Archive for September, 2009


Great resource for Linux on the Toshiba M400

I upgraded from the Toshiba M200 to the M400 a while back.  I’ve tried many different Linux distributions since then, briefly flirting with Fedora 11, and have now settled on Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha.

Anyway, that is all beside the point.  Anyone setting one of these up needs to take a look at this site.  It discusses creating a working rotate script, enabling the rotate button and more.  A great resource.

The page is written for 9.04 but seems to apply equally to 9.10.


Sony eReader 505: Not great

I’ve had a Sony eReader PRS-505 for almost a year now.  What a frustrating device.

I typically try to use it like a book, and it fails constantly.  Examples:

  • I was reading another real book, so hadn’t used the 505 for a while.  (Weeks.)  I was heading somewhere, grabbed the 505, hoping to read it.  No joy.  It turned on, grayed out the screen so that I could read some of the page, and placed a big exclamation mark over the screen to warn me that the battery was low.  I could not dismiss this, so I couldn’t use it.  Now, it isn’t new, so the battery is a bit flakey.  There’s a good chance that it still would have worked for many page turns, yet I couldn’t dismiss their warning dialog, rendering the entire thing useless.
  • So, I took it home, plugged it in for a while, went to read it.  I read the page, and then none of the buttons would work, so I couldn’t turn the page.  Great.  My book had just crashed.
  • I went to find a paper clip to reset my book (why the reset hole has to be so small when they clearly expect it to crash, I’ll leave for the moment.)  When I did reset the device, it came up and had lost track of what book I was reading.  Great!  I’ve got about 50 on there, so then I have to navigate to the right book (not easy) and then remember what the zoom level would be so that I could try to resume.  (No, I hadn’t bookmarked it.)  I accidentally changed to page 411 instead of 41 because the UI is so sluggish, but eventually was able to continue reading my book.
  • Said book would not have been available in Kingston, so thank you Sony for providing me with a way to get at the book instantly.  Great.  However, it was about $3 cheaper than the actual book on Amazon.  Yes, buying the ebook is more convenient, but reading it certainly isn’t.
  • Next, plug it in to my Mac.  Hooray for Sony for releasing a Mac client, though why couldn’t it have been a website that I could use from my Linux box?  It is just a USB mass storage device.
  • Go to buy a new book.  Great!  Margaret Atwood’s new book is only $15!  Sweet!  That’s a lot cheaper than the hardcover!  Maybe this thing is worth the bother after all.
  • Available only in the US.


Thankfully, I didn’t actually buy the PRS-505.  It was a gift/I was able to trade it.  So, I’m not out of pocket, just out of time.  I think eBooks have potential and have their place in the market but boy, this device isn’t going to displace the real thing any time soon.


HP’s $200 1116NR – Now perfect!

As I mentioned, Future Shop has a brilliant deal on a refurbished HP Mini at the moment.  I received mine yesterday and have successfully made it both silent and Bluetooth-enabled.  How?  Unplugged the fan (Under the keyboard) and managed to fish a small Bluetooth adapter in HP’s bizarre internal USB port.

Now it’s perfect.



HP Mini 1116NR: $199 at Future Shop

Now here is a brilliant deal.  The HP Mini 1116NR for $199CDN.  I just ordered one (for $229.  Grr…) and am very pleased.  It is pretty much identical to the HP Mini Mie that I reviewed earlier with three important differences:

  • It has 16GB of SSD instead of 8GB
  • It ships with XP (booo!)
  • It has a matte screen (yeah!)

You can reload HP’s Mobile Internet Experience (Mie) OS here.  This gives you a perfectly functioning Ubuntu 8.04 netbook for $200.  What an amazing deal.  Mine arrived on Friday, it’s perfect.


Sony Vaio W Netbook: Back to the store

So close, yet so far.

I purchased a Sony Vaio W (VOCW111XX/T) from BestBuy yesterday.  ($499CDN)  It’s going back ASAP.

I love netbooks, I own an HP 2133, an EeePC and have owned a Mini Mi.  All were fab.  The Sony has the usual netbook specs but has an above average keyboard (though it’s still not as nice as HP’s line) standard bluetooth, 802.11n and, most importantly, an HD 1366×768 10.1″ display.  All for the high-end of normal pricing.  Fabulous!

What they don’t tell you is that the speakers are absolutely horrible and that the rather high-pitched fan runs constantly.

That’s right, the Vaio W is a constant assault on the ears.

The final nail in the coffin was that a Wubi-based Ubuntu 9.04 install resulted in a complete lack of networking on the Linux side.  I’m not sure how they swung it, but Sony has managed to create an affordable, light, nice-looking netbook that is positively Linux hostile, sounds terrible, and is the loudest netbook I’ve heard.


Sorry Sony, better luck next time.  I really wanted to like the Vaio W, I swear.

If only I could find an HP 2140 with the HD display.  Alas, I’ll be picking up the last low-res 2140 in town tomorrow at Staples downtown.  Such is life.