Spontaneous Battery Combustion
Toshiba seems to be ramping up their efforts to get people to return the SOny laptop batteries in danger of catching fire. Turns out a larger set than originally announced are “at risk”, and my computer is one of them – go to the official website for details. Serial numbers didn’t match, but the Toshiba Batterycheck program identifies it as an at-risk component. Nearest Toshiba Authorised Service Provider turns out to be Business Pro Computers, down at W. 3rd and Columbia.
Was initially worried that no battery meant that I wouldn’t be able to use my computer, but actually I just have to be careful not to randomly unplug the AC adapter and I should be fine. No more working “on-the-go” though – although I’ve discoverd that usually too much hastle to try to do work on buses, etc.
Hopefully the turnaround won’t be excessive – they say a couple days, so I’m guessing next week sometime. But hopefully a better battery pack might mean better mobile performance? I’m hoping so…
Found my Laptop Pen!
One of my previously unfounded fears of using a tablet PC was losing the tablet pen. I’ve misplaced it a couple times on my desk at home (inconvenient) but I full out left it behind last week when doing a talk. Luckily, tracing back my usage narrowed it down, and a couple of minutes rummaging on the back table revealed my pen. Yay!
More Brainzzz…And actual testing refutes hypothesis!
Well, midterms are over, so it seems like an ideal time to live on the wild side and do some hardware upgrading! Had to make the call whether I was planning on living long-term with this laptop – spend money on upgrades, or do the ultimate upgrade to a new machine. Current clincher is the display size – 14″ standard is a good chunk more real estate than the widescreen editions. That and the price of a good tablet is still about the same – sure, there are smaller, lighter ones, but they all still creep up to the $1500-$2000 mark.
So with that in mind, I resolved to give the machine another lease on life – boosting from 2x512MB to 2x1GB, for a good memory doubling. I felt like I’d wasted a bit of money – the second 512MB chip came out of pocket money two years ago – but then again, RAM prices really did take a big tumble. So took the bus to NCIX and got two Corsair ValueSelect 1GB PC2700 SODIMMs (VS1GSDS333). Shopping at a store like NCIX is always a bit of an adventure, especially in the land of PC hardware. There’s always fun like compatibility issues making their draconian return policies a little scary. Since there wasn’t anything other than the word of the Corsair website, I was a little hesitant, especially with all the random pages I pulled up saying so-and-so computer needing “special RAM”. But ultimately, the actual install took 5 minutes, plus 5 minutes attacking the crazy plastic packaging. Barring any nasty surprises, I’m happy to say that my Toshiba R10 is pretty happy with its bigger brain.
What’s really amazing is how peppy the machine is. I always thought the reason why my desktop is so responsive was due to the Dual-core. I still think having two cores is handy, but I’m starting to think that having 2GB of RAM might be the other half of it. I really am a RAM hog – anyone passing by my computer isn’t surprised to see half a dozen apps open, and over 6 firefox windows stacked (and no, I’m not counting the 7 tabs on each window) … but all those apps doesn’t usually fill up 2GB of RAM. Sure, there’s still the loading delays, but all the waits that used to happen switching from task to task – miraculously much less painful.
We’ll see how it actually stands up to real-life testing. Of course, it’s not exactly a completely fair experiment – as per usual, I’m upgrading another component at the same time. I’ve started to notice that I’ve been ignoring the desktop search component, and now that OneNote keeps complaining, I finally buckled and swapped the Google Desktop Search with the Windows Desktop Search. Currently indexing away… Sadly, no more double tap on the control key to bring up a search bar. Instead, it looks like Win-Shift-F…maybe I’ll have to think of something less awkward on the hand…or maybe my hand will adapt…
One of the essentials to have on the road with a laptop is a power supply – investing in a spare is one of my brightest ideas…except, of course, when said power supply starts smelling metallic funny and making snapping sounds. Looks like it’s time to get another one. Getting a spare power supply these days is as easy as looking up the name of the laptop on eBay. For me, “Toshiba R10 power” was good enough to bring up something applicable. Pretty cheap, too…although it’s the exact same model as the one that’s broken.
Then again, I’m awfully glad that the spare is broken, and my original cord is working perfectly fine. It would be rather awkward to have no power for the laptop – that would be an awkward nightmare…I’m started to get tempted to get a spare battery…and going to 2 Gigs of RAM from 1….upgrades, upgrades…
Handy Laptop App: Synergy
Ever wanted to control your laptop using your desktop mouse and keyboard when you get home, but still be able to use the “roawrin’ powah” of both? Synergy is a tiny but effective way of setting that up.
The interface remains almost indecipherable, but the basic idea is you need to set up the main keyboard and mouse as the server, and any number of slave machines. You then set links connecting edges of the monitors to one another. For example, my desktop is the server, the laptop a client. Since the monitor of my desktop its on a shelf, and I put the laptop on the desk when charging, I set up two links – the bottom of the desktop screen links to the laptop, and the top of the laptop screen links to the desktop. Then, all I need to do to go between the desktop to the laptop is move my mouse past the bottom of the desktop screen. To go back to using my desktop, I just move my mouse past the top of the laptop screen.
It also takes care of synchronising screen savers, as icing on the cake. Last time I tried it, I ended up removing it because of keyboard weirdness – I use international keyboard to make it easy to type accents, but that seemed to confuse things after a while. It got a bit tiring to have to kill/restart the processes…but hopefully this time it’s all happy 🙂 Can’t wait to see if multi-screen action will be a possibility again…fingers crossed!