Tag Archives: gear

First Impressions Count

Joe Wallace Turntabling Rare RecordsI was just looking at a website designed to sell gear to freelancers, offering personalized service at a better price than with larger resellers. The site’s copy included, “We will connect you with the latest technology”.

But the site design was horribly out of date by about ten years. My first impression was definitely not good–how could a company offer to sell me “the latest technology” when the site itself didn’t keep up with that concept?

As it turns out, after a few minutes of exploring I discovered that the site had been last updated a decade ago, but was still haunting the Internet with its promises. And as far as being inactive goes, it’s probably a good thing–I shudder to think what would be happening to that business right now if it were a going concern.

I hate to admit this, but seeing that made me click over to my own resume page to give a critical once-over to it first-impressionwise. And naturally I found a few faults in my own presentation. Faults that will take a small bit of time to correct and update, but faults nonetheless.

The old wheeze is true–you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Sometimes making one tweak is enough to steer someone away from the wrong idea at first glance.

In the case of the site I found, simply not making the claim to hook up buyers with “the latest technology” and finding a more effective sales pitch would have gone over a lot better. Sure, that’s all moot because the site seems as dead as the Dodo. But it’s a valid point, regardless. Can you tweak your own presentation by a few sentences and make it more effective? In my own case, definitely.

Joe Wallace is an audio junkie who collects rare and weird vinyl records, vintage analog synthesizers, and likes recording when he’s not pounding the freelance pavement. His vinyl blog, Turntabling.net, is a repository for all sorts of weirdness and rare goodness on vinyl.

Got Wi-Fi?

cradlepoint PHS300 wi fi routerMobile- loving freelancers rejoice, CradlePoint has the solution for your write-anywhere needs. One of the biggest hassles for many cash-strapped freelancers is wi-fi connectivity. Starbucks makes you charge or use their gift cards to access wi-fi, and some shops (including some Panera Bread locations) have a time limit on their free wireless access.

And what if you aren’t anywhere near a coffee shop, public library or college campus? Plenty of freelancers avoid these areas like the plague–the noise factor alone is enough for some.

Enter the CradlePoint PHS300, a battery-powered personal wi-fi network for those who have 3G wireless accounts. Plug in a cell phone or USB modem that has 3G wireless access and you have an instant wi-fi network. Work anywhere for up to three hours per battery charge on the PHS300. Did we mention there’s a car charger for this and you can connect multiple users?

Here’s the rub–your cell phone must support tethering, and AT&T currently does NOT–at least not for us iPhone junkies. iPhone users with third-party hacks on their phone (known as “jailbreaking” and done at your own risk as a violation of the TOS) may be able to use the CradlePoint, but we haven’t verified this.

But plenty of cell phones and USB modems DO support tethering, including Blackberries and some Motorola RAZR models. Check a full list of compatible devices at the bottom of this page at CradlePoint.

Case Logic 15.4-Inch Fullsize Messenger Style Laptop Bag

case logic 15 inch laptop messenger bagThere’s nothing we like better than sale-priced freelancer accessories like this Case Logic messenger style laptop bag. It holds a 15.4 inch laptop and features two different closures–one is a simple velcro strip you use when you don’t feel like bothering with the buckle fastener.

The exterior sleeve is perfect for your phone or media player; the adjustable shoulder strap and padded compartments are sweet, and for some reason they’ve included a bottle opener on the strap.

Did we mention the ten year warranty that comes with this? Not bad for a sale-priced bag. At press time this was selling for about $32, down from $50.

Skype Users Beware

skype closes for good

by Joe Wallace

If you are a freelancer depending on Skype for interviews, phone contacts, conference calls or video calls, you might want to start looking around for an alternative. Skype could shut down for good over a dispute between eBay and the creators of Skype.

According to TimesOnline, eBay reps admitted the entire Skype network may have to be shut down in spite of having paid more than $2 billion for the technology in 2005. Unfortunately for eBay, that massive sum did not include the rights to some source code crucial to make Skype work.

While the dispute itself is extremely technical in nature and involves patent and intellectual property laws, the bottom line is that eBay must either create its own source code to replace the disputed code, win the dispute, or face shutting down the entire network.

It’s a major blow to freelancers who rely on Skype to hold inexpensive (or free) conference calls and interviews. There are many VOIP services out there, but few with the ubiquity of Skype. If you’re a Skype user, finding an alternate service should be a priority, but according to TimesOnline you do have some breathing room. A court hearing is scheduled on the issue but at press time won’t happen til June 2010.

Wired’s Tantalizing Rumor on New MacBooks

I am a MacBook Pro owner. I also have a desktop PC running Windows XP and a laptop running Vista. I’m not what you’d call a Mac evangelist, but I have to say that the MacBook Pro’s reliability, lack of virus issues and overall ease of use makes it much preferable to these bloody Windows products I have; every ten seconds I’m being asked “Are you sure?”, and getting dire nagware popups at every turn. In the world of operating systems,  Windows is like trying to write in a day care center full of children who are all screaming for ice cream, where the Mac is a nice afternoon in the Smithsonian.

Wired magazine has been dropping hints about MacBooks priced below $1000.  I would LOVE to see this happen–it would be a huge boon to freelancers who want a dependable and portable machine at a reasonable price tag. I pay for the extra firepower of the MacBook Pro because I use it for video and audio editing as well as my freelance writing, but the average writing-only freelancer would be perfectly happy with an “ordinary” MacBook.

Wired dropped some conjecture on what it thinks might be happening with the new versions of its MacBook and MacBook Pro series, including suggestions that an $800 price point for the standard MacBook might be possible.  If this is true, you’ll see me getting a bit more evangelistic about Macs in the future–my main bone of contention to date is that for many freelancers, the Mac is priced too high. Not so if these rumors are true. Here’s hoping…

Your Digital Sanctuary

Charles and Marie: The SanctuaryCharles and Marie is one of my favorite net window-shopping destinations, but today I might just break down and actually make a purchase. The Sanctuary is an all-in-one universal battery charger and cable organizer compatible with more than 1500 electronic devices from most major brands. A handy USB port lets you power up cell phones, PDAs, Blackberry, iPods, MP3 players and bluetooth headsets in one convenient place.

I’m a huge fan of both space-saving devices and universal battery chargers, so this one’s a natural for me. Plus, all those gadgets look pretty sharp all gathered together like that at the end of the day.

The Sanctuary costs approximately $130 from Charles and Marie, and be sure to specify you want a USA-compatible power plug or the EU version. Busy travelers may do well to purchase both!