Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dell Inspiron N5050

I got my dell 3 weeks ago, and it's my first dell. Its also the first laptop to be bought over the net without first inspecting the laptop at a local showroom or reseller. And it's also going to be my last.

This is what RM1599 paid for
Inspiron 15 (N5050) Direct Base
U510808MY-Dell(TM) Inspiron(TM) 15 (N5050) Laptop
2nd generation Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-2330M processor 2.20 GHz
Discount is only valid if the corresponding upgraded item is selected above.
Limited time promotional offer only. No further discounts apply.
15.6" HD WLED True-Life (1366x768)
Dell Webcam Central Software
LCD Back Cover - Obsidian Black
Genuine Windows(R) 7 OS Label
Dell(TM) Welcome
Break the Seal Sticker
DataSafe Local Basic
APCC Info Mod
Direct Ship Info
Skype Software
Ebay Webslice
Energy Star Label
Energy Star Label (on shipment box)
My Dell Downloads
Dell(TM) Support Center
Stage Software - MusicStage
Stage Software - PhotoStage
Stage Software - VideoStage
Windows Live Software
Stage Software - Framework
Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 Series Processor Label
Adobe Reader X
SERI Document (English/ S-Chinese/ T-Chinese/ Japanese/ Korean)
3-in-1 Memory Card Reader: SD/MMC/MS
Internal 10/100 Fast Ethernet
Dell SyncUp Software
Dell Stage - Remote Control Application
Resource DVD
Inspiron N5050 System Driver
Enrico15 Placemat (English, Indonesia)
Integrated 0.3 mega pixel webcam
Driver for Dell Wireless Card 802.11b/g/n, BT3.0+HS
Me and My Dell
4GB (1 X 4GB) 1 DIMM DDR3 1333Mhz
320GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
12.7" SATA tray load DVD+/-RW
Roxio Creator Software
Power Cord (UK)
65W AC Adapter
6-cell Lithium Ion Battery
Shipment Box - Brown
Intel® HD Graphics 3000
Integrated Stereo Sound
Dell Wireless Card 802.11b/g/n, BT3.0+HS (MY)
Dell(TM) Chiclet Keyboard with Multi-touch Touchpad (English)
Genuine Windows(R) 7 Home Basic COA Label (SEA)
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Basic 64bit (English)
Windows 7 Microsoft Patch (Including SP1)
OS Media Kit Not Included
- Microsoft(R) Office Starter 2010: reduced-functionality Word & Excel w/ads. No PowerPoint or Outlook
Dell(TM) PC Restore Software
Cyberlink PowerDVD Software (DVDRW)
McAfee(R) Security Center(TM) (Multi-Language) - 15 Months Version
# Yr 1 Carry-In Service after Remote Diagnosis
# Yr 1 CIS Parts Exchange Service
For info only:1Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis
# 1yr Ltd HW Wrty, InHome Svce after Remote Diagnosis
# 1yr Parts Exchange Service
1 Year Standard Phone Support: Mon-Fri 0900-1800
1Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis
Regional Support Within Asia Pacific Countries For Laptops

It's an unnecessary long list of items to make you feel that you bought a house for RM1599. Personally I couldn't be bothered with the preinstalled software like cyberlink power dvd, mcafee and software by dell. I like by system trimmed, free from unwanted garbage. But for the system spec that I got, even with the unwanted garbage, it doesn't feel weight down, slow or sluggish. Except for the mcafee update part. Anyways, the summary of the N5050 hardware is as follows.

The number one reason why I got this dell is because it's cheap. At RM1599, it's a steal for a 15.6 inch display laptop powered by an intel i3 sandy bridge with 4GB of RAM.
And it's also 'cheap' cheap. Laptop feels cheap, with lots of hollow parts especially the keyboard which I disliked the most. Typing on the N5050 can be very noisy. This is all due to the design of the laptop itself.

Take a look at the back of the N5050 and you won't see any removable lids for the HDD or RAM. Instead you'll need to remove the screws at the back cover, flip the laptop around, lift the screen, and then very carefully pry the stainless steel finish only to be greeted with dell's patented anti DIY alarm of plastic snapping sound. It's a very mac way to build a laptop. Don't get me wrong, I like apple products, especially the iPhone, but if I wanted a mac, I would have bought one, instead of getting a dell. IBM clones are suppose to be DIY friendly. This is one of the biggest regret in getting this laptop. Future upgrades will be troublesome. And this is the biggest disappointment of the N5050. All these while I've never bought any PCs online, though I do scout for prospective PCs the final purchasing decision will be a physical examination of the product at local resellers. I should've done the same with this purchase as well.

