Wednesday, August 08, 2007

LifeDrive Resurrected

When it was less than a year old, my Palm LifeDrive died. Recent news of a hack to replace the LifeDrive's Hitachi MicroDrive with a 4GB Compact Flash card piqued my interest, so I tried it out.

First I checked out the threads on, then followed the instructions on, under "Howto replace microdrive with compactflash in Palm LifeDrive"

All the instructions require some version of Unix. Since I use Macs mostly, and Mac OSX is Unix-based, I followed the Mac OSX instructions, which I could enter in the Terminal window.

Something the Wiki doesn't mention in the Mac OSX section is how long it takes to copy your old drive (which I pulled from my replacement LifeDrive in this case) as an image file. I didn't time it, but it took about an hour to copy the 3.8GB image onto my hard drive. It gets placed in the Root directory of the drive. Copying the image back to the CF card took around an hour and a half. Pretty long, but my SanDisk Extreme USB 2.0 Reader's blue light kept flashing, assuring me that it was still working.

I used the plain SanDisk 4GB, model number SDCFB-4096-A10, one of the cards known to work, and it went well. Strangely, when I put the MicroDrive back into my other LifeDrive, it works a lot faster than it has been, almost as fast as the new CF card. I plan to run some informal tests to see which is faster, but right now I'm just making sure it's going to work. I'd also like to try upgrading my other LifeDrive with a faster card to see if there's a performance difference between this "regular" card and something like an Extreme III.

So far, I'm pretty happy to have a resurrected LifeDrive. I just hope it doesn't die again due to some software bug. There have been no crashes, and both music and MyBible software works great. I did have to reset it recently to get it to recognize my WiFi AP, but now it works just fine. MissingSync seems to have no trouble.

It's a shame that the LifeDrive doesn't support SDHC, because I have a 4GB SDHC card that I'd love to use as a backup; but with any luck, I won't need it. Then again, the LD with a microdrive still crashes with too much frequency, so I have to keep using the new CF system to see if it's worth the effort. For now, my more reliable Palm T3 remains in the cradle while I give the Resurrected LifeDrive a real-world test.

Olympus E-510 review posted

Olympus's E-510 wasn't the one I was rooting for, but I had to appreciate how its better handling, customization options, and image quality made it a more useful camera than the E-410 that I wanted to love. There are several pitfalls, which are worth noting, but overall I think it's a pretty good camera, one that delivered good shots even in low light, so long as focus was set properly. See my full review of the Olympus E-510 digital SLR on

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Wrist PDA kept on

I'm still using the Abacus Wrist PDA I reviewed back in 2005 and 2006. Though they've long been off the market, it's still as useful as a Palm V is beautiful. I still carry a Tungsten T3 and sometimes a LifeDrive, but there are many times when those remain in a bag in the car. I can't tell how many times I've been at the pharmacy or in an office and needed access to some crucial number, and it was as close as my wrist. I still think it's a little big, especially for my skinny wrist, but its utility is undeniable. I still fantasize about making a different case for the little PDA inside, but I don't have that kind of time. Seems like I could use epoxy to make a usable casing, but given the stresses that are put on a watch, I think I'd have to go through several iterations to come up with a serviceable solution.

I have also decommissioned the Abacus SPOT watch, though I liked it too. Personal info is more important than a smattering of news. To see my story on Brighthand, filed early last year, check out these two links. You'll have to come back to see Part II, because Brighthand's internal link is broken at the bottom of Part I.

A Year with Fossil's Tech Watches, Part I
A Year with Fossil's Tech Watches, Part II

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Olympus E-410 review posted

I finally finished my review of the Olympus E-410. It's a digital SLR I really wanted to love, but it was the images that hurt the camera, and how long it took to tweak them to make them presentable. I'm concerned that the E-510 will have the same problem; but it has more to offer, with image stabilization and more prosumer features. I really don't like having to make as complex a recommendation as I did, but I can't control what the camera does, I can only comment on it. I actually do still recommend the camera to folks who really need a small SLR, but they need to know how to tweak photos and camera settings to make the best use of it. To read my review of the E-410, visit, or follow this link: