Est. 2007

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Pentium Dual Core is Basically a Core 2 Duo

In Tech on May 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Something quite interesting just struck me. I decided to have a close look at pentium dual cores and their benchmarks specifically.

Ever since the release of the new core i3,i5 and i7 series this year, core 2 duos have been discontinued and the many shops are getting rid of their existing stock. Here in New Zealand, a core 2 duo with a t6500 processor ran around the $1200 mark upto early this year and they continue to do so in some instances.

On the other hand, we have some new pentium dual cores. Late last year saw the introduction of the t4400 and this year we will see the t4500. These seem to be very much the same as the core 2 duos in terms of architecture and it seems that intel is leveraging on that. I always thought that the pentiums would lack a lot of the function so of the core 2 duos, but I find that I am quite wrong. I found from cpubenchmarks and intel’s website that they are quite the same in many terms. The t4400 is quite comparable to the t6600 for example except that t4400 has just 1mb l2 cache where the t6600 has 2mb. From the benchmarks it is quite apparent that this doesn’t make much of a difference in performance. In terms of price, it is possible to pick up a laptop with a t4400 chip for around $850.

That means there is a good price advantage in buying one, especially for those who just need it for basic use and don’t want to shell out the extra for a core i3. It is also a no-brainer that there is no point buying a core 2 duo at a higher price than the new pentiums.

The Spray Can

Macbook Setup

In Life, Tech on May 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm

OK, very sorry for the poor image there, but its been taken from my less then stellar mobile phone camera. Anyway, as you can see its pretty basic in all respects.

I basically got a Maxtor basics HDD; the one with mac sticker on it. There is a belkin 7 port powered usb hub in there as well. You may be able to see the yellow/white Kingston thumb drive sticking up from the top as well. There is the iPod touch. Obviously, the computer you see sitting there is a Macbook (early 2009). It’s been propped up on a book. It also runs Win 7 for all those Info-sys assignments.

Now the main thing here is kinda my take on the usb hub. I believe it’s probably the best thing I ever bought. It is powered so I know that every thing is going to work well and it has so far. It also has those top mounted ports and that makes it easy to plug in USB drives and my iPod for syncing. It’s also got a cable conduit so that all my cables that need to be on the desk stay that way. The hub practically lets me have a docking station. At the moment its got a printer, HDD and a tuner card hooked up to it along with that flash drive. I really do think Belkin make the best usb hubs by far. Some of the others are just so ugly that they can’t be put on the desk comfortably, especially if you are conscious of aesthetics.

I’m still pondering if I should get a stand and separate keyboard and mouse and possibly even a separate monitor. I can’t seem to bring myself to shell out the extra cash for the lot. Perhaps later this year or even the next. There really isn’t much choice if you want to get a mac specific keyboard; you either have to buy the Apple versions or a logitech diNovo. Otherwise, it’s just going to have to be a PC version if you want a cheap one. With stands, there is a dime a dozen. It’s easy to find a custom made one as well that could be made out of wood or plastic or even aluminum and steel. Mice are dime a dozen as well, logitech make some really nice ones and of course there is the magic mouse by Apple. Anyway you cut it, there is a fair price to pay for a decent ergonomic setup.

The Spray Can

Ubuntu 10.04

In Tech, ubuntu on May 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm

So if you’re like me and have been away from Linux for a while now, the good news is that Ubuntu 10.04 has been released. This marks a long term service release (LTS). Also of great controversy is the change in the colour scheme from brown/orange to purple/black.

Personally, I’ve installed this on my brother’s notebook. There are a lot of noticeable changes to the whole system. One of the biggest that I have noticed is the installation of restricted drivers for graphics and wireless cards. This has become quite easy as the system will warn you that you need to install them and will do so if you request. Also, the specialized function keys worked straight out of the box and so did suspend. The use of the ext4 file system as default is the second. The system also has started using grub 2.0; however, I am unsure as to when they started doing this. Personally, being quite well versed with legacy grub, it is a bit cumbersome to go to different files to change different things. I much preferred the text file system of changing settings of the old grub. I still find that partitioning the system with gparted is better than waiting for the installer to allow you to do it. The installer still isn’t quite as intuitive and feature rich as gparted in its entirety.

In the more general review, I can safely say that the distro is maturing well. For many new users it can be a far more pleasant experience than previously. I also believe that it can cater for many basic computer user needs with all the in built software that it comes with. The restricted media codecs and flash are also quite easy to install using the medibuntu repository. Sure, I found that flash wasn’t perfect and didn’t perform as expected, but i’m sure they’ll fix that soon enough.

So, let’s recap on linux’s position. You can pretty much install it on a machine and 9/10 times it should all work fine including wifi and graphics even those pesky Broadcom ones. You got all you basic apps all in there, including office productivity software, music, web, email, bit torrent, IM and the list goes on. For all I know my PC can suspend pretty well and this is on a very budget machine, hence I believe that is all good for the most part for all. Linux has got eye-candy in the form of Compiz. It runs very well on net-books with special net-book versions that cater for that market, which includes ubuntu remix and whole bunch of others out there. In terms of peripherals, printers that are compatible with a mac should work since mac and linux use Cups. A range of tuner cards are supported and most other things like webcams should work; obviously with many exceptions. In the more general linux traits side, it still needs no virus protection. It can still manage to kill apps without shutting down. It can still go days without a reboot.

I think Linux in general is at that point where it can succeed as a desktop system. I do believe that many of us out there that use a system mostly for the web and basic things can manage to use linux and especially ubuntu as a distro for everyday use. I do believe that people should give it a try and not be prejudicial towards it. So many people simply dismiss something because they are too afraid of change. That’s what’s got us into this whole Windows monopoly in the first place. We’ve had relative stability with XP, but guess what, the regular cycle for Microsoft is around 3 years and paying the big bucks every time a new version comes out is a really big part of IT costs to big companies and even non-profits and schools despite the volume discounts. Just look at those that bought a Vista PC, they might not want to buy a new computer, but it seems like they should just cause the retail version of the upgrade license for windows 7 runs in the hundreds of dollars. The other issue is of ethics, just think about it, it is ethical for schools to use and force the use of proprietary software. In the end, the answer lies with users, they vote with their choices and so it comes down to them. So, wouldn’t you say, people should know their choices before they make that choice. All the good reason to try Linux, wouldn’t you say?

The Spray Can

Tomizone

In Tech on September 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm

So, you want to make money from selling your wifi? Not to worry, now you can. Before, setting up a hotspot where users would pay was very difficult and something that only those who had the time and money would do. Today, it isn’t so had to do at all. In fact, there are a few ways that you can.

Firstly, if you are still a little bit more tech savvy, you could set up a linux server and a capture web portal so that you can bring your clients to a splash page for them to pay you. Most probably and the easiest way would be to get them to buy vouchers from you or alternatively by using paypal. This is the hardest of all the solutions

Secondly, you could tone it down and buy a linux based router, some of the linksys ones come to mind, and install DD-wrt or openWRT and then chillispot. Basically, this solution is no different from the last apart from the fact that you don’t have to have a full computer running all the time.

The third method would be to use something like FON or Tomizone. Tomizone allows paid users while FON doesn’t. Tomizone is also available preinstalled on some routers in NZ and Orcon has some sort of partnership with them too. The D-link 300 router is probably the most popular router that comes with Tomizone. Tomizone is also based on Chillispot and the associated customized firmware; however, you don’t have to worry about the billing, marketing or the pricing. It is all done for you. You get put on a map of all the hotspots Tomizone has and mind you they also do the hotspots in all the Esquires and Starbucks coffee shops in NZ. The price is set to $3 an hour or 60mb, $6.5o a day or 160mb or $30 a week for 1.2GB. It’s either data or time whichever comes first. The hotspot provider gets 50% of that amount and tomizone keeps 50% for itself, but at least they save you all the trouble of setting up and managing your own and not to mention handling the billing. You are allowed to give guest access to people you know. The D-Link 300 also has dual SSID, so you can use one of them while the other is for the hotspot.

I have an unlimited data plan, so I have no data cap. My traffic is shaped and prioritized, so VOIP then HTTP and the like then other things and then P2P. So any thing I sell won’t affect won’t really affect me. Plus, you can set a maximum bandwidth for the hotspot side. So far in the last 1.5 weeks I have made $45. This is not bad considering that the connection only costs me $50 a month. I think the reason for my success is that an AUT building is right behind my apartment and someone buys a pass every now and then.

Overall, very good. At least I got some income going. I wish I thought of this earlier. The money from the first two weeks will practically pay for the router.

