cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

October 2008
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Pen Cam Slam-a-rama
Filed under: general, pencams
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:18 pm

Knew it before I even heard it. 

Got to work a little late, and whipped off my jersey to change.  As it passed over my head I felt a subtle change in the mass of the garment, a slight fluctuation in the air pressure, thought, “oh.  crud”,  and then the sound came - “twack”

Not a large sound, mind you.  Just a definite ceasing of vertical motion of a small plastic housing upon a reasonably solid concrete floor. Only one part jettisoned.  The battery housing contact plate. Ever hopeful, I  placed it back where it went and closed the cover.


There was as small impact gouge at one end, and that was pretty much all it took.  Certainly, taking the jersey off had jettisoned the pencam in an upward arc, so it was a little more than just a clumsy drop-to-the-ground. I tried a few little digital-device CPR tricks, but it was to naught. 

So, that makes - what? - five I’ve munched. 

I’ve found myself thinking about this too much in the last 24 hours. My spirally recursive thought loop goes something like this: I bought the pencam so I wouldn’t have to worry about breaking a good digital camera.  But, because the pencam doesn’t cost much, I’m more prone to putting in into a jersey pocket so I can easily get to it to snap a photo or two. The inexpensiveness of the pencam encourages me to engage in risky behavior. If I used a higher quality piece of gear, it might lead me to use more care in its protection - putting it into my bag, for example. But then, I’d take fewer photos.  Of course, if I had to pay for film and processing, I’d probably take fewer photos.  So, the whole cycle begins with supreme ease of snagging digital images, which is in turn amplified by the attractiive venues for sharing them. Which leads me to want to have a method for taking them.  Since using my camphone is reasonably high-risk, using my regular digital camera is slightly less so, we’re back again to wanting a cheap camera to have at the ready.

The problem is that this is also making me realize why I don’t really like cheap stuff.  It too easily becomes disposable. And as Annie Leonard articulated all too well, disposable has real costs. So I find myself fantasizing about an impact-resistant camera (or phone), kinda like those Panasonic Toughbooks. Maybe there out there already. 

But then again, so is another pencam. Cripes, maybe I should just start numbering ‘em like Pete Townshend. Or, I guess I could be a bit more careful next time.