Tag: netbook

Using Gimp on a netbook

That’s right, I am officially crazy enough to try to use Gimp on a netbook. While they may be small and underpowered, the ability to use an advanced image editor can come in handy at the most unexpected times (and often does!) There are a few tricks needed to make Gimp’s tools fit on the screen of a netbook, though, particularly a 7″ netbook like my Sylvania G, and I shall reveal them now.

Google Chrome OS: Why it will suck, and why I don’t want it

Ah, yes, the much-speculated Google Operating System. Rumors about a possible OS from Google have been floating about for years now, and it seems that Google has finally delivered the cornucopia of computing goodness to your door. Coming soon to a netbook near you: Google’s new operating system. The news is practically flooded with articles about why Google’s fancy new OS is so important and interesting.

I’m here to tell you why it sucks, and why it isn’t really that special at all.

The Sylvania G dies, but yields an AWESOME customer service experience.

It’s official: something went severely wrong with the Sylvania G netbook I bought in October.  The keyboard AND POWER BUTTON will completely “lock up” at random and QUICKLY, yet the computer itself still runs in the background, and the hard drive developed a couple of bad sectors (which I remedied by doing a zero fill–more on that in another post).  It’s fairly unusable now, and it’s still within the warranty period, so I called up Sylvania’s support number for help.  The company that actually makes these netbooks is called Digital Gadgets, and it is them who I have dealt with.  So, how did it go?

I haven’t been this happy about a customer service experience EVER.

I explained to the tech that I bought the netbook in October 2008, that I run a computer service shop, and detailed heavily what was wrong and the evidence that I had gathered to make my judgment call that the netbook was screwed up.  Apparently the ink used for the serial number sticker is poor, because it had smudged off to the point that it was unreadable, which I made very clear early on in the call.  This is about where you would expect me to spew off about the run-around I was given and the stupid hoops I had to jump through to prove to the person that it was indeed screwed up, because 99.9% of service and support agents have almost no authority to help customers and are usually in the business of preventing warranty returns at any cost.

But that didn’t happen, not even a tiny little bit.  No run-around?  Surely I jest, right?  WRONG!

The tech support agent, named William Lee, promptly started the process of generating an RMA and took my shipping address to send a totally free return shipping box to.  About eight hours later (and after business hours, no less) I had an RMA number in my email inbox, with instructions on what to do when the box arrived.  As of this writing, the box hasn’t yet appeared, but that’s because I only called them a couple of days ago.

It is astonishingly refreshing to be able to deal with someone like William.  He did everything exactly right, without a single flaw in his procedure.  He LISTENED TO THE CUSTOMER’S PROBLEM, taking the time to ensure he understood exactly what was going on from my perspective.  He also BELIEVED THE CUSTOMER’S STORY AND EXHIBITED BELIEF IN THE CUSTOMER’S GOOD FAITH, which is the exact opposite of what most suppot agents do: showing a lack of faith and general distrust of the customer right off the bat.  Because he LISTENED and BELIEVED, this brought about the UNDERSTANDING  that there was a clear issue covered under the warranty which needed to be resolved quickly as possible.  Within a reasonable time frame, he PROVIDED A SPEEDY RESOLUTION TO THE CUSTOMER’S PROBLEM.

Let me explain exactly why I am writing in this fashion.  William’s example should be followed by all companies, and sadly it is almost nonexistent in the corporate customer service landscape of today.  The benefits to the customer (in this case, myself) are fairly obvious: the problem was resolved quickly and the customer’s precious time was not wasted to achieve that resolution.  But what about the benefits of William’s actions to the BUSINESS?

  1. William spent as little time as possible chatting it up on the telephone.  This left William free to service other customers, reducing overall load on the customer service department at Digital Gadgets.  It also made William a much more valuable asset to the company, because William is able to service more customers than an agent who is given no authority and is required by the company to simply  toss customers through hoops.
  2. On the flip side, William did not abbreviate our conversation.  He spent the time required to understand my situation, but did not ask me to perform senseless exercises when it was quite clear that the problem was hardware-related and not fixable over the phone.
  3. I was heard but not patronized, AND a SIMPLE solution was presented QUICKLY.  This greatly increases my faith in Digital Gadgets as one of their customers, increasing the chances that I will purchase from them in the future AND RECOMMEND THEIR PRODUCTS TO OTHERS  AS WELL.  Over time and across many customers who are similarly situated, this leads to MORE SALES, which can quickly and easily exceed the cost of a warranty repair on my one individual netbook.

William is doing it right.  Other businesses could take a few lessons from how he handled my situation.  I can’t wait to get my fixed toy back in good working order, and I’m very happy to have bought a computer from a company that treats me like a customer should be treated.

Time ensures that things rarely remain the same.

