Follow us on
Connect
More on TechnologyTell: Gadget News | Apple News

Other posts by Branko Collin

Giving up print—a conversion story
May 16, 2009 | 4:08 am

Bruce Bartlett had an interesting piece in Forbes two weeks ago called Recycling Books in which he describes the process that allowed him to slowly wean himself from print, and move on to reading digital. For him it started with journals: I even bought a house twice as large as I needed just to have space for book and journal storage. But I didn't mind, because my books and journals were an important part of my human capital. When people hired me they were also hiring access to my library, which eventually grew to 30,000 volumes or more. But over the last...

Bebook Mini confirmed at 200 euro
May 15, 2009 | 7:44 am

Engadget links to a video interview with Endless Ideas CEO Johan Hagenbeuk in which he confirms (in Dutch) that the price for the Bebook Mini will be 199 euro. The 5 inch Mini will be almost exactly the same model as the classic 300 euro model, but will have a smaller screen, faster processor, more memory and more levels of greyscale. Endless Ideas hopes it can start shipping Minis in August. The company mentions it has "easily" sold more than 25,000 units of the Bebook, and that the countries it sells the most units in are the UK, Germany, France...

DIY high-speed scanner
April 21, 2009 | 8:45 am

I have been walking around with this idea for quite some time, but simply lack the technical skills to make it happen---a high-speed book scanner made from stuff you've probably got lying around the house. Now Daniel Reetz has gone and done it, and his instructions can be found at instructables.com: I've built two of these things now, and this instructable covers the best parts of both of them. You can build a book scanner using only hand tools plus a drill. I realized that not everyone is comfortable with using all the different hand tools you might need to...

Ultra-portables have arrived when …
August 16, 2008 | 9:24 am

Ultra-portables have arrived when ... you can purchase them at the DIY store. A little over a year ago I pointed out that light and cheap laptops with a small energy footprint were about to enter the market. Because of their minimalist features these laptops might double as e-book readers. Although the promise of low energy usage has never materialized, these ultra-portable or ultra-mobile "netbooks"---a name coined by Intel---have been a hit from the start. So much so, that even Dutch low-cost hardware chain Gamma is now offering netbooks among its rows of hammers and paint and what have you....

A quick review of a borrowed Sony Reader PRS-500
June 20, 2008 | 6:04 am

A friend lent me his Sony Reader for a couple of weeks. He wasn't using it as much as he used to, so he wouldn't miss it. I received the device with a power adaptor and a minimum of instructions. There's a school of thought that says that reading instructions is a waste of time anyway, and that interfaces should be intuitive and easy to grasp. I don't subscribe to that philosophy, and not just because it displays a woeful lack of understanding of the way humans and interfaces work. There's no such thing as "intuitive," the best thing you...

Amazing Russian OCR package open sourced?
May 26, 2008 | 4:48 am

Help wanted from some fellow sleuths-archeologists: Recent reports suggest that a Russian OCR tool called Cuneiform has been released as Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). The unfortunate part, for me, is that all the news seems to sit on the Russian side of the web, and I don't speak Russian. The matter becomes extra confusing when you notice that there is an American site that presents itself as the manufacturer of Cuneiform OCR (called Cognitive Enterprises), that still sells the package (albeit a much earlier version), and that keeps remarkably mum about the whole open sourcing...

Royal Library wants copyright law changed
April 18, 2008 | 11:25 am

Copyright is not fit for this digital age, and needs to be changed; so said two representatives of the Dutch national library in a letter to daily NRC yesterday. In their epistle (Dutch) Martin Bossenbroek and Hans Jansen, managers Collections & Service and E-strategy respectively of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library), the Dutch national library, explain how difficult it can be to run large-scale digitization programs when for a large number of books it simply is not clear whether they have returned to the public domain or not: Copyright is a good thing, but the code that enshrines this...

The printed book as a preservation device
April 10, 2008 | 2:19 am

There's a lot of talk about whether e-books will be able to mimic the physical qualities of p-books, but often this talk focuses on the "feel" of books. People like to rifle through pages, smell the paper, make notes in the margins, et cetera. A p-book does not just act as a container of a book, but also as a preservation device. And it does this against heavy odds. Modern, "acid" paper deteriorates quickly, but it is still possible to preserve books printed on such paper for a long time---hundreds of years in some cases. In theory, e-books can last much longer...

The robots are coming!
March 28, 2008 | 3:01 pm

Almazán is a Spanish municipality covering an area of 166 km². You would have known this if you had looked up the Dutch Wikipedia article on the place. The entry was started by one of the many "bots" that roam Wikipedia. Ah well, you'll say, there's still room for the human factor---look at the article's history, the entry has been edited 80 times. Yes, but---I'll reply---all those edits were performed by robots too. The article has never been touched by human hands. ...

Wikipedia in New York Review of Books
March 25, 2008 | 9:31 am

The New York Review of Books has a jealousy inducing piece on Wikipedia, it's that well written. OK, technically it is a review of John Broughton's "Wikipedia: The Missing Manual," a book that describes how to write Wikipedia entries that last. But Nicholson Baker, author of Double Fold, talks mostly about Wikipedia itself, and his own experiences with the internet phenomenon. Baker does not feel the need to attack or pre-emptively defend Wikipedia, and that---together with the appearance of books such as Broughton's---seems to signal a turning point for the online encyclopaedia. Wikipedia is no longer in need of definition....

Electrowetting displays coming up in 2008
March 24, 2008 | 3:43 pm

Philips spin-off Liquavista announced last week that it will start production of so-called electrowetting displays this year, having secured 8 million euro in investment money. Electrowetting is a member of a loosely knit family of energy efficient reflective display technologies. It works by manipulating layers of oil and water in a cell (pixel). Liquavista expects to produce small displays for use in mobile devices such as mobile phones and watches first. The Eindhoven-based company claims its ColorMatch FreeStyle platform will have more than twice the brightness of LCD displays. Via Bright (Dutch)....

“Old People and the Things that Pass” in HTML
March 22, 2008 | 7:58 am

Dear patron. The book you requested from this library, an HTML-version of Old People and the Things that Pass, is now available at the Internet Archive. Please accept our apologies for our tardiness; the transcription took a little longer than expected. I made no efforts to get a correct transcription---that would have taken 20 hours more of time I don't have. Let's hope Project Gutenberg or similar pick up the ball. You will especially come across the following errors in my transcription: "scannos", missing italicization, and missing paragraph breaks. If you would like to see these corrected ASAP, your best bet...