Monday, May 28, 2007

Low priced PCs : I read where Dell computer will soon be selling its low priced PCs at Walmart. I have some recent experience with a low priced Acer T690 purchased at Walmart that I helped a friend set up. They had bought it while Walmart had it on sale for $599.99. Certainly a great price for a fast PC (Pentium-D at 3 Ghz, 2 generations old, but plenty fast) with MS Windows Vista Home Premium installed, and a 19" wide screen LCD monitor that has speakers built in. Obviously at that price a few corners were cut other than the CPU. It comes with 1 Gig of RAM, but can only be upgraded to 2 Gig, and that requires replacing 512 Meg sticks with 1 Gig sticks. My friend was happy that I found them such upgrade memory at for about half the price of BestBuy. The other corner cut was with Video. It has an Intel video chip on the motherboard which uses System Memory, but luckily the motherboard has a PCI-E slot that would accept any much faster Video card with its own RAM, and I identified an NVidia 8400 Video Card at for under $90 with free shipping, which tested out at 4.5 on a Vista speed rating. When we installed the video card, the motherboard/BIOS was smart enough to turn off the motherboard video and use the Video Card, so no BIOS setting changes or jumper settings were needed.
The Acer has an ASUS motherboard using an Intel chipset (similar to the N4L-VM DH) , so it has USB 2.0, Firewire, and Sata connections. Apparently competition has gotten to the point that even the low ball Hitachi 250 Gig Hard Drive that came in the computer was a 300 Mhz one, and provided for fast read/writes. The packaging box didn't say so, but also on the motherboard is 10/100/1000 Ethernet. The motherboard has only 2 standard PCI slots, and one is taken up by a PCI standard Acoustic modem. It does have a Realtek sound chip for audio.
SETUP: We ran Decrapifier on the hard drive, downloaded myriad Microsoft Windows updates and patches, and an update for the 3 month Norton AV 2007 that came preinstalled. We installed Acrobat Reader. Then we changed the screen saver from one that runs Acer commercials, set the screen for thousands of colors instead of millions, and defragged the hard drive. The 3 cooling fans inside the box ran quietly. It comes with software to create a restore DVD (or 7 CD disk restore) from NTI. Easy to do with the Lite-On DVD burner in the machine.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

T.V. over phones lines ? Verizon seems to have the best plans cause they wire fiber to your door. AT&T wants to use copper the last mile, and therefore has to cap its Internet download speed at 6000 kb/s, the same as I get now from them without fiber. AT&T's service, known as U-Verse is described here. Like other new high tech services it sounds like they could break their arm patting themselves on the back. Folks I know who have (or had) U-Verse in the Willowbrook section of Houston, complain about reliability. Here's a review from a like minded fellow. Forty-eight hour outages do not win friends. Reminds me of the early days of Internet over Cable. Some folks can wait a day to email a child at school, but if they miss their Grey's Anatomy, thats more serious.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This will make for a major hit to American productivity: Google Trends. Story here. One can waste much time checking it out daily, and testing searches against it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Best Digital Photographer I've ever seen. : Her work can be seen here. The poor lady had some grief from Flickr. Story here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

iPhone on track to be released on time: June 15 is what the rumor mills say. The FCC has approved the iPhone for sale. Story here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

AT&T / Cingular seems optimistic about iPhone. PC World has a story saying so. Including info from a leaked Cingular Internal memo. Allegedly:

....according to an internal memo circulated to employees that also noted no employee vacation requests would be approved from June 15 through July 15 to ensure adequate staff is on
hand during the initial roll-out.

I guess that means June 15 is the release date.