Review of the ACER ASPIRE ONE.

Aug 27

You can call me many things, but one of the things you are surely going to mention is "early adopter". Yes, I am one of those cyber pioneers thats gets his hands on the new toys out there and who boldly swipes his Visa through the magnetic card reader and goes for the purchase of a brandnew and unproven product just because its new. Never mind the prices will drop in a few weeks, never mind the risk its total and utter crap, never mind the early bugs .. Everything dwindles into nothingness in comparison to the sheer moments of glory where we pull out our brand new toy and bathe in ghasps of surprised onlookers.

With the whole "netbook" thing, I have been no different. An early adopter. Could not wait for the Asus EEEpc to come to Europe and managed to get it shipped in from the states. Darn cool thing. But after owning it for a few months (and loving it) it was time for something new. Prices drop ( so you can"t hold on to your gadget for too long ) and new stuff comes around the corner. So I sold off my Asus EEEpc and went for the new Acer Aspire One.



The Acer.

Wasn"t that a shitty kind of brand ?  True, I’ve owned an acer a few years ago and was far from pleased. Acer is pretty cheap but low in quality and they just make crap-in-a-box mostly. Especially their low end laptops are overweight, have crappy finishing and die of fright once you pop them in a laptop bag to carry them around. But I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and go for a model that was light enough to carry its own weight. And for 300 euro"s it was a pretty spiffy thing. 




You can find out the exact technical specs about the product here . What however convinced me for going for the Acer Aspire One and not for the Asus 901 is the fact that its ever so slightly bigger. ”The One" is about a centimeter wider then the Asus 900 but its keys are 9/10th the size of regular laptop keys. To me : This means a world of difference. Where the Asus 701 was an ultra portable, ideal for dragging with you everywhere , offering the pleasures of mobility.. It wasn’t realy a productive machine in the sense that it took quite a lot of getting used to when you wanted to type something. With the Acer Aspire One the keyboard is slightly larger. This turns the device from a "gadget-like ultra small computer" (like Toshiba’s Libretto : Cool but unpractical) to a supersmall "laptop" when it comes down to productivity, elevating this 300 euro device to level of its 1400 euro counterparts who form the super small ultrapowerfull range of laptops, offered by several brands.  Very true, with the 8 gig solid state hard drive its not going to be a monster when it comes to storage and preformance, but on a laptop of that size, you don’t NEED that either. The liberty of portability combined with the decent size keyboard make this a very very interesting gadget.  Furthermore the "One" has , aside from 3 usb slots, 2 card readers. Thus overcoming the idea of a small hard drive storage capability by being able to add an SD card. Not super fast, but super small and super cheap. Where the Asus 901 also offers this feature, the kicker with the aspire one is it also has ANOTHER 5 in one SD cardreader. This adds creative juices to the heap, where you can import the pictures from your camera, process them, but no longer be held back by limited disk space since you can hurl them over to the other SD card or a connect usb mass storage device. 



Furthermore there is of course an Ethernet port, Wireless lan (pretty good coverage) Webcam (hello !) Built in speakers and and headphone / external microphone connector. The downside is the touch pad which has  (for some strange reason) the buttons alongside of it instead of underneath it. This makes right-clicking a very unnatural experience and this is definitely one of the downsides of the laptop. Battery life is fairly good (depends on what you do with it) The machine plays decent video (Vlc + external harddisk + divx = Portable Private Porno Pad ) and the audio is not bad either. The DOWNside is that they had to insert a fan into the device. This little addition is just somewhat noisy and I find that annoying.   The general feel of the device is slightly "plasticky" Is it because the device is lighter then the Asus 701 or is it because its slightly bigger , it doesn’t feel as sturdy and would have me freaked out if I accidently dropped it. (Did this with the Asus 701 , Asus was fine).



As for software : The device came with a highly customized version of Linux, and that surprised me. ( The Asus was only shipped with XP here in Belgium) After running the customization wizard ( that thinks BELGIAM is a country) I got a clean looking interface, written for the mentally challenged, computer illiterate or people who just need to surf and do email. The manual that comes with it is very good, and to be frank, an average internet-only user will do very well with this device, just out of the box.. But i’m no average user.



Dual booting the sucker.

When I tried to think about what I wanted to do with the device, Running Linux came to mind right away. No problems there : I wanted to run Ubuntu on it and by golly, you can do that. I just Googled around , followed the steps on how to do it and ended up with a nice working laptop ! Even the Netbook Remix worked and looked very very fine ! However since I had 8 gigabytes of ram I wanted to play a different ballgame. So I cut up the harddrive in two partitions and installed XP on one partition and Ubuntu on the other one. With an SD card of 4 gigabytes I could use for storage it would not be such a bad thing if the internal HD was filling up.  Installing XP did ask for some creative thinking. I slipstreamed SP3 into a version of XP that I had and threw out ALL the rest just to have an XP edition that is as small as possible, extra crap like minesweeper and stuff was discarded. But in all XP still munches up 3 gigabytes (!) of data these days. Too darn much if you ask me. But still. This being a netbook I rely on the cloud to provide me with applications. A vlc mediaplayer, firefox,  and Abiword, together with a virusscanner was all I used.  Googleapps, Meebo, Twitter.. Whatever you could find in the cloud, I did not need to install. Ubuntu does not take up that much space so I was able to install the standard Ubuntu installation and some extra’"s (and still had some room to spare). 



At the end of the road. 

