Gwnewch y pethau bychain

Bloody Expensive Weekend

This weekend was the weekend of unexpected expenses.

It began on Friday, while I was at work. My group has inherited the MIS functions of the local office at work, and towards the end of my day, I was underneath a desk setting up a new computer for one of the VPs. Being slightly unable to reach the spot I needed to plug in one of the cables, I rolled slightly onto my side, on top of the carry case of my phone. Unfortunately, the case has one of those ball-in-socket clasps, and it concentrated all of my weight onto a single point. I heard a muffled crack, and my heart sank. A quick check of the phone revealed that yes, the screen had cracked.

Now, my phone is more than just a phone. It’s also my PDA, and a remote Internet device, and it’s something that I really rely on for work. Being able to get on the net from anywhere, anytime I need to, being able to track my meetings and task lists, all in a handy single place. It’s my portable brain, and I feel somewhat adrift without it. Unfortunately, phones that can handle all these functions well tend to be relatively expensive. I had been previously using a Sidekick II, which served me well, but had a variety of annoying features.

I did a bit of research and determined that the best option for what I really wanted was finally available from T-Mobile. Long ago, I’d wanted a Treo 600, until I actually got my hands on one. I didn’t care for the way it felt in my hand, and though the keyboard was too small. The Sidekick had the substantial feel i wanted, but was hamstrung by a non-extendable OS and some very peculiar design choices that were frustrating. But finally, someone has made the all-in-one PDA Phone that I’ve always wanted, and it’s name is the T-Mobile MDA.

The MDA is a Windows Mobile device, which means that there are are a huge variety of 3rd party apps for it, and it has built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for the maximum amount of networking capability. Some of the reviews criticized its phone performance, but I had an hour-long call with catalana last night and it seemed clear and strong to me, even with only 1-2 bars of signal. I’m still playing with it and figuring out its idiosyncrasies, but I think that I’ve found the perfect (for me) phone/pda/portable brain.

Saturday, another unexpected expense bit me. kitanzi and I were playing a bit of City of Villains, when suddenly my computer froze and the monitor switched off. When nothing I did seemed to be getting it back, I powered everything down, then back up. All I got was a white screen with pink pinstripes spaced about an inch and a half apart. Muttering profanities, I shut everything down, opened the case, and poked my finger about for a bit. (Note to my female readers: guys do this with computers, appliances, and automobiles whenever they break. It doesn’t accomplish anything, but we don’t want to admit yet that we have no earthly idea what’s wrong.)

After some checking of connections and the working-ness of fans, etc, I managed to coax it back to booting, but it was clearly an unhappy PC. I got a windows error that it blamed on the video driver, and some odd artifacts just after the boot-up was complete. Then it seemed to settle down. I checked e-mail, surfed a couple of web pages, then fired up CoV again. Within 10 minutes, the display with splotchy, then crashed the entire machine again.

At this point, I was reasonably certain that this was a video card failure. Its often hard to prove that, since you cant’ do a lot of troubleshooting on a PC you can’t see anything on the screen for, but it was the most likely of the three likely components to have failed (the other two being the motherboard or the power supply). So it was off to Best Buy to replace the vidcard and hope that I’d made a proper diagnosis. (Luckily, this isn’t House, or my first diagnosis would have nearly killed the computer and it’d have taken three more tries to find the real problem just before the last commercial break.)

Unfortunately, the replacement of the phone the day before meant that I really couldn’t afford the super gee-wiz-bang top of the line graphics card my gamer’s heart truly desired, because gosh they’re way too expensive still. I had been pondering upgrading said card sometime in the next few months when the price dropped down, but for now, I settled for a BFG GeForce 6200OC, which is still an upgrade on my old 5500FX, and means I don’t have a large powerful useless computer on my desktop, which would have made me very cross.

Unfortunately, these unexpected purchases put us back at least a month on our debt-reduction plans, and mean that it’s highly unlikely, barring a sudden windfall, that we’ll be making it to ConCertino. (It was highly unlikely we were going to make ConCertino anyway, but I was keeping out hope until the last minute, because, dammit, wanna….), and I’m not even really sanguine on ConCarolinas, which at least has the virtue of being local. We’ll see about that one. Meanwhile, back to the drawing board on the whole “paying off the debt” campaign. And the war was showing such promise!

