Thursday, May 29, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I'm slack

Wow, haven't posted here for a bit.  Chances are I'm the only one who notices, but I notice.  :)
Well, news of the week is the latest federal budget, which nicely screws me over in terms of being able to get laptops on the cheap:
The Government will tighten the current fringe benefit tax (FBT) exemption for certain workrelated items (including laptop computers, personal digital assistants and tools of trade) by ensuring the exemption only applies where these items are used primarily for work purposes. The FBT exemption will generally be limited to one item of each type per employee per year. The measure will apply to items purchased after 7.30 pm (AEST) on 13 May 2008.
Lovely... so not only and I screwed, but I am screwed retroactively.  The upshot is no new laptop every year, which is more of an annoyance than anything, but will ultimately cost mo money, which is always annoying.
I don't find myself using my current machine much, (nice Core 2 Duo with 2Gb RAM and all fuit etc) - frankly I don't need a powerful laptop anymore since I gave up LANning with them, and even the current Asus 13.3" widescreen chews batteries to fast for my liking.   All I really need out of a laptop is portability, mail/net/media and decent battery life.
I had a good look at the new Asus EeePc 900 (released next week), and I must admit they are impressive - clocked back up to 900MHz, 1Gb RAM standard, get the Xandros based unit for $649 with a 20Gb SSDD, then blow it away and reinstall with XP.  8Gb more SSDD and $150 less than the factory Windows version.
the problems with the units are that I simnply can't take them seriously.  the keyboard are just too small for anything other than very casual use, the storage is still very limited, even the new 1024xwhatever screen is still small, and the worst problem is the battery life - they have not upgraded the battery from the 701 series, so you're realistically looking at about 2 hours life.  bleh, that's inadequate for a device designed to be extremely portable.
I ended up buying a Dell Latitude D410 12" ultraportable laptop - 1Gb RAM, 80Gb HDD, DVD burner etc - $550.  for this I get serious batteries, a decent sized keyboard, a mousing device that WORKS (the one on the EeePC is crap), and genuine application compatibility - all for under a kilogram.
sorry, world - but I'm not sure the UMPC concept is a goer yet.  the sheer number of EeePC 701s for sale shortly after purchase is a clear indicator of "cool factor" rapidly failing in the real world.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

With gritted teeth...

OK, I've just installed XP SP3 on one box, and it seems to have survive unscathed (unlike a couple of builds I had that were lost to SP2).
The small annoyances were the reestablishment of the program access & controls link at the top of the Start menu (long since deleted as the SP2 firewall is one of the first things I turn off) and Windows offering to screw up my Windows Update settings and put them back to full auto.  It appears if you cancel the request it leaves them as they were previously - I have them on notify but ask permission to download and update.
Note to Bill:  Just patch the system.  I do NOT need my system settings fucked about with.  I have them that way for a reason.  >:|

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Technology, our saviour.

Here's a fascinating examples of how technology makes our lives easier.
(1)  Receive online bill notification - at home e-mail address.
(2)  Forward e-mail to work address.
(3)  Go into online billing and print out bill.  Why this is done will become clear shortly.
(4)  Go into online banking and pay bill, thus gaining a payment receipt.
(5)  Print bill, walk to photocopier room to collect.
(6)  Can't find printout, so walk back to PC and print again.
(7)  Still no printout.  Check printer event log and find two zero page print jobs for my ID.  Known bug with Adobe Acrobat.
(8)  Reinstall Adobe Acrobat and print again.  Walk to photocopier room for third time and collect printout.
(9)  Write payment date and receipt number on bill - without which bill will not be accepted for remuneration drawdown - thus explaining the need for a hard copy.
(10)  Scan prinout and e-mail to work address.
(11)  5 minutes later e-mail has not arrived, so walk back to photocopier room for the fourth time and check printer logs - failed send task.
(12)  Rescan printout on the other photocopier and retry, which necessitates creating a new address book entry on the second photocopier.
(13)  5 minutes later the second e-mail has not arrived.  Walk to photocopier room for fifth time.  Photocopier indicates "resending".  Rescan on photocopier #1, both now have "pending" jobs.
(14)  10 minutes later, e-mail finally arrives.
(15)  Save attachment to hard drive, go into explorer and rename the file to remove the underscore which is an illegal character to the online webform submission system.
(16)  Launch webform, fill in details and attach scan file.
(17)  Receive successful submission e-mail.
(18)  Write on printout date of submission for remuneration drawdown.
(19)  Place printout in backpack to take home for filing, as this is now my only simple reference to the bill number, amount, date, date of payment, receipt number, and date of submission.
Wonderful.  Total time elapsed: 30 minutes.
Just for a grand finale I logged a job with our IT department to complain about the scan-to-mail problem.
IT rang me back THREE TIMES to announce that:
(a)  It was a known issue.  OK, cool - as long as someone is fixing it.
(b)  It was being escalated.  Look, I don't care - known issue, inhand, carefactor zero.
(c)  To advise me of the new ticket number for the national escalation.
At about this stage I put my phone on lock so it can't receive incoming calls....