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The Life Nomadic With Nintendo DS

Pat Miller | 22 Jan 2008 12:59
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In Japan, however, loitering with a Nintendo DS is the mark of a productive citizen (one in six people in Japan own one) - I can barely get on a train without stumbling over a mess of high school kids battling Pokémon on their way to cram school. While it's well known that the DS can, with the right software, ward off dementia, count calories, help with cooking, function as a Korean and Japanese dictionary (with kanji recognition), teach yoga, browse the web, and all kinds of other things, the homebrew Nintendo DS scene is perhaps the most underrated aspect of the fastest-selling console of all time.

But think about it for a second: It's got Wi-Fi and a touch screen with a stylus. Earlier PDAs have had to make do with less, for sure. So perhaps it's not so surprising that DSOrganize can replicate a lot of basic PDA functions, including a text editor, an organizer, a calculator, a file manager, a paint program, an IRC client and a basic text-only web browser. Just dump it on your preferred flash card of choice (the SuperCard and the R4 seem to be the most popular at the moment) and you're good to go.

Before you start getting too excited, however, you're going to want to find yourself an open wireless access point; fortunately, DSOrganize can help you find one, too, as can DSWifi, so open it up and start scanning when you hit the road. You might look a little strange walking around staring at your DS - particularly if you're a big guy and it's bright pink, like me and mine - so go ahead and close it and put it in your pocket. It should keep scanning, and maybe you won't look so odd if you just pull it out and look at it occasionally to see if you've hit any open spots. Personally, my best luck was around public parks, strangely enough, and areas by large apartment complexes, where at least someone is bound to have an open connection. Residential areas work OK, too, except you'll look exceptionally shady sitting on someone's doorstep and stealing their internet, and college campuses rarely had open access points because wireless access tends to be something the IT department deals with. (On the other hand, if you know any students there who are willing to lend you their access information, you're set.) Once you've got one, go ahead and set up shop - it's time to get down to business.

The first thing any vagrant freelance writer should do is catch up on email and the latest news. You could do this with the Opera browser, but NDSMail can do email and RSS feeds more quickly and cleanly than Opera can, and it's free. I can probably hunt-and-peck letters out on the keyboard in the bottom screen faster than I can type with a control pad, but it's still not a lot of fun, so go ahead and send a brief email to the people who matter most and wrap up your business. Now might be a good time to drop your editor a few article pitches, too, to keep you busy until those other paychecks come in.

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