... continues from Part 1 ...
The Dell 0T568R motherboard (OEM by Foxconn) in Studio XPS 8100 computer has 4 slots for DDR3 SDRAM 1333Mhz dual channel memory. This motherboard can support up to 16GB of memory.
I have chosen 8GB (4 x 2GB) of memory for my computer. In fact, the default 4GB (2 x 2GB) is already sufficient for normal use, but I planned to use virtualization with VirtualBox and allocate 2GB for each virtual machine, therefore I go for 8GB at additional cost of RM390 from the default 4GB configuration. Anything above 8GB will need to buy for the 4GB RAM module and the price will be very high.
Dell equipped my computer with 4 Kingston KP223C-ELD PC3-10700 dual channel DDR3 memories, running at 9-9-9-24-2T 667MHz with Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP).
The Dell 0T568R motherboard (OEM by Foxconn) with Intel H57 chipset in Studio XPS 8100 computer has an Intel SATA RAID controller which supports for either RAID 0 or 1 only.
By default, it comes with 1 x 1TB Seagate 3.5" ST31000528AS Barracuda 7200.12 SATA 3GB/s hard drive with Native Command Queuing (NCQ) and 32MB cache. Its maximum data transfer rate can go up to 300MB/s.
I've decided to get another 1TB hard drive for additional RM481 and go for RAID 1 for data protection against hardware failure. (Now I realized that this cost is actually very high, as we can get the same hard drive for less than RM200 in DIY market.)
Dell formatted the hard drive into 3 partitions, one is for its utility and diagnostic tools, another is used to store a factory installation of OS image (and those pre-installed software) for disaster recovery purpose. The main partition is a big C:.
It is simple and easy to separate the C: partition into two (C: and D:) and can be done within minutes.
On 20 September 2010, I wrote about "Resizing harddisk partition in Windows Vista or Windows 7".
By default, Dell Studio XPS 8100 is equipped with single 16X CD/DVD burner with double layer write capability. It is a Hitachi-LG HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GH50N SATA writer.
There are options for Blue-Ray reader, Blue-Ray writer, either in combo drive or dual drives. However, the cost is pretty high.
It is good to have Blue-Ray together with display card and monitor that supports HD, but as the Blue-Ray movie discs are selling at high price, and the Blue-Ray data discs are also selling at high price. Considering that I might not be keen on Blue-Ray products due to its price at the moment, I've decided to stick with the default DVD+-RW writer.
Note that the reading and/or burning speed of a combo drive is slower than the single drive in those Dell's optical drive options.
Interestingly, the DVD+-RW writer of this Dell Studio XPS 8100 is concealed behind a cover, with its open/close toggle button beside that cover.
... continues to Part 3...
Thursday, September 30, 2010
... continues from Part 1 ...
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I've just replaced my aged Pentium IV 2.4GHz home PC which had served for many years, with a new Dell Studio XPS 8100. It was the same time when I bought my Dell SX2210T 21.5" full HD widescreen multi-touch all-in-one active-matrix LCD monitor. If you have been reading the "IT talks" section of this blog all the while, you might be well awared about this from my sharings along the process.
The Pentium IV PC which had served me for 8 years is still working fine, and I've sold it at minimal price to its new owner. It was my great asset with superb return on investment. I remember I bought it at around RM4k, and over the years, I've used it to write books & articles, coding for programming projects, analyse stocks, perform online trading, etc. Hopefully this new Dell Studio XPS 8100 with Core i5-750 processor will reap even higher ROI for me from now on.
Now, let me share with you the process of chosing this new home PC.
DIY or branded?
My previous Pentium IV PC was a DIY one. This time, I've chosen Dell because:
- The Dell Studio XPS 8100 has a competitive price that is very close to DIY the same specs myself.
- I can buy it with 12 months interest free credit card instalment.
- Its price includes warranty and insurance (1-year XPS Premier Service, 1-year CompleteCover accidental damage protection)
- Its price includes 1 year 24x7 Priority User PC phone support
- Its price includes 1 year 2GB Datasafe online backup. Not very big, but good enough to remote backup my important document files.
I've chosen the Intel Core i5-750 processor. By the time of buying, there wasn't any option to choose for Intel Core i5-760 yet as the i5-760 was just launched. Otherwise, I would have chosen the later as the price difference is minimal to i5-750.
I didn't choose an i7 processor because i5 with 4 cores is good enough for my use. The hyperthreading feature in i7 to boost its 4 physical cores to virtually 8 cores is nice, but bear in mind that whenever hyperthreading kicks off, the CPU temperature will rise sharply, and power consumption will increase tremendously too. Therefore, if you can live with i5 with 4 cores without hyperthreading, you probably won't need to go for i7, and in long run, that could save you money for less electricity consumption.
