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Four-inch computer has more ports than you’ll ever need | DVICE

I agree with the commenter who said “I don’t know what I’d do with it, but I want one.”

It’s so *cute*!

Four-inch computer has more ports than you’ll ever need | DVICE

Small computers aren’t anything new to write about. Xi3 Corporation’s new little computer, however, is unique. It has more ports crammed into as little space as possible that we’ve seen in recent years.

For such a tiny box, it doesn’t skimp out on accessible ports. The Xi3 has six USB 2.0 ports, DVI, two eSATA ports, audio in/out, DisplayPort, ethernet and special ‘Xi3 Port.” Who else besides professionals need two eSATAs and six USB ports? There are three CPU options are available for the Xi3 — 1Ghz, 1.8Ghz and 2.2Ghz. Sorry Intel, but these dwarfs run on AMD Athlon processors.

All of this is crammed inside a small 4-inch aluminum cube. Take that Mac Mini! The interesting thing about this tiny PC is that it’s case also serves as a heatsink. Yeah, pretty cool stuff.

Bids start at $35,000 for this street-legal Tron lightcycle | DVICE

Bids start at $35,000 for this street-legal Tron lightcycle | DVICE

No need to wait for the release of Tron Legacy in December — now you can turn science fiction into science fact with a street-legal Tron Legacy lightcycle. Built from the exact specs of the movie props, there will only be five of these in existence, all lit up with LEDs and neon that will certainly be the envy of all the other motorcyclists.

Powered by the buyer’s choice of a 1000cc gasoline engine or high-powered electric motor, the bikes will have custom-built 22-inch hubless wheels, and the builder even promises to include an authentic Tron helmet. You’ll have to put together that lit-up fire suit yourself, a small price to pay for this dazzling authenticity.

Each of the five one-of-a-kind collector’s items will have a different accent color in either red, blue, yellow, green, or orange, and the famed custom motorcycle builders at Parker Brothers Choppers say they can put this monster together for you within a couple of months. Order now — bidding starts at $35,000 — and by the time the movie hits theaters, you’ll already have been riding your new lightcycle for a couple of months. Old to New: Typewriters

This is awesome. I want one. Old to New: Typewriters

Last week I stumbled upon the USB Typewriter etsy shop and my jaw dropped! Jack Zylkin has invented a Typewriter Convertor process that turns any manual typewriter into a keyboard for your computer! He sells ready to purchase typewriters or you can buy a kit and do it yourself! I think these would be awesome for hotel/B&B lobby computers or electronic guestbooks at a shop… something memorable to catch your eye! Or if you’re a modern Angela Landsbury, use it for writing a book the semi-old school way!

The problem with brilliant ideas is having them first…

Weekend before last was a fabulous and fun trip up to Massachusetts, about which I really ought to talk about in a separate post. But what I really wanted to talk about was driving.

Oddly, despite the number of trips I’d previously made to New England, I’d never once been a driver there. I’d always been picked up by someone, or relied entirely on public transportation. (Or, y’know, hired a stretch limo, but that was a one time thing.)

Despite the legendary reputation of Massachusetts drivers, I really had no troubles at all. Of course, one of the reasons for this is that we have a GPS unit, specifically the Garmin StreetPilot c550 that I bought kitanzi for Christmas. Aside from a couple of odd bumps, it’s been an awesome little gadget, and one I’m glad to have in our possession.

Recently, I updated the software on it, and in the process downloaded some extra voice packs. So now we can have the GPS give us directions in an English or Australian accent, and we had fun playing with it. Now, I’m hardly the first person to think “Gee, there should be celebrity voice packs.” But it occurred to me that there’s really only one actor who I’d want to be powering my GPS…William Daniels. Why, I bet you could make a fortune if you could put the voice of KITT (not to mention the voice of John Adams…As you miss a turn, it could exclaim “What in God’s name are you waiting for?”)

Well, it turns out that someone else already had that idea:

The Knight Rider GPS can be customized to speak your name from a list of 300 popular names. Once you’ve selected a name, the voice of William Daniels will greet you with a random selection of phrases such as “XXX, where would you like to go today?” or “XXX, I’m really looking forward to this.” Your selected name replaces the “XXX.” Then, the Knight Rider will instruct you, for example, to turn right at 500 feet, but won’t pronounce the street names.

Based on Mio’s Moov 300 series, the Knight Rider GPS has a 4.3-inch screen, a 20-channel SiRF Star III receiver, measures 5.51 by 3.15 by 0.76 inches and weighs 6 ounces. The case has been redesigned to accommodate the flashing LEDs, and the Moov interface is “skinned” with a color scheme that seems appropriate for Knight Rider.

Despite the fact that I totally love the idea, I feel sorry for the people with unusual first names, as they will once again be left out of the customized product business, just like the keychains they sell at the county fair. But I think it’s incredibly cool that someone has done this.

The product is apparently available in stores as of last moth, and you can find out more info at their website.

iPhone impressions

So I’ve now had my iPhone for about a week, so it’s time to start talking about it. Because that’s what you do when you buy Apple products, don’chano?

What I Like

  • Apple has always been the king of the user interface, and this is no exception. The navigation of the phone is extremely intuitive, and for the most part things are where you expect to find them. I probably spent the first hour just jumping from app to app and being really happy with how everything looks, how responsive it is, and how easy everything is to use.
  • The switching of my number from T-Mobile to AT&T was painless and quick. When we left the Apple Store, they told me I could make outbound calls right away, but it might take up to six hours before I could receive calls. We drove home to pick up Larissa’s mom and go to breakfast at J. Christopher’s. While we were placing our order, I got a text message from AT&T telling me that the port was complete. After the horror story that was eloren‘s iPhone adventure, this was a very pleasant surprise. (I admit I feel a little bit guilty, as T-mobile has offered me very good service over the years and I had no complaints with them to speak of. But that’s the nature of the exclusive hardware contracts, I suppose.)
  • There is a Pandora Radio app for the iPhone. This delights me.
  • It makes a perfect good iPod. Since my iPod recently took a swim in the washing machine and didn’t survive the experience, it was nice to have my podcasts back in the car.
  • The App Store is full of many free, if often pointless, little utilities. It also has some useful ones, like UrbanSpoon, which helps locate nearby restaurants, and Showtimes, which does something similar for nearby movie theatres.
  • I can continue my practice of having pictures of my sweeties as phone wallpaper, which makes me happy every time I turn it on.
  • The web browser looks *fantastic*. Easily the best implementation of a web browser on a phone I’ve ever used. Reading and posting to LJ is extremely easy.
  • The phone is very slim, but it has a nice heft to it. It feels like a substantial object, and not a tiny plastic toy.

What I Don’t Like

  • There is apparently a bug when the most recent version of the iPhone OS and Windows Outlook with syncing. (I had to actually buy a new copy of Outlook, as my previous copy was from 2000 and refused to talk to the phone at all.) If left to sit and peculate, it will eventually finish syncing, but it takes far far longer than it should. This is being widely discussed on the various forums, so it’s obviously a software side problem rather than simply a problem with my setup.
  • With all the apps that are out there, there’s nothing that can be used to cycle the wallpaper at set intervals between a set of defined photos. This seems like it would be pretty basic (I have such an application for my computers.
  • The camera interface is awkward. (This is, to me, a minor gripe, since I don’t particular need a good camera phone. But on the off chance I do use it, it’s a bit clunky.)
  • No IRC client. Really? I’m somewhat stunned by this, honestly. There’s a couple of apps in development that may be solving this soon, but for the moment…c’mon guys, it’s one of the oldest chat protocols on the net. There’s no excuse.
  • No backgrounding. An app is either on or its off. You can’t run, say, AOL Instant Messenger in the background and have it make noise at you when a message comes in. It appears that there’s going to be some mechanism to simulate this with the new “push” features, but for the moment, its either foreground or off.
  • I can’t get the SSH client I purchased to work properly.
  • It seems to be that if you have the headset plugged in, and the phone rings, it only rings in the headset. I find this somewhat peculiar behaviour, since it means I can’t just leave the heatset plugged in and the phone nearby on my desk, because I may not notice it vibrating. (Probably time to replace my bluetooth headset.)

All in all, I’m very pleased with the purchase. What I don’t like are mostly minor gripes, and several of them will probably be solved by future software releases.


Following the herd into the Apple store, I have purchased myself an iPhone. So far, I’m loving it, but there’s always the slight frustration with a new phone of getting everything set up the way you want it. I managed to import most of my contact list, but in the process seem to have lost most of the postal addresses. So I started moving those over by hand, and realized that I don’t know how many of them are hopelessly out of date.

So…..please leave me a reply here with the following information, so I can make sure I’m all up to date:

Home Phone
Mobile Phone
IM contact information

Along with anything else you think I should know. Comments are screened, but you can also send me e-mail if you’d prefer that route.



Thinkgeek FTW:

Doctor Who Dalek Webcam

So full of want. 🙂

DVD Update

After the gaming group went home (and a report on that will be coming later for the three of you who are actively reading the exploits of our merry band), I dug our Playstation2 out of the closet and hooked it up to the TV. I’m pleased to report that it was able to play the movies that the JVC was unable to recognize.

I’ll be searching to see if there’s a firmware upgrade for the JVC, but in the meantime, I have a workaround. I really should use the Playstation more, anyway. We originally only bought it because rslatkin and vatavian introduced us first hand to the aerobic joy that is DDR, but we had stopped for a while, and when we moved I didn’t bother hooking it back up, though I’m glad I took the time to carefully pack the various parts of it into a box.

Maybe I’ll play some of the other games I picked up for the thing but never played. In my copious spare time.

Shameless self-interest

So now I have this perfectly functioning laptop with wireless capability, thanks to baiku, who thinks I was doing HIM a favour by declutterling his house during move-time. One of the reasons I’ve avoided just outright buying a laptop is that frankly, they’re too expensive for what you get out of them, for as little as I actually *need* one for travel. It’s not as if my job is frequently sending me hither and yon to the point that I need a portable computer at all times. It’s a luxury, and as luxuries go, there’s only so much I’m willing to pay for one. As it is, I’ve put about as much actual money into this unit as I’d like.

