While scrolling through an old SQL file I stumbled into an interview I did with the-gadgeteer, Julie Strietelmeier and thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane, to an era where Palm was the biggest dinosaur in the gadget world scrimmaging with WindowsCE and playing with iPods and Zunes.
It wasn’t more than a year after the-gadgeteer launched her website, and while I was writing under the-palmguru brand, I had the opportunity to interview the ambitious, gadget-loving enthusiast, Julie Strietelmeier, and two years later, I met the gadgeteer herself at Microsoft’s Mobius group in Redmond.
This interview was originally published in March 1999. (Photo: circa 2001 at a Microsoft Cafe in Redmond, Washington eating breakfast with Rachel Luxemburg, myself, Michael Steinberg, the late Calvin O. Parker and the-gadgeteer).
Julie Strietelmeier, aka The Gadgeteer, steps out of her red, 1997 GMC Sonoma pickup after her usual day job as a Software Engineering Technician and heads into her suburban Indiana home.
After greeting her Welsh Corgi, Kasey, and tossing a ball down the hall, Julie fires up her Dell, 400mhz, Windows based PC and logs onto the Internet. “Bing, Bing” the modem chirps. Kasey crooks her head, and the night-life of The Gadgeteer begins.
But how exactly did Julie get this job, that many of us envy — come on, checking out all the new, cool techno-products would be a dream for many gadget-obsessed people. However, it turns out that Julie just “walked” into reviewing products, and coined her name thanks to a few people at work.
“I was always coming into work with some new thing [gadget]. First it was the PalmPilot, then the WinCE PDA, and the people at work (only guys), always made fun me asking ‘What new gadget do you have today?'” Thus “The Gadgeteer” was born.
Starting back on Geocities, The Gadgeteer’s web site attracted an audience and niche-following that lead her to start a site using the domain name, www.the-gadgeteer.com. The new space, and branding of The Gadgeteer name, allowed Julie to review a wide variety of gadgets, including the REX, as well as the opportunity to expand her gadget-wants, sharing with me that “every time something new came out I wanted to review it”. When I asked Julie what she though made the Gadgeteer site a success, she answered, “people like [my] reviews because they [have] pictures and good content”.
Julie has been reviewing techno-gadgets as “The Gadgeteer” for about a year, and has written over 100 reviews on some of the coolest adult-toys from the introduction of Nintendo’s color GameBoy to our personal favorite (which some people would consider as their next of kin), the PalmPilot, et. al. — also her favorite gadget.
The Palm III has been Julie’s favorite gadget to review, speaking fondly of the device, “I like the Palm III because of the sheer number of 3rd party applications available — every time you turn around something new is available for it [the Palm III], making you more excited to show people the gadget”. She also likes her Palm III over other PDAs she has reviewed, that include the Newton, REX, Psion Series 5, DaVinci, and Casio E11, because it’s so easy to use — “I don’t think I have ever read the PalmPilot manual”.
“My favorite case is having it naked,” thus the perfect choice was the Slipper III (which she reviewed) by E&B Company, and Julie uses a PDA Panache Stylus to keep track of reviews in her To-Do app. And, if you want to be just like The Gadgeteer, than you need to download and register her favorite Palm OS app, Home by Shuji Fukumoto.
However, Julie seemed a bit concerned over Palm’s future, saying, “From what I hear about what’s happening with the two new models (4 and IIIx) — they seem pretty much the same as we have now,” adding, “with exception that the IIIx is suppose have a better screen, and the 4 is suppose to be more slim line”. I think that Julie speaks for many of us when she says, “I’m kind of worried that they [Palm Computing/3COM] aren’t making the Palm devices any more exciting than the 1000s were” and shockingly hinted that if something more exciting doesn’t come out soon, she might be “tempted to move on to something else for something different.”
When asked “If you could be the President of Palm Computing for one day what you do?”, Julie replied that she would first “tell them they had to change the display of the next generation PDAs and have a louder speaker that would be able to play music or something, like mpeg,” and then Julie added that she would change “the screen display. I would like it so it [the display] is the whole size of the unit, and have more resolution and be a little bigger”.
As life itself speeds you through its ups and downs, it wouldn’t be the virtual world most of us Palm users live in without a PDA horror story. Julie said that she had dropped her PalmPilot a couple of times, but nothing serious, and has never had one break. Of course, there’s always the opportunity for firsts, and just before Julie could knock on wood, she was reviewing a Palm OS product and “went to stoop down when it [the Palm device], batteries and memory door popped out and flew across my desk. I lost my data, but nothing was broken”.
Sometimes as readers (and users), we don’t take the opportunity to get to know the people behind the web sites we frequent for news, reviews, and software. So enough with this “gadgeteer” business and lets get to know the Julie Strietelmeier behind The Gadgeteer.
Personal Data Sheet:
Full Name: Julie Ann Strietelmeier
Born In: Indiana
Date of Birth: June 4
Astrological Sign: Gemini
Height: 5 foot 5.5 inches
Eye Color: Green
Hair Color: Auburn
Occupation: Software Engineering Technician
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Vanilla
Favorite Food: Mongolian Stir-fry
Favorite TV Program: Friends
Favorite Music Type: Acoustic guitar
Artist: John Denver (don’t laugh at me).
Favorite Movie: Sound of Music with Julie Andrews
Dream Vacation: The Smokey Mountians in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Dream Gadget:: Palm V sized unit with a color screen, voice recognition, voice recorder, wireless modem, compact flash slot, built in webcam, and built in gps.
As I wrapped up the interview, I asked Julie where she saw The Gagdeteer in the PDA market’s “big picture”, and she replied, “I see The Gadgeteer as the authority on reviews, ” and she added “I receive email messages each week from readers saying, “I bought this [product] because I read your review”. — I can’t think of a better way to end a day, or a better reward for a job well done.
Thanks Julie for all your hard work – we appreciate it.
It’s wild to think that I wrote this 17 years ago and I am still excited to recommend The Gadgeteer as a great website with quality reviews. And, once again Julie, thank you for all your hard work. Gadget enthusiasts around the world appreciate your thoughts, time and passion for technology.