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|| News Item: Posted 2002-12-10

Road Warrior: Annual Holiday Gift Guide (or Dear Santa --- Please read This!)
By Mongo Johnson

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Hanukkah time already?

Yeah, yeah, I know, normally I would be bitching about it being Christmas time again already, but in deference to my friends of Jewish faith, I'm going to complain about it being Hanukah time. (next year I'll bitch about Kwanzaa)

Hummmm … Let's see, 8 days, so we gotta come up with 8 really cool gift ideas.

irock 300w

Wireless music adapter $26.95 from

So I'm settling into my rental car at BOS ( a Pontiac AZTEK, which by the way is the WORST POS I've ever driven in the last 20 years) and I'm dreading the drive thru the maze of construction know as the "dig" in downtown Boston. In preparation for my journey, I pull out my trusty ipod and a cassette adapter.

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irock 300w
I scan the center console, looking for the cassette slot …

Shit there's no cassette player! But there is a CD player.

Shit, nobody makes a CD adapter for MP3 players.

Here's where the irock 300w come in. It's basically a miniature FM radio station that plugs into your mp3 player and broadcasts to your car radio. No cords dangling out of your dashboard, no muss, no fuss. All you do is set 1 of 4 frequencies on the side of the xmitter, and tune your car radio to the same frequency and viola! Instant party.

Apple iPod mp3 player 20 gig

I hate Apple.

Now before you all start blasting the message board with all your sniveling and whining about Mongo being a mac basher, let me explain that I hate apple because of the iPod.

I ran a few calculations and figure that I have fettered away 100 hours of my life since 9/11/02, downloading mp3's, ripping my CD collection, ordering more CD's from CdNow, ripping those CD's, and creating play lists.

It's evil, just pure evil, that iPod is EVIL.

I was in SOHO, wandering about the different galleries and meandered into the NY apple store.
Sitting behind the checkout counter was a big ass pile of 20gig iPods with the "works with windows" sticker in bright orange. (ok, maybe it was just a little WIN logo) anyhow the thing just reached out and grabbed my wallet.

Next thing I know, I'm back in my Times Square Marriott room, hooked up to the high speed Internet connection, downloading every techno-dance track I can find on Lime wire.

I became so engrossed that I did something I haven't done in years.

I ordered room service.

Instead of taking in the night life of Times Square, I spent the night doing the mp3 two step.

Evil I say, pure evil.

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If you're a Windows person, rest assured that the bundled "MusicMatch" software does a fine job of ripping, organizing, playing, transferring, and playing mp3's. No longer do you have to be envious of your mac using brethren and "itunes".

Sony MDR-E888LP
Fontopia. Ear-Bud Stereo Headphones $79.99

While I admire the sleek styling of the iPod, the earbuds SUCK!

I've heard other iPod users lamenting of the same problems with earlier iPod earbuds, and supposedly apple "improved" the headphones.

Sorry, they still SUCK.

For your maximum listening pleasure, check out a pair of the Sony 888's. Instead of sitting on your ear, they sit "in" your ear and the soft silicone cone, seals out extraneous sounds. It's like a poor mans version of noise canceling headphones. The bass response in these babies is AWESOME!

t-mobile hot spot service
Wireless internet access $29.99

For many years, (think back to the TRS-80) I was a happy go lucky dial up user. Because my movie assignments took me near and far, having a local dial up line was important, so I didn't get raped on toll charges. Back then, Email wasn't the killer app, it was the ONLY app.

Now with this new fangled Internet jazz, nobody's happy unless they're blazing away at 144 kbps or faster! Sure you can get that speed with cable or DSL, but what the hell do you do when you're on the road?

Ricochet? Sorry been there, done that. (though I do find it ironic that ricochet initially died because people thought $79.95 a month was too expensive)

CDPD? Sorry, 19.2 kbps for $69.95 a month, this service is doomed to extinction (like the Canon D2000)

So I'm sitting in a Starbucks, working on a lighting diagram, when I notice the wireless network icon has turned green on my laptop, indicating an active node somewhere nearby. I click on IE6 and shazam! Up pops a Starbucks / tmobile web page expounding the virtues of their "Hotspot" service.

$29.99 a month for unlimited access within the local area or $49.99 a month for nationwide unlimited access.

It took about 2 minutes to fill out the on-line registration to get signed up.

To test the speed, I went to the Epson site and downloaded a 6 meg print driver,

41 seconds.

Holly crap, this service screams!!!

Now if you're just going to send the occasional photo, check your email, or give a really nice gift, there's also a "pay as you go" plan. 120 minutes for $20.00 or 300 minutes for $50.00, nationwide access, no annual contract needed.

I switched to this plan, cause I was making excuses to go to Starbucks all the time and would spend hours surfing and sucking down mocha Valencia's.

Linksys Network
Wireless 802.11b PC card $49.95 (at Fry's Electronics)

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Linksys Wireless 802.11b PC card
Hey Mongo, my computer doesn't have wireless networking (WiFi or 802.11b) built in and I want to spend all my waking hours at Starbucks reading messages on the Sportsshooter board. What can I do?

Well, the easiest way to get hooked up is buy a Linksys "instant wireless series" PC card.

It's so easy to install, even a wedding photographer could do it. If you're running under Windows 2000 or above everything is automatic detection and you don't have to reconfigure a thing. If you're running an apple OS, you're going to need Jaguar to get the auto network detection.

It's pretty much a buyers market out there for 802.11b (11mbps) wireless cards. Prices can be as high as $100.00 or as low as $19.95. Could be that companies are dumping inventory to make way for the new 802.11a (54mbps) cards.

Don't worry, 802.11b will be around for a long time, plus it's got a huge installed user base.

Lexar Media 128MB JumpDrive

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Lexar JumpDrive
Most of us are used to moving files from laptop to laptop using compact flash cards, cause we got lots of them lying around. It works ok, unless you've got an iBook (no CF slot) or you're screwed if you're trying to move files to a desktop machine without a card reader.

That's where the JumpDrive saves the day. It's a micro sized flash memory device built around a USB connector. As long as your system is running Mac OS 8.6 and above or Windows 98se and above, it's a plug and play affair. This bugger is small enough to keep on your key ring.

Maxtor 5000XT 250GB drive

On the other end of the storage spectrum is the MAXTOR 250 gigabyte external drive. This is a killer stomper deal cause you get BOTH IEEE 1394 and USB 2.0 compatibility in one drive. At $399.00 for 250 gigs vs. $299.00 for 120 gigs, it's no contest as to which one to buy.

Ironclad Cold Condition gloves

Hands down (no pun intended) the best cold weather photography glove ever conceived. It's not too thick, and it's not too thin, it's just right.

If you're a real tough guy and prefer a more precise fit and feel, check out the "Framer" version of these gloves.

(Mongo Johnson formerly worked as a stunt double in such memorable Christmas flicks as "A Charlie Brown Christmas", "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Debbie Does Xmas". He currently resides in Missoula, MT and maintains a travel consulting and security company specializing in high-profile clients. You can contact him through his member gallery at:

Related Links:
Mongo's member page

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