Dell Studio Hybrid Unboxed

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So I won a Dell Studio Hybrid PC.

Sweet.

Now, the problem is I need another PC like I need a third arm.

The fun Sharon from Bates dropped it off at the office and decided to do an unboxing because I’ve never done a proper unboxing before.

Was quite surprised the box it came in was rather large but I suppose it was to fit in extras like cables, manuals, CDs and the lot. Which was true, Dell squeezed in a couple of handy extras like a black USB keyboard and mouse.

03112008215 Besides the aforementioned keyboard and mouse, there’s the standard kit of driver CDs, power cable and monitor cable. But no VGA-to-DVI converter! Boo!

Nothing inspiring in the kit, really, I was more keen to see the actual specs on the thing. Didn’t hold my breath for a Blu-Ray drive. I was expecting a DVD/CDRW combo at least and 2GB of RAM. There’s hardly any space inside the PC case for a ‘real’ graphics card so Intel Integrated Graphics it is.

Why would anyone be interested in this machine? Well, if you just want something for surfing, word processing, movies and HD playback, then you just might like the little device. But yeah, it’s a waste of an HDMI port when this particular machine doesn’t have Blu-Ray…

03112008216Setup is a no-brainer. Insert power cable into AC adapter, plug in DVI cables from monitor to the PC, power them up and you’re good to go.

 

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The front of the Dell Studio – the slot for the optical drive is over to the side, in a recess. See that glowy white dot? It is the power button. Definitely shiny.

03112008220 There’s some attention paid to cooling with the vent – such a small enclosed space, you will have to think about ventilation. Fortunately the machine wasn’t noisy at all on booting. Look at how neat all the ports are, lined up closely the way I’ve seen them on the back of projectors.

As always, the first bootup for Vista always takes ages and after the pre-requisite “Yes”, “No”, “Sorry, my soul isn’t for sale” answers, I got this pretty screen:

03112008218 To which I say…Mac envy, much? Now, though I do say the machine is really cute, runs on a fraction of the power most desktops, is smaller than the monitor I tried it out with…like I said, I really don’t need another desktop. So if I don’t sell it off by the end of the month, will probably give it to the mother or the brother. See how lor. Overall, it’s a nice machine for people without high-end graphics needs (i.e. design, video production or gaming) and could be a very compact replacement for a media centre if you live in a flat or small, cramped dwelling.

Anyone interested can drop me a line at the blog’s designated email address (ernamahyuni(AT)gmail) or feel free to suggest other things I could do with it.

(Am a bit miffed with Dell for giving me a T5500 (2.0GHz) machine when the ones they sell come with at least 2.10GHz. At least it came with 2GB of RAM, Vista Home Premium, a DVD burner and a 160GB HDD. Nice, but my home PC has a 2.67GHz processor, also 2GB of RAM, Vista Ultimate (ori, if you’re curious), a DVD burner and a whopping 750GB of storage space, an NVIDIA 7600GS (crap, I know) card. I also put it together myself so I have a sentimental attachment to it. So nope, am not the target audience for this PC)

Picture tweaking on the N82

Irene says she doesn’t like the pictures I’ve posted so far on the blog. “You look pale”.

Well, I fooled with the settings on the camera and must admit the default shots often end up looking somewhat overexposed.

Like this shot:

pale

So in the camera menu, I tweaked the exposure compensation to +1.0 and chose the Vivid colour profile to get this shot:

color

Yep, Irene, you’re right. My shots do need some adjustment to get more natural skintones. If you compare the photos, the first makes me look somewhat washed out.

Irene’s asked me why I don’t just get a ‘proper’ camera but honestly, I don’t miss my D40 at all. It was a lovely camera, yes, but the N82’s easier to take around, has a super Xenon flash that works even with no light and well, I love it. Honestly.

A surprising colourful win

desktop_studio_hybrid_design1

Wonder of wonders – I won a prize for being Best Dressed.

I half expected pigs to be flying around the Parliament building at my win, but it was all due to Dell’s Colours party at Centro.

DJ Serena C was emceeing and as always, she delivered. The food was also pretty good and was lucky to be in the company of Suan, Kim and ST. Not to mention my other friendly tech reporter friends who also happened to be around.

There were 4 Best Dressed winners and they made us horse around before being allowed to choose what we wanted. I took home a funky orange Dell Studio Hybrid PC. Not sure if I’m going to keep it yet – stay tuned for tomorrow’s unboxing because it’ll be delivered to the office.

winners

Wore a happy sunny halter tie dress to the party – as a rehearsal for Chooki’s wedding dinner. Cal thought the dress brilliant so I tried it on and it was pretty awesome. My lucky dress, LOL.

Unfortunately Suanie and friends had to witness me turning my Mamma Mia session into a group singalong. It was wacky fun. Tonight was also awesome for other reasons, that involve accepting that things change, people change but sometimes the best things are just as good as you remembered.