With this being my second "ultraportable" I can realy feel the evolution of technology in these devices. For me the Acer Aspire One is now no longer a "subnotebook" but quite a diverse device that can enable me to do a great amount of things. It broke free of the childhood limitations of the 701 by offering me a bigger screen, bigger keys and more options for internal and external storage. But in doing this it did not brake the boundries of price or size. Perhaps not as sturdy as the Asus counterpart , the Acer Aspire One is surely a worthy competitor.

Links : 

The Acer aspire One website.

Howto run Ubuntu Linux on the Acer Aspire One.

Tweak your XP using Nlite.





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Kc217 : "Mail Mail Mail Pt1"

Aug 27

We take a good look at how to organize your email setup so you will be able to get all your emails on different computers, using different operating systems in different places. Together with some comedy and a soundseeing tour from the Castle of Carcassonne, Its another packed show.


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Using Google Apps for

Aug 26




There are two sides. Either you Love “Da Google” or you hate “Da Google”. Some people trust Sergei and his friend implicitly , some people don”t. And I must say: I’m one of the former ones. I have been using Google and Gmail for over three years now, and so far I am loving it. Over the last five years i’ve been down quite a path when it comes to Email solutions. When I just had one computer , it was not really a problem, but once we had several computers the whole POP3 email solution just did not do it for me anymore. So I have tried several things. I setup my own SBS server, Pop3’ing my emails INTO the exchange server and accessing them using Outlook or via Webmail. That worked pretty fine. But the trail version I had of SBS expired (read : i could not find a working crack ) and I had to go and look for other solutions. That’s when I found FIRSTCLASS. A free email server (with the ability to pop3 email INTO the server , just like exchange) and access it via a client or via the web. AND there was a client for both Mac , Windows and Linux computers ! Worked all fine and dandy but .. you had to have your own server running.

At some point, I don’t know where I decided to pull down our Firstclass server and look for another groupwise-email solution for Nyana and me. ( I think one of the reasons was that the Firstclass mailserver had two old scsi drives that made and insane amount of noise ) So that’s when I turned to Gmail. I let go of the whole ‘hosting your own server’ and put my faith in the hands of the guyz at G.

And so far that has been going great . For the last three years every email that we sent back and forth went into our Gmail account and got archived. Whenever we needed something , we searched and found. Once the whole IMAP thing got started we moved to open source clients on the different operating systems , or accessed the system using Gmail. Calendar sharing and chat came soon after that , so for the last 2 years we have been heavily “Google-ized”.

Do I mind that Google gives me little adds on the side ? To be quite frank, I hardly noticed them and have never clicked on one. Do I mind Google “reads my email” .. not realy . They don’t give me spam. As a matter of fact, they offer me the best spamfilter I’ve seen in quite some time.

So this week I took it one step further and activated “Google apps for domains” . Its a free service by Google and what it eventually does is that Google now becomes your email provider (instead of just using one mailbox , all the mail gets sent to Gmail) Once you have it setup you get to play “administrator” for your own Google-domain.  So you can setup mailaccounts for you and your family, (all with an domain name) , get to play with shared calendars , Google Sites , Google chat etc etc .. and its all for free.

Technically it takes a bit of reading to get it all setup (just follow the steps at ) and make sure you are in touch with your hosting company that hosts your domain  (cause you have to change some Cname and MX dns records) but once that that is done , you are up and running. So far I’ve setup our mailaccounts, shared calendars, contacts and so forth. There is nothing realy NEW about the whole setup , but this way I can easily make new mail accounts and make sure that the outgoing addresses that gmail sends out are instead of ” on behalf of, from” as it is when u use a regular gmail account with additional sender addresses.

Conclusion ? Instead of having my own flaky mailserver slurping away power at home, I now rely on google’s infrastructure, the chance that all severn (!) of their MX servers go down is slightly smaller then the chance this could happen to my own server. Ok , i’ve ” handed off” the real email collaboration to another company but hey ! Its for free, its stable and it lets tech work for you.


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Aug 26

aspirSorry for not posting over the weekend, but I had my hands full. 🙂 Not only with "daily life" kinda stuff, to be quite honest we didn’t leave the house. But with Nyana down with the flu we didn’t have a lot of choice. She’s slowly getting better, but the most part of my weekend was spent on the couch beside her, watching over her , pampering her and of course playing with my new toy. Saturday morning I had gotten a buyer for my Asus EEEpc (yes !  I SOLD IT ! ) who came and picked it up for a very decent price. Why did I sell it ? Just because it was time for something new. And that something was the ACER ASPIRE ONE. Now I know I mostly talk about Acer products in the tones of ‘crap, noobie laptops, disposable computers’ and such, but for 299 euro’s I could not pass up on the ACER ASPIRE ONE. Sporting an 8 gig Sd Drive, 2 cardreaders, 3 usb ports, a 9 inch screen (res 1024*600) a webcam and a slightly bigger keyboard, its a very VERY nice piece of kit for that price. I had of course done some research wether or not Ubuntu would run on this little machine (it does) but decided to take it one step further. Since we don"t have a Windows machine in the house (seriously , its all Mac and Ubuntu here) I thought it would be a nice challenge to DUAL BOOT Xp and Ubuntu on that little machine. It took me quite some time to get everything done but the end result is awesome. (i’ll write up a little review this week). Furthermore I decided to take the plunge and move the domain over to Google apps. And that also takes up quite a bit of time, mailing back and forth with my hosting company and more. (Howto coming up). So as you see, I’ve been a busy body. Now its off to work for another day. 


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Aug 22

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