Friday, April 01, 2005


Money, n. A blessing that is of no advantage to us excepting when we part with it

The rant du jour is occasioned by my new Mini-DV camcorder. I had lots of points on American Express' Membership Rewards and decided to redeem a chunk of them for a camcorder (my old Hi-8 just about having given up the ghost). No big deal, a nice new DV camcorder would make my life a bit easier in transferring stuff over to the computer for editing, and it had a few nice features to make life interesting. The only problem was that like every other camcorder, it comes with a battery suitable for about 30 minutes of doing anything, and being the natural procrastinator that I am, I had an action item (somewhere around 629th on the priority list) to pick up an extra battery or two for the thing.

An e-mail earlier this week from a friend requesting assistance videotaping an event on Sunday forced my hand, and when I had a few spare minutes today, I found myself in my local CircuitBuy looking for an extra battery. Imagine my chagrin that the battery was not in stock. A quick trip over to Radio Schlock, and no cigar. A camera store chain's local outlets got me nowhere. There were plenty of OEM batteries and clones out on the web, but by the time I had gotten to check them out, I was closed out from getting it tomorrow. One store in Brooklyn had them in stock (according to their web site at least) but since they're a frummie place, I would've had to have gotten there pretty darned early to pick the thing up and make it back in time for an afternoon commitment I have tomorrow. Not to mention that I trust the inventory reports on those frummie electronics shop web sites about as far as I can throw a Sun E15K, so I'd have to wait until 10am tomorrow to call and see if they really did have one in stock, and plead with them to hold one for me until I got there (best case, 2 hour drive; forget about the return trip - I'd never make my afternoon commitment with Friday traffic). Since that was a non-starter, I figured I'd try PC Connection, which I knew took orders until 2am for overnight shipping. By pure dumb luck, they had the high capacity battery I was looking for in stock, and eighty something dollars later, I'm waiting for the battery to come from some indeterminate overnight shipper.

I should expand the story a bit. One local camera shop did indeed have a battery that fit my camcorder, however, it was the same low-Ma job that came with the camcorder, and since it was an OEM battery, he wanted a really unreasonable amount of money for the battery (about $125). Since I didn't want to be caught totally with my pants down, I sprung for it (although not with pleasure - I just got the news from my tax preparer that the AMT had bitten me yet again, and my anticipated refund was going to be far smaller than I was hoping for) and it sits here on my desk, waiting for its compadre and the event on Sunday afternoon.

The funny thing of course is that said camcorder is not a current model according to CircuitBuy and RadioSchlock, however, its importer does indeed recognize its existence (unlike a couple of ancient cameras I have from Bell & Howell and Polaroid, which are orphans, or renumbered specials) and it's at least nominally available. The problem here is that the batteries in question are of a different form factor than anything else the importer brings in, and the garden variety batteries readily available from my local friendly retailers don't stand a prayer of fitting. My camera, however, is identical in form factor to the quote unquote current models and it wouldn't have been a huge stretch to keep the existing battery form factor. I know, planned obsolescence keeps the EPS up there...

I suppose had I not been such a cheapskate and actually gone and bought a new camcorder I wouldn't have had this problem (Heinlein was right - TANSTAAFL) but then again, at least it's something tangible for all the grief I've put up with to run my Amex point level so high (could've been a lot worse, I guess). Then again, who knows what This Year's Model will be...

Some minor local aggravation on top of it all - not worthy of mention here other than in passing - yet. I suppose I'm going to be an eminent grouch this weekend. And for crying out loud, I couldn't even come up with a decent April Fool's post. Grrrr...


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