Pocket eDGe = Geek Orgazm

December 17, 2010

Image of eDGe Dualbook when open

Now, I already have an excellent Acer 16″-screen laptop that serves as my desktop replacement…a 10″-screen Hannsnote netbook…and an 11.6″-screen Gateway subnotebook. The Hannsnote I take out on the weekends, when most wifi coffeehouses are so filled up there is no free AC outlet (and I carry a spare Hannsnote battery for just such cases). The Gateway is used on the weekdays, and is my on-the-hoof workhorse.

Well, I wan’t planning to get a portable touch-tablet system until some time late next year, considering I’m already happily saturated w/PC gadgets (which also includes my 3.5″-screen Pyrus mini media player). But then, after viewing various video reviews of all the new tablets/slates/epads coming down the pike thanks to Apple’s release of the iPad that sparked this trend, I discovered this combination ebook reader and touch tablet: the Entourage Pocket eDGe Dualbook. (Which has a larger cousin, nowhere near as cuddly, cute and portable, BTW).

Well, when I learned about its various features and capabilities, I was wowed! An excellent Ebook reader in its own right: 6″ screen w/electronic ink on the left, capable of reading any e-format. On the right, a 7″ color touch screen for its netbook alter ego.

The Dualbook opens a full 360 degrees, so the two screens replace the front and back covers. You then have a tablet PC on one side, and an ebook reader on the other. Though of course you can lay it out flat, to see both screens at once, if that’s your pleasure.

Now, the idea for me was not to go back to a smaller Internet screen w/a resolution not capable of sophisticated graphics such as on Google Earth. The idea is actually to finally own a touch screen, along with a quality ebook reader that was not just capable of handling all the available e-formats, but one that would show me the web while reading…so in a pinch I could look up related works, references, and images. And for that, I do not need a large Internet screen. I already use a dual monitor hookup at home (laptop screen 16″, peripheral screen 15″)…though such an arrangement is obviously not portable.

Another image of eDGe Dualbook

The Pocket eDGe is exceedingly portable, no larger than a paperback book (and thinner than many)…so is really perfect for riding public transit (especially BART on my way to and fro Berkeley), and my daily coffeehouse musing. Because the operating system is Android (a Linux derived system), it has access to tons of mostly free apps, including Entourage’s own apps library. (Apps are applications devised for mobile devices.) Before this device came out in November, such apps were only available to run on a (smart) cell phone. But Android apps have been growing in diversity and sophistication as to by now lay claim to a huge number of excellent (and free) utilities and games, games, games. So, with Pocket eDGe, I can now explore the universe of apps…seeing as I maintain a diehard resistance to owning and using a cell phone. (Mostly because of the ridiculous expenses and corrupt surprise fees typical of every mobile phone service…with which my meager stipend dare not muck around.)

The Pocket Dualbook will also serve for my nightly reading at home, while resting in my bed or easy chair, as I used to before the days of the personal computer forced me to acquire the new habit of sitting upright at my desk and staring into a bright screen. Back to the future, I suppose!

You can also handwrite notations to ebooks, highlight passages, and link web pages! The Entourage eDGe also plays audio files in all the popular formats, just like an iPod; as well as videos, movies and TV shows. You can also sketch and paint to your heart’s delight, for there are numerous FREE paint/draw apps for the eDGe (which you might notice is the perfect size for a sketch book!)

Jeez, I almost forgot: let us not end this article without mentioning the zillions of free ebooks one can acquire from dedicated literary sites such as Project Gutenberg, Free-ebooks, Best Ebook World, ManyBooks.net, Borders Ebooks, Digital Book Index, Ebook Directory and Ebook and PDA Documents for your Handheld.

Also this: 20 Best Websites To Download Free EBooks, this: The Best 6 Sites to Get Free Ebooks and this: Free eBooks on the Web.

What did I pay for this excellent portable Dualbook? $335 total (the lowest price I could find), from B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio, a highly reputable online source for your multimedia needs. In fact, they score the highest rating I’ve ever seen for an online shop.

To really appreciate what a unique and excellent device is the Entourage Dualbook, you gotta visit their web site, and check out this video (it’ll blow your geek-lovin’ socks off):


El Blog Del Narco Y Barfo

August 15, 2010

Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 17:50:51
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Berkeley Linux User Group
Subject: El Blog del Narco

MEXICO CITY – An anonymous, twentysomething blogger is giving Mexicans what they can’t get elsewhere: an inside view of their country’s raging drug war.

Read the rest of the article here:

http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-general/20100813/LT.Drug.War.Mexico.Narco.Blog/

The actual link to El Blog del Narco is:

http://www.blogdelnarco.com/

(NOT appropriate for minors, sorry Nate et al.)

I’d say that Wiki Leaks and El Blog Del Narco are two excellent examples of how the use of open source services (wikis and blogs) and an open Internet, empower individuals who are passionate for justice to be served. Such potent tools never existed before, and couldn’t come at a better time when our conventional news sources have failed their duty to keep citizens informed, including as whistle blowers against gov’t, military, religious and corporate skulduggery.

Even for individuals, such as myself, in a time when all local progressive activism has been usurped (for the most part) by egotistical, self-serving Libertarian types who really have no sense of justice or democracy, and only see such groups as stepping stones towards some sort of career, celebrityhood, or (gasp) sabotage.

If you have something to say, do not wait in some imaginary line in hopes of having your voice heard in a newspaper, local gathering, or radio call-in. Just go straight to the Internet, where you will discover many effective venues to contribute your proposals, philosophy, and maybe even some startling revelation that is the hallmark of courageous whistle blowers everywhere.


Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 19:08:07
From: Dan R
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

Hi Zeke,

I’ve been subscribed to this list for some time and you seem to write a fair bit here so thanks for this and all of your contributions. I want to ask you to tone down your political comments however. Calling libertarians egotistical, self serving, and lacking a sense of justice and democracy is purely inflammatory and was wholly unnecessary to your message. ALL political philosophies have very intelligent and reasonable proponents, and I’d hope that if you’re going to attack any of them, you’d go beyond name calling and ad hominem attacks.

Cheers,

Dan


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 02:17:47
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

Quoting Dan Roberts :

{{ALL political philosophies have very intelligent and reasonable proponents,}}

Like Tea Baggers, Nazis, Fascists and Aryan Brotherhood? Some political philosophies *need* to be condemned. I don’t look the other way when an egregious wrong is going on.

{{I’d hope that if you’re going to attack any of them, you’d go beyond name calling and ad hominem attacks.}}

Nah. Libertarians *do* suck, of any stripe. Especially since they’ve fully incorporated Ayn Rand’s horrid, vile ideological invention called “objectivism”.

So if someone joined this list who is a Scientologist, I must then remain silent on my disgust of that ideology too? Ooops, did I offend anyone out there who is a Scientologist? Good.

How about capitalism? Anyone offended when I say capitalism sucks?

Seriously, I don’t think we have any serious Libertarians in this group…don’t know why you are so thin skinned.

Some aspects of the Democrats sucks, too. Should I be afraid of speaking out against crooks who happend to be Dems…especially Dixiecrats and Centrists? They suck rotten eggs big time!

How about Republicans? They suck so bad, I don’t see why anyone even gives them the time of day any more.

Cheers!


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 03:00:03
From: Paul I
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

Well played, Zeke.

As a registered Green, I take personal offense that you did not mention how much *we* suck. From the naive doves, to the fringe conspiracy theory types, we suck for not even liking our own ‘kind’ most of the time.

:)


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 03:07:47
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Paul I
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

Quoting Paul I:

{{Well played, Zeke.}}

Hey, finally, another participant with a sense of humor! WOOT! Yeah, I don’t like the American Green Party in the least. But the European version…excellent. You are so *right* about the doves, too, and the weirdo fringe types.

Sucks that I left them out. My apologies.

Cheers!


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 03:31:59
From: Sameer V
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

This is still a Linux User Group, right?

Sameer


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 09:48:32
From: Jack D
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

{{This is still a Linux User Group, right?}}

Sometimes it is hard to tell… :/

The point that I believe Dan was (quite politely) trying to make is that this is in fact a Linux users group with many different people who appreciate Linux/open-source for many different reasons, and the point of the list is to discuss the things that we all have in common – namely an interest in OSS. It is not a soap-box by which to try to gain converts to any political way of thinking or to spread propaganda (whether accurate or not) for any political cause.

The truth is, Linux and OSS are so awesome that all sorts of people with all sorts of political opinions use it and appreciate its different values. Many such people are represented on this list. Because of that, I think discussions that focus on Linux/OSS and not on the things that divide us are much more productive, and in fact are the point of group – to unite people with common interests (surprisingly, the point was not to create a political debate group).

So, in conclusion, let’s try to keep things on-topic and productive. Now, everyone go have a drink of choice and relax. It is Saturday! I’m going to be doing some weekend coding. :)

Cheers!

Jack


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 10:21:04
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

Quoting Sameer V:

{{This is still a Linux User Group, right?}}

The original post by yours truly clearly makes that so. Any other questions?


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 12:47:52
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

Quoting Jack D:

{{Many such people are represented on this list. Because of that, I think discussions that focus on Linux/OSS and not on the things that divide us are much more productive, and in fact are the point of group – to unite people with common interests (surprisingly, the point was not to create a political debate group).}}

Consider me your token Linux activist. I keep alive a welcoming space for those who are passionate about Linux as a tool for social change…for the better, of course. If we consider ourselves a diverse group, that must be allowed.

{{So, in conclusion, let’s try to keep things on-topic and productive. Now, everyone go have a drink of choice and relax.}}

Or a joint. :)


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 11:45:21
From: Larry C
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

+1 Jack and Sameer.


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 13:15:38
From: Bill S
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

My thoughts as well, Sameer, Jack, Larry.

