(A story from the archives, circa 1999, lightly refreshed in 2022)
It was a grueling eight months that I look back upon with deep regret. It entered into my life like a long-lost high school flame - not that I really had any, other than my Commodore 64 and a blue Honda Aero 80 scooter - promising me the world. We went everywhere together: England, Israel, Italy, France, Chile, Spain, Detroit.
But soon we ran into difficulties: it kept getting between my wife and me, it was finicky and hard to interact with, and it always needed more power. And - the final straw - it kept insisting that I install new things on my laptop.
So one fateful day, I realized that I had to end the relationship, and end it quickly. Sitting together on the bed, late at night with the windows rattling from a passing wind, I had to make my move. It beeped briefly and went blank, as I mercilessly pulled its AAAs.
With a tear in my eye, I looked at my Casio Cassiopeia E-10 laying there, discharged and discarded. As I transferred its batteries into my PalmPilot, I finally began to relax. The horror was over. The man in the moon gazed approvingly at me, the dog kicked in his sleep, and my baby smiled at my wife - once again my life was in order, for my PalmPilot was back.
The E-10 was kind of like beating your head against the wall, only it required batteries:
Navigation - The Rubik's Cube of user interfaces, with a nifty Start button and more pop-up, drill-down, scrolling, overlapping gadgets than I ever want to have in my pants pocket again
Grafitti or, according to Microsoft's lawyers, 'enhanced Unistroke character recognition' - Much better at recognizing my (left-handed) Grafitti, but no shortcuts and required a PhD in fontgraphy to enter extended characters
Available Software - For you standardized test fanatics out there, Palm:Windows CE::Windows 95:Macintosh. Other than Pocket Streets and LookupCE, the Palm ruled
Audio Features - One feature I miss - being able to make voice notes to myself while driving, rather than being bored with the mundane task of avoiding other California drivers
Memory - 34 MB of RAM was an awesome responsibility; I gathered contacts in airports and malls, signed up for meetings, and listed every to-do for my entire office building, and still had 33.2 MB free
Display - It had three times more pixels than the Palm - and every damn one of them was occupied by a pop-up, drill-down, scrolling, overlapping gadget rather than my data
Battery Life - I began stealing (well, not really, but I sure looked longingly at them one late Tuesday in Denver) AAA batteries from hotel remote controls to supply my E-10 habit, it was so bad; dead batteries from the E-10, when inserted in the PalmPilot, showed up as 96% full
Desktop Software - Palm-sized PC: install Windows CE Services for Windows NT, reboot, install Windows CE desktop software, eat, install Windows NT Service Pack 3, reboot, install Internet Explorer 4.0, sleep, reboot, install Microsoft Outlook 98, reboot, launch, snack, click, click, enter To-Do. Palm Desktop: install, launch, enter To-Do. Nuff said?
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