December 21, 2008

Lenovo IdeaPad S9 Linux

My company asked me to go out and buy a netbook for a customer for Christmas. For the allotted budget they gave me, I could only get either the lowest end Acer Aspire One or the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, so I decided to get the Dell since it's the only netbook that I didn't have any hands-on experience with.

But when I arrived at the shops, they happened to be putting the new Lenovo IdeaPad S9 with Linux on display, and it happens to be within the allotted budget as well.

When I looked at the specs, I was surprised to find that even though it's the lower priced Linux version and cost the same as either the Acer or Dell, it has the exact same hardware specs (besides the screen, of course) as the IdeaPad S10 Windows XP version that I got earlier. i.e., 1 GB RAM, 160 GB hard drive, etc. It even has Bluetooth! So I bought one immediately.

The picture above shows some of the specs as found by the pre-installed Linpus Linux Lite.

I can't wait for the customer who will be receiving this to call back and say, "I can't run NFS on this thing! And where's the DVD writer?!"

December 20, 2008

Jizz in my pants

When goofing off at work, never watch something that makes coffee come out from your nose, and you still need to keep a straight face afterwards.

I could already see the spoofs and remixes coming.

I'm voiding the warranty on my new wireless router and I

The Youtube video linked above is the HD version. But if you use the Download Video link you'll only get the standard version. You need to go to the Youtube page, then download using a downloading tool such as Fast Video Download, then you'll get the HD version in MP4 format.

Youtube's HD videos now take up the width of the screen instead of just the left part like regular videos. Very nice.

Official site: The Lonely Island.
And the lyrics.

December 16, 2008

Panasonic G1 firmware

Panasonic is in a firmware upgrading spree too. Yesterday they released firmware for the LX3, and today the G1. Whee!

The new firmware is available here. (Version 1.1, released 2008/12/16.)

  1. Makes it possible to check the exposure with Live View during the AE lock.
  2. Makes it possible to continuously display the enlarged screen of the MF assist.
  3. Added "color adjustment function" for the LCD monitor/View finder.
  4. Added "Red-eye reduction forced flash on" to the flash setting for the [PARTY].
  5. Improved the performance of AE(Auto Exposure) and AWB(Auto White Balance).
  6. Improved the accuracy of flash control.
  7. Improved the noise reduction during high sensitivity photo shooting.
In related news. Adobe released Lightroom 2.2 to support Panasonic raw files. Panasonic is turning many heads in the photography world!

December 15, 2008

Panasonic LX3 firmware

The new firmware is available here. (Version 1.1, released 2008/12/15.)

  1. Compatibility update for the DMW-FL220 flash unit.
  2. Improved auto white balance performance.
  3. Improved auto focus performance.
Update: apparently there were two unreleased firmware between 1.0 and 1.1.

Improvements in Version 1.05:
  1. Improved the MF assistance (enlarged) position may be shifted to the center although MF assistance position is shifted with joystick when zoom lever is rotated to Tele side.
  2. Improved the noise may be displayed in the AF area selecting screen.
  3. Improved the black part may be displayed in the MF assistance (enlarged) area when the dark area compensation is set to ON.
  4. Optimization of the enlarged position indicator and MF assistance (enlarged) being displayed.
  5. Improved the AWB icon is displayed in film grain scene mode when WB adjustment is chosen.
  6. Improved the exposure compensation value may not be stored in the picture as an Exif data with iA shooting mode.
Improvements in Version 1.04.
  1. Improved favorite guide indication and clock indication of world time may be lapped over.

December 12, 2008

Ghost town vacation

I went on a holiday last weekend to Krabi and Phuket. Normally the beaches of Krabi and Phuket are filled with tourists, but since the PAD morons destroyed the country, the beaches and streest are mostly empty and many places are closed down.

When I was at Krabi, I stayed at a hotel right in the middle of downtown. In theory it sounds quite nice, but all the action is actually at the seaside at Ao Nang. Downtown is more like the middle of nowhere.

The surprising thing was the hotel has WRT54GL's at every floor, running Tomato with WDS enabled to provide free Internet service. I didn't see anyone else besides me using the service though. And how did I know they were running Tomato with WDS, and that I was the only user? Because they were all running with the default username and password.

Obligatory shot of James Bond Island.

December 9, 2008

Gmail JPEG attachment problem

I was away on vacation for a few days, and of course, something has to break while I was away. Gmail's attachment function broke and I got flooded with help messages. An example below.

