What’s on my Tablet, September Edition

I haven’t done a lot of writing about my iPad recently, and I’ve especially not done a roundup of my favorite and most used apps.

Here we go!

First, a screenshot:

I have an Adventure Time wallpaper that I found online.  I’m wondering if I should try something like Launch Center Pro.  But I digress.

Along the bottom you’ll see BoxerPocket, iBooks, Reeder 2, and Hangouts.  They are probably my most used apps, with the exception of Chrome.

Along the top I have the calendar app, Yahoo Weather (an awesome weather app that allows for multiple locations, my “Web” folder, which contains the following:

  • BaconReader (Reddit app)
  • Google+
  • Twitterific
  • Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • GoodReads
  • Wikipedia
  • Google Search
  • Mail
  • Facetime
  • Messages
  • Safari
  • Xkit

I am thinking of moving BaconReader (which I will do full review of soon) out of my web fodler and into the bottom “dock” but I’m not sure.  It’s an awesome Reddit reader; I use it on my android phone too.  Most of those apps are standard things that most tablets will have.  I don’t use the last five apps as much.  Xkit isn’t robust enough on the iPad for regular use for Tumblr, but once it gets updated it will be.

My “Games” folder is next to my “Web” folder.  I’m not going to go through the games that I have, but suffice it to say that I have a few and I love each of them, from Candy Crush to Smule.

The next row is my “Entertainment” folder and I have the following in it:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu+
  • TuneIn
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • 8Tracks
  • Play Music
  • Roku
  • MetroTimes
  • WatchESPN
  • PBS
  • TitanTV (TV grid for OTA/Cable listings)
  • Youtube
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Podcasts

I don’t use the standard Apple Videos, Music, or Podcasts apps, but all the others I get a decent amount of use from.  They are mostly self-explanatory.  MetroTimes is a local alt newspaper in the Metro Detroit area that has local events and some cool writeups about local interests (DEMF and Movement come to mind).

The next folder houses the following under “Utiliities”:

  • M. Cycles
  • Google Maps
  • Chase
  • OverDrive
  • iTunes Store
  • Camera
  • Photos
  • Swiftkey (awesome keyboard app that I use here plus on my android phone)
  • Other iPad apps that I don’t use: Contacts, Notes, Photo Booth, Clock, Maps, Reminders, Newsstand, Tips.

Next is “Productivity”:

  • Evernote
  • Evernote Food
  • Penultimate
  • Skitch
  • UFYH
  • Dropbox

I love the Evernote suite of apps (Evernote, Food, Penultimate, Skitch).  They’re awesome for the iPad, phone, or an Android tablet.  UFYH I bought to support the blog that I use daily and for motivation for keeping my habitat picked up. Dropbox is indespensible for anyone who has more than one internet connected device.

Lastly, I have a guitar tuner (that I use for my ukulele!); Groove Bank, which is a drum machine that can keep me on beat for my uke playing; and Chrome.  I don’t use safari because I need bookmark and tab syncing between devices.

The second page just holds my Settings and App Store icons.

A tablet is a really personal setup.  I have what I need where I need it.  I like to keep things in folders to keep the front page sort of clear so I can see the awesome background I have.

 

New Phone Home screens

I got a Samsung Galaxy SIII recently and I’ve set up the Google Now launcher with three homescreens: Google Now, the main with Dashclock, and another with my most used apps.

I’m not going to show google now, because most should know what that looks like.  Anyway, here’s my main screen:

2014-09-07 22.21.53

I’m using the weather, battery, and g-reader pro widgets on there.  I also have the hangouts and facebook ones enabled, but since I don’t have any messages, they’re not visible.

Now for my second screen:

2014-09-07 22.21.58

I’ve got my apps in folders and my quick-access apps in the second row.  That walking man in the corner is Noom Walk and it shows the number of steps I’ve taken today.  I didn’t have my phone with me for most of the day, so it didn’t really measure very many steps.

And now, the lock screen:

2014-09-07 22.22.57

Simple.

I really like this phone.  It’s a hair big, but it has more internal space than my last one.  Also, it’s running Android Kitkat 4.4.2.  This was Samsung’s flagship two years ago, and it’s still got plenty of power to do what I need it to do.

Records and Music

I got a record player for my birthday. It’s not a huge system, just something to listen to records on and transfer them to my computer if I want to. A Crosley.

crosley_player_turntable_with_usb_connection_record_vinyl_to_digital_cr6017b___ma_6_lgw

It’s not perfect and it’s not huge and it has mixed reviews, but it allows me to wander the aisles at the 2nd and Charles near my apartment and not be limited to what media I can pick up and listen to (CDs and records instead of just CDs).

I found Carole King’s Tapestry, Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E, and The Monkees self-titled album. These are three albums that I’ve always wanted but could never find in CD form.

I got them home last week Wednesday and the first one I put on was Tapestry. Now, I love Carole King and James Taylor, but I’ve not heard a ton of her own work; I’ve mostly heard it through James’ voice or her King-Goffin hits sung by others. I sat on the floor and listened to the whole thing through, and then since I was interrupted, I played the second side a second time.

Wow. Just a great album. The sound would be better with a better speaker, but hey, I live in an apartment, so I don’t need powerful speakers. The small one on the player gets the sound across. Anyway, if I want it louder, I can hook up a pair of headphones to the jack on the front.

That night, I also listened to L-O-V-E. I love Nat King Cole’s work and this is one of his most famous records, so I knew I needed to listen to it. And listen I did! The arrangement is a bit faster than I remember from what I’ve heard before, but I like it. It sounds beautiful.

I listened to The Monkees self-titled the following night and it was super fun.

The other thing I love about records are the covers. They’re huge and they’re art!

I like this format and will be listening to it for a long time coming, I think.

 

Retina iPad Mini Review

I said I didn’t want an iPad.

Well, I caved and bought one a few months ago.  I’ve been using it for a couple months now and I absolutely love it.  I loved my Nexus 7 (it has a happy home at my friend’s place now) but I had a couple issues with it, namely lack of decent accessories (I know, that’s a stupid excuse) and the nagging feeling that Google will discontinue support now that they are encouraging OEMs to make Google Play editions of devices.

I wanted an update to my tablet (been almost two years) and I felt like the best option for me at the time was the iPad Mini Retina 32 GB.  I got the “smoke grey” version and a blue iPad smart case because I wanted to protect the thing (it was expensive!).  And just today I picked up a Logitech “hinge” case that allows for more options when propping the tablet up for watching films and whatnot.  It actually kind of looks like I covered my iPad with a carpet, but you’ll see that in the pictures.

Speaking of… pictures:

2014-06-16 18.27.11Everyone’s seen an iPad mini by now, but here’s my setup start screen.  You can see the relatively small bezels on the sides.  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I really don’t mind them at all.

2014-06-16 18.27.23

2014-06-16 18.28.31
These next two are the cases.  I got the smart case at first and I love it, but I don’t see a lot of protection save for scratches and very short drops (like from the couch to the carpeted floor).  I went to Best Buy tonight and found the second case.  It’s a Logitech “hinge” case that is highly adjustable and has more options for propping the tablet up than the smart case.  The smart case is significantly lighter than the Logitech case, but I think the advantage in extra protection is worth it.

Anyway, this little machine went with me to Supreme Session in Omaha and was my main device to take notes and check email on.  I accomplished this with Evernote (I sprung for Premium; totally worth it when I didn’t have any online connectivity).  I love Evernote and I’m using it much more, but that’s another post for another time.  Anyway, I also picked up a stylus but I’ve not used it as much as I thought I would.  I was going to try to use Penultimate but it’s actually faster for me to type my notes directly into Evernote from the on screen keyboard than it is to try to write them in Penultimate.

In the next two pictures, you can see how the tablet is propped by the different cases.

2014-06-16 18.27.59 2014-06-16 18.29.10

So, dear readers, you’re probably wondering where my pro and con lists are.  Right… here.