The Spray Can

Windows 7 – Free for UoA Students

In Tech on August 16, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Well well folks. Windows 7 has gone to manufacturing some time this month and has already become available for subscribers to MSDN and to volume license customers. It will be released publically on 22nd October.  Obviously people buying computers with Vista Home premium and above will be eligible to upgrade for free if they purchase a computer after Some time in June.

Why have I said all this?

Well. I have got a copy of the final release and have installed it on my Macbook. Basically, dual booted it.

How have I got a copy?

I got a copy from my university: the university of Auckland. All students doing any of the information systems and operations management courses can get a copy for free along with other software as well. This is the reward for going to one of the leading universities in New Zealand and a top 50 university in the world.

Review

Windows 7 is quite an improvement over its predecessor in quite a few ways. Firstly, it looks and feels slightly better and is move responsive and has a decent boot up speed. It jams well with my mac and all the drivers that Apple included for Windows. I managed to install some games that were meant for XP and Vista without too much trouble and they worked fine. I must say that the annoying UAC thing is much better and overall the system feels much more lightweight and faster.

I really haven’t done much with it yet, but the system is looking hopeful. Commercially, Windows 7 will probably the success that Vista never was. It is good enough to run on a netbook and hat means Buh bye XP. Expect prices of Netbooks to rise as many of them will start to ship with windows 7.

Overall, very pleasing indeed, especially for free!

The Spray Can

Hard Drive Failure (Maxtor)

In Tech on May 27, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Well, here is something to talk about and think about. Hard drives. We all have one in our computers to store our “digital lives”. We all dread the day that we might lose this “life” of ours. Thanks to the internet most of the important stuff like emails are safe. Well I have had a rather tragic incident in the past week.

My external hard drive kinda died on me. Well not really died, just having some power supply problems. It had been set up to back up my computer with time machine every hour and this was all fine and dandy for a week while it worked. One day I just put the mac to sleep and went out, when I got home although I hadn’t realized until late in the night the drive had stopped working. There was no power coming to it. This was on a Saturday. May I just point out now that it is a Maxtor Basics drive made by seagate so it has three year warranty. I had to wait till Monday afternoon to call tech support to have it checked out. They concluded that the power supply might be the problem and obviously said that they would send me a new one in about two weeks time. It hasn’t been two weeks yet so I’m still waiting for it.

The bad news is that if the power supply is not the issue, the hard drive is. I will have to send the drive back to Singapore from New Zealand to have it replaced and this could cost me about $40. I am hoping this does not happen and the new power supply fixes it up.

The overriding concern here is that some brands and makes are just better than others and Maxtor has had a bad spell for a while now, I was just silently hoping I would not become part of the lot that was bad; however, I’m happy that it happened early on so that I will be compensated within warranty. The other concern is my cost to send it as well as the risk to send it so far away for replacement; who really wants to do this? Thirdly, they will not send a new drive but rather a refurbished one (aka repaired one). This drive could possibly be a four year old drive that they have repaired compared to my 3 month old drive.

Some thing to think about Seagate. Ideally we want a new drive.

Anyone have any similar experiences with Maxtor or Seagate or any comments let me know.

The Spray Can

Cell Phones- Cheap like chips; Cheap on quality

In Life on April 10, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Having moved back over to New Zealand I had to buy my self a new phone. The one that I had from Fiji was obviously locked and wouldn’t work here. I got one of the starter packs for prepay from Vodafone like most folks do; it cost me $35! I then slowly looked for a handset.

There were many models, but my observation was that the market mostly liked phones from over $200 to about $1000. I just wanted something that texts and calls and none of the fancy stuff, but I suppose it was hard but I finally managed to buy the cheapest at the time. I got myself an LG flip phone that cost my $99 and also included a starter pack. The starter pack was basically put aside. I liked the phone, it wasn’t bad though it wasn’t like my old (more like my other) Nokia 1680c.

There is just one problem. After about a week or two, the sound quality deteriorated and finally I would not be able to hear the phone ring or hear the other person over the phone if I called someone. So naturally, I went over to have it sent away to be fixed. I had to use Vodafone so that I would have a loan phone in between, since the store I bought it from wouldn’t give me one. The phone came back after about two weeks.

