Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dilemma: Whether to buy or not to buy?

To begin, I have a personal computer - HP Compaq with Intel Pentium 4 processor 2.4 GHz, 1 GB (upgraded, initial was only 256 mb) DDR RAM and 240 GB Hard disk (80 GB proided initially and I added 160 GB more 3 years later). I bought it way back in 2003 and the poor fellow will be 9 years coming Jun'12. It has been a faithful friend to me for long providing efficient and committed service. Even the CPU got a bit damaged on my transit from Ahmedabad to Bangalore in Apr'08 - I had to replace the CPU cabinet with a more attractive i-ball cabinet case, replace the 160 GB HDD with another one. The old monitor gave up in 2009 and I had a chance to buy an attractive ViewSonic 16 inch monitor.

However, all these were due to mishandling on the transit guys part. But, the system performed wonderfully well. Till 3 months ago it was running good (although a bit slow when I compare now) with Windows XP (SP2) but when I upgraded to SP3 and then Windows 7 (my greed!), it crashed and I had to replace the default Windows OS with Ubuntu 11.04. With Linux OS, it is running faster than ever and giving me a fantastic performance. However, for last one year or so, I personally don't get much a chance to use it as my wife uses it to watch Bengali serials from StarTV channels and YouTube. Also, every month we download approximately 17-20 GB of Hindi, English and Bengali movies. So, almost 18 hours daily it is kept busy. There is no fan sound except at the start up and the machine runs wonderfully fast. But, it is not my primary workstation anymore.

In my visit to USA, Nov'09, I bought an Asus Eee PC 1101HAB. It has the following specifications:
  • RAM: 1 GB (DDR2, I guess),
  • Processor: 1.33-GHz Intel Atom Z520 processor (super performance mode over clocks the processor to 1.7 GHz),
  • HDD: 160 GB,
  • Webcam: 1.3 megapixel and microphone integrated,
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports,
  • Intel GMA 500 integrated graphics chip with 253MB of shared memory,
  • 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768-pixel resolution LED-backlit display,
  • Initially Windows XP, now on dual-boot with Lubuntu 11.04,
  • Specs: 11.3 x 7.6 inches,
  • No CD/DVD drives but I can attach an external one.
I bought it at $429 and it is convenient to carry everywhere. Also, it has amazing battery life, lasting for about 6-7 hours of continuous use on super performance mode and about 8 hours on high performance (1.33 GHz processor speed). I use it for mail checking, tethering with my blackberry (on Windows XP), or WiFi-hotspot (with my HTC Wildfire), blogging, Facebook updates. Linux has got wonderful applications for Facebook and twitter helping me mitigate all my virtual social responsibilities everyday without much pain. And it even runs SAS 9.0 without much fuss for all the statistical analysis I do. I keep track of the finances here with LibreOffice Calc or Excel 2007. But, the slower processor speed sometimes bugs me a bit, I won't deny it.

So far so good. But, these days I am a bit fascinated of buying a mean machine - a high performance "full" laptop with 4 GB DDR3 RAM, some 500 GB hard disk (I have a 1 TB of an external hard drive where I dump all the movies I download), over 15 inch screen. 

I know you would say that given my modest requirements, these two machines are meeting my needs. However, given my old desktop is almost 9 years old and I can't upgrade to Ubuntu 11.10 in these machines as the graphics are not supported by either. Ubuntu 11.10 won't allow me log in once the installation is complete and I restart; Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity 3D is simply too slow on my desktop. Better not say anything about Windows7 - it ruined my desktop once already. I had to re-install Ubuntu 11.04 to both after upgrade. 

Given these constraints I may not be able to upgrade my OS in future. Ubuntu 11.04 is really awesome with very few glitches and wonderful application repository with regular security updates. However, 3-4 years from now there may be another wonderful OS and application set that I may not be able to use given the machines' hardware limitations. I have options to upgrade my hardware (only in case of desktop, I am not sure I would be able to upgrade Eee PC) but buying new motherboard, graphics card, compatibility issues, etc. - I know it would take a tremendous toll on my busy life.

So, I have two options:
  1. I buy a lean, mean machine now (15.6"/4 GB DDR3 RAM/500 GB HDD/Updated graphics card/Intel i3/Linux) and be ready to try out the latest in the market. I'll have 1 desktop, 1 laptop and 1 net-book. For sure, the netbook would become redundant except during travel as it is very easy to carry.
  2. I wait for 3-4 years for my desktop and net-book to run down and then possibly buy an advanced and expensive machine. Already I have recovered whatever I have invested on my desktop (going to be 9 years buddy!) and by that time I would have used net-book to it's fullest potential.

I know the second option is the better but you can't ignore the greed of having an attractive, cool laptop. Let's see who wins! Anyway, even if I buy, I'll buy after Apr'12. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blog on Ubuntu shifted to a new address

Hi Fellow Linux-minded visitors (Sounds good, Linux-minded!), since I wanted to get back my personal blog again and my posts on Ubuntu attracting quite a lot of visitors, I have shifted my Ubuntu blog to a new address:

All my previous posts are there and my future posts on Ubuntu will be on my new blog site only! Happy surfing.

e-literate Bangalore: How to apply for ration card online?

To all those in Bangalore, you can apply for ration card via But be prepared with:

1. Your ward number (,
2. Google translate (from kannada to english & vice versa) - had a tough time choosing occupation :D,
3. Electricity bill
4. If you have an Indane or BP gas connection, a bill

Took about 40 min for me, as I can't read Kannada alphabets. Had to select my occupation 10 times, press forward (to see with my horror that either I am an agri. laborer or a potter) and then come back to reselect another option.

Big advantage - no need to go to Ration card office, just submit online and wait for verification (with proofs). Enjoy maadi!