I’m not a big fan of clothing with logos on it. I still remember my grandmother commenting that companies should pay you to wear clothes with logos, not the other way around. And I still agree. You’re paying to endorse a product or brand when you buy a logo item. So, I do my best to avoid gear with heavy logos, and support projects like Adbusters’ Blackspot shoes (even if I think the second gen pair is a bit too expensive). And now I’ve got another line to support: the pre-pixelated clothes from Ironic Sans. According to the site, the gear is designed to be pre-pixelated “for reality TV shows,” which routinely blur commercial messages that aren’t from the show’s sponsor. But who cares? These shirts (and hats) make a great anti-branding statement that’s perfect for the No Logo ethos. I’m ready to order a bunch; can’t wait to see people squint when they try to figure out what’s on my shirt!
Archive for March, 2006
When I was growing up I wanted an IBM Selectric. It was the Rolls Royce of typewriters, and conjured up images of smoky newsrooms as well as sleek high-tech offices. I never got one; back in 1980 a Selectric II typewriter cost more than a computer does today (the last typewriter I owned was a Selectric knockoff from Juki, a Japanese company better known for its sewing machines). I was reminded of my youthful fixation by some of the comments to an Engadget post I did earlier this week about Lenovo’s latest ThinkPad. Although commenters seemed pleased that Lenovo hadn’t made any major changes to the model’s keyboard, some purists were up in arms about the fact that Lenovo had added a Windows key, something IBM had steadfastly refused to do. Like the Selectric, the ThinkPad has long had devoted fans, many of them drawn by its keyboard, considered one of the best on any laptop. I think Lenovo will move cautiously when it comes to changing it. Adding a Windows key was a bow to the realities of the marketplace (I suspect that IBM’s refusal to do so had less to do with ergonomics than with a refusal to acknowledge Windows’ level of dominance); making wholesale changes would show an utter lack of understanding about that marketplace. The fact is, IBM knows keyboards, and has produced some of the best for decades. Lenovo won’t change that. I don’t have a ThinkPad. But I have something even better—and better even than the Selectric: a vintage IBM Model M keyboard, considered one of the best ever made. It’s loud, heavy and incredibly tactile. And you can still get one for about $40 from a company called ClickyKeyboards, which specializes in the Model M (and sells some rare models for over $150). And, no, it doesn’t have a Windows key.
I finally found a good use for Photoshop’s Liquify filter—I used this image to illustrate a post I wrote for Engadget on a rumor that Windows XP could cause the fans in Intel-based Macs to stop running, potentially turning the hardware into an oozing mass of melted plastic and metal. The good news is that the rumors turned out to be unfounded, and the fans do indeed keep running. Of course that means I’ll probably never get to use Liquify again—though I won’t be surprised if some other product turns out to overheat enough to justify it.
Ever since I heard Microsoft and Intel were working on a concept for an “ultramobile portable PC,” I wanted one. It sounded like the perfect secondary (or tertiary) computer: large display, good battery life, hard drive, lightweight, wireless-enabled. Unfortunately, reality has a way of intruding upon even the best-laid plans, and when the first UMPCs were finally unveiled, they seemed somewhat less desirable: pricing was close to laptop levels (“under $1,000”), battery life on the initial models was said to be on the low side, and processors, memory and other features meant that the machines would be close to obsolete from day one, since it would be a struggle to run Windows Vista on them. That’s when I changed my plans. I decided to get a bare-bones tablet computer for the lowest possible price. After all, what did I want to do with my tablet? Surf the net, read email, check in by IM. That’s about it. I considered the Nokia 770 and Palm LifeDrive, but rejected both: too small. I wanted something with close to a normal laptop-sized display. So, I went onto eBay and began searching for old tablets. Sure enough, I found the perfect thing: the Fujitsu Stylistic 3400. I bid on one, won, and had it within a week. Once I updated the drivers and installed a PCMCIA WiFi card, I was up and running. (This was actually the hardest part. Without an Ethernet port, CD-ROM drive or even a floppy drive, I couldn’t load any software. The 3400 has a USB port, but wouldn’t recognize any thumbdrives without a driver update. I finally ended up using the computer’s modem and built-in dial-up software to open an AOL account and download drivers for a thumbdrive.) The 3400 is hardly a UMPC. It weighs over 3 pounds, runs Windows 98, has a 400 MHz PIII, 6GB drive and just 192MB RAM. But it runs Internet Explorer and Firefox. And more importantly, it runs VNC and RDC, which means I can use it to connect to my desktop boxes and access their files and programs (the pic above shows me accessing my Mac via VNC). Battery life is on the low side, but fine for my needs. And for just $150, I’ve got a wireless, go-anywhere computer. At that price I may just buy another one to use as a digital picture frame!