“Insanity” for $500 please Alex

Jeapordy-InsanityI often demonstrate the textbook definition of insanity. The Dell is working OK for me. It’s nagging me to no end that I can’t use the NEC. It used to work, that’s the main reason for the modded firmware! This morning I contemplated the way I have my content generation fragmented: on the Dell, on the NEC and journals and notes on my Blackberry. I thought again of the convenience of the NEC. Instant on. Hot-swap batteries. Solid state. Drop it when your cat darts in front of you (another story) and it’s less than a c-note to replace. Besides, I have all those batteries and accessories. Worth some of my time to figure it out, no?

As a burned out geek I accept things like this. I come from the olden times when working around the quirks and bugs and poor documentation was proof that you were a king, a Master of Tech in ways mere mortals could not conceive. Like when I quoted the PocketPC application that would look up a single record in a database of 7.5mm records, then cross lookup in another of 2.6mm records all in less than 500ms before anyone had bothered to document usages of SQL for PocketPC (or was it CE?). I made it work. Now no one gives a dang about technical triumphs like that. Pay a pittance for the App, then complain when you get your money’s worth. But I digress.

Secure in the knowledge that the firmware used to allow USB sticks and drives to work, I tried cleaning the TypeA female connection. Nada. Then I tried a different memory stick. Zilch. Got out the spare NEC to see if it was unit unique. Nothing. But I did manage to tear off the rubber protectors for both prime and spare units.

I’m gonna’ get that it to work even though the time I spend on this nonsense would be way better spent by creating content. After all, it’s easier than to really create something.

Update 1: Been using the Dell Lattitude D420 as a daily driver, and I’m pretty happy with the thing except for the long boot up times. So I set it up to suspend when I close the lid, and that gives me a reasonable trade-off between start up speed and battery life. Just to confirm this problem, this morning I did a cold boot from a full battery charge. Just a few seconds short of 10 minutes for the HDD to quit spinning and used 11% of available battery again. The problem with the suspend is that if I have a word processing rich text file open when I suspend, I can’t save under that file name again. I know I should save it locally and then copy it out, but I want the convenience of it just being there when I go to put the content up. Resolved myself to so 2 things: a) get a low overhead Rich Text Editor so I don’t have to put up with the funky things that Word 2003 does to the documents b) order a CF card reader. The latter is really hard for me to do, but I still want to use the Nec 900c outside without having to worry that I just nuked a full featured laptop. The card reader is like less than ten bucks delivered from eBay.

Update 2: I got the PCMCIA card to work, so the NEC is good to go. Using Jarte Plus from a fellow North Carolinian as my text editor. And no, I didn’t log the time I’ve spent on this to see what the true cost really was. But I can tell you that I purchased a long life battery that comes out the front of the Dell Lattitude as a palm rest. Really neat, but invested another $50 so I could use it most of the day with the battery swap-outs. But then..

Final Update: I still DellD420vsDellXPS12have the NEC for when I want to go for a bike ride or hike and want to get things done. Mostly using it for journaling. It turns out that I couldn’t live with the reconnection problems when the Inspiron D420 came out of sleep or hibernation. If I had a document open I’d not be able to connect. And I’d have to remember to pulse the network drive with Explorer before I hit the shortcut for the files I use a lists and for site content. If I didn’t, Jartre (and any other software with a shortcut referencing a network drive) would remove the file from the “recently used” list so I’d have to navigate to it anyway to open it. And the battery life wasn’t what I was hoping for when I’d put it to sleep, suspend or hibernate. Rebooting wasn’t an option though as I’d either have to have a power supply handy or sacrafice a big chunk of my battery power just to boot in. So, I bit the bulliet, and purchased a Dell XPS 12, i7 Haswell with a 256gb HDD and 8gb memory. The battery life is impressive even though I’m hesitant about the built in, non-swappable battey. Bottom line is that I can use the XPS 12 for just about anything short of video processing and it will give me over 8 hours of usage before needing a charge. Cost me around $1k from a guy off ebay and although it was officially listed as a refurb, it’s clear that Dell just overbuilt them and when they were returned from a retailer or big customer they let them go at a huge loss. The same one lists for around $2k on the Dell’s website.