Pros:

  • Size.  I love this size.  I wouldn’t be able to wrangle an iPad Air easily, but this I can fit in one hand and poke at with the other, much like I could with the Nexus 7.  I like the 7″-8″ form factor; it’s perfect for reading, playing games, watching Netflix/Hulu in bed, and taking notes in Evernote.
  • The screen.  Oh my.  The screen is beautiful.  I’m glad I held out for the retina version and splurged on it instead of the cheaper original mini.
  • Speed.  This thing blazes.  I have a few beefs with iOS but that’s me, not the operating system.  I prefer some things related to Android (the notification shade, for one) but I’ve gotten used to iOS.  It works and generally gets out of your way.
  • Weight.  This thing is light.  It’s a hair heavier than the Nexus 7, but it also has a metal backing instead of plastic (I’m not knocking plastic here, but it’s something to consider) and a slightly larger screen.  Anyway, it’s lighter than the 11″ Macbook Air that I have (not that it’s heavy by any means).
  • Build quality.  Holy shit this thing is built well and has awesome fit-and-finish.  As a mechanical engineer, I really appreciate good fit-and-finish.
  • Battery life.  Holy whoa, I get almost two days between charges, more if it sits in standby.

Cons:

  • iTunes.  This program is really shitty on Windows.  It’s slow and bloated, but luckily, I can manage most of my stuff from the iPad itself and I don’t have to deal with the program.  I could transfer everything to my Macbook, but I’m limited on space there, so I don’t really want to.  I cheat and use dropbox a lot.
  • The aforementioned lack of decent notification shade, which is something I love coming from Android.
  • No back button.  You don’t realize how much you get used to that hard-coded back button on Android till you go to iOS.

So.  This is a definite buy if you’re looking for a new tablet.  If you’re happy with Android, get the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S, but be aware that the storage situation is slim.  I think it starts with 16 GB and doesn’t increase it, but you can expand to more with an SD card.  I’ve never had luck with that, though, so you’re mileage may vary.

 

 

 

May 2014 Desk and Office Setup

I’ve not done a desk/office setup on here in a long time, so I figure it was overdue for a write-up.

A note: I still have the same desktop but I’ve upgraded my speakers, printer, scanner, and done some cleanup and organization.

Right-ho!  Let’s have some pictures!

2014-05-18 12.19.13 2014-05-18 12.19.21 2014-05-18 12.19.28 2014-05-18 12.19.42

This series shows the whole office.  Up top, you can see that I have the printer/scanner/backup drive/microphone all on a pretty sweet table I picked up at Staples for about $26.  This is a fold-able table that is height adjustable and would be great for an extra office work area or even a portable-ish game table for the living room.

Picture two is my storage for various things… games, notebooks, sketchbooks, filing (yes I’ll get to it), Linux manuals, and a CD holder.  This stuff doesn’t fit in the desk well and I don’t mind having it out and visible, so it’s fine.

Picture number three is my bookshelf.  I think I should do something to organize it a bit better but it’s fine for now.  Also yes, I have a radio because I don’t always want to stream.  Oh and a file cabinet I got from home for free!  (Thanks Mom!)

The last pic is a closer-up look of my desk.  I really like this desk; it’s comfortable and a good size.  I could go for a larger one, but this one is sturdy, comfortable, and has great storage in the drawers.  If I move, I might get a place with two more equal sized bedrooms and have a craft/project desk and a computer desk.  Right now that’s not going to work, but it’s something to look into for the future.  I’d need a new computer desk.

2014-05-18 12.19.51 2014-05-18 12.20.00 2014-05-18 12.20.07

This set of pics shows some of my peripheral awesomeness.  Picture one is an artsy-fartsy picture of my MaxKeyboard Blackbird TKL (brown switches) board.  I alternated between this one and a Ducky Shine Zero (black switches) full sized board.  I’m using the TKL right now for a different switch feeling and also for more room on the desk.

Picture number two shows a kind of artsy-fartsy shot of my Steelseries Sensei RAW mouse.  I love this mouse and I should have picked up a second one of these instead of the the Corsair for work.  Anyway, it’s super comfortable and for less than $50 you can’t go wrong ($44 on sale at Best Buy, woo!).

Picture three is the newest hardware to join my desk; JBL Jembe 2.0 wired speakers that sound decent.  They have an auto-off function that seems to annoy most reviewers on the best buy site but I don’t have a problem with them.  I replaced a $30 pair of Logitech speakers with these and I couldn’t be happier.  I wanted the Creative T20s but couldn’t justify dropping $100 on new speakers for my computer and driving down to Microcenter for them.  Maybe in a few years.  I don’t know.  I like the smaller form factor of the JBLs rather than the larger speakers.  My desk is small (I don’t have a lot of crap on it even!) and I just seem to like more clear space I guess.

