Monthly Archives: April 2010

Monster Netbook Battery

I stubbornly refuse to give up my classic Asus Eee PC 701, one of the original netbooks. It’s 2.5 years old now but still serving me well. While these are supposed to be fairly disposable machines, I’m actually using this thing more and more these days (longer commute may have something to do with it). I decided to upgrade the battery from the included one (4400 mAh, rated for 2-2.5 hours). 7200 mAh batteries abounded for this Eee PC model but I decided to go crazy and buy the 10400 mAh battery.

And it’s huge. No one can keep a straight face when gazing upon this beast.

Naturally, I’m curious whether this battery is actually that much better. I searched to find if there are any established methodologies for testing battery life. It seems that the most established method is the most intuitive method, scientifically: Find a way to simulate typical usage and measure how long it takes before the machine dies from lack of battery charge.

Methodology Continue reading

Discis CD-ROMs For Apple Macintosh

Remember CD-ROMs? They were totally gonna revolutionize computer technology, owing to the fusion of video, audio, text, and interactivity. Or some such. It sounded like a good idea at the time and the concept commanded an impressive premium. The reason I bring this up is because I recently scavenged several in a series of outlandishly expensive CD-ROM storybooks published for the Apple Macintosh computers circa 1990. By outlandishly expensive, I mean in the range of $70-$85 per disc (about $110-$130 in today’s dollars).

I’m not usually interested in collecting very old Mac software; the only reason I snatched these up was because of the ridiculous prices on the front of each. The thrift store had forgotten to mark its own price tags on these CD-ROMs and the cashier was tempted to charge me the full $70-$85 for each disc until I gently reminded him that it was unlikely that any single item in the entire store was priced that high. We settled on a dollar each.

One of these CD-ROMs came with a vintage Apple business card, someone who held the position of “Account Executive – Education”, at an address I don’t recognize (i.e., not at Infinite Loop in Cupertino). Makes me wonder if the office predates the main Cupertino campus. Digital archaeology is a young science.

Tablet computers seem set to run with the interactive torch; Apple’s tablet computer leads the way for now. I wonder if the latest innovations in interactive applications on such devices will seem quaintly ridiculous in 10-20 years?

For search engines’ benefit, these are the titles: Continue reading

Blocking Sony Firmware Updates

I don’t want my PlayStation 3 “upgraded” beyond firmware version 3.15 which is the latest that supports the Other OS feature. When this misfeature was announced, I disabled networking since I rarely play PS3 games and I never do so online.

However, I just signed up for a Netflix streaming account. This necessitates network access via the PS3. At the same time, I want to alleviate the possibility of accidental firmware updates by myself or anyone else in the household who might not be fully briefed on the technical issues and would often be prompted to update the firmware. I can think of a few ways towards this goal:

  1. Set up my own DNS server that the PS3 has to use and blacklist firmware download sites.
  2. Set up a proxy that the PS3 must route through and blacklist the sites through there.
  3. Play games with my broadband router (a Linksys WCG-200) and block traffic to certain sites that would check for and download new firmware.

Another tip I found whilst Googling was to set the PS3’s DNS address to something nonsensical, effectively disabling DNS lookup. This was advised for keeping local media servers running without inadvertently updating firmware (I guess an older firmware update was going to take away some media server functionality).

All of these options require knowing which addresses to blacklist. Alternatively, I could figure out which Netflix addresses I need to whitelist.

I went with a combination of approaches 2 and 3. Routing traffic through Privoxy, I assessed that blocking achieves the desired result. I added that to the website black list on the router and all is well.