Considering netbooks

Thursday, 30 April 2009 10:14 am
elettaria: (Default)
Once I can afford it, I'm seriously considering having another try at a netbook. For all of those of you who have them, could you be kind enough to answer these questions for me? I'll have to get an XP version because the RNIB audiobook service only runs on NetPlexTalk, which only runs on Windows.

List of questions )

Considering netbooks

Thursday, 30 April 2009 10:14 am
elettaria: (Default)
Once I can afford it, I'm seriously considering having another try at a netbook. For all of those of you who have them, could you be kind enough to answer these questions for me? I'll have to get an XP version because the RNIB audiobook service only runs on NetPlexTalk, which only runs on Windows.

List of questions )
elettaria: (Chocolate teapot)
It's odd to look back at what computers were like fifteen years ago. When I was growing up, the internet was unheard-of, floppy disks were floppy, screens were green on black, printers were dot matrix, computer games were so basic that they now have retro charm, I was one of the few students at my school writing my homework on the computer, and I did so using a word processor called Wordstar which threw a canary fit every time I inserted a footnote – and footnotes formed about a third of the text when translating Virgil. Or possibly the computer hated the virtuous Aeneas even more than I did.

At uni, I went through a few years of all-nighters in computer labs before getting a laptop of my own via the Disabled Students' Allowance. It was a 14” Toshiba Satellite Pro, with rather nice sound for a laptop. and a trackpoint, or “nipple” mouse, right in the middle of the keyboard. They don't seem to have been very popular, those trackpoints, and looking back they probably didn't have the all-singing all-dancing functions that mice and touchpads today need to have. I did like being able to mouse without taking my hands out of their usual typing position, and you'd think they'd be making a comeback for netbooks, small wireless keyboards and the like. I have to confess that the pointer function eventually went barmy and refused to do anything other than charge off to the top right corner of the screen, but that would probably have been fixable if the uni disability computing services had sorted out the motherboard instead of repeatedly replacing the keyboard.

So when that little laptop finally gave up the ghost in 2004, right in the middle of a raging (and hilarious) trolling drama on [livejournal.com profile] gothic_lit which necessitated hastily ringing up [livejournal.com profile] eye_of_a_cat and telling her how to hack into my LJ account so that she could become a co-moderator, I ended up buying a cheap and nasty laptop from PC World, under the illusion that it would only be temporary as I'd be getting another DSA-funded computer soon. No such luck! )

Last year, this beastie began to make alarming noises suggesting that its fan was unhappy. I cosseted it with a gel cooling mat, not to mention feeding it more RAM and buying it an external hard drive, but I couldn't deny that it was getting elderly. This is the time when netbooks had just exploded onto the computer scene, and I was eyeing them with great interest. I'd previously tried a Psion Revo Plus, a PDA which is a forerunner of the netbook. )

Back to the ailing laptop. Those gel cooling mats really make a difference, and I was hoping to get a few more months of life out of the thing yet. I'd been waiting for netbooks to come out in XP, as I use the RNIB's audiobook service via online streaming, which can only be used with NetPlexTalk, which only works in Windows. The idea was that I would get the 9" EEE for small-computer uses now, try to keep going between it and that dying duck of a 14" laptop for as long as possible while the prices went down and the specs went up on laptops, and eventually get a nice big 17" laptop for my main computer and for watching films on. The netbook could live on my sewing table in the living room, where I could listen to audiobooks while quilting and do the odd bit of internet browsing. Alternatively, [livejournal.com profile] ghost_of_a_flea and I could give up the lazy habit of watching films in bed, keep the larger laptop in the living room, and use the EEE as a nice little bedside computer. Since even a 17" laptop is perfectly fine for carrying around the house, it wouldn't be difficult to swap them around, it's just that having a netbook as well as a laptop would save constantly ferrying the same computer between rooms.

This didn't quite go as planned. At last we come to the EEE PC 900. )

To those of you who do have netbooks, which one do you have and how do you get on with it?
elettaria: (Chocolate teapot)
It's odd to look back at what computers were like fifteen years ago. When I was growing up, the internet was unheard-of, floppy disks were floppy, screens were green on black, printers were dot matrix, computer games were so basic that they now have retro charm, I was one of the few students at my school writing my homework on the computer, and I did so using a word processor called Wordstar which threw a canary fit every time I inserted a footnote – and footnotes formed about a third of the text when translating Virgil. Or possibly the computer hated the virtuous Aeneas even more than I did.

At uni, I went through a few years of all-nighters in computer labs before getting a laptop of my own via the Disabled Students' Allowance. It was a 14” Toshiba Satellite Pro, with rather nice sound for a laptop. and a trackpoint, or “nipple” mouse, right in the middle of the keyboard. They don't seem to have been very popular, those trackpoints, and looking back they probably didn't have the all-singing all-dancing functions that mice and touchpads today need to have. I did like being able to mouse without taking my hands out of their usual typing position, and you'd think they'd be making a comeback for netbooks, small wireless keyboards and the like. I have to confess that the pointer function eventually went barmy and refused to do anything other than charge off to the top right corner of the screen, but that would probably have been fixable if the uni disability computing services had sorted out the motherboard instead of repeatedly replacing the keyboard.

