• What's so good about TrackPoint?

    trackpointI always hear people around commenting Lenovo ThinkPad (formerly IBM ThinkPad) series is great, but they are rarely buying one just because of "the red stick" in the middle of one of the best keyboard ever. I were among that group of people as well; however, time changes; people also change too. Ever since I got my X61T, I had been forced to live with the only choice of mouse called "TrackPoint". I have started changing my mind then.

    Everybody around me knows that I naturally hate using touchpad. You will hardly find me using touchpad. Thus, I'm always carry a little USB mouse with me since I have a laptop although that loads me a bit more. However, it doesn't mean I use touchpad as slow as one who haven't ever touched a computer. The thing has been changed since I got ThinkPad X61. From the very first feeling of using TrackPoint, I did feel somewhat awkward and found it not as fast as my weak touchpad skill. But it was just a time when I was a stranger to TrackPoint. For the time being, TrackPoint is a breeze comparing to touchpad and unfortunately better than a mouse in some ways.

    trackpoint scrolling To get into why it's so good, you may have to know a bit of how it works out. In order to move a cursor, you have to gently push on the red stick in a direction you want. Right-button and left-button are right below spacebar. For the middle button, it doesn't work as a standard middle button but it will works as a wheel by hold the button and using the red stick to scroll in whatever direction you want--two or eight directions depending on the program.

    Sound normal to you, right? It is. However, the advantage of TrackPoint is the position itself. While the touchpad is below the keyboard, TrackPoint is on the keyboard. While you have to move your hand a bit to use touchpad, you don't have to move your hand at all using TrackPoint. Imagine typing and scrolling the page back and forth, you will see how pain it is when using touchpad but it's so easy to TrackPoint. For a Trackpad--Apple's stuff, they requires your 2 finger--mostly index and middle one which you have to move your whole hand--to scroll the page, but for TrackPoint you just use your thumb to hold the middle button and your index to control the direction; you don't even have to move your hand. That's easy! For more example, scrolling the page, you have to drag your finger from top to bottom many time 'til the end of page. Nonetheless, you don't have to move any part to use TrackPoint; you just gently press on the red stick, how convenient. That's the point why I prefer TrackPoint to mouse when I read stuffs; it's so smooth like using MicroGear™ Precision scroll wheel of Logitech in VX/MX series but better in term of controlling.

    IMO, the real disadvantage of TrackPoint is when you are using programs like Photoshop, using a mouse is a way much better! I don't think you will find any cons of TrackPoint comparing to touchpad though. Also, I found that TrackPoint is creating for a regular work, not intending to make it very accurate, or fast in any way, so it does not give you a perfect experience when you are playing a game like shooting, or any requiring accuracy.

    Another point is finger pain, it does happen but it probably the same as touchpad. In addition, by setting to highest sensitivity and using the soft rim--type of TrackPoint cap, I think you will use it comfortably by now.

    For who you don't believe me, try it by yourself; you'll know what I'm talking about.

    Types of TrackPoint Cap:

    Classic Dome

    Classic Dome: The Classic Dome cap is for users who prefer the touch and feel of the cap traditionally associated with the TrackPoint.
    Soft Dome

    Soft Dome: With a large, convex surface area and soft texturing, the Soft Dome cap provides a soft touch and feel.
    Soft Rim

    Soft Rim: The large, concave design of the Soft Rim cap provides a completely different touch and feel and creates a mechanical advantage whereby less force is required for pointer motion.

    Edited on Jan 23, 2008: Soft Rim really helps you use trackpoint easier and lesser effort. You should try ;-P and, then, be happier with this :-)

  • Vista eating up your hard drive, good or bad?

    image Okay this was my problem with my new tablet since I have it only 2 weeks or so. But with 120GB it has really is left only 29-31GB which means I used about 70 GB already (5.5GB is being separated to another partition). All my programs are like 20 programs or so, including heavy-weight stuffs like Microsoft Office 2007 (625MB), Thunderbird DB (600MB), Eclipse (330MB), Photoshop CS2(210MB), PC-Doctor-5(130MB)--bundled with my tablet--I'm not quite sure what is really is :-P I'll give it a shot first. However, all these programs, including Vista business, and my data, are only 30GB. So where the heck is another 30G?

    Let's see; I had tried with all my common sense and it came up with nothing; I felt like when I was finding the photos in my treo in FileZ; you couldn't see whether they are in memory at all! (if you are using Palm NVFS-based device, try by yourself; you'll see what I'm talking about) What I did is using Disk Cleanup, deleting all temp files, checking all the program that might related with backup/restore, turning off UAC, getting into safemode with admin account to find where that file is, and restarting many times. I still found no clue. You may see 2 figures below. That really conflicts with what my computer shown above!

    clip_image001 image

    I hadn't known what the hidden 30GB file is until I googled it. I found that Vista has a whole new system of system restore, including new strange name--shadow copy storage. For Vista you couldn't adjust how large the storage for system restore is by GUI anymore. It shows only a bit information, and a check box to turn on/off. So what does the system restore differ to the old one on XP? I can say that they are practically the same but, on Vista, it's much more elegant and powerful (or too powerful, I guess)

