I use:

Monday, December 22, 2008

A proud moment for a Geek father...

a message from my daughter:

Hey daddy... I was wondering what version of Flash to download for the EEEpc...

.tar.gz (Linux)
.rpm (Linux)
YUM (Linux)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The DELL SP2309W Monitor


While it is truly unfortunate if you missed last week's Dell Deal of the Day on this beauty, the value may still be there for this ultra-high-resolution monitor (was $270, now $420). The resolution for this 23" monitor is 2048x1152, nearly 4 times the resolution of the Acer Aspire One I tried it on.

There is absolutely no lack of features here, aside from the unbeatable quality of the image (IMHO), the ports and connectivity are ideal for those who appreciate a few cables to disconnect when taking the laptop and running. The drivers for the rather odd resolution are on the CD, as are the drivers for the WebCam, which I have yet to set up.

First Up... video in! HDMI, DVI and VGA are all options and they recommend HDMI at least for good cause. I could consider the merit of connecting my HD DVI cable box from Rogers to this wonder, but that's not my priority. It would be happy to oblige me in connecting to my XBOX360 with HDMI too, but let's not get gaming into this. I want to cover the rest of the ports first. Audio In (it has speakers), Line Out (it has two microphones), it has USB, but this is to not only facilitate the WebCam, but provide 4 powered USB ports (two on the back, to on the left side). A word of warning about those ports... consider that the power goes away when you turn off the monitor, if your hard drive is connected to one of those, you've just dropped it like a hot rock. You'll need to think about what connects to where. I have my drive connected (sub-optimally) through my Logitech AudioBox and this unit stays on so I can safely turn off the monitor now.

The onscreen display is very user friendly and is a soft-touch on the lower-right of the screen. The monitor is comfortably balanced on a turntable stand with enough flexibility that the screen actually comes 100% assembled. height should not be an issue and positioned behind my Logitech 2.1 laptop sound system there's no interference of vision.

Overall I cannot help but gush. It's wonderful and was delivered on short order from Dell Canada, placing the order last Wednesday, it arrived today (no one was home yesterday to receive it). A pleasant experience.

My verdict, whether for the gamer or the executive, this is a great display and worth every penny at the sale price. At full pop it's very nice, and the extra real-estate is very welcomed over the 1920x1200 competitors.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Financial Security through Money Management

The jig is up for Microsoft Money (in Canada):

It seems that Microsoft, in it's infinite wisdom, has dropped abandon, it's Microsoft Money users completely.

Not only has MSFT decided to limit availability of the Money product line in Canada to it's own web site, but also only to the most minimalist version of the product Microsoft Money essentials ($19.99). If you are movinf to a new computer this year and are hoping to manage your money, let's hope you remember where your Microsoft Money 2006 CD is and ir wasn't the OEM version from your last PC.

Now, you can come up with the occassional deal on eBay, but right now the 2006 version will start bidding at $10 (CDN), the latest version can be found too, Microsoft Money Plus Deluxe and will auction it's way, alarmingly, to $40.00 (CDN) but then you have shipping. It seems that these purchasers truly need Microsoft Money to realize they are mis-managing thier money.

I tried Microsoft Money Essentials - trial version, installed it last night and tried to import the MNY file I'd used on my desktop PC. This is where that message (above) came from. What a disappointment! this is the only version available in Canada, if you were in the U.S. the "Plus Deluxe" and the other more advanced versions would allow this. What a shame.

I am lucky, I'd bought Money 2006 years ago, then upgraded my PC and found myself on the OEM version, the problem was tracking down that CD nearly 3 years later. This is why I was on eBay, I thought is was gone for sure. It wasn't it was were everythinh you're looking for is, in the last place you look!

