With the missus getting increasingly addicted to Guild Wars, it’s been getting harder and harder to get on my PC of an evening.  Accordingly, I have treated myself to a new toy – an Acer laptop.

The specs are reasonable, although I could have lived without Vista.  It’s taken me almost a full week to beat the thing into submission – it’s amazing how irritating Vista is when you’ve used a grown-up operating system like Ubuntu for a while.  Actually, that’s the next step – dual-boot the thing, with Vista for games (and Blu-ray playback) and Ubuntu for actually getting things done.

One thing I’ve noticed about the specifications, actually: it’s fitted with an ATI Radeon Mobility 3470 chipset, but CPU/Z shows it as a 3450.  I’m assuming this is an artifact related to the fact that I removed the crippled drivers provided by Acer and replaced them with hacked desktop drivers based around the latest Catalyst version.  The new drivers work fine – and with the performance of a 3470 – but display as a 3450.  Strange.

All complaints – and between Vista and some of the stupid things Acer has done, there’ve been a few – aside, it’s a reasonable new laptop, and it only set me back £470.

Oh, and in honour of its status in the house it’s been christened TOYBOX – after the debris recovery vessel from Planetes.

In a brave attempt to rid myself of some of the cruft I’ve gathered over the years, I’ve recently had a somewhat brutal clearout.  As well as all the rubbish that I’ve collected, I’m planning to get rid of the vast majority of my old gaming equipment – including my beloved Commodore C64 collection.

Accordingly, I’ve put a page on this ‘ere site called – surprisingly – For Sale, which contains – again, surprisingly – a list of all the items I’ve catalogued.  The page will be updated just as frequently as I can bring myself to, with the easier-to-catalogue stuff getting added first – which means that the C64 with its two large boxes filled with games will likely be last.

If you’re interested in any of the items you see, make me an offer either via e-mail or through the comment link on the page.

I’ve been on a massive clearout session of my old computing stuff with a view to finally decluttering my life after twenty-some years of being an unrepentant hoarder, and I spotted an old brochure lying in the bottom of a box.

Just think – for under £3,000 you can get an ‘ultimate games machine’ with a Pentium 200MHz CPU, 32MB of RAM, and a whole 3GB of hard-drive space!

Let’s compare to my mobile phone shall we?  ARM 266MHz, 16GB of usable space, 64MB of RAM…

I wouldn’t mind, but this was only 1996…

riscpc_recovered_small (12KB image)Well, I couldn’t wait until Sunday – so I’ve pieced the RiscPC back together and fired it up…

And it works absolutely perfectly. Turns out it’s actually a Zip 250, which is nice – and all the insides work splendidly. The keyboard I recovered at the same time is shot, sadly, but it’s just a standard PS/2 unit and will be simple to replace.

All it needs now is a clean and tidy and it’ll be as good as new. Not bad for something that was going to end up polluting some landfill site somewhere…

riscpcsmall (20k image)Walking home through the business park where my current day job is located the other day, I spied a skip with a rather interesting device sticking out of the top – an Acorn RiscPC. A nice one, too – a double slice unit.

Further inspection revealed an Iomega Zip 100 drive, a 52x CD-ROM, and a 1.44MB floppy. And it was in mint condition, aside from being in a skip and covered in four days worth of rain. Have you guessed where this story is heading yet?

That’s right – I’m now the proud owner of a RiscPC with 16MB RAM, a 20GB hard drive, and all the extras mentioned above. The only snag is that I’m not sure if it actually works yet – I daren’t turn the thing on until I’m absolutely sure that it’s all dried out. With any luck – and judicious use of a dehumidifier – I should be able to fire the puppy up on Sunday.

It’s amazing what people throw out, really.

I finally got around to recording just how long my Eee PC 701 lasts for under normal usage.

EeePC 701 Power History (23k image)
That’s with almost minimum brightness, playing music and browsing the ‘net. It’s not the greatest battery life ever, but pretty impressive for the size.

To be fair, I shut the system down when the battery light started to flash. The version of Unbuntu I have installed doesn’t read the battery life properly – despite reporting 28%, there was probably only about 10% left. I know that //last// time I left it running, expecting auto-shutdown, it ran out of juice and crashed hard.