In-depth review of a Tablet PC

A lot of technology cynics are unimpressed with Microsoft’s new Tablet PC. While I haven’t used one, I know that I’m really excited about promise of this type of device. I write notes in a notebook (not a laptop). I would love to be able to take a “tablet” with me, write notes on it in my own handwriting, and have that machine also be my computer. Not an accessory — my computer. The key question is: does the technology work yet?

To that end, AnandTech has one of the first really in-depth reviews of a Tablet PC.

Review of StarBand Small Office satellite internet access

Scot’s newsletter just posted an informative review of review of StarBand Small Office. Bottom line: he think’s it’s a reasonable option for a 3-5 person office that doesn’t have other broadband options. Cost is $130-170/month, plus $800+ installation and a 12-month committment. Not cheap, but quite possibly worthwhile.

Open-source Outlook-killer?

Mitch Kapor’s new project, codenamed Chandler , is worth keeping an eye on. Although it’s not planned for release until late 2003, it promises an impressive level of peer-to-peer collaboration in an open-source, full-featured email/personal information manager, with no Exchange Server required.

HP switches positions, supports CA e-waste bill

Some good news for folks working to reduce the impact of toxic computer waste. HP decided to support a landmark bill that’s working its way through the legistlature in california.

What’s really cool is that the switch comes hot on the heels of a powerful 3-part series in the San Jose Mercury News, spurred by a hard-hitting report by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coaliton. (See my earlier post about this.) Proof that hard-hitting investigative journalism can influence influentials.


I’m about a quarter of the way into Umberto Eco’s latest, Baudolino. He’s been a favorite of mine since high school (one of the few that’s stayed on the list), and so far, Baudolino is a strong showing. It’s much lighter in tone than any of his previous novels, and although it’s complex and dense as any of them, it’s much better paced and more readable.

Vonage: flat-rate voice-over-ip for the masses

I’ve been keeping an eye on Vonage. The deal is pretty simple: $40/month gets you flat-rate, unlimited local & long distance phone calls over your high-speed Internet connection using your ordinary phone. You get a phone number in any area code you choose (kewl!), voicemail, caller ID and all the goodies. Your phone plugs into a special adapter. You kiss Qwest goodbye.

While Vonage is not (yet?) offering service to businesses, this seems like it would be a great deal for someone working from home who has to make a lot of long-distance phone calls.

Backflip: a handy way to store bookmarks online

Like many people, I often wish I could access my Web bookmarks when I’m not at my desk, or that I could easily share my bookmarks with colleagues. My friend Beth Kanter just steered me towards Backflip which does exactly that. It lets you easily add bookmarks to an online database, and optionally, to make chunks of your bookmarks publicly available. It’s very slick, and I think I’ll find it very useful.

“Recycled” computers shipped overseas

The San Jose Mercury News just published a very disturbing and eye-opening story called Where Computers Go To Die which tells the story of how waste computers are being exported to China, where their improper disposal is a major toxic waste and human health catastrophe in the making.

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition first documented this in their report Exporting Harm.

Want some things you can do about it? For starters — buy greener computing gear. You can also endorse SVTC’s “Electronics Take It Back! Platform” which calls for manufacturers to take more responsibility for post-consumer electronics waste.

Monorail! (What nerds think about transit)

Well, it looks like the Monorail won — by 800 votes out of 200,000 cast. (If I ever hear “My vote doesn’t count again….”) More amusingly, even Slashdot covered the story. Some pretty interesting comments from the high-tech crowd… worth reading if you’re interested in understanding techie attitudes towards transit (suprisingly favorable). My favorite comment:

[Anonymous Coward] I hear those things are awfully loud.
[Article] It glides as softly as a cloud
[Enginerd] Is there a chance the track could bend?
[Article] Not on your life, my Slashdot friend
[Frequent poster] Why Seattle, those braindead slobs?
[Article] There were only so many Starbucks jobs
[Oil Companies] Were you sent here by the devil?
[Article] No, good sir, I’m on the level
[Cowboy Neal] I feel attracted to a man.
[Article] Go outside and get a tan!
I swear it’s Seattle’s only choice
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
What’s it called?
Once again!
[Poster] But our educational system’s all cracked and broken
[re;] Sorry, man, the mob has spoken
[All] Monorail! Monorail!
[Homer] Mono- d’oh!