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Mobile Gadgets for Linux Gearheads on the Go - page 2

Wi-Fi and MiFi

  • December 4, 2009
  • By Paul Ferrill

One of the biggest reasons for needing an always-on Internet connection is the dependence many people have upon multiple Web services like Google and Wikipedia. While Google is the place many people start when they need to search for something, you'll often find Wikipedia entries as the results of a Google search. In just a few short years Wikipedia has supplanted traditional printed encyclopedias as a way to find out detailed information about virtually any subject. The only downside to Wikipedia is the need for an Internet connection to access the information, at least until now.

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The WikiReader is a new hand-held device that puts the entirety of Wikipedia in your pocket. Each WikiReader runs on two AAA batteries and should hold up for as long as 12 months of normal usage. The touch screen presents a small QWERTY keyboard to enter your search terms. Scrolling up and down is controlled by sliding your finger on the screen in the direction you wish to move. You can follow links (to other Wikipedia content) by touching the underlined text. The only thing missing is the pictures and graphics. The lack of pictures will make some articles less informative than others, but it's not a huge deal. We also found the keyboard key size to be problematic at times.

WikiReader's software is based completely on open source. All source code is available device through GitHub for anyone to see. Updates will be available either by subscription, or you can do it yourself. The entire source database for the Wikireader is stored on a microSD card and can be updated manually by downloading the data from the Wikireader site and copying it to the card. It's possible that you could load some other content on the microSD card as long as it conforms to the same format used by Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has a wealth of information for Linux users including descriptions of many command line utilities with examples. It also has good articles on the history behind Linux (Unix) and many of the key technologies (EXT file system, the Linux kernel, etc.) behind it. The WikiReader gives you access to all this information on a tiny hand held device. It also has the added safety benefit for children you wouldn't want to turn loose with an open Internet connection. Both the MiFi 2200 and the WikiReader would make an excellent addition to any road warrior's travel kit.


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