Dana by Alphasmart

May 2, 2011

I’ve told you about some of my other writing writing devices during the A-Z challenge, but I don’t think that I’ve ever mentioned my Alphasmart Dana portable word processor on this blog yet, other than just casually in passing.

So, let’s see. The Dana has a big, comfortable keyboard, about the same size as that of a wide-screen laptop, built into a molded plastic case. The screen is monochrome LCD, a little bigger than two inches high by seven wide, with a backlight option to make it glow faintly, which is useful under dim lighting.

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April 16, 2011

N is for…

I have two different netbook computers. The first one is the eeePC, which was one of the first netbooks to hit the market, and I got it around April of 2008, just as the model was getting started. It’s a wee little thing with a 7 inch screen and 4 gigabytes of onboard flash memory, which is the same size hard drive as the Compaq laptop I bought way back in 1999, and it came with this strange mutant version of Xandros linux pre-loaded, which really made it a bit hard to do anything but what the people who loaded it thought you’d want to be doing with a netbook, which apparently included using it in coffee-shops with free wi-fi a lot, since many of the applications they had loaded were ones that worked online.

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Why I don’t like the ereader.com beta software for Linux

February 24, 2011

I’ve been a fan of the ereader.com book reader software since way back when they were ‘Peanut Press Palm Reader’, which came bundled with my first true PDA, a monochrome Palm m125

It seemed like a revolutionary idea, that all kinds of great books, (well, a mediocre selection of great books and more good books,) could be bought for cheap and carried around in my pocket.

I’ve used ereader software on dozens of different devices now, and I do think that the platform has a lot to recommend it. The interfaces are usually good, especially with the intuitive ‘click to turn the page’ options, and it’s easy to copy your books from place to place, with the only digital-rights nonsense being a prompt to enter your name and your credit card number as an unlock code. The logic there, is that unlike arbitrary password, you’re unlikely to include the credit card number when sharing your book files on a peer to peer network, or to friends of friends on a CD.

I even managed to get ereader pro running on my Linux eeePC netbook, though they didn’t officially support Linux, through something that’s called ‘the wine compatibility layer’, which allows a lot of windows programs to run under Linux. In December, I upgraded the eeePC to the Maverick Meerkat Xubuntu version, and in the course of re-installing all my software, went over to the ereader.com site to download the windows installer.

And I got totally distracted when I saw that they had an entry labeled ‘Ereader beta for Linux Ubuntu’. Quickly downloaded this and installed it on the eeePC.

Unfortunately, this beta version is among the worse pieces of software that I’ve seen. Not the worst, because there’s some truly wretched stuff out there, but bad enough that I was really disappointed that it came from ereader.com

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A little netbook trouble.

October 21, 2010

I brought my Acer Aspire One netbook in to work yesterday, more to do some organizing of video files I wanted to take with me to Charlotte for the Browncoat Ball than to actually get any writing work done on it.

Unfortunately, a minor tragedy struck. When I brought the computer up out of sleep mode when I got into the office, I immediately realized that something was wonky with the colors. It seems as if the red levels over the entire screen are wrong, neither as low or as high as they should be – so black comes out as a dark red, and white usually a pale blueish-green.

The laptop expert at work, Sasha, figured out that if you bend the screen forward at an angle of more than forty-five degrees from perpendicular, everything pops back to normal – this isn’t terribly useful, but it suggests that there’s a loose connection between the video card and the screen.

I took it to the electronics repair desk at the local Walmart, and the guy said that they could take a look at it, but it would probably be three business days. I decided not to leave it with them until I was back from Charlotte, as I could still use it for a lot of things like this – just about anything other than looking at color photographs or watching videos is okay. Of course, I was hoping to be able to use it to watch videos, but that’s the way things go sometimes.

I’ll let you know how things sort out. And doesn’t it just figure that something like this would happen less than two months after the ‘puter is out of warranty? 😉

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