Category: Gear

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Buy Refurbished and Save

I often recommend that people buying new PCs should consider refurbished. In my experience, used is typically better than new. I want to say always, because I’ve never had a bad refurb.

Refurbished is a computer sold secondhand by the original seller, which could be the manufacturer or a retailer. Hypothetical: Jack Consumer buys a new Mac from Apple, but after getting the computer home he sees the new Dell TV commercial with Sheryl Crow. He returns the Mac and buys a Dell. Apple still has to sell that computer, but now potentially at a loss and discounted to future buyers. Maybe Jack liked his Mac but it had a bum hard drive, so he exchanges it for another. Apple still has to sell that computer, albeit with the hard drive replaced, again discounted. 

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A Switcher Repents

Back in September, a friend lugged away the last of my Macs. I relinquished them following a July switch back to Windows. I determined to use Windows on a full-time basis, which suited my fickle mood and work situation. But the Macs are back, in a surprising return to previous enthusiasm. The decision is a personal one and does not reflect my work position with respect to covering Microsoft.

Microsoft’s approach to its MSN Spaces blogging service is what set me off. The service requires proprietary technologies to either view or post some content to MSN Spaces blogsites. I decided that going back to the Mac, which I had grown to miss over six months, best supported my philosophical position. The Internet is classic example of what kind of scale open, supported standards can create. Personally, Microsoft’s technological approach isn’t wholly consistent with my personal position. 

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Heck, Is That a Phone or Camera?

I have burned through a few phones in recent months trying to find the right phone that was smart enough for my portable needs. Yesterday, I hit pay dirt.

A few months back I picked up the HP iPAQ h6315 Pocket PC PDA phone, which I liked for lots of reasons. But I found I just didn’t get enough use out of all its informational capabilities; maybe if I commuted daily or traveled every week. A good friend bought that device, so I cut some of my losses. 

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My First Canon EOS 20D Tests

I am working with my new Canon EOS 20D digital SLR, which I bought after a buddy snatched up my Nikon D70 for his dad. I highly recommend the camera to anyone who can afford it and either takes pictures professionally or, like me, is moving into serious amateur photography. Warning: This camera could easily be more than what most people need.

For me, the 20D is a rude indictment about how ill-prepared I am to move to digital SLRs. My problem isn’t so much photo basics but understanding lenses, their idiosyncrasies, and what might be right for this camera and my shooting needs. 

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A Switcher Recants

Earlier this year, I blogged about my troubled switch back and forth between PCs and Macs, eventually moving to the Mac for good. Not so. A good buddy bought the PowerBook I purchased back in March, and I put that money into buying a Sony S150, which is a Windows notebook that I’ll blog about sometime soon.

The switch came for many reasons. For one, my boss expressed concerns about a difference in the quality of analyst my reports. I attributed the problem to my working on a Mac fulltime and becoming too distanced from the Windows world; of course, I used a Windows machine everyday, too, but the Mac proved a distraction. I saw the same problem back when I worked as a reporter covering Microsoft. The problem: I like my Mac and didn’t want to switch. 

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The Great Mac-PC Debate

It’s funny how far the protagonists championing either PCs or Macs will go to push their cause. I moseyed into my local CompUSA on Jan. 19, 2003, where I found two ViewSonic representatives showing off Microsoft Windows Powered Smart Displays in the store’s Mac section. As I approached, one of the salesmen lithely snatched two shoppers eyeing an Apple iBook and pitched them on a Smart Display.

I returned later when the salesmen was alone and piped, “Say, you’re going to scare all the Mac customers away.” “That’s the idea,” he shot back. I must have made some kind of brilliant observation, because he gave my daughter a set of promo street style headphones for my troubles. So, now she can wear a Windows logo while plugged into an Apple iPod.