Inexpensive Laptop Substitute

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Sun Jul 20, 2008 2:49 am Post

Thing is the dongle has to advertise what it is to the OS for the proper "generic" driver to be loaded. The devices that "enable" blue tooth in non-blue systems still use CPU drivers to make the abstraction happen.

All that said I can't imagine that there isn't something that will provide enough feature/function to accomplish your goal. Let me see what we can find.

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09


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Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:37 pm Post

Bluetooth Dongle ... &ShipTo=US
Wooden Laptop

Lego Laptops and Ipods

Lego Workstation
Check out the little dude on the bridge above the mother board

Laptop that costs $336,557.00

"Smart Legos"
The wheel is turning but the hamster is still dead.

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Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:57 pm Post

Re: bluetooth

Usually when 'no drivers needed' is advertised it usually means that the drivers are built-in to the OS, not that they aren't required to make the bluetooth work.

Also, at least in my experience, most bluetooth gadgets need to be paired, which usually - though not always - requires some interaction on the bluetooth receiving end of things.

I agree that the Apple bluetooth keyboard is a joy to use. Hope you can find something that works. :)

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Mollys Mum
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Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:52 pm Post

Well, dammit, this is a pain.
On the heels of reading this report, I gleefully attacked my daughter's bedroom (she is away at Graduate School) and forcefully appropriated her eight year old AlphaSmart, which she later agreed I could have. The keys stuck, so I pried them all carefully off, cleaned everything, and put them back. Wasn't crazy about the feel, but the little thing WORKED--with the original lithium battery and all. I uploaded her old files (which she has asked me to erase) and all went well till about the last one, when it started printing gibberish. I re-uploaded the file, and it transferred fine. A minor blip, I thought. So I took the little AS up to the country with me for a week, and when I got back and tried to upload my new files into Text, I'd get a paragraph or so of clear text, then gibberish. I called AlphaSmart and we determined it was probably the 8-year-old lithium battery, which I duly replaced yesterday (unknowing that in doing so I would ERASE all my new files--oh well, easy come, easy go. Sigh.). Anyway, today I started afresh, wrote a bunch, uploaded--got the same thing. One good paragraph and then GIBBERISH again.

Anyone else have this problem? I can't find anything on the net. I could call AlphaSmart back again, but after quite a bit of troubleshooting the first time, the only possible solution we could come up with was a new lithium battery, and that's obviously not the culprit.

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Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:46 pm Post

I would try using a different cable if you haven't already. With a transmission error of variable nature like you describe (failure point is not predictable), I would suspect the wire and the socket itself. If using a different cable makes no difference, then I would try uploading to a different computer (even Windows). If that doesn't work, I suspect the problem is going to be much more difficult to solve; probably humidity or spill damaged hardware. If the battery is really suspect though, have you tried removing the battery and uploading while keeping the AS plugged in to the wall?
Ioa Petra'ka
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Mollys Mum
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Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:02 pm Post

Amber you're a genius.
Tried a newer USB cable and all is well. If ONLY I had known I could have saved a week's worth of work. Nevermind, knowing I don't have to just trash the little AS is comfort enough.

A thousand thanks.


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Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:47 pm Post

Mollys Mum wrote:I uploaded her old files (which she has asked me to erase) and all went well till about the last one, when it started printing gibberish.

I myself was going to suggest that the Parental Snoop Scramble Defense (PSSD) unit had been engaged, but I guess it was just a bad cable after all!


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Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:48 am Post

I have one... after I thought I lost my HPC

I looked high and low and here you go

Actual computer, running on Linux OS Ubuntu Distribution...

It is about the size of a DVD...

Found the HPC, still thinking of buying that for my birthday.

And I am sure that if you need the actual full size keyboard it will detect it.
The past if prologue...

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Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:17 am Post

InklingBooks, thank you so much for your post. I got an AlphaSmart Dana and I use it more than I do my computer. It's wonderful.

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Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:24 pm Post

Mollys Mum wrote:
I uploaded her old files (which she has asked me to erase) and all went well till about the last one, when it started printing gibberish.

