I’m on loan to a big project at work, one that requires lots of time with lots of demands.  During the minor breaks (a few seconds here and there while I’m waiting on a screen to refresh, or the down-time while waiting on a meeting to start, or my smallish amount of personal time in the day) I tend to go elsewhere in my head.  Not a wrong place, and not the gardening that Bettie enjoys.  Not a tropical island somewhere.

No, I have it bad.  In my head, I go to GadgetLand.

My most common daydream is along the lines of “If I had X amount of dollars, what would I spend it on?”, and the thoughts tend to cluster around price points.  Please note: this is not a plea for any of this stuff.  If I was begging, I’d beg for the charity Kids Against Hunger

Connections and Kids Against Hunger

where they are packing meals for starving children.  That’s a need.  My list is a want.  If I get nothing on my list, nothing will be affected.  If those million kids don’t get that next meal — well, for some of them, it will mean death.  Gadgets mean nothing against a life.

I will be helping next weekend at the Million Meal Marathon, taking vacation from work to do it.  Some things are worthwhile.  And some things are fun.  This list is fun.

I would start my list with a budget of two thousand dollars.  That is an after-the-fact number, not a starting number.  the biggest chunk of that change would be a kick-butt laptop, one that would be a desktop replacement and strong enough to survive.  My company uses Dell computers,and my laptop has been a good worker for years.  My parents have had good results from their Toshiba laptops, with the exception of one that got stolen when someone broke into a house, which I guess says something about their desirability.  Other people like Panasonic or Lenovo.  From what I have seen, Sony makes the Apple equipment in the PC world – pretty, shiny, and overpriced.  No Sony stuff here.  And no Apple stuff, either.  Our world is too Windows-oriented to consider that.

Dell and Toshiba don’t hit my price points.  What I’d like is quad-core, 8G, reasonable-sized SSD, high-end OS.  What I found at Lenovo is an AMD triple-core, 4G, 250G spinning disk.  I did get the Win7 Pro and MS Office home and business.  I don’t see us needing the professional version there – not a lot of need for Access.  The price came to $993 with free delivery, but no carrying case, and before tax.  This is all a wish anyway, so I think we’d be happy.  The triple-core chip is odd.  I tend to think in powers of two.  I’d heard rumors that the triple-core chips were quad-cores that just barely failed QC, but if AMD can convince companies to use and promote them, there must be some legitimacy there.  Big problems with this laptop are the cap at 4G of memory (although the 64-bit OS will use it all) and the spinning disk.  SSD is nice.  All in all, a reasonable compromise in my fantasy.

Next up on the wish list is a replacement for my poor aging Palm Pilot.  It has been acting up, and recently I lost everything that was backed up on my SD card.  Of course, I didn’t have everything completely on my device from the last catastrophe, so I’m missing some information.  I was able to recover some things off an old backup card, but trying to recover lost files from the SD card returned photos of racing and India (which I already have elsewhere), songs from the OC Supertones (which I have elsewhere), and tons of 1K text files.  Not compressed, thankfully, but not overly useful.  I kept them, but don’t hope to get much from them.  This has led me to a wish for a pocket gadget, not necessarily a  phone, that will do calendar stuff and note-taking stuff and game stuff.  I had thought of an iPod Touch, but I don’t like paying Apple’s overhead, and I hate being locked into their store.

An Android device pops to mind – Linux-based, and lots of apps.  And if I were to get an Android phone, lots of monthly charges.  I’d love to get internet access from wherever I am, to provide tethering so I carry around my own wifi spot, and to pay off my credit card bills.  Even though this is a wish list, it’s a realistic wish list.  And then along comes the latest issue of Linux Journal with an article about rooting the Barnes and Noble Nook Color ereader.  This process will turn an ereader into a general-purpose pocket computer, able to pick up wifi and surf the internet that way, to play games, to read email, or almost anything you want to do.  Techno, and fun.  Price: $250.

Finally comes the most personal of technology.  A laptop or an ereader can be shared.  Your glasses can’t.  Oh, in a pinch you could, like sharing a toothbrush with a spouse.  But generally prescription glasses are unique.  These certainly are.

SuperFocus glasses are not bifocals.  Rather, they are infinite-focals.  There is a slider on the bridge, where the two lenses connect across your nose.  This slider adjusts the focus of the glasses.  Close-up reading?  Slide it one way.  Far distance?  Slide it the other way.  Bouncing back and forth between close and far (depending on the distances involved) could mean a lot of finger activity, or could mean setting the focus for some happy middle ground.  I think these would be neat, very useful in addition to the tech factor.  Haven’t tried them, and the closest dispenser is a couple hours away.  I’d probably order these on-line, and work with my optician on an hourly (hopefully minutely) basis.  Around $700.

Now if I had $2K in my pocket right now, would I get any of these?  Perhaps the ereader, since that has some sorely-missing functionality.  The other stuff?  Blue sky.  Fun, but that’s about it.