Daily Archives: Friday, 24th Oct 2008

Acer Aspire One A110-AW

There are lots of these little things on the market at the moment – dinky little laptops with tiny screens and a basic spec[1] at moderately reasonable prices. Well, some are more reasonable than others – I’ve seen a few which compare very badly with the prices of basic normal latops.

But this little beastie seems to have it just about right. It runs Linux, so its 512MB RAM is actually enough to be usable, and its 8GB SSD storage isn’t too bad[1].

I’ve been looking at various netbooks (as they’ve become known) for a while now, but I’d just about decided not to bother. Then I happened to visit Amazon, and found they’d cut another £20 off the price. And somehow, £180 looked a lot more attractive than £200. So I bought one, and it arrived today.

I’ve got it for two purposes:

  1. To have a really portable computer
  2. To have a bit of fun learning to fiddle with Linux

I’ve started tweaking and twiddling, following instructions, hints and other Good Stuff on a nifty forum:

Acer Aspire One User Forum

It’ll take me a while to get used to it, and to do more stuff with it, but so far, I like it. This post was written on the surprisingly usable keyboard, and my site is nicely readable on the small, but bright and sharp screen.
[1] And it’s easily expanded by putting a SDHC card in a dedicated slot. Automagic instant expansion of storage

Weight Report – 24 October 2008

Yes, I know. It’s been a few weeks since I got round to one of these things, but as I might have mentioned, I’ve been lacking in motivation and tuitness. Now I could create a load of boring back-dated posts showing the daily fluctuations in my weight over the last three weeks, but I think I’ll spare you that. Suffice it to say I’ve had the usual random wossnames, with the hihgest recorded weight being 217 pounds (15 stone 7 pounds, 98.4 kg) and the lowest being 215.8 pounds (15 stone 5.8 pounds, 97.9 kg).

My walking has been variable, too. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken the bus (or Metro and bus) to work three or four times, and come home on the bus more often than not. I haven’t been keeping exact records of that, so that’s as much detail as I can give.

On the other hand, I have had a few moderate weekend walks, so it’s not all bad.

Canon PowerShot A460 and Selphy CP520

Although I’m very fond of my Canon 30D[1][3], it’s a wee bit big and, well, obvious to take everywhere all the time, which has led to some missed photo opportunities. Admittedly, my phone has a camera, but it’s not really all that good for anything other than simple shots in good light. And my old Sony compact suffers from a major drawback – its rechargeable batteries tend to drain away to nothing even when it’s not in use, which makes it a bit useless for spontaneity.

So, I decided the time had come to get another camera. I wanted a basic point and shoot camera to use when carrying a DSLR might not be possible (or sensible). I didn’t want anything fancy, or with more pixels than a very pixely thing, so a nicely cheap older model was just the thing. After a bit of general looking around, I went back to a familiar model – the Canon PowerShot A460. This came out a year or two ago, and is a fairly basic 5 megapixel job. Fully automatic if you want it to be, but with enough manual controls to make it more flexible when you need it to be. It also does moderately acceptable video, uses SD cards, of which I just happen to have a pile of[4], and it runs on the ubiquitous AA size batteries.



So having decided what I wanted, I had a look around. As it’s an old model, not many people are still stocking it, but those nice Warehouse Express people had it for a moderately reasonable £75, plus £3.99 for delivery. Now I can already hear you saying

£75 for a basic 5MP camera? That’s a bit much, innit?

Well, it might have been, if the price didn’t also include a Canon Selphy CP520 dye sublimation photo printer. You know the sort of thing – produces quite nice quality prints on 6″ x 4″ paper using a special ribbon cartridge thingy. I probably wouldn’t have ever bought one on its own, but as part of a bundle it seemed worth having. It came with a small pack of paper and a cartridge with enough capacity to print on the sample sheets.