On 21 June 2010, I wrote about "Main differences among Intel 64-bit processors: Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, i3, i5, i7, ...".
I do support for genuine OS and application software as long as the cost is reasonable.
For Dell Studio XPS 8100, there are only some variations of Windows 7 to choose. I've chosen Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit edition. I need 64-bit because I'm going to choose 8GB RAM. I don't need the additional features in Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate.
Unfortunately, this Dell Studio XPS 8100 package does not comes with the Windows 7 DVD. I only get a piece of yellow paper with instruction to burn my own Recovery DVDs.
The installed license key is also different from the one printed on the sticker on top of its chasis. I believe it is a generic Dell OEM Windows 7 license key for Home Premium 64-bit edition.
On 16 July 2010, I wrote about "Is Windows 7 Home Premium good enough? Do you need Professional or Ultimate edition? ".
On 12 September 2010, I wrote about "Workaround for Windows 7 to have multi-panel [All Programs] like Windows XP ".
Actually, I don't like McAfee, but I was forced to choose the cheapest one from the list, as I was told it is part of the package which cannot be taken out.
As soon as I received the computer, I've uninstalled the pre-installed McAfee Security Center and installed with Norton Internet Security which I bought at RM100 for 1 year subscription for 3 computers.
On 19 August 2010, I wrote about "Intel to buy over McAfee for $7.68 billion ".
On 27 August 2010, I wrote about "Best antivirus / security suite in 2010".
I've chosen the Dell SX2210T 21.5" multi-touch monitor with webcam. However, the price of this monitor in the Studio XPS 8100 package didn't have any discount and stood at RM1,584. Therefore, I've chosen "no monitor" for the package instead, and purchased the monitor separately at the discounted price of RM1,099.
On 23 September 2010, I wrote about "My Dell SX2210T 21.5" full HD widescreen multi-touch all-in-one active-matrix LCD monitor ".
On 27 September 2010, I wrote about "Free multi-touch screen games and fun applications for Windows 7 by Microsoft ".
... continues to Part 2...
Monday, September 27, 2010
The optical mouse I used with my laptop has become faulty. It will keep on double click even though I just single click on it. I decided to replace it with a new mouse, perhaps with one that still can work on glass and glossy surface.
I found out that A4Tech has come out with their Glasser series of optical mouses with their Dual Focus Lens technology, and claimed to work smoothly even on transparent glass. Another technology that can let the optical mouse work on glossy surface is to use laser beam instead of infra red.
So happen that my faulty mouse was from A4Tech brand, I decided to switch the brand to Logitech this time.
Logitech produces mouses with their Darkfield Laser Tracking technology, but the cost is relatively higher than their normal laser mouses. After some consideration, I've finally bought the Logitech V120 laser mouse, which is designed for use with laptop.
Despite lacking the Darkfield Laser Tracking technology, this Logitech V120 laser mouse can still work on glass surface, although not as smooth as on rough surface.
It is a wired mouse with USB connector to the computer. Being specially designed for laptop use, it has a short cable so that it won't tangle around. It also comes with a longer USB extension cable, so that it still can connect to a PC with some distance away.
In fact, the cord can be neatly winded into its base, with the USB plug snapped securely into place to protect the laser lens. With its compact size, it is easy to carry with no tangled mess.
Its price varies in different shops, from RM39 to as high as RM59. I bought mine in Thunder Match for RM39 only. It comes with a 3-year limited hardware warranty.
If you have a multi-touch monitor such as Dell SX2210T, HP L2105tm, Acer T230H, Samsung LD220Z, etc., and your computer is running on Windows 7, you can download and install Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 from Microsoft Download Center for free.
Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 includes 6 applications designed to operate with multi-touch screen. After installation, you'll get:
Microsoft Blackboard, which is an intricate game of physics for you to solve puzzles by creating a fanciful machine on a "blackboard".
Microsoft Garden Pond, which is a game that takes place in a Japanese water gardens. Use your hand to create water ripples in the pond on your screen to guide the origami or to put off fire, without actually wetting your hand.
Microsoft Rebound, which is a game in which you use your fingertips to move Tesla balls with an electrical field between them to try and catapult a metal game ball into your opponent's goal.
Microsoft Surface Globe, which is a program that you can use to explore the earth as a flat 2D map or as an immersive 3D experience, similar to Google Earth.
Microsoft Surface Collage, which is a program that you can use to explore and interact with your photos and arrange them as a desktop background, similar to the one in Dell Touch Zone.
Microsoft Surface Lagoon, which is an interactive 3D screensaver that simulation an underwater world with fishes. You can play around with the water and fishes, without actually wetting your hand.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Dell is among the pioneer to come out with LCD monitor with multi-touch screen feature. I bought my Dell SX2210T monitor from Dell Online during the previous PC Fair in August 2010, at a discounted price of RM1,099 with 3 years Advanced Exchange warranty.
Unlike those all-in-one PCs (such as Dell Studio One) which also include a multi-touch screen but has limited choice of hardware specification, this Dell SX2210T monitor can plug into any computer of your own specification that runs on Windows 7. It can be used by a game box too.
Currently the multi-touch feature requires Windows 7 Home Premium or above, and I heard that Ubuntu Linux 10.10, to be released soon in October, will support for such feature as well.
The main feature that differentiate this monitor with ordinary LCD monitors is its multi-touch screen. Beside complimenting the mouse actions with your finger to point and tap on the screen, you can have similar experience as using iPhone or iPad by using your finger to scroll, flip, drag, etc. You can also perform actions such as enlarge, reduce, rotate, etc. with more than one finger on the screen.
You can even do more with your finger with Flicks, like copy, paste, undo, delete, save, print, toggle certain key on the keyboard, etc.
Beside that, you can type using the on-screen keyboard. Further more, you can even write and draw on your screen, best assisted with a stylus.
However, you can only handwrite in one language, which is the current language setting of your Windows 7 (can be English, Chinese, Japanese, ...), unless you use Windows 7 Ultimate which supports full multilingual capability, then you can even handwrite Chinese in English Windows as well.
This is a 21.5" full HD 16:9 widescreen active matrix TFT LCD monitor with CCFL edgelight system, supporting high definition resolution of 1920 x 1080 in 32-bit (16.7 million) true colours. It can produce crystal clear display (output from the ATI Radeon HD5770 video card in my PC) with a pixel pitch as small as 0.248 mm.
Although its view angle is only 160 degree, the display is still fully viewable beyond that. You will only experience lost in colour when viewing the screen beyond 160 degree.
Its luminous output is 220 CD/m², pretty bright. It has a typical contrast ratio of 1000:1 (not so exciting) and a dynamic contrast ratio of up to 50,000:1. Its white is really white, and its black makes no different as when it is switched off. It has a very fast grey-to-grey response time of 2 ms only.
It supports 3 kinds of video input: DVI, HDMI and VGA. It comes with a DVI cable and also a VGA cable. HDMI cable is not provided. Normally, we just need to use DVI to connect to the video card in the PC.
Its touch screen is using optical sensor with resolution of 1073 Mpixel. Typical response time is 15 ms, which is pretty fast in picking up. The beauty of optical touch technology is: no pressure is required. You don't even need to physically touch on the screen, just point close to the screen and it will pick up the action.
I call it an "all-in-one" monitor because beside monitor and touch screen function, it also comes together with:
- 1 built-in webcam with 2 mega pixel sensor, able to capture video up to 1600 x 1200 (UXGA)
- 2 integrated microphones (located at left and right of the webcam)
- Audio line-in and line-out ports
- Optionally can attach with a soundbar
- 3 USB 2.0 downstream connectors (it acts as a USB hub)
There is also a piece of black cloth comes together with the monitor, for you to wipe off your fingerprints on the touch screen.
This Dell SX2210T monitor is pretty unique from others, that it is running on DC current, and has an external power adapter similar to those commonly used by laptops. Its normal power consumption is only 28W, up to 42W when all USB ports are active as well.
In the CD that comes together with the monitor are:
- Driver for the monitor
- Touch screen tools (required for the multi-touch screen to function)
- Dell TouchCam (for webcam video capturing)
- FastAccess facial recognition (enables your face to be identified by the webcam and recognized by the system using biometric technology)
- Some documentations
This Dell SX2210T monitor is plug and play. To replace the generic plug and play monitor driver with the one in the CD, you need to right click on your Windows 7 desktop, select Screen Resolution, then click on Advanced Settings, click the Monitor tab, click the Properties button. Then, click the Driver tab, click the Update Driver... button, select "Browse my computer for driver software" and look for the monitor driver in the CD to install it.
The 2 mega pixel webcam is good enough for normal usage. When it is operating, its white LED light will be switched on to alert you.