So, it is now installed on my new NetBook (Acer Aspire One) with its 1024x600 display. It works fine, but watch for those missing buttons at the bottom when running full-screen, they actually show up better when you're running in a less-than maximized window. The product spec likely assumes 1024x768, this is not shocking, I'm sure in 2006 no one thought netbooks would take over the world the way they have. For prolonged use I suggest a full-sized USB keyboard and a real mouse/trackball, The screen is fine, but you will certainly be happier with a 22" LCD attached at your primary "base" location. I recommend Acer LCDs, through there are many others. If you're looking to spoil yourself, consider the Acer 24" LCD display, they've dropped below $400 if you look around, get the extended warranty and make sure that who you buy from will accept a return based upon dead-pixels. It's not that I've had a dead pixel on any Acers (knocking on wood), but you need to consider this issue. I also recommend TigerDirect.ca and BestBuy.ca when looking for the right products at the right prices. Patience is absolutely necessary when you're trying to get a value. Tiger did right for me on my 32" LCD TV and my Acer NetBook, check online, then call before venturing out. They'll hold it for you. With BestBuy.ca, they normally have the ability to state the stock levels at the store, this vanishes during the Christmas rush, don't complain, it makes sense.

BTW: This makes the obvious choice of money management software: Quicken, Intuit.ca
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

.NET Instructor?

Hello Everybody,

This is just a test email to check if you receive it or not and if your email is included here.
If not then please send me a message again.

Yours,

XXXXXX
.Net Instructor, George Brown College

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The new Picasa v3.0...

Watch the video...


...then download the newest and coolest picture manager you'll get on the web.

Where did I take that picture?

GPS PhotoFinder mini
Where did I take that picture? With the ATP GPS PhotoFinder™ mini you'll never have to ask that question again. The PhotoFinder™ mini allows you to geotag all of your photos, no complicated software required!

This is the easy way to add GPS Geotagging... 

Check it out at: ATP or drop by Henry's or Canada Computers for a closer look.

Simpler, faster, browsing... Google Chrome

Google says, "Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier."

I agree. There is only one task that I cannot perfrom so far and that is to edit my TiddlyWikis, which I can overlook for general browsing, but the function of this browser is both fast and simple, cleaning up the interface of the browser to the basics of functionality without crippling the user.


INITIAL EXPERIENCE: Poor: problems with plug-ins (Shockwave, Acrobat), not ideal.

VERDICT: Wait for next BETA and we'll see.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Getting paid for helping friends, family.

While it's a noble cause and a nasty moniker to hold, being computer literate is a burden in social circles. My ex-wife has the right idea when we both worked for Microsoft and people would ask if we knew about Windows or Office, she'd respond, "I work in finance." This was not a lie, but it was a quick deterrent to further questions about the technological issues the user might have. I didn't learn, I would always respond, "Yes."

More than a few times I've regretted this honesty. I likel being helpful but I also get overwhelmed when I offer help too often. The other side of that coin is that I don't like to charge for this help because it has not been my career. I do things for friends, sometimes thanklessly, but always willingly.

My career has been fairly long, starting in hardware installation and repair, progressing through software and hardware support, and landing on the apron of software development. I do web development on the side, not for money, to help others, but some have chosen to abuse my generousity and I've grown tired of the effort I put into doing things when others don't seem to care about the effort contributed.

So, without and ounce of regret, I am going to stop giving my time away for free. I am going to ask that people who want me to help with a project or cause show some level of interest beyond verbal non-involvement. I am going to charge a fair and equitable amount to all I help, family or friend. And I'll suggest that anyone who wants help visit my website and this blog to understand why. They can pay by PayPal (preferred) or hand me cash, and I will stick by the idea that they only pay me what they feel comfortable paying, but they need to appreciate the time and commitment.

No more free web sites. I will no longer be hosting free web sites from my home system. I have said this before, but they remain. As of October 1st, 2008, they will all go dark.

After hours web work... I will consider myself under exclusive contract to Mind's Eye Design (Lethbridge, Alberta) and refer any interested parties to this company (my sister).

Depot Technical Support:
Problem Determination... You can bring me a computer that is having trouble and I will be happy to help you get back on track. I'll tell you what's wrong before I start. $35 per hour to determine the cause, maxium 2 hours.

Problem Resolution... Fixing your problem will mean that I send you out to buy specific hardware if neccessary. I will tell you exactly what to buy and where to buy it from.

