Desktop 2.0

Wow, I’ve eventually upgraded my tech-nomade life by switching to an improved home office setup.

From a single (1280 x 800 px) notebook + cabled mouse…

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…to a (1680 x 1050) 22″ wide-screen monitor and a cordless Logitech keyboard & laser mouse:

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You know I actually didn’t want to go this far and attach another screen to my system as I was afraid it would compromise my freedom (~ uhuru! :-). But it is SO much better to work on a bigger screen – which btw also has a much more vibrant colour contrast and provides more reliable results when it comes to photo editing & co.

Saw this setup (notebook + ext monitor) in use somewhere else and realized that I should upgrade my own desktop. Besides, being able to move a browser window from one screen to the other is just very, very convenient. Yes, I know, I am a bit late at adopting such “new” technologies.

The 22″ LG Flatron W2242T-PF is one of the cheaper screens and even though it comes with both VGA and DVI-D ports (this is a requirement to me), it does of course only feature a cheaper TN display (which will never be as efficient for decent colour works as MVA/PVAs, for instance). The monitor stand also is a bit shaky – it’s just a piece of ligh plastic with no real balance for the 4,7kg screen (manufacturers obviously trying to cash-in on selling extra VESA wall & desktop stands). However, my funds do not provide enough room for a much better monitor, so I’ll stick to this one for now. Am a bit curious to know what kind of screen type those 13,3 MacBooks come with.

Oh, and if you happen to own one of those new LGs: just make sure you reduce screen brightness and remove blue colour to a value of 23 (23 …there you have it). I don’t know why LG came up with such stupid factory settings in the first place.

The keyboard is a Logitech Cordless Desktop S520, kind of new model but it also has a nasty software bug: Logitech’s SetPoint software doesn’t like the Synaptics touchpad drivers as found on a laptop like my HP nx8220. Which means that about 50% of all extra (programmable) keys do not work (until Logitech comes up with a working solution, that is).

Compared to many other wireless keyboard-mouse dekstop solutions, the keys have a relatively low drop and it almost feels as if you’re typing on a notebook. Nice! The laser mouse is average but still better than my older + cabled 9,- EUR optical Logitech mouse.

I also managed to buy a used docking station for the notebook, so unplugging the machine for mobile use is much easier + the docking bay also has a DVI-D port. This really is the setup for me: a business laptop + docking station, hooked up to an external screen and keyboard once I am at home (thus avoiding the difficult scenario of keeping two different computers at sync…unless of course I’d be using a Mac machine, but that’s another story).

As for having a native 1680×1050 screen resolution directly on the notebook: I tested this a few months ago with another display panel, but 1680×1050 at something above 128dpi is just too tiny for my old eyes.

p.s.: Logitech stole 5h of my life with their f******** “SetPoint” software that’s supposed to power the extra buttons on the keyboard. What the…..??! Also, considering that this software just has to power some extra buttons and the mouse, you’re probably wondering about the 50+ mb download that comes along with using SetPoint.? Logitech hardware is nice, but their software really pissed me off big times.

[update: Logitech support wrote in (at least!), telling me to deinstall the driver for Synaptics touchpad. WTF? Sorry guys, your driver software is either certified, or not. I won’t install any shitty SetPoint crap on my system until that issue is solved.]

my new toy

Got me a new toy – a “Battery Powered Cordless Soldering Iron” from Weller:

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The tip has a diameter of 0,4mm and the packaging says it reaches up to 480°C on the tip, but well….most of these little tips are just hot for a second and then the next second the heat has already dropped by 20°C…

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I’ve used it on the motherboard of an HP laptop – these coils next to the Southbridge chip (big bottom chip with that sticker on top) needed some resoldering and I really hope that they were the cause for the malfunctioning of this motherboard – otherwise…sijui.

The three AA-batteries inside the Cordless Soldering Iron won’t last for ages, but this little gadget sure helps to fix a few dots on the board and also it wasn’t that expensive so I’m not really as disappointed as I was afraid to be.

Once I can afford it, I will buy this! :-)

The Rucksack Story

Oh my…instead of finishing this one paper on sewage sludge treatment procedures, I just can’t stop thinking about my new backpack (!) and how great it is that I’ve eventually settled for the right thing. Reasons for blogging this are a) no notebook deal would be complete without mentioning other accessories (like pcmcia tv cards, yeah!!) and the proper notebook case, and b) I had spent about three weeks in August searching for a really good, reliable, spacious bag / case which would be good enough for my notebook & other items. Something that needs to be a handy all-in-one solution and come with me wherever I go. Something that looks good, but doesn’t look like a notebook case. Searching took a long time + I tortured most of my closer friends with constant asking about what they think about this and that model. To make it short: I was obsessed with looking for the perfect bag.

I’ve found it.

Well, actually I didn’t do that – it’s MB who I had sent over the Atlantic, flying to the US and spying for interesting deals which aren’t availaboooool over here in Europe. She called me the other day from IL and said: “Look, we’ve spent a whole week searching for a decent laptop backpack that matches your criterias, bought two, returned both of them after some time and ended up with a simpooool Dicota neopren sheath. You are busy with something else now and I’ve just found a very nice bag for you which costs US-$ 49,99 plus IL-taxes. Shall I buy it for you?” – “Hell, yeah, of course!”.

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She bought the High Sierra “Access”, carried it from the US to DE and forwarded it to me. Ohhhhh, nice. You see, it isn’t THE most perfect backpack, but it matches the following important criterias that I couldn’t find with available models over in DE and these are points which aren’t mentioned in product descriptions:

  • With 20″ x 15″ x 9,5″ it’s LONG enough to fit my back. I am 6.3 feet tall and don’t want to carry a brick on my back, but instead something long and slim which doesn’t make me look like one of those retarded & fat 30something still-living-at-home nerds (damn it, i am as picky as Paris when it comes to such issues)
  • 2743 cubic inches equal something around 45 liters. Now THAT’s much more than what I’d found over here. The only competing model from German manufacturer Deuter, aptly named “Giga Office“, only offers 32 liters, is shorter and looks like a brick (see above).
  • It has many small pockets with double zippers = can be locked to prevent theft e.g. when someone is walking behind you and trying to open the zips without you noticing it
  • It has a rain cover which also works as a padding for valuabe items like the notebook.
  • Up to 17″ (or 15,4″ wide screen) notebooks fit inside a padded computer sleeve
  • Comes with the usual padded back and tuck-away waist belts which most modern backpacks have. However, this one has good padding – not too thick (= prevents sweating) and massive. It also doesn’t come with a stiff back like most other alternative models have (the one I had bought before was very nice with a massiv plate in the back but couldn’t securely protect the computer inside).
  • When you are carrying this model on only one – the right – shoulder, there are moments you just want to pull it forward to access some pockets. Now this one has a zippered side water bottle pocket and another side zipper which makes it quite easy to actually use this backpack efficiently. That’s one of those points you only notice once you are actually using it and are forced to live with the provided backpack design. Good!
  • It has a zipper close to the back side which allows you to vertically enter the notebook without pushing or even forcing it inside. Most backpacks are nice and blablabla but lack this very simple zipper – the user is forced to make room first of all until he can put the machine inside his backpack. With the zipper in the back, there is direct access to the computer sleeve.
  • It’s small enough to fit into any cabin luggage compartment (important!) but still bigger than my previous BREE hand luggage bag which has served me since 1993.

Anyways, nice backpack, good choice, great price and big up to MB for saidianing mimi on this matter!