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Experiment over April 10, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Ramblings, Uncategorized.

All good things come to an end, so they say.

     I didn’t think it would come this soon, but it has. 

     I gave up my EeePC.

     Don’t kill me. It went to a new owner, someone who I think would love it as much as I do or even more. It’s her first ever laptop, and would help her immensely in her work and her life. I am the first one to preach the virtues of a laptop as a major enabler, and gladly pass my EeePC on to someone.

     It was never mine to begin with, really. It never felt like it, much as I wanted to claim it as my own. It was my sidearm, my familiar, my shadow, my friend – for a time. But I’ve always felt deep down like I was just a temporary caretaker of it for someone else.

     I think it’s happy with the new owner, and the new owner seems to be happy with it. Which is all good.

     At first I thought I’d be using it for many months more at least, or if I ever did give it up anytime soon, it would be for another of its generation, an upgraded version. But maybe not now. Not yet, anyway.

     It wasn’t an impulsive thing to let it go. I thought long and hard to just keep it, even if I did get another laptop, but in the end decided it was best put to long and good use by someone else. It would be a waste to just keep it in a box in my closet, rather like a bird in a cage.

     I never doubted it’s a great laptop, and in other circumstances the EeePC would be The One, the keeper. (Well, to be completely truthful, not exactly this one, but maybe the EeePC 900, with the bigger screen – if I could afford the upgrade – but if it had to be just this I wouldn’t feel bad). Alas, it’s not to be. I’m still looking, and it’s time to move on.

     So the Experiment is over.

     After several months exclusively using it, what have I learned?

     That the Asus EeePC is a good machine, affordable, capable, useful, portable. Within reason, there’s hardly anything you can’t do with it. It’s the gadget with the best value for money I’ve ever gotten in my life, bar none. It’s rock solid, and certainly touches the heart. I will continue to give it the highest recommendations.

     But much as I have gotten used to it, my hands still have small continuing arguments with the keyboard, and my eyes often decry the size of the screen. As I get older I know this won’t abate, but likely get worse. Young whippersnappers won’t have these problems, but I’m an old fart already, even before I got the EeePC.

     I’ve also hit the wall of the storage issue a few times, most recently with that endless reboot loop when I uninitentionally filled up the SSD that I wrote about in a previous post. The storage limitation’s not a deal-breaker, but it still makes me grit my teeth now and then. 

     On the other hand I enjoyed the convenience immensely. I loved that I could bring it everywhere without endangering my back and shoulders. I loved the reliability and facility of Xandros (which I’ve learned to use in my time with my EeePC). Most of all I loved that I could work anywhere and everywhere. Not to mention seeing the occasional double-take from passersby.

     But I found myself still looking for something else. Bigger screen, bigger keyboard, more storage, apart from the lightness and portability, convenience, reliability and ease of use I got accustomed to. Comfort is a big thing for an old fart.

     I think I know what that something is already; if you know me a bit you even might be able to guess what it is. (Contrary to what I’ve previously said. I am going to eat crow soon.) But there are two main differences though: physical size (in terms of dimensions at least), and that value-for-money thing. I can live with the size, but the price is the big hurdle. Way big.

     I’ve been resisting the siren call, clasping the little EeePC to my chest for strength, but it keeps haunting me. But I know what I want now, even if I have to eat my words. I’m setting my sights in that direction, and hopefully I can find a way.

     And since the Experiment is over, I’m sad to say this blog will have to end here as well. I’ve said all I can and have nothing more to contribute. 

     I hope you don’t think I’m turning my back on the whole thing, and that this is an indictment of the EeePC. I was happy and satisfied, and learned and did a lot with it. The experiment was a success. I’ve just decided, while it’s perfect for a lot of folk, in the end, honestly speaking, it’s just not for me. I hope me ending my sojourn with the Little One won’t turn others off it.

     Speaking of which, I loved the people I’ve met over the course of the experiment. Like-minded geeks who did the things I did, kindred souls who’ll remain friends, I hope. I intend to still monitor our users group as much as I can, if they’ll have me.

