Adventures in Smarshland

October 24, 2009

Fresh Install

Filed under: Computer,Worth Sharing — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 5:17 pm

In preparing for Win 7 fresh install I needed to make an inventory of all the applications I wanted on my machine.  It is a good opportunity take stock of what I used and what was just clutter.  If you find this post helpful, please write your own post on you blog and leave a link in the comments.  Or if you don’t have a blog, just leave a list in the comments.

So without further ado:

Applications:

Firefox Extensions

March 8, 2009

Review of Lenovo SL 300 Laptop

Filed under: Computer — smarsh @ 1:10 pm

Not too long ago I purchased a new laptop from Lenovo specifically the SL300 model. Overall, I have been quite pleased with the laptop. However, it is not without its design flaws. For starters, the top of the laptop is made up of glossy finish can you say dust magnet. the screen is also made of a glossy finish. that LCD screen does not have the best off angle viewing either. The screen is plenty bright though. typical of the Lenovo laptop brand the keyboard is of the best quality. I also feel the laptop is very rugged. I have had in the past another laptop from HP which was not to nearly as strongly built. It ended up dying because of a faulty power connector. I do not think this laptop will wear out before the laptop becomes outdated before the technology has been surpassed by something more modern. in other words I think this laptop will be able to take a licking and keep on ticking. one other aspect of the laptop which I don’t like is the sides of the laptop are beveled inward. at first you would think this would make a laptop seen slimmer but actually what it ends up doing is making it more difficult to plug in peripherals. I also think that if I wanted to replace the DVD drive with a more modern Bluray drive since the bay door is beveled it would be difficult to do this. on a positive note the laptop runs very cool and quiet despite having a relatively fast Core 2 Duo P8400 2.26 GHz processor. it is also relatively light being a 13in. laptop but still having a very functional sized keyboard. I also have rather large hands so I’m sure that for the majority of people the keyboard will be an adequate size.

When I was shopping for the laptop I had considered a very small form factor machine like a netbook. However, I found that these netbooks were simply too small to be able to type on reasonably. Perhaps someone with smaller hands could type on a netbook, but I certainly could not. The issue with the netbooks was not the physical size of the keyboard but rather where my wrists ended up landing, right on the edge of it. I almost think if the netbooks had a pullout wrist extension this would solve the typing problems. I also wanted a laptop that could play streaming HD quality video. I suspect the next generation of netbooks based on the Atom processor will be able to stream HD quality video because they will have a GPU on the same chip as the CPU and an integrated memory controller, and a faster front side bus speed. They should also be able to have much better battery of life in the same form factor because the overall real estate of the main board is promised to be 1/3 the size. This should make for more space for a battery without increasing the overall weight or size considerably. Battery life should also be much improved because on the first generation netbooks the northbridge and south bridge actually be used more power than the processor itself.

October 9, 2008

New puter

Filed under: Computer — Tags: , — smarsh @ 7:26 pm

It arrives tomorrow, a brand new shiny Lenovo SL300.  I will try to write a review if I have time.

Status:

In Transit

Rescheduled Delivery: 10/10/2008
Shipped To: MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, OH, US

June 7, 2008

Microsoft does something cool (no sarcasm)

Filed under: Computer — Tags: , , , , — smarsh @ 3:11 pm

Check out Photosynth.  This online photoaggregator takes known pictures of the same thing from the internet from flicker and such social media sites and puts them together in a 3d model that turns landscapes and other areas of interest into something like an online museum.  An amazingly innovative way of using public data to generate something more than the sum of its parts.  Enough words, go experience.

May 24, 2008

Reading, Getting Started Today

Filed under: Computer,Innovation,Worth Sharing — Tags: , , , — smarsh @ 1:04 pm

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

I’m getting started today.  If your time is too committed to work, family, … then you might enjoy Librivox which is like the Wikipedia of audiobooks from the public domain.  Although the books are read by volunteers, the ones I have listened to have been of acceptable quality, especially considering the price (Free).

