Small Objects of Derision
Well, she left me. It was a Monday night, I'd come home from work, just said hi and then I realised it was all over. Worse, the wedding was on Saturday. I couldn't quite accept it at first. Four days to go, all the arrangements, addresses, todos, my entire life on my Psion Series 3A and the bitch thing dies on me! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I consulted comp.sys.psion.misc: I had a bust ribbon cable in the hinge, resulting in a corrupted and almost unreadable display. It was a "known problem", but not one Psion seemed to have a "known fix" for, other than extorting money out of the victim if he ever wanted his baby back alive again. Fortunately, I managed to take a backup - working mainly on intuition rather than my busted, useless, wank-o display - but I had no way to use the data. Dream Fiancée did not think a new Psion was a justifiable wedding expense and anyway, I didn't have time to convert and restore the data using their crappy uplink tool.
Somehow, I survived the wedding, muddling through with the help of a notepad (paper variety, not NOTEPAD.EXE) full of lists and skilled used of the Unix strings command on my data files. Dream Fiancée was probably relieved that the honeymoon only consisted of the two of us and not the omnipresent 3A too, whose social skills were limited to interrupting conversation with non-sequiters like "Auntie Babs birthday".
Once home, I phoned the Psion Service Centre to find out if they could resuscitate my love. Yes mate - that'll be £70, send it registered post. Except a week later, it suddenly became £160 after they opened her up and found corrosion on the main board due to water damage (note to self: do not update contacts while water-skiing).
This was extremely vexing. I well remember Psion's adverts in the paper a few years ago, when they crowed about how the built-in Agenda could store dates up to 2049, thus obsoleting every filofax known to man. Except apparently, the 3A's hardware obsoletes itself after only six years. And you could afford enough new filofaxes to cover yourself with the money saved by not getting it repaired every time the screen craps out.
Meanwhile, like a traitorous bastard, I began to explore the options for replacing her. And pretty soon realised I could never do it. Well, not with the present state of the market anyway. These were the current state of the art in PDAs, in which case "art" must mean that boring modern stuff that no one in their right mind would want:
Series 3 upgrade/replacement. Scores well as a personal, mobile computer. Size actually comparable to a Series 3 (which is disappointing if you thought PDAs were getting smaller), but includes a fold-out proper keyboard. Includes a backlit display, which at first I didn't think I needed but it then turned out the screen was widely reported to be so bad that stadium floodlights would be more helpful. Early build problems allegedly sorted. Expensive. In its favour, I never wanted one until I tried one.
The Ericsson MC218 is a rebadged version of the same model, same screen, but with more comms kit and a lower price. (Hellooo! Psion? Helloooo....)
At first glance incredibly sexy - to hold one is to want one. Badly. Affair quickly turns sour when you discover there is no expansion capability and there are numerous reports of duff batteries. And since the batteries are unhelpfully embedded (WHY fer chrissakes? So Psion can crush Duracell??), you can't fix the problem until you take it back for a replacement (repeat the following week). I know Pilots have a similar design, but that one works!
Everyone bleats about the lack of a backlight, ghod knows why - do these people only use them while potholing?
Also incredibly sexy, but really intended for people who use Outlook or similar abomination and need a mobile backup for the next time they receive the ILOVEYOU virus. If it had a keyboard, that would ruin the alluringly slim profile of it. On the other hand, if it had a keyboard, I would consider it usable.
Nah, stop muckin' abaht.
Look guys: I don't want a remote desktop. I don't do Mickeysoft. Having your diary and address book tied to your desk is fine if you are too, but I want the source to be in my hand, where I know it's up to date, accessible and safe. The desktop is where I back it up, not maintain it. Occasionally, I draft these screeds away from a desk too so I need a keyboard. Ergo, Palms are out.
Nor do I want:
Actually, I just don't want your products at the moment, period. Unless key flaws are a design goal.
This week, my baby returned to me, looking fresh and renewed. Our passion was rekindled; I fell in love all over again. Why on earth would I possibly lust after another? My 3A has batteries I can fit myself, a decent screen, free memory, SSD option, a usable keyboard...the only thing it lacks is a good reason to upgrade, Psion. ;-)
(PS. The marriage is going OK too.)