This is the original image, taken from a previous post.

When Gmail attaches the JPEG image, it becomes corrupted. And the corruption is different each time. Once in a while it even corrupts the image so badly that it becomes uncompletely unviewable.

Surprisingly enough, the corruption problem even happens with images embedded inside PDF files. I found this out when I tried to work around the image corruption problem by embedding JPEG's inside PDF files, but the PDF files became corrupted as well.

I wonder if it's affecting all attachments?

December 2, 2008

Happy face in the sky

I was heading home last night and found huge crowds looking up at the sky. I don't follow astronomy news so often anymore but I still know my stars and planets, and was surprised to see the crescent moon, Venus, and Jupiter in conjunction forming a smiley face. This is detailed in Astroblog, and I took a quick shot.

November 30, 2008

These go to eleven

I've been looking at EnGenius products for a while, but I've not yet bought one for testing. EnGenius, also known as Senao in some parts of the world, is well known for making high powered long range access points, for both indoors and outdoors.

Fortunately, a friend got an ECB-3220 for one of his projects, and I borrowed it off him for testing. The ECB-3220 is a high-powered access point with 400mW RF output and bunch of other advanced features such as WDS, SNMP, virtual SSID, etc. Of course, all those advanced features can be had for free with DD-WRT. The only things I want with the EnGenius is the higher power output and PoE.

The body of the ECB-3220 is well constructed, and smaller than the standard Linksys WRT54GL. Which is to be expected, since the WRT54GL is half empty inside. The WRT54GL only remained that size to be compatible with older Linksys products and mounting frames.

Unfortunately, when I set it up for testing, it didn't seem to perform any better than the WRT54GL I have stacked below it. I kept getting the exact same signal strength level no matter what I tried. The ECB-3220 also has the same female RP-TNC antenna connector as the WRT54GL, so I also tried swapping antennas and changing orientation. I also have an ASUS WL-500gP (not pictured) which seems to give even better signal.

After some head scratching (and secretly glad that I didn't buy the more expensive ECB-3610S 600mW version for testing) I realized that the output power level options in the advanced wireless setup page has four values: High, Ultra High, Super, and Extreme. I had seen the options earlier but didn't change them because the default value is "High", and I thought it would default to the highest output value.

Once I set the output power levels to Extreme, everything worked as I had expected, I could get approximately three times the range of the WRT54GL when indoors. And when outdoors, I could go all the way up to nearly half a mile away. Testing was done with my ASUS EEE PC 701 with the Atheros wireless chipset.

Looks like I need to buy the ECB-3610S after all.

November 22, 2008

DD-WRT v24-sp2

I'm on a firmware upgrading spree here. Right after upgrading the Buffalo TeraStations yesterday, today I see that DD-WRT has also had a newer release. This might be currently available for paid customers only, but DD-WRT is worth every Euro cent.

Strangely enough, I found that my Linksys WAP54G access point (DD-WRT micro) wouldn't take the upgrade eventhough the firmware loading seemed to work. After trying a few times, I realized that the firmware did transfer correctly to the access point, it just didn't reboot at the end. I tried manually clicking on the "reboot" button, which made the access point go through the reboot motion, but it still didn't actually reboot.

I ended up having to go to the access point and unplug it. When it booted up again, it became v24-sp2.

November 21, 2008

Buffalo vs. Windows Server 2008

Since deciding to move on to Windows Server 2008 (x64), I've been downloading drivers and studying docs to prepare for the install, and then I saw this - Buffalo storage devices having issues joining Windows Server 2008 active directory.

Turns out it wasn't a problem for me after all, since Buffalo just released new firmware updates across the line to resolve this issue. Buffalo Technology has websites all over the world and they recommend you only download firmware from your local site, and the files at each site are subtly different, so you should probably pick the right one. The new firmware is version 1.33 and the site has release notes that can be viewed directly. (I have the TeraStation PRO II Rackmount TS-RHTGL/R5, you should pick the right one for your Buffalo.)

The update went differently this time than before. After TSUpdater performed the firmware transfer, instead of rebooting, my TeraStation shut down and TSUpdater complained that the TeraStation can not be found. That scared me for a second since my TeraStations are long out of warranty. But after manually powering up the TeraStation, the firmware update proceeded to do its job and everything was well.

