More Detailed Maintenance of Your Netbook

Using any kind of laptop means you’ll have to take care of it to keep it in a good condition, and this often extends beyond wiping it with a rag every now and then – in order to maintain your netbook in an optimal condition, there are various procedures you could apply, say, every month, to get the best results

For example, a common problem with these devices is the accumulation of dust – what’s worse is that it can build up on the inside as well. It may not be noticeable in the beginning, but if you notice your netbook overheating a lot more commonly than it used to, maybe it’s time to undo those screws and clean the dust from around the fan.

Never take out the fan itself though – damaging it could cost you dearly as it’s sometimes difficult to replace. Don’t even think about doing something like oiling it – this will never end well. Just blow all the dust from around it and close the netbook. The more experienced among you may find it a good idea to replace the thermal paste on the heatsink every now and then, but unless you really know what you’re doing don’t go for that.

Also, consider how you’re using the netbook as well – if its fan hole is on the bottom, never lay it flat on a soft surface, like your bed. This would suffocate it and prevent it from cooling properly, degrading the quality of its cooling in the long run.

Things Every Freelance Web Developer Should Know

As a freelance web developer, you keep learning new tricks and useful information on a daily basis – and if you’re crafty enough, you can easily design a strategy around which to work and achieve your goals as quickly as possible (so that you can take up more work and progress). However, there are some important details relevant to the job, which sometimes get missed by even the more experienced ones. Go through the list below and make sure you match every criteria! More »

Asus EeePC 900 Battery Life

These are real-world tests. I didn’t use any burning software, but instead did my usual day-to-day work, which involves Gmail, reading via my feedreader (Bloglines Beta), reading up various blogs, and also posting on blogs. And as such, being a real-world test, this involved some pauses in between for bathroom breaks, snacks, and such. And so you would notice a few minutes of “sleep” time in between, where I would close the Eee’s lid to save power.

This was done on an EeePC 900 12GB running (the OEM) Windows XP, updated to SP3. Brightness was at 30%, with WiFi on and audio muted. Note that I had turned off wired LAN in my BIOS, since I didn’t need to get wired, anyway. Camera was also turned off via EeePC tray utility.

Battery is the stock 4-cell battery rated at 7.2V, 5800 mAh.

Here are the results:

2:39 p.m. – Cold boot. Windows usually takes about 30 seconds to launch and another 25 seconds until SSD reads stop.

2:46 p.m. – Sleep. Sudden torrential downpour. And we have laundry hanging outside. And so I had to run out to bring the clothes under cover. Sigh. That’s working at home for you!

Uptime: 7 minutes.

2:59 p.m. – Wake up. Back to work. Am at my desk now, so I’m actually working on my bigger laptop at the same time.

3:31 p.m. – Auto sleep. Read a pretty long email on the bigger laptop, so I somehow left the Eee idle for 5 minuets–which is the idle time I’ve set Windows power management to put the machine to sleep.

Uptime: 32 minutes.

3:39 p.m. – Wake up. It’s a battery test, after all, so I’ve turned the Eee back on again to do some reading up on relevant forums.

4:37 p.m. – Sleep. The Eee actually spent another 5 minutse idle. Damn those long emails.

Uptime: 58 minutes

4:39 – Wake up. 5:55 p.m. – Sleep. No more rain. Brought clothes back out. Not that there’s any sunlight to help dry them faster, but it’s something one has to do.

Uptime: 76 minutes.

6:06 p.m. – Wake up. Battery meter is saying I only have less than an hour left.

6:23 p.m. – Battery LED is flashing LED.

6:32 p.m. – Windows is giving the critical battery alert. I figure I could still do a post, and I publish an article I’ve been writing on Blogging Pro.

6:39 p.m. – Power down.

Uptime: 33 minutes.

And so adding all those uptime minutes, we come to a round sum of 206 minutes. This translates to 3 hours and 26 minutes or roughly 3 and a half hours.

Strangely, that’s exactly how long BatStats estimated the 5800 mAH Asus battery to last.

Asus EeePC 900 Battery Drain Woes

A thread on the EeeUser forum details how some (or most?) EeePC 900 units drain battery even when turned off.

I was just wondering if anyone else has been having this same problem. Now when my eee pc 900 is fully charged and i leave it for a couple of days not using it the battery still drains when even not in use.

And I agree that this is a serious reliability issue. For many people, the Eee serves as a mobile work machine, and for some, as a travel companion. Some just turn on their Eee for a few minutes to check on email and read news, and then off again. But if you lose 10% to 20% of your charge each day then you’d have to plug it in often, which beats the purpose of having a portable computer with a three-plus hours battery life.

I have yet to test this on my machine, but I’m curious to know how Asus will deal with this. Is this perhaps just a BIOS issue? Or is this a battery issue?

Asus EeePC 900 Clock Speed Switches between 900 and 630 MHz

One of the main complaints–at least by some users–with the Asus EeePC 701 is that the system is by default under-clocked to run at 630 MHz instead of the full 900 MHz capacity of the Celeron-M 353 that powers these little wonders. So several tools have been developed to let users set the clock speed (and fan speed, etc.) as desired, such as Eeectl. Some even overclock their EeePCs.

Just recently got my hands on an EeePC 900, which supposedly ran on the full 900 MHz speed. Some have expressed worries that running on full speed would cause quicker battery drain. Remember that being a Celeron-M, the Eee’s processor does not have SpeedStep. This means it cannot dynamically adjust clock speed depending on processor use.

But I realized that the 900 automatically switches clock speed (yes, clock speed, and not just throttle speed) when you switch between battery and AC power.

If you have an Eee, you can check this with CPU-management tools. In my case, I used RMClock (for Windows).