This last thread had only the barest relation to Open Source, and not at all about Linux. I don’t believe that the word Linux appeared in your email at all. So I think Sameer’s question was quite to the point. I don’t think BLUG needs a ‘token’ Linux activist… it already has *actual* Linux activists.

The mailing list isn’t a blog. You already have one of those, post these things to it and link to it, if you really must. I like to reading interesting articles about FOSS and Linux. However, I’m kind of tired of the political/economic rants (even the ones I agree with). And I’m definitely sick of the political digs and name calling (even the ones I agree with). Calling it humor doesn’t wash. It’s not really relevant and its certainly not polite discourse.

Just my 2 cents.

Bill


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 19:27:07 -0700 [08/14/10 19:27:07 PDT]
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

Quoting Bill S:

{{My thoughts as well, Sameer, Jack, Larry.}}

Umm, Jack was opposed to Sameer and Larry’s kneejerk reaction.

{{This last thread had only the barest relation to Open Source, and not at all about Linux.}}

The original post, mine, was indeed an open source topic…how it impacts political and social mores. Much of the *comments* however, were inappropriately oppositional, yours included.

{{I don’t believe that the word Linux appeared in your email at all.}}

Oh the horror.

{{So I think Sameer’s question was quite to the point.}}

Albeit pont *less*…more like a troll than a respectful participant.

{{I don’t think BLUG needs a ‘token’ Linux activist… it already has *actual* Linux activists.}}

I *am* a real Linux activist.

{{And I’m definitely sick of the political digs and name calling (even the ones I agree with). Calling it humor doesn’t wash. It’s not really relevant and its certainly not polite discourse.}}

How hyperbolic of you.

I had no idea how many EMO types subscribe to this list!


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 20:12:21
From: Jack D
To: BerkeleyLUG
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

Zeke,

I am “opposed” to all rhetoric on this list whose only main effect is polarizing the group over issues that are not directly related to Linux/OSS – this includes many posts in the past (even some from myself). While the subject of your original post is probably within reason for a LUG list, I think some of the rhetoric (the stuff Dan pointed out) in the post was exactly the type that serves no purpose other than to incite a reaction over an issue that is outside of the
realm of OSS.

And, quite frankly, yes I would request that you (and everyone else) keep your opinions on Libertarians, scientoligists and whatever other irrelevant group off of the list. I respect your right to have strong opinions on this issues (and I might agree with you on many of them), but this list is not a soap box for expressing these opinions. Doing so, does nothing but make the list less welcoming for all involved. This list is intended for discussing Linux/OSS related topics and the
activities of the BerkeleyLUG.

So, to put it bluntly: please try to keep discussions on the list related to linux/OSS. Do not include rhetoric whose main effect is to incite a reaction over issues outside of Linux/OSS. I.e. keep personal opinions on polarizing social/political issues off the list. I really don’t want to censor the list; that would really be a bad precedent, and I quite frankly don’t have the time. So please, keep the discussion on the topic Linux/OSS and express your opinions on
polarizing topics in a different venue.

Now seriously, we all have better things to be doing on a saturday night! For the love of tux, let this thread die!

Cheers,

Jack


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:36:57
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

Quoting Jack D:

{{So, to put it bluntly: please try to keep discussions on the list related to linux/OSS.}}

My intent, obviously, was to open a dialogue about the favorable impact of OSS applications–such as wikis, blogs and social media–on the effectiveness of activism. OLPC (One Laptop per Child) is prime example, and has been discussed numerous times on this list, and in our group). I would enjoy other’s opinions on what they think of such political movements based on OSS tools.

But in the least, such topics posted from time to time, show potential members who would enjoy discussing the political aspects of OSS, that they are just as welcome here, as the dedicated coders, who don’t want to spend so much as a nanosecond on such issues. (I must say, however, what is now being shown, is thoughtless *hostility*, intended to discourage activist-type participants. This is no accident.)

I think this is something to celebrate: how effective and ubiquitous open source has become, in supporting progressive revolution. Business, corporations, and industry are not the only aspects impacted…OSS has gone a long way in forwarding humanitarian concerns that have nothing to do with the almighty dollar.

If people only want to discuss coding, fine. Just stay off any thread that enthusiastically shares opinions and links about the political, social, educational, philosophical, scientific (and even perhaps) religious impact of open source. But to make rude comments and attempts to sabotage any such discussion, is pretty darned underhanded.

I think the activists at Wiki Leaks et al are excellent folks, who’ve made fantastic use of open source, to further important causes, risking their own lives in the process. This is an incredible result of open source, far beyond (and worthier than) the praise so often heaped upon corporate use of OSS. OLPC is great too, but no one has to take such great risks in that effort.

I can’t imagine what sort of progressive political and social change could be achieved these days, without the existence of open source. There’d certainly be no Wiki Leaks, OLPC, or El Blog del Narco!

There are many Libertarian ideas espoused by some Linux users, which because of their destructive agenda, should not be ignored. Such as the use of slave labor worldwide (to produce all these computerized products we so love), to benefit an elite handful. And no health care, job protection, etc. for more and more workers in the advanced nations. No safety net, either. That’s all Libertarian dogma.

