Read about Featured Gadgeteer – Juan Puchalski


Name: Juan Puchalski
Location: Venezuela, South America

My story as a gadgeteer is quite unlike the usual story that says I have ten gazillion gadgets in every drawer of my house, and then some. Unfortunately I live in Venezuela, South America, and the wages are usually not enough to cover the basics, let alone gadget spending. I study Chemical Engineering, which leaves me no time for a real full time job.

But what gadgets I do have, usually go with me everywhere. To the extreme!

I started my gadget story with an old second hand Palm III I got off eBay. I was totally in love with the thing, and filled it up to the brim with engineering programs and whatnot. It went with me everywhere. The field, the lab, back to the classroom. I got some mileage on the thing.

After it started to show its age, I sold it again on eBay and got me a Palm IIIxe from Amazon. Cost me quite a bit to get it imported, but finally I got it. I carried it daily inside a Rhinoskin Ti slider on the front pocket of my jeans. Everywhere I went, tap tap, measurement, record, back to the jeans. I had my class and exam schedule programmed there, and I used Diddle to get rid of all the little pieces of papers I used to take phone numbers on. It truly became a Digital Assistant.

Finally, I traded that one in for my current Palm Vx and a Rhinoskin Titanium form fitting case, which has all the same programs, plus Documents to Go. I keep all my Hazardous Materials lists, Excel sheets for chemical calculations and a whole bunch of programs in there. It’s my portable brain.

That wouldn’t be much different from any other lab gadgeteer except for the fact that my day job, when I’m not in class, is being a technician for a local Telco company. I install and maintain those large Microwave setups we have for cell phones and data lines. Therefore I can find myself easily at the top of a 300 ft. tower debugging what’s wrong with a transmitter. Out comes my palm pilot again, with diagrams and references for each of the transmitters we use.

Also with me most of the time is my digital camera. I have a lovely Canon A300, that I use for everything, from lab and antenna documentation, to taking personal pictures. It came with me twice to trips to Mount Saint Ana, where it’s rainy and rather muddy, an enviroment that’s deadly for the gadgets! It came back unharmed from both trips and recorded just about everything from those trips 🙂

I don’t think I’d be a true gadgeteer if I didn’t show off what other gadgets I have around, right?

I set up my own wireless network between my office and my house, sharing the broadband connection I have at work. There’s about 9 miles of city between my office and my home, so I had to put up some rather large antennas and amplifiers to get there. Works like a charm! I have 5 computers at home for different purposes, including a linux server and more network connection points than telephone ones, and last but not least, a Victorinox Cybertool on me at all times 🙂

If I ever moved out of this place, the new owner of the house would have the time of his life taking out all the UTP cable that’s between the ceiling and the roof.

For engineering purposes I also have one of those programmable HP calculators. An HP49g. It’s RPN of course. I generally have two or three calculators in my bag. A typical Casio scientific calculator, the HP calculator and a simple calculator that has a backlight, for those tough spots.

I think my story might make a great commercial for the Titanium cases. They work as advertised and keep my Palm safe from the extremes! From Sulfuric Acid plants to the sky, my gadgets come with me. The Palm V Ti case has a bit of a black smudge on one of the corners, where a little chemical spill in the lab touched it. The Palm survived another day 🙂

That’s my story of little gadgets with lots of mileage!

The picture attached is of me in the kitchen, while cooking Christmas dinner. I had to search all my folders for a picture of myself, since 99% of the time it’s me behind the camera!

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