Updated beta version of my #webos BART app now available: http://tinyurl.com/2fb5ct5

I can be acquired in the beta feeds, here: http://developer.palm.com/appredirect/?packageid=com.pyen.bart.arrival

This time, I've added automatic refresh and removed the manual refresh button to simplify the UI. Right now, the refresh is every minute. I have a feeling that might not be often enough. Please tell me if you think that the refresh interval should change.

I've also fixed some misc bugs. Yay progress. :-)

Mark Hurd (HP CEO) resigns

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - Hewlett-Packard /quotes/comstock/13*!hpq/quotes/nls/hpq (HPQ 46.30, +0.03, +0.07%) Chief Executive Mark Hurd has resigned as a result of an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against him and H-P by a former company contractor. H-P said the investigation found "no violation of HP's sexual harassment policy, but did find violations of HP's Standards of Business Conduct.

And he was doing a rather excellent job as CEO. Until now, of course... That definitely makes me less optimistic about HP's prospects. *sigh*

HP Android Netbook

It's too bad that working for HP doesn't give me the opportunity to play with neat toys like this. Yes, I know it has some issues with the form factor (the display doesn't swivel around to make the thing a convertable tablet?), but it would be lots of fun to play with. And of course, they're not releasing it in the US, which tends to be the way that HP goes with non-Microsoft powered devices. This HP-MS buddy buddy thing is kind of annoying at times.

HP 8530w impressions, and some nVidia X server musings

My work issued HP 8510w recently had the type of hardware failure that
causes random complete lockups. No, it wasn't related to the memory, I
tested that. Much to my surprise, all it took to get it replaced was to
contact IT and tell them that it even had hung before even getting into
the BIOS. Even more surprising to me, they replaced it with a newer
model: I now have an 8530w.

 Given that I've posted before about how bored and disappointed I've been
with HP laptops, I figured I should post to say how nice the 8530w is
turning out to be so far. For starters, it is thinner and feels lighter
(but it's still 6lbs) and more solid than the 8510w. The screen is much
nicer, but since the 8510w had a 1920x1200 resolution, and this 8530w
has a 1680x1050 resolution, it's not quire apples to apples. I do also
prefer the keyboard, and they've added a keyboard light, which while not
as slick as Apple's backlit keyboards, gets the job done. (And takes me
back like 8 years to the IBM X21 I had... ;-) While the 8510w was fast,
the 8530w is even faster, and amazingly enough, seems to run cooler and

 While they do seem to have fixed most of my gripes with the 8510w, it
does seem like no one but Apple understands that people with laptops
carry their power supplies around with them. How hard is it to
incorporate an easy way to wrap up the cord into the design for the
power brick? Oh, and for some entirely inconceivable reason, the power
brick for the 8530w is bigger than that for the 8510w. Yes, you read
that right: they made the brick bigger. I just don't get that part.

 Oh, and Ubuntu (well, Linux in general) rocks: I got new hardware,
simply moved my hard drive to the new machine and booted up, and
everything works. It does help that they both have nVidia graphics, etc,
 but still, that part was awesome. Oh, and for anyone that happens to
have a laptop with a new nVidia chipset and doesn't have working
brightness controls, the newest version of the nVidia drivers fixes this
problem! For users of Jaunty, I uploaded the Karmic packages to my PPA, compiled
for Jaunty. (I can't seem to figure out how to make it so that it would
also compile the same sources for Hardy, but maybe I just haven't spent
enough time looking at it or did the proper RTFMing)

HP Laptop Redux

Perhaps I spoke too soon. One of my coworkers got a 6930p, and I have to say that the pictures don't do it justice. It actually looks rather nice in person. So it looks like it's just that it took HP awhile to create business laptops that don't bore me. Novel. Its too bad that the best way for me to actually see HP's business computers in person is to wait for someone at work to get one issued to them.

Why me and HP laptops don't work

I think I've completely figured out why while I'd like to buy an HP laptop (given that I work for them), I still haven't quite found one that would work for me. I'll start by breaking down the general laptop categories:

