The Pda , the digital sidearm of the mobile cyber citizen. Always dangling down from the wiastbelt or tucked away in the sagging breast pocket. Its always around. So is mine. Coming to think of it : I've owned mine for over a year now. A year (in gadgetyears) is a long time ! Since the average geek like me switches cellphones / pda's every three months a product must realy be worth while to stick around long enough to even show the signs of wear and tare. The tender love of being used over and over again, not even polished up to make it all shiny .. no no grim and grime smeared over its display as if they where battlescars in the conquest of everyday life.
I'm refering to my treo 650. I bought it second hand in october of last year. It was the first PDA to incorporate both my organiser, my phone and my GPRS connection to the outside world. A true all-in-one device that I have used and loved over the past year. But instead of going overboard on software, tweaks, add-ons and crap, i'm actually not using the device to its full potential just yet. I use it as my phone, have my contacts on there , keep my calendar on it and for the biggest part : Use it to check my emails. Occasionaly I snap of a picture or shoot a little video , but that is mostly it. Coming to think of it . I haven't even taken the effort of shoving a memorycard in the device so i can drag around some extra stuff.
The amazing part ? Even 'per default" the Treo 650 is a fantastic device. True , I haven't used it to its full potential but still it feeds the geeky needs of my life just fine. Ok , when it comes to sound quality it isn't the best cellphone I ever had , and it sure as hell is not very compact but .. its very sturdy and even comes with enough functionality to keep me satisfied right out of the box.
But I have been unfaithfull. Leering at competiters all around. Thinking it was time for a change. Not so much because the Treo was getting obsolete, but because I was looking for something new. So browsing around the net several cool possible replacements struck my eye.
There is of course the Qtec 9100 with its slide out keyboard and the magnificent though utterly useless Blackberry 8700. The latter has been in my hands, had infatuated me with its lightness , ease of use and fantastic screen.. But lacks any of the multimedia functionalities the treo Has. The Qtec 9100 promises Wifi connectivity but weighs down due to its bulky size and sharp price. So for the last few day's i've been mulling it over and over in my mind. Trying to decide what would be a good replacement, what device would have all the options i wanted .. What clipper could cut the cake and make the finals of my geeky pda-padgent. The requirements ?
- syncable with Mac
Ok , i know the Qtec can probaly do all of these things to , but the fact of the matter is : Its too pricy for me. I'm not going to spend THAT amount of cash on a windows PDA. Ok , the embedded wifi would give me skype connectivity around the house. But the thing is still too bulky. Measuring up all the factors an unexpected winner takes to the stage : My own Treo 650 !
So i've decided i'll do a relaunch on the little baby. Polish it up , Give it sparkly new firmware, finally install some of the cool applications that came with it and wire it up to my current macbook so calendar and contacts are always in sync. I'll probably feed it a 1 gigabyte memory card and stuff that full of the craps geeks need on line. Cause with built in phone, pda, gprs, camera and keyboard, the treo 650 still takes the cake. Ok , it doesn't have wifi connectivity. But you can't win em all.
Yesterday morning was your average sunday morning at casa del Knightwise. As we where enjoying daylight savings time an extra hour of sleep for some was turned into an extra hour of lounge for us. Childish as it may be , my wife and I love hanging out in front of the tv/computer on a sunday morning , watching cartoons like sponguebob and some silly american sitcoms. This of course would not be geek enough where it not that while i was having breakfeast/nickelodeon I was also browsing through the shownotes of the global geek podcast that we where going to record that same day.
So at 10'ish the homework was done and my good friend Dave Gray calls in to do some chitchat / soundcheck just before we start recording the show. Mind you : Dave is on the other side of the planet ( Near Brisbane Australia) and recording the whole podcast over skype in the two hour window we set up in our busy lives, is not always easy. But no problems where expected. Or so we thought.
3 2 1 …. Dave intro's the show and the recording starts. My wife turns to hushpuppy mode not to make any disturbing background noises and gives me a wink as Dave and I start to talk about the first topic. Its all fine and dandy unti suddenly … no more Dave. I find myself finishing of a topic, waiting for a reply .. and hearing nothing. A quick check shows me : No Dave on line anymore ! I seldom swear out loud .. but this is seldom 🙂 Darn ! Where did Dave go.
