My new baby, Azusa

Ever since Asus’ announcement of the Eee PC, I was interested to buy one, since I really need a replacement notebook for my display-dead Compaq Presario v2000. After almost 4 months of waiting, I’m just glad I’ve finally gotten a hold of my new baby I named Azusa.

Ever since Asus’ announcement of the Eee PC, I was interested to buy one, since I really need a replacement notebook for my display-dead Compaq Presario v2000, which is now on desktop mode connected to a much cheaper (PHP 10,000) external Samsung 19″ wide-screen LCD than a replacement (PHP 13,000~20,000) 14″ built-in one.

I actually bought one the moment an 8G galaxy black model came out on the US. That was early April this year, but my aunt who lives there had filled up the box meant to be sent here just about the end of May. Anyway, I’m just glad I’ve finally gotten a hold of my new baby I named Azusa the 23rd of July. That was almost 4 months of waiting. The Eee PC 90x is already out in some parts of the world. T_T

Final set up

She was so named from being an Asus laptop and a certain fictional high school teacher from a 1998 Japanese television drama played by the beautiful Nanako Matsushima.

I was planning to experiment which operating system I could use to replace its custom Xandros-based Linux distro that I find a little bit restrictive. I’m thinking Ubuntu Eee, but suggestions are very welcome.

Right now, I’m making this entry from Azusa herself. I hope, now that I’m confirmed as a camper for the upcoming WordCamp Philippines 2008, there would be free Internet access that I may enjoy on-site blogging.

I guess I’d review my Eee PC experience during the past 3 ½ days:

I was actually surprised how well it receives Wi-Fi signals from my router about 15 meters away from our living room, even my uncle is having a hard time with Wi-Fi on his Toshiba Satellite.

It is actually not so hard to type on this little keyboard, I just hope I could find a way to convert the input method to Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout (one thing that makes me want to get rid of its custom Xandros-based Linux). It just bothers me with the lack of independent Home, End, PgUp and PgDn buttons, which are mapped to Fn+, Fn+, Fn+ and Fn+, respectively.

I couldn’t actually feel I’m on a sub-GHz Celeron processor right now—it boots up really quickly. Probably, if I’ve loaded this with a Microsoft OS, it would be a bit more sluggish.

Certain applications are somehow hidden from normal view, I wish I could create shortcuts for the text editor, terminal/console app, and a lot more customizations and settings.

Well, that’s it for now. More reviews later when I finally have time to experiment and do more stuff with my first ever product of blogging for money. Next stop? A digital single-lens reflex camera. 🙂

Firefox 3 Beta 1 Review

I’ve installed the new Firefox 3 Beta 1 on my Windows XP system back home. At first sight, nothing is so much noticeable about the new version. Only the bookmark button on the location bar is visibly different. But I’d share to you some features I’ve tried and liked, hoping you’d like them, too.

I’ve installed the new Firefox 3 Beta 1 on my Windows XP system back home. At first sight, nothing is so much noticeable about the new version. Only the bookmark button on the location bar is visibly different. But I’d share to you some features I’ve tried and liked, hoping you’d like them, too.

Firefox have been late to implement the following features that other browsers have already. Late as it may seem, Firefox integrated the best from three different competing browsers.

Resizer toolbar item
This nifty toolbar item lets you resize relative-width toolbar items (i.e., location bar, search bar, and flexible space) just like how Apple Safari lets you.
Full-page zoom
Images and objects now joins text when you resize just like in Opera and Windows Internet Explorer 7.
WaSP Acid2 Browser Test compliance
Now only Internet Explorer is the major browser left that doesn’t pass the test.

