Monday, June 20, 2005

More Handbook Stuff

Wikipedia now has a page dedicated to the Handbook 486. I added a link to my page on optimizing graphics for this machine to the external links section.

I actually had my old Handbook out and running over the weekend. My 4-year-old daughter likes to type on it and otherwise play around with it. It tickles her that it's so "kid-sized." I got to take a little trip dpwn memory lane - I forgotten just how much I'd liked that machine, and how much I'd been able to do with it.

My main laptop, a Dell Latitude LS 500, is now on the fritz. The cable to the sceen seems to have broken down, and now the screen comes up pure white. It works fine while connected to a monitor, but it's out of comission for mobile work, which is where I mostly use (used) it. I'll have to replace the screen cable, or possibly the whole screen before I can work while commuting again. When last I checked eBay, replacing the entire screen was actually the cheaper option.

Or there's always the Handbook. ;)

Friday, June 10, 2005


Two days after my first post, I'm taking my first browse through WikiMedia. I come across this image. It's the Gateway Handbook 486, one of my favorite tech oddities, and one of the things I plan to discuss on my blog with some regularity.

I'll have a lot more to say about this machine in the future, since I've invested quite a bit of time in it over the years. My wife and I own two of them, although we don't use them much nowadays.

For now though, I'll just bring up the form factor. The Handbook 486, as you can see in the picture, is a small sub-notebook. It's just comfortably larger than a paperback book or a VHS casette (if anyone remembers what those are, anymore.) I never understood why this form factor wasn't more popular. In these days of iPod minis, micro cell phones and shirt-pocket PDAs perhaps there is less of a call for a small computer such as this, but I always found it extremely convenient to have a computer that could go just about anywhere, and the Handbook had the added bonus that it was on as soon as you opened the lid.

Sony has come out with a few sub-notebooks that rivalled the handbook in size, their early Picturebook series. And there have been a few others along the way. And every so often, you'll see a new entry into this space. John Dvorak at PC magazine even ran a column hitting the major subnotebooks of the last 20 years and calling them "the bottom 10" - as in the worst laptops ever.

I disagree, though. There's something about these machines that caputres the imagination in the way a full-size laptop just can't. Maybe its just the "Jetsons" factor, or maybe it's something else, something deeper. The longing to wring as much life as we can out of our short turn upon this mortal coil, or perhaps the hope of finally eluding that haunting loneliness so many of us feel.

Or maybe I'm just a geek.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Which edge?

Although I've been a techie for years (since way before it was cool) my approach to technology is... a bit different, I think, than most people's - or at least most people who dig this stuff.

Some people absolutely have to have the newest gizmos, and get excited over having the newest tech before (or at least as soon as) everybody else. I'm not one of those. I might be if I had the budget, but somehow I never have.

Some people love technology that borders on the antique. Classic Macs, Atari computer systems, Amigas, Newton - you know what I mean. These folks are kind of like classic car collectors, except they revel in classic tech. And although I do like the older stuff, I'm not one of these either.

I like technology that's neither in the first blush of youth nor old enough to be merely a curiosity. Stuff that's still useful for doing real work. Things that, with a little ingeneuity and TLC, can really shine. Let's call it middle-aged techology.

If I wanted to be pretentious, I'd say I believe in
appropriate technology - that is, technology that is adequate and well-suited for a task to which it is put. And I do believe in this as a principle.

But I also like cheap tech. (It's the budget thing again.) And I've always had this tendency to root for the underdog, even after the season is over... sometimes even after the team has been disbanded, the stadium razed, and all the remaining team logo sports bottles sold on eBay.

So that will be the focus of this blog. Since blogs are personal, it'll partly be about the tech stuff I personally use, or have used, or would like to use, that is behind the curve. And since I've got more to talk about than just technology, there'll be some other stuff thrown in from time to time. After all, opinions are like a particular part of the body... teeth. Everybody's got a bunch of them in their mouth, and most folks have tucked a few away under their pillows for safekeeping as well.

And yes, I know blogs are supposed to have links in them. I suppose I should have made "eBay" two paragraphs up into a link, but really, what's the point? Next time, though, I'll have some links. Probably.

Oh - and.. the name? Well, I wanted something that would be roughly the opposite of "the bleeding edge" but nothing seemed really appropriate. "The scabby edge" was high on my list, but I didn't think readers would enjoy being made to think of scabs every time they visited. "The moldering edge" was another possibility, but it meens decaying, and I thought it was a little insulting as a description of stuff that I actually like and think is worthwhile. "Superannuated" is a great word - I loved the sound of it and felt the meaning was appropriate. It conveys excellency while still giving that feeling of something left behind. (It's super! but... annuated.) I don't know that it works all that well with the "edge" concept though. It's a bit of a stretch, but I'm hoping it'll grow on me.

I expect this blog to go largely unread. There are just too many blogs these days for anyone to actually read them anymore, unless they belong to somebody famous. And I'm not famous. Or even syndicated.

So, hello. And now, goodbye.