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Written By: Gary on March 31, 2010 No Comment

It’s a beautiful day out. So instead of sitting in the house on this great day, I went for a bike ride and I’m sitting outside the library. They’ve got WiFi and it actually reaches outside pretty good.

The problem is the sun is really making it hard to see my screen. I could sit in the shade but then I’m not in the sun (I might as well as be at home). My XO laptop had this great LCD display that actually worked better in direct sunlight than it did in indirect sunlight. It has a color display but in the direct sunlight it washed out all the color leaving a very clear greyscale image. (I think it might have two different types of LCD displays sandwiched together.)

I’d like some kind of a high contrast display for my laptop that worked like that one (that wouldn’t get washed out in the sun). It’s just to get information typed in, it doesn’t need to be pretty ,have a fast refresh or anything. It’s got a clip at the top theat just rests on my current laptop display (the top edge of it could be a spall solar panel to help with power) and it’d plug into the video port on my laptop and the USB for some power.

Here’s a quick video to show you the quality of the display of the XO Laptop. It’s a little out of focus at times because I’ve got macro on and I keep moving the camera.

Watch a larger version of this video in YouTube.

If the XO didn’t have such a crappy keyboard, I’d be tempted to use it outside and use VNC to remotely access the display on my MacBook. But then I’d have to haul to computers around with me.

Anyone have any suggestions for something like this?

Written By: Gary on September 21, 2009 4 Comments

Replace my laptop? Not a chance! But the more I use it…

Previously I took my laptop everywhere. The iPhone has easily cut out 20%-25% of my dragging around a laptop; my rule is generally don’t leave home without it.

With my iPhone, I’m still connected to the world. I can read, I can forward and I can bookmark things and type (if I have to), it’s more than the basics. Of course I can watch and listen to all the “stuff” that’s on the iPod portion of the iPhone too. If I could get a bluetooth keyboard (or even a wired keyboard the plugs into the dock) I think I could drop carrying the computer around to 50% of what I used to do. I don’t really want to JailBreak my phone to do this. (FYI, this feature is now is iOS 4 for several iPhone models)

apple-bt-iphone-keyboard.jpg
This keyboad looks huge, but it’s really the tiny wireless one from Apple.

I don’t even need the keyboard to work in all the applications (although I’d like it), I can just type in a special keyboard application then copy and paste into the program where I need the information.

I’d need an external battery pack for the iPhone though. I thought I’d already need to, but I generally leave it in the charger at home and I charge it in the car. It’s pretty rare that I notice that I’m running really low.

It’s been a while now that I’ve had the iPhone, but it’s still a new toy so I use it a lot but it’s pretty rare when I “need” to bring laptop along. The laptop is mostly just for typing these days.

Photo from Geeky-Gadgets and the linked page has a video of this working on the JailBroken iPhone…

Written By: Gary on January 24, 2009 One Comment

So twenty-five years ago today, Apple released the Macintosh computer. And as far as I’m concerned, they changed the world.

oldmac.pngI was never an Apple II person, I was an Atari 800 guy. Then I used PCs for a while (DOS and Windows 3.1). For years I couldn’t understand why I should switch from my cheaper PC-Windows machine so it took me a few years (8) to get one (after using them in my graduate education program at MSU) but I’ve been a convert ever since. That’s not to say I don’t own a Windows machine (or two) but they’re usually doing mundane tasks, which my Macs are for creative tasks and what I want to use for my everyday stuff.

Here’s a YouTube vid of Steve Jobs demoing the Mac back in a 1984 keynote (wearing a bow-tie).

I think my first Mac was a used Macintosh Plus (with an add-on external hard drive), then a classic (same shape way more power), a PowerPC 6100 (pizza box shape), a tower PowerMac G4 (the first one with a DVD burner) and I owned a few used ones that I picked up here and there (a IIci and IIcx and a Quadra 605 that had been upgraded to a PPC). I paid way too much for the two PowerMac desktops, I did a few processor upgrades to get some more life out of them.

