Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fun with photos...

I used one of the cool options on Dumpr for my Facebook icon and lots of people have asked about it. I discovered it a while ago and have been meaning to share.

Dumpr is an easy-to-use site for creating fun photos! It would be a great site for students to use for their "about me" slide in a presentation. No registration is required to use the site to upload an image and download the project.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fax Machines....not!

I have always disliked the fax machine. It seems like old technology that is past its prime at this point. However, since my husband and I both need to send and receive faxes, it was a necessity to have one in the house and on its own phone line.

Over the past few years, the number of junk faxes that have come in, wasting our ink and paper, has become so overwhelming that we keep the machine off unless someone notifies us that they need to send a fax. It kinda defeats the purpose.

Back in the old dial-up days, I tried to use the fax option, via the modem, that came with Windows, but that did not work very well. Recently, I decided to see if the Web-based fax services had come of age yet.

Well, guess what? They really have! After some research, we went with Faxage. They ported our existing Verizon fax number over to their service so the fax number remained the same. The company communicated with us every step of the way-- they were great!

The system allows us to set up fax folders for all of us in the family, we can each have our own fax cover sheet, and we are notified via email when a fax comes in (and the fax is attached to the email for a quick review). If it is a junk fax, it is a simple delete! The faxes are kept in PDF format within their system and are very readable.

Of course, when sending out a fax, if something is not already digital, we have to scan it to the computer, but it really is not troublesome.

The option we chose was $7.95 per month for 150 faxes. We are saving the $24 for the phone line and $10 for the long distance service per month on the line, AND our ink and paper is not being wasted by junk faxes. I think it is a win-win situation!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

New netbook on order!

Netbooks are the new "little" laptops that are all the rage. There are those that have 8.9" screens, 9" screens, and 10" screens. There are those that run Linux and those that run Windows XP Home. There are those that have solid state drives (SSD) which have no moving parts and those that have regular hard drives. There are white, black, pink, green, red, and blue versions of netbooks available. They have wireless, Ethernet ports, multiple USB ports, VGA-out and some have card readers and built-in video cams and mics.

I have had two since this class of computer came out. I started with the 7" Linux-based Asus EEE PC which was a swift little machine with a great suite of tools. I then moved to the 7" XP Home version of the EEE PC, but the SSD was not large enough for the apps I wanted to run. I fell in love with the 8.9" EEE PC 901, but, by that time, there were starting to be more of these on the market and at good prices.

I toyed with the idea of the MSI Wind (10") for a while since it had a bit larger keyboard than the EEE PC. The price was right, but the overall device was kinda large for my idea of a netbook.

I liked the HP Mini-note 2133. It had a great keyboard, but by the time I spec'ed it out to have the OS and hard drive I wanted, it was too pricey.

The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 came out today, but it is not available with any more than a 16GB SSD.

I have been reading great reviews of the Acer Aspire One, and the only negative I could find was it only had a 3-cell battery. The price was right, the keyboard was largish, the size was right, the camera was 1.3 megapixel, it came with a regular-sized hard drive with XP Home, and had all the best of all the devices. It does not have Bluetooth or an N-standard wireless protocol like some of the others though, but this was not a deal-killer for me.

Today it showed up on Amazon with the 6-cell battery and even a larger hard drive than the previous model, in white or a sapphire blue color (if you care about things like that), and at the price of the earlier version...w00t! I ordered the blue initially, but after reports of its "smudginess" and having to type on a black keyboard, I decided on the white one.

It is on order and I will let you know what I think when it arrives in a few weeks! (Hey, the Aspire One even has its own Facebook page!)

UPDATE: 9/9/08
For those of you who want a little larger netbook with 10" screen, the Asus EEE PC 1000H is available at mwave and Amazon for $449 with its price drop yesterday. What you get for the $50 extra dollars is a 10" matte screen, a tad more battery life, N networking and Bluetooth. What you lose is the smallish size of the Aspire, half the hard drive space (160GB on the Aspire one, 80GB in two 40GB partitions on the EEE PC 1000H), and the lighter weight (the EEE PC weighs one pound more than the Aspire One). However, the Asus EEE PC 1000H gets great reviews and would be a nice option for someone, too!

I decided to stay with the Asus Aspire One-- I want white, a glossy screen, and the smaller form factor, but I was tempted!

UPDATE: 10/17/08

The 6-cell Acer Aspire One finally came today and it is everything I expected! The screen is beautiful, the keyboard has large enough keys to touch-type comfortably, and it seems pretty speedy. Since I ordered it, there have been new versions of other manufacturers' netbook models, but I kept comparing and came back to the Acer Aspire One as my netbook of choice.

With 1 GB RAM, a small form factor, a 160 GB hard drive, and Web cam and external mic, it is a little powerhouse! I have not tested the 6-cell battery life yet, but it is supposed to last 5 or 6 hours. I will be taking it to conference next week, and the real test is always how it performs as a presentation machine!