What Are You On?

intel dongleWhat are you on right now?

Helaine uses a laptop. My dad is 100% tablet. I rotate through devices and touch close to a dozen keyboards or screens through the day.

Nearly everything you know about computing is about to change. The size is shrinking again.

If you have a recent iPhone or one of the high end Android devices, you know the brain in that small device of yours works fine for browsing and video. Why do we need anything with bulk?

We don’t.

There is a new class of dongles entering the market which are full fledged PCs. Plug one into an HDMI port on any TV, pair with wireless keyboard and mouse and it’s a computer that can do nearly anything! Browse the web. Stream HD movies. Skype. Whatever.

These dongles are quad core machines special image processing chips. Very low power, they need no fans. They are light on RAM and disk space, but are optimized for the tasks most people normally perform.

They’re not for making content. They’re for consumption.

At the moment (and we’re very early in this game) the Windows version is $150 and the Android $100. Expect those numbers to fall.

This is crazy. How far we’ve come. We’re not slowing down.

My Hacker Spirit Remains Alive

TL-MR3040-V2-04The word ‘hacker’ has acquired a bad reputation. Hackers steal. Hackers deface. Hackers take down.

I’m a hacker. Not that kind.

As a kid I took apart our family’s telephones (and reassembled them) to see what made them work. When computers first arrived I bought one, even though it could do next to nothing. I’m that kind of hacker.

I am fascinated by making things do tasks they weren’t designed to do. Sometimes that means circumventing controls, like jailbreaking a phone.

I did a little hacking this weekend. My Canon 7D camera (aka, “Clicky”) can now be operated remotely from my tablet or cellphone. This all came about after looking at a website posting titled, “TP-LINK TL-MR3040 wireless field monitor with DSLR controller.”

The MR3040 is a neat little wireless router made for road warriors. It gives folks with a USB cell modem the ability to use it with many devices at once.

DSLR Controller  BETA    Android Apps on Google PlayThe hack I found loads new firmware into the modem. Now, instead of a router the little white box becomes a ‘wireless cable,’ attaching my camera to my tablet. From there an Android app, DSLRController, takes over. Most of the controls on the camera now become accessible from the tablet.

Loading unauthorized firmware nearly always voids the warranty. There’s a chance the unit might get ‘bricked.’ The router was $30 with shipping on Amazon. I took a chance.

DSLRController itself is a hack, adding functions Canon left out!

I want to get more involved in using my 7D for video. This seems like an excellent step in that direction.