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Monday, May 3, 2010

Geeking out low tech style...

Hello, hello!! It's been a long time since my last post in allroundgeek(the rest of the team is alive and kicking though) and, as eraserheadx explained in a previous post, I am doing my obligatory 9-month service in the Greek army. I am serving as, I cannot tell you what, stationed at, I cannot tell you where. HeHe, I always wanted to say that. Bottom line though is that the army life has certain restrictions and its nature does not endorse, encourage, or help, the use of my geek gear (which got looted the minute I left home, by admission of the guilty parts). I still wanted to communicate with the rest of the world, I still wanted to listen to music and still wanted to be entertained not having a PC available or a super, does it all, mobile phone.

Solving this is not as easy as it sounds. Some one might say, ok just get a phone an mp3 player and a DS....or an iphone for that matter. The question is: ok, which phone and which mp3 player? I first have to explain something; camera phones are not allowed in the army camps for obvious reasons. This restriction tends to fade away after the bootcamp but in bootcamp there is a very strict policy regarding that. Most of the phones today are camera phones. Most phones without cameras are some really shitty ones with no extras (like a browser). In addition a very important matter is talk-time. In bootcamp with shitloads of other people and very little time of your own, charging your phone is never easy (having to fight for a powersocket). Also on my previous phone I had many contacts and I really was not in the mood to enter them one by one. I badly needed some sort of mobile browser so I could tweet my news to friends and relatives in a bulk way. Believe me, it was not easy, but i found a phone that does all that and does not have a camera! Samsung E1130B. No camera, 10 hours of talk time(which essentialy meant I charged it once a week tops), bluetooth to transfer contacts and a small functional browser that I use to tweet and read news. Plus it is water and sand resistant! All that for 50 euros. After the army it will be my main camping phone!

Getting an mp3 player was easier than getting a phone but it had its difficulties as well. The problems arose from the nature of army life again. I needed an mp3 player that does not need some specialized software to be installed to get song as a personal computer was not available in bootcamp(and in other people's computers or netcafes I have no admin rights). Internal batteries are out of the question since it would prove as problematic as charging the phone. USB charging is out of the question again since in bootcamp I had no easy access to a computer. That leaves us with needing an mp3 player that uses normal batteries and when connected to a computer works like a usb stick with no extra software. Well...I found just that...Crypto Colorline 003. For just 20 euros(4GB storage) it is an excellent product for its purpose. Again, this will be my main camping music player for much of the same reasons with the samsung phone.

No. Unfortunately this is not part of army entertainment

As far as being entertained though things were not easy. In order to play games I resort to netcafes (that is when I manage to get out). It is not half bad though, as I have great time going there with my platoon mates and kick each others asses in CoD4:Modern warfare. For more immediate in-camp entertainment I prefer sci-fi books as they help getting your mind off things.

All this though, are about to change!!!! I just got my first Android phone: HTC Magic !!! It kicks serious ass even though it is a year old model. I got it in a very good deal switching between gsm carriers. It will be my main communication/entertainment device here and I am sure it will do a very good job. More on that in a future post.


Sácri said...

I hope they have improved the UI for that mp3 player becuase in the previous versions it was extremely irritating to use.

Battery becomes an issue after long periods of inactivity, it seems to slowly drain it even if you don't turn it on.

My first one failed after a year or so (after a lot of abuse), the jack socket came loose and I bought another one during that trip. Managed to fix the first one when I got back home with a soldering iron.

Apart from that I think it's still the best choice for camping/military training missions (same thing really, init?).

mastorak said...

I manage to sqeeze about 10-12 hours of play time from each AAA battery which is fair. I think summer beach camping is much harder to the electronic gear than any army camp cause of constant sand/water abuse.

The interface reamains as shity as the previous version. It's no ipod but it gets the job done(with some mild frustration)