The paper and pen operating system : Livescribe

As interfaces go, handwriting and computers have never really got on together. Either the interface to actually write with is totally alien to how you actually write or when you can get some writing to the computer,they are notorious at trying to work out what you’re actually writen.

So, the solution – stick the computer inside a pen and turn paper into the screen. Oh, and why you’re at it, why not record what’s going on around you and associate that with what you’re writing – now no need to miss what is being said in meetings and lectures.

Sounds clever, no? That’s just what I thought but here’s the demo of this clever system: (There’s an advert on before it unfortunately)

There’s more information available at their website here:

It uses an infrared camera (records 70 fps) to record your writing and can store upto 2 GB of data. The website claims it can hold more than 100 hours of audio, which should be plenty even for a week of meetings. It doesn’t explain how the notepad buttons work though, which I find really interesting…

I haven’t yet used one of these in real life but I think in many meetings I’ve been in, not to mention some unfortunately dull lectures, they’d be very useful. They are also relatively cheap, (you can buy more expensive conventional pens than this) and with falling prices of solid state memory and infrared camers (have you notived these are popping up on everything lately) they’ll soon be recording in everyones hand.

Let me know if you get to play with one of these.

"Infrared camera and Johnny Lee" or "Wii hacks"

The Wii remote is one of the most advanced game controller ever produced. It’s position and movement can be read in three dimensions, it’s wireless, has a built in speaker and you can point it straight at the screen.

It’s the last ability that Johnny Lee is most interested. The Wii Remote has a infrared camera in the end and it is this (together with the Sensor Bar which transmits infrared) that allows you to point at the screen.

But the camera can actually pick up any infrared transmissions and it is this that brings us to Johnny Lee’s WiiHacks.

I’ll let him tell you the rest here:

there’s also an additional feature in this video:

Now, you’re almost certainly asking, how do I get me one of these? Well, quite simply:

  • Buy a wii remote (they come seperate),
  • Get a bluetooth reciever for your computer if you need one.
  • By some Infrared transmitters and some batteries.
  • Download Johnnys code from his website. Which is here:
  • For some of Johnnys hacks you might also need the sensor bar (which can also be obtained seperatly)
  • Play

I haven’t had a chance to play myself yet but I’ll be updating as soon as I can.

Hacking the Asus MiniBook – or Having some programmer fun.

I’ve been playing around with my new Asus miniBook and thought I’d share a few tips with you:

Tip 1:
This is basically a Linux build, so it must have a command line interface… and it does. Just press Ctrl-Alt-T to get it up.

Tip 2:
So if it’s Linux were is the interface then? It’s there you just need to install a few apps to see it. It will only use an additional 6 Megabytes, and you can always set it back later. Make sure you have internet access too – if you use a proxy server you’ll have to enter that before attempting this.. So: Open a command line (Tip 1) and type:

  • “sudo apt-get update” – To update your repositories of software to the latest ones
  • “sudo apt-get install kicker” – To get the first little app you’ll need, press ‘Y’ when asked.
  • “apt-get install ksmserver” – For the second little app, again press ‘Y’ when asked.
  • “exit” – to leave the screen.

Now if you press the power button you’ll see another option on the left, click this to boot into full mode. (Note, that it will only boot into full desktop the next time you start the machine, normally it will boot into the simple interface, this shouldn’t be a problem because it literally takes seconds to boot anyway)

Tip 3:
The camera. The built in camera is actually turned off by default to save battery power. Some software will realise this and turn it on automatically but others won’t and you’ll have to do it yourself. A quick way to turn the hardware on is with a quick text command, open a command line and type:

  • “sudo echo 1 > /proc/acpi/asus/camera”

Replace the ‘1’ with a ‘0’ (zero) to turn it back off.

Tip 4 :
Skype Video. There’s currently a beta version of Skype available for the Linux system, you’ll have to upgrade to this one to get video calls as the currently installed one doesn’t have it. You can get it from here:
select the xandros edition.

UPDATE: There is now a released version of Skype with all the video goodness already included. Get it from here:

When you’ve downloaded this installer (It should be in your “My Documents” folder) run it using the File Manager or through the command prompt. Now you can launch Skype from the same place as before. Don’t forget to turn on the camera (Tip 3) before you run it though.

If I think of any more I’ll post them here. If you have some of your own, please let me know.

RM Asus Eee (by gum) PC – The miniBook.

Just got my hands on a new RM Asus miniBook machine today – how cute the little fellow looks!

My first impressions are that it is certainly a capable machine which you can take anywhere with you. The Keyboard is very small but I got used to it – I’d recommend the two finger entry approach. It uses a linux operating system.

Here’s a size comparison of the miniBook with the book (which I now propose should be an official standard size) “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, The miniBook is slighly longer, slighty deeper but about half as thick:

Harry Potter book and miniBook side view

Harry Potter book and miniBook top down

Harry Potter book and miniBook open

And here’s a comparison with my 17 Inch Widescreen Dell laptop (Which was somewhere in the region of 8 times more expensive…):

Laptop and miniBook side-by-side

Laptop and miniBook together

Easy Mode

Here’s some pictures of the Easy Mode the computer boots up into, it’s basically a list of tabs of applications split by type.

