olpc

I’ve started to tidy up my stuff in readiness for moving back to rob while we have builders in. In the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet I find my old electronics:

  • original powerbook
  • mbp
  • mba
  • original sony ereader
  • kindle fire
  • OLPC

One of those is not like the others.

I’ve used every single one of those, almost all to the end of their lives. Except the OLPC, which is new and still in its packaging.

olpc

I got it when it first came out, paid USD199 or something like that. Pay for two, get one and the other one goes to a child in a developing country. That was their sell anyway. I’m not sure if it ever reached its intended destination; after a lot of buzz the whole project seems to have died out. There’s an article in The Verge that tried to explain why everything went wrong.

The idea was noble. Keep cost of laptop to under $100 and send it to children all over the world so they can use it to learn and be connected. It would be powered by solar energy or by hand-cranking, like one of the torches I have. It runs Linux, every techie’s dream. But from the moment at the demo when the crank handle fell off, things went downhill. It’s typical of:

tech industry hubris, a one-size-fits-all American solution to complex global problems

which doesn’t work. It also didn’t help that costs escalated to beyond the $100 mark, so its biggest selling point was lost. Other manufacturers soon started making small netbooks that were $200-400 but ran windows, I remember the Eee and I myself bought an MSI netbook too.

When talking about computers in classrooms, we get an image of tablets–cheap android tablets or even ipads. I’m surprised OLPC is still around and making laptops. Small markets in Latin America sustains its business. Nowadays. it looks so outdated. I’m also surprised to read that most OLPCs still work, may be I should try cranking mine up and see what it does.

no mbp

i shut down the mbp this morning with a guilty twinge — i’m gonna be without it till next sunday — a good 10 days. I’m going away on holiday, then to the conference. I’m taking the netbook. A fb friend, upon reading my dilemma tweet (mbp or wind?) put it aptly — that it will be an experiment to see if I’m compatible with netbook computing. I think I am, but ask me again in 3, 5, 7, 10 days.

msi wind u100

new toys! netbook taken on iphone

This is an important pic for 2 reasons: a) it’s my second new toy this week and b) it was taken on my iphone. Yep, i succumbed to the temptation and got myself a netbook. It was basically as simple as Car emailing me a Tigerdirect link and me saying go ahead. MSI Winds had been leading contenders in any case. I didn’t end up getting the u120 at the end, I got the u100 which is older but had more functionality like b/g/n wireless, bluetooth and faster upload speed. For just under $400 I get a 10” screen at 2.6lbs, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, 3 usb ports, 4-in-1 card reader, neat. It even came with a case which is shiny plastic and kinda tacky and i won’t use it.

I’m writing this post on it, and typing is fine — I’d eliminated the Acer and the 9” Eees cos i was constantly making mistakes on the keyboard, this one is fine. I have my usual tabs open in firefox, and have been happily surfing on it.

I suffered through installing stuff on it — firefox and add-ons, itunes, mcafee, ccleaner, and bemoaned Window’s lack of userability when i found myself forgetting basic stuff. The ability to hackintosh was a deciding factor in the decision to go for the Wind. Will I end up making it dual boot? Probably, but i’m not in any hurry.

As to the second important event, this was the first pic taken with the iphone camera. I have to do a big shrug cos it’s pretty pedestrian, even for “just” a 3MP camera. It will be useful for taking disposable pics for twitter, that’s it. I can see myself embracing this new form of photography though. At the very least, expect even more food pics.

netbook mania

netbook osx

I hadn’t planned on having spare time this weekend, so I didn’t bring the mbp. gasp So when I find myself with spare time I naturally started missing it, or wishing I had a netbook. There does seem to be a huge netbook mania nowadays. I think there is a time and place for netbooks — as second computers for basic tasks only — but it seems that there’s already feature creep on these machines.

The majority of netbooks are Windows (mostly XP) and Linux. The nearest mac equivalent is the mba or the new 13” mbp. Both very attractive machines undoubtedly but not even I will want to spend $1200 or $1500 on a spare laptop. If I wanted a mac netbook I’d have to get a regular netbook and hackintosh it. I missed out the chance to get a hackintosh-perfect dell mini 9, even though I’m sure it’s available on ebay. I’m not saying I will necessarily hackintosh any netbook I get, but hackintoshability is one of the criteria. Luckily lots of people are also interested in this, and bb gadgets have been keeping track of the various netbooks in the market. So it looks like I’m getting the MSI Wind U120.

