Sunday at the Shops

Lots of shopping today. Among the places I went to was Fry’s Electronics. The particular one I went to is always fun since it has an aliens theme. They don’t do the theme in a subtle way…. it is all over the shop…. it starts with the big alien spaceship that has crashed into the front:

fry's electronics

fry's electronics …and all through the shop there are little aliens in the rafters, and on the ground you have members of the military shooting up at them….it is the middle of a big battle you see (the military jeep has been cut in half by a ray gun of some sort – was not able to get pictures without risking my place in the 45 minute-long (!) checkout line….).

I go to Fry’s Electonics for actual electronic components. It is in fact quite good for that sort of thing, and is a welcome break from the Radio Shacks of this world, which used to be my source for that sort of thing long ago in my youth, but now seem to be just selling phones, batteries, and video gaming stuff. And the people (often small children) working in them now often don’t know a thing about anything they sell at all. So to stop myself gtting annoyed, I tend to avoid Radio Shack as much as possible, even when there is a chance that they might have some of the simpler things I seek.

Such an occasion happened today. What did I go to get? Not resistors, capacitors, cables, or microchips, but a foldable external keyboard for my Palm. I suspect you can get one in a Radio Shack, with some effort, but I did not want to raise my blood pressure, so I went to Fry’s. The idea is to allow me to expand what I can do on the Palm, bringing it closer to being a tiny laptop on the continuum between PDA and laptop. I found one, and I am testing it now by typing this blog post on it. It works rather well. It comes as a small package when folded, nice for the pocket or handbag. You just fold it out in one movement. It also has a little stand for the Palm (or other IR enabled PDA) and voila!

pda keyboard  pda keyboard  pda keyboard  pda keyboard

In seconds you are ready to rock and roll:

pda keyboard

It probably will not be as quick to type on it as on a larger board, but it means I can walk into a cafe (or onto a plane, train, or whatever), sit at a table and reach into my pocket or handbag and unfold a keyboard and my Palm, letting me do more intensive work – particularly text entry – without having to carry a laptop around with me. All in the interests of getting more work done. Excellent!


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13 Responses to Sunday at the Shops

  1. Peter Fred says:

    Cliffford writes

    it has an aliens theme. They don’t do the theme in a subtle way…. it is all over the shop…. it starts with the big alien spaceship that has crashed…

    I am always glad to see a theoretical physicist, at least, mention the topic of UFOs. Over at Cosmic Variance there seems to be a concern about whether or not theorists are living in a “real” world. To me if one happens to be theoretically inclined and one wants to have a view of the world that tends to be somewhat “realistic’, it is at least useful, if not critical, to resolve contradictions if they happen to come to a theorist’s mind especially if he or she expects to be paid for espousing viable theories.

    Further, from my point of view, if in fact we have been visited by UFOs, this raises some serious questions about the mass-based theories of Newton and Einstein.

    [Rather long and off-topic remarks about theories of gravity and propulsion systems have been removed. Peter Fred may later provide a link to these longer remarks elsewhere. Update: here. -cvj]

  2. Schrodinger says:

    Hey Cliff,

    Here is what you really need:

    Have fun!

  3. Scott H. says:

    Is that the Burbank Fry’s? One of the small joys of living in the LA area was sampling the decor of the various Fry’s Electronics in the area. Burbank and the alien invasion theme was one of my favorites. As I recall, there’s another one down on Sepulveda not too far from LAX that has more of a jungle/island theme to it.

    Though I agree Radio Shack employees are just about useless (once tried to buy some resistors and IC sockets there when I was teaching Ph1b at Caltech years back; the kids at my local Shack just about fled in terror when I asked to find anything more complicated than a 9-volt battery), I’ve never been too impressed with Fry’s employees. Before I went Mac, I used to build most of my home linux machines from components I got at Fry’s. To their credit, Fry’s employees usually know what they don’t know. If I mentioned I wanted a motherboard, some CPUs, heatsinks, and memory, they generally just pointed me in the right direction and let me figure it out myself.

    Haven’t been to a Fry’s in years, though, so this all may have changed …

  4. Clifford says:

    It is still true. The stuff is just lying around on the shelves… That’s all you want, really, to be told roughly where it is and to be left alone. It’s all there.

    Yes that is the Burbank Fry’s.

    I just heard from a friend that there’s also a Fry’s in Woodland Hills, with and Alice in Wonderland theme!


  5. Clifford says:

    Schrodinger:- That does seem quite marvellous. Thanks! I can’t afford it though! For future reference, do you know if it works well?


  6. Scott H. says:

    I just heard from a friend that there’s also a Fry’s in Woodland Hills, with and Alice in Wonderland theme!

    That’s right, I forgot about that one! My mother in law used to live near there, so I used to pop in for things when we were in the neighborhood.

    The wikipedia page on Fry’s lists all the store locations and their themes:'s_Electronics

    Stores and themes near the bottom.

  7. Cynthia says:

    Clifford, in a weird, yet wonderful sort of way, your foldable keyboard is akin to your folding bike. Pretty soon–I suspect–they’ll be selling a Clifford that you can fold-up and place in a suitcase, or whatever container strikes your fancy.;)

  8. Alejandro Rivero says:

    If you are really going into wearable, you should try a Nokia 770. You can run pdflatex and you have X11 so you can actually network output to other screens etc.

  9. Amara says:

    Clifford: I’m usually behind everyone else in the technology arena, but in this case I might not be so far behind. At least we think along the same lines sometimes.

    I have a foldable keyboard (3 folds, 2 hinges) for my old HandSpring Visor that I’ve used since 2001. I’m inseparable from my Visor, but the keyboard increases the utility of my Visor 100X. I take the two together on my bicycle trips so that I can log my stories every night and not forget too much. The pair is also good for workshops/meetings when I don’t have enough table/desk space for my laptop to take notes. I haven’t completely given up notebook and pen when I travel, but I’m almost there.

  10. Clifford says:

    Sounds like you’re ahead. Of me at least… but frankly that’s not saying much since I’m not really a gadget-chaser at heart. I just like useful tools that do a good job of what I ask of them.

    I also carry a notebook and pen. Will never stop.


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