Archive for March, 2008

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Product Review: Asus Eee PC 2g Surf

March 16, 2008

(first published on blogcritics.org: http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/03/15/1307042.php )

I’m a contractor. This means I’ve moved around a lot working in different offices, and I’ve often lamented the lack of a means of checking my email and searching for jobs without using the client’s Internet facilities (which would probably be barred anyway).

Anyone who’s tried to do serious browsing or emailing on a mobile phone will probably relate to how bloody frustrating it is, so I decided that a small laptop was needed. One I could bring into work and connect to mobile roadband with. I needed something light, with a proper keyboard, reasonably sized screen, but small enough to be innocuous and not arouse corporate suspicion that I may be writing this review rather than designing service management processes. I didn’t want to spend a lot, and there isn’t a lot available under the £400 mark that I was prepared to live with or spend the money on. Most options were compromises between price, weight, and functionality.

Except for the ASUS Eee PC. A small sub-notebook running a customized Linux build and coming pre-loaded with Openoffice, Skype, and several other tools.  The manufacturers have done a good job of providing you with just about everything you’d need day to day. You can create documents, spreadsheets, and databases. You can watch movies (DivX supported out the box), play a few games, listen to MP3s and connect to the net through the built in wireless, modem or RJ45 network port (or external USB 3g modem but more on this in a moment) and talk to people on Skype and Pidgin instant Messenger which supports major chat networks (MSN,AIM,YIM,AOL, and ICQ plus others). Handily, and curiously, the manufacturers have provided application icons which are links to Google Docs and Wikipedia – giving these the impression of being applications rather than mere web addresses.

The 7″ screen is small but usable, and the battery life is quoted as being 3.5 hours (depending on use). The Eee has a QWERTY keyboard which, though smaller than a full size keyboard, still allows fairly rapid typing with few mistakes once you get used to it. The Eee has 3 USB 2.0 ports, and external VGA connector as well as headphone & microphone jacks plus a smart card expansion slot.

In the box, as well as the Eee, mains charger, manual, quick start guide, warranty card and restore CD come a support CD with Windows XP drivers and an instruction guide detailing how to install XP. Having even having been a Windows user for years, I’m actually very happy with the standard Linux OS and applications and installing Windows is something I’ve not needed to consider.

The Eee PC comes in several variants, there’s the 2GB version and the 4GB versions available at launch, and recently an 8Gb version has been released also. Both the 2Gb and 4Gb can come either with or without a built in webcam – the Surf model deontes that the unit doesn’t have one. There doesn’t appear to be a ‘Surf’ version of the 8Gb yet, although with ASUS having recently announced at the CeBIT show that a whole new version was being launched (with a 9″ screen and more storage amongst other changes) it’s possible they may not want to put more effort in developing variants of the existing range.I mentioned 3g mobile broadband. Extensive reviews of Internet forums and other reviews indicates that a few 3g USB modems are supported out the box by the Eee. One of these is the Huawei E220 which, handily, is provided by ThreeUK on their mobile broadband package and which, if you sign up for a 12 month contract, costs £10/month for 1Gb transfer and will cost you £50 up front for the modem (it’s free on 18 month contracts).

Mobile browsing is impressively fast on HSDPA (3.5g) and on 3g networks. The Eee performs well although is slightly slower at loading sites such as Facebook. Overall, browsing is a pleasant experience.

If you turn off wireless, dim the screen, turn off sound and don’t connect to the net, then I can realistically use the Eee for about 3 hours before getting low battery warnings. With the external 3g modem connected or wireless turned on, this drops to roughly 90 minutes in total, (slightly less if I split this into several sessions throughout the day with multiple power ups and shut downs). There’s still enough juice to turn it on, check my mail and surf for 10 mins and shut it down again about 4 or 5 times during the day as well as play the frozen bubble game for a while! So for my usage, the battery life is just about sufficient.

Overall I’m very very happy with my purchase. It does what I need it to, and more. For the money this is awesome value when you consider what it does. However there is one huge downside. When I use it in the office, everyone comes over and wants to have a play, which is a nightmare when I’m trying to poke people on Facebook. But then again I should probably be doing work anyway…

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Stuff….

March 5, 2008

I’ve just stumbled across a pretty funny tongue in cheek blog called “Stuff White People Like” (see blogroll) and it got me thinking about stuff I need to buy in the next few weeks. Well, correction, I don’t need to, I want to 🙂

On my list is:

  • A car (faster than current one)
  • An iPod (to listen to whilst I run)
  • A digital camera (to take naked pic…er…….. pictures of things)
  • A small laptop with 3g access for personal internet access whilst at work

Currently, the only semi-urgent one is the iPod, so I’ll investigate the rest later. Car-wise I’m thinking of an Audi S4 (one of the older 2.7 V6 bi-turbos) and for the small laptop I’ve been looking at Vye mini-pc and the ASUS eeePc – although I’ve just read that there’s a new model of eeePc coming out soon with a 9″ screen as opposed to the current 7″ screen.