I’ve considered Mozilla Firefox the most innovative browser in the market since I’ve discovered it way back pre-1.0 versions. Here are some features as proof they are still leading the race:

Improved password saving
Instead of the usual dialog prompt that asks the user whether one wants to save the password before submitting the login information, Firefox 3 uses the notification bar so that the user could first confirm whether the password is correct (meaning successful login) before saving it.
Multiple text selections
Text could be now be selectively highlighted at the same time. Just hit Ctrl while doing selections using the left mouse button. Multiple copy-pasting and switching between windows isn’t necessary anymore. BTW, you still can’t deselect a portion even when using Ctrl, though.
Improved location bar autocompletion
Usually, autocompletion lets you type the first letters of the address and will try to fill in the rest (with or without the protocol and/or the www subdomain). Now, Firefox 3 tries to find all history entries using the rest of the address along with the title of the page. So, if you could remember just the specific page address, which is usually my case, or title, but not the domain, you could still find what you are looking for.
Resumable downloads
In Firefox 3, you could now resume paused downloads even when you quit Firefox, and it automatically continues downloads if the browser or system crashes.
Improved multiple opening of bookmarks in tabs
Bookmark folders feature an Open in Tabs option that now appends tabs instead of replacing all tabs on the current window, the behavior in previous versions. Take note the the current tab will be replaced by the first bookmark on the folder when using left-click, use middle-click to open everything on new tabs.

So, there you go—my preliminary review of the next-generation Firefox browser. Please note that this does not include the tons of other new features and improvements from the preceding versions, but only those I find most interesting.

If you’re still reluctant to try the beta, you may want to upgrade your current installation of Firefox to the latest stable security/bug-fix, version 2.0.0.10.

Avoid MS Excel 2007

MS Excel has a certain multiplication bug reproduced by doing multiplication that would result to 65,535 (0xFFFF). Try =850*77.1 on yours.

I’ve just read this news from /. about Microsoft Excel 2007.

I haven’t tried this myself as I’m usually on Linux and I use OpenOffice.org on my Windows partition as well, but I’ve just asked my classmate who has OEM Vista with Office 2007 to try it on his notebook. He confirms (as well as two more of my friends), MS Excel has a certain multiplication bug.

The bug could be reproduced by doing multiplication that would result to 65,535 (0xFFFF). Try =850*77.1 on yours. Excel 2007 would have displayed the result to be 100,000. According to one reply:

Suppose the formula is in A1.
=A1+1 returns 100001, which appears to show the formula is in fact 100000 and a very Serious problem.

And if you multiply be [sic] say, 2 you get something else:
=A1*2 returns 131070, as if A1 had 65535. (which it should have been)

=A1*1 Keeps it at 100000.

=A1-1 returns 65534

=A1/1 is still 100000

=A1/2 retuns [sic] 32767.5

A very serious problem indeed.

There were many speculations about the cause of the bug, but it usually points to the 16-bit to 32-bit internal data conversion since 65,535 is the cap of 16-bit integers. However, some points out to testers and programmers that are just not doing their jobs correctly.

This issue has been reported to Microsoft already. Consider waiting for an update from Microsoft before installing or upgrading unless you don’t mind valuable data and computations be fscked up 100,000 times more. Downgrade to MSO 2003 or switch to the free OpenOffice.org Calc for the meantime or forever.

Safari 3 Beta for Windows

Last time when I was reviewing new releases of Windows Web browsers, I was hoping I could get my hands on a Mac—or at least the money to buy one—so I could review Safari as well. But, I don’t think I would be drooling for it any sooner.

Last time when I was reviewing new releases of Windows Web browsers, I was hoping I could get my hands on a Mac—or at least the money to buy one—so I could review Safari as well. But, I don’t think I would be drooling for it any sooner. I was browsing my Live Bookmarks when I saw a post from WaSP announcing the release of Safari 3 Public Beta for Mac and Windows. Yes, you heard it right … Safari’s new public beta is made for Windows as well!

I don’t think I’d be switching from Mozilla Firefox, though, especially now that Firefox 3 is nearing its release. Besides, common shortcuts I use with Firefox don’t work with Safari such as tab switching [Ctrl+Tab], open new tab [Double-click on Tab Bar], and maybe many more[1] that it has to have some getting used to. But, as a Web developer, it sure is very convenient to have four major browsers—Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Apple Safari, and Windows Internet Explorer—on a single box for cross-browser testing.

Contrary to what Yuga said, I think Safari is fast. It loaded my home page’s Extended Live Archives and some other DOM scripts lag-free. But, the startup isn’t as fast as Opera’s still.

So if you will, you could download Safari 3 Public Beta from Apple.

  1. ^ I’ve only been using it for just about 30 minutes.

