Saturday, July 31, 2010

A stretch...

OK, so perhaps it's a bit of a stretch to class these as gadgets, but they are 'gadgety' in a way, and not all gadgets have to be electronic... Meet the indestructible Tyvek wallets from Dynomighty. From their web site: "... The Mighty Wallet® is tear-resistant, water-resistant, expandable and recyclable. Made from Tyvek® (think express mail envelopes), the wallet resists tearing because of thousands of interlocking plastic fibers spun in random patterns giving the wallet incredible strength..." Tough, cheap, cool... buy one and supply your own adjective...

Review from Geardiary

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gemei GM2000 e-book reader second look

The GM2000 displays JPG, BMP, GIF and PNG pictures, which can be displayed oriented portrait or landscape...

The e-reader supports TXT, PDF, CHM, HTM, PDB, and UMD formats... The screen shots below show a TXT file in Chinese (which came with the GM 2000), a PDF I quickly transferred to the Gemei, and another TXT file. These all look good, and you can change orientation, you can zoom, bookmark, etc., etc. I haven't yet put any ePUB books on there to really test its value as an e-reader...

I will have to see if it is an issue with other files, but the PDF reader was rather slow to render/display the one PDF file I tried out.

The final screen shots below are of the Settings menu, using the radio functionality, and a picture of the Gemei running the included video (Bono's 'One' with scenes from the recent FIFA World Cup). The radio function works pretty well - a quick scan automatically picked up the local FM stations and the sound was pretty good. Quick note, you do have to use headphones for the radio to work (i.e. it won't work with the internal speakers...). The video was smooth and also looked good.

The bottom line? Recommended.

Gemei GM 2000 Colour e-book reader first look

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Random chart

Source: The Taliban Beyond the Pashtuns

Gemei GM2000 color e-book reader first look

Chinese manufacturer Gemei recently released a color e-reader. Read the press release. The Gemei GM 200o has the following specs:
  • 7.0 inch 800x480 pixel color touch screen
  • Video (max. 1920x1080p) playback for RM, RMVB, AVI, MKV, VCD, DVD, and MOVE files
  • E-book function, including TXT, PDF, CHM, HTM, PDB, and UMD format files
  • HDMI and TV-out interfaces
  • Music player - MP3, WMA, APE and FLAC formats. Built-in 0.5W speaker, a built-in microphone allows recording.
  • FM radio.
  • Picture viewer - JPG, BMP, GIF and PNG.
  • 4GB memory, supports microSD memory card (max of 32GB)
  • A 2500mAh lithium-ion battery, rated to last for 8 hours reading time.
Of course yours truly had to get one and try it out, so enjoy the pictures:

Note, also picked up the 11-in-1 package (which includes a 2.5mm to Mini USB converter, a 2.5mm to USB converter, a 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio converter, a 3.5mm to 2.5mm audio converter, an audio spitter cable, a fish bone earphone cable winder, a strap, a AA powered emergency charger, and a SD memory card reader), thus the - unnecessary - proliferation of cables and accessories.

The included manual is in Chinese, so not much help there. However the menus are in English and the functions are very intuitive, so no problems figuring it out. Clearly the menus were written by a non-English speaker (who perhaps used Google Translate), as you run into a few weird things e.g. "It's forepart" and "It's finally" when you get to the beginning and end of a text, respectively!

The GM 2000 is a very stylish piece of hardware, with a very satisfying solidity and heft. It has a stylus slot (with a rather cheapish stylus) at the top right. On the front at the bottom it has the power button, and menu, forward, and back buttons. It has a multitude of ports at the bottom - moving from left to right you have a (second) on-off button, a headphone jack, a HDTV out jack, the microSD slot, the DC-in jack, HDMI-out port, and a mini-USB port.

Was initially baffled by the presence of a power button and on-off button. To turn the GM 2000 on you need to have the bottom on-off button set to the on position and then you need to push the power button... this powers up the device and you get the main menu. To turn it off you move the on-off button at the bottom to the off position, which powers down the device. Pushing the front Power button when the device is on does not turn it off! (it does, however, wake up the device if it has gone to power-save mode, per the values you entered via the Settings menu.) Also, strangely, the on-off button has "on" on the left and "off" on the right, not exactly standard. However these are minor cavils, overall this is a very nice product.

Below are pictures of the GM 2000 (left-to-right and top-to-bottom) with a Ectaco Jetbook lite eReader, a Sony PRS-300, and an iPad 3G.

Plug the GM 2000 into your PC via USB and it charges and shows up as a drive... When a microSD card is inserted it also "discovers" all the supported music, video, and book files.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More QR

Previous barcode-related blog entries:
Misc barcode updates... - Jun 3rd, 2010
Barcode happiness - II - Apr 11th, 2010
Barcode happiness - I - Apr 11th, 2010
Misc update - Jan 30th, 2010
Barcode update - Dec 29th, 2009
No luck - Dec 15th, 2009
QR codes to hit the U.S.? - Dec 13th, 2009
Misc. update (BB/2D barcodes) - Aug 22nd, 2009
QR update - May 19th, 2009
BB & 2D barcodes - Apr 21st, 2009

QR codes Augmenting Our Lives From Tokyo To Manhattan gives examples of QR code use, from Japan to New York... In France, the city of Bordeaux, as part of its claim to be the Digital City, has deployed thousands of QR codes, see Cité digitale : des codes 2D dans la ville, while Paris has deployed QR codes at over eleven thousand bus and train stops, see La RATP déploie des «Flashcodes» sur 11 000 arrêts de Bus et de Tramway, as has Santiago, Chile. The Canadian Tourism Commission launched a national newspaper campaign that resembles a printed version of an online travel blog, with QR codes included.... QR codes are being used at conferences, on wine labels, to sell Vespas, and for a variety of uses, see 101 Uses For Quick Response (QR) Codes.

