RANDOM REVIEW REVISITED – HP Mini 1000

I have owned my HP Mini 1000 netbook for just over seven months now, and it seems like as good a time as any to discuss my experience so far.

The original review can be read here.

WAS I A BETA TESTER?

It would appear that HP has corrected most, if not all, of the gripes that I had with my netbook.  Newer models of the HP Mini 1000 now have three USB ports, a standard VGA output, and I believe the whole “Mobile Mini Drive” malarkey has been done away with as well.  Big thumbs-up to HP for making those fixes, but they won’t be doing ME a whole lot of good anytime soon!

ITS SO SMALL AND KYOOT!

For all the press and hype, I don’t think Netbooks have become commonplace as of yet (not in San Antonio, anyway).  I have personally only seen two other Netbooks “in the wild” myself, and my Mini garners the occasional stare when I am out and about with it.  This usually leads into what has quickly become a prepared speech on the pros and cons of owning a Netbook.

Every so often I will get an “OMG ITS SO CUUUUTE!” from a woman, but I have yet to get any significant part of that attention thrown my way.  *sigh*

CRASH BANG BOOM!

Its as inevitable as the tides; you WILL eventually drop your portable computer at some point in time.  It happened to me in June, the Mini fell off of a countertop and the side smacked into a chair on the way down.  Needless to say, I freaked out.  Luckily, there appears to be no permanent damage, save for a nice dent in the speaker grille …so maybe NOW its not so cute!  As a consequence, the battery now has a tendency to fall out at random times, but it wasn’t nothing a little electrical tape could’t fix!

WHAT A DIFFERENCE AN OS MAKES

I was intrigued by the thought of installing Windows Vista on my Netbook at first.  Despite the optimizations and upgrades I had made to the Mini, Windows XP would still grunt and groan when running on the Mini’s modest hardware.  I did some research and found a few reports saying that installing Windows Vista on a Netbook was an excercise in futility, and having had my own bad experiences running Vista on underpowered hardware, I decided not to try.

Meanwhile, the computing press was busy gushing over the Windows 7
beta, and I became intrigued again.  On the surface, it sounded like madness: a newer version of a Microsoft operating system running better than the older one on underpowered hardware?  Unpossible!

Actually it was VERY possible!  I installed Windows 7 and the Mini felt much more responsive than it ever was under XP.  The Aero effects work just fine despite Intel’s nearly-worthless graphics hardware, and tethering my smartphone to get on the Internet when I’m “off the grid” works without any intervention on my part.  When Microsoft offered a discount on Windows 7 back in July, I jumped on it.  I installed Home Premium and I have been very happy with it.

The Mini was pretty good with Windows XP, but it’s GREAT with Windows 7.

ULTRA-PORTABLE BLISS

I have found my netbook to be a great portable computer; it has enough power to do everything I need it to do when on the road, and upgrading the RAM to 2GB made Windows happy.  I wish the battery life could be a bit longer, but except for that little gripe, I consider my HP Mini 1000 to have been a good purchase.

I would encourage anyone who needs a ultra-portable computer for basic tasks to look into purchasing a Netbook.  The price is right, the performance is good, and the portability is great…just be sure you test out the keyboard first!

NOTE: The author received no compensation for this review.

The Night The Nueces Flowed Upstream

Oct 20 1984, AP News Article

Oct 20 1984, UPI News Article

U.S. Geological Survey Report: “Odem Flood”

It was 25 years ago.  In my hometown of Odem, Texas somewhere between eighteen and twenty-five  inches of rain fell in a matter of hours.  To this day, it is simply referred to as “The Flood,” and nearly every Odemite I have ever spoken to still has memories of that night.

The memories I have of that night are those of a child.  Two months prior, I had turned eleven years old, and a month after that, I started the sixth grade.  The playgrounds of elementary school were gone, and the steady march to becoming a teenager had begun in earnest.

I remember Tia Maria was in town visiting us, as she would do every so often.  It was a Friday; and the skies getting dark as the evening progressed.  The rain was welcomed at first, because we were in a bad drought.  I remember wading through my backyard in waist-deep water to get to an aunt’s house, where we would stay the night.  The power went out at one point, I remember a bottle of cologne being used as an improvised  lamp.  The water rose to the steps of my aunt’s house; some parts of the floor were wet.

