First Impressions – Asus Eee 1215b laptop computer

Apr 27, 2011 by

I have had my new Asus Eee 1215 laptop for a couple of days now. It is a replacement for my old Dell Mini 9 netbook. I ordered the Asus both to replace my Dell and act as a HTPC for my home entertainment system. I had thought about ordering a dedicated HTPC but I figured why not use a laptop instead. When I am not using it in the HTPC capacity, I could use it for my laptop.

The specifications for the Asus Eee 1215b are as follows.

  • AMD Brazos E-350 dual-core processor running at 1.60Ghz
  • 2 GB ram
  • 350 GB hard drive
  • 802.11/n wi-fi
  • card reader slot
  • 2 USB 2.0 1 USB 3.0
  • web cam
  • hdmi output
  • Radeon 6310 with 512mb
  • 10/100 GB ethernet
  • 12.1 ” High definition backlit display

The case is quality black plastic with a patterned bottom. The laptop has a well built feel to it. The chiclet keyboard is almost full size and fairly easy to type one. The Synaptic touchpad is large and has a metal bar for right/left clicking. There are 5 Led’s on the front left edge of the laptop to indicate various status’s.

The laptop runs Windows 7 home premium edition. There is not too much bloat-ware loaded and some nice additional software in addition to what comes with Windows 7.  A trial copy of Trend Micro Titanium is provided for anti-virus software. In its capacity as a HTPC I have loaded Boxee software although I am very impressed with the latest version of Windows Media Center.

I have already hooked it up to my Home Theater HDTV and it works very well. I am able to run and stream full 1080p video with no buffering or stuttering. So it is mission successful for its ability to serve as both laptop and HTPC.

The only negatives I have have to do with the placement of a couple of keys and the fact that I have not found a way yet to disable the touchpad while typing. But these are not really flaws with the laptop, just something I will have to become used to.

Overall, I am extremely impressed with the Asus as well as Windows 7. I ran Ubuntu 10.10 on my old Dell and feel no need to replace Windows 7 with it. The laptop itself is a quantum leap over my old Dell. I have not been able to check the battery life but it is rated for a minimum of 6 hours. My research on available laptops in the price range I was looking at seems to have paid off. It is money well spent. I would highly recommend this laptop to anyone looking for a sub $500 laptop.



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Enough with the on screen clutter

Nov 12, 2010 by

Ah, how I long for the days of clutter free television. Back to the days when all you saw on the screen during a show was the show. Fast forward to the present and take a look at cable television today. A perfect example of what I am talking about is the Lifetime Movie Network (LMN). Try to find the show behind the on screen logo and the on screen ads for upcoming shows. Good luck. And it that wasn’t enough, throw in a few animated ads that cover damn near the entire screen.

It all started with a discreet channel logo inconspicuously placed on the screen. When the networks saw that they could get away with that, they plotted their next move. How dare you record our shows and then fast forward past the commercials. We’ll show you!  How about a not so inconspicuous onscreen ad for upcoming shows that is onscreen during the entire show. Take that!

Still no outcry? Lets see if they notice animated ads for upcoming shows every five minutes or so during the show.  Ready to cry uncle yet? If not, we have more things planned. How about a transparent ad that cover the entire screen? He he he!

The worst culprits seem to be the network news channels. How many scrolling tickers, labels, titles, and inserts can you put on the screen before you go screaming back to the good old newspaper? Apparently not enough.

It seems to me that there is a heated contest between the networks to see who can come up with the next obnoxious, obtrusive gimmick to make viewers lives miserable. Sure, the networks have a right to make money from the content they provide. But I also have a right to enjoy the shows that I watch. There has to be a balance between the networks right to make a profit and my right to enjoy watching that content. I think the networks are  precariously close to upsetting that balance.

This may be a battle that neither side can win. A similar battle is being fought on the internet.  Advertisement has become increasingly annoying to the point that I avoid some sites altogether. Consumers are fighting back by installing ad blockers and other software to block some of the advertising. Is it possible that some technology will come along that will allow viewers to block on screen ads on television?

