Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My favorite toy!

Oh joy and happiness! I am writing this on my newly repaired AlphaSmart 3000. Be still, my beating heart. I must not swoon. I am so happy to have this little device back in my life.

Why am I so excited? Go to the AlphaSmart web site and look at the Dana (it replaces the AlphaSmart 3000 in their offerings). Your first reaction will be to ask, "Why should I get excited about this? Why did you drop 200 bucks on a one purpose device, and with such limitations, when low end laptops are priced at $400?" Simple. Three AA batteries will last 700 hours in this thing. Let me repeat that... seven hundred hours. Do the math. Use it an hour a day and you get almost 2 years before having to drop a whole two dollars for new batteries. Use it a few hours a week and you forget the thing even uses juice.

It weighs only on pound. It is well built. When I turn it on, it is ready to use in 5 seconds. It never loses data. It dumps text to my PC using a USB connection, and pretends it is just a keyboard. Use it with ANY hardware, ANY operating system and dump a file into ANY program that accepts text input from the regular keyboard. When this blog post is ready, I will open a browser, log into my account and create a new post, plug in the AlphaSmart and push the send button. Shazam. The ghost in the machine starts pushing 200 words a minute onto the screen.

I am also quite pleased with my customer support experience. I sent an e-mail from the web site and had an answer within one business day, offering two options to fix the problem. I ordered a replacement keyboard to fix it myself. This was on Monday. The keyboard arrived on Friday. The instructions were clear, complete and accurate. The support people were all Americans who sounded happy and competent. The repair took less than 10 minutes - there were no surprises. The instructions were the best bit of technical writing I have seen in years. Kudos to the entire organization.

In O.T.O. news, the Electoral College voted for continuing status for Horus Oasis - I am still acting body master. They cited confirmation of my initiation to third degree as being the one item lacking. I understand and agree. "Let all be done well and with business way." A few people are treating this as if being confirmed body master is a prize or plum of some sort. "Have you heard yet?, asks one person, with a thrill in her voice. "I'm sure you'll get it!, says another, as if confirming that I am worthy, or maybe just a little bit exalted. Do any of these people stop and remind themselves that this is a JOB? It is a series of tasks, duties, and frustrations. The rewards are small and sometimes hard to recognize. It is a freaking pain in the ass. A part of me hoped the college would return a decision of, "Not only no, but Hell No." It would be a relief.

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