November 20, 2008

Gmail has themes

I opened my Gmail this morning and suddenly noticed it was a deeper shade of blue and some of the icons seemed to look different. Just to prove that I wasn't imagining things before my morning coffee, I opened my company's Google Apps mail, and sure enough, Gmail now has themes. Very cool.

On a completely unrelated note, I've been having a lot of trouble searching for stuff using Google. It always complains that the request looks like it's from an automated robot. I wonder if this is related to the great firewall of Thailand.

November 19, 2008

Thailand vs. Malawi

I guess I wasn't imagining things when I'm stuck in the traffic every single day when commuting to work. According to the Worldmapper website:
In Thailand, with the longest commuting times in the world, a total of 37 million hours is spent travelling to work everyday. If this number is doubled the total time commuting each day in Thailand can be calculated. The average working person living in Thailand spends 2 hours everyday travelling to and from work.

The shortest journeys to work are in Malawi, taking just 2 minutes.
I wonder if there are any job openings in Malawi?

November 17, 2008

iPhone 3G in Thailand

Oh my, I wonder if we're actually going to get a 3G network, only about a million years after it's promised? Or if they're going to pretend that their city-wide Wi-Fi network is 3G?

I also wonder how many they're going to pretend to sell, since the iPhone gray market here is huge.

True Move is the third largest (out of four) cellular provider in Thailand and I happen to be a user. I used AIS (largest cellular provider in Thailand and owned by the former Primer Minister) for many years until one day they suddenly changed the GPRS service charges. GPRS in most places (all?) of the world is charged by the number of bytes transferred. AIS suddenly changed it to be charged by the minute. Their reasoning is that to download ringtones, it's cheaper to be charged by the minute than to be charged by the number of bytes. They also thought they could change it without informing anyone since there were practically no GPRS users at the time.

I racked up a humongous bill since I always left my phone logged in to one of the instant messaging services. That iPhone guy's huge AT&T phone bill is nothing compared to my phone bill.

November 14, 2008

Not a destination

I've long been a fan of William Stanek's technical books. (Can one really be a "fan" of technical books?) Unfortunately, I've never actually owned any of his books until not long ago, only recommended them to others.

Late last year, my company embarked on a huge and expensive project to replace our aging ERP system with a new one, so I decided to take the opportunity to also replace our slightly aging servers running Windows 2000 Server with new servers with Windows Server 2003 R2 x64. I didn't actually have any extensive hand-on experiences with Server 2003 at the time, so I took the opportunity and ordered Windows Server 2003 Administrator's Companion (2nd Edition) and Stanek's Windows Server 2003 Administrator's Pocket Consultant (2nd Edition). The bookstore only had the 1st Edition of Stanek's book, so I placed an order and it took them three months to get the 2nd Edition in.

One word about the aging ERP system. We've been using it for years. It's running on the Windows 2000 Server, but it was moved from the older servers running Windows NT Server 4.0. It never worked properly inside Windows 2000 since I think it was really designed for LAN Manager, and the client only runs inside Windows 98. Both the server side application and the client side software are full of bugs and require constant maintenance. Our users have to run VMware Player to run Windows 98 to access the ERP software. It's a piece of crap that's long overdue for an upgrade. The ERP system was also the reason I stuck with Windows 2000 Server. It was a pain to get working with 2000, and it didn't work with x64 at all. (But the reason this is so is because we never upgraded to a newer version that supported modern operating systems.)

Actually, when spec'ing out the new servers, I wanted to go with the then newly announced Windows Server 2008 (previously known as Windows Server Codename "Longhorn"), but since we already had unused licenses for Windows Server 2003, my boss didn't want to spend any more money for licenses, plus 2008 wasn't actually released yet at the time, so I figured 2003 R2 was good enough, and we could upgrade to 2008 in the future, like when SP1 comes out or something.

Unfortunately, our ERP project got incredibly delayed due to unforseeable circumstances, and the new servers I put together for the ERP software were just sitting there gathering dust while I studied the documentation and did test runs. In hindsight, I should have put the servers into production use right then, but I wanted to start fresh all at once, but of course I didn't realize at the time how much the ERP project would be delayed.

Fast forward to last month, and my dust gathering servers silently passed their 1st birthday, still unused, and suddenly my boss walked into my office and told me to go ahead and present a budget to him to upgrade to Windows Server 2008.

My unused Windows Server 2003 licenses and books! Eventhough I've studied the books extensively, it's not like they were actually put into any kind of "production use". But of course I took the opportunity this time to buy Stanek's Windows Server 2008 Administrator's Pocket Consultant, as well as put in an order for Windows Server 2008 Inside Out.

