Saturday, August 16, 2014

Random Thoughts: Thinkpads, Netbooks, and Linux, Part 1

Well it's time for another Random Thoughts post I think. I fixed the Asus Eee PC 1005PE, as well as mostly fixing the ThinkPad T41. I didn't document the process as it didn't go as smooth and I would have preferred it to go, so I figured I would regretfully skip doing it this time. But, the key thing is I have 2 more usable laptops to play with!

For the Eee PC, I needed to replace the LCD cable and my neighbor just so happened to have a broken screen for a similar 1001 model. So I took the cable and put it into mine, so now everything on it works again. I also put the 500GB hard drive back in, and installed Windows 7. I did notice the fan now makes some noise but it works well otherwise so I am not going to mess around with that one again!

The next laptop I repaired is the one that UPS broke. My friend ordered the new hinges and the bottom panel for me. I replaced the hinges, so it can be used as a laptop now and I plan to do the base sooner or later but that will take some time. I figure that with at the least the hinges in, I can move it around with me without any worries, and then replace the bottom when I have some extra time one day.

In this, I installed a 60GB hard drive, since it is IDE that is the largest my neighbor had, and I don't have anything larger either. I have the 512MB DDR SODIMM it came with still under the keyboard, and added a 256MB chip to the slot on the bottom. I have no idea why they decided to have one of the slots under the keyboard since they had plenty of room otherwise.

So what I am doing with this system? I figured that Windows XP is getting to be too old, and too slow, so I went with Linux. I was going to use straight Ubuntu and then install LXDE, but it proved to be slow as well so I downloaded Lubuntu, and it runs a good bit better now. Granted it can still use some tweaking, but it seems that everything is working so far. This includes the Wifi and sound, as well as suspend, though I did not test hibernation yet. The one thing I did notice that doesn't work are shortcut keys for volume, but that isn't a major issue right now.

I will be posting more as I use it more, as it been quite a good while since I used Linux much. I have Dropbox installed, as well as Libre Office, so I think I am good on the software side as it came with Firefox and Pidgin already.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Trigger Fist on iPad mini Retina

I tried out Trigger Fist tonight to see how well the game is, and it's quite good. You don't get the full rendering as in PS3 and such, but the gunshots were realistic enough.

The speakers on my white iPad mini Retina made me have an enjoyable gameplay. I'd recommend if you have some time to kill. :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Singularity 2014 Part 6

David, Tsubasa and Mikey were quickly transferred to a discreet bunker, where they were told to wait for further notice.

This was when singularity was already occurring. Every machine was already connected to each other by internet and Bluetooth. Collective intelligence of the machines were already much smarter than humans, so humans were either cyborgs or became cyber-monks. 

The study was that singularity will occur in 2045, but the quantum computer chip developed by a Canadian company was the breakthrough technology for this to occur.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Random Thoughts: Collections

Something that has been on my mind a bit lately is that the other day I decided that I needed to  clear out some of the old computers I don't use. I gave away a bunch of old desktops as well as a few laptops that were in various states of repair, and I have to admit it made me happier than I thought it would.

One of the computers I decided to get rid of was my Packard Bell 486, which was my first computer, and I will admit I didn't really feel any sentimental attachment to it anymore. It has made me rethink something, and that is that I use old computers for an excuse to work on my book. I am not saying this is wrong, but I am saying that getting rid of the older stuff opened a door for me in my opinion.

People often ask me what I use these for, and I can answer that for the most part, I use them as a digital notepad. I will either write my book, type up some cook books I find, or just generally use them to post on this blog. Once again, I am not saying it is a bad thing, because I didn't get rid of all of them. To be truthful, I don't like collecting desktops, and the laptops really didn't work well for me. Of the working ones I have away, one was a Toshiba I was given that had the keyboard placed too far up on the unit, so typing was uncomfortable.

The keyboard is a major point for me when you consider that I said they are mainly used as a digital notepad. I have always said that if it has a text editor and a way to get the text off and onto a modern PC, I could make use of it, and that is still true. I have been thinking more and more though of focusing myself on things like laptops though as I can store them with far less needed space than a desktop I may never use.

It is also worth noting here that desktops never change. If they have a USB port, or a PS/2 port for the keyboard, they aren't anything special as I will just hook up a keyboard to them and use that. Now, I wouldn't say this is totally true as I wouldn't mind a complete retro setup of say a classic Mac, or an IBM PC with a Model M keyboard, but for the most part I want to stay away from desktops.

One of the things I prefer to collect, from a writing standpoint, are various handhelds such as old smartphones. I did a lot of writing on my Pre 3 for example. The reason being, they tend to get better battery life, and can be put in my pocket and turned on instantly to where I left of in case I get an idea on the go. Of course it does depend on what I am using. I wouldn't do much writing on something like my HTC Evo 4G because even though it has a huge battery, it lacks a keyboard. It is the same reason I wouldn't do much on the Shield without an Bluetooth keyboard.

One of the things I would love to do however is go out into the middle of no where. I mean no cell phone service, or power, and just camp out in a tent. Perhaps into the woods of Alaska or Canada, with nothing but one of the PDA's I collect. The ideal model would be something much like the Alphasmart Dana, which is pretty much made for writing. Well, technically, they are made for schools. The Dana was the model that ran Palm OS, so I could use some different programs for writing, and with it having 2 SD slots, I could hold a lot of files and transfer them to a laptop with no issues.