System Replacement... If you need to upgrade your PC I'll tell you what you need to buy based upon your needs and budget. I'll extract all of your data from the old PC and get it onto your new system. I'll recommend hardware on occassion, you'll be sent out with a list... Flat rate: $200.

System Recovery... This is basically a tear down the software and re-install it. I'll only install software that you have a valid and provable license for. Keep that in mind, I will not pirate or support piracy. Flat rate: $200.

I'll post this on my site soon, but this is the heads up.

NOTE: If the failure is a hard disk and you want the data back, consider this is a service that I'll send you to someone else for. I cannot recover hard disk data on a failed drive.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Acer Aspire One: Winning Alternative to a Desktop

Acer Aspire One AOA150-1890 Notebook PC - Intel Atom Processor N270 1.60GHz, 802.11bg Wireless, 1GB DDR2, 120GB HDD, 8.9" WSVGA, Integrated Webcam, Windows XP Home (Seashell White) LU.S040: "Aspire One offers a familiar Windows XP Home operating system that clearly organizes everything needed to surf the Internet, work or simply have fun. Users have the one-time choice of a French or English OS language upon initial start-up. This small but smart laptop comes with built-in 802.11b/g WiFi for easy access to available wireless networks. The Acer Aspire One has an 8.9-inch CrystalBrite display with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels"

This is a winner system!

Okay, to migrate from a Desktop to this...
You will connect the USB Hub to your laptop with a single USB cable, then all other devices to the hub. the hub is powered and should be on the same circuit as your Hard Disks and your Laptop. Do NOT turn off the hard disks or this hub while your laptop is using the drives.

I recommend the following as a best practise:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Technology Quiz

Please fill out this questionaire, I know... just another.... anyway.

I'd like to know.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This is just COOL!


littleBits intro from ayah bdeir on Vimeo.

When and WHERE can I get this? That's my only question.

LittleBits

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Connect: Microsoft SharedView

It seems that the shortcomings of "Request Remote Assistance" might be best alieviated by using a new colaborative tool, Microsoft SharedView.
Connect: Microsoft SharedView: "Microsoft SharedView is a fast, easy way to share documents and screen views with small groups of friends or coworkers; anytime, anywhere. Use SharedView to put your heads together and collaborate - create, convey, and communicate…across physical boundaries, through firewalls, and down to the smallest details."
It seems that RRA, when the requesting computer is Windows Vista, is not happy accepting the response from Windows XP, a cheap shot by Microsoft if you want my honest opinion. My search for a solution came across two tools: TeamViewer and SharedView (still looking for a better link).

Oh sure I could walk the people I help through installing VNC Server and opening ports if I were a complete sadist, but these tools seem more beneficial and safe. Have a look at both if you need or offer support to remote users. Free is better, both are free for non-commercial use. I don't charge for support general (it's not my day-job, it's for friends and family) so TeamView shouldn't cost me a penny, but SharedView seem to be free, period.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

TiddlyWiki - a reusable non-linear personal web notebook

TiddlyWiki - a reusable non-linear personal web notebook: "TiddlyWiki, a popular free MicroContent WikiWikiWeb created by JeremyRuston and a busy Community of independent developers. It's written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript to run on any modern browser without needing any ServerSide logic. It allows anyone to create personal SelfContained hypertext documents that can be posted to a WebServer, sent by email or kept on a USB thumb drive to make a WikiOnAStick."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Visionaries they are not... ("Prophetic" Quotes)

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." --Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." --The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?" --Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." --Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" --David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." --A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper." --Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make." --Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." --Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." --Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." --Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M"Post-It" Notepads.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we' ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll comework for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'" --Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools." --1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training." --Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the"unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." --Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." --Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." --Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction". --Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon". --Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon- Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981

"Listening to someone who brews his own beer is like listening to a religious fanatic talk about the day he saw the light." - Ross Murray Montreal Gazette 1991

Monday, June 09, 2008

My Software Downloads - Windows Live SkyDrive



Microsoft's new Windows Live Toy, SkyDrive.

Looks good, security based on hotmail/.NET/Windows Live account. Reasonable option but don't use for corporate data.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A new PC for my parents, others...

This looks like a very good option. I WILL aquire one, upon release and give you a better perspective at that point, but until then have a look at Engadget's post.
Final specifications revealed for ASUS Eee Box B202? - Engadget: "the mini desktop will exhibit a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, a 80/120/160/250GB hard drive, GMA 950 integrated graphics set, gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, optional Bluetooth, a multicard reader, 512MB/1GB/2GB of DDR2 RAM and an Azalia ALC888 audio chip; you'll also find a pair of USB 2.0 ports, DVI out and a headphone jack, but an optical drive is altogether missing."

If the box doesn't prove practical enough for me, it will be installed at my parents' place this summer as an update, and it will likely be the Linux version.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bell's Traffic Shaping and Net Neutrality

It seems Bell has walked into it's own pit-trap. Can it get out?
globeandmail.com: Kapica's Cyberia: "Bell announced this morning it has opened the online Bell Video Store, which will sell and rent movies and TV shows, and it has already run into an issue that has little to do with buying or renting videos."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The new and cool way to a Cottage-Area-Network

While sharing a DSL or Broadband connection in is not what the ISP wants to hear about, in cottage country if one person can get high-speed on the lake, this little gem might be the answer to the local LAN-Party getting interesting.

$318 WiFi network bridge connects two locations up to 5 miles apart - Engadget: "WiFi network bridge connects two locations up to 5 miles apart"

I haven't tried this thing out, and you need to pay attention to the "direct line-of-sight" stipulation but in cottage country or in Canada's vast wilderness, this might be a very economical solution for the neighbourhood that is at the limits.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ASUS Eee PC: Add Color to Your Life!

ASUS Eee PC: Add Color to Your Life! - $299

Canada Computers is one of many stores selling the ASUS Eee PC. The 2G Surf is deal for those wishing to do basic e-mail, browsing, and document editing. You might do yourself a favour and pick up a USB key for storage and transfer of files to/from this sweet little PC, and perhaps a SD card of three for storage of music and/or movies, but the device will suit the needs of most students, light PC users, and those road warriors that don't need a monster.

Aside from the fashonable colour range, I prefer basic black myself, these are a reasonable start to mobil computing, though you will want to find a decent case to carry it in, and that might be as simple as locating a non-descript lunch-bag from your local WAL-MART or Zellers.

A good buy.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The ASUS Eee PC 4G...

Hands on use, that's what I really needed to give an honest, non-speculative review of this thing.

It's great! Both for me and my girlfriend, we love the 4G. The built-in wireless, OS, usability of Xandros, the practicality of UnionFS in this application and the extreme difference between how we use it.

It's practical. While I've got PICASA on mine, (I don't recommend this in reality, though I store pictures to my external 40Gb drive. I can safely say I can do the following very well:
  • Watch movies
  • Play Music
  • Keep My iPod Shuffle up-to-date
  • Browse the Web and handle my GMail and Google Calendar use
  • Blog
  • Keep track of my time
  • Create documents
  • Use a full-sized keyboard and monitor (though I typically use Synergy)
  • Toss my need for a PDA
If thet's not enough, what do you expect for the size and cost ($399.99 at Canada Computers, ~$450 incl. tax.)?

There's the 9" version on the horizon (May 12th), but I'm happy with what I bought. If you're looking for a system to do basic e-mail and browsing do two things:
  1. Get a Google Mail (GMail) account
  2. Buy an ASUS Eee PC.
Which Eee PC? If you're not going to upgrade the RAM (there's not much need to) and don't figure on using the built-in camera on the 4G, consider teh savings of buying the 4G Surf or 2G Surf, either will be fine for the base user, though if you expect to add any significant software get the 4G Surf.

There is an 8G. 8 Gigabytes of disk space. I think I could have found this useful, but the creative use of USB keys, external drives, or a larger SDHC card (say 4 or 8Gb) will allieviate any stress there.

BTW: to do Video Skype calls, upgrade Skype through the Eee PC default interface. For better video playback, get VLC.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Simple Clock...

Click here to see it.

It's just kinda neat, nothing earth-shattering.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Having trouble searching for things?

