The Knightcast Episode 35 : Remote Domination.

Remote
The Knightcast Episode 35 : Remote Domination. 

Direct link to the show :

http://www.knightwise.com/podcasts/kc_2082006.mp3

Summary. 

Don't even leave your seat for episode 35 of the Knightcast : Remote domination. We talk about the tools of the trade how to remote control every PC that you own. With tips, howto's and cool programs we turn your computerroom obsolete and let you control everything from your couch. With music from Noplasticinside its another Info- Loaded Knightcast.

Promo : Miketechshow

Download the Shownotes in PDF.

 

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The Knightcast Episode 34 : Captain Command Line.

ShownotesDirect link to the show:

http://www.knightwise.com/podcasts/kc_1082006.mp3

Show Summary.

Join us for episode 34 of the Knightcast. After a long hiatus where we took some time of for rest and relaxation (and to get married) we are back once again with an action packed show. In episode 34 : An interview with captain command line we have an in depth interview with Daniel Turner , a 16 year old Linux user extra-ordinaire. We talk about the social implications of a life in linux between peers and peers of Windows users, the open document format, the linux distribution of Daniels choice and more. With fantastic music from Delphinium Blue and some audio comments from the QCF, we top it of with his views on Vista and what the future will bring. Its full of laughs, fun and information packed. Your medicine on the edge of real and cyberspace :  The Knightcast.

 

Shownotes

Download your shownotes HERE. (pdf reader required).

 

 

 

 

 

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Skype videochat for mac. The future is here.

A long time in the making. 

Its been a long time coming , or has it been a long time overdue : Its finally here. The first cross platform VIOP & Videochat application to span the bridge between Mac and Windows users. The switchers holy grail so to speak. The missing link between the two communities.
For those of us who parted the land of the Windows users and boldly buy a Mac, ( either because we did not have the pubes to rebel and buy a harley , or just to score with the chicks) we fairly quickly felt ourselves in isolation of the instant messaging world. Sure , OSX comes with mighty fine chat-tools like for example Ichat .. So that mighty fine Isight web-cam on yours could do some good .. but .. there is no one ON i-chat now is there.

Meanwhile in the Windows world.

skypeMeanwhile in the Windows world people are chatting and nudging and webcamming (and sometimes even stripping) their happy days away with the one big happy family on MSN Messenger. Ok, I was happy to finally get rid of those bouncing smilies, pink backgrounds, screaming avatars and vibrating chat windows .. but this was lonely. Sure there are some good msn clones out there , but none of them support web-camming between YOU and the rest of the world. Sure , there is Mercury ( hellishly slow , weighs a ton, eats memory like Oprah and does not work if you are behind a router) . So there I was , Shiny Isight and no one to wave at. THank heavens to Skype for putting out the great app they make and for bringing us webcam support. I had played with it before : the PC to PC webcam session between two Skype users is faster then watching tv ! If I ever thought the MSN webcam protocol was the pinnacle of streaming video compression : Skype to Skype makes it look like a snail on ice. So as soon as the beta came out I just had to get my hands on it.

Download and install.
Downloaded and installed it on my Imac and rang up my friend Blue on his Windows PC (also with a built in webcam) And both audio and video worked fantastic. Ok the speed is not that good when it comes to video but the quality is awesome. Audio is crispy and when you hit the full screen button .. The future is here.
So with my Macbook on the table , isight tucked away in the lid… Talking full screen to my buddy at the other side of the globe (while doing the dishes) all I needed was a fish in a bowl, a model of the USS Stargazer and a Galaxy class starship beneath my feet.. “ Captain to engineering” .. i shout and tap the invisible communicator on my chest .. No response .. no starship .. As I look at my Skype screen and wave to my distant friend who is tapping finger to his forehead …  At least I can say THIS part of the future .. is here.  Find your Skype for mac HERE

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Its not what you add .. its what you leave out . Practical pointers in simplicty.

Does your office look like a Borg hive ? 

 One of the biggest challenges in the daily life of a cyber-citizen must be .. Simplicity. Simplicity in using technology , simplicity in integrating technology , simplicity in hardware and software .. and most importantly : Simplicity in thought.
Just think of the classic example. Somewhere along the way it happened. Your ever so tidy laptop bag seams to have been impregnated by the lords of chaos them selves. What started out as a slim shiny Dell laptop-bag has now become an atrocity. Like a grotesque pregnant elephant its innards have now swollen up with meters of cables , extra floppy drives, cd’s, extension cords , paper, books and so forth. As you watch the heaving husk that , due to being terribly overweight, drags your left shoulder to the ground and makes you look like Quasimodo, you think .. Where did it all start ?
But when you look at the mess that is your office , you see a reoccurring pattern, Your office, once setup with the help of your girlfriend to be a place of fen shue , now has the characteristics of a Borg cube after a high speed collision with a scrap barge. Cables , monitors, paper , books, post it notes.. keyboards overlapping keyboards, mouse-cables in suffocating deadlocks, flashing hubs and switches.. and loads of empty coffee-cups.
The big drawback of being on the edge of real an cyberspace is that you learn a lot of new things everyday. There is so much to see, to find out, to try , to test, to use .. Everyday something comes along that takes your fancy and you add it to the list .. stick it in your bag , add it to your start menu. And pretty soon you have an immense collection of tools and toys that by no means contribute to your effectivity.

 Techno-Reset.

What i regularly do is a ‘technological reset” where I look at all the things I have and think about ways to work more effective. For example : My 4 old test computers that served as my loyal test-battery (and drove my fiancé AND our electrical bill up the walls) have now been replaced by 4 virtual machines running on one computer, My entire collection of Windows versions have been scaled down to fit on one single dvd. My overweight software collection bag has been reduced to one portable USB hard drive and so on. Its very important to find the balance between keeping up with what is new , and being overwhelmed by hardware, software, information and more. The challenge is to analise what you have , and try to distill it into a workable simple concept. This means letting some things go , or combining tools, hardware or work-methods, but this is the only way to let technology work for you .. instead of the other way around. Take for example my current podcasting setup. It started out with one computer and a microphone , but due to the demands of my podcast, has grown into : A microphone stand , A microphone, A pop screen , headphones, a Mixer , My Macbook for show-notes and skype conversations , a second computer to play music or background tracks (using a USB DJ console) and finally a Linux system to record everything on.  I must say its very versatile BUT also very complex. I am momentarily contemplating how to simplify the whole project. This will not only get me a cleaner office , it must also give me a cleaner way to do my thing : thus simplifying technology.  The “how to record skype conversation” issue has been solved as I found this little gem for my macbook  and as a replacement (or quite probably an “addition” to my studio setup I was looking at the Samson C01u microphone with a table stand .  Together with my Macbook it will give me a portable high quality studio, that can be put away at a moments notice. Using Garageband and open source software like Audacity this wil greatly simplify my podcast production.

So you see my friends, Living with technology is not about what you add .. but what you leave out in order to be as effective as possible. This will help you in working faster, thinking clearer, have more time to think and respond to creative challenges. Downloading tool after tool , installing pc after pc is easy , its looking THROUGH the technology in order to see how you can destil it, simplify it .. and tune it into your way of life. 

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Virtual insanity : Xp in Linux or Linux in XP.

A whole new deal. 

Very soon we will see a culture shift, A change how people interact on the computer scene. My prophecy is nothing less then the end of the almost relidgious ‘ OS- Wars ‘. From newbie to web-lord, we have all played the paralympic game of ‘ what’s the better OS’ Wether in forums, in chatrooms, in endless slashdot threads or even in the comfort of our own pub : We’ve all been there. Wether Xp is better then 2000, Why Mac Os is better then Windows , and we’ll never forget the face of our local Linux Guru foaming at the mouth after he had to endure your proclamation that Windows ME was the best operating system ever written. ( And he never spoke to you again. ) But very soon the question “What’s your operating system” will be replaced by “ What’s your Primary Os ?”. Any computer with a processor speed over 1.5 gigahertz is quite frankly a waste of money. You don’t see a specific speed increase when you buy a 3 gigahertz or more . Ok , Windows will boot faster , but that does not mean YOU can work any faster. I mean , the processor is not the bottleneck of the system.  The question is : What to do with all this extra operating system power … More eye-candy ? Perhaps Vista will be more then happy to gobble up a few million cycles just for Balmers personal pleasure.  OR .. we can make the cycles pay off by jumping on the virtualisation train.

 All aboard ?

What do you do when you have one OS running , but your computer can carry twice the load ?  Well , lets install ANOTHER operating system. I’m not talking Dual Booting here, I’m talking Virtualisation. Running a second Os , INSIDE the first one. The “Base OS” is the main operating system you are running, The “ Guest OS is a virtual version of an operating system neatly compressed into one file.

 

 

jj

 

 

Why ?

I know what you are saying. But why “ma cher Knightwise” would i do this ? Here is why.

  • Perfect testing : The virtual machine you installed is just ONE FILE. After you install it , make a backup and start fumbling around. Messed up the Guest OS ? Just drag your copy back and you are good to go. You can easily install all kinds of operating systems without having to worry about partitioning.- Space and energy saver : Who said you had to stop with running just one Guest OS . Instead of bricking up your bedroom with countless pc towers you can now have them running as virtual machines on one machine. Needless to say you save money by just owning one pc, you save power cause you only have one power supply to feed and save valuable bedroom time with your space because she doesn’t have to be mad at you all the time for junking up the house with your old ‘test machines”.
  • Switchers trouble : I have seen people by a PC or a Mac just for that one task. I’ve seen people buy an extra pc for their on-line banking. I’ve seen switchers go back because they could not get a certain application working on a certain platform. Well, There is an end to switchers trouble and you have all walked through the gates of Sliders heaven (Sliders = cross platform users). Personally I wanted to switch my main machine to linux because I could not get MSN messenger running webcam sessions. (Microsoft does not want to clear  the code ) So .. I installed Ubuntu, ran Windows XP as a virtual machine and did the impossible, ran the two Os’es at once and did my Webcam stuff without any trouble. I run Xp on my mac for consulting purposes (when i need to get into a Windows network)  and I run Ubuntu in my Xp for testing everything out before I make changes to my ubuntu server.
  • Servers dream :  The crappy thing about running multiple servers at home is the fact that they eat power. Now you can run several ‘virtual’ servers on the same machine and just have one power supply to feed.

And how do i Do that ?
Before we start : Be sure you have enough memory in your Base Operating system. Each guest operating system requires a chunk of ram. The bigger the chunk, the better the speed. Also see that you have enough storagespace. Not only so the Guest OS can grow to its full potential (About 4 gig”s will do) you also want to make  backup copy’s of every clean installed os that you have.  Wether you want to run Linux in Xp or Xp in  Linux , you need the free vmware player . This is a free application that lets you use pre-built images of virtual machines. So you cant ‘build’ your own virtual machine , just use one that has been pre-built. Now this ‘building’ of a virtual machine tells the virtual machine how to act. Luckily I found THIS site where you can download FREE virtual machine configuration files for just about any operating system you wish. All you need are the installation cd’s of that OS and you are on your way.  I’ll be playing with virtual machine more as the week progresses and keep you posted on the results. Meanwhile my “ Piece de resistance “ is a screenshot of an msn webcam session in Windows XP , running as a virtual machine on my Ubuntu (base) workstation.  Sliders .. the end of our troubles is in side and we are virtually saved.

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Windows Genuine Advantage Phone Hoooome….

Windows genuine .. erm … Genuine ?

A few days ago, it was discovered that the Windows Genuine Advantage program (that little tool that checks if you have a real or pirated version of Windows) actually 'phoned home' to Microsoft. Although this was far from a big surprise , it still caused a bit of an uproar in the cyber community. On the techpodcasts mailing list we were talking about this subject , so I thought , I would give you my take on all of this.  
( Source

Et Phone Hooome.

Windows Gen. Adv phones home ? What a surprise. I didn't like the program in the first place. Don't get me wrong, i'm not one of these 'if its MS : Kick-it' kind of people. Thanx to uncle Bills and Grandpa Steve's software I make a living (i'm an IT consultant). BUT .. I think WGA ( win.gen.adv)
is flawed in two ways :

 First of all : What it does. : If you don't have a legit version of windows, it won't let you upgrade.  An unprotected (legal or illegal) copy of XP connected to the internet catches some horrible virus faster then you can say 'WillyWonka" and before you know it this little unprotected machine is becoming another oompa-loompa drone for virusmakers who just love to turn it onto a little Zombie Pc to make sure a virus like for example the BLASTER virus will be around for years to come. (if they don't select your unprotected machine to become a viagra-promo spreading spam-canon). So no genuine windows  ? Sorry dude .. you'll get hacked. Now I would not mind that if the machine just died then and there , its because of these unpatched zombie pc's we get even MORE viruses out there. (and more spam)

And second of all : I don't like WGA for what its does not do ! Shut your Windows down for-good if you don't have a legitimate version. I mean : If you can write a peace of code that can see wether or not an operating system has been copied illegally .. why in hells bells leave that operating system running in the first place. I mean .. if somebody walks by my house and steals my garden gnome.. I'll run after him .. i'll catch him .. And then i'll put a pink sticker on his back saying : This man stole my garden gnome.. and send him on his merry way. If Microsoft was TRUELY serious about pirate control they would let WGA shut the illegal copy of Windows down right away.

Shut it down !

But they don't .. Why ? Because if they have to subtract the number of illegal copied versions of Windows from their total market share they would NOT be having 90 percent of the market anymore. They would have shutdown 40 percent (and i'm being mild here) of all the Windows versions out there and would FORCE people to pay for their product. And that is where the fun begins. At that moment people have to choose. 200 euros forjust XP , 85 euro's for macOSX, and any distro of Linux .. for free. Sure they would have some adaptation problems switching to the other os'es but actually having to PAY for xp would make them give it serious thought.
So instead of going the full mile and shutting down the non genuine xp's , WGA just leaves them running.. unpatched and annoying the rest of us.. And they leave WGA running.. just to phone home as-well.. You never know what they could use the info for.

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No propper MSN clone for the cross-platform community.

A lot of Chitchat. 

As a slider ( somebody who moves swiftly between operating systems like Windows, Mac and Linux ) I am often confronted with the question : What tool do I use for what  ? There are of course plenty of ‘switcher tips” out there to help people out who decide to jump from one OS to the other. These ‘switch-lists’ are composed of tables representing a certain application in one operating system , and its counterpart on the other side of the fence. For example : Microsoft Office on Windows has Open-office as its counterpart in Linux (and also in Mac OS). Some applications are called cross-platform , these are of course the ideal ones. An exactly identical version exists in all operating systems. For example : Firefox , or Thunderbird. All versions look and feel exactly the same no matter what OS you are on.
But sometimes you have to look for stuff that “looks” or “behaves just like” the original version in one operating system. Classic example here  is the Switchers nightmare MSN Messenger. Unfortunately insanely popular among Windows Users here in Europe. But : Microsoft clings to this little peace of software like there is no tomorrow. Deliberately setting back the versions that are brought out on other operating systems (like for example on Mac OSx) and not disclosing any code to the open source community so their IM clients would be able to interact with MSN Messenger. The result is the entire thing has to be reverse engineered to make it work.

dWhat about MSN ?
A question often asked is : What do I use instead of MSN on other systems. Now there are some viable alternatives out there, but the one most commonly found on both Mac and Linux systems is AMSN . This noble attempt at Msn messenger ‘approximation’ has been running strong for quite some years now. Their main concern was to be able to crack the hard nut of enabling cross platform msn audio and video-chat. A noble cause since Microsoft does shield that box of tricks very well to the outside world. Now the AMSN people said they cracked it. They had gotten in working. Onto the labs dear friends ! My first test ( video chat between my powerbook and my girlfriends Ibook) worked just fine .. behind the firewall. But once I tried to talk or send files to the outside world ? No go.. Amsn does not deal with NAT translation very well. ( Well , it can’t cope with it at all). Making matters worse : Amsn runs on the  Mac like a rhinoceros on a valiumtrip. Slow and jerky to respond and not at all reliable. So i’m back to my ‘non video chat’ enabled alternative ADIUM. A great, highly customizable, well supported alternative. The downside ? No video-chat (file transfer works excellent) AND only available on Mac.  As for a Linux alternative to MSN i’ve stuck with GAIM for being the better product.

A loss.
Too bad actually , I mean , these guys over at msn have a quite good cross platform product and are able to crack a fantastic nut in getting video-chat to work .. But then they get stuck on this simple thing like Nat transgression. Perhaps its time for all these ‘alternative messenger clients” to start working together and produce one kick-ass open source Messenger alternative and overcome one of the final pitfalls for users switching to a non Microsoft OS.

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Letting Windows XP do its own maintenance.

I don't know about you .. but i am out of here.

Computer maintenance can be a tedious task, and somehow Windows Pc's can't get enough of it. Wether I open up a computer magazine or listen to a podcast about Windows its always spyware this and scandisk that etc. Now as for spyware and such , I completely understand , there is a lot of crap out there, but standard maintenance tasks on your computer are not something you should worry about. One of the images that shoots to mind is this guy sitting in front of his computer WAITING for the de-fragmentation to complete that he started about an hour ago. Meanwhile he is just sitting there , like its some kind of laundry machine and he has to get his socks back. Not for me No-oh! If I tell my pc to clean up his room ? He better do it all by himself. Here are a few tricks that you can use to have your pc do 'his on thang” on “his own time”.

Step One ! Pick a free spot in your calendar.

Don't do computer maintenance at the peak of your day or while you have five little brothers and sisters waiting in line to play World of Warcraft. Do it at night . And don't stay up for it , let the computer do it. So choose a time when you don't need your computer and dive into the BIOS ( Press delete or F2 when the computer is starting up.) Most BIOS's (is that plural ?) these days have an “automatic power up” option that you can set. This means you can let your computer power up automatically at a certain time without you having to get up and press the button. Set the auto power up to a certain time and day of your choice.

Step Two ! Log in automatically.

tweakuiIts not the best way of doing things securely , but if your computer is just parked in your room you can enable auto-login. One of the programs you can use for this is TWEAK-UI   it will not only give you the option to auto-log-on as a certain user , but also lots of other cool tweaks.Are you afraid somebody is gonna try to access your computer while its unguarded ? No worries , just set the screen-saver to 1 minute and password protect it.

Step three ! Let the games begin.

Once your computer is securely logged in you can let him do its daily chores.Open a text-file and start typing.

at 01:00 /every:M,F defrag c:

The AT command lets you schedule certain tasks at certain times. In the example above it will run the command DEFRAG C: (de-fragment your hard-drive) every monday and friday.

at 02:00 /every:M,F defrag d:

Identical stuff , this time for the D drive, an hour later.

TIP : if you want to save yourself a lot of pain in the but , make a separate partition on your hard-drive where you set your windows swap file. This will greatly increase your de-fragmentation times and speed up your pc.

Next up you might wanna do a little cleaning up of your hard-drive. Its never bad to do a anticipative scandisk before your favorite telletubie pictures get lost on that runt hard-drive cluster.  Now you can't do a scandisk (or check-disk ) on a drive thats currently in use , just like you can't vacuum the rug you are standing on. But again , that is not a problem. When you run the CHKDSK command in Windows and point to a busy drive , Windows will do the operation next time the drive is free ( that is the next time the computer boots up). So once again , take the AT command and type up these little lines of code.

at 01:30 /every:F chkdsk c: /f /r

This means : every friday clean up my drive , repair the data on broken clusters and move on. 

And last but not least , you have to shut the machine down. You don't have to get up to do that , just use the shutdown command as follows.

at 01:45 shutdown -s -f

ShutdownThis means : at a quarter to two , shutdown the computer. (and force close all open programs)A nice tip you might want to remember is that you can enter the shutdown command in the RUN box in your start menu, for example, your computer is burning a cd, its still gonna be an hour before its done. But you wanna go out and grab a burger and don't want your computer running in vain all night. Just type shutdown -t 3600 and hit enter. Here 3600 stands for the number of seconds  the computer waits before shutdown.
And thats it. Just type all the commands in a txt file, save it as maintenance.bat and either drag it to your startup folder so it runs automatically every day , or click on it to run everything manually. You can find more  examples of the AT command  here . Now go outside and play … and let technology work for you !

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The Knightcast Episode 30 : What operating system to choose.

 

Showimage

The Knightcast Episode 30  ' What operating system to choose '

Direct link to the show : http://www.knightwise.com/podcasts/kc200506.mp3

Summary.

Join us for show number thirty where we triple the normal crew of the Knightcast and have a globe spanning discussion with two more experts about what operating system to choose.  Windows ? Linux ?  Apple ? Along with Sebastian Prooth and David Gray of the GlobalGeek podcast we compare the pro's and the con's of the major Os'es on the planet. It starts of seriously but goes slightly downhill from there so be sure to listen in for well founded arguments and totally off-topic hilarious banter as the Knightcast has some friends over to come and play    .!!!! This podcast is not entirely family safe. (but we don't swear at all) !!!! 

 Shownotes.

The Experts.

 For more information go to www.knightwise.com or subscribe to The Knightcast in Itunes.

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the new macbook pro.

Its here ! Its HERE ! 

I'm a calm person. Introvert, quiet, not easily impressed. Years on the edge of real and cyberspace have left me jaded and therefore not likely to be amazed or star-struck by new technology. As trends evolve and gizmos and gadgets whizz by I raise the preverbal eyebrow and sigh. BUT NOT TODAY ! 

Today i am jumping up and down with the release of the new Mac-book. Nono ! Not the i've-got-money-to-burn-so-what-the-hell macbook PRO ! (an overpriced over-pimped version of the powebook line) I'm talking about the next generation (long overdue) incarnation of the Ibook. I am NOT going to delve any judgement on the little machine until i actually have one in my hands  ( and am surely not one of those who thinks that no matter WHAT Steve Jobs thought up , has to be fantastic ) BUT I am going to run over the specs of this baby before I slam my Visa card down and BUY one.  `

The New Macbook 

I admit, I have been waiting for this new laptop by Apple. When the Macbook pro line came out I knew I was in over my budget and that one of those shiny things where not likely to appear on my lap anytime soon. ( And i sure as hell was not going to be Steve's personal 2000 + euro personal beta tester.) So i waited and waited for what was going to come. Since I bought my first Ibook some year and a half ago I have been pleased with it beyond belief. I love the little bugger. The best 1200 euros ever spent on a laptop. And now its successor comes along. Lets all take a moment and drool together shall we ? Widescreen 13,3 inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. 1,83-GHz Intel Core Duo 512 MB Ram (i'm personally opting for 1 gigabyte if money permits me to.)  A 60-GB serial ATA hard drive on  5400 rpm (Bummer ,this should have been a 7200 rpm disk) A Combo drive (dvd-rom, cd-rw) Isight built into the display (owwwkey) Front row with apple remote.Now this looks pretty amazing for a laptop with a price-tag UNDER 1300 euros. you can also go for the 2 gigahertz version OR the BLACK 2 gigahertz version. The 2 gigahertz version is about 200 euros more expensive and to be quite honest , I don't think thats worth the money. The BLACK version is 200 euros extra (but you get a 80 gig hard drive).  Now the first reaction Nyana gave to this was : "black ? What do you mean .. black ?" A Black Mac ?  Well she was right. The black Ipod had made me frown , cause to be frank , the white Ibook I have is babe-magnet numero uno when you use it in a café. 'ooh look its white , its cute etc'.  I'm not an Apple snob but .. black ? no thank you. But black or white at first sight this baby looks like a tough nut to crack for same priced competitors. From personal experience I can tell that laptops around the 1000 euro price-point by for example Acer or Siemens have much poorer quality of design layout compared to even my "old" kevlar-coated (yes-yes) Ibook. Its like comparing a throw away tin foil barbecue to  a concrete super deluxe backyard super-stove.

 

macbook

 

One thing to rule them all.

 But time for the cherry on the pie when we look one step beyond the designed specs and see what loops we can let this baby jump through in the future. If we take BOOT-CAMP into account that lets us run Windows XP on this machine AND we look at the Linux versions that are compatible with the macintells we come to the next conclusion.  This is the sole and single sub 1500 euro computer laptop that will run the three biggest operating systems on the planet.

Needless to say .. as soon as I get my hands on one.. An elaborate review will follow. 

 

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