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Old 06-22-2007, 04:09 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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USB key is a Linux computer

The Calao USB-9260 is a full Linux computer on a USB key. The device is supposed to be ready "soon" and "will come pre-installed with the open-source U-Boot bootloader and Linux 2.6-series kernels. GNU toolchains also appear to be available from the company."

Specs:
  • A very tiny 3.3 x 1.4 inches (85 x 36 mm)
  • ARM926EJ-S core clocked at 190MHz
  • 64MB of SDRAM and 256MB of NAND flash
  • The central USB 2.0 device port, a 10/100 Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 host ports

The computer is targeted at advanced GPS applications, but one can't help but think about future more powerful versions that allow you to keep your main computing and storage device on your keychain. All you would need in addition is a terminal. Foleo anyone?

From LinuxDevices.
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Old 06-22-2007, 05:35 PM   #2
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USB key is a Linux computer

As far as I can understand Atmel can be used to program Satellite cards and their codes, but reading? probably a good help at reverse engineering some of the DRMS....

At first I thought this was similar to the Foleo platform, maybe it is, but European developments just parallel stuff made around the world and have their own agendas.....
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Old 06-23-2007, 09:42 AM   #3
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So... a full computer, approximately the size of a piece of jewelry. Takes less resources to manufacture, and less to pay for. No moving parts. Uses less power to run. Carry all your data and apps with you at all times... fully portable. You choose your own interface, depending on how you use it.

Does anyone else here get as excited about stuff like this as I do? I've written devices like this into 2 of my novels, and whenever I do, I have a hard time concentrating on the writing, so badly do I wish I had a full computer hanging on my ear!
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Old 06-23-2007, 11:01 AM   #4
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These are similar in concept to the Gumstix machines. Gumstix has two lines of gum-package sized computers, the Waysmall machines at 84x37x15mm and the Netstix machines at 103x35x25mm. There are five in all.

If you want to roll your own, you can choose from 9 motherboards, each 80x20mm and featuring your choice of attachments, SD cards, USB, bluetooth, a cooice of 200Mhz, 400 Mhz and 600 Mhz Intel XScale processors. Each motherboard comes pre-flashed with full Linux v.2.6. They start at US$129.

There are started packs containing power supplies, cables, and expansion boards. You can add WiFi boards, audio boards, ethernet and more.

I am hoping for one in my Christmas stocking.

Last edited by mogui; 06-23-2007 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 06-23-2007, 11:11 AM   #5
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whenever I do, I have a hard time concentrating on the writing, so badly do I wish I had a full computer hanging on my ear!
I find that a deeply disturbing statement, Steve. Have you considered counciling?
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Old 06-23-2007, 12:31 PM   #6
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So... a full computer, approximately the size of a piece of jewelry. Takes less resources to manufacture, and less to pay for. No moving parts. Uses less power to run. Carry all your data and apps with you at all times... fully portable. You choose your own interface, depending on how you use it.

Does anyone else here get as excited about stuff like this as I do? I've written devices like this into 2 of my novels, and whenever I do, I have a hard time concentrating on the writing, so badly do I wish I had a full computer hanging on my ear!
It's the kind of stuff that gets me drooling everywhere too!

My wife found a solution for me. She says to shut my mouth!
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Old 06-23-2007, 02:04 PM   #7
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Hah. A computer hanging from your ear? This with an earring attachment and boot XP off of it possibly using BartPE or Reatogo-X-PE.
I already have a 2GB flash stick with a XP environment using Reatogo-X-PE; a neat little tool.
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Old 06-23-2007, 10:34 PM   #8
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I found the Gumstix a while ago when I was going through the mental exercise of how I might build a reader from scratch. Holly Gates at Eink has put together some interesting projects. His blueChute project might make a great reader. His A51 is the A5 reader we all have been wishing for. It uses the Gumstix with bluetooth as shown here. But these are just demo projects, not products. The Eink company sells an "Active Matrix EPD Prototype Kit" that uses a Gumstix motherboard too.

Quote:
The protoyping kit is based around the Gumstix single-board computer, which combines a 400 MHz Intel XScale® PXA255 processor with a Bluetooth transceiver, USB, a serial port and an MMC card reader. For mobile device prototyping, the kit also includes two Li-ion batteries with a total capacity of over 4000 mW-h, and an integrated battery charger.

Linux, the popular open-source operating system, comes pre-installed on the Gumstix board. E Ink also supplies open-source software display drivers and sample applications. Developers will have the ability to download the full source code for the operating system, drivers and applications, and to write and compile new applications using the gcc development environment and cross-compiler, included in the kit package.

