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Slashback: Virginity, Tininess, Kiosks 30

A computer that Madonna might approve of, ubiquitous boxes delivering Internet acccess all over paradise (and why not everywhere?), and some more insight about Moore's Law and Intel's tiny new transistors, from the horse's mouth. Read more below, in this edition of Slashback.

Insatiable demand and a limited supply mean ... slashdoter writes " Remember the Virgin webplayer? The co-op has got a deal to buy the unsold units at $100 each, add on $10 for shipping and some extra for the Beer fund for our fearless leader and you too can have a hackable webplayer (without a TOS). You only have 2 or 3 days to get in so come on over and read the small print."

It may be officially too late to join, but this still would be a smart site to inquire at if you're looking to find one of these cute little machines, and just like waiting outside a ("sold out") Elvis Costello show, you might find a reasonable re-seller.

"Oooh! It's so cute and little!" rm-r writes "The New Scientist has an interview here with Gerald Marcyk, the head scientist behind the world's smallest transistor announced by Intel last week. The article also has some interesting pieces about the problems chip makers have as they get smaller and smaller."

Now if these were everywhere, where would be put the AOL CDs? The mysterious unnamed correpsondent writes: "This article was published on today about Linux Kiosks. It seems that with the Costa Rican Government providing free internet access to all citizens, this is a timely followup about how a country could use a RedHat Linux system to offer Free Internet Access much like we see present day telephones...on every corner, in every restaurant, and at every gas station. It was written by Anton Chuvakin, a Ph.D student in Europe, and maintainer of the Pocket Linux Distribution HOWTO."

This certainly is an interesting vision, and not far-fetched. Can't we all pitch in and lay some fiber like Hands Across America?

[Update]-- until someone pokes an eye out. Here is part six of the continuing reprint of Jon Katz' Hellmouth Saga. Parts five, four, three, two and one are also available to digest if you've not before.

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Slashback: Virginity, Tininess, Kiosks

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    more instructions [] (kind of duplicates the earlier offerings but different source)

    a great messageboard [] of all topics webplayer

    Slashdot's last article [] on the webplayer
  • The article also has some interesting pieces about the problems chip makers have as they get smaller and smaller."
    I thought it was the other way around... "'cause caucasians are just too damn tall"
  • Link, for God's Sake!! Give us a link!!
  • Used Optiplex GXi from Dell Factory Outlet - same price, Pentium, 32Mb RAM, CD-ROM, sound, integrated 100-BaseTX, modem and 2.1 Gb HD, 90 day warranty
  • Many moons ago, I was pretty impressed with Jon Katz's first couple Hellmouth stories; I thought he captured something important. But then I became more and more annoyed with his overstated opinions and flaccid writing. So I went into my user preferences [] and excluded him from my home page.

    It was a pretty good decision. Slashdot is much more pleasant to me now. I had pretty much forgotten he existed until they mentioned him here. Has he improved at all lately? I'm not yet feeling up to looking, but I'd be glad to hear what others feel.
  • Oh, and I was about to send you one as well. I'd better not now as you've obviously lost your sense of humour.
  • Read through this stuff five times, still don't get it. I'm not as smart as I thought I was.
  • kernel panic? Not likely
    I've seen 1 in 3 years, bad memory stick.
  • Question: What are six words you DON'T want to hear your girlfriend say?

    - B46y 600t3d up, U R 0wnd!
    - Where is that cute little paperclip?
    - I looked at your cashed gifs...
    - Condoms? my last boyfriend hated them.
    - No way you'll get root back.

  • can you expand exactly how pitzer students are stupid? (never heard of pitzer before)

    Karma Police, arrest this man, he talks in maths

  • Used HP 735/125 workstation - $125 Canadian, computer surplus store

    • 125Mhz PA-RISC processor
    • 96Mb RAM
    • 1 Gb SCSI HD
    • 10Mb Ethernet
    Runs BSD, PA-RISC Linux, HP-UX, or NeXTSTEP
  • Can you imagine ... the support headaches those would generate?

    User: What the hell is this "K" down here? Where's Netscape? Why can't I save my pr0n to a disk? What's this "warning: the following hosts could not be found" message when I start up Netscape?


    Can anyone hear me? HEELLLP
  • Interesting article about this on slashback - I have to agree with the article writer, after my recent trip to Guadeloupe in the French West Indies, where I saw more Internet cafes than I've seen in all of Seattle, though for different reasons.

    Perhaps starting in French territories they could put those Linux terminals, with MinitelPlus connections, in all public facilities and maybe one per every 200 people in a small village or town? Then other countries could piggyback off their system ... I know that all French public schools are slated for T1 or DSL with Linux servers, to be put in by France Telecom, so this wouldn't be that hard.

  • I'm completly against the idea of something without a hard drive,or at the very least, re-writable removable media. Games (I like to stay to compliled,not interpereted, as in java) have difficulty running without some sort of hard media. Now, the internet in the sense of a crapload of html, php, jpg, gif,etc, tc, etc is great, but what about when I feel like playing a few rounds of qIII or xmame? They just don't work.Not to mention this:

    The local broadband mononpoly here has these display booths. They used to be placed by babbages, and had these nice little mid-towers running windows. (9.X) There was 4 or 5, depending on the day. Now, I knew the people that were 'attending' over the booth. Some great games took place there. Anyways, now they have these flat screen LCD'S and a 'sleek' interface, and it feels very unnatrual to be playing games on these machines. I guess I just have trouble playing a game when I cant take out a screw-driver and adjust my soundcard in the middle of it. Just my rambling thought for today.

    "I have not slept a wink"
    William Shakespeare,Cybelime

  • From Anonymous Coward ->
    Question: What are six words you DON'T want to hear your girlfriend say?

    - I think I'm having a baby
    - I slept with another guy yesterday
    - I'm sorry, but I just farted
    - I've gotta tell you I'm pregnant
  • OK, after looking at the interview again, the picture seems to show the gate length as 30nm, not the gate dielectric thickness as mentioned in the original article []. Still, it doesn't seem as small as the Berkeley transistor.

  • Keep in mind that in many countries the phone company is state-owned, so it's a pretty different scenario then.
  • I haven't gotten to monkey around with the one I picked up for work much yet, but the ThinkNIC box ($199, no strings attached, Cyrix266 x86 + 100M ethernet + linuxfriendly modem -- no HD, runs linux/x/netscape/openssh/vnc off cdrom) looks like a kickass little box to me. (In fact, I'm rather stunned that slashdot hasn't been raving all over these things regularly.) If anyone knows of anything that delivers as much punch for $200 as the thinknic, by all means please let me know! ;-) (Man, imagine when the LinuxBIOS project has an image that'll run on this ...)
  • I don't think that the telephone companies would be thrilled with the idea of ubiquitous free (or cheap) internet access like this, unless they manage to get a piece of the action. This would be just one more thing working at making pay phones less lucrative (along with cell phones, phone cards, etc.).
  • "Has he improved at all lately?"

    He`s amusing, if you go for irony in a big way. I do occasionally, but i still have him blocked.

    Perhaps he performs a useful function - i`m sure his poorly thought out articles serve only to spur on people who are considering a similar career in a `if he can do it, maybe i should give it a try after all` kind of way.

    But ultimately, to answer your question: No. He sucks, and hard.
  • Payphones are not lucrative at all. At least not here in Sydney. The local communications (near-)monopoly has been removing them as fast as they can, especially from small towns. Those public phones which are around have often been converted into advertising space, basically a big billboard close to the road that is completely open so they're nearly impossible to use. There's been the odd bit public outcry which slows them down but they really aren't interested. And neither is anyone else - none of the competition has displayed any interest in the payphone market.
  • The last time I checked it was possible to use many other operating systems to provide internet access, and just since the software is "Free" that doesn't mean hardwear is, or bandwidth who would be paying for that,IP addresses and many other things that must be purchased. Also if there will be any censorship of the internet through these kiosks, I mean no one likes censorship but would you want to go to a coffeeshop and just happen to glance over at a kiosk and see the browser on Since they will be free the government will prolly pick up the bill for this access and governments in gerneral are notorious for censorship. Another consideration is will they be like pay phone 35cents for 15 or will it be really free? Simply I doudt it!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14, 2000 @03:21PM (#557814)

    Full instructions here: []

  • by Tiroth ( 95112 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @03:14PM (#557815) Homepage
    While the coop is officially closed to new members, I'd encourage anyone interested to go to the above link and email Slach. There's a very good chance that at least some units will be available on standby because there have been signs of people backing out already. It's very important to do this ASAP though.
  • by The_Laughing_God ( 253693 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @08:38PM (#557816)
    Some of them are even less than the $110 offered by the co-op.

    I don't think that this is a fair statement. I can see why you made it, but *if* the coop arranges a second shipment at the current price (some of the members are discussing this), e-bay isn't really a competitive price alternative.

    When researching E-bay prices, it is critical to search "Completed Items" [not "Active Items"] to see what the units actually sold for, since almost all the bidding takes place in the final hour, and the prices in the search results aren't updated particularly often.

    At the time I write this, exactly one out of 70 Webplayers [] sold in the past several weeks went for under $110. (It had a crummy picture in the ad) Almost all (66/70) sold for $150-250 [one didn't sell and two sold for $120-145], so I wouldn't count on "beating the co-op price" on E-bay any time soon -- based on the observation that winning bids for I-Openers [] haven't dropped much in 6 months. (the lowball numbers in preceding search are mostly Iopener parts, like SODIMMs)

    I have absolutely no stake in the Co-op.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14, 2000 @03:12PM (#557817)
    Question: What are six words you DON'T want to hear your girlfriend say?
  • by Jason Cain ( 17031 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @03:24PM (#557818)
    The article on the Intel transistor seems to refer to a 30nm thickness (I assume they mean the gate dielectric). But when most people talk about the "size" of a transistor, they refer to the gate length. As far as I know, the 18nm gate length transistors [] developed at UC Berkeley [] (and discussed in this Slashdot article []) are the "smallest."

  • by Thalia ( 42305 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @03:45PM (#557819)
    If you are interested, this page [] has most of the known hacks for the WebPlayer.

    If you feel left out, because the co-op is out of WebPlayers, check out ebay [] which has some WebPlayers [] for sale. Some of them are even less than the $110 offered by the co-op.

    I'm planning on taking my WebPlayer apart, not reprogramming it. If you're into that as well, check out this page [].


  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @03:54PM (#557820) Homepage
    I was in the coop, and still follow the list. When the poll came around, I updated my database entry to be zero units - what with the holidays and other obligations, I just really couldn't afford to participate (at least I backed out graciously - I know there will be some who said "yah", and will back out after he receives the units - not good).

    Anyhow, I am in the "middle" of "hacking" my own box - an Acer NT-150. Full details can be found here []. Both Acer and Liberate seem to be stonewalling me for information. That and the fact that it is only me working on it doesn't help matters...

    However, you may still find one on Ebay from the guy I bought from! Search under "N/C Network Computer" - you are sure to find one. They tend to go real cheap - 15->20 dollars. I am certain they can be made to do some interesting stuff, we just need more people on it...

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"