Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where Do You Think You Want To Try To Go Today?

One of my biggest gripes about the Internet has been its tendency to carelessly, one might say heartlessly, move forward in sudden leaps and leave systems behind. This has to be expected; it's technology, after all, and it is going to keep on doing that.
The thing is, though, many techie types also claim to be green, that is to say, they believe in efficiency over waste, that it is far better to recycle than to dispose of older systems.
The opposite appears to be the truth.
They want you to update your systems, not just in terms of software but in hardware.
A good example would be websites that demand that they cannot be seen effectively with anything but graphics chipset X. These are few and far between, but they are out there. Then there are the sites that make use of a fair or above average amount of Flash or Java, and always the newest version. The solution? Update both, right? Suppose, though, that the browser you're using is at end-of-life, or say the operating system. Now, you have a quandary; what if your system will support neither?
One solution to this was found by the folks who developed the SkyFire browser. Their approach is unique; the browser doesn't render the page, their server do, and the browser simply works as a client. Of course, this technology is limited to a handful of systems, and is not currently supported on Windows CE or Mobile at this time. While it works well, they have a tremendous amount of control. We have now returned to the issue of non-supported systems.
To test a few of my ideas, I'm currently sitting in the cafe of a bookstore that offers free "WiFi", courtesy AT&T, and I am on the Sylvania. It loads in Pocket Internet Explorer, but its behavior is... suspect. Clearly, something going on. There is a possibility that there was a welcome page that was supposed to have loaded that didn't; when my home page came up, there was also a "Cannot Find Page" message in the address bar. Otherwise, it seems to be working well. The real test is going to be Opera Mini...
...which also seems sluggish, and furthermore seems to be having a hard time with secure webpages. The other browser on my Sylvania is Iris, and it too has issues, though it connects very well. Its problems seem to be an inability to cut and paste. Troublesome, to say the least, since I actually write in PocketWord.
These are minor gripes, to be sure. Obviously, solutions need to be found. I have yet to test out a Linux on these smaller devices (be it JLime on the Jornada or Debian on the Sylvania). If we are to expect everyone to have access to the Internet, we need to examine the ways they get there.
Or try to.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's All About The Options

There is a reason I keep going back to content creation.
And that is simply because it is important.
The most important thing that these devices can, and I might add should,
be able to do is the creation of content. This is what the participation
society wants; more participation. Simply consuming content is allowing
control to be handed over to those uncaring and cold market forces which
feign concern but are truly disinterested. Too often, your input is
This past week, I was gifted with a Sylvania 7" Android tablet. It is
purely a device for consumption.Even the material contained in the box
were admonitions; "this is not a computer". As if repeating that mantra
would make it so.
It is, nonetheless, a computer. Just one with restrictions, caveats a plenty.
But, like the 7" netbook, it has plenty of untapped potential.
Simply adding a keyboard is a step in the right direction. While it may
void the waranty, I also advise rooting the tablet. This is going to give
the user much more power over the tablet and its capabilities.
A perfect set of applications for the tablet would be a small editor and a
graphics program. The ability to write is a given, but what could be more
natural for a tablet than a way to draw and paint? These sort of
applications are sorely lacking in the Android realm, and in fact seem to
be missing from the tablet world altogether.
Yet these devices, along with the inexpensive netbook, are so close to the
original concept of the DynaBook. They have come incredibly closer than
ever, yet the goal seems to remain elusive.
It's time to wrest control away from the powers that be and return it to
the users. Or at least give us the option.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

And Another Thing...

Still on the Jornada here. I decided to see if I could read my blog from
my Jornada, but discovered that it always resulted in locking up Pocket
Internet Explorer. Knowing that adding the tag "?m=1" after the Blogger
address allowed for the site to work in Opera for my 7" netbook, I decided
to try the same here. Slightly better, still locked. Finally, noticed that
Google loaded in this device with another tag, "output=html".
What if we added that output tag, but changed it to text?
The combination that worked was "?m=1&output=text" ; for example...
Not elegant, but hey, it works!
On to more experimentation...
(Note - I had to come in here and clean this up with the netbook. Seems that email posts don't recognize HTML)

The Jornada Gives It A Go

This is another one of those silly tests, in this case, to see if an even
smaller device can accomplish the same. In this case, device being used is
my old Jornada 680e. There are very few modifications to this device; yes,
it could run JLime, the linux for Jornada's. But, instead, I've chosen to
stick to the regular Windows CE 2.11 install. The only modifications here
are updating the Pocket Internet Explorer with the 128 bit SSL update.
Otherwise, this machine is fairly straight up. Wireless connection is
being provided by an Enterasys RoamAbout card.
Now, I have a way to move information, at least text, from my old reliable
Jornada to the Internet. You see, you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Moving The Little Invisible 1's & 0's The Old Fashioned Way

One of the first things I wanted to try with my little netbook was to see what manner of external storage could be used. Since it has three USB ports, logic would dictate that most "thumb drives" should work. Then there is the SD Card slot. What can it handle, what are its limitations?
I set out to find them. More or less.
What I discovered was pretty interesting.
Let's run down the list -
SD Card - Check
USB "Thumb Drives" - Check
USB Floppy Drive - Check... huh?
That was a bit of a surprise to me too, but it seems logical. There were a number of Windows CE laptops over the past decade, and some of them, such as the DreamWriter, had floppy drives. Knowing Microsoft's penchant for legacy code hiding in the depths of many of their operating systems, it was a gamble I was willing to take. One of my favorite cameras is my Sony Mavica, which uses floppy disks for storage; since these two devices will do a bit of traveling together, this was kind of important.
That's not to say that I'd advocate using an external floppy drive all the time. It is quick and sure death to battery life (them little motors in that drive, you see).
So while external CD drives might require quite a bit of work, you can access your old floppy disks. As to why you might want to is your business, and as always, your mileage may vary...

Mobile Test #1

I'm here courtesy Opera Mobile. How, you may ask?
Simple - I pulled up the mobile version of Blogger by modifying the URL -
And voila, I am now using the mobile version of Blogger.
It's simple, yes, but it works.
More tests soon...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Computer Is A Computer Is A Computer Is A...

This is a computer. That has to be taken as a given; of course it is a computer, albeit a very small one. Admittedly, the keyboard takes some getting used to.

But it is a computer nonetheless.

There is a tendency, I believe, to think of things that have screens less than 12" (300mm) diagonal as gadgets. That's certainly not the case with my older computers, that was all they had at that time. The little 7" screen on this netbook puts it squarely in the gadgetary class. As I've written on my YesterData blog, many of these gadgets are the equal of computers just a few years old. In fact, this netbook is better than my beloved iBook clamshell. That should make it a computer.

But, in the eyes of many, it is still a gadget and not a computer.

I have my work cut out for me...

Monday, April 4, 2011

We Will Start Here, Now

This blog is being created on a Sylvania 7" mini-netbook, or as I prefer to call it, a nano-netbook. This was an attempt to see just how useful this little laptop can be. These are the stats, from a strictly software point of view, of the tools being used here -

Windows CE 6.0

Pocket Internet Explorer

Keep in mind, by many measures, this isn't much. Yet here I am. We'll keep going later. For now, this is a start.