samedi 9 juillet 2011

On the strange disappearance of Barry's Universal Gronkulator

I've physically hosted my own website in the past, so I know how much of the heavy lifting Google and other similar services are doing. It is also a regrettable consequence of this that smaller websites hosted by independent technically minded people have a tendency to disappear, just when you want to go back and cite them.

One such concept which comes to mind every so often is that of Barry's Universal Gronkulator, not to be confused with the Gonkulator that Google's search now offers as the default result when you enter the word into the search engine. There are still traces of the concept hanging around in the indexes, but not at, which in any case does not tend to preserve images very well.

Well, as far as I can recall, the Universal Gronkulator was based on a Sharp Zaurus, which ran Linux, and therefore potentially at least, could be kept free from proprietary malady, and users fully in control of their data. But this was not the most important thing. The most important aspect of the Universal Gronkulator was the case, which converted it from a geeky desk toy to a real world field tool for the aspiring truthteller. The case was important because it kept spare power, spare memory chips, and spare connectors stored conveniently alongside the device.

Now, you may contest that the average smartphone exceeds the functionality of the original gronkulator, but in fact it fails for several reasons. Firstly, it is proprietary, so if a central authority insists that it phones home somewhere other than the user intends, there's not a lot the user can do about it. And even if the smartphone is free software based and jail-breakable, this functionality is notional rather than actual for the vast majority of users.

Also, you need to keep the thing charged up, an important limitation for field use compared with just carrying some spare batteries.

The importance of generic connection, the ability to pass recorded material off on discrete (and discreet) memory chips, and to connect in manifold ways to the network was equally crucial to its potential. And if you don't have a nice case, you'll lose all those important bits and pieces.

So here's to the memory of Barry's Universal Gronkulator. I guess I should devise its successor and post a picture here to help keep the concept alive, but I really should be getting on with the day job, so this note will have to do for the time being. If anyone out there can help in the restoration of the original, feel free to post appropriate links in the comments.

6 commentaires:


    Cheap. How's the sound quality? USB 2 off pretty standard, but then would require netbook to convey it to the net.


    Refound via, and with pic too. hurrah!

  3. Kodak Zi8 is surely a contemporary candidate. Cheap and... gives a good idea of the practicalities of use. (swappable SD and battery) is a nice general review the "pro quality" review I first read (which was interestingly silent on the SD/battery issue so crucial to the gronkulation concept)

  4. Zi8 format are H.264 from which straightforward extraction of audio is reportedly straightforward

    though of course, this is videoland so you'll be playing with big files.

    Down with this sort of thing!