Bless the power of the internet , i fire up my skype list , dig up daves personal cellphone number and call him up (thanx to rediculesly low skype costs a call to the other side of the planet is concidered peanuts.) but I get his voicemail. All kind of scenario's go through my head. What the frack is going on : No Skype , No cellphone , No internet connection over there apparently … Has a giant meteor struck Australia ?
But then suddenly I get a request to add a familiar name to my Skype list : James Gray (Dave's brother who joined us as a guest on the previous show). Extatic with adrenaline we try calling eachother right away , each getting a busy tone. But after syncin out who's the boss we manage to setup a call. Enter "Ell Dirty Hack".
It seems that Daves house has fallen of the powergrid and in panic he wanted to call ME on my cell. Where is Knightwise's number .. Dave fretts .. On the computer .. is the reply. So the only option he had left was calling James using his cellphone. James puts the call on the speakerphone of his landline phone and calls ME on skype. And that way me and Dave get to communicate. The difference in audio quality is hilarious (not to mention the time delay and the occasional translations having to be made by the 'airbridge operator James) It sounds like Dave is on the moon , James is sitting next to me and I literally feel on the oposite side of the globe. But as creative as geeks get , we mananged to get it working.
Thus I get the luminous idea of recording this hilarious skitt . I hit skype recorder and bash together some impromptu show. The whole thing is saved as an MP3 and sent of to our personal FTP server. Since Dave is going to be off line later (the time difference is NINE HOURS) I relay the login and password to James who tries to get them over to his brother. Redundancy is king so I send both the login credentials AND the file via Email to Dave's place aswell.
Needless to say .. We had a great laugh .. The show we planned for this week is, of course, toast .. but the little skit we recorded is priceless. What did amaze me was the flexibility and the SPEED the all of us had in setting up alternate means of communications and getting things sorted to get in touch with eachoter and getting the necessary recources from one harddisk on the northern hemisphere to another one on the southern one. The smoothness, swiftness and creativeness we use when 'operating' the internet amazes even me sometimes.
I know , Long time No post, but rest assured dear Knightwise.com readers: We are far from dead. Real life is getting in the way and the excuse : Pardon me but I need to Blog will get you strange stares from ignorant third parties.
Today i'm going to let you guyz in on a little secret. Many times people ask me " Dude , where do you get all this cool stuff ? You've got all these gadgets and have the latest all the time. You must be loaded !" . Dead wrong my cyber citizens. I'm far FROM loaded. Perhaps I do need to admit that AS a Geek I spend a little bit more on technology every month then the average user but by no means do I piss my cash away. " Then what"s the deal ? I hear you ask : Very simple , I answer. Let me unveil the secret behind the way I buy things.
Find something : It may be in the shop, online, or on Tv .. You might pick up that Geeky Item in your Visor that you just HAVE to have. But don"t go reaching for your wallet yet ! Read the add on the thing , but then , take into account : Advertisers LIE !
Get the lowdown : So get the lowdown. The first thing I enter on Google is the name of the product + the words USER REVIEW. Certainly with cellphones and other smaller consumer gadgets that is a sure place to get info. Notice to skip any commercial sites that do user reviews. Mhttp://www.mobileburn.com/ is a great example of a user driven website that does an honest review of cellphones. Get the NON COMMERCIAL pictures of the product , you know , the high res ones taken by the users themselves and take a very good look at the product. Be sure to read SEVERAL review sites and see that you get a good average image of the positive and the negative traits of your future purchase (remember some negative ones for later on).
Go to the shop. : Want to be perfectly sure that new mobile is going to fit in your hand ? Want to know the feel of that new Logitech keyboard ? Well , go out to the shop. Not to buy , but to FEEL. Skipp any information the resident storekeeper wants to give you for the product. You've been on the internet and know about 3 times as much about the gig then the 19-year old-dad"s-tie-wearing youngster in front of you. Use this opportunity to get a good feel on the product and also on the store PRICE.
