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Tuesday focus: Gadgets

Shipments of notebook computers passed desktop sales in the third quarter for the first time, according to data from the research firm iSupply.

Preliminary figures for the quarter show notebook PC shipments shot up about 40 percent from the same period a year ago to 38.6 million, according to iSupply. Meanwhile desktop shipments fell about 1.3 percent to 38.5 million.

The numbers underscore a broader shift toward portable computing as more functions like e-mail and Web surfing migrate to mobile phones and the popularity of inexpensive “netbooks” used mainly for Internet access grows.

AmTech Research analyst Dinesh Moorjani expects computer makers to ratchet down production of desktops by 20 percent in the fourth quarter while notebook production should remain flat.

Saving ink. A Dutch company looking for ways to reduce the environmental costs of printing has developed a new font that it says cuts ink usage by about 15 percent.

In essence, the “Ecofont” has little holes in the letters.

Spranq, the Utrecht-based marketing and communications company that designed the font.

Company co-founder Gerjon Zomer concedes the font isn’t beautiful, but says it could be adequate for personal use or for internal use at a company.

Spranq offers the font free on its Web site.

The company is inviting developers to improve the Ecofont further under a free, open-source model, and Arabic and Hebrew versions are already under development.

Customized podcasts. Still can’t decide among the hundreds of podcasts that National Public Radio makes available over the Internet?

Now you can create your own.

A new feature NPR launched this month lets listeners create custom podcasts blending individual audio reports on any topic or keyword.

Rather than have NPR editors, say, choose five or six stories for its movies podcast, you can create your own for Christmas movies. Simply enter topics or keywords at podcast, and the site generates a link that you can plug into Apple Inc.’s iTunes or other podcast- supporting software.

The system can be hit or miss, though.

An attempt to create one on the hit TV show “Gossip Girl” returned several off-topic audio reports, including one on landscaper Christy Webber.

Associated Press

Tags: gadgets

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