The Internet tab (Includes for example FireFox and Skype):
Internet Tab

The Work Tab (Includes for example OpenOffice and FileManager)
Work Tab

The Learn Tab (Includes Subjects folders which include for example a planetarium and fraction Tutorial)
Learn Tab

The Play Tab (Includes for example Games folder and Media Player)
Play Tab

The settings Tab
Settings Tab

There’s also a favourites tab where you can add your favourite apps.

And here’s a few screenshots of a select applications, all as they appear with out any tweaking.

OpenOffice Writer:

Frozen-Bubble Game (Screenshot slightly cut off, the game runs in full screen)


The explorer (The observant amongst you will have noticed how similar some of the shots look to WindowsXP – Check the title bars out, and especially this screenshot)

I’ll be following up with some tips on using the Asus miniBook soon.

Let me know…
…what your experience’s of the machine have been.

Google Vacking – See the world!

I was going to do some University work today but then I came across the latest Google Hack.

It isn’t as illegal as it sounds though, it just involves you searching for certain terms using google.

Start with this: inurl:view/view.shtml.

You’ll see (mostly) a list of ip address (the four numbers with dots e.g 123.654.12.1) These are actually addresses to numerous surveillance cameras running around the globe. Click on one and you’ll see a live view of where ever its pointing.

Basically this works because one of the companies that sell video cameras has a setup program that creates a path of view/view.shtml. Simple.

You can also use terms like: inurl:”axis-cgi/mjpg”. This one comes up with actual images not live video feeds, but use your imagination and you can probably find the video feed (try this: remove everything after the first part and type in “/view/view.shtml” and see what you get)

Some of these videos have controls so you can pan and zoom them. I’ve noticed a lot of these seem to be actually surveillance cameras (as in Big Brother…) such as watching people in the centre of town – a lot must be controlled at some central base by a human sitting at a bank of screens… have some fun with these nosey people and keep panning the videos all over the place!! (See who givens in first…)

See them before they get locked down! Enjoy.

UltraMon – Dual Moniter software

This is a really nice piece of software for anyone with a dual (or more) monitor setup.

The really nice “killer” app is the ability to extend the task bar across all you monitors. This is really useful and improves your productivity, and its really cool too!

It also has some nice other features too. Unfortunately it is Shareware so you’ll have to eventually buy it, but you can get a free 30 day demo before you take the leap, here:

Just remember this: your going to really miss it once the 30 days is up!

My week off

I finally decided that it was time to take a week off work so that’s what I did.

I was lucky enough to get an offer of accomodation in the centre of Vienna, Austria, so I spent a long weekend going around Vienna with some friends. I highly recommend a visit to Vienna as it was such a great city, don’t forget to visit the palace.

Here’s some photos and videos of my visit:

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Also, Sharon and I made our way to Bath, England and went around the Roman Baths there. The place is also impressive, and I’d recommend the audio tour around the place. There’s some photos and videos here:

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Roman Baths

Make sure you check out the video, where you can see the steam coming from the waters. (Oh, and just so you now, in roman times the water was crystal clear. (It’s green now because sunlight encourages algea to grow in it, 2000 years ago the bath was originally undercover)

A couple of days later we visited, Longleat, which is a large stately house in a huge grounds, which includes many attractions like a whole safarii and a massive hedge maze. The safarii you drive through also has many monkeys that climb on and pull apart your car! Check out the pictures and videos here:

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Incidentally, all these photos and videos where taken on my Nokia N93, for a review on the picture quality just follow the links above. EDIT: I’ve just realised the movies have been reduced in quality by webshots so I’ll try to copy the originals to my own website. Dammit.

New technology

I’m bloging from my n93 phone wirelessly with the help from my wireless cable router. It’s very nice and essential for my wii. Oh, did i not mention i’ve got one of those!

It's been a while…

…and a lot of things have happened over the last month and a half.

Firstly, the biggy, I’ve moved house, and was the first time I’d moved with stuff I couldn’t fit all in my car. Not moved far though, just nearer the town centre, for a little less money with a little less space (and unfortunately a lot more noise…)

Secondly, I never finsihed my November story, but had very little time with all the moving.

Thirdly, went to amsterdam for a long weekend with Sharon was very enjoyable. Ann Frank’s house is certainly worth a trip, just be prepared to get a little emotional.

Fourthly, today I should get my results for the OU course I’ve been doing… but not had courage to look yet.

Fifth, just got a new Phone, it was the N93 I think I’ve mentioned before – got a cool Wi-fi connection on it which means I can surf the web for free in any open wi-fi access point. (But unfortunately not at home because I can’t transfer my web access as my new place has NTL and not BT, so I have no broadband access… I think I’m having withdrawel symptons!)

And there’s probably some other things I haven’t mentioned yet, but hopefully I’ll have time to write later and expand on the things I’ve mentioned above.

I on board

A new rocket engine has been created – more efficient then any other engine. Its called the DS4G Ion thruster and its created by an Australian team for the ESA.

Once it gets scaled up it could even push people all the way to Mars! Now, that’s a trip I would love to take.

Have a look at the engine here and you can find out how they work here, but if you’d rather not look at this, basically an Ion drive works by pushing ions out of one end of a space craft to force the space craft to move in the opposite direction. Simple…

#flag: Space, engine, science, links