The Beta Dilemma

Posted by Robyn on Mar 15, 2010 in Technology

One thing that is always frustrating about Microsoft betas is their eagerness for usage data, paired with the cold shoulder about updates or resolutions. Now that the Office 2010 RC is out, nearly every bug posted on their forums claims that the issue is fixed in “later builds”. However, beta users aren’t given access to the RC.

The motivation for Microsoft, clearly, is that they don’t want anything close to finished code floating around for free. Well, fine then. Why not make some kind of “pay to play” beta program for Microsoft products?

Beta testers could be offered a decent discount on the final retail product, but they pay for it in advance. In exchange, they’re given every scrap of pre-release code, right up to RTM. That would be enough to keep the moochers away, but give those truly interested in testing the latest code a fair shot at having something usable.

Just my USD $0.02.


Obama and the Apple iPad

Posted by Robyn on Feb 3, 2010 in Politics, Technology

Anyone else notice a lot of funny parallels between Obama’s first year as President and the unveiling of the Apple iPad last week? Both faced unreasonable expectations for success, and neither one has truly delivered on those expectations… yet.

But the structure is there, and with a few tweaks, both still have amazing potential.


Over 9TB

Posted by Robyn on Dec 29, 2009 in Technology

So my server got a Blu-Ray drive for Christmas. As of tonight, the videos folder sits at 4.5 TB. How long will it take to get to 9 TB?


The eBook Situation

Posted by Robyn on Dec 12, 2009 in Technology

So I’ve got Kindle for iPhone, and I absolutely love reading books on it. But I’ve held off on buying very many because I wanted to play the “wait and see” game with the Nook, etc. Since the devices themselves hold very little interest for me (why would I carry around another device when my iPhone works great?), it’s the distribution platforms they’re based on that I’m most interested in.

So far, Amazon seems to have the best deal going, and I’m just about to pull the trigger on a whole bunch of books. I’m mainly worried about Kindle for PC and the upcoming Kindle for Mac. They look nice, but I’m not sure how the whole DRM thing works. I reinstall my operating systems with a blistering frequency, and I don’t want to end up with unreadable books.

Forgive me if I’m the only one with a memory, but I went through this whole mess years ago with Microsoft Reader. I bought a bunch of books to read on my computer and Pocket PC, but I can’t read ANY of them anymore because I “activated” them on “too many devices”, so they will no longer open.

I really hope that doesn’t happen again. Ugh. I hate DRM.



Posted by Robyn on Nov 21, 2009 in Technology

It seems like I spend the majority of my life waiting for technology.

I got my first “pocket PC” when I was in the fourth grade (1988), and it was really just a glorified calculator that could also store notes and phone numbers. Before anyone had ever heard of a “smartphone”, I was plugging my cell phone into my iPaq to download emails in a painfully slow process.

I still like my iPhone, but I’ve had it for almost a year, and that’s virtually unprecedented. I’m starting to get that “new smartphone” itch again. But there’s nothing better out there. Sure, there are Windows Mobile, Android, and WebOS devices that are different, but they all do the same stuff. There’s nothing new.

I started my HTPC project before anyone had made an HTPC case, and before the term had been invented. Hardware and software were both scarce and expensive. I started my home server project before an OS existed for it. I got in on the WHS beta, and never looked back. It’s working well as a media repository, but I’m still waiting for better MCE integration, tuner support, and the ability to record directly to the server.

Right now, I’m waiting for multi-stream CableCARD tuners to come out, and I might even need to rebuild my virtually brand-new HTPC for the DRM to work. My shiny new UMPC died within weeks of owning it, and it’s still not exactly what I want it to be. (RIP Wall-E) 4G wireless internet is awesome, but still only available in a few cities.

At least Office 2010 is finally in beta, and I should get my hands on it next week. Of course, the company I work for still uses Windows XP on all its training computers, and that’s not likely to change until our customers move to Windows 7.

I hate old technology!


And by “old”, I mean everything available now. I want all the NEW technology that isn’t out yet.

For example, I want a capacitive multi-touch convertible tablet PC that weighs less than 2lbs, has an HD screen, awesome graphics, a fast CPU, tons of RAM, gigantic ultra-fast SSD, integrated 4G, and 24-hour battery life, running Windows 8, for less than $500.

And I want it today. Why is that so hard? Grr.



Ubuntu Karmic

Posted by Robyn on Nov 7, 2009 in Technology

Here is my somewhat belated review of Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala: I like it.

