Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our New Toy!

By Chuck
Well, I am as happy as a clam still in the ocean: I just got my 10.1" netbook! We did discuss whether or not we really needed two computers for the trip; but, it was a short discussion. I think Claire's “What on earth are you thinking?” got the point across immediately. I mean I hate to give up my own access when we can simply boot up another computer. Besides, we plan to only carry the 2.9 lb. netbook during our month in Egypt/Jordan, as we will be traveling as light as we can.

After several cursory attempts at research over several months, I finally decided on an ASUS Eee PC 1005HA. It got pretty decent reviews, corrected some deficiencies of earlier models – and I was running out of time. What corrections? Well, for one, the shift key is now “full” size, eliminating the annoying habit of pressing the wrong key on the 90% keyboard. Amazon charged $390 and provided free shipping. The memory upgrade to 2 GB was frequently recommended; so, for $25, I went for that, too. The clincher was the advertised 10.5 hour battery life!

The first challenge was to get Wireless working. You'd think I'd remember how to do this, since I have done it before. Actually, I did recall that I only needed to provide the WEP or WPA encryption key. It was quite straightforward after that.

Skype was the next thing I tackled. We have a loyal friend, Carol, who is unable to connect to us, visually – we see her; but, she cannot see us. The ASUS has a built-in webcam and mics, of course; but, I was afraid the configuration might be a problem. Skype was pre-loaded; so that was very cool; the audio and video tests checked out. So, I Skyped Mick and caught him reading in his backyard with his phone by his side; he agreed to accept a computer call and we had no problems – a welcome change from our other Skype experiences this week.

I also downloaded VLC media player to handle the movies that Tai so generously provided and that we plan to take to Egypt with us. After all, we might get bored with 3000 years of history, gorgeous scenery, and a combined Kindle arsenal of 2000 e-books – or not.

I did have problems setting up Sophos, our Anti-Virus software; but, that was my problem. I hate reading documentation, and the solution to a proper installation was in a separate text file that I blithely ignored in which the REAL username and password were provided. So, after foolishly fumbling around with hit and miss attempts, I finally got the damned x in the Sophos icon in the system tray to disappear and I was able to update the software.

Well, we had a long day. Up at 6am to begin getting ready for a trip to San Francisco with our granddaughter, Sarah, for a day at the California Academy of Sciences. This was her first trip as well as mine; Claire was our experienced guide – she had gone once before. I'd have to say the highlights were the scalper who sold us 3 tickets at a reduced price, the rainforest, the planetarium and the 3D bug show. The only downside was the $36 lunch. Sarah was as cooperative as any 8 year old can be, except for the devilish trick of putting V fingers behind my head for one of the candid photos back home when I won at "Pretty Pretty Princess." Retirement, as you may discern, is hell. ;-)

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