That usually happens when you`re ratlegged Tch! tch!
As a professional, you, are your one and only asset. Without integrity you are worthless, but with it, you are priceless.

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Fri Sep 05, 2008 12:32 am Post

$98 miniNote Laptop

Digg just had a posting about a $98 "miniNote" laptop from HiVision that's supposed to come out in October. It runs Linux (or Microsoft CE) and has USB and WiFi. It runs Firefox, Skype (voice), and Abiword but not Flash. It can play movie trailers from online, although they're rather jerky. Battery life is 3-4 hours, so this isn't an AlphaSmart replacement. There's not enough information in what I've seen so far to see if some trick, like a homemade external battery pack, might give it a longer life. ... in_China_2

More at: ... aptop.html

Which gives these specs:

HiVision offers a $98 laptop that runs on Linux and features the Dragon MIPS processor, Wi-Fi, 1GB storage, 7″ screen, 3 USB ports, SDHC card reader, audio in/out, ethernet, and VOIP functionality. Not too shabby for a laptop that really does run under $100.

There's more here: ... -mininote/

Including these specs:

HiVision makes the worlds cheapest Linux laptop at $98 using a new cheaper MIPS based processor, WiFi, 1GB flash storage, it runs Linux, has 3 USB ports, Ethernet, SDHC card reader, audio in and out, voice-chat, skype, multi-tabbed Firefox browser support and Abiword for word processing. Automatic and secure online software updates. Their current model is running a smooth and pretty snappy Linux user interface. In this video, I got to borrow a review sample of the laptop overnight, and I try to show you all the browser and other software interfaces in this extended video review of this cheap MIPS based laptop. Embedded is the way that I hope that most cheap laptops are going to be based on in the near future, Google will hopefully make a great Chrome browser for this kind of Laptop and hopefully that OLPC soon will announce that they will work to improve Embedded Linux based laptops in the upcoming XO-1.5 and XO-2 designs.

The detailed 18 minute video review is at:

You can find the manufacturer's website at:

Although there's not much information there at present.


It is small, so it should be great for traveling and at that price you'll fret less about theft. At such a price point, quality could be an issue, so you might not want to be one of the first buyers. Also, the keyboard is smaller than standard, so that may be an issue with you, particularly if you have large hands like me. They also have pricier models in the $300 range.

--Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

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Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:45 am Post

Mollys Mum wrote:I uploaded her old files (which she has asked me to erase) and all went well till about the last one, when it started printing gibberish.

If you're using an AlphaSmart, the speed at which it emulates keyboard typing may be set too high. Mine was set to "4: Fastest," which seemed to work with my iMac. Today, I discovered that for my MacBook I need to set it back to "3: Fast (default)." If it's too fast for your application to handle, gibberish is the result.

On an AlphaSmart2000 you set the transfer speed with a menu that appears when you enter Command-Option-S on the keyboard. For your model, look at the documentation or see if there's a helpful label on the back.

By the way, the new iPod nano and iPod touch (September 2008) have a memo record mode that could serve well for taking notes about writing projects while on the go. I assume the resulting audio files can then be transfered to your computer. The only negative is that, if I've read the Apple information correctly, the stock earphones that ship with them don't have a microphone. You either have to buy a $29 earphone with mike or a $79 high-end one. Still, $30 isn't bad for a digital recorder. And if, like me, you almost always have an iPod with you, then you also have a recorder.

--Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

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Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:42 pm Post


Earlier I mentioned being intrigued by the idea of using the new iPod Nano (September 2008) as a voice recorder for memos-to-self or interviews. Here's what the Apple manual has to say about the new feature. It answers almost every question you might have.

Recording Voice Memos

You can record voice memos using an optional iPod nano–compatible microphone
(available for purchase at You can set chapter marks while you record, store voice memos on iPod nano and sync them with your computer, and
add labels to voice memos.

Voice memos cannot be longer than two hours. If you record for more than two hours,
iPod nano automatically starts a new voice memo to continue your recording.