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33 Comments

  1. Ouch. Tedious when things get broken all at once. I’ve got a T-Mobile Vario. Looks a lot like that one. Only does 802.11b, not 11g. Some apps aren’t so smart at switching between portrait and landscape formats. Every so often it freezes so solid that the only way to regain control is to take the battery out. I’m hoping there’ll be a software upgrade soon…

    • Yes, I think the phone they’re marketing as the MDA in the US is the next generation of the Vario.

      Hope you get your update soon. So far, I’ve been very happy with this one, but then, I’ve only had it for a few days. (And until I can afford a miniSD card, I can’t really go nuts loading it down with stuff!)

      • Yeah, I’d be stuck without that mini-SD card. It’s definitely the easy way to get stuff in and out of the PDA from Linux.

  2. i too thought i wanted a treo until i got my hands on one. does the keyboard for yours try to slide while you’re using the phone or do you just use headsets? when i tested that one out it kept sliding on me, but that was the floor model so abuse was probably heaped on it.

    • I haven’t had that happen, but the way I hold the phone to my head has my thumb pressing ont he screen edge and that’s going to keep it from sliding in any case.

      When I can afford it, i’ll probably get one of those Bluetooth headsets, though I refuse to act like I’ve been attacked by the Cybermen and wear it all the time even when I’m not actually using the phone, because that looks absurd. 🙂

      • lefthanded or right? that may have been my problem, as the way i’d hold it to my ear would have my thumb pushing on the screen thinking it should open. damn designers and their non lefty ways.

        • Yep, that’s precisely what it is. If I hold it in my left hand, it does try to slide the screen out.

          To be honest, while it’s serviceable as a handset, I’ll probably use the headset most often when using it. The included headset is surprisingly good for a freebie.

  3. Bummer to have so much technology failure happen all at once! Still, this is a temporary setback, right? Keep concentrating on digging your way out and you’ll get there, I’m sure.

    {{{{{HUGS}}}}}

    • Oh it is. And, to be fair, we *did* have the resources to deal with it. It was just disappointing, because we’d only just paid that credit card off and now it’s run up again, and that’s annoying. But I should remind myself that it’s only annoying, and not a catastrophe.

  4. Will your employer kick back for the replacement phone?

    I will hope with all my might for sudden unexpected money to go your way. After it comes my way, actually… 😉

    • I get a cut of yours? Cool!

      No, work won’t kick in on it, alas.

      • Well, if they won’t kick in then they are butt-heads.
        Do they pay your work-related bills at least???

        You know, my sweety and I were talking and we are always looking for fun couples (especially nearby!) to hang out with -- I see your sweety every week…we should all get together for dinner/movie or something like that.

        Talk to you later!

  5. I think I’m just a fuddy-duddy that I have a cell phone that is JUST a phone, nor do I want anything extra with it. No camera, no ability to surf the web, MAYBE bluetooth capability for the headsets but speakerphone covers that just as easily.

    Granted, if you don’t want to look like BatGeek with a pager, a phone, PDA, et al strapped to your belt, I can understand why the all-in-one jobbers are the way to go.

    I’ve seen plenty of them, they’re quite cool, but no one can quite answer me when I ask “So, that (insert gadget type here) can surf the web, check email, store/create documents, has a chat client and also serves as a phone and camera… So what do you need work to issue you a laptop for, when all you need is a docking station for your (insert gadget type here)?”

    Yep, I have yet to get an answer for that one… lots of blank stares, tho!

    • Heh. Need work to issue me a *what?* Pardon me while I go outside and laugh myself silly. 🙂

      In many cases, you’re right, and in a pinch, I *could* use this for a laptop. But I shudder at trying to do any long-term work on it (say, something that’s going to require hours of intense data-entry.) It’s useful for when I’m out and and about and need to hop onto the net for a quick check on something.

  6. Actually, Dad taught me to hit things, not poke at them. They live in the first house I’ve ever lived in where he didn’t need to hit the stove with a wooden spoon to make it work. (Of course, he has gas now rather than electric.)

    • *laugh* Hitting it is reserved for later, when I can’t actually make it work. After that comes tossing things across the room.

  7. Muttering profanities, I shut everything down, opened the case, and poked my finger about for a bit.

    In my experience, that last part is how guys deal with women, as well as computers, etc…

  8. Don’t give up, cause you have friends….

    Man that REALLY sucks for you. My sympathies.
    I am giving serious consideration to still trying to get my T5 repaired by the HORRIBLE ENTITY FROM THE DEMON PITS OF HELL that is Palm, and then selling it and the older one I have and buying a new PDA that is NOT a palm, a PDA that doesn’t have a crap record with the BBB for customer service.

