The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

SWN Hacknight – 101106

Posted by Deliverator on October 11th, 2006

Fought my way through traffic to get to Capitol Hill this evening for SWN Hacknight and was glad I made the trip.

-Rob brought the first print copies of his new book How To Accelerate Your Internet, which cover many aspects of bandwidth management. You should be able to buy a print copy shortly. The full book is available for download under a Creative Commons license.
-Got to play around with a Sony Reader. The Sony Reader is Sony’s second stab at creating an ebook reader which uses an electrophoretic (aka eink) display. The first was the Librie, which was only released in Japan. I found the device interesting, but not suitable for my uses. I think I am going to get the Irex Iliad instead.

What Sony got right –

  • High contrast display with amazing off axis visibility. As one person said “It looks fake”
  • Excellent hand-held ergonomics. Easy to flip pages/navigate menus using one hand in either portrait or landscape orientation
  • Easily navigable interface
  • Integrated leather(ish) screen cover, which snaps to the back. Unit feels very “solid”

What they got wrong –

  • This is really designed as a “closed” device, so what Sony wants is what you get. GPL covered code has been released, but many aspects of the device and accompanying software are still very buttoned up.
  • Limited internal storage without relying on a SD card or *surprise* Sony Memory Stick
  • Limited format support and reliance on closed source PC only conversion software for most document formats. Unsure of quality of conversion. We were able to read a PDF file from a SD card, but there was no evidence of read-ahead rendering of pages. Page flips were quite slow as a result
  • Screen resolution is fairly low and is only 4 shades of grey. Trying to read text in PDFs was awefully squinty due to this in combination with the paperback sized screen. I think a device like this will have its greatest initial appeal to engineers, lawyers and other people who work in documentation heavy professions. I don’t think a lot of people will buy a $350 ebook reader to read the latest Danielle Steel bodice ripper.
  • Screen exhibited a distracting degree of ghosting left over from the previous page. Rob described it well as “like seeing the letters written on the opposite side of a sheet of paper.”
  • Sealed, proprietary, internal rechargeable battery. Devices with non user serviceable/replaceable batteries have become a major turn-off for me.
  • Screen orientation can be switched, but it is burried several menus deep in the interface. I constantly shift around while reading and being able to change screen orientation quickly is a big deal to me. My Rocket Ebook has a dedicated button to change orientation. Addendum – Looks like one of the buttons if held down for five seconds will flip the orientation. Still not as nice as a dedicated instant switch button.
  • No touchscreen, so no ability to sketch or annotate or documents.

-Matt brought a Chumby. It is cute, soft and designed to be hacked. Whats not to like? Strangely, my first and ongoing reaction is that I want to pick it up and throw it through a window.
-Rob, Casey and Erik hacked away at getting UAE to play nice with some Amiga ROMS in order to get a unique program called Algomusic to run. Algomusic generates Techno music algorithmicly. It is extremely configureable and it sounds like nothing has ever been created since that quite does the job as well. Rob wants use it as background music for an audio stream featuring text-to-speech renditions of random LiveJournal blog entries.
-Casey did a few announcements relating to the rapidly approaching SWN Field Day. There will be a practice link set up this Saturday across Elliot Bay to get out as many kinks as possible prior to the actual event.
-I got OLSR installed on my Nokia 770.