Here’s the bad news, the same problem occurs again after it is fixed. This time I’m furious. If it happens once, it is ok just a faulty part. When it happens a second time, that just means that the phone is just no good and it is likely to occur over and over again. I took it back to vodafone and thought that I wold have to accept that they would send it over to the repairing folk again, but I was so furious at the time that I took it over to Dick Smith and had a great big fuss with the manager. He finally agreed that if he had one in stock, he would swap the handset only. He apparently had none. He checked if I had everything from the box and lucky for me I had not used up the starter pack. I inevitably, ended up choosing to go with a Samsung slide phone which was $109. It is dearer by more than $10 since I lose out on that additional starter pack, but at least I have a working phone now with two more years of warranty.

At the end of the day, the moral of the story is that everything is cheap these days but it is also cheap quality. Though, even the best of them are just as bad (or as good). You just have to be assertive about standards.

The Spray Can

My New Macbook White

In Tech on April 5, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Well it has been a while since I last wrote any new post; I have moved to New Zealand since then. More importantly, I bought a new computer since then. I was thinking to buy one of those net-books that everyone is raving about especially since I had been using linux for a while. I had thought they would cost around $600-700 but when you really look at the shops here they usually just have the Windows versions with HDDs instead of flash memory and often are in the $800-1200 range. It really isn’t worth it at that price point. I naturally would have bought a desktop to go with it but for me in my studio accommodation I had to be considerate of desk space plus weight in portability. Eventually as the title suggests, I bought a new Macbook white.

What I eventually figured in to my decision was the space it took up, the price, what operating system it really ran as it had to be stable and robust. also, the new windows 7 is about to rear its ugly head, so I would not like to be stuck with an old system in a year or so and finally it’s portability and battery life.

The net-book (linux) and desktop (windows) combination would have worked out well, but the desktop would have been too bulky and take up too much space. Added to this is the fact that it would have taken me a while to build one if I really wanted to get a good deal. The other side of the story is that the net-book may not have been more than a fancy gadget with it’s relatively small screen although quite portable and they do have long battery lives up to 8 hours. Having vista on the desktop would mean changing the operating system in a year or so and this would just be a pain. The other fact is that buying two computers is okay but a little over the top in terms of cost plus files have to be synced up all the time.

The other most obvious choice is simply to buy a nice sized laptop(windows). The standard size these days is 15.4 or 15.6 wide screen. Usually available cheap and for as little as $900, but the ideal price is around $1500 for decent one with a T6400 processor and if you really want the latest processor then around $2000 for a P8600. This is not a bad price range and usually they would be more than enough. The two down sides here are obviously the size as it is not ideal to be lugging around a laptop that big all day. It would have a short battery life and also that problem of being outdated quickly.

In the end I picked a Macbook white. Why? Well for starters it is a laptop and it is portable. It has a 4.5 hour battery life. It is a compromise between the 9 inch of a net-book and the 15 inch screen of a normal laptop with its 13.3 inch screen. It is about an inch thick so that is good as well. It runs a brilliant OS for day to day productivity and it is a robust and reliable being a unix based OS. It sits well in terms of price at $1749 NZD. It is also an excellent opportunity to see how good Mac really is. At this price I could also add a bigger display to make it more desktop like if I wanted to and still be under $2000. I can also always buy  another computer later if I want to like a desktop and still have this one which is a perfectly functional machine.

Take note that the Macbook white itself is a great deal because it can be relatively compared to windows laptops and it won’t be so bad. It will have a smaller drive, 250-320gb in a windows one while this one has just 120gb. It has comparable ram as it has DDR2 2gb, which will be around the same in a windows one. On the other hand, it has much better graphics processor, a Geforce 9400M; many windows ones will have a lower one or an integrated one. Also, the new Macbook white has the new P7350 processor which is a bit better than the T6400 of the windows ones. Generally the macbook is still dear but by just a margin, but consider that if you bought a 13 inch windows one specifically then it would be dearer than the Macbook. On a side note, the new macbook is really nice and all with its unibody design DDR3 ram and LED display, but I’m not so sure it is worth the additional 550 dollars and it does break that $2000 barrier.

I have bought my Mac from the Campus reseller which gives the educational discount, in my case 100 dollars. Plus a 100 off Microsoft Office 2008, so that made that 160. Apple also offered a 219 dollar rebate on a purchase of an ipod nano or touch. That meant that I could have got my ipod for as little as 30 dollars, but I’m not so cheap. I got the 16GB iPod touch. The rebate will basically be 40% of the purchase price. I have sent in the rebate from, but I’m not so sure they have got it and whether I will get my money. The other disappointment was that the Laptop they had given me initially had scratches on it and looked like it had been double sealed. I obviously got it replaced and have had no problems since then.

