Electronics Miscellany

Volume 7, Issue 60; 14 Apr 2004; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Electronics superstore, eBay, and a twenty-first century tag sale.

Life is pain…anyone who says differently is selling something. (Westley, The Princess Bride)

William Goldman

I noticed yesterday (well, yesterday when I started writing this essay, last Saturday) that the battery on my Palm was getting low. I’ve apparently forgotten to charge it for the past week or so. Actually, I think what happened was, I unplugged the charger to tinker with something else and forgot to plug it back in again. I’m on the road for another week, so I decided I should probably try to get a charger. In particular, one of those combo charger/USB sync cables seemed like just the ticket. I’ve been successfully syncing with Bluetooth, but a USB cable is a little more straightforward. Besides which, this was a perfect excuse to visit Fry’s Electronics.

Some of the locals have told me just how amazing Fry’s is and I wanted to see it for myself.


Yeah, it lives up to expectations. Every imaginable electronic gadget, from individual transistors to computer parts to a couple of dozen different desktop and laptop machines (that’s a couple of dozen of each) to high definition televisions to, well, actually, to refrigerators and home appliances all under one roof. Under one roof designed to look like a Mayan temple, but I think I’ll just let that go.

Cool cases, a wall of motherboards, CPUs, WiFi kit, mmmm. Makes ya wanna build stuff…


On my way to Fry’s, I passed the (some of the?) eBay offices. Offices, you know, those big brick and metal structures surrounded by parking lots? Physical things. I don’t know why it struck me funny to see the eBay logo on a sign in front of a building. Of course they have staff and all those computers and everything and they have to be somewhere, but if you don’t live here, it’s easy not to think about the physical location of all those virtual things.

Tag Sale

No, not TAG Sale, tag sale. I’ve decided to give up on the idea of running Linux on the iPAQ I bought several years ago. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a bad idea, and I’m not planning to run the proprietary OS it came with for love nor money (though I did manage to re-flash it), I just didn’t find the core apps robust enough yet. I’m sure they’ll get there eventually. In fact, I used to think I might have time to work on them, but realistically that’s not going to happen.

My iPAQ had been reduced to a portable, auxilliary storage mechanism for my digital camera. I’d use the dual slot expansion pack to copy images off the camera’s CF card and onto the microdrive. But I see that there’s now an add-on for the Apple iPod that does the same thing (and I filled the microdrive on one vacation, so more storage would be better).

If the proceeds from these items cover the cost of a used iPod and one of those gizmos, I’ll be delighted. (It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, though.)


I swear to God, I saw your abstract and thought you were auctioning off Docbook NG elements.

—Posted by Mark Pilgrim on 14 Apr 2004 @ 06:13 UTC #