Various Thoughts and New Stuff – 20090729

I’ve found a couple new things that interest me over the past few days.

Acer Timeline

I saw this thin-looking laptop the other day that caught my eye because of the display for it. The display touted how thin it was (about an inch thick) and how long the battery life was (eight hours). I wanted to lift the laptop to see how heavy it was but these displays have tethers and bars to limit movement — or theft. I could get it only so far off the table but it felt pretty light, especially compared to my past full-sized laptops.

The Acer Timeline has a few models, with screens from 13″ to 15.6″ and Intel’s ultra low voltage Core2 Solo processors. The model I saw was the 15.6″ and also was spec’d with a DVD-RW, 3GB of RAM (expandable to 8GB, which requires 64 bit OS), and a 320GB hard drive; resolution on all models appears to be 1366×768. The display model I saw had clear and crisp graphics. These laptops also come with multicard readers. I didn’t see anything indicating onboard Bluetooth. The wifi card is Intel 5100 (abgN); I’m looking at upgrading my home network — and AA1 when its warranty expires — to 802.11-N, so this wouldn’t require any further upgrade when I make the switch. It also had a centered (as far as I can tell anyway; I’m on pain medications) touchpad and a full-sized keyboard. I initially hated the chiclet keyboard on my AA1, and the Timeline’s keyboard is quite similar. I still don’t care for the chiclet keyboard but it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me.

Here’s the deal about the battery life. You can only expect eight-or-so hours if you’re not running Aero (these models come with Vista Home Premium) and you’re running some kind of Acer power management utility. This power management utility seems to be CPU scaling and similar things to reduce power consumption. Fair trade off, but I honestly haven’t seen any staggering gain in battery life with CPU scaling on my AA1 — I get about two hours per charge regardless of using XP or Linux. YMMV, but mine hasn’t yet (and I run the most miserly applications I can get away with).

The Timeline caught my eye because it seems to be quite light (just over 5 pounds for the 15.6″ model) and because of the possibility of getting four-times the battery life I’m getting now. I wanted the AA1 because it was lighter and more portable than my aged ThinkPad, not to mention the fact that the AA1 completely outspecs the old ThinkPad. Short of battery life and small screen and small keyboard, the AA1 is suiting my needs quite well. But I do miss having a larger screen and I’d like to get used to using a full-sized keyboard again.

At about $600, the Timeline offers a lot more power and battery life than my AA1. I haven’t decided if or when I’m getting a new laptop or if I’ll keep using the AA1, but the Timeline will probably be on my wishlist. It’s not quite in the class of the Lenovo X300 or Macbook Air, but its price is about a third to a quarter of those models and its extra heft is at least in part due to having an optical drive. I could live with that kind of compromise whether I get five or six hours of battery life or the full advertised eight.

Sabayon CoreCD 4.2

First, I’m not crazy about the name “CoreCD” since it’s too similar to another project’s name. I don’t know if Robert Shingledecker trademarked the “Core” name or even “Tiny Core” but I don’t like it when others copy names of existing projects. Boo!

Second, I was unclear after reading the press release what differentiated CoreCD from Gentoo Stage 3. I found the following on Planet Sabayon in a 23 June entry:

It is designed to “sabayon-infy” a gentoo stage 3 by providing an simple text based installer and up to date packages, as well as a solid core upon which you can build with either entropy or portage.

Ahh, so it’s just Stage 3 done Sabayon style.

In the back of my mind I’ve been fighting an impulse to install a source-based distro like Lunar or Gentoo, or even building from scratch. Sabayon has been pretty easy to dismiss because, until now, the images have been big honking DVD ISOs — which I find, for some reason, quite ridiculous for a source-based distro to offer.

Now I have to add this particular release from Sabayon to the list of the things to quash in the darker recesses of my mind. Especially since I’ve already downloaded it.

One thing is certainly offputting enough to keep me from impulsively installing it: the hideous Red Curtains of Hell splash on the visual tour page on the Sabayon Wiki. I fucking hate splash as it is, but this thing looks like something from “Interior Decorating with Satan.”

Fortunately, that’s something that can be disabled and configured out of a system.

I wonder if I’ll end up installing this before I get a new laptop.

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