Larry's Personal Page

My fun stuff that has nothing to do with business




My Geek Stuff



Laptops (November 2006). Gave up on it April 2009

I've never been in the Apple Camp. I'm just not comfortable with religious wackiness. I've used portables and laptops since Osborne and Kaypro made their first luggables. That means, of course, that I didn't get into GUI until Windows 3.0 was released and was sorta usable. Well, that's not entirely true. I used GEM with an early word processor from Xerox. I guess I've had more than 30 laptops over the years.

The other month I bought a MacBook. Don't anybody faint. Hanford Choy, an old friend said "Lar, you've gotta try it. I've got a MacPro and it's awesome." I respect Hanford's judgment, and Apple had finally gone with Intel, so what did I have to lose?

I bought the 60GB 512MB RAM version, then updated memory to 2GB and the hard disk to 120 GB. I confess that I still use the Windows side 99% of the time and view the MAC OS and goodies more as toys than something to use for my daily work. I do, however, have the Macromedia Suite and Microsoft Office on both sides. Now and then I play on the MAC side. Maybe I'll play more in the future. My daughter Gwen loves the Photo Booth.

Things To Get Used To: On the desktop, I use a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse combination. That means the MacBook works just like any other Windows machine. The built-in keyboard and mouse, however, take some getting used to. There's no Delete key. The key marked Delete is actually BackSpace. To do a Delete, you need to hold down fn and press Delete. Also, there's only one mouse button. Bummer. Until you figure out you can make a right mouse button by holding two fingers on the touchpad, sticking your tongue in the left cheek and clicking. It took me awhile to find the right combination. Saves one button switch I guess. After I figured it out, Apple changed to a Ctrl Mouse Click combo. Al Gore is probably still trying to figure it out.

Bummer Stuff: If you format the disk partition on the Windows side as NTFS, it can't be written to from the Mac side. Dumb. And very inconvenient. The workaround is to write to a Thumb Drive and then copy to the Windows drive when in Windows. Or you can buy a driver for $30 that allows you to write to NTFS. That's what I finally did. The external video plug is proprietary, so you're out about $40 for a special pigtail.

Good Stuff: Lots. The hardware is beautiful. The speed on Windows Vista is excellent with the Intel Dual Core 2.0 GHz chip. The screen is crisp at 1280 resolution. The built-in mic and camera beat just about anything you can buy to plug in. The magnetized power cable is cool. And that's all I have to say about that. I don't want to say too much or my old friends may think I've been born again into a MacWacko.

 Oh yeah, VMWare has Fusion, which lets you run Windows from the Mac OS. It's okay if you have a couple of days to boot and aren't doing anything more intensive than simple word processing. On the Windows side, 100% of all CPU resources display as being used.

The Final Word: MacBook is a keeper. But for a real Windows user, it just ain't the real thing.

Lenovo SL300, Core Duo, April 2009

I bought this Thinkpad SL300 computer at the Lenovo store in MegaMall, Ortigas. It's fast, has the built-in camera and stereo mics, a 160 GB drive and 4 GB RAM running on Vista Business. I finally had to give up on the MacBook. It was "mostly" compatible on the Windows side, but could not handle simultaneous video and audio with Camtasia. BootCamp is cool, but straight Windows is better.

Beyond the price advantage (less than 50% the cost of a Macbook), it has one more USB slot plus SD and PCMCIA slots.

I put Leopard on the MacBook and tried to get used to the MAC OS. Sorry, but it's just not the real thing. I'm sure, however, Grandma and Aunt Milley love it. Gwen really liked the PhotoBooth.

No offense to the Mac folks who try to convince you that the price is higher for MAC but the cost is less, but --- it just ain't true if you're used to all the free goodies available for Windows. Sorry.

Palm Pilots (November 2006)

I may have bought the very first Palm Pilot ever made. I saw it in Fry's in Palo Alto and thought it was really cool. It actually worked and docked with the computer with no muss no fuss. That was the early '90s.

The screen was hard as hell to read and docking sometimes took a long time. But with each new edition (and I bought every one), things got better. And when I saw the LifeDrive, well, I thought they'd done it right, putting a hard drive in and making it easy to transfer files as if the Palm was just another drive.

Wrong and Loud Wrong: LifeDrive is a good idea with an pitiful implementation. My first one lasted about 2 months before its final crash with no redemption. I then had to wait 2 more months before my next trip to the U.S. so that I could exchange it. Best Buy was happy to give me a new one (I'd bought all the extended bells and whistles). The new one also lasted about 2 months, then died the same death as the first one.

No longer willing to be without my PDA (second brain), I bought a Palm TX. It's pretty much the same as the LifeDrive, but without the hard disk drive. Also without all the crashes, fatal and otherwise. It does everything I need with an extra 2GB memory SD.