I think that whenever people praise such ideology, they should be challenged. To censor someone because he puts a label to it (“libertarian”) is to obfuscate a serious matter, and suppress dissent. Every progressive group (including the techy ones) has been considerably infiltrated by elitist ideas such as Libertarianism. And of course, its advocates will do whatever’s necessary to silence the opposition.

As I wrote in my blog entry, “Open Source Can Do No Harm,” I pointed this out quite clearly, with linked references, that others might be better informed.

I know my occasional posts regarding OSS’s political impact is really not that big a deal. But small minded people with a hidden agenda will whine and spew nasty accusations in an attempt to censor those contributing worthwhile ideas to better the lot of the poorly advantaged. And I am most enthusiastic that Linux and Open Source now play a major role in this (though chagrined that it is also being utilized, more and more, for harmful purposes under a Libertarian banner). Obviously, some others in this group do not share my enthusiasm.

For a really classic example of vile (and ultimately *pointless*) attacks perpetrated by Libertarian style geeks, read the thread entitled “Seek the Wisdom Of Our Elder Geeks” on this page:

http://www.weak.org/pipermail/buug/2010-March/subject.html

I was the OP (and ironically, the *founder* of that group and list); and the attacker is a Unix expert of great reknown…though *is* somewhat notorious, also, for his nasty behavior on mailing lists. Don’t know why he’s like this (why he chooses to soil his good reputation in a public venue) but you, Jack, have also commented to me about his unsavory manner. (As have a few others, over the past decade or so.)

For me not to speak out from time to time, regarding very real culture wars going on in the OSS community–as it does in all other groups–would be to remain silent in the face of a flood of Libertarian/right-wing dogma that now plays a majorly *negative* impact on the once largely progressive and anti-capitalist Linux geek community.

And in so remaining silent, I’d contribute to the empowerment of one of the most destructive forces now ravaging this planet: Libertarianism. I’d rather be *booted* off a mailing list, than comply with unnecessary self-censorship. (I’ve said the word “Libertarian” nine times, in this one message alone, thus far!)


Zeke Krahlin
https://zekeblog.wordpress.com

Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian
Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian
Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian Liberatarian


Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 23:06:19
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: berkeleylug@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: El Blog del Narco

ADDENDUM

I should also take this moment to point out a particular star in the Linux community, who is generously distributing laptops to the poor children in Afghanistan, via the OLPC project. In fact, here is a video where she is featured, and sitting beside her is (lo and behold) our longterm Berkeley-LUG member, Grant Bowman:

Click on image to play video

The star is Carol Ruth Silver; and I wonder: Grant, do you know who this remarkable woman is, her incredible history and accomplishments?

Wonderful Ms. Silver is, politically speaking, out of the old-school left wing. She served on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors during the time Dan White shot Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk. More than that: she was first on Mr. White’s list of victims, but by good fortune Carol had already stepped out of her office at that crucial time.

–I now quote Wikipedia [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Ruth_Silver ]:

Carol Ruth Silver (born 1938)[1] is an American lawyer and former politician. She was a Freedom Rider arrested and incarcerated for 40 days in Jackson, Mississippi…

Silver’s 1977 election was part of a shift toward diversity on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; she was described as “the board’s first unwed mother.”…

Silver then retired from politics and continued her philanthropic work, which had included founding San Francisco’s Chinese-American International School in 1982…

In the summer of 2002 she traveled to Afghanistan to explore ways that American citizens could extend a hand of friendship to the Afghan people…

In 2007 she was appointed Director of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office of Prisoner Legal Services.

–end quotes

Regarding her recent position w/the Sheriff’s Office, from which she voluntarily retired two years after beginning that post.

–Here’s why:

In recent years Carol was the directing attorney for Prisoner Legal Services of the Office of Sheriff. But she resigned her position effective today. Carol has said: “I was participating in a system that made me feel criminal.” She told of one experience where a woman, who was in jail, needed Carol´s help to place her children in foster care. The woman was is in prison for pot charges. That upset Carol: “She should not be prosecuted, she should not be in jail, and here I was helping to place her children.” Silver announced that she was joining Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and would campaign to end the war on drugs.

–end quote

That quote is from the blog “Classically Liberal”, see:

http://freestudents.blogspot.com/2009/02/good-for-carol-ruth.html

So I just thought you should know this, Grant, if you don’t already. Ms. Silver is not just a wealthy old lady with a kind heart, who has decided to join the OLPC project. She is a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, whom I doubt very strongly, would *not* speak out against Libertarian intrusion in any group in which she held some interest.

It is important to make those aware that many progressive people have created this wonderful OSS community, but who are now being forgotten, supressed, silenced, trivialized and scorned by newer members who overrun these organizations with their foolish and mean-spirited ideology.


Best Way To Hack A Cell Phone…

July 8, 2010

…is to have a good Samaritan nearby use the Heimlich maneuver on your desperate person. Better yet: don’t swallow it in the first place, so you’ll never *need* to hack it up! Take my nanowife, please!

