Tech Stuff

Posts filed under Tech Stuff

Posting from my Tabbie

Filed in Tech Stuff

Thanks to the WordPress for Android app.

Hopefully, this will get me posting more often on Chet’s Chatter.

No access

Filed in Tech Stuff, Travels

I’m off to the land of no access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Dropbox. But I will be keeping in touch through this blog which is set up to cross-post to Facebook. And apparently I can post photos to my Facebook account via email. We’ll see …

Back in business

Filed in Tech Stuff

Just upgraded the WordPress installation. Hopefully, will be blogging more often again.

The Netbook has come a long way in such a short time

Filed in Tech Stuff

Has it only been 22, 23 months since ASUS released its eeePC 701 to the world?

According to Wikipedia, Asus announced two Eee PC models at COMPUTEX Taipei 2007 – the Eee PC 701 and the Eee PC 1001. I thought the 1001 was launched a while later, at least after the 900. But then Wikipedia entries are not known for their 100% accuracy.

At the time, the other comparable machine was the one developed by OLPC, the One Laptop Per Child project aimed at making low cost computing available to the developing world. Because of the term “low cost computing”, any similar machine was tagged with the same expectations, which was not much. True enough, when the eeePC 701 was revealed, it turned out to be a very small machine with an almost unuseable keyboard and tiny squint-inducing 7″ keyboard. Nevertheless, early adopters took to the machine and began to laud its advantages.

There must be something to the tiny machine after all, when it came out in the news that the 701 was sold out in Australia soon after being launched there.

ASUS followed the 701 with the 900, then the 901, then the 1000, with the first numeral of each model series indicating the size of the screen.

The default operaing system for the 701 and 900 series was Linux. I bought a 900 Linux in July 2008, along with a copy of Windows XP Home to replace the Linux OS. The install was not successful, and I resigned myself to using Linux and living without most of my preferred apps on the 900. Nevertheless, with the 900, which I took on my panda volunteer trip in August 2008, I was able to edit photographs, go online to upload the photographs, participate in my favourite online forums, as well as update a client’s blogsite.

I’d always known there would be a netbook upgrade in my tech future. It came in January 2009 when I bought the ASUS eeePC 1000H running Windows XP, which I soon christened “H”. It remains my mobile computing machine almost nine months later.

Meanwhile, other companies had been sitting on the sidelines, watching how ASUS fared with its eeePC. When they saw the runaway success, they decided it was time for their share of the netbook market, too. Now, there are netbooks available from Acer, HP, Lenovo, Dell, even Toshiba, too. Most of them skipped the 7″ screen to begin with the 9″ screens as entry-level netbooks in their offerings.

Today, ASUS is not the only company selling netbooks. A lot of my friends prefer Acer. But because I began with ASUS, and it’s never disappointed me to date, I decided to stay with the brand when I upgraded to the 1000H. (By the way, I still have the 900 Linux version, and if anyone would like to buy it off me, please leave a comment. But only if you’re in Malaysia, and preferably the KL / PJ area.)

On the NaNoWriMo forums, especially the NaNo Technology forum, there are increasingly questions from interested buyers for opinions on this or that brand of netbook, or just for suggestions on which netbook is better. When I’m in the mood, I leave a comment, and it’s always for them to go to a store selling netbooks so they can have a first-hand feel for the different machines. I particularly like this comment I just posted in response to someone asking about the HP Mini 110:

The best thing for you to do is to look for a store that carries the HP Mini so that you can test it for yourself. It doesn’t matter what other people say – the important thing is how your fingers like the keyboard, your eyes the screen and your purse the price.

If you are interested in getting a netbook, reading up the specs is a first step. Next step – go to the nearest computer store and put your fingers on all the netbooks available there.

Another major player enters the ebook market

Filed in Books, Tech Stuff

I first found PeanutPress in 1998 while looking for sites that offered ebooks. Over the years, Peanut Press has been through various owners, including Palm, Inc, which renamed the ereading software PalmReader. Then PalmReader was sold (again) and became known as eReader. It’s still known as eReader today, but is once again under new ownership – Fictionwise, itself another ebook retail site, which wisely kept the two sites separate.

Fictionwise was recently purchased by Barnes & Noble, a major book retailer in the States.

All the above is my roundabout way to say there is now another major player in the ebook market.

For me, there have always been two major players – amazon.com and Barnes & Nobles – maybe because I’ve purchased from them before, despite being located halfway around the world from them. There is a major difference between them – amazon.com is a virtual bookstore, whereas Barnes & Noble is a traditional bookstore with a physical address and outlets around the States.

When I read the news, I thought for a while and realised that, as far as I know, the Barnes & Noble site does not sell ebooks. Well, according to an article in The New York Times’ Gadgetwise section, it used to, but stopped in 2003. The same article also said

The move positions Barnes & Noble to enter the e-book market and compete with Amazon.com as a distributor of digital content.

Aha …

Smart move.

Instead of starting from scratch, B&N has re-entered the ebook market through two established ebookstores.

According to another article in Trading Markets, “Barnes & Noble said it plans to use Fictionwise as part of its overall digital strategy, which includes the launch of an e-Bookstore later this year.”

When I first read of the purchase, I thought one of the things that would happen would be an update of the B&N site to include links to both Fictionwise and eReader. Instead, there will be an e-Bookstore … wait a minute, I wonder if that means Fictionwise and eReader will be merged into the store? Can only wait for further announcements.

The good news gets better. The Gadgetwise article ends with a mention of the news about Fictionwise being “named as a content provider for the company, based in Mountain View, Calif., which plans to release its own e-reader later this year.”

Ooo …

A hop over to the Plastic Logic site for more information got me very excited. The Plastic Logic e-reader hardware will support a wide range of document types, including PDF, DOC(X), XLS(X), PPT(X), TEXT, RTF, HTML, JPEG, PNG, BMP, ePub, and eReader Format.

eReader format – that’s the format of my ebook collection. I’ve been waiting for this ever since Amazon announced the Kindle.

Up to now, I’ve stayed away from any thoughts of replacing the eReader software in my Palm TX. One reason is because the Palm TX is still working very well. The other reason is because none of the ereading hardware so far (Kindle and Sony Reader) support the eReader format. Now, one is coming that will support it.

Hooray … except for one possible hardware flaw.

Plastic Logic has listed its ereader hardware’s specs as Thin (<7mm), lightweight (<16 oz), form factor of 8.5″ x 11”.

8.5″ x 11″?

That’s the size of a sheet of paper.

Too big, even tho’ thin and lightweight.

Hopefully, Plastic Logic will see the logic in making its ereader hardware smaller, or even offering two sizes – the 8.5″ x 11″ and half that.

Meanwhile, I’m still enjoying my growing ebook collection in my Palm TX.