Archive for November, 2006

Disposable Email account!

Tired of using your valid email accounts for registration in various web sites? Maybe it’s just a message board you want to read one time only and from which you don’t want to be saddled with a lifetime of spam.

The convention is just to sign in to Yahoo Mail!, Gmail or other web based email systems. But here’s a new trick. 10 Minute Mail!

It is free! It gives you an email address that vanishes after 10 minutes. There’s no registration, no verification. Just click over to the site and hit “Get my 10 Minute Mail e-mail address.” You’ll instantly be given an address that ceases to exist after 10 minutes. You can then use this address in filling out web forms or whatnot, and a very simple web-based interface gives you full access to any mail the account receives. You can reply to any messages, but you can’t send mail to an account that hasn’t already emailed you. If you can’t get the job done in 10 minutes, you can reset the timer to 10 minutes at any time.



November 28, 2006 at 12:48 am 4 comments

3G Broadband Data Cards

These cards carry the emerging technologies in mobile internet. With speeds of up to 1.4Mbps, you can kiss your wi-fi coffeshop hotspots goodbye. You have unlimited access to connect and surf through HSDPA, 3G, EDGE, GPRS, Wi-Fi and dial-up depending on your mobile network service provider.

To get started, you need SIM from your service provider, a HSDPA Data Card or a HSDPA USB Modem, a laptop with a PCMCIA slot or USB slot, and a network signal (HSDPA, 3G, EDGE, GPRS, Wi-Fi). It is best to connect to the internet via HSDPA or 3G. This will give you the fastest speed. If you are unable to obtain HSDPA or 3G signal in your current location, you may connect via EDGE or GPRS, although these will give you slower speeds versus 3G or HSDPA. GPRS is comparable in speed to a dialup connection while EDGE is around twice the actual speed of dialup.

November 27, 2006 at 2:22 am Leave a comment

Cheap, hackable Linux smartphone

One of the world’s largest computer and consumer electronics manufacturers will ship a completely open, Linux-based, GPS-equipped, quad-band GSM/GPRS phone direct, worldwide, for $350 or less, in Q1, 2007. First International Computing’s (FIC’s) “Neo1973” or FIC-GTA001, is the first phone based on the open-source “OpenMoKo” platform.

FIC Neo1973 (FIC-GTA001)
(Click to enlarge)

Moss-Pultz worked for FIC in Taiwan for two years, before founding the Neo1973 project in January. He said. “I was able to convince FIC that having an open phone makes financial sense for us. Some big company’s got to stick their neck out there and say we believe in this, and we’re going to do it.”

Consistent with FIC’s dual-OS support policy on computing products, the Neo1973 can also run Windows Mobile. In fact, the phone was co-designed by the Chinese government, for a high-volume Windows-based PHS (“Personal Handy Phone”) product. FIC has the capacity to ship 100,000 of the phones per month, Moss-Pultz said, explaining its low cost.

(Click to enlarge)

Messaging client
(Click to enlarge)

Because OpenMoKo consists exclusively of open-source software, the Neo1973 will ship with a limited feature set, including a dialer (image at left), unified SyncML-enabled email/text messaging client, phonebook, (image at right), and media player, according to Moss-Pultz. However, many additional open source applications will be available through “feeds,” including “certified” ones from FIC, as well as those from commercial and community sources, he adds.

App manager
(Click to enlarge)

The Neo1973 will also ship with an “apt-get-like” software manager (pictured at right) that makes it trivial to add, remove, and update applications packaged in the OpenEmbedded package format, including “literally thousands of existing open source applications from the OpenZaurus, Familiar Linux, and Angstrom projects,” according to Michael Lauer, founder of OpenEmbedded and an early OpenMoko developer.

Moss-Pultz adds, “Applications are the ringtones of the future.”

FIC’s approach in sponsoring the OpenMoKo project resembles that taken by Nokia, which finances a “Maemo” software development community for its 770 Internet Tablet. Moss-Pultz acknowledges, “I have to give mad props to Nokia. I just think it’s a shame [the 770] is not a phone.”

FIC will distribute the Neo1973 direct, on a worldwide basis, leaving users to add a pre-paid or carrier-supplied “SIM” chip. Moss-Pultz said, “One reason I love GSM is that the carrier has no control over the SIM card. From the carrier’s point of view, it’s like adding a GSM modem PCMCIA card to your laptop.”

Neo1973 Handset Hardware

The Neo1973 is based on a Samsung S3C2410 SoC (system-on-chip) application processor, powered by an ARM9 core. It will have 128MB of RAM, and 64MB of flash, along with an upgradable 64MB MicroSD card.

Typical of Chinese phone designs, the Neo1973 sports a touchscreen, rather than a keypad — in this case, an ultra-high resolution 2.8-inch VGA (640 x 480) touchscreen. “Maps look stunning on this screen,” Moss-Pultz said.

