Archive for April, 2005

eBook Hardware

I realised that given that I’m in the UK at the moment, I have the access to everything that’s avaliable on eBay UK. I figured that my Psion 5mx got damaged recently and I need a replacement unit for (only) reading ebooks. I’m not that interested in PDA features and I expect I’ll get a Sharp C3000 at some point. However the C3000 doesn’t seem like a good ebook reader. They is no native Linux readers for any of the common commerical ebook formats.

The main features I’ve been considering are:

* Battery Life
* SD or CF expansion port
* Min 320×320 screen
* Ability to be powered by the common AA or AAA batteries

Battery life is important, as I would hate for my reading device to be tied a charging station. I like to be able to pull out the book in whatever odd situation I’m in and being able to use AA batteries makes this easy.

My P800 mobile phone has a 208×320 screen. Using Mobipocket I find this resolution much too small. The Psion with a screen size of 640×240 is very easy to read. Although the form factor is sometimes I little difficult to hold with one hand.

Being able to use either SD or CF expansion cards is vital as reload

After a little research I figured the ebookman looked like the optimal option. However, production of this has stopped, new units are around 150GBP and its difficult to find them on eBay.

After a little research I discovered this thread about Tungsten E battery life and a post by Robert L. Smith, Jr. were he built a PDA charger with a AA Battery Holder . This opens up a whole new set of PDA based eBook reader options.

Even though the new Palms don’t have removable batteries, then seem to have the best general software support. This post suggested a very clever idea. The Palm Tungsten W (1500 mAh) design as a mobile phone has a very large battery. If you turn off the phone features and use it purely as a Palm with a 320×320 screen it gives you a very good base platform. The Palm Tungsten C (1500 mAh) also has had good battery life reports.

Of course the final decision is a balance of avaliablilty on eBay, cost and the specs. The best options now seem to be:

* Palm Zire 71/72
* Palm Tungsten W
* Palm Tungsten C
* Palm Tungsten T3 or T5 – huge 480×320 sized screen
* Palm Tungsten E – Seems to be a popular option for this situation.
* Sony TH55 – battery life reports are good, but it is now EOL and only takes Sony’s MS cards.

One last option is the eBookwise 1150 a rebranded Rocket eBook reader. Unfortunately only avaliable in the USA.

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Backpack from 37signals is nearing release. Jason has posted a final preview of its features called Backpack The Backpack Manifesto.

Looking at the feature list is seems like a good solution to my blog enter Organising your mail. Particularly the focus on email interfaces. I look forward to trying it out when it gets released generally and seeing how well it mets my personal and business needs.

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Upgrade to Tiger by getting a Mini

Upgrade to Tiger by buying a Mini. I’ve been thinking that this is the best option as well. Helps that I want a second mini for desktop use when I shift to the UK.

However I’ll probably hold off, and not buy into the hype. Let some other people beta test Tiger.

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As I’m going to be travelling next week I decided it was finally time to give Skype a shot. With that idea I order two Logitech Stereo USB Headsets 200 from TP. Today I took the two headsets into the office and installed Skype on a couple of the Win2K workstations and my Ubuntu Thinkpad.

It was too easy. Plug and play, just like that. Reasonable clear sound quality. The headphones seemed to work very well with their noise cancellation. Was getting hardly any background sound.

All and all, I think Skype is a very useful product. I’m still going to setup my own VoIP based stuff with Asterisk. However, I’ll probably use them in combination.

The only problem system I had is my current Debian/Sid desktop. Custom kernel and I need to fiddle around with the USB Discover stuff. I’ll probably just install Kubuntu.

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Thinkpad’s Battery Performance

As I just post I’ve been working on installing a new R51 laptop. While working on this I discover that IBM have an option where you set the level were is starts charging the battery. It also has an auto-adjust feature. Thinking about this I realised that:

* Li-Ion batteries discharge very slowly when not under load and have no memory.
* When plugged into the wall, the batteries are not under load.
* IBM is clever and don’t charge the batteries when the TPs are plugged into the wall. Unless the charge level fails below the configured %.

This probably why their batteries do so well, and actually age very well. The R40 isn’t as clever, but after 2 years of use after some discharge/recharge reconditioning the primary battery still holds 90% of its original charge and the UltraBay battery about 85%, or about 6-9 hours total life. The R50 has a large screen, but a better processor. It will be interesting to see how well that performs.

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Ubuntu is the Shiznit

I’ve been quite quiet on the blog front recently. A combination of very non-geeky accounting work, being laid up a little by a back strain and running around like a headless chicken completing task lists before I go on a trip.

Anyway Ingram recently had a great deal on IBM R51s, $500 off. So as I’ve been promising my brother, I replaced his R40/C1.6GHz/20Gb/512Mb/DVD/14″ with a spanky new R50 PM1.7GHz/1Gb/60Gb/DVD+RW/15″. The R51 is a great machine, its tempting to me to reverse my earlier iBook decision. Especially since I’m still having trouble finding a decent terminal application in OSX that works with my Linux based 4GL application.

Macrumors is telling me that a new iBook model is due soon, plus Tiger is due some time this month. I figured it was better to use the R40 as my current travel machine. So I did a IBM Access complete HDD wipe and re-install of WinXP (damn that 4 wasted Gb!), shrink the NTFS partition and decided to install Ubuntu.

Ubuntu is the shiznit!

Installs easy, has a sexy login system. It looks tidy and stuff just works. It’s Debian designed from the ground up for the desktop. It still needs some work on making laptop features work out of the box, but that is by accounts on the list. If KDE is prefer the Ubuntu has recent released Kubuntu. KDE is not yet quite as slickly intergrated as Gnome. Still its pretty good. I’ll be posting more as I use Ubuntu.

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