No, seriously folks, I just purchased my first cell phone. For two dollars and fifty cents…such a deal! I selected the sexiest from the lot of ’em, at a thrift store on Duboce and Church: “Out of the Closet”. Now, all I needed was a phone charger and I’d be in business…which charger BTW, cost far more than the phone itself.

Now, I could finally learn what all this bruhaha is about re. “texting”. Downloaded the user guide, and…Wow, what a ridiculous waste of time, but at least I get the drift: treat your fingers like little slaves, working them to the bone till they’re all wasted from RSI and you’ll need to wear digit splints on your texting hand for the rest of your life…and you’re not even 30 yet! Or maybe even texting while crossing a busy intersection and–in your absorbed T9Word rendering–inadvertantly step on (and squash into its next life) a hapless black cat that had just veered off the sidewalk to avoid scampering under a ladder. Moving on…

Why did I buy a used cell phone? Why didn’t I just go the regular subscription route? Only because–as one who is dead set on never acquiring this new-age albatross to tether me down to a chattering network of inane blathering for a highway robbery sum–I also saw the good in acquiring a diminutive handset, just for the sake of 911…which number by law, every cell phone is required to access, *including* those that are not subscribed.

Mine is the Verizon LG VX4600, which debuted waaay back in 2003. It’s in excellent condition, battery just fine. But now that I own a cell phone, I want to *play* with it, outside and beyond the subscription realm. Or IOW, I want to learn how to *hack* the precious little silver hand robber.

So I’ve just begun the adventure, and would like to share the following cell hacking sites for others who may enjoy:

Cell Phone Hacks ? How to hack your cell phone (Samsung, LG, etc)

How to Unlock Your Cell Phone for Free

Mobile Phone Resource & Community

Of course, I am limited from performing any hacks that require my own subscription, but *meh* I can handle that. Just think of all the money I’ll save! (‘Scuse me now while I figure out how to “sext” w/o a camera; maybe I can arrange smileys in some compromising position.)


Zeke Krahlin
Free as in dandelion necklaces


Pyrus Mini Multimedia Player

May 11, 2010

Image of the Pyrus multimedia player

Quoting Grant B:

Zeke brought this for show and tell today. It looks like a great deal at $49.99 & free shipping.

Thanks for your post Grant; it is an excellent deal for a budget handheld multimedia player, IMO. The shipping is free, only if you meet certain conditions, which I don’t. However, shipping fee for ground delivery is trivial, and the item was delivered just two days after my order!

He said for twice the price he couldn’t find anything with this screen size and features.

The brand name is Pyrus, and they do have various versions, but with a smaller screen. For example, if you also want the camera feature (or more storage space), the screen is only 2.8″. I looked at other brands in the below-$70 range, and did not find any screens larger than 3″ with such an excellent customer rating as this one (4.5 out of 5 stars average from 12 reviews).

If you find the files aren’t being recognized, he reformatted his SD card as fat32

One of the nice features with this player, is you can view the files w/o any proprietary application…any old file manager will suffice. That, plus the FAT32 format, makes it 100% Linux compatible. So you can simply click and drag your files over to the Pyrus player. Just remember to clear the trash folder promptly after removing older files, or your 4G drive will quickly fill up!

I think my Pyrus files got screwed up, due to Windoze Vista’s notorious mishandling of SDHC cards. (I was checking out this device in both Ubuntu and Vista.)

Suddenly on day 2, I couldn’t delete the files in trash, in fact I couldn’t even see the trash folder, though I had Nautilus (and Explorer) set to view hidden files. This corruption is common in flash chips, and the solution is almost always, to simply reformat the drive in question. However, I was hesitant, not knowing if Pyrus used any part of this partition for the OS.

(Let me take a moment now, to thank Charles and Michael at our last BUUG meeting, for their guidance in solving this problem…without their aid, it would’ve taken me much longer to discover the solution.)

After hemming and hawing, I concluded the logical likelihood that Pyrus’ OS was on a separate chip altogether…otherwise, there would be too many complaints and returned devices for the company’s own good. So I took the plunge and boldly reformatted the storage chip. To my happiness, all was copasetic, and I could transfer whatever files I wanted, once more.

For the technically curious: I did view the SD chip with gparted, and found no additional partitioning of that drive. But I did wonder if perhaps there was some proprietary setting that hid any possible extra partition, on which resided the OS, or part thereof.

Also, when I view device information (via gparted), model type is “emerson mp3”. This may prove useful for any hacking ventures.

with gparted but it worked great after that. It charges with the USB port but one minor limitation is you can’t use it while it’s charging.

The device does come with a USB cord, identical to the kind that come with most digital cameras. Rather than leave a computer turned on, in order to recharge my Pyrus overnight, I use a USB hub that comes with its own AC power supply…very convenient for all USB-rechargeable devices.

