Archives for November 2009

30 Days, 30 Posts

And with the typing of these words, I have completed my obligation for National Blog Posting Month. I’d thought I’d have more to say, but my mind is a total blank. I’m sure this is a side effect of the need to post daily without question. I’m more of a “blog as the mood strikes” person. Which is obvious to anyone who has been around this blog for any length of time — and ignores these instances where I’m working at some post quota type goal thing.

Still, I can say that this month has absolutely flown by. Thirty days seems like it should take more time, have more weight. And yet, I hardly can recall everything that I’ve done over the last four weeks. Definitely I can’t place when specifically things occurred. Truly the concept of time confounds me.

Anyway, with this little tidbit of a post, I happily go back to my normal routine of blogging. I rather despise feeling like I must make a post, whether I’m in the mood or have a true concept for something to write . . . or not. So, until then.

November 29, 2009

Though generously medicated, I still feel decidedly horrible. The migraine seems to have a mind of its own; sometimes my whole head feels as if it is made of the very essence of pain, a few hours later the pain will ebb to be replaced with most intense nausea, still others will leave me feeling so intensely light and sound sensitive that the merest hint of light or the tiniest breath of sound is excruciating. All in all, I’m in a terrificially bad mood about it. I really am a very pathetic person when I’m sick. It’s probably very good that I live alone.

As if linked to my physical health, the dog has been suffering some EPI side effects herself. I’m still unsure if it’s the new enzyme supplement as the issues are inconsistent at best. She’s still defecating with a bit more frequentcy and urgency than before, but there is no physical evidence in her bowel movements to suggest she isn’t absorbing the enzymes. I’ve slightly increased her dosage, but it’s still too soon to see if that will make any difference. Thankfully we had no episodes at my grandparents’ during Thanksgiving, but I’ll be away over the weekend and I’m a bit concerned about that. Though, I’m sure a bit of canine diarrhea and/or vomit would hardly surprise the company I’m visiting given the number of resident dogs.

Actually, I’m also a bit wary of Wednesday’s Lions Holiday Party. Sarah and Fay will be joining us again this year, and I’m actually quite thrilled about the potential for mouthwatering food. Probably my neurosis is unfounded, but I just hope there won’t be any episodes there either. The Normanside really isn’t my ideal location for a sick dog experience.

But on the up side, I have managed over the course of the last few days to dredge up some energy — in my few moments that I’m not in raging pain — to edit a bit of my Nano and I’m thoroughly pleased with the effort. Granted, it’s a terrible novel at the moment. It’s also very much unfinished. But even though it’s a sad example of my writing skill, there is a foundation there. And now that I can safetly brainstorm and outline, I feel that I can salvage it into something I’m not ashamed to share. Eventually.

ASUS Eee PC

After watching the market of netbooks for more than a year, last month I purchased the ASUS Eee PC 1101. Now that it’s thoroughly broken in — thanks mostly to NaNoWriMo — I though I’d share my thoughts and opinions on this little machine.

Black 11.6 inch ASUS netbook resting on a lap cushion

Initial Observations

Similar to my reaction to those baby shoes at Foot Locker, my first thought was this mini-laptop’s diminutive size made it, well, cute. Though, it has a pretty bland design by today’s comparisons, I hardly think that’s of any particular importance in computer purchasing. While I marveled at the small size and light weight, I was also somewhat intimidated by it’s obvious fragility. It also perturbed me that the inside is black, glossy plastic so it was quickly covered in my fingerprints and a layer of dust within moments of being opened for the first time. More importantly, it booted WinXP quickly and after installing JAWS, Office Ultimate, and Firefox was chugging along without any hiccups. All in all, it seemed to suit me just fine.

In Depth

Setup and Installation (Or: The Great Bloatware Removal Process)
The first real negative was noticeable very early on: this netbook is crammed with bloatware! Everything from a trail of Office Student and Norton to a bunch of random browser toolbars and media programs. I spent about three hours cleaning off the hard drive — which is a slightly inflated length of time because to ease the boredom of this cleanup process I watched a DVD of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Installation of the programs I needed was pretty simple; I just copied all the installation discs to a thumb drive and loaded them all onto the Eee PC via that without a hitch. Well, JAWS was at first somewhat quirky in that it repeatedly requested to activate, but I don’t think that’s because of the method of installation so much as JAWS is crazy.

Up and Running
JAWS, Firefox, and Office had to be able to run simultaneously on this netbook for it to be functional for my needs and I was very happy to see them all load up smoothly and run without any hiccups. The netbook does take a bit to load webpages on the Internet, which I think is a byproduct of Firefox and it’s stupid resource consumption and the 1GB of RAM. It did stall out and freeze a few times, but I realized when I transferred my Firefox profile I’d forgotten to clear the cache and that solved all browser issues.

