is an excellent (and under-rated) PDA.

  19. jason 7 Silver badge
    Meh

    You can tell xmas is close and enthusiasm is flagging.

    This is the first of the 'Worst tech' articles you see a lot of this time of year.

    Cut and paste from last year.

    1. CADmonkey
      Flame

      Welcome Scrooge!

      you forgot "Bah humbug"

  20. Captain_Aluminium

    Where's my VR headset?

    I was hoping to see VR in this list, but maybe it's so dead it didn't even make the radar...

    I had massively high-hopes for VR back in the day, was so disappointed that it didn't really happen. Or did it and I never saw..?

    Admittedly, if it had become a consumer-viable product, I would actually be inseparable from my goggles. Like, my skin would be growing around them and my eyes wouldn't have seen natural light in years. So, maybe they're doing us a favour...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's my VR headset?

      Don't worry, google are trying to fix that for you...

      I am waiting for VR Contacts, and the resulting eye exams before the start of all tests from primary school until you leave education...

    2. Neil B
      Alert

      Re: Where's my VR headset?

      Current cutting edge of semi-consumer VR:

      http://www.oculusvr.com/

      Latency still an issue.

  21. Huw D Silver badge

    What about that...

    ...Amstrad email phone nightmare thing

    1. moonface

      Re: What about that...

      I will never forget the emailer. A real clash of mystery over reality, leading to fortunes won and lost. God I wish I had a crystal ball I would be a millionaire.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/694409.stm

      "The mystery over what kind of internet device Amstrad would launch had strongly boosted the firm's share price by more than 600%, from 83 pence at the end of September 1999 to 607 pence at the end of trading on Tuesday." (28 March, 2000)

      "However, disappointment over the fact that the e-m@iler will not allow consumers to actually surf the internet made many investors to reconsider Amstrad's stock market valuation."

      "The firm's share price plunged by as much as 14% before recovering slightly." (it didn't recover for long, as it was shit!)

  22. Z-Eden

    VCD but no laserdisc?

  23. Tony Green

    "Failures", surely, not "Fails"

    Unless we're trying to be a load of mindless Americans (with apologies for the tautology).

    1. Toxteth O'Gravy
      Thumb Down

      Re: "Failures", surely, not "Fails"

      Mark down for the racism.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: "Failures", surely, not "Fails"

        Downvote for Minaj-level understanding of racism - Americans are not a race.

        Frankly, if Americans were a race, we'd almost all be racists.

        1. Toxteth O'Gravy

          Re: "Failures", surely, not "Fails"

          Xenophobia then. And Brits have some way to go before they're in a reasonable position to run around calling folk from other nations ignorant - and I speak as one, not as an American.

          1. Jediben
            Trollface

            Re: "Failures", surely, not "Fails"

            Speak as one for yourself only then, you Limey :p

  24. Christopher Rogers

    If we are talking about doomed tech sectors, what about the majority of the British PC industry? just rolled over and died under IBM compatible machines....

  25. MJI Silver badge

    Why Video CD was successfull

    It was in the far east until DVD got cheaper

    Players were dirt cheap, tapes got fungus growing on them in hot humid climes.

    DVD cost a lot more, VCD so cheap poor people can buy it in the far east.

  26. sisk Silver badge

    Second Life

    Second Life doesn't belong on this list. It may not have become the new interface to the internet that Linden Labs intended, but it is still hugely successful. Both Linden and many of its users make a great deal of money off of it. I know several people who make enough money off of SL that it is their soul income.

    Sadly my own store doesn't do that well (probably because I actually do have a first life, complete with a wife, kids, friends, and frequent exposure to natural light, so I don't spend hours every day creating virtual merchandise), but I still make enough that I never have a need to spend real money to buy Lindens to get stuff in world. In fact I occasionally sell Lindens for some pocket change, so it's become one of those rare hobbies that not only pays for itself but actually makes me money.

    If the number of noobs I regularly run into there is any indication they are still getting a ton of new users. This is despite the fact that I've long since abandoned the areas they usually frequent, like the freebie markets. There's another reason that I wouldn't call it a failure.

    1. Jesrad
      Thumb Down

      Re: Second Life

      SL is far from successful. I say this as a long-time player (8+ years). It had its peak somewhere around 2007, and since then its population and economy just kept declining: first-time users nowadays mostly take a look then leave forever, the long-standing (oligopolist) land business is surviving merely by siphoning off the capital investment from wide-eyed newcomers who believe they can just plop down a BIAB and start making money, persist for a few months then eat the cost and leave. The best a new business-oriented player can do now is mostly catch other newcomers' first few bucks before they go for good. Decline has turned the whole thing into a sort of big Ponzi scheme fed by a quickening life-and-death cycle of true end-users. In simpler words, SL is coasting on the momentum from its accumulated capital of better years.

      Even at the height of it, you could count on your hands the number of players truly making a living from their SL activity (most of whom I met), and I was never one of them. I earned enough from SL to buy myself a brand new car though, so I can say I got close.

      Its architecture is still unscalable, as it ever was. There have been improvements (making the protocol RESTful, for one) but it's still so bloated only a full rewrite of the server could fix it. And the UI suicide the SL viewer 2 was ? Just another nail in the coffin.

      1. kparsons84
        Trollface

        Re: Second Life

        Those remote controlled cars are good value aren't they

  27. pavsmith
    Pint

    BOB?

    Isn't BOB just Windows 8 in disguise... errr...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux?

    Where is Linux on this list?

    1. David Hicks
      Meh

      Re: Linux?

      One of the most, if not the single most popular/common OS on the planet.... sure I can see why that would be in a list of technology failures!