This player’s rechargeable battery provides approximately 3.5 hours of use before it poops out. A full recharge seems to take an hour or so…though I haven’t really paid close attention in this particular matter, yet. Seeing as I’m in the habit of just plugging it in to my netbook when I’m online at a coffeehouse…or just plug it in at night while I’m playing with my (desktop-replacement) laptop, or sleeping.

It seems to recognize more video formats than many of it’s competitors.

Pyrus boasts that it handles .mp4 and .wmv, along with all the other usual formats. For audio, it does run .ogg right along with .mp3…a plus in any Linux user’s book! Another plus, is that Pyrus automatically sorts all .mp3 files by category…based on any info embedded within these files. So you can view your audios by artist, album, genre, and so on.

All files are dumped in the root folder…except for any recordings you make, which are placed in a folder called “record”. Apparantly, Pyrus identifies format types by extensions, such as .txt, .avi and .mp3. The touch screen’s home menu is very attractive and uncluttered. Click on an icon such as “video” or “music” or “ebooks”, and only the files w/the appropriate extension will show up. There is also a file manager (“explorer”) that allows you to scroll through your entire list of files.

The videos display in excellent clarity, crisp and colorful…though you can’t view them at all in direct sunlight. The ebook feature is really text only…but that’s fine by me, as you can easily convert any ebook format into text with “calibre“, a Linux application available via the package manager. Recordings are somewhat low quality and only saved in .wav format, which is a real space hog. But it’s handy for recording quick reminders and shopping lists. The Pyrus also provides FM radio, also recordable (though not practical, due to the hoggy .wav format).

It also handles images: .jpg, .bmp and .gif only. This includes animated .gif’s, if that’s your cup of tea. :) You can rotate pictures, and zoom in or out…though this only works for .jpg’s and .bmp’s. (Pyrus claims only to support those two image formats, BTW. Also, for whatever reason it can’t handle “.jpeg” even though it’s identical in format to “.jpg”. You can just rename the extension before copying to the player.)

There is also a “game” section, where you can play either “snake” or “slide”…neither of which is worth your time: they’re poorly presented, at best. No way to add any additional games. But I didn’t choose a handheld player for games…or for any other features except video and audio, both of which are superb. The attractive bonus for me, is the “ebook” option.

You can bookmark your text files, and resize the font in three modes (small, medium, large). Also, you can play an mp3 music file in the background, while reading an ebook. But you can’t do same w/the radio.

Pyrus also has a simple “settings” section, where you can control the lighting, shutdown time, and even language (English, German, and the four major Romance languages). The player comes with a stylus, though no way to latch it onto the device. But I prefer to use my index finger, which works just fine. Also comes with a drawstring pouch, a useless manual, and equally useless mini-CD.

I originally sought an mp3 player, in order to listen to original progressive talk shows from around the country (in podcast form), and audio books. But when I began looking around for a good device at a bargain, I was impressed with some of the video options now so popular. Much more convenient to play a video from my handheld, than from a laptop, even my netbook, when riding public transit. The crisp 3.5″ screen is easy on the eyes.

I do not pay for any podcast subscription, as there are many free podcasts out there, both for music and for talk. If you really want bleeding edge songs and compositions, this is the way to go…as even the fee-based subscriptions are mostly mainstream these days. I use two different podcast aggregators, which provide a wide variety of subject matter from which to choose. They are “Miro” and “Gpodder“…both applications download your subscribed channels, that you may listen (or view) directly from your drive w/o the Internet.

Both applications can be installed via Ubuntu’s package manager, BTW. Miro specializes in video podcasts, but now includes an ever-growing list of audio channels. Gpodder has mostly audio, but is now adding video podcasts to its service. All podcasts provided are 100% free and legal…so no worries.

I’m also subscribed to a podcast web site, “Podcast Alley,” for additional shows that may not be listed in those two applications:

http://www.podcastalley.com

You can add any podcast channel from Podcast Alley, to your podcast aggregator of choice, via the channel’s RSS feed. Or, you can simply download their shows directly to disk. Whatever podcasts I want to listen to (or watch) via my Pyrus handheld, I simply copy to its 4G flash drive…or in the case of Gpodder, “export” them over.

Four gigabytes is more than enough to include a few full-length movies and/or TV shows…in addition to short videos, mp3 sound tracks, and ebooks. Anything I want to save in a permanent collection, is stored on my home computer. That way, I can freely delete shows/files I’ve already played from my Pyrus, and add new ones. For someone who doesn’t want a fee-based mini-media player, or a pricey phone service to go with it…yet would enjoy watching videos and listening to audio podcasts for a really great price, you can’t beat the Pyrus multimedia player. It’s all touch-screen based (except for a little button for image rotating/resizing), and solidly built with brushed-steel frame and back. A real delight for its purpose!

http://www.amazon.com/3-5-Large-Screen-Electronics-Multimedia/dp/B001HC6XMO
If anyone has hacked one, let us know.

