GADGET_LUST: 2006 Nov 11 - 2010 Jan 30

Sat Jan 30 00:57:00 2010

Tis the season for gadget discounts. Over the last few months I picked up

Reviews will follow eventually (the DSLR deserves it's own category, but while it's stunningly good at some things, it's significantly *worse* than the SX10-IS at others) but I mostly wanted to note some bits about the Vaio:

Sun Oct 18 15:26:00 2009

Haven't mentioned the sheevaplug here before... a low-power (7w) brick with some flash, some RAM, ethernet and usb, ubuntu pre-installed, $100 for the developer version (with JTAG console and SD slot.) It's a relatively low-end gadget - but if you've been running an old sparcstation or mini-tower as a standalone server, this lets you drop the noise (no fans) and power consumption, as well as cutting way down on shelf space...

Thu Jun 25 23:29:00 2009

Upgraded the EEEpc 701 to a 900 (yay and added a 64G SSD, so it's still an active system.

Got a Kindle DX after lusting after the e-ink screen, and having them finally add fairly decent PDF support in-line. Quite happy with that, only bought one actual book so far but that's been a pretty positive experience as well (eww DRM, but they're cheap - that said, my fictionwise books ported over just fine, yay not-bothering-with-DRM :-)

Sat Dec 6 17:17:00 2008

My SP-550UZ was giving me zoom errors again, and instead of sending it in for service again I figured I'd upgrade. I waited for photokina, decided there wasn't anything more interesting, and got the SP-570UZ (more zoom, various general improvements.) Was happy enough with that, but started getting zoom errors again (which seem to be a combination of abusing the camera and having it overheat - 2-4 minutes powered off is usually enough to fix the problem) and then I noticed that Canon announces the SX10-IS a couple of weeks after photokina. I'd been waiting for Canon to come up with some followon to the S5-IS, I've always liked their UI style, and they build pretty solid cameras in the space. Finally after using the 570 for 3 months, and noticing the amazon price drop, I finally got one. After using it for two days... I shouldn't have waited, the SX-10IS is a much better camera.

Specific improvements (partly to show that it isn't *only* new-toy glow) :

Potential downsides:

I haven't done much video yet (but apparently it is both stereo and supports zooming while shooting.) Overall I'm very happy with it, only wish Canon had come out with it sooner :-)


Sun Nov 2 01:12:00 2008

Got the Android G1, so it's out of the gadget-lust category and into "new development platform" space; see for details.

Thu Oct 2 23:34:00 2008

Expansys sent out mail about a smartphone-companion called the RedFly, basically a bluetooth keyboard and screen clamshell with an 8 hour battery (and a cable to let the connected smartphone mooch off of said battery.) Sounds sort of like what the Palm Folio could have been; in fact, you could look at the Folio as the compromise point between the RedFly and the EEEpc (thus it would have made noone happy :-)

The RedFly is windows-specific (they have custom drivers for various distinct windows versions, which has got to be costly) but it sounds like it integrates pretty well - it looks like it actually makes sense as a Palm Treo Pro accessory. The marketing-discount price of $199 seems about right too (I think I ignored it the first time around because $400 was more than my EEE was, so it looked like another Foleo-esque miss... even without knowing about the windows restriction.)

I think this is something I would have wanted three to five years ago. What I want now, instead, is a VNC (or ssh) client for the T-mobile Android G1 :-)


Fri Sep 5 13:37:00 2008

I picked up an ATP Photofinder a while back (B&H had them discounted, and I hadn't done well with other approaches to geolocating photos) but the screen is entirely unreadable outdoors, or in any light if you don't keep pushing the backlight button, and after a couple of cases when it failed to log at all, gave up on it in frustration.

A coworker asked for recommendations, so I dug it out again to give properly negative ones :-} (As usual, the Garmin units won for best reception.) I'd pulled KML files off (that's actually a quite clever way to distribute useful track files - you can just post them to "my maps" (on google maps) and manipulate them there. Seems to do nicely on the road, and poorly under/near trees...) I'd been a little leery of the "modify images in place" mode, so I finally compared images.

It turns out that the image tagging mode has some flaws. It does get basic GPS info correct; it also (at least on the Olympus) appears to corrupt Date/Time, Focal length, Aperture, and the comment. The approach it takes is sort of clever - it puts an 32768-byte block of new metadata at the start of the file, and appends the original image after that - so it doesn't really "edit" the EXIF data, it just creates a new block with a copy of it and (apparently, since it works) pointers to the original image.

Unfortunately, it doesn't do a very good job on the copy; aside from the actually corrupted values mentioned above, jhead reports a bunch of Nonfatal Error : Illegal number of components 65537 for tag 0000 and the like. (It also looks like it did corrupt one picture entirely, but even if it hadn't, the above problems make the direct-tagging mode useless; at best I would take the KML file and do the synchronization myself.