So when that little laptop finally gave up the ghost in 2004, right in the middle of a raging (and hilarious) trolling drama on [livejournal.com profile] gothic_lit which necessitated hastily ringing up [livejournal.com profile] eye_of_a_cat and telling her how to hack into my LJ account so that she could become a co-moderator, I ended up buying a cheap and nasty laptop from PC World, under the illusion that it would only be temporary as I'd be getting another DSA-funded computer soon. No such luck! )

Last year, this beastie began to make alarming noises suggesting that its fan was unhappy. I cosseted it with a gel cooling mat, not to mention feeding it more RAM and buying it an external hard drive, but I couldn't deny that it was getting elderly. This is the time when netbooks had just exploded onto the computer scene, and I was eyeing them with great interest. I'd previously tried a Psion Revo Plus, a PDA which is a forerunner of the netbook. )

Back to the ailing laptop. Those gel cooling mats really make a difference, and I was hoping to get a few more months of life out of the thing yet. I'd been waiting for netbooks to come out in XP, as I use the RNIB's audiobook service via online streaming, which can only be used with NetPlexTalk, which only works in Windows. The idea was that I would get the 9" EEE for small-computer uses now, try to keep going between it and that dying duck of a 14" laptop for as long as possible while the prices went down and the specs went up on laptops, and eventually get a nice big 17" laptop for my main computer and for watching films on. The netbook could live on my sewing table in the living room, where I could listen to audiobooks while quilting and do the odd bit of internet browsing. Alternatively, [livejournal.com profile] ghost_of_a_flea and I could give up the lazy habit of watching films in bed, keep the larger laptop in the living room, and use the EEE as a nice little bedside computer. Since even a 17" laptop is perfectly fine for carrying around the house, it wouldn't be difficult to swap them around, it's just that having a netbook as well as a laptop would save constantly ferrying the same computer between rooms.

This didn't quite go as planned. At last we come to the EEE PC 900. )

To those of you who do have netbooks, which one do you have and how do you get on with it?

Brainstorming: other

Sunday, 1 March 2009 08:28 pm
elettaria: (Default)
If you have

* any disabilities, medical conditions or accessibility needs not covered in the previous posts

then comment here to tell me about your experiences, the adaptations or software you use or are interested in, what it's like surfing the web, what you'd want to know about a computer or computer equipment before buying it, and anything else you think is relevant. You can write on behalf of someone you know too.

Brainstorming: other

Sunday, 1 March 2009 08:28 pm
elettaria: (Default)
If you have

* any disabilities, medical conditions or accessibility needs not covered in the previous posts

then comment here to tell me about your experiences, the adaptations or software you use or are interested in, what it's like surfing the web, what you'd want to know about a computer or computer equipment before buying it, and anything else you think is relevant. You can write on behalf of someone you know too.
elettaria: (Default)
Asus, the company who started the netbook craze, have decided that they want to hear more from ordinary users. They've set up a project where six people will get to blog for a month about one of a range of six laptops, ranging in size from a netbook to an equivalent of the iMac. I've long wanted to see something like this, because professional computer reviewers do a sterling job but often leave out so many of the details I'm dying to know. Some of this is quite ordinary – surely I can't be the only person who wants to know how good the speakers are – but much of it is relevant to me as a disabled person.

Why should Asus be interested in the opinions of disabled computer users, I hear you cry? Well, for starters there are an awful lot of us. I've given up trying to keep track of the estimated number of people with disabilities in the UK, mainly due to all the different definitions of “disability”, but 10-20% seems a common range. AbilityNet, a company which helps disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology, tells me that the most common reason people have for seeking help is visual problems, and the second is RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). At this point I'm going to stop and switch terminology, because I think “accessibility” is actually a more useful term right now. This isn't just about people with obvious disabilities, this issue applies to everyone. I'll wager that few people have never made some adjustment to make their computer easier to use, whether it's raising the monitor or getting a more suitable chair.

Quite apart from the 3 million people in the UK who are unable to read standard print... )
elettaria: (Default)
Asus, the company who started the netbook craze, have decided that they want to hear more from ordinary users. They've set up a project where six people will get to blog for a month about one of a range of six laptops, ranging in size from a netbook to an equivalent of the iMac. I've long wanted to see something like this, because professional computer reviewers do a sterling job but often leave out so many of the details I'm dying to know. Some of this is quite ordinary – surely I can't be the only person who wants to know how good the speakers are – but much of it is relevant to me as a disabled person.

Why should Asus be interested in the opinions of disabled computer users, I hear you cry? Well, for starters there are an awful lot of us. I've given up trying to keep track of the estimated number of people with disabilities in the UK, mainly due to all the different definitions of “disability”, but 10-20% seems a common range. AbilityNet, a company which helps disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology, tells me that the most common reason people have for seeking help is visual problems, and the second is RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). At this point I'm going to stop and switch terminology, because I think “accessibility” is actually a more useful term right now. This isn't just about people with obvious disabilities, this issue applies to everyone. I'll wager that few people have never made some adjustment to make their computer easier to use, whether it's raising the monitor or getting a more suitable chair.

Quite apart from the 3 million people in the UK who are unable to read standard print... )
elettaria: (Chocolate teapot)
Perhaps "courtship" isn't the right word. I'm talking about the period when you haven't yet got together with someone (whether or not the getting together ever happens), when you're flirting, pining, angsting, and/or agonising over exactly what that last text message meant. In your experience, O my readers, does this sort of beginning ever turn into a real relationship? Because most of the time, when I've been mooning after someone for months, either nothing happens or there are a few kisses followed by hasty excuses and backing away. When [livejournal.com profile] ghost_of_a_flea and I encountered each other in that bookshop, we clicked so fast that we'd got together four days after we first met. Both of us said a few times over the next few months, "Hang on, is this really the way it's meant to go? What about all the months of not being sure whether the other person Likes me? The careful hours of interpretation of every bit of physical contact and ambiguous comment?" Frankly, it was much easier and happier the way things happened

So what do you think? How often does this sort of start turn into a relationship, and if it does, do they tend to be good relationships (as opposed to, say, months of being stood up)?

In other news... )

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