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Windows Vista

“I love technology… Always and forever….” Really, I do my best to keep up with the fastest hardware, newest software and latest technology news. Sadly, it’s too expensive to stay on the cutting edge, but I do try. I currently have one Mac mini, one Linux, one Vista, and an XP machine. The Mac OS is cool – no doubt about it – but it doesn’t have some of the software I use regularly. It’s been a while since I’ve tried Linux, so I recently installed Ubuntu on a low-end netbook. The Linux runs very well with only 512MB of RAM and is a decent, stable OS. My main machine is an aging Dell XPS 600 running Windows XP. I use this machine most of the time, but I also have a newer Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop, which came with Windows Vista.

Typically, I’d be an early adapter to a new OS. I’m not one of those older users who doesn’t like change and doesn’t want to learn a new way of doing things. I enjoy learning new programs and better ways to get things done. But I just can’t warm to Windows Vista. I usually learn new software just by using it, but Vista is not very intuitive. One frustrating example: Networking is supposed to be easier with Vista, but where is the home network set up wizard? So many people have asked me to help them network new computers. It’s easy to connect to the internet, but creating a home network is confusing. Try as I have, I still find Windows XP all around easier to use. I really tried to convert, but I’m about ready to reformat the drive and install Windows XP on my Inspiron.

I think Vista will go down in history alongside Windows ME as another step backward for Microsoft.


My New Friend

Here is a deal I couldn’t resist. I know, I’m weak when it comes to computers.

Netbooks are the hot new gadget started by ASUS with their Eee PC and now Dell, HP and others have jumped on board. Netbooks are not really new, but they are finally powerful enough and priced to sell. The average Netbook runs around $300 to $400, but I picked up a basic Dell Mini 9 for $189! Regular price is $249, but I hit a sale along with a discount and free shipping.

Here is the Inspiron Mini 9 next to my Inspiron 1525 for size comparison. The 1525 is a standard 15.4 inch notebook.
I’ll paste the full specs of the Mini 9 below.

I’ve just started playing with my new friend. The netbook only weighs about 2 lbs. and has a nice shiny black finish. It does come in other colors, but for this deal, a different color would have cost more and I was determined to keep the cost under $200. The netbook feels solid and well-made.

I haven’t used Linux much, so I’m excited to learn my way around the operating system. The initial setup was easy. Of course all the software and drivers are already installed by Dell. The first thing I noticed is how fast the machine boots (in less than 1 minute). This version of Linux is intuitive and windows-like, so no problem finding my way around so far. It also comes with many useful Linux programs and really no crapware that often comes with new computers. Nice!

An upgrade I did consider was to increase the memory from 512MB to 1GM, but after using Linux for a little while, it seems to run just fine on 512MG. It’s responsive and peppy. Another upgrade I considered was the hard drive. The netbook comes with a 4GB solid state drive (kind of like a cameras flash memory, so no moving parts). Again, this is fine for surfing the web, but I considered upgrading so that I would have some storage space for photos when I go on vacation. On my last vacation I took about 5GB of photos. The netbook also comes with a build-in card reader, but my Canon Rebel uses a CF card which can’t be read on the card reader. So, I’ll probably still bring my full-sized laptop on vacations.

It already has Firefox installed, which is my favorite browser, so when I’m on-line, I’d never even know I was using a Linux machine. And since the main job of a netbook is to surf the internet, there is really no reason to pay extra for Windows. From what I’ve read, installing new programs on Linux is not as easy as Windows, but so far I haven’t needed anything that didn’t already come pre-installed.

When connecting to my wireless network, I noticed that the Mini picked up dozens of other area networks, many more than my regular laptop and a nice strong signal. So, I assume it has a pretty good built-in antenna.

The sound is decent for such a small machine. It has two good size speakers just below the monitor. The sound is actually better than my full-sized Inspiron. It also has a built-in headphone and microphone jack.

The monitor is only 9 inches, but bigger than some other netbooks and it is sharp and bright.

This is a neat little tool for email, surfing the web and maybe some basic word processing. It runs Ubuntu very well with just 512MB RAM. It has a very small solid-state hard drive, so very little storage space, but storage is not really the purpose of a netbook. So far, I’m very please with the Mini 9. A super netbook for the price. I don’t think I’d be willing to spend more on a netbook.

Full Specs:

— Inspiron Mini 9n —
— Intel® Atom Processor® N270 (1.6GHz/533Mhz FSB/512K cache)
— 512MB DDR2 at 533MHz
— LCD Panel —
— Glossy 8.9 inch LED display (1024X600)
— Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
— Hard Drive —
— 4GB Solid State Drive
— Ubuntu Linux version 8.04.1
— Sound —
— Base LCD Assembly
— Wireless —
— Wireless 802.11g Mini Card
— Camera Module —
— No Camera Option
— Battery —
— 32WHr Battery (4 cell)