A restoration of order

This weekend, I finally put my home computing displacement behind me. My laptop had become my main PC with a combination of external hard drives and an Octigen external hard drive enclosure keeping me motoring in laptop limbo. Having had no joy in the realm of PC building, I decided to go down the partially built route and order a bare bones system from Novatech. That gave me a Foxconn case and motherboard loaded up with an AMD 7850 dual core CPU and 2 GB of RAM. With the motherboard offering onboard sound and video capability, all that was needed was to add drives. I added no floppy drive but instead installed a SATA DVD Writer (not sure that it was a successful purchase, though, but that can be resolved at my leisure) and the hard drives from the old behemoth that had been serving me until its demise. A session of work on the kitchen table and some toing and froing ensued as I inched my way towards a working system.

Once I had set all of the expected hard disks into place, Ubuntu was capable of being summoned to life with the only impediment being an insistence of scanning the 1 TB Western Digital and getting stuck along the way. Not having the patience, I skipped this at start up and later unmounted the drive to let fsck to its thing while I got on with other tasks; the hold up had been the presence of VirtualBox disk images on the drive. Speaking of VirtualBox, I needed to scale back the capabilities of Compiz so things would work as they should. Otherwise, it was a matter of updating various directories with files that had appeared on external drives without making it into their usual storage areas. Windows would never have been so tolerant and, as if to prove the point, I needed to repair an XP installation in one of my virtual machines.

In the instructions that came with the new box, Novatech stated that time was a vital ingredient for a build and they weren’t wrong. The delivery arrived at 09:30 and I later got a shock when I saw the time to be 15:15! However, it was time well spent and I noticed the speed increase when putting ImageMagick through its paces with a Perl script. In time, I might get brave and be tempted to add more memory to get up to 4 GB; the motherboard may only have two slots but that’s not such a problem with my planning on sticking with 32-bit Linux for a while to come. My brief brush with its 64-bit counterpart revealed some roughness that ward me off for a little while longer. For now, I’ll leave well alone and allow things to settle down again. Lessons for the future remain and I may even mull over them in another post…

A new laptop

Having had it on my wish list for a view years, I finally succumbed to temptation and purchased a laptop in the PC World sale, a Toshiba Equium A200-1VO in fact. I reserved it on the web and popped into the nearest store a few hours later. However, while the reservation system worked, the collection did not go as smooth as I had hoped; it seems that the store where I went was not as well staffed as I would have liked and I needed to wait before I was served. Finding the right part of the store was another issued. Nevertheless, service was efficient once the wait was over and I left with the said laptop, a half-price copy of Norton 360 and a network cable.

The laptop comes with an Intel Pentium Dual-Core CPU, 2 GB of RAM and a 120 GB hard drive. The size of the hard drive may not set the world alight and neither, I suspect, will the Intel graphics adapter. Speaking of graphics, the glossy screen might not be to everyone’s taste but its 1280×800 maximum resolution is definitely respectable. Windows Vista Home Premium is the included operating system and a 90 day trial of Norton Internet Security comes too; I’ll wait for that to expire before adding in Norton 360. I am not in a hurry to add software but the Home and Student version of Office 2007 has made its way on their.

As regards perfomance, the machine so far has done what I have asked of without any bother. Even so, battery life is not extensive with a maximum of ninety minutes. For long stints away from a power point, an extra battery might be in order. That would add to the weight as well and, at around 2.5 kg, it isn’t something that I would go carrying on a weekend backpacking trip. Despite those limitations, it will go on getting used and I’ll be seeing how things go from here.

Toshiba Equium A200-1VO