Plugged in:

Eee on mains

On battery power:

Eee on Battery

On some machines, the computer would start at the full 900 MHz when you power up the computer on batteries, and would not switch to 630 MHz unless you plug it in and remove the plug afterwards. This could be a real pain, especially when you’re mobile. The latest BIOS update should solve this.

The Eee 900 running at 630 MHz on battery power surely saves on consumption! I believe the EeePC 900′s 5800 mAh battery is rated to run at about 255 minutes or more than 4 hours. I have yet to verify this for myself, but I’ll be doing my own real-world tests soon.

Northec Gecko Mini Laptop Planned at Sub-$300 Price

northec-gecko.png

Competition is getting intense. Looks like the subnotebook market is the next big thing for gadget makers. Computerworld is quoted as saying there is yet another company that plans to venture into the cheap (meaning inexpensive) compact notebook market (currently dominated by the Asus Eee).

The company is Norhtec, a systems integrator based in Thailand, of all places, that specializes in tiny servers. The company is working on what they call the Gecko Laptop. The tiny system will be built by Quanta, and is powered by Linux Lite from Linpus Technologies.

The laptop probably has a seven-inch screen, possibly smaller. It has a pretty big keyboard and a touchpad. It’s powered by a Via C7M ULV chip. Not much else is known about the Gecko.

According to reports, the company will announce the laptop soon, and it will sell for less than $300.

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MSI to Compete with Asus Eee PC?

The Asus Eee PC currently faces some competition with various similar-sized alternatives like the XO, the Intel Classmate PC, the Everex Cloudbook and (for some) even the Apple Macbook Air. And recently rumors have it that Acer is planning an ultraportable release.

Here’s another rumor: MSI might come out with an ultraportable of its own. Via HLWT:

MSI looks like it is going to utilize Intels new 45nm Diamondville processor for its rumored ultraportable. The new Intel processor has been specifically engineered for low power portables but it looks like MSI may be the first out of the gate with an actual product with this new chip inside. The Diamondville will be officially announced in April yet but MSI has already gave word that when the chip is “ready” then their own project will be “ready”, too. Expect the new MSI ultraportables to be in the market by July or August this year.

Smallest MSI notebooks I’ve seen so far are sized 11-plus inches. So I think they won’t be far behind in developing an ulraportable close to the size and specs of the Eee. Question is–how soon?

3G on the Asus Eee using an LG KU250 (Updated)

The LG KU250 is touted as the “3G for all” phone, being the cheapest 3G-enabled phone around. It usually retails for just over $100 (bought mine for about $142).

In my country 3G / GPRS rates are not really cheap, but one of the operators–Smart–offers unlimited connectivity for PhP 10 per 30 minutes. That’s approximately 48 cents per hour. That’s using a prepaid SIM card that costs less than a dollar to purchase.

That’s cheap enough for backup connectivity, i.e., when there’s no WiFi hotspot around, or when your home DSL or cable connection is down.

There is one other option–a Huawei 220 3G modem. Smart also offers a postpaid plan, which includes this device, for PhP 799 per month, plus an initial PhP 2,000 for the modem (about $20 per month, plus $48 initial for the modem). This is for 60 hours of connectivity. You pay an added PhP 10 per 30mins in excess, which is same as the prepaid rate.

However, I already bought myself an LG KU250 for this purpose a few months back, and I didn’t want to spend unnecessarily. Also, my 3G connectivity only serves as backup, and when I’m mobile. So no point in paying for a plan I might not be able to consume.

I wracked my brains trying to figure out how to connect the KU250 to the Eee via bluetooth. But that seems to be complicated on the default Xandros installation that comes with the Eee. BT is easy enough on Ubuntu, but not on Xandros, since various essential Bluez utilities are not pre-installed and/or incompatible and/or difficult to set up.

So I tried another option–connecting the KU250 with the supplied data cable. Following the instructions on this Eeeuser forum page, I was able to successfully connect over a 3G connection. Actually, I attempted this after I saw that Xandros detected the KU250 as a modem under Control Center. I was a bit surprised that this worked.

More »

Sleep/Standby Times Not Very Good

One thing I loved about my old PowerBook (and any Mac laptop in general) was that the sleep times were very long. For some reason, the OS or the architecture of Apple notebooks was so power-efficient that you can actually leave it on standby mode (called sleep by Mac users) for days, but the drain would be very minimal (about 2 % per day or so).

One of my other laptops, a Compaq V2000, wasn’t so great with standby times. It would eat about 5% per hour. So leaving the laptop sleeping in my bag all day would cause it to drain 1/3 of its battery juice. I’m not so sure if it’s because of the operating system, or simply because of the architecture. I noticed that having the laptop sleep under Windows XP ate a little less power than when it was sleeping under Linux (Ubuntu Feisty Fawn).

Same with the Asus Eee. I’m running the default Xandros OS, and whenever I put the Eee to sleep, it would eat up about 10% of the battery’s remaining capacity every two hours.

Frankly, that sucks. For me, one purpose of having a long sleep mode battery life is so I could just close the lid, stick the laptop in my bag, and go my way. Sleep and recovery times are usually very quick–just under 5 seconds on the Eee. Two seconds to sleep, and about 5 seconds to wake up.

However, do consider that booting up the Eee from a powered-off state only takes about 30 seconds. So there’s no question that booting up is almost as quick as waking up on some other laptops (usually those that run Windows). Still, the point behind sleeping instead of shutting down a laptop is that all your applications and documents are still in the state you left them.

Well, one solution could be auto-startup of your favorite apps. But that’s for another post.

First time!

It’s my first time to bring my Asus Eee PC out of the house. I went for a quick cup of coffee at a nearby cafe with the wife and kids. So it’s a field test so to speak.

I got a couple of curious glances from other patrons and passers by. Looks like the Galaxy black Asus Eee PC has that wow factor!

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