The WePad slateAll this talk in the media about the iPad – and there’s plenty of it, with an estimated 80% of the articles in my RSS feeds over the last few days being iPad related in one way or another – has whet my appetite for a slate-style device, but one that offers a little more flexibility than Apple’s locked-down PoS.

The first thing to catch my eye was the WePad from German manufacturer Neofonie.  The specifications call out to me – 11.6″ 1366×768 display, SDHC card support, USB ports, Android operating system, and a 1.66GHz Atom processor all pretty much crap on the iPad from a very great height, with the sole exception being the mere 6 hour battery life to the iPad’s 10 – and it looks shiny enough, but sadly it’s not yet available to buy.

Okay, so Android – if not rooted – is still a locked-down platform, but compared to the iPhone OS – as found on the iPod Touch, the iPhone (obviously) and the iPad – it’s as free as a kilt and no knickers.  Neofonie has even promised that, despite the fact they’re aiming the WePad as a platform for its WeMagazine digital publishing platform, full access to the Android Market will be granted – meaning third-party applications can be installed without restriction.

I’m still undecided as to the relative merits of the slate form factor, but the WePad has certainly got my attention – and not just because it sounds like a euphemism for Tena Lady.

Although I usually resist silly online quizzes, I was rather taken by the Which pre-1985 video game character are you quiz.  I’m pretty taken with the result, too.

What Video Game Character Are You? I am a Space-invader.I am a Space-invader.

I will happily recruit the help of friends to aid me in getting what I want. I have no tolerance for people getting in my way, and I am completely relentless until any threats or opposition are removed. I try to be down-to-earth, but something always seems to get in the way. What Video Game Character Are You?

Franklin Ace 100 Manual ExtractI spotted this post on Boing Boing a while back, and meant to write something about it at the time but kept putting it off.  It’s been languishing at the bottom of my Google Reader Starred Items ever since, and as I’m in the mood to clear out some old stuff I figured now was as good a time as any to put it up here.

Basically, professional photographer David Friedman found a selection of old Franklin Ace 100 and Ace 1000 documentation from back in the early days of home computing – and there’s some absolutely awesome sections hidden therein, covering such topics as why breaking DRM is the best thing you could ever do and why end-user licence agreements are the spawn of Satan.

The latter section includes the following:

These [end user] licensing agreements typically stop just short of requiring you to sign away your life, your house, and your first born child.  Nobody in his right mind would sign one of them.  But personal computerists do it.  Are they of unsound mind?  Possibly, but signing a licensing agreement doesn’t prove it.

The section on DRM is even more shocking, with the writer not only encouraging circumvention of copy protection in order to produce backups of your purchased software, but even advising on how to do such wicked things:

All you need is a weapon, a program called a nibble copier.  It’s a cute name, but its purpose in life is malevolent.  It’s designed to copy uncopyable programs.
[…]
Two examples of high quality nibble copiers are Locksmith 4.1 TM and Nibbles Away TM.

The full manuals are available for your edification in PDF format from David’s site, Ironic Sans.

AppBrain screenshotI’ve stumbled across a neat toy in the form of AppBrain, a snazzy bit of kit for Android ‘phones that finally brings the one feature I’ve been missing since getting my Milestone: a desktop interface to the Android Market.

It’s a simple concept: you install a client app on your ‘phone, and then it syncs to the AppBrain website – free of charge, of course – and allows you to browse your installed applications.  Where things get clever is that you can queue up tasks – such as uninstalling an application or installing a new one from the Android Market, which is fully accessible from AppBrain’s site – and then sync them to the client app, which carries out your demands.

It’s a neat solution to a thorny problem – finding decent applications while using the quite frankly cramped Android Market interface on the handset itself – and the fact that it’s free is the icing on the cake.

Oh, and it allows you to share your installed apps too – like so:

Although as you can possibly see, it has a tendency to limit itself to the first few in the list.  Still, if you want to install it and give it a go yourself just scan the QR Code below.

QR Code for AppBrain

Marvel Comics for iPadI’ve been scoffing at the iPad since its details were first announced: no Flash support; no multitasking; no third-party unapproved apps; why would I ever want one?

Well, I think I’ve just found the answer in the Marvel Comics app.  Quite frankly, it looks awesome.

The guys over at Boing Boing have got the details, and the included video makes it look like the sort of thing with which I, quite frankly, need to be involved.

I’ve been reading comics – well, mostly manga – on my Sony PRS-505 for a while, converting them to PDF and futzing with the images to better suit the 8-colour greyscale eInk screen, and it’s got me hooked on digital comics.  While that single app certainly wouldn’t make me rush out and buy an iPad – hell, $500 gets you a hell of a lot of paper comics – it’s definitely making me more interested, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the inevitable Android- and Ubuntu-based slates as they get released.

Well, that or I’ll finally get around to converting my old Eee PC into a touch-screen enabled tablet…

Newegg Fake i7 packaging shotHere’s a little article originally written for bit-tech but never published, regarding the interesting case of Newegg accidentally sending a selection of fake Intel i7 CPUs to its customers.  Since this article was written, NewEgg has confessed that the CPUs in question were fakes, and has talked things over with the supplier responsible – in this case, the ‘talk’ being “we don’t work together any more.

Read More →

Having finished my articles this morning, I figured it was time for an apt-get dist-upgrade on the laptop to ensure I was running the latest versions of everything.  A quick download and install later, and it was time to reboot.

At which point Firefox broke completely. No starty, no error – even when launched from the shell.

It’s taken me a little while, but I’ve tracked down the culprit: the Prism plugin.  If you’ve got Prism – a stand-alone Mozilla-based browser for creating desktop-style access to web apps – then the chances are you’ll be bitten by this bug, as installing Prism automatically installs the plugin into Firefox.

Thankfully, the fix is simple: go to Tools -> Add-Ons and disable Prism.

What’s that?  You can’t load Firefox in order to disable the Prism plugin?  There’s a fix for that, too.  Load a shell (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) and type:

cd ~/.mozilla/firefox
ls

That’ll give you a listing of the directory – with a single entry, which is your profile folder.  Use cd to change to this directory, then type:

rm compatibility.ini

Once you’ve done that, Firefox should start fine and you’ll be able to disable the add-on.

If you’re curious, there’s a bug filed on Launchpad over here.

Neat-o watch manufacturer Tokyoflash has unveiled an awesome new concept watch which uses an e-ink screen to create a wraparound inverse display.

As seen over on the company’s blog, the e-Paper Timing watch uses a curved e-ink screen to “show the time digitally in the negative space.”

The company has even seen fit to include Bluetooth functionality, making the watch vibrate and display a message on incoming calls or messages received by the paired handset.

Sadly, it’s only a concept at the moment – which is a shame, because it’s the first of Toykopop’s peculiar designs of wristwear that I could actually see myself spending three figures on.