It took barely two hours from disc insertion to fully operational OS with my files and primary applications installed and configured. All drivers were recognized, and only one restricted driver was needed (nVidia). Even that process was straightforward, and my monitor is running beautifully at its full 1080p resolution.

While installing applications, I opened terminal a couple of times out of habit, but it turned out I never needed it (a small miracle of its own). I now have Skype, Dropbox, and even Microsoft Office (via Crossover) running smoothly. I bit the bullet and went with the 64-bit version, so getting Flash working properly in Firefox involved a jumping through a couple of hoops, but I’m currently streaming Jon Stewart from Hulu with great success.

Overall, I think Ubuntu is getting smoother, prettier, and more user friendly with each version. Between Ubuntu Karmic, Windows 7, and Snow Leopard, I think this is the strongest trio of consumer operating systems… possibly ever.


WTF, Over

Posted by Robyn on Nov 2, 2009 in Technology

Dear people who make cool stuff that I want badly but can’t afford,

Why are SSD’s so freaking expensive?



Fujitsu Lifebook U810 (aka Wall-E)

Posted by Robyn on Nov 1, 2009 in Technology

Wall-E arrived in the mail yesterday, and he is just as cute as promised! Turns out, Woot actually got their hands on the U810 revision that comes with the 60GB hard drive and AT&T 3G modem (which is getting replaced with a WiMax card). It also came with the 4-cell battery shown in the photos, and not the smaller 2-cell battery listed in the description.

The laptop came with Vista Business as well as a “downgrade” disc for XP Tablet Edition 2005. However, I didn’t bother playing with either. I installed Windows 7 right out of the box, and I am LOVING it so far! I was able to install the full Fujitsu driver package from the CD (external drive), using compatibility mode with Vista. Touch screen works perfectly once calibrated from the control panel.

Granted, this is a single-touch, resistive screen, so you don’t get all the Windows 7 multi-touch features. But folding the screen into tablet mode is something I’ve wanted the capability of doing for a very long time. It’s so handy!

Got all of my applications and files loaded yesterday, and was able to do a full range of testing today. Battery life is an outstanding 4-5 hours typical use. It resumes from S3 sleep to a usable desktop in about 6 seconds, and resumes from hibernation in about 15 seconds. Full boot takes about 90 seconds, which is fantastic for a device like this! Youtube shows Vista taking four or five minutes to boot, so I was concerned.

Aero runs great – better than it did on my last netbook. Flash video also seems smoother than on an Atom CPU. The lack of hyperthreading does hurt multitasking performance, though. I’d say the 800MHz Pentium M-class CPU does an honorable job of running Windows 7, especially when paired with only 1 GB of RAM.

This is a cute little “family photo” of laptops was taken at my parents’ house this evening. My dad has a 17″ HP, and my mom has a similar 15″ HP, along with a 9″ Acer netbook. We stacked these all up with my new Fujitsu and snapped this picture. How cute!


New Toy

Posted by Robyn on Oct 25, 2009 in Technology

Okay, so many of you know that I went through several netbooks over the past couple of years, starting with the 7″ Eee PC 4G, progressing through a couple of 9″ Acer models, and finally the 10″ Eee PC 1000HE. Well, as features increased, they outgrew my purse. The Acer was barely small enough, and most of the 10″ models top 3lbs, which is just too bulky for me to carry everywhere.

Well, I have recently acquired a 5.6″ Fujitsu Lifebook U810 Convertible Tablet Ultra Mobile PC, courtesy of sellout.woot’s phenomenal deal. I am SUPER EXCITED about this cute little thing, as it meets nearly every possible desire I could have about a mobile device. Runs a full desktop OS (I’ll be installing Windows 7), has a decently high resolution, tablet input, and keyboard when needed. And it’s only 1.5lbs.

Only problem is that it’s too small to really be called a netbook, and UMPC is such a mouthful — especially “Convertible Tablet Ultra Mobile PC”. So, I need a nickname for this cute little thing. Ideas?


Server Update

Posted by Robyn on Oct 12, 2009 in Technology

Okay, so it was six votes to one, with the trump vote coming from my hubby, who wants the server to “just work” and not have to be “upgraded, fixed, or messed with” all the time.

New motherboard is sitting on my desk, waiting for the data to finish backing up, so I can install it. Said backup should finish some time early tomorrow morning. Will post updates as I go.

Also, I will probably end up using the PCI SATA card anyway, so I can max out the number of hard drives I can connect.

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