The printer can be connected direct to the camera (or indeed to many other cameras, from a variety of manufacturers), or to a Mac or PC. Quality either way is rather good, though it does take a little over a minute to print each image, so you wouldn’t want to use it for bulk printing. Ignoring the initial cost of the printer, it costs around 25p per picture, which is a lot more than the best online or local prices, but most of those depend on buying in bulk to some extent, and there’s generally a bit of a wait. For pictures in your hand right now, it’s not bad at all. There’s even an optional Bluetooth dongle which will let it print direct from many mobile phones, but I haven’t tried that.

I’ll post some sample images from the new camera when I find a suitable tuit[5]. So far, I’m quite happy with it, and I’m tending to take it with me every day, so more pictures may follow…

Watch out for more new toy reports soon!

[1] That doesn’t stop me drooling over its potential successor, the awesome[2] 5D MkII, of course
[2] Not a word I use lightly.
[3] And yes, I know I haven’t posted a lot of pictures lately. I’ll get back into that soonish
[4] Surplus to requirements, 1GB each. Nice.
[5] You may have noticed that I seem to have found a posting tuit today, so maybe that won’t be too long

WordPress 2.7 – Coming Soon!

You might recall that I got a wee bit annoyed with the changes made to the admin interface in WordPress 2.5 and which remain in version 2.6[1]. In fact, it wasn’t until I got hold of the Fluency Admin plugin that normal levels of usability returned.

At the time I mentioned Fluency, I referred to a test version of WordPress that used similar concepts. At that time, the Crazyhorse branch of development looked a bit of a mess, but did feel like something more useful. Well, those ideas have made their way into the main line of development, only more so. Yes, version 2.7, due out next month, is looking a lot better. It has the side navigation of Fluency, with the added benefit that the sidebar can be collapsed to a column of icons. This is great – once you know what lives where, you don’t need to have the fill text taking up more width of your screen. And the menus do a nifty opening and collapsing thing, which looks good, and is more friendly than the way Fluency does it.

My other big objection was the removal of the option to customise the post page (my complaints were answered by claims that the new interface was “better”, even though it was a pain in the nether regions). Well, all that is back. With knobs on. There’s a nice little clicky link on the post page that lets you select exactly which blocks you actually need[2] and, oh joy, you can once again put things in the order you want. Things you use for every post can be higher up, or on the sidebar, and things you only use occasionally can be shoved below the fold.

I’ve been playing with the test code[3] on a test site, and so far, it’s looking good. I’ll be testing more, and possibly giving the site a general overhaul before I go live with the new version, so I can take advantage of some new features. More about that in another post…

Not only that, but I’ve even been – shock! – using the WYSIWYG editor. I’ve shunned this in the past partly because the habit of typing HTML tags rather than clicking buttons is deeply ingrained, and partly because earlier versions tended to suffer from screen lag and flicker. The latest version seems a lot better, with none of that at all.

Overall, I’m once again looking forward to a new WordPress version, which is getting me back where I want to be!

[1] See various posts
[2] This used to be doable with a plugin, but you had to go to another page, make your changes, then go back and refresh the posting page. The new version does that fancy modern AJAXy stuff to make things come and go on demand. Excellent.
[3] Seems to work. No nasty surprises with it so far, but I haven’t tested everything yet…

WordPress 2.6.3 is out

While most of the fun and games currently revolve around next month’s release of WordPress 2.7, 2.6.x isn’t dead yet. There’s a new security update out now, which all users are recommended to install as soon as possible.


Feed the Trolls

If there’s one thing that can get me posting when the motivation is otherwise absent[1], it’s the always good, and often quite stunningly brilliant xkcd. Today’s is a particularly fine example:

xkcd - click to see it all

xkcd - click to see it all

As usual, click to see the whole cartoon in its rightful place[2]. And while you’re there, make sure you check out the tooltip text that you should see when your mouse hovers over it. That applies to most of the cartoons in the archive, so you may need to read them all again if you’ve been missing that.

[1] This may change. I have some “new toy” reports to do, and you know I love to do those
[2] Even though Randall allows free copying of his stuff, I like to send people to the site so they can see more of his work