Posts Tagged ‘The Windows Journey’

Asus EeePC 1000HE, and The Windows Journey

I recently became the proud owner of an Asus EeePC 1000HE. It claims to boast a 9.5 hour battery life, comes with a 160GB hard disk, a 10″ screen, a modern keyboard that is about 92% full sized, as well as more sensible Shift key locations. Compared to the first generation EeePC 701 that I have, this is by far, a much better machine.

Incidentally, it also comes preloaded with Microsoft Windows XP Home. Part of me writing this, is to log the fact that I am going to try and use Microsoft Windows, and report back if its even usable. It turns out, that the battery life is supposed to be better when you’re using Windows, as opposed to switching to Linux. So let’s see how long this flirtation lasts, before I decide its time to install Linux.

The build quality seems to be quite high. Its black in colour, but the issue there is that it loves getting fingerprint smudges — so after a while, cosmetically, it looks rather dirty. It comes with an SD/MMC slot, which can be useful with consumer cameras and video cameras, though all the little video cameras I’ve been experimenting with come with a USB slot. It has 3 USB ports. Holding conversations with the built-in speaker and microphone, seem to work well too, so no complaints there. At some stage, maybe I should try recording a podcast “on the go”. The 1024×600 resolution is great — its hard to read and do anything with just 800×480.

Windows First Impressions

I’ve not used Windows on a desktop, since Windows 3.1. Nowadays, at most, I use it in a VM, because I need it for testing. But in these last few days, I’ve been occassionally using Windows, and its been an experience.

First up, I ran Windows Update. Then I installed the following:

  • Avast! – this is for anti-virus protection. I used to normally install AVG-Free on Windows machines that I came into contact with, but it seems that Avast! is all that and more. So far, it seems to be getting virus definition files updated almost daily.
  • Firefox, and the Flash Plugin – just because
  • Evernote
  • Google Chroome – not essential, but I’ve always wanted to give it a try, ever since it was announced.
  • PuTTY – its crucial for SSH access, which seems to at least give me a semblance of what I’m familiar with
  • Dropbox – now my files are synced across my Linux and Mac boxes
  • Notepad++ – On Linux, I use vim(1). On the Mac, I use TextMate. And on Windows, it seems like NotePad++ might be what I’m after. Is it? I’m unsure, but so far, I don’t mind it — it has text completion, it can be configured with plugins, I installed aspell so I can run a spell-check (how I wish it would show me an error while I type, as it does in TextMate).
  • 7-zip – In the old days, you might think of WinZip. Today, there’s 7-zip, and now I can access my .bz2 or .tar files. Its also opensource software, and I like this, naturally.

You know what I do miss? Keyboard shortcuts. I’m so used to hitting Ctrl+A, Ctrl+E, and Ctrl+K, in the command line, that I can’t seem to get the same responses in Windows. Ick.

What about remapping the Caps Lock key that I never use, to being another Control key? For that, I had to edit the registry! Seriously, what world do we live in?

REGEDIT4 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout] "Scancode Map"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,02,00,00,00,1d,00,3a,00,00,00,00,00

The PowerToys set of tools seem interesting. I installed the Virtual Desktop Manager, which makes Windows more usable – I can now have several workspaces, and move around by pressing the Windows key+1,2,3,4. This is like, and like virtual desktops that you see in GNOME.

I miss Quicksilver. Just hitting Ctrl+Space, and entering the name of an application makes so much sense — does this exist in Windows land?

I have no idea how to perform backups in Windows. What’s the Time Machine or rdiff-backup equivalent?

I find it funny that this little laptop has more disk space than my MacBook Air (which I paid a lot more for). It has a 1.6GHz Atom processor, and its mostly incapable of playing back HD video (stuff that comes out of my Kodak Zi6 for example). But for most purposes (browser, SSH, NotePad++, Evernote) it seems to be fine.

What about the battery life? So far I’ve noticed:

  • 5 hours 40 minutes with Skype video running
  • 7 hours 50 minutes with just a browser, NotePad++, SSH, Evernote, running

I think I can considerably improve the battery life if I disable Avast!. But should I? I mean, this is Windows, and I am deadly scared of catching a cold.

So there, I’ve been using Windows XP for about two weeks now. It worked wonderfully well while I was at the conference. The laptop is light. I can type on it easily. It seems to do everything I need it to do. I wish there was a real shell (PowerShell, people tell me to try — I will soon), but PuTTY puts me in control of other machines so I just get stuff done.

Would I recommend the Asus 1000HE? Yes, I would. Go forth and buy it!