    "In Windows XP, System Restore uses a file system filter to keep track of system file changes. In Windows Vista, System Restore uses Volume Shadow Copy Service to keep track of block-level changes over the selected volumes."

    shadow copy service was introduced in Windows Server 2003, I believe. It uses for keep tracking all the data and copy in this backup disk (which is invisible) This service is totally automatically--meaning that you can do nothing about this. However, the maximum shadow storage will be set based on the actual volume or the free space after setting up. It's usually up to 30% of free space or 15% the overall size of the volume. I found the typical computer has a maximum shadow storage about 15GB, but, frankly, my Thinkpad X61T doesn't have the maximum value, how odd!!? UNBOUNDED--that's what it set to mine. :-/

    image

    Anyway, you could check the used, allocated, and maximum shadow copy storage by run elevated command prompt (start | type "cmd" | right-click on cmd.exe and tap Run as administrator)

    vssadmin list shadowstorage

    In case you want to change the maximum shadow storage, you could use the command

    VSSAdmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=15GB

    While For is the volume you want to backup, On is the where the shadow space is, MaxSize is a maximum size you want. If you are shrinking the volume, you may lose your previous backup as well, just to beware.

    Now you know what shadow copy storage is. Then you will know how you can take the advantage of this service and you'll know how great this is. Practically, shadow will copy everything in every period you have changed anything to the disk. Thus, you will be able to restore what files/folders you want to be the way they were by easily right-click on that file/folder, then tap on "Restore previous versions"

    image

    then you will see tons of file/folder you want to restore in many points of time.

    image

    For me, with UNBOUNDED setting, I can roll up to the first day I got this tablet. The process is quite intuitive. I can't wait to try Time Machine in Leopard to see how good it is though.

    All in all, this is such a great feature but it can't be great with *unbounded* setting for sure. You may try to find out how much shadow eating up your hard drive, then resize it. I have no idea why this happened, but, without this problem, I won't know that there is something running underneath and duplicating all my stuffs. I have about 3 computers with Vista now, I haven't found this bother me, perhaps it was set correctly. Therefore, I haven't noticed this invisible volume. Finally, I can think of many situation that found this really great tool, like accidentally delete the important file, or a file was intentionally deleted, but I need that file back. As long as it doesn't waste much space, it's a fantastic feature.

    ps. I don't know if this bundled in Vista Home basic or premium or not, since these 2 don't have restore/backup capability. I'll let you know when I found out. But for Vista Business and Ultimate, you expect to have this :-)

    Edited on Jan 23, 2008: Vista Home Premium does have Shadow Storage feature. Thus I think there is no reason why Home Basic would not include this useful feature as well.

    reference: How Volume Shadow Copy Service Works, Volume Shadow Copy Service Overview, Windows Vista Backup Technology

  • Network problem??

    This is just the case I still wonder now what the cause really is. By the fact that there is 5 clients and 1 server in the network behind a router. All of clients are running Windows XP professional and the server runs Windows Server 2003 for file backing up and file server.

    network-problem-1

    The problem is only one-pair of them has a problem. The computer x1 rarely sees the x3 one and sometimes x3 is accessible but with very sluggish speed--almost 2 minutes waiting just to browse the file in explorer. Nonetheless x1 is accessible on x3 perfectly.

    You may want to know that any other pairs don't have this problem. Even though x1 and server or with x5 or x3 with anyone. ping is good, time is less than 3 ms with anyone except the problem pair.

    To alleviate the random problem like this, I really have no idea much. So, I have tried to change the file sharing to be more advanced and add the user 'everyone' and 'administrator' into the share permission. I forget to let you know that every single computer on the network uses 'administrator' as a login and they have the same password but the x3 one which normally use another user name as a login and administrator doesn't have any password. However, I have changed the password of administrator to be the same as others already. For you guys who wonder about firewall on x3, it's installed Norton Firewall and I did turn off to prevent a problem but frankly the problem was not gone.

    But, then, it still has the same problem. I really frustrate with the windows network for the first time, not because it's working or not working, but because the symptom happens randomly so I couldn't figure out why it really is. When I go fixing, it seems works just fine. Nonetheless I use the alternative--set the x3 as a fixed IP--to solve this and it seems help.

    After that, I haven't heard they have a problem again which could mean two things: the problem was solved or they don't believe me fixing that again :-/ ha ha ha if anyone passing by has any idea or else, please let me know. Thanks!

  • Is Windows Vista so expensive comparing to Mac OS X?

    Comparing to the number one contender like Mac OS X, newest release--Leopard, Vista seems so expensive. But that's just a thing you automatically agree by the word of media without thinking by yourself. Just thing about it thoroughly, do we buy Leopard retail version or do we buy an upgrade version of Mac OS X? By comparing the method of Microsoft selling their OS, if you consider Leopard as a retail version of Mac OS, it sounds like you can buy an apple computer without an OS. That's the point of retail version. However, if you use one of Windows OS's family, you can buy an upgrade box with the same features as the retail one except the price which is almost at bargain price.leopard_box_125

    Take a look at the price of both company:-
    Mac OS X Leopard Home version: $129
    Mac OS X Leopard Premium version: $129
    Mac OS X Leopard Business version: $129
    Mac OS X Leopard Ultimate version: $129
    Mac OS X Leopard 5-licenses: $199

    I really love & hate this Jobs' joke at the same time. The fact is you can't buy a Mac without an OS, so, to be fair, all this version should consider as an upgrade when we want to compare with Microsoft's strategy. However, you could buy 1-license box around $100-$110 and $180 for 5-license box, if you just put enough effort on Google.

    on Microsoft side:-
    Vista Home Basic retail box $199.99image
    Vista Home Premium retail box $249.99
    Vista Business retail box $299.99
    Vista Ultimate retail box $399.99

    Vista Home Basic upgrade box $99.99
    Vista Home Premium upgrade box $144.99
    Vista Business upgrade box $189.99
    Vista Ultimate upgrade box $249.99

    and surely the cheapest one, OEM version:-
    Vista Home Premium OEM DVD $111.99
    Vista Ultimate OEM DVD $179.99 (both 32-bit and 64-bit)
    Vista Home Premium 3-license OEM DVD $329.99 (both 32-bit and 64-bit)

    You may think Microsoft is so suck to have so many versions, 4, of Windows, but that's just like a car. Not everyone wants to drive the fastest one like F1 or Ferrari which may consider as one of the most advanced engine and some just couldn't bare sitting on compact car like Yaris. I think if you want to most powerful one, just go for Ultimate and then you will find Home Premium is enough.

    Oh sorry I'm out of topic a bit. If you see the price really, you will find that Vista price is not so pain comparing to Leopard. And you know that there still is a way to get this cheaper, like the way you pay less for Leopard. The thing Apple is definitely better than Microsoft is they offer 5-license package for a low price. (I think I could install 1-license Tiger DVD on many computers though) Nonetheless, I couldn't directly compare both Leopard & Vista because I don't know what version of Vista should be equal to Leopard; you may think the Ultimate one but Leopard doesn't have that much feature like Tablet-related features. Maybe Home premium is the one you could do that. So they are just not really differing from each other.

    All in all, you know now both Microsoft and Apple are just the same. They both need money from us :-D ha ha ha

    ps. OEM version is just the way to pay less, only a DVD and COA sticker you need. Otherwise is the same.

  • What is the digital speaker really?

    All questions from a previous post has been answered since I bought Boston BA735 myself. well I will start from what is the difference between a analog speaker and a digital one? then go to signal and interface consecutively.

    the speaker itself does not have things different because it's still plain speaker as we all know--you can still buy a bare speaker unit and change by yourself; however, what makes these two types distinct is the DAC inside the digital one while there is no any DAC in the analog speaker. In other words, the digital speaker will receive only digital signal which contains information of 0s and 1s, then translate that signal into analog by the DAC unit right before transmit to a speaker. This process differs to the analog one because normally a computer will transmit the signal to speakers directly by sound card which has the DAC built-in. You may think like I do why and what is the advantage of the digital speaker over the analog one. All can I say is almost none--in most cases--these days. It might have one significant advantage which is almost none CPU utilization because the CPU doesn't have to do anything about sound--just help transmitting throughout a digital port. The digital speaker will take care of the rest. Nonetheless, if you have such a great sound card like Sound Blaster Augidy or whatever so, you already have a very low CPU utilization and you will not take any advantages of your sound card at all by using the digital speaker. You may get the idea what it really is now, but this is the idea. I will show you about when using this what you have to do other than normal one.

    The real problem of the digital speaker is you need a digital signal. You may think this is just simple because every single computer use digital to process anyway. Nevertheless, the default of sound output in every imagecomputer is analog. You may find hard to set it as a digital output. Most of modern sound cards have a digital output as a feature--not all of them though. For me, I find it very difficult to use this speaker. My on-board sound card doesn't have digital-output support, although its name is digital bla bla bla, so I have to use one of my spare SB Live! just to use this speaker. Believe it or not, I cannot work this out with my Linux box yet.

    For a performance, I had Boston BA635 (analog) which is predecessor of BA735 before. I can't notice any different between two of them--maybe my ear is not that good though LOL.image

    For the connector, my misunderstanding is, for the digital output, it should be SPDIF or an optical port--the one I never ever have a chance to use. However, it's wrong. There are 2 types of digital connector--coaxial and optical. So it could be both optical and electrical signal that carry digital output. In my case--BA735, it use just plain cable. On one terminal is coax; another one is just mono headphone jack to connect with my PC-box. There is no significant differences between analog and digital at all. That should be the reason why only a few web sites mentioned this.

    What you have to do to use this kind of speakerimage

    You have to have a sound card that has digital output capability. The easiest way to know this is get yourself into Control Panel >> Sound and seek for "digital output only" feature in every single page. If you can find it, you're good to have a digital speaker. If you can't find any, go to manufacturer's web site and find its detail tech spec. You may get a good information.

    Analog or digital speaker is just choice of preference. A performance is also on the same factor: price, model, and brand. All we have to do is understand what it really is and uses it efficiently.