Samsung NC10 – beware of cheaper versions!

The Samsung NC10 Netbook has received many positive reviews since it’s release and many believe it to the best Netbook on the market.

A colleague of mine has recently purchased one at, what he thought, was a bargain price from Comet i. It turned out that the low price was due to it having a far inferior battery. Indeed, the reason why it often garners such good feedback is its 7.5 hour battery life. This one struggles to a couple.

Some users are pointing out that some retailers are referring to this as the “award winning” NC10. In fact, it’s the bigger battery life version that has been winning the awards. Naughty.

So, be careful out there..

  1. I’d provide the link but the site was strangely “under maintenance” when I tried[]

Improving Windows boot times

Lenovo has been “tweaking” its laptops and PCs in preparation for Windows 7, heavily improving startup and shutdown times.

Some of the methods, however, can be easily transferred to any Windows system – in this post I’ll be concentrating on XP, but I’m sure many of these will work on other versions.

So, here are some of the things that Lenovo did and what you can do that’s similar…

Fixed the drivers of on-board hardware components that were cumulatively causing massive delays.

Ok, so there’s not much we, as individuals, can do to fix drivers. However, it is important to stay on top of Windows drivers to ensure that you benefit changes of this type.

Personally, I have a spreadsheet of download links for my drivers and regularly check them. The other option is to use software that will look for updates for you. DriverMax is a popular example, although others are available.

Tweaked the BIOS phase of startup to temporarily hide some devices from Windows 7, so that the OS only loads the drivers after the boot is finished.

What they’re doing here is hiding hardware devices from Windows until its loaded. This may be a webcam, CD drive, etc. Now, there are some things you can do here for yourself…

  1. Create a secondary hardware profile. This gives you an additional boot option where, say, lesser used hardware devices won’t be loaded. This is done by turning off different services (and having different startup options too). I used to have one for gaming, whereas non-gaming services would be disabled, saving memory and boot time.
  2. Switch hardware off that you don’t use very often. No, ok, this won’t stop the drivers from loading but there may be some exchange (or handshaking) of information that may be reduced. My scanner and lazer printer, for instance, are used only occasionally, so are left unplugged when not in use. Of course, this also saves on electricity!
  3. Uninstall old drivers. When you change hardware, you often leave the old drivers behind. Plug everything in, start up your PC and then find and uninstall any old drivers.

Tweaked Windows 7 to delay the loading of non-essential services and applications until after startup.

Ah, now this is definitely something we can do ourselves.

The first thing I’d recommend you do is to go through the various startup programs and disable those you don’t feel you need (RealPlayer, Quicktime and Java update checkers are popular ones to disable). You can use msconfig, but I find the option within the Tools section of CCleaner a better option.

A quick tip… you’ll find some startup options that don’t appear within the “Startup” folder in your Start Menu. If one of these is only relevant to particular users, who have their own profiles, then note the URL that this startup is running. Disable it and then create the relevant shortcut within the appropriate profile startup folder.

You can also delay when various startup options execute. So, lets say you REALLY want Quicktime, et al, to do their online checks, do they have to do them as soon as the computer starts? Programs such as Startup Delayer will allow you to delay startup tasks.

That’s applications. Now services. You have to be careful with these, but its still worth going through all your services and looking for those that are best set to manual or disabled entirely. There are many websites dedicated to which ones should be changed.

And that’s it. If you have any suggestions on how to improve startup and shutdown, feel free to contact me (or add a comment to this post).


YouTube Plugins & IDs

I use the simple, but configurable, WP YouTube plugin for WordPress to embed YouTube videos in my posts.

It hasn’t been updated since the beginning of 2008 but, hey, it works i. Well, it did. I have a post in draft in which I wanted to embed two videos. Sadly it won’t work and it appears to be down to the use of hyphens in their ID. When you look at the source code for the resultant post something has converted the hyphens to HTML friendly characters.

So, for instance, an ID of 7Yapo–1OaE is being embedded in the code with the “double dash” converted to &#8211. The ID of oatks-1x8U8 is having the dash converted to &#215.

I’ve contacted the plugin owner, via his site, but due to the lack of recent activity on this plugin, I’m not sure what response I’ll get.

Meantime I’ve been looking at other YouTube plugins that do what I need them to do (i.e. have some basic configuration options for colour, auto-start, etc). Few have been changed recently (and therefore, I’m guessing, will have picked up on what I assume is a recent change to ID formats) and only YouTuber sprang out as being a reasonable alternative. Sadly that has the same issue, and I’ve reported that via the forum on WordPress.

I had a play with WP YouTube last night but was unable to sort the problem out – I suspect the conversion is happening to the URL before it’s being passed into the plugin. However, none of the PHP commands that will decode these seemed to work.

If anybody has any ideas, I’m keen to hear them.

  1. well, okay, it doesn’t support HD videos[]

OfQuack Fail

The latest news about OfQuack (aka the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council) is not looking promising…

OfQuack was set up with the help of £900,000 of public money to try to give all sorts of AltMed quackery some kind of credence and legitimacy. It is backed by Prince Charles’s Foundation for Integrated Health and considering their other bastard child, Dodgy Originals, has just had to be bailed out the runes may not be falling in OfQuack’s favour!

Their failures have been highlighted by Le Canard Noir and the Lay Scientist in various blog posts. In Martin’s last post, he highlighted the problems with OfQuack’s last set of Board minutes and the pitiful numbers of quacks who have signed up since they opened shop in February.

Le Canard Noir has highlighted the way OfQuack re-wrote their press release, downsizing their estimate of numbers of members they were aiming for by the end of 2009. This started out at an ambitious 10,000, but was recently downsized to just 4,000. Even that looks a tad optimistic!

If they continue at their current rate, by the end of this year, they will have amassed just 986 followers, not even 10% of their initial target.

So far, they have averaged less than 20 registrations a week: to reach the dizzy heights of even 4,000, they would need to get to over 40 registrations a day!

Perhaps all is not lost, however. According to their buddies at the FIH, they hope to recruit cranial sacral practitioners, naturopaths, bowen practitioners, reiki practitioners and Alexander technique teachers by the end of this year.

Then again, 2010 may be a bumper year for them — assuming they’re still in business. They plan to bring micro-systems acupuncturists, hypnotherapists and professional healers into the regulatory fold. Thank goodness they aren’t letting the amateur healers in…


Geek Music

Wrath of Khan CD

As a fully certified geek then I am, naturally, a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek. Both.

And I particularly love the music.

Now, most people generally agree that Wrath of Khan is the best Trek film. The soundtrack, by James Horner, has been available for some time, but as a stunted 9 track version. However, a recent perusal of Empire showed a new version available, now with 23 tracks. Basically, the long-awaited “complete” score. Brilliant. I had to have it.

The CD is produced by Screen Archives, who don’t have a presence in the UK. Now, you can buy this CD from their website and arrange for international postage, which would cost approx. £17, or they are available via Amazon’s Marketplace, which costs a little over £13. In both cases it ships from the US. Naturally, I chose the latter and received it at the weekend.

I’ve not a chance to have a good listen yet but, as you can imagine, it really is excellent with all of the soundtrack previously missing. If you’re a Trek fan, it’s highly recommended.