Tonight I drove to a Chinese buffet place. I like buffet places, because it's easier to sort out the things I choose to eat and the things I consider too low-yield/high-fat to eat. Some folks see buffets as endless all-one-can-eat temptation, but I see them as "easy-to-find-the-good-things" situations.
I passed by an empty storefront, where the Radio Shack stood. I liked that Radio Shack. I got my first tablet computer there in June of 2011, an Android 2.2 or so unit I used until late last year. June 2011 journal entry read:
"I got an e-reader. I went with the less expensive Pandigital Novel 7. So far, I've set up the e-reader and begun a novel, used the browser to surf the web, downloaded a task killer application, and linked up to Facebook. I'm still working on trying to get a good twitter client loaded, as the twitter clients thus far profess not to recognize my log-in data. Then I will tackle an app or browser to allow me to watch youtubes. I love Android in part because there is so often an app which will let one do what the handbook says is impossible. The reader is compatible with Barnes and Noble. Although I dislike the DRM in book downloads, it will be handy to be compatible with the Nook, because my wife has a Nook. My theory is that my e-reader will be all the tablet I will need for a few years, at a cost of less than 150 dollars
My journal entry turned out to state a valid "theorem". I got some five years of use from the tablet. I enjoyed using it, though I only side-loaded the Amazon app store and never could use the Google play store on it. Now it only works with the FDroid repository. Fdroid is all free software, so perhaps that's a better choice anyway. I still dislike DRM, and wish more publishers avoided ebook DRM. I have a newer theory that all these enterprising writers would do well to start micro-presses which release DRMfree publications. It's funny how Bandcamp is such a nice interface for musical folks to sell music, while Smashwords, a similar site for DRMfree ebooks, somehow fails to have as much luster.
Pandigital, who made my tablet, failed some years ago. Now Radio shack is gone. Radio Shack sold me not only my tablet but a universe of radios, wires, blank media, plugs, electronic gadgets, and kits of this sort or that. I will miss Radio Shack. I think it lost its way. But the world changed a good bit, too. I built a computer for a university electronics class with a Heathkit board from Radio Shack. In the small town where I finished high school, it was a small dose of science in a world in need of science. The world today is more in need of popular science than then.
As I drove by the empty storefront where the local Radio Shack used to be, I saw a Payless Shoe Store. That chain recently entered reorganization bankruptcy. I wondered if its days were also numbered.
Now I will get my wires and gadgets from MicroCenter or eBay. Even Sears.com, another dinosaur I love sadly lumbering off the stage, has inexpensive refurbished computers. Perhaps someday a new chain will arise that does what Radio Shack used to do. Radio Shack used to serve creative folks and tech folks--folks we now call "makers" but then called "hobbyists". When it does, I will shop there.