Elite Blogger: Rendezvous With Judie Lipsett

Judie Lipsett, a proverbial creature of blogosphere eco-system is seen upholding the flag of Geardiary since September 2006. Prior to it she was co-Editor of The Gadgeteer for six long years. Against gamut of online sites that cover launches of electronic products especially gadgets and gizmos, Judie takes pride in moving a step ahead by reviewing a product and providing a second opinion to the prospective customers planning to ink neat deals. And opinion from such an expert is welcomed as she dons into the shoes of customers while reviewing any sundry product. If numbers make a difference then she is known to play 400 plus hardware reviews on Gadgeteer and around 350 at Gear Diary.

Judie is now fully dedicated to Geardiary, which is christened by readers as eclectic awesomeness but to me GearDiary is synonymous to a connoisseur attic that makes a generalized scanning of a product, thereby throwing the possible picks and non-picks attached to the products. And I consider Judie as a true technophile with a difference. She shares the commonality of early adoption of technology but unlike others her review enables inspires less valiant consumers to follow that particular outfit. Technophiles as individuals has a capability to make or mar technology.

Bottom line: Final call for picking a product comes from consumers’ end.

But Judie’s personality didn’t allow her to restrict her magnetism to the world of gadgets and thus to my non-surprise the gadget diva has a soft corner for fashionable accessories. She considers Louis Vuitton handbags and other trendy collection as her weakness. She has been collecting them since she was 18 and says: It’s what I will usually reward myself with when I feel I have reached a particular milestone.

Here are the captivating responses from Judie penned down while getting a pedicure down. Judie’s time is divided between running family’s ranching operation and an eternal pursuit of the critical gadgets. It clearly marks her tight scheduled day and her potential to do multi tasking.

Judie introduce yourself to my readers and take us through your typical day at work.
Hi everyone! I am Judie Lipsett, and I am a consumer product reviecwer with about nine years’ online experience. I got my start at the now defunct smaller.com in 1999, and was co-Editor of The Gadgeteer for six years. Since September 2006, I have been the owner and Editor of Gear Diary – a news, reviews, and opinion site. I also regularly contribute to (and consult with) many other gadget, mobility news and review sites. My goal is to foster a friendly and cooperative community feeling among other like-minded sites.

A typical work day for me can seem like anything but. Some mornings I may not even wake up until around 10, since I sometimes stay up as late as 4:30am when trying to wrap up a really involved review. Other days I have lunch meetings and appointments I need to keep, so my morning will start much earlier. My schedule is odd, but I enjoy it.

Judie

How did Gear Diary started? What made you switch completely from The Gadgeteer to your own diary?
Gear Diary started because when I left The Gadgeteer, I planned on using my new site as a continuance of the personal blog I had kept on Julie Strietelmeier’s (editor-in-chief, The Gadgeteer) site. My plan was to freelance for other gadget and PDA sites, while posting about more personal things which interested me on Gear Diary. But my little project soon took on a life of its own when online friends began to volunteer to write articles and reviews many of them offering to cover things that they didn’t feel fit the scope of the sites they regularly wrote for. It was never my goal that Gear Diary be perceived as a strictly mobility or gadget site, but that it also is about all sorts of other things that people use and enjoy. With that said, we’ll always cover gadgets and PDAs, but we’ll also write about cars we like, funny items found on the internet, diary entries about things that have happened to us, human folly, good deals we have found, odd things we have purchased, robots, vacations we take, toys we like literally whatever we felt like writing about.

Judie LipsettWhat should be the ratio of style specks to tech features that manufacturers should consider while developing any gadget?
Good question. I am not sure if there is a specific ratio that should be adhered to, but I do think that style and aesthetic appeal are very important when considering any device that you will use as part of your daily routine. Let’s face it, a particular phone or PDA may have every feature that you need and want, but if it feels cheaply made, if it is dog-ugly, or if it doesn’t feel right when you use it, then it won’t make the cut. Many times our electronic devices are also our fashion accessories; they should look good, work as we need them to, and be durable.

