Tag Archives: portable tech

Underwhelming Announcements from #Apple (Along with serious misrepresentations, too)

From my Tumblr:

“For another metric, we measure adoption. If you look at Windows 7, it took them about 20 weeks to reach 10% of their base. It took Lion 2 weeks. – Tim Cook”

Six million copies of Lion downloaded so far — 80 percent more than Snow Leopard – The Next Web (via thenextweb)

Sorry, kids, this was one of the many misrepresentations (lies, even) presented in today’s underwhelming Apple event.  Comparing Apple’s success to Microsoft’s is pretty much identical to comparing apples to oranges.  Why are the numbers above no significant? Because Apple charged a pitance for their single-versioned OS which was downloadable.  If Microsoft had such a system and chose to sell a single OS at $30/per, they’d reach higher saturation, too.  Instead, Apple did something entirely different and blamed Microsoft for not doing as well.“Yes, with the new ‘wheel’ from Apple, you can do so much more than you could with that old fashioned plank you drag around.  The guys who designed that thing were morons.”

Sure, it’s an improvement, and Apple’s system does move more product, but it’s hardly fair to compare.

But they pulled this crap all over the place.  It’s like they were trying desperately to cover for the fact that they weren’t announcing an iPhone 5.  Most of the numbers they presented were just utter bullshit, like those above.  At one point, they compared PC market growth to Mac market growth as though that meant something at all.  PCs are still everywhere.  It makes sense that their market growth is a paltry 4% since they’re already owned by everyone.  Yes, Mac market share jumped 23% and that’s nice, mildly impressive even, but the comparison to the PC market is just not a logical one.

They called the iPod Touch the number one handheld gaming system.  But that’s a total fallacy.  The iPod Touch isn’t a gaming system at all.  It’s a convergence device.  It’s like the Swiss Army Knife people claiming their knives are comparable to the butter knives in your silverware drawer.  And newsflash, I have yet to see Super Mario games show up on iOS.  When they do, maybe I’ll think about retiring my DSi XL.

Is any of this type of behavior new? No.  But this time around it seems worse than usual to me.  Basically nothing in today’s event made me want anything Apple is offering right now.  I couldn’t care less about their entire line.  Well, I’d like an iPad 2, but only because iPlayer isn’t available for Android.  But that had nothing to do with today’s announcements and I’m not about to drop $400 just so I can use one app.

What really scares me is that there is so little actual innovation going on these days.  People will point to “Siri,” Apple’s new voice-recognition/command system available only on the iPhone 4S, but since when does anyone like to use voice commands?  Android has had similar features (not as built-up, obviously) for a while and I’ve never used it once.  Sure, some folks might like literally telling their phone what to do but I like the tactile experience.  I don’t want to broadcast to everyone around me what I’m doing and I feel like speech requires more thought than just pressing buttons or touching icons.  I can be thinking about what I’m going to do while my fingers tap the icons on the screen, rather thing thinking of the right words to say to get the right app or info to pop up.

So, basically, Apple’s “innovation” is something I don’t think people really want.  It may seem like a cool bell/whistle, but really, it’s nothing that innovative.  It’s just another layer of interface.  Plus, who wants their requested information on that tiny screen?  I don’t care how crystal clear the screen is, I still feel like I’m looking through a hole at the words I want to read.

Anyway, it’s just more “fun” from the Apple Reality Distortion Field.

I still have three more questions for Apple:

1) Why does the iPhone 4S not support 4G networks?

2) Why no iPhone 5?

3) Why no plans to put out a midsized device, like a 7in tablet? (I already have a 10in netbook and you already sell a 10in Macbook Air, don’t you?  Won’t people who own those not want an iPad?).

Apple continues to make me shake my head.

Thumb-drive-sized Computer fits in your pocket.


Game developer David Braben creates a USB stick PC for $25

(everything set up and running)

Braben has developed a tiny USB stick PC that has a HDMI port in one end and a USB port on the other. You plug it into a HDMI socket and then connect a keyboard via the USB port giving you a fully functioning machine running a version of Linux. The cost? $25.

this is really neat, and the idea/inspiration behind it is super rad, but as a friend of mine has pointed out, once you include the price of a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and maybe even network peripherals (since there doesn’t appear to be a wired connection, and wireless is doubtful), you’re basically at the price of an OLPC. =

This is a great idea, but I disagree with the premise that, once you add in peripherals and a monitor, this is basically the same price as an OLPC.  I have an OLPC XO-1 and while I think it’s a great little device, it’s not durable enough nor is it as versatile as this thumb-drive-sized PC. Not that the XO was supposed to be versatile. It was really just supposed to be a simple, low-power, low-powered computer that could help Third-World kids learn.

