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16. September 2012

 

So this weekend, my ultra-portable laptop gave up the ghost.  That machine dual booted Windows 8 and Ubuntu and I found myself using it more and more often, mostly because I’ve been travelling a lot and my primary laptop ( an Asus G53sx ) weighs slightly more than a small moon.  Well yesterday morning, I got the Windows 8 sad face of death I didn’t even know exist:

 

image 

 

That wasn’t my actual error, it was something to do with rdyboost.sys, which is somewhat odd, as it was disabled.  Anyways, it rebooted once, gave the exact same error counted up to 100% of something ( I don’t recall what ), then hung with interlaced video.  After about 20 minutes, I tried the power and…  nothing.  Machine wont even post, but it will get really really hot.

 

After trying the standard series of fixes ( pulling the battery, holding power down for 30 seconds, unplugging CMOS battery ) I promptly declared it dead.  Granted… it’s been two years, the battery life was fading and I was ready for a change, so perhaps there was more I could do to fix things…….  As a result I spent Saturday laptop shopping, one of my favourite activities, much to my wife’s chagrin.  The end result of what I purchased was a bit shocking… at least to me.

 

This is my old machine, may it rest in piece.

 

1830t

 

It’s an Acer Timeline 1830T and even with it’s relatively early trip to the laptop graveyard, I heartily recommend this machine.  It had 7 or 8 hour battery life, an i3 processor, 4 gigs of RAM and an HD3000 integrated GPU.  Nothing to write home about, but at the same time, a solid portable machine.

 

More to the point… I spent less than 500$ on it! 

 

So when it gave up the ghost, I decided “hell, Ill just buy the new version of the same thing”.  So basically I figured I’d toss out another 500$ for an updated ( maybe an HD4000 instead ) version of the same thing.  How wrong I was.  They don’t exist anymore.  I found machines with basically identical specs to this laptop I bought over 2 years ago… for 300$ more!  The equivalent Acer TimelineX now, with modern hardware is pushing 1000$.  This is insane!

 

And the kicker is, nobody makes good spec’d affordable ultraportables anymore.  There were lots of entry level crap machines, or if I was willing to spend 2 grand, there were some nice HP Envy’s.  Even Dell was a pretty heavy failure, the Alienware 13” seems to no longer exist, nor does that sexy 13” magnesium model they used to sell.  On top, their website is complete and utter crap ( they all were, far too much clutter, but Dell’s was particularly terrible… someone should get sacked for allowing this to happen, it reminded me of a Geocities made page for a mom and pop computer dealer ).

 

In the end I purchased…  A MacBook Air.

 

Unlike the MacBook Pro’s, the MacBook Air is actually reasonably priced ( just over a grand ), has the best screen for the price in a 13” ( 1440x900 ), plus gives me the added flexibility to do iOS development on the go, instead of being tethered to my iMac as I am now. 

 

This is an odd choice for one particular reason, I don’t particularly like Apple.  I find most of their products over-priced, I am not a huge fan of the OS ( the first thing I did was install Bootcamp and Windows 7 ) and I really disagree with their recent actions ( suing over rounded rectangles… walling every garden they see… ), but at the end of the day, on just straight hardware requirements, the MacBook Air 13” ticked all my boxes, often better than much more expensive Windows machines (HP Envy, I’m looking at you!).

 

So… if you are in the market for a medium end ultra-portable Windows machine… consider buying a Mac, bizarrely enough.

 

That is my only issue…  this isn’t by primary machine and I have a NAS at home for storage, as well as a Dropbox account I use on the go, so space isn’t a gigantic deal.  However, once you take a 125GB solid state drive, split it in half and install two OSes, XCode, Visual Studio and a dozen other dev tools… well let’s just say space get’s really tight fast.

 

If you were wondering at the lack of posts the last couple days, well, that’s why.  If there are a few more Mac/iOS related posts in the future, or Mac OS screenshots, that is also why. Smile  It has only been two days so far, and almost all of that time spent installing software and operating systems, but I have to say, I am very impressed thus far.  It sucks I can��t find an blogging program on OSX that comes even close to Windows Live Writer ( amazingly enough considering it’s freeness ) and the function key being where Control should be is aggravating, but those are small sacrifices.  The keyboard is awesome ( I use a Mac keyboard with my PC so… ), the screen is probably the best available at this resolution ( that was the biggest drawback to the Timeline, screen was horrid for glare, almost unusable outside ) and it’s snappy.  Not earth shatteringly fast, but I was pleasantly surprised when I ran the Windows Experience Index:

 

image

 

Now I just need to discover if turning off the PageFile is a bad idea in the age of Windows 7.  I have a feeling it might not actually be all that important anymore, and a 4GB pagefile is like 8% of my partition!  In retrospect, I kind of wish I made the Windows partition bigger, I don’t really need all that much space on the Mac OSX partition.  I wish I had a bit more space, but in classic Apple style, they really do screw you on upgrades.

Totally Off Topic

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