Confessions of a Technical Masochist

At coffee today with my team I was ranting about Memory Sticks. It was pointed out to me that every piece of technology I buy gives me huge amounts of grief, and Steve described me as a Technology Masochist. A pretty good description on reflection...

Not quite every piece of technology gives me grief, but after thinking about it, they did have a point. I am a technology Early Adopter, and there is a price to be paid for this. Not just in the wallet (though there certainly is that), but buying and using a product long before most other people have even heard of it can be painful.

Case in point is my Sony Ericsson P800 phone. Still not officially supported by any US carrier, I ordered it in September 2002 and it was March 2003 before it was delivered. That was a $700 investment (serious phones cost serious money when not subsidized by a carrier), and although T-Mobile in the US didn't (and still don't) support it, T-Mobile in the UK do so they helped me set up the trickier bits like GPRS. The phone needed a usable case, which was a tricky thing to find at the time, I ended up dropping $130 for a lovely custom Vaja leather case. Which my 9-month old daughter promptly chewed up not long after it arrived. Upgrading the firmware was a gigantic chore: I had to send it away with $25 to the sole S/E service centre in the entire US for an upgrade. In the UK I would just have to visit any S/E dealer and they would do it for free right there and then. Upgrading the memory is expensive and confusing, thanks to the madness behind all things Memory Stick, though I finally caved at $60 for 128M. I've installed software on that that can't handle US date formats. I've had bluetooth hell getting my PC to speak to it. Syncing to Outlook still is a crapshoot, even over USB. And so it goes on.

Why do I put myself through this? Because it's fun. I like having tech toys early, and I guess I do like the hell that sometimes results. Well often results. I had a Smartphone before most people at MS even knew what one was (apart from the Stinger demo that had been trotted out for several years). I could browse the web on my phone (real HTML, not WAP). I could use real names and addresses on it, and sync that to Outlook (on a good day), and get it to announce the name of the caller when it rings. I have the only phone whose ringtone is the Simpsons theme tune (it takes any WAV file). I could call people by simply speaking the their name. I could take brief notes on it during meetings so was a laptop substitute (until my Tablet arrived). All great stuff.

But there is a cost for this. The phone is just over a year old, and its replacement's-replacement has just been announced. The P900 was a nicer looking version with almost the same features, and now the P910 is announced. I held off getting the P900, but if the P910 is usable without the stylus I'll go through a similar hell again I am sure. And my team will again make merciless fun of me as I share my travails with them.

Although I may be a technical masochist, I do draw the limit somewhere, even with MS products. I don't have an MS Smartphone, and I am glad of that. I never bought an UltimateTV, and I am equally glad of that. I did get an MN-700 router right before MS cancelled the entire range though, so I'm not perfect. Enjoy my pain.