The cool thing with this thumb-drive computer is its versatility.  You can plug it into anything with an HDMI port—a monitor or a TV.  Then you can plug in a $10 keyboard and mouse or whatever you have laying around.  You could stick this thing in your pocket, go to someplace with very limited resources and use whatever was there to get things done.  Or you could use one of those floppy keyboards and a mini-mouse.

Again, the point is: versatility.

Comparing it to the XO also suggests the built-in mismanagement that slowed the XO’s adoption around the world.

Psyched to get Android running on my old eee pc 701 (4g surf). Now I just need a text editor that can edit HUGE text files.

The whole reason for the netbook is to have a way to work on my novels on-the-go but a full OS on the eee is either too clunky (XP), too slow (XP also), too big (Vista) or I run into compatibility issues with the apps I want to run (Linux). But Android (FroYo!) is really light on the eee’s tiny resources and can do what I need it to. And doesn’t that Android logo look good on the eee?

The lockscreen is just one example of quite a few points at which I wish I had a touchscreen. It’s really hard to swipe with just a track pad! But it’s WAY easier to type with a REAL keyboard, so it’s a trade off.

I even got this build running on my Mac via Parallels.

The build I used, btw, is froyo-eeepc-20101015.iso and was found at code.google.com/p/android-x86

I found that via android-x86.org. (be sure to use that dash!)

It was a breeze to get it up and running, too! I used Parallels to boot the ISO and then installed it onto a 16GB SD card I had pre- partitioned with two FAT32 partitions—1 was 2GB and the other 14. I formatted the 2GB partition to ext2 for the OS and the system sees the other partition as the external SD card. Pretty sweet! Sadly there is no access to the official Android Market though it does have another market (AndMarket it’s called). Also it’s pretty easy to install from apk files manually. One minor drawback is that the wifi doesn’t reconnect after you close the display. Not a huge deal but still not perfect. Also the camera app keeps crashing and mp4 playback is choppy. Still, if I can find a good text editor I’ll have all my bases covered.

I’m actually kind of astounded that I got FroYo on my old eee 701 so easily!

I want a pair of these soooo bad: a Head-Mounted Display in the form of glasses from Lumus

Link: I want a pair of these soooo bad: a Head-Mounted Display in the form of glasses from Lumus

OK, so they could use some slimming down (like maybe a belt-clipable handheld-sized device?) and I’d probably take a sharpie to that gross stripe (I may be from Jersey, but I’ve got SOME class), but still—this is the future and I can’t wait!

No more worrying about a scratched display or a cracked screen—just keep these babies on or in a hardcase and you’re in great shape.

Hell, I’d settle for one of these.

The New MacBook Airs… meh…


New MacBook Airs. 11” and 13”

I say, “meh.”

One word: “SNAP!”

That’s the sound it’ll make when you put it in your bag and accidentally lean against just once.  It’s just too damn thin and not small enough.  Why is Steve Jobs so afraid of making a netbook?

Yeah, big fat “MEH” from me, too.  I have yet to read about the event, but I know to not expect much.  Someone recently suggested Apple is at it’s most innovative right now.  Really? Is that why it took them almost 3 iPhones to add cut and paste?  Is that why there isn’t a camera on the iPad?

I’ll post more about today’s “event” later.  Until then, I remain adequately jaded.

Steve Jobs is Scared

One thing I’ve learned in life is that most people don’t speak out or speak up unless they’re scared of something. Fear is a great motivator.  In fact, if you think about it, none of us really do anything we don’t want to without fear being at the core of that motivation.

Seeing as the last couple times Steve Jobs spoke to the press outside of his usual key-note-based comfort zones it was to 1) assure people he wasn’t dying and 2) to explain to everyone how he was going to deal with antennagate, it follows that him showing up on that “earnings call” thing yesterday was something he did because he is scared—and I think he’s scared shitless.  Sure, I’m scared I’m wrong, which is why I’m posting this, but that’s beside the point.  Steve Jobs is seriously brown-pantsing it.

“We’ve now passed RIM and I don’t see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future.”

Really, Steve? Last time I checked RIM had way more experience in smartphoning than Apple. Last time I checked, RIM had their Blackberry phones firmly established in the business world as the smartphones grown-ups use.  Their core market is probably not going anywhere.  They shouldn’t try to expand and if they just stick to what they do best, they’ll be fine.  They won’t “beat” you, but they shouldn’t care. What’s more is that you won’t be able to make inroads into their specific market, either, because (and I should know) iPhones just take too much effort to do basic stuff.  BB’s just work—unlike iPhones.  iPhones are like the Windows PCs of the smartphone world (with better design, of course).  But seriously, if RIM keeps their flagship product focused on what it does best, they are invincible against Apple.

