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February 25, 2006

Needed: hardware and software advice

Stephen Baker

Thanks for your comments on the blogging conundrum I posed last week. For now I'm planning to stay on Blogspotting indefinitely, and to postpone the book blog. No doubt my posts will wander into the world of math. But the whole point of the book is that math is crashing into all sorts of industries, including media. So it's not necessarily irrelevant.

Now I'm looking for more help. For this year-long project, I need the following technologies: a smart-phone that can handle e-mail, a laptop computer that can withstand the travel (and, ideally, provide some toy-like thrills); software to store loads of interviews and documents (They key here is great search, easy organization and cross referencing); and a digital recorder with enough capacity for hours of interviews, and quality good enough for podcasting.

My initial thoughts: Treo over Blackberry, largely because Blackberry's legal woes scare me. I'm sorely tempted to spring for the MacBook Pro. Any reason I shouldn't? I have no idea about the software, but will go to great lengths to avoid Word and its maze of folders. I'm clueless about recorders. Thanks in advance for your counsel.

09:45 AM

referendum

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consider nokias communicator 9300i (it might have a different number in the USA) as an alternative. it has a notebook-like clamshell and as a writer I prefer its larger keyboard -- but it folds up to be a smaller phone than the treo. also, the widescreen display (640x240) is better fit to web pages if you need to. its slight drawback is being not as snappy as a treo, but I find I can live with it. it syncs with a mac, by the way.

as for the macbook pro: I just tried it and of course it is a tempting notebook, no complaints. however, I presently travel with a 15in powerbook and I sometimes wish for the 12in ibook for being lighter and probably also more robust. no built in camera, though.

Posted by: Helmut Spudich at February 25, 2006 11:06 AM

For organizing and cross referencing all your research, check out DevonThink... http://www.devonthink.com/products/devonthink/overview.php

Posted by: PXLated at February 25, 2006 12:18 PM

Hey Stephen. You're thinking in the right direction for sure. Treos are nice, though I do have a Blackberry and like it quite a bit. Not sure if I would let the legal stuff sway you. You can't go wrong with a MacBook Pro. Apple products definitely provide you with the power to be productive anywhere, you can always stop by an Apple Store for advice and they certainly have enough whistles and bells to make them fun. If you want to stay away from word, I can recommend Apple's iWork software, which will open Word documents. As for recorders, I recommend Griffin's iMic with an external mic of some sort. That should cover you. Feel free to email me directly and I can be more detailed. Best of luck.

Posted by: Brad at February 25, 2006 04:15 PM

Software for research: suggest you have a look at NoteTaker from Aquaminds.

Posted by: L. Thomas Martin at February 25, 2006 07:44 PM

While it's a PC and not Mac OS based, for "a laptop computer that can withstand the travel (and, ideally, provide some toy-like thrills)" I highly recommend the Acer TravelMate. You can check out the models and their specifications to your needs, but the one I just picked up in Singapore is a delicious Red Dot 2005 product design award winner *grin* that weighs just over 3lbs with the battery, comes standard with two batteries, one that is double the life of the other, and it sticks out a little. I know I'm already beginning to sound like a marketing brochure but believe me, Acer doesn't even know who I am :)

I thought I'd have trouble writing with the 12 inch screen but I haven't, lastly the touchpad is textured so your fingers have a 'grip' and you get superb control of the mouse though I picked up a wireless optical travel mouse by logitech to go with it.

Take a look

http://en.red-dot.org/317+M5f840a3858e.html

and

http://www.nitibhan.com/perspective/2005/12/object_lust_sat.html

(I've said battery life of 9 hours but that depends on stocking the 3.5 hour batteries, standard is about 5 hours total)

Posted by: Niti Bhan at February 26, 2006 01:57 AM

For digital recording, I recommend the Marantz PMD660. It a compact flash recorder with many professional features. Can be configured to record up to 35 hours. I've been podcasting with mine for 6 months.

Posted by: Steve Mays at February 26, 2006 01:09 PM

What is wrong with Windows software on laptops for storing interviews and audio files? I am doing some doctoral work and need to purchase a digital recorder and some voice to text conversion software, and a laptop...

Posted by: Arlene Wilson at February 26, 2006 01:51 PM

Hey Steve,

I wouldn't worry about the legal problems with BlackBerry. They will still be up and running even if there is an injunction because of the software workaround. The real headache for most people who already have Blackberry is updating the software on the handheld. That's going to take time and a manual upgrade. But the new ones are shipping with it.

Posted by: Heather Green at February 26, 2006 03:09 PM

Hey Steve, I'm also in the hunt for a great laptop. My firend suggested "alienware". You might want to check their website, www.alienware.com Their computers are cool, but serious.

Posted by: mike at March 1, 2006 12:19 AM


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