REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2004

So it would appear that it’s December 31st, and I guess that means I should do some kind of “Review of the Year” type thing. I’ll go through some of the successes and failures of the year, tell you about the gadgets that I acquired (and subsequently got rid of) and generally remind you of how 2004 panned out.

JANUARY

So we started off this year with my declaration of my new year resolutions, but looking back I don’t know how well I stuck to them. They were:

Go to the gym regularly. Yeah, I did this one.

Get an “all in one” mortgage and pay off as much of it as possible. I did this one too, and it has proved to be an excellent decision. Highly recommended.

Learn to play the guitar properly. I’m not sure that I’ve learned to play it “properly” but I’m certainly a lot better than I was.

Buy expensive shoes. No, I didn’t really manage this one. The closest I got was buying two pairs of £60 Merrell trainers at the same time, rather than buying the pair of Loakes I’ve been coveting.

Weigh eleven stone. Again, no, didn’t manage this. I’ve put on three or four pounds, but I’m nowhere near eleven. This resolution will be carried over to 2005!

Eat better food. Not sure about this one. We’ve certainly eaten a lot of different food over the last year, and we’ve relied less on frozen packet food, so I guess we managed it.

Go scuba diving. No. Didn’t do it. Plain and simple. I rather fancy skiing instead now.

Buy a new mattress. No didn’t do this one either. But we did buy new pillows.

Keep in touch with friends more. Thanks to the sterling efforts of Mrs Lacey, we have managed to do this. Still not good enough, but certainly getting there.

Read books. I’ve read three whole books this year (Northern Lights, Angels and Demons, The DaVinci Code). Does that count?

Keep this website up to date. Well we’re still here aren’t we?

January was also the time of the “Great Attic/Cellar Swap Round”, when we changed over the study and the spare room. It was a great decision. The cellar makes a superb study, and the newly redecorated attic room is a great spare room for guests.

Gadgets this month:

I bought a Creative Labs Zen NX hard-disc MP3 player. It was a poor decision. I sold it later in the year because I didn’t like it.

I also got myself my lovely Takimine electo-acoustic guitar. My guitar playing has improved no end because of it.

FEBRUARY

February was the month when I first dipped my toe in the water of eBay. I sold my old iPaq and all the accessories and my old mobile phone. I remember thinking at the time that it was amazing that people would pay good money for my old unwanted junk. And it has just gone on from there. Who’d have thought that in less than a year I’d have a rating of 45 and have made nearly £1000 in eBay sales?

Gadgets this month:

I got my new Sony Ericcson T610 mobile phone this month.

MARCH:

Apart from a couple of new gadget purchases, not much occurred in the month of March.

Gadgets this month:

I finally got round to getting myself a new iPaq – the Hewlett Packard 2210. It had proved even more invaluable than my old one. Partnered with my T610 phone, it meant I could check email, surf the web and even post to this website remotely! It’s also quite a good MP3 player too. I think I’d be lost without it.

I also bought (from lovely eBay) a Belkin Tunecast FM transmitter for my Zen NX MP3 player. Whilst it was good in theory, the execution was poor. I never really used it. I sold it later in the year when I got rid of the Zen NX.

APRIL:

April was a month of rash impulse purchases that I later came to regret. More of those in a moment. It was also the month when Mrs Lacey and I went away to Bristol on holiday. What a fantastic place! We loved it. If we ever got the opportunity, I think we might go and live there.

April also was a time of CD collection upheaval. I sorted them all out, and redistributed them around the house. You’ll be pleased to know this was a futile exercise, because they’re all over the place again, and in no particular order.

Gadgets this month:

I bought myself a Line6 Guitar Port – a box of tricks that lets you plug your guitar into your PC. It was great to start with, but I quickly got bored of it. It went on eBay later in the year.

I also – and this was the most disappointing gadget of 2004 – bought a Netgear MP101 digital music player. This was supposed to stream my music files from my PC to the hi-fi in the lounge. I never got it working properly. It was flaky in the extreme, and it was a stressful experience from start to finish. I have a friend who bought one a couple of months ago and he experienced the same problems. It would seem they still haven’t got it sorted. If you’re thinking of getting one, don’t bother. This too went on eBay.



MAY:

I did something in May that I should have done months ago. I ran an Ethernet connection to my PC instead of relying on wireless. It made my whole computer-using experience immeasurably better.

May was also the month when I started my obsession with collecting Qees. I bought three from Firebox.com, and it just spiraled out of control! I, at the moment, have 18 of the little fellas sat here on my desk. I shall attempt to fight the Qee addiction in 2005.