As you can tell, I pretty much like neat and organized spaces.  I did minor pickup before these photos and I can’t be happier with my office.

MaxKeyboard Blackbird

I’m not exactly obsessed with mechanical keyboards, but I do know that I love a great computer experience, so I’m attempting to make my home computer the best it can be.  That does include having decent peripherals.

After I built my computer I was using a MS Natural keyboard that I’d had from about 3 computers ago.  I liked it, but I wanted something better, so I “upgraded” to the newest version of the MS Natural.  These are decent enough keyboards but they’re hard to game on.  They’re great for typing and keep your arms at a comfortable angle and whatnot but I wanted something better.

I went to Microcenter and found a Razer BlackWidow on sale for $75.  Granted, this is much more than I’ve ever spent on a keyboard (I usually used the ones I got for free with a PC purchase or the aforementioned MS Natural that was cheap).  The BlackWidow has Cherry MX Blue switches and it’s quite heavy.  It typed fairly well though, so I was happy.  Or so I thought.

I started hanging out on Reddit quite a bit more and found a community for people who tweak their workstations called “/r/battlestations”.  I looked over it quite a bit and I noticed a lot of people had mechanical keyboards and there were quite a few cross posts to another community called “r/MechanicalKeyboards”.  So I started hanging out over there and reading reviews and recommendations and discussion.  I noticed that the community didn’t have a lot of respect for Razer (I didn’t know why then but I do now) and I started reading more and more reviews.  I figured I wanted to try a different switch as well as get a smaller keyboard.

I agonized over this decision.  I read review after review and decided that I wanted a Ducky Shine 3 TKL with Cherry MX Browns.  I could not find it anywhere.

I also looked at customizing a WASD board but they had no backlighting and I figured I might as well get something with backlighting so I can use it more in the dark.  Besides, I think backlighting looks cool.  Well, their CODE keyboard had backlighting but not the switches I wanted, plus it was sold out.

So I started looking for alternatives and stumbled upon MaxKeyboards.  They have a limited selection of switches (blue and brown for the board I was interested in) but the biggest plus for me was the fact that they didn’t have any software needed for their boards.  The Razer needed their Synapse software drivers to work and it was becoming beyond annoying to deal with that updating all the time.  I needed a board that would work with no problems in both Linux and Windows.

So I looked through the choices and picked out the Blackbird.  I’d never tried Brown switches before but I’d read about them and they were close to the Blues I’d been using but with a less audible click, more of a bump.

Anyway, I ordered it from Amazon and it finally arrived up at my mom’s house and I was able to pick it up this past weekend.  I’ve been using it a couple days now and let me say… Wow.

Well, before I get more into the review, how about a picture or a few?

2014-02-09 18.15.40 2014-02-09 18.15.57Here is the box and what comes in the box.  As you can see, it’s a really simple affair, with the keyboard, the wrist rest, and a info sheet about all the lighting options.

The lighting options are easy to understand and most are activated by hitting the function button and then the page up or down button (to change brightness), the insert or delete button (to light certain buttons like WASD and the arrow keys during a game), and the escape button to change the lighting timer on the board.

There are also some other options to control volume and whatnot that are activated by hitting the function button and F1 through F6.  This is great if you don’t have easy access to your speakers.  I do, so I don’t think I’ll be using them much.

Anyway, how about a quick compare between the Razer and the Max?

2014-02-09 18.18.03The Razer is on top and the Max is underneath.  The Max is much smaller than the Razer and I can easily hold my arms in front of me to type instead of having them off to the left a little bit.  This will hopefully help my shoulders and back and arms to not get fatigued while using the computer.

2014-02-09 18.20.06 2014-02-09 18.19.26 2014-02-09 18.20.35These next photos show the board on my desk.  Also, my shoe is there for Reddit and keyboard SCIENCE.

Anyway, you can see how it sits on my desk and how it’s directly in front of the chair.

Typing on this board is a dream.  It’s easy to actuate the keys and not totally bottom them.  Well I usually do bottom but I don’t have to thwack them as hard as I do a membrane board like the one I have at work.

