Tag Archive: tablet

Updates, goals and struggles

Wow, so it is been a while since I’ve written a post on my blog, I hope to rectify that with a brief update into what’s going on with me.

Linux

Not much different as happened in the world of Linux with regard to me, I have recently picked up an android tablet (recent as in August) which I had to give for school but now that that class is over I have a $500 toy! Okay so it’s not really a toy but now it’s just a gadget I can use to fool around on as the class that needed it is over.

It is the Asus Transformer tablet, the first one that came out not their newer version they just released. I do rather enjoy the tablet even though I have no practical use for currently, however I downloaded a handful of children friendly applications (a drawing application as well as in teaching games) and my daughter absolutely loves playing on it. While I needed one for school it was never said exactly what I had to get I was just told I needed a mobile device, cell phone was out of the question as I’m not going to pay for a cell phone plan, so I did some research to look into what options were available and this is the one I had decided on.

What sold me on this particular tablet over say the iPad 2 is mainly a few factors, price, flexibility, and liberation from iTunes the worst piece of software ever created. Okay so maybe that’s a little harsh iTunes is not the worst software ever created but it certainly ranks up there. Now before I get several common saying you get what you pay for and the quality of the iPad 2 is worth the additional cost, let me just explain my justification behind the price point;

Looking at the tablet from strictly a practical standpoint, what purpose was a going to serve after my class is over. The answer is simply it will serve no practicality other than entertainment value when the class was over , I’m not currently employed so they can help my work life be more productive, I could read electronic versions of my textbooks on it but that’s not really something that would greatly increase productivity in terms of school work.

Based on that information I had to say that I want to spend $600 and get the iPad 2 or spend $400 and get the Transformer, the latter was a much better option because since the practicality of this device is not really going to be there was my class was over I went to spend the least amount of money possible.

This brings me to my next point which was flexibility, while the iPad has thousands if not millions of apps available to it, it is very restrictive with what you can and can’t do with it. I have never been one to be a fan of a company that tries to dictate which can and can’t use their device for. I’m not talking about using it for illegal purposes, I’m mainly talking about choice of content as well as the technologies the browser for example chooses to utilize. While I see great value in the iPad and would recommend it to somebody who is looking for a tablet that was easy to use, and something they could just pick up and go, that was not what I was looking for.

With an android powered device such as the tablet that I have feel much less restricted, it feels much more like a desktop environment with a touchscreen. The more I think about I guess it could kind of the rooted in the fact that I’m a huge supporter of Linux and open source, that’s not to say that I do not like Apple, in fact it’s the opposite I would love to get my hands on a bran new Apple Macintosh with Mac OS X, but until I can get a job that pays me enough to be able to spend extra money that’s just not an option. If somebody were to offer me a free iPad or iPad 2 I wouldn’t even have to think about it I would gladly take it because I am a technology junkie :-). I love getting my hands on new gadgets in various forms technology and just fiddling with them until I know them inside and out.

The last point, the liberation from iTunes, this is huge as I have mentioned I’m no fan of iTunes having been for quite some time, I will admit that iTunes is making strides towards a much better user experience to meet it’s still way too restrictive, has too much overhead, and acts as a freaking lockbox where any items that I purchase are locked tightly away in iTunes and not allowed to be put on any device but an Apple device. Now I’ve heard that iTunes is change their policies recently to where music videos and things that you purchase through iTunes are no longer restricted to only iTunes or only Apple devices, but heard such rumors in the past and I’m not likely to test it out now.

If you’re interested in learning more about the tablet, I did a review on it on my tech site located here

Computers

I have been called by family members and friends a computer geek or nerd or sometimes both, while generally speaking these terms are looked at by some as derogatory I wear them like a badge of honor.

It’s no secret I’m a huge technology buff, I love anything and everything having to do with technology. Last time I had to upgrade my computer I was faced with the dilemma, that I go back to Dell computers (a fantastic company by the way) and have been billed me a computer that would work flawlessly and then turn around and have to replace it five years, or do I save money by all the parts and build it myself. After thinking about it long and hard the choice was obvious, build it myself. Now this is nothing new you can go back and read a post from several years ago where I talk about the new system that I built. However, I have since upgraded the system to the point where I may as well have built an entirely new system.

Basically the upgrade consisted of a new power supply, a new case, new motherboard, a new RAM everything else is the same. I reviewed the case on Tech Jam if you’re interested in reading it and click the link a few words back. Because so many of the elements that I upgraded allow me to essentially have enough spare parts to build a second computer, using my old case and components I rebuilt my old computer and gave it to my wife which was a significant upgrade from the computer she had. The purpose of this upgrade was basically due to a few factors the biggest of which was the fact that being in a Network Administration degree I often times need to run virtual machines with various different types of operating systems, the old components were struggling to keep up with what I needed such with the opportunity to upgrade them, I am now on a system that’s more than capable of running several virtual machines.

I was supposed to do a review of the new motherboard but I just never had time to get this review done, I might try to go back in attempted sometime in the future.

Games

Generally speaking I don’t have a lot of money to spend on video games, nor a lot of time. However, a friend bought me a Christmas present that I just couldn’t pass up, they purchased Star Wars: the Old Republic for me complete with playtime all the way until May! In a way I kind of wish they hadn’t because this game isn’t credibly addicting! I’m loving every minute of it, though I have been trying to balance everything and only really play that game when I get time.

Micah go to into depth about the videogame here, but I will say this if you have the time and the money in your fan of Star Wars this game is for you. One thing I do like about this game is the ability to buy game time cards, this allows you to budget for gameplay or if one month you can afford gameplay you just don’t buy a card and your card is and billed. This is a method that World of Warcraft has been doing for a while, and when I used to play the game all the time (when I had a job on my days off) it was something that I used exclusively.

School

As I mentioned above I’m still in school for network administration and if everything goes well I should be graduating from that of the summer! I’m kind of nervous about this because I feel like I’m going to forget everything I’ve learned, I just don’t want to be thrown into a situation where now all the sudden I’m responsible for this huge corporate network and I have a brain fart and do not remember anything.

I’ve been told by my teachers that school was more or less the foundation, or I will really pick up knowledge and experience is on-the-job. While this was slightly comforting I’m still skeptical but I will do my best. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets nervous about entering a potentially new field especially one that has the potential to change my current financial situation from one of destitute to actually being able to breathe and have the money I need for living expenses and maybe a little extra.

I’ll find out in about six months just what the schooling has prepared me for, there’s only two possibilities I either sink or swim, I am aiming for swimming!

The Job search

Yeah this is the one area that I’m struggling the most at right now, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. I can’t seem to get a job because of the large amount of time I’ve been unemployed, and also seems that Michigan is not exactly the best place for jobs. Sadly moving even across town is just out of the question way too expensive.

My game plan going forward is this, I plan to go to the advanced temporary services here Michigan and try to get placed in a temporary position if nothing more than to eliminate that large gap of unemployment, ideally though I would like to see one of those temporary positions turn into a permanent position. As well as that I’m going to also be resubmitting applications to all the fast food chains in the area, and hitting up the department stores such as Walmart, Meijer, Kmart and so on.

I’ve also considered opening up my own business, but I’ll save that for another post.

Everything else

In other news our daughter is turning four at the end of this month, February 28 to be exact! It’s hard to believe she’s already four. We’ve been trying to find a place that’s fairly inexpensive that we could hold her birthday party so she can invite all of her friends from preschool, so far we’ve narrowed it down to one of the fast food chains or possibly a skating rink. I welcome suggestions however, our budget doesn’t really allow for extravagant things like the zoo or places like that.

We do not have enough room at home to have the party here so any suggestions please leave them in the comments.

My Life at a Glance–New CPU, Gaming, Windows troubles, Linux Troubles, android tablets and more!

Well it has been a while since I posted anything to my blog, and I thought I would rectify that by making one huge post updating everyone on most aspects of my life currently.

New Computer Hardware

Recently I upgraded my old AMD Athlon II x4 620 to a new AMD Phenom II x6 1090T Black Edition.

The upgrade was relatively painless (typical CPU upgrade) and I did not notice a huge improvement at first in performance, however once the computer ran for a while I noticed some changes in both speed and the Heat the CPU generated.

With my older Quad Core CPU idle CPU temps were somewhere around 38c which is relatively hot I have been told for an idle temp. With the newer six-core the idle temps dropped to around 28c that is a 10 degree difference!

While I primarily upgraded to solve an issue Windows was having with the CPU (mine in particular not necessarily the same for others with it ) where it would frequently spike the CPU usage up and then not fully release capacity as processes slowed. I had tried numerous times to re-install windows in numerous different storage configurations (RAID 0, Use a separate drive for all Data and one specifically for OS and Important programs, Installing a tweaked version where certain features were turned off mainly indexing and what not), while most of these worked one in particular kept causing me to scratch my head as tried to get Windows running on it (RAID 0). With out boring you by going into detail on what I tried I will just say it did not work and ended up causing a new fresh install of Windows 7 using the default installation (which ironically ended up having better throughput). The CPU proved to be a good trade off as it increased windows boot time as well as offered a 6mb L3 Cache where the Quad had no such L3 Cache.

I ran the windows performance scoring tool (just for the hell of it not a big believer in what it says other then to pinpoint what hardware is the current bottleneck) finding that now all areas rated 7.5 where the HDD was the remaining bottleneck coming in at a miserable 5.9. Now I know Windows may not be the best OS when it comes to efficient write commands, but that was a good indicator it was time for a faster drive or to make the plunge into a reasonable SSD.

The issue here is that even though I could move about 95% of all my data to a external HDD and use the SSD as the boot drive, programs would continue to load slowly unless they were installed on the SSD. All that and not to mention the sheer amount that SSD cost per GB, it just was not worth the price at present.

Gaming

This all lead me into my next issue which was stuttering (video wise not audio) in the game Dragon Age 2, I examined this further and found that DA2 seems to see the processor correctly but only sees one core as being available. I then spent about 2 hours talking to EA support via chat to try and correct this, even tried reducing the available Cores it had access to in the affinity setting for the game.

Long story short we were unable to pinpoint the exact issue, but narrowed it down to something to do with the CPU upgrade (seeing as it worked fine on the Quad). The tech was so down that he could not solve my issue that he proceeded to go into the back end for my EA account and enable a whole swarm of free content (not DLC, promotional items mostly) for Dragon Age: Origins and one or two for DA2!. I literally now have so much stuff that when I log into the Bioware User Entitlements area to see what I have access to I have to scroll 3 times, and that is on a 27” monitor at 1920×1080 resolution with the browser full screen!

Did I also mention that earlier this month I had an issue with the DLC authorizing for Dragon Age: Origins? Well EA gave me a $20 voucher for the EA store and so I used that on Dead space 2 which was already on sale for $31 (Digital download version) so I ended up after tax getting a $50 game for $12 dollars!

Linux

Now all of you reading this from the Fedora Planet are by now wondering “what does this have to do with Linux?”

The answer is that had nothing to do with it but the headache did make me want to leave windows and try to install Fedora again on one of my free HDD’s

This brings me to where I had the issue with Fedora, to be fair here I was using the latest build of Fedora 15 alpha so the issues are not at all the fault of Fedora just my own lapse in judgment.

Here is what happened, I tried at first to do a custom install (like I always do when installing multiple OS) but that just caused me a headache because apparently my boot order for my HDD was set differently in the Bios then the physical location they are in (where they are connected on the mother board). That being said I managed to axe the small system partition Windows 7 makes for some reason. I panicked and though If I could install Fedora I could at least boot from Grub into Windows right? Wrong!

Second time installing is where I made the big mistake of choosing use all space when I meant to hit remove all Linux partitions, well as you can imagine this went bad as it wiped now my entire windows drive. While I chalk this up to my own lack of focus, my friend claims it was a sign from the Fedora Gods that Linux did not want Windows anywhere on the system.

I ended up just wiping that re-installing windows (to many good games that do not work in Wine plus school work that requires Windows programs) and just throw Fedora in a VM. So far this has worked well though I miss my dual boot setup and being able to run Fedora natively. I might try it again but making sure to backup my windows install prior to doing so.

Android 3.0

While I myself have not had any hands on experience with Android, I want an Android 3 tablet badly!

I began looking into the options out there and found out that not only do a handful exist but they are all super expensive!!!

I did find one that would have a 399 model but the specs on it were less then acceptable to me. While I generally am not a power user when it comes to mobile devices I found that a 512mb 8gb nand ram drive device to be a little underwhelming! How much could you fit on 8gb now days even if on Android!?

The next model the one I am seriously considering is 499 and has 1gb of ram and a 16gb nand ram drive. This to me seems sufficient and would work nicely, provided I decide to get it. ASUS the manufacture of this tablet apparently has released everything but the device itself in the US as of the time I am writing this. Will  I have the funds to spare when they do release it is yet to be seen but lets hope it gets released soon.

Well that about covers it, that should get most people who care caught up with what has been going on with me (not a lot of people care I get it but a few readers I know who read this do Winking smile ).

Feel free to leave comments below