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Posts about eee (old posts, page 1)

Thinking in 800x480: Web browsing

I am still anx­ious­ly wait­ing for my Asus eee (still a week to go or so), and I was think­ing about web brows­ing in the 7", 800x480 screen.

Yes, you can do the usu­al things, go to full screen mod­e, what­ev­er, but for many sites, 800 pix­els is just too nar­row.

You can make pages fit bet­ter in a lim­it­ed width by re­duc­ing the font size. A good 8pt font is prob­a­bly read­able on that screen, since you will be pret­ty close to the screen.

How­ev­er, that does noth­ing for lay­outs that are pix­el-based, and for the size of im­ages.

How­ev­er, af­ter read­ing about Qt 4.4's sup­port for we­bkit and wid­gets in QGraph­icsView, I start­ed think­ing... that's do­ing it wrong.

What you want in lim­it­ed screen space is text in the usu­al size and the page in a small­er size.

So, my idea is:

  • Make the font larg­er. Say, 12p­t.

  • Ren­der the page in a we­bkit wid­get that's 1200x720 pix­el­s.

  • Put the wid­get in a QGraph­ic­sS­cene, and re­­duce it 33%.

The re­sult? a 800x480 web page view that con­tains the whole page.

Of course you should be able to change all these pa­ram­e­ters with a sin­gle con­trol. Is the page too wide to see in 800x480 with 8pt fonts?

Then try 1000x600 with 10pt fonts, and re­duce it to fit the screen.

Still too wide? Then try 1200x720 and a 33% re­duc­tion.

Pos­si­ble tip­s:

  • Should work bet­ter with aliased fonts, since the size re­­duc­­tion should make an­­tialiased fonts too blur­ry. A wide, open font will look bet­ter,

  • The scrol­l­bars will look squashed, I ex­pec­t. Prob­a­bly check­­box­es and ra­­dio but­­tons will look funky. Here, more ad­­vanced wiz­­ardry is need­ed.

Of course it would have to be test­ed, but I am will­ing to bet this will work bet­ter than oth­er al­ter­na­tives. If I had a work­ing PyQt 4.4 I would try to do it my­self ;-)

I got my Asus eee!

Ok, not re­al­ly, but if ev­ery­thing works right, I get a "Galaxy Black" Asus eee 4G Surf in a cou­ple of weeks :-)

Ok, I want­ed the 4G, not the sur­f, but my moth­er in law is bring­ing it as a favour and I have no use for the we­b­cam any­way, so the on­ly dif­fer­ence is the sol­dered RAM, which I was not plan­ning to up­grade any­way.

What I want for christmas (The cool new trend on preloaded Linux)

Dear fictional character that oppreses the workers of
the North Pole:

This christmas, I want an Asus eee PC, an Everex gPC,
and some bare white box with a nice Phoenix PC 3.0 BIOS.

Why am I ask­ing the red men­ace from the north for these item­s?

Well, they do have one thing in com­mon: Lin­ux. An­oth­er is that they are con­sumer box­es, not server­s.

For many years, one of the huge ad­van­tages win­dows had was that it came pre­loaded with most PC­s. This en­abled peo­ple to turn a blind eye to win­dows in­stal­la­tion and con­fig­u­ra­tion since it was done by Some­one Else (T­M).

Since get­ting Lin­ux has be­come much eas­i­er in the last 10 years 1 this has been very frus­trat­ing. Imag­ine you had some­thing you gave away for free, but peo­ple kept us­ing some­thing more ex­pen­sive be­cause they had to pay for it any­way!

That itch­es. If Lin­ux was not cho­sen be­cause it was in­fe­ri­or for the task at hand, that's one thing, but not even be­ing able to be test­ed be­cause the oth­er prod­uct was bun­dled and paid for? An­noy­ing.

Of course on servers this worked dif­fer­ent­ly. The OS was not the ex­pen­sive part, and was pre­loaded less of­ten. Cor­po­ra­tions have pre­ar­ranged li­cens­ing terms, and adding things to the mix is sim­pler.

But for con­sumer­s, preload­ing has been a huge prob­lem 2

So, if the jol­ly tres­pass­er brings me what I or­dered, I will find the fol­low­ing:

  • Asus eee: A cheap sub­­note­­book with Lin­ux and KDE pre­load­ed.

  • Ev­erex gPC: A cheap Desk­­top with Lin­ux and En­­light­en­­men­t(!?) pre­load­ed.

  • Phoenix PC 3.0 BIOS: an em­bed­d­ed hy­per­vi­­sor and Lin­ux OS.

The eee is prob­a­bly the most ap­peal­ing. It's ide­al for many us­es:

  • Sales­­men who are now us­ing some un­­god­­ly Black­­ber­ry app (or worse)

  • Sys­tem and net­­work ad­min­s. Re­al­­ly. I would love to have a cheap note­­book I won't hes­­i­­tate bring­ing to a roof, a bar, the beach, what­ev­er. It would live in my bag. My cur­rent note­­book? Be­­sides weight­ing 8 pound­s, it's ex­pen­­sive and large. All I need are we­b­­pages email and SSH ses­­sion­s!