Another thing about having the 'latest and greatest' hardware like this dell with an intel i3 2330M with built in HD3000 graphic processor on the same die, is the lack of support by non mainstream OSes, namely linux. Sure, the latest kernel 3 is suppose to have better compatibility with sandy bridge, but it's how the desktop integrates itself with the kernel to give the best user experience which matters most. The old ubuntu 10.10 that I'm currently using on my compaq proves to be obsolete on the dell. And being a linux convert, I did what I can to not rely on windows.

In my hunt for the perfect linux for the N5050, I've installed Fedora 16 64, Linux Mint 12 RC 64, Xubuntu 11.10 (assumed to be 32bit). I've avoided Ubuntu because of Unity. There are many other distros, but I stick to those that required the least compiling. Don't even need to access the terminal, all the better.

I couldn't get fredora 16 to detect the wifi card. Mint 12 rc has trouble accessing my wifi unless I unhide the ssid. Xubuntu 11.10 doesn't have the same problems as the earlier two, and since its based on ubuntu (which I've been using for months now), its very easy to get the hang of it. But there's one minor set back. Boot and shutdown time. Xubuntu 11.10 shutdown much slower then the older ubuntu 10.10, and out of curiosity, I also tested Win 7 (64 bit) and realized that Win 7 not only boots faster (1 second faster then Xubuntu) but also shutdown faster as well. The test is done on freshly installed OSes with their drivers updated. No additional 3rd party software installed on Win 7 (firewall, anti virus, etc)

If you have 2 minutes to spare, test video is right below.

After editing the video and posting them into this blog only has I realized one variable that I did not take into account. load time from login screen to desktop. Win 7 took its time from the login screen to the desktop while Xubuntu 11.10 felt almost instantaneous. I would have done a second round of testing with auto login into desktop but then abandoned the plan when xubuntu 'excellent' battery management has drained the battery dry when I left a 60% charged laptop unattended for 6-7 hours. That was never an issue with win 7 as it went into hibernate and still has 40% charge (from 50%) after being left unattended for the whole day (about 8 hours). As a desktop OS, i'll opt for Xubuntu anytime, or may even try the lighter ldxe version. But for better battery management, better hardware optimization, win7 is the only way to go, for now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Aging Ungracefully

My Neo has passed five, and signs of aging is starting to show, other then the badly faded paint. The engine is still running fine, it purrs while idling and whine when being pushed to the red line. Just like a brand new car.

The body however is a different story. Just this evening the rear passenger window almost dropped off as I accidentally knocked it form the inside while trying to fit a heavy duty trolley at the back seat. It's a good thing that it happened there and then. If it were to happen while I'm ferrying a passenger and he just so happens to rest his head on the glass, it could be fatal.

RM80 is what it cost to have the glass removed, and have the seal replaced. The foreman did warn beforehand that there is no guarantee that they won't accidentally break the glass while attempting to remove it as the adhesive on some part of the glass is still strong, and its that little bit of adhesive that prevents the glass from dropping off during the journey to the windscreen repair workshop.

The other side is starting to peel too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

No Rants

From now on you won't get any annoying rants from my blog into facebook.

unless I click the "share in facebook" button below.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Surprise Butt Seks

My car is a whore. Just slightly over a month since the previous accident, my car has been rear ended AGAIN! Should've seen it coming. In fact I did see the kenari from the rear view mirror gliding, barely slowing down for 50 meters before impact. At that point I was debating against myself should I just run the red light to save my car or stay put and do the right thing. Before I could chuck in the first gear, the traffic in font of me has decided for me by crossing my path.

This guy who used his car to rape mine was very apologetic and persisted that he will be compensate for damages done. He even handed me his IC without me asking for it. With his car picture taken, along with road tax, IC and his name card which has the same name with his IC, I took his word for it. I still has 24 hours to make a report, and I already got all the vital information.

The following day (today) just 5 hours before the end of the 24 hours window, I called him regarding my compensation and he requested to meet up later in the evening, which is totally unaccepted as it'll pass the 24 hour deadline to  report a traffic accident, thus making me not eligible to claim insurance, regardless mine or his. After a lengthy telephone conversation of him with his promises to pay and me threatening of a police report at high noon, he finally gave in and set a venue at Shell Sunway Damansara. I was half expecting to be given the run around. And lo be hold, he arrived with cash in hand. He paid, we shook hands, and left.

