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Archives for December 2011

 

Bah Humbug

Its Christmas, traditional time for shopping, I've not bought a luxury for 2 years. The last was a hard disk to take on my travels. 

Been to play at Harvey Norman (Dixons with furniture) JB Hifi (Richer Sounds and HMV's bastard child), and Dick Smith (maplins meets Dixons).

"Ordinary dodges, such as reformatting the hard disk(s)
 and starting again, are ineffective. Cruft has soaked into
the very fabric of the machine, and it should be disposed
of safely at a government-approved facility. There it will
be encased in cruft-resistant glass and buried in a
residential district."
Source: Verity Stobb's "State of Decay"

 You can't have what you want

What I want is a New IBM Series laptop - as mine current one is beginning show its age and develop cruft, despite a clean windows install.

I can't have one. the Xseries as me and many others had come to know and love ended with the X61. Now they're too small too fiddly and have a tiny wide-screen on them, and made by lenovo now. There still fantastically expensive, up to the x61 the  main letter keys were fullsize and comfy, with a palm rest the new ones are TOO small. IBM didn't do anything as crass as actually sell them to the public. We had to get them second hand off Ebay, thank god, the brand new price would give you a heart attack.

I should know I've had an x20, an x30 and my nearly three years second hand x61. The x30 I gave away in working order to a mate, the x20 got left in a corner for a year and was still working when I got rid of it. 

This laptop, an x61 bought for the princely sum of £310 second hand off Ebay in February 2009 arrived in the post in bubblewrap, has fallen off a bike with me on the way back from Brighton SC, Sailed the pacific, been 20m above a cattle yard in a cherry picker, on roofs, 400km down a dirt road in the back of a ute. 15,000kms by back packer van, crossed bass strait, 24,000km by sea, been under and over Sydney Harbour Bridge taken dozens of high speed drunken dinghy rides and is fithy and rusty, the keys are worn shiny and the nipple is distorted and balder than I am. Now I can forgive it if its docking stations network card is a bit dicky and sometimes it can't find its CD rom. Its had a hard life. Why didn't they make a newer version? Yes its butt ugly, has a nipple instead of a mouse, but its like it predecessor the best keyboard of any laptop I've ever had the pleasure to type on.

The New "utlrabooks" as they're calling the mac book air copies, are also the X series descendants, are pretty damn fabulous. Solid metal (in the Case of the ASUS's  which looks bloody fantastic). The difference between them and the Mac book air. The keyboards are bloody dreadful, the Acer ultrabook  one is the worsed I ever touched. The buttons on ATMs are better. The ASUS is better but only in the same way herpes is better than summary execution. EDIT: I had another go on it today, its not quite as bad as herpes - but I'm glad to be typing this on the ThinkPad.

Widescreen? Smidescreen.

As my friend Pete is won' to say "what f&%$@£g  idiot designed that". Only he does it in the verbal equivalent of shouty caps. Widscreen if fine for a telly, but usless for 99% of computer use. A 4:3 screen is a wide-screen monitor with the windows tool bars taskbar etc top an bottom. Only when they come up with a windscreen OS will it make sense. For instance my old old laptop the x20 had a screen resolution of 1024x768. The new breeds of ultra small typically have a 1366x768 screen. Windows 7 has increased the size of both the task bar, an the tops of the windows. leaving nothing left to type into.

Oh sorry, If forgot, they're consumer devices  your supposed to consume on them I.E. watch movies. 

Tablets 

The iPad is a toy, I've owned one in effect my iPod touch, may it know peace in Davey Jones' locker, its essentially the same gadget. It can't connect to anything, store files, connect to peripherals. And its tethered to iTunes a piece of software so unspeakably dreadful it might actually be improved by Micro$oft. The Apple ball and chain.

 
I googled "Apple Lawyer" and got this guy.
Latest Purchase "Gurrning for Dummies"

The Galaxy Tab has been blocked by apple's legal dept from Australia till last week. And thought they may be selling 'em in Sydney they're not on display in the top end. I can't play with Matt's, may it rest in peace in Davey Jones' Locker. But apparently you can get a serial connector for them. They've slavishly coppied the iPad, so you can't connect anything else too them.

Half of of the ones one could fiddle with in Harvey Norman were running windows 7. For God's sake DON'T. Windows 7's to all intensive purposes the same interface as windows 95. Its designed? (by copying apple badly) for a duel core or better PC with a mouse and a keyboard. If you are asked to choose between summary execution and a win7 tablet, choose summary execution. M$ is working its pretty bottom off on win8 for tablets, copying windows phone7, you know how successful that has been. If you must buy a win tablet (don't) wait for win8.

There was a sony android tablet on show, felt like something form a pound store, plasticy, ugly with buttons that looked like they'ed already fallen off an been glued back on.

I did get to play with the eee Transformer and the iconia, the eee slider and Zoom or possibly xoom.

The xoom is another copy of a iPad but with some plugs and slots. HDMI and sd card slots are on all, the eeesliders bulkier. And awkward to unfold/slide. The keyboard once extracted is surprisingly good, oh and with a firmware update or 2, maybe even an Ice Cream sandwich its full size USB port will offer host support. IE you plug stuff into it, not it into Itunes. Gives Apple the finger. All the ones I fondled were running Android 3 or 3.1 in the shops most had a filemanager icon already built and in a test copy proved intuitive and easy. This was never going to be problem, my android phone can do that and Cifis* too. I'd say "stuff your Ipad and smoke it", but its impossible to stuff anything in an iPad.

Irritatingly the only eee Transformer with the keyboard dock which I was very keen to try was in Harvey Moron and didn't work. No Power I think.

After some research and some hands on I'm gonna stick with my crufty X61, manually assigning drive letters to USB sticks, wait save up and buy a  the new eee transformer prime, with its frankly awesome keyboard dock with extra battery and full USB port and soon Ice Cream Sandwitch. Hell with features like the dock dumping its battery into the tablet if the tablets empty even when off line so you can take it away its sounds mighty attractive and clever too boot.

So no Xmas pressie for me :-( hopefully that will make all my friends feel better cos I've not got you one either with the Exception of my God son, who's pressie is in the post, and his parents are NOT going to like.

*For non geeks "cifs" is an acronym what it stands for nobody knows. Its "Micro$oft Windows File and Print Sharing" this such a mouth full that everyone was calling it smb or samba after the open source project that allows linux/bsd/unix/osx to talk to windows pc over the network. This was obviously a bit of a fail from a M$ marketing point of view so there's obviously been a memo at redmond to re-brand it as cifs co I've only recently come across the term. Its working too last time I typed mount -t smbfs into linux it told me to type mount -t cifs instead...

Position: 12° 27.6' S, 130° 50.8' E | Posted: Sat 17th December 2011

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