Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ipod touch and Skype

Well, I bit the bullet after foing a whole lot of research and bought an ipod touch third generation (the 32gb model (strange to think that 32gb is in silicon now!)). My first impressions are as follows:

The skype app is beautiful. It integrates nicely with contacts, no more kludgy skype phone numbers (I always hated the feature of skype that doesn’t let me type in first and last names!) The ipod version just 'works' with contacts, I choose them and hit 'call'. Nice to have 'saved' phone numbers, but I also like being able to search by name. Which is another cool feature of the skype app, has 'a' b c in the skype contacts window!

The wifi 'just works' once you get WDS setup with a pair of airports (My apartment had spotty reception, having two airports made a HUGE difference.) The airpors were a little tricky to setup, but the apple guy got me working in < 1 hour (Normal linux WDS takes FOREVER with WDS!!).

Battery life is a little low, skype pounds the HELL out of the battery. Probably not apple's fault. I think I will be getting one of those external battery thingies. Talking for about 2 hours seems O.K. But it needs FULL recharge after that.

ITs USELESS as a primary phone for incoming calls due to inability to 'ring' with headphones plugged it. So I just leave my old phone there for incoming calls, and 'turn on' the touch by the third ring things work great. I should mention that I have an skype 'appliance' which is very old, but faithful.

Due to having the existing unit, I simply use the old phone for 'incoming' calls, or turn on the ipod touch when I hear the other phone, and pick up then.

I also HATED using the on-screen keyboard, for typing in my horrid long WPA2 passphrase on the IPOD it took FOREVER to get it right.

Overall, however, for outgoing calls that don't piss me off, and for having 'way coolness' factor for things like being able to remotely control my x10 stuff, insteon stuff, as well as having a VERY nice pandora/air1 app thingy for listening I love it. Tomorrow I will try my bose headphones with the built in mike to see if it works. Otherwise I will get the amazon mike that works with 'normal' head phones. Thee sound quality was quite good. Watching videos is RAD. It has beautiful (a little dim), pictures, and doesn't slow down at ALL.

Finally, evernote is cool. I LOVE evernote, and the 'offline' option finally gives me 'portable' evernote WITHOUT having to pay ridiculous charges for data links! I guess if I tried to enter notes into evernote with the ipod I would be mad, but since I really, really, hate the on screen keyboard, I don't think I will be putting too much in evernote via the ipod. I also like the 'just works' backup (I won't say why, but I got to use the 'restore' fuction today due to some stupidity on my part). Worked great. Pretty fast as well. I thought I would hate itunes, but its not too bad for the apps. Not really feeling the need to 'jailbreak' it. Looks like there are plenty of stuff to download.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nook Review

With all of these idiot journalists publishing reviews of the Nook and not reading the manual I thought I would like to share some of my thoughts on the nook, now that I have owned it for 1 month.

The Good:

Epub- I can download free books from google, project gutenberg, and the internet archive, and put them on my memory card. Did I mention that the nook has a user replaceable battery, and accepts microsd (I wish it were sd!) cards up to 16gb??

Screen- So many of the reviewers are kind to the sony. The sony is EVIL. The screen made my eyes turn purple and fall out. Their use of resistive film in front of the eink display is STUPID. The screen on the nook is Beautiful, and in strong light is almost better than paper.

Page flipping- Contrary to the authors who don't read the manual, you CAN turn the pages on the nook with a gesture of quickly running your fingers across the DARKENED color touch display. If it is 'on' this gesture doesn't work.

Library Management- Calibre all the way. I don't have do deal with that closed sourced amazon crap that locks me into their propriatary formats. I do undertand that the amazon is capable of working like a usb drive, but has no memory expansion.....sadness. Calibre can also package news sites for consumption on your ereader for FREE....and its much better than the for pay stuff I saw on b&n sites.

Wifi- MUCH faster than at&t's crap network.......

Rootable- can do pandora, and browse calibre's book server, as well as do things like have a web browser (but with the awful screen keyboard, I wouldn't want to even try to internet on the thing...)

The bad:

Searching- the on screen keyboard is HORRID. Kind of like typing with all of your fingers cut off or trying to type with your toes. The search is a tad slow as well.

UI for 'my library' doesn’t scale much beyond 1000 books. There is no search feature within titles, and no way to easily navigate thousands of titles. Its kind of mitigated by calibre, since you just keep 'main' libarary on computer and download those books you want to read.

If B&N would just let me 'scroll' through the book covers like I do on the b&n library, and 'search' through titles, this problem would go away.

No backlight- I really don't think this is too bad, since normal books don't glow in the dark unless you use radioactive ink.

The non-standard usb almost thingy that plugs into the computer. Why could'nt they have used the 'standard' mini usb that everyone else is using? Replacing cable will be expensive. The connector is also hard to tell which way it fits due to its design. I always futz with it when I try to recharge the thing.

No cover-You charge me $270.00 for an ebook reader and don't include a cover? Its $30.00 for a decent nook cover. I found a nice place that makes really cool leather nook covers it is ttp:// They make all kinds of cool covers for a little more. Much MUCH nicer than even the 150k ugly ones that b&n sells.

I have read 6 books on the thing now, and its nice getting books like classics for free, and current 'best seller's' instantly for $10.00. I still like library for fiction, since I raraly read fiction more than once. But for any 'classics' that I like to read again and again, nook rulez. Caliber + nook REALLY rulez.

The B&N drm isn't too onerous, just uses your cc# and name as the key for the book. Not too hard to remember, (unless you use virtual credit cards like I do).....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Arcade Unit is Finished at last!

I just got the computer stuffed inside of the arcade unit, all the controls work, wireless works, blinkies work, and I can finally play MAME! Still have lots of things to do in terms of final 'ui', stuff, I also blew out two of my ports on my usb hub when farting around trying to get the computer in the case. By away the hardest part of this project was getting the computer mounted in such a tight space. Next time I will use a SFF pc for sure! WHat a disaster. My hands are all cut up, I have bruises, and I am glad that the unit is 'inside'. Very serviceable, since I can just connect automagically via wireless to the unit and perform basic maintenance. I hope to not open it up for many years.....


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mame arcade cabinet final controls soldered and ready for attaching!

Well, I finally have almost finished my arcade unit. The third / fourth player controls (actually 1 & 2) are soldiered, and tested, Ready for attaching. Kind of strange, since I started this whole mess in October.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reading PDFs on the Mac

Just a quick note. I have re-discovered the wonders of reading PDFs with a program called "TOFU" It makes all pdfs into a news story (e.g. columns etc). Very nice for reading quickly.

My arcade project is almost done, I am getting ready to do the final soldering. Gave a presentation at the local Linux Users Group, which was well received. Don't forget your Normal vga, though when giving presentations at Redhat world headquarters, since they only have 'old' style analog vga.

Oh well.