Laptop Accessory: Bluetooth USB adaptor

Though the Compaq c765TU is a good laptop with mid-range specs it doesn’t come with a few bonus features that extend the mobility and utility of the portable computer.

Bluetooth USB AdaptorSuch feature is a built-in Bluetooth capability which you can normally find in high-end laptops with higher price tags. Though Bluetooth capability is not that essential today, it will be in the very near future as more and more development in communication technology is pushed towards the mobile platform like cell phones and PDAs. Though some would argue that the PDAs days are now numbered because of the increasing power of mobile phones in which the latter is being integrated in to the former. Any one care for a Nokia E-series or the Sony Ericsson P1?

Of course the portable computer would still be around. The trend today are those ultra-portables or UMPCs like the iconic Asus Eee PC and it’s various competitors. So the gap between the notebook computer and the mobile phone must be bridged. Sure there are cables but these are clumsy, bulky and so yesteryear’s trend. Today It’s wireless connectivity baby!

Okay, enough keyword-rich blogging and let’s get straight to the point. Buying a laptop is like buying a new car. You will eventually buy accessories for it that will enhance the performance or boost it’s “oomph!” factor.

Though I lean towards usability even if it means sacrificing some aesthetics, I try to find accessories that has a good balance of both.

Facts:
My Compaq c765TU laptop is, over-all, a pretty decent portable with respectable specs.

I use a Sony Ericsson K800i as my de facto point-and-shoot camera for blogging and taking occasional videos. It can also function as a modem for me to connect to the internet over the air.

Problems:

The Compaq c765TU doesn’t have a built-in Bluetooth device that allows me wirelessly connect the K800 for file transfers or using it as a modem.

I don’t like to use the phone’s cable because one; it will take up another USB port on my laptop, and second; it’s clumsy, bulky and I don’t want another cable to clutter my workspace.

The solution:

A Bluetooth USB Adaptor

Bluetooth adaptor connectedBought this for roughly Php800.00 at Octagon Computers in SM Dasmariñas last May and it’s made by Toshiba though it’s not branded as such.

It’s quite simple to use and operate, just pop-in the installer disk for the device software and driver then plugin the device itself on one of the USB ports and viola! My laptop is now Bluetooth capable allowing me to wirelessly transfer files mostly photos, from my phone for a quick editing then using it to compliment my blog posts.

It’s a Bluetooth Class 1 device which gives me a range of up to 100m (328 ft.) with it I can do the following:

  • Synchronize data between my mobile phone and laptop
  • Connect to an office or home network if it has a Bluetooth access point
  • Connect to my mobile phone and use it as a modem for internet access
  • Portable wireless file transfer to any other Bluetooth-enabled device.

I’ve done most of the things above save for two things; connect to a network that has a Bluetooth access point and lastly, use my phone as a modem for web access. Since I’m in the provinces the latter would next to impossible to do so I’m now working on how to setup my K800i phone to function as a modem and finally try out Globe’s 3G/HSDPA internet services. And that would be another blog post for another day.

Do you run your home network 24/7?

Things were much simpler when there was only one computer at home. Whenever no one was using the old desktop, it would be turned off along with the broadband modem/router. This is usually the case when I’m out of the house, asleep or I really have nothing to do on the computer.

Now that I have my laptop, there are two computers at home. Both are connected to the internet thanks to the D-Link DIR-300 Wireless Router I bought along with my laptop. And since then, things have changed.

When I’m done using my laptop or would have nothing to do on it, I would turn it off but I would have to keep both the broadband modem and wireless router on because they’re still in my room and my sister or little brother is still using the old desktop which I have moved out of my room and into theirs.

I sleep at around midnight but sometimes my sister would still go on using the desktop computer up until the wee hours of the next morning. Since I’m already asleep and the modem + wireless router is locked inside my room, they just hit the sack as well leaving the home network running for more than 24 hours.

Asides from pumping up our monthly electricity bill, much to the anguish of my parents, I’m also concerned about the safety of our home and of the equipments themselves. What if these things overheat and just burst into flames burning our house down? Or either or both modem and wireless router just and break down and die from the prolonged use?

I would not be this concerned if this situation would happen like once or twice in a week but for the past weeks since the home network was established, this has been the typical daily scenario: the home network running almost 24/7

I’m new to setting up and running my own network so I ask the experts and masters; do you run your home networks 24/7? Is it safe to do so? What tips or advice could you offer to address some if not all, of the concerns I’ve raised here?

Every bit would be greatly appreciated.

Frustrated with the Brother printer

What’s your brand of home printer? That’s basically the question in Yugatech’s current poll of the week; “What’s your Home Printer of choice?