I’m sure it would be a fun jailbreak, thanks to its basic design and low price. The 4G storage chip is sealed inside (not removable by normal means). The Amazon.com page for the Pyrus does show a flash card as something that is “Frequently Bought Together”…which is needlessly deceptive. Gives the impression that the Pyrus has an SD card slot, when in fact, it certainly does not. Almost definitely, this device runs on some variation of Linux. I mean, what else could the OS be…Windoze 7? NOT! :D


My Letter to Ray Taliaferro

March 25, 2010

FYI: Before you begin reading this piece, some of you need to know who Ray Taliaferro is: one of the most popular, longterm progressive talk show hosts in all of America. I’ve been listening to him for years, here at his home base station, Radio KGO. But he’s considerably more than “just” a radio celebrity. Click on his image below, to access his KGO page, and learn of his many good works.


Ray Taliaferro

Hello again Ray (I called in twice in the past four years: gay activist Zeke). I totally enjoyed your righteous rant last night, against the evil Norton security and anti-virus services. You are quite correct as a savvy consumer: they are treating you like you’re stupid, a fool, whose wallet is for the plucking. Your proposal to sue the heck out of them is a worthy cause…and about time PC consumers rise up in outrage. Meanwhile, I have a most effective and powerful solution to clean up your computer and have it purring like a kitten in no time…all for free. No jive, no strings attached.

Not only am I a gay activist, I am also a hacker advocate…but only in the best sense of that word, as in: “white hat hacker” (those who use their programming skills to legally assist people with computers, often dedicated to alternative non-Microsoft methods and systems.) Those of us in the know have religiously avoided any retail programs for years. For there are many excellent security and anti-malware applications available in the free software community. What it comes down to is this:

Install a small combination of free security and anti-malware applications. Not only do they cost *nothing* to use, they are also rated higher than any retail equivalent. For the sake of Windows users such as yourself, I have provided these free solutions in my blog entry from February:

Best PC security…at $0.00

Just follow the simple instructions, and your system will be as good as new…even better. I even give you a way to thoroughly clean up an already ravaged system…so I just don’t deal with preventive measures, but curative as well.

I think you will be very pleased at the results; feel free to share with as many other Windows customers as possible, in order to fight this war against consumer ripoff. But as you know, there is another method to own a secure system: switch your operating system. You mentioned buying Macintosh. But hold on a moment:

That changeover requires an additional major expense. Why surrender a perfectly good system that you just bought, to the recycle bin…when you can simply replace the present operating system with one that is far more secure, virus free and user friendly…and costs nothing at all? That would be Linux, or more specifically, a Linux distribution called Ubuntu.

That is what I have finally done last October, and I haven’t looked back. Ubuntu has all the capabilities of Windows programs, minus all the ugly hassles. To learn more about Ubuntu:

ubuntulinux.org

But if for some reason you are committed to certain Windows software, there are various and excellent *free* (or quite cheap) emulators that in most cases will run these applications in Linux. (And do you know *why* the Mac is so virus free? Because it is a Unix-derived system. As is Linux.)

There are also free “install fests” around the bay, via any number of Linux and Unix organizations. So you’re not even stuck with installing Linux on your own. In fact, I am the founder of one such group: the Berkeley Unix User Group (first meeting: 13 Jan 2000). Our home page:

buug.org

I am also a member of another user group just born this year: the Berkeley Linux User Group. Whose founder is a brillaint young man in possession of countless sparkling brain cells, Jack Deslippe. His page:

berkeleylug.com

BUUG meets on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month (7-9 pm at Cafe Au Coquelot on University Ave. near Shattuck), while BerkeleyLUG meets on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month (noon-2 pm at Bobby G’s Pizzeria same block).

You are most welcome to join us at either meeting, and ask all the questions you want. Bring your Toshiba if you’d like us to install Ubuntu…either alongside Windows in a dual-boot setup, or solo. (Note: you need to defrag your Windows system before installing Ubuntu, if you want to dual boot. Best done before you show up. Also, let us know a couple days ahead if you want to install Ubuntu, so we can prepare. And make damned sure all your valuable data is backed up to an external source, before proceeding! Better yet: two external sources, such as a DVD disc and remote online storage.)

When are the next meetings?

BerkeleyLUG: September 27 (Sunday), noon

BUUG: October 1 (Thursday), 7pm

Keep up the good fight, Ray…your *many* good fights. I’ll be listening to you as always, on late night KGO radio, 810 on the AM dial. And maybe, some fine day, I’ll have the immense pleasure to meet you in person.

Most sincerely,

Zeke Krahlin
gay-bible.org


Seek The Wisdom Of Our Elder Geeks

March 18, 2010

Cartoon image of middle aged geeky superman.

I think what needs to be acknowledged, is Open Source’s emergence from an earlier movement that was largely composed of renegade, left-wing, anti-establishment types. Since then, obviously this movement has expanded to include the mainstream corporate community. And from what I’ve just studied regarding this history, Open Source Software (OSS) established itself as separate from Free Software (FS), to assert a growing membership of business entrepreneurs and corporate interest. And this has come with considerable antagonism and upset from the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and related groups.

