First day with a Win 8 laptop

I ordered and Acer E1 with a third generation (aka Ivy Bridge) Intel i5 processor and Windows 8. It arrived yesterday. Almost certainly, I should have waited a couple of weeks longer as prices are likely to keep falling through August, but ordering the laptop was the only way to stop myself from obsessively checking for deals. If you want a laptop with a 3rd generation processor, the first weeks of August are probably the best time to buy, if you look for deals. My laptop has a 3rd generation i5 processor, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 500GB hard disk, and I got it for $399 plus shipping (after a mail in rebate) from Tiger Direct. It does not have a touchscreen. Prices are falling so dealers can make way for the 4th generation (Haswell) processors. If battery life is important to you, you might want to pay the extra money and hold out for a Haswell.


Acer Aspire E1-571-6837 3rd Gen i5, 4GB, 500GB, from Tiger Direct: 449.99, 399.99 after Rebate

While looking for deals, don’t get tricked into buying a 2nd generation (Sandy Bridge) chip or older. If you get a great price on an older chip and it’s what you want, that’s fine, as long as you know what you’re getting. The generations are marked by the first number after the dash. My chip is an i5-3230M, and it’s the first “3” that designates the generation. Also don’t get fooled by a “5” after the dash, followed by two more digits instead of three more. Those are actually older.

The i5 seemed like a good match for me. I’m on too much of a budget for an i7 and I’m not a gamer. An i3 is better for budget buyers who don’t run a lot of intensive applications. Budget buyers who will primarily use their laptops for email should also consider the very low prices available on 2nd generation Intel chips, Pentiums, Celerons, and several others out there. AMD makes comparable chips to Intel. The AMD A8-4500M seems to be at about the same level as the Intel i5. As with Intel based computers, be careful about chip model numbers.

One of the first things I tried to do was load Ubuntu 13.04 in a dual boot configuration, but the Ubuntu setup didn’t recognize the existing Windows 8 installation and wanted to format the disk as if it was empty. There’s plenty of information on-line about working around that problem, just like there’s plenty of information about working around the new UEFI security feature, but the less then perfect installation start and the difficulties I’ve read about overcoming the UEFI feature were the last of a dozen or so reasons that made me decide, for now at least, to leave the laptop configured as a single boot Windows 8 machine. Instead, I installed Virtualbox and loaded Ubuntu on a VM.

So I’m succumbing to Microsoft for now. My first impression of Windows 8 is: I like it. The negative backlash against Windows 8 is wrong-headed but I do appreciate the affect that it’s had on prices.

Windows 8 is surprisingly keyboard friendly. Even though it’s designed for touch, I can hit the Windows Key and then type a command or part of a command, like “chrom” or “word”, and get a list of matching applications. It works better than hitting Alt F2 in Unity or Gnome. I can also navigate the start screen easily with the keyboard arrows, and I can shutdown the system without touching the mouse or touchpad by hitting ctrl-alt-delete, then using the tab key to get the power icon. When using the keyboard is easier in Windows then in Linux, it might be time for a shift in thinking.

Windows 8 results from typing 'word'

I also like the live tiles.

I’m still wary of using Windows as my primary OS. I spend a lot of time fixing bugs and removing spyware from my wife and daughter’s computers. My son uses Linux and I never had to fuss with such problems on his laptop. But I like Windows 8 so far. I like the UI more than the UI of previous versions of Windows and I’ve gotten very frustrated with Unity and Gnome. I’m willing to give Windows another go.

So, so far so good. As of Day 1, I’m happy with my Acer and I’m happy with Windows 8.

Update (same day) I’ve already had to remove adware extensions from Chromium. I was getting ads when I clicked on links, and while poking around the settings found an extension called “tidynetworks”. I removed the extension but I don’t yet know if I’ll have to do more to properly get rid of it. I also had something called webcake and I removed that as well.

Good, Low Cost Dental Hygienic Services for Hampton Roads

If you have any kids age 5-12 in need of a dental cleaning, please consider Old Dominion University’s School of Dental Hygene, and especially consider Sahar Asif, my hygienist and a student. Don’t let the word “student” scare you. ODU dental students have plenty of training in the art of dental assault and can claw at your teeth and gums with the ferocious zeal of any professional.

Sahar Asif at Work on a Patients Teeth

Seriously, Sahar is competent and kind, and if she handles rugrats with the same care with which she handles grumpy old men, the kid will be in very good hands.

Because it is a school, the services are extremely inexpensive. The fee for dental cleaning for a child aged 5-12 is $20.00.

You can get more information at www.odu.edu/dental, or send an email to dental@suffolkian.com (My email account, not theirs. I’ll only forward emails exclusively pertaining to dental appointments at ODU).

Updates: I made a couple of changes since the original post. I added the photo, changed the title (the original was stupid) and added contact information.

Marriage Saved by Cradlepoint!

My marriage is saved!

Our primary internet connection is through Verizon Wireless via a Sierra 595U usb aircard. It plugs into a usb port and provides internet service via a signal, called EVDO, which is similar to that of a cell phone. Most people get these because they want mobile internet access, but some people get them because they live in a land beyond cable and don’t have a lot of internet service options. That would be us. Using the aircard, we get decent connectivity, although not as good as real high speed, like DSL or cable.

The problem, until now, has been that it only plugs into one computer at a time. That means learning how to share, which can just kill a marriage. I tried to share using my own laptop as the access point, but that was a hassle (and also led to the previous post). I should add that my daughter usually connects via dial-up. Yes, dial-up. My son, for those who are wondering, doesn’t go online much and doesn’t have a computer.

So I finally ordered a cradlepoint ctr-350 from the 3Gstore. It arrived today and so far I am very happy with it. It is a wireless access point with a usb port that accepts an aircard, like our 595U. It is tiny; a little bigger than a deck of cards, and powered by a wall-wart about the size of a large cellphone charger. That’s small enough to take with us, should we ever travel together as a family (it could happen).

But the little box creates a usable area about as wide as that of most regular sized wireless routers. Although the specs don’t call out distance, I’ve read reviews saying it’s good for about 300 feet, and read one post from a person who said he connected from over 600 feet. So far, I’ve connected from a distance of over 50ft, and that distance is separated by a large storage trailer, essentially two big metal walls between the router and the laptop. The three of us have been online together and the signal seems to be good for all of us.

I was also impressed with the easy setup. I thought I was going to have to enter data about the aircard but it detected all the appropriate settings.

The new problem will be Verizon’s 5G per month limit. Now that we’re all online together though one aircard, we just might hit that limit. So unfortunately, we’ll still have to learn to share; either by managing a limited amount of gb or by pitching in to pay over-use charges.

The next marriage saving step is getting wireless connectivity at The Red Thread, where my wife sells yarn and often takes the aircard with her. And the signal just doesn’t go that far.