Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fighting Technology

To say I'm a gadget geek is probably the understatement of the century. I love to play with new technology. The fact that it took nearly 5 years for me to finally break down and get a PDA phone is absolutely amazing. Of course, in the course of the last decade I've had 5 different PDA's - the original Palm Pilot, Palm III, Palm V, Palm Tungsten T, and a HP iPaq. None of them have been perfect, but the biggest problem with being a gadget geek is carry space. I'm not one that wants to carry a "man purse" around, but at one point to satisfy my various gadget geekiness I would have had to have a space for my PDA, a cell phone, a PSP, and an iPod. I would have looked like Luke after keeping the Stormtrooper utility belt...

So, I finally caught up with the SmartPhone age, and my phone isn't just my phone anymore. What I've found, as I find every time I get into my gadget geek mode, is that technology never quite works the way I really want it to. My first goal was to replace my phone and pda into a single device. That accomplishment went pretty flawlessly with the Samgsung SCH-i760 that I purchased. It's a really nice device, and everything I've actually gotten to work has done so with a high level of quality. The device feels nice on the hand, doesn't feel "plastic", connects to email easily and navigates nicely. So goal 1 is complete, 1 device removed from batman's utility belt.

Goal 2 should be just as simple - replace the iPod. Now, I have more than 12 gigs worth of music on my iPod, so I already know that I won't be 100% replacing the device. That said, I took a real hard look at my music usage and realized that a 4gig card would at least work for the time being, although an 8gig card would have been nice. Still, a 4gig card is about $50 over at Best Buy, so I go that route. What I found over the course of a day is that (from what I can gather) most WM6 devices currently cannot read the "MicroSDHC" standard by default. Luckily some blokes on the interwebs have come up with a patch that makes it work. Took a bit of work to get the file onto the phone, but once it was installed and I rebooted, voila! 4gig storage card works. I've put music to it, and it works well. Goal 2 (mostly) completed.

Goal 3 was to replace the PSP. Now I sold my PSP a while ago because I just didn't use it - it was the last thing that was just too much to carry around. Once I got the 4gig card installed technically I was done with this goal, but here's where the hitch really came in. Most of my video is on my Vista Home Premium machine - I use Windows Media Center to push videos to my 360, and it does an admirable job at that. So now I need to sync up my phone to Vista so I can transfer the videos. After 2 days of spare time used towards it, I think I'm almost as close to getting that to work as I was before I bought the device. Things just don't work right - the driver updates take 45 minutes or more to install. Once my PDA is connected I get "error" on the screen with no explanation of what happened. Trying to uninstall the PDA's device driver from the control panel greets me with a 12 hour "uninstalling" window.

So now I fight technology to do the geeky things I really want to do. It's the same fight I had with the iPod and the PSP, and the PDA over the years, just with a new device. There is a part of me that relishes the challenge, and a part of me that really gets discouraged that technology is never "all that and a bag of chips" for me - I always want things that do more than the designers intended, and end up finding the seedier side of the device.

It's what I'm good at.


Christy said...

I still maintain that Vista is inherently evil, and therefore will never work the way you want it to =P

Brian said...

The problem - go figure - was dealing with drivers. After uninstalling and re-installing the device, it worked pretty flawlessly.