Category: hardware

Sony Vaio keyboard help needed!

Terrible 2's and laptops!

I have a Sony Vaio laptop (model VGN- SZ3VWP). Unfortunately our 2yr old decided a while back that most of the keys on the keyboard were superfluous and he pried them off (see above). He was so proud!!!

There doesn’t appear to be a Sony repair center in Seville – well the only ones I could find were for audio/hi-fi and didn’t want to know about laptops! The keyboard appears to be beyond repair, (though I’d love to have someone tell me otherwise) so I probably need to find some way to get it replaced.

If I could get my hands on a keyboard, I’d have a go at replacing it myself.

Anyone any suggestions on the best way to proceed with this might be?

Will Audeo be the Universal Translator?

A new prototype device, called The Audeo was demonstrated recently (see the video below). The Audeo is a neckband which you can train to read your brain signals and speak what you want to say!

Why would you want to do that? Is this just the gimmick for the world’s laziest person?

Well, in the video, the presenter gives two use cases, the obvious one is for sufferers of Lou Gehrigs disease, or similar who have lost the power of speech. The other, less obvious is if you are in a crowded situation and want to have a confidential phone call (as demonstrated).

The device is still a little rough (it is very slow, and has quite a limited vocabulary) but there is no doubt that it will improve over time.

The first concerns I had when seeing this was, do I really want this device telling everyone what I am thinking? But according to the New Scientist article on The Audeo, this will not be an issue:

Users needn’t worry about that the system voicing their inner thoughts though. Callahan says producing signals for the Audeo to decipher requires “a level above thinking”. Users must think specifically about voicing words for them to be picked up by the equipment.

Now, if only they could build translation into it as well, you would have the universal translator. I think in English, and it speaks in the language of my audience! 10 years tops it will happen I reckon!

via Mike

Fancy becoming Telekinetic?

The BBC are reporting today that a US/Australian firm Emotiv has developed a headset which:

reads electrical impulses in the brain and translates them into commands that a video game can accept and control the game dynamically

This is the headset in action:

The headset is due to go on sale later this year for around $299.

I wonder though if there are more worthwhile uses of this technology. I’m thinking particularly of applications for people with disabilities…

LCD TV sales surpass CRT for first time in Q4 07

I read a report this morning which said that in the fourth quarter of ’07, sales of LCD TV’s passed CRT for the first time:

LCD TVs captured a 47% share of the global TV market, which reached 60.8 million units in the fourth quarter of the year. CRT TVs held a 46% share while RPTVs and plasma display panel (PDP) TVs are estimated at 7%.

The only thing which surprised me about this report was the fact that 46% of people are still buying CRT’s! With the imminent move to HDTV, why would anyone investing in a TV now buy one that will be hopelessly out of date in a few short years (not to mention the far larger footprint of CRTs)?

Microsoft Wireless Laser Keyboard 6000 not very wireless!

I bought a Microsoft Wireless Laser Keyboard 6000 V2.0 a few weeks back because I needed an ergonomic keyboard (was suffering from an RSI) and went wireless to avoid cable clutter.

However, I have had lots of issues with the reception on the wireless devices. They report poor signal quality when 2-3 centimeters apart!

Low signal quality?

How hard can it be to get a keyboard and mouse working wirelessly? Apple have been doing this properly for ages. Of course Apple use Bluetooth instead of some bloody proprietary wired dongle which doesn’t work, takes up a USB port and adds a large cable to your desktop!

If only Apple did an ergonomic keyboard…

I was bemused then to note today that Microsoft are bringing out the Wireless Laser Keyboard 7000. It has a glass border around the keyboard to maintain the Vista Aero branding.

I only hope they remember to get the wireless part functioning this time!

Is the iPod Touch the ultimate Internet tablet?

I recorded a video on Seesmic yesterday on why I think the iPod Touch is a spectacular Internet Tablet. It has an amazing screen, great UI, and tiny form factor.

Seesmic now includes the ability to embed videos you record there, so rather than go over it again I thought I’d embed the video here. The quality of Seesmic videos is poor, sorry about that!

A lot of the functionality I’m referring to in the iPod Touch is new and was announced at MacWorld 2008 earlier this week.

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet review

I received a present of a Nokia N810 recently from a client. This was in lieu of payment for some work I did for them.

To say that I am underwhelmed with the device would be putting it mildly!

The N810 is an internet tablet. It has a browser and a radio and GPS built-in. It accesses the internet over wifi or using your phone as a modem over bluetooth. Sounds cool enough, so why am I unimpressed?

A number of reasons. First off the maps for the GPS are terrible. They don’t include many Irish addresses (including Rushbrooke, the townland I live in) and the GPS application doesn’t plot routes either – one of the most useful functions of a GPS device, I would have thought.

Next is the low memory of the device. I was trying it out yesterday when I got a message that it couldn’t open the Welcome program because there wasn’t enough memory! I closed one of the running programs and the Welcome program opened no problem. I only had around 3 applications running at the time so I was surprised that this consumed all the RAM on the device.

The UI is really clunky. I mean really clunky! In this regard I have been spoilt by my iPod Touch experience.

It is slow opening/running applications and the browsing experience is painful compared to Safari on the iPod.

The display doesn’t change orientation if you turn the device through 90 degrees.

It is a brick – big and heavy. Am I likely to carry this and my N95 with me when I am traveling? I don’t think so!

Compare the size of the N810 with the N95 below
N95 and N810

to my iPod Touch with the same N95
N95 and iPod Touch

I have most of the same functionality with the combination of the iPod Touch and the N95 as I do with the N810 and the N95 for a fraction the pocket real estate!

And given that the iPhone Developer Kit is being released in the coming weeks, my iPod Touch is likely to become even more useful!

On the plus side it has an Internet radio!

Is there some useful functionality of the N810 that I am missing?

Battery that can go 30 years between re-charges?

I read an interesting article the other day about a new type of laptop battery which should be able to go 30 years between re-charges!

The batteries

are constructed from semiconductors and use radioisotopes as the energy source. As the radioactive material decays it emits beta particles that transform into electric power capable of fueling an electrical device like a laptop for years.

Of course, the useful lifetime of a laptop is only 3 years or so before it becomes obsolete so if these batteries do come to market, you would need to be able to remove them and add them to your newest laptop.

The batteries

can be quite small and thin, a porous silicon material is used to collect the hydrogen isotope tritium which is generated in the process. The reaction is non-thermal which means laptops and other small devices like mobile phones will run much cooler than with traditional lithium-ion power batteries.

Fantastic, no more laptop burn then!


The best part about these cells are when they eventually run out of power they are totally inert and non-toxic

According to the article, the batteries are dur to be delivered to shops in the next 2-3 years. There is no mention of a price point though – never a good sign!

UPDATE – post edited to add title (d’oh!) – Thanks Simon

Buffalo TeraStation 2tb Home server review

I bought a Buffalo TeraStation 2TB NAS box the other day. It arrived today – Wohoo!

Buffalo TeraStation 2TB NAS up and running

The NAS box has 4 x 500mb drives in an external box (see above). The box has an ethernet port at the back allowing it to be plugged into the router and accessed across my entire home network.

The 4 x 500mb drives come pre-configured as RAID 5 (giving approx 3 x 500gb usable space) but it can also be configured as RAID 0 or RAID 1 through a simple web interface.

1.36 TB Available!

Check out the bottom of the window above – 1.36TB Available!

I’m now busily copying my music, video and photo collections onto it so I can free up that space on my laptop.

Copying iTunes onto TeraStation

The drive is refreshingly quiet, has a simple web-based configuration tool and took all of about 10 minutes from unpacking to mounted on my Mac desktop!

Thanks Branedy for the recommendation – hopefully this will work better than the Western Digital MyBook I bought a while back which was a DOA!

Recyclable, transparent ink cartridges

As a follow-on from yesterday’s post about hacking inkjet printer cartridges – in retrospect, a much better solution would be for printer manufacturers to make recyclable, transparent  ink cartridges which warn when your ink is running low but only stop printing when you actually run out of ink!

Now what are the chances of that happening?