But I’ve also had a few Apple laptops: The PowerBook Duo 280c which in my opinion was the best laptop ever; more of a sub-notebook (1.5″ x 10.9″ x 8.5″) and you could get a dock you could stuck it into (like a big floppy) and it would use the monitor(s), keyboard, mouse and anything else plugged into the dock (hard drive, CD, etc.). I eventually upgraded the motherboard in that to turn it into a PowerPC 2300c and used that for a while. After that I had a PowerBook G3 luggable laptop, it was huge but had power, memory, storage and a beautiful 14 inch(?) display; fully loaded I think that was over $5,000 but it was a heavy beast to lug around. Since then I’ve stuck with smaller 12-inch models: an iBook (I got the iBook instead of the PowerBook because I wanted a smaller model), the first 12-inch PowerBook and the last 12-inch PowerBook (the 12-inch PowerBook is probably my second favorite after the Duo). My latest is a white 13.3-inch MacBook (the fastest plastic model from just before the uni-body models) and it seems like a monster compared to the 12-inch model but I love it, I don’t leave home without it.

Since the Macs were more expensive I generally did a few things to save money. I’d upgrade the memory myself from Other World Computing (they’ve always be notoriously expensive for memory upgrades). I usually used some other brand monitors (even though the Macs have traditionally been better). And I usually used non-Apple printers except for the Apple StyleWriter which was an excellent printer; my first was an old NEC 8023 dot matrix that I purchased an adaptor for, also some HP and Epson ink-jets, a used QMS laser, a used HP lasers and a new HP laser (my current).


To make sure you watched it, here’s a question:
What’s wrong with the above version of the ad?

I’ve also had an Apple Newton (it was way before it’s time) and two iPods. I’m craving an iPhone (or a Touch) and considering the plunge.

So that’s my personal Apple Macintosh computer history. I really didn’t realize I had so many different machines. Out of all of those I had two problem machines: the ultra expensive laptop (2 bad motherboards, but after the second replacement it was perfect) and the iBook (a lemon, multiple problems, eventually the agreed to give me a brand new one). The other laptops have been great and I’ve always beat the hell out of them (scratches, gauges and drops) but they’ve held up quite good.

Lately, I’ve been using the laptops more than the desktops, my last desktop was from 2001 (I’ve boosted memory, hard drives and processor since then) but the last few laptops have been faster than the older desktop so I’ve neglected the desktop. I’d like a new one, I just haven’t been able to justify the dollar$ for a new tower desktop and the MacMini just hasn’t had enough juice (it’s more like a fast laptop) and the Mini really needs a refresh/upgrade from Apple.

So (like the guy in the ad) I can say “I’m a Mac”.

Written By: Gary on October 12, 2008 2 Comments

I really don’t care what my laptop physically looks like (I want my display to look nice though). I want it functional and preferably small, light and durable. I want features at a good price. If it’s sexy too, that’s a bonus.

I’m dying to see the specs on the new Apple MacBooks next Tuesday (Oct. 14, 2008) but I’m really hoping for more features at a great price (we need more converts). I’m not even in the market for a new laptop but I can’t wait to see. A twelve or eleven inch MacBook might change my mind though; the same goes for a touchscreen (but I’m not expecting that).Personally I like the plastic cases better than the metal, the metal slips out of my hands plus it dents more easily…

Here’s My Dream MacLaptop:

  • 12 or 11 inch display (doesn’t need to be full height).
  • Small solid state drive and a big hard drive. All the system stuff goes on the solid state drive.
  • Lots of memory.
  • Blu-Ray DVD drive would be nice (it’s that time).
  • Non-powered audio jack (so I can use any mic/headset).
  • Security – can’t power on or wake up without a password.
  • Backlit keyboard.
  • A spot to plug in an external WiFi antenna (I’m tired of weak reception areas).
  • Internal spot for Sprint 3G cellular card (or other brand equivalent).
  • Maybe GPS (it’d go well with the mobile cellular).
  • and if we’ve got GPS and cellular we might as well as be able to run iPhone and iPod Touch apps.

    Or for something way smaller: Take a current Macbook, chop off everything below the keyboard (the trackpad area) and shrink the screen to be the same size. Somehow a track pad would have to pop out or something would visually watch your fingers gesture on the table where the trackpad would be. Obviously a DVD drive would not fit in such a machine.

  • Written By: Gary on December 22, 2007 2 Comments

    XoboxBut I just haven’t had time to play with it. I’ve been working, shopping or sick (something hit me yesterday in the middle of the night, but I’m way better now) and there just hasn’t been the time.

    It’s funny this morning I got my e-mail notice that it was shipping with my tracking number and everything (don’t forget, I got my laptop this past Wednesday). It also included my T-Mobile activation info, which I sadly cannot get to work.

