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Archive: May 12, 2005

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As the laptop turns - episode 9

Thursday,  05/12/05  10:09 PM

The saga of my laptop trouble continues...  (Links to 1, 2, 3, 3.5, 4, 5, 4.5, 6, 7, 8)  Here is episode 9...

-----Original Message-----
From: Ole Eichhorn []
Tuesday, March 29, 20059:08 AM
Subject: episode 9 - as the laptop turns

Just thought I’d give you all an update on my laptop saga.

When last we left our hero (me) I was awaiting a brand new laptop graciously provided by HP to replace what’s left of my old one after their service reps worked it over.  So a week ago it arrived – a brand new nc8000.  This machine is superior to my old laptop in every way but one.  It is 2½ years newer, and so the specs are 2½ years better.  (That’s about 25 in laptop years.)  The CPU is faster, the memory is faster, the disk is faster, it has GB Ethernet instead of 100MB, it has USB 2.0 ports instead of USB 1.0, it has 802.11g WiFi (54Mbps) instead of 802.11b (11Mbs).  Heck, even the cover opens faster.  It also has stuff my old laptop didn’t, like built in Bluetooth, built in firewire, external audio controls, a button to disable/enable wireless easily, a built in security chip for encrypting files, etc.  The screen is exactly the same – 15.4”, 1400x1050.  In short, it is [almost] the perfect laptop.

So I’m happy, right?  The story has a good ending.

Uh, well, as I said it is superior to my old laptop in every way but one.  And that one is style

Compaq n800c - the originalThis is where vanity rears its ugly head.  I picked my old laptop – a Compaq n800 - because I liked it, I thought it was cool.  It was sleek and thin and shiny and pretty, and it represented “me”.

HP Compaq nc8000 - the new laptop (aka "SUV")This new laptop is, well, not sleek and not thin and not shiny and not pretty.  It is boxy.  It isn’t ugly, but well it is utilitarian.  There is no way I would have chosen this laptop among all others for myself. 

Imagine you choose a car you really like, a Lexus coupe, for example.  You’ve had it for some time, it is a bit worn, but you love it.  And then one day it is totaled.  And your insurance company replaces it with a brand new top-of-the-line Lexus SUV.  You’re happy and grateful that they gave you such a nice car, but, well, it’s an SUV, not a coupe.  You know in your heart of hearts you would never have bought an SUV, you would have bought another coupe.

Okay, so what to do?  I had three choices, 1) do nothing (how bad is it really?), 2) call HP and see if they’ll give me a different replacement laptop, 3) sell this computer on eBay and buy one I really want.

HP Compaq nc8230 - the newer laptop? (aka "couple")I decided to try (2) first, no harm in asking, right?  First I scoured the HP website and found the model I really want, an nc8230.  This is essentially the same computer specwise as the nc8000 they gave me – slightly worse specs in some areas, but not important – but is it thin – 1”! – and sleek and pretty, and has a wider screen.  It is even less expensive than the nc8000, such a deal.

Next I explained this whole thing to my service rep at HP – who by the way has been great, and very understanding about all the problems, and quite sympathetic, actually – and he got it.  I used the coupe/SUV analogy and fortunately he drives a Mustang so he really got it.  He’s going to poke around HP and see what can be done.  If there is any way they can take the nc8000 back and give me an nc8230 I think he’s going to do it.

If that doesn’t work, well, there is always option (3)…  In the meantime I do have a serviceable laptop so it cannot be regarded as a tragedy.  Stay tuned…


Continue to episode 10...


Thursday,  05/12/05  10:31 PM

I heard a great term applied to a startup: "uninterrupted financial backing".  I think it might have been used by Elon Musk in his terrific series of updates about his new company SpaceX.  Anyway this sure isn't something most startups get to enjoy.  Usually you are looking for money out of the gate, and either positioning to raise money, actively raising money, or digesting money at each point.  You don't want to take too much, too early, but not enough is bad, too.

P.S. Noticed SpaceX' "hotfire" for new engine scheduled for today.  Cool.  Er, Hot!

Paul Graham: A unified theory of VC suckage.  Or why it is tough to raise money, and why uninterrupted financial backing is so compelling.

Virgin Galactic planes (aka SpaceShipOne and launcher...)SpaceX isn't the only space-oriented company posting updates; I received my first update from Virgin Galactic.  Among other things they've posted a questionnaire for their "members"; it aims to find out how much you're willing to pay to go into space, and whether you'd be willing to pay more to go sooner.  I figure going "into space" soon will be great practice for going to Titan later on :)

Will Collier rants: Yesterday United Air Lines was allowed to dump it's pension plan on the Federal government.  Great, so you and I get to bail them out.  Not good.  In fact, horrible.  [ via Glenn Reynolds ]

Trey Jackson rantThis is unbelievable: In this video clip, Neil Cavuto totally bags on Senators and Congressmen who complained about being evacuated because a small plane entered airspace above the capital.  I might have to start watching TV "news" again.  Nah.  Anyway click the thumbnail at left to play.  [ via Trey Jackson ]

Ground Zero memorial waterfallHere's a cool story about the waterfall being planned as a ground zero memorial.  "Perhaps the most striking thing when the mock-up came into view, nestled incongruously in a suburban setting, was that the water walls were not the 'thin sheets' described by the design jury that chose 'Reflecting Absence' last year.  Rather, they were more like beaded curtains, with a striation that called to mind the vertical bands of the twin tower facades, dissolving in a cascade of tears."  This seems like it will be really awesome.  [ via Clive Thompson, who notes: "Now I think the design sounds quite beautiful" ]

Joel Spolsky has posted another winner: Making Code Look Wrong.  As usual, I agree with him 100%; I like HN, although I don’t use it religiously, and I dislike exceptions, although I don’t avoid them religiously.  I do agree that coding style is important, some style, and that “clean” in code doesn’t mean the same thing as clean in general (or even clean in ovens).  This is closely related to the idea that when you modify code, you must do so in a way which is stylistically consistent with the code you’re modifying.  You have two choices, adapt to the original style, or restyle the module.  Door number three - mixing styles – has a donkey behind it. is a new search engine, "searching 198,319,894 lines of code" (at the time this was posted).  From their about page: "Our source code optimized search engine provides developers with an easy-to-use interface to search for source code examples and discover new open source projects which can be leveraged in their applications."  Very cool.  [ via John Battelle ]

Firefox promo videoThese are awesome: Firefox promotional videos.  Think they won't get passed around?

Among the interesting properties of Google's Web Accelerator - which scares me - is that it pokes through the "great firewall of China".  Well that's a good thing.  Especially if (but not only if) you're Chinese.

Ottmar Liebert notes "Ottmar" is now listed in the Slang Dictionary:  "Ottmar:  The New Age Southwestern style acoustic guitar music that stores and restaurants use as background music over the PA system.  The word is derived from Ottmar Liebert, whose music it likely is."  You practice and practice and practice, but you never dare hope...

By the way, Ottmar is about to go out on tour again; dates have been posted.  We're going to see him with a bunch of friends on June 10 in Agoura Hills, at the Canyon Club, along with a case of great Cabernet.  It really doesn't get much better than that.  We'll be Ottmared :)


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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained