Saturday, September 29, 2007

First looks at the HP Pavilion DV9500 Model 9653cl My old workhorse Dell Inspiron laptop died suddenly while on a business trip, forcing me to select a replacement from what was available for sale over the counter in Missoula Montana. I haven't been paying attention to the progression of computer computer tech lately, so I dove in and learned about Core 2 Duo and DX 10 cards and Vista. After doing a bit of research on what was available online and locally, I selected this 17" beauty. My qualifications had to do with screen resolution (need to have room for my Fireworks palettes and workspace so 1440 pixels across at least), and I wanted a decent screen. The old Dell was missing a few colors from its gamut and I wanted to make sure I could see all 16 million colors on the new PC, and that it was evenly bright from top to bottom. I do a little sound editing, so I wanted a decent sound card. I also wanted to be able to game a little and to burn CDs or DVDs. The HP Pavilion 9500 has a 1400 x 900 screen resolution, which is a bit short of the Inspiron's 1440 x 1050. I think that I will be able to make do without the 150 pixels on the bottom. It's not so bad to scroll up and down when I am designing. As I was doing my research I spent some time looking for some LCD test patterns, and put that page on a USB thumb drive to take with me to the store. I looked at as many different laptops as had 1440 resolutions, and the HP came out better than all but the Macbook pro. The top to bottom evenness isn't perfect, but it was better than some others. Otherwise the screen looked good. No banding. Even gamma. Good separation between examples of the lightest and darkest shades. I like the 17" screen. It's bigger than the Dell's 15" screen for the same amount of pixels, so it's easier to read. Oh, for the record, the Macbook Pro I looked at had the best screen, and the big Apple imac screen sucked. I haven't tried anything with the sound card yet, so I will have to write about that later. The Pavilion has a nVidia 8600gs with 256 MB and is therefore Directx 10 compatible. I downloaded a demo one of the games I had been wishing I could play...Quake Wars...and it plays smoothly. (and it's fun!) It also has 4MB of L2 cache and an 800mHz frontside bus. So, this should help it keep up for an extra year or two. It has a Lightscribe DVD burner in it, which I can't wait to try out. I like having an integrated 10 key on the keyboard, too. I wasn't really in the market for a 17" laptop because of the weight, but this way I am not packing around a separate keyboard for gaming and for the 10 key. I am pleasantly surprised by how much I like the keyboard. Another thing I like is the sensitivity of the integrated wireless. As far as HP quality concerns go, I have had a poor impression of HP products for years, owing to some personal experiences of failures and lots of nightmare tech support anecdotes from the intarwebs. But, another tech pro that I know gets HP for his wife, and I know that I wouldn't want to inflict bad tech on my woman. So I will have to reserve judgment on reliability. As far as the machine itself is concerned. It's beautiful. The top has an abstract pattern of swirls and lines in black and dark grey, and it's very polished. The screen is highly polished and the keyboard area has a subtle pattern that echoes the top. The speakers are hidden by a metal grille above the keyboard and there are a row of pretty blue lights along the top for the audio and video controls. Overall, I really like it so far. It's fast and operationally it feels solid.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bill Gates sees the handwriting on the wall

I downloaded a copy of Unbuntu Linux the other day. I clicked on download. I was hooked to a fast pipe, so I got the whole ISO in 20 minutes. (Wow! Never been on a fat pipe like that before.) I had to figure out how to do an MD5 a free utility...say...five minutes of research. I burned a disc. Another five minutes. I popped the disc in the computer and rebooted. Unbutu's live cd installs itself into your RAM and a swap disk. Your computer is not changed one iota. Ubuntu looks cool. (Linux desktops look cool. When did the designers get into the Linux world? Was it with OSX?) It comes with office software, a bunch of games, firefox, evolution(full featured Outlook clone). You can get more software, choosing from some 10,000 (!) titles using built in browser like XP's add/remove programs, have them automagically downloaded and installed. Apparently you can run windows games through an emulator, even games like WoW. So, I am guessing Gates saw what I saw and he realized that the era of Empire is drawing to a close. Both of his main products are being given away in a package that looks better than and outperforms his own stuff. You can't compete with that business model. Time to throw in the towel. Leave it to Ballmer/Ozzie to reap the rewards of being the leaders who oversaw the downfall of the world's most famous software comapny.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Yesterday I got a call from a client that they could not download their orders into Quickbooks with Miva Synchro. They were getting an error message that read: "Quickbooks found an error when parsing the provided XML text stream." After looking around a bit, I found that some one had placed an order in Miva Merchant for $0 (zero dollars) somehow. I guessed that if we got rid of this order, that Quickbooks would be happier with the provided XML text stream, and it was. :-)