macbook air lust

Look. Aside from the one post with four screengrabs of last week’s Stevenote have I said a word about the macbook air? No. I have been very restrained. I’ve gobbled up every review I can find, and I exchanged emails with tues about it … no wonder since we were early mbp adopters. But have I gone all geek about it? Hardly. A small mention, yes.

chatcar

I’d be deluding myself if I said I needed it. It would make travelling better, since my backpack tends to get heavy with mbp, wires, camera and book. Taking thickness and 2lbs from that certainly helps. The problem is the lack of ethernet port since the hotels I visit, though 5-star standard, doesn’t seem to be too “in” with technology and are mostly still on ethernet. Or actually, they want us to pay the $19.95 a day internet connection charge cos they’re conning us. It’s disheartening to read that:

While most midprice and extended stay properties include Internet access as part of the overall rate, most upscale properties still charge extra for the service.

But I digress. I’m talking about the mba and why so many people (or may be just the techie bloggers I read?) are waiting, waiting for the mba to come out. So how to deal with gadget envy? The choices are stark: a) resist, with difficulty or b) give in. lifehacker readers suggest everything from getting married to mooch off geekier friends, though the consensus is practical — analyse need vs want; and don’t impulse buy using money you don’t have.

Now that I’ve established I don’t need the mba; and I don’t have money issues, how can I be spared the gadget lust? My saving grace will likely be — I’m lazy and a homebody. It may take me ages to actually get myself to the shop to check it out. By that time I would have read more reviews, the price could have come down and Apple could be adding more features to the product. I got kinda burnt getting a early mbp with the battery and heat problems, so if I get a mba it’ll be a 1.1 or 1.2 version.

One of the suggestions was to use the girlfriend factor. If she gives “The Look” it means the wallet stays in the pocket. Heh, may be that might work.

my cool mac

The mbp is hot, that’s a known issue. Recently, some enterprising folks have finally come up with a possible solution. It involves modifying the kernel extensions (.kext files) that control the speed and frequency of the internal fans. They even made available several applescripts for running the fans at different rpms. Wow.

As the author pointed out, no pretty GUIs, and the script needs to be run everytime the mbp is rebooted or comes out of sleep. But it’s not even an issue because, HELLO, no more hot wrists! I’ve been running it at 3,000 rpm and it’s markedly cooler, especially the area above the battery where my left hand usually rests. coreduetemp says 27°C. The bottom is still too hot to stay on a lap for long, but I’ve never gotten into the habit of using it on my lap — too soft and unstable.

There’s some talk about whether the increased speed (setting it at 3,000 means I have the fans running continuously at that speed) will wear out the fans. The default is 1,000 and it means they’re running all the time too. I really believe that the cooler temperature will benefit the entire computer. There’s no increase in noise level either.

Most people on the forums report theirs in the 40-60°C region. I’m sure that my new koolsink helps too. No, the mbp is never as cool as the pb1, but that’s like comparing apples with oranges.

There’s a second method which involves setting the minimum fan speed rather than a fixed speed. Looks interesting, I may try it out over the weekend.

ETA: coreduotemp now stays at the 39-41°C range, which makes better sense thn the 25-27°C that it claimed was the temp cos I definitely could feel the heat. I can feel the fan working, there’s a tiny breeze when I put my hand on top of the vent.

electronic kids

I took my Sis to look at macbooks today, she wanted to get one for my 4 year old niece. I mean, yes, nowadays kids get computers early. My niece has been playing with computers since she was 1.5 years old, she used to sit on my lap or Mum’s lap, and use a paintbrush to point at the screen while we used the mouse to click on whatever she pointed at. Mainly she played on the Sesame Street or Barney websites.

Today she sat on my lap playing on an iMac. But that was all she needed me to be, a glorified high chair. She used the mouse like it was the most natural thing in the world, colouring small parts like individual flower petals and Barney’s toes perfectly well.

My brother in law was worried that if they got her a mac that she’d be confused with the 2 systems. I don’t think it’ll be a problem at all. Kids her age will grow up with computers and it’ll be instinctive for her.

I’m so glad I registered her domain name when she was only 2.

high satisfaction

Anyone tired of my mac obsession yet? 😛

For the third year running, Apple came first in customer satisfaction survey of personal computer manufacturers. Respondents to the American Customer Satisfaction Index survey, which has been conducted once a quarter since 1995, gave it 83/100 points. Second place is Dell, with 78.

It’ll be interesting to see if the problems with the macbook pros and the macbooks, coupled with a larger user base, will take its score down next quarter. After all, Apple has 12% of the US laptop market share.

