• Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

    The Tale of My First Electronics Purchase

    by  • January 30, 2013 • Tagged:   • Comments

    hi-fi equipment

    This and a whole lot more

    I grew up with an 7-years older brother who loved electronics, most notably home theater stuff. When he was in college, he would come back with an awesome a/v receiver, a cd player from a brand that I’ve never heard of, a hi-fi cassette tape deck, and the newest high quality VCR player (hey this was the early 90′s!). I would brag to all my friends that I could watch the latest and greatest movies with window-rattling volume. Looking back at it now, I can see that my brother probably racked up tons of credit card debt in his acquisition of now-vintage-in-a-non-ironic-way electronics.

    Of course, back then (and let’s be honest, even now) I really looked up to my brother. So naturally, his hobby of collecting electronics was passed on to me. Back then, it was fun to receive electronics catalogs in the mail to ogle over the newest and greatest things to buy. Now days, it’s as easy as heading over to Amazon and clicking around to see what’s out right now. It has become too easy to impulsively buy whatever electronics can fit on my credit card.

    When I got to college and then got my first credit card, I desperately wanted to build a my own home theater system. I never wanted to be a luddite in the dark ages. It didn’t matter that I already had a more-than-adequate stereo system. It wasn’t good enough.

    It started with a DVD player. I remember sneaking into my roommate’s room on winter break and using his computer (I didn’t have one at the time) to shop online. The DVD player was a little over $100, which at the time wasn’t much, but probably ended up costing me much more in interest. After I made the purchase I got the email saying my order was processing.

    After obsessively checking my email, I finally received the tracking information for the shipment. I think that it was the first package that I’d ever had delivered to myself. The anticipation was intense – it seemed as if I wore out the F5 (that’s refresh for all you non-keyboard shortcut using savages) on many computers waiting for the status to change.

    On the morning of the delivery, I made it a point to keep a keen ear to the door. What I didn’t anticipate was how boring it is to wait for a package to arrive…you know, something about a watched pot and boiling water. I naturally fell asleep and missed the delivery! All I had to show for my waiting was a stupid slip that said that the delivery would be retried the next day.

    I didn’t think that was good enough. Naturally, the next course of action was to get in my car, and chase down any UPS truck that I could spot. Wow, thinking back on that, I must have seemed crazy. When I finally found a guy, he told me that it’s their policy to not give out packages to people who come up to them on their route. It’s probably to protect themselves against crazy people like me. I was disappointed.

    In the end, I did get the delivery the next day and all was good. That started a downward spiral of more electronics purchases, which over the years included a receiver, subwoofer, speakers, VCR, and TVs. Eventually the chase for electronics waned and I moved on to other things and I learned how to fix some of the stuff that I already had when it broke. Some of those things still provide me with entertainment – my receiver, subwoofer, and speakers are still going strong after 10 years. But I wonder how much time and money I could have saved if I never caught the electronics bug.

    In Which I Renege

    by  • October 8, 2012 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    iphone 5 black bezel

    Ugh Fine

    Readers of this blog will recall the vehemence with which I railed against smart phones. Not for me! I cried. You’re all wasting your money! Plan ahead, and stop texting during our coffee dates! From my high horse, I came up with dozens of reasons why my plain old little non-data phone was, and is, good enough for me.

    And then my husband went away for the summer, and there were a dozen or so moments when I realized how handy a little smart-phone might be. Notice that someone’s pretty late, and that you haven’t heard from them? There’s a good chance they emailed you, and you have no way of knowing, because you’re smugly on time at the bar, waiting for them to show up, with nothing but your half-decade old Samsung in your pocket. Realize it would be really convenient if you knew where the closest [insert store name here] is? A smart phone would come in handy. Indeed, while I still found myself functioning just fine without one, more and more frequently I realized that it might, in fact, be useful to be in possession of that which I’d rallied against for so long.

    But the turning point didn’t come until more recently. I asked a friend of mine – one far more versed in technology and investments related to them than I – “Why should I get an iPhone?” (He uses one, you see).

    “So you’ll have something else to complain about,” he replied.

    Well har har.

    But after discussing the various merits of each smartphone, it became clear that I might benefit from investing in one. And while I’d had a terrible experience with Apple once before (it involved my husband buying me a new iPod Nano, which was promptly incompatible with my very old Mac, and ended with me giving a stern lecture to the Apple technician the next day), my well-versed friend informed me that he thinks the iPhone is the best smartphone for the money.

    Lest you think I’ve completely given up my frugal phone ways, let me clarify that I was not online moments after the announcement of the iPhone 5, waiting to buy one of my own. There was much more planning involved. This summer I finally replaced my incredibly outdated computer (protagonist of the aforementioned iPod failure) after literally everything on it became obsolete. Through a computer recycling program, I obtained a $100 Apple gift card. I’ve also picked up a bit more income on the side, and cut a few things from my budget. With all of these factors combined, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and purchase the new iPhone. The cost of the phone itself, given the gift card and other, unexpected income, will be negligible; with the cuts to my budget, the money is there for a slightly increased phone bill each month; and this phone appears to be the right one for my needs (it’s also no longer made of glass, which was sure to shatter within instants of my purchase) (ed. – actually, the front still is glass, so be careful!).

