September 11, 2010

HP Mini 210-1012sa netbook


Yep. Got myself one of these second hand a week ago and I'm very pleased with it.

Let's get the boring bits out of the way:

* Intel Atom N450 processor (1.66 GHz)
* 1 GB DDR2 PC-6400 RAM
* 250 GB SATA hard disk
* Broadcomm 802.11b/g WiFi and Bluetooth
* 100 mbps fast Ethernet network port
* 3x USB 2.0 ports
* HC-compatible SD/MS-Pro/MMC/XD card reader
* 10.1" 1024x600 widescreen format display
* Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150 display adapter
* 5225 mAh battery
* Windows 7 Starter

Having been a long-term user of GNU/Linux on all of my desktop/laptop machines for more than a decade, I hope fellow Tuxophiles don't feel betrayed at my switch to a Windows machine. I could get Ubuntu netbook edition, or even the full desktop edition, working on this machine but to be honest, it does what I want it to do. Not only that, it does it much better than earlier incarnations of Windows. We all use various versions of Windows in the workplace, and as one of the later arrivals, I'm lucky to have a Windows 7 Professional desktop, so I'm pretty used to it now.

One of the first things I did on this netbook was upgrade from Windows 7 Starter to Home Premium. I do like the Aero themes that you get with it and the graphics system on this machine is perfectly capable of supporting them with no noticeable slowdown. I then upgraded to 2 GB or RAM. For that, I certainly recommend Mr. Memory. I ordered the RAM on the Wednesday afternoon, and it was waiting for me on the doormat on the Thursday evening when I got home from work.

Even though the machine is pretty small (the size of the display sort of gives that away), the keyboard is perfectly usable. You have to be careful while typing because the keystroke sometimes doesn't register if you don't press square on the key.

There are two reasons why I bought this machine. Firstly, I wanted a convenient way to access the internet (e-mail, social networks etc.) when not at home in a way more practical than using my mobile phone. If I'm not within range of a WiFi hotspot that I can use, then I'll simply tether the phone to the netbook via a Bluetooth connection and use it as a modem.

Secondly, I wanted something powerful enough to enable me to get some work done of an evening during the week without having to turn on the main desktop computer, which makes a lot of noise with all the fans in it. This machine is not quite so powerful, and its screen resolution is certainly lower, but it does have the advantage of being almost silent, and the reasonably large capacity of the hard disk means that I can carry my entire media collection with me.

So, mission accomplished. I now have something powerful enough and with enough RAM for me to view the sites I look at most of the time, that has great battery life (about 8 hours), that is small enough to carry around and that has plenty of connectivity options.

Seven weeks into the job

So, my seventh week on the job has finished. It certainly went out with a bang given that I nearly killed the development server we use to write software and test it before releasing it on the public servers. Luckily for me, no actual damage was done despite the potential for much work being lost. A few files containing documentation and sample code relating to a language we don't even use (Java) were deleted, and the Apache web server had to be restarted (but could probably have continued running without a restart anyway). Needless to say, I have now added more checks to stuff I write...

The first two weeks were spent getting to grips with the software used internally. You can know all there is to know about PHP and MySQL and then some, and you'll still have to spend time familiarising yourself with the way they're used in the workplace: database structures and the purpose of each table and field, home-grown libraries and how to use them etc. Just over 2 more weeks were spent fielding live requests for software improvements/fixes, and since then I've been working on a project that was assigned to me fairly early on and should go live towards the end of this year or early next year. I can't go into specifics about the nature of the project in question until it actually goes public.

Perhaps more importantly than any aspects of the work itself, I'm getting to know my co-workers a lot better now. Having spent years on the receiving end of the advances of salescritters and marketdroids, I will probably take some time getting used to those members of staff in the company. It's nothing personal, I'm sure they're lovely people, it's just the type of job they do that has made my life a misery in the past.

The development team that I work in has 7 members including yours truly. The IT manager and IT support guy are in the same room as us, so that's a total of 8 people other than me, and I can only think of good things to say about all of them. There's always a great atmosphere in the office and we get on well.

While not wanting to count my chickens before they hatch, I'm fairly confident that I'll be staying on once the probationary period is up (end of October). The thing I'm working on now is slated to go live around Christmas or the New Year, another section of the back-office software we use needs tidying up and revamping and I've been given that to do for around June next year, and some work involving Google Maps that needs starting next year some time has also been given to me. In short, it's piling up. I don't think they'd be giving me the work if there was much doubt that I was fit for the job. Of course, I'll have to avoid killing servers for a while now...