Thursday, September 24, 2009

Have you seen this? Smaller than even the smallest of the lap-tops, it's usually referred to as a notebook computer. This is the 'Aspire One' and it's made by Acer. This particular model costs about $400, thanks to its larger hard drive -- 141 GB -- and a high capacity battery. The usual price is about a hundred dollars less. It has an Ethernet port -- the one that looks like a big telephone jack -- three USB ports, an SD port for memory sticks and an outlet for a high-density video monitor. Plug in a DVD drive, an auxiliary keyboard and a flat-screen display, it will make a fair-to-middlen' desk-top. Wireless is built-in, as is a high definition camera, making it a handy-sized package for people who may need to do some computing on the go.

The Aspire One weighs two pounds fourteen ounces with the battery pack accounting for about twelve ounces of that. Acer does not provide a carrying case but there are a number of them available from the size of a back-packs to a simple envelope made of wet-suit material costing about ten bucks. Compared to a regular lap-top such as the eight and a half pound HP Pavilion shown below, the Aspire One is a dwarf.

The little Acer allows me to convert otherwise wasted time into something useful, thanks to DeltaCAD and AbiWord. I've already told you about DeltaCAD so allow me to introduce you to AbiWord, a free word processor that actually works. The Acer comes with some Microsoft software but it turns out to be teaser-ware, since it turns itself off unless you cough up some dough at some future date. Having no faith at all in Billy and his merry band of hapless programmers, even before I bought the Acer I started looking for something to use instead of the Microsoft software. Seriously, for writing I'm still running Word Perfect on my other computers. I was willing (and able) to pay for decent software but almost everything I tried appeared to have been written by children or failed to pass my quest for practicality. Which made AbiWord a delightful surprise. Not only is it well written, it's free, with no strings attached... so far.

Having cancer means spending a lot of time in doctor's offices. Not only does that mean a lot of time traveling too and fro, once you've arrived (always fifteen minutes early, as requested) you'll find that physicians have a bit of trouble reading a clock. I've never been an especially patient person and find I'm even less so now that I've been diagnosed with cancer. I find it rather ironic that the people who are trying to prolong my life appear unconcerned with chopping great chunks out of it.



Pull up the other comments you will see that Joseph and others have already caught my spelling error. Truth is, it's a sprawly kind of house, the Acer was in the bedroom and I wasn't. 'nuff said.

I received several private messages. I assume they took the trouble because they wanted it to be private so let's keep it that way. But on the whole, most of the private posts were about prices, present or about to become public which had me scratching my head because I'd already bought the thing. Ditto for some pricing info on chip, SD sticks and so forth. Couple of hacks . But the really BIG SURPRISE was in not receiving any. Usually, you buy something with a CPU inside you can count on several messages about how to make it do tricks. This time was nada. I'll let you figure out what that means.

Overall, the palm-top has proven to be well worth the price. No sense in me telling you why it's useful... sorta like trying to sell computers in the '70's. If the customer doesn't already have an application that needs to be computerized then you can't sell them one to do their taxes or whatever... computers define their own applications, not the other way around. Mostly, I like it; it has proved handier than I thought.