    So I shall consider your MDA (it’s not a Palm -please tell me!) I admit having a pda that is also a cell phone is tempting. Not sure if I want that or not but I have time to think about it. I won’t be buying a new one soon most likely but damn I honestly don’t know how much longer I can cope without my PDA working. ARGH!

    Big hugs my dear!!!!

    • Nope, the MDA runs Windows Mobile. I haven’t really had a chance to play with thirdparty apps much with it so far, but the basic stuff it has built in is pretty nice. Of course, the only provider offering this specific phone is T-Mobile, but the other wireless providers have their own WM products, I’m sure.

      I HATE keeping track of various devices, so an all-in-one solution is pretty essential for me.

      *big hugs back*

  9. Ouch on the budget hit. I dont own a cell phone, PDA, Blackberry Blueberry, Strawberry or any other portable phone, computer, net accessor dinner cooking, hair washing or berry device but I have plenty of friends that do and so have an idea of the cost.
    I do have a computer and play CoH and CoV. I bet the computer crashed in the middle of a fight too, right?

    • Yup. The first time was on a bank heist with ‘s mastermind. Luckily, we’re at the level now where either of us can usually manage on our own, so at least she didn’t end up getting squished. the second crash was a solo mission with my corruptor, but I was expecting it, since I was mostly just trying to see if the card was in fact the culprit.

      We’re over on Pinnacle if you ever want to team up. Pretty exclusively playing CoV these days. Give a yell to @Autographedcat or @Assize on the global channels. 🙂

      • Hmmm ….

        Cool beans. I normaly try to play 1 to 2 times a week. What time are you all on and what days? I only have 1 tanker on CoH on pinical so would have to start a new toon.

        (So sad, you are now contributing to my altoholism. Guess I will need to start going to a local Altoholics Anonymous)

        • Re: Hmmm ….

          It varies. We’re almost exclusively playing on the villain side these days, and are often on in the evenings after 7pm or so, and at random times over the weekend. Unfortunately, it’s mostly “When we feel like it”, so that makes it hard to pin down. 🙂

          I’m a bit of an altoholic myself. I’ve got every slot full on Pinnacle, and another character sitting idle on Victory from back when I played for a while on that server.

      • CoH global chat

        Tried to add both your global chat names to my list but I kept getting the error messege that you all didnt exist.

        Mine is @Fem Feline (which is my 35 level scrapper on Champion server)

        I assume I just go to my global list and hit “add” and type you server name in? Do you all have to be on line or in my friends list for me to add you?

        I will try one more time this weekend just to see if I have any luck

        • Re: CoH global chat

          Yeah, to add a global friend they have to be online.

          I’m usually on these days as “Respectable Badger”, and Larissa is on as either “Enigizmo” or “Dragonkind”. I htink you can add character-friends without them being online, but global friends have to agree to being added to your list, so they have to be online.

          • Re: CoH global chat

            Ah, thats what I thought. If you guys play CoV on pinnical server I will try to remember to start a villian on there and see if I can catch you all some time

          • Re: CoH global chat

            Created a Brute named Mi Happy (Low immagination day there) on Pinical server. I will periodicaly pop on to see if I can catch you all (already added your nemes to my friends list) to try to get you on my global friends list.

  10. Why is it, I’d like to know, that the appliances all form death-pacts and suicide in droves? I managed to drop my faithful old PDA a few weeks after my old laptop fried the hard drive last fall. And I had only just got back to work after 18 months out, so I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of replacing them right away.

    So I got the new laptop in March, and I’m still fence-sitting on the PDA. I really really miss it for doing research and writing stuff on the fly (I had a Handspring Visor with a keyboard- it took roughly 5 seconds to whip them out, turn it on and start making notes). The laptop is obviously a better tool. But I miss the convenience of always having it handy.

    I open things up and poke them when they don’t work too. And it rarely works. However I did once fix a jammed VCR by turning it upside down and shaking it until it gave up the tape stuck inside.

    • Yeah, that really *is* always the way of it.

      I’ve been wanting a laptop for sometime, but for what I want for (a portable Internet appliance when I travel), I’m unwilling to pay for a new one, and the used market is even more overpriced in the sense of what you get for what you pay. just gave me a couple of his castoffs, and I’m getting the nicer of the two evaulated by my local shop to see how much it’d cost to get it back into working order. I’m hopeful whatever needs done is relatively cheap. 🙂

      Go you and your VCR-fu! Well done!

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