(The SP-570UZ actually has a hotshoe, so maybe it's time to look at some of the hotshoe-mounted loggers, even a homebrew one...)


Sat Mar 29 21:17:00 2008

The modbook arrived, a year and a week after initial order. It'll get it's own category from here on out, but as a quick overview:

So it's excellent for running the drawing tools I'd gotten it for:

and coincidentally it's useful for the Gigapan beta stitcher. I'm also still downloading USGS maps, and expect to set something up directly with that soon.

As a developer laptop, it would be a wretched failure :-) It isn't, after all, a laptop; you can't really code on it portably (an external keyboard still leaves you nowhere to put the tablet, Ink (originally Inkwell) has a functional (but not in any way exciting) word-at-a-time recognizer; Axiotron adds a nice pen-hunt-and-peck keyboard, which works fine, it's just a crippling thing to have to use if you actually know how to type. Mostly my coding is done elsewhere and rsync'ed over; occasionally I'll run synergy2 and type on an adjacent Thinkpad or EEEpc, but at that point it's easier to just work directly on those and just push over files.

As a drawing tablet, of course, it is excellent; the only real flaw there is that they still don't have screen rotation working, even after over a year.


Sun Jan 13 23:57:00 2008

The EEEpc is serving quite well as my truly personal laptop (and there's been some interesting psychological value to keeping "work stuff" on the thinkpad and "life stuff" on the EEEpc.) Normally that would keep it out of this category (this is gadget lust after all) but they've finally announced the larger battery that they only had pictures of earlier - 6 cells, 7.8Ah (50% more than the stock battery.)

Of course, what I really want is for someone (Electrovaya, maybe?) to come out with an EEE-sized battery slab - the dimensions of the (closed) EEEpc, fits in the existing battery bay... mechanically, consider the ThinkPad Ultrabase "media slice"... should be able to make that about 4x, maybe 5x, the capacity of the stock battery (so, 20-25Ah... if the randomly googled 7.4v is accurate, that puts it right around the capacity of the PowerPad 160. Sadly, the 160 costs almost as much as the EEEpc itself does, and fitting a single niche isn't going to make it cheaper...)

It's nice to have a machine that could at least plausibly last a whole transatlantic flight on one battery (a battery that still wouldn't come particularly close to the new DOT/TSA regs on battery size) even if the battery isn't actually available in that form yet :-)


Mon Dec 24 21:18:00 2007

Merry Christmas! Tis the season for new toys:

Oh, and since last update, the EEE showed up and has become part of my workflow; it has its own blog category now.


Wed Nov 14 03:08:00 2007

Nokia's announcing something today, hopefully it will include the Nokia N810 actually shipping (along with the N82); with access' garnet port, I could start running DateBk5 again, and write python programs at the linux layer to reach in and manipulate the databases, getting things like vcal/caldav support without having to hotsync...

The aforementioned Sevylor Inflatable packraft: tiny, but quite fun; put me in reach of some interesting waterfowl, and I've already upgraded the paddles.

Other recent arrivals: the chumby, which is demonstrating that there is a hackable bedside-computer niche (mostly it runs the ntp-synced clock, but I check my "first thing in the morning" hiveminder feed and the Stockholm weather when I get up.)

Imminent arrivals: iRobot LOOJ (yes, I really do need to clean my gutters, and I despise ladders.) OLPC XO laptop, via the Give-one-Get-one program - who knows if it'll even show up this year, but having played with a dev unit at work, the Get-one half is probably worth it as a daylight-readable ebook reader, even if the keyboard isn't adult-usable.

Up and coming undecideds: the aforementioned Nokia N810; the Asus EEEpc ($400 7" 4G-SSD laptop, ships with linux, fills my "flickr captioner and uploader gadget" niche exactly, with little or no hacking; the N810 needs some hacking on the USB side to actually serve that goal.) Neither replace the T60p - instead, they're the machine to throw in the shoulder bag for weekend jaunts and not worry about.

Distant Future: competing with the Tesla for my attention, the Aptera Motors 120-mile range plugin electric (or optional gas hybrid) two-seater three-wheeler looks like it dropped right off of a science fiction movie set :-) They're taking preorders now, but don't expect real production until late next year.

Disappointments: the Axiotron Modbook is 8 months late, and seems to have fallen off OtherWorld Computing's six-month horizon for displaying preorders. (On the positive side, this did get me to discover that Google Earth and the now-no-cost Google Sketchup both run surprisingly well on my old 12" PowerBook...)


Wed Oct 17 16:13:00 2007

File under Portability Fetish: I picked up a Sevylor Inflatable packraft this week, which fits in any of my backpacks (including the paddles.) Haven't used it yet. Also, Strida USA just announced the "5.0" model of their tiny foldable bike (the "3.2" model has been the standard one for a while) with a couple of upgrades - a few pounds less weight, disc brakes, more of the plastic upgraded to metal.