FastAccess is a pretty cool biometric application. You can use it to login Windows with your face, with or without password. You can use it to make sure you are in front of the PC, and lock the PC with password when you are away.
The log function of FaceAccess is quite interesting. With the webcam, it can take picture of the persons attempting to login to your Windows, be the login successful or not successful.
If you are also using this monitor, I strongly recommend you to download the Dell Touch Zone application here.
Dell Touch Zone demonstrates what you can do with your multi-touch screen, including playing drums, piano and other musical instruments on the screen with your hand, getting fun with pictures you've taken and stored in the computer, etc.
Click here to find out more about Dell SX2210T multi-touch all-in-one widescreen monitor.
You might probably be interested to also read about:
Monday, September 20, 2010
If we want to resize a harddisk partition in Windows XP, we have to make use of 3rd party software such as GPartEd. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, there is built-in utility for us to resize the harddisk partition.
We seldom need to resize the harddisk partition, but most new computer pre-installed with the OEM OS is partitioned as one big partition only, although the harddisk can be of terrabytes of capacity.
One practical usage of this is to split the big C: drive into two. This will make possible system backup and system imaging of C: to D: drive in another partition.
You might also want to perform partition resizing when one of your harddisk partition is almost full, while there are space in other partition to squeeze out. In this case, shrink the partition with excess storage, and extend the partition which is almost full.
Here is how to do it in Windows 7.
Open the Start Menu, right click on Computer and select Manage. Then, expand Storage on the left panel, and click on Disk Management.
Right click on the partition you want to resize.
You will be given options to extend, shrink or delete the selected partition (a.k.a. volume). Of course, you can't extend a partition if there is no empty partition space next to it, and you can't delete a primary partition with extended partition(s) unless you deleted all the extended partitions first. Beware that deleting a partition will cause total data lost in that partition.
Friday, September 17, 2010
The new software version 3.10 (2010-09) is now available for Sing/Mal version of Garmin Nuvi 205/205w/255w.
This version will:
- Improve the stability of the GPS software system.
- Synchronize to English v6.60.
The update process is similar to that of previous version. You can refer to this article written for earlier version here for detailed steps of upgrade.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Global Finance has come out with a report to rank out the world's richest and poorest countries in 2010, based on their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) per capita.
The top 20 ranking (richest) are:
- 1. Qatar (90,149)
- 2. Luxembourg (79,411)
- 3. Norway (52,964)
- 4. Singapore (52,840)
- 5. Brunei Darussalam (48,714)
- 6. United States (47,702)
- 7. Hong Kong (44,840)
- 8. Switzerland (43,903)
- 9. Netherlands (40,601)
- 10. Australia (39,841)
- 11. Austria (39,561)
- 12. Canada (39,037)
- 13. Ireland (39,009)
- 14. Kuwait (38,984)
- 15. Iceland (36,750)
- 16. Sweden (36,503)
- 17. Denmark (36,336)
- 18. United Arab Emirates (36,176)
- 19. Belgium (35,825)
- 20. United Kingdom (35,083)
- 164. Haiti (1,212)
- 165. Rwanda (1,195)
- 166. Comoros (1,161)
- 167. Guinea-Bissau (1,081)
- 168. Ethiopia (1,004)
- 169. Afghanistan (996)
- 170. Guinea (996)
- 171. Mozambique (981)
- 172. Malawi (925)
- 173. Madagascar (905)
- 174. Togo (832)
- 175. Sierra Leone (781)
- 176. Central African Republic (764)
- 177. Niger (733)
- 178. Eritrea (676)
- 179. Liberia (434)
- 180. Burundi (410)
- 181. Zimbabwe (365)
- 182. Congo (342)
PPP takes into account the relative cost of living and the inflation rates of countries, rather than using just exchange rates, which may distort the real differences in income.
Under this scheme, China, which ranked the 1st in terms of GDP growth at the same period, only gets a 96th with GDP (PPP) of 7,240. This somehow shows the reality that although the economy in China is blooming, they still have a long way to go to get on top of the list.
The ranking and GDP (PPP) of the BRIC nations are:
- 52. Russian Federation (15,738)
- 73. Brazil (11,066)
- 96. China (7,240)
- 128. India (3,176)
- 4. Singapore(52,840)
- 5. Brunei Darussalam (48,714)
- 59. Malaysia (14,275)
- 90. Thailand (8,479)
- 122. Indonesia (4,380)
- 127. Philippines (3,604)
- 129. Vietnam (3,104)
- 139. Laos (2,401)
- 146. Cambodia (2,084)
- 159. Myanmar(1,244)
Click here to read the Global Finance's report on world's richest and poorest countries. You can also see the full ranking list there.
Monday, September 13, 2010
If you want to backup/restore the user profiles of a Mozilla application (including SeaMonkey, Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird, Flock, Postbox Express, Mozilla Suite, Spicebird, Songbird, Netscape, Wyzo, etc.) or to migrate the user profiles from one computer to another, I've found a free, simple and amazing application called MozBackup.
MozBackup is a freeware (even for commercial use) and works on Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista/7. It is developed in Czech republic.
It can backup a Mozilla user profile into a single file, and restore it to the Mozilla applications in the same or different computer. It works with portable version of Mozilla applications too. You have the option to password protect the backup file too.
It is able to backup/restore everything in the Mozilla user profile, including all the settings, emails, address books, bookmarks, history, sidebars, user styles, extensions, saved passwords, cookies, saved form details, downloaded file list, security certificates , cache, signature files, etc.
It is intelligent enough to detect the Mozilla applications installed in the computer, and the backup/restore operation can be done within a few simple steps only.
I am able to transfer everything in my SeaMonkey from one computer to another within minutes. A big thumb-up for this.
Click here to go to the website of MozBackup. You can download it there.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The "All Programs" in the Start Menu of Windows XP is expandable to multiple panels to show all the items in it.
However, this behaviour has been changed in Windows 7, and now when you click on "All Programs", the items is listed in a short, single panel listing, and if you have a long list of installed applications, you have to scroll through the list to reach the one you intend to open.
There is a workaround for this without having to install and make use of 3rd party Start Menu alternative program such as Vista Start Menu.
I'll share with you how to do it.
Firstly, you need to make sure the hidden ProgramData folder is visible. Go to Control Panel > Folder Options and click on View, select "Show hidden files, folders and drives" under Hidden files and folders option.
Now, right click on the round Windows logo of the Start Menu, and click on Properties. Then click the "Customize..." button.
Search for an item that you won't use (eg. Recorded TV) which can be display as a menu, check on Display as a menu for that item.
Now, you should be able to see the Recorded TV item in your Start Menu. Right click on it, and Rename it to "All Programs". After that, right click on it and select Properties.
Next, Remove the item inside the Library locations panel. Then click on "Include a folder..." button.
Then, navigate to "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" and click the Include Folder button. No need to share this folder if you're asked about this.
You're done. Check your Start Menu and see it in action! Now you have 2 options of "All Programs", the original one which remains, and the new one you've just made.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
For your information, BZ Media LLC, the publisher of Software Development Times, is organizing the first AnDevCon for developers, entrepreneurs and IT professionals focusing on the booming Android mobile software market.
This will be a 3 days conference. It will begin with 1 day of intensive workshops, followed by 2 days of technical classes. The conference will include a tabletop exhibit area for companies selling products and services for Android marketers and developers.
Detail as below:
- Date: 7-9 March 2011
- Venue: San Mateo in San Francisco, California, USA
- Admission: non-free, with payment
- Android Developer Essentials: These technical classes and workshops are for all Android developers, and cover all programming topics.
- Android Enterprise Essentials: These technical sessions cover topics specific to building and managing apps for employees, business customers and partners, such as back-end integration corporate datacenter communications, ERP or CRM systems.
- Android Business Essentials: These classes and workshops are for entrepreneurs and developers who want to learn the most effective ways of distributing and marketing Android apps, including how to maximize sales through the Android Market.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I have upgraded the stock suspension of my Toyota Avanza to Titan high-low adjustable performance suspension system.
Titan is a well-known Malaysian brand of serviceable car shock absorber and suspension components, manufactured by a company called MPd Auto Centre Sdn Bhd founded in 1999 by Richard How, and located at No. 38, Jalan Mewah 3/3, Taman Perindustrian Hata, Pandan Mewah, 68000 Ampang.
Titan is highly recommended by AOCM as a replacement for the stock suspension of Toyota Avanza (either the 1.3 or the 1.5 models). Although its initial cost is higher than normal absorber, it has advantages such as:
- Height is adjustable to tune for the suspension dampening rate
- Can be custom made according to your requirement
- The package includes the whole car suspension system, i.e. absorber, spring, damper, panhard rod modification, etc.
- Serviceable, no need to replace the whole thing in the future, thus lower maintenance cost
- Has second hand resell value
If Titan is used together with the Ultra Racing bars, Toyota Avanza can have a greatly improved steady and stable ride, as well as safer and better handling for high speed and cornering.
For those who complain about stock suspension system of Toyota Avanza, this could be your solution.