The phone features an A-GPS (assisted GPS) receiver module connected to the application processor via a pair of UARTs. The commercial module has a closed design, but the API is apparently open.

Similarly, the phone’s quad-band GSM/GPRS module, built by FIC, runs the proprietary Nucleus OS on a Texas Instruments baseband powered by an ARM7 core. It communicates with Linux over a serial port, using standard “AT” modem commands.

The Neo1973 will charge when connected to a PC via USB. It will also support USB network emulation, and will be capable of routing a connected PC to the Internet, via its GPRS data connection.

Moss-Pultz notes that the FIC-GTA001, or Neo1973, is merely the first model in a planned family of open Linux phones from FIC. He expects a follow-up model to offer both WiFi and Bluetooth. “By the time one ships, the next one is half done,” he says.

Neo1973/OpenMoKo software implementation

OpenMoKo menu
(Click to enlarge)

The Neo1973’s Linux-based operating system is based on a “2.6.17, going on 2.6.18 kernel,” according to Moss-Pultz. The graphics framework is based on GTK+ 2.x, in conjunction with the Matchbox window manager. And, says Moss-Pultz, “We’ve written our own set of widgets that optimize the UI for smaller devices.”

The OpenMoKo stack currently has a footprint of 64MB, leaving an equal amount of space for user-installed applications. User apps can also be run from MicroSD cards, which can be found in capacities up to 1GB, Moss-Pultz said. “[Linux navigational device maker] TomTom Go did some really good work [on SD card support], and we’re basing our work on their patch set.”

OpenMoKo will also include a kernel patch that adds GSM multiplexing capabilities to the 2.6 kernel. Harald Welte, an eearly contributor to OpenMoko who is also known as the founder of and the OpenEZX project, stated, “Multiplexing conforms to TS07.10, the 3GPP’s standard for serial port virtualization, and is inspired by the design Motorola developed for its 2.4-based Linux phones.”

Moss-Pultz notes, “That’s the big thing missing from Linux. There is no GSM multiplexing available right now. You want multiplexing so apps can simultaneously access call features — so when you’re browsing the Internet, you can still get a call.”

As for additional software components, Moss-Pultz admits, “Quite a lot is there, and quite a lot is not there. We’re hoping to change this.” In addition to a dialer, phonebook, media player, and application manager, the stack will likely include the Minimo browser, he said, and a SyncML client.

And, one early contributor is working to port gTune — a guitar tuning application — to OpenMoKo. “If you have access to the microphone, and the different drivers, all is open, so it’s no problem to do that kind of thing,” Moss-Pultz said.

“That’s the main thing I want to push with this phone — it’s customizable in any way you see fit.”

He adds, “Mobile phones are the PCs of the 21st century, in terms of processing power and broadband network access. It’s quite a shame that today, when you buy one, the software is already out of date.”

November 14, 2006 at 7:51 am 3 comments

Next Year’s Models

From Tokyo tech alleys with love. See next year’s models today.

Ultra-mobile Windows PC


The design goal: a full-featured mobile PC small enough to fit in a pocket. Weighing just over a pound, this PC has a 4.5-inch touchscreen that slides up to reveal a keyboard. A U.S. version is expected soon, starting at $2,000.

Ultra-mobile Windows PC

Robot boombox


This 14-inch-wide rolling robot has a built-in iPod dock and speakers; it can “dance” as it follows you around the house. In white, red, black, or yellow, this could make it to the U.S. next year. About $930.

Robot boombox

Personal iPod theater

Mikimoto Beans iTheatre

Attach a video iPod, game device, or multimedia cellphone, and two two-inch LCD displays embedded in these geeky but stylish goggles create the effect of a 50-inch TV hovering before your eyes. But watch where you’re walking. About $275.

Personal iPod theater



Mobile video telephone

Sharp Vodafone 905SH

With a clamshell lid that can flip up and rotate 90 degrees, this 3G phone has a high-resolution, 2.6-inch widescreen display perfect for watching digital TV broadcasts aimed at Japanese cellphone users.

Mobile video telephone

Motion-sensing game gear

Nintendo Wii controller

Call it the “wee-mote” for the upcoming $250 Wii game console. With ambidextrous appeal for experienced gamers and novices alike, the wand and joystick (included in console) can be a steering wheel, racket, or gun for new dimensions of game play.

Motion-sensing game gear

Blu-ray prototype camcorder

Hitachi WOOO

These design mockups of high-definition videocameras have a charming retro style that incorporates direct recording onto future mini Blu-ray three-inch discs. Too bad there are no mini Blu-ray players yet. (Not on market.)


Blu-ray prototype camcorder


November 4, 2006 at 6:04 am Leave a comment

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