But frugality aside, I’m still a gearhead, and that means I want to trick out my gadgets with as much mojo as I can muster. And there are a variety of upgrades I could perform on this unit that would make it even more spiffy. And people are always saying “So, what would you like for your birthday/Christmas/etc.”, and I always say “Oh, I dunno.”, because usually, I don’t.

So here’s, for my own reference and the reference of anyone interested, a list of what I’d like to upgrade on my Dell Inspiron 4000, should anyone want to contribute towards it. (I don’t expect anyone will, but just in case people who are prone to giving me presents (or who happen to have spare parts lying around that would suit — I don’t require new, just good working order) are reading this.

  • A couple of new batteries
    The battery in the unit will hold a charge for about an hour to 90 minutes, which is OK but not stellar. There’s room in the unit for two batteries at once, with a theoretical run-time of about 8 hours, give or take.

  • A larger hard drive
    The drive thats in there now is a 5GB drive, which will hold the OS with enough room left over for some minor file storage. But if I want to, say, offload con photos on it, it’d be nice to have a bit more room on it.

  • More RAM
    128 MB once seemed like so much RAM, but it’s hardly that much these days. The unit will take up to 512MB (2×256 PC100), and I’d love to max it out some day.

  • A portable optical mouse
    I have an old fashioned USB ball mouse plugged into it right now, and that lets me work easily. (Both the touchpad and the eraserstub pointers are somewhat annoying to use.) But an optical mouse would work better on odd surfaces, so I’d like one eventually.

I’m sure there’s other nifty stuff I’d like to have for it eventually, but those are the main things. Mostly, I’m just happy that I have a working machine. Thanks to everyone who donated old parts (especially baiku, tarkrai, and katyhh) in my quest for computer mobility. 🙂


For quite some time, I have desired a portable Internet device that i could carry when I traveled, as I admit to being such a hopeless Internet junkie and I much prefer to have my own computer for such activities. (My PDA/Mobile is an Internet device and useful in a pinch, but it’s not really the best application for serious websurfing or journaling.) Using other people’s computers is like using other people’s kitchens. You can get done what you need to, but nothing is where you expect it to be and you have to rummage about to find anything.

tarkrai kindly donated me a couple of ancient, but working, laptops from his collection of derelict computer parts, but for various reason neither was able to transform into what I really needed. Then baiku announced his intention to divest himself of a similar crop of old tech for anyone who’d be willing to come take them away. Since I had a DVD full of 2006 Doctor Who episodes for him, we made arrangements to meet up and he handed me two Dell Inspirons of unknown status. Neither of them turned out to work, but I figured it was worth the $30 that Ginstar would charge me to find out what it would take to repair one of them. So the Inspiron 4000 went into the shop, was determined to have a bad motherboard, and completely repaired for $200.

When I got it back, I ran diagnostics and found that the hard drive had bad sectors, so I pulled the hard drive out of the still non-functional 3500, and found it was perfectly ok, so I transplanted it into the 4000 and installed Ubuntu Linux 5.10 on my now fully functional Death Star laptop computer.

I have to say that Ubuntu has impressed me greatly. I’d already been using it for sometime on my workstation at the office, but given the horror stories I’d heard about getting Linux working on laptop computers, I was unprepared for how utterly seamless it was to install. I didn’t have to recompile any thing, hunt for drivers, twiddle with my settings. It installed, brought up the X display, let me log in, and *everything worked*. Well done.

Having gotten the laptop up and on the network, there was one last critical accessory to make this laptop perfect. I wanted to install a WiFi card. Even with the tremendous ease that I got the base OS installed on the machine, though, I wasn’t expecting this to be easy. Everything I’d read about getting wifi to work on Linux laptops led me to anticipate a lot of fiddling ahead.

I got some advice from fleetfootmike and rinioth, who said that my best bet was a card with a PrismII chipset. rinioth also sent me a great chart with pretty much all the cards that were on the market and the state of drivers for each of them. So I printed that out and headed down the local Best Buy. Unfortunately, none of the cards they had in stock were PrismII cards, but I did find a Netgear WG511T, which uses the Atheros chip and which the chart said had a good driver. Knowing I had 30 days to try it and bring it back if I couldn’t make it work, I decided to take a chance.

Brought it home, plugged it in. Booted up. Ubuntu recognized the card immediately. Is that supposed to happen? Interesting. Looked up the commands for configuring the card. Attached to my AP, got an IP from dhcp, and was surfing. Just like that. I didn’t have to install any drivers. I didn’t have to struggle or swear or do anything at all. it just plain worked the way it was supposed to. I even found that the GUI Network Configuration tool in Gnome already knows how to talk to it and feed it its necessary configurations.

I believe the appropriate word is “squee!!”

I now have a working wireless laptop. I am a happy cat.

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