The keyboard was very difficult for me to get used to, which surprised me since it’s nearly a full-sized laptop keyboard. The right Shift key in particular gave me a lot of issues — it’s in the proper place, but smaller. Apparently I’m of a habit when typing that I hit the middle or more towards the right of it, so I was hitting the Up Arrow ALL THE TIME. I put a bump dot1 on the key, which has somewhat helped me. The keys are just a bit shallower to press than a regular laptop, but that wasn’t much of an issue for me. However, if you really bang on them, it does give the impression that your finger might go through the entire computer.

The touchpad took me a bit to get used to. It’s basically a bunch of raised rubbery dots and I found my finger tends to stick a bit when trying to scroll. It also seems to have some issue noticing when your finger has been removed, the scrolling sometimes continues even when you intend it to stop. That could be more the touchpad’s software than the actual hardware, though. Or maybe it’s a common thing with these bumpy touchpads, I haven’t had another laptop with one so I can’t compare. The mouse button was actually more difficult to get used to. Instead of actual buttons for right and left, it’s a single swivel bar without any indication of a precise middle to differentiate between the two. I often find myself hitting not squarely enough to one side or the other and getting the wrong type of button action. It’s also a very shallow depression and very quiet, so it’s hard to know if you’ve really clicked something sometimes. It hasn’t driven me crazy enough to the point where I’ve resorted to a USB mouse, but I should also note I don’t use the mouse as much given my visual impairment.

It runs incredibly cool and quiet. I’ve not really sat with it directly on my lap, preferring a laptop pillow for ergonomic reasons, but I’ve had it run for several hours straight and not felt any level of uncomfortable heat from the keyboard or when picking it up. The fan is very quiet when it does turn on, which is sometimes shockingly often especially when the netbook seems to be “thinking” really hard. But as I said it’s incredibly quiet and is most noticeable when it turns on and really only if your hand happens to be by the vent. I never noticed the air coming from it to be of an uncomfortable temperature either. All good things.

The screen is bright and vibrant and just as clear and sharp as my desktop’s monitor. It’s glossy, though, which means it picks up glare. For me I can’t use it anywhere that it might reflect any type of light, which is why it had to be able to run JAWS for me. Because of this I can’t comment for those who aren’t light sensitive or legally blind.

Probably the best feature is its incredible battery life. I haven’t tried to leave it on for a full test, but the advertisement for it I believe boasted 11.5 hours. I doubt that, but still if it only managed six that would be more than enough for me. The first extensive use I had of the netbook was at the midnight kick-off for NaNoWriMo and after having it on continuously for three hours with Word, JAWS and Firefox all running, the battery still said I had another 5 hours to go! There are a bunch of things you can do to increase even that battery life, ASUS includes a whole power management thing which even allows you to under- or overclock the processor. I never bothered tinkering with it.

Concluding Thoughts

All in all, the netbook meets my needs. It’s light and has a long battery life and can manage to run the few programs I need without issue. I do wish the inside weren’t such a smudge magnet, but otherwise I have no complaints since fully setting up the machine. And for $290 shipped from Newegg, it was absolutely a steal!

  1. Bump dots are rubbery plastic raised dots that can be stuck on things. I use them on my laptop keyboards to help locate the keys necessary to command JAWS because they’re not generally in the same place as a full keyboard.

Holiday Cards

Holiday Greetings!

I had a whole other post planned, but about an hour before leaving work I was hit with a horrid migraine and so all I want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep for a year.

Anyway, one of the things I was going to post about was holiday cards — in that I am now in possession of many wonderful ones with me and Yara being rather adorable on them. So, thought I’d do my annual post for those wishing to get in on the card exchange fun. Just drop me an email with a mailing address and I shall dutifully get one out to you. Eventually.

Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! ^_^

In a few hours Yara and I will be headed off to my grandparents for the traditional family gathering and food consumption. Yara’s decked out in her holiday finest — a bandanna with Peanuts characters dressed as pilgrims,1 which compliments Google’s logo today — but she was doing her best to not let me get a good picture of her. If I manage a cute enough shot before the day is done, I’ll edit it into this post.

Actually I’m a little wary of today because Yara’s been exhibiting some EPI issues of late. Recently her medicine was switched to the generic variation and I’m starting to believe my initial misgivings about it were well founded. She’s had a small increase in the frequency — and urgency — of her bowel movements and yesterday she was throwing up. She seems rather fine today, but that’s hardly any type of indication with this dog, so I just don’t know.

Regardless, here’s hoping you and yours have a splendid day of thanks!

  1. It was made by a puppy raiser I met at a GEB walkathon, Millie, who sadly I’ve lost touch with. But she shares my love of all things Snoopy and Peanuts so she made me quite a few festive bandannas sporting those characters.