Acer Aspire One instead of EEEpc. Oh well.

Right.  Turns out my online supplier of geeky goods actually sold out of the desired EEE. Just as all the other computer retailers around me in the south east of England. So I ordered an Aspire One. To be exact, the Aspire One A150-AB (Why in the world do makers of laptops come up with these weird and seemingy random model numbers?). This baby sports 1 GB ram, a chunky 120GB HD and Linpus Lite, their netbook Linux flavour, a derivative of Fedora 8. That would be another Linux flavour to get used to. Sigh. So one day the nice man from Amazon knocked on my door and brought a small but eagerly awaited package.

The Aspire is undoubtedly attractive and feels better designed and made than the best girlfriend’s first generation EEE. The keyboard and the screen especially are superior to the EEE, and there is a multicard reader that’s coming in handy.

Still compact, but larger than a Star Trek VI mug.

Apart from the multicard reader there’s 3 USB Slots, an external VGA plug, and an additional slot for more SD cards. It boots up in seconds and apart from a mild whirring noise when the little fan is trying to cool Intel’s Atom processor pretty quiet (though not as silent as the girlfriend’s eee).

It’s pleasant on the eye, balances well on my lap and fits perfectly into my work bag. Unfortunately the batttery is completely pish. While watching Little Britain USA (which, btw was rubbish) the battery drained almost cmpletely, and I presume that under full load the battery wouldn’t last longer than an hour. No comparison to my Macbook that would happily run for 5 hours. So no long train journeys or flights to New Zealand in economy class then.

As mentioned before, Acer is selling the One with Linpus lite, a Fedora 8 derivative. This is quite similar in apperance to the EEE’s Xandros flavour, just with worse applications. I have no idea who had the idea of leaving out Skype (it does have a webcam, you know), VLC and Thunderbird and instead use some other unusuable crap. So my first job was to get used to Fedora’s weird package manager, ‘yum’. I now have all the necessary apps installed, and available via XFCE’s ‘advanced menu’, but still have to remove the annoying apps and then edit the desktop file to add the right icons. I am quite happy to do that, but I can see the best girlfriend ever struggling with that task.  I have no idea what Acer’s software engineers were smoking when putting the One’s software package together, but here they certainly messed up.  Another minus was the lack of the GIMP and the fact that so far my trusty TX1-Powershot is not being recognised by the crappy photomanager.

So, after 3 days with the Aspire, what are the first thoughts?

Well designed hardware that is let down by a crap battery and a software package that is lacking in functionality compared to the EEE’s far superior Xandros flavour. I am pretty sure that very soon Ubuntu’s Hardy Heron will make a guest appearance, but for now I am just happy that I have replaced the Macbook with a credit-crunch model (the Aspire costs exactly a third) and that I can again watch movies and listen to my music.

More EEEs please!

With the advent of the second EEEpc arriving in the household, it was time to have a look around the web where the EEE -community is hanging out. Cheeelling, so to speak.  From what I can see from a brisk google search is that the two highest scoring sites are and While the latter has the better blog, the former has a very active user forum full of helpful hints from those eeenthusiastic useeers, so with a congratulory ‘kacheeeng’ it will be promoted into the blogroll.

Congrats, and no more eee jokes. Reeeally.

The curse of the electrical household goods strikes

This weekend was obviously not meant for my two favourite gadgets to survive. On Friday my Macbook got an accidental dousing with a recreational fluid and since then has refused to work (and will probably never work again), and the next day the LCD screen on my lovely Powershot TX1 stopped working.  Sniff.

The next step will be to pray to the gods of backup that I can save my 10 gigabyte of precious photographs from the Mabook’s hard disk. So, a set of small screwdrivers and a USB to IDE connector will have to be acquired and hoped that I can mount the HD under Linux (apparently it works, but you never know).

The next step is to decide what to do with the dead MacBook. Sacrifice it? It is rather reassuring to see that I am not the only one who gave his MacBook a good dousing. The intarwebs are full of people asking for help after recreational fluids leaked all over the keyboard.

The biggest question of all is of course what to replace it with. The best girlfriend ever has been a happy eeepc user for more than 9 months now, and after having a look at the new EEEPC 1000 myself, I decided to finally rid myself of proprietary software once and for all (apart from my ancient windowsbox that I only use to play Settlers III).  After one year with the MacBook I still had to find an application that needs a dual core processor and 2 gigabyte of ram, as I didn’t use any other applications than Mail, Firefox, DVD-Player, VLC, Neo-Office and my twitter client. I find it unlikely that I will suddenly need new applications. I will of course miss the incredible ease of use of the MacBook, but once Ubuntu is installed (and let’s face it, installing is the best bit) it runs just as smoothly.

So, wish me luck in my endeavour. And cross your fingers that the MacBook’s HD is still mountable.

5 Months with the EEEPC. An interim review. By a female user

Last Christmas, I gave her an EEEPC, but the very next day, I wanted to take it away (because I wanted it for myself). (with apologies to Wham)

In the past I have discussed the reasoning for buying an EEEPC: form factor, operating system and price were certainly the most important considerations. I knew that my significant other wouldn’t be interested in a dual core processor, an enormous hard disc or copious amounts of ram, as all a laptop should do (for her) is email, browse the web (including flash), watch movies, listen to music and synchronize her Ipod. And do it safely. A tall order? Obviously not, as the little EEEPC has been doing this quite happily ever since. So, after 5 months, I asked the best girlfriend ever for an interim review.

FB: What kind of laptop(s) did you use before? B.G.E:  An IBM thinkpad running XP and a G4 Ibook. The former because it was given to me by my employer and I let my IT department deal with any windows related problems, the latter because you gave it to me. Both did what they were supposed to do.

FB: Did you have any problems with the EEEPC’s unusual GUI? B.G.E: No. None whatsoever. It’s self-explanatory and easy.

FB: Did you have any problems with the EEEPCs applications? B.G.E: The original Skype version that was distributed with it crashed and was unusable, but after updating it, everything worked fine.

FB: Are you happy with its multi media capabilities, and what do you do with it? B.G.E: I generally use it for the BBC’s Iplayer and have watched an ripped .avi movie. Quality is astonishingly good for a machine that size, but head phones improve the experience enormously.

FB: Did you have any problems using its networking interfaces? B.G.E: No problems with both Wifi or ethernet.

FB: Do you use it for productivity purposes? B.G.E: I am looking forward to use it away from my desk more frequently in the future.

FB: Are there any limitations in your user experience due to the EEEPC’s size? B.G.E: Some people may mind its screensize and the fact that you have to scroll horizontally much more frequently than with bigger laptops. The trackpad goes on my nerves and could be better. An external mouse enhances the experience immensely.

FB: What’s the best about the EEEPC? B.G.E:  It’s cute looks, its size (it easily fits in my handbag) and people want to talk to you about it in cafes.

FB: What’s the worst? B.G.E: The mousepad.

FB: Thank you. B.G.E: Thank You.

An EEEPC under the Christmas Tree (look what I did there!).

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Wonderful Id and a great Divali. And for the Atheists out there, have a lovely couple of days off (unless you’re a policeman/nurse/doctor/fireman/prostitute/priest/sysadmin/dj/environmental engineer/prime minister or any other profession that’s needed during the holidays).

The best girlfriend ever found an EEEPC under the christmas tree yesterday evening (well, to be correct, it was hidden in her handbag because that’s where it’s going to live). Until two weeks ago I had no clue what to give that precious woman, until, while surveying the current laptops on offer, she declared “they’re all far too chunky. I want something that fits in my handbag and that is easily taken to meetings where it obstructs the deskspace”. She was already using a G4 Ibook, knew about the existence of my own MacBook (that was still too large) and frowned upon Blackberries, TabletPCs and those terrible Windows Mobile devices. Sensible woman, she is.

So the only option was the OLPC really. But then it looked rather childish, had garish colours and would not make a appropriate item in the boardroom. The EEEPC, on the other hand, had traditional laptop looks, was white, just as affordable and featured everything a female geek by osmosis could want. So the EEEPC it was.

When the little box was delivered to my workplace, the response was impressive: I was immediately surrounded by a gaggle of nurses (or is it a flock of nurses?) who wanted to touch it, take it home with them and there was definetely swooning going on. Even one of my rather ungeekish male colleagues wanted to touch it, open it and made positive grunting noises about its size, keyboard and weight. So, the first test was passed with flying colours. Then the big moment: the discovery of the item on Christmas eve (which is when we get our presents, like proper people). When the best girlfriend ever opened her handbag to look for something unrelated, the Eee (which is how I’m going to abbreviate it) was found in the handbag’s depths with the comment: ‘that’s not mine!’. Then slow dawning of realization happened and enthusiastic noises were made, even euphoric yelps were heard. Later, after an enormous dinner and generous helpings of red wine I actually got my freshly washed fingers on it as well and was immediately taken aback by it: for a bloke of my hand size, the keyboard is certainly a bit on the small size, and the 800×480 screen would probably annoy me after more than thirty minutes.

But that’s were the difference lies: the best girlfriend ever is unlikely to use it for more than short bursts (not everybody spends half their waking time online) of online activity, and it certainly seems to be perfect to browse the net, email, write and listen to music. One 2 GB SD card will hold all the music and data that she will ever need outside work, and for movies these can be replaced easily be her in-house geek.

Here’s a picture of her reading E2:


A complete and utter success.

Merry Christmas.