The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Archive for January, 2005

Retail Therapy

Posted by Deliverator on 31st January 2005

My Jornada has arrived. Don’t expect to hear from me for a while :)

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Accessories, thus far

Posted by Deliverator on 30th January 2005

I have ordered a number of accessories for my Jornada 720. Thus far I have purchased:

  • 10 screen protectors from Expansys, to ensure that I don’t scratch the screen with the stylus. I bought a large number of these as who knows how long they will be manufactured.
  • Keyboard skin from image911. I once spilled a glass of egg-nog in a keyboard. Never again!
  • PCMCIA adapter to allow me to use type II CF cards in the Jornada’s PCMCIA slot. I found out that the built in slot only has a type I bus, so modifying the case to accomodate the larger type II cards isn’t an option. This adapter should make it possible to use my 2.2 GB microdrive with the Jornada.

I plan/would like to purchase:

  • 512 MB to 1 GB type I CF card to go in internal CF slot for use as application storage. I plan to have a wireless card in the PCMCIA slot most of the time, so the 2.2 GB microdrive will just be used for media storage (tv episodes, music, pictures, etc.).
  • New or lightly used standard and extended batteries. I also plan on acquiring a more or less dead battery to pull apart. The voltages and AH ratings of the cells sound reasonably standard. It should be possible to build my own pack, rather than purchase new ones for exhorbitant prices.
  • type I CF bluetooth adapter from Socket Communications. This bluetooth adapter is unique in that it is designed to have the same dimmensions as a memory card, so it should fit in the Jornada’s type I CF slot. Most CF bluetooth and wireless adapters have a small antenna extending out from the card body, but this one has the antenna integrated. Socket Communications specializes in making small, low power devices for use with PDAs and appear to be very well engineered and respected in the industry. I will probably pickup one of their low-power ethernet cards at some point, as well.

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Serendipity – The Closed Circle

Posted by Deliverator on 29th January 2005

A few weeks back I went and saw The Aviator, and it got me interested in Howard Hughes. Hughes movie Hell’s Angels was featured prominently in The Aviator and I managed to track down a copy. I started watching it last night. This morning, I took my neighbor Frances out to do her errands and have breakfast (she is 92 and no longer drives). Somehow, during our conversation we started talking about favorite old movie actors and actresses and Frances told me a story about going to Grauman’s Chinese Theater in1930 to see the opening of a movie along with a friend from Munsie, Indiana, Frances’ home town. Her friend was the heir to the “Ball Mason Jar” fortune. Ball Jar’s were decorative jars used for canning food and are very sought after collectibles. I am not sure how rich Frances’ friend was, but the Ball family bought and donated a small university to the state of Indiana in 1918. The grounds alone are valued at 1.1 Billion dollars at this time. Anyways, Frances remembered the actors and actresses got up after the show and went on stage and performed for the crowd. She recalled how they were not able to get very good seats and her friend had to sit in the front row next to the platinum blonde actress from the film. There were not many platinum blonde actresses in Hollywood prior to Marilyn Monroe, so I was able to quickly deduce that the actress could have been none other than the original blonde bombshell, Jean Harlow, star of Hell’s Angels!

Posted in General, Media, Movies | No Comments »

While I wait…

Posted by Deliverator on 27th January 2005

I have been busy getting prepared for the arrival of my new-to-me Jornada 720. I have been spending a good deal of time consulting forums, downloading software and shopping for accessories. I managed to purchase a PCMCIA adapter that should let me use my 2.2 GB type II CF microdrive in the Jornada’s PCMCIA slot. The Jornada also has a dedicated CF slot, but it is located under a panel on the underside of the unit and the thicker type II CF cards wouldn’t fit without modifications to the cover. Although I enjoy any opportunity to use my dremel tool, I am going to try and keep this latest gadget in good working condition for more than a month. Given that I have managed to kill four PDAs over the years, this will be challenge enough. I may purchase a sizeable (1 or 2 GB) flash based CF card to go in this slot at some point, but for now, I am trying to conserve cash by using what I got. I already had the microdrive and the PCMCIA adapter cost me $.98 on ebay. Granted, the shipping cost 7 times as much as the actual purchase price, but nothing will spoil my typical consumer delusion that I got a good deal! I also stopped in at Compusa to browse through their PDA wares. They didn’t have anything that peaked my interest too much, but it did get me thinking about screen and keyboard protection. I did some searching and found that the best are made by a company called image911 and they were designed to keep blood off the PDAs of emt/ambulance workers. Hopefully this means it will also protect against coffee and hot pockets. I once spilled a glass of eggnog into a keyboard and it wasn’t pretty…

