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Iomega Minimax 200 Gig : first looks


I bit the bullet and ordered last Tuesday an Iomega minimax from the Apple Belgium store. They have a special discount running till the end of this year where you buy the 200GB for the same price (199 €) as the 160 GB.

As a strange aside, the Iomega Europe site does not sell the 200GB anymore, only the 250 GB so my guess this is one or other Apple deal with them to get rid of some overstock ?

It arrived the Friday morning, and I have since installed it after reorganising my desk. It fits very nicely under my Mac Mini and is fast enough. It connects via an ultra-short firewire cable that is delivered with it. However, the fan generates more noise (when it activates, which does not take long when you use it) than the Mac Mini itself.

At first I was going to boot from it using the firewire link between them, but I’ve come to enormously appreciate the (almost) silence from the Mac Mini, so I am going to try to keep on using the Mac Mini as initial boot drive and put all my backups and large files (like Garageband, iPhoto and iDVD projects) on the Minimax drive.

Blog News Hardware

Got me a Mac Mini

Mac Mini

I just bought myself a Mac mini (1.2 Ghz, 265Mb RAM, 40 Gig HD) for 399€ in the MediaMarkt. They have them on sale as they are clearing their old stock out. Actually I am not so sure that they are going to buy new mac’s at all.

This was going to be a headless server box, but it is sooo much snappier than my powerbook.
Well, after my do-it-your-self-upgrade to 1 Gigabyte RAM, that is (I ordered it online from Otherwise it crawls along if you open more than 2 apps, due to Apple’s decision at the time to give the minimum amount of memory OS X could run on.

I am planning on buying a 200 Gb Iomega external firewire disk ‘minimax’ to complement it and have set it up to on my KVM switch.

My Mac powerbook (G4 867Mhz, 768 MB Ram, 40 Gig) was bought almost 2,5 years ago. I use it for all my email and photo’s and homevideo factory, but it is getting a bit long in the tooth to run the latest mac applications like Garageband, iMovie and iDVD which all seem to expect gigabytes of RAM, a fast disk and at least a 1Ghz CPU. And as for games, I can forget playing those that came out the last year or so.

As an aside, the gaming scene on the mac is seriously handicapped : only the most lucrative games are ported to the Mac, and you always have to wait 3 to 6 months for them to arrive (one exception : World of Warcraft !).
So I continued playing the latest games on my pc (Half-Life 2 and recently Guild Wars) and I even upgraded my graphic card to a Radeon 9800 SE which, while not the very latest card, still allows me play all of the games I want playing. With 2 kids, I don’t exactly have lots of free time anymore…

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PlayStation !

This Sunday morning I went to a ‘brocante’, or as most people know it : a flea market. The weather was not too shabby, the sun was shining, a coldish breeze played around us as a gentle reminder that summer is over.
In short, it was one of those days where you top of your internal batteries, ready for the winter that is coming.

I did not intend to buy anything except maybe a small toy or so for Sam and/or Tom, but I stumbled over a PlayStation one game console that sold for 40 euros. It was in an original PlayStation bag, and came with everything you needed to set it up, owners manual included.

PlayStation one consoles must be on the way out, I guess. There are lots of games and consoles for sale right now… I thought, it’ll do nicely for the kids.

After some haggling, I got the whole kit for 30 euros, games included, and I probably still overpaid 🙂 as a bit further they were selling PSone consoles (the small kind) for 20 euros, but without any cabling or joysticks.

Tom, our eldest at almost four, had previously seen some older kids playing PlayStation 2 games, and adored just watching them play, particulary the Dinosaur game. I found that one game as well on the market, and bought it for just 5 euros. Probably about one tenth of the price it costed originally !

Back home, I showed the Dinosaur game to Tom – he was totally delighted ! He is eagerly trying to learn how to play and move the little monkey around – his favourite character at the moment. Words like ‘up’ and ‘down’ are getting to have a whole new meaning for him.

The only thing still needed was a memory card to save his progress – the only thing missing.


TomTom 5 for PDAs ?

Where, oh where is TomTom5 for PDA’s ? It’s available for mobile phones, and was supposed to be available May 2005.

You might remember that I talked in a previous post about buying a HP iPAQ hx2410 as the first part of my mobile gps solution.

The second part would be a TomTom5 bluetooth gps solution. However, it is now the 12th of May, and there is still no TomTom5 solution available from their website.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.


Akono HB-300 Bluetooth Headset (2)

I’ve now used the Akono HBH-300 bluetooth headset for several months, time for an update. You may recall that I was not undividedly happy about it.

Recently I have paired the headset with my iPAQ and with my G4 Powerbook – both connections were made without a problem. Listening to a Donna Summer mp3 is entirely possible, should you want to, but the quality piped into your ear is not very great. Still, you have to remember the headset was made for phone conversations, not high-fidelity music.
I’m just happy that it works, this means that if and when I buy and install TomTom5+GPS in my car I can listen to the directions via the headset. Should save me some trouble when Dolores and Tom are singing songs in the car 🙂 .

Another thing that bugged me was the fact that I could not turn the headset off. It’s probably me not RTFM, but you just have to press (and hold!) the ‘accept’ button for a couple of seconds and it will beep once and turn itself off. Same thing turns it on again. Duh, really.

While I previously thought it could not be done, I’ve found out that when I initiate the call, I can choose wether I want to send it to the headset or not. However, when calls are made to my phone, they go directly to my headset, even when I press ‘accept’ on my phone.

As to the connection losses I’ve experienced before, I’ve not used it a lot outside anymore. In buildings or vehicles everything works fine, quality is fine.

Update : I found the setting on my phone that asks me each time how I want the call set up. Finally !


