This blog is gone elsewhere!

To facilitate the sharing of contents, I’ve decided to move my personal work blog to Tumblr. Thus, The Rice Cooker has now become The Electric Rice Cooker.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich on a Pandaboard

I got myself a Pandaboard a few weeks ago. It’s a community-supported fan-less board sponsored by Texas Instruments. It sports their OMAP 4430 chip, which is the same CPU as found in the Kindle Fire, Motorola Droid RAZR and a bunch of other smartphones (the Galaxy Nexus has its successor, the 4460).

So, when I first got it, I installed Ubuntu Linux (Linaro) on it. Used it very little, and sort of figured out the basics, such as installing an Apache webserver, but finally noticing that it lacked support for things I wanted to try out, such as Google Video Chat (which is not yet available for an ARM architecture, the one commonly found in most smartphones today).

So, I instead followed instructions on a YouTube video from the Pandaboard website that said you could install Android 4.0. And turns out you could, by following the instructions (you can find clearer instructions on the Web). So, now I have Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the board… Next step is to figure out how to get (or just wait for) the Google Apps (Gmail, Gtalk, etc.), and support for basic hardware such as video and audio capture.

In terms of media and journalism, there is perhaps some potential to create new ways to interact with information, by plugging a projector and some sensors to detect human input. In computing power, the Pandaboard is probably as powerful as a top of the line smartphone, yet at a much lower price of US$178 (but then, so flashy touchscreen). The form factor is interesting for embedded systems, which is something I only discovered this year.

My Apple Wireless Keyboard can connect to my Google Nexus One

Apple Wireless Keyboard on a Nexus One
Photos by Doug Meigs (JMSC)

Using CyanogenMod (currently in version 6, RC2), I can now connect an Apple Wireless Keyboard to my Google Nexus One phone. This works “out of the box” with the new version of CyanogenMod’s add-on (without additional software like KeyPro or BlueInput) for Bluetooth HID by Erin Yueh of 0xlabs, a bunch of engineers based in Taiwan.

I must say that when I tested writing an e-mail in the Gmail app, I encountered a few bumps, like a hung key that would completely shift the page aside. Since I am just starting to learn this new way of interacting with devices (and which should keep urges to buy an iPad at bay), I will tell you more later on how it feels to have a bluetooth keyboard on the go.

Since I work in a journalism school, my next-desk colleague, who is a freelance reporter as well, immediately sees bluetooth keyboards and a smartphone as an extremely convenient and powerful combination to do (written word) news reporting while literally chasing after the story.

While exploring solutions to connect the keyboard, I also found out that some people managed not only to connect a keyboard (by USB) to their Nexus One phones, but also to use it to act as a host for desktop applications like Firefox to run (from the phone) on an external display.

(Also, the Apple wireless keyboard is another design beauty, for only HK$518 (US$68)…)

Apple Wireless Keyboard on a Nexus One

Apple Wireless Keyboard on a Nexus One

New computers

Meet lamma

…and cheklapkok.

New members to the JMSC computer family. The HP desktop (more like a deskunder) computer, lamma, is a regular HP computer serving as a server computer, while the Dell laptop, cheklapkok is my new workstation.

Once I got them both, I wiped Windows off and installed Ubuntu Linux. The laptop got a dual-boot of Windows 7 (which I still for stuff like testing the Google Earth plugin) and the latest stable version of Ubuntu (9.10 Karmic).

Now, the server got version Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04, which is still in alpha, but will eventually become Ubuntu’s next long term support version. I installed a bunch of geo libraries and applications from the ubuntugis repository, and gave it a webserver (Apache, for now) and a database package (postgresql — for postgis, mostly). I’ll be installing other packages as we progress.