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Tracking, Tracking

0847201l While the rest of the Blogosphere has been docked in Las Vegas this week, SparkFun Electronics released a new GPS evaluation board for the itty bitty 20-channel ET-312 SiRF III GPS module from USGlobalSat. Able to pull power from an onboard USB port and serially link with a PC via the same USB port, this $100 eval board could be just the ticket for building a portable DIY GPS tracking monster gizmo.—Dave Prochnow

Get BUGged

Buglabs_600 Bug Labs has just released the pricing for their initial release of BUG modules. As an added incentive, the “first wave” of customers will receive a BUG Early Adopters Discount:

  • BUGbase $349 ($299 w/discount)
  • LCD module $119 ($99 w/discount)
  • GPS module $99 ($79 w/discount)
  • Camera module $79 ($69 w/discount)
  • Motion detector / Accelerometer $59 ($49 w/discount)

So jump, don’t walk, to the BUG store and get in line to order your modules beginning January 21. Then you’ll be fully prepared to enter the PopSci Build-a-BUG Challenge.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: Bug Labs)

How to Make Your N800 Click

14_16_19060108 If you’re a new Nokia N800 owner, then you might have noticed a glaring omission in the supplied software: there is no camera app. Sure, you have the webcam option when you launch the Nokia Internet Call communication program, but you can’t take any photos with it. Owners who long for a portable pic from their Internet Tablet, just have to download and install the Noika Camera from the online software catalog. With a Wi-Fi connection established:

  1. Browse. Open Tools > Application Manager and click “Browse installable applications.” Select “All” entries from the Nokia online catalog.
  2. Install. Find the Camera application and click “Install.” The Camera app is installed inside a new folder, “Extras.”
  3. Launch. Open Extras > Camera and start the app before you extend the camera. Now pop out the camera and click a pic. Don’t set your expectations too high, though. The resulting images are 640x480 with a file size of approximately 250Kb—very poor quality.

If you’re more of a DIYer, then you can roll your own camera app using the Nokia Camera API. You might want to study the image quality from Nokia’s Camera app first, however, then you’ll know whether or not your bit-bustin’ efforts will be worthwhile.—Dave Prochnow

OK, Google This

Wikia_search Are you tired of the fee-sponsored “links” choking your Google search results pages? Return to those halcyon days of the original Google, when only clean, clear search results filled your monitor. Enter Wikia Search. Wikia Search is the brainchild of Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales. Fueled with startup capital from Amazon.com, Wikia Search builds its returned links from a mixed software + human approach, much like the “trusted network” concept espoused by Wikipedia. Think Google meets Yahoo! Answer meets Wikipedia meets Ask.com all bundled under one roof. Don’t throw Google out with the bath water just yet, however. Wales intends to turn Wikia Search into a revenue-yielding site as soon as he can conceive of an ad-driven business model. So much for the “good ol’ days.” Go ahead and give the “alpha” Wikia Search site a try and then post your observations in our comments section.—Dave Prochnow

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Xo Don’t think that you’ll be seeing Intel MPUs inside any OLPC XO laptops anytime soon. In a nutshell, the turbulent marriage between the AMD-driven world educational organization and Intel-driven world chip dominator is over. Intel has lost its seat on the OLPC board and won’t be lending a helping hand towards designing an Intel XO, either. In a statement issued by OLPC founder, Nicholas Negroponte, there are claims of competitive sales of the Intel Classmate PC distracting world buyers and general “trash talking” generated by the Intel sales force at undermining XO leverage in PC-purchasing nations, like Peru.

On a more positive note, OLPC claimed that the “Give One, Get One” sales program had generated over $35 million in sales. That’s a pretty good way to rebound from a failed relationship.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: OLPC)

Rewind Your Old Games

Games Over at ReadyMade magazine, they are sponsoring a new MacGyver Challenge contest: devise a way to repurpose your old analog board games and/or your outdated PC games. Anything is game. The winning entry will score a subscription and a handsome ReadyMade T-shirt. Better hurry, though, the contest ends January 21, 2008.—Dave Prochnow

Lightweight LiPo(wer)

Gpmp0811 If your project needs a strong, lightweight battery power source, this discounted Great Planes lithium-polymer 3-cell battery pack could do the trick. Rated at 11.1V 720mAh, this $27.99 battery pack is wired and ready to juice up and go. Tipping the scales at a lithe 1.85oz, it won’t weigh you down, either. Tower Hobbies also carries a Great Planes charger for $24.99 that is ideal for charging these picky LiPo battery packs. You’ll also need a 12V battery to supply the charger.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: Tower Hobbies)

Update: The (Former $250) NOW $120 DOS Tablet PC

Hp_usb_disk In May 2007, we published a project on Instructables that showed how to assemble a potentially useful tablet PC. Why was this project only a potential success? We couldn’t get the Fujitsu Stylistic 1000 to boot. All of that has changed and now we can boot the Tablet PC in DOS, Windows 95, and DSL Linux. The secret element that made this doorstop into a viable Tablet PC was a Windows tool called HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool V. 2.1.8. At the link, a Texan named Nox will supply all of the needed know-how for using this utility, as well as downloads for both HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool and a collection of boot files. Now don’t get too excited, these dated tablet PCs only worked really well when they were booted into DOS. So we converted ours into a dedicated DOS game machine. Skip the stylus and use an old salvaged PS/2 keyboard. Also, drop the battery and pick up a power supply. These two mods to our original project will shave about $135 off the project’s price tag. Not bad for around $120.—Dave Prochnow

Briefly Noted: Add 3G to an Eee PC


JKKMobile is expanding his bag of Eee PC tricks. The newest addition to his repertoire is grafting a 3G modem complete with SIM card inside his ASUS Eee PC. Both video and a set of sorta step-by-step images will help guide you through the process. Have you hacked your Eee PC, yet? If so, please post your project in our comments section.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: jkkmobile.blogspot.com)

Happy Easter (Eggs), Kindle

Kindle_gps Just what every Kindle owner needs, a fistful of Easter Eggs for activating Google Maps GPS CDMA, a screenshot grabber, clock, fonts list, picture viewer, Minesweeper game, and diagnostic commands. All of these wonderful gifts thanks to the exacting reverse engineering efforts of Igor Skochinsky. The basic process for enabling one of these Easter eggs follows this type of scenario:

  • Inside the browser
  • Press Alt + 1 (one)
  • Google Maps will now display your current location
  • Press Alt + 2 for a display of the nearest gas stations
  • Press Alt + 3 for a display of the nearest restaurants

Skochinsky has thoroughly documented his efforts at unearthing all of the Kindle’s secrets in his Reversing Everything Blog. Watch our site in the future as we explore more Kindle hacks.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: Interface.Puhala.com)


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