What user-friendly aspects you concentrate on while reviewing a product? How important is the cost justification while reviewing a gadget (it is justifiable or no).
It really depends upon the item. If I am reviewing a phone, I’ll concentrate on how well it operates, for instance: whether it is easy to figure out, whether it works as expected, whether it fits my hand well, whether it feels cheaply made. Most importantly, and especially in the case is a PDA phone, I’ll concentrate on how well the device actually performs as a phone. After all, convergent devices only work well when you don’t have to greatly sacrifice the main reason you purchased the device in the first place.

When I am reviewing a particular accessory, depending upon what the item is I might not care so much about how it looks unless it is an accessory I’ll always be staring at, like a PDA case or a laptop bag. Instead, I’ll concentrate more on whether it works as promised and how durable it’s been over the testing period, which can usually last from one to two months.

As far as cost justification? That is a personal thing. I’ll point out when I think that something is expensive or not, but in the end, only CUSTOMER can decide if the cost of something is justifiable or not.

Your savvy readers have been blessed to witness around 400 plus hardware reviews on Gadgeteer and a good lot of 350 at Gear Diary. How you justify the pedestal of being a renowned consumer product reviewer? How far your reviews have been successful in enabling people take a call on what gadgets to keep their fingers upon?
Well, I can claim all of my reviews and diary entries on The Gadgeteer as my own, but I want to point out that so many of the reviews on Gear Diary have also been written by my fabulous Team.

As far as being on a pedestal, gosh I hope not. I will always want to be known for writing honest and thorough reviews, but I am also very aware of the fact that just because a particular item fits my needs or works well for me, it may not be the answer for everyone. All I can do is give my opinion after putting something through its paces, and hope that at the end of the day my review helps someone decide whether they should also give the item a try or not.

What’s the coolest device you’ve ever reviewed (even if it isn’t cool anymore)?
Oh, that is such a hard question to answer! If we are talking about PDAs, my favorite is probably going to be the HTC Universal, even though that device is several years out of date. I liked my review unit so much that I bought one after sending it back! I really wish that HTC would offer an upgraded version of the same device.

Picking the coolest gadget in general is a tough call, too. But for that I think I would have to choose the Litter-Robot, which I can’t recommend highly enough. One of the things that I disliked about owning a cat before I got it was cleaning her litter box daily. Now that I have the Litter-Robot, I only have to remind myself to empty its bin once a week or so. The Litter Robot has removed the only caveat that I saw to cat ownership.

At personal front, how open are you for inking pricey deals for outlandish gears? (Besides gadgets that reflects the feminism in Judie). List us the soft accessories that you possess and take pride in.
I’ve been known to spend more than I should on gadgets and other items that I really wanted for whatever reason. As long as it won’t hurt me financially and as long as I can justify it, I will generally go ahead and buy myself anything that I want badly enough. I have been known to agonize over spending money on something, but once I make up my mind that I have to have it, or that I can definitely justify it, then I’ll go ahead and get it. If I can’t really justify it, then I will put it on the back-burner until I (hopefully) don’t want it any more.

Hmmm, I’m not sure exactly what you mean by soft accessories, but I’ll admit to having a weakness for Louis Vuitton purses and accessories. I have been collecting them since I was 18, and it’s what I will usually reward myself with when I feel I have reached a particular milestone.

What other areas are you passionate about?

sarah

I like to travel, and my favorite travel companion is my daughter Sarah. We enjoy exploring other cities, countries and cultures. We are pretty adventurous and will try anything once, so we have been known to eat some crazy things, try some crazy things, and we always seem to live to tell about it.

When back at home, I serve as the president of my sorority’s (Sigma Kappa) local alumnae group, and after stepping down as an advisor for the local Sigma Kappa collegiate chapter (I did it for almost 9 years), I have started volunteering for several local organizations. It’s good to have people and offline activities that make you want to step away from the computer.

What is the business model of Gear Diary? From where do you tag monetary innings?
Honestly, the business model for Gear Diary is not very concrete. We only accept direct advertising from companies that I know and trust, because I feel that an endorsement is implied when a company’s banner is on my site. Everyone that writes on Gear Diary, including myself, has another job; none of us are doing this to get rich or looking to quit our day jobs. We write about topics we enjoy, because we enjoy sharing the information with people. The fact that Gear Diary brings in enough to pay for our hosting and associated costs – as well as goodies for all of us along the way – is a nice bonus.

