Hello Kitty… Beer…?!

I’ve seen a lot of Hello Kitty items. From the classic Hello Kitty Vibrator to the Hello Kitty Exhaust Pipe, I thought I’d seen it all. Apparently I hadn’t. I give you the following:

hello-kitty-beer

That’s right. It’s Hello Kitty Beer. Apparently following in the footsteps of the Hello Kitty Wine and Hello Kitty Sake, Hello Kitty Beer serves up another way to get plastered with the Sanrio mascot. Yes, Hello Kitty is found on everything. Nothing is safe from her branding.

Switching over to WordPress

After a short stint with Live Spaces, I’ve decided to make the jump over to WordPress for awhile. While I like Spaces and all the built in functionality it offers (I especially like the photo tools), it doesn’t quite offer the same level of user friendliness when it comes to everyone else on the internet. I’ll still continue to upload photos there and use those features, but will be doing all the writing up at the new area. Now if only I can figure out if the free version allows for custom widths… The current format of my entries (notably the pictures embedded in them) don’t seem to transfer over right. Either I’ll use a flexible width layout or go back and edit everything to fit into a fixed width layout…

I think I’ll just leave it as it is with a fixed width layout. It’s much easier to edit on the netbook that way. For those interested in the posts prior to this one (and want to see the original formatting), check out How Do You Figure? @ Windows Live Spaces.

Freya levels up!

A week after I ordered the netbook, the RAM upgrade I purchased arrived. After a quick bout with a screwdriver, I removed the bottom panel and installed the new module. Here’s the result:

image

Although Win7 shows 2.50GB of memory available, the chipset is limited to using a maximum of 2GB. Despite this, the upgrade from 512MB to 2GB is pretty striking. Freya is far more responsive than before and applications are less prone to stuttering. As a testament, the Windows Experience Index for memory jumped from 2.9 to 4.4!

In addition to today’s upgrade, I found a couple of driver enhancements that could potentially improve battery life and functionality. The first major change was a BIOS upgrade that was issued by Lenovo a couple of days ago. The most noticeable change was alterations to the fan speed controller. Previously, the fan was either on or off, depending on the CPU utilization. The new update adds a more granular fan control scheme, reducing the amount of noise generated as the fan spins up. It also keeps power drain to a minimal since the fan won’t run at full power when not needed.

In addition to the upgrade, I finally found a compatible power management driver for Windows 7. It seems that the S10 is a mismash of hardware from other Lenovo machines, so it’s all a matter of finding the right driver for a different model. Fortunately for me, Windows 7 eventually identified the power management system as the same system used on one of the Y series laptops. It even gave me a link to Lenovo’s site for downloading the driver. Once installed, I’ve noticed some improvements in the battery life. Currently, the battery gauge is reading just over 50% and 2 hours of power remaining. Pretty good for such a minor tweak!

Brand new Netbook!

Meet Freya, the latest addition to my home computer network. She’s a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 netbook, featuring a 10in screen, 1.6Ghz Intel Atom processor, 512MB RAM (stock) and 80GB hard drive. I’d been considering getting something small and light for on-the-couch use as well as for travel, and this seemed like the perfect form factor for the job. Since Lenovo offers a discount for Microsoft employees, I decided to take advantage.

IMG_1553 Tsuruya-san seems interested in the new toy

After a couple of hours of setup, I got Windows 7 and my required apps installed. Since I’ll be using this as a lightweight machine, I decided to go with a relatively lightweight application suite. The basic Office install is probably the most heavyweight program I put on. Other apps include:

  • Windows Live Suite (Messenger, Photo Gallery, Writer, Mail)
  • Firefox
  • K-Lite Codec Pack
  • Paint.net
  • Virtual Clone Drive
  • 7zip

In all, I am very impressed with the performance given the size and specs. Windows 7 runs passably on half a gig of RAM and I even consider it usable. That, however, won’t stop me from upgrading to 2 gigs. The extra RAM should be here within the next few days, as it was placed on the same day as the machine itself. From what I’ve see, I don’t doubt that Win7 will become the OS of choice for low powered netbooks, easily replacing Linux as the users’ choice.