    MyxoopenThe laptop is way cool, it’s nice and tiny, feels durable and has great reception. It could be a little snappier speed-wise, but if every kid in the world had one of these things it be interesting to see where we are in another 10-20 years. Heck, if every adult had one (and learned to use it) it’d be interesting to see where we’d be.

    I can’t wait to see what I can eventually make this do…

    Written By: Gary on December 19, 2007 2 Comments

    I’m SO excited!

    I wasn’t expecting it for at least another week….

    For more info, go to Laptop.org

     

    I got my XO Laptop‘ uploaded by garylapointe

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    Written By: Gary on December 11, 2007 One Comment

    So they’ve got shipping info up for the One Laptop Per Child laptops! I didn’t order until November 21st, so it looks like my target is Dec 26, 2007 – Jan 15, 2008, they’re trying for sooner (the first ones may start arriving this Friday).

    Since it’s really not all about me, I’ll mention it also says my “donated laptop will reach a child in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, Mongolia or Rwanda in early 2008.”

    Written By: Gary on September 19, 2007 One Comment

    188LaptopThis is probably the best review of the XO laptop (often called the “$100 Laptop”) I’ve ever seen. This is a very cool machine and should start manufacturing this fall. Unfortunately, it wasn’t designed for US sales, but once the demand gets up there I can see it (or something similar) being offered for sale. We have similar type items in the US but not as advanced and for more than double the price.

    With a (tablet-like) twist screen it’s pretty need at how it folds over. And the screen has two modes: bright color and high contrast B & W for outside viewing. It had an SD slot and three USB ports, ethernet, wireless (with the mesh network), web-cam for collaboration, works as a gaming device or sideways as an eBook reader. They had to remove the built in charging crank which is a problem if you’re in a really remote area. I’m sure separate chargers raise the price)?).

    The software running on the XO is just as compelling as its hardware. The Red Hat Fedora Linux-based Sugar operating system is fairly basic, and we got comfortable using it within a few minutes. The home screen displays the XO logo within a circle, and the surrounding circle fills up with running programs. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find the Start Menu and system application icons, including Paint, Write, Chat, and RSS.

    – Laptop Magazine

    I can see something like this really changing computing for a 1 to 1 ratio. This is all really most people want, e-mail, web, portability (3.5 pounds) and a 10 to 1 charging ratio. The high contrast for reading an e-book will (IMHO) give them something they don’t think they want (lots of text on the go). Add some bluetooth to get on-line on my phone and I’m in. And it runs Red Hat Linux for an OS. I want one of these puppies more than an iPhone.

    Written By: Gary on March 27, 2006 No Comment

    So my pet peeve with my PowerBook has been accidentally unplugging it when charging and then it’s not charged when I need to take it somewhere. Very annoying. The really annoying part is that I think Apple had a feature to avoid this built in in OS 9 (or 8) but it’s been gone for ages.

    I know I’ve looked for an application or utility to do this before, I don’t know how I missed it. But now I found one and it’s called Unplugged! What UnPlugged does is alert you when you unplug the power adapter (and when you plug it back in). And it’s freeware (donations accepted)! It’s probably going to annoy me with the alerts but at least I’ll never be annoyed that I don’t have power! (It supports Growl too).


    What’s annoying about these little programs (and about widgets too) is how much memory they use. It’s only 5MB of real memory but it’s 150MB of virtual memory. What’s it doing out there? With this one there isn’t even a user interface to adjust anything. It’s not this program, it’s all programs (they’re like windows bloat-ware these days).

    What’s odd is this one mentions that it “doesn’t use as much RAM and CPU usage as the other tools available”.

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    Written By: Gary on November 10, 2005 6 Comments

    So if I managed to hit the lottery and get a few hundred million I’m thinking I’d want to share it with my readers. To prove you’re a reader I’d have to have some kind of requirement like you’ve posted a comment in the last six months or something like that; that’s beside the point but it might be a reason to start commenting. I only get a few hundred commenters every six months so what’s a few thousand bucks per commenter if I just got a couple hundred million?

    So here’s the sharing part: Assuming I offer you your dream laptop what would you pick (it must exist, you can’t make up a non-existant machine) and why? I don’t need model numbers, I’m just wondering what features you’ve want/need and what you’d use it for. In good faith, this would need to be a laptop for you to keep and use, not sell.


    Of course, this would also include a year of paid subscription to one of the wireless networks like T-mobile (Border’s and such), WayPort (McDonalds and Aiports) or some service I’m not aware of (you did put WiFi in your dream machine didn’t you?). Which service would you want/use the most?

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