“…we believe integrated will trump fragmented every time.”

Really? You mean like Apple computers? Or like Windows computers?  Last time I checked there isn’t a single type of computer that runs Windows, Linux or even OSX. There are quite a few. So, if by “every time” you mean “every time you’ve tried it with your iOS devices” then I can see your point.  However, you completely ignore the rest of the world of devices that run on MUCH more open systems than iOS devices (aka unwalled gardens).  There’s also this myth going around that people actually think of Windows boxes first when considering the definition of “open”.  No chance. I think Linux.  That bitch is open.  Sure, I see the theory that Windows is open (ie anyone can program for Windows) but Linux is better known for it.  All that aside, “fragmented” (aka too many different hardware configs to code software for) is a bullshit argument since that’s what OSes are for.  OSes give programmers a universal set of “buttons” to press (commands to use) that do the same thing on every device that runs the given OS.  So, this is an outright and complete LIE.

This is like Al Qeada actually representing a real threat to America.  This is like nukes in Iraq.  This is like illegal immigration and homophobia.  Jobs is trumping this shit up to scare people—plain and simple.  And when I see people buy into shit like this, it’s the Absurd Disconnect I talk about so much over at website666.com.

Everyone seriously needs to spend 30 seconds thinking about what they are saying to make sure it makes sense.

“The more Jobs talks about the iPad, the more apparent that he sees it as his true legacy. And as laptops continue to give way to tablets, he’ll be the guy who first gave them to us.” -Gizmodo’s Brian Barrett in a post last night.

Which is absolutely sad since the guy pretty much made computers (and gadgets in general) cool.  I love my MacBook Pro and my PowerBook before it (my MacBook sucked ass and should never have been born along with the iBook I had before my PowerBook, but I’m seriously digressing).  I’ve loved my iPods and my iPhone for quite a while.  What I hate is when Steve gets his fingers in things—iTunes ruins more and more of my iExperience the more I rely on it.  For years I never “synced” anything with any iDevice I owned (I just click “manually manage”).  Finally, I’ve handed control over to iTunes and I hate it.  I expected to like it in a sort of “it’s nice to be part of the hive mind” way, but nope.  So it pisses me off that this idiot may think his latest “gizmo” is his true legacy and not making a success out of computers that “just work.”

I’m going to skip over the part where Steve hates Flash—we all know he does and we all know he’s stupid for giving in to this hate since (as much as I wish it wasn’t) Flash is everywhere. I am reminded of this every time I’m reading blogs on my iPhone and I can’t play embedded video.  HTML 5, huh Steve?

I’m also skipping his AppleTV propaganda.  Apple TV is useless. Newsflash: if you have a Touch or an iPhone, you can pretty much plug that into your TV and do everything the AppleTV can do.  OK, maybe not HD, but if you really give a shit, you already have a device plugged into your TV that does.  So effyou AppleTV.

“We think the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA-Dead on Arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small…”

Really, Steve?  Is that why you once, famously said that people didn’t want video on their iPods? I may be just one man, but I DON’T want an iPad—why? Because the screen is too big.  If I’m going to drop $500+ on something like this, it’s going to be a something that is more convenient than what I have now.  Carrying a 10 inch tablet in my bag is just a few inches more convenient than carrying my 13-inch MacBook Pro. And it’s just a few inches LESS convenient than carrying my 7-inch netbook around which has a keyboard attached to it (which will always make for easier typing).  And guess what, Steve!  My netbook lets me install whatever software I want on it!  WOW.

Oh and so, when I do upgrade from my iPhone I’ll be switching to a tablet-phone device.  Probably the Dell Streak.  The 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab is still to big for me (and their backside cam is too crappy), so the Streak is perfect. Great for watching video and (more importantly) perfect for reading.  I’ve tried reading books and scripts on the iPhone and it’s like reading a book through a pinhole camera to me.  It’s doable, but give me a real book any day—or a Streak, which is big enough for what I need it for but small enough to carry with me everywhere.  And if I get a Bluetooth keyboard, I can type on it like a grown-up writer.

So, there are scores of practical reasons for smaller-screens than the one on the iPad. The Kindle has a 7-inch screen and while some folks prefer the DX’s bigger screen, I prefer the portability of the 7-inch Kindle.  It’s plenty big enough to read (and I miss that size screen since I gave mine to my Mom) and it’s thin/light enough to keep with me always.  It’s still too big to pocket, but the iPad is even more too big.

In conclusion…

I think it’s hilarious that guys like Jobs don’t just take stock in what they have.  They have to keep talking shit about other people, other companies and other ideas.  Even if Apple ceases to exist tomorrow, they will still have done what no other company has.  They lost everything and got it back.  They provided real competition to the monolith that is the Windows PC.  They created a mechanism where with every sneeze, burp and fart out of Cupertino, they can cause ripples in the fabric of the tech world.

Apple is now worth more than any other tech company on the stock market—and that’s not enough for Steve.

That’s sad, man.  To see him so scared like this is sad.

It’s OK, Steve, no one’s going to take your Apple Empire away from ya, buddy.  It may get a little smaller, but you’ll still be stinking rich and largely in control of all you survey.  Well, except *my* iPhone, I’ve turned off your little kill switch.  So far the world hasn’t ended, so I’m pretty sure it’s cool.

sources for this post: posts on Gizmodo and Engadget.

Cheap-O Tablets and e-book readers showing up at Big Boxers–is the era of the e-book finally here?

Today I saw that fellow-gadgethound Mike Lee had posted a pic taken of a K-Mart weekly circular that featured, on sale for $149, an Android-powered 7 inch tablet.  The circular described it thusly:

“SALE Augen 7” tablet. Google Android OS. Read ebook. Watch a video and listen to music. Browse web. Wi-fi built in.

Sounds basic, but what’s interesting is that it’s available at K-Mart at all AND that it’s not a real name-brand tablet.  I was curious about the specs, so I tried finding it on K-Mart’s website.  Alas, I couldn’t find it, but did find this:

Yeah, that’s not the $149 Android-powered tablet mentioned in the K-Mart circular, but it is a cheaper Kindle clone.  It comes with 2GB storage and an SD slot, however.  If it weren’t for the lack of the e-Ink display and the color LCD that replaces it, I’d be curious if it would have better battery life.  However, the fact that this is an e-book reader available at K-Mart says something to me.

In the “also viewed” section I found a link to the ”Mach Speed Trio 8GB 4.3 in. Touchscreen Display Video MP3 Player” which isn’t a full-sized tablet, but does mention that it can read e-books. I also found the “Aluratek Libre eBook Reader PRO” which looks more like a Sony e-book reader clone.  The site lists no specs for it aside from the fact that it’s got an “e-paper” display (e-paper is the generic term for non-back-lit displays and has no direct connection to the proprietary “e-Ink” name).  The Aluratek Libre is available at K-Mart for $129.

The point here is that you’ve probably never heard of “Aluratek,” “Mach Speed” or “Augen” as brands, yet, here they are, listed on K-Mart’s website.  What I’m getting at here is that I think, now that we’re seeing low-end companies get onboard the e-book train, the e-Book Era has finally arrived.  Nope, it’s not about Apple or Amazon—the sure sign is when everyone can make a buck.

My Apple iPhone/iPod/iEverything-related Wishlist

“Dear Steve,” from brentbillock:

My top four requests for Apple.

  1. Voice Control  on iPhone for more than just music and calling. For example: “Launch Maps,” “Create Email,” “Open Google,” or “Turn On Bluetooth.” Invoking Voice Memos with Voice Control seems especially obvious.
  2. In iTunes, please let me delete a terrible song, no matter what playlist I’m in when I hear it. Now I have to go find it in the “Music” view.
  3. In iTunes/iPhone integration, please sync smart playlists with “live updating.” That’s the whole point of smart playlists. I shouldn’t have to turn it off in order to take those tunes with me.
  4. Direct access to photos and videos shot with iPhone. This “iPhoto to iMovie which may or may not coordinate with iTunes” process is ridiculously clumsy. Please let me drag and drop and decide later what application I want to use.

It’s only because so much of the UX is done so well that small problems like this annoy me.

How about a single application to rule them all? Instead of iPhoto, iTunes and iMovie, how ‘bout just iApp that allows you to just stay in one app?

Better yet, why not just integrate these apps into Finder?

Why bother with the illusion of an application at all?  Or is it all because of the iTunes Store?  Well, that shouldn’t rule out the iApp to rule them all, then.

India One-Ups OLPC, Beats their $200 XO and their $99 tablet with a $35 iPad lookalike for 2011

A $35 Tablet? India Is On The Case

03:49 pm July 23, 2010 by Joshua Brockman Kapil Sibal, India's human resource development minister, displays India's low-cost tablet prototype AP


Kapil Sibal, India’s human resource development minister, displays the low-cost tablet that it hopes to put into production by next year.

