J. Peterson's Writing About Electronics, Reviews, 3D Modeling, etc.

Category Archives: Reviews

Product & Book reviews

Tingbot Review

chumby_pandora

One of my more prized positions is was a Chumby prototype, right off the desk of it’s hardware designer.  I won it in one of the designer’s monthly Name That Ware contests. The idea behind the Chumby was to have a box on your desk or nightstand running casual applications to tell the time, weather, photos, or other entertaining data. A back-end service made it easy to download new apps, which were written in Flash (this was in the late 2000’s, Flash was still a thing then). It was beautifully designed, featuring graphics by Susan Kare and a classy soft leather case.

But Chumby, Inc. died. A combination of bad timing (missing Christmas in 2007, followed by the global economic meltdown in 2008) and the introduction of the iPhone – the gadget to end all gadgets – made it tough for Chumby to find a market. Kudos to Duane Maxwell for keeping the remaining Chumbys on life support.

Recently Tingbot introduced a Raspberry Pi based computer with a small LCD display in a nice desktop case.  It immediately reminded me of the Chumby.

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Book Review: Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath

What would happen to a major metropolitan area – say, NY or LA – if the electric power grid completely failed, for multiple weeks at a time? The result isn’t pretty, and this is the topic long-time TV journalist Ted Koppel covers in Lights Out. The book claims the electric power grid is subject to a uniquely new threat: Attack by cyber criminals who can disable huge portions of electric power supply remotely. read more »

Czurtek ET16 Scanner Review

Czurtek ET16 scanner

This post originally appeared on Medium.com.

I like scanners. See, at one time I was really into books. But after a decade or two, you come to the conclusion books take physical space. Lots of it. So when my tax guy showed me his Fujitsu ScanSnap I was hooked. Mine ingested most loose papers, statements and documents. This cleared a shelf or two. I also scanned many books by sawing their spines off, and feeding them to the ScanSnap fifty pages or so at a time. It works great, and this cleared several more feet of shelf space.

However, there are some books I just can’t bear to saw up to feed to a sheet-feed scanner, and this is the niche the Czurtek ET16 falls into. I also had fantasies of using it to replace my slow, clumsy flatbed scanner. So, I signed up to the Indiegogo campaign, for $234.

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