Dead Pixel Problem & HP online support

I just noticed that my iPaq has two dead pixels. They are left of the screen, not really centered and not really visible unless you open up media player with it’s black background – then you see them. One is colored red, the other one is colored blue.

As this is a newly bought handheld, I first went to the shop to see if I could exchange it. No luck, they stated (correctly, from reading the docs) that I would need to contact HP support as they handle al after-sales support.

No, I didn’t buy it in the Fnac, or else I would have been able to exchange it for another due to their standard exchange policy. Bweuh.

So I went to the HP support webpages, and selected the online chat support system, which first collects information from your pc (only those parts that you want help with, in this case Active Sync and the model and serial number of my iPaq).

I then had 3 support people (all with Indian names, but that doesn’t really matter, just that I am not used to seeing people with names longer than mine) ‘analysing my situation’, asking me to wait while they did this.

I think this is a standard message they have in the copy/paste buffer, as all I asked was ‘What are your support policies regarding the return of a handheld with 2 dead pixels ?’.

The first support person asked me how ‘big’ the dead pixels were – uuuumm, 1 pixel big ? Duh.
The second didn’t add anything, and the third person referred me to my HP local after-sales telephone support.
So I’ll give them a call come Monday, see what they have to say.

Update :
I called HP Support Belgium on Monday – in the end, they told me that they could not take it in for replacement. They only do iPaq replacements if there is more than 1 dead pixel (I am not sure how many dead pixels you need to qualify, more than 2 I think), and the pixels are totally dead (aka they show up as white-colored).

He explained to me that each pixel is made up out of 3 sub-pixels : red, green and blue, like a RGB-monitor, same principle, and that the fact that I had 2 dead subpixels did not qualify me for an iPaq replacement.

It is only really viewable on a black background, so I am not too bothered about it. Still, it’ll teach me for not checking the screen out before buying it. Kudos for the guy in HP Phone Support – he at least knew what he was talking about.


HP iPaq hx2410

I finally succumbed to my craving and bought myself the HP iPaq handheld.

It’s the hx2410, which has an Intel PXA270 processor (520Mhz) with integrated wi-fi (802.11b) and bluetooth connectivity. I had been planning to buy the rx3715 with a built-in camera and slightly more memory, but in the end I opted for the faster processor, since I already have a digital photo camera, and I hope that with the faster CPU it will last much longer with more demanding applications in the future.

It will be a part of a gps solution with TomTom 5 – which is coming out in May 2005.


iPod Shuffle update

After using the iPod earbuds for a time, perhaps half an hour, my right ear hurts. I’ve now switched to some Sony earbuds, (MDR-ED21LP for the connaisseurs) as I heard some good stuff about them, but I think I prefer my old Philips ones more – however, they are attached to my previous 128Mb mp3 player.

No complaining about the iPod Shuffle itself though, it works very well, and controlling it is intuitive. Most of the time, it is set to Shuffle mode.


LinkSys Router WRT54G

Today I finally bought myself a LinkSys WRT54G router (the company is now owned by Cisco), to replace my aging Belkin wirelles router, which could only do 802.11b (which means 11Mbps). This new router can do wireless speeds up to 54 Mbps using 802.11g.

I’ve heard great things about the router, especially in combination with 3rd party firmware upgrades. I’ll be checking that out in the near future.

I have bought the very latest V3 of the WRT54G which also has the official V3 linksys firmware installed (3.03.1) – none of the 3rd party websites even mention V3 of the firmware or hardware !! So for now I’ll wait a bit and start reading up on the different firmwares and their capabilities and compare them to the factiry firmware installed.

So far, it seems that LinkSys has incorporated quite a few of the ‘hacks’ that were doing the rounds, like the ‘ping’ hack I read on the sveasoft support forum.

After a small struggle to follow the superduper friendly installation wizard, which assumes you are doing this for the very first time, I closed it. Kudos to the wizard for finding out I was cheating though – it correctly identified that I had already connected the router to the pc and the cable modem.

As I was not installing a router for the first time but rather replacing it, I figured I could handle it and went through the setup manually. This worked better than the wizard, in just a few minutes my net connection was back up.

Now I’m going to try for the difficult part – setting up the wireless network with encryption. Always fun with an apple computer which just has to have it’s wep keys entered differently than others …

Update : that was easy ! For the mac lovers out there, connect via a (wired) pc/mac to the router’s interface, activate wireless security, choose WPA Shared key (TKIP, and not AES) and type in your secret phrase. On the mac, you don’t get a choice, just WPA personal. Type in the exact same phrase, clicking ‘add to keychain’. That’s it, surf’s up !!


Do the iPod Shuffle

Since I’ve been buying songs from iTunes for a while now, I’ve started looking for a player that can directly play AAC protected songs, instead of writing them to cd’s and then re-ripping them (and in the process probably loosing some quality). I still write them to cd’s, but that’s only for backup.

My previous mp3 player, a Philips 128Mbyte one, can only play regular mp3’s, and the interaction with iTunes was not good – I had several crashes of iTunes and even my powerbook completely, so I did not update regularly.

Yesterday in the Fnac in Brussels I stumbled over the 1 Gigabyte iPod Shuffle – there were only a few left @ 149 euros. It is perfect for my needs. I don’t need a full iPod device, I carry my laptop around with me practically everywhere, but for those times without it, it would be nice to be able to play those songs that I’ve bought.
It’s a mite expensive for a player without a display, though. For the same price you could buy a similar 1 Gig mp3 player with lcd display, but that again won’t play aac tracks.

Filling it up as we speak – quality is quite good, except that I miss the extra bass that the Philips put in.