So of course, you are going to have the occasional clash between the two camps. However, newer members of OSS should not be surprised at all, when some participants reflect more of the original ideals of the FSF, including distaste towards the status quo, which of course includes the corporate world…as well as Republicans, Libertarians, and other right-leaning types. So whether one likes it or not, this *is* the history of Linux/FS, from which OSS sprung (or broke off, depending on whom you ask). This needs to be underlined (using Open Source loosely, to include *both* OSS and FS):

Open Source is *not* Google, as some would have us believe. Open Source is *bigger* than Google. In fact, it’s even *bigger* than all corporate entities of our struggling planet put together! In short: Open Source is *bigger* than capitalism!

In order to grow into a diverse group, you need to acknowledge that aspect of our origins. Ergo, do *not* expect every single member to be excited about the corporate aspect of OSS, and application of Linux to facilitate capitalist goals. Just so you know: in spite of this ideological rift, FS and OSS advocates do come together on various projects, when the purpose matches the ideals of the more liberal camp.

Be that as it may, Berkeley-LUG remains a very small group, for which such a low number could not possibly reflect much diversity. But as it grows under Jack’s leadership, please be aware that you will acquire more participants of a left-wing stripe, besides myself. That is: unless you allow pro-business peer pressure to drive them away.

Cartoon of angry OSS beans ganging up on one FS bean.

When I first joined, it was under the umbrella of Linux advocacy/Free Software. Some time later, Jack stated his wish to use the term “Open Source” in order to form a broader base of interest. Fine with me, however I was not yet aware of the serious ideological *rift* between the FSF and OSS communities. Only when I decided to learn more about how the term “Open Source” came to be, did I understand.

It is my impression that many of the newer advocates to OSS, are not aware of this ideological clash, and therefore blithely assume (as I had) that “Open Source Software” was simply a term to broaden our community of Linux and Free Software advocates. I have only recently learned: that is most definitely *not* the case. It will be a challenge to incorporate members of such opposed camps, but knowing your good character, I believe you are more than up to it. The payoff will be incredible, both personally and communally.

Now, while I am made to feel *alone* in my perspective, I realize that is far from the reality. *Many* anti-corporate Linux advocates live and thrive in Berkeley and surrounding regions. In fact, I am talking about our *pioneers* of FS, GNU, and open advocacy…all free and accessible to even the financially strapped: such is the *intent* of these forefathers. Allow me to employ the title “Elder Geeks” to these most generous and intelligent souls…both male and female, queer and hetero, and politically/socially progressive. BUT most definitely *not* Republican or right-wing, or even conservative (except perhaps if you include certain moderates in that circle).

These Elder Geeks tend to be largely anti-corporate, and frown on this latest phenomenon of the business world, where FS/OSS is utilized to build their monied empires. At least, this has been my observance over the years, of what Elder Geeks promote and practice. Granted, they may not project such a political *bias* as I do…just the same, they harbor distaste for the corporatization of things Linux. Which distaste may be enunciated w/o any sort of politics in mind.

These Elder Geeks are pioneers of programming, hacking, and free and generous sharing of their sofware and knowledge…to *anyone* who makes even half an effort to listen carefully, RTFM, and apply this knowledge to the real world (of cyberspace) effectively. So before you run off with fantasies of fat wallets dancing around your gifted cranium…give a thought to our Elder Geeks, and consider that perhaps (just perhaps) they have a *valid* reason for their distaste, outside of my own sharply political reasons for criticising Google, Red Hat, Sun, Oracle, et al.

It does not become such obviously talented minds to maintain willful ignorance of our history and OSS origins, and thus isolate and trivialize those not hell-bent on turning Linux into a financial Gold Rush.

Photo of tiny Linux penguin in a gold digger's pan.

Does it really benefit your education, to ignore the wisdom of our Elder Geeks, by never learning from them, exactly *why* they refuse to ride the corporate bandwagon? Do you really think that all their brilliant contributions that literally *created* and *shaped* this marvelous world of Free & Open Software you now enjoy, did not spring from a beloved philosophy *outside* the corporate empire?

I invite you to one of our Elder Geek gatherings, to kindly ask them their opinions about using FS/OSS in the corporate environment. Ask them their viewpoints on lucrative companies that utilize FS/OSS (including free operating systems), such as Google and Red Hat. Are there any for-profit agencies using FS or OSS, that they favor? Where should we draw the line between earning a living, and using Free/Open programs to earn that living?

Assuming you approach them with genuine interest and respectful regard (and knowing your character somewhat, I see no reason why you wouldn’t), they most likely will *not* chase you out of the room. :P

I’m certain they will be most pleased that younger OSS advocates even care to ask. So come to our next BUUG meeting, or the one after that, and learn valuable perspectives of our Linux Pioneers, what sorts of philosophies inspire them, and what their opposing views may be, regarding this latest evolution of OSS into the world of Wall Street.

Most sincerely,

Digital signature.

Ezekiel J. Krahlin
Old-school advocate of Free Software

Photo of huddling baby penguins.


%d bloggers like this: