The Mac Webb

Tech Junkie Swears Off New Hardware for One Year

- 2004.07.14

Everyone here knows that I am a total junkie when it comes to technology. Over the last 36 months, I have used around 41 PDAs, 8 PowerBooks, 2 iBooks, 2 desktops, and 4 cell phones. I move through machines like many move through . . . well, something you move through often, the analogy part of my brain is on the fritz. The liberal use of eBay has kept me from total financial collapse.

I rationalize my behavior in that technology is a hobby of mine. I like to play with machines for a few days to get them running in my environment. My favorite aspect is the initial setup of a new machine.

Pulling a gadget out of the box and digging in is one of my favorite activities. I spend the needed time to integrate my devices into my life, working through all the bugs, glitches, and difficulties. I then grow bored of the gadget and move on to the next piece of technology. It seems the thrill of the technology chase is the most important aspect for me.

As I approach middle age (ugh, 35 this year), I realize that it may be time to pick up another hobby, like reading or cleaning house. My two children demand much of my time as they grow older, and neither is too excited about playing in the computer room. My wife would like to quit coming home to the odd FedEx package or wondering what the PayPal debit was for this month.

To this end, I am throwing down a personal gauntlet. This is the day of the big freeze. I am going to choose my personal infrastructure and freeze those products for one full year! I will not change any machine due to whim or whimsy, regardless of how great a deal I may find.

If they develop personal transportation in a PDA this year, I will wait. If the new PowerBooks run on body fat, I will wait. If the next generation cell phone grows hair, I will wait.

Here it is in bold print: No changes in my technology for one year!

Mark this date, friends, July 12, 2004 will be the first of 365 days with no changes.

These are the current choices for the top four spots in my technology tree.

  1. PowerBook G4/667. This machine fits my current sweet spot between low-end and current machines. I can do everything I need today and will be able to do everything I need tomorrow. I agonized over this one, as I love my Pismo (see What a Long Strange Trip Back to Pismo). In the end, I needed the better performance and the higher pixel numbers for the lock out. I was torn on this one, but the clincher is that I still have warranty on the Ti, which we keep me from accidentally breaking my way out of the freeze. My current rig has a 60 GB drive and 1 GB of RAM, and it will stay that way until July 2005. I have an external Bluetooth dongle installed as well. Current street value: about $900.
  2. Palm Tungsten T2. One of the finest PDAs I have used, the T2 has a wonderfully bright screen, ample memory, and built in Bluetooth. The machine fits in your pocket or hand with ease. I have owned both a T2 and a T3 and find that I rarely used the 320 x 480 screen of the T3. I like keeping the slider closed, which makes the T2 win on form factor. The fact that I net about $150 on choosing the T2 helps in my choice. I can use the extra for enough SD memory for the yearlong project. I have a 256 MB SD card and will use that until July 2005. Current street value: about $175.
  3. iPod. One of the only original pieces in my collection is my trusty 5 GB iPod. This machine has worked for me through thick and thin. I use it during yard work, running, road trips, and airline flights. I have not found the limited size (by today's standards) a problem, as I can only listen to so many songs at one time. I replaced the battery about a month ago, so I once again have the full 8-10 hour playtime. This machine shows the wear and tear of age but continues to run like a champ. Street value: $100.
  4. Sony Ericsson t610 cell phone. This is not really a machine I am necessarily passionate about. I like the form factor and the operating system, and I have grown to rely on the Bluetooth connectivity. This is the phone I have as of this point, and it should last me through the year. Street price: $150.

This is it, my ensemble for the next 12 months. These are the pieces that are mine and mine alone, and I have not limited the things my wife wants for the household. This challenge covers my daily use items.

I chose the machines that I felt were the best balance of form and value, doing only the things I need them to do. I did not go out and buy a 17" PowerBook and the latest gadgets. I wanted this challenge to be more natural, using machines from my collection that I feel will keep me happy for one year.

If you see me going into Best Buy or searching on eBay, feel free to stop me. I will not buy their machines, trade up for their machines, nor will I trade down. This is it for one year. If I win a new machine, it will go in the closet until the end of this one year.

I will keep you updated as the year progresses. And I will call on you all like AA sponsors to keep me inline. LEM

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