What are your top tips for getting a blog ranking well in the search engines?
That’s a toughie and certainly an answer best left to SEO experts. I have found that a clear and concise post title helps Google index out items quickly, though.

Introduce us to your three gadgetry possessions that you can’t afford to miss while stepping out.
My Canon G9, my Vertu Ascent and my iPhone. I would like to add an HTC Advantage 7510 to the mix as well.

Your views on Traditional Journalism vs Blogging.
I think that the lines are blurred anymore. Bloggers who conduct their business as professionals and who try to be as ethical as possible are now being treated with the type of respect formerly reserved for print journalists. I am sure that it’s frustrating in some ways for hard-core journalists to find that anyone with computer can make as big of a name for themselves as someone with a journalism degree, but these are the times in which we are living.

What do you count as your feats and fouls?
I am probably most proud of winning my sorority’s highest honor – the Colby Award, in 2006. I was on the stage with other women who have made nationally recognized contributions to their chosen fields, so being awarded for my achievements as a technology blogger was just amazing.

I probably most regret passing on the chance to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show in 2006; that would have been fun. It would have also brought a lot of good attention to the site I was writing for at the time, but for various reasons it just didn’t work out.

How you would like to be known as and Why?
a) Consumer product reviewer
b) Blogger
c) Technophile
d) Entrepreneur

I would most like to be known as a technophile who became a consumer product reviewer. The fact that it is in a blog versus a traditional print magazine is incidental, and I don’t really consider myself an entrepreneur. I am not trying to build a huge blogging network, as several of my friends have gone on to do. I just want to enjoy my corner of the web, spending time with a group of like-minded people who I genuinely enjoy.

Pen down your daily online-reads.
I always check JK On The Run, Mobility Site, Slash Gear and Consumerist to name a few, but I easily have over a hundred truly great sites on my RSS. I probably spend an hour a day just catching up!

Provide my readers with two of your favorite posts from a) GearDiary; b) The Gadgeteer c) Others.
Oh, I honestly can’t pick! I’d like to think that they were all good, and hopefully helped someone.

What can be pointed as GearDiary USP that is now a great success (of course besides reviews)?
I think our readers enjoy the Dear Gear Diary series as well as our GearChats. I think they also love the rants we post and the deals we find and post about.

Seeking tips for the bloggers with running gadget blogs so that they can also make big.
Don’t look to get rich by blogging; write because you enjoy the subject, and because you like sharing your discoveries with your readers. The fact that you are doing it because you enjoy it will always show through your writing. Don’t be afraid of being friendly and supportive of other sites, and never think that the market isn’t big enough for yet another [insert your type blog here] blog. Every single writer brings their own voice and flavor to the blogosphere; there is room for all of us. We should help each other succeed.

One Hidden Truth
I have a very type-A personality; I can be exasperating, and stubborn, and I am working on that.

Where do you see your blog after five years from now?
I hope that we will continue doing what we enjoy, that we will see a steady increase in readership, and that we will continue to add value and entertainment to our readers’ day.

What piece of advice you would have given yourself five-years ago?
Never be complacent, never settle, and listen to what’s really being said.

Give us your honest views on EliteChoice. If you have time, go ahead to review it.
I think that you are doing exactly what I like to see fostering a sense of friendship and community between many blogs; thank you for having that type of site!

Your turn! Can ask me one question.
Can you forgive me for taking so long to return this questionnaire?
Judie, the engrossing flow of responses justify the delay. I am happy to put it on hold for so long as now I have enough meat for my readers to know my dear friend Judie, a level more than they use to know her. And such an honest session of free-wheeling conversation is highly appreciated.

Judie_matthew

I wish luck to Judie, her daughter Sara, colleague Matthew Miller (The Mobile Gadgeteer-ZDNet) and team for their future endeavors. And many thanks for accepting to be at EliteChoice under our elite blogger series.

P.S.: Most blogger under this series are the ones captured at 2007-round-up of 125 Elite Bloggers. Besides that, i would be welcoming other worthy names.
Judie Lipsett

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