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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monkeys and the Atom Bomb

This is a rant about Sony.

I've developed a phrase to describe what happens when good technology gets ruined by incapable owners of that hardware. Not consumers, but the very companies that the tech may've spawned from. I call this situation Monkey and the Atom Bomb.

The basic idea is, what if mankind destroys itself, but leaves behind some of its greatest tech creations, one of them being the atomic bomb. Left behind are monkeys, who have no idea what it is or how to use it. They poke & prod at it until *boom!* So what does this have to do with Sony? I'm getting there.

We've seen Monkey and the Atom Bomb throughout history. 2000 years ago, the Roman Empire was stationed in what we now know as England. They built buildings that had furnaces and indoor plumbing. Eventually the Roman Empire left, leaving those buildings behind. But the Britons at the time were basically mud-eating peasants who had NO understanding of furnaces or indoor plumbing. They took apart the stone bricks of the buildings to make shacks & lean-tos! There's only a few remnants of the Roman technology in historical sites, but it's also a bit of a reminder how DUMB the ancient Brits were. Oh well. Monkey and the Atom Bomb.

Fast forward to the ancient times of 1998. Yahoo! dedicates a part of its site to online message forums, called Yahoo! Clubs. It works pretty well for the most part, until Yahoo! lays off a bunch of its programmers. Then in 2001 or so, it buys an emailing list service called eGroups, and eventually tries to merge it with Yahoo! Clubs. But the people who made the Yahoo! Clubs have either been fired or downsized, and whoever is left has NO IDEA how Yahoo! Clubs worked, so they end up breaking a lot of it to cram eGroups into it, making it the mess that is Yahoo! Groups. Yahoo! couldn't understand what they created, and broke it trying to figure out what it was. Monkey and the Atom Bomb.

So this is where Sony comes in. Go back to that long forgotten year of 2005, and Sony unleashes the PlayStation Portable, the PSP. This device is fairly cutting edge; on the surface it is a portable games machine more powerful than any portable console before it. But it's also a fairly robust media player, handling music & video playback, as well as photo viewing. It's a really advanced piece of kit, and lives up to the standards of the best Sony products, like the Walkman, their CD players, etc.

Firmware updates add functionality to the PSP; web browser, limited flash suport. But they also inadvertantly *ROB* the PSP of key functionality. Firmware 2.80 made music playback after sleep mode garbled, I had that problem back in 2006. It was eventually fixed by firmware 3.00.

Now there are huge problems with the new & "improved" screen-- interlacing issues with the PSP-3000. Owners of the new PSP 3000 are reporting that the screen quality is so bad that it's interfering with gameplay & video:

Firmware 5.00 again seems to wreck functionality that the PSP needs, the sleep timer has been added to music playback, but it doesn't allow the PSP to go to sleep mode when the music is paused for a certain amount of time.
Completely ridiculous that as a way to combat homebrew & piracy, Sony forces users to update to the latest firmware; to play a game you must have at least the level of firmware on the game disc or it won't run.

What happened to the original PSP design team, Sony? Are they all gone/shuffled to different wings of your empire? Whoever's in charge of it now clearly doesn't know what they're doing, they don't *GET* the PSP. And they're breaking things in their ignorance. Not only are they coming out with new PSP hardware revisions every year, but each one is a cheaper build quality than the previous. A classic, and sad case of Monkey and the Atom Bomb.

Sony created this miracle device called the PSP, but they don't even understand it anymore. That's part of the reason why I hate them... but I still love the PSP.



Anonymous said...

You do realize it says, "This is rant about Sony." , right? It should say, "This a rant about Sony." Just letting you know.

Don said...

I do now, thanks. Noted & corrected.

I forgot I even posted this rant. I hope Sony learned from its mistakes from the PSP-2000-3000 (as well as builds on the improvements those iterations brought) so when the PS Vita comes out, it's got a solid build quality. I can only hope.


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