      1. jason 7 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Linux?

        Probably referring to the almost annual Duke Nukem like adage of "**** (insert year)..the year Linx goes mainstream!"

        I and many others are still waiting.

        1. David Hicks
          Flame

          Re: Linux?

          Yeah I know, "The Year of the Linux Desktop" perhaps deserves the fail tag. Though I'm not convinced that was ever anything but a taunt by the 'anti' side.

          Linux is incredibly mainstream though. It's the most popular smartphone kernel, it's on a lot of wireless routers and other infrastructure, it's in your tv, it's running your ISP servers, it's on credit card terminals and it's in a hell of a lot of other places. You're quite likely to have more linux devices in your life than windows ones (unless you're a sysadmin!)

          Perhaps we ought to change the ironic slanging to "next year will be the year of the GNOME desktop" ;)

          /flame on!

          1. sisk Silver badge

            Re: Linux?

            You're quite likely to have more linux devices in your life than windows ones (even if you're a sysadmin!)

            There, fixed that for you.

            Seriously though, the year of the Linux desktop may actually come now that Microsoft has foisted the horror of Windows 8 on us. I doubt it though. Despite the fact that it runs on half of everything that plugs into a wall (yes I exaggerate slightly) the average consumer has still never heard of it. Even if they have, they're likely to have the impression that its one of those things that only computer geeks mess with (an impression which is neither entirely right nor entirely wrong).

            Sadly I think Microsoft will succeed in killing the desktop off entirely before we see the year of the Linux desktop, and that's something that I thought would never happen before I encountered Windows 8. Still, our chances of seeing it now are probably better than they've ever been before.

  29. Alan 6

    CD-V

    CD-V was an alternative to VCD.

    I have a CD-V of New Order's True Faith, which I'm told contains the award winning video directed by Philippe Decouflé, but as I've never seen a CD-V player, I've never been able to play the disc.

    1. me 13
      Gimp

      Re: CD-V

      CDV aka CD Video, was a short-lived audio/video format that was used in the mid-late 1980s. It is exactly the same size as a standard 5-inch CD but almost always gold in colour. It contains analog video data, plus usually 4-5 standard digital audio tracks.

      I've got a rather large collection of 5-inch and 12-inch discs and as for playing them, all you need is a Laserdisc player.

  30. R Cox

    Blu Ray

    I wonder if Blu Ray is going to be a tech fail, reported in a few years as a product released when everyone was moving away from physical media. One reason DVD got a big boost was because we could play them on our computers, and as a bonus could use them for storage. Recently purchasing a few laptops, none of them with Blu Ray, I cannot say the same for this new format.

    The sales of entertainment on physical media seems to be pretty flat. It has been four years and Blu Ray sales make up may 20-30% of sales in the US, and given the higher average price for Blu Ray, that means significantly lower volume.

    Some say it is early still in the format, but I don't see the restrictive Blu Ray model flourishing in this time when most people are growing up in a much less restrictive entertainment environment.

    1. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: Blu Ray

      I don't really need to pay £15 for a BD to just see better pore definition on some actors face.

      I and many others have woken up to the fact that many discs purchased since the dawn of DVD only get watched once, sometimes twice and thats it.

      Waste of money really. With cinema now so expensive other options need to be explored.

      Why buy a new release BD for £15 when you can rent it from the local library for £2? A netflix or Lovefilm subscription for £8 a month also reduces the need to buy physical media.

      Buying discs just takes up space. Most of my DVD collection went to Oxfam.

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Blu Ray

        That still leaves rentals. Physical media may seem "quaint" but it's still the most effective transport mechanism available. Streaming formats are inferior either in terms of quality or their ability to actually be streamed. I recently experienced that with a high quality stream. It looked pretty good but playing it in real time just didn't work.

        Spinny disks allow for fewer compromises when you're actually watching the content.

        Netflix streaming quality is generally pretty crappy and their selection isn't much better. Plus the lack of personal property rights on "streams" means that companies like Netflix are always at the mercy of upstream content owners. That's why their spinny disk library is much more comprehensive.

        1. jason 7 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Blu Ray

          Oh rentals still work. In my Lovefilm subscription I get as many single DVD rentals as I can watch.

          It's just actually buying media to keep that seems rather old fashioned and expensive, to me anyway.

          I guess at age 38 I realised I amassed 'a lot of crap I never used' and decided there were more important things in life, like beer and such.....

          Never looked back.

          1. Mike Flugennock

            Re: Blu Ray

            It's just actually buying media to keep that seems rather old fashioned and expensive, to me anyway.

            Maybe I'm just old-fashioned (55) but owning a copy of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Yellow Submarine or The Maltese Falcon is, to me, just as important as owning copies of The Sun Also Rises or Sirens Of Titan or One Hundred Years Of Solitude. I'm weird that way.

            I guess at age 38 I realised I amassed 'a lot of crap I never used' and decided there were more important things in life, like beer and such...

            Well, it's like they always say -- "you only rent beer."

        2. Matt_payne666

          Re: Blu Ray

          oh yes, as the quality from a streamed service comes close to the 50GB of HD picture and 8 channels of HD sound....

          1. Bod

            Re: Blu Ray

            "oh yes, as the quality from a streamed service comes close to the 50GB of HD picture and 8 channels of HD sound...."

            Can do. I had that attitude in the past, but my new Samsung telly with Smart TV have been playing with Netflix HD streams and better still BBC iPlayer HD and some of the professional content on Vimeo HD. Quality varies on the material, but some have been very close enough picture quality (this on a 48" telly) that I feel a comparitive fortune on a BD is a waste of money and space unless I really was nuts about owning it on a disc. I've been more surprised that the HD quality is so good while streaming and yet I have a lowly 5mbps broadband!