As of this writing, the leading choice by voters so far is HP with 26 votes followed by Epson with 21 votes. Brother is 4th behind Cannon with 19 and 4 votes respectively. I don’t mean to preempt Yuga’s analysis of the survey, I’ll leave that to his expertise and besides, the poll isn’t finished yet.

I’d just like to give an insight as to why the Brother brand is hardly the choice for home printers. This is not a full review but a summary based on the 10 months I’ve got the chance of using because it is the default printer of La Salle Dasma’s University Student Council and most of the other offices in the university.

Brother d printerWhen I joined the USC last June, it was my first time to encounter and use the Brother printer. I joked that maybe the reason why this seems to be the ‘default’ office printer of DLSU-D is because the school is headed by a La Salle Brother. (Corny ba?) Or in some occassions, I joked that that Brother brand is secretly owned by the La Salle Brothers which is why it is the default printer in La Salle schools. :razz:

Anyways, the Brother printer is a good printer in terms of print quality, speed of print-outs and functionality. The model in the USC office is the Brother MFC-425CN which is a Colour Inkjet Flatbed 6-in-1 Multi-Function Centre. Here’s a summary from its product page from the Brother, the printer, website:

The MFC-425cn is a standalone fax machine which offers a unique low-profile design, making it ideal for even the most space-conscious home environment. It uses a convenient front-loading paper tray.

The Network ready MFC-425cn offers black printing up to 20ppm and color printing up to 15ppm at resolutions up to 6,000 x 1,200 dpi, Borderless Printing, Flatbed Color Copying, Flatbed Color Scanning, Color Fax and PC Faxing (send only).

It also includes the PhotoCapture Center? feature to print high quality color pictures from the most popular digital camera media cards (Memory Stick?, CompactFlash?, SmartMedia?, xD-Picture Card? and Secure Digital? cards) with or without a PC.

Like I said, it’s a good model. But as what the title of this post says, I’ll not buy it for home use. Why so?

All for one, and one for all

Ever since the all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier/kitchen sink-type of printers came out, I had this little paranoia based on this trend: when it gets broken, it’s cheaper to buy a new one instead of taking it to the shop for repairs which could worsen things and increase your expenses. So in an all-in-one platform, if one particular part suffers a failure or screws things up, it could kill the entire printer. So I stuck to a regular stand-alone ink-jet printers from HP and bought a separate flatbed scanner. Besides, I don’t need a copier in a home setting?

All for one, and one for all…also for the ink

The Brother printer uses 4 individual ink cartridges: Blue, Yellow, Magenta, and Black. Here’s the thing that we hate the most about the Brother printer: once any of the ink cartridges runs dry (usually the black ink), the printer stops printing all together! Even if the other cartridges still have plenty of ink in them, it would just not print at all.

What ever happened to the color-substitution/mixing trick that most other printers have? My HP and Lexmark printers can still print out documents and photos even if one ink cartridge is empty, all it does is to substitute with the remaining colors available, even mixing them to almost match the missing color hue. This feature saves up on ink and does not put our work to a standstill.

But not the Brother printer. It refuses to cooperate with us and screams out for a replacement ink cartridge. True the student council has some deep pockets but we intend to use it for more productive things like scholarships instead of printing out memos and letters to feed the redundant, snail-paced and absurd bureaucracy in DLSUD.

Am I being too harsh?

Or maybe this particular model of Brother printer was really meant for office use and not in our homes because the office could afford to buy a new ink cartridge every time the Brother printer says so. Still, it could be a strain in the company’s expenses more so in the family’s pockets as well.

It’s sad that for a good printer, a fundamental flaw ruins the whole thing. Anyone else using the Brother printer?

Western Digital’s 320GB Portable Hard Disk Drive

In today’s world of rich media and content being created by the billions every hour, one could never really have enough disk space to store those cherished photos, amazing videos, heart-felt music and much more.

Sure online storage services are becoming popular nowadays but what happens when you lose your internet connection or worse, you don’t have access most of the time. CDs and DVDs offer the cheapest and easiest solution of storing our precious data but once that disc has been closed, it becomes no different from the stone tablets Moses brought down from Mt Sinai.

So still, the best storage solution comes in the form of our trusty old hard disk. Capacity, data integrity and security, reliability are the areas where hard disk drives perform very very well. Hard disk space have doubled even tripled these past few years and the best of all, prices have gone down as well.

