29 March 2008

XP one more time

I said I'd publish the replacement kit when I'd found something. Well, these were so well-priced at about £400 each I've ordered two of each! Mesh have served me well for many years and supply them with the following spec which ought to do me until operating systems settle down and do a bit more than look pretty. And who knows? Maybe Linux or even another will have broken through into the mainstream and we'll all be able to turn on and tune in without waiting for ages.

ASUS F5V-Pro Laptop

Windows® XP Professional Edition.
Intel® Core™ Duo T2250 Dual Core Processor (1.73GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 533MHz FSB)
15.4" WXGA TFT with Active Colour (1280x800)
512MB (128 Dedicated) ATI Mobile Radeon X2300 Graphics
1GB DDR2 677MHz Memory (1 x 1GB)
120GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (NB)
DVD Super Format Dual Layer DVD Writer +R/-R/RW/RAM
Wireless LAN - 802.11b /g (with Built in antenna)
Built in Webcam (1.3M)
3-D Stereo Sound + Internal Dual Stereo Speakers
Gigabit LAN Ethernet (on-board)
56k v90/92 Fax Modem
3 x USB2, Line-in, Mic, Headphone, VGA, Gigabit LAN (X50, F5V)
Windows 88 keyboard with "Fn" key for extended function,
USB Mouse
ASUS carrying case with shoulder strap and pouch for accessories
367mm(W) X262mm(D) X35mm(H), Weight: 2.6 Kg - Inc Battery (F5V)
2 Years Worldwide Warranty Parts & Labour

Mesh Matrix xxx+ PC

AMD Phenom 8400 Triple Core AM2+ ( 2.1GHz, 2MB Level 3 Cache)
Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005
New MESH Mini-Tower Micro ATX Case +300W PSU
AMD PCI Express Mainboard AM2+ Phenom MATX
4GB DDR2 667MHz Memory -( 2x 2GB )
500GB Serial ATA Hard Drive with 16MB Buffer
LightScribe Super Format 20x Dual Layer DVD Writer +R/-R/RW/RAM
256MB Integrated On-board Graphics (SMA)
19" Widescreen LCD TFT Display with internal speakers
5.1 High Definition onboard sound card - 6 Channel Cinema sound
Logitech Cordless Keyboard & Cordless Optical Mouse
Free Microsoft® Works® 8.5 + 60 Days Microsoft Office Trial
Free Cyberlink Video Editing Suite - 7 titles (oem)
4x USB 2.0 Ports (onboard)
Network Ready integrated 10/100 Ethernet
Multi-format Memory Card Reader (matx)
1 Year Hardware Warranty - Back to Base (UK Mainland only)

28 March 2008

Plug and go go

With a computer on its last legs and a laptop down to its last GB of space I've got some new equipment coming. That's nice but how on earth do I move all the files from one to another? External hard drives would work but less than £10 got me a USB Data Link cable from Gizoo. It's great, plug one end into one computer and the other into another and you get a split screen with the local files in one part and the remote machine's in the other. Moving stuff is just a cut and paste job and several gigabytes that would have needed several trips by normal USB stick were almost instantly transferred.

Another gadget I got is a Pama bluetooth hands-free box. Intended for the car, as I seem to get more calls when I'm driving than I do when I'm not, it is a slightly revised version of something I bought a couple of years ago. That refused to recharge for some reason I never discovered and, as it had been a bit scratchy and basic I didn't bother getting another. This version is much clearer and displays caller ID too which is useful. Only about £30 from Amazon and it also has another use - I live in an area of poor mobile reception with none anywhere inside the house where I can sit in any comfort. With this device, the phone can be placed wherever the signal's good and I can just chat to the box in the warm and dry. Few of you will appreciate the difference but those that do should take a look. It's cheap and works.

25 March 2008

XP vs Vista revisited

I was thinking that it might be time to dip a toe in the Vista water as I'm about to buy some new computers and laptops. First run through the ads produced some good prices and interesting products but all with Vista and no obvious alternative which was what prompted the idea that maybe it might not be so bad now. I mean it's been a while, a Service Pack is on the way and surely by now all the problems people had been having with it not recognising their hardware or other applications had been resolved?

And Vista is better than XP, isn't it? Like faster, more secure, more efficient in the way it manages files, prettier . . . ? Well, it seems that, apart from prettier, it is none of the above and no, IT service staff at retailers and elsewhere are still running around like mad trying to find drivers for customers and fixes for applications that don't work like they used to.

As someone who does have rather more odd applications than average and zero time to mess around trying to find solutions to problems, and having just about got the hang of how to fix the few problems that I do encounter in XP from time to time and who really does need to be up and running as close to 100% of the time as possible, Vista is still not for me and I am seriously thinking about hanging on until Windows 7 (or whatever it will be called, hopefully next year,) arrives.

Helping to convince me that I'm not really odd, or stuck in a time-warp in this respect, is an excellent article by Randall Kennedy in the latest PC Advisor magazine. Well worth a read, particularly if you're about to make the switch or thinking about buying a new computer.


My problem now, though, is finding somewhere that will supply XP instead of the advertised Vista and it looks as though many of the best-looking offers won't be much good. I'm actually wondering whether some of the very good prices for kit I've seen could even be because retailers are having trouble shifting it with Vista installed.

I know it'll be hard work and I may even have to spend a bit more but I am definitely sticking with XP. I'll publish the best of the places I find in my search which may help others who feel the same.