There’s not a satisfying click-CLACK like there is with the blues, but I’m very happy with the browns.  I love the sound they make and they’re not mushy at all.  Also, it’s quieter than my other board.  I’m not sure if my upstairs neighbor could hear me (I hope not) but if they could I’m sure they’re happy that I’ve switched boards.

I’m not really missing the keypad on the right; it makes for a quick switch to the mouse when I need it.  The only issue I will find is when doing something with numbers, but I have the Razer that has a keypad on it so I can use that for that application.

Now I want to get a Ducky for work.  I want the Shine 3 but if I can’t find that, I’ll settle for a Zero.  I should also look into getting either Blacks or Browns and putting O-rings on the keys so they’re not as loud.

Anyway, I love this board and it’s a 5/5 for me.  No extra crap, no special drivers, works in Linux and Windows (and Mac for that matter), and it’s small and backlit.  Everything I need.  Nothing I don’t.

Oh, and regarding the non-love for Razer that I mentioned above… I see why many people don’t like them as a company because their boards are… somewhat gaudy and light-covered.  Mine was not, but it was HUGE and I’m glad to have more desk space with the smaller board.  Also, some have had quality issues with their boards.  I’m glad I’ve not, but it’s always a possibility.  Oh, and they market to “gamers” so their boards are a bit pricier than they should be as well as having the lower quality.  So that’s a problem.  I still like my Razer DeathAdder mouse; it works well and I’ll be keeping it for awhile.

New Laptop Backpack

My Swiss Gear backpack ripped on the seam where the zipper is for the secondary compartment (the one where I stash my files/notebook).  I’m not sure what happened, but this shouldn’t happen.  Anyway, I’m going to see if my mother can sew it up and then we can donate it to Goodwill or something.  Because I’ve found something better.

Cue my trip to Microcenter to pick up a keyboard for my brother.  Well, I took my work laptop with me and started looking for a new briefcase.  My laptop is an HP Elitebook 8540w, which is a second-generation of the Elitebook line.  The model I have is a workstation CAD laptop and it’s heavy.  In the Swiss Gear, everything was heavy.  I think the backpack itself was heavy to begin with, and then adding everything I carry (laptop, charger, umbrella, files, notebook, mouse, etc, etc) it got really heavy.  Anyway, I wanted something lighter and initially I was looking for a messenger-style or briefcase-style.  I think they look more professional.  Well, I couldn’t find anything that I liked that was a decent price AND that fit my behemoth of a laptop.  What I did find was something that was $100 and it didn’t have all of the features I wanted.  I turned around to the backpacks and started loading my laptop into various bags (I’m sure I looked goofy to loss prevention) until I found the Everki Glide Laptop Backpack.  I tried it in-store, checked the price (under $80; score!) and decided to buy it by the virtue of my work laptop fitting it in and the pocket looking like it can accommodate a larger laptop (I’ll be upgraded to the 8560W which is slightly larger and heavier; hopefully I’ll have a decent additional battery too so there’s that addon the bag has to fit).

I took it home, cut the tags off, and started loading it.  It took everything I was carrying in my LL Bean book pack (from college!) except for my lunch and shoes.  It can carry my shoes but not my lunchbox, which is fine.

Anyway, how about a couple photos?

2014-02-05 18.31.39Here is the backpack empty and against my wall in the apartment.

2014-02-05 18.31.56

Here it is open and ready to receive my stuff.

2014-02-05 18.30.16Here is all my stuff.  The water bottle is substituted because I left my normal 20 oz one at work.  I also have an iPod Touch as well as a Nexus 7 and also usually a couple of pens and/or pencils.  Those are not shown because they don’t take up a lot of room and they fit in the pen/pencil slots.  The Touch was used to take the pictures and the tablet was forgotten, as it was charging at my charging station.  Anyway, from the top left:

  • Umbrella.
  • Laptop charger.
  • Water bottle.
  • Plastic bag (holds my shoes; I’m currently wearing boots into work because of all the snow).
  • Cloth bag with personal lady items, wipes, and some Shout wipes.
  • BigSkinny bi-fold cellphone wallet (I love it).
  • Portable mouse.
  • Tin with earbuds and charger for the iPod.
  • Zippo lighter (I don’t smoke but a lighter comes in handy).
  • Small day bag/purse in case we go out to lunch and I don’t want to be stuck shoving all my necessities in my pockets.
  • And my laptop.  It’s huge.

