Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Palm Pilot Nerds, part one

My grandfather was an early adopter of new technologies. I have happy memories from the early 1970s of going with him into his favorite electronics store in downtown Boston (no, they didn't call them electronics stores then, and no, I can't remember what such stores WERE called, but they sold stereos and radios). I loved watching the salesmen shimmy towards him like fingerlings at a trout farm when you show up with the fish chow. (They worked on commission.)

"CHAAHHLIE! HOW AHH YAH!" Their smiles were broad and my grandfather got that dreamy face like Toad in "Wind and the Willows" when something new and truly desirable was just around the corner.

I still have a radio he bought me there, thirty years ago:

It still works. Look around your house and ask yourself - how many of THESE things are still going to be working thirty years from now?

My son Zed's grandfather is also an early adopter and Zed has often been beneficiary of his Zeydeh's obsession with having the newest and best - the second-newest often ends up in Zed's hands. That's how Zed got his digital camera.

I, however, am too much of a pessimist to be an early adopter. I always assume the new thing, whatever it is, is going to be worse - and is going to break sooner - than the old thing.

(Have you noticed how, these days, when your software insists you "update" or "upgrade" it, the new build is usually worse than the old one? And that useful features have been removed? And that the new software version has simultaneously become slower to run, bloated with pointless "improvements," and festooned with advertisements?)

This is all to say, though, that after Zed had been enthusing about his Palm Pilot Z22 for months, I got the idea that I wanted one too.

This is why: I'm going on a trip and want to travel light. I noticed that Zed downloaded, legally and for free, from, the entire book "Bartleby the Scrivener" onto his Palm Pilot! This book alone would weigh pounds in my backpack, while the Palm Pilot weighs just ounces! I decided *I* wanted to read "Bartleby" in five-point type on my OWN Palm Pilot!

A plug for the amazing Project Gutenberg. 18,000 free books. Somebody typed up all those books for us. All free. Two million downloads a month. All free. Give them a donation.

The tiny, tiny Palm Pilot came in a huge box. (See left.) It was full of peanuts so I was groaning cause my back hurt and then I whined so much Zed came over with a big bag to put the peanuts in.

Is it possible to get all the packing peanuts out of a box without spilling them on the floor?

Then I saw the gadget was protected by a horrendous blister pack (see right). I knew from experience: no scissors are strong enough to get through this stuff. It was created to stymie and harm customers - if possible, to draw blood.

Zed attacked it for me with our huge Ginsu knife:

I've had this amazing Ginsu knife for at least a quarter century. It is still sharp. I have indeed cut through corrugated cardboard and bricks with it, often. Those ads weren't lying. If you ever see this exact model advertised anywhere let me know immediately, OK?

Then we both cut ourselves on the sharp jagged edges, and reminisced ruefully about times we've bled over blister packs and harmed the contents in the process.

The next thing you have to do, once you have penetrated the evil blister pack, is plug the Palm Pilot in and wait for three hours. Sigh. To be continued.

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At 9:45 PM, Blogger kenju said...

We have a radio almost identical to that and it still works very well. I have a stereo record player with speakers as big as kitchen cabinets, but it still works great!

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Badaunt said...

Only three hours? For mine (the Palm Zire 31) the instructions said FOUR hours. It was hell having to wait when I wanted SO MUCH to play with it.


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