Monthly ArchiveDecember 2007



Personal 26 Dec 2007 07:03 pm

Christmas 2007

Rats, coal again!

Guess I’ll just have to go buy myself something. ;-)

Speaking of which…

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My Quest for the Perfect Blogging Tool

I’m 90% certain I’m going to get a laptop now that Christmas is over. That is, providing the prices drop in the next couple of weeks. There have been some real bargains lately, but I’m still putting if off — not only because of prices — but because I’m not sure which one to get. I keep going back and forth between different models.

laptop

I almost bought a 15” Dell a couple weeks ago. They had a good deal on their lowest priced model. For $499 it came with 1 Gb of ram, a 120 Gb hard drive and Win XP but… just as I was about to buy it… they changed the deal. They stripped it down to 512 Mb Ram and a 60 Gb hard drive. Needless to say, that just ticked me off and I decided to look elsewhere.

Then I happened across a deal on a refurbished Gateway for only $349. Normally I wouldn’t consider a used machine but it was from a reputable dealer that I often buy parts from. Decided the next day to get it only to find that they raised the price to $399. You can sometimes find new laptops for $399 so it didn’t make sense to spend that much on a used one.

For a while I was thinking about one of the 17” models, but they’re just too big and they’re kind of expensive.

EeePC4G-4

It was about then that I discovered the new Asus Eee PC, which is a very intriguing little number for on-the-go ‘puting. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an ultra-portable notebook with a full keyboard, measures 6×9 (the size of a paperback book) and only weighs 2 pounds. (Most laptops weight over 6 pounds.)

One nice thing I like about the Eee is that it runs on Linux instead of Windows and comes with an office suite called OpenOffice, which is compatible with MS Office documents.

Kind of hard to beat that.

Also, it will boot up in under 30 seconds and shutdown only takes 10 seconds. In other words, it’s a pretty snappy little PC.

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So What’s the Hang-up?

The main problem with the Eee is that it only has a 7” screen and the keyboard is rather tiny. Some people say you can get used to typing on the miniature keyboard, but it isn’t ideal for more than just note taking. You wouldn’t want to use it to write your dissertation.

In addition, further research turned up a few more caveats such as:

  • Numerous reports of problems with the sd card reader.
  • The 7” screen only allows you to see about 18 lines of text.
  • Horizontal scrolling is often required to view certain websites.
  • The screen doesn’t have a tight hinge allowing it to fall backwards if you don’t balance it just so. (I have an old 486 laptop that had this problem and it was very annoying.)

Finally, the small size is not as convenient as it first sounds. Most people find they can’t work on the thing in their lap without putting a book or something under it to make it more stable. The only way to use it is if you’re at a desk.

I haven’t seen the thing in person yet. I’m still interested in it, but it sounds as if you might as well get a larger laptop. So I’ve come full circle and I’m back to looking at PC’s like the 15” Dell again. (Sigh.)

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The Ideal Solution

I think Asus made a mistake downsizing the keyboard as much as they did. It really wasn’t necessary. My old Compaq 486 notebook (mentioned above) has a 7” screen, measures about the same dimensions as the Eee PC and has a smaller than normal keyboard that is not noticeably miniaturized. So they could have built a small laptop without using a teeny tiny cramped keyboard.

laptop pc

What I’d like to see is a low cost ultra-portable with a 10-12” screen and normal size keyboard. It should come with the same basic specs as the Asus, that is 600 to 900 Mhz processor, 512 Mb of Ram (expandable to 2 Gb), 4-8 Gb of solid state memory, 3 USB ports, an sd card slot, LAN, WLAN and VGA ports. Bundle it with Linux, OpenOffice and Firefox and it would be a winner.

Also, they need to do away with the fan. It should be a totally silent PC. It doesn’t have to be a speed demon. Linux runs faster than Windows and works fine on a slower, cooler, less expensive CPU.

I know that there are some ultra-portables out now with many of these features, but they are very, very expensive. The Asus prices start at $349.

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Why A Laptop?

My reasons for wanting a laptop are purely practical. For example, I find myself AFK (i.e. Away From Keyboard) a lot lately, which is why my blog posts have been few and far between.

In addition, I always get my best ideas when I’m not sitting at the computer trying to write something. (And sure, I’ve tried the old pencil and paper routine, but that just doesn’t work for me.)

portable PC

If only I had a portable computer that I could carry around with me. Then I could just jot down those great ideas while they’re fresh in my mind instead of merely making a mental note to “blog about that” the next time I’m in the office. (As you’ve perhaps noticed, it never gets done.)

Anyway, that’s my plan for the coming new year. We’ll see if it comes to fruition and I can start boring you to death with more of my idle ramblings.

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Hope you’re enjoying the holidays. If not, go buy yourself something. You deserve it.

Cheers,
Dean

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Personal 11 Dec 2007 06:03 pm

December 2007 Ice Storm

I’m sitting here with a sleeping kitty in my lap (as usual) and thinking I better post something to the old bloggeroo before Chrysalis Angel sends out a search party. ;-)

Survived the ice storm that hit the Midwest this weekend. According to the news; over one hundred thousand people without power just to the North and West of where I live. I’m feeling very fortunate to be snug and warm here in my little hovel with ol’ sleepyhead.

Woke up Sunday to an Ice Crystal Palace outdoors and was going to snap a few photos for you, but it was so warm that it melted off before I could get that done.

Have you noticed how everything gets exaggerated on the news? One report I saw stated there was one to two inches of ice… which was clearly false. We didn’t get anywhere near that amount. Another report, the newscaster held up a small ice covered twig to demonstrate his report of 3/4 of an inch of ice on the trees… only he forgot to consider the diameter of the twig. There was only 1/8 inch of ice on the twig. (Probably why he’s a journalist and not a rocket scientist.)

They did get about 3/4 of an inch over in Oklahoma (to the West of Missouri). But we only got around an 1/8 to 1/4 in this area. Enough to bring down some power lines, but nothing like we had last year.

Well, better get back to work.

Later,
Dean

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