|Teknidermy Magazine - Issue 5 , Vol. 1||
Jackin' UP the
PPC, with Leonard Wesson
Leonard Wesson is the Founder & Owner of a company called “Portable Computer Enhancements”. I came across Leonard and his company with a serious dilemma I was having because of my love for skinning (and using other peoples skinz).
I was quickly running out of resources on my Pocket PC! What is a person to do with all these cool skinnable apps and skinz and ONLY 32 on the memory??? Yes, you could get the sleeve and CF cards for external memory, however, I love my unit to be completely naked!
Soooo with that being said Leonard became my new HERO =)
His company offers one of the Newest and Hottest things available right now for Pocket PC! It is a 64MB internal upgrade!
Of course, if Leonard had fried my unit, I would not be doing this interview (hehe), but not only was the upgrade beyond my expectations... his professionalism and wonderful sense of humor made my business transaction with his company a pleasant experience (as I personally was a nervous wreck having this done)
Tek: First and foremost I would like to say thank you for putting aside some of your valuable time for this interview we realize how busy you must be with this new and exciting opportunity your company has given to pocket pc users!
Can we begin with a little insight to your background?
Leonard: My background is...
I started working for Toshiba right before they came out with the T1100, their first "laptop". I worked in their Field Service department for 5 Years. I then went to work as Director of Operations & R&D for a company called CP+ aka RoadWarrior Int'l. I essentially ran the company and did the design on their upgrade kits & telecoupler line.
I was then involved in a very serious auto accident and broke my back. After a year and a half of rehab, surgery, fusion, etc., I had a large enough settlement to start my own company and go into competition with RW. The rest is history.
I was born with the ability to work on electrical stuff. At 4-5 my grandmother would buy me Kmart radios and I would have them disassembled before Christmas was over. Electronics/Computers are very intuitive for me. I can essentially do with a computer what a violinist can do with a violin. Please don't take these statements as bragging. It's just an ability that God has blessed me with.
Tek: would you share with us “how the idea” came about for the internal memory upgrade?
Leonard: A friend of mine got an iPAQ and he fell in love with it. Due to his feedback, I decided to pursue upgrades for the unit. The notebook upgrade side of my business was slowing down, so I was looking for a new area for company growth.
I don’t remember how, but I came across and article about upgrade the RAM in the iPAQ for Linux users. I decided to get a unit and experiment and see if I could get it to work with PPC.
Tek: What was involved to make this go from an idea to reality? Time wise, expense wise etc.
Leonard: I’ve invested about a month of my time and about $7500 in programming equipment and specialized tools, such as our Laminer Flow Unit, to safely perform the upgrade.
Tek: Were there Technical issues that were initially roadblocks and/or barriers in the beginning?
Leonard: At first, the 64MB of RAM was not recognized by PPC. But, Compaq released a new BIOS while I was working on the problem, that recognized the extra RAM.
Tek: Have you had contact with Compaq or the other Companies directly regarding this upgrade?
Leonard: Yes. I currently have a discussion open with Compaq about getting the upgrade ‘authorized’. I don’t know if I will be successful in that regard, but they contacted me so hopefully it will go through. I also have a ‘partner’ on the east coast that I trade info and ideas/parts with.
Tek: If anyone would like to see screenshots of the internal memory upgrade you can view some screenshots here at http://www.pce2000.com/ipaq64mbprocess.htm and also here at http://www.pce2000.com/ipaq64.asp
Tek: Having the idea and actually putting it into action are both very different feelings, especially when people are so attached to their pocket pc’s and are worried about the risk involved to their units when sent out for the upgrade. Can you tell me how “you” felt when you did the very first upgrades? Were you nervous?
Leonard: Considering my own unit was the very first one and I had it less than an hour before I opened it up, I was a little nervous. Also, I missed soldering a pin on one of the RAM chips and didn’t catch it, so when I put the system back together, it was dead. After my heart started again, I opened the unit again, found the oversight and had a working unit.
Tek: Has this been what you expected after it became a reality and physically were able offer this upgrade to people?
Leonard: Yes and no. I really think I have just scratched the surface. I’ve processed about 80 units in the last 30 days or so. But I know that Compaq is producing 20,000 units a month, so there is a huge potential.
Tek: How long now have you been offering the 64MB upgrade?
Leonard: About 30 days or so.
Tek: Do you foresee that they will be done differently in the near future than you are currently doing them as the demand increases day by day?
Leonard: No, not really. Our turnaround time may increase a little, but we are also working on proprietary software to automate the tracking and emailing of info to the customer based on the number of units in house and in the queue. So we may be able to get down to a 1-2 day turnaround if, the customer will cooperate and ship exactly when we ask them too.
Tek: How well is the public receiving this opportunity you are giving to them?
Leonard: I have had nothing but positive comments on the upgrade and the quality of our work.
Tek: What about rising competition suddenly coming out of nowhere?
Leonard: There will always be competition and companies offering a lower price. However, if it is really critical for the customer to save $10 - $20 on the upgrade, then they should go with that company. We plan on being around for the long term and we have to make a reasonable profit to do that. We have already bought several units just for parts and spares as well as making custom rework jigs, etc for this upgrade project. The cash for that has to come from the profit of the upgrade.
Tek: What makes your company any different than the others?
Leonard: The main difference between us and the other companies is that we use the iPAQ and understand how important customer service is. If we screw up, we admit it and do our best to make it right. We are in no way perfect. We’ve had one unit come back for an error on our part and we were able to fix it and return it the same day we received it.
Tek: Will you be offering a 128 MB upgrade if and when that becomes available for the Pocket PC?
Leonard: We are looking into it, but the RAM chips will not be available until near the end of 2002.
Tek: Do you have other exciting ideas pending for us Pocket PC’ers?
Leonard: We are working on a new stylus lock for the iPAQ as well as several other enhancements/upgrades that I’m not at liberty to discuss yet.
Tek: Well Leonard I’m so glad our paths collided when I had my lil pocket pc crisis.
And again I want to thank you for the wonderful service you gave me with regards to my memory upgrade and also for doing this interview with me for Teknidermy! =)
And if any of our readers would like more information about this service you can go to Leonard’s web site at http://www.pce2000.com