February 26, 2006

Search and Destroy:..or...Ted Rall has a blog.

Actually, Ted Rall has had a blog for a while, but his feed wasn't activated, now it is: Search and Destroy As you know, I'm not a political person online or even all that much off of it. I came across Ted Rall not because of his political comics but because of his brilliant graphic novels 2024 and The Worst Thing I've Ever Done two terrific works. Anyhow, check him out, if you like. It is worth pointing out that if you are even slightly conservative/republican, you and Ted aren't likely to be pals, so head's up.

February 22, 2006

Silverlit X-UFO's Gyro 'issues'

I recently picked up a x-ufo from thinkgeek, which I've taken a picture of for your enjoyment. These are very fun, cheapish (180$) 4 axis helicopters. Thier construction is fascinating. You might remember a previous, weird, post I did about gyros. I complained that mechanical gyros stink and should be replaced. Well, I was talking about this one. I had a minor (my fault, I assure you) crash that resulted in the gyro, well, shattering, and without a gyro these things are impossible to fly. I ordered two new ones from an outfit in Utah and recieved them last week. Installed the new one and got a good look at the damage I did to the old one.

Some interesting things about the X-UFO. Its construction is pretty labor intensive. Lots of little parts, screws, multiple circuit boards, it is a testament to just how cheap Chinese labor can be. If you were designing it for local contract manufacturing, you might have opted for a single board solution with a mems or piezo gyro. Things to note include the cheap plastic gimbal housing, the super fine copper power wires to the internal motorized flywheel. The weird thing about this gyro is that it doesn't really work all that well past about 30° and the electronics assumes that you are inverted and tries to right the copter.

Of course, this is how I ended up driving the x-ufo into the ground from about a 25 foot hover. Oops. Anyhow, its a really cool toy, but I think if you buy one, you should try to pick one up with an electronic gyro. Click on the pictures for more fine details. Note that the gyro boards piggyback on the actual board and thus might be replacable with a different system, in theory. In practice, there is a reason I bought two replacement gyros.

Anyhow, check out the pics, the person who designed the copter really was quite the hacker. Note the washer as a flywheel.

Ixnay on the Kensington Bluetooth Mouse

Ugh....so the Kensington Bluetooth Mouse isn't awful. It has a great heft and terrific radio, -however- it is absolutely useless as a bluetooth device. It does this annoying thing where you standby your laptop. Your mouse goes into this lonely "love me!" mode where it looks actively for the laptop every time the mouse's left button is smacked. This would be fine if the mouse never left the desktop, but for my needs, where I'll be throwing it into my bag as often as not, it is not so great.

Also, it doesn't always find the laptop after resume from standby. So annoying. You literally have to reboot the mouse (popping out the AA batteries) before the mouse will pair up again.

I tried a couple of radio power default controls on the OQO as indicated in the manual, but what the thing needs is an on-off switch. I thought about adding one myself, but I'd rather just return it. I'm mostly posting this so that those who have this problem find it faster than not. (all hail pagerank)

February 21, 2006

OQO Love

So I got my greasy hands on an OQO palmtop computer. By computer, I mean a full darn computer, too. 1ghz transmeta processor, 512m of ram, 30gb of hard drive all in a super tiny form factor. I've been using it for about 4 weeks steady now, took it to Scale to give my talk, which was very fun, and I've accessorized the heck out of it. Bought a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for it and everything is working quite well. It gets a bit warm at times, and I wish I'd get more than two hours out of the battery (going to buy another soon) but overall, I'm in love with the little guy. Great to travel with, for sure. Has enough horsepower to play divx movies, so there you go.

I don't use the digitizer much, though, it's not as exact as I'd like. It's fine for controlling basic apps like firefox and itunes. I haven't attempted to installing Linux on it. I have a usb key that it may support booting from, so I'll pop knoppix on that and see what I can pull off with that. There is some oddness in that a Linksys usb ethernet adaper doesn't work, I think it is because they sourced the same chip for the on cord adapter, so I'm going to return the usb200m and see if I can't get into the habit of carrying around the oqo cord.

I'm going to try it on my extended trip to new york next week, skipping the larger laptop altogether. Should be interesting! (for me :-)

February 18, 2006

Holy Crap: Jot Form

Check it out: JotForm, create webforms in seconds.

February 13, 2006

Independent Verification of Sonofusion at RPI

Check it out: “Double Crystal Fusion” Could Pave the Way for Portable Device. Science! The title is weird, but this is interesting confirmation of Sonofusion.

I Heart Skinnycorp

After the GPLv3 meeting, I stayed overnight in Chicago to visit with some folks in the open source team there. I figured while I was there I'd visit the fellas at Skinnycorp. (whom I've posted about before), so we invited them out for lunch and then we went back to the Skinnyfactory, where all groovy t-shirts come from.

Chicago is a charming city, great architecture and a great feel. Kinda chilly and from what I understand it was downright balmy compared to how it could be there, but I really liked visiting.

Anyhow, what prompted this post is that I think that if you like music, the Skinnycorp podcast is worth subscribing too. I am not a podcast crazy person, as I don't have much of a commute, but this is one to consider, for sure. They do random interviews (I think I have one coming up) but this isn't narcissism, I assure you.

You see, I have been pretty stranded in my encoded past when it comes to music. I don't really learn about new music I might like as, lets get real, commercial radio is so filled with commercials that its practically abusive. One of Skinnycorps projects is 15 Megs of Fame, a music site, and Charles picks music from those bands and plays them in between not-awful randomness. So I get to hear music that I'd -never- hear on regular radio and certainly not from my mp3 archive, vast as it may be. It's pretty neat. Of course, sometimes there is some pottymouthage going on, but hey, it's a podcast you can just ff past the stuff you don't like.

February 7, 2006

Net Neutrality is pretty darn important.

Vint Cerf (our hero) will be testifying before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation on net neutality.

Imagine a decreased or no level of service if people refuse to pay isp x , y or telco monopoly S for 'premium' access to their users? Is that a world you want to surf in?