You find out about new products ... where?
Well the newspaper, for us fuddy-duddies. Those big tech review round-ups in the Times. A constant stream of ballyhoo on Twitter and Facebook. What else? Billboards, I suppose. Television commercials, for those who watch television.
Rarely...rare enough that I would remark upon it...do you learn about the latest technology by seeing it hanging on a hook in a store. Then again—and I don't think I'm alone here—COVID pretty much killed off the practice of aimlessly wandering around in stores, looking at stuff. You run in, grab what you need, run out. If that. Holding your breath, if possible. More and more, a brown box shows up on your doorstep.
But my wife wanted to look at laptops. She wanted to lay her hands on the actual physical objects. And I go where she goes. So while she was poking around the dozens of possibilities at Best Buy, I sorta cruised around.
Which is where I noticed the AirTag, Apple's gift for the forgetful. It's a small disc you slip into your wallet, or attach to your keys, or some other necessity you expect to lose at some point. The AirTag will then leave an invisible trail of electronic breadcrumbs so you can find it should mere memory fail. My first thought was that it could be used to track people too—just slip it in your pal's backpack—but the things are designed to thwart that, in theory. The discs will also let out a yelp on command. It's really worth glancing at the Apple page explaining it all.
Not that I bought one. I wanted to. It seems a cool thing. But I couldn't think of what to do with it. Couldn't imagine having much hope of justifying the thirty bucks it costs by ever losing anything. I have a system of anxiety-fueled attentiveness far more advanced than mere Bluetooth technology. I've never lost my wallet in my life—I have a rule, for instance, when paying for something, never to set the wallet down. It's much harder to leave behind if it stays in your hand. That kind of thing.
Yes, sometimes I'll tear my office apart looking for a certain book I know I have, or had, but can't lay my hands on at this particular moment, when I finally need it. But short of planning ahead and knowing I'll need that specific book and be unable to find it, and planting an AirTag inside the cover, I don't see how Apple can help me. Here persistence and patience—a shame Apple can't sell those for $29.99—usually win the day, eventually. There is a technique my wife taught me that I call, "The Thinking Trick," where you pause from frantically searching and try to recall the thing you are missing and when you last had it. If all else fails, there's strategic retreat—just waiting—the strategy my mother used to neatly summarize as, "You'll find it when you're not looking for it."