In the meantime, I will be watching networks that seem to be attempting to find that balance and avoiding those that obviously are not.

That is all.

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The Worst Car Review In History

Oct 21, 2009 by

honda-insight-hybrid-concept-img_1Honda makes a lot of good cars but, according to Jeremy Clarkson of The Times of London, the Honda Insight hybrid is not one of them.

“It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it anymore…[it] makes a noise worse than someone else’s crying baby on an airliner. It’s worse than the sound of your parachute failing to open. Really, to get an idea of how awful it is, you’d have to sit a dog on a ham slicer.”

“So you’re sitting there with the engine screaming its head off, and your ears bleeding, and you’re doing only 23 mph because that’s about the top speed… [it] feels as if it’s been made from steel so thin, you could read through it. And the seats … are designed specifically, it seems, to ruin your skeleton… the idiotic dashboard, which shows leaves growing on a tree when you ease off the throttle … built our of rice paper … poor ride, the woeful performance, the awful noise and the spine-bending seats.”

“Acceleration 0-62 mph: 12.5 seconds. One star (out of five) … Good only for parting the smug from their money.”

– From ‘Arguing with Idiots’, by Glenn Beck

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Amazon vs. Netflix – Netflix Wins

Mar 7, 2009 by

12-23-08-roku_netflix_4 I have been a subscriber to Netflix for several years now. For $8.99 a month I receive 1 movie at a time with the number of movies I can watch in a month only limited by the time it takes to order, watch, return and receive the next movie. A conservative estimate is that I watch about 2 movies a week for a total of 8 movies a month. Doing the math you can see that works out to a little over $1.00 per movie. I have yet to find a better deal than that anywhere.

Now that I have a Roku digital video player, I can stream movies from Netflix directly to my HDTV. For no additional fee I can choose from a library of over 12,000 movies and TV shows. If I had nothing better to do I could stream several movies every day in addition to watching the DVD’s that I receive by mail. The on demand movies do not count towards my monthly limit of only 1 movie at a time.

Now Roku has upgraded my player so that I can now stream movies or buy them directly from Amazon Video on Demand. Amazon offers about 10,000 movies and TV shows for streaming or to buy.  The one nice thing about Amazon is that you can select directly from the Roku menu while you have to first select Netflix movies from their web site before they are viewable from the Roku menu. But that nice feature is overshadowed by the cost of streaming videos from Amazon.

Unlike Netflix, where the streaming videos are available for no additional cost, Amazon charges from $3.99 to $0.99 for every movie or TV show you want to watch. If I streamed 8 movies a month from Amazon at an average price of $2.99 each it would cost me $23.92. That is much more than the $8.99 a month that I pay for my Netflix service. When you consider that I can also stream as many movies as I want per month from Netflix for no additional cost, you can see that Netflix is a much better deal than Amazon. The only advantage that Amazon may have is that they have more premium choices available for streaming than Netflix. But I can always watch the premium movies from Netflix on DVD.

I don’t see how Amazon can hope to compete against Netflix, especially for Netflix members like me that have the Roku player. Amazon will have to substantially reduce the costs for streaming their movies if they hope to get any of my money. Netflix and Roku are a winning combination that are unbeatable by anything else available. If you know of anything that offers what Netflix and Roku offer, please leave a comment as I would be very interested in it.

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Digital TV, Big Government and Entitlement

Jan 27, 2009 by

The Senate on Monday voted to delay the long awaited transition from analog to digital television broadcasting by four months to June 12. Democrats and President Obama felt that the delay was needed due to growing concerns that too many Americans won’t be ready for the currently scheduled Feb. 17 changeover.

The Nielsen Co. estimates that more than 6.5 million U.S. households have not taken the steps necessary to ensure that they will be able to receive the digital broadcasts.  Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.VA., author of the bill to push back the deadline said.

Delaying the upcoming DTV switch is the right thing to do. I firmly believe that our nation is not yet ready to make this transition at this time.

