An ever-changing life inspired by the pneuma


My New Laptop – Acer Travelmate 2428

Filed under: General — feyMorgaina @ 09:29


It has been a very strange week. It must have been that Mercury retrograde in Cancer. Ugh! Hard to keep moving forward with that transit. However, in some ways it can be productive such as helping you clear out communications that may have been in your way. It has, however, turned me into a hermit for another week. Glad to say Mercury has now gone direct. Yay! It will move back into Leo soon, and I can be cheerily doing more writing…

…on my new laptop. 😀

I have been using an old IBM Thinkpad T20 that Nathan had for a while now. While it is a very good laptop, it is about five years old (I think). The major problems I’ve been having with it are fussy power input and a screen that likes to flicker on and off. The problem with the power started with a damaged power cord (that we have managed to make work temporarily by soldering the wires – it just wears out again). We bought a power cord adapter for the Thinkpad, and then later realized there is a slight problem with the plug inside the laptop. This we discovered a little too late as it ruined the recommended adapter tip to use with the Thinkpad (the plastic around the tip melted a bit). Anyway, the adapter now has a different tip on it that actually fits the plug. However, the plug is still fussy. Plugging in the power cord adapter when the laptop battery is almost discharged now tends to shut the laptop off. The screen likes to flicker on and off when you start up the laptop. My solution to this, believe it or not, is to keep adjusting the brightnesss of the screen until it stabilizes. In any case, it was getting very frustrating using a laptop that seems to want to die out soon. So reluctantly using some credit, I decided to buy a new laptop.

After some internet comparative shopping, I settled on purchasing the Acer Travelmate 2428 (TM2428). I was thinking of buying the Lenovo C100 offered through Tiger Direct, but then I saw that Future Shop had the Acer TM2428 on sale for the same price as the Lenovo C100. Quickly, looking at Tiger Direct, I noticed that they were selling the same Acer for a higher price. In addition, Future Shop gave me the option of being able to pick up my laptop purchase at the store. On the other hand, buying from Tiger Direct meant having the laptop shipped to me which meant having to pay extra dollars in shipping charges. I also looked at some reviews for both laptops and concluded the Acer was a better model. People seemed to have more positive things to say about the Acer model than the Lenovo one (Lenovo, by the way, bought the IBM Thinkpad line).

After much hemming and hawing, and basically fighting with myself over spending so much money, I ordered my laptop online at Future Shop on Thursday. Future Shop is nicely convenient in that you can pick up your order within three hours after receiving store confirmation through email that they have the item. With a printout of the email and the credit card you ordered with, you can go to the store to pick up your order. You also don’t pay online if you select pick-up instead of shipping. So, I headed down to the nearest Future Shop and picked up my new laptop. 😀

The Acer Travelmate 2428 is a nicely designed model.

For those who care about the health of their fingers and hands, the TM2428 comes with an ergonomically designed keyboard, the Acer FineTouch (the whole Travelmate line comes with this keyboard, as far as I know). It is curved in a smile somewhat. The keys tap nicely. The only problem I’ve been having is getting used to having the “Del”, “Home”, “Pg Up”, “Pg Dn”, and “End” keys running down the right side of the keyboard snug up against the backspace, enter, and right shift keys. If you’re anything like me, you got used to using the backspace and the enter keys as “touch markers” for the end of the keyboard, that is, when my hands aren’t on the keyboard typing, I usually can find the backspace and enter key without looking. Now, I have to remind myself that there are extra keys on that side of the keyboard. The other thing that I have to keep reminding myself is to not hit the “Del” key accidentally. The “Del” key is located on the Acer keyboard in the top right corner – that’s right, where the “Pg Up” key is on other keyboards. Again, if you’re like me, you’re used to having your finger at the top right corner of the laptop when reading web pages or when scrolling through your file manager or email. Eek! Trying not to delete files or emails accidentally.

The keyboard is embedded which means you can hit Fn+F11 to activate “NumLk”, and you will have number keypad along with the basic mathematical operators to use if you are doing calculations. You can also use cursor-control keys that you would normally find on the number keypad of traditional computer keyboards. You can do this regardless of “NumLk” being on or off by using the shift key or the function key. The keyboard also includes additional keys for “euro” and “dollar” signs. These two keys are found on either side of the up direction key. Additionally, you can type in the euro sign using the right “alt” key and the number five key.

The touchpad is a little sensitive for me (most of them are), but that can be fixed under your touchpad options. The touchpad comes with your normal left and right click buttons. This one also includes a directional (four-way) scroll button located between the left and right click buttons. It’s not quite as fast as a scroll wheel on a normal mouse, but it is handy to have on the keyboard. When in a web browser, the left and right directional keys on the scroll button move “back” and “forward” a page. Nice! The laptop does not have a touchpoint – this seems to be the norm for laptops as I have not seen many laptops with a touchpoint. It’s too bad because the touchpoint can be more precise than the touchpad, and it’s not overly sensitive as the touchpad seems to be. (I’ve accidentally grazed the touchpad resulting in a “click” action, and opened a program, window, or dialogue box, or clicked an internet link.) The old IBM Thinkpad T20 has a touchpoint. Nathan’s laptop is the only model I’ve seen that has both a touchpad and a touchpoint. If you really don’t like the touchpad, you have to option of turning it off using Fn+F7 while you plug a mouse into one of the three USB ports.

TM2428 has a very nice screen that reduces glare. Again, if you’re like me, you’ll like this. My eyes tend to glaze over a bit if I’ve been on the computer for too long, say, all day. The glare reduction aids immensely for me when I’m trying to do a load of work on the laptop. I still get the glazed eyes sometimes, but the glare reduction increases my tolerance for looking at computer screens for too long.

Built into the top panel of the laptop are two PIFA antennae that boosts your wireless signal. This is Acer SignalUp wireless technology. Reportedly, with this technology, the wireless signal reach is 25 to 30% higher than in other laptops. This is excellent for the wireless world out there. I actually did not know this when I bought the laptop, but found this out when I did some research on what comes with it. The SignalUp technology is reportedly being built into all of Acer’s newer laptops. The laptop also comes with Bluetooth capabilities for those who use Bluetooth devices.

The TM2428 I bought comes with a CD-RW/DVD combo. A DVD burner option is available. The CD/DVD ejects out the left side of the laptop as opposed to the front or the right side. This is more convenient when sitting down with your laptop in your… well… lap. I found it particularly annoying having the CD/DVD eject out the right side since the mouse is on the right side (if you opt to use a mouse instead of the touchpoint). Speaking of the mouse, it plugs into the USB port of the right side of the laptop – convenient as you don’t have to drap your mouse cord around the laptop.

The speakers are located in the front of the laptop along with the microphone, line-in, and headphones/speaker/line-out jack. Battery indicator and power LED are located in the front. The power button also has a light indicator. When the laptop is on, the power button is glowing green. The wireless LAN and the Bluetooth also have LED indicators in the front beside their respective on/off switches. With a switch, you can turn your wireless connection and off.

TM2428 also comes with four quick launch buttons (aka “hot keys”). They are for internet, email, Acer’s Empowering Technology, and one extra. They are all programmable. Acer would like you to use their Empowering Technology, but it is not required. It takes up a considerable amount of drive space for something that just duplicates what can be done in either Windows or Debian GNU/Linux. Basically, you have two extra programmable launch buttons in addition to the internet and email quick launch buttons. These buttons are located conveniently beside the power button.

The battery pack is located at the bottom back of the laptop. You can plug in an additional monitor at the back. The ethernet and modem jacks are located at the back right. The power cord plugs into the back. The power cord tip is conveniently shaped like an “L” to reduce wear and tear on the tip from having gravity pull on the cord. For the security of your laptop, there is a Kensington lock slot built in.

The TM2428 I bought came with Windows XP Home Edition pre-loaded. You can go ahead with this operating system or you can opt to use something else like Windows XP Professional or GNU/Linux. The laptop is nicely configured for Windows XP (either version), but can run nicely with GNU/Linux and Gnome. With GNU/Linux though, you have to do some work to get the quick launch buttons to work, and I have no idea how to get the wireless LED indicator to work in Debian GNU/Linux.

