Musings about things that interest a "Geezer Gadget Geek" who also happens to enjoy some of the finer things in life that liberty in a free country makes possible.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Sansa e260 MP3 Player

I recently purchased a pair of Sansa e260 MP3 Players from NewEgg.COM (a great resource for electronics by the way) for myself and my brother - who just turned 49 years old. It's a great MP3 player, but what excites me the most is the fact that an Open Source project called Rockbox can be installed on the little ARM9 powered machine and I can then modify it as I see fit! Now this is a real hacker's dream machine. Why purchase a relatively expensive ARM development board when you can get one like this for about $50 bucks and still be able to program for a platform that rivals PCs of the 1980s and 1990s for power and storage?

I'm still in the process of "getting my feet wet" with the source code for the Rockbox, as I have already downloaded, built on my Ubuntu Linux PC, and successfully installed the new kernel on the e260. I hope to work on adding features to the "plugins" collection.

I encourage all hacker types to consider getting such a machine and exploring on it. Don't fear bricking the machine either, for you just can't beat the incredibly low price for replacing it, if necessary.

As an MP3 player, I find its audio to be exceptional, its battery life to be good, and the quality of construction to be great. Buy it ... you'll like it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Palm Treo 755P

The Android platform offers great potential, but it has a long was to go to catch up and pass the Palm Treo 755P in functionality. I have no doubts that it will eventually get there since it is a much more open platform, but until then the Treo rules!

On my Treo I have hundreds of eBooks, multiple eBook readers, QuickNews for RSS and Atom feeds, an HP-41CX emulator (my favorite RPN calculator), a fantastic algebraic system called SpaceTime, the best PDA Bible software - the Laradian PocketBible for the Palm (including Finnis Dake's notes), videos from the Google I/O 2008 conference, lectures by Steven Covey and Jeff Hawkins, the entire audio Bible by Alexander Scourby, ten albums of my favorite music, a great little stock market program called Stock Manager, Agendus Pro for advanced PIM functionality, Checklist and Shadow Plan for creating comprehensive outlines and checklists, PsMemo, Googlemaps, Pocket Quicken, etc.

The list is endless of the useful applications, data, and multimedia files that this machine holds, representing a significant investment in time and dollars in creating it. Not to mention the solid hardware of the Palm Treo family, including the very best thumb keyboard I've ever used.

It is my sincere desire that Palm scraps their OS plans and instead ports the Palm tools on top of Android - but their hardware is JUST RIGHT!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And they're off!!!

The world now has real live hardware running the Android OS thanks to T-Mobile and the race is on!

Users are exclaiming their joy and their frustrations with the new platform and developers (like myself) are scrambling to understand and fix the problems. It's a very exciting time indeed to be working on something that is going to transform the world of technology.

In recent news, Google announced that the source code for the whole platform has been released as well. Unfortunately for me, it's a huge amount code being rougly 2.1 GB in size. My connection to the Internet is a fast Satellite connection via HughesNet, but it isn't fast enough to make for an easy download of that much data. Oh well. At least I have remote access to my company servers attached to a T3 line to use. (And I own the company, so nobody will be complaining. :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Google Android

I am getting very excited about the Google Android Project ever since they released their 1.0 SDK. It looks like a fun platform for programming all sorts of useful tools. My only current regret is that I live where only Verizon Wireless can reach - and they currently don't support Android phones. I wish T-Mobile were here in Hillsboro, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Maybe someday soon, Verizon will release a phone like the T-Mobile G1 and I will finally have a good excuse for letting go of my beloved Palm Treo 755P.

The Android platform offers a software stack that is optimized for slow CPUs, low memory, battery powered devices, and in my opinion it is very well designed. Although my favorite programming language is Forth, the Java programming language has proven to be a powerful alternative and for years I have programmed professionally in Java, so I am very familiar with it.

Android runs on a Google-optimized byte code interpreter called Dalvik and the core Java classes are all there. The whole stack runs on a customized version of ARM Linux (two other GREAT platforms to stand on - ARM and Linux!) and should make for a very fun system to program and use. Great work Google, T-Mobile, and the whole Open Handset Alliance!

About Me

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Hillsboro, Missouri, United States

I am a netizen of the world. I enjoy fresh air, fine wines, rural scenery, classical music, eBooks, and interacting with the other netizens of the world.

I look forward every day to waking up, writing code, and learning new things.