Diary of a geek

October 2005
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Andrew Pollock

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Wednesday, 26 October 2005

On this surplus orange problem

Okay, this may be a bit naive, but rather than having farmers dump a quarter of their annual orange output, why can't the Federal Government step in, and using some of the money they'd have earmarked for foreign aid, buy the oranges and ship them to the nearest country in receipt of our foreign aid? Everybody wins.

[23:43] [opinion] [permalink]

Falcom A2D-1

Product
A2D-1
Vendor
Falcom
Australian Reseller
Cellular Access
SAGE-AU Member Discount
No
Why do I think this is cool?
The Falcom A2D-1 is a great industrial-grade GSM modem that works very well with stuff like smstools and can therefore be integrated nicely with monitoring products such as Nagios. I've used one of these personally at home for a number of years, and in two different jobs. Generally I find them to be more reliable than a mobile phone and gnokii. Just putting this blog post here in the hope that the new Australian reseller's Google juice is increased a bit.

[19:32] [tech/gadgets] [permalink]

Canberra Perl Mongers meeting

The Canberra Perl Users Group is having one of its extremely irregular meetings next week.

If you're in Canberra, or will be on November 2, let me know. The last one wasn't too bad.

http://mail.pm.org/pipermail/canberra-pm/2005-October/000146.html

[18:06] [code] [permalink]

New toys

We've been stocking up on gadgets for our upcoming trips.

Camera

Sarah's going to Singapore to catch up with some relatives and then joining me in the US a week or so later. As our digital camera is currently a 1 megapixel afterthought on our Sony DCR-PC100E Handycam of 5 and a bit years, we thought it high time we got something half-decent as a compact camera.

I'm moderately keen on getting a digital SLR, and after using Mikal's Canon EOS 350D when we went to San Francisco for our Google interviews, wouldn't mind getting one of those down the track and doing a photography course. So we tossed up whether or not to get a compact now and an SLR later, or scrap the SLR, and get something in the middle like a Canon PowerShot S2 IS. We settled on getting a Nikon CoolPix 5900, partly because apparently all the PowerShots are stuck in Customs at the moment and there's none to be had in the country for love or money.

iPaq and GPS

There is no way I was going to drive in the US again without some form of satellite navigation in the car. There's just too much going on on the roads over there (not to mention driving on the other side of the road) to have to worry about how to get from A to B. We were just intending to buy a car that had satellite navigation when we got over there, and try our level best to get a hire car with one in the interim.

Some friends were saying that we'd probably pay a lot more for a car with it as a built in option, than if we were to buy a handheld/portable GPS. Then Mikal bought a bluetooth GPS for his iPaq, and that convinced me to go that way as well. So I bought an iPaq hx2100, which interestingly seems to have just fallen off HP's website (it was there on the weekend), so it must be approaching obsolescence or something.

Today I got the Destinator software with maps for the US, and some evaluation maps for Australia, and tonight Sarah and I went for a spin to try it out.

It was pretty cool. One thing that could be better is the differentiation between the directions leading up to a turn and turn itself. For example, it says "Turn right in 300 metres" and then proceeds to count down (e.g. "Turn right in 100 metres". Then it just says "Turn right". It'd be more obvious if you didn't have to listen for whether it was "in x metres" or not and either tacked "now" on the start or end of the final direction. It was also cute how it called roundabouts "circles". Going straight through a typical roundabout was "Take the second exit on the circle". If you ignored directions at some point, it'd plot a new route to still get you to your destination. All in all, I'm pretty happy with that purchase.

The bluetooth GPS unit itself is cool. I'm able to talk to it from our PowerBook under MacOS X as a bluetooth serial port, and I'm yet to try the same with Linux on my D610. Hopefully I'll be able to get it work with gpsdrive

The one downside with getting an iPaq and running Pocket PC 2003 (or WinCE as I prefer to call it) is it's forcing me to spend more time in Windows on my laptop than I otherwise would, just so I can do syncs and stuff. Hopefully once I've got the iPaq all bedded down, that'll change...

[05:11] [tech] [permalink]