The switch from analog to digital broadcast will free up a large chunk of wireless spectrum  that can be used for commercial wireless services and interoperable emergency response networks. The switchover has been scheduled since 2005, which means that Americans have had over 4 years to get ready for the change. I think that 4 years was more than adequate for Americans to have taken the steps necessary to be able to receive digital broadcasts. The government has made available for some time now free coupons that any person could request that would cover the estimated $40 – $80 cost of the converter that is necessary for people without cable or satellite to continue to receive free over-the-air broadcasts.

The NTIA, the arm of the Commerce Department administering the coupon program, is now sending out new coupons to replace the ones that went unredeemed. Apparently a significant portion of the 6.5 million U.S. households that are still not ready for the transition failed to take advantage of the availability of the coupons. Why should the transition be delayed until June when Americans have already had 4 years to prepare and even been offered free coupons to cover the cost of the needed converter box? You could probably delay the transition for a year and you would still have millions who are not ready. The wisest thing to do is go ahead with the original Feb. 17 changeover which would force the procrastinators to finally obtain the converter box they have had 4 years to obtain already.

But what really irritates me the most about this delay is the statement made by Gene Kimmeiman, vice president for federal policy at Consumers Union, who argues that millions of Americans, particularly low-income and elderly viewers, will pay the price because:

The government has failed to deliver the converter boxes these people deserve just to keep watching free, over-the-air broadcast signals.

I didn’t know that it was the governments responsibility in the first place to provide free converter boxes to anyone. Did the government provide these people with their televisions? Despite this the government did offer free converter boxes and these same people simply did not take the government up on the offer. Is it really possible that low income and elderly people could not have saved the $40 – $80 needed to purchase a converter box over a 4 year period? I am sure they spent far more than that on other non-essentials during those 4 years. Maybe President Obama should create a new government agency whose responsibilities include going to each of the 6.5 million households and installing a converter box free of charge. That would be one way to create some new jobs. Isn’t that ultimately what a lot of people envision the governments job to be? To take care of all our needs from birth to death. Why take any personal responsibility for anything when you can blame it all on the government?  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

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Review of Windows Live Writer Beta

Nov 21, 2008 by

800px-WLWriter I have been using Microsoft Windows Live Writer Beta as my primary editor for posting entries to my WordPress blog for about 6 months now. I find Live Writer to be much easier and more powerful than the WordPress editor I had previously been using. Live Writer has all the capabilities of the WordPress editor plus many other features and capabilities.

The main thing I like about Live Writer is how much faster it is than WordPress. The auto-save feature in WordPress always slowed my writing down and there seems to be a latency in the WordPress editor that does not exist in Live Writer. Live Writer supports multiple blogs and it is very east to set it up to upload your posts to your blogs. You can choose to publish your post or simply post to draft. Live Writer also saves all your posts locally so it serves as a great backup for WordPress.

The toolbar has all the options that are available in WordPress such as insert hyperlink, insert picture, tables, fonts, numbering, bullets, etc. The insert picture allows for multiple borders, custom margins, text wrapping and effects. When you first setup Live Writer to work with your blog it downloads the current theme and uses it when you are editing and for previewing your post before publishing. You can add regular tags, Technorati tags and set the categories. There are three main work areas accessed by tabs; Edit, Preview, and Source.

Another great feature of Live Writer is the ability to add plug-ins to expand and enhance it’s capabilities. A few of the plug-ins I have installed include insert Book Details, Insert Website image and Insert Polaroid Picture. There are almost 100 plug-ins available online that can be added to Live Writer.

Using Windows Live Writer has made it much easier and faster to write posts for my WordPress blog. If it has any flaws or drawbacks I have yet to come across them. I use it exclusively for writing and editing for my WordPress blog. I guess if there is one drawback that is that it only works on the Windows platform. I do not think there is a Mac version and I am sure there is not a Linux version. So if you have a WordPress blog I would highly recommend using Windows Live Writer for all your writing and editing. It will make things much easier for you.

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