I bought a Sega Dreamcast arcade stick from the bargain bin of WHSmith for £3 and sold it on eBay for £40. This is definitely my best eBay profit to date.

The final design for Sony’s PSP handheld was revealed in May. At the time I said I wanted one. Now, I really want one!

Gadgets this month:

I got Xbox Live in May, and it has proved very enjoyable. I’ve mostly played Rainbow Six 3 and Halo 2 this year. I’m hoping that a couple more of my friends will get online in 2005, and then things will get really fun.

JUNE:

I got myself a Gmail account in June, and made quite a bit of money by selling invites for it on eBay. If you’re thinking of doing the same thing, don’t bother – the market is now officially dead.

I sold the Line6 Guitar Port and the Netgear MP101 on eBay this month. They were bad purchases. At least I only lost about £15 on each one.

There were no new gadgets this month.

JULY:

Inspired by my eBay success, July saw me venture into the world of selling stuff on Amazon.co.uk’s secondhand marketplace. This has also proved very worthwhile – I’ve got rid of loads of unwanted CDs, DVDs and books on there over the last six months.

Gadgets this month:

July saw the arrival of my most extravagant gadget of the year – the Nikon D70 digital SLR camera. It’s beautiful. I love it. End of story.

AUGUST:

We went on holiday to Cornwall in August. The weather was fantastic. Two days after we returned home, the terrible floods hit North Cornwall – particularly Boscastle – which was where we were camping. I fear if we had still been there, we may have been a little damp.

On returning home from Cornwall, I realized that the Gameboy Advance SP and the Creative Labs Zen NX that I had taken with me on holiday had stayed in my bag unused for the whole two weeks. So they both went on eBay.

The new G5 iMac was revealed by Apple this month, and the world collectively went “Oooh!”. They then tried to decide if they were impressed or not. I too am still undecided.

Gadgets this month:

I finally got my hands on my new mountain bike – a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert. Normally I’d never contemplate such an expensive bike, but I received it in payment for my work on the local bike shop’s website, so it cost me nothing apart from the trade-in on my old bike.

SEPTEMBER:

I nearly made an expensive mistake by ditching my hi-fi speakers in favour of a mini sub/sat 5.1 speaker system. Fortunately I decided against it. However, I did decide that maybe my ageing KEF Q35s were in need of an upgrade, and when I saw the lovely KEF Q4 speakers in a hi-fi shop in Leeds and decreed that they would be mine.

There were no new gadgets this month.

OCTOBER:

In October, I discovered the wonders of the Firefox web browser. If you’re sat there reading this blog with Internet Explorer, I implore you to switch. Firefox is so much better. Try it. You’ll like it.

Other than that, October was relatively quiet. Things were very busy at work.

Gadgets this month:

I got myself the KEF Q4 speakers and matching Q6C centre speaker to replace my ageing KEF 35s in the lounge. They’re lovely. They look almost as good as they sound!

NOVEMBER

My computer was suffering from the adverse effects of XP service pack 2 in November. The solution was to do a clean install from my ghost drive image. This solved the problems instantly. I refuse to install SP2 again. It is junk. As are most things that Microsoft churn out these days. I can tell that 2005 will be the year of the Apple Mac for me.

Halo 2 was released this month. If you have an Xbox, buy this game. In fact if you don’t have an Xbox, buy one just so you can play it. It’s that good.

Gadgets this month:

I went to the Mac Expo in London, and came home clutching a Roku Soundbridge. This gadget does almost exactly the same job as the Netgear MP101 that I bought back in April – streaming music files from my PC to the lounge hi-fi – but the difference is that this one actually works properly. I took it out of the box, plugged it in to the network and seconds later, music was playing through my hi-fi. This could be my gadget of the year.

DECEMBER:

You won’t have to cast your mind back too far to remember this month.

Perhaps most notably, I turned 30.

I bought Mrs Lacey an iPod Mini for Christmas (and now I want one too), and received multiple small, shiny, silver gizmos in return.

Gadgets this month:

I got myself a Sony RDR-HX900 Hard-disc/DVD recorder to replace my DVD player and VCR. They both went on eBay (along with all my VHS tapes) and now the RDR-HX900 has pride of place underneath the telly. This is another gadget that has really impressed me. It does everything I want it to, simply and effectively. I like it.

And that just about bring us to this point, right here. December 31st. What will 2005 bring? Who knows? But I’m sure it will involve gadgets.

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