[aarontech] look at this post I did on netbooks to freedom scientific! Warning! It! Is! Looong! And! spammyyy!!!

  • From: "Valiant8086" <valiant8086@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <aarontech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2008 23:06:31 -0500

here goes, sent this overview of my view of netbooks to a guy at fs a while 
ago, had too much time on my recliner, but figured I'd might as well send the 
product of all that typing somewhere else too..

On tigerdirect.com, the 901 is the same price as the 904. exact same price 349 
dollars. The other difference is the 904's 160gb hard drive as apose to the 
901's 12 gb solid state drive. Should note the 904 is pretty fast, it boots up 
very quickly and reboots from ready to go to ready to go in a snap. It's verry 
un-netbook-like. I'm not sure what's involved but in some ways it out-performs 
my sony vaio, which is a core2duo 1.6ghz with the same size hard drive. And of 
course it runs laps around the vaio in all counts if the vaio happens to be 
running vista, which I generally boot up into xp so I'll skip that. Can't feel 
the asus 904's hard drive spinning, absolutely no way to tell if it's turned on 
or not as it generally doesn't need the fan either. that is, no way unless you 
have a hearing aid or two that have a t-coil, where you can turn t-coil and get 
your head up close  to listen for electromagnetic interfeerance from the cpu 
and such. 

I had the acer aspire 1 with the 120gb hard drive and the 3 cell battery. Same 
shelf price as this asus but only 3 cells as apose to 6, and the acer's hard 
drive vibrates a bit, and you can feel it kinda bump a little when you're 
booting it up or what ever and the hard drive's going all over the place. plus 
of course jaws wouldn't register properly on the acer. I tried everything. I 
couldn't hibernate on the acer as it would cause jaws to lose video and it kept 
coming unregistered. I tried to figure out what made the hardware ID change, 
but found it just randomly change, even  while it were sitting still on a desk, 
with me doing nothing but running jaws enough to go check about for the lockin 
code, pressing escape, and going back to that again without doing anything 
else. I discovered the lockin code would change from time to time by just doing 
that. I was totally unable to figure out what it was doing to cause the lockin 
code to change.. I did notice the number only changed between two different 
numbers. I tried hard to register both lockin codes, but it didn't work that 
way. What ever I did just got me nowhere. So I just took it back, and i'm glad 
I did, i'm much better off now, even if I discount  the jaws issues.

I definitely prefer this asus. It's somehow faster, even with the same specs 
except a 40gb larger hard drive for the exact same price. I did get to look at 
an hp minny the other day, but was on a tight time schedule so didn't get to 
play with it any. It's keys really are very neatly done. If anything It struck 
me that they might actually be bigger than the keys on my sony vaio, which has 
a 13.1inch screen and weighs 5 pounds. I can't wait to go back and run a screen 
reader on that hp minny to see how it stacks up against the other ones I've 
tried. The asus's keyboard is a bit of a challenge, primarily in that it's 
right shift key is placed to the right of up arrow, and thus above the right 
arrow key. It's a small normal sized button just the same size as the up arrow 
key. I of course tend to hit up arrow+A for capital A  instead of right 
shift+a. I'm getting better at it though, just have to stretch the right pinky 
finger a bit more. Acer did a better job in that respect in that they gave a 
regular shift key, and squished the arrow keys in where they're supposed to be 
by dropping them down into a cut out square like, so they hang down from the 
bottom of the keyboard if that makes sence, and those arrow buttons are very 
small. Makes playing topspeed sort of difficult but it was better than missing 
right shift key all the time.

You didn't ask for a gnovel in fact you didn't ask for anything but ah well 
I've got the time.

I wouldn't grab one with only a 3 or 4 cell battery, as the whole point of my 
netbook is the amazing battery life, up to 7.2 hours on only a 6 cell battery, 
in a snazzy looking package that's easy to chuck, yes I said chuck, into my 
backpack, and looks nice with my brailliant32 sitting right up against the palm 
rest with no cables strung all over god's creation. that actuaally is a huge 
plus, the palm rest  being smaller lets the braille display's cells get closer 
to the keyboard. That and the brailliant 32's support for running upside down, 
so the braille cells are closer to the laptop that way.

