Saturday, February 7, 2009

A few more software additions

Since I won't be carrying a printer around, I would like to have a virtual PDF printer installed. A little searching and I found a open source tool at call PDF Creator.
PDF Creator installed easily, and tested good with Windows Test Page. Another item I will need is a software screen capture utility. For this I have chosen Easy Capture.

Now I can print to a virtual printer and grab screen captures for whatever the need might be. The PDF files can be sent to my Google Doc's account, and the Screen Cap files to my Google Picasa account.

First couple of days evaluation

I took this netbook to work Monday. My intention to see how I can incorporate it into my job. My day job is of a computer technician supporting a corporate base of individual clients. I observe that in the included sleeve that came with the Acer Aspire One, it will actually slip into my tool bag that I always carry to and from the office. This would work in a pinch, but there are to many things rattling around in there so I need to find another way to carry in my work environment. I remember I have a canvas case that came with and very early Everex 286 laptop. It was very small also compared to todays standards, so I think it will work just fine.

I really need bluetooth so I can connect my 3G phone to netbook. I look around and the best local deal I and find is at a Target. I purchased a Targus ACB10US for 23.99. Installation of the bluetooth device required that I copy the installation CD to thumbdrive and install via that method. The installation went smoothly, with no problems. I sucessfully marry the laptop to the phone (HPC-6700) and can know use the phone for a wireless modem. Now I should be able to connect virtually anywhere. Initial modem speed shows 115 kB.

One of my associates at work, admires the little Acer, and comes in with one of his own the following day. He did not get the upgraded hard drive as did I, and he purchased from the same location. He also got the white model.

... and I was right about the Everex canvas case. It's just oversized enough to include the AC power supply, some papers, some cables, some SD cards and thumbdrives.

I am succesful in using the Acer Aspire One with my corporate VPN account. This will allow me to access the company network and work just as if I was connected to the company network, albeit somewhat slower.

A few tests and config changes

After getting the Acer Aspire one to my first configuration level, I decided to test and perhaps change a few more things. I have a Slingbox player in my home, and use it often, so I downloaded the newest slingplayer software. It installed, configured and ran without a hiccup. Quality of the video image is good, very small in windowed mode, a good quality full screen mode.

I have always made backups of my DVD to large external drive on my network, so I copied a 4gb DVD video folder down to it using a usb drive. Opening the DVD folder and the DVD index launched the included version of InterVideo WinDVD. The files play with very good quality, no problems what so ever.

The volume even at full is as expected, only fair quality. External speakers, earbuds, or headphones will be required to watch video or play music and enjoy it.

A Fan control application found at Welcome to Ralf´s Freeware Page caught my eye. I have installed it and seems to work as described. I will probably keep it, and donate to the developer, after a reasonable test.

First Boot

Upon arriving back home, un-boxed the Acer and took a quick look through the guide. I installed the battery, and powered up for the first time. The initial boot took probably about 2 minutes and the hard drive was very active. I went through the standard fill in the blank stuff for Microsoft Windows XP home. I observed that the battery was now at about 83%.

At the first opportunity I rebooted again. This second boot was much quicker, coming in at about 45-50 seconds.

I looked around to see what OEM software was installed, and picked the ones I was going to delete. First up was Microsoft office trial version. My intentions for this machine is to use as much good freeware and open source software on this as possible.

Next on the chopping block was McAffe anti-virus/anti-spyware. I do not want the re-occurring charge for this software, when there are good freeware alternatives.

I download AVG from Grisoft, Firefox Browser, Open Office to a thumbdrive for installation to the Acer Aspire One. All three installations to the little device go smoothly with no problems whatsoever.

Satisfied with this first configuration, I now connect it to my home wifi network. I put in the wireless key and connected with no problem, and could see 3 networks available which is normal at home.

On this maiden voyage I now downloaded the AVG virus definitions updates deferring the full virus scan at this time. I tested Firefox and configured to my liking and it was good to go. A quick run through on open office also confirmed it was OK.

Now on to the windows online updates. Since the OS is already at SP3 only a few security updates are needed right now.

Friday, February 6, 2009


I purchased my Acer Aspire One on Feb. 2 2009. I have been looking for a netbook for sometime now and decided that now was the time. I picked mine up from a local Walmart for 298$. The following are the specifications as per the package:

AOA 150-1777
Model No. ZG5
Intel Atom processor N270
8.9" CrystalBrite WSVGA
120 GB HD
Multi-in-1 card reader
10/100 base T
802.11 b/g
Manufactured Year 2008
Made in China
System BD/BIOS 35/3305
Windows XP Home

The color was Sapphire Blue. Contrary to the label on the box, this unit has a 160 GB HD. I did some reading in the Acer user forums prior to the purchase, and a lot of posts indicated that some units are being sold as 120 GB units but are actually 160's. It also appeared by the forums that the blue might be the most commonly upgraded unit, so thats what I went with. It looks like that little gamble paid off with a slightly larger hard drive. Not that the drive was the main consideration, as I probably won't use this netbook for large amounts of data.

This unit also comes with a .3 mega pixel webcam built in. Most netbooks that include cameras come with a 1.3 mega pixel, but once again this wasn't the most sought after feature for my needs.

My intentions, that this will be a simple, minimal, portable workstation. I have many computers and laptops, but this will be my first netbook.