Can you imagine a tablet computer priced less than the cost of a textbook?

It may soon be a reality. The Indian government unveiled a $35 prototype of a touch-screen tablet for students that could be a game changer in the consumer electronics world. That’s because it would be the world’s cheapest if it goes into production, according to the Guardian.

India’s human resource development minister, Kapil Sibal, said on Friday that the government is already in discussions with manufacturers to produce the device by 2011. He called the device India’s “answer to MIT’s $100 computer.”

via npr.org

Hm… this is an interesting development.

While it’d be great to get my hands on such a cheap tablet, one of the commenters on the NPR post makes a good point:

liam stockwell (liamaniac) wrote:

I can’t help but think it has the same, extremely detrimental draw-backs of every other sub-priced…anything. “Who is getting taken advantage of in order to produce this?”

Sat Jul 24 11:44:10 2010

I don’t mind spending a couple hundred on something like this as long as it’s got the same (or similar) specs as the iPad AND poor people in 3rd world countries aren’t exploited to death to bring me the damn device.

And I’ve heard/read a bit about what India is like and it worries me when I see electronics with this tiny-ass price point.  But hey, if they can produce it morally, I’d be happy to pick one up.  Maybe I can run Sugar on it! ;)

You’ve heard of “blood diamonds,” now learn about “blood minerals”

You’ve heard of “blood diamonds,” now learn what “blood minerals” are :(

Found via newsweek.tumblr.com

The sad truth :(

Still, it’s not the consumer’s fault that Apple and friends get use “blood minerals” in the gadgets we lust for.  Big electronics companies could try finding alternative sources or alternatives, charge a little more and make a big deal about why the price is higher.  Guilt the public into being OK with spending more money.

OR, electronics companies could make less money and still do the right thing… ;)

Nah, I doubt they’ll do that.

OLPC–the non-profit that inspired the world to innovate, has given up on innovation. A sad thing, indeed.

New XO-3 Announced: Just a Marvel Moby Tablet, Re-branded (Yawn)

Posted by Wayan Vota on May 27, 2010

Marvel’s $100 Moby tablet

Back in the day, One Laptop Per Child was innovative with its technology. It came up with a low-cost, durable, Open Source laptop for education when no one else would. And in bringing the XO-1 to market, it changed the technology industry.

That OLPC is now long gone.

In its place, we have a shell of a company. They don’t do software anymore – that’s spun off to Sugar Labs. They don’t do deployments anymore – that’s the country’s responsibility or OLPC Foundation (whatever that is). And now OLPC has just given up on hardware innovation.

via olpcnews.com

Hit up that link for more info about the “new” XO-3.

Back in November of 2005 I blogged for the first time about OLPC and their proposed “$100 laptop” that they wanted to sell to developing nations. Two years later I was among the first in the world to order my own XO-1 laptop, which sadly had doubled in price, but hey, who thought they could really do $100? The point is, I’ve been a fan of the OLPC effort from day 1. However, after getting my XO-1, I discovered a few hardware flaws and found myself underwhelmed by the choices made by the guys behind OLPC and came to the conclusion that they’d lost their way.

The good news is that untold numbers of kids in developing nations have benefited from having access to these computers. The bad news is that all that made OLPC different from any other charity organization (innovation, vision and the belief that technology can make a positive difference) is gone—not because any of those differences didn’t serve them, but because they chose not to embrace those differences.

As Wayan Vota, the guy behind OLPCNews.com, said in the above quoted post: “It is sad news for all of us that remember that original OLPC. The OLPC that could push an industry create a whole new form factor overnight – the netbook.”

It’s true, back in 2005, all that we had that was vaguely netbook-like was the UMPC—which was just a really small laptop with current specs. OLPC had the balls to suggest that computers didn’t need all the bells and whistles to be tools of learning (or even perfectly reasonable tools for any number of things). They were right—so right that an entire new genre of laptop came into being.

Hell, I wonder if we’d even have the iPad if it weren’t for OLPC and their XO-1.

My Educated Take on the iPad

Not powerful enough to beat a netbook, but too big to be a PDA. This is an e-book reader competitor, folks. How many people do we know with an e-book reader?