On Linksys WRT54GC v2.0

After having installed this newly acquired router, I’ve tested and reviewed the performance and limitations of the Linksys WRT54GC with comparison to its older brother, the Linksys WRT54G, which I have used before.

I think this is the first time I will be reviewing a hardware component. I am just happy that I could again share my Internet connection between my desktop and notebook. I have borrowed a router from my uncle before, but he already took it back for use on their home. I’ve only used [that] one router other than the WRT54GC that I currently am using.

Since the bigger WRT54G has dual antennas, it has an expectable wider signal range[1] than the compact with only one.[2] It provides a high speed Wi-Fi connection of [close to, if not] 54 Mbps with the notebook and the access point approximately 15 meters away from each other,[3] while the compact could only provide approximately 11–24 Mbps under the same conditions even though the Windows XP Wireless Network Connection manager usually reports Very Good signal strength.

That may be a good compensation for its bulkiness, but I have had problems with the Linksys WRT54G when using the BitTorrent protocol.[4] As answered in the µTorrent FAQ, this router[5] has severe problems with P2P applications using a lot of connections. Also answered on the above linked FAQ entry is a fix, which includes installing one of two third-party firmwares. Remember that the router wasn’t mine in the first place. Besides, installing and/or upgrading firmware risks the router being bricked, and add to that the fact the software recommended was made by hardware hackers and wasn’t official.[6]

Linksys WRT54GC v2.0

I have been trying to borrow the router from my uncle again, but he came to our house with a Linksys WRT54GC v2.0 instead. Of course, I was surprised, but I still do not know if he will give me this one or sell it to me.[7] I’ve installed it immediately, and I’ve been testing it using µTorrent with a huge download task and several seeding tasks for three days almost continuously already.

The only problem I’ve had with the Compact Wireless-G Broadband Router is its Static DHCP feature, which should take care of Static IP addresses without configuring the client manually. I really want to utilize the said feature for Port Forwarding since I use BitTorrent and it has to have an open port for incoming connections. The problem is that whenever I place my computer on the list of clients with static IPs, and change the DHCP IP range to something excluding the static IPs, it still gives the client an IP within the DHCP range and not the listed static IP.

With the hopes of having no slowdowns like the experience I’ve had during the WRT54G period, I’ve searched for responses from WRT54GC users on various fora. Thankfully, I’ve found no significant problem other than users trying to get the version 2.0 external antenna to be replaced by a High Gain Antenna. But I still haven’t encountered an unambiguous response to one question[8] I would have asked myself, so I stopped searching and continued testing. Through the past three days of downloading 6 GiB of data, I’ve encountered minor slowdowns more possibly linked to an ISP issue rather than a router issue. The last two afternoons were probably the best evidences I could offer regarding the performance of this product—the download speed reached 85 kB/s[9] when I was connected to a nearby peer. Therefore, no signs of slowdowns due to high amount of connections were exhibited—a sickness, I may say, about the stock WRT54G/GL/GS.

Other features of the Linksys WRT54GC includes [among others]:

  • Compact and portable design: approximately 4″×4″×1″.
  • 4-port wired Ethernet switch; Wireless Access Point for 802.11b/g devices.
  • High security with WPA/WPA2 Personal, Wireless MAC address filter, SPI firewall.

Disclaimer: The above Linksys WRT54GC v2.0 photo was taken from the official product information page without permission.

Update note: Photo from the official Linksys Web site was taken down and replaced with my own shot of the router to avoid copyright issues.

Footnotes:

  1. ^ Our neighbor two houses away across the street claimed to have received my SSID broadcast.
  2. ^ The C in WRT54GC stands for compact; version 1.0 of the compact has no built-in external antenna, only an internal one—I am using a version 2.0.
  3. ^ With concrete and wooden walls, and everything else in between.
  4. ^ And when I say, using, I mean always.
  5. ^ Along with similar routers, WRT54GL and —GS.
  6. ^ But, responses to the alternative firmwares were mostly positive.
  7. ^ I really, really hope for the former.
  8. ^ The question of how it would perform on a lot of connections.
  9. ^ I’m on a 384 kbps connection [as advertised], so my theoretical maximum download speed is 46.875 kB/s.