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The sheer genius of Entourage

March 4, 2008

(this article was re-written several times and became my first submission to blogcritics.org – http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/03/11/215143.php )

Seriously. I love Lost, but it’s getting a bit over the top now. Heroes is awesome and I will brook no opposition, but even though it’s well scripted and produced, you still don’t believe it’s actually happening. Jericho had potential but went off course and struggled to get back on.

Entourage is real. It’s really happening. Right now. Well, that’s what I believe. And therein lies it’s genius. I’m inexorably drawn into the lives of Vince, Drama, E and Turtle and the obnoxious, offensive and deeply funny charm of Vince’s agent Ari Gold.

Why am I drawn in? Because, to an uneducated Brit who’s only ever seen New York a couple of times in the flesh, Entourage has that tangible reality of all great series. Friends had it in spades, Sex And The City had it (several times a day in Samantha’s case) and shows like CSI certainly do.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that Entourage is a male version of Sex and the City…. So now I have a major decision to make. Do I ration the last 7 episodes of Season 4, or watch them all in one go in a great big Entourage orgy?

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A wonkey…..

March 4, 2008

I recently re-read an old-ish joke and told it to my neice, who is nearly 4.

The joke goes “what do you call a 3-legged donkey?” and the answer is “a wonkey”.

So tonight I’m chatting with a friend on msn and she tells me the full version, which builds up in layers, but the full cut is:

what do you call a 3 legged donkey with one eye playing the piano wearing blue suede shoes, wearing a feather boa that hasn’t washed?

a stinky kinky honky tonky plinky plonky winky wonkey donkey

genius eh?

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Hey Nikki :)

March 3, 2008

Thanks to my first visitor, commenter and oldest online friend (ie for the longest time not that she’s old hehe) for gracing my blog with her presence. To me, it’s the equivalent of a Verisign seal hehe

What fast car? Great question. Obviously the greats are ones like the Veyron (named after a ’38 le Mans winner iirc?) or the 250 GTO down to the almost-reachable like the Audi R8. In real terms I’m probably looking at an M3 (a bit ‘lottery winner’ dahling) or an Audi S4. I’ve been semi-tempted recently by the Porsche Boxster….I know I know it’s a bit hairdresser and girly, but it’s still a sports car, handles nicely, nice badge, the S model has a bit of go especially with some minor mods. But those choices are at least 6 months away and that’s if I get a contract extension…

Yeah I’m gutted about no season 2 of firefly, is there another film coming out does anyone know?

I’ve just done my second run! woot! I know what it’s like to live in an area full of hills where every casual outing makes you feel like Edmund Hillary, but here it’s luckily all flat, although I do have a nice run down to the beach if I so desire once I’ve completed the 27-run plan (25 to go!)

And now to dinner, and after that, Entourage S04E05-E08

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Kick back……

March 3, 2008

I’m currently watching Season 4 of Entourage, I have the whole lot as DivX and I’m rationing them, watching them on my housemate’s projector – and the combination of DivX rips and a projector onto a white wall is surprisingly good. I love this series, along with Heroes and Lost. I actually had a ‘can’t be arsed’ night on saturday night, and instead of playing poker or going out on the lash I stayed in on my own and watched catch-up shows and ate organic herb oat-cakes spread with tomato and almond tappenade. Rock ‘n roll all the way baby……

I’ve also recently bought the Firefly box-set as it was one which I had never owned and it was on offer in Zavvi.

Books-wise, I’m currently reading ‘Matter’ by Iain M Banks, though I’ve only just started. Matter is another of the popular Culture books, and for the uninitiated, the Culture is a fictional anarchic socialist and utopian post-scarcity society (to paraphrase Wikipedia) populated by humanoids and AI drones and ‘minds’ – several of whom have a rather caustic sense of humour, such as the autonomous AI warships who choose their own somewhat whimsical but still vaguely malicious names (such as the ‘Frank Exchange Of Views’ and the ‘I Blame The Parents‘ amongst others). If you’ve not read any Iain M Banks* then it’s generally recommended by people (and that includes me) that you start with a book called ‘The Player of Games’.

*To claify, Iain M. Banks and Iain Banks are the same person, however sci fi is published under the ‘M’ and general fiction without the ‘M’

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Baseline

March 3, 2008

I want to establish a ground state. Some record of here so I’ll be able to tell the difference when I get to there (wherever ‘there’ may be).

I’m 29

I’m single (part voluntary, part involuntary)

I’m male, and straight

I quit smoking about a month ago, I took up excercise 2 days ago

I live in England

I have a good job and it’s well paid, although it can be unpredictable

My goals are to repay a crippling debt my ex fiancee helped me run up, to cage dive with sharks, to play in the WSOP, to write and publish fiction, to own another fast car, to live in Vegas or Hollywood, to complete an MBA, to own my own business and to find someone to share it all with.