My friend and colleague (not said in the manner most lawyers say this, with sarcasm), Brian, found this method to allow the Windows Search to actually WORK!
  1. Click Start, and then click Search (or point to Search, and then click For Files or Folders).
  2. Click Change preferences, and then click With[out] Indexing Service (for faster local searches).
  3. Click Change Indexing Service Settings (Advanced). Note that you do not have to turn on the Index service.
  4. On the toolbar, click Show/Hide Console Tree.
  5. In the left pane, right-click Indexing Service on Local Machine, and then click Properties.
  6. On the Generation tab, click to select the Index files with unknown extensions check box, and then click OK.
  7. Close the Indexing Service console.
You will have much better results.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wait don't leave! Resisting user navigation.

When looking for a really nasty bit of trickery I found this article that allows you to manage a user's navigation from the current page to prevent pre-mature departures. I suspect this can be used for good or evil, but it's cool nonetheless.

How to stop browser from closing using Javascript? - Dev Articles

Derived from that article is the simplified version we will use:

<script>
var needToConfirm = false;
window.onbeforeunload = confirmExit;
function confirmExit()
{
//alert(needToConfirm);
if (needToConfirm)
{
window.open("http://cstech.no-ip.com");
//return "[Unremark this line to show the customized confirm dialog with OK/Cancel options.]";
}
}
needToConfirm = true;
</script>
Currently this fires a new window with my site but with the prevelance of pop-up blockers don't expect this to be terribly effective.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Meet ApriPoko, Toshiba's channel surfing helper-bot - Engadget


Meet ApriPoko, Toshiba's channel surfing helper-bot - Engadget: "When you use an infrared device, the robot senses the signal and asks the user 'What did you just do?' If you say something akin to 'I turned on the TV,' it will commit the command to memory, and you can operate those functions by voice."

On the scale of usefulness, I think 10 almost covers this. The idea that is converses, even in a minor way and becomes a auric interface to all things IR (TV, Stereo, etc.) is completely cool. I wonder if it can set the time on a VCR, er, DVR?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Apple Canada - Time Capsule - Wireless

Apple Canada - Time Capsule - Wireless: "More than just a wireless hard drive, Time Capsule is also a full-featured AirPort Extreme Base Station with 802.11n technology. Experience a high-speed wireless network and a breakthrough way to back up all the Macs on your network. All in one device."

This device is worth a look. Windows and Mac storage functionality, and a wireless (802.11a,b,g and n) router as well.

Apple simplicity, file sharing flexibility.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Looks are everything, right?

A friend just got this note from an executive responsible for a subsidiary of his company:
I keep getting complaints from our clients regarding our secure website. For some reason when our clients' members click from their sites to the our secure site they get the message [pictured] below. They can still click through to the web site, but it scares members. I also get this same message when I am accessing our secure site. Is there anyway to get rid of this message so our site looks secure?
Of course I added the emphasis to the text, but I'm not sure what is more concerning, the fact that this problem has been outstanding for 2 years (as per my friend's info) with the an open ticket(s) for a new certificate, or that management is more interested in the site "looking" secure.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ubuntu 7.10 Gibbon swings on the Asus Eee - Mixed Signals - Rupert Goodwins's Blog at ZDNet UK Community

Ubuntu 7.10 Gibbon swings on the Asus Eee - Mixed Signals - Rupert Goodwins's Blog at ZDNet UK Community

Interested in an ASUS Eee PC? Consider this OS upgrade.

Mix that with Synergy and an external monitor and you're got a handy second display and portable companion to get you through the longer trips. I'll get my Eee PC 4G (not Surf) when I get my tax refund.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A thought...

"Change without direction is like throwing pin, holding grenade."

-Cameron

Thursday, January 24, 2008

inCONTRAST... The Desktop Replacement

HP Pavilion HDX Entertainment Notebook PC - This is NOT a small or lightweight laptop, this a geek's most improper thoughts incarnate as a laptop. And it's elegant!
The HP Pavilion HDX Entertainment Notebook PC
Now, the killer, the price, while it starts at $1999.99 range, they "recommend" a configuration valued at... $3,645.97!

