Category Archives: Hardware

New laptop, twice the fun

Apart from the cluster and the other dozen of computers at home, I got my last work horse in 2003, an Inspiron 5160 from Dell.

The thing was expensive, badly designed (it spent three months in service, one for each new motherboard it required until I clipped the insides of the case to stop it ripping the board apart) and lived miserably until a couple of years ago when I stopped using it. Before that I even tried to upgrade it a bit with more memory and a new hard disk, but finally the external wifi card failed and I didn’t bother getting a new one (a few Eee PCs replaced it, thank you very much).

But now the Colmenar is working, Visual Studio 2010 has a good number of nice features, and after a few months thinking I decided to get a new laptop. I got an HP ProBook 6550b, and I am liking it nearly as much as the Eee PC.

It came with Windows 7 64 bits, and a sledge of applications that I didn’t want, so after a few hours trying to remove them I wiped the disk and installed Ubuntu instead. The setup was fast and detected everything but the finger print scanner (which I don’t care).

After installing VirtualBox I went for Windows, and found that the disk that came with the machine had a 32 bits version instead of 64. I imagine that I could have called the guys in HP, but it is not a big deal (as other .NET people are doing, I wonder how longer will I stay in the lands of Uncle Bill) and the setup of Windows 7 32 bits in Virtual box worked without flaws. Visual Studio, SQL 2008 and the usual suspects went in without protests, and now I finally have a machine where I can run Python and mySQL on their natural neighborhood, as well as doing C# as fast as usual in Visual Studio.

The only point a bit annoying is that on the first boot, when Windows asked for my details, some of the dozen weird applications wrote the BIOS with a username and password related to the Mickey Mouse network I said I was using. After wiping everything, when I accessed the BIOS setup to change some details for virtualization, I found that those user details were used and now I can not change them. I didn’t spend too much time investigating, but I guess that I will be in trouble if I want to do a BIOS upgrade, but I think that it will not be another period of seven years until the next laptop. Hopefully, that upgrade will never be required.

All in all I am very happy with the ProBook, it is solid, good looking, the keyboard is surprisingly good for a laptop (I am writing this on it, even than the Natural Keyboard 4000 is my interface with the processor), and the screen is great.

Now, the only bit missing is to do some real programming :)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Project Colmenar

I have a few computers at home, working as servers. They are five Pentium III, running Windows 2000 and 2003. Apart from installing new disks and cleaning three times a year, I didn’t do any hardware upgrade on them (excepting the disks, I spent less than 200 euros for the whole setup), and they are really lacking memory to work as I would like, but they were OK for a few years.

The problem now is that I noticed that the temperature is increasing in the cabinet where I keep them, and their noise is louder. Given than I don’t like the idea of a fire (and I am tired of the maintenance chores required to keep everything working) I end up having only the mail server working full time, and I don’t like that either.

I was thinking of getting a new desktop machine with enough memory to virtualize the servers, but really I would need two of them and that would end up costing around 2000 euros, and the electricity that new machines require.

While pondering those issues (and after getting the Eee PC and falling in love with this little machine), I saw the new Intel “Little Falls” motherboard, which includes an Atom processor and is reasonably efficient with power consumption (I guess that in two or three years it will look absurdly inefficient, but I don’t want to wait that time without my servers back on line).

I will get a few of this motherboards and stuck them in an ad-hoc rig. That will be my Project Colmenar (Beehive in  English, but I like the Spanish word).

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather