Sunday, February 28, 2010


I remember when I installed a Sound Blaster card into my old, boring 486 International Business Machine and reaping a revolution of whizz bang proportions. The bloody machine had found its voice! It spoke! It sang! It replicated explosions so loud that Dad charged into my room with a fire extinguisher, looking for a fire without seeing the smoke.*

It was the beginning of clocking many hours of flight time on Wing Commander with audible dialogue between the characters, contextually sensitive background music, and full sound FX (volume down, of course, to stave off another unnecessary parental intervention). And it wasn't just me alone celebrating this noisy revolution. Around the world, gamers rejoiced as their games got more realistic and hence fun to play with the introduction of sound.

Then imagine my surprise when I discovered that the master of the revolution was a fellow S'porean. I'm no flag-waving patriot, but I was proud to know that one such as myself, with my upbringing, my culture, had made such an impact on the world, the one behind all that was good for us gamers with the promise of things only getting better.

Today, I'm lugging around a laptop packed with so much more computing power than my long-trashed 486. But the tablet is peeking over the horizon and it's really tempting to make yet another substitution. A tablet would certainly be handier for computing on-the-go. Not that I'll be playing Wing Commander on it while crossing the street, I believe I've outgrown that phase of life, but for immediate access to my life online which is getting harder to distinguish from my life in so-called 'meatspace'. My calendar; status updates; blogging; messages and chats; commercial transactions; work planning, preparing and perhaps one day even delivery, all in the palm of my hand without physical commute-time delay. Oh, don't feel sorry for me. I believe I'm already working all the time -- it just doesn't feel like work.

But here's the thing. Do I go with Job's new baby with all it's glam functionality, or do I go all patriotic-proud again with a locally-made competitor launching at about the same time? Back then, Mr Sim had no competition in the market. There was only one product, which made him the innovator of his day. But now it looks like I won't be able to make a purchase unthinkingly. It can't be an automatic 'buy S'pore' anymore. The tablet will have to wait until I do a few more market comparisons. May the best competitor deserve my last dollar.

*This never actually happened. I just made it up for the effect.

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