QR code "backgrounders":
QR-Code Readers
PSFK Explores The Future Of QR Codes With JMango
Understanding QR Codes: Improving Website Performance

QR code studies/ papers:
"Droid Does" 2D Barcodes
Case study: The benefits and pitfalls of QR codes
A&M Label: Embracing Interactive Print and Tracking Technologies
Chevy Case Study: Using Mobile, Location and QR Codes to Inspire Brand Engagement
QR Codes – using mobile phones to deliver library instruction and help at the point of need.
Wayfinding Systems Based on Geo-coded QR Codes and Social Computing for Individuals with Cognitive Impairments

QR code merchandise:
QR cufflinks
Cool QR rubber stamps and T-shirts
QR dress code, la boutique des T shirts QR Code
ScanNap - printed promotional cocktail napkins

QR code web sites:
2d code
QR Arts
QR Dress Code
QR codes at Bath
On the Barcoding Blog

QR code-related on Twitter:

Random quote

"The economy now is markedly different from what it was at the beginning of the President’s term, 18 months ago. In January of 2009, the economy was on the brink of a potentially severe depression, precipitated by an era of irresponsibility marked by excessive risk-taking in, lax oversight of, and an eventual meltdown in the country’s credit and capital markets. The result was a severe and rapid economic contraction, the collapse of the financial markets, and damaging and painful job losses. More than 750,000 jobs were lost just in the first month of 2009, 3.7 million were lost in the first half of that year, and 8.4 million were lost between the beginning of the recession, at the end of 2007, and the beginning of the recovery.

At its start, then, the Administration faced a gap between what the economy could be producing and what it was producing: a difference of $1 trillion or approximately 7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, the country faced historic budget deficits and an unsustainable fiscal trajectory. No longer was the Nation expecting to enjoy the surpluses projected at the beginning of the last decade. Instead, upon taking office, the President was presented with a budget deficit for 2009 estimated to be $1.3 trillion, or 9.2 percent of GDP. The previous Administration’s decisions not to pay for three large domestic initiatives (the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 and the Medicare prescription drug benefit of 2003), along with the effects of the economic collapse and the steps needed to combat it, produced an historically large ten-year deficit of more than $8 trillion. Even this large amount did not account for the depth or duration of the recession, and the ten-year deficit projections grew by an additional $2 trillion as the severity of the downturn became fully apparent.

The Administration moved swiftly to prevent the economy from falling into a second Great Depression. To stimulate demand and jumpstart economic growth, the President signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Recovery Act provided tax cuts to small businesses and 95 percent of working families and helped to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth and prosperity with investments in health care, education, infrastructure, and clean energy. The Recovery Act has had a demonstrable and significant effect on the economy, raising real GDP as of the second quarter of 2010 by an estimated 2.7 to 3.2 percent relative to what it otherwise would have been, and increasing employment by an estimated 2.5 to 3.6 million. The Nation’s economy has grown for three consecutive quarters and created nearly 600,000 private sector jobs in the first half of this year—a stark contrast to the 3.7 million lost over the first half of last year. In fact, after 22 straight months of job loss, the economy has created jobs in the private sector for six months in a row. In addition, other economic indicators are showing signs of improvement. Industrial production (which primarily reflects manufacturing), real disposable income, shipments of capital goods, and U.S. exports have all improved.

Despite these hopeful signs, the economy is still struggling; too many Americans are still out of work; and the Nation’s long-term fiscal trajectory is unsustainable, threatening future prosperity. Building on the steps the Administration and the Congress have already taken, the Administration’s proposals, reflected in the Mid-Session Review (MSR), seek to speed the recovery, keep the economy growing, and put the country on more sound fiscal footing."

Source: Mid-Session Review, Budget of the U.S. Government: Fiscal Year 2011

Random chart

Source: How Different Groups Spend Their Day. Interactive chart from the American Time Use Survey.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Random charts

Source: Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic Risks and Opportunities for Business


Yesterday evening my HP Touchsmart suddenly gave up the ghost... Not yet sure what the issue is, perhaps a power supply issue since plugging it in does nada, zip, zilch... no sign of life whatsoever - no monitor, no drive whirring, no power to any port, etc. Can't afford to be down for any period of time, so a quick swing by the store during the lunch break scored a replacement - a Gateway ZX6900-01E

What a royal PITA... Less than five minutes to set it up, but then several hours of downloading and reconfiguring packages e.g. Zonealarm, Office, Snagit, etc., etc. Hopefully the Touchsmart can be fixed, so would end up having a very nice PC for the guest bedroom.

A few reviews: