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End of a Love Affair with Acer September 12, 2007

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc., reviews, ubuntu.

I was in love with Acer laptops. I bought my first one, an Acer Travelmate 290 LMi in my second year of grad school. I did pay ~ $1200 for it, but it was awesome, right until the moment there were errors with the hard disk controllers about 3 years later. When I sold it for parts on ebay, it still retained more than 3 hours worth of charge in it’s battery. The finish and the quality of parts spoke loud and clear. I liked the simple looks, the ruggedness, and above all, the dependability.

So when I had to find a replacement, and was short on time and money, I settled for another Acer. An Acer Aspire 5003 LMi. Piece of junk. The plastic looks cheap. The “Aluminum” next to the keyboard is poorly spray painted plastic. The area next to the touchpad, and the left-click button have lost all their paint due to repeated use, and then look white. All within a year. For the last few days, occasionally, I would open up the laptop, and the display wouldn’t work properly. Loud cracks can be heard at the hinges when I open it up. I’d usually fix the display problem by opening the lid to an angle where the display worked. Today it failed completely. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the display to display anything coherent. The quality of the parts, and the “casing”, is terrible. I admit, this was a cheap laptop, but it had what I needed at a minimum. I am not someone who buys the cheapest thing around. I buy computers with exactly the minimum I need. This one has a Broadcom wireless card, but I thought I could live with that for a bit. I don’t need a separate video card – I never play games. I do need a large screen, and a DVD-burner – well, you get the point. I would have gladly paid $250 more to Acer for the same laptop with better quality.

Personally, I have vouched for Acer laptops, and have directly influenced my friends into buying at least 3-4 Acers. Now I feel like an idiot. I have to try something new. I don’t like how ThinkPads are designed with the recessed screen and clunky looks and all. The Sony Vaios I have known through friends and others have all been terrible – each of them making the trip back to Sony at least once. That leave the glitzy HPs and the Dells. I’d rather have a MacBook or the Pro, which looks infinitely cooler. Wish I had the money for a new MacBookPro. It has way more features and power than I need, though. Anyways, I feel much better having written this – may those that I recommended Acers to find it in them to forgive me!

Gimparoo – Converting Photoshop Tutorials to Gimp February 13, 2007

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc., guides, Other sites, reviews.

It’s not everyday that I get stoked enough by a website/blog that I decide to write about it. I happened upon gimparoo today, and the first thought I had was, “The world so badly needs this blog – what a great idea.” Though I don’t muck around with the GIMP as much as I used to a few years ago, I still appreciate a good, useful resource.

Gimparoo converts photoshop tutorials for the Gimp. Linux users rejoice!

To whoever the author of gimparoo is – please keep updating the blog once a day 🙂

Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks: The Book December 11, 2006

Posted by Carthik in about, books, reviews, ubuntu.

Boing Boing likes Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks. So what’s in it for me, you ask?

Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks

Well, that book was the first book I ever technically reviewed :). I reviewed it over a period of a month or so, and it was a great job. Some of my comments got overlooked, but that is okay, I guess. Little things, like the non-uniformity of URLs (Some begin with “http://” some don’t; some have “www.” some don’t) irritate me a lot. But all in all, the book has come out to be well appreciated, and that is reassuring.

The book is written in a very simple, straightforward, non-geeky language and is best suited for folks who are not very computer savvy. When I first read it I honestly thought, “Wow! Will this book sell? Are there folks out there who need help with this kind of stuff too?” Then it dawned on me – for the average computer user, who does not (and has no desire to) spend the entire day in front of a computer, learning a new system can be quite the challenge. This book tells you how to do the very basic stuff, and holds your hand through the various motions of everyday computing using Ubuntu. I think it will come in handy for the niche market consisting of folks who want to give Ubuntu a shot, and yet are hesitant because “Linux is a geek thing”.

I don’t agree with the “You need to be a geek to use Linux” viewpoint, though I can see why there is such an opinion in the first place — the lack of a widespread user community does mean that you need to be resourceful in fixing problems and finding solution, and be self-sufficient at least with regards to researching and learning the various ways of doing things. Windows users can always take comfort in the guy/girl in the next cubicle, or that geeky cousin. Linux has yet some ground to cover before there is a Linux user in every office/family. Till we get there, “Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks” can act as the guide for freedom-lovers world over.

The only reason why I hadn’t written about the book for so long was because I thought it improper to “plug” a book when I was the technical reviewer. I still wanted to talk about — now seems an appropriate time, since it has been released for a while now, and going by the comments on Amazon, and elsewhere on blogs and websites, it seems to be a hit within its chosen demographic.

At times, I get this terrible itch to write a book myself (Ubuntu Hacks? – but there is a book with that title out there already). The good news is that I don’t have to wait – I have a huge dissertation waiting to be written 😉