I have both Windows XP Professional and Debian GNU/Linux with Gnome installed on the TM2428. For those who are interested, I’ve listed below the specifications that came with the purchased TM2428:

Platform: Intel Centrino 735a
Screen Size: 14.1″
RAM (Preloaded) 256MB DDR RAM (can be upgraded to 2GB)
Hard Drive 40GB 4200RPM
Optical Drives CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo Drive
Graphics 128MB (Shared) Intel GMA 900
Average Battery Life 2.5 Hours
Product Weight 2.7 kg
Audio Type Intel High Definition Audio
Battery Type Lithium-Ion
Cache 1MB L2
Fax/Modem 56K V.92
I/O Ports 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x VGA
Network Card 10/100 Ethernet LAN, 802.11 b/g Wireless
Other Software Acer Empowering Technology, Acer GridVista, Acer Launch Manager, Adobe Reader, CyberLink PowerDVD, Norton Antivirus, NTI CD-Maker
PC Card Slots 1 Type II
Pointing Device Touchpad
Preloaded Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Processor Speed 1.7GHz
Product Dimensions 36.3(W) x 3.3(H) x 27.5(D) cm
Removable Storage None
Screen Type TFT LCD
Speakers Acer
System Bus 400MHz

The Acer Travelmate 2428 seems to be a good laptop. For those who appreciate the aesthestics of design, you’ll enjoy using this laptop. Since I’ve only had this laptop for a few days, I cannot give a full assessment of it in terms of functionality. I haven’t really used the CD burner yet. So far, everything seems to work really well. I think the wireless antennae in the top panel makes a difference to the wireless connection, but I wouldn’t really know unless I took the laptop somewhere to check out the signal. A 40GB hard drive may be small for some people, but I don’t keep much on the computer hard drive since I don’t play many games, and I tend to burn things to CD to keep. As long as the laptop works and I can use it, it should be fine for me. My only wish is that it came with a DVD burner, but stand-alone burners are available. I haven’t quite done much multi-tasking yet on this laptop. I’ll have to follow up with a review as to how the laptop holds up when I have music playing, and I’m doing all sorts of work related tasks (e.g., internet research, word document production, file transferring to server, and using email).

You can read PC Magazine’s review of another Acer Travelmate laptop and compare it with PC Magazine’s review of Lenovo C100. Pictures of the laptops are provided with the reviews.

Brigid’s Flame

Training Update – July 22 to 30, 2006

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 05:12


Not as much exercise this week as normal. It has been a strange week for me. I did get some running in though.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I decided to do my two-mile route. I ran a mile and a half, then walked/ran the last half mile because I was getting a small cramp. It was very hot and humid out again, and I think I didn’t give my body enough time to absorb the water I drank. My time for the mile and a half was 12 minutes 23 seconds – my fastest time for that distance so far. 🙂 I was pushing my speed a bit on the mile and a half. I want to get my speed up a bit. Hopefully, I should be able to run two miles straight in just under 16 minutes, as my time for a mile is now under 8 minutes.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I went for another run. I ended up only going for a mile and a half because I was getting cramps again. This time they were considerably worse than on Saturday, so I decided to take it easy and walk a bit. I ended up walking much of the way back, with a little bit of light running in between. The cramps were too much – think I was bloated again. My total time was 15 minutes 57 seconds – slow for a run, but a good walk for a mile and a half.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I decided to take today a little easy since I cramped up the last couple of runs. I decided to go for a mile and half run. I did a good run, I wasn’t cramping up anymore. My time was 12 minutes 1 second – my fastest time now since this beats the time from the Saturday. 🙂 I’m happy with that. Getting closer to being able to run two miles in about 16 minutes. My pace now is an eight-minute-mile. Keeping that pace for the extra distance means 12 minutes for a mile and a half and 16 minutes for two miles. Working up to three miles, the time would be 24 minutes. Double the time for the three miles mean 48 minutes for 6 miles. Recall a 10k is 6.25 miles (approximately). Therefore, an eight-minute-mile pace will complete a 10k in under an hour. Right now though I’ll just be happy if I can run three miles in 24 minutes.

(who typed this blog using her brand new laptop – see next post)
Brigid’s Flame