Get it All

The other night, I was asked to do a show on a local television station, covering the local primaries as a representative of my political blog. Myself and some other bloggers were to be meeting at the station to live blog the event and discuss the developments.

One problem, however: I don’t have a laptop. The supplied one for me, but I could hardly stand the embarrassment of being a blogger sans laptop. Yes, I’m that shallow.

So, my performance on television was sufficiently interesting that my wife could not argue against me getting a laptop anymore, especially because we’ll probably be doing more of these shows later on. I looked around and fell in love with the Acer Aspire. It’s exactly what I need, and nothing I don’t, for the purposes of communication and basic work functionality.

So as I await its arrival in the mail, I’m out surfing Linux support forums (the Aspire has a Linpus operating system, which is based on a Fedora core), looking at what devilry I might accomplish with my new toy. I’ve installed Google Gears on this PC (even though it’s Windows) to see how it works with blogging, because I figure any little thing I can do to speed up the process on the new machine will probably be worth it. I’ve discovered that I can install Skype on the new machine, which is cool because it comes with a basic web cam.

So, I’m at the start of the only weekend I can think of in recent memory that I’m actively waiting to end so I can get my new toy. Hurray!

Wow.  I’m freakin’ old, man.  I owned a C64, complete with GEOS (the Graphical Environment Operating System, but don’t you dare call it Windows!), a 2400 baud-rate modem to connect to Quantum Link and a flip-file filled to capacity with bootlegged games like Miner 2049’r, Jeopardy, Trolls and Tribulations and the oh-so realistic thrill ride that was Strip Poker. is taking a look back at the single most popular gaming console of it’s day and possibly of all time.  I look back at the most powerful 8-bit system ever produced, one which has only just recently ceased to be a viable option to surf the Internet with.  I really wish I still had a working model, it would be quite a show piece, even if mine wasn’t the original bubble machine, but rather the sleeker second version meant to emulate the look of the C128.

Gallery: Looking Back at 25 Years of the C64, the Ultimate ’80s Computer

On the Commodore 64’s 25th anniversary, we cast a nostalgic look back into gaming’s past. Join us on a journey back to 1982 — when men were men, headbands were fashionable, and programs could take half an hour just to load.

Hey! Who remembers the “Scream Sheets” of William Gibson’s future? All those disposable computer screens that could bring you the latest in the news? Well, Amazon’s going to be the first one to try and market such a device with the new Kindle: a wirelessly-connected little PDA type thang that connects to their service for free.

Kindle will allow you to connect to Amazon, find the book or newspaper you want to read, buy it and read it from anywhere. You don’t need a wireless Internet connection service like Verizon or AT&T, because Kindle comes with its own “Whispernet” wireless network. Plus you get free access to Wikipedia: Kindle: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device: Kindle Store

# Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper. # Simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing.

OK, that’s cool. But now for the down side. . .

For one, this Whispernet is available through Sprint’s network, which is fine if you live in one of those “good zones” of Sprint’s network. But I bailed on Sprint for the simple fact that I had the worst time getting reception with them in Rochester. I could literally walk ten feet from my house in either direction and get a signal, but directly in front of my house, no go. Now, I realize there was probably some sort of microwave interference in the area, but my Verizon phone never had the same problem.

So, the network is a problem. A second problem is the volatility of the media. This may not matter to some, but I guess I’m old fashioned enough to want to be able to keep a book for a while, whereas if your Kindle becomes kindling, all those books you read are gone. I’ve never been able to quite comprehend the people who have music stored on their iPods without any kind of backup, now we’re going to do it with print media as well.

But the biggest thing is: that damned thing is $400! If you’ve got $400 to spend on something you can only read books on – and you really like reading books that much – knock yourself out. But it seems to me that the entire purpose of those “Scream sheets” of William Gibson’s fantasy was that they were cheap and disposable. If you left your scream sheet on the subway because you were too busy fiddling with your latest “Teach Yourself the Mambo” sub dermal chip, no biggie.

But unless your Paris Hilton on a bender, you’re probably going to want to keep your Kindle where you can find it.