The most disappointing gadget of 2005: the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

I had been excited by the prospects of the Nokia 770 from the moment I read about it on Planet GNOME. An internet tablet that ran Open Source Software and used GNOME/GStreamer bits. It was hard to not be excited. The early reports from the people who received developer units was promising. Software was being ported and written, and things seemed to be progressing by all accounts.

Nokia 770

The Nokia 770 was finally released, but only available online. I waited patiently for them to appear locally. Jorge finally spotted one in the wild, at a CompUSA in Michigan. I braved a snow storm and headed out to my local CompUSA and picked up the only one in inventory. I was almost giddy when I got home and plugged it in to charge. And then I used it.

The review Eric wrote for Ars Technica sums up my feelings on it nicely. I really wanted to like the 770. It had the potential to be a great device but severely fell short on expectations. The hardware seems underpowered, with the lack of RAM crippling the performance. Beyond that, the software itself was buggy — even for a first release. I could forgive the occasional glitch or two and wait for an update but the persistent issues with the UI — slow visual response to operations, applications crashing or refusing to start without restarting the device and the minimal working configuration options made it a profound disappointment.

Apparently I’m not the only one to return the Nokia 770, either. When Jorge returned his, the manager came to talk to him. He wanted to know if it was really that bad, because his store had seen a 100% return rate on the device. Let that sink in for a minute: every single person who purchased the Nokia 770 at that store returned it. That doesn’t bode well for a future revision of the device to address the flaws in this virgin release. Nokia had a great idea, but the poor execution leads me to proclaim the Nokia 770 the most disappointing gadget of 2005. Better luck next year, guys.


On Wednesday, Dena, Annie and I went downtown to see Monty Python’s Spamalot, the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Starring Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce, and Tim Curry, this piece of “musical theatre” is absolutely brilliant. The theatre was packed. The play was funnier than I expected. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much or so hard. I even bit the inside of my cheek somehow in the process. The show bills itself as playing “Broadway in Chicago” and indeed their quest is to reach, wait for it, Broadway! But they can’t get to Broadway if they don’t have any Jews. What a dilema!

If you get the chance, go see this show. I suspect it’s going to be one of the hot shows to see when it hits Broadway.

The Talisman


Dena recommended that I read The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub, several months ago. Like the good husband, I took her suggestion and sat down to read it. I was an early Stephen King fan. My tastes have changed over the years, but I’m still up for a good read.

On a brisk autumn day, a thirteen-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: his father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America–and into another realm.

One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother’s life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more. Let the quest
begin. . . . – Publishers description

Continue reading

Legends 3

I picked up a copy of Legends 3 today from the bargain table at Borders. There are eleven different novellas, edited by Robert Silverberg. Stephen King, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Anne McCaffrey, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card, Robert Silverberg, Ursula K. Le Guin, Tad Williams, and George R. R. Martin contributed to the anthology. An epic fantasy lovers dream and at $6.99 it was a steal, too.

I’ve only read one of the stories so far, and I felt I should say something about it, since it’s a rare treat indeed for any fan of Robert Jordan. New Spring tells the story of the meeting of Lan Mandragoran and Moiraine Damondred and the beginning of the search for the Dragon Reborn. It is one of the few stories published that take place previous to the beginning of the Wheel of Time series (another being the story of Lews Therin and the Hundred Companions raiding the Dark Ones prison) and was quite enjoyable to read. Truth be told, I had a hard time putting it down, and an even harder time resisting the urge to comment on it (an urge while I obviously failed to resist).

I’ve previously read about half of the other authors works, but those I haven’t come highly recommended. I can’t wait to read them all.

The Swordsmen: Bold and Stupid Men At Your Service

We took the train downtown [Chicago] yesterday. After a delightful lunch at the Berghoff, we strolled down State Street. Our destination was the Noble Fool theatre. We were way too early, so we shopped at the Borders next door to the theatre. I bought Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai as research for a story I’m working on. Then we headed over for the show. We’d seen the Swordsmen at the Bristol Renaissance Faire before, but those shows are always short. Their stage act was a complete show full of audience participation (some more reluctant than others). “Guido” and “Dirk” are really a class act. Through poetry and swordsmanship they draw laughter from the crowd. Be warned, they do draw on the audience for parts of their act. If you’re there as a couple, be aware that if you volunteer your loved one to the stage, you will also become part of the show.

The show is great fun for any age, young or old. If you ever have the chance to watch these two swordsmen, don’t pass it up.


One of the things I was looking forward to in the switch to MoveableType was using some of the available third-party tools. The first one I’ve tried, w.bloggar, is quite impressive. It is a Windows application to write and post to various blogs, including MoveableType. Without getting into the technical aspect of the process (I could bore you to death with it), let me just say how full-featured this thing is. If you’re not web-saavy, that’s ok. It has a full-featured menu that will let you do all sorts of nifty formatting without having to learn HTML. If you’re more technically inclined like I am, you can ignore all of those fancy formatting features and write pure HTML by hand (my prefered method of choice). When you’re done, simply “Post & Publish” and you’re all set.

There are a few things lacking in w.bloggar. It’s spellcheck leaves something to be desired. The included dictionary doesn’t have “friday” listed as a legitimate word! Other than that slight annoyance, I haven’t run into anything I don’t like yet. It almost makes it too easy to post.