A plea for an open android eink tablet for Astronomy

The Android tablet space that is starting to heat up is all running after Apple’s iPad at the moment.  It’s got a nice form factor and a nice screen, but it’s entirely unsuitable for a whole set of applications that I care about for one simple reason:

LCDs give off blue light.

Blue light is really the enemy of both sleep and dark.  I mostly care about the dark part, because my interest is for Astronomy.  It takes at least 20 minutes for your eyes to really dark adapt when you go outside.  If you want to see other Galaxies from your back yard, dark adaption is really important.  We call them “faint fuzzies” for a reason.  Last month at our astronomy party someone brought an iPad with some astronomy application to let them know what to look at with their telescope.  After 30 minutes of it blinding them, the finally turned it off and started asking some of the rest of the folks there what they should be looking at, and where to find it.

But, an eink tablet would be great.  You could use just enough red light to see what’s going on, and be able to zoom in to your charts.  There are 2 things that come close right now, the nook and the kindle, but neither would work without a lot of effort.  To do your own apps on the nook you have to hack the thing, and you’ve still got this pesky lcd you’d need to put a filter over.  The kindle is a physically better device for this, but it’s not android, so it’s another sdk to learn, and they have all manner of restrictions because the user doesn’t pay for their data usage.  As far as I can tell it would be too restrictive for this.

The ideal device would be something like the kindle dx, have a gps, and be based on Android.  This device doesn’t exist, but heres to hoping that someone makes one eventually.

Steve Yegge: Wikileaks To Leak 5000 Open Source Java Projects With All That Private/Final Bullshit Removed

Many Java developers have vowed to fight back against the unwelcome opening of their open source. League of Agile Methodology Experts (LAME) spokesperson Billy Blackburn says that work has begun on a new, even more complicated Java build system that will refuse to link in Opened Source Java code. The new build system will be released as soon as several third-party Java library vendors can refactor their code to make certain classes more reusable. Blackburn declined to describe these refactorings, claiming it was “none of y’all’s business.”

Guy Faulkner, a 51-year-old Python developer in Seattle, was amused by the Wikileaks announcement. “When Python developers release Open Source code, they are saying: Here, I worked hard on this. I hope you like it. Use it however you think best. Some stuff is documented as being subject to change in the future, but we’re all adults here so use your best judgment.”

Faulkner shook his head sadly. “Whereas Java developers who release Open Source are code are saying: Here, I worked hard on this. I hope you like it. But use it exactly how I tell you to use it, because fuck you, it’s my code. I’ll decide who’s the goddamn grown-up around here.”

Which is even funnier because I was having exactly this conversation last night at the HV Programmers Meetup.

How to Use Free GPS Hiking Maps on Android Without Cell Coverage

From suite101.com:

One of the problems with using an Android-based smartphone such as the Droid, Droid Eris, or Droid X as a hiker’s GPS is that maps don’t work when there is no cell coverage, which is common in areas where people like to hike or bike recreationally.

Google Maps will pre-cache some maps but it’s unpredictable as to whether it will fetch the right maps or delete the cached maps altogether. The real solution is to use an offline GPS program instead of the Google Maps program, which still requires access to the Internet

For those willing to put the effort, a free program called OruxMaps can make use of GPS maps stored on a Android smartphone’s SD card. The process of getting the maps is actually very straightforward by using another program. For most people, it should take no more than a few minutes to begin downloading the correct maps for use on an Android device with just GPS signals.

Very cool stuff.  I’m going to have to check this out for the next time we head to Vermont.

The cloud goes to Washington

At a press briefing here at its headquarters, Google announced a new version of its Apps suite designed specifically for government customers. This tier will be sold alongside the existing version of Google Apps and priced the same as the company’s premiere license–$50 per user, per year.

Google Apps for Government features all the same applications that can be found in other versions but comes with a higher level of security, which Google says meets the requirements set forth by the Federal Information Security Management Act. This includes segregated data centers, which Google says goes beyond FISMA regulations, and will keep government e-mail and calendar event data within U.S. borders.

This is probably the biggest tech story of the day.  A lot of FUD around cloud will be dismissed if we see large government sign off on it.

Home Owner Task: replace the iron filter

Today (well really yesterday) I learned that I really should have replaced our house iron filter some time ago.  It was on my list of things to do over the last 6 months, and I finally got around to it on Saturday.  It was one of those tasks that I’d never done before, so kept procrastinating on it, even though it only took 15 minutes.  The filter element, the part you replace, looked like a paint roller that was drenched with some of the russet sunset we had used in the kitchen. (sorry no pics, it was disposed of before I could think of it).

As soon as it was replaced we had at least twice the water pressure in the house.  I regenerated our water softener, and now our dishes are getting clean again, the shower up stairs has much more sane water pressure, and the tub faucet no longer has orange water come out of it when you first start it.  Yay for that.

Unlearn Something Wrong Today

Glass is not a high-viscosity liquid at room temperature: it is an amorphous solid, although it does have some chemical properties normally associated with liquids. Panes of stained glass windows often have thicker glass at the bottom than at the top, and this has been cited as an example of the slow flow of glass over centuries. However, this unevenness is due to the window manufacturing processes used in earlier eras, which produced glass panes that were unevenly thick at the time of their installation. It is common to find old windows which are thicker at the sides or the top.[114][115]

Wikipedia has a pretty good list of Common Misconceptions, with references explaining why they aren’t true, and what the real story is.  Unlearning a wrong fact is one of the hardest things to do as a human being, so do yourself a favor and unlearn something wrong today.