In terms of software, so far I have downloaded the following:

  • 128 bit SSL patch for Pocket IE
  • ceFTP – an ftp client
  • DeSappear – small hack that allows for transparent icon text on the desktop
  • Doom – The classic first person shooter
  • ExecutabilityCheck – This program patches PPC 2000 and 2002 executables ON THE FLY to run on the HPC. Both the Handheld PC (HPC) and Pocket PC (PPC) platforms share the same OS core, Win CE 3.0. This program and several .dlls taken from PPC units allow HPCs to run a good deal of PPC software.
  • ezyUnZIP – a zip utility
  • ftxBrowser – Web browser with support for tabs and other neat features. Uses the Pocket IE rendering engine.
  • GAPI – Gaming API allowing for advanced 2d graphics functions on Win CE. Used for many games/video playback. Similar to the Direct Draw layer of Direct-X on full blown Windows.
  • PocketMVP – Media playback software that supports most modern codecs (divx, mpeg(1,2,4), xvid, etc.)
  • itaskmgr – a task managed
  • PocketDivx – another media player, but with much more limited format support
  • LaunchForce – A quicklaunch bar that allows you to save valuable desktop space for pictures of nude women!
  • MemInfo – provides at a glance views of available program memory, internal and external storage.
  • Ministumbler – Like Netstumbler, only smaller…Netstumber is the most popular wireless network survery application on the PC. Most of the wireless drivers for Win CE don’t come with very good site survery tools, so I am happy to see that ministumbler should be compatible with both my Jornada and the wireless card I plan to be using (Orinoco Gold).
  • Microsoft ActiveSync 3.8 – Latest program from Microsoft for synching your Win CE machine with your desktop. I plan on synching wirelessly most of the time, but I have a USB cradle to fall back upon. This wasn’t very stable when I used it, so I hope things have improved.
  • XML patch from Microsoft. Enables XML support in Win CE 3.0 (particularly in Pocket IE).
  • nPOP – A good internet email client
  • Orinoco WIN CE drivers for my WiFi card
  • Pocket Streets 2001 – Microsoft’s mapping software for the HPC. Newest version that will install (without modification) on HPC.
  • pjava – latest Java VM from Sun
  • Plus Pack for Win CE – Some nice, free extras from Microsoft
  • Pocket Notepad – Notepad clone for the HPC. Can you believe Microsoft left this one out of the OS?
  • Power Toys – Lots of nice little tweaks curtesy of MS
  • Quake for HPC – The unquestionable grandaddy of all modern, 3d first person shooters. I can’t wait to run Quake Done Quick on this one!
  • Quick View Plus – allows for viewing of a wide variety of file-types.
  • imov – IM client that works with most of the major IM systems (supports Jabber).
  • sshce – Secure Shell Terminal for Win CE
  • Smalltweak – collection of registry hacks for Win CE with nice user-friendly interface. Similar to Tweakui for Windows
  • Total Commander Wince – great filemanager for Win CE.
  • Terminal Services Update – The Jornada has a TS client out of the box, but it is lacking it several major ways. The built in version can’t easily send right click events and can’t set the session resolution to the Jornada’s native resolution (640*240). This makes for a lot of awkward panning when trying to administer boxen. This update corrects both of these flaws.
  • VNC for ARM – VNC client ported to Win CE as a school project. Between this, Terminal Services and SSH, I should be pretty well set for remote admin tasks.
  • vxUtil – set of network utilities for Win CE (Ping, Traceroute, etc.)

This is actually a fairly small subset of the applications that I have downloaded, but I listed the most critical ones first and all my readers have fallen asleep reading this lengthy entry…

Posted in General, Portable Computing/Gadgets, Tech Stuff | 3 Comments »

Oh yes, you are mine!

Posted by Deliverator on 26th January 2005

I finally managed to win an auction for a Jornada 720! It cost me more than I would like, but realisticly, I wasn’t going to be able to get one for much less. This one is described as being in *MINT* condition, so hopefully the extra money will be worth it. This one also comes with a number of nice extras, like a USB cradle (most Jornadas only shipped with serial cables, which made for slow synching). I will probably end up buying a large type I CF card at some point, as well as an extended life battery (has 3 times the run-time of the standard battery). I plan on using the Jornada mainly as a wireless platform, while out and about. WiFi cards tend to use 100-200 mw of power, which limits you to about 3 hours of use with the standard battery, so the extended battery is almost a requirement for my purposes. I may pickup a CF Wifi card at some point, to free up the PCMCIA slot, so that I can use a type 2 microdrive in an adapter in the PCMCIA slot instead.

I have been trying to get one for a few weeks, but usually lost at the last minue to snipers. I lost an auction for one this morning by $1.50 in the very final seconds, after it soared in price by nearly $200 in the final hour! Most of the auctions seem to have about 30 bids when they end, so these things are definitely quite popular. There is obviously demand for HPC form factor devices, I just don’t think it enough for a general marketplace. I think NEC (the last major manufacturer of HPC form-factor devices) markets their models mainly at corporate audiences. I think it will take something like the oQo or Flipstart to revitalize the HPC form-factor.

Posted in General, Portable Computing/Gadgets, Tech Stuff | 1 Comment »

Something fishy

Posted by Deliverator on 25th January 2005

Well, I managed to force myself to class this morning, as it was the quasi due-date for a video editing project. We are creating our own Gunsmoke episodes from raw footage. The teacher is giving everyone 2 days grace, so it isn’t really due till Thursday, but I wanted to see what everyone has been doing with their episodes.

I have been feeling pretty crummy the last few weeks and have a cough that just won’t go away. I find if I suck on enough cough-drops, it numbs my throat enough that I no longer feel the compelling need to cough (more like dry heave, to be truthful). I take the directions of “take 1 every 2 hours as needed” pretty liberally, and as such, I am now on my 5th bag of cough drops in 10 days. I have also bought a small humidifier for my room, as my cough seems exaserbated by dry air. My house uses forced-air heating, so it is always pretty dry.

Minus the cough symptoms, I am still left feeling continually short of breath and my lungs feel “wet” despite the fact that nothing comes up when I cough. I have had a great deal of difficulty sleeping the last few weeks (even more so than usual). I have always slept on my side and any attempt to do so these days causes enough breathing difficulty that I can’t seem to fall to sleep. I have tried sleeping on my back, but that doesn’t seem to work too well. I shift onto my side while I sleep and promptly wake up. The engineer in me sought a technical solution to my difficulty in getting to sleep. I found that by strategicly placing a few pillows, I could rest on my side without placing too much pressure on my chest. This seems to have done the trick as far as getting to sleep goes, but my tendency to move around while I sleep inevitably means that I dislodge my pillows and wake up. As a result, I don’t think I have gotten more than 2-3 hours of continuous sleep in the last ~10 day or so. This has left me even more zombie-like and withdrawn than usual.

I think I owe all this to a mouthful of fishy water that I half inhaled while trying to create a syphon to change the water in my fishtank. I feel like I am gradually kicking this *whatever* (bacteria, virus?) on my own, but may consult a doctor if it continues for much longer.

I will leave you with a thought from the great comedian of old, WC Fields:

When asked why he drank so much liquor, he responded “Drink water?!? Fish pee in it!”

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Shilling

Posted by Deliverator on 25th January 2005

Your eBay word of the day is “shilling.” This word most commonly refers to the process of using one or more fake bidders to cause a bidding war and increase the price of an item. It has some other meanings as well. I was monitoring a dozen or so auctions for a Journada 720 and saw one that was ending fairly soon, was reasonably priced and was being sold by a user with over 300 good feedbacks. I thought about placing a bid and a few hours later decided to do so. When I visited the auction page again, I found that the price had almost doubled in the mater of a few hours. I checked the bid history and found that all the bids were placed back and forth in $5 increments at evenly spaced time intervals using user accounts with…..you guessed it…..zero feedback. From the regularity of the bidding intervals and the gobledygook user names, it was very obvious that a program was being used to automate the whole procedure. Another clue was the fact that both accounts showed asian countries for place origination. The seller went out of his way to emphasize that he would not ship outside the US. This gives him a perfect excuse to deny the top bid, if it winds up being one of his dumy accounts and still lets him sell the price inflated item to the highest bidder. I reported the user and as much data as I could gather to eBay, but I am not confident that they will do anything about it.

Caveat Emptor

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Tivo to Go – Decrypted!

Posted by Deliverator on 24th January 2005

So, a little while back, Tivo released a feature called “Tivo to Go.” The idea is that you can download shows off your network equiped – Series 2 – Tivo onto your PC. The catch is that the files have DRM. Or rather, they *had* DRM until this guy figured out how to extract the MPEG 2 streams on Windows! The process is fairly simple and my guess is it will get simpler. I haven’t had a chance to test this yet, as I only have a series 1 Tivo. The series 2 Tivos are about $100 and you can add a WiFi card for $20. I will definitely buy one as soon as my series 1 box’s yearly subscription expires. Another nice thing about the series 2 Direct-Tivo units is they are capable of capturing 2 shows simultaneously. This means your Tivo can record 2 shows, while you watch one that is already stored. This is very helpful if you are a fan of shows that are on during prime hours, as popular shows are often scheduled for the same hour in order to force viewers to make a choice.

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Jornada Sniping

Posted by Deliverator on 24th January 2005

I have been trying to get out of the house more recently, but my need to stay in contact (for business purposes) via email and IM has made this difficult. I really don’t like the bulk of a laptop. I want something that I can carry in a jacket pocket. During my freshman year in college, I owned a Toshiba Libretto 70CT, a 1.8 pound (including battery) palmtop wonder that ran Win 98. I really loved it and it fit my needs well. Unfortunately, I have a bad history of gadget abuse, and true to form, I managed to drop it off the bed one night. I am really not happy with the direction that the Palm and Win CE market has been going. While devices like the Ipaq are great for what they do, they don’t offer wide enough screens for reviewing documents and they don’t have efficient text input methods. What I really want is a modern Win CE device of the HPC “clamshell” type form factor. Most devices of this type have a fairly large qwerty keyboard (large enough to touch type, with care) and a 1/2 VGA (full width, half height) screen. NEC is the only manufacturer still actively supporting this form factor. Their Mobilepro 900 and 900c models are really nice, but are totally overkill for my purposes, and rather bulky (1.8 pounds, same as my Libretto). HP used to make a real nice series of HPCs in their “Jornada ” line, but they discontinued them a few years ago. Still, I think a Jornada (720 or 728) is the device for me. Here are some reasons why:

  • 640*240 screen allows for full width viewing of documents (Word, Excel, PDF’s, Emails, Webpages, etc.)
  • keyboard has fairly fullsize keys and good tactile response for rapid hammering out of emails
  • Has both a type II PCMCIA and a type I CF slot, allowing for use of CF Microdrives (I have a 2.2 GB one), flashcards and wireless adapters (including the excellent Orinoco series of cards).
  • USB port for rapid sync with PC
  • optional VGA output card
  • built in Remote Desktop/Terminal Services Client and 3rd party VNC client for remote management.
  • Pocket IE Web browser with support for most modern web standards (you can alter the User Agent via a registry hack, so that it will work with most web pages).
  • Active developer community that continues to support the HPC form factor, long after most manufacturers have abandoned it.
  • 3rd party gaming API allows for 2d acceleration of games, video and allows many newer apps to run on the older HPC 2000 (Wince 3.0) OS. This includes PocketDivx, Pocket Quake I and II, etc.
  • Extended life battery allows for 20+ hours of use (probably 6-8 with Wifi and CF active).

Anyways, I have been trying to get my hands on one of these on Ebay, but it appears there are a number of snipers that are buying these up as well. Sniping, for those of you who haven’t heard the term, refers to placing your bid at the last possible instant, to ensure that other buyers don’t have a chance to counter your bid and elevate the price. I have seen a number of 6-day auctions for 720’s that have hovered around $70 for 5 days and then shot to over $300 in the last few hours. I am tracking around a dozen auctions right now and hopefully I will be able to get one for a reasonable price.

Oh yes, you will be mine…..oh yes!

Posted in General, Portable Computing/Gadgets, Tech Stuff | 3 Comments »

Scanning Done

Posted by Deliverator on 23rd January 2005

Well, finally finished the big scanning project. All told, I scanned some 250 slides, producing somewhere around 18 GB of data. I am in the final stages of ferrying the data to various machines on the network for redundancy and have produced both a slideshow DVD for display on TV’s and a set of 4 discs with all the data files to be deposited in the bank’s vault. I am really pleased with the outcome of this project and am equally thankful that it is over. I am pooped…

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