On Friday I bought myself a new netbook, the new ‘Seashell‘ Eee PC from Asus. Netbooks have changed a lot since I bought the original Eee PC 701 in November 2007, increasingly blurring the netbook/laptop boundary.
My first Eee PC failed back in December, and since then I’ve been struggling without it. ‘Struggling’ because the netbook perfectly fills the giant gap between the mobile browser and the PC, a gap that can’t be filled by a laptop as a laptop is too large to carry everywhere without a second-thought. Getting a slightly larger than expected pay packet last month I decided that it was time to get a new netbook, luckily coinciding with the launch of a new Eee PC model.
First impressions of the 1005HA are generally positive, although there are two features I prefered on the 701: the slightly larger keyboard means I now hit ‘#’ and ‘\’ rather than ‘Enter’ and ‘Shift’; whilst the touch pad is regularly zooming in and out accidently. It would also have been nice if the 1005HA included a case as the 701 did.
Whilst the 1005HA has a larger screen and harddrive, as well as a better chip and battery (mine lasted for 6hrs 3mins of wi-fi enabled web surfing), it is pushing the boundaries of what is and isn’t a netbook. Not only does the increased size and weight mean that I am less likely to want to carry the 1005HA everywhere, but the increased harddrive space means I am more more likely to store information on it that I don’t want to risk losing. When you start to debate whether to take your netbook out with you it has become a laptop.
It is too early for me to conclude whether my 1005HA is a netbook or laptop, but I fear I may have bought a cheap laptop. Only time will tell.
Over the last few days there have been many stories in the newspapers about how netbooks are the next big thing (e.g., The Times, The Daily Telegraph). It’s a bit of a bizarre story as netbooks have been a big thing for over a year! The reason they have been gaining increased interest is that M&S and Next (primarily clothing stores) are going to be carrying an Elonex netbook from next month, and the need to diversify and the shrinking of laptops reflects the recession stories they like to peddle. I’m not sure which Elonex model is going on sale for £99, but a £99 model is by no means a recent offering, even if the outlets are.
On a personal note, netbooks are on the up in my house today. After over a month without my Eee PC, due to problems with the plug, my new plug arrived. Admittedly as it is a black plug for a white Eee PC it risks being mocked by the other laptops, but I couldn’t care less. I didn’t realise how much the netbook had become part of my life until I could no longer access it.
If you haven’t bought a netbook yet, you really should. Whilst the Elonex may not be the best choice for you, there are numerous different sizes and specs now available depending on your budget.
Well it was charging, but it has since stopped charging again; it seems as though I will have to go to the screw-drivers. Whilst I was feeling disheartened, I have cheered up since having a look at the Eee PC’s T91. Asus keep rolling out kit I want (see also Asus’ Eee Keyboard).
I remember a time when being seen in public with my Eee PC 701 would always get people asking questions, these days they are seemingly everywhere. A stroll into Dixons (or whatever my local branch is called these days) at lunchtime found four different mini-notebooks available. The one that really caught my eye, however, was the one in Maplin’s:
Whilst it isn’t the most powerful of the mini-notebooks, or the most aesthetically pleasing, with a 7inch screen you can’t argue with the weight: 0.65kg!! That makes the 0.922kg of the Eee PC 701 look decidedly over-weight, whilst the Eee 901 will barely be able to hold its head up in public at 1.14kg.
Maybe I need Maplin’s minibook for those days when I am feeling too lazy to carry my 701…or should I just hold out for the one that comes with a helium filled balloon?
I am also slightly surprised at the claim on the ‘minibook’ trademark, after all, wasn’t the Eee PC 701 first launched in the UK as the RM minibook?
Whilst I had no problem ordering my Eee PC all those months ago, my girlfriend’s ordering of one of the newer versions has been nothing but trouble. The trouble has been a combination of my girlfriend’s indecisiveness, ASUS’s quickly rolling out of newer models, and RM’s appalling stock control.
When I want something, and if I can afford it, I tend to order it. If my girlfriend wants something, and if she can afford it, she ums-and-ahhs about it until she drives me mad and I am forced to threaten her with being pushed off a cliff. Although she has always liked my Eee PC, she was always concerned about the screen being a little bit too small, and that it ran Linux. The Eee PC 900 with Windows XP seemed the perfect solution. So, back in April, I told her when it was launching (May 12th) and she agreed that she would get one. However she didn’t get around to ordering one until last Wednesday (May 28th), at which point stock was beginning to be a problem.
Although there was already news in mid May of the imminent launch of ASUS Eee PC 901′s (with a better chip), it was still worth getting the 900. Even towards the end of May it was worth getting the 900. But when RM.com informed my girlfriend (a day before delivery was to expected) that the Eee PC 900 wouldn’t be arriving until 13th June, I am no longer sure what she should order. The spec of the Eee PC 901 is much better, but the price and a UK launch date are not yet known.
For now the Eee PC 900 order has been cancelled, and RM has a big black mark against their name for future orders. The only good thing is that my girlfriend has realised that it is best to order things when I first suggest it, rather than when she manages to get around to it.
Since Friday I have been spending a lot of time programming in Python on the Eee PC, the more I program the more I like both the language and the ease if having it on the Eee PC. Over at the Beeb Bill Thompson poses the question “Who will write tomorrow’s code?”, I suggested last week that the Eee PC (and other similar devices) may be the answer, and now I more convinced that ever.
Already I have been writing codes in python that use the Twitter, Flickr and Digg API, programs that can form the basis of numerous articles that I will never get around to writing…it’s SO easy (with the possible exception of installing the simplejson library that the Twitter library relies on). Just wish some other sites would roll out APIs (e.g., Stumbleupon and Reddit).
So, do we all need to become top-class programmers? No. But if you can program, even to a basic level, the web becomes a lot more exciting and interactive place.
Until yesterday I hadn’t really thought about programming on the Eee PC, but once I started looking I was surprised how easy it was: Unbeknown to me, it has had Python 2.4 and 2.5 sitting there the whole time! Despite not being a particularly competent programmer, I found Python to be very user friendly, and look forward to programming on the Eee PC in a variety of settings in the future. My first Python program was used to find random Flickr users:
> import flickrapi
> import random
> api_key = ‘XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX’
> for counter in range (1,1000):
>>> flickr = flickrapi.FlickrAPI(api_key, fail_on_error=False)
>>> a=random.randint(1, 99999999)
>>> photos = flickr.photos_search(user_id=d)
>>> if photos['stat'] == “ok”:
>>>>>> print d
> print ‘done’
Webometric studies are always searching for ways of finding random users, unfortunately I have no idea how Flickr assigns its user_ids. O’Reilly’s “Flickr Hacks’ says:
“…a string of numbers, followed by an at sign (@), an N, and two more numbers (often 00 or 01)…”
Not exactly specific. The program calculates a number up to eight digits long before the ‘@N’ and from 00 to 19 after the ‘@N’. Whilst most may be 00 or 01, I found them as high as 08. If anyone knows of any user_ids not included in these parameters, please let me know.
Sending 1,000 queries, 10 random users were identified. Not exactly efficient.
The Register notes that Asus have just released a Software Development Kit for the Eee PC. A cheap, widely available personal computer which can be easily programmed: Will the Eee PC be this generation’s BBC micro?
The SDK is a welcome addition to the Eee PC, although it will mean that I have to learn another new language as it supports C and C++, but hopefully it will encourage a future generation of programmers in the same way the BBC Micro did. In fact it should be more encouraging, this time you don’t have to be locked away programming in a room on your own, you can sit around in the park sharing code with your friends. Maybe the BBC could get involved this time with some nice ‘how to program your Eee PC’ television programmes
OK, so I am exaggerating, but you do wonder how much cheaper they can get. Hot on the heels of the amazing Eee Pc (aka RM minibook), and the more recent cloudbook, comes news of Britain’s first sub-£100 laptop: the Elonex One (via ASUS Eee News).
It’s the sort of price where people will probably buy one just to see what they are like…I think I may have to buy one.
The last time I had a large spike in my traffic was when I was privileged to receive a link on the BBC’s del.cio.us stream, resulting in a personal record high of 76 unique visitors in a day. Early indications, however, suggest that today may see a new record set as I receive a large number of visitors from Google searches. The reason seems to be a Guardian Unlimited article on the RM minibook.
Unfortunately (for searchers) the Guardian fails to mention the more well known name of the device, the ASUS Eee PC. As such there are middle-class lefties all over the country tripping across my blog rather than finding the more useful reviews.
So, a word of advice:
If searching for information on the RM minibook, also search for ‘Eee PC’
Then go out and buy one.
***A little update
The Guardian continue to post (this time on their blog)without mentioning that it is also called an Eee PC. Just one extra line would make it so much simpler for their readers.
I don’t usually get my S60 news from GigaOm, but they have highlighted a potentially useful application that can turn the N95 (or other phone with the S60 operating system) into a wireless hotspot: Joiku. It is VERY important to take into consideration the data package that your phone comes with before adding it, and unfortunately it doesn’t come with any security, so once your phone’s a hotspot, anyone can connect to it!
As the Eee PC doesn’t come with bluetooth, there may be occassions when you want to access the web and don’t have the required wire, and therefore Joiku seems a useful solution. You will, however, need to change the wireless connection settings so the mode is ‘ad-hoc’ rather than ‘auto’ for the connection to be enabled, and even then I found trouble getting the computer to connect. It automatically loads the joikuspot.com homepage first, and I found this took AGES!
Whether the problems I encountered are due to something I am doing wrong, or a problem at Joiku’s end I don’t know, but if it gets sorted it will definately find a permanent place on my phone.