Wednesday, June 09, 2004


I fear inanity.

Inanity is what can make any and every piece of work a writer writes completely irrelevant.

Such as this: There's a guy about twelve feet from me whose nose is only about eight inches from the LCD monitor of the university workstation he's at.

See? That was flavorless. But how about this?

Not only that, He's got a goofy non-hairdo, frizzy curls in the front--clearly unintentional, and flat in back, also unintentional, glasses, a hilarious black-and-white floral print shirt, and every couple of minutes he does a chicken-like head bob.

Now, that's better, isn't it?

I just savagely made fun of an unknown colleague. Well, Jesus didn't have a blog.

Today my mp3 player absolutely burned the hell out of my finger when I touched it after somehow having shorted out the battery. I quickly yanked the small machine open and relieved it of its shortness.

If I flip you off, you'll see the blister. But since I don't normally make obscene hand gestures, you probably won't get to view the damage that easily. Or at least not by pissing me off.

I ebayed an Archos Multimedia 20 a bit ago. It's supposed to be essentially the same thing as my current Archos, but with the added functionqality of being able to play .avi movies, .jpg photos, and .wav sound files. Plus it has a color LCD instead of the monochrome, green-backlit unit that I'm used to.

In short, I don't much like the user experience on the Multimedia version. I use open source firmware on the Jukebox called Rockbox, and it suits me well. Rockbox isn't available for Archos' Multimedia models, and that's a shame, plain and simple.

So I'm not keeping the Multimedia. I'm not. Yeah, it's nice, but usability is a big deal to me. I was going to sell the Jukebox, but no more.

Oh, and I fixed the battery short. Man, I hate that kind of crap. I was just changing out a hard drive.

Speaking of which, when are mp3 players going to become standard and mainstream enough that a technically oriented person can just pop it open and change out the hard drive or battery?

Honestly, I've got a Toshiba Tablet PC. Let me tell you, that thing is masterfully designed. It's super compact, and yet getting the hard drive out is a piece of cake. Need to get to the RAM or wireless card? Fine, you'll have to get under the keyboard, but for a sufficiently advanced technician, that's no problem. And the whole machine is sturdier than cheap toilet paper.

Archos, on the other hand, designs their products with an eye toward fragility and complexity. Change out the hard drive? No problem, you've got two choices: 1). Unsolder the whole damned unit open and simply unplug the drive and plug the new one in. This method gets old really quickly. 2). Bend the upper portion of the unit's chassis to allow clearance for the drive to slide out. Hang on...those are the options? Solder it open or bend the chassis? There weren't any better ideas?

I just can't believe that none of the Archos engineers said in a meeting 'Hey, what if we found a way to access the hard drive without compromising the structural integrity of the whole device? Think it's worth spending ten minutes of design time on?'

I'm good personal friends with an engineer, and I don't buy the ages-old argument that all engineers are born and raised in Satan's left nostril and fall out only to begin their careers.

I think the poor design decisions in this case are the fault of a pointy-haired-boss type.

At any rate, were I a powerful person at NEC, Toshiba, Sony, Dell, Compaq, or Palm, I would get some people right to work on a friendlier hard drive based mp3 player.

Batteries, even rechargeable ones, need to be easy to replace and almost short proof. Hard drives need to be accessible to advanced users who are going to tinker whether it's easy or hard to do.

If for no other reason, these things should be implemented to make in-house RMA repairs faster and more cost efficient. Hard drives will head crash, you know.

Anyway, I gotta go.

Oh, anyone wondering about Eric's dearth of posts will be pointed to the fact that Comcast has been lying to him. They keep pushing back the availability date of digital cable in his neighborhood.

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