Computers are funny creatures, since practically speaking they are the sum of their hardware, software, peripherals and other ancillary items. Most people think of upgrades of the big ticket items -- and that's a necessary part of it. But sometimes you have to upgrade the other parts. (grin)
For me upgrades are an uneven process. I am content to use older machines and older technology, and frankly the way I end up with teaching contracts I am mostly part-time and sometimes full-time. 2008-9, while a plunging disaster for some, ends up being a good year for me to make a few upgrades.
Making A Point
Back when I was heading out to the 2004 Clarion workshop, I ordered a pair of Swiss Army USB Memory "knives". Actually, one was a miniature knife and one was a "travel safe" version designed to go through post-9/11 security and had no blades. I had them engraved "DrPhil" and they came with 64MB of memory each. Sturdy, portable, I use these things every day to transfer files between machines at home, office and on the road. Later, I acquired newer memory units for the Swiss Army Memories with 1GB and 512MB of memory. But all that is so 2006.
The other day I wandered by the same Swiss Army Knives place in New Hampshire and found that they had a 2nd generation model with either a white LED light or a laser pointer, in place of the red LED light of the originals. And sizes of memory up to 16GB. I figured a pair of 8GB units would be sufficient. Have a lot more digital pictures to move around, too, besides class and writing files.
Circuit City Meltdown
When the big box store announced it was closing, I stopped by early on to see if there was any point in investing in a Nikon digital SLR. But at that time they weren't doing much of a discount, the staff was non-existent and the displays already picked over. More recently the discounts were advertised as deeper, and in the interim we found some old Circuit City gift cards which would go bye-bye when the doors closed. My parting words to Mrs. Dr. Phil was that if nothing else, I'd buy some memory cards.
The camera section was heavily wiped out. But they were discounting memory cards, so I picked up some SanDisk Extreme III and Ultra II cards -- 8GB Compact Flash for the old HP digital camera, 8GB SD card for the Fujitsu machines and an 8GB Memory Stick Pro Duo for my Sony digital camera. That was good enough for me.
But while getting into line, I ran across the Sony NSC-GC1 net video camera. Though I made a film in my senior year of high school, I've never owned a movie or video camera. I've thought about it, but never had the real need. At Christmastime, a couple of techie geeks in print and on radio were recommending getting one of the little YouTube enabled quickie video cameras like the Flip. The Sony unit? Essentially free with my gift cards and it uses Memory Stick Pro Duo for memory. Even if the unit was bad, it still would do something and for free? Why not?
Then there was the announcement last week or so about Amazon.com's Kindle 2. At first I was intrigued -- having essentially a pre-paid 3G cellular arrangement for file transport sounds like a great deal. But then, like Lando Calrissian, further investigations left me muttering, "This deal is getting worse all the time." First, the Kindle 2 loses the Kindle's SD card slot. Too bad, because the Fujitsu's have built-in SD card slots and I have multi-card adapters and use SD cards for things, as noted. Second, while you could e-mail and send via 3G your own files to read on the Kindle 2, they want to charge me a dime for each download. A dime to read each of my OWN files? This is not free pre-paid 3G. And then there were the free e-books from Tor.com, etc. Things to read before I buy physical books. I mean, my interest in a digital e-book reader is NOT buying a lot of e-content from Amazon.com.
Sure, it looked like there was a workaround using the free Mobi writer to create files which were allowed to be updated over the USB cable, but having to have the cable, etc., decreases the usability. I've used e-book readers on PDA and the Rocket eBook, and never had problems with sending over my own files.
Then one of the comments mentioned the Sony PRS-505 Digital Book Reader and I remembered people talking about the quality of the electronic ink on its display. At the time I had decided the cost too high, but looking at it again I found the PRS-505 was actually cheaper than the Kindle 2 -- and you could get a light wedge case for reading in dim light or the dark, something the Kindle 2 doesn't offer. And the PRS-505 takes both SD and Memory Stick Duo cards, technologies I already use. 8GB is a lot of e-content. (grin) Sorry Amazon, Sony has the edge for my purposes.
Alas, things don't always go according to plan. The geniuses at the Swiss Army Knife place shipped my order via UPS. Unfortunately, the address is a P.O. Box. UPS doesn't deliver to P.O. Boxes and the UPS depot is 30-40 miles away.