thief of time

Monday, July 05, 2004

PDA's, My Secret Addiction

When my son got his first job, he used most of his earnings to buy a computer of his own, as ours was definitely showing its age and was likely to hang at the drop of a hat, or be out of use for some time until my husband was able to perform the requisite incantations to bring it back on line again. It seemed like a very practical use for his wages and one I heartily agreed with.

Following that, he expressed what I thought was a very strange desire--to get a hand-held computer. Why, I couldn’t understand, as he had a decent desktop computer of his own (certainly far better than our poor aging one), but seeing as how it was his money and he assured me it would be very useful for school (ha—pull the other one) I reluctantly agreed to the purchase.

Actually, I thought he might be taking after his granddad who was (and actually still is) very interested in gadgets of all sorts. You just feel a kind of pitying superiority to these poor obsessed people.

Some time later, following an article in the Herald, I became rather interested in getting an e-book reader and carrying any number of books and reference materials around close to hand. I started doing a bit of research into it and discovered that a handheld computer would actually perform this activity quite well on its own, plus perform a number of other jobs on the side—jobs that I didn’t really think I’d particularly need as I kept forgetting to check in my diary as it was and only kept a rough mental log book of expenses or “to do’s”, relying on a hit-and-miss memory to perform most of these tasks. Nonetheless, it seemed to make more sense to spend the money on something that had the potential to perform other tasks, whether I wanted them or not, just so it would justify (vaguely) the money spent.

Since I wanted it mostly for reading, I ended up with a Zire 71 as it was just out, not the most expensive, and had a fantastic screen, with 16 MB of RAM and the capacity for carrying any amount of extra memory around on an SD card. I found myself getting all kinds of reading material, both free and purchased, and started to get hooked on keeping track of my daily doings and expenses, etc., becoming semi-organised, for the first time in my life. I found web pages I didn't have time to read and converted them with my iSiloX and read them later on when I had the chance. Now,I can even start a blog if I’m out on the road and get hit by an idea I want to get an early start on.

I was actually very pleased with my purchase and quite satisfied, until I discovered the perils of shopping at Palm Gear. It starts off in small doses—you read about some vital piece of software that everyone recommends trying and buying, so you do and you find that, yes, it is better than the supplied software, or it supplements it, or it’s just plain fun.

Books are no problem—you get your E-book Reader and then just download all your books to the card, where the reader accesses them. It’s all the other stuff that little by little, inch by inch, starts eating into your supplied 16 MBs, until all of a sudden you realise that you’ve eaten up most of it and only have 4 more to go. That’s when you get very, very choosy.

Then, you read about something like Agendus, and you get serious Tungsten 3 envy. The top of the range T3 starts off with 64 MB’s of memory, at admittedly a bigger price, but not that much bigger. But there’s no reason to get rid of a perfectly good, useable Palm, just because you’ve become obsessed with adding tempting software, so you’re stuck. It’s a pain having to be practical.

So, it looks like the gadget obsession didn’t jump one generation after all—it was just lurking in the background ready to attack at my most vulnerable point—love of reading.

Besides which, there seem to be all kinds of rumours about the upcoming Tungsten 4 with even more serious advantages, so I’m just going to have to try and control myself and keep note of any software I can get when I buy a PDA with more RAM.

Though, of course, I still won’t be able to get this software for quite some time if I’m paying off a new Palm, because I won’t be able to afford it. Guess I’d better hope the Zire lasts while I put lots of money away for its replacement—even if I won’t be able to afford anything until they bring out the T6.

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