Also, while I'm doing development with/on the FIC1973, it's still a ways from being something to take seriously as a phone. I really do need to upgrade to a quad band; at the moment, I'm at least glancing at

Both phones are quad band, bluetooth (data + headset), microSD; the Ming has a mini-USB port and is Linux based (but does that help? I haven't found an ssh client yet...) and includes a web browser; I have no idea what OS the Samsung runs (samsung has shipped palm, linux, and S60 phones before...) and it appears to have a WAP browser, but perhaps not a real web one... and a funky qwerty-ish keyboard. (Hmm. if it doesn't have a builtin browser, it's probably off the list...)

Sun Jul 8 21:58:00 2007

The FIC 1973 (OpenMoko-based open linux phone) is shipping! I've ordered one and expect it later this week. In spite of it being very much a developer unit, out-of-the-box it does three of the four things I use my phone for:

Apparently it doesn't have an SMS client yet, but that should be a "simple matter of programming" against the existing SMSd. Also, it's a quad band phone, which the Nokia 6630 I currently wear isn't and that's been causing me problems as the missing band is being used for a lot of fill-in coverage.

Second project will be a usb-camera-to-flickr upload tool; this will need to include a USB power-injector, as the phone's two-way USB port doesn't actually supply host-power.


Thu Jun 14 01:14:00 2007

The aforementioned Olympus SP550UZ... fell into my lap about a month ago (good price on a display model at Costco) and has turned into my 200-picture-a-day wear-it-every-day-regardless-of-size take-pictures-of-birds-in-the-next-time-zone camera. I love it, and flickr shows the result.

Next toy turns out to be an obsolete Archos PMA430... because it's a useful image tank with USB host, USB keyboard support, and replacement hackable linux firmware :-) It'll get it's own page, though.


Wed Mar 28 22:46:00 2007

The Olympus SP550UZ, announced at PMA 2007...

Still too large to wear, and it takes xD media instead of SDHC, but when I was thinking about showing up for the SpaceShipOne Ansari X-Prize flight, I planned to get an S1-IS to get the "good" pictures (and still use my now-dead Kyocera for "the rest" of the pictures, and context shots and such); in the face of a similarly photo-interesting opportunity, this one is now on the top of the list (displacing the Canon TX-1, though that's still in the running as a follow-on to the Nikon Optio S4, ie. my next every-day-wearable camera.)

(Main downside, from page 5 of the review: slow shot-to-shot time in any real mode, and slow focus at the extremes of range. But it does have some pre-capture modes, which are great for bird action pictures...)


Sat Mar 17 20:29:00 2007

The "Flybook V" gets mention mostly because I'm not lusting after it. It looks nice, and I would love to fondle one, but 1024x600 is too small of a tablet screen for what I want a tablet for, and it's probably too big and slow to unsuspend to cover the PDA niche (same problem as with the Oqo.)

Instead, I'm waiting for the Modbook to ship...

Sat Nov 11 21:26:00 2006

The "Samsung SPH-P9000 Deluxe MITs" looks to be about the size of the Oqo, and is at least currently Korean-market only, not shipping until late 2007. The spin seems to be about Mobile WiMax (megabit wireless that works at highway speeds), but I don't care about that - I'm a driver, not a passenger - but what I do care about is the keyboard.

This is probably the first device this size to have anything even approximating a real keyboard - a full five row keyboard, folded in half, unfolds to approximately 10 inches across. I think that's bigger than any of the palm portable keyboards, and it's got a more "real" layout (possible exception, the Sony external keyboard, but I don't think that was quite this big.)

The one thing that really drove me from the Oqo 01+ to the Thinkpad T60p for programming use was, after all, not the screen (the T60p has a glorious screen, which is great for organizing and showing off my photography, but does not really add anything to coding, though making it easier for fellow developers to read over my shoulder is at least a minor plus) but the keyboard. I ended up building five different models of Oqo cradle, all designed around the IBM/Lexmark Type M keyboard, supporting the Oqo "in space" above it; while this concept worked well, my mechanical construction skills are rather limited and none of the designs really survived commuting. When they worked, though, they worked well - that class of keyboard suits me very well for programming, but more importantly, anything less than that (namely, anything I can't touch-type or rather touch-emacs on) causes programming and even writing to take so disproportionately much more effort that it's more effective to wait until I can get at a real keyboard. (This is why I'm now back to carrying a Palm T|X and a Thinkpad; I don't even pretend I can code on the Palm, but I can get it out of my pocket and write a note or reminder fast enough to bother.)

So what I really want is a collapsible bluetooth Lexmark Type M... ideally the Compact version (no numeric keypad, all keyboard.) There's room for a fair amount of builtin battery, even. With that, I suspect I could effective code on my phone...

Sat Nov 11 21:20:00 2006

My current gadget page index.html really wants to be more of a database, or at least a microformat page. For incremental news, "Gadgets I'm Lusting After" has a lot more churn and works better as a blog.