Archive for Reviews

Symphony Operating System

Symphony Operating System is an interesting looking desktop project based on Knoppix. You can read this review. It’s interesting point is the way it “organizes the desktop environment.”

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Palm Tungsten E

After getting back from Paris on Sunday evening I had a used eBookMan EB-901 from France waiting for me. The new morning a reconditioned Palm Tungsten E from Ireland turned up. Both had been bought via eBay, the first for 50Euro (new these are 120GBP) and the second for 73GBP, (new these are around 140GBP) both including shipping.

I immediate set both units up with Mobipocket and copied over one of the eBooks I’d been reading on the Eurostar. I noted while using the 901 in bed that it had a nice interface, although it was quite difficult to read in low light. I didn’t really like Windows sync software. The screen on the 901 was quite large with a lower resolution than the Palm, which has a much smaller screen.

Since Monday afternoon I’ve been using the Palm to since completed a couple new space opera eBooks. I’ve found with the clean clear colour screen on the Palm that its much easy to read even at the lowest font size than both my Psion 5mx and the eBookman EB-901.

The other issue I noted is the 901 seem to lose its OS when the battery was removed. I’ve read that this is caused by a fault in the capacitors, which needs to be replaced by Franklin. Obviously this makes the 901 a bit useless. I’ll have to see how difficult it is to get the unit fixed.

I’ve been attempting to recondition the battery a little, but it seems that just reading an eBook gets about 4-5 hours of battery life. Today I went down to Maplin and after a couple tried managed to find someone to help me put together a 4xAA external battery pack to charge the Palm. I’ll see how things go with this charge over the next couple weeks.

How i’ve used the Palm I can see by Paul G. comment as he did about the screen on the hx4700. I’m quite keen to try this out now, especially with its external battery options. Its pretty hard to find one of these second hand on eBay, so I’ll probably get a new unit when I get back to NZ.

With regards to the PDA options of the Palm. I’m finding Graffiti 2 much easier to use than the older Palms I tried at various times. I’ve used the Tasks list a little today, and it seems nice. We’ll see how it goes, Its quite possible I might start using the Palm Tungsten E in its PDA role.

It’s also time to replace my P800, and I might consider a Treo 650. Everyone seems to rave about these. I’ll need to reconvince myself about a PDA+Phone choice though. As I didn’t really like the P800. Basically the interface wasn’t that great and I found it was too bulky, quite often slipping out of my pocket.

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As I’m going to be travelling next week I decided it was finally time to give Skype a shot. With that idea I order two Logitech Stereo USB Headsets 200 from TP. Today I took the two headsets into the office and installed Skype on a couple of the Win2K workstations and my Ubuntu Thinkpad.

It was too easy. Plug and play, just like that. Reasonable clear sound quality. The headphones seemed to work very well with their noise cancellation. Was getting hardly any background sound.

All and all, I think Skype is a very useful product. I’m still going to setup my own VoIP based stuff with Asterisk. However, I’ll probably use them in combination.

The only problem system I had is my current Debian/Sid desktop. Custom kernel and I need to fiddle around with the USB Discover stuff. I’ll probably just install Kubuntu.

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Thinkpad’s Battery Performance

As I just post I’ve been working on installing a new R51 laptop. While working on this I discover that IBM have an option where you set the level were is starts charging the battery. It also has an auto-adjust feature. Thinking about this I realised that:

* Li-Ion batteries discharge very slowly when not under load and have no memory.
* When plugged into the wall, the batteries are not under load.
* IBM is clever and don’t charge the batteries when the TPs are plugged into the wall. Unless the charge level fails below the configured %.

This probably why their batteries do so well, and actually age very well. The R40 isn’t as clever, but after 2 years of use after some discharge/recharge reconditioning the primary battery still holds 90% of its original charge and the UltraBay battery about 85%, or about 6-9 hours total life. The R50 has a large screen, but a better processor. It will be interesting to see how well that performs.

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Darik’s Boot and Nuke

I’ve got a pile of old drives I’ve been meaning to wipe and sell. Darik’s Boot and Nuke is the business for this job. It talks directly to the disks, so even if you have a drive that the BIOS can’t see, it probably still can run wipe.

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My Apple decision

After the discussions I had with my friend, I realised that a iBook+Mini combination was the most effective. I figured that for the price of an 15″ Powerbook, I could get both a 12″ iBook for travelling (light and long battery life) plus a Mini for the desk at home.

So straight away on Monday I went down to Magnum Mac and got a Mac Mini/1.42GHz Combo unit and then combined it with a Viewsonic VG712s from one of my wholesale accounts. For almost a third of the money saved getting the Combo over the Superdrive I also picked up a external dual layer USD2 DVD+RW burner. However, it looks like the burner doesn’t work natively in OSX, so I’ll have to get some third-party software. It might only work out at only half as cheap. This actually is the Mini I was planning to get for my mother anyway to replace the PC that she uses. Since I’m not going to be around as much, I wanted to find something for her that doesn’t require as much admin work. Still its a good exercise for myself to learn if the Mac is really want I want.

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Another Mac mini review

AnandTech, a mainstream PC review, have a look at Apple’s Mac mini – Tempting PC Users Everywhere. They have one particular page about performance where they confirm something a friend has told me. OSX needs at least 512Mb to function well.

In order to be useful the Mini Mac should come with a minimal of 512Mb.

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It’s small

Short review of the Mini Mac at OS News: The Mac Mini Experience. Check the picture on the first page, I didn’t realise how mini the Mini actually was. Its not much bigger than the tape.

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Sharp C3000

Sharp Zaurus SL-C3000 review.

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Python Web development

Very comprehensive list with mini-reviews of python web development environments.

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