WD Portable HDWith this, portable hard disk drives have become another popular gadget to become part of a geek’s arsenal of technological tools that boost productivity and keep the digital world plump with rich data and content. Just recently, Western Digital launched launched a 320-Gbyte hard disk drive intended for people who need a portable backup device for music, video, and data stored in PC or Apple Mac notebooks or desktops.

This sleek and tiny new device easily slips into any pocket ready at a moment’s notice to serve its purpose. Store your content regardless of its format or file size and make it available to you in a few clicks of the mice.

According to its product page from Western Digital, its key features are:

Easy – Installation is a snap because you don’t really “install” this drive; you just plug it in and it’s ready to use. There is no CD to install; the included software loads from the drive the first time you plug it in.

Smart – Powered by the USB bus. No separate power supply is needed.*

More space – capacities up to 320 GB means you can take even more of your photos, videos, files and music with you wherever you go.

Ultra-portable – This compact drive fits easily in your pocket or purse, weighs only a few ounces and holds tons of valuable data.

Synchronized and secure – WD Sync™ synchronization and encryption software lets you take your critical data with you. Plug WD Passport into any PC, edit files, read e-mail, and view photos. Then sync all of your changes back to your home or office computer. Your data is protected with 128-bit encryption. (Windows only)

Includes Google™ software – Search your drive, manage your photos, and simplify Web searches with included Google software. (Windows only).

Storage with style – Designed with a glossy black case to make a perfect storage style.

Compatible – Use with Windows® and Macintosh® computers

* An optional cable is available for the few computers that limit bus power.

Wouldn’t this new tech toy make a perfect gift this coming Christmas? Of course there’s more technical specs in the product page but still, just this info is enough to make drool over it. I wonder if someone out there would be kind and generous enough to send me one as a gift, this Christmas would be one of the best I ever had.

I just hope the portable hard disk works with Ubuntu. :P

Lifespans of HP Deskjet printers

Things have not been good for me since the blogparteeh07, first is the still crappy Globelines broadband connection, now it’s my HP Deskjet 3745 ink-jet printer. What happened to it?

Well, it’s broken. For reasons still unknown, the printer just refused to put on its led light indicating its readiness to put into paper the digital incarnations of papers I need to pass school, get Sining Bayan moving along and other personal effects, not to mention my siblings’ schoolworks, and my father’s office work.

Power surge? Overheating? Broken wires inside? Fake inks? Hell no, I’m just clueless.

This has happened before, also with an HP deskjet printer, in particular the Deskjet 3325 which I bought last 2003, it was my very first HP printer. It was a good printer, I loved its simplicity, usability, the print quality, it’s relatively low price, okay not the expensive ink cartridges but hey, I loved that HP printer. Sadly we had to say goodbye to it last 2006 after a year and three months of service. I could say the same good points about the HP 3745, until it broke down of course.

Rummaging inside my room for the receipt for the Deskjet 3745, hoping the warranty is still in effect but unfortunately it expired last year, the printer was with me for 1 year and 2 months, just a month-short of my earlier Deskjet 3325. Hmmm….wait a minute. Don’t I see a pattern here?

Let’s check.

Deskjet 3325

HP Deskjet 3325
Date of purchase: January 18, 2003 Price: Php2,650.00
Expiry: March 2005
Length of service: 1 yr + 3 mos.
Cause of death..err.. expiry:

According to the technicians at TCA SM-Dasmariñas, an IC chip inside was fried and there’s no way it could be repaired.

What happened when or before it broke down:

I was in the middle of a printing job then suddenly it stopped printing. The LED light switched off and the print heads stuck in the middle of the page. No smell of something burnt, not even a spark, nothing; it just died.

Deskjet 3745

HP Deskjet 3745
Date of purchase: June 26, 2005 Price: Php2,350.00
Expiry: January 29, 2007
Length of service: 1 yr + 2 mos.
Cause of expiry:

No official word yet, I still have to take it to the repair shop.

What happened when or before it broke down:

I was about to turn it on for a print job but it didn’t. I unplugged the power cord from the adapter several times, still it didn’t worked. Unplugged and replugged the USB cable still it didn’t work. Again no scent of something burnt, no puff of smoke, no sparks; nothing.

Two printers from the same company, from the same model line, same price range, practically the same components and parts breaking down in exactly the same manner and after the same life span.

What could we conclude from these observations?

HP printers, just like most of today’s electronics are “consumables” once they break down, it’s cheaper to just get a replacement rather than take it to the shop for repairs that would only add a short lease on its lifespan. Add to this the pricey repair costs, the human aggravation, transporting the printer to the shop and then back; well you get the picture.

Speaking of getting things, I believe it’s time to get a new printer. Another HP printer? Or maybe a Cannon?

Hmm….any suggestions?