Dear Santa, I know it's early, but...

Stay Safe Online...

While some points might be obvious this is a heads up on being safe on-line.

The BUG... An interesting idea...

... but how can we use it.

As it has been compared to LEGO (Mega blocks for us Canadians) by CNET, this device begs the exploration of purpose and intent.

Frankly, the device caught my eye for the idea of a flexible, take/use what you need device, but I'm not sure what to do with it yet. Have a look, maybe it's right for your next project.

Bug Labs: Products: "BUG is a collection of easy-to-use electronic modules that snap together to build any gadget you can imagine."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Everex - The Alternative PC

Everex, a company whose name has been around since I was first building PCs, has made a comeback in recent years, and this little creation is just the thing to make them a common name. The Cloudbook, this cloudbook, will be available starting Friday (January 25th, 2008, er, February 15th... er, sometime this year maybe*) at ZaReason.com (a Linux system builder) and WAL-MARTs (yes, really) across North America. This lightweight wonder is the new competition to ASUS's Eee PC, a wonder in itself.

While this new entry into this MID notebook market is a wonder for availability, the price is what may distract those, including myself, from the high-end Eee PC. Both systems use a variation on Linux and are designed with ease-of-use and accommodation of needs for their user, the trade off being in disk size versus disk technology.

Comparable in many ways the use of Solid State technology affords the Eee PC user a comfortable 2-8 gigabytes (Gb) of disk space, while this new Cloudbook offers 30 Gb in a more commonly used hard disk. The trade-off is coolness alone it seems.

There are other notable differences, the Eee PC has a VGA monitor connector and SD Reader, while the Everex entry has a DVI (Digital Video) connector (allowing a better video image, but necessitating you remember the converter for use with a typical VGA monitor) and a 4-in-1 Media Reader (ie. more than simply SD Cards). I have no details on whether you can upgrade the RAM in a Cloudbook, potentially leaving you at a respectable 512Mb of RAM, while this compares well to the Eee PC 2G-4G Surf models, the 4G (non-Surf) allows for an upgrade to 1-2Gb through memory replacement.

The new Everex - The Alternative PC: "Think CloudBook Experience the Ultimate in Mobility"

9 Inches, 2 pounds, 5 hours of battery life. Surf, email, blog, IM, Skype, compute. Cloud computing makes it simple and easy for everyone.


Keep your shorts on... this might be a winner. Though... Acer is reportedly entering this race too.

I am thinking that this may be the type of device that will revolutionalize the road-warrior's toolkit. There's nothing, really, these devices can't do for the business and the software licensing is significantly cheaper than the Microsoft Windows model (at present). Microsoft's Windows CE was presenting to this manner of platform a few years ago but with restrictions on functionality and viability for the mobile user, the CE OS has been relegated to the advanced cell-phone market as PDA's are almost impossible to find. I'm not a fan of these devices for cost and would sooner see my money in an Eee PC or this new Cloudbook than another high-end cell-phone.

While my attention has shifted to this new device, my time-line to purchase is 4-5 months out so I have an opportunity to see all of the players, ASUS has done a wonderful job with delivering their product to market, let's sit back and watch as the early adopters fight and finesse this new tool for the well-connected. At $399 for a completely capable traveller tool, I'm pleased so far.

* UPDATED Dates... This spooks me and while there are some advantages, I'm favouring the ASUS as an AVAILABLE product. That said, apparently ASUS is taking the Eee PC branding and diluting it with new formats, but we'll see what they turn out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The OLPC... Imperfect, but enough.

It seems that NickNeg has done a decent job of creating a tool for education. The durability, portability, and design of the OLPC is suitable and conducive to learning how to use a PC and, with some force for those of us using WPA on our routers, even enjoy wireless connectivity in both a peer and access-point modes. I'm a little mystified as to where all of the Mesh connections are that the system finds, but it seems promising.

As mentioned, I had some difficulty getting the micro-laptop to utilize my netgear router, it's lack of understanding of WPA was trivially annoying, though not a long term concern for me as this is a loaner.

