The aRSSduino in action

The aRSSduino in actionThe aRSSduino is a simple project for the Arduino microcontroller, designed to display RSS feed entries on a 16×2 LCD.  It’s still in the early stages, with the following outstanding:

  • To Do: Support for larger LCDs
  • To Improve: Better UTF-8 character handling
  • To Do: Multiple RSS feed support

For now, however, it’s a pretty neat hack – and an alternative back-end allows it to display Twitter @ replies instead, with the person’s username on the top line of the display and the message below.

The aRSSduino relies on a USB connection between the Arduino and the host PC – it’s not a stand-alone project.  Currently, the Python back-end is written to run on a Linux-based host – although it should be relatively simple to port to Windows, I have no plans to do so at present.

You can download the project source code – both for the Arduino sketch and for the Python-based back-end here.  If you improve upon it, let me know!

Amazon Kindle 3G

Amazon Kindle 3GI’ve written an – in my not-so-humble opinion – interesting post on the cost of e-books for the recently-released Amazon Kindle and other eReader devices, which I’ve published over on my Freelance Site.

This week culminates in the launch of Amazon’s latest Kindle eReader,which means that thousands of gadget fanciers and avid readers alike will be getting their hands on a pretty special piece of kit – only to find that the surprisingly cheap price belies an expensive habit: electronic books can cost.

You should read it. It’s good. Honest.

Toshiba has confirmed its plans to offer a dual-screen notebook similar to Microsoft’s Courier concept, to be added to its Libretto ultra-mobile range.

The Toshiba Libretto W100 was launched as part of the company’s 25th anniversary celebrations – its first laptop, the Toshiba T1100 was launched back in 1985 – with the company’s Phil Osaki quoted by VentureBeat as stating that the company is aiming for the back-to-school season in the US.

The Libretto W100 ditches a traditional keyboard in favour of a second display with multi-touch technology – when you want to type, an on-screen keyboard with haptic force-feedback functionality appears. It’s unlikely to be comfortable for typing long documents, but it should be no worse than typing on an Apple iPad.
Both displays are 7in and 1024×600 resolution, and can be addressed independently – it’s possible to have a web browser on one screen and a word processor on the other, for example – and used in both portrait and landscape mode.  Interestingly, despite its small size Toshiba hasn’t opted to use Intel’s popular Atom processor, instead using the more powerful 1.2GHz Pentium U5400 chips along with 2GB of RAM and a 62GB hard drive to power a full installation of Windows 7.
Sadly, Osaki has been cagey on pricing details: the current run of the Libretto W100 is to be limited, as the company wants to get feedback from a small number of users before planning a wider launch of an updated mass-produced version later in the year.

Okay, so the title is a misnomer – it’s more of a kitbox.  Still, it’s my new toy and I’ll love it and hug it and never let it go.

The kitbag – designed as a one-grab container for everything I’m likely to need if I have to cover a story, excluding pen and paper which I always have on or about my person anyway – contains:

  • The contents of the Freelancer's KitbagA: Pentax K100D Digital SLR with 18-55mm kit lens. It’s crap – and just 6MP – but it does the job.  Just about.
  • B: Wind filter for F
  • C: 75-200mm telephoto lens for A. It’s slow, but when you just can’t get close enough for the 55mm lens it suffices.
  • D: Desk stand for E/F.
  • E: Medion 720p h.264 solid-state camcorder in 5m-waterproof case.  Fixed focus, but works in the rain.
  • F: Zoom H2 audio recorder.  Uses four mics to record four-channel surround sound in 96KHz WAV format to SD.
  • G: Hand grip for E/F.
  • H: Batteries galore.

All the above is wrapped up nice and securely in an aluminium flight case with foam lining from Maplin.

The bag isn’t finished quite yet – I’ve got a replacement flash unit for the K100D arriving next week, after I carelessly broke mine, but once complete it’ll do quite nicely for covering events.