  • Kids and stu­­dents (it's cheap! You can buy a re­­place­­ment if he drops coffe on it!)

  • Ba­sic users and old peo­­ple. Re­al­­ly, an of­­fice-­­like thing and a web browser? And I can use it wher­ev­er there's wifi? Neat.

And it is go­ing to get a lot cheap­er, and it's go­ing to get a lot bet­ter. I ex­pect there will be a 32G­B, 10" mod­el by the end of next year for $350, and the cur­rent mod­el avail­able for $250 (after al­l, half the com­po­nents are cheap as dirt al­ready, on­ly flash is ex­pen­sive, and that's a fluke)

And so on and so forth. If Asus cre­ates a de­cent dock 3 and a nice rdif­f-back­up-based back­up so­lu­tion (it should be at least as nice as Ap­ple's Time Ma­chine), this box turns in­to my main com­put­er when­ev­er I am at home, and is a use­ful tool on the road. I re­al­ly can live with those spec­s.

The gPC is a bit hard­er to grasp.

First, it's even cheap­er. $200 is cheap. The CPU is slow­ish, but there are a whole range of tasks that are not CPU bound. I re­al­ly want one of those as a home serv­er. This is the first time I can see one of these ITX box­es as ac­tu­al­ly cheap not just small (in fact this one is not small at al­l).

  • I have a TV cap­­ture card, I could make a PVR out of it us­ing Lin­uxM­CE? It does have enough CPU for that (s­ince I am do­ing it with a slow­er box al­ready)

  • A file server? More than good enough for that.

  • A house­­guest com­put­er?

  • A MPD server?

  • All of the above?

And do all this while be­ing qui­et and pow­er-­ef­fi­cien­t? Neat!

And the Phoenix PC 3.0 BIOS sim­ply would be cool be­cause I can vir­tu­al­ize with­out jump­ing through any hoop­s. This one is still fuzzy for me, but I on­ly found out about it to­day. I need time for things to grow.

Why do I think these box­es mark a trend? Be­cause they are def­i­nite­ly low-end prod­uct­s. These are meant to be made by thou­sands and hun­dreds of thou­sand­s, and make small mon­ey on each.

The mak­ers are be­ing smart about pro­vid­ing as lit­tle func­tion­al­i­ty as they can and mak­ing them sim­ple, niche, con­sumer prod­ucts in­stead of mon­stru­osly pow­er­ful Lin­ux mon­sters (sor­ry for how ug­ly that sound­s).

An­oth­er fac­tor is the huge growth of web apps that work well on non-IE browsers. This is mak­ing the OS ir­rel­e­vant just like Net­scape hoped in 1996. If the OS is in­vis­i­ble, Lin­ux won.

So, Santa, for this christmas I ask for all these toys,
and if it has to be only one, please make it the Asus eee.

                                            Roberto Alsina

PS: and if you don't do your part, the raindeer's a goner!
1

Look, no need to cre­ate 30 flop­pies! You can add a driv­er with­out re­com­pil­ing the ker­nel! You don't need to know what a Mod­e­line is!

2

The oth­er one is prob­a­bly games, but that's a dif­fer­ent prob­lem. There are whole mar­kets where gam­ing is not an is­sue.

3

A wire­less dock with place for a IDE disk or two, an op­ti­cal drive, a pow­ered USB hub, a card read­er. Hard­ware cost­s? Maybe U$S 50 + disks?

Asus sucks at math.

This is just lazy, guys! Any­one who can guess change when buy­ing a pack of mints can guess this bet­ter than what you wrote!

Quote:

Sales fig­ures since the re­lease have been as­tound­ing, with 200 pieces snapped up in 20 min­utes on Tai­wan's shop­ping chan­nel, ETTV Shop­ping - av­er­ag­ing an Eee PC sold ev­ery two sec­ond­s.

Let's see, that would be 200 pieces in 20 min­utes, 10 a min­ute, I guess that's one ev­ery 2 sec­onds plus/mi­nus 4 sec­ond­s. Or rather, just plus 4 sec­ond­s.

Read the whole Asus press re­lease here.

Way too excited about the Asus eee

Re­al­ly. I can imag­ine hav­ing one of these as my main com­put­er (with ex­ter­nal HD and mon­i­tor).

I prob­a­bly won't and use my ful­l-­size note­book or a desk­top when at home­/of­fice, but it should take me back to the days when I sim­ply car­ried my Li­bret­to ev­ery­where be­cause it was light enough.

Here's the best re­view I found so far.

Peo­ple wor­ry about the 4GB or 8GB "disk". If you keep your me­dia (ISOs, movies, mu­sic) on an ex­ter­nal HD, you prob­a­bly can have ev­ery­thing else there.

Us­ing rsync to keep two box­es synced... lots of po­ten­tial.

I am prob­a­bly buy­ing two of the cheap ones.


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