Letter from the Editor

bridges vol. 12, December 2006 / Letter from the Editor

by Philipp Steger


Among all the well-deserving and well-written articles in this edition of bridges, I would like to pick out for comment Stefan Kalt's column relating his experiences with his Tungsten T3, a Palm Pilot. The reason for this is simple: His article not only affects me deeply on a very personal level, it is also very timely. Without knowing it, Stefan Kalt has written a beautiful eulogy for my own Tungsten T3 which - I am sad to report - is no longer with me.

Less than two weeks ago, while my wife and I were vacationing in Europe, our house in Washington was burglarized. (Up to this incident I didn't even know there was such a word as "burglarize," but it's the term that our neighbors have consistently been using in their condolences.) When the call informing us of the burglary reached us in Nice, we were dismayed, but also relieved to learn that the thieves had modest needs and limited themselves to stealing a few small items, had not wrecked the house, and had apparently decided against kidnapping our two cats for ransom.

Upon our return, I realized that one of the items stolen was my Palm Pilot, which I had left at home for fear of losing it during our travels. Were it not for Stefan Kalt's column, that theft would have been a very unceremonious end to what was a long and productive relationship. That I owned exactly the same kind of PDA as Stefan Kalt is not a coincidence. It is, rather, the product of unmitigated envy which seized me when he showed me this marvel of modern technology for the first time.

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My immediate conclusion that I needed one just like his was spurred on not just by envy but also by my rather dissatisfying experiences with my Ipaq, a PC-based PDA, which I owned at that point. "Lavishing [my Ipaq] with accessories" - to borrow briefly from Stefan Kalt's article - did not help in making that relationship any more productive or fruitful. The final disillusionment came on a trip to New York City. I had spent the days and the final night leading up to that trip working my way through unintelligible software instructions, all in an ill-fated attempt at turning my Ipaq into a GPS-based navigation device. Although the thing worked when we left, successfully showing us the familiar way from my home to the Beltway, it started to malfunction a few miles into the trip and froze completely a few miles before the crucial exit to New York City.

Thus, a few days after Stefan had introduced me to the Tungsten T3, I sold my Ipaq to a colleague at the office and bought myself the Tungsten T3. (The colleague who bought the Ipaq has left the OST in the meantime, but I like to think that her decision was in no way influenced by that unfortunate transaction.)

I am sure that Stefan Kalt outdid me when it came to indulging in accessories. After all, I was a lot wiser when I bought the Tungsten, having already spent several times the value of the Ipaq on accessories that either didn't work or I didn't need.

Still, I can totally relate to Stefan's experience with the Tungsten on an emotional level. My fervor for the Tungsten T3 cooled down after a while and - even though it worked adequately on most occasions - eventually the relationship between me and the Tungsten T3 began to sour, until I got to the point where I rarely brought it along on forays into the real world. Leaving the Tungsten home alone while my wife and I went and had fun in France might have just pushed the poor Tungsten over the edge. I am sure it resented my lame excuse that I didn't want to bring it along for fear of losing it, although I wouldn't go so far as to claim that the Tungsten had a hand in the burglary.

Assisted tremendously by Dr. Kalt's column, I have by now resigned myself to the fact that my PDA is irretrievably gone. I can not say, however, that I envy the burglars. The gadget that I prefer these days is a compact, small pocket-sized notebook. Nothing fancy, but it's a hundred percent reliable - that is, as long as I remember to bring a pen.