2,000 more pages to digest...

November 13, 2008

Loy Kratong 2008

Yesterday was Loy Kratong Festival. It falls on the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai Lunar Calendar, or the full moon of the 10th month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

Due to political unrest, the crowds appear much less this year, the Prime Minister even issued a bomb warning to the public to warn people away from crowded places. The crowds do seem to be a lot less than previous years, but still a lot of people went to the rivers to let their worries float away with the kratong and to pray for prosperity in the upcoming year.

I didn't take many pictures this year because it's so dark. (It was so crazy windy the kratong's candles couldn't stay lit.) And to keep this post on topic for this blog, I prayed for no server problems in the next year!

November 1, 2008

Turn off fridge to begin

Recently, someone called me up to go check out their system since they were having a strange problem logging into the domain: some users can only login to the domain if they first turn off the refrigerator. Every time these users turned on their computers, they need to turn off the fridge, login, then turn on the fridge again. (?!?!) It's normally not a problem, but the fridge got fried several times from being tuned off and on so much.

When I arrived at the site, I sat down at one of the problem users' computer and wondered immediately why their domain name ends in 0. (The domain name was their company name + "0".) It seemed weird to give such a name to the domain, I figured maybe eventually they wanted to expand to have more than one domain, so they started out with 0.

Later on when I looked at their server, I noticed the domain controller's hostname is actually the same as the domain name. Since the DC's hostname can not be the same as the domain name, Windows automatically appended a "0" to the domain name. And since the domain name doesn't actually contain the 0, some applications don't need the 0 to be typed in, and some applications do. Apparently the original sysadmin decided to name the server after the company, and name the domain as the company's name + ".com". But in a Windows domain, the ".com" would be removed and it ended up being a duplicate name. Even worse, the particular "company name + .com" that they chose actually exists as a real Internet domain name elsewhere.

Oh, and the reason why they were having trouble logging into the domain? Apparently the original sysadmin randomly deleted users from the domain before he quit the job. So the users whose names got deleted could no longer login to the domain. And the power switch next to the refrigerator provides power to both the fridge and to one of their network switches. When the network switch is powered off, the users could login to the domain through locally cached domain passwords. How did they ever figure out to turn off that particular switch? One of the guys there told me that he thought maybe the fridge was interfering with their network, so he tried turning it off, and it helped, so they've been doing that ever since. (?!?!)

And what happened to the original sysadmin with the wonderful sense of humor for naming the domain after the domain controller and for randomly deleting users? Apparently he left the company and joined a high profile IT security and consulting firm. I'll remember to never hire any IT consultants locally, ever.

October 31, 2008

Black notebooks

I bought a black notebook to go with my black notebook.

I'm a late-comer to the Moleskine fad. I've been searching for the perfect PDA for many years, before they were even called PDA's. Here's what I've used, or attempted to use, since 1991 or so: ZEOS Pocket PC (unreadable screen), Sharp Wizard OZ-9600 (way too little memory), OZ-9600II (bigger memory, but resolution too low), Apple Newton (poor handwriting recognition, body too large), HP OmniGo 100 (resolution too low), HP200LX (poor software integration, not really a PDA), Psion 3c (broken in less than four months), Sony CLIÉ N710C (thumbwheel broke), O2 Xphone (constant crashing), Nokia N-Gage QD (poor networking capability), Nokia 6600 (no Wi-Fi), and currenty, the Nokia E65 (very poor Wi-Fi signal).

Back to the Moleskine. The one I got is the very first one on the Moleskine diaries page: the 18-month weekly notebook with soft black cover, in large size. I decided to go with the 18-month version since it's exactly the same price as the 12-month one, plus there are still two more months to go in 2008.

Unfortunately, and in hindsight, I should have gotten the original hard cover version. You would think that the soft cover, being "new", should be the better one, but only after two weeks of use, the edges of the covers are curled up, and the pages are getting uneven. (See photo above.) And if I put too much stuff in the inside pocket, the rubber band leaves an impression on the cover. I did a search for hard vs. soft cover Moleskine and came across this thread. I hope mine doesn't suffer the same fate.

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2008

Windows 7

Still no up button?!?!

(Image credit: Wikepedia Windows 7 article.)

October 26, 2008

Disable smooth scrolling in Vista (and Server 2008)

We're looking into upgrading to Windows Server 2008 at work, and I was looking into using Server 2008 as a desktop OS on my PC. I downloaded and installed a trial version of Server 2008, and immediately ran into the old smooth scrolling problem that I had with Vista.

But wait! The Neowin post has actually had an update after my previous post. And the suggested solution for disabling smooth scrolling actually worked! The correct solution is to use Tweak UI and disable the "Enable smooth scrolling" option in the Explorer section.

I never came across this solution because I've always used the old Windows 2000 Tweak UI even with Windows XP, so I never knew this option existed. Plus eventhough the new Tweak UI has this particular option, it's not needed in XP. In XP, the smooth scrolling option IE controls smooth scrolling in both Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer. But in Vista, the smooth scrolling in IE only controls IE itself, and apparently Vista has no way to disable smooth scrolling in Windows Explorer without using Tweak UI.

Other solutions that I've came across while searching for a solution to this problem mostly suggested going to [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop] and set SmoothScroll=0. But obviously the solution wasn't that simple, or I would've done it much earlier. Changing the smooth scrolling option in Tweak UI changes more than just this one particular registry setting.

Vista here I come!

October 14, 2008

Lenovo IdeaPad S10 in black (day 7)

So, I've used the IdeaPad S10 extensively in the past week. Here are some additional thoughts. Some of the items are expande from my two previous posts.

The battery isn't that bad. Like I've already mentioned, battery life will keep going up as the battery is conditioned. I can easily get 3.5 hours of battery life now. I also have the LAN disabled since I never use LAN. Unfortunately it still can't compare to the Aspire One's 6-cell battery. A friend bought an Acer Aspire One ("A1") a few days ago, and it can easily get 5 hours of battery life, even on the very first charge. But then my ThinkPad T60 with the standard 6-cell battery gets less than two hours of life, so I'm happy.

The PgUp and PgDn keys are really badly done. Eventhough they have their own keys which sounds nice in theory, but in actual use, the keys are located in an awkward position, are too small, and I have to reach for them. It would have been really nice if they were put together with the cursor keys and accessed using the Fn key combination, like on the EEE PC. The cursor keys are full-sized, which means the right shift key has to be shifted to the right. The A1 has a standard right shift key, but then the arrow keys are tiny.

The Ctrl and Fn keys might be a problem for non-ThinkPad users, because the Fn key is on the outside/left, and Ctrl is on the inside/right. This is identical to the setup on ThinkPads, but opposite to other brands. Because my regular notebook is a ThinkPad T60, I have no problems. (And I do keep pushing the wrong key on the EEE PC.)

The keyboard is really really nice. I'm a fast typist (120+ WPM) and I can type at my regular speed on the S10. But then I can also type very fast on the EEE PC 701. (This post is typed on the EEE PC 701.) On comparison with the Aspire One, the A1's keyboard looks and feels nicer since it has sculpted keys that look more like the keys on a regular keyboard, while the S10's keys look flattened. But the flattened keys actually give the keys more surface area, so they feel better when typing.

My S10 has Bluetooth. The Aspire One that my friend has doesn't. My EEE PC 701 was first generation and doesn't have Bluetooth. There's nothing special about the Bluetooth, it just works.

I read that others have issues with the S10's heat output. But it doesn't feel any hotter than my EEE PC, and it's just like the A1. Maybe this is because I live in an air-conditioned country.

I also installed Windows XP Pro SP3 from scratch on the S10, using a standard Lenovo USB-powered external DVD-R drive. The exact name of this wonderful drive is USB 2.0 Super Multi-Burner Drive with LightScribe, and the part number is 41N5629. I also used the same drive to install XP Pro on my EEE PC 701. There was no need to change the SATA mode in the BIOS from AHCI to IDE prior to installation. However, I also tried using a standard SATA DVD-R drive with a cheap SATA to USB converter. But the S10 couldn't detect this combo during the boot process, eventhough it worked fine once Windows is booted.

Oh, I did find an issue in the BIOS. I can't seem to put a password in the BIOS that's only used to protect the BIOS setup screen. When I set the setup password, it always prompts for the password both when entering setup and normal boot. Because I don't want my normal boot process to be interrupted by a password, I ended up having to remove the setup password.

IdeaPad S10, Acer Aspire One, and ASUS EEE PC 701. Sorry for the mess in the background.

