Archive for March 10th, 2005

No Laptop? How do you cope?

Occasionally I mention my PDA obsession. This week it saved my sanity.

With no working laptop to let me surf the web, check eMail and genarally amuse myself, I was forced to resort to my PocketPC PDA to fill in the blanks.

Fortunately mine has Wi-Fi so I can use our home wireless LAN to connect to the internet to surf and to check email. I also have a cool little Belkin foldaway keyboard that I can use if I have a lot to type, otherwise the in-built entry methods work fine.

Surfing the web on a 240×320 screen should be a terrible thing, but with the aid of PocketIE Plus from Reensoft it becomes bareable. PIE adds full-screen mode, a clever reflow mode and the ability to open multiple IE windows, as well as the ability to map your hardware buttons to things like toggle full screen, page back, page forward etc.

Pretty soon I’ll have a VGA PDA (Toshiba E830 480×640 screen) and I am looking forward to seeing how that performs on the internet. Soon the only thing I will need my laptop for will be work 🙂

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Sick Laptop

Sick Laptop

After over 3 years of abuse, the power socket on my Dell Inspiron 8100 broke

It is a great machine, still fast and easily capable of running all the software that I use day-to-day for work. So I needed to find a quick and cheap way to fix it.

Off to eBay I went to see what I could do.

I was amazed to see that I could find a similar machine to mine for about $600. Of course it would be 3 years or so old too, so no telling what wear and tear it had suffered, although I doubt your average laptop gets the same 8 – 16 hours use 7 days a week that mine has been through for 3.5 years.

Or I could pick up a mother board for about $300. That would be fine, but most of the mother boards seem to have been pulled from dismantled laptops, so the same wear and tear issues remained, plus I would have had to contend with things like could I upgrade that 800MHz processor with my 1.2 GHz one? Would I be able to dismantle and rebuild my machine without breaking anything?

I also had a look about to see if someone local could fix the socket. I figured I could get someone to solder it or whatever, but I could not find anyone who wanted to touch it without threatening me with a long sucking inhale first …

Then I saw the solution! A second-hand Advanced Port Replicator (APR). I found several companies selling these through eBay, and a few promising to swap any faulty devices. $81 secured me the APR, including postage. 2 (working) days later here it is and it works fine.

The downside is that my laptop footprint has now grown by about 25%, but the good news is I can stretch it’s useful working life out for another year or two. Dell’s reputation for support has suffered over the last couple of years since it started to outsource to India, and USA support certainly seems less than what I was used to in the UK, although they are still OK if a little slow to reach a resolution.

There is nothing wrong with the machines they build though, so I’ll be on their web site regularly, building that Dream Machine until the momemt is right – either I can afford the $3000 or so that gets the top of the line machine or this laptop finally pops its little clogs.

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