Upgrading the OS to build 653 was simple for a technical person, the OLPC support website/wiki was clear and the unit's USB capabilities were essential. The keyboard is a little odd, but reliable as a membraine keyboard normally is. The sound reasonable and the installation of Flash 9.0.115 also a fairly technical though well documented process.

To open the thing, you need to flip up the "ears" then lift the lid. The use of the unit as a tablet is odd, with no obvious pointer control.

All around a poor laptop for general use, it will make the grade with a child and is a valid and affordable tool for those who do not have alternatives. My daughters and myself are following the news on the rumours of the new sub-notebook from Acer, and have a keen interest in the Asus EEE PC, which is a far more capable and useful PC for an older child in the NorthAmerican market.
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

May I Scream?

I enjoy a challenge, though they have become rare these last few weeks, unless you consider that wading through files replacing several routines with a new one aimed at simplifying both functionality and testing is not a challenge of the mind, but of my fortitude for the dull and uninteresting. So, I proceed.

The need for the scream is due to a project that is going nowhere, changes need to be made, and frankly no one in the business wants to work together or take responsibility. This is frustrating. I cannot take control, it is not my role or can I assume it to be. I also recognise that I tend to look to resolve the problems not allowing my work to be sub-prime or problematic, this is counter-productive in this instance as teh project is supposed to be going away.

The tool itself is a frightful mess I had inherited. I look forward to its demise and must I resign to the many trivial updates and uninteresting changes. I have commenced that work for the moment while I employ a Project Manager to get some level of commitment and interest generated.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Are you an XBOX LIVE Arcade fan?

Well, I hope you have the XBOX you want and were not planning an upgrade to an XBOX with HDMI or even thinking out-of-warranty replacement.

It seems that the geniuses at Microsoft have created a rather unfortunate manner to ensure people can't take it with them when they upgrade their hardware to take advantage of HDMI. I'm learning the hard way that while you hoped for a better over-all path to better picture and (in my case) bigger drive, you're sadly mistaken because the licensing for all of those, wonderfully affordable family-friendly games in the XBOX Live Arcade will not be playable when not logged into XBOX LIVE without creating a new silver account and re-buying the games. Yes RE-PURCHASING EACH GAME.

I acknowledge that very few of use bought our XBOX for the games offered by XBOX Live Arcade, but there are some fairly cool and mindless games there that help keep the family game nights interesting.

The problem, it seems, is that if you have your console repaired (such as due to a Red Ring of Death) you're reportedly safe, but if you re-invested in the replacement or upgrade because you're a dedicated supporter of the platform, you're S[imply] Out of Luck.

If you're a die hard online gamer and you've been spending more time off line than online because of the recent XBOX LIVE outages, this would mean that your Arcade purchases might be all you want to play, but should you decide to upgrade, you're simply going to be stuck with the Trial version of any of those games.

Microsoft, I presume, is more interested in selling you the over-priced 120Gb hard disk for $210, and leaving you with something less than HDMI, but should you have reached the end of the warranty periods (1 year, or 3 years for the RRoD), you'll be at a loss. I went all out when my XBOX 360 Premium had it's RRoD, I purchased an XBOX 360 ELITE. Now, I'm stuck with the understanding that to allow my daughters to play games I've already purchased once, I will need to go get a new Microsoft Points card and on a NEW account, not my current one, re-purchase each bit of content I would like to access off line.

Now, this isn't a design flaw, Microsoft has the capacity to change which console is licensed for these games, they simply won't. Should you have had a hardware failure and the console is replaced, the license is reportedly migrated. You might think that ordering the Data Migration Kit would help, it will not, I tried that too.

So, before you buy from the arcade, make sure you are absolutely happy with your current XBOX360. Otherwise consider the cost of the re-purchase a hidden cost to the upgrade. And they wonder why people try to hack their console with bigger drives? It'll be a few days before I'm able to let this go and play a game on my console. I wonder if this affects watching my downloaded Red vs. Blue content while XBOX LIVE is down?

UPDATE: It does not affect my Video Content.

NEW: Video!