January 15th, 2008

#834: A fap a day keeps the oncologist away

...from your prostate, anyway. This news lends a whole 'nother dimension to the "it's medicinal!" excuse....

ACLU wonders if pandemic cautions will violate civil rights. Earth to ACLU: some diseases will require drastic measures to contain. Not all would; but there are some diseases that--if an epidemic starts--only martial law will contain. So which do you prefer: do you want to save as many lives as possible, or do you want a huge pile of corpses whose civil rights weren't violated? I know what most people would choose.

UFOs in Texas. Did no one have a camcorder or cell phone camera handy? Although every time something like this happens, some official know-it-all says, "Oh, it's [some ordinary thing] and these people just didn't know what they were seeing." Okay. Everyone who saw this UFO was actually seeing an airliner or swamp gas or something, and they all misinterpreted it the same way.

I just have to wonder, is all.

It's the end of the world as we know it! Okay, it's just one guy wondering if the writers' strike is the end of Hollywood as we know it. But to some of the people there, Hollywood is the world, and a world without Hollywood is a terrible place to contemplate.

Losers.

* * *

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project missed its target price by 88%. No biggie. But one of the people behind it has started a company dedicated to building machines that cost $75 rather than $100; if her company has about the same level of success, their machine would cost $141...

But with all these initiatives aimed at making electronic devices cheap enough for third world countries, it's been suggested that perhaps we may see some kind of ebook reader priced around $25. I'd go for that in a big way.

I have four requirements for such a device:

1) Electronic paper display. What I've seen of that stuff impresses me considerably.

2) No weird rechargeable batteries unless the thing has a built-in solar cell. AA or AAA batteries preferred.

3) USB and SD flash ports.

4) a form factor about the size of a large paperback or trade paperback book, with a display that's not smaller than about 4x6.

The device should accept a variety of file formats, too, of course: PDF, Word document, TXT, etc, etc. The ability to flip through images would be a plus, too, even if it couldn't render more than (say) 256 shades of grey.

A $25 ebook reader would make ebooks a lot more palatable to the general public. Hell, people pay $300 for MP3 players (ie iPod) so even $100 for a good ebook reader wouldn't be beyond the pale.

Give the thing a WiFi tranceiver and build in a network browser, and you could use it as an internet access device anywhere there was a hot spot. Maybe charge $200 for that one....