     Someday if I get my hands on the newer versions of the EeePC, I might resume posting here, or create another blog entirely. But this one will be up for while yet, and new users who want to know what it’s like can go back and read my drivel and see how I handled it.

     In the meantime I have my other blogs, if you want to keep up with my doings and goings-on. There’s my Mac blog, Mac A Doodle, on the Inquirer network, and there’s the P.W.I.T. Blog (Philippine Week in Tech!) with my fellow tech editors and writers, and my personal blog among others. And of course my print work at Hinge Inquirer. All the links are somewhere here on pEEEPCee, and my magazines are on the newsstands.

     Please feel free to continue to rant on the Comments portion of this post. You can call me names or comiserate with me, or just shoot the breeze. I’ll check often and reply faithfully. Would love to keep hearing from you guys. Maybe someday soon, I’ll come back to the fold anyway, and all this would be a bad dream. Who knows?

     All I know for sure is that this was a hard post to write. Thanks for reading this far, and thanks for reading my little blog all these months. I had a blast, and hope you did too.

     But for now, I gotta go, gotta run, gotta make tracks… catch you elsewhere on the ether, EeePC users!


(Not) Trashing a config April 7, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Ramblings, Xandros.

I found it ridiculously easy to clean up an EeePC of all signs and vestiges of use. Of my use, anyway. Virginizing it is a snap.

Of course the main reason for this is also ridiculously easy to figure out: the SSD is so small there isn’t much to clean up. You don’t have the room and the luxury to be disorganized and messy.

And as an adjunct, to take it even further, the built-in storage area is so small that it would be a crime to be disorganized and messy as you usually are. In fact, it becomes incumbent upon you to make your mess elsewhere so it doesn’t inadvertently fill up. (God, you should see my 8gb SD card.) If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know the consequences of not monitoring the available space.

I’ve been fastidious with my file keeping, saving everything in the ‘My Documents’ folder, which I’ve populated with subfolders in the various flavors of my work. Everything is there. Doc files, stories-in-progress, nascent blog posts, pictures, downloads, screencaps, web page archives, the occasional short AVI file. (Yeah, yeah, I hear you; it didn’t prevent me from borking up the computer, but hey I tried!)

I was keeping it together because it was easy to backup everything to the SD card since it was a matter of dragging the My Docs folder to the card. So it follows that just deleting the thing would unload my personal stuff off the EeePC.

What kept me up was cleaning up the pref files for most of the apps I use, and cleaning up the bookmarks from both Firefox and Opera. Man, that was a chore. Apparently I’m not as organized saving bookmarks, which I discovered were all over the place. 

So why, you ask, don’t I just wipe it clean and reinstall the OS, do the F9 thing?

Because, as most of you veteran users know, it takes time and effort to get a laptop working just so. It’s a shame to trash a config. Getting the apps to keep the docs they produce in the proper folders automatically, saving preferences for looks and themes and backgrounds and keeping the look just right, adding the little apps that make life easy, taking out the ones that don’t – it’s like making a work of art, or creating and decorating an apartment, filling it with appliances and furniture and paintings on the wall so you can live in it comfortably.

Reinstalling the OS is like bulldozing down your house and leaving an empty lot in its place. I just wanted to peacefully vacate the house and let someone else live in it furnished to discover all the little conveniences I built in. Later, they can peel off the wallpaper and put something else in, or decide they didn’t like the living room furniture so they can put it in the trash bin and install something else. Later, if they want to bulldoze it after all, then they could, and that would be ok too.

But leaving it be is heaven-sent if the new occupants aren’t as into home decorating and design as I am, and would embrace the furnishings as if they were theirs. They would appreciate the modern conveniences I so painstakingly put in, all the little stuff I’ve collected, all the security features I set up. Or not. But it’s still a nice, happy, homey, comfortable, lived-in house with good memories.

So I cleaned out my junk and left the good stuff in, emptied the cabinets and the cupboards, replaced the sheets and all, and then cleaned, washed and mopped up. Now it’s ready for the new occupant.

Why am I doing this? Ah, that’s for another blog post. The next one. An important one too, I might add, since it involves eating crow and has implications for the future of this blog.

Got you wondering, haven’t I? Come back soon if you want to find out.