Monthly Archives: March 2009

Dude I’m Getting A Dell

I’ve been looking for a desktop for a long time.  I’ve priced so many options, but in the end, Dell offered me the cheapest solution.  I considered building vs. buying, Core i7 vs. Core 2 Quad, XP vs. Vista, and the list goes on and on.  I settled for the Dell Vostro 420 with a Core 2 Quad Q9650 running XP SP3 64 bit installed.

The operating system was downgraded from Vista Ultimate Edition.  I had to splurge on the OS to get the 64 bit system.  I have 8GB of OCZ memory and a Western Digital 500GB Sata hard drive on the way.  Future upgrades will focus on a better video card and a HD TV tuner.  Oh yea, I also bought a Dell 24″ Ultrasharp LCD in order to take advantage of a 40% off coupon.

Of course, stay tuned for a review and upgrades.  The memory upgrade will be first.  I’m going from 1 GB installed to 8GB.

Apricorn DriveWire – USB to SATA adapter

If you own a computer without an optical drive or have many internal hard drives gathering dust, the Apricorn DriveWire might just be the little tool you need.

It’s basically an adapter for all your internal drives, IDE and SATA, and converts them to connect via USB.  Power comes from an external power brick with a molex adapter.

It costs about the same as a good external enclosure and much easier to use.  Everything is straight forward with no complicated drivers to install.  I think the hardest thing about this adapter is to be really careful when using the Sata connection.  If feels like you can snap it off if you bend the connection while connecting or disconnecting from a drive.

What you’ll also get in the box is a CD with an imaging program.  Basically it’s a re-branded copy of Acronis True Image.  Before I forget, you also get the standard USB cable.  You can never have enough USB cables.  🙂

If you own a netbook, you need this little gadget.  Why?  I used this to clone the hard drive when I swapped to the Western Digital Scorpio Black drive.  I also used it to clone my hard drive prior to the swap.  Yes, I reformatted again and went with an image of the old drive.

Now, I use the Apricorn DriveWire to connecto to a DVD writer whenever I need to burn something out or install something from a disc.

It’s about $40.  You can pick it up at Amazon.com of course.  Click here for the product link.

Desktop and Nettops

Call me old fashioned, but I still like a desktop to do my work.  I’ve notice that laptops are taking over.  But I’m interested in raw power.  You can’t get that from a laptop without a giant fan installed to cool the tight spaces.  Which is why I will focus on the nettop.

There’s no point in owning a nettop.  A nettop is basically a desktop version of a netbook.  It’s small, quiet, and powered by an Intel Atom cpu.  It costs about the same a netbook.  So if you are going to buy a nettop, get a netbook.  At least you’ll be portable.  The only advantage you might have with a nettop over a netbook is that you might get a touchscreen…a really small one.  If you’re looking for a desktop, get a real desktop.

Canon FS100 Camcorder Unboxing

Here is the Canon FS100 Camcorder unboxing.  Full review coming soon.  For now, here are the pics.

Specs:

Standard Definition

Image Sensor:
1/6″ CCD Sensor
Recording Time
(8GB SDHC)
LP (3Mbps):  5 hours
SP (6Mbps):  2 hours 45 mintues
XP (9Mbps):  1 hour 50 mintues
Zoom:
37X Optical/2000X Digital
Programmed AE:
Auto, Program, Tv, Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight, Fireworks
Max Shutter Speed:
1/2000
1/500 (stills)
Minimum Focusing Distance
10mm (wide)/1m (tele)
White Balance
Daylight, Tungsten, Auto, Manual
Image Stabilization
Electronic

Laptop Batteries Dead or Dying

As you may know, I have an older IBM Thinkpad T43.  I love the thing because it’s so reliable.  However, after the years, the battery life on my laptop has been dying.  I started out being able to go 3-4 hours between charges.  Then it went down to 2, then 90 minutes.  It was a sad sad day when my Thinkpad could only operate by being tethered to a wall socket.  Then I invested in a netbook with 6.5 hours of battery life.  It’s nice to be mobile, but to do serious work, I need my ThinkPad.  So I searched for a new battery.  Ideally, I wanted to find an OEM extended battery, but those are rare now.  I went with an aftermarket vareity.

Don’t replace your notebook just because the battery is dead.  Replace the battery.  Like buying anything online, research the store before making a purchase.  I went with Pacific Battery Systems.  They have a wide selection, awesome prices, great customer service, and fast shipping.  For $80, I bought the 9 cell battery for my Thinkpad.  I can last about 9 hours with the wifi on now.

