Julie Strietelmeier likes little bits of technology that can be bent to fit her will.
She drives a 2013 Mini Cooper, she gets emails from her Dropcam, and she writes scripts for her Android phone.
In short, she likes gadgets.
So it’s only fitting that she founded and runs The Gadgeteer, a blog devoted to reviewing products, typically small, that fall into the range of gadgetry.
From its humble roots on Geocities, The Gadgeteer has culled a global audience during its 18-year run. With reviews and news from 18 staff writers — most of whom Strietelmeier has never met — the site garners a million page views per month.
The Columbus native, by day a software tech at Cummins, runs The Gadgeteer from her Brown County home.
Strietelmeier admits she’s never thought about the root of her gadget love, but she recalls sneaking over to her father’s cameras and watches to play with them once her parents had left. She and her sister were never caught, but these free-for-all sessions with gadgets fostered her love of tech toys.
“I just always liked the toys that the boys get to play with better than the things the girls got to play with.”
Features editor Jenny Elig asked Strietelmeier about her blog and love of gadgets:
How did your love of gadgets progress?
With computers. Do you remember bulletin board systems that you would dial up with a modem? I had one of those with five lines coming into my house. I wrote software to bring in guitar tablature. I wrote this program that, when people would get onto my website and say “I want the tab for ‘Stairway to Heaven’, it would pull it down and let them download it. That had to be back in the ’90s. There were tons of people doing bulletin boards back then — but there weren’t many women doing it.
Then the Internet came around. I remember writing a review — on Usenet — of some little pocket organizer that I had bought. The pocket organizer was the size of five credit cards with a teeny, tiny LCD display. I just wrote about it and everyone freaked out about it. So I bought something else and reviewed it. I had a page on GeoCities for a few months, and then I decided to get my own domain name and my own site. It started out with just me.
What defines a “gadget” for you? What is a gadget?
It’s a product that solves a problem. It’s usually electronic but it doesn’t have to be. For me, it has to be something interesting, fun to use, and maybe you can bend its will to do what you want instead of the other way around.
What kind of gadgets are you reviewing?
Everything that’s cool — from toys to phones to the wallets, cool bags and even tennis shoes that are just unique and nifty.
What has been one of your favorite gadgets of all time, ever?
I would have to say the iPad. It was something new and fun and different. I’ve probably got five iPads.
When did you get to the point that companies were sending you things to review?
It really didn’t take that long. They were doing it right at the very beginning, after I got a web page. I would write people and say, “Hey, I’d like to write a review of your product. Send me a sample.”
Do people know that you’re based here?
I talk about Columbus and Cummins and southern Indiana a lot. Most of the regulars know I live here.
What’s are your top gadgets now?
One of my favorites is the Dropcam. I know this is nothing new, but this is my favorite one. I have two cameras at home. The Dropcam will send me an email if it sees motion.
What projects are you working on?
I recently did an article about some guys who work at Cummins that took a Nexus tablet — an Android — and one guy put it in his truck and another guy put it in his car — in the dash. You would think that it came that way in the factory. They wrote their own software. I want to do it so bad, but I have a Mini Cooper and I don’t want to tear it apart. I’m trying to write little scripts so that when I get in the car, the Bluetooth turns on and starts my music app on here, and if a text comes in it stops the music and reads it and if I get out of the car it stops all that.
What’s something that’s kind of misunderstood about gadgetry and tech?
A lot of people think that it’s too hard to figure out things, especially when they have a computer in them. But when we do reviews, we try to make things easy to understand. We try to be simple and get to the point and not ramble on and on.
Is there a lot of Mac and PC reviewing?
Yes. I don’t discriminate. I’m a Mac person — that’s all I use at home. But iPhones are boring; I just prefer Android right now. With Android, you can write little scripts. I don’t think there are any macro apps like that for the iPhone. You can pretty much have Android do whatever you want.
Have you faced any adversity related to being a woman and doing very tech-heavy stuff?
I don’t think I have. I don’t remember ever not being taken seriously or being put down for that fact.
Were there any TV shows that really inspired you?
Oh, probably “MacGyver.” I never watched “Get Smart” and all of those. I’m also a fan of the original “Star Trek.”
What’s the next thing you want to do with the site?
I just want to keep making it bigger. Sometimes I’ll think, well, we could do video reviews, but typically I want to keep doing the same thing, just more of it.
What would be your dream gadget?
Probably, and it’s almost there, that you would have one device that you would use everywhere. I would take my phone home and I would slide it into a slot and it would be my laptop. Then I would take it to work and slide it into a slot and it would be my computer at work. And I’d slide it into a slot in the car and it would be my computer in the car. It’s almost there now.