It seems to me that we've been dumbing down our stores a bit lately.
Allow me to explain.
We have a garage. The garage doesn't have air conditioning. We live in Texas, the Garage gets hot.
We have a fan in the garage that moves air around and helps cool things down, but it has a tendency to Get Left On. Thus costing me an arm and a leg in electricity bills from time to time.
"Wouldn't it be great" thinks I, "if we a device that could detect temperature and open or close a circuit when the temperature hits a certain level? We could have the fan come on when its warm and go off when its cooled down."
Efficiency at its best. And if you think about it, nothing I'm trying to do is complicated. Thermostats exists. Plug in sockets exist that respond to light levels, and time of day (you may have a few around Christmas/Yuletime to control your lights). Surely someone must have come up with some kind of mad unnatural fusing of these two technologies?
Not at Home Depot. Nor Best Buy, or even (gasp) Radio Shack.
Now, there is a suite of products, called Wireless Command that will allow you to control anything you can plug into a wall remotely. But the remote doesn't have USB Capabilities. Why does that matter, I hear you ask?
Well I figured that if I can't tell what the temperature in the garage is, I can at least tell what it is outside by going to weather.com several times a day (or hour, if you prefer) and I can write a program to <GeekSpeak>
Consume a web Service and retrieve the external temperature, then subtract about 8 degrees to infer the temperature in the garage and then trigger an event that sends a signal to a USB Wireless remote that turns on the fan socket adapter.</GeekSpeak>
But no. No such device could be found at any of the usual places and on closer inspection I noticed that Radio Shack no longer sells diodes, resistors, circuit boards, capacitors, LEDs or any thing a growing geek needs to build a robot (A Girl robot hu-uh-hu-uh-huh-*snark*).
Plenty of Cell Phones and HD TVs, MP3 players by the armful but no solar cells or even a humble soldering iron!
This strikes me as extraordinarily sad. It can't have been more than three years ago that I bought everything I needed to make a crystal radio from scratch from the very same store, so what's changed?
"No demand" was the terse answer I got. Which means that Geek-hood has evolved from building something cool into buying the latest gadget. And to my mind that isn't Geeky, that's just Conspicuous Consumption wrapped up in the guise of pseudo-intelligence.
I may be wrong of course.