IdeaPad S10 with the Lenovo USB drive. I took this picture while XP was installing, but I noticed later I happened to take the shot when it was rebooting, so the screen is blank. The drive does not need any additional power to work with either the S10 or the EEE PC.Pictures of the Bluetooth module. Taken from

P.S. Sorry for the quality of the photos in this post, at least compared to the previous post. I really need to get a pocket camera.

October 12, 2008

Violence in the streets

At the rate the market is falling, pretty soon we'll all be worth peanuts. I've been working in Thailand for so long, and every year I make less money than the year before. (Against exchange rates with the US Dollar and rising taxes.)

Plus getting my life in danger. I was going home the other day and decided to get off the bus early to go to the bookstore. The bus I was taking ended up being hijacked by the protesters to be parked in front of the Government House.

We live in interesting times!

October 11, 2008

Best jobs in the world

We bought more European machinery recently that came with Siemens PLC's and HMI's. But probably due to cost cutting, they didn't come with any software and we were expected to buy our own.

So, I called up our Siemens dealer to buy the software, and all the software we needed cost something like $5,000. Naturally, I asked if there's any discounts I could get, or maybe there's a special low-priced Thai edition.

"Siemens can't really give you any discounts since the price is fixed from Germany, but I can give you a special."

"Huh? What?"

"I can supply the license disks to you, and you can be sure that mine are exactly like the original. For only 1/10 the price."


Not wanting to buy any pirated software and giving free money to this guy, I decided to call up our hardware supplier. After much arguing and yelling and threatening to never buy stuff from them ever again, I managed to get the software free from the supplier. They should've given them to us for free in the first place like they always did, since the machines cost the company several million dollars.

Oh, but that's nothing yet, the Thai Cyber Police (officially the Economic and Cyber Crime Division) announced (What idiot would put two video clips on a single page?) that they're are putting and end once and for all to the piracy situation in Thailand this Wednesday, October 15. (HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!)

I think the Cyber Police needs to go to Pantip Plaza and see for themselves what the piracy situation looks like, instead of just sending out spam letters to businesses threatening to sue them, even if they already use legitimate software like us! My company received like 50 copies of the spam letter. Oh, I guess they just want to go after businesses and get more free money, instead of actually punishing the sources of the problem. The pirate software sellers are obviously paying someone in order to be owning such huge shops filled with pirated software that are completed invisible to the police. Co-operation my ass.

A lot of my friends that work in smaller Thai companies tell me that their bosses are all rushing out to buy "genuine" software, since the local BSA branch announced that this time, the Cyber Police will come to businesses directly and make arrests without sending an audit letter first. I wonder where their bosses are buying software from, since if they had no clues in the first place, how can they possibly find a shop that sells software? Could they be getting tricked into buying copied software, thinking that they're originals? (Like with the Siemens situation above?) I mean, all the pirate software shops are huge and crowded, while the few and lonely legitimate software shops look like they're closing down. Plus all the copied discs come with nice boxes with shiny hologram covers, and the original software all come in little paper folders with just a little sheet of license.

October 8, 2008

Lenovo IdeaPad S10 in black (day 2)

This is continued from my previous Lenovo IdeaPad S10 post.

Apparently the S10's being sold currently in the US don't have Bluetooth. Mine does. This is the software wireless device control panel accessed by pressing Fn-F5. There is also a hardware button that toggles all wireless devices simultaneously.

Just to prove again my S10 does have Bluetooth. This is the device manager.

The pre-installed battery management control panel. You can choose the battery saving scheme manually, or let it change automatically according to the battery level.

Each scheme can be customized further by double clicking on the scheme icons.

Everything is customizable.

The Super Energy Saver scheme has an additional tab that lets you enable or disable individual hardware devices.

After cycling the battery a few times and also customizing my battery saving schemes a bit, I can easily get 3+ hours of battery life now. The backlight on the S10 is so bright I never needed to use more than half in the screen brightness setting. The CPU is also fast enough that I can use the "low CPU frequency" setting without any speed problems.

As mentioned in other online reviews, the wireless sensitivity is extremely good. I happened to need to find out today if a remote location at work can be reached using wireless or if we need to run a cable. Turns out the S10 can easily reach our main access point from the remote location, while my ThinkPad with the Intel 3945BG couldn't even find the access point.

Update: continued in day 7.

October 7, 2008

Lenovo IdeaPad S10 in black

This is one of those rare times that we got a new product ahead of many parts of the world. This S10 is bought in the stores, it's not a demo, review, or pre-production unit.

The black S10 and the included leather slipcase.

The back of the screen is a smooth matte. Fingerprints are not very visible unlike the other color variations. (Fingerprints were not wiped clean prior to taking these photographs.)

Size comparison with the ASUS EEE PC 701 and an old ThinkOutside Stowaway Keyboard. I feel the S10's keyboard is very similar to the Stowaway, both in size and feeling. I also feel it's superior to the ASUS EEE PC 1000 series. I have no problem touch typing on the S10, and I'm a very fast typist.

The blue light is the power light. The orange light is the multi-purpose wireless indicator. It blinks blue for Wi-Fi activity, orange (as shown) for Bluetooth, or purple if both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are active.

The SD card sticks out even when fully inserted, so you can't just leave an SD card inside. But this is not a problem since the S10 has a large hard drive. The SD card shown is an A-DATA 16 GB Turbo SDHC card that I normally leave inside my EEE PC 701.

The S10 has a very bright and colorful screen. Shown here the T60 is at maximum brightness, running on battery power (screen auto dimming enabled). The S10 is at half brightness.

A comparison of text size. The T60 (1400x1050 SXGA+) is running Firefox sized at 1024x1024. The S10 is running Firefox maximized. The S10's text size is slightly larger.

The only problem I have with my S10 is that the LAN port is extremely tight. But it's probably just my unit. Even if it's a problem with every unit it won't be an issue for most people anyway since most people will only use the wireless connectivity.

I've only had the S10 for a day and I get about 2.5 hours of usage in my limited testing. This is with the wireless enabled, browsing the web, and just doing random stuff. The S10 is very energy efficient since if it's left idle for a moment, the battery indicator will show that it has 3+ hours of battery life left. The battery remaining indicator changes dynamically as the usage pattern changes.

There is a shortcut key (Fn-ESC) to toggle the webcam, but no shotcut key to mute the speakers. The shortcut keys for screen brightness and volume are placed with the cursor keys. They should've been put elsewhere and the cursor keys should have been combined with Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me.

Update: Continued in day 2.

October 6, 2008

Ancient benchmarking technologies

I have a really old bechmarking program called CPUmark 99 (Copyright 1998 ZD Inc.). I think it came with Winbench 99 but it was also distributed as a standalone program. Whenever I encounter a new system one of the first things I do is give CPUmark a try. CPUmark is so ancient it doesn't care about any of the new SSE instructions or multi-core CPU's or advanced caching technologies whatsoever, but I find that it can accurately judge the "feeling of speed" of a system, regardless of the actual MHz or benchmark scores produced by other synthetic benchmarking programs.

This theory got tested recently when a co-worker built a relatively high-end gaming system for a friend's friend. They decided on the AMD Phenom X4, ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe/WiFi-AP, ATI Radeon HD 4850 card with 512 MB DDR3 RAM, 2 GB of DDR2/800 RAM (should've bought more), and a shiny Samsung T220 22" LCD monitor. Windows Vista gave it a butt-kicking Windows Experience Index of 5.9. But when I sat down at the system and tried running some programs, I thought it didn't feel any faster than the Phenom X3 8450 (2.1 GHz) system we have. In fact, I felt it was slower! The Phenom X3 was in a low-end Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H board with onboard graphics and gets a Vista score of something stupid like 1.5 since the graphics performance is so abysmal. (It's not being used for games.)

Surely enough. The X4 system only produced a CPUmark of 275, while the X3 system produced a CPUmark of 281. Eventhough the X4 did get a lower score, I felt the slowness came from running Windows Vista with only 2 GB of RAM. But the X4 should have gotten a higher score nevertheless, since it's a faster CPU with faster components. Unfortunately, the owner took the system home and I've only used two AMD Phenom CPU's so far, so I can't make any conclusions yet.

Other systems I have tested that have gotten similar CPUmarks to the AMD Phenoms include the Core 2 Duo T5750 (2.0 GHz/667) with a score of 282. This was a ThinkPad R61i. Another with a close score is a Core 2 Duo T7100 (1.8GHz/800) with a score of 277. This was a Lenovo 3000 N200. (I don't really use Core 2 Duo's on desktops.)

The fastest system we have on hand right now is an Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 installed in an ASUS P5K Premium/WiFi-AP. It has 8 GB of DDR2/800 RAM and is running Windows Server 2003 x64. It has a CPUmark of 332. Spiffy.