            But if streaming is not good enough, I can set the Sky HD box to pull down on-demand content (now also including BBC iPlayer) and the quality is often better... and in Dolby Digital. It's not streamed, but vastly quicker than waiting for a physical disc to arrive in the post and in some cases playable buffered within a few minutes.

            Only thing getting me to buy stuff on discs still is lack of content online and stuff I really want or a true bargain (22 Bond films in HD for £75 for example as Amazon now have, that's £3.40 per film on BD with all the extras. That lot would take a rather long time to download!).

            Mostly though I don't buy DVDs or Blu Ray now. I used to buy hundreds of DVDs but they sit there having been watched once and are mostly a waste of money. I'm not falling again for buying crap I don't need with Blu Ray.

        3. Mike Flugennock

          Re: Blu Ray

          Spinny disks allow for fewer compromises when you're actually watching the content...

          ...not to mention that spinny disks keep functioning even if your 'Net feed goes down. My wife is a big Netflix fan, and when I try to point this out to her, she calls me a Luddite. Bah.

          Netflix streaming quality is generally pretty crappy and their selection isn't much better. Plus the lack of personal property rights on "streams" means that companies like Netflix are always at the mercy of upstream content owners. That's why their spinny disk library is much more comprehensive.

          I've watched streaming movies on Netflix with the wife a couple of times. The image quality is just OK; there's some visible artifacts -- more or less depending on the scene -- and some playback hiccups here and there, and overall I can't understand what the wife is so gaga about. I try to point out the advantages of owning copies of movies and TV shows on real, actual physical media, and not depending on the whims of corporations for the availability of the stuff she likes to watch, but she just gives me the "Luddite" rap.

          Selection didn't exactly set my ass on fire, either. It honestly wasn't that much better than the selection you got in old-school B&M video shops -- all your standard-issue Big Hit Blockbusters, some of your standard-issue predictably quirky indie flicks, and a smattering of your "classics" -- and not a real deep selection of "classics" at that.

      2. David Hicks
        Thumb Up

        'I don't really need to pay £15 for a BD to just see better pore definition on some actors face'

        Oh but High-Def is a *great* leveller.

        You realise that the prettiest people that hollywood has to offer, even with all the makeup artists money can buy, still have bad skin and even the occasional lady-moustache.

      3. CCCP
        Facepalm

        Re: Blu Ray

        @jason 7

        Why are you looking at pores? I find things happen in many places in a movie scene. But in the actors' pores is not one them.

        Actually, it depends on the size of the screen and at what distance you're watching. A well-encoded BD knocks the pants of DVD on the right kit when you're close enough to a full HD screen.

        BDs drop down to £5-7 after a few months and I quite like having a little library.

        Streaming is a joke on typical UK broadband speed, like mine.

        1. jason 7 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Blu Ray

          I guess you didn't twig that I was being obtuse/sarcastic about the benefit of HD regarding pores.

          I'm not that bothered anymore from having the best of the best. I can see BD looks better than DVD but DVD gives a perfectly good distortion free, solid SD image that to me is perfectly watchable. I watched SD stuff for the first 35+ years of my life. It's not a biggie.

          I really don't care all that much about being able to see to the nth degree. You watch Prometheus on BD and I watch Prometheus on DVD we'll have both seen the same disappointing movie. It's just I will have paid less and wont be so annoyed.

          I used to have a full Meridian Hi-Fi setup and sweated all the small stuff, such as stripping and cleaning it ever 4 months, having it perfectly level, filtered and isolated blah blah bollicky blah.

          Then one day I realised I was wasting my time and realised that the tech and the gear was actually getting in the way of just enjoying the music or video.

          I just changed entirely. I now just enjoy DVD played through my Xbox 360 or streamed via Lovefilm (I have a 16Mbps connection and it looks as good as DVD for me), my CD collection sits unused as I stream via Spotify (standard paid account) through my PC and its speakers.

          It's so much more FUN. I feel really sorry for those that cant relax and just listen to a tune of a film unless all is perfection. I used to be one so I know what's going through their minds.

          Enjoying movies and music isn't about the tech. If you think it is, then you are getting it all wrong.

          1. Jediben
            Trollface

            Re: Blu Ray

            Jason, I hate to admonish you for your choice of 'entertainment' (ahem), but - those aren't pores, they're herpes scars!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    vcd still sell in considerable numbers

    in fact a huge amount of the pirate content is still formatted to fit VCD

    it would appear that the author doesn't know why movies are still available in 2 x 700~ MB sizes

    nor that a world exists beyond the borders or good old parochial UK

    shame really, it's quite lovely out here

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: vcd still sell in considerable numbers

      whether or not they still sell vcds are a huge fail from start to finish - the video quality is much lower than dvd; movies need to be split over two, three or four discs (cuh-raaap), audio quality and options are much lower.

      If that ain't enough, releases from the far east are extensively cut to meet the needs of the local censors. As to how that works out in practice, my vcd copy of pulp fiction has 3 stories, rather than the 4 you may be familiar with. For years I was, Black guy, gag?

      Erase them from the face of the earth!

  32. Alistair Silver badge
    Coat

    tech fail

    @ David Hicks, - Ignore that its just Steve I trying for an interesting vote count.

    Laser Disk backup/Worm disks - belongs on this list - took a corp I worked for 2 years to accumulate about 600 of these damn things, then about 10 years to get them all moved to more reliable storage (the data are still needed for legal reasons, 12 years later) - primary issue was getting both the damned reader and the OS2 based pc to stay "up" long enough to read worthwhile amounts of data.