I remember waking up late, my parents had already gone to the house.  The power was back, I was told I had to stay at my aunt’s house, so I watched the Smurfs with one of my cousins.  Once I got home, I saw the line on the walls where the water had been.  My brother and I slept in bunk beds at the time, I was on the bottom bunk and my bed had been ruined by the water.  My mother was upset, we had lost nearly all of our pictures, I remember stacks of ruined Polaroids; seeing rainbows of plasticky color where family memories had once been.  Dad had already pulled out the carpet from the living room, he was not upset, instead he was very busy around the house, and talking on the telephone.

I remember throwing out stacks of wet magazines, and wondering if my collection of Atari 2600 cartridges would still work.  I remember the truck from the Red Cross that went through our neighborhood that evening, and going out to the curb to pick up peanut butter sandwiches and lemonade.  I remember hearing about the bus full of kids that got stuck and the man down the street that had to make a hole in the ceiling and roof of his house to get his family out.

The furniture and carpet would eventually be replaced, the house repaired and life would return to normal, but I doubt that anyone who lived through it will ever forget that night.  Even though my own memories are the scattered remembrances of an eleven-year old, I know I won’t.

RealmsCon Day 1: In The Ghetto

Originally posted at J2GAMES.COM

First a disclaimer: I am from the Corpus Christi area.  Thus, my opinions are colored by the fact that I think Corpus Christi is a podunk town that only has only had one good thing come out of it, and that’s Whataburger.  I went to Realms-Con to preach the gospel of First Storm Manga and also out of curiosity to see what kind of con they could throw, especially after experiencing the uber-goodness that was San Japan.

It started out well enough on Friday morning.  First Storm Manga “Roadie” Javier and myself headed to the Holiday Inn Emerald Beach to set up shop.  I had expected a big hassle getting our badges because of the fun times I had running back and forth between the Municipal Auditorium and the Holiday Inn during the start of San Japan (YES I’M STILL BITTER).  The original plan was for us to use half of Chris’ table for FSM and the other half to sell his leftover stuff from San Japan.

First, we had to FIND the registration table.  This was made even more fun by the lack of signage.  As REAL men don’t ask for directions, we simply hung a left at the hotel’s front desk.  Walking down a hall, we saw some tables, and at the end, we found one with a “First Storm Manga” sign on it.  I was enthralled that we had our own dedicated table, but just a bit disappointed when I realized we had been placed at the ass end of the convention.  The only thing nearby was the video game room, which wasn’t even open yet.  My confidence would have been more inspired if it hadn’t been for the flickering fluorescent light over our table.  Great, I thought, I’ll be drained AND blind by the time this is all over.

But hey, a table was a table, and it would be all ours.

We still needed our badges, and so we headed back the way we came to find the registration desk.  As we walked around, we passed by Chris’ table, located right in front of the panel rooms in a high-traffic area.  Wow, isn’t he Mr. Cool.  We soon found the registration table OUTSIDE of the hotel.  I would later learn that they were forced outside to avoid a long line of people inside the hotel, which made sense, but at the time I remember thinking who could have thought that was a good idea.

Now for the fun part: “Hi, I’m Eduardo Soliz from First Storm Manga, and I am here to pick up our badges so I can set up our table.”  Now, technically, I was supposed to be under Chris’ table, but after seeing they had a table assigned to us, I logically reasoned that they would have badges set aside for us as well.  As the registration-gal flipped through the packs, I saw one with Chris’ name on it, which I hoped meant he would have an extra badge for his guest.  Much to my relief, I would later discover that was the case…once they figured out who he was, that is.

Badges around our necks, we headed back to the Reliant (my 2005 Dodge Neon) to get our wares and head over to our table “in the ghetto” as I would refer to it throughout the day.

Traffic was miserable at first, partially because of our location, partially because it was a school day, and partially because the video game room was running late getting set up.  The sign at the door that originally said “Open at 12:00” was quickly edited to read “12:15” then “12:30” then “12:50” and then was taken down.  We kept seeing the same people walk by over and over again as well as the occasional hotel guest walking to and from the pool.  Luckily, traffic picked up around four, once school let out, and except for a quick run to Subway and a trip to the hospital to visit some folks, the day was pretty uneventful.  We gave away almost all of our copies of Manga Madness, each with a copy of San Japanic! inside.

I kept wondering what was taking Chris so long, because he had told me he was going to be there at 3.  He showed up much later, but by that time, the other tables were closing down, so I figured we would do so as well.  We all rode in the Reliant to the two-story Whataburger By The Bay where we chowed down and discussed Saturday’s plans.

It was decided that we would move over to Chris’ table for the improved traffic, and so that we could peddle his wares (no free lunch and all that).  The move would turn out great in one way, and not-so-great in another…