It’s official: I’m dangerous again.

NEC MobilePro 900

With the purchase of a new battery for the NEC Mobilepro handheld PC I got late last year from Jess Ragan, I’m officially back in the wi-fi world. That might sound like an occasion for an “oh, big woo,” but the thing is…I used to take my MobilePro 760 with me everywhere. My game collection, music collection and more were catalogued on it in meticulously made Excel spreadsheets that, in all likelihood, I spent way too much time on constructing. If you saw me at CGE, or OVGE, or Panera Bread, or in the food court at the mall, or anywhere else where free wi-fi could be leached from thin air, you saw me with that machine. I’d be writing stuff on it constantly, and e-mailing it to my desktop machine (and checking my e-mail) just as constantly. The old 750 had its faults – an inability to handle secure connections being a biggie – but it enabled me to write stuff on the go, do some preliminary pre-coding, and send it home to dump it into the appropriate WordPress section of the site.

Then last fall, an unknown party got hold of the 750 and had a bit too much fun with it. Not only was the wireless card bent at an alarming angle coming out of the PCI card slot, but whatever stress had been exerted on the thing to get that effect had also broken pins off in the slot itself: the 750 was officially “off the air”…and gradually I used it less and less. I got the 900 shortly before the end of the year, but its battery was shot. I only just now got the replacement (yay for being broke!), snapped it into place, charged it up, and it works like a charm. If I show up on Facebook as being mobile, I’m really mobile – not just plugged into the wall (that was getting a tad old).

With the new battery checked out, it was time to officially initiate the machine; several years ago, a reader of my web site wanted to show his appreciation by printing up some bumper stickers or other items, since he worked somewhere that did these things. As I’d just gotten the 750, the bright idea occurred to me to ask him if he could print a custom design I’d supply him with on a durable clear sticker. Sure enough, in the mail a few days later, I had a small supply of these; they’ve stayed in an envelope until tonight, when it was finally time to affix one to a new machine (seen in the photo above). Those who get the reference seem to like it; those who don’t get it are probably unaware of the current whereabouts of their towel and there’s nothing I can do to help them.

While I was scoping out the 750’s replacement, I did indeed look at stuff like the Asus AAAIIIIEEEEEEE! (sorry, that’s what my subconscious calls it every time I see it – complete with a Wilhelm). Too big, too bulky. The MobilePro line’s charm – at least up until NEC, not realizing how far ahead of the curve they were, foolishly stopped making them about four years ago – was its small size, at least for me.

The 750 was smooth and businesslike; the 900 almost looks like a ruggedized “armored briefcase” version, or, as my dad used to say after a few drinks, “built like a shit brickhouse” (don’t try to work out the mechanics of that, I can only assume it’s like an adobe dwelling, only much, much less sanitary). I miss the “scroll wheel” of the 550 and 750, but the 900 – the next-to-last MobilePro model made – has its own advantages that balance things out, including secure connections, a PDF reader application, and the ability to read and write real Word and Excel files without having to convert them into the lame “Pocket Word” and “Pocket Excel” formats. The MobilePro-to-PC connection is accomplished via USB rather than serial cable, and compared to the 750, it’s blindingly fast on most applications. The NEC MobilePro 900900 is an “instant-on” machine, but it takes about 6 seconds average for it to remember it’s got a wi-fi card in it, remember that it’s got the driver, and find the signal. In fact, this machine is a dandy little wi-fi signal strength detector – if I were inclined to go wardriving, this’d be a good machine to do it with. The secure connection’s a big deal to me – this means I can log into my own WordPress admin panels and post stuff on my site without having to e-mail it to myself first. The machine won’t do Flash and I can’t watch DVDs on it, but I don’t need it to do those things.

Funny side story: the MobilePro 900’s AC adapter/charger cable has a non-standard tip and a non-standard voltage. Not so non-standard that Radio Shack couldn’t look at the manual specs and figure out what the heck it was, but non-standard enough that they did have to call all the other Radio Shacks in the area to see if anyone had one – just one. One of the other Radio Shacks had the tip needed for a universal AC adapter, but seemed unsure if they could even special order the adapter with its non-standard voltage. Then they said that yes, they had an adapter, but it was (a) already opened and (b) a few years old.

Not to be fazed by that, I hustled across town to the Radio Shack with both the tip and the adapter, and also picked up the watch battery that the 900 uses to maintain its memory backup. I had $25 in my pocket and expected to come home with pocket lint from this expedition. I paid for the non-standard tip, but got the non-standard adapter for free – apparently no longer in production, it had been opened and kept in the back of the store by an employee who apparently annoyed everyone else with his portable music player, which also required an adapter with that voltage. Two birds, one projectile. Whoever it was with an oddball music player that required 7.5 amps…um…sorry, dude.

Expect me to do more inconsequential updating of my Facebook status now that I’m mobile again. 😛 I was netbooking before anyone knew what netbooking was. Now I’m back in the saddle.

NEC MobilePro 900

Completely unrelated to the above spiel, some touching-going-on-tear-jerking tributes to ELO / ELO Part II’s Kelly Groucutt have appeared on some of his bandmates’ web sites. If you have a kleenex handy, check out the tributes from Part II’s Parthenon Huxley, Phil Bates and classic ELO’s Louis Clark and Bev Bevan. At this point, there are only a few other former bandmates who haven’t spoken up, and you know, I’m not going to hold my breath or muster up a rant about it; either option would just be a waste of time. I’ve been listening to a lot of ELO Part II and The Orchestra of late though, and some select ELO tracks (such as “Poker”) too.

About the Author

Earl Green ()

I'm the creator, editor-in-chief and head writer of


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