Digicel Fiji

In Life, Tech on October 3, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Well, the opening of the new mobile phone giant in Fiji was done in one of the most extravagent ways with Sean Kingston performing live before a crowd of thousands for FREE. This is in line with many other launches in the Pacific where stars like Shaggy were brought in to promote the company. Local artists were also present at the event.

The day was filled with lots of hype and the media were having a feild day with it. The Fiji Times and The Fiji Sun being filled with advertisements from all communication companies, namely Vodafone, Inkk, Telecom and of course Digicel. Digicel went on further to subsidise the Fiji Sun which costed 40 cents on the day. Digicel offered phones at cheap prices and had some free credit up for grabs for all new customers in October.

The thing to analyse now is whether the company will make any headway in trying to gain significant market share as Vodafone has been deep rooted here on the account of its 14 year long reign. Though it seems that people are eager to switch if the price is right, they are not blind. The firm advertisers free credit but the credit comes with significant disadvantages. The bulk of the credit can only be used for calls and texts to other Digicel phones, which is not very useful as existing customers are on rival networks and for a new Digicel customer that means they can’t call anyone else for that credit unless their friends switch also. Secondly, the cheapest phone they have at $19 does not have a radio though were advertised to have such a feature. Thirdly, their rates aren’t all that cheap; 30 cents is only for off peak Digucel to Digicel and other charges work up from there. and climb to 45 cents, though it is good to note that the charges are all per second based which is unlike Vodafone and Inkk which charge per block on at least landline calls. You can check this all out at www.digicelFiji.com

On the other hand, they are giving more than you are paying for at the moment. $75 credit is something for nothing even though there are strings attached. The Cheapest phone they have will at least get you on their network if that is what you want. They also have phones that are better and it is good to note the F250 from Samsung which has a whole heap of features for just $125. They have even better phones like Blackberries and Nokia N series phones for cheap as well. The firm will further enhance your experience in the first month by offering free MMS messages. They basically allow pictures with text to be send together; they will later charge 50 cents for this service which is basically half the price to Vodafone which does it at 99 cents. Oh and yes, their texts cost 15 cents! Voice mail is customisable and free to access too.

Further on, the network of Digicel is 2.75G, i.e it is an EDGE network; the network is faster than the standard 2.5G GPRS networks. Digicel, according to their site will offer data plans and data even for prepay users at the rate of 1c/1kb, which is $10/1MB. Certainly not cheap. They also have no inbetween plans just a 2mb and 1gb plan. They really ought to have one at 50mb or something like that so that people can atleast check mail and access a few web pages per month.; it would be nice at around $12.

Overall, Digicel has got some competition coming up against it, though temporary; Inkk gives 30 cents all day rate and Vodafone has got the My Gang thing going for it as well. The next thing that Digicel needs is the ability to convert their Vodafone number to their network so that clients find it easy to switch, but that might never happen even thoughi tis done in countries like New Zealand. On the whole we’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with for us, but they certainly are looking promising.

The Spray Can

Samsung LCDs are a No GO!

In Tech on September 21, 2008 at 8:36 am

Here’s the deal. Samsung is a well known producer of LCD T.V. They are even cheaper than most other brands out there; however, their quality is lacking. Samsung producers many of the same things as most other brands like LG and Philips and Panasonic for example. They even produce some computer parts too. In the computing realm, Samsung might earn itself to be a premium display; its screens are dearer than other brands and often preferred; needless to say, there are other good brands too. The problem though is with T.Vs only.

Having said all that, the problem isn’t with their build quality; but with their picture quality. Basically, the processors that convert all those standard definition images to fit the native resolution on the screen are not very good at all. The image is highly jaggered around the edges and text as well. This is extremely annoying when watching a DVD from a short distance away. The sharpness has to be toned down drastically to attain any good viewing condition. This is really poor quality, you would expect these sought of problems on an unbranded television set, not on a name brand like Samsung.

I suppose it may not be on every model in their range, especially since the one I have is a series 4 model. The picture quality from any High Definition source is very good and the problem does not exist with that. It’s just noticable in DVDs and especially when there are many moving items in the frame; the picture begins to distort badly there. All in all, much can’t be said, the set is still a good deal for its price.