Forwarding crap emails won’t make you more Christian/Muslim/Pastafarian

hamgun I despise those email forwards that hint that by passing them around you’re doing the "Christian" or "insert religion here" thing.

One whiny email I got said that it was a shame that it was easy to forward silly pictures or jokes but people would hesitate to forward religious emails.

That’s because some people are smarter than you, bub, and don’t think it’s their legitimate duty to stuff their faith down the throats of other believers.

I was angry to get one particular email with the title "Fwd: Ben Stein’s Remarks from CBS Sunday Morning. Must Read."

Whad’ya mean must read? Does reading it improve my IQ? Will it cure cancer or AIDS? Will it make the readers less stupid?

Even worse, the email had been forwarded around the block so many times it had the added inanity of comments like "I can only hope we find God again before it is too late!!"

Dear God, please save us from stupid people. Amen.

Since said email was in my inbox anyway, I did a cursory read and when I got to the following part, I was ready to give the one who forwarded it a long lecture in good taste and compassion:

"In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.  I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.  Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school.  The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said OK.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr Spock’s son committed suicide).  We said an=2 0 expert should know what he’s talking about.  And we said OK.
Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’ "

OH THIS PART MADE ME WANT TO SCREAM AND RANT AND PILLAGE AND…SPANK SOMEONE REALLY HARD.

  1. Bringing up the Madeleine case as proof of your case for bringing God into public life is bad taste. Would you like your child’s murder be used in such a blatantly disrespectful way, to forward someone’s religious propaganda? Any parent should think properly before forwarding said email.
  2. Bringing up the suicide of another person’s child? Even worse. Most parents do the best they can; crucifying one parent for his child’s suicide is hateful.
  3. "I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’ " So I hope you get a hoe right in your teeth because right now you’re sowing the seeds of my fury.

You know what’s the best part? That the part of the email that I detested was a complete fabrication. Someone had added the part to Ben Stein’s piece and decided to forward it along. A friend of mine Snoped the forward and found that out:

 http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/benstein2.asp

So, Ben Stein, for the most part, your piece wasn’t too bad. The person who decided to change your piece into something galling by adding his own piece of religious propaganda is another story.

And, by the way, Dr.Spock’s kid didn’t commit suicide.

The moral of the story is to make sure that what you’re forwarding is legitimate instead of just sending it along and calling it a ‘must read’.

There are enough lies in the world already. Let’s not help them multiply.

Tricking out my Windows Live Writer

Zemanta snap in Windows Live Writer

One requirement (OK, maybe a strong suggestion) to blog at Blorge is to use Windows Live Writer. At first, I found the tool rather unwieldy but after a while, the tool’s rather grown on me.

Think a stripped down version of Microsoft Word, but optimised for blogging. It also takes the pains of uploading via Movable Type’s sluggish image upload interface away, allowing you to preview how images look on your page. I’ve grown so fond of WLW that I now use it to update my personal blogs as well as Blorge.

I’ve only recently discovered the joys of adding plugins to WLW and one of my favorites is Zemanta.

Zeman-huh? It’s this cool app that suggests pictures, tags or links to add to your blogposts.There are even plugins for WordPress, Drupal and of course, add-ons for your favourite browsers. I think Zemanta’s a work of genius, frankly. It saves you time Googling the Web for links and helps round out your posts by letting you see related links.

Besides the coolness of Zemanta, I’ve added video and Twitter plugins too. WLW comes with built-in support for tags as well and as far as blogging tools go, I haven’t seen anything that comes quite close to what WLW can do and for the best price: free.

*Note: the image I used in the post is actually snipped with Windows Vista’s handy Snip tool. I can’t believe I haven’t been aware it existed. *

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The new M2U: Impressions

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Banks and bloggers? Not the kind of combination you’d expect but that’s precisely what I got when I stopped by the preview event of the new Maybank2U.com. I was just one among the band of whom I call ‘the usual suspects’. Suanie, KY, LiewCF, James of FriedBeef, Chooki and…if I name anymore, I’ll sound like I’m namedropping. Let’s just say the bulk of the PPS horde showed up at Delicious, Marc Residence.

The site’s undergone a massive revamp in terms of content, layout and functionality. I can say that from the brief test-drive, it’s quite an improvement over the current version with a slickness to it that I’ve yet to experience from any local site.

That wasn’t what impressed me – what did was knowing that Maybank had conducted a rather extensive usability study, going so far as to involve around 1000 people. Which makes sense; this is a site that sees roughly 30 million transactions per month.

Maybank’s pretty much pioneered the whole ‘pay your bills from the comfort of your home’ shtick. They started first, though I remember all the teething problems from its earlier days. Like when it wouldn’t work on Firefox, when a TAC request would take half a day (if it went through at all) and other niggles that made me wonder why I persisted.

