Mark's Toys

I've always been one for hi-tech gadgets, going way back to my HP-41C in middle school... now the gadgets have improved, as has my ability to collect them. I find Julie Strietelmeier particularly inspirational in this regard, so I've started keeping my own list, with comments if not full scale reviews. In part, this is also to keep discussions of some of this fun technology from cluttering online social groups with lengthy descriptions.


I've started noting drool-worthy gadgets in a blog of their own, even if I don't actually get them.

Recent Arrivals


Tiny (7" screen) laptop, for the throw-in-shoulder-bag and go environment. Solidly built, I think it'll do well as my captioning machine, even if the keyboard is terribly small...


A 2Gig SD card, with a processor and wifi "behind" it... so when it sees jpg files appear, it squirts them out via the wireless, to your desktop or (through their proxy) to a your choice of popular web gallery. So tiny! (Note that as of 2007-11-18 it isn't actually uploading to my old mac yet...)

iRobot Looj

Long narrow gutter-cleaning robot. Not actually a robot - "R/C tool" is probably more accurate. It doesn't entirely eliminate getting up on a ladder, but it cuts way down on what you have to do when you're up there.

Archos PMA430

This is "interesting" enough, especially compared to up-to-date gadgets, that it gets a special writeup.

Olympus SP-550uz

18x zoom, with image stabilization - drool drool drool :-) This has gotten me up around 100 pictures a day, with gusts over 500...

Nikon Optio S4

Thinkpad T60p



Really, everything that I review or plan to, or at least have opinions on.

Digital Cameras

Mitsubishi DJ-1000

Largan Lmini-350

Aiptek PenCam

Canon Digital Elph/Digital IXUS/S-100

Canon Digital Elph/Digital IXUS/S-200

Sony Clié NX-70V

New in 2004: Kyocera Contax SL-300RT

New in 2005: Nokia 6630

Strictly speaking, "cameras have lenses, phones don't" but it is better than the first three toy-cams on the above list...

New in 2006: Nikon Optio S4

the only swivel on the market, to replace the SL-300RT after cracking the viewscreen. Nice lens, too.


Mac Attack! Much of this is targeted at constructing a portable, personal, end-to-end video studio, but some of it is work-related, and some of it is just toys... Other information is mirrored here from my Rendezvous-exposed web pages.

12" PowerBook G4, 60G/640M/SuperDrive

Canon Elura 40MC miniDV camcorder/SD snapshot camera

Contour ShuttlePro

Keyspan Presentation Remote

Lind Auto/Air power adaptor

iGo "Juice" Auto/Air/Wall adaptor (120V+12V)

Commercial Software:

Things With Wheels

Many of these already have photogalleries under "toys"...

Mini Cooper Convertible

A.M. General "Hummer"

Photo gallery

FriendlyRobotics RL-500 Robot Lawnmower

Photo gallery

Genie "LoadLifter"


Things With Antennas

Palm Tungsten T|X

No visible antenna, but neither do the GPS or the 6630. Operates on bluetooth and wifi.

Delorme BlueLogger bluetooth GPS

Tiny GPS with long battery life, swappable batteries, external antenna option, bluetooth-serial data link; works with the Nokia 6630 and the 12" PowerBook doing straight NMEA, and fits in a pocket with other stuff.

Nokia 6630 World GSM/3G phone

Garmin GPS-12MAP

Alinco DJ-C5T HT

Nokia 8890 World GSM phone

Ericsson I-888 World GSM phone

Apple Airport 802.11 base station

Photo gallery

Panasonic Toughbook CF-27 (w/CDPD + Orinoco 802.11)

X10 Wireless Video


Sony Clié NX-70V

Siemens S55 World GSM phone with GPRS and bluetooth

HP iPaq 4155 (bluetooth and 802.11 builtin)

All that and it runs python too! Eventually it will probably switch over to linux, but not until I've done some app development as-is.

Martian Netdrive

(see below) this has a builtin 802.11 prism/pci card, as well as 10/100 ethernet.

Things I Wear Now

As toys integrate with themselves, I've reduced what I wear significantly. Until cameraphones with decent zoom lenses and python support become available, the next shrinkage will probably be either finally building the Swiss Army Keychain or integrating all of the LED lights into a multi-mode emitter...

Sure-Fire 6Z (upgraded with LED head)

Leatherman Charge Ti

Nikon Optio S4

Palm Tungsten T|X

Nokia 6630

1 megapixel Camera Phone, 3G, Bluetooth, GPRS, Symbian Series 60, with the "amaretto" Python interpreter installed! I've written a number of small apps for it, and it caused me to stop carrying the iPaq 4155 (though I do still carry the Kyocera camera for "real" pictures.)

Things I have worn but don't currently

(replaced by Nokia 6630) HP iPaq 4155 (bluetooth and 802.11 builtin)

(replaced by Nokia 6630) Siemens S55 World GSM phone with GPRS and bluetooth

Streamlight "Stylus 3" white LED penlight

Streamlight "Stylus 2" red LED penlight

Ultraviolet LED pen

Sony Clié NX-70V

Symbol SPT-1700 Armored PalmPilot with Laser Barcode Scanner

Compaq iPAQ 36xx PDA w/CF, running Linux

Visor Edge

Symbol CSM-100 barcode scanner Springboard Module

Targus/ThinkOutside "Stowaway" folding keyboard for Visor Edge

various ham radio gear to be expanded later


Intel NS-1020 (1U p3-750 server)

Internal and external pictures

Sun Netra X1 (1U UltraSPARC-IIe server)

Internal and external pictures

Martian NetDrive

The Martian NetDrive is a cute little ITX box, shipping as a just-add-power fileserver. I've already deployed it as an OpenAFS fileserver, and have written detailed instructions on how you can do the same.

Other Things

Genica "discman" style MP3 CDROM Player

NEO-25 MP3 "hard drive" player (w/30G laptop drive)

ElectroVaya PowerPad 160 - LiIon battery slab

Targus "Universal AC Adapter"

Chandre Sinsation chocolate tempering machine

Panasonic Toughbook CF-17 (armored subnotebook)

8x25 monocular and camera bracket (

Note that the camera bracket was for the Canon cameras; it mounts directly on the SL300-RT, which is part of the reason I bouth that...


Several USB/SD combo cards

Sandisk first, but also an "OCZ" cheaper 2G stick; since they move from the camera straight to the Thinkpad (or Oqo) with no cables, they win on reducing the carried load.

PQI "TravelFlash" - CF/SD/MMC/MemoryStick reader

Keyspan Mini USB 4 Port Hub

Linksys EtherFast 10/100 Compact USB Network Adaptor

LabJack USB data acquisition box

Sony USB Memory Stick reader

Former Toys

1956 Olds '88 Holiday Cruiser

I sold the Olds to someone in Concord who has the time, motivation, and skill to treat it properly (read: replace a lot of the drive train. The body is still solid, though.) I've been promised a photo-op and a "cruise night" trip once it is properly restored...

Photo gallery

1989 BMW 750iL

2003-11 through 2004-09 I drove one of these - made it one tankful shy of 200,000 miles (of course, it had over 190,000 when I bought it.) Very comfy ride, beautiful interior, powerful v12 - excessively complex braking and transmission which ultimately did it in. Also served to convince me that my next car should have a sunroof, and that commuting in the hummer was a gratuitous source of stress - fun on occasion, awesome in snow or blinding rain, but for day-to-day "boring" driving, I need a comfortable (or at least differently-interesting) alternative. update: the Mini Cooper is this alternative