October 16th, 2003

classic beard

toys of the week

Travelscan 464M - sheetfeed portable scanner (USB-powered, about the size of two stacked coke cans) with twain drivers for OSX. The supplied OCR software did ok on some bills, but failed to handle (or notice) some tables printed landscape, and also failed to generate any form of "image with text" (PDF works ok for this, the idea is to see the original bits and possibly re-extract later.) Readiris 9 for OSX looks like a good replacement choice, though, if it is sufficiently scriptable.

SmartID WFS-1 802.11 detector. Well, ok, 2.4ghz band RF detector, with a reasonable signal strength indicator. It isn't quite as sensitive as the 12" Powerbook, in that I get no signal from the bedroom where the laptop works (just at the edge, though.) It is sensitive enough, though, and certainly works better than the kensington was alleged to. It does have some directionality; it also detects clients (and claims to pick up bluetooth and microwave ovens :-) so it actually serves to measure ambient traffic, which can be useful. Fits unobtrusively in a shirt pocket (most of the weight is the 2x AAA batteries.)

(Also picked up an offset ratchet-driver with a variety of bits in the handle; it just looked cool, but it seems to be a reasonable shape, and the head can latch in several different angles for more leverage. It came in the same shipment as the WFS-1 - I just felt like something mechanical and "real" for a change :-)
classic beard

new apple toys!

Apple/Belkin just came out with a "digital wallet" frob that lets you suck down CF cards into the hard drive on the iPod (that you're carrying anyway.) Too bad it is
  • 50% larger than the iPod itself

  • takes 4x AAA instead of powering off the iPod

Nice idea, awful execution. The battery part is a show-stopper, in fact, although a smaller cheaper CF-only one would make me happy too (as long as it was batteryless, or charged itself from the iPod.)

They also came out with a "voice recorder", which is much more elegantly done:
  • no batteries

  • serves as an external speaker for the iPod as well

  • small (though I suspect it doesn't play well with the iTrip, they might have been truly clever...)

Much better job, I'll certainly pick one up as soon as the local store has them. Doesn't say whether the iPod does compression on the input, though. They're also clearly picking off more of the low hanging fruit of the PDA feature set...

The software improvements are nice too, it looks like you can finally say "burn this play list to a stream of disks" instead of having to break it up by hand.