    Never crashed when WRITING the damn things.

    BOB. I remember that. I remember laughing. A LOT. For a Loooooooooong time.

    (the one with the PalmIII in the pocket, and the commodore pet cassette tape.)

  33. Herby Silver badge

    VCD

    The formatting for VCD is easier to generate. Most VCD's will play on DVD players (they don't advertise it much). So, yes VCD is alive and well. It is just that not much COMMERCIAL content is generated, as that is where DVDs are being used.

    The company I worked for had some VCD generating software/hardware at one time (long ago!)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    talking of dead things

    there's a difference between dead and having been supplanted, but hanging on as a niche product. My teenage son wants a turntable and vinyl for Christmas, I was suprised at what you can get on vinyl these days.

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Up

      Re: talking of dead things

      there's a difference between dead and having been supplanted, but hanging on as a niche product. My teenage son wants a turntable and vinyl for Christmas, I was suprised at what you can get on vinyl these days...

      Oh, yeah, no shit. I understand that there's still a lot of dance tracks being issued on 12" vinyl for DJs. Also, the 30th anniversary of the release of Dark Side Of The Moon was marked by a reissue on vinyl -- and on "virgin" vinyl at that, that really insanely thick vinyl, like they used for those Mobile Fidelity Labs half-speed remasters in the early '80s. And, stop me if I'm wrong, but didn't Pearl Jam release one of their recent albums on vinyl?

      The only problem I see is that with the advent of CDs, musicians were suddenly no longer constrained by the time limits of LP sides; suddenly, you could do an album up to an hour and fifteen minutes long -- or, these days, an hour and twenty minutes. (Of course, you could release it as a double-disc set on vinyl, but then you'd probably end up with one or two oddly short sides.)

      Btw, just out of sheer curiosity, what LPs is the kid asking for?

  35. N2 Silver badge

    Bob

    My dog has died, its stopped wagging his tail. Please come and revive him...

    Thats how one user reported a fault with their desktop, but to be honest I diddnt really need any more.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Bob

      Followed by "The coffee cup holder doesn't come out anymore?"

  36. NomNomNom

    you forgot Facebook

  37. handy

    MiniDiscs

    Late 90s MiniDiscs were going to take over from CDs. They had huge hype but personal music soon went to MP3s.

    1. jason 7 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: MiniDiscs

      The great format that never was. Was superb for in the car and at a time when MP3 players were few and far between limited to 64Mb, on the move.

      I had a 6 disc MD changer in my Puma and loved it. The media was cheap, and hooked up by TOSLINK made great effortless copies of your CDs.

      The biggest loss was it never got properly pushed as a PC data medium. There in 1993 we had a cheap reliable re-recordable data format that could handle 150MB of storage.

      Most HDDs were only that size around then and affordable/usable CD burners didn't really exist for another 2-3 years and as for CD-RW........

      Plus it looked really cool.

    2. Bad Beaver
      Thumb Up

      Re: MiniDiscs

      Me and MiniDisc had a number of very happy years. Awesome format. Great sound at home and on the go (this was back when Sony built stuff with proper headphone amps inside), very convenient to operate, high quality recording that fit your pocket, cheap, nigh indestructable media … simply the best you could get back in the 90s unless you were a DAT person. All the later innovations came too late and Apple insta-killed it with the original iPod's ultra-convenience – but never managed to make MP3 feel as personal as MD.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: MiniDiscs

        It's only in the last year or so that MiniDisc has been replaced in professional theatre and radio, and only then because its got too difficult to get the discs.

        Good audio quality, and many players that could cut, chop and cue up tracks without needing anything else, coupled with instant-start once cued up made them perfect.

        Even modern PC-based players often struggle with that.

        - If you want some the BBC World Service are selling theirs off.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: MiniDiscs

          I used to love my minidisc player for theatre work.

          Specially being able to record, edit and rearrange tracks on-site at a tech rehearsal without needing to lug around any other equipment.

          1. Mike Brown
            Stop

            Re: MiniDiscs

            Can i jump in with the MD love too? Had a deck, and a portable player and loved it. The sound quality was amazing, the kit looked the business, and it all worked great. as someone mentioned it looked cool too.

            The only issue i had was fluff and dirt getting inbetween the plastic cases. They should have been sealed.

            I hated MP3 for ages due to it killing the MD. Irrational but i really liked MD

    3. Mike Flugennock

      Re: MiniDiscs

      Late 90s MiniDiscs were going to take over from CDs. They had huge hype but personal music soon went to MP3s...

      Shame, really. It was certainly cool as hell that mp3's showed up -- along with standalone mp3 players and recorders -- but for a brief while, there, the minidisc was looking to be a really handy format. I can't be sure about now, but for a while after the format faded in the general consumer market, minidisc recorders were still quite popular among radio reporters. They've pretty much all gone over to memory-card-based recorders now, though I hear there's still some holdouts here and there. I don't know what they do for blank media, though.

  38. Arachnoid
    Thumb Up

    Well Im sure there are literally hundreds of niche innovations that lasted less than a few years many times it was just because of the speed of innovation 56K hmmm you were rich I has a humble 33kps modem.Then theres the floppy the work horse of the 90s now over taken by the USB stick.

    That reminds me Dont copy that floppy!

    1. Prof Denzil Dexter

      i work in a hosted datacentre. we found a 9.6k modem under a floor tile last week. circa 1991. suitably yellowed and still powered!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Cloud

    How many years before it joins the list?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The Cloud

      That depends on what you mean by 'The Cloud'. For some definitions, just having emailed a copy of, for example, your CV to yourself- so that you can print a hard-copy at any internet cafe- qualifies. Likewise, renting some CPU time from Amazon to render some images can make more sense than buying the hardware yourself, if you only need to do it occasionally.

      I can't knock you for having a right-minded objection to fluffy buzzwords, though! : D

  40. Schultz

    Sony MiniDisc

    Should have been so useful, but was locked down a bit too tightly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sony MiniDisc

      And the compression was so damned good compared to anything else available at the time.

      I'd just managed to buy a Sony Walkman Professional --- the real, but minitiarised, tape deck, complete with leather case. Then came Minidisc, and I never used the Walkman pro for recording.

      1. jason 7 Silver badge

        Re: Sony MiniDisc

        Yeah minidisc compression was designed by audio engineers first.

        MP3 was designed by mathematicians first.

        Go figure.

  41. 404 Silver badge
    Pint

    Oil Change

    Was a revolutionary software product that would analyze your OS and software installations and fetch any updates it found back in 1996. I bugged the HELL out of the salescritters at their COMDEX display that year in Las Vegas. Got a copy.

    Good times

    ;)

  42. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Business card sized CDROMs

    Remember them? Not so much a new tecnology as a novel variation of an existing one. Lots of arty types used them as a combination business card/portfolio to hand out to people. Rendered obsolete and unplayable overnight, with the advent of slot-loading CD/DVD drives.

    I think I've still got a box of blank ones somewhere.

  43. Bad Beaver
    Stop

    The Newton was not a technology failure

    It was a marketing failure. Apple overpromised and paid the price. That's all. Safe for the very first model, the devices were outstanding. Fast, convenient, incredibly ergonomic and versatile – and built like tanks. Today, they preserve the memory of a time when Apple still tried to push the world forward with visionary technology. If you have ever seen the Knowledge Navigator Clip "Parkbench" you know what I mean. Deeply inspiring stuff.

    Here you go:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HntiqyNPtVc

    Presently, Samsung will sell you a Galaxy Note which is basically a Newton Message Pad on steroids that does not need an extra cellular card. I don't know whether project Einstein brougth Newton OS to this phone already but it is sure worth a look.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Facepalm

      Re: The Newton was not a technology failure

      I beg to disagree. Jimbo seems quite displeased with the performance of its handwriting recognition:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxZJsGuUfew

      //one of my favorite Simpsons moments

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you forgot mp3pro

    which was killed off by the greedy bastards who bought the licence and thought they can keep control over it. Well, they did, and the format died with them. What was their name, they were kind of big. Until they became irrelevant :)

  45. hEdly

    UMPC

    I am about to take apart my Samsung Q! and remove the hard drive before i give it to the excessive folks at work. while I haven't used it for years, it was a nice little piece of kit for traveling back when I used it. But then it got bogged down with security software to keep the baddies out.

    They were ahead of their times, though. Look what's coming out now. Microsoft touch screen fondleslabs. Not much difference except a couple years to further reduce footprint while increasing processing sped.

  46. Shonko Kid
    Boffin

    OpenDoc and Reasons why Symbian was hard to code for #94

    The OS that became Symbian had a similar principle; that editors for the core data types could be embedded within each other. But because at the time, the largest system overhead to running multiple processes were the pages (multiples of 32K) of RAM needed for the call stack, meant that an instance of an editor control had to use as little of it as possible. This contributed to a pathological loathing of allocating anything on the stack, which meant you had to allocate on the heap, but without any form of garbage collection, or try/catch blocks, there had to be a mechanism to keep track of all those heap allocations if something threw an exception... Which was the job of the CleanupStack mechanism.

    And beyond ER5 nobody ever really made use of the embedding editors paradigm. Everyone HAD to use the CleanupStack.

  47. Kevin 6

    UMPC's

    Intel x86 UMPC's are still made (or were as of year ago haven't looked since) as I bought a Villiv S5 (with an atom processor) when my Samsung Q1 blew out. They are kinda pricey though, but the only real option when you want a full fledged OS in your pocket.

    I wouldn't count them as a Technology Fail like the author did though as they have also mutated into the netbooks, and tablets people love now.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: UMPC's

      I'm fairly sure Sony dipped their toes in the UMPC waters... seem to remember one came with a stylus that looked like a guitar plectrum, on a lanyard.

  48. Wisteela

    MS Bob

    It was a Windows 3.1 product.

  49. Tank boy
    Facepalm

    Zip Drives?

    I thought they were gone with the floppy. But no, they're still selling them on Amazon.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Zip Drives?

      Zip wasn't ubiquitous tech but it wasn't a failure, I'd say. The parallel port drive was very portable between PC's, and zip disks were very reliable. (can't say that for all those click-of-death drives, though)

      From a consumer point of view - at the time burning CD's was out of the question for cost reasons, and the only alternative were 1.44 floppies or transporting hard drives - which wasn't very viable option back then. When 250MB models came out the CDRW momentum was gaining ground fast and the 750MB Zip drives were pretty much obsolete when introduced.

      I really hoped the 2.88M floppies would at least get a mention on this article...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Zip Drives?

        Zip Drives?

        Oh yes. Well I remember the unending "click of death", as you waitied for in vain for your data to read back in.

        This was during the era when Apple experimented with licensing the MacOS. A mate had one of the clone machines which had a Zip Drive built in, at a time when Apple were still putting floppy drives on their computers. How our minds boggled at the thought of 250MB removable storage built right into the computer.

        ...and then of course Iomega came out with the Jazz Drive, which was like the Zip but had 2GB storage. I'm not sure if they really existed though. I never saw one in the wild —and found it difficult to believe that a removable medium could exist which stored such a collosal amount of data.

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Zip Drives?

        When I was at uni, my zip drive was essential. There was no LAN or net connectivity in dorms, and not enough computer labs for the people who needed em. I could do all my work in my dorm, put it on my massive 100MB Zip, and rock on down to the lab at 2 am, when there was a chance of a seat.

        1. Jediben
          FAIL

          Re: Zip Drives?

          I've just remembered that, while at university in 2001, I once took my housemate's Zip drive and 5 disks as payment instead of cash for a month's rent (I think).

          I never found a use for it.

      3. Steve I

        Re: Zip Drives?

        "I really hoped the 2.88M floppies would at least get a mention"

        2.88Mb? Pah! The Amiga had 3.5Mb(ish) drives...

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Zip Drives?

          Yep, essential as a student, ZIP drives... £70 for the drive. Solid State still too expensive, but its arrival was known to be inevitable. MiniDisc player in bag. A year into the design course and Apple release some £600 portable audio device, that wouldn't work with PCs.

          I never had the click of death, but the Win2000 (pre SP1) campus machines had an entertaining feature- they would wipe your Zip disk and copy on to the entire contents of the disk the last user had used in the machine. Bizarre.

  50. Simon_Sharwood_Reg_APAC_Editor (Written by Reg staff)

    PointCast rocked

    PointCast rocked. In about 1997 I worked for a small business where we each had dialup internet. It was frowned upon to stay online all day, as doing so was expensive. PointCast made it possible to suck down a decent lot of content and access it without needing to be online.

    I think it's also worth mentioning in the context of FlipBoard, a product that surely owes some inspiration to PointCast.

  51. Shannon Jacobs
    Holmes

    I want to say that PDAs were NOT a failure and they are NOT forgotten

    However, it would appear that I am wrong, certainly on the forgotten count, insofar as no one has made any comment about them. Anyway, I certainly remember my Palm-based PDA as a major success that changed my life, and I still miss it.

    On the point of failure, I think the PDAs were actually induced to commit suicide, which ought to count as a form of murder. There were various factors in their disappearance, but I think the main culprit was Microsoft, which had (and apparently retains) delusions of success in small-form-factor devices. What my PDA did was excellent, but NOT the same things that my computer did. However, Microsoft managed to start an imaginary arms race to create a computerish PDA. Did Palm walk into the trap? Or did Microsoft's advertising cloud basically force them down the path to their destruction?

    Guess it doesn't matter. The economic losses were chump change to Microsoft, though they were probably larger than Palm's total profits over the length of it's existence. (Just to clarify, my good PDA was a Sony CLIE, and I still haven't forgiven Sony for dumping it. I also had one or two non-Palm PDAs, and they were not good.)

    Hmm... I just got email that says I'm a "bronze" user with more editing options, but I don't see them anywhere that's obvious... Am I supposed to embed the HTML directly in the comment?

    1. Mike Brown

      Re: I want to say that PDAs were NOT a failure and they are NOT forgotten

      Sony clies. amazing devices. well before there time. I really wish sony would get the old clie team back together and make an android clie. like the nz90, but up to date, and with android. dear god, i think i need to lie down...

  52. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Push Technology

    Don't forget active Desktop.

    And now Not-Metro tiles.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OpenDoc

    That whole multiple docs in one. It's very nice actually. You can do some useful things and it save you time. Caligra/Koffice does this, AFAIK. It's the underlying concept of the suite. It's not vendor agnostic though. I'm sure there are other suites out there with similar functionality.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PointCast and the great bubble

    PointCast's real value was that it built an aggregate of top-quality content and delivered it with a slick and addictive interface. There were tools for customizing the look and building those beautiful advertisements. PointCast knew that "push" would die with fast Internet. The software was undergoing aggressive modernization to be ready for a world of highly scalable Java servers producing content for web browsers. All the tech and bright minds were there. The problem was that the leaders wanted to PointCast become a portal ruler too fast; becoming a risk to any company it partnered with. New CEO David Dorman was no inspiration. All software development halted while engineers and product managers waited for the a direction to become clear. The big corporate secrets were not what was being developed, but what WASN'T being developed. Small partnering contracts that could have grown to be HUGE were neglected and violated. IdeaLab bought PointCast and took in investment money even though the company had long been idle and the product pipeline destroyed. Employees were given some token projects to work on, some game consoles, and told that they could hang out until they found a new job.

  55. Matt_payne666

    UMPC's rule!

    Netbooks are a bit limp after you've played with a core based one of these...

    where else can you run VM's on a hardware accelerated 4" screen.... if only my UX1 had a capacitive screen it would be awesometastic!

  56. Potemkine Silver badge

    The eleventh one

    Caps Lock USAGE at El REG.

  57. Scarborough Dave
    Trollface

    Bob's interface

    Was far better than W8's is now!

  58. MartinO'StrawberryHill

    Digital Compact Cassette - another Philips failure

    Excepting the CD-DA, Philips really knew how to make rubbish technology, and the Digital Compact Cassette was a doozy. Launched in 1992 and finally killed in 1996, it managed to take a number of audio-equipment companies down who'd believed in Philips' siren call.

    The best thing about it was to make it backwards compatible, right up to the point that your ten-year old cassette shed oxide over the pristine thin-film head.

    Oh, and it had Teletext-style graphics along with a similar refresh speed, which one of my bosses got very excited about. Mind you, he reckoned Philips's CDi was cute, as well ..

  59. CCCP

    What about D-VHS?

    In the dying days of VHS JVC produced a huge, horrendously expensive gold-coulored (IIRC) digital vhs player.

    Same size tapes (massive) but full digital encode.

    Completely failed to make any consumer impact. Not surprisingly.

  60. Mahou Saru

    "Intel quickly figured that people really wanted laptops that were cheaper and more portable than those then available, and devised first the netbook..."

    Wait wasn't that Asus's little baby???

  61. kyza

    PDAs

    I was using a Palm right up until the moment I got an iPhone - my kit was iPod, Palm IV & Nokia 8810 (I'm not a big photographer). Worked perfectly well - in fact better in some ways because while it was sometimes a pain ensuring contacts between phone & PDA were synched, I didn't have to worry about changing one permission somewhere and suddenly seeing stuff appearing on some piece of social media that I don't want appearing. Not that this has happened, but I'm a worrier.

    I also quite like the idea of OpenDocs, and don't see why, with yer new-fangled coding and super-stripped down apps, that it couldn't still have some legs at some point. It's not like the tech industry doesn't recycle old ideas in new ways or anything.

  62. Law
    WTF?

    Google Now

    "constantly tracked its user’s activities, learning and eventually anticipating what they wanted to get up to - in short to be the digital equivalent of a PA."

    Screw Siri - this is exactly what Google Now is doing, and successfully....

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Google Now

      You're right, this is what Google Now is doing. However, unlike a PA, Google Now is doing this in order to show me even more highly targeted ads. Normally, PAs don't do that.

  63. Bod

    Webtop

    Early days yet I'd say. Death of the desktop PC is near even if they're way more powerful than the tablets that will kill them off. Something needs to replace the desktop to do the bigger apps, photo & video editing, development, etc.

    Once the broadband speeds meet the requirements, and the clients (tablet, set top box, smart tv etc) have the video processing grunt), then all the apps in the cloud, cloud OS, and desktops replaced. Once the performance is there, and it will happen, then it's the end of ever having the pain of installing software. At least locally.

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Webtop

      Early days yet I'd say. Death of the desktop PC is near even if they're way more powerful than the tablets that will kill them off. Something needs to replace the desktop to do the bigger apps, photo & video editing, development, etc.

      Once the broadband speeds meet the requirements, and the clients (tablet, set top box, smart tv etc) have the video processing grunt), then all the apps in the cloud, cloud OS, and desktops replaced. Once the performance is there, and it will happen, then it's the end of ever having the pain of installing software. At least locally.

      Hey, dude, watch it there, will ya? I damn' near drowned in that snake oil, man.

  64. moonface

    It's good to reminisce past hysteria. Keeps me cynical!

    from http://www.jimpinto.com/

    "eNews August 10, 2001

    Update : Dean Kamen's 'IT' (or, Ginger)

    You might remember the introduction of Dean Kamen's 'IT' or Ginger (eNews January 17 & 27, 2001) - a mysterious new invention that had attracted significant venture financing and attention in the press. A half-year later, several people have asked : Where is Kamen's IT now? Does Ginger have a name? What is IT? Can I see a picture?

    Well, it seems that IT (or Ginger) is still a mystery. Passionate interest in Kamen's forthcoming project, thought by some to be "a new transportation device so revolutionary that it will force urban planners to redesign cities in its wake", has made him one of the most watched scientists on the planet.

    At the other extreme, there are those who balk at the outrageous claims ("personal transportation vehicle destined to change the world"; "entire cities will require re-thinking to accommodate the power of this monumental breakthrough"; "the invention without comparison since man learned to use tools") and they think that Kamen is just a modern day "Robin Hood", taking from the rich and giving to the poor (Kamen does a lot of work with kids). At best, they suggest that he is simply getting funding from fat corporations and naive investors, to keep himself in helicopters, yachts or whatever.

    The vast audience of the Internet loves sleuthing, so if you're intrigued, you might like to review all the discussions and guesswork. A lot of websites have mushroomed up over the past year. Some have pictures (spoofs) of IT, and you can even find movies of IT operating!

    If you DO discover what IT is, please let me know! "

    1. Johan Vavare
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Dean Kamen's 'IT'

      And it ultimately killed him. All that's left behind are gangs of Star-Wars-looking security guards at airports driving their Segways whilst on their walkie-talkies. At least in Schiphol anyway.

      Paris because she also likes to hold a pole with two round things at its base.

  65. Johan Vavare
    Paris Hilton

    Before Second Life - Active Worlds

    I remember what I think was one of the earliest attempts at creating virtusl worlds online, in 1996. It was called Active Worlds, and I got a job to setup a licenced server running a virtual world for the Swedish Federation of Worker's Unions ( "L.O." in swedish ) The idea was to give a free account to each of the members - about a million of them nationwide..

    Well.. ..I built the initial world, and there were like three people in there or so,. not a million. One of them was really skilled in building and very active. When I felt it was time to bow out I asked him ( we had daily chats in there for several months ) if he wanted to take over the role of the admin. He dropped dead silent for a minute, then he typed "I have to ask mummy first"... ...it turned out he was 10 years old! I had been there with him for months assuming he was a Union member in his 20's or so.

    After that, I never used Active Worlds, but I know they had an online community giong on. Maybe they eventually transformed into Second Life ? If anybody else remember them let me know,

    Technology fail it was. Indeed,

    Paris icon because I felt so stupid, just like she must feel everyday.

  66. W.O.Frobozz

    Plays for Crap

    Never understood what Microsoft was trying to say with their "Plays For Sure" nonsense. I have yet to see an MP3 that didn't play on ANYTHING capable of playing MP3s. Oh wait, this was yet another lock-in scheme to get people to use their crappy WMA format? Figures.

    (Still it's amusing to think of people sitting in front of their computers with beads of sweat pouring down their face, worried that the MP3 they just downloaded might not "play for sure." Microsoft marketing to the rescue!)

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a long article just to take a dig at Google

    But agreed. Chrome OS is useless.

  68. sebacoustic
    Coat

    SL

    I was surprised to see SL covered without mentioning furry penises..

  69. a_mu
    FAIL

    BOB

    Now

    Can I make windows 8 tiles look like BOB.

    come to think of it, is/ was BOB the beta release of windows 8..

  70. Gwyneth Llewelyn
    FAIL

    10 years of foreseeing the end of Second Life; 10 years FAILING to prophetize the end

    Ironically, high-brow journalists, technologists, critical thinkers and all the cultural elite of our planet are constantly debunking false prophets who routinely claim that the "end is near" and that they should pay for "salvation" — this started hundreds of years before Jesus Christ (who was also a prophet-of-the-end-of times), and it still goes on.

    The intellectuals laugh at them all the time and make fun of them publicly. And it's generally agreed that those prophets are to be scorned, despised, and, of course, totally ignored.

    When a *journalist* prophesizes the end of Second Life, however, reality is suspended. Suddenly, and only in this special case, myths are able to be spread, intermingled with lies, defamation, and utter nonsense and absolute ignorance about reality. And what for? Because, like end-of-times prophets have found out long ago — people are willing to PAY for it. Mm hmm. Articles about the end of Second Life pay well. So well, in fact, that journalists have been making money out of it for a decade. And, very likely, will continue to do so.

    Nevertheless, unlike other kinds of religious prophets, journalists engaging in mythological believes proclaiming the end of Second Life are acclaimed by the "we told you so" community. A community who is willing to read the story over and over again, and continue to do so for endless years. In 2053 journalists will still print stories about the end of Second Life, and their audience will nod in agreement, saying "yes, yes, we have been saying that all along for forty years. It's true. Second Life is doomed to fail, we always knew that."

    Now you know why end-of-time prophets are still around. Their story still sells.

    Sorry to disappoint you, but, like all myths, that one is not true. Not only is Second Life still around, but its company, Linden Lab, turns over some 100 million USD annually, and Second Life is an economy that shuffles around 0.7 billion USD annually, in a virtual world of 31 million registered users, of which a million use it routinely. Many commenters remember the days when their own companies were hosting conferences and meetings in Second Life. At that time — half a decade ago! — Second Life was about a fifth of the size of what it is now, in population, virtual land size, and, most important, in its economy.

    So everybody left Second Life at the completely wrong time — "it grew and grew", as the old Monty Python song for "The Life of Brian" goes — but there were no journalists left to watch the growth.

    Utterly amazing.

    Now, there is something that "ended" in Second Life, and, to a degree, I'm happy that it happened. Second Life "ended" being a mainstream product. That's the simple, plain fact. It's not for everybody. It's not for the masses. It's not for clueless companies and organisations who have no idea what to do with it. Instead, it's a niche product, addressed for a very specific market, and a highly lucrative one. So what "failed" in Second Life was the belief that it could appeal to the mass market and become mainstream. But that was never its intended purpose. It was just what journalists and marketeers thought it would be. They just created a myth — a strawman, if you prefer — and when their created myth broke apart, they lamented its demise.

    Niche markets are lucrative markets. Look at Adobe's Photoshop. It's not a mass-market product. Did Adobe "fail"? No, because they couldn't care less if their products are mainstream or not; what they care is to look at the balance at the end of the month. The same applies to AutoDesk, Oracle, and the gazillions of companies addressing niche markets. Rolex doesn't manufacture mainstream watches, but that never stopped them to be lucrative and successful. In fact, one might argue that niche markets are "the" thing to invest, because they shuffle a lot of money, have relatively little competition, and a very tight, happy user base.

    It's not just "people" who continue to use Second Life (several thousands of them for lucrative purposes). There are also organisations — anything that requires simulation and training can be handled there very easily at a fraction of the cost of developing it on different platforms. Again, one might say that all these organisations are just niche markets — and yes, that would be quite correct. So it's not surprising to see Coca-Cola — a mainstream brand — failing inside a niche market. Suppose that Coca-Cola started to sponsor Adobe Photoshop plugins. Would they succeed?

    So, good, honest journalists, who shun religious end-of-times prophets, should abstain from doing the same mistakes, curb their rethoric, do some homework, and ask themselves: what did fail in Second Life? Ah, so people promised it would once displace Facebook, and that failed? Right. Correct. Who were "those people"? Other journalists and marketeers. Aaaaaah. So does that mean that people predicting ludicrous, impossible futures for Second Life have all failed? Yeppers, because Second Life was none of what those people have predicted.

    So that's why no matter how often we predict the end of Second Life, it refuses to die, but continues to grow a bit every year? Yes indeed. Because you're predicting the end of a Second Life that never existed: a Second Life for mainstream users. Instead, it's a platform for a niche market for elite users, who have no patience for mainstream products … and are willing to spend time, and, more importantly, money in that niche market.

    Try to get your facts right. Or you should be despised, shunned, and laughed at like the next prophet predicting that the world will end in Dec. 20, 2012, hit by planet Nibiru. It's on its way now, you know, only a few weeks are left... this is the last chance to publish a few articles about it!

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    I feel fucking old...... with vauge recollections of amazing shit that barely happened.

    Ohhhhh the HUGE lazer disk.....

    Ummm what?

    DVD's

    Enormous HDD's and then the Blu Ray that was "blown away" by the astronomical pricing, lack of content and high cost of blank disks.....

    Another Sony and the rest of the DRM nazies fuck ups.

    An epic failure that promised so much and then fizzed out......

    And the romances of cyber sex in second life.....

    Ummm what?

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