    Am I a hypocrite? Possibly. I could get along with my simple phone just fine, and continue to veer behind the technology curve. But this is a purchase I feel good about. And I’ll still never tolerate texting at the table.

    image: methodshop.com

    Back Here in the Stone Age

    by  • March 5, 2012 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    iPhone

    Necessary?

    Image: Martin Abegglen

    In many ways, I have traditional, some might even say old-fashioned, tastes. While this has often served me well (my clothing stays largely in style, and should for some time), I’ve lately noticed that my reluctance to upgrade to more recent technology in a particular instance in my life has begun to show. Namely, my electronics. My name is Abby Dalton, and I don’t have a smart phone.

    For some time, carrying around a plain old cell phone on which I could only type out the most basic text messages seemed like a non-issue. Only early-adopters and people with important jobs carried iPhones and Blackberries. Even if they seemed fun, I had no need for one, and could commiserate with friends about how our plain little phones worked just fine. But overnight, I seem to have been left in the lurch. Suddenly, I’m excluded from work conversations about the best apps and iPhone cases (to be fair, I’m very partial to the selection J.Crew has available). Verizon is sending me mail on the daily, extolling the virtues of the smart phone, and why I need to enter the modern era. Friends who once joined my whining over the ridiculous expense of a data plan can’t hear my judgment over the sound of their fingers clickety-clacking on their Apple screens.

    I have my reasons for sticking with my simple little model. Unpopular opinion time! I have, and still do, find the expense of an iPhone unnecessary. I sit at a computer for nearly all of my working hours, and then am rarely far from a computer should I need to check email. I’m exceedingly organized, and can print out directions and phone numbers well in advance of needing them (my trips are organized weeks in advance, and restaurant outings so planned that a last minute reservation is unheard of in my house). I don’t need to spend money on a new phone, and a monthly data plan, when there’s so little need for it. This isn’t to say I won’t spend my money on ridiculous things (oh, the stupid things I spend my money on – another post for another time). Bottom line: I have literally no need for a smart phone, and know many people who don’t, either, despite their insistence that it’s the greatest thing ever. Are you frequently away from a computer, or unable to plan your life more than an hour in advance? Then by all means, the smart phone is for you.

    I’ll also pull out my curmudgeonly behavior for a moment – I hate how often the people I’m with redirect their attention to their smart phones. Chatting in a bar, grabbing a coffee at work – one moment we’re having a lovely conversation, and the next they’re responding to messages and checking scores. “It would be rude not to respond,” they say, and I smile and silently lament the end of common courtesy.

    Will I eventually end up just another member of the masses, squinting at that glowing iPhone screen and talking about how it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever purchased? Probably. Eventually I won’t have a choice – when my little cell phone dies (and it’s on its way), I know I’ll have a hard time tracking down a cell phone that doesn’t require a data plan, that the lure of those pretty little J.Crew iPhone cases will be too much to resist. But for now, I’m happy to pay my minimal monthly phone bill, drop my phone repeatedly without consequence (no shattered screen for me), and silently glower when my husband checks basketball scores at dinner.

    Are you a member of the smart-phone owning masses? Is the expense worth it, in your opinion?

    A Tale of Two Electronics

    by  • November 10, 2011 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Gadgets

    Electronics are cool. Except when they break.

    image: aaltonen

    In the past month I’ve had bad luck with electronics. Last week Her was using her computer to look up some stuff, and then turned to me and uttered those dreaded words, “I think that the internet is down.” If you’re a home networking amateur like myself, you know that finding the problem of the internet outage is equavalent to taking the Mensa exam. Is it the router? Is it the modem? Is it the network settings? It it only the wireless connection? Is it the ISP?

    Fortunately, it didn’t take too long to find out what was wrong: the wireless bridge (Dlink DAP-1522) was not working. After whacking it a few times and plugging it into different outlets, the thing would not start up.

    Begrudgingly I bought another new one online for $70 after seeing nothing equivalent on Craigslist or eBay. While I was waiting for it to arrive I read that someone else had the same problem and that it was because of a faulty power supply. When the new wireless bridge arrived, I grabbed the power supply, plugged it into the old wireless bridge and, lo and behold, it was the power supply after all. A quick search on eBay resulted in me finding and purchasing a $7 power supply replacement; the “new” wireless bridge is now on its way back to the retailer. It’s a nice feeling to be able to salvage an old, working piece of electronics for 10% of the new purchase price.

    My second problem with electronics didn’t go so well. I’ve had a nicely specced, refurbished iMac in use for almost the past 3 years. I never powered down the machine, but it did go to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity. One day I went to wake it up from its slumber, but I got nothing. I tried holding down the power button. Nothing. I unplugged all of the peripheral devices hooked up to it and then tried the power button. Nothing. I begged it to wake up. Nothing.

    Oh no.

    I took the poor iMac to nearest shop and awaited their $29 diagnosis. I then received a call that no Mac owner wants to hear: the logic board is dead. The cost to replace was going to be $859, labor included. There’s no way I’m going to fix a 3 year old computer for that much money. I opted to have them salvage the hard drive for $99.

    The irony of this situation is that if I had purchased AppleCare, I would have had about a month remaining until it ran out. I bought a MacBook a few months ago, and will be purchasing AppleCare for that.

    How do you deal when your electronics break? Buy new ones? Go without? Let us know in the comments.