The real reason I would choose something like this is that they can use a NiMH battery pack, or run off standard AA batteries. This means I wouldn't need to worry about keeping it charged and I could just work on the book or something. My problem is sometimes I can get too distracted by things like Youtube or Facebook, or talking to a friend and I don't get anything done. The camping part would be nice because I could get away from it all for a few days and focus my thoughts more effectively on the story I am trying to write.

One of the things I do that is different from the way most people do this whole novel thing is that I don't really plan ahead. I have the basic story idea, and I just write what comes to mind whenever I decide to work on it. I also feel that writing can't be rushed if you want it to turn out well so sometimes I get an idea and have no way to really do anything with it because I am working. I have to say that is one of my biggest flaws as well, but normally I try to remember them at the least.

I may have said it before, but George R R Martin, the autor of a Season of Ice and Fire, the book series that Game of Thrones is based on, said that he still uses a DOS PC for writing because he likes the software better. I will take it one step further and say I agree, but he missed the point I have to make. I like it for the fact that its not distracting. I can focus more with an older PC or PDA or whatever.

I don't just mean with the Internet, but also games and stuff. When I was in school, I carried a PDA, starting with a Clie SJ33, and extending to various other models of Clie and Palm and even Pocket PC models like my Axim and iPAQ but my favorite was something from 1999. I love my NEC MobilePro 780 and I still use it from time to time as well.

The thing that it had one thing that none of my other PDAs, or even my various Android tablets or old phones do, which still amazes me nothing has touched on it yet. It could do multiple files at once. That means I could do 2 word documents and switch between them without closing either of them. I said I don't do any outlines or brainstorming, but it could be very helpful at times when you want to go back and check on something from 5 chapters back to see what you said. Imagine how much of a pain it would be if you needed close the chapter you were working on to go back to check the name of someone from a previous chapter.

The Pre 3 may be the only one that can do this now that I think of it since I can open a new document in the program I use in a new card, but this was with the built in software. It was also easier to switch between programs. Imagine having to do a report and going back and forth between Word and Excel. Perhaps I have just been spoiled by the old Windows CE, but multitasking was easier back then in my opinion.

One thing for sure though, I am going to try and post more on this blog, so sometimes modern technology is more useful since I have a Blogger application on my Nexus 7, but sometimes I think about the steps we have made aren't always forward. You can see what happens in my mind all day when I am working on cutting as many lawns as I can in a day.

We have gone from mechanical keyboards to rubber dome keyboards, and while they can make a thinner laptop, they don't always feel quite as nice as the old buckling spring keyboards. Or the fact that we can make these really thin laptops, but I often wonder why. If the screen is 13", such as the Macbook Air, it really isn't any more portable than the 13" Macbook Pro now is it?

Think about why we are able to make these thinner laptops. We have cooler running processors that use less power, so they don't need a massive cooling system anymore, and we can have thinner batteries but why not use this is a different advantage? If we can cram a Core i7 into a Surface Pro 3, which is pretty thin, why not add a lot larger battery? What I want to do is make a true endurance laptop.

I am not talking about getting a few hour battery life, or even 10 hours. I want to see a laptop that can run for over 24 hours STRAIGHT. I want to see a laptop I can charge every other day or so when I need to use it off the grid for a while. I guess this is something I may never see anytime soon but I have hope… I still remember the rumors of fuel cells promising this, with instant refueling to boot! That was back when I was still in school, probably about 10 years ago now. They even had prototype MP3 players…

Friday, August 1, 2014

Mr Penguin's PC Repair Introduction

So, this is something I wanted to post on Wednesday but I had trouble getting around to it. I was installing Windows XP ad getting all the updates on what should have been a new toy I couldn't wait to post about, but thanks to UPS, this is not the happy post I wanted it to be BUT I think I can save it!

On Wednesday, I got a nice ThinkPad T41 from a friend. He found it in a scrap pile at a thrift store but it was in excellent quality, so I am not sure why they had it with that stuff but that isn't my issue. That means that normally they pull any RAM or hard drive, and sell it without a power supply, but that isn't the issue yet either. Though, they did miss the 512MB stick of RAM under the keyboard! I have spare hard drives, and a spare ThinkPad adapter.

So, what is the issue? Well I said it was because of UPS, and it turns out from the looks of the box they had dropped it. They dropped it hard enough to break the hinge and corner of the bottom chassis. Lucky for me, the screen, which is a lovely 1400x1050 resolution, is fine. The rest of the laptop is working great and I am using it to type this up.

 photo IMG_7126_zps1c8c9430.jpg

Now, I am going to fix this laptop once I get the parts, which my friend said he should have spares he can send me, as well as another old laptop of mine. I have an Asus Eee PC 1005PE with a bad screen cable an my neighbor just happened to have a similar, or same model as I didn't look at the label, that is in very bad shape and said he would give me the screen cable from.

So this got me thinking. While I don't think it is something that I have ever posted here, my friend who sent me the ThinkPad and I have a running joke. I have a small stuffed penguin that I like to place in pictures, and while the majority of it is more of an inside joke, he is named Mr Penguin. So I have decided to start a new column here, which may not see a LOT of posts, but there will be at the very least a few. So allow me to introduce…

Mr. Penguin's PC Repairs!

 photo IMG_71322_zpsdc400d44.jpg