At Tritech, many things have changed since even just one month ago. Here’s a spiffy list of such things. By the way, my new favorite word is “terse.” The magic of the word “terse” is that practically all of its synonyms not as terse as “terse.” It’s a self-fulfilling definition! ^_^ So, what’s been going on during my silence, you ask? Read on!

SOLUTION: Sylvania G and Windows XP timing issues

This excerpt is from the Tritech Computer Solutions page called Sylvania G Netbook Tips and Tricks.

Thanks to a helpful developer at the ZSNES forum, we found the solution to the VIA C7 platform speed/timing problems with certain programs.

Edit C:\BOOT.INI and add the /usepmtimer switch to the boot command line for Windows XP. This uses a timer that is stable even when in power management modes, which means that the throttling of the C7 CPU and accompanying chipset do not affect its timing characteristics.

Some applications like ZSNES rely on a very precise and stable timing mechanism (in the case of ZSNES, speed regulation depends on QueryPerformanceCounter) and the normal timer on this platform is unstable in certain power management states. Also, we used WCPUID’s real-time clock display to figure out that the System control panel (sysdm.cpl) reports the frequency wrong on the C7 and that it is in fact running at 1200 MHz when under a full load, despite Windows’ insistence that somehow the CPU is going as low as 198 MHz when the lowest ACPI P-state is 400 MHz.

If you have games on this netbook and are experiencing strange timing jerks or other glitches, you need this simple fix.

Sylvania G’s VIA C7-M versus Windows XP

I changed my Sylvania G (original, non-Meso) netbook to Windows XP/Linux dual-boot to test some software I’m working on, and discovered that while Windows XP certainly does boot and run in general on the G, some kind of system timer or timing loop is severely out of whack! I wanted to use my little G as a portable gaming machine from the Windows XP install, and to my horror, ZSNES couldn’t decide what speed it wanted to run! Now, I’ve never had a single issue with ZSNES on any computer I’ve ever tried it on, even preferring the Windows port of it over the Linux native one, and not once has a problem existed with ZSNES that I couldn’t find an easy fix for, until now. I’ve been researching the matter and gathering evidence, and I may have a potential answer to the problem.

Why I love my (original) Sylvania G netbook (and how to fix its “issues” easily)

UPDATE: THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE UNDER-$200 NETBOOK WITH WINDOWS CE, WHICH IS A TOTAL PIECE OF JUNK. Please don’t ask me about those. They’re junk.

My Sylvania G netbook.
My Sylvania G netbook.

If the tips in this entry help you, please send me an E-mail message letting me know!  I GREATLY appreciate feedback!

A lot of professional reviewers out there seem to have nothing but bad comments on the original (non-Meso) Sylvania G netbook.  I bought one of these puppies for $300 and felt like I was getting quite the steal.  Then again, I’m a Linux user, so I feel more “at home” with a Linux laptop (though my primary line of work is obviously fixing all the problems under Microsoft’s OS every day of my life).  I love my Sylvania G.  It’s tiny, light, the battery lasts forever, people look at it and think I’m watching a DVD on a portable DVD player rather than computing, its wireless actually works far better than I expected…the list goes on.  Granted, it lacks some software that I’d like, but for its primary purposes (Internet browsing, light office apps, maybe an MP3 here and there), it does the job beautifully.  I wish it had all the shortcuts to all the control panels available, but they’re not there because the 800×480 WVGA screen can’t handle them vertically; I’ll tell you how to bypass the vertical issue in a minute.

The main reason I’m writing this is not to explain why my G is so awesome, but rather how to make it that way.  The number one complaint about the G is its postage-stamp sized mouse trackpad, and believe it or not, the laptop comes with the tools needed to fix the insane acceleration that it comes with by default (no more “buy a USB mouse if you’re going to buy this laptop” complaints!)  The biggest advantage of the G over the practically identical Everex Cloudbook (which the G is basically a rebranded version of) is that unlike the Cloudbook, with its moronic “mouse buttons on the left side of the unit, mouse trackpad on the right” layout, the G has the touchpad assembly below the keyboard, WITH THE BUTTONS IMMEDIATELY BESIDE THE PAD.  That leaves the excessive tracking speed (where you can just lift your finger off the pad and the mouse moves two inches across the seven-inch LCD) as the only remaining issue, and HERE IS HOW TO FIX THE SYLVANIA G NETBOOK POINTER TRACKING SPEED, STEP BY STEP!

(This section has been moved to the Tritech Computer Solutions page called Sylvania G Netbook Tips and Tricks.)

For $300, and with my tips above, the original Sylvania G is an absolute gem.  You simply can’t beat its value unless you drop another $100 on an Acer Aspire One (what I originally wanted but couldn’t justify purchasing.)  Once you slow down the mouse and add some launchers for some helpful applications, the G starts to look far better than it may have on display in the store.  I don’t know about the Meso, but I don’t care, because I’ve found the perfect laptop for my needs and that’s the end of the story!  I absolutely LOVE my G!

Once again, please send me feedback if this helps you out!