lovehate: Proprietary Overload

I understand that not everything in the world can be "open source" or boast complete compatibility.  The staff in the idea bunkers buried deep under the Apple, Microsoft, Google, Sony and Sun Micro cities look at the same crap, a thousand different ways, day after day trying to find the one little way they can make the same widget better than it was before - better, stronger, faster. And each time they find the little tweak that they believe may give them a market advantage, if not, at least, buy them a little more time before being relegated to Tech. Support Supervisors, the company lawyers write up a patent registration.

I remember one of the baffling frustrations of my childhood was not being able to swap power cords from my Mattel Football to Merlin to Simon to Fabulous Fred. The voltages and milliamps and plug sizes were all different and one can simply not afford an endless supply of 9-volt batteries as a pre-teen.

Now remember, I get why, on may levels, this HAS to happen. I understand the economy demands some sort of intellectual property exist for companies to exist. That said, why the hell can't I get one USB cable that fits more than one cellphone and why won't my so-called "standard" 1/8 inch headphone jack (that I use on my Apple Nano) fit into the same phone?

Speaking of Apple, why do I need Firewire anyway when USB 2.0 works just fine for more stuff? I need Firewire because apparently a bunch of camcorder makers all got together and decided they liked the smaller form factor of the Firewire socket. Sure, Firewire was plenty faster than USB 1.0, but hasn't USB won the VHS/Beta war? I honestly don't even care which one is better - I just don't want to have to buy both!

But Firewire/USB doesn't even begin to approach the Memory Card debacle. It's not enough to just have one or two types, but every device I buy is open to a litany of options that ALL DO THE SAME THING! Is it CompactFlash Type 1 or 2 (and is there Microdrive or Wi-fi in there)? Is it Memory Stick  or Memory Stick PRO or Memory Stick Duo or PRO Duo or positive sickening-sounding DRM-laden MagicGate (thanks Sony, you heartless bastard purveyors of proprietary nonsense)? How about the MMC Multimedia Card in Regular, Reduced and Mobile? Maybe it's SD (Secure Digital) in regular, Mini or Micro. Of course it could be SmartMedia or an xD Picture Card (type H or type M), but by this point I'm sharpening a Sony PencilCam and getting ready to stick it in my eye.

When I'm buying my new portable audio device, does it play mp3, aac, wma, ogg, flac, shn, monkey or real? Does my new portable video player decode DivX, XviD, H264, mov, mp4, mp2, vob, wmv, and flv? When I decompress downloaded music for my player, is it zip, pkzip, lz, rar, 7z, iso, bin, tar? And is the album cover image within the folder a bmp, jpg, gif, png, tiff, ai, eps, cdr, or pdf? Of course, in a software universe, everything can be converted, but it would be nice if I didn't have search through virus-bloated warez to execute such a transformation that didn't involve command-line structure with seventeen switching variables.

Enough already! Everyone's taken their little slice of the pie and the Double R Diner is closed. I'm going to watch some Flash streaming of the Olympics... wait, what the hell is Silverlight?

Proprietary overload - HATE it.


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