Hit the web : Then start shopping around. Now the choice is yours. Either you want to buy the product NEW or second hand. Believe me their are plenty of opportunities for the latter. But lets say we want to buy a new one. Time to hit www.ebay.com, www.amazon.com and other on line sites with the exact name of your product. Take a good look around but take shipping costs and delivery time into account. With the storeprice in mind you will know if you have a bargain or not. Mostly its cheaper to shop online but take international factors like mobile operators, shipping costs, currency variations and of course local voltage into account.
Hit the streets. There are more early adopters out there you know. You are indeed not alone. This little gadget has been bought by others ! And some of these gadgeteers might already want to part with their purchase and move on. So Ebay , Craigslist, and for me in Belgium 2dehands.be and Kapaza.be) are the great places to start. Look for the item of your choice but also misspell it in the search bar. That way you might find auctions of you item that have misspells and don't get a lot of attention.
Start dealing. Look closely at the add you found on these second hand sites. If its an entire copy past of the elaborate parameters of the device copied of some review site , you might be dealing with a highly evolved fellow gadget hunter. He probably knows what the product is worth , what the second hand value is and what the pro"s and the con's of the device are. Try to haggle on the price a bit but don't insult the seller by giving him an extremely low offer. Do point out the negatives of the device to lean on the price but don't give the seller the impression he was a fool for buying it. Do however OFFER A TRADE.
The Trade has been around for ages : Trading chickens for cows is no different then swapping a blackberry for a Treo. Geeky people love new stuff. So you might have a good chance of offering up a gadget YOU want to get rid of for a gadget YOU want to have. Who know's : The other party is also looking for new stuff. Throw in a little cash to sweeten the deal when the ride gets bumpy but sometimes you hit it off and get a great deal for both parties.
Newbie alert. The one time my financial saliva starts flowing is when I read an add that says : "Computerlike Phone with email and stuff" behind the picture of a Blackberry 7290. This is a genuine NEWBIE. He has just bought a device, knows heads or tales of it and wants to part with it sito presto. Here comes the advantage of knowledge. Respond to the add and gently prod for some more information about he device. If the intelligence you get is still a load of crap : they guy does NOT know what he is talking about. Tell him you're interested in the product but not sure about its quality in general. I know he might be holding a cellular brick of gold in his hand and that you are having an erection just looking at it : but don't let him know. Be cool , uninterested about it. Some up some of the negative points you read on the review site (don't get TOO techie) and reluctantly offer him a bid to : take it of his hands while you fumble with it. Or go the other way and tell him its a great device but it needs a genuine Einstein like you to operate it. Give our little noob the idea that he's got good stuff in his hands but if he holds on to it much longer the super techie folks might just move on to the next big thing and he'll be stuck with it. But don't forget to offer him a trade for an item you might want to get rid off and he might like supercool. Noobies look for stuff we want to part with . If he still has a 15" crt in his bedroom the 17" TFT you are using as a server monitor might be something he is still dreaming off. While we look for dual core he is still in awe of Pentium 4. Take the tech gap into account and use it to your advantage.
Damn these Kids : Kids these days have a lot of cash. I'm surprised at the stuff they buy and sell. Since they are more gadget hungry then we are the want to part with their stuff FAST. So getting a low price on the deal is not THAT hard if you want to spit up the doe FAST. A trade might also be an option but mostly they want cash to buy something else or to give back to Dad who said they should "Sell that expensive cellphone RIGHT AWAY'. But be ethical an don"t hassle a 16 year old into financial submission. Remember you probably have a job, they do not.
But beware. So you think you are a bargain hunter now .. right ? Well there are always bigger sharks in the sea so watch out. Supersharp deals on recent devices , trades or sales that involve shady foreign addresses ? There are bigger crooks out there then you mister fox ! So take your common streetwise spiderman-sence when in comes to those things. Cellphones can be locked, tied to providers ,or even worse stolen ! And you don"t want to end up spitting up doe for a hot peace of machinery.
Ethics. Perhaps what is more important then steering clear of shady deals is not becoming a shady dealer yourself. Whatever you do : Be ethical. Ok you might have the advantage of technical knowledge but don"t abuse it on the ignorant. Be sure you walk a way from the deal with smiling faces on both si
des. Be able to sleep at night without the thought you just scammed some nooby by giving him peanuts for his gear and getting him in a lot of trouble. Treat others like you wish they would treat you.
And finally : One golden rule I abide by : Buy some .. Sell some ! The amount of stuff I have is in this constant financial state of near Zen cause when I buy stuff , I only buy it when I sold other stuff. So not like ' I"m buying this , i'll sell some of my other stuff later" . No .. I look at the price of the item, decide how much I want to chip in from my own pocket and then look at the amount of cash I need to raise from selling other stuff. Nothing makes you more ruthless in selling your own stuff … then the hunger for the next geeky item.
My good friend Dave Gray (also my co-host at the global geek podcast ) called me this afternoon with some great news. He got a reply from Scoble on his WordPress blogg actually encouraging people to get him on the A-list over at wordpress. Now I know this might all sound like jibber jabber to most of you , so let me explain. Dave has a Blog over at WORDPRESS. WordPress is a service that hosts people's blogs (the biggest service actually) and has a top five list of most read blogs. The Scoblelizer is one of these blogs (we call these people A-list Bloggers) . Made by Mr Scoble (former Microsoft employee and major internet celebrity). Daves Iny tiny article about the impossibility of getting mentioned in this top five as an average-joe blogger with all these A-list bloggers on the wordpress service. And mr Scoble replied ! encouraging everyone to take a peep at Daves blog. Basically saying he was tired of being on the top five ant thought that it was somebody else's turn. The equivalent would be a Pablo Picasso telling the world to come take a look at the skeches you made in your hobby room. It all inspired me to write up this little article.
The paradox of mainstream media.
One of the great things that have always attracted me in both blogging and podcasting was the fact that the means to make the cut where the same for everyone. In the beginning you would need an publisher to get your message in the paper , get a book out or whatever. You used to need a radio station to get your voice heard and you would have to sleep with the producer to get on the tube.
All of that has changed thanks to the power of the internet . Now think about it : Everybody could be somebody. Everybody had an article , everybody has a voice and everybody has equal access to the masses.
But the maturity of the internet has taken its tole. Even in cyberspace we are becoming aware of what can only be called "mainstream media". In our little microcosmos we have our own celebrities. Rest asured : mentioning their names to the average joe on the street will probably get you a "huh?-and-a-shrugg" but to us cybernauts ringing names like Scoble, Dvorak, Curry, Lewis and others are as common as apple pie in Alabama.
Somehow sites like Digg, delicious and others that are the "lords of the lemmings" drive the droves of socially bookmarked surfers towards these mainstream lanes of Top-bloggers, Celebrity podcasters and unintentional amateur pornstars (hello Ms Hilton). So somehow I wonder if the single voice of the average Joe can still be heard.
And what about the average Joe ? An interesting discussion lately presented me with the following dilemma. Would you bend your words, twist your tongue and flex your ideas in order to be popular ? Or would you rather speak from the core of your soul to ten people who appreciate what you are doing.
I (for one) have made up my mind. With an itti titty podcast reaching some 150 people a week. My blog gets hit about 80 times a day. And you know what ? I don't mind. Once in a while one of my regular listeners or readers drops me a comment, taps me on the shoulder or even walks up to me at work and says : Great post ! I love that . I appreciate the small crowd more then the large amount of people that will probably never really care what I say , but just hit my blog cause "everybody does" or cause it was at the top of some list.
But in fear of being branded as "Sulking blogger with digg-rank-envy" let me reply that one of the greatest pleasures of writing is not being read, but to write. One of the joys in podcasting is to create from the core of my soul and not molding my content to appeal to the masses. I wouldn't mind 50 000 people to FIND my site , I would just feel weird having to write for all of them on a daily base. Somehow all these eyes or ears would change the acoustics of creativity. Would I create just like that , or change my content in order to remain popular ?
So let my tree fall in the forest , I don't really care if somebody hears it or not. The joy is in making unique stuff that is read by unique individuals. If somewhere around the world ONE person smiles when reading this .. i'm satisfied. Because the reward of creativity is the creation itself.