Asus Eee PC: vCards and jEdit

I have not gotten to do as much Eee PC hacking as I’d like to, but I have been experimenting…

Eee PC Address Book

I took all of the vCards from Apple’s Address and exported them to a single file. I then use the ‘PIM’ application on the Eee PC to open it. It loaded them up ok, but not all fields are treated the same. In Address you can have multiple ‘home pages’ for an entry, but that gets all munged up in the Eee PC’s PIM application. I may have exported as a version 2.1 file, so I should try a 3.0, maybe that will bring the photos along as well. Still, a good first attempt. (The photo you see was taken with the Eee PC’s built-in camera.)

jEdit on the Eee PC

Our second bit of fun was getting jEdit installed. Luckily, I’m not the first, so following this Eeeuser forum thread made it pretty simple. Now I can run my favorite text editor anywhere…


Asus Eee PC: First Impressions

Asus Eee PC I am typing this on my Apple keyboard, which is connected to my Asus Eee PC. The Eee PC is also connected to a old Apple VGA monitor running at 1152×864 (though there is a black border all around the screen.) I’m mainly testing the actual OS right now, which happens to be Xandros. It works pretty well.

Xandros is pretty nice. I know Ubuntu is the favorite OS of most desktop Linux people I know, but Xandros seems ok. I still need to customize the system a bit, but for now, it’s pretty functional. I’ve run Firefox, OpenOffice, Skype, ssh’d into a server, played with the webcam, and there is still much more to do.

First, my gripes… On the tiny keyboard there does not seem to be a caps lock indicator, so you don’t know when the caps lock is on. If you’re typing text you can see, it may not be a big deal, but typing a password you see **** and have no idea if it’s uppercase or lowercase. (Note: There is a caps lock indicator, but it’s on screen, I just didn’t notice it at first.) When I plugged in the external monitor it didn’t show immediately (it might be the Mac user in me that expected that) and I had to open a control panel to get it to show up. The trackpad button seemed like it took more pressure to click that it should. Maybe it will loosen up in time. I also need to get used to tapping on the trackpad to click, since I’ve never had a machine that supported that. (I may end up getting a small mouse to use with it.) I noticed the wife had used it to check her email (webmail) and I asked how she like it, her reply was “It was fine, expect for the small screen and hitting four keys when I wanted to hit one.” :)

The kids think it’s very cool. They’ve already asked for their own, for Xmas, or when they go to high school or college. At some point I’ll let them use it and see what they think. They use Macs and Windows PCs pretty often, so they might have a different perspective.

Getting the wifi functional was a bit of work, but I will blame that on my network setup at home. (I’ve got a few old Macs connected via USB wifi adapters which complicate things.) I’m pretty sure the wifi is solid now, but we’ll see how it goes. (Update: One thing I noticed was that I wasn’t waiting long enough after booting for it to connect. It just took another minute or so for the connection to be made, then all was good.) When I disconnected the external monitor, I couldn’t use the built in screen because everything was off screen, as it was displaying the LCD display at the resolution I had the external monitor running at, so another note, be sure to set the display back properly for the internal LCD before you disconnect the external monitor.)

Did I mention it’s tiny? You know it’s tiny, but until you see one in person and use it, you don’t appreciate how tiny it is. It seems funny right now to be using such a tiny computer with a full sized keyboard and a 17″ monitor. I’ll be bringing it with me to the next Web414 Meeting so you can see it in person.


Asus Eee PC (Next Week!)

I did it, I actually ordered an Asus Eee PC. It’s the tiny little laptop that runs Linux (and supposedly Mac OS X!)

Asus Eee PC I’m hyped. I can’t wait to be mobile again. Despite the fact that Gabe gave me a very nice G4 this week, I do miss a machine that’s not stuck on a desk. I’m pretty confident I can toss this in my backpack and not even notice it’s there until I need it. I couldn’t do that with the Wallstreet, or even the smaller G4 iBook. The Eee PC fills a niche, for sure. In fact, some believe Apple will come out with a tiny laptop like this (well, except it’ll cost $1000+ but it comes with a free spinning beachball!)

I’m sure you’ll see more posts once I get this thing. And yes, the waiting is the hardest part! In the meantime, checkout the forums, to see what Eee PC owners are saying.


The Eee PC (and it’s friends)

I have not yet gotten an Asus Eee PC, but at this point, I still plan to. The budget for this year allows for it, but right now I’m sitting tight watching all the fun the folks who do have an Eee PC are having. I figure by the time I have one, there will be tutorials all over the web on how to tweak, customize, and hack the thing.

In other news, I saw that the Everex TC2502 Green gPC is available at Wal-Mart for $200. It runs Ubuntu, has OpenOffice, and other open source apps, as well as a focus on connecting to the net and using online apps from Google and others. See a trend here? Is the network finally the computer? Could this be the beginning of the end for Windows?

And what about those Mac people, wait… I am still one of those Mac people! I do love the user experience of using a Mac, and as a creative professional, I can’t imagine a better platform. But… From a consumer standpoint, meaning “running a machine for consuming, not creating” I’m set to go with something besides a Mac. I can’t justify the cost of a Mac laptop, but an Asus Eee PC for $400 or a Nokia N800 for $250, yeah, totally doable. I’d still push it to the limits of what the machine can do, but I wouldn’t try to complete a big client project with it.

My big fear now is that the Eee PC’s will sell out, and I’ll have to wait. As I said, I’d still really like to get one before 2008. I think it’s worth waiting a few weeks to see what happens… Will they release a new model? Will they run out? Will they appear in stores? Heck if I know…


Asus Eee PC… Tomorrow?

Ok, if the local Best Buy has an Asus Eee PC tomorrow, I’ll get one. I’ve done a whole lot of reading this week, and for the price, and what you get, it’s a good match for what I need.

As I mentioned, I want a very portable device, that does not cost too much, and lets me connect to the net and do basic things. Even if I pay $400 for an Eee PC, a new MacBook would cost more than twice that, be more than twice as heavy, and probably break. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iMac, and all the other Macs around me, but I’m comfortable with Linux, and a portable internet appliance is just what I need. If Apple could make an under $500 small laptop (think Mac-mini + iBook) they’d probably sell a zillion of them, but until then, Asus is the one to watch.

Still, there are questions… If the system gets mucked-up, can you do a reinstall? Can it do it over the net somehow? Does it come with install disks? It has no optical drive, so would you need a USB optical drive? Could you backup the entire system to a USB device or SD card for re-install? What can you install on the Eee PC? On the internal storage versus an SD card or USB stick? Apache? MySQL? PHP? Is gcc on there? Can you easily add it? Many of these questions don’t have answers yet, but might in the next week or so.

I ended up calling Best Buy yesterday and asking about the Eee PC, and they suggested calling back on the 1st or 2nd, since Thursday and Friday are when new shipments come in. I’d prefer to just go buy one rather than order online, but if that’s not an option (I’ve read somewhere that Best Buy may not be selling them now?) I’ll figure something else out…