Talking about problems, my replacement battery arrived and I changed it. It may be my imagination but the mbp is hotter than before. I’m not sending in the old one just yet.

battery exchange

I learnt about this via infinite loop. Apple announced a worldwide “15-inch MacBook Pro Battery Exchange Program” covering MBPs sold between feb and may 2006, with model number A1175 and a 12-digit serial number that ends with U7SA, U7SB or U7SC. eeeeep, that’s me.

Went to the Apple page, filled out the form with my serial number, my battery serial number and yes, they both validate. Filled out address info and hopefully a new battery will be shipped to me soon.

The discussion about why there is such an exchange program hasn’t started because the Americans aren’t up yet. Apart from the mbp getting very hot, I’ve (touch wood) not had any problems. And it’s on whenever I’m home. hmm.

And no sniggering or 5% comments!

black!!!!!

I saw this last week already: BLACK MACBOOK!!!!! Yeeeee-hawww.

I’m not tempted, since it’s an iBook replacement and doesn’t have the ooomph of the macbook pro. It looks awfully pretty though, and definitely drool-worthy. One commenter in the numerous articles I read said that Apple knows its customers well, we are the sort of geek who would shell out an extra $200 just because it’s black. Remember my iMac Graphite Special Edition?

blackmacbook

5x faster

Apple announced the 17” macbook pro. Sigh. Pretty. And 5x faster than the Powerbook G4. I’m not annoyed that they announced a new machine a week after I bought mine because I wouldn’t have considered the 17” anyway.

I booted up the mbp and the dell at the same time tonight. I had a conference call and needed webex, hence the need for the dell. I have totally neglected it btw, soon I won’t need it at all once I get either Boot Camp or Parallels working.

Anyway, I had the airport on, firefox loaded and beginning to check gmail on the mbp. Meanwhile the dell was still going through the bootup routine and only 1-2 icons had been loaded on the task bar.

There is no comparison.

PB1

I’m back on the PB, phew. Finally got the internet to work again, have no clue why it wasn’t connecting. Switched over to Basic user on TCP/IP (huh?), created another config and reconnected the cable to the modem. Sigh, apparently this dinosaur is too ancient to have a readily available airport express card, so no wireless for my baby.

Of course I’m still resolutely using 9.2.2 and Netscape. I do miss Firefox though, a great deal. Tried installing Tiger, but got an error that the software can’t install on this computer. I know this machine can take up to 10.4.3, I’ll have to check with mm which version PB2 runs on.

I’m just relieved and happy to have the PB functioning again. Perhaps I’ll keep it as a 9.2.2 machine and forget about Tiger. Very tempted to get a new PB so I can run Tiger. Sheesh, it’s not like I’m rolling in gold, I just bought a new camera, and taxes are coming up. Eeeep.

new toys

I must confess that I did the unthinkable this week. I bought a PC. Yes heresy, blasphemy and all that. Not a huge overwhelming reason either.

After much searching and waiting for the appropriate discount, I put the order in for a Dell Inspiron 6000. Rather an entry level laptop, but sufficient for my purposes, looking at the specs. Didn’t even go for the Centrino processor, Celeron is fine. Specs:

  • Celeron M Processor 350 1.3GHz, L2 cache 400MHz FSB
  • 512k upgraded to 1GB SDRAM
  • 60GB HD
  • DVD +/- RW drive
  • 64MHz PCI Express ATI video card
  • 10/100 Fast Ethernet
  • Wireless 2200 WLAN (802.11) card
  • Integrated Stereo Sound with RJ11, RJ45, IEEE 1394, SD Slot, VGA Out,S-video TV-Out, 4 USB 2.0
  • 15.4” wide aspect TFT display
  • Dell TruMobile 350 Bluetooth module

Comes with a nice padded backpack.

One of the first software I downloaded was Firefox. Yay firefox! Yahoo messenger of course — one of the reasons is to take advantage of the vc capabilities.

Putting it next to the Powerbooks make it look very clunky. It’s larger than I thought, certainly a lot more ugly than expected. But it’s supposed to be a desktop replacement, not to be lugged around, so I’m tolerating it.

On the subject of new laptops, she bought a brand new 15” Powerbook at the weekend, with TIGER!!! So now my study has 4 computers – the iMac SE with the defunct hard disk, the Titanium Powerbook (PB1), her new Powerbook (PB2) and the dell. The PB2 is like heaven, rounded corners, sleek look. And Tiger, omg, I hated OSX when it came out, but after playing with it … as soon as I find some use for my OS9 stuff, I’m upgrading.