Top Tens — Gadgets (I can’t live without)

Top Tens – Gadgets (I couldn’t live without about two years ago for today’s info go to my TechStuffBuzz page)

I hesitate to call these gadgets; the word implies frivolous. These are serious tools for getting work accomplished efficiently. At least that’s why I’ve included them on this list. I admit I’m more of sucker for electronics than most, but my experimenting might save you some time and trouble. They are really more like cool tools. If you are a pastor and have some room in your budget I would not hesitate to invest in any of the following tools to make myself significantly more efficient.

Trade in your Pilot and your cell phone for a Treo 650 !
I’m on my 15th Palm device (I counted and I started early). Treo-Handspring came out with a combination device a couple of years ago that wasn’t very practical. I bit on that one, but it never worked all that well with my Macintosh computer even though it promised to do so. The new Treo works like a charm. It does email (using any POP 3 account which is most accounts), goes onto the web with ease, and does what any of the other high end phones do these days. On top of this the 650 has Blue Tooth features which are very nice. On top of all of that, your Palm Pilot is built into the phone.
When I first started using it I kept thinking that I was leaving something behind. I wasn’t leaving anything behind but some of my complication.
Cost: About $450 with activation.
I use Cingular service because it has about the best coverage plan across the US.

Radio Shack Variable Speech Control Recorder
(about $80)

Listen to audio books on cassette tape? I listen to several books a week and one or two sermons. This little player allows you to speed up the tape while lowering the pitch allowing you to listen at about twice the speed. Sounds excessive, but it works once you get in synch with it. I recommend you listen with headphones to eliminate distractions.

Olympus Auto Reverse Micro Cassette Recorder
(about $55)

I think that every Christian needs to have a micro-cassette tape recorder. I use mine on a daily basis – actually several times a day. I use mine to capture devotional thoughts that I later transcribe into either my journal or my computer depending on which is appropriate.
As an author I capture my thoughts for upcoming articles and books on my micro-cassette. Thoughts come at odd times – usually when I’m not trying really hard to think. Often when I’m driving or vacuuming or mowing the lawn – when my internal “metronome” slows down enough that I can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to me clearly. When that clicker goes from 120 beats per minutes to 20 or 30 b.p.m. I almost always begin to hear from Him. My creativity is unleashed. Mindless activities do that for me.

When I am prayer walking – going through the local mall, asking God for new ideas for outreach, asking God for new ways to invade our city, he will almost always speak to me in new and exciting ways that I have never thought of before. During those times I can’t stop to write things down on a piece of paper and I am almost sure to forget what I am hearing from Him after a few minutes. That’s a perfect application for the micro-cassette recorder.

You may look a little odd walking about the mall speaking into a cassette recorder, but these days people look odd in general speaking into their earpieces that are wireless. As a whole, we increasingly look like a society of certifiable loons! Just join the club with enthusiasm!

Apple / Mac 17” Laptop
(with current set up plus 1 gig of RAM about $2,800)

I have been a “switcher” for about three years now. Before I converted to the Mac I had gotten to the point where I was crashing several times a day with simple applications like Word. From what I have been told by other Windows users my experience wasn’t completely unique. I can honestly say that since converting to the Mac OS I haven’t had one crash. I love the huge screen – large enough to place two pages side by side. I recommend you get the Apple airport in order to go wireless in your home or workplace.

I am evangelistic about a number of things in my life other than Jesus. Guy Kawasaki books, BMW motorcycles, and Mac computers to name a few of them. I count my “converts.” I have seen 31 leave the world of Windows and switch over to the lighter side of the Force!

I recommend while you are buying this you pick up the teacher-student version of the Microsoft Suite – that is, if you have children or you are a student yourself. It’s a good deal at $149. It allows 4 applications.

The new operating system is Tiger and it is phenomenal. It is the latest edition of Mac’s OSX. It is built on Unix like all of the other OSXs. It is rock solid. In the 3 years since I have switched to Mac I have not had one crash – literally. Not bad considering that I was having a crash every few days with Windows before. My friends who are still slugging along with Windows tell me that they are crashing in spite of their best efforts to keep things on the up and up and do all their upgrades on a nearly continual basis.

Bottom line: There is just no comparison between Mac and Windows. If you are serious about getting work done with a minimum of headaches and a maximum of your creativity then you’ve simply got to switch over to the Mac system.

Thank you Steve Jobs for changing the world. Thank you for changing my world and making things so much easier and for making things more sensible.

Last thought: I particularly like the 17” PowerBook because it is large enough to display two documents side by side at the same time. When you write a lot or when you are doing a lot of spread sheets that can be very helpful. I use that feature on a regular basis. The battery life is surprisingly good!

Apple Computers is now changing their name to simply Apple thanks to this little device. The iPod is the massively popular MP3 player. Before I go any further, I must admit, that I am so smitten by this little devise that I have several of them! I have given away a number of them to family and friends who were in need of a lift in life. It comes in a very cool looking shell that looks like other Apple products – it bears an amazingly close resemblence to the Apple iBook. I mostly use the 60 meg iPod Photo which allows one to store up to 25,000 photos as well as music galore. This is ideal for me to carry my portfolio around with me to show to people who want to see my digital photographic work. The battery ain’t bad either – over 12 hours on one charge. Available at many electronics stores, at any Apple store, and online at I got mine at the bleeding edge technology level price but now they are quite affordable at something like $450 for that model in particular.

I do recommend a few accessories to go along with this wonder. If you travel pick up the Bose noise canceling over the ear headphones ($299 – You’ll arrive at your destination stress free and calmed down after wearing one of these during your flight. Get a good case that straps onto your belt. There are many to choose from. Just choose “iPod Case” on Google and you’ll find many. If you want one that takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’ check out the line of cases. Lastly, check out the Altec portable speaker system that comes complete with a remote. It recharges your iPod while it plays songs at a pretty high volume and surprisingly deep bass. The Altec also runs on 110v as well as 220v if you travel around the world now and then – something I do on a regular basis.

Belt clips (available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc.)
What does one do with all those wonderful electronic devices? Clip them on your belt but of course! For about $5 a piece you can pick up these interchangeable clips that work for everything from your cell phone to your wireless mic to your variable speed tape player to your, well, you get the idea. I know, you’re thinking I must look like Lloyd Bridges filming an episode of Sea Hunt. Maybe so, but I’m ready for anything!

Leapfrog Communication Products Pace Setter Time Manager (
Ever had trouble keeping to your speaking time limits? This little tool might be a big help. It either rings or vibrates at two points during your talk then gives you a double ring (or vibration) when your prescribed time has expired. Also has a built in clock. It clips on to your belt, of course. This little tool has literally been the biggest help in making my talks better and more succinct than any single discovery in all of my years of speaking. I think it is a necessity for anyone who is concerned about keeping his or her talks on time and on track with their audience.

NOTE: If you have any cool products that you think would fit nicely on my handy cool tools page please forward them to me at [email protected] Thanks for looking out for me!


  1. i’m with you on the pda/phone deal (i’m not on a treo, but it’s close enough), and i’m on the 17″ mac big time. it’s my office. the belt clip thing i’ll have to leave off my version of the list cuz i’ve learned the hard way that belt clips such as you’ve described here don’t work well for those of us in the 250lbs+ club. too much belt-overlap.

    nice post, though. made me wonder if i oughtta ask myself why i don’t have some form of readily accessible voice recording device.

    oh yeah, the ipod’s a good call too.

  2. Steve: I read this post and your Tech Stuff Buzz page with great interest. Thanks for the heads up on Olympus digital recorders. I wouldn’t have given them any thought if it hadn’t been for your recommendation. I picked up an Olympus DS-40 this weekend, primarily for recording podcasts. The sound quality is astounding (44.1). Wow! (Sadly, the DSS software doesn’t work seamlessly with Windows Vista, but Olympus is working on the problem.)

    Speaking of Windows, PC’s, etc.: hey man, get over the BSOD that wiped out your book seven years ago! 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I’ve suffered plenty with Windows over the years. Windows 3.1 wasn’t bad, but I have painful memories of Win95, Win98, Win98SE, and WinME (an abomination). By the time Windows 2000 Pro arrived on the scene, things were looking up. I’ve installed and maintained several iterations of Windows Server, all of them solid. WinXP treated me well for years, and Windows Vista looks good so far. Yeah, Vista probably won’t be really ready for prime time until SP1, but it’s running my apps just fine for now.

    Like you, I’m an Apple fan, but I can’t buy into the Apple reliability myth. I run both Apple and PC devices, desktops, laptops, iPAQ’s and iPod’s. They ALL lock up and crash from time to time – all of them (my 8GB nano locked up two days ago). I also don’t think Apple is right for everyone. I give Apple the nod for cool design and a robust collection of user-friendly applications in MacOS. On the other hand, as an IT business solutions provider, I was never able to recommend Apple to our clients.

    Times are changing. Maybe Apple will dominate the business network market in years to come. Windows has certainly come along way from your BSOD episode in 2000. (Five or six applications running concurrently: that’s been a piece of cake for the last dozen PC’s I’ve owned.) And Linux is starting to look very good … plus it’s open source. The key, I think, is to keep experimenting with technology as it arrives. Stay flexible. Enjoy the variety!

    Again, thanks for the tech tips. I really like my digital recorder … and I owe it all to you.

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