Video Card Drivers

A few nights ago, my desktop was struggle with a high-def video.  I admit that my old Dell Dimension 9150 was old, but I didn’t imagine with would struggle so much.  Sure it’s old, but still capable:

Intel Pentium D 820
3 GB DDR2
ATI Radeon X600 256MB
Western Digital VelociRaptor 150GB 10K RPM Hard Drive
Western Digital Caviar 1TB Secondary Hard Drive

I was ready to replace the video card.  Fortunately for me, I decided to check when the driver was last updated for the X600.  Yes, it’s an ancient card.  But when I got it, it was one of the first with PCI Express X16.  Since I don’t play games, a high powered video card was a waste for me.  I do a lot of HD video though.

To my surprise, I haven’t update the graphic card driver in over 4 years!  Well, it was time for an update.  ATI has a nice all in one package that updates everything.  I uninstalled all ATI programs before installing the update.  All my desktop icons turned huge.  As soon as everything was installed and the computer rebooted, everything looked sharper.  My HD videos now run without a hitch.  So the lesson is always check for a free solution before replacing hardware.  🙂

Asus Eee PC 1000H Hard Drive Swap – Part 2

Before I get started, here is the finished product from the hardware swap.

Part 2 – Loading the OS
If you have an external DVD drive, hook up the drive to the Eee PC prior to booting up.

Step 1.  Power up the dvd drive and insert the Asus Eee PC 1000H Recovery DVD.

Step 2.  Power up your Eee and press Esc.  Don’t stop until the system ask you what drive you want to boot from.

Step 3.  The system will load a Windows Staging environment from the DVD as it copies the factory image of the OS to your Hard Drive.  They system uses Symantec Ghost to re-install the hard drive image.


Step 4.  The system will stop and ask you how you want to set up the hard drive partition.  After you make your selection, follow the on screen directions until Windows is completely installed.

Note, you make have to reboot a few times.  After this, Windows should be up and running on your new Hard Drive.

If you do not have access to an external DVD drive, there is a way to load the OS through a USB key.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Asus Eee PC 1000H Recovery DVD
A PC running Windows XP or Vista with a DVD drive and WinRAR installed.
A 4 GB USB Flash Drive
This website:  http://myeeeguides.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/eee-pc-1000h-recovery-from-usb-flash-drive/

I can’t take credit for this.  I found a very good guide that walks you through makiing a bootable flash drive.  It’s a very easy and good guide.

Asus Eee PC 1000H Hard Drive Swap – Part 1

*DIsclaimer*  Follow this guide at your own risk.  I am not responsible if you damaged your property.

I decided to do a fresh install on the new hard drive.  A fresh start is always better.  The actual swap and installation of the OS only took a couple of hours.  However, typing everything out with pictures is more labor intensive than doing the actual upgrade.  So I’m splitting the how to article into two parts, hardware and software.

This is the hardware portion.

Let’s go over things you’ll need.

Asus Eee PC 1000H Hard Drive Swap - Tools

Small Philips and flat head screwdrivers.  I have another one with a bigger handle for better grip.
Your Asus Eee PC 1000H
A towel to lay your Asus Eee PC on to prevent getting scratches.
Your new 7200RPM Hard Drive

Step 1.  Unplug the AC adapter and remove the battery from the Asus Eee PC 1000H.

Step 2.  Lay the Eee PC on the upside down on a towel to prevent any scratches

Step 3.  Removed the back cover by removing the two screws located near the battery bay and carefully prying the back cover off.

Step 4.  Removed the two screws holding the hard drive cage to the Eee.

Step 5.  Carefully slide the hard drive away from SATA Connector.

Step 6.  Remove hard drive from the cage.  There should be a total of 4 screws, 2 on each side.

Step 7.  Replace old hard drive with your new hard drive in the cage and replace 4 screws in Step 6.

Step 8.  Place the hard drive with the cage back in the hard drive bay.  Carefully align the SATA port of the hard drive with the port of on the Eee.

Step 9.  Firmly push the drive towards the SATA ports once everything is aligned and properly seated.  It should slide easily.

Step 10.  Replace the two screws holding the cage to the Eee in Step 4.

Step 11.  Replace the back cover and secure with the 2 screws in Step 3.

That’s it.  11 easy steps to installing a new hard drive in your Eee PC.  It sounds like a lot of steps but it should only take you 15 minutes at most.  30 minutes if you are brand new to computers.  If you are brand new computer, maybe you shouldn’t do this upgrade.