Anthony on , , , , 11 Jul 2008 11:33 pm

This past week, our computer family grew by one.  You see, we bought one of those new ‘netbook’ class laptops — a brand new Asus Eee PC 901.

The 901 is a small laptop.  How small?  Well, it has a 9″ screen, and weighs in around 2.5 lbs.  It has one of those new Intel Atom CPUs, a dual-core CPU running at 800 MHz-1.6 GHz depending on what you’re doing.  Graphics are provided by the integrated Intel GMA 950 chipset.  It has a perfectly sufficient 1 GB RAM, which can be upgraded with standard laptop SODIMMs.  It comes with a 6-cell battery which means you’re going to get somewhere between 5 and 8 hours on a charge, again depending on what you’re doing.  It’s got both WiFi and Bluetooth built in.  It has no CD or DVD drive, and no hard drive.  It does have a 12 GB solid-state drive which means no moving parts, and extends the battery life.

You can get one preinstalled with either Windows XP (12 GB SSD) or with Linux (and a 20 GB SSD).  At the moment, however, you can only buy the Windows XP version.

It has a built-in 1.3 megapixel web cam, a microphone, speakers (as well as mic + headset jacks), VGA output, an SDHC reader, and 3 … count’em *3* USB ports.

In short, it is a diminutive but fully functional and fully capable laptop.

We got it because with Gwen’s new blogging gig, our ‘old’ laptop has effectively become hers.  So this one becomes effectively mine, plus it’s portable enough to bring to parks, coffee shops, etc.  Plus, it’s the ultimate geocaching companion.  I’ve already installed GSAK and MS Streets and Trips.  We have a USB GPS that works great with MS S&T, plus our Garmin Etrex Vista CX.  With the inverter that we have, it’ll make an easy road trip accessory.

After a few days of using it, it’s lived up to all my expectations.  I’ve adjusted to the tiny keyboard, and am able to touch type on it now without too many problems.  Mind you, I won’t be writing any theses with it, but this blog post is going ok! :)  The biggest issue with the keyboard is that the number row is shifted one key to the left, so I’m often typing 2 when I mean to type 1.  The speakers are awful, but functional.  The wifi works as expected.  I haven’t tried the Bluetooth.  The 12 GB storage seems small, but is more than sufficient for what we’re doing with it.  The CPU seems to work just as good as the Core 2 Duo in our Dell laptop.  I can stream avi’s from our media server like nobody’s business.  The battery life doesn’t disappoint.  The screen is bright and sharp.  It’s a little bit wonk with a wide-screen resolution of 1024×600 (usually it’s 1024×800) which means that reading web pages means a lot of vertical scrolling.

The biggest complaint I have is the touchpad.  It sometimes seems too sensitive and sometimes not sensitive enough.  As I’m typing my thumbs occasionally brush it and suddenly the cursor is somewhere unexpected.  Clicking on buttons, however, seems to require pounding instead of clicking.

Now, I just need to keep it away from Aidan…

Anthony on , , , , , , 29 Oct 2006 09:55 pm

On Friday, Paula and Jimmy came down from Fredericton. Oh, and their two cats. For those keeping count, that’s 5 cats, 1 dog, 2 permanent residents, 3 West Coast Visitors, and 2 currently-living-in-NB’ers. The people outnumbered the animals by 1.

Anyway, they came down on Friday, and it was our (the West Coasters) first time meeting Jimmy. He seemed nice! Paula seemed happy, so all was good. I didn’t get a lot of photos of either of them, but here’s one at dinner on Friday:

Paula and Jimmy

St. Pat's Church, HalifaxSaturday was the my cousin Suzanne’s (nee Zinn) wedding. The wedding was held at St. Pat’s. St. Pat’s is a beautiful Catholic Church, and one that the Zinns and Forwoods have been going to for quite some time. It was built between 1883 and 1885. You can find out more about it here.
The ceremony was nice, and the atmosphere was great. Unfortunately the church is pretty dim inside, so I didn’t get any good shots, but a few of the ones that we did get are below.

Frank, Suzanne, and Pat walk up the aisle

Aidan and Daddy all dressed up!

The newlyweds leave the church

After the wedding was a reception held at the barracks of the Halifax Citadel. Not the hotel, silly, the fortress. I didn’t know that the National Historic Site was open for wedding receptions, but guess what! It is. Anyway, the reception was spread through the top floor, with several different rooms having different foods and mingling areas. We stayed pretty much in the main mingling area, since it was a little more baby safe. Unfortunately that meant we missed much of the food, but we made up for it by stopping at that Paragon of Fine Food (yes, Wendy’s). It was at the reception that I managed to get a few more pictures of my sister! There were a few toddlers there, and one much younger baby. Aidan’s newest cousin Petranella (Anthony’s cousin Andreana’s 3 month old) was there, as was Sawyer (the “oldest” offspring of the cousins) and a few other young kids. There was one just about Aidan’s age (name now forgotten) with whom he hit it off, following her around a bit, and during the dance, dancing up a storm!

Katherine, Paula, Aidan, Kathy, and Maureen

Anyway, it was another one of these times where we’re reminded how much the boy takes from us. We actually left — the boy awake — around 9ish, well before my parents. The boy stayed awake for the ride back to my parents’ (via Wendy’s of course), and luckily, went to bed pretty normally.

Sunday was a bit of a blur. Oh wait, I remember. Thanksgiving dinner. Gwen got things going with the dinner while Dad and I took Paula’s laptop apart. It is a Toshiba, and it would overheat and shut itself down when it got too hot. Coincidentally, Mom’s laptop had the same problem. In fact, they were both Toshibas, and apparently it’s a known problem. So, with the help of some instuctions from the web, we took Paula’s laptop apart. The problem is that the air intake is on the bottom of the laptop, and it sucks up lots of cat/dog/person hair and dust. It then blows this gunk over some cooling fins, but the fins do not allow the gunk through, and it accumulates on the fins. This reduces the effectiveness of the cooler, and then the system overheats. Anyhow, to clean the cooling fins, you have to completely disassemble the laptop … right down to removing the system board from the case. So, with the instuctions from the web, that’s what we did. It took much longer than expected, something around three or four hours. But, when we put it back together, it all worked, and as far as I know, it has solved the problem. After we got done with Paula’s we tackled Mom’s. It took a little less time, but essentially by the time we were done with Mom’s (also a success) it was dinner time.

As usual, Thanksgiving dinner was great. Gwen’s mother, grand-mother, and sister were up to join us too. I don’t think we got any pictures of the event, though.

Next, week 2…

Anthony on 20 Oct 2006 10:10 pm

OK, replaced old NForce2 mobo, Athlon 2500+ (Socket A) CPU, and 1 stick of 512 MB PC2700 RAM with new NForce4 mobo, Athlon 64 3500+ (S939) CPU, and 2 sticks of 512 MB PC3200 RAM.

Gwen took the old stuff apart, and put the new stuff in. I supervised.

Plugged in the box and …


Anthony on 20 Oct 2006 09:31 am

Our desktop computer died last night. Turned it off to reboot it as a MythTV front-end and it just didn’t come back. Won’t POST, doesn’t give any indication of what’s wrong. All lights on the HD, DVD, and on our RF sensor for the keyboard and mouse stay stuck on. It’s getting power, but nothing’s happening. Lovely. It did this once before, just before we left on vacation, and it just magically came back to life. This time it hasn’t.