Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Evaluating the Compaq Presario CQ50

Compaq Presario CQ50-210USI got this little baby over a week ago, and have spent many, many hours on it since. If you're thinking of buying one, here is what I've liked and what I haven't. (Click on the picture for a product description.)

On the whole, I'm happy. I wanted a pretty basic machine, primarily for writing and web-surfing, so I was willing to go with a fairly stripped-down model. And it is stripped down. There is a DVD/CD drive, a built-in mike, and that's about it. I'll have to use CD's and USB keys for data transfer: the ports for other memory cards are not included in this model, although the space is there if you buy a more expensive model.

I've found the 2GB of RAM to be sufficient for my needs, and I can supplement it at any time with a flash drive, or upgrade later to 4GB.

Where I am less happy is with the tracking device. It has a touch pad with a scrolling zone which can be a bit problematic. It will sometimes click on an item all on its own, and the scrolling "bar" is quirky. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This can sometimes depend on where in the document you're pointing when you try to use it, but not always. It's only caused me minor irritation, but I'm still thinking this should work better.

The lithium-ion battery only gives about two hours of working time, which disappoints me a little, but again, that will meet my needs most of the time. I won't often be using it for extended periods away from an electrical outlet. Your mileage may vary. It is very easy to swap out, if I were interested in buying an extra battery.

The case is a very classy-looking glossy black. It also shows every finger-print. A cloth is included for wiping them off, but it doesn't work that well. Fusspots should abstain.

I hope this will be of some use for people thinking of buying this laptop. Feel free to ask any other questions you might have.

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Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Becoming an organized writer

I don't know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with organization. Sometimes I get it oh so right; at other times everything seems to fall apart.

Author Jeff AbbottAs a novice writer, I am slowly evolving a system that works for me, although I can't say I've arrived yet. Last week I stumbled across Jeff Abbott's blog, where he is tackling the whole question of organization for writers, and he's taking it way beyond the to outline or not to outline debate. This is a much more global question, encompassing the entire writing life and by extension, life management skills in general. Or at least that's where I think he's taking it.

I asked for and received a copy of Getting Things Done for my birthday, but have yet to implement it. I've stuck my nose in though, and it seems like his main ideas are what worked for me when I had my act together. Like having one central organizer where everything you have to remember is noted. Abbott, a bestselling author, says he breaks this rule a bit, in that he has two - one for writing and one for the rest of his life. So click on over and take a look, but before you go, tell me, how do you organize your writing and/or life? And how is that working for you? Anything you think you should be changing?

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Sunday, 7 December 2008

Ha! Yet more good news for your encouragement.

In a real-life scenario reminiscent of the movie Pay it Forward, secret Santas in disguise are descending on Kansas City and other locales, distributing $100 bills to people who are down on their luck. Their only request, that the recipients do something nice for someone else.

The Santas are honouring a legacy left by Kansas City businessman, Larry Stewart, who had been making the $100 giveaways for decades.
For the secret Santas, it's not about keeping Stewart's memory alive as much as the meaning behind his legacy.

"It's not about the man, it's not about the money, it's about the message," the Kansas City Santa said.

"Anyone can be a secret Santa with a kind word, gesture, a helping hand."

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Peaceful, orderly election in Africa

Election in GhanaSeeing as I'm on a bit of a good news roll right now, let's highlight today's election in Ghana. The fifth, peaceful orderly election in a row in that country. Turnout is expected to exceed the 85% achieved last time. (Yes, you read right. 85%)

Although my heart has frequently ached for Zimbabwe and Somalia, and some of the lesser known basket cases of Africa, Ghana shows us that Africans are quite capable of doing democracy right. And while we're at it, when is the last time you heard news about Gambia, Senegal, or Botswana? That's because they too, know how to do it right. And doing it right is so boring. Proof that boring can be very, very good.

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