Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment.


[We have a special treat today -- our Ross Rubin has penned yet another amazing poem, for which we'd officially like to nominate him as Geek Poet Laureate. They have one of those, right? If you enjoyed this, please also check out The Slight Before Christmas, Don't Buy This Stuff, and our all time favorite piece: The Maven, -Ed.]

The Arpus in ARPUville liked gadgets a lot
But a grouch who lived close to ARPUville did not.
How the grouch hated gadgets. He hoped they'd all break.
Even counterfeit knockoffs that kept it real fake.
(And those knockoffs are wrong. Not a soul who is wise'll
Knock off the fine writings of Theodor Geisel.)

Now perhaps it was DRM transfer futility
Or the wonky AC from his local utility
Or the terrible manuals barely grammatical
Or the versions of standards that were incompatible
Or the feature creep that took away from their essence
Or the rapid revamping and quick obsolescence
Or the tech support hotlines that spoke incoherence
Or the wireless networks slowed by interference
Or the UIs that frustrated each simple deed
Or the small LCDs that were so hard to read
But for whatever reasons that made him demonic
The grouch hated all that was made electronic.

But he knew this was when the gift givers would cave in
And would buy that advised by their local tech maven
And the savings accounts would be thrown to the dogs
After reading gift guides from award-winning blogs
And then after the gift wrap was eagerly shredded
There would be even more of just what the grouch dreaded.

The Arpus in ARPUville would drop to their knees
To plug HDMI into their HDTVs
They'd wade through piles of gadgets stacked up to their necks
And enjoy the game consoles or at least rain checks.
They would listen to music wherever they'd go.
And would glide on their phone screens with finger or toe.
They would upload their content to YouTube or Flickr.
The mere thought of it simply could not make him sicker.

So this grouch so generic in characterization
As to perish the thought of any litigation
Then concocted a plan that he thought couldn't lose.
He would steal all the gadgets from all the Arpus.
So he drove into town and that lowly old slug
Started to grab each thing with a battery or plug.

He took all of the cell phones receiving more bars
And he took satellite and cable DVRs
He took all of the TiVos, each last one of them.
And receivers for Sirius, also XM
And swiped the Ceiva frames with their bright 8-inch glass
And then all of the Zunes that were used with Zune Pass
He pilfered each Yahoo-branded Sansa Connect
And some watches that tuned to MSN Direct
He took notebook PCs on that dismal cold day
With cards for EV-DO and HSPA.
And the Apple computers hooked up to .Mac
And PCs using OneCare to keep them on track
He took all of these gadgets he found on the scene
And he filled up his Prius. (At least he was green!)

And he drove them away as their weight pushed his wheels.
Thinking, "CompUSA, whatcha think of these deals?"
Then he parked by his lair and he opened the hatch
Put them all in a big room and closed the door's latch
And with nary a light from a green LED
He locked up the devices and threw out the key.
He could hardly believe he'd made off with the goods
Why, perhaps he could hit some other neighborhoods
Then a long grouchy laugh grew from out of his smile
And the grouch became happy... at least for a while.

Because 30 days after his gadget abatement
He got an envelope with his credit card statement --
Well, not really a statement but more of a stack
So enormous it threw out the mail carrier's back.
For, much to his surprise, the devices he'd snatched
Had all come with a number of purse strings attached
Then the grouch realized something that caused a conniption --
Each Arpu in ARPUville transferred his subscription!

"But we grouches aren't rich! I just don't have the cash, man!"
Why, my dear cousin Oscar lives out of a trash can!"
All this nickel and diming sure makes it quite tough
To make an honest living by stealing folks' stuff."
And what happened right then? In ARPUville they say
The grouch's bank account shrank three sizes that day.

Then he gained his composure and ran down the block
Went and hired a locksmith to pick the door's lock
And with scarcely a pause in which to close an eyelid
He put the electronics back into his hybrid.
He drove down to ARPUville to put back the loot
And plugged everything in and allowed it to boot.

He put in the Li-Ions and odd Energizer
And then snuck quickly out with nobody the wiser.
Now that grouch didn't bother those Arpus again
He will purchase a gadget himself now and then.
Why, he even picked up a PC for his lair
Where he answers spam e-mails for credit repair.


Ross Rubin is director of industry analysis for consumer technology at market research and analysis firm The NPD Group,. His blog can be read at http://www.rossrubin.com/outofthebox. Views expressed in Switched On are his own.

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