A new technology called "flash memory"

As I perused the news coming from the Consumer Electronics Show today, one story caught my eye immediately, "Goodbye Video Tape, Hello Flash Memory". It was about a technology that is poised to replace video tape called "flash memory," as reported by the TODAY Show and posted online by MSNBC. At first I thought there must be a new development in the non-volatile memory space. But as I read the story, and then clicked on the video link, I realized that it was nothing more than a story about solid state disk and the gadgets that use it, and I nearly choked on my coffee. Then I thought to myself, perhaps the average consumer really doesn't know about solid state disk. As a colleague of mine put it: "I guess the TODAY Show demographic includes a lot of grandmas with VCRs." I thought about that, but discarded the possibility because all of the grandmothers I know are avid Internet surfers and own digital cameras or camcorders, and they are well are that USB flash drives replaced floppy disks around the turn of the century. And, besides, flash memory was invented in 1984!

But in order to keep my cynicism in check, I sent the story link to some colleagues. Their reactions were predictable: "Laughing too hard to type anything coherent. Oh maaaaaaaaan... Thanks, I needed that." Another's response: "And there's this really cool hybrid technology for cars that's supposed to be coming soon too. :-)"

Throughout the TODAY Show video segment, I kept thinking the TODAY Tech editor, Paul Hochman, must have had a really hard time keeping a straight face as he reported the story while listening to the surprise in weatherman and feature reporter Al Roker's voice while plowing through his hi-tech question and answer segment.

Some excerpts:

Roker: So then how does this work -- the flash memory. How do they use this?

Hochman: The discovery happened about 10 years ago and they've been developing it (he holds up an SD card).

Roker: The capacity of these now have gotten so good that they can actually use them to store video?

Hochman: Exactly. In fact, that's the huge difference here. These things are unbelievable.

Roker: Since there are no moving parts … will the batteries last longer in these cameras?

Hochman: That's a very good point.

Roker: Now flash is also making a big splash in music players too? Right?

Hochman: Correct.

Roker: Surfing on the Internet with your mobile device becomes a littler easier too, right?

Hochman: Exactly.

Now, you'll not often see me point out faults. I've got too many of my own. But this tech news faux pas was a gem. And, of all headlines to come out of CES: "Goodbye Video Tape, Hello Flash Memory".

I'm a firm believer that everyone should laugh at least once a day. Enjoy.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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