2014-02-05 18.34.49Here’s the main compartment filled up.  My umbrella and charger go on the bottom, the laptop in the sleeve for it, my notebook and tablet in the tablet sleeve, and nothing really in that zipper compartment.  I like to have options of where I can stash my stuff.  The shoes fit in my plastic Meijer bag and sit right in the center top between all my other things.

2014-02-05 18.34.55Here’s the organizer pouch thing and I have my wallet in there, the tin with the earbuds and charger in the flap pocket as well as the lighter, my small “personal item” bag in the bottom, and my cell phone in the pouch next to the wallet (you can’t see it because it goes all the way down!).  If I’d had some pens/pencils I’d put them in the slots next to the flap pocket.

2014-02-05 18.35.01 2014-02-05 18.35.12And with these two pictures, you can see how it looks when filled with all those things.  My water bottle goes on the outside pocket, as well as my small purse.  That outside pocket expands to fit everything you put in it.  I wouldn’t stretch it too much, but it does hold a lot of stuff.  I do suppose I could put my shoes in there, but I prefer them to be inside the bag.

2014-02-05 18.35.19Bag from the front when filled.

As you can see. this bag takes a lot of items and I hope it will last for awhile.  I’ve had it for about 2 days or so, so we’ll see how it holds up.  I’ve been carrying my laptop back and forth because of the snow.

Anyway, what I really like about this bag is that it holds all that stuff, but it’s light!  It doesn’t seem to weigh as much as my Swiss Gear ever did.  The straps seem to fit my back and shoulders better than the other one did.  It carries closer to my body and is easier to walk in.  Also, its slimmer than the old one and it fits through the turnstile door a lot better; I have no fear of getting stuck.  The interior is orange, so it’s easy to find what you’ve stashed in various pockets.  The inside of the Swiss Gear was grey, and seemed to swallow and lose things.

For right now, I’d give this bag a 4/5 for fitting most of my stuff (doesn’t fit my lunchbox), for being lightweight, and for being slim so I can carry my things in less space (and not get stuck in the door!).  I really like this bag and it looks different from the other ones everyone else carries, with the black main color and the orange trim.  I really like the padding on the back between my back and my laptop, as well as the corner guards that are built into the bag.

I will probably revisit this review in a few weeks to give an update.  Right now I really like it and it works.

I’d recommend this to anyone looking to carry a large laptop for work as well as its charger and other things and your files/notebooks.

 

 

 

 

HP Chromebook 11 Update

As many of you know, the HP Chromebook 11 had a problem with its charger.  Essentially, the charger ran hot (which is kind of normal; this one ran SUPER hot) and could potentially cause a fire.

After all the jokes about a fire sale and how the Chromebook was “too darn hot” I started looking toward Google to find a replacement charger.  I filled out the form that I got from here and figured that I wouldn’t see it til after the holidays.

I had a couple emails about this, but I figured that I wouldn’t get it anytime soon, so I forgot for awhile.  Imagine my surprise when the following arrived today:

I also was absolutely floored when I also pulled out a $25 Google play gift card.

I knew Google was awesome but I was unaware as to how awesome they were.

Thank you Google.  I also have a nice little note for you in the box I’m sending back to you.

Computer Fiddling

I’ve had a heck of a ride the past week.  I decided to install Xubuntu.  I did a backup and then tested everything on the liveCD and everything worked so I installed it.  Wahoo, everything was quick and nice… except things were really quiet when I tried to play my music collection.

So I investigated and… lo and behold, Xubuntu shipped with a faulty sound indicator.  I tried the various hacks to get it working but nothing worked.  Apparently Ubuntu changed the way the indicator worked or something and the fallback indicator didn’t work at all in Xubuntu.

I got frustrated and shut everything down and decided to deal with it later.

Later came on Friday night.  I wanted to give more room to Windows to accommodate my expanding Steam library, so I booted into an Ubuntu disc and ran gParted.

And promptly started messing around with my partitions and accidentally deleted everything.  I didn’t panic because my stuff was all saved on my external drive, but I was bummed that I’d have to reinstall everything.

And so it went.  I repartitioned my drive so Windows would have about 520 GB of space, and Ubuntu would have 475 GB of space, and I’d have about 5 or so of swap.  (Honestly, I could skip the swap because I have 8 GB of RAM but I’ve been conditioned to have swap.  Five GB is probably not enough but oh well.  I’m not going to run out of RAM anytime soon.)

I installed Windows, did the reboot, and then had a small panic attack because I didn’t have any internet connection.  After finding my motherboard driver disc and installing the drivers, I had internet and could start getting everything else installed including my GPU.  I have most of my “stuff” back, but I need to get things off of the external hard drive which seems to not like to play well with both Linux and Windows.  Annoying.

After getting WoW, D3, and Steam installed, I called it a night.

Cue this morning.  I got breakfast and started on my Ubuntu install.  It takes almost no time to install Ubuntu it seems, especially compared to Windows (even though Windows doesn’t take long to install at all; it’s the drivers that are a pain).  I now am back up in business with my dual-boot system and I have more room for Windows and my games.

Ubuntu currently looks like this:

Ubuntu Screenshot

Ubuntu Screenshot

I cannot remember where I got this wallpaper from; perhaps deviantArt?  If you’re the artist, send me a link and I’ll credit you; I apologize that I can’t remember where I got it.  I basically shrunk the launcher down and changed the wallpaper and put the programs I like in the launcher.  Simple and effective.

HP Chromebook 11

My Macbook Air is having a drive problem right now that can’t be solved until the SSD drives are available for repair.  It’s kind of crappy for Apple to tell a customer when she tries to update that she needs a new hard drive and then not ship those hard drives to the repair centers.  So, I will be going back to Microcenter again when they come in to get the repair actually done.  It’s under a recall so I don’t have to pay for it.

In the meantime, because I can’t use the Macbook, I picked up a stop-gap HP chromebook.  I’m not sure how this will fit into my computing arsenal once I get my Air back, but we’ll see.

Anyway, I picked this up for $279.  Unexpected, but I really don’t want my Air to get damaged beyond repair and ruin any of the internals (I’m not sure if that can happen or not but I’m not taking a chance).

Also, NaNo is going on right now and I’ve missed the first week but I might be able to salvage part of the month with a new story that I’ve been thinking about.  I might work on it through next month too just because.

ANYWAY, I have some unboxing photos.

Firstly, the box.

HP 11" Blue Box

HP Chromebook 11″

I got the blue one, which is the only color they had.  The poor guy that was trying to help me couldn’t get the drawer open on the display and I felt bad for him.

Anyway, that blue stripe slid off to reveal a plain white box:

With the blue stripe off

With the blue stripe off

This is actually pretty classy packaging and it reminds me of the Macbook Air box that I did not have an unboxing for because I unboxed it at the airport.  Anyway, this is simple and without a lot of extra flair.  I like it.

I pulled out my knife and cut the tape and opened it up:

Box Open!

Box Open!

Wow simple.  I like simple.  The white is very clean and the stripe at the top is very understated.  My Macbook Air has more “flair” on it with the glowing apple on the lid.

And now for a pic with all of the stuff out of the box:

Everything out of the box.

Everything out of the box.

There’s the chromebook, a charger, a quick start card, and a guide that has several languages.

I was able to plug it in right away and boot it up.  The cord is a hair short; I’ve gotten used to the Macbook cord that has the brick with the removable extension.  Anyway, I logged in using my google account and most of the stuff I needed right away was there.  I had to add dropbox and a hangouts extension as well as an IRC program but I pretty much have a functional computer on par with what I had on the Macbook.

Some first impressions:

  • The keyboard is nice.  Really nice.  It’s not quite as good as the one on the Air and it’s nothing like my mechanical keyboard, but I sure can type on it, and fast too!
  • The trackpad is… usable.  It’s at least plenty big and supports two-finger scroll but the surface is a little rough.  Granted, I’m comparing this to the trackpad on the Macbook which are top of the line trackpads, but for the price, this is decent.  I turned off tap-to-click and reversed the scroll.  It’s actually pretty good for this price point.
  • The display is gorgeous.  Wow.  On par with the Macbook Air, clear, clean, bright.  Love it.  Shiny, but still usable.  I’d probably get a screen cover if I had to use it in direct sunlight.
  • There are a lot of apps available.  Don’t pay attention to the reviews that say there are “no apps”.  Go to the app store for Chrome and look.  There’s plenty; you just have to figure out which ones you can use on or offline and adjust accordingly for your particular usage.  Many of the reviews are from windows or mac power users that can’t fathom living in the cloud for more than a few files in dropbox.  Granted, I’m kind of that way as well but I’ll just have to adjust to this thing for the time being.
  • I like the way everything seems to work together: Android phone, Android tablet, browser on windows/mac/linux, and now this cloud computer thing.

