Tuesday, March 22 2016

Apple talking smack about six-year old machines
[23:18:17] matt []/Psi+ Watching the "Loop-in Event" yesterday, Apple had a segment where the speaker made derogatory comment about people who owned computers that were six years old. At the time I was working on an EeePC that was from mid-2008 (about seven years old). It works for me, and frankly computers frive five years ago should work fine for 99% of computer users; but that's not the oddest thing about the statement.

My work laptop is a 15" Macbook, based on an Intel Haswell chip (two generations old) and is from 2013. In nearly three years since it was released (mid-2013), the current model has barely changed (the CPU speeds have changed from a base 2.0GHz to a top 2.6GHz, the currently line starts at 2.2GHz and tops-out at 2.8GHz). That means that buying a brand-new Macbook Pro Retina 15" gets you a three-year old machine right now. The previous model of the Macbook Pro Retina 15" was based on Intel's Sandy Bridge chip, and was essentially unchanged since the Macbook Pro Retina was announced in mid-2012, nearly four years ago. Feeling nostalgic, or simply want to replace your aged nearly six-year-old comptuer with something nearly four-years-old? The good news is that the mid-2012 Macbook is still available new from Apple today for $1099.

In general, Apple's on a 2.5-3 year major upgrade cycle on the Macbook Pro depending on how you define a "major" upgrade (I'm looking essentially at the chipset and processor generation). What a six-year old machine means in Apple-speak is at *most* two generations back. Chances are, a non-Apple PC purchased at that time would be closer to the upcoming generation of Apple computers, so most users with a six-year old computer are on-par with a previous generation Apple computer, or on par with the currently shipping non-Retina Macbook Pro.

Friday, April 29 2011

Looking at Laptops
[14:48:02] matt []/Psi.dementia Newegg has a G4 MacBook for $200. I was almost tempted to get this now that there are reverse-engineered (open) drivers for the WiFi card, and I don't hae a personal laptop. However, the G4 comes with only 512MB RAM and is 5.4 lbs--which surprisingly Dell considers close to an "ultra-lightweight" (<5 lbs) which is laughable.

The best options on Newegg are an EeePC at $290 in beautiful Hot Pink, and an IdeaPad in normal Black for something over $300. Both have very similar specs, with the IdeaPad providing a 5-in-1 card reader (with no indication of what's supported, e.g. SD, MMC, SD-HD could be counted as three of them) but a lower quality webcam--as if there's really a difference.

But presumably all of these come with glary screens. Lenovo has basically removed the configuration options on their laptops (some let you configure accessories, but the hardware on the models I found the configurator for were fixed--others just had "buy it now" links).

Dell still has a configurator, which makes you select everything in turn before seeing the next option, and with a "talk to a representative now!" box that falls from the top of the screen instilling the feeling of a Regis Long Pause right after you give your Final Answer. I don't even know what I could have configured because it was so incredibly annoying.

Friday, July 9 2010

[00:29:44] matt []/Merch Jamie upgraded her EeePC yesterday from Karmic to Lucid. It went surprisingly smooth, although the EeePC ACPI scripts packqage is apparently broken (depends on ACPI-base or some other packqage is apparently broken (depends on ACPI-base or some other packqage that's not there, and wireless was broken. Looking on the webs; I found various people people saying that it didn't work out-of-the-box with "fixes" ranging from ndiswrapper to pulling source from version control. The latter seemed odd as it'd been working in Karmic. Finally a poster indicated that his problem was caused by the wireless card being disabled in the BIOS .... sure enough, rebooting and looking in the BIOS config it turned out that was what happened, oddly.

Tuesday, April 13 2010

Fancy Small Computers
[19:49:41] matt []/kerberos I remember a time, not so long ago, that it was difficult to find a small computer that was portable and had a long battery. The OQO looked intriguing, but it would continue to be vaporware for several years. The only thing I could find was the Fujitsu Lifebook P-series, which at the time was using the exciting new Transmeta Crusoe chips designed for energy efficiency. Unfortunately, even compared to the computers of the day, that laptop was slow.

These days "netbooks", much to the shagrin of Psion, are bountiful--often running on Intel's x86-compatible Atom processor, although increasingly running on ARM Snapdragons (supported by Maemo, Android, and Ubuntu Linux distributions among countless other variants). Jamie just got an Assus EeePC that's running Ubuntu; my mother has an Acer Aspire One running some MicroSoft version. I borrowed the EeePC and didn't want to give it back, it's really well done given a single-use mentality (the Netbook Remix variation of Ubuntu is very Mac-like).

The question I find myself pondering is what do I really want? I recently picked-up the Nokia N900 which runs at a decent clip, the Maemo 5 (Fremantle) interface is pretty snappy, and I've really gotten used to the touch interface for anything non-productive ("consumptive") tasks. It's actually a very amazing machine that in practice is very much like that P-2110 but smaller.

In the end there's a lot of small options, and they each have a different niche to fill--but I'm not sure how much overlap they all have. It could be that one covers too much of another's niche, making two distinct devices redundant. I can carry the N900 instead of the E61; but it doesn't replace the Neo when I need a small pocketable phone. I could carry the EeePC on trips where it would take-up less space than the MacBook, and still have a phenominal-for-a-laptop keyboard to compose messages or configure machines, or even do work albeit on a small screen. But what does that really get me? A slightly bigger screen (2") and a bigger keyboard, at the cost of another device--and one that doesn't have a ubiquitous Internet access at that.

If more areas had converted to municipal WiFi, it might be a different situation.