We kick off season 6 of the Knightwise.com podcast with a classic episode of “Storytime” where we take you down a good old fashioned rant about the “Average Hick” of the cyberspace community : “The Norms” If they are not buying the latest gear for no reason, they might be out trolling your Facebook feed. These 2 short stories will probably sound very familiar for any advanced geek. Add some cool music to the mix and welcome to season six of the Knightwise.com podcast.
- Music : Nordlight
- Pictures of the bookstore in Maastricht
- Story : Not the latest thing.
- Music : Carbon based Lifeforms
- Story : Welcome to wherever you are.
Oh glorious days between friday and monday. Days we look forward to, days we enjoy, and days we mourn when monday comes and takes them away. So this weekend was a little different. Belgium celebrated 'Truce Day' where we remember the end of the first world war in 1918. Suffice the fact that the weather sucked, on saturday Belgium was drenched in autumn rain and devote of any economical activity, cause all the shops where closed. So we skipped the border and went for a little daytrip to Aachen.
One of the nice things of living in the nook of the country is that one is very very close to the "aussland" as we could say. 30 km's is the distance that devides us from one of the major Dutch cities of Maastricht, and a small 80 kilometers seperate us from the German city of Aachen. So we pop over regularly. Aachen USED to be the one stop shop place for all my hardware needs. Back in those days the VAT in Germany on computer parts was a only 16% (as opposed to 21% in .Be) and they had some excellent cash-and-carry computer shops to get ones hardware. So we used to order on line, take the car at 9am in the morning , drive to Aachen , arrive at 10, pick and pay our order and be back before dinner. (actually we had dinner in Vaals, in holland, before we came back home) What was nice was the whole international flavor, carrying three kinds of currency and having to speak Dutch, German and occasionally some French before the Saturday afternoon had started.
But these days things are different. The VAT in Germany went up , making it no longer interesting to buy computerparts, OEM systems are soooo cheap it isn't worth the while and of course the Euro has chased away the Gulden and the Demark. But i'm going to give you a little overview of where we went , so if you ever feel like going .. you know where to go.
When going to the city of aachen. The best place to park is probably beneath the Media Markett in the town centre. It offers safe and cheap underground parking ,but the cool stuff is , the general multimedia geek-out-paradise is right above you. So no need to "shlepp" around that 50" plasma cross town.
If you exit the parking lott , go to the main "AlexanderGraben" and turn right to stroll down to the center of the town. By then you have probably gotten hungry you can endulge yourself in BratWurst and stuff , but for us a great place to eat is the LOUISIANNA. This very American restaurant offers great ribs, chicken wings , all in a southern flavour. Downright excellent food. But the shop is strategically placed between 2 major points of interests for geeks like us.
At the entrance of the gallery there is the DATEC computer shop . A very small shop that sports a wide aray of hardware, but is very well known for the MIRAI screens they sell. Getting ones hands on one of their wopping widescreen displays (1440*900 resolution) for 257 Dollars US is a bargain. I personally have bought two over the last two months and absolutely LOVE Them. Looking at an apple cinema display (20" widescreen) for more then double the price, its not worth the hassle.
But at the end of the gallery, you walk straight into the SATURN MEDIA STORE . When it comes to getting a cheap bargain and a lot of hardware, software, dvd's, music and what have you to browse through , this is sheer heaven. When going shopping for your geeky gear, be sure to COMPARE the prices from the Media Market and the Saturn shop. These two shops are regularly at each others throats and that results in getting a price difference of 80 euro's or more , just by strolling through town.
And of course, no geek is complete without his dose of coffee. 2 excellent locations pop to mind. First of all , the spectacular "Glass Cubus" A coffeehouse on the top of Aachens major shopping street. Sporting a wide variety of coffee's and Java's its a bit on the pricy side, but worth the while. Where it only to be sitting inside , watch the world go by and having the comforting thought that nobody can look IN. (but be careful not to walk past it just like that. As you can see on the picture .. it can appear quite invisible.) There is also a Vodaphone shop inside the building, you'll find directions on their site
But if you are into American Coffee , be sure to walk up to the town square and (walk by the LUST FOR LIFE store ) and visit the local Starbucks . Since we don't have one of those here and we are big big Java sluts, you can mostly find the Knights perched up behind one fracking big cappuccino to round up the day. Mac
So next time you go over to the German side of the border, you might be interested in our little tourist tour. For all I know , we surely had a swell day.
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.
It was the most funny thing yesterday morning. I was (as usual) listening to my daily dose of podcasts on my way to work, podcasts about technology and the latest news on the edge of real and cyberspace and beyond. At about seven AM I turned my Ipod off for a minute to tune into the regular news on the radio ( yep , i'm THAT kind of information junkie ). Since we had regional elections last sunday my interest was a little tickled just to know what some of these lame ass parties had come up with in order to work together , run the local towns and not loose face. Then suddenly I heard something very odd. It even made me check the play button on my Ipod, just to be sure I was not tuned into another podcast. But no : Clear as day, at seven AM in the (mainstream) headline news they announced Google had just bought You-tube.
Now rumors where flying around all over the cyber-place about the business model of Youtube, the Future of Youtube and about the lame sod who was going to BUY Youtube someday. Even in the latest edition of the Global Geek Podcast , talk was cheap and speculation was high about this very issue. But I never thought an event in Cyberspace would hit the mainstream news like that. A small smile of surprise crept along my face as I heard the crunching boot of cyberspace advance yet another pace in the world of the average off-line John.
Untill a few years ago (i'm talking "95, "96) the internet was this obscure thing for geeks. These days everybody has an email address, every product features his or their website on the package and most people have an internet connection. Although it is still the case that those with their finger on the cyberpulse are a minute few in contrast to the big dumb mass, one cannot help but revel at the phenomenon how the digital world is slowly but surely seeping into the dry desert of the real world.
Just to let the boys at Google know what they bought and what it's for .. I want to give you this little video.
This wonderfull little flick was part of a cabaret show Here is the original scene and shows the true power of You-tube. Take some good content , let loose the creative geeks of the globe to make something completely different out of it and then give them a medium to post it on.
What is Vacation ?
“Vacation : va·ca·tion : period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation, especially one with pay granted to an employee.” “A fixed period of holidays, especially one during which a school, court, or business suspends activities.”
Yep Thats the one and the only explanation why it has been a little quiet here at the Knightwise.com website. I’ve taken a vacation. And when I say Vacation , I do mean : Vacation. For somebody tuned into the net and a tightly warn net of communcational devices this means : Unplug from the big ‘dub dub dub’ (internet), Turning of the ‘IM’ communicational tools, letting the mails que up nicely in my inbox and get my callers and my voicemail re-aquatinted.
Zen Med for Cybergeeks.
In the first week : this was very very true : Trekking out to Wissant France for our honeymoon meant traveling to a beautiful rural area by the coast that unfortunately housed NO FREE WIFI. The entire survival kit that I brought along ( Laptop and gear ) became its own Robinson Crusoe when no internet connectivity was available. Sure , I lugged the laptop around for the 2 first days , looking for an open wifi, but then (understandably) my lovely new wife pointed out the utter uselessness of the act and the fact I was painting a sad picture of the ‘geek in despair’ for the rest of the world. So I took up the challenge and remained disconnected from the internet .. The whole week. And that was pretty cool you know. Working on my laptop in the evenings meant an undisturbed session of writing and being creative. No internet to overflow one with information , no IM’s to disturb you .. Just the ticking of an old coo-coo clock and the wrapping of my fingers on the keyboard. For all cyber-citizens out there , getting your machine off line is like some kind of ZEN meditation exercise. What appears useless at first becomes very relaxing and helps you focus. And besides that : It was my freaking honeymoon ! So I was a little tied up in enjoying the company of my new and lovely bride to be bothered by the fact I was missing out on AMD buying ATI. All the pictures of our holiday are HERE.
The week after that ?
The week after that , when I got home , some 80 emails awaited me ( including some spam) but the wave of ‘This is the information you have missed’ was enormous. Being tied in to the throbbing pulse of the net feeds me more info then I think at first. Just a quick chat with Seb & Dave (the Soul men from the Global Geek podcast) led me to believe I had become an informational Retard in just missing out 7 days of net-related information. I’m still catching up to get back in the saddle. It amazed me to see , just how much information – communication and content creation i process every week. Am I really an information-junkie ?
We will resume our normal programming in 5 4 3 2 1 ….
But to close that all up , let me reassure you in saying that normal programming shall resume starting today and all will be hip and fine and dandy again. So the Knight is back in the informational saddle. But I do wonder if I’m driving the proverbial internet Horse .. or if i’m just a passenger with no control … Who knows ..