New laptop for the New Year

I hope you’ll forgive me a little self-indulgence to round out 2010. I don’t get sent any gadgets to test or review (That’s a hint, friendly PR types!), so it’s not often I get the experience the excitement of unboxing something fun. But having been the recipient of an unexpected contribution to a new laptop, I thought I’d make the most of it….

Boxed Samsung R540 Notebook

Oh look, it's a box. (And forgive the Christmas tablecloth!)

Obviously if Samsung, or anyone else, fancies sending me review products etc, then I’d have taken 20 seconds to get their logo the right way round.

And now it's a box with a manual inside....

For the record, the manual is pretty much 1. Insert Battery. 2. Insert power supply. 3. Charge laptop. 4. Switch on and follow the instructions.

Ooooh shiny....

Nice new laptop, and horrific crotch shot reflection...

For those interested, it’s a Samsung R540, 15.6 inch notebook. It’s got an Intel Core i3, and my budget and planned usage meant the 3GB, 32GB hard drive version. The reason I picked this particular model is that it’s pretty powerful in the application stakes, is a reasonable size and price, and the only negatives I’ve seen have been referring to the 2-3 hour battery life and the display if it’s not set at the maximum.

While I’ll be using it for client meetings and presentations, the fact it’ll mainly be used for working at home means that neither of those issues should be a problem (If it wasn’t for the fact I work in two different rooms in the house, I might have gone the desktop route).

And most importantly, it means that I can retire my aging Compaq to backup status. Although Ubuntu has kept it useful despite it’s age, the amount of work I have to do means it’s been increasingly painful to use.

So there you go – I’m sure the next time you see it, the Sammy will be scratched and probably be covered in stickers, but at least I’ve got a record of my pristine new purchase before it becomes the daily workhorse.

Ubuntu makes Linux brilliantly simple

I may a relative latecomer to Ubuntu, but I wanted to share my first impressions as a couple of offline conversations have shown me that even the ‘digitally aware’ aren’t always that familiar with it.

And it seemed like a good time to post about it, as the latest version is released today, Thursday, April 23, 2009.

I’m not a technical person (As @pjeedai can testify!).  I may work with technology, but the reason I’m fascinated and entranced by it is because of what it enables us to do.  And although I’m always interested in speaking to brilliantly technical friends and colleagues and keen to learn more, time and a lack of natural ability generally mean I don’t get the chance to play around with technical stuff as much as I’d like.

Yet telling people I’m running Linux seems to have given a couple of people the opposite impression!

How hard is it to install Ubuntu?

It’s just as hard as installing any commercial O/S.

Which means it’s as easy as putting a CD into your PC, switching it on, selecting the language you want, and hitting return a couple more times.

That’s it.


And having been a big fan of Firefox, OpenOffice and Gimp for a longtime, the fact they’re all automatically installed means an even easier life.

Why bother?

It’s free. That’s for personal and enterprise versions.

It comes with full commercial support for Canonical and other companies.

The Open Source nature of the O/S and software means, and I quote:

‘Every computer user should have the freedom to download, run, copy, distribute, study, share, change and improve their software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees.’

From the page on Ubuntu’s philosophy.

What about actually using it?

It’s not that much different from the Windows O/S you’re likely to be used to, and as a PC user, it’s less of a jump than trying to use a Mac.

(Although I still feel a little weird being told to ‘Mount’ and ‘Unmount’ removable hard drives and card readers etc!)

I’ve only been using it for a couple of days alongside Windows on my work computer, but so far I haven’t encountered anything which didn’t make sense after a couple of seconds.

And the best bit?

At the moment, Ubunut/Linux is still very much a minority O/S compared to Windows, which means hardly anyone would bother creating a virus to target it, especially as Linux makes it harder for a virus to run effectively.

So it’s another reason for switching to a Mac off the list for this PC user!

The latest version is available today, Thursday, April 23, 2009, and there’s a fairly short but interesting interview with Ubuntu CEO Mark Shuttleworth on InformationWeek.

So if you can ignore the fact your O/S will come with a version name like ‘Jaunty Jackalope’, I hope you’ll excuse me while I go and mount another hard drive.