Thursday, 8 August 2013

Wallpaper of the Month - Inspiron 6400

I was lucky enough to be marshalling for (but not lucky enough to be participating in) the Oggie 8 at the weekend, so an excellent excuse to get into the hills in the morning. It was also an excellent excuse to change the desktop on the Inspiron 6400!

This is The Cannon on Tryfan, one of the iconic rocks in the Ogwen Valley and I've always found it to be a magical place. As I was alone when I took the photo, you get no sense of scale: this is a dramatic shard of rock that can be see from the valley floor but it is oddly comforting to reach it when you're climbing in claggy conditions.

Anyway, good things seem to happen to me on Tryfan, and this will be a reminder of a fabulous day and a special person while I struggle to get through the next eight days!

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Edged Out?

Mmmmm....

After a great start, interest in the Edge appears to be on the wane.

Mind you, that is nearly $250,000 in twenty-four hours but the run rate is not sufficient to meet the target.

Anyway, I'll add the widget and try to do my bit to maintain interest.

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Monday, 29 July 2013

Canonical Passes $7,000,000

I've just checked Canonical's progress in its campaign to raise $32,000,000 to develop the Edge. At 12:30 BST, the total pledges amounted to over $7,000,000 with 24 days left.

That's amazing!

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Not Dead Yet

The Register is running a fascinating opinion piece by Trevor Pott on Microsoft's future.

It seems that Pott has pretty much accepted the death of the PC and points to Microsoft's divergent business interests and innovation as the Company's potential salvation. All-in-all though, he seems pretty sanguine about the behemoth's future:

"The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability. If the wrong calls are made Microsoft's competitors will shred them. It will take a decade or so for Microsoft to die, but if there is a chance for a fatal wound it is now. If the right choices are made, however, Microsoft becomes functionally untouchable for the rest of our careers."

I've yet to be convinced by the argument that the PC is dead: there are several factors to consider for declining sales over recent years; not least, a worldwide recession. But hey, what do I know?

Notwithstanding my slightly different take on the future of desktops as endpoints, a well considered article and worth a read.

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Friday, 26 July 2013

One Careless Owner

I'm amazed at what some folk will throw out.

I went to the dump recycling centre the other day and found this Compaq C700 sitting in the electronics skip. At the time I was working on a customers CQ71 that some imbecile had removed most of the case screws, so I grabbed this only so I could cannibalize it for parts: I simply assumed that it didn't work.

Anyway, it's been a quiet couple of weeks so I put in an old 2.5" hard drive and turned it on...

...some lights, but not much else seemed to be happening.

Anyway, out of curiosity I plugged in a VGA cable and the monitor fired up without missing a beat! Clearly, the screen was shot (something that seems to happen a lot with Compaq Presarios), but (apart from all the bits I'd robbed) it was good to go.

I bought the parts from ebay and kept the refurbishment second-user: apart from a new screen (grade B) I've had to replace the battery, charger, speakers, caddy, and screws (plus an old 60GB hard drive I had laying around).I put it back together this morning and it fired up first time. All the ports work, the optical drive is fast and quiet, and there's barely a scratch on the case.

If I had some spare money, I'd keep this little beauty but sadly, I need to sell it!

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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

DELL 6400 Integrated Card Reader & Ubuntu 12.04

My six year old laptop has become my primary machine over the last few months. I've always liked the DELL Inspiron 6400 but it's never been used as much as it should have been - until now!

Unsurprising then that I should only now realize that the integrated card reader doesn't work! I've been meaning to look into it for a couple of days and finally got round to it this evening: the fix took seconds!

Open a terminal and type:

sudo gedit /etc/modules

When Gedit opens, add the following code to the bottom of the file:

sm_ftl

Save and close the modules file and reboot. Inserting a SD card on restart resulted in a welcome media prompt.

I always like the easy fixes!

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Small & Perfectly Formed?

It seems that everyone's at it; making PCs smaller is the order of the day and in August, Compulab will start taking orders for its new micro-computer - the Utilite.

Designed to run Linux & Android operating systems, this isn't a bad looking piece of kit: sadly, it'll probably end up fixed to the rear of a flat panel monitor with some sort of VESA mount! OK, I'm being cynical, but it makes you wonder why they don't just put all this inside the monitor and be done with it: if you want a PC so small that it's all but invisible, you might as well hide it to begin with.

The technical specs aren't too shabby though: top-end, the Utilite boasts a quad core Cortex-A9 MPCore and up to 4GB of DDR3 although the headline price of $99 will only snag you a Freescale i.MX6 single core processor and (I'm guessing) less memory. Ports galore and a low-energy supply it looks versatile and capable of saving the planet from all those 500W electricity guzzlers out there.

Ironically, for such a small product, the market in micro-computers is remarkably crowded and users are almost spoiled for choice. Take your pick from the Raspberry Pi, Intel's NUC, Gigabyte's BRIX, or a thousand handsets running Android, IOS, Windows, and (hopefully) Ubuntu.

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