December 2, 2007

Useful add-on, BugMeNot, avoid pesty registration for websites

Filed under: Computer,Worth Sharing — Tags: , , , , — smarsh @ 5:52 pm

Hate having to register for websites that require you to give your email and a thousand other personal information items? Do you keep a separate junk email address just for these registration websites to avoid getting spam like I do? I think you will appreciate a handy plugin for Firefox called BugMeNot. You can download the extension here. It has a sister plugin called RetailMeNot, which will inform you of available coupons and promo codes for websites you are browsing. Although I have yet to try RetailMeNot, I have been impressed with the BugMeNot plugin and will give it a whirl as well. Both plugins rely on the users to some degree to update the backbone website with information. For instance if you come across a website that requires registration, you can volunteer yourself as the guinea pig and fill out the information to get a valid username and password which everyone else can benefit from. A similar concept applies to the retail version, if you are aware of a promo code you can enter the information on the RetailMeNot website which will in turn alert everyone who visits that retail website with the plugin installed.

November 30, 2007

HD DVD Player

Filed under: Computer,Life — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 7:44 pm

My new HD DVD player which I wrote about earlier here arrive yesterday and just let me say, total worth the money.  The HD DVD player came with 300 and The Bourne Identity and the A/V quality is stunning.

November 27, 2007

Taking Sides on the HD Format War

Filed under: Computer — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 12:57 am

My dvd player recently died or was at least severely crippled.  The player insisted on opening the disk tray every ten seconds or so if there wasn’t a disc inserted, then retracted itself, powered off, turned back on and then repeated the process.  Oh, and it also failed to play discs which is the quintessential part of a player.  So I went shopping for a new player and low an behold I found an HD DVD player that was just about as cheap ($180) as most standard upconverting DVD players.  This certainly blows the entry point for a Blueray player out of the water.  The player I went with was a Toshiba HD A3 which has an HDMI connection which should improve the picture quality since it is a digital signal compared to the analog signal that is currently being passed to my HDTV using component inputs.  I’ve placed the new Transformers movie on my Netflix queue to try it out.  I’ve heard the visuals in this movie are a true test of a home theater system and make for a great reference scene.  I’m a consumer whore.

November 20, 2007

Useful WordPress Plugins

Filed under: Computer — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 7:18 pm

The only thing I really felt was lacking with WordPress was the lack of a fullscreen editor for writing posts. Well, as it turns out, there are two plugins for WordPress which enable fullscreen editing capability and many other useful features. The first is Super Edit and the second piggybacks on Super Edit and is called Fullscreen for WP Super Edit.  These two plugins get the smarsh stamp of approval.  I think the install instructions are pretty well written and the way I know they are well written is because even Luddite such as myself can understand them.

November 5, 2007

Specs for new HTPC

Filed under: Computer,Life — Tags: , — smarsh @ 12:50 am

I have been trying to compile the different pieces of my new HTPC (Home Theater PC). The biggest challenge I have encountered is trying to find a case that matches my wants and needs. The following are the criteria I have for the case:

  • Clean black front
  • Front access for USB (at least two ports) and Firewire
  • Front access for media card reader
  • Larger case fans (preferably 80mm) so that sound from the case is minimal (remember used in a Home Theater so less ambient noise is important)
  • Accomodate full ATX motherboard
  • Accomodate full length graphics card (Nvidia 8800 GT)
  • Preferably reasonably priced ~$160 USD

I have created a wishlist at Newegg, to view it go here. I have looked high and low for a case and they all seem to have compromises. The cases from Lian Li seem to be the best of the lot. My brother has suggested buying the new Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT because it will be able to handle upconverting and scaling of video well, which is a primary goal of my system.

Pricing out the system:
Case ~160.00
Power supply 80.00
Motherboard 135.00
Memory 95.00
DVD-Burner 40.00
Hard Drive 80.00
Processor 230.00
Graphics Card 200.00-250.00
TV Tuner ~80.00?

Total Cost ~1125.00

My reaction to the total cost is…crap that’s a lot. Any suggestions as to where I can shave some money without sacrificing a lot of performance. I’m ok with starting off smaller and expanding my system down the road. My other reaction is that some of the money that is going into the system is longer term expenditure which will remain largely undepreciated regardless of technological improvements which might make me want to upgrade. The case, power supply, DVD burner, and hard drive will probably stay with the system for the next round of upgrades whenever that happens to be. So about 350 dollars of the system is more of an initial outlay. Nonetheless, sticker shock.

Comments, suggestions, Bueller?

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