The Bottom Line: Palms are good, but stay a couple continents away from the LifeDrive. No offense, Palm, but you should never have allowed it to escape.

Another Bottom Line: Maybe Palms aren't good. I bought a Tx. It went into a permanent reboot loop one year and ten days after I bought it. I had to buy a Tungsten T2 because there just aren't any vanilla PDAs around anymore. Sigh.

Then my Tungsten T2 was stolen, so I bought another Tx. So there you are. Still with Palm.



I-Pod (November 2006)



I've been buying mp3 players since they first came out, paying as much as $300 for the first one that only had 64MB of memory. But it was fine. Sorta. I then used my Palm PDA for audio and video.

When my second LifeDrive crashed and burned, I decided to have Best Buy exchange it for something else. Just about anything else. I found out I could get a 60GB I-Pod with a 3-year extended warranty for an extra $6 beyond the refund on my LifeDrive. Talk about a no-brainer. Of course the 80 GB version came out a couple of weeks later, but....

I wish I could find something to complain about, but.... Coupled with I-Tunes and the Lenogo DVD to I-Pod converter, I've got just about everything: Audio Books, CD to MP3 Converter, Videos....

Downers: Not everything, however, works as advertised. The docking with Microsoft Outlook seems to be a figment of somebody's imagination. Crashville. Stay away from it. Of course, if you can make it work, let me know.

Accessories: There are bunches. I bought the Belkin FM transmitter for the car and the Apple Microphone adapter. Both work. The Mic adaptor is great. I can unplug the mic and plug a mic/guitar mixer into its line jack. Presto, an immediate mobile recording studio. Couple that with live recording with a digital video camera and the magic of digital editing, and you have your own homemade DVD.

Interim Final Word: There's a reason iPod is number one. Simple: It's number one. And I suspect it will continue to get better

Bummer: The mic doesn't work with Ipod Touch. Nothing yet does. (December 2008)



November 2008: This is beginning to look like an Apple page. I hate to say it, but the Ipod Touch is about the coolest thing I've seen in Players/PDAs. This one completely outdoes the previous IPODs. Yes, it only has 32Gbytes of storage. But no moving parts other than some microswitches. It makes mobile web services a reality. And because I can read my e-books on it, it obsoletes the Palm. $469 in the U.S. counting taxes, but is cheaper than having a Palm and an Ipod.

Shortcomings: It still doesn't support the ability to write Word, Excel or PowerPoint files. But DataViz promises a version soon. I'm hopeful. June 2009: DataViz released Docs to Go for the Itouch. Slick and seamless. This shortcoming is gone. Also, the new ITouch OS allows playlists for Video.

Quality: My first one died after two weeks. Apple replaced it. This one is still working. I hope for a long time.

Update June 2009: Apple released OS 3.0. It fixes most past shortcomings. Now I can Skype (voice too), run Word, copy and paste across programs, and do most things I can do on my Laptop. There's a reason it's number one.


Slingbox. Are you ready for this? Coupled with Tivo, the Slingbox makes it possible to watch TV on your laptop from anyplace in the world that has a broadband connect. Trust me. If you're into TV, this is for you. For the first time in over 40 years, I'm able to watch U.S. programs at leisure from Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, and wherever else I might be. You can even watch it on your Pocket PC. But nothing on Palm. Now they have an HD version, which I've got. Great. The propellor heads win again.

November 2008: Now this is even cooler. It's called Slingcatcher. With this you don't even need your computer. Just hook it into your Lan and plug it into the TV. Cooler than cool

Zoom H2 Recorder, April 2009

This little gadget won the Acoustic Guitar Silver award for 2008 in the stand-alone recorder category. It has 4 built-in mics that provide extraordinary sound. And the interface is straightforward and easy to use.

Recording is 180 degree or 360 degree, making it versatile for all settings. And it's clean. Very clean.

Storage is on SD card. It comes with a puny 512MB, but it handles 4GB with no problem. Files are saved in .wav format. Simple. Record. Pop out the SD card, plug it into your computer and edit to your heart's content.

It also doubles as a performing mic. It comes with a screw-in base and a cylinder that makes it handle like a hand mic. Just slip it into a mic stand you're in business.

Try it. You're gonna love it. I guarantee it.

Acer Aspire 1410 June 2010

Acer Aspire 1410. 11.6-inch display. 3GB Ram, Windows 7 Home Premium. 250GB HDD. Works as advertised, but without Bluetooth (I added doggle for keyboard). Gretest assets: Only weighs 1.38kg and has long battery life. Not great at multitasking graphics-heavy operations. Works fine if you keep things simple.