the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Monthly Archives: September 2008

t-mobile g1: the android

How’s this for an early adopter? I ordered T-Moble G1, the first mobile device to use Google’s Android platform. It’s actually an HTC Dream, but more about that when I get it. As I already was a T-Mobile customer (vintage Nokia 3390), the signup was painless… or was it? The total bill of $210 included a $19 “upgrade fee”, plus a two (2) year contract. I chose the unlimited web/limited text plan for $25/mo.

I have to admit, $200 for a mobile computer is relatively inexpensive, considering the price of the Nokia Internet Tablet, or something like a Treo or Blackberry. And who wants to have Apple’s iPhone when you can have your very own ANDROID? Actually, what really tipped it for me was the low cost data plan, and a recent visit to Microcenter. Yes, my wife did make me cancel my order to Dell for the Inspiron Mini 9 before I ordered the phone, but that was no biggie. I put my hands on Acer’s netbook, and realized it may be too small for comfort and – compared to the Android – too big to lug around.

BTW, I ordered the brown one, but don’t expect to see it on eBay for at least two years!

More at the end of October.

On the web:
http://code.google.com/android/
http://www.t-mobileg1.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTC_Dream

olpc xo – the final chapter

As I await my Dell Mini 9 (with Ubuntu of course), I pulled the green OLPC XO out of the closet to get it ready for eBay.

I bought the computer during the initial G1G1 promotion almost a year ago, and have to admit I've been underwhelmed by it. Why? I bought it for the wrong reason: The XO is _not_ a netbook, and is simply underpowered for decent web browsing. Admittedly, I never got the Sugar interface, but even with the more familiar XFCE, it still didn't cut the mustard.

A clean install seemed like a good place to start. Easy enough, download two files, put them on a flash drive and plug it in to the XO, hold down the game keys and press the power button. Reboots automatically, and viola, just like new (but with an updated os of course). Next is to reinstall the G1G1 activities: Same procedure; download a zip file, unzip the two directories onto a flash drive, plug it in, and power up. The activities are automatically installed.

Now I have to admit, that's pretty slick. Maybe I should give this another try? Maybe I should approach this computer as it was intended, as a child's computer…

On the web:
OLPC Wiki

sansa clip

If you've read my book, you'll learn (at the very end) that I'm not a very big fan of the ipod or mp3 players in general. The iPod has destroyed music in two ways: it has hearkened the advent of lossy music, while secondly, the ubiquity of music has cheapened the listening experience to a mere fashion statement. Okay, enough of the soap opera; digital music is indeed a novel approach to the storage of music.

I recently purchased a 500GB hard drive (WD Green Power) with the hopes of digitizing some of my collection for use with my Squeezebox and the DAC of my Nuforce Icon. While I have "acquired" a lot of music in the MP3 format, I wanted to use either FLAC or OGG Vorbis (q=6) for ripping my CD collection. This presented one conundrum: Rockbox aside, where am I going to find a portable player that handles these formats?

Best Buy. $39.00 for the 2GB Sansa Clip. What's cool about the Clip? The latest firmware (1.01.29) supports OGG Vorbis decoding. The player also ranks highly for sound quality. Yes, it's incredibly small in size, maybe even too small, but the display is bright, with a menu for easy navigation. I know that 2GB isn't a lot of storage, but I have two needs for a digital music player: First, to plug into the old Sansui/Bose system I have in my garage, when we barbecue and hang out in the back yard, and second, on the occasion that I take some form of public transportation. So 2GB is actually a fair amount of music: almost 40 albums at q=6 for OGG Vorbis.

Now the rub: like all stereos… er, sound systems, they're only as good as the speakers, or in this case, the earphones. Stay tuned…

On the web:
Sansa Clip Official Sandisk page
AnythingbutIpod Sansa Clip disassembled