To record a voice memo:

1 Connect a microphone to the Dock connector port on iPod nano.
The Voice Memos item appears in the main menu.

2 To begin recording, choose Voice Memo > Start Recording.

3 Hold the microphone a few inches from your mouth and speak. To pause recording,
press the Menu button. Choose Resume to continue recording.

4 When you finish, press Menu and then choose “Stop and Save.” Your saved recording is
listed by date and time.

To set chapter marks:

While recording, press the Center button whenever you want to set a chapter mark.

During playback, you can go directly to the next chapter by pressing the Next/Forward
button. Press the Previous/Rewind button once to go to the start of the current
chapter, and twice to go to the start of the previous chapter.

To label a recording:

1 Choose Voice Memos > Recordings, and then choose a saved recording.

2 Choose Label, and then choose a label for the recording.
You can choose Podcast, Interview, Lecture, Idea, Meeting, or Memo. To remove a label
from a recording, choose None.

To play a recording:

In the main menu, choose Voice Memos and select the recording.
You won’t see a Voice Memos menu item if you’ve never connected a microphone to
iPod nano.

To sync voice memos with your computer:

Voice memos are saved in a Recordings folder on iPod in the WAV file format. If you
enable iPod nano for disk use, you can drag voice memos from the folder to copy

If iPod nano is set to sync songs automatically (see “Syncing Music Automatically” on
page 28) voice memos on iPod nano are automatically synced as an album in iTunes
(and removed from iPod nano) when you connect iPod nano. The new Voice Memos
playlist appears in the source list.

All in all, it seems like it would be a quite handy tool. Particularly if you're carrying an iPod with you anyway, the record function saves you the bother of carrying yet another gadget. I'm not completely sure if I'd like the auto-removal when the recorded files are transferred to a computer. I'm the safety-first type, but it does remove the hassle of getting rid of those files manually.

The ability to mark chapters is particularly nice. When taping lectures, it lets you set when different people speak. For classes it lets you set markers when a new major point begins. For interviews it lets you mark particular points of importance.

The microphone they mention is part of a combination earphone mike that is fine for memos to yourself. You'll look like you're talking on a cellphone rather than a crazy guy who talks to himself. But that's no good for taping interviews or lectures. Hopefully, someone else will come up with mikes better adapted for those purposes, perhaps a tiny mike that becomes part of the iPod and an adapter that lets us attach an external mike or line input with a place to plug an earphone.

That's it. I still wonder if I'll be too self-conscious to record these memos-to-self when they come to me, but it'd certainly be easier than stopping, pulling out a pen and notepad, and writing things down, particularly when what's to be recorded is more than a few words.

ADDED LATER: You can find more about the audio features of the new iPod nano at: ... tml&page=3

Among other things, it can handle stereo input through the dock connector.

--Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

P.S. I couldn't find anything about memo recording in the manual of the new iPod touch. I imagine Apple is letting third parties develop recording functions that might be more full-featured than on the iPod Nano. For instance, there doesn't seem to be any way to set the recording level with the iPod Nano.

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Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:25 pm Post

PC Advisor Just posted a lengthy review of OS X running on an MSI Wind U100. Their purpose is stated this way:

The entire reason I embarked on this journey was to try and imagine what an Apple netbook might be like. And if you take a few blows to the head, you could almost begin to imagine that the MSI Wind is a MacBook Mini that fell through a rift in the space-time continuum. Almost.

The article begins at:

It draws some less than faltering conclusions about using a Hackintosh:

We start with the software. My Wind runs a hacked version of OS X, but with an Apple laptop you'd get the real thing. That's not just a nicety, either - using the Wind has reminded me just how good we Mac users have it, since Apple makes sure that OS X contains every driver necessary for every component used in its computers. (Prospective Hackintosh Mac-on-Wind types, please note: getting my Wind's trackpad to behave at all was a nightmare, and I still can't use the VGA port, microphone, or headphone jack.)

--Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

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Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:22 am Post

Cheap laptop= One A4 spiral-ringed binder with lined pages and box of No.2 pencils. Nuff said... :wink:
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Scientist: 'Ah, but what does the turtle rest on?'
Old Lady: 'Young man, you can't fool me! It's turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down!'