Just sayin’…



UPDATED 20110823: how wrong was I on this one! O_O I still think the iPad can’t do as much as my netbook, but clearly netbooks aren’t glamorous enough to compete with the iPad.  Ah well…

Attention Anyone Who Flies: Homeland Security Can Search Your Electronics

Back on September 15, I got the latest edition of the privacy newsletter from EPIC.org in my inbox. In it, they talked about a BUNCH of things, including a new-ish policy on searching personal electronics. You can probably see the screencap of the news update from their website in this post, but just in case, here it is in text form:

Homeland Security Privacy Office Okays Suspicionless Seizure of Personal Information Stored on Digital Devices of US Citizens: The Department of Homeland Security released a Privacy Impact Assessment for searching electronic devices possessed by travelers, including US citizens, at US borders. The agency determined that laptops and cell phones are equivalent to briefcases and backpacks and granted itself broad authority to seize these devices from travelers and to copy stored data whether or not wrongdoing is suspected. The DHS policy fails to comply with the intent of the federal Privacy Act and leaves US citizens returning to the United States subject to surveillance by government and an enhanced risk of identity theft.

This is just LOVELY.

It’s one thing to assume we might have something that could actually harm the specific flight we’re about to board without any reason for suspicion and have our bags searched, but to assume we might have illegal data that would somehow be used to harm the plane or other passengers?

This is big brother big time.

Damn, and I’m flying to my dad’s in California for Christmas this year. Great. Gotta remember to delete all my child porn.



Ironically, this whole move will just encourage sales of netbooks and the use of TheCloud for file storage. Why carry your data around on you and risk having some DHS guy come across it and steal your business idea or otherwise peak into your private life?

I know we literally don’t have a “right to privacy” in the Constitution, or anything, but I do believe there’s an amendment that promises something about not being subject to “unlawful search and seizure.”

Then again, I guess this is technically legal, huh?

Is Sony’s New E-Reader Ushering in a World with No Copyright?

Sony recently announced their Kindle-Killer, the Sony Reader Daily
Edition. Why do I think this is the beginning of the end for copyright in the world? Well, honestly, I don’t, but effectively, that’s what the new RDE will do–whether industry will accept it or not is not up to me.

See, while Sony’s new e-reader allows you to do everything the Kindle can do, book-wise anyway (there’s no browser), it also allows you to take out library books. That’s right. Library books–you “take them out” by downloading them wirelessly to your RDE. They expire after a given time, fulfilling the “returning your library book” part of the traditional equation without you having to do a thing–but right there is the part where copyright breaks down.

Unlike a real book, this is an an e-book–a digital copy of a book–there’s no need for you to return it so someone else can check it out. This means that you can just take it out again and again. Effectively, you own the e-book without actually paying for it.

Sure, the library could apply rules that would determine how many times in a row you could check a book out, but since it’s digital this is literally a creation of artificial scarcity. Sony’s technology has jumped the capitalist shark and can provide unlimited copies of any book in any library that’s part of it’s network. So, why ever buy books again?

Now, I’m not really saying this is the end of copyright, but I am saying it might as well be. Once libraries start making their multimedia collections available for digital download (which they’ll do eventually), that’ll pretty much be it.

For me, this is just a replay of every argument against technology since the Church went after Galileo. Eventually science won out because it could prove that the Earth was not the center of the universe. The same loss hit the MPAA when VHS proved to be a technology Hollywood could actually work with.

Now it’s just up to the Entertainment Industry to work out a new business model that will allow them to peacefully co-exist with this technology before they are out-evolved by it.

Adapt or die, folks…

Read more about Sony Reader Daily Edition on Mashable.com or in an article at CRN.com.

Apple Jumps the Shark with New iPod Shuffle

OK, for years now, it’s been easy to see why Apple does so well. The only time I’ve ever really wondered what drugs they were on was when they introduced the first iPod Shuffle. With no display screen I was puzzled as to just what I was supposed to do with the thing. Years later, a friend gave me his since he wasn’t using it and I realized that, for me, it was perfect for listening podcasts. Who needs a display when you can listen to the podcast and know what you’re listening to? Songs, however, are a different story–but now Apple wants to think it has that problem beaten–by having the iPod Shuffle talk to you. That’s all fine and good, but wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just throw a display on it? And how the hell do you hit play? And what’s with the posing of the hand model in the pic on Apple’s main page right now (see above)?? The way the hand is holding the super-smooth Shuffle with it’s rounded edges suggests the form factor of a suppository.

Seriously, Apple has taken a cute little player with personality and made it a faceless, boring slab that could easily be mistaken for a tampon (ladies, back me up on this!).

So, sad. Please get better soon, Steve Jobs!

Posted via email from thepete’s posterous

UPDATE: I just read the product page again and it turns out the play and skip buttons are on the earbud cable. Wow, so now I can’t use my own headphones with the flippin’ thing! That is even more lame now.

