Phidgets RFID Reader

I’ve been looking for a simple way of reading an RFID tag from the Oyster card an its equivalents elsewhere. Prices seem to vary, as do the ways of interfacing. I think I am settling on USB across the whole board for my home security devices; its pretty ubiquitous, and devices are generally reasonably well priced.

Now I have seen the RFID reader I think I want: the Phidgets RFID Reader. Looking around to purchase one shows some major variation in price:

So, looking at today’s exchange rate of US$ to UK£ of 1.6518, the Active Robots price is US$113.33. That’s US$60.69 more than Robot Shop, or a mark-up of 115.29%. Over double!

Time to order via the US.

PS: Now I have the unit, I realised the difference between 135 kHz RFID tags (like the Phidget unit) and the 13 MHz ones (like the Mi-Fare Oyster)…. you can’t read an Oyster Card with a Phidget. *sigh*

Wii Browser

Well, looks like the only browser for the Wii I got yesterday is the Opera based “Internet channel”, sold via the Wii Shop. Only around £3.50 (US$6 – 500 Wii Shop points).
Looks like the user agent string for it is “Opera/9.30 (Nintendo Wii; U; ; 2047-7; en)“. Doesn’t seem to render my main site with the margins nicely. Also a little jumpy on the scrolling around the page kind of thing. Shame Wii is only SD video output – you don’t fit a lot on the screen while remaining clear to read.
The Photo channel seems to be missing what I would call a killer app for the Wii – the ability to take a Flickr stream or other photo sharing site and do a nice Photo frame transition on it. Heck, how about:

  • Knows about night time, and can either “show black” at night, or just show the time at night in a user-choose-able colour (like, grey so the screen isn’t too light for a darkened room)
  • Can chose a stream from a location URL, perhaps with a query string one can define (eg, the WII console number, so from the server side you could serve up specific images to specific machines)
  • Pan and scan, cross-fade, dissolve, fade-through-black, fade-through-white
  • Chose a music track (MP3) by URL to fetch and play in parallel
  • User customisable text overlay on pictures
  • Optional time, date, weather forecast overlay on pictures

Acer Aspire Revo or Asus Eeebox B208?

Acer’s Aprice Revo takes no the Asus EEEbox range

The Settop market is heating up; Asus and Acer are both coming to market with Atom A330 dual-core (2 x 1.6 GHz) low voltage systems, with discrete graphics and HDMI output, amongst other interfaces.

I’ve been delaying buying one of these for some time, waiting for one to come along at the right price point. I want to run Linux on it; I don’t want to run Windows + Antivirus – that just kills performance. Asus seem to be doing all they can to now drop Linux from their range; Acer is still there, with their Aspire Revo single-core Atom 230 unit sitting around UK£149 — UK£159 (inc VAT, see

The features are there; but if only it can break the psychological UK£100 barrier, it can then be an impulse purchase!

When the A330 dual-core units hits, it looks like that model of Aspire Revo will be up against the Asus B208 unit – but with the advantage that Acer is still selling a Linux based unit, so no Microsoft tax.