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Monster-Mod: How To Wear Your Computer, Part 1

📄 Contents

  1. Is That a Cable in Your Pants?
  2. Choosing the PDA
  3. More To Come...
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Tired of his gadgetry turning him into Quasimodo, Cyrus Peikari sits atop Notre Dame (figuratively) and dreams up a solution: a PC you can wear on your body.

Has your heavy laptop twisted your spine into a hunchback? Learn how to ditch your hated laptop—and your entire office—for a lightweight, wearable setup. In this series we're going to (gulp) sell our laptop on eBay just weeks before a crucial PowerPoint presentation. Will we be able to use the resulting money to build our portable office in time? Or have we just flushed our career? Read on to find out.

Is That a Cable in Your Pants?

Pain inspired this latest mod. I was two hours into a tradeshow floor tour, and the laptop was a hangman's noose around my neck. Shooting pains tore deep into my right trapezius muscle, and white heat emanated from my thoracic vertebrae.

I was scheduled to speak later in the day at the conference, yet I was ready to hurl my heavy laptop into the nearby river. Why, in this microminiaturized age, did we still need to lug around a sack of stones?

In that moment of pain and desperation I vowed never to carry a laptop again. From now on, all presentations would be delivered from the lightweight PDA system in my pocket. Like R2D2 in Star Wars, a cable would erupt from my midsection and plug into whatever LCD projector needed to be driven.

At that time I had no idea how it could be done. I just assumed that it could be. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more difficult and expensive than I might have guessed. Even in these utopian times, PDA presentation is still primitive. The more I researched, the less impressed I became with the state of the art.

To save you time and money—and frustration—I'll share my secrets. I'll show you the easiest and cheapest way to ditch your laptop. But this is more than just an article on PDA presentation. To be a Monster-Mod, we have to go extreme. So, unless this project totally fails, I'm going to show you how to wear your entire office.

That's right: From now on, you're going to wear your office. Save money on office rent by stowing your gear in different crevasses of your body. And no, we're not going to become some creepy cyborg-geek like the guy who built a homemade Tron costume. We're going to do it in style. These are the design goals for our wearable office:

  • Lightweight. The goal is to make the entire office as compact and lightweight as possible. The smaller, the better; to maximize comfort, the components must be worn close to the body.

  • Inexpensive. After selling our laptop on eBay, and after building our mobile office with the proceeds, we should still have enough money left for several Frappuccinos.

  • Powerful. In a Monster-Mod, you always overbuild your system. By choosing robust parts, you'll have enough overhead to handle extreme demand while maintaining stability. While "PDA overclocking" and "remote, wireless, Pocket PC network taps" will be covered in other articles, right now we want a base system good enough to stand on its own. By overbuilding capacity now, we can easily mod it in the future.

  • Durable. Modern PDAs burn batteries fast, but we can't stop at every outlet just to recharge. So we'll build extra battery capacity into our system.

  • Versatile. We want our mobile office to completely replace our physical office. Thus, we need to select a variety of powerful components. The components also must overlap properly to maximize features while avoiding duplication.

  • Compact. Like a James Bond movie, the entire office should fit into a stylish dinner jacket. We're going to do this with class.

Throughout this series, I'm going for the least expensive item that does the job well. However, in the References section at the end I'll briefly mention upgrades for those of you who have extra money to burn. This setup is sweet, but it can be infinitely sweeter if you have the means.

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