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Archive for the ‘Laptops’ Category

6 Heads Under $1000

My desk in May

WITH a bunch of low-cost hardware, some of which as cheap as under $200 (for laptops!) from displays or ‘pre-owned’ (slightly used), I’ve managed to build my workspace over the years. The cost may seem hard to believe; there used to be 4 laptops, but one died a month ago after 11 years (when it was bought by my wife in 2009 it cost more than those 3 laptops combined) and the remaining items — both screens and laptops — cost less than $1000. 3 screens, 3 laptops. The cost of the most expensive laptop — my main workstation — was less than the cost of the chair (224 pounds) and software costs are zero (GNU/Linux is free and all the applications I ever use cost nothing).

2 Decades Without Windows

“Windows 98 should have been released for free on Jan. 1, 1996 and titled Windows 95.1. If this were Hollywood, then Windows 98 would be the equivalent of ‘Heaven’s Gate’, ‘Waterworld’ and ‘Godzilla’ rolled into one. A huge, overhyped, bloated, embarrassment.”

Jesse Berst, ZDNet editor

MY GENERATION (I’m 37) grew up on DOS. Not necessarily Microsoft DOS, either. Just DOS. As a kid I used to work from the command line. We, as kids, taught one another new tricks; sometimes an adult would visit to teach us things and copy some programs for us (floppy disks with compressed archives). Various utilities like RAR were useful. Sometimes an infection (malicious program) needed to be removed. That was before the days of Windows 3.x — the days we used ncurses-type interfaces to type documents and send these to printers. Later on I did some programming with batch files and at around age 15 I started with Pascal (quite popular at the time owing to simplicity and relative elegance).

I mostly missed the BBS generation (some friends of mine used it; they’d copy for us files they got from there). When bulletin board systems were still popular many computers did not even have modems (few of my classmates had them, usually because of lack of a technical parent, and only one of them was a GNU/Linux user in the mid/late nineties). I think I got my first modem when I was 14 and IRC was probably the first thing I used “on-line”. After Windows 95, which many people used at that time, I bought my last Windows laptop. Actually, my father bought it. He used it and then passed it to me. It had only 32 MB of RAM and Windows 98. I carried it around and used it in university as an undergraduate student (at the faculty I used GNU/Linux at the time). It retired years later and I’ve not bothered with Windows since then. I wrote a great deal about it in USENET at the time. Memories from these days are mostly gone by now; I barely ever touch Windows and when I do it’s over Remote Desktop, typically to access a client’s network, e.g. to run PuTTY from a remote system. That happens about once a month (patching Debian GNU/Linux servers).

Was Windows 98 a decent operating system? No, it was unreliable, but at least it ran on modest hardware without much RAM. I ran Firefox on it, with a total system capacity of something from the mid-nineties (~400MegaHertZ CPU, 32 MB of RAM). That was before Microsoft added back doors to Windows (this was reportedly done in 1999), before the bloat of NT and before DRM (Vista).

With 3 weeks left before the end of this year (and this decade) I remember not so fondly the 90s, back when I used Windows. In 2000 I moved to GNU/Linux, helped by a Finnish friend, an exchange student at the university. In a sense, next year I become a 20-year GNU/Linux user.

Helping Children, Fighting Greed

In time for the holiday

Many times in the past I’ve covered and explained the real story, which some companies want you never to know about.

Microsoft and the OLPC/XO: Get the Facts

The press is humming about Microsoft’s effort to conquer a project that it used to ridicule, essentially by stripping down an old and insecure version of its software. Here is some things you ought to know in case you believe that Microsoft’s prospects are bright.

It is important to note that this initiative focuses on Microsoft’s Windows
XP, rather than Microsoft’s latest OS, Windows Vista. For companies like
Asus, Linux appears to be a more future-proof option and is much easier to
modify to fit within the constraints of devices with low hardware overhead.

Do the math. Vista doesn’t work for today’s laptop market. XP and Linux do.
It’s really that simple.,1895,2222308,00.asp

Then Microsoft corrupted Nigerian officials with 400 thousand dollars to
install Windows XP on those instead of Mandriva Linux.

If they really believed that Windows was superior to Linux, they wouldn’t
have to bribe people with “marketing help” to get them to choose Windows.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates earlier this year told the Microsoft Government
Leaders Forum, “Geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the
text and you’re not sitting there cranking the thing while you’re trying to
type” (see Bill Gates Mocks $100 Laptop).

For-profit companies threatened by the projected $100 price tag set off at a
sprint to develop their own dirt-cheap machines, plunging Negroponte into
unexpected competition against well-known brands such as Intel and
Microsoft’s Windows operating system. (Microsoft owns and publishes MSN

Enough said. The same goes for Intel, but it’s part of a much broader scale of abuses.

Information Can be Most Vital

A lot of hostility has been directed at an extraordinary project which strives to bring inter-connected laptops to each child in the developing world. Access to information and self expression may even be more important than the immediate need for food and shelter, assuming that you already have them. Watch the following video and decide for yourselves if access to the Internet can actually make a different in exploited and suppressed parts of the world.

Breaking Digital Shackles with Linux OEM Support

2007 will be remembered as the year when large OEMs finally gave up on deals with an exclusive nature. They began offering Linux preinstalled on their PCs. Big names include Epson, H-P, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Nokia, and Intel.

Here is a nice video showing the unique aspects of this operating system, which does not receive enough exposure in the media.

Remember this: 2007 is the year when many major companies began preinstalling Linux on their UMPCs, tablets, and PCs, not just devices. phones, servers, POSes, thin clients, and supercomputers. Next some someone jokes about “the Year of Linux on the Desktop”, be sure to set him/her straight. Significant progress is being made.

Dell Recalls Millions of Dangerous Laptop Batteries


It has been very hard to ignore pictures of flaming laptops. Problems as such have not only affected Dell, which is now recalling millions of batteries.. If you own a Dell laptop, consider this an important announcement.

Dell Inc.’s record-setting recall of 4.1 million notebook computer batteries raised safety concerns about the power source of countless electronic devices, but experts said the problem appears to stem from flaws in the production of the laptop batteries, not the underlying technology.

Apple has begun similar a initiative, wherein it collects batteries (quick replacements to be shipped). Additionally, in the United States, an agency has begun reviewing all of Sony’s laptop batteries. Dell partly blames Sony for its battery woes. Sony is responsible for one component of the batteries which Dell stocks.

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