He has indeed left an impression not just on my car, but me too. Someone responsible like him is a dying breed. And the best part of all, he wasn't angry, mad, or sulky. And also the part where he apologized first, instead of saying 'just a small matter only' like the other two chinese who damaged my car. Somehow I felt lucky meeting him, and rather unlucky for him that he had to meet me that way.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

JMC No More

I've tendered my resignation in August but only officially resign in September. That's 12 months service with an earlier 2 months kepoh-ing their monthly meeting. Seeing that I quit, clearly the negative has out weight the perks from that role.

I wouldn't rant on the monthly meetings that drag on past midnight almost every single time. After all, that's part and parcel of being JMC. It wouldn't be half bad if we actually accomplish something from these late night gatherings, most of the time it feels like pissing into a sea of piss. In fact all the time it feels like that.

The biggest problem is there is no senior manager manning the site. Everything goes to the building executive which I think is an okay person when coming to handling small matters. However when coming to managing people and service providers, that's his main weakness. He's just too soft. Though I do hope that this will not be a permanent problem as only recently a new building manager was assigned to this place.

Then again, the JMC is partially to be blamed too. The JMC micromanages every single thing. Especially when coming to purchases. This will delay essential repairs as the management can't do anything until it gets majority vote. And this is also one of the main factor driving me away from the JMC role. It wouldn't have come to this if there was no breach of trust by the past manager as accused by the current JMC. If it was true, a police report would have been made and the managing company would be replaced. Instead they retain the company, and fire the manager. As a result, many prospective managers shy away form our apartment.

And seeing how management is being 'slow' certain projects were taken up by JMC which I too participated. The project that I was involved in was gym room upgrade, after completing a tedious hand holding-maintenance-work of keeping the parking lots well lit, which mainly consist of rewiring the entire lighting system to external wire trunking as we discovered that the internal wiring had shorted out.
The gym room upgrade was actually a project of another JMC who was pressured by her non JMC kaki to undertake as they use the gym room allot. Coincidentally this JMC was not well verse with gym equipment, nor even use any gym equipment. All I need to do was compare price in their quotations and giving a little feedback saying 'I had gym membership before' and viola, now it becomes my project.
Having total control over a certain project isn't really a bad thing either. Like the gym room upgrade which is essentially purchasing new equipment to replace old ones. The original gym equipment supplied by developers are nothing more then home use flimsy exercise machines. No surprise that it broke. So the original head project JMC sourced for quotations on gym equipment while I compared it with previous recommendations from previous manager (whom was fired). The price difference was huge for similar spec. After that, there's a round of visit to supplier facility to inspect the equipment intended for purchase. Just like how government purchasing officers does it, minus the under table money, big fulfilling dinner and free spa.
So, the gym was equipped with new toys, and spent less then the approved budget. Residents are once again happy, until someone broke the 2 week old upright bike. Fucking vandals.

The next project however is what convinced me that I should leave. The terms too many chef spoils the soup holds true in this case, the resident card system which has been a pet JMC project for 2 years prior me joining the committee. It would've been forgivable if the JMCs were bickering amongst themselves about which card system to adopt. I never knew there were so many types of proximity cards and sensors existed. What has been holding back the implementation was extremely trivial. How the card should look like! O_O
And it happened way too many time. When a design is put to vote, there will be comments on how to improve it. Some want detailed particulars like unit number, some don't. Some want an encoded code (something like the nirc number) to identify unit of resident, some don't and has even voted against it. Some like pink, others don't. And there was one time that I though they have finally finalized on a design when it got majority vote, only to have it cast back into the redesign,voting endless cycle when someone says 'hey, landscape mode looks better then portrait'

Monday, November 7, 2011

C714TU Hard Drive Replacement

After many weeks of procrastination, I finally bought a new 2.5" SATA hard drive to replace the ailing Hitachi 120G HDD that originally came with the C714TU. Procrastination was costly this time, literally. There was a price revise due to the flood in Thailand, and local computer dealers claim has affected supply of HDDs. RM170 for 320GB 2.5" SATA HDD, profiteering at its best.

Tiny Phillips screwdriver

Removing the HDD case
There are two screws that required to be loosen. They are marked with the HDD symbol, which is indicated with three OOO overlapping each other. Once completely loosen the cover should pop up a little to allow you to pick it up with your fingernail or a flat head screwdriver.

Once the cover is removed the HDD chassis is exposed. Pull the plastic tab to remove the HDD form the slot.

The HDD is secured onto a metal chassis which locks the HDD onto place. You need to remove this metal chassis and install it onto the new HDD. There are 2 screws on each side.

Installing the HDD back into the laptop, just reverse the steps. What was once pull is now push. What was once loosen in now tighten.

Simple eh?