All of those little niggles have been fixed with time, but soon M2U was lagging behind the online presences of banks like HSBC. Time to play catch-up and from what I’ve seen so far, the new M2U looks promising.

Pluses:

  1. Streamlined, intuitive interface with a WordPress-like start page with shortcuts in neatly lined-up boxes (KY pointed that out, I totally missed it)
  2. Less cluttered, compact start page. The current version just has so much going on, my eyes tend to dart all over the place.
  3. My personal favourite: the Payments page. I like how the interface is very intuitive and how M2U is very accommodative of paying bills with OTHER credit cards – consolidating non-Maybank credit cards under one shortcut is to me an act of genius! (Considering as all my credit cards are not Maybank-issued. Heh.) Sneaky, rather. Instead of logging into Bank ABC’s online site to pay bills from there, I can pay all my bills with any credit card with the new M2U! Sweet.

Minuses:

  1. It’s still in beta stage so the site is slow. That will likely be fixed once the site goes live.
  2. Limited Buy Online options. I do love the phone credit top-up service but a few more choices wouldn’t hurt.
  3. I like the stripped-down no-nonsense feel of the site but at the same time, it feels a little too stripped down and bare. But that’s just me. Adding a personal touch to a banking website is probably a bit of a tall order.

Want the URL to the beta site? Sorry, you’ll just have to wait with the rest of the public later this month, when the link to the new site will be placed on the site for you to give the new M2U a whirl. It’s worth the test-drive.

No, I am not proud to be a blasted elf

So I’m unreasonably excited about Warhammer Online dropping this month.
I’ve always preferred Warhammer Fantasy to 40k (sorry, David Lian). So I decided to take this quiz.
Oh, I am mortified at the results.
High Elf Badge- Prima Games Warhammer Online Class Quiz
And I always thought the High Elves were rather poncy. I fancied playing a Dark Elf instead.
But I suppose it’s my own fault for dressing up as Arwen once upon a time.
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Damn you, karma. Damn you.

Why I’m not using Chrome

I have four browsers of my PC.

Do stop snickering about my dorkhood.

IE, FF, Opera and now Chrome.

After deciding that switching between many browsers is a mighty pain in the behind, I’ve decided to choose one, and one only to use.

And I’ve chosen Opera.

IE is constantly plugged with security holes, FF crashes on me often, even though I have less than five bloody extensions and Chrome? Well. I’m still a bit mad at Google at trying to monopolise the Web. “Don’t be evil”, my arse.

“But Opera doesn’t have AdBlocker!” Who needs AdBlocker when all you need to do is right-click on content to block it.

And Chrome’s shortcuts to the sites you most use? Opera did it first with their Speed Dial. And they’ve Bittorrent integration. And mail. And chat.

Though I mostly love their widgets. How could you not love a widget like this one:

viking

I am awed by the cuteness. Now I must go and smite some CSS…oh, and by the way, one of Opera’s founders also happened to co-create the CSS protocol, dontcha know?

Desktop freedom

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So I bit the bullet and got a new monitor to replace my CRT – it was losing brightness and tended to look greenish yellow from some angles.

That’s what I love about owning a desktop – if part of my system isn’t working correctly, I just go and replace a part. If my laptop’s screen had failed, I would have needed to purchase an entirely new machine. Why? The price to get a replacement, then pay for service fees would likely make getting a new machine a better option.

Since I’m not exactly made of money, I settled for a budget 19″-incher from LG. It was very good value for that much screen space and though I would have loved to trump up money for one of Samsung’s beauties, they were out of my budget range. 19-inches is just good enough to be kind to your eyes without taking up too much space.

And since I was at the store anyhow, I picked up a new hard disk since my current 250GB drive had only 80GB free. The 320GB drives were out of stock so I plonked a wee bit more cash for a 500GB drive.

Besides my subnotebook, I don’t see myself owning another laptop anytime soon. Carrying one around with me as my primary machine was a pain, not to mention always being paranoid about losing my machine to thieves. My Eee PC doesn’t go out with me much – mostly to junkets or when I’m chasing deadlines and must run away somewhere with less distractions.

I fully look forward to using one at the next NaNoWriMo, coming in 3 months. November will also see me making Starbucks rich with all the coffee I’ll be consuming from them!

LOLCat Lively

OHAI. Yeah, I’m giving Lively a try because David Lian suckered – I mean, enticed me into it.

My very first attempt at creating an avatar left me with a cat…in a blonde wig. So not on.

Not that a cat, in a hat, in a red dress, is all that much better. I find Lively less of a tax on resources compared to Second Life. But perhaps lag will start to show once the user base increases. So far, I quite the like how easy it is to get used to. Create avatar, walk around, talk in rooms and explore, explore, explore.

Not sure what Google aims to achieve with Lively. Do we really need more ways to create cute avatars? Still, it’s cute. Anything that allows me to lolcat with impunity has to have some merit to it…