Dedicated Vi device vies for buyers
Ninety-quid NanoNote runs Doom, Quake
The NanoNote is a £90 portable computer, sporting open source hardware and software, but no wireless and little more than a Vi editor in the way of applications.
The device comes from Qi-Hardware and features a 3in colour screen, 2GB of Flash storage along with 32MB of Ram, but not much in the way of applications as it will boot into a Linux kernel featuring Vi and mutt. Connectivity is limited to a USB connection, though the presence of an SDIO slot means that could be expanded if anyone spent the time creating some drivers.
It's smaller than it looks - at less than 10cm across it's pocket sized
The device comes from various people involved in the OpenMoko project, and maintains that project's commitment to open source hardware and software - so all the code is open source, and the hardware schematics are released under a Creative Commons licence. Developers playing with the kit have already managed to get Doom and Quake running, and early versions of Qt have been demonstrated, so buyers who stump up the €99 for a device probably won't be limited to Vi for long.
Open source hardware has a somewhat patchy success rate - the IT industry is so dominated by patent-holding mega-corporations that any attempt to make a serious competitor can simply be eradicated with a lawyer's letter or two.
But as long as such devices don't threaten those companies then they can achieve limited success, and improvements in manufacturing are reducing the barriers to entry: QI-Hardware reckons it only needs to sell 3000 NanoNotes to make the business viable, which isn't very many even if the device lacks any killer application right now.
Some developing-world companies are looking at the NanoNote, but realistically it's more of a Linux-hacker's toy at the moment, albeit a pretty one that will run Quake. ®
If it can drive a printer.....
My first Unix box at home was an ATT PC7300 (Unix PC) with a whopping 2MB of memory and the (huge for the time) 67 MB disk. Real Unix Sys V R2/3 on an 8 MHz 68010 with a 1200-baud modem.. CNEWS, Emacs and LaTex kept things running along nicely for email, USENET and my wife's college papers (including both Bachelor's and Master's theses) as well as some games, code development and other things.
When my oldest daughter got into college, she had to take the mandatory "Intro to Computers" class where they used PC's with Word Perfect. She almost got tossed out for telling the TA what crap WP was and demanding Emacs (or at least Vi) and LaTex! so she could get her in-class work done!
With an appropriate selection of applications, this little box could be very useful both for general applications and specialist uses such as portable control panels/data loggers for solar arrays, PLC monitors, Model rocketry or aircraft telemetry analysis and dozens of other "vertical" applications. That's the real application space for a little box like this.
But it's only got 32MB of RAM!
And we should all go back to living in caves and eating raw bugs.
If patent idiocy had been around in the stone age we'd all have to pay a licence fee for using fire.
Yo momma is barely-functional!
"We should all stop buying carefully designed products with actual uses, and start buying barely-functional generic "me too" hardware from people who lack the clout to get good prices on components."
Yeah sure, this is barely functional rubbish. I suppose your definition of a 2400-pieces puzzle is "dysfunctional poster" then? While a 6-pieces one for kids is a "barely-functional" one. Legos are dysfunctional scale models while crosswords are under-par short stories for people who "lack the clout to get good prices on" ready-made words. My oh my, you must be a riot at parties (parties, you know, these under-satisfying gatherings that loosers attend because they don't have the clout to get good prices on prostitutes or lackeys. Real-life friends? What do you mean? Do you know how many Facebook friends I have?)
I think you missed the point of this device entirely. And I want one. Not because it's going to be a hugely efficient toll for my day-to-day computing needs, but because it's going to be endless fun (and It's small so I can easily conceal it from my better half, should she think of it as an ugly useless couple-destroying gizmo of death).
Besides, I'd bet one month salary that I can get more work done on this thing than you could on the "well-designed" iPad with all its neat "components" *. But that's beside the point. This is no mass-maket consumer utility device (yet), this is an adult toy (oops, that came out wrong). This is a geek's wet dream (sorry, sounded better in my head). Not in the put-it-on-vibrate kind of way, but in the "if I touch that, what does it do?" kind of way (oops it sounds all wrong again).
And nothing beats ASCII porn (ha, this came out as intended. At long last).
Mine is the one without the pulsating fruit logo on the back, thanks.
*Yep, I'm _that_ guy. The one who writes his articles on vim (in lout), designs his figures with... vim (in a graphics-oriented programming language), routinely browses the web with Lynx or w3m, likes his adventure and hack'n slash games with a ncurses interface and play his MMORPGs with the sole help of telnet (and sometimes tintin++ when he's feeling lazy).
A good start
But it needs a serial port. Not USB, a good old fashioned honest to god 9 pin RS-232 port.
I'd buy one tomorrow if it had that.