Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Doing some geekness - I have never had a GPS unit, but I found an irresistible price on a USB dongle GPS receiver that works with my little netbook 'puter.  The thing is about the size of a flash drive, and just amazes me.  Apparently, the pile here is at Lon 33.726945 Lat -86.560138 at elevation 1033 ft. Amazing. The software I am using with it [TangoGPS] has a drive function that will use the thing to show me heading, miles, current max and average speed, and displays a little map to show me where I am going. I have no idea what useful purpose it will have for me, but it is fun to play with. Next time I go somewhere in the car, I will take it along to check it out.
The other geekness goodie is this.  I am intrigued with the convenience of the "tablet" form of portable computing.  I like the quickness and convenience of touch-screen, and I have used the Palm OS for years with PDAs.  I have been tinkering with my daughters tablet, and have been impressed with the Android OS - it seems to just work, and is very easy to use.  Lindsay's tablet, however, has a 7" screen size, and that is a bit cramped. A few days ago, I came across a deal at, of all places, the local Fred's Bargain Store, a regional discount store chain.
Polaroid, a couple of years ago, released a line of reasonably-priced tablet/e-reader devices, using the Android 4.1 OS, in 7, 8, 9, and 10 inch formats, and have apparently decided to concentrate on the 8" and 10" models, and are closing out the others.  Fred's had gotten hold of a pile of the 9" model, and were bundling them with a neat little folding case that included, of all things, a real keyboard, the USB plug-in type (on-screen keyboards are small and slow, and can be a pain).  The tablet can be easily popped in/out of the case.  I picked up this, and a 32G micro-SD card, and am having a blast with it. The wifi sensitivity is not quite as good as my netbook, but it is reliable in a building, and it is fun to work with.  It did not come with the Google Android Market link (it is not listed as a "Compatible Device") but I managed to hack that in, so it is available now.  The Android internet browser is not impressive, but I loaded up the Opera Mobile browser, much better IMO.  The tablet does not have GPS, but I will pick up a USB-miniUSB adapter, and Android has an app that will hook up the GPS dongle, so that will be more fun.  I will be experimenting to see what kind of battery life the tablet will have.
This knocks out my geek budget for a while, but fun is to be had...

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