Archive for January, 2010

Future-Tech? More like Now-Tech

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

While recently discussing with a friend what you can do with certain technologies these days, I realized we’re on the verge of amazing things. Not a paradigm shift, or anything quite so cliché; but certain things which will be put into handsets (smartphones, superphones, whatever) in the future.

  1. Convergence : You won’t need to carry around any other camera, phone, computer, or multimedia device
  2. P-Ink displays : or some variant. They won’t need backlights, so that’s a tremendous boost to the battery-life and helps outdoors
  3. Wireless Power : There are pads that will charge gadgets placed on top. If that technology becomes more ubiquitous, you could charge any device just by laying it on the counter-top
  4. Mobile Internet : Connect on the go! You’ll be able to access all the information on the internet from anywhere
  5. Solid-State Technologies : With all moving parts disappearing, devices are becoming smaller and smaller, faster, and more resistant to damage
  6. Batteries : In the near future, you will be able to last all day on a small battery and then charge it within minutes

We’re close to a new class of personal computers that are always on and always with us, usable everywhere and anywhen. When I look at what’s available to us today, I estimate that we’ll see these devices within five years.

Moar Netbook

Friday, January 8th, 2010

In my last post, I tried to do some sort of real review, which I’m sure sounded a bit boring and normal.
This time, I’m going to put it in real-world terms (much like music players, with their “how many songs can it hold”).

What can you do with this Netbook?

  • Travel around
  • Play old games
  • Emulate NES, SNES, or PSX games smoothly
  • Move and shake about
  • Run image rips of CDs or DVDs
  • Play music or video from a flash-drive or SD card
  • Office computing
  • Small-size graphics editing
  • Connect to the internet through Wi-fi (b/g), cable, or mobile
  • Install and use your USB devices
  • Use an external SATA drive.

What can’t you do with this Netbook?

  • Play newer games
  • Do anything for longer than three hours
  • Color-correction (the quality is crappy)
  • High-powered rendering
  • Use it in the shower


Really, just don’t expect things to be too fast. Gaming takes lots of speed, so nothing too new will work well. Other applications, like rendering or coding movies, will just take more time. Working from flash drives or SD cards takes some time.
Other than that, it’s incredibly capable and very broad-ranged. Waking from sleep mode only takes about three seconds, and the keyboard is nearly flawless.

HP Mini 1116nr

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

I decided to get a netbook; the $200 refurbished HP you can order from Future Shop.
It’s actually kind of amazing. The specs are as follows:

  • Intel Atom N270 (with hyper-threading)
  • 8.9″ WSVGA (1024×600) anti-glare display
  • 16GB SSD
  • Windows XP Home SP3 for ULCPC
  • Wireless b/g
  • 3-cell battery (approx. 2.5 hours)
  • Webcam + Microphone
  • SD/MMC Card slot
  • An amazing keyboard

This is actually better than I had hoped it would be. The entire width of the netbook is taken with the keyboard, which means the keys are larger than usual and aren’t squished into any odd configurations. It’s pretty much a full-width keyboard. I can type on it perfectly fine, unlike with other netbooks.

The screen is pretty bright, even on its lowest setting, but the colour quality is abysmal, which I fixed by altering the colour profile in the included Intel options panel. This is the same for other HP laptops, from what I’ve seen; the gamma is almost too high, the colour washed out, and with just a bit too much blue in the mix. I’ve just turned the brightness down and the contrast up, and that almost fixes most of it.

The solid-state drive is some old, small, cheap model from who-knows-when, probably with a J-Micron controller. It’s not very fast, and takes forever to do things when it’s taxed (I believe this is what people meant when they say it ‘stutters’). I was planning on getting a new, fast SSD, sometime; one of those able to outperform hard-disks in all aspects. The netbook came with a backup for Windows, so I’ll be able to reinstall everything on the new drive.
I’m not using it as my main system, and I’m not keeping bunches of movies on there, so the 16GB of storage is just fine, along with an extra 16GB SD and 8GB flash drive.

It came with 1GB RAM, but apparently Kingston has a 2GB module out for $40 or so, which I might end up ordering. It’s got a fast little access panel on the bottom for RAM.

Another surprising little tidbit: It usually comes with a mobile modem. There’s a slot for the SIM card, under the battery, but it doesn’t currently have a modem installed.

Windows is running fine on it, and I haven’t had any problems. It came with a load of bloatware, but I’ve turned most of that off.

The charging brick is small! It’s capable of 30 watts, and is built like a regular laptop charger, but is about three quarters the size. I can carry it around in my pocket without too much hassle.

The microphone is above the screen, out of reach of the whirring fans in the body. I’ve had to use a laptop where the microphone was right beside the disk, and anything that I recorded would have whirs and clicks throughout.

Downsides: No VGA-out, which means I can’t use my HD monitor. Only two USB ports, though there’s a hidden one that’s more-or-less inaccessible (for the Transcend-made ‘Expansion Drive’).

Other: It comes with an HP Expansion connector, but I’d have to get the cable elsewhere. That would allow me to plug a monitor into it, and would give me some extra USB ports.

Overall: For $200, this is a lot of computer. I couldn’t do everything on the limited screen and drive, but then I’m not trying to make this my main machine. It’s for when I’m on the go, and need to do some work from my flash drive, or surf the internet, or download things while I’m at my parents’ house.
I give it five stars. Out of… five.

Your First Web Site

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Does anyone remember their first web-site?

No, not the first site you built; I mean the first you ever saw. It’s so completely commonplace and so far in our past that no-one ever thinks of it, but it must have been a pretty special event, when you get right down to it.

When I tried to remember, I thought back to the first computer I’d ever played with, and how it had that oddly-annoying “Please wait a moment” message. What’s a moment, anyway? I was only six years old.

I can’t remember the first computer I saw with internet, but I suppose it was one of the brand-new computers our lab was furnished with in our little village school in Vermillion Bay, Ontario.

I suppose, having been introduced to the computers and the internet, the first pages I visited would have been video-game-related.