The kit comes pre-configured to operate as a simple electronic book reader. Out of the box, users can download page images from their PC to the included MMC card and view them on the display with no further programming or assembly.
Some of the Gumstix expansion boards provide an LCD controller and an LCD connection. I am not aware of how one controls an EPD, but an LCD panel would work fine for a homebrew experiment and be within a hobbyist's budget. Alternatively, there are serial LCDs which can be fed from the serial port. Some of the Gumstix expansion boards provide GPIO (General Purpose I/O) pads so you can solder on keypads and whatnot.

The Eink prototype kit is quite pricey, but the Gumstix devices are inexpensive. LCD displays can be had from EarthLCD and others. EarthLCD has, for example, a 12.1" LCD from a Thinkpad for $100.

Now why, you ask, would anyone want to build a reader from scratch? Just because you can. But don't forget, you can buy a perfectly good LCD eReader here for $109.95 plus shipping.
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Old 06-25-2007, 04:03 PM   #9
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Although it's a fine example of minitechnology, but isn't it a bit useless as you'd need a computer of some sort to actually start this computer?
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Old 06-25-2007, 04:10 PM   #10
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You apparently do need a computer to load the OS onto it. After that, all you need is a terminal to access it... in other words, a keyboard and screen... and those can be plugged into the 2 USB input ports.

Conceivably, you could also plug the device into a PDA, smartphone or a device like the Foleo, and use that to input commands and read output.
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Old 06-25-2007, 05:41 PM   #11
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You apparently do need a computer to load the OS onto it. After that, all you need is a terminal to access it... in other words, a keyboard and screen... and those can be plugged into the 2 USB input ports.

Conceivably, you could also plug the device into a PDA, smartphone or a device like the Foleo, and use that to input commands and read output.
What good would that do if a PDA or smartphone would have a stronger CPU than that USBthingie?

I just can't find much use for it as it is now, because you can't input anything because you can't hook anything up and you can't output anything because it has no screen...

Add it to an existing computer to do a specific job like a firewall? I think the first PC that has USB builtin would have a powerful enough CPU to do that task already.

Maybe... (and then i'm already far away in fantasy island) if you can change one of those photoframes (which are now quite popular) hook that thing up and have some kind of OS running, it might be of SOME use.... But then you'd think... why not just throw the CPU in the frame and use the USB-stick as what it's intended for? holding the data.
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Old 06-25-2007, 09:47 PM   #12
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Some of us get excited about the idea of building something. We don't do it to save money. We do it for the pleasure of craftsmanship.

I know it is not practical to "re-invent the wheel" by building my own reader from a collection of parts. But I have done similar things before, and that interest has led me into a long productive career hiding small computers away in unlikely places and making them perform.

Adapting a photoframe is a cool idea. There is probably a microprocessor in there already. It does not have to be very powerful to simply display text on the screen.

These devices are fascinating just because they represent raw potential. Much as a building under construction captures our imagination and compels us to explore the unfinished interior, these devices set our imaginations free to explore what might be. In a poetic sense, they are the building blocks of our imaginary future.
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Old 06-25-2007, 11:36 PM   #13
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Maybe making your own eReader from a photo frame is not so hard. The Poloaroid/Ceiva PhotoMax Digital Picture Frame has 8M of flash and 16M of DRAM. It runs an ARM processor. A serial port is available on the board, so a simple serial button control set can be hacked together with a PIC processor and some buttons from Digikey.

If you want to take a shot at it, you will find the hacking info here. This site documents a set of tools so you can load Linux onto the Ceiva frame.

Some report frames on sale in the $70 to $90 range. Does anyone know of a cheap digital frame for which we have hacking information?
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Old 06-26-2007, 12:21 AM   #14
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Maybe making your own eReader from a photo frame is not so hard... Does anyone know of a cheap digital frame for which we have hacking information?
Maybe this new one from BenQ will be more hacker friendly?
http://aving.net/usa/Special/default...e=sp&BTB_Num=0
Quote:
Do you have any plan to launch new product line?

We do have this kind of project. We are preparing to launch digital photo frames in different design in the second half of this year.
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Old 06-26-2007, 04:00 AM   #15
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Maybe this new one from BenQ will be more hacker friendly?
http://aving.net/usa/Special/default...e=sp&BTB_Num=0
After seeing that I googled for "digital photo frame wireless" (without quotes) and got surprising number of hits. Now, an app running on a PC that could auto-convert text, PDFs or whatever to JPGs and send them to the frame . . .

Many DPFs are in the $500-600 range. Wait until the wireless ones hit $100 and the buying power will be there to make really cheap wireless readers.

It sounds like BenQ might be fantasizing about sending streaming video to the DFPs!
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