  1. Home/Consumer Laptops: These are the laptops you can get from http://www.hpshopping.com and in most big box electronics stores. They tend to be designed primarily for aesthetics and to keep costs low. While HP tends to get good scores on consumer support metrics, everyone who has ever dealt with standard consumer phone support knows that the bar is pretty low to be better than the majority. Having dealt with this support myself, I can say that I'm not impressed. Admittedly, one probably shouldn't expect much for these prices. Also, getting Linux running on a HP consumer laptop can be very hit or miss, given that it's generally not even thought about when designing these computers.
  2. Business Laptops: I believe you can only get these laptops via http://www.hp.com/. These laptops tend to be designed with durability and more of a value cost structure in mind. The customer is generally assumed to be rather computer savvy and understands fully what the specifications mean and generally how much comparable computers cost. Also, the customer tends to want to buy something that would let them just get things done and stay out of their way. This goes to the customer service as well. While I haven't dealt with HP's business customer service myself, I would be surprised if it isn't on par with IBM's customer support, given that business customers generally are very conscious about what you get for your money, and don't want to waste their time. Of course, what suffers here is the aesthetics. HP's business laptops tend to be rather boring, even ugly. They get the job done well, but that's about all one can say. However, HP business laptops tend to support Linux very well, as they often have most of their hardware from vendors like Intel, who have excellent Linux support.
  3. Premium Laptops (Voodoo): HP has one other class of laptops, and that's the laptop that Voodoo PC makes. On first sight, this seems to be a great enthusiast laptop: designed with both aesthetics and durability in mind, it also has a great set of features. The problem is that Voodoo designs computers for those whom cost is no object, and at the moment, only has a laptop for the MacBook Air demographic. I've also done some searching in the past, and it seems like running a standard Linux distribution on the Voodoo Envy is a non-trivial proposition, especially if one wants to use most of the hardware.

While it seems like they may make a laptop for everyone, there's actually a missing segment in here, and I'm smack dab in the middle of it. At first glance, one might think that this segment is best served by the business laptops, since we tend to be knowledgeable about computers, and want a high amount of value for our money. We are very similar to the people that make the business purchasing decisions and care about many of the same things. The big difference is that we are also consumers, so we do care about aesthetics, which means that while we might buy the business laptop because it's a better value than the premium Voodoo laptop, we really want something that looks as nice as the Voodoo laptop, without the Voodoo premium.

I don't think you'd be surprised at all when I say that Apple seems to get this, and makes laptops that balance the needs of the consumer with those of the computer savvy. Apple doesn't really have a distinction between consumer and business lines; everyone gets the same laptop. (The Pro thing really is more of a performance distinction, nothing more.) While there are plenty of things in the Apple laptops for us geeks to complain about, there's very little in the way of huge issues, and it's amazing how much good support can make up for.

So while I've been contemplating my future computer purchases, and thinking that I might be able to get away from the cult of Mac, it seems that if I want to buy a laptop in the near future, I may not be able to beat the MacBook. Counter arguments are more than welcome. :-)

HP Business Computer Sale

While I know many of you are Mac diehards, for those of you that run Linux or Windows, this sale is off the chain. The prices are almost at the HP business refurb prices, but for new machines. And while I used to be a IBM or nothing person when it came to PC laptops, the current HP business laptops seem at least as good as the Lenovo laptops these days. So anyways, pass it on.

The harsh reality of netbooks and other laptop musings

I spent two posts drooling over the new HP netbook, and contemplating how awesome it would be to have one. Recently, I was at Costco, and I discovered that they had it for sale. After messing around with it in person, I can say that it does have the best keyboard I've ever seen on a netbook (aside from the HP 2133, which has a nearly identical keyboard). While the 2133 has more solid construction, the Mini 1000 has an easier to read display because of the lower resolution. And of course, the Mini has a better processor.

All that's pretty standard; however, after typing on the keyboard for a little bit, it dawned on me that it reminded me of using the Sony Picturebook, which I had back in the day. The formfactor was awesome, and I could carry it everywhere, but it had one fatal flaw: typing on the keyboard for more than an hour was generally a bad idea. My hands hated me after I spent a good part of a day coding on the thing. Since most of the point of having a computer for me is to actually be able to input information, I think I may have come to the realization that although the HP netbooks are cool and have a decent size keyboard, trying to use one will probably only end in pain. So I think that's the end of my netbook dreams.

Of course, now I'm looking at the EliteBook 2530p. But I can get the 2510p much cheaper (like $900) refurbished via HP's employee plan, so that might be a better idea, despite not being quite as neat as the 2530p.

Only vaguely related: In wandering around looking up details on the 2530p and 2510p, I discovered a a page about HP's laptop naming scheme, which would have been really useful when I was choosing what laptop to be provided with for work. As it is, I ended up with an 8510w, which while really fast, has the main problem of being way too heavy. It also has an insane 1920x1200 resolution on a 15" screen, and with my crappy vision, that's just too much. I have to run it at 1440x900 in order to be able to use it.