…It’s How You Use It

Not A Pretty Librarian has kicked things off well with a first post titled “It Is Not A Tool,” covering an argument about which has more value to a teenager: a car or a computer.

On one side is the notion that “She can’t drive herself to work with a computer.” While, on the other side is the growing likelihood that she won’t drive to work at all, but instead simply work at whatever computer she has available. But then, this is a teenager, and maybe practical matters like work don’t top the list. And that’s where Not A Pretty Librarian (who are you?) asks:

Can you imagine being nineteen right now without computer access?

Indeed, when college students are spending so much time on AIM and logging into Facebook daily, is a car really as important as a computer in a teenager’s social life? When 89 percent of students start their research in a search engine, isn’t the computer more important than a car to get to the library?

Gates Harshes Poor, Tells Them To Buy Windows

| What's sadder than people in <a href=",29.918886&spn=11.190832,27.663574&t=h">Burundi</a> earning an average of <a href="">only $90 a year</a>? It might be <a href="" title="Bill G Just Wants To Be Cool">Bill Gates</a>' criticism of MIT's efforts to bring affordable, networked computers to the poorest countries of the world in hopes of improving education (and communication and healthcare and more). The challenge is enormous: the technology needs to be durable, require low-power (and be easily rechargeable), as easy to use as an egg timer, have networking in a land without infrastructure, and be cheap, cheap, cheap. Yet somehow, the MIT folks have <a href="" title="$100 Laptop Details «">figured it out</a>, and the project -- known to most of us as the <a href="">$100 laptop project</a> -- seems to be on its way to success. It's the sort of thing that you'd figure <a href="">a philanthropic guy</a> like Bill Gates would be on top of. But alas, he seems not to understand. <a href="" title="Gates Has Harsh Words for $100 Computer Project - Gizmodo">Gizmodo</a>, <a href="" title="Gates loves the poor (but Windows more?)">ArsTechnica</a>, <a href="" title="TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home » Open your wallet, Bill, and atone for those clueless remarks against the $100 MIT laptop project">TeleRead</a>, and others are all reporting the world's richest man went critical over the MIT project. » about 500 words

Pen-Based Computing Loses The Tablet

Via Engadget I found mention of the LeapFrog FLY, a pen with embedded computer that reads your handwriting. Need a calculator? Just write out “2 + 2 = ” and hear a response from the pen computer’s synthesized voice. Need to schedule something? Write out the date. It’s targeted at kids, and the company has […] » about 200 words

UbiComp Goes Spray-On

Via Gizmodo, we make money not art, and The Engineer: spray-on computers. The idea is to develop computers about the size of a grain of sand (though they say a cubic millimeter here), give them sensors and networking capabilities, and completely change our notion of “computer.” From The Engineer: Each Speck will be autonomous, with […] » about 400 words

Bye Bye Pepper Pad

My week with the Pepper Pad is over, and the UPS van just drove off with it, but I’ve still got a lot to report. My testing ran into problems when it turned out that the WiFi network in the library was on the fritz. I did some netstumbling today and found that only two […] » about 300 words

Pepper Pad — First Impressions

The Pepper Pad (available at Amazon) has a very clean out of box experience. There’s nothing to assemble and no questions about what order to do things in. Just open, unwrap, plug in, startup. I attempted running through the configuration in my office, but the WiFi propagation is very weak there and Pepper Pad couldn’t […] » about 700 words

Pepper Pad — Arrival

The Pepper Pad‘s technical details — a lightweight Linux powered device with an 8.4-inch SVGA touchscreen, Wi-Fi auto-configuration, Bluetooth device support, multi-gigabyte disk, full QWERTY thumb-keypad, stereo speakers, and more — are already well reported. But I’ve been arguing that attention to such details runs counter to the purpose and intended use of the device. […] » about 200 words

The Coming Information Age

That headline might seem a little late among the folks reading this. But we’re all geeks, and if not geeks, then at least regular computer users. Regular computer users, however, are a minority. Worldwide, only around 500 million people have internet access, and fewer than 100 million people in the US have internet access at […] » about 500 words

Apple Releases Multi-Button Mouse

Apple this morning released the Mighty Mouse ($49 at the Apple Store). With a scrollball, left and right click, and side buttons, it’s a big departure from Apple’s old opposition to multi-button mice. Apple didn’t invent the mouse, but they were probably the first to put mice through usability testing. One, two, and three button […] » about 200 words

TeleRead Spends Morning On Portable Computing Stories

…Well, not entirely, but I couldn’t help but read the posts on the PepperPad and history of the Newton. I’m a fan of computing devices that don’t fit the mold, so I eat up stuff like this. I noted the Pepper Pad previously, and written a few posts about the Newton and ultra-portable computing. Update: […] » about 100 words

Predicting the Computer of 2004 in 1954 (Fake)

Steffan O’Sullivan writes: “This is from a 1954 edition of Modern Mechanics Magazine, predicting what the home computer will look like in 2004. I think I worked on that printer once… How can I get a steering wheel like that on my office computer here?” The caption reads: “Scientists from the RAND Corporation have created […] » about 400 words