Thursday, December 16, 2010

Improv Electronics Boogie Board Review

Updated 16 Dec 2010. I added a review at the end for the Magnet / Stylus Clip kit and the sleeve that the kind folks at Boogie Board sent me.

What's in the box:

Telescoping stylus
Cleaning cloth

Here are some pics next to a #2 sized pencil and a 8.5x11 piece of paper.

If only the iPad looked this cool.

It's very thin and light. It weighs what you'd expect a piece of plastic this size to weigh, since that's mostly what it is. It's a roll to roll 'printed' LCD panel from Kent Displays. You can bend it and it's not an issue as long as you don't get too violent with it.

The actual display area is a little less than half a sheet of paper.

The stylus is cheap, but you can write with nearly anything on it. If you don't like the stylus, any old PDA stylus or pointy but not sharp object would do.

Closed and open stylus length:

Using a blunt object makes sort of bubbly looking marks. Pressing hard with a finger is sort of like finger painting.

The black of the display is sort of bluish kind of like the Kindle.

The button to clear it is the moon looking thing at the top. It is under a thin membrane so the top with all the writing is flush.

These pics were all under industrial type or office lighting with an iPhone 2G so expect this to look better in person.

One caveat: don't use excessive pressure. That can leave minor marks on the surface under the ink. Not a big deal, and for what is essentially a whiteboard, it won't be noticed.

The construction is all sealed. You might peel back the plastic label on top but I'm not going to. I'm sure someone will have a teardown. Looking at the top seam it may come apart there. The rest of the unit has no seam along the screen portion of the case.

The video will answer some of your questions. Sorry for the quality! We don't need no steenkeeng HD!


Q: What is the resolution?
A: It's more like the ink is suspended between two layers and you pressing pushes it aside to various widths. I looked with a jeweler's loupe and you don't see any squares as on a digital LCD. This is still a Liquid Crystal Display, but it's an analog one it appears. Or it's so high res you won't be able to tell.

Q: Can you mount it on the fridge?
A: Yes, if you put something magnetic on the back. It's almost 100% flat. It has some small dimples. Updated 1 Dec 2010: They sell a stylus holder / magnet kit now. As of this writing Amazon says it's unavailable. Try our Amazon search box to see if it is now.

Q: Is it durable enough for children?
A: The stylus could be broken if they tried, but I doubt they'd damage either much unless they are trying. Scratches on the plastic might be the most damage you'd see, and unless they used something very sharp, it shouldn't damage the board beyond use.

Q: How waterproof is it?
A: It looks like it would take submersion to cause damage or a very heavy spill that you don't clean off. There are some very fine gaps in the larger area at the top, but as long as you don't stand outside with it in pouring rain for a length of time, it looks like it's nearly waterproof barring submersion.

Q: Can you really use anything to write on it?
A: I don't think a paintbrush would do much. A foam brush maybe. It takes pressure, but you can dry extremely fine, light lines with the stylus. The kids thought it was funny when I used a banana to sign my name. Yes, a banana.

Q: Can you transfer what you write to a computer?
A: No, it's only $30. :) Rumors say the next version might have that feature at a higher price.

Q: What are the usage parameters?
A: Store between -10°C and 65°C (15°F and 145°F) and use between 10°C and 40°C (50°F and 100°F). So you're not going to get the best results in the desert or on the icecaps. For those of you wondering how to type the ° degree symbol on a Mac under OS X, it's SHIFT-OPTION-8.

Q: How new is your board?
A: Looks like I got serial number 00301. So, it's a collectors item. Oops, I opened the box.

Q: Got a link to the company website?

Video Review of the Magnet / Stylus Clip kit and the Sleeve

The Sounds of Star Wars: A book you can read and hear

Update: I bought this Jan 1! It's a great coffee table book, and I think it's actually inspiring my kids' creativity. It's neat to read how they created the sound, try to hear those sound in the effect, and listen to the source audio, the effect itself outside the movie, and some doubtless never before heard stuff that isn't in the movie, such as Ben Burtt's raw sound archives. GET IT!

This is pretty cool. And they are so right, 'Star Wars' sounds are half of the movie.

Watch the trailer, but basically it explains a little about how they made the sounds, and you can push the buttons on the device on the side of the book and listen to the actual sound.

This would make a GREAT iPad app.

It's reasonably priced too, but I expect that will shoot up (no pun intended) when it's no longer made.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The turn signal, as explained by Mr. Manners

Ah, turn signals. The little used, oft misunderstood, or misused piece of automotive technology that comes standard on every vehicle on the road today.

It seems to have passed into the realm of quaintness, and is little seen except perhaps when a member of a kinder gentler generation leaves it on. However, I believe it could come back into fashion if we could adopt some simple rules and habits.

For purposes of this article, let's use the following vocabulary: mergee being those who are being merged into or might want to know your intent. Merger, the person who wants or will have to change lanes.

First, to me, it's for one of two things: I'm will be coming into your lane as dictated by merging lanes or another condition developing in my lane, or, I'd like to come in to your lane, so here's fair warning.

Let's explore uses under the first condition.

When a long line of cars meets another line of long cars, turn on your signal. Perhaps the folks in mergee lane will notice 36 cars of mergers with a long line of blinking lights on. This is their warning that today, like many other rush hour days, there are a lot of cars coming off the loop onto the main highway into downtown.


Or, there's a huge box full of babies in the road and we really should get over.

In the second case, the mergers would like to get out from behind Grammaw who is 10 miles an hour under the limit, or the low...ri...der who ain't using no gas now.

So it's either 'I need/have to' or 'I'd like to by your leave'.


When mergers signal, don't close up the gap between mergees that they were aiming for. You probably don't own this particular piece of road. They were courteous enough to signal, you should be courteous enough to not take that spot. Corollary: If they've had the signal on for 5-10 seconds indicating they are asking for permission to get over, make room somehow. Speed up, slow down, or get out of the way.

Don't turn on your signal and simultaneously stab over into the next lane right in front of the mergee. The light needs time to travel from your tail light and get processed by a brain, etc etc.

And of course, don't leave it on if you can. This ain't Motel 6, so there's no need to leave the light on for me.

Next time we'll talk about how tailgating in traffic makes it worse. Think 'brake, gas, brake, gas' and your reaction time for each. Now multiply that amount of time by hundreds of cars in a long line.
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