• [Hoary Hardware]

    I ran across this Joy of Tech comic the other day and it started me reminiscing about old hardware sweeties in my life.
    Someone mentioned to me, while discussing this comic, that they had a paper white monitor on their old DOS box. I had a few of those paper white monitors. They were so crisp compared to the green screens. I picked them up dirt cheap one day (in the 90s) back at a computer flea market. Siufai and I used to go down to these things on the weekends and then build cheap PCs out of components we’d pay next to nothing for. Do people still do that or are cheap pre-built systems integrators so ubiquitous that it’s unnecessary?
    While hardly ancient, my old Apple “Lombard” G3 PowerBook from 1999 has been turned into a roving iTunes server for the house, hooked up to our swoopy stereo system in the living room–a poor man’s AirPort + AirTunes. We can control it via a web-based interface or use a VNC to pretend that we’re right in front of the machine. It’s a little awkward (have you noticed how awkward this word is itself?), but it gives us access to a lot of music and to playlists without leaving our chairs.
    Our other slightly faster “Lombard” we traded to EinSweetie’s mother for her old stationwagon so we have a car when we’re in Canada. She’s using it to do e-mail and to surf the web, enhancing her guerilla gardening activities.
    Someone else commented that their Commodore 64 had the beautiful “blue screen of life”. Ah, the blue screen of life, so bright, so vivid! Ah, those were the days. I have a working Commodore 128 packed away in Canada with a working 1571 drive. When nostalgia really hits me hard, I fire up one of my Macintosh C-64 emulators and play games. “Kill him, my robots”, anyone?
    The most useful piece of kit from my C-128 set-up, though, is the RCA monitor that Commodore branded and shipped with it. That monitor was an excellent RCA television and mine has travelled from Edmonton, to Vancouver, to Regina, back to Edmonton, and is now with me here in England. It had standard RCA inputs, so it makes a good video monitor when hooked up to a DVD player or a VCR! We used it here in England, when we first moved here, to play my North American PlayStation games! It’s still going strong!
    While newer stuff may be (currently) dearer to our hearts, what are we doing with our former equipment sweeties which is cool/interesting and makes them still useful? Tell us your Hardware Sweetie Stories!

  • [Swoopy Stepometers]

    In here goes: Bad times made better by Happy Meals, it’s pointed out that the McDonald’s pedometer isn’t in fact a pedometer at all, because it only counts steps and not distance. I suspect the Special K one is similar and I’ve heard rumours that it can count steps by itself just sitting on a counter.

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  • [Pedometer Panic 2]

    European version of the Omron HJ 112I did some intensive investigation on the Omrons, including phoning back to North America. Apparently, they produce different versions of the same model for different markets. Canada, for example, has a metric version. Europe, too, has a metric version. The Omron HJ-112 (or see this description) I so lusted after is not available yet in Canada and won’t be available for an additional two months.
    When I was in Canada earlier this year, Kellogg’s, the makers of Special K cereal, had just started a promotion whereby you could collect tokens and send away for a Special K pedometer and start your own personal 10,000 steps campaign. It was accompanied by all manner of media promotion with television ads and newspaper articles about the 10,000 steps campaign. The same promotion has now hit the United Kingdom and even McDonald’s (USA) is getting into the act. Is a free pedometer enough to get fitness afficiandos into McDonald’s? Apparently so, at least for some people.
    Anyway, I digress slightly. With some more phoning around, I discovered that the Omron HJ-112 model is available in the UK and is more Ein-compatible in appearance, with its translucent aqua case (see story image). I managed to track down a distributor here in the UK. While they predominantly supply medical professionals, they will take personal orders as well. All of the recently flurry of media attention has meant that people have been going out and snapping up pedometers left, right, and centre and they didn’t actually have any cheaper pedometers left, but still had a few of the HJ 112. So, for only £27.03 (incl VAT), I will shortly be the proud owner of my very own Omron HJ-112.
    Note to self: secure this one to self more firmly!

  • [Pedometer Panic]

    Sportline 360 personal pedometerI had a great walk yesterday from Brighton’s West Pier to the Hove Lagoon and back. Actually, it was longer than I expected. About halfway back, I stopped to check my pedometer to see how I was doing for time but the pedometer was gone. I had last consulted it at the Hove Lagoon, two kilometers back. I doubled back, but I couldn’t find it anywhere.
    I’m not surprised I lost my Sportline 360 pedometer, because I’d almost lost it several times earlier and I’d managed to knock it off my body onto the ground on several occasions too. I think the clip it’s supplied with is a little lacking. Barring that, though, I rather liked the unit.

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  • [ADHD Adolescent and Adult]

    Hello, my name is Michelle and I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    The Beginning

    Diagnosed, labelled, and forever branded. In 1978, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the psychiatrists and doctors pronounced that I had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. That was long before ADHD/ADD was fashionable even in North America. My diagnosis involved my being hospitalized for several months in the childrens’ ward of the University of Alberta hospital while doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists tried to figure out what was “wrong” with me. They arrived at a diagnosis of ADHD only after eliminating everything else they could think of, including schizophrenia. At the time, ADHD, while known in Canada, was not often diagnosed, and it was very uncommon for it to be diagnosed in females.

    What was I like before being diagnosed? Let me take you on a flashback vignette tour.

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  • [Cognomen Command]

    “To name oneself is the first act of both the poet and the revolutionary. When we take away the right to an individual name, we symbolically take away the right to be an individual.”

    – Erica Jong from How To Save Your Own Life, epigraph to “My posthumous life …” (1977).

    “Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.”

    – George Santayana (1863–1952), U.S. philosopher, poet. Dominations and Powers, bk. 1, pt. 1, ch. 1 (1951).

    Like most people, I had very little choice about my first name. On the day I made my grand “eingang” into the world, my parents burdened and blessed me with my first identity: Michelle A. Hoyle. Michelle—pronounced by them as mih-shell—Annette Hoyle. That is who I am. That is who I will be. That is who I was. Or is it? In my family, it was not a name that inspired—or I was not a person to inspire—nicknames. The closest thing to a nickname ever used among my relatives for me was Shell and that infrequently. Life continued this way until I was fourteen. Christmas of that year marked a turning point in my life. That is when everything hit the fan. That is when I discovered myself. That is when I became me. All these things hinged upon a single Christmas gift, possibly the best present I ever received from my parents: a 300 baud modem for my computer.

    How did a humble piece of technology, no bigger than a paperback book, come to revolutionize my life so much? Communication equals empowerment. A modem opened the way for me to communicate with people who couldn’t see me, but had to accept me based on what I said and how I said it. It didn’t matter that I was fourteen. It didn’t matter that my parents were trolls from an uranium mine shaft. It didn’t matter that I didn’t fit into my local social milieu in any way, shape or form. Edmonton had a very active discussion-based electronic bulletin board community. Although I didn’t belong to any of the cliques there (of which there were three major ones), I had a passport that enabled me to travel seamlessly between groups. They never directly invited me to events, but I was always welcomed. I had found a much better, more accepting home than my parents had ever provided me with. This was heady stuff. I made friends, close friends, during this time. Most of the closest I’m still in contact with and still doing things with almost twenty years later. Without the affirmation and acceptance I found in this community, I probably would have just given into despair over the course of my life, most of which I felt powerless to control.

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  • [Evolution of Eingang]

    One of the questions I get asked fairly frequently by people is “How did you come up with Eingang as your nickname?” Here explained are the mysterious origins of “Eingang” or “Ein.”
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