Fixing Your MBR After Ubuntu Overwrites It and more Fun with Installing Ubuntu on Netbooks!

So, I've been trying, for the past month or so, to get Ubuntu running on my two netbooks.  I can run Ubuntu 8.10 on my XO (done with instructions found here: www.olpcnews.com/forum/index.php?topic=4053.0 ) but my eee was being a bit harder.  I had somehow, months ago, managed to get a live CD of Xubuntu 7.10 installed onto an SD card.  The thing is, I couldn't get it to install onto another SD card–it just never worked.  Somewhere along the line I managed to get the SD card to think it wasn't a live CD anymore and suddenly I could write to it as though it had been properly installed.  Don't ask me how.  Somewhere around this point I discovered that I could no longer boot into XP.  The eee is my only XP machine and I need the XP part to keep running for various reasons.

However, at that moment, I decided to concentrate on Ubuntu since at least it was running.  I decided to upgrade to 8.04–of course, when I did, I discovered that I had lost my wifi driver.  Rather than trying to learn how to install the driver myself, I decided to stick to what I knew–now I really needed my XP boot again.  After a LOT of digging I learned it was the MBR, the Master Boot Record, that had been rewritten by Ubuntu.  It looked at the boot-device order I had set up in the eee's BIOS and got confused as to where Ubuntu was supposed to be installed.  So, it over wrote the part where the MBR tells the BIOS what OS to load off of which drive and where to look for which OS (yeah, it's confusing).  After even more digging, I found a post at Tuvaq.com (here: tuvaq.com/blog/index.php/2008/11/27/installing-ubuntu-8-10-on-a-usb-drive-me ) that explains it how to fix it with ease this way:

When I install Ubuntu 8.10 on a USB HD, it messes up my MBR. You can fix this directly from the Ubuntu terminal. You do not need to use the live CD if your Ubuntu system starts.

You need to install a little program called ms-sys. It will rewrite your Master boot record (ms-sys.sourceforge.net/). The ms-sys package you get directly from their site does not install on newer version of Ubuntu (apt-get install ms-sys). You will need to use the debian package packages.debian.org/etch/ms-sys

Once ms-sys is installed, you need to figure out on which partition is located Windows

   sudo fdisk-l

this will list the hard drives installed. You are looking for a line with NTFS as system. Something like:

   /dev/sda1 1 9327 74919096 83 NTFS

You need to replace /dev/sda in the following command line with your device Boot (without the number)

   sudo ms-sys -m /dev/sda

that's it! You can refer to the following page for more information:


This was the easiest part of this entire process.  This post really made it simple for me.  Hopefully, if you're having the same trouble, it will work this easily for you, too.

At this point, I've largely given up on running Ubuntu on my eee from an SD card.  The eee refuses to see any recently installed live USB stick.  Or maybe it's grub that refuses to see it?  Not sure.  Regardless, I've spent a long time getting it to work and it doesn't work yet, so I'll pass for now.  I may buy an external optical drive and try again, but I'm not sure how soon that will be.

If you have any questions about this or need help installing Ubuntu, check out Ubuntu.org or try IMing me or finding me on Twitter–or post a comment.  I can't promise anything, but I might be able to help.

Posted via email from thepete’s posterous

Pics of my OLPC XO Running Ubuntu! Wahoo!!

Check it out–a year ago, Linux on the XO was annoying because it needed an external mouse and was a huge pain to install. Thanks to Teapot’s instructions over at the OLPCNews.com forum it was largely a breeze. I did have to change “/dev/mmcblk0p1″ to “/dev/mmcblk1p1″ to get one bit to work, but aside from that, it was pretty straightforward. My only problem now is working in Ubuntu–anyone know how to change the time on the clock? Can’t work it out at all.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from thepete’s posterous

OLPC XO G1G1 (Give 1 Get 1) 2008 Begins Today!

Around this time, back in 2007, you may recall me freaking out about the new XO-1 laptop from OLPC I was waiting for.  OLPC is the name of a non-profit that was created in order to design a laptop computer so cheaply that 3rd World governments would want to buy One Laptop Per Child in their country–get it? OLPC.  Their plan initially was to make a laptop that would cost $100, which they'd then charge $100 for.  I know–zero mark-up, these guys must be COMMIES! ;)

Sadly, they didn't quite make their target price, but $200 for a netbook as full featured, as this thing is, still ain't bad.  Last year, OLPC announced a program called "Give 1 Get 1" or G1G1 and it allowed Americans to buy two OLPC XO laptops–they would get one, and the other would go to a kid in a 3rd-world country.  Pretty cool, huh?  So, naturally, since it was mixing gadgets with philantrhopy (and the XO is a great little piece of hardware) I had to support it. 