Basically this is a great little machine to keep on the couch to look up information on or IM while you’re watching TV or blogging.  It’s not going to work if you don’t have access to the internet for a prolonged period.  If you don’t have access to the internet, I’d download your most precious files to a flash drive and then you can edit them offline and then re-sync later.

I will most likely go back to my macbook when it is repaired (because it’s more functional than this) but I will keep this around for when I go somewhere on vacation and might want to type up something.

Verdict: If you need something cheap and decent and not a lot of local storage and can deal with living in the cloud, get this.  If not, get an ultrabook/Macbook Air.  If your Macbook isn’t working right, get this as a backup and work in the cloud til it’s fixed.  It’s a recommend from me for specific uses.

The Saga that is My Graphics Card

So.

Somehow my graphics card stuff got bunged up.  Again.

This time I am using the Xorg-Edgers PPA, and things seem to be running smoothly.  I added the repo, ran “sudo apt-get update” and then closed my terminal and opened the “ubuntu software center” and downloaded and installed the fglrx driver.  Did a reboot (with all my appendages crossed) and lo and behold, it worked!  Now I’m happy and I think I’ll even be able to play Steam games on my desktop under Ubuntu.

Yay for PPAs in Ubuntu.  Seriously, I’m so happy there are people that make these fixes and then put them in an easy to update package that I can just add to my repository list.  It’s great.

Fix catalyst driver in Ubuntu 13.04

gamerchick02:

This is great and I want to be able to fix my Ubuntu ATI drivers after the kernel updates again.

Originally posted on xpressrazor:

1. Introduction

I found lots of people struggling to get catalyst driver work in Ubuntu. This issue has been persistent for some laptops, ever since Ubuntu 13.04 came out, specially for Intel, AMD dual graphics setup. For people, who have been looking at catalyst drivers since http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1930450 post was published, should not be that hard to find the solution, but for those who are new to Linux, or don’t have time for these kinds of issues, this might be a show stopper bug.

View original 1,803 more words

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Golduck Mac

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Finally updated the wallpaper on my Macbook Air.  This is Psyduck!  He was great to confuse an enemy then deal a wallop, switch out to another Pokemon and then finish them off!

Again, you can refer to my other Pokemon themed posts recently to get the wallpapers.  I love these, and I need to transfer them to my work computer so I can have Pokemon there too.

EDIT: it was pointed out in the comments that this is Golduck.  I must have been tired when I posted this because wow.  Changing the title too to reflect it.

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Oddish Tablet

Screenshot_2013-08-08-20-14-09

 

Oddish on my tablet!  I have the same iconset (Minimal UI) that I do on my phone.  I love this iconset; it’s very nice looking!  I’m still using Fancy Widgets and I love that widget program; it’s totally worth every penny.

The wallpaper is from the same site my other Pokemon wallpapers are from; see my last post about how to get it.

Anyway, I’m a huge fan of a team with multiple pokemon on it that can do different things; balance is key to a strong team.

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New Phone Theme

Screenshot_2013-08-07-18-30-16

Changed my wallpaper to Piplup from Pokemon Pearl and kept everything the same except the ringtone and notification sound (Lavender Town Remix and Pikachu’s Victory respectively).  The music I got from Flashygoodness’ bandcamp.  The album is Super Smash Land Hidden Tracks and can be found here.

Pokemon pic can be found here.  Download all the pokemon in one .RAR file and add them to your desktop or phone.

As my dear readers can tell, I really like to change up my phone wallpaper and my ringtones and stuff.  With a smartphone, it’s really easy; I remember having to BUY ringtones on my old flip phone.  How far we’ve come.