The form factor has presented a couple of challenges, however. the smaller keyboard is taking some effort to get used to. The lack of a full sized right shift key has caused me several problems, including constant mistypes of the “up” key. Also, the thinner keys means I’m not used to the shorter distance I would have to go to read the apostrophe key. I’ve been finding myself hitting enter by accident and having to correct for typos.

Battery life has also proved, as I’m currently on track to hit the 3 hour target for the 3-cell battery. At some point in the future, I may switch to a 6-cell, though I don’t foresee my usage habits to really dictate a strong need for one. At ~$50 for one, it’s a pretty pricy investment considering that I currently have $350 invested in the machine and upgrades so far.

Lastly, I decided to give Freya a fresh wallpaper today. After doing some searching, I found a half decent wallpaper with a “dark Chii.” Using Paint.net (not on the netbook, of course) I cropped around her image and cleaned up the edges. I then superimposed her onto an existing Windows 7 wallpaper I’d been using on other machines and altered the subtext. I’m pretty happy with the results. While Paint.net is a great editor and has a lot of features, it isn’t by any means a replacement for Photoshop. The magnetic lasso tool alone would have saved me a good chunk of time trying to select the outline. I guess I can’t complain, Paint.net is free while Photoshop is a several hundred dollar program… Anyways, here is the result of tonight’s work:

Win7freya Windows 7: Freya edition

 

***this post was written entirely on the netbook***

Comparing Win7 and WinVista

After using Win7 for a couple of weeks, I’ve started finding things that are subtle differences from Vista. Beyond the obvious changes like the Superbar and sidebar, a couple of other things caught my eye. Here are just a couple I’ve stumbled upon:
 
The first thing I noticed was changes in MSPaint. For the first time since Windows 95, Paint has a new look! Not only did it get a facelift, but it also has a bunch of newly added editing features. Most of these are fairly rudimentary, but are welcome nonetheless (crop image, anyone?)
 
Paint in Vista
 
Paint in Win 7
 
Next thing I noticed was Calculator. Vista calc is on the left and 7 calc is on the right. Again, mostly a facelift, but includes new features like unit conversion, date dalculation, and a mortgage calculator (all found under the options menu). Also included are a scientific mode, programmer mode (for logic, base conversion, etc.) and statistics mode.
 
         
 
Another subtle change is in the performance rating. Notice the new statement about the WinEI range. The value for each stat now maxes out at 7.9 (previously 5.9). Not really sure if this means much, but it’s neat nonetheless.
 
 
Lastly, the consolidation of the Add hardware, Printers, and Scanners and Cameras control panels make for an easier one-stop-shop for managing connected devices without digging into the device manager.
 

Breaking in the new camera

Over the past week, I’ve done a decent job experimenting with the new camera and seeing what it can do. It’s the first camera I’ve had with so many buttons and settings, so it’s taken some time for me to figure out what everything does. I’ve also done some more experimenting with Photosynth and I think I’m really starting to get the hang of it. The most recent attempts have been scoring 90%+ Synthy, with 2 of them at a nice 100%.
 
These are a couple of synths that I’ve done so far:
 
Each synth has a corresponding album with other shots in the photo gallery. Check it out!

New Camera!

Yesterday marked the arrival of my new camera, a Canon PowerShot SX10. It’s far more feature rich than the PowerShot SD1100 it’s supplementing, including adjustments for manual focus, aperture, and shutter speed. It also has a really neat face-detect self timer, which sets the timer as soon as an additional face is detected (useful for giving the photographer time to get into a group shot).

What better way to break in a new camera than to do a photo shoot? Check out a sample of the pictures taken here. My personal favorite is the one with Alicia-san and my cat. She managed to sit up there on her own and it took a good 15 attempts to get one that actually looked decent. Cats can have very low attention spans and can be easily distracted by camera shutter clicks…