Today, the program returns via Amazon.com.  Check out amazon.com/xo to order now!

But you may be wondering just what the heck some poor kid in a village is going to do with a laptop?  The answer is easy: learn.

The XO's onboard OS, called SugarOS, comes with a bunch of great educational applications (called "activities") that help kids learn about all sorts of things, from math, to music, to more.  If the village has a single computer with Internet access, every XO in the village can access the same connection and can even share Internet connections amongst each other XO thanks to Mesh networking technology.  Mesh allows each XO to connect and each XO user to share activities to encourage kids to work together (up to a kilometer away!).

But a laptop in the middle of the 3rd World?

The XO has a huge battery lifespan–one charge gives it about twice as long a run as my MacBook gets on it's battery.  Part of this lifespan jump is thanks to the XO's dual mode laptop display which allows you to switch from back-lit-color to straight black & white with just a button-press.  The B&W mode is perfect for outdoor settings.  No moving parts also allows the XO to use less energy.  Its case is durable and practical (it even has a handle) and is generally spill and dust proof.  I know, I have one.

My only gripe about the XO is the OS.  While I understand creating a non-windows, non-Windows-based lappie for kids (we want them to use computers in a positive way), I do feel that the OS limits the kids on how much they can do.  While the laptop's processor surpasses that of my old, 1998 Toshiba Satellite's, I was not able to work on my novel and research on the web simultaneously on the XO.  This is something I did every day for a year-straight on my Satellite.  The good news is that it is possible to run Linux (and even Windows XP–though you wouldn't want to) on the XO.  It alows you to pack a bit more punch and take a bit more advantage of the RAM.  Of course, I say this as a computer-geek-extraordinaire–not as a kid in a third world country.  Speaking of which, 3rd World kids seem to enjoy the XO just fine.

Why not drop $400 and let another kid get one?


Or get it at my Amazon store here:


Either way, any computer is going to beat the computer most of these kids are going to get.  Make a difference and own the laptop that invented the netbook.

Posted by email from thepete’s posterous


Ever since I saw my first James Bond movie, I’ve been in love with gadgets. Within a month of the Sony’s Walkman hitting stores I had one – well, it was a competitor’s model, but it still was a tape player you could carry with you. I was fourteen years-old. Two years later when Sony put out their portable, personal CD player, I got one. A couple of years after that, Sony put out their mini-Discman that played the smaller (and now defunct) three inch compact discs, again, I made sure to get one. Of course, this was all back when I was a kid. When asking for something for my birthday meant that I would usually get it. It was the Eighties, the economy was doing pretty well and I wasn’t in college yet. The summer after my senior year I managed to afford my own camcorder, which I proceeded to cover with comic book stickers. I quickly dubbed the device, the Batcam!

Then, 1989, I went off to school and the gadgets pretty much ended. My folks had enough financial worries just keeping me in school, I wasn’t about to turn around and ask them for any more high priced gadgets – especially since I was more interested in having enough money to finish my student films. Another thing happened in 1989, I saw my first Windows Laptop machine. It was glorious for it’s day – it was portable, it had a backlit monitor screen, point-and-click and everything! Of course, the most my Mom could afford was a DOS laptop which, while being bell-and-whistle-free, did manage to get the job done. But I never considered it a “gadget” because it there was no cool factor. It simply functioned and that was that. That was ten years ago.

Ten years later, in 1999, I finally got my finances under control as an adult and could actually say in all honesty that I was making more money than I spent. It was great – and not so great. I finally was able to buy that Windows based laptop that I had wanted since 1989. Better late than never, I guess! On top of that, I bought a CD burner which I LOVE. This year for the holidays everyone got my obligatory comics-drawn-by-me calendar on CD-ROM – which allowed me to spend a LOT less money on everyone. For Christmas my Dad got me a RAM card for my digital camera (did I mention that I got a digital camera?) that was too big for it, so I had to take it back to Best Buy. But there, I managed to exchange it for a brand new (but open boxed and therefore discounted) Palm Pilot IIIe!! That’s where I am now – what gadgets are left to me? I am infinitely happy in my new found gadgetness, but where do I go from here?

I know – if only we all had these problems. I realize it’s pretty lame of me to whine about this sort of thing, BUT IT’S MY DAMN WEB SITE!! If you don’t like it, TELL ME ON THE VENTILATION PAGE.