One other point is I bought this really small bluetooth USB adapter that is so 
tiny it only sticks out of the USB port about a quarter inch. I'm comfortable 
leaving that in there and shoving this netbook into my backpack such that it 
sits down right on top of that adapter. I'm not worried about it breaking, it 
doesn't stick out far enough to get enough leverage to have anything done to 
it. That, and it only cost 29 dollars, from office depot. Heh office depot is 
selling the acer netbook and the hp minny too, out of interest. The one from 
office depot is pretty accessible. The bluetooth adapter I mean. I snagged some 
stuff from mom's cell phone with it, and set up a bluetooth headset I bought. 
Then I set power options on the netbook so that it won't shut off when I close 
the lid. The headset has some basic media buttons. When I want to listen to fs 
cast or blindcooltech.com or some other random podcast, I can just turn that 
headset on, it beeps at me (got it from AT&T store fyi, and it shows up on the 
netbook as a new sound card. Jaws switches along with windows automatically to 
the USB headset, I close the lid and tuck the netbook under my arm, or what 
ever. if I put it on max battery and set the super power engine thing to power 
saver the processor only runs at 621mhz, makeing a situation where I sincerely 
believe I could stuff it in a backpack and zip it up air tight, and not cause 
the netbook to get too hot. Plus if the lid is shut the screen is off, that 
saves about 20 to 30 minutes of battery power. Doing that you can listen to 
podcasts for nearly 7 hours, and that's the closer to 7 hours than 6. Don't 
forget to turn wireless off, that'll give another 30 minutes. Oh and you can 
turn the camera off too, and the touch pad. I hate touch pads. I haven't 
figured out a keystroke to toggle touch pad yet, the acer does have a keystroke 
to do this. With the asus you have to go into the mouse dialogue box in control 
pannel and press a button on the last tab in that multi-paged dialogue.

Ok how was that, you had to take a vacation to read that email.

That's what I do, experiment with stuff and am glad to tell everyone what I 
think about it afterwards. That's one reason I'm on the jaws beta testing 

Oh one thing, since we're talking abobut brailliant 32, and useing it with 
bluetooth on the netbook and how convenient it is.
I ran into a problem with it that would be so sweet if we could resolve. The 
brailliant 32 uses an emulated cereal port, either way you connect it, be that 
bluetooth USB or a real physical cereal port. So  when I installed the 
brailliant's drivers into jaws I selected com 11, which was the port that the 
bluetooth manager told me to use when I wanted to instruct my software to 
connect to that bluetooth device. It works fine but when I'm in class listening 
to my teacher and useing the netbook and the display to take notes quietly 
without the need for headphones. Let's deviate for just a minute, I generally 
used headphones but that results in my having to try to listen to both the 
teacher and the computer through the headphones. I've got hearing aids and have 
to fiddle with switches in order to be able to hear either the teacher or the 
computer. It's possible to listen to the headphones and the teacher both at 
once, but one typically drowns out the other so someone's not going to be 
understood. This makes the 3000 dollar brailliant32 a rather convenient 
addition to my backpack.
So back on track again, my netbook would be set on max battery, we want to save 
as much battery as possible, and you don't notice the latency you get by 
running at only 621mhz through braille. You can painfully hear it with speech, 
but braille just hopps marily along and doesn't much care about that stuff. So 
on max battery, the netbook was by default set to go on stand by after 2 
minutes. this is good, if the teacher's yapping about something I don't need to 
type into my notes I don't need to eat some of that precious battery power. The 
problem is, when we hibernate, brailliant 32 loses connection to bluetooth, and 
up comes the brailliant's menu, where you can read status and configure your 
connection type and such. not a big deal. Until you try to bring the netbook 
back up to resume typeing into your notes. Brailliant continues to display it's 
status menu, and you don't have speech since you muted sound. You have to 
blindly kill jaws with insert+f4, enter, then you have to go to run, and run 
jaws 100. Jaws will pick the brailliant's connection up and things are fine, 
until you go into stand by again. I think jaws really needs to be able to 
re-connect my brailliant when I wake back up. The drivers are provided by 
humanware themselves but I'm not sure it's their drivers only that come into 
play with this limitation. Could jaws somehow repeatedly ask for a braille 
display while it runs without hurting performance any? Just say hey any braille 
displays out there? Oh hi brailliant, welcome on! That would be brailliant, er, 
I mean brilliant. Because right now it takes a pretty lucky chance to be able 
to re-connect your braille while in the middle of class, or you can turn speech 
on and have jaws (I'll quote Jonathan's FS-Cast way of saying this "babbling 
on") and interrupt the teacher, and the students go "wo that thing is talking!" 
"Jees I can't understand it!" and all that. It's a general pain in the (insert 
word of choice here). My solution was set my lovely netbook's max battery power 
scheme to never go on stand by, just turn hard drive and screen off at 1 
minute, and never hibernate either. This seams to work but heh just wanted to 
point the issue out, is there a way to break that problem?

Hmm I seriously need to shut up and go to bed.

Knight, and talk to you later.

aaron T. Spears

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