Hardware

My New Laptop!

Samsung RF510A few years ago Esther and I bought a pair matching of matching Dell Studio 17s (isn’t that cute?).  Neither of us were ever really happy with them but for the most part they worked.  I had a hardware conflict that would cause Windows 7 to blue screen immediately after loading after I went through the initial setup but I managed to resolve that through safe mode.  The last few weeks were testing my patience since my battery was hardly holding a charge.  To top it off the optical drive in Esther’s laptop has been dead for I don’t remember how long so she’s been lugging around an external drive to play the various incarnations of the Sims games.

With Esther leaving the workforce to take care of Nadia it made sense for me to upgrade to something that will last me for a few more years and swap out the battery in my laptop for the one in hers and let her use that one.  So the hunt began.

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What’s Wrong with my Kindle?

After weeks of seeing how much Esther was enjoying her new Kindle I decided to get one for myself. I went to a local Target store and picked up a white one and the standard Amazon branded leather case.

When I got home I put it in the case, plugged it in to charge, configured it for my network, and tied it to my Amazon account. I browsed the site for a book to start with and eventually settled on one. After the purchase I tried to wake up the device but it wasn’t about to cooperate. I had to do a hard reset to get back in.

After the device restarted I found my new book and read a bit of it before taking a break. A while later I picked it back up and again it wouldn’t wake up. This cycle repeated many, many times. I tried restoring factory settings and I even tried upgrading the device to the pre-release 3.0.3 firmware. When neither of those options solved the problem I got fed up and called Amazon’s Kindle support line.

After describing the problem the rep suggested that because I purchased it at a retail store I should return it to them and exchange it. I exchanged it and followed the same routine as I had with the first one and incredibly I had the exact same problem!

After fighting with it again for a bit I called the support number again and explained the situation to the rep who transferred me to someone else. After describing the situation again this rep asked about the case and suggested I remove the device from the case and try hard resetting it yet again. Since removing the case I haven’t had any issues at all! Amazon also gave me credit toward the purchase of a replacement case.

I was completely baffled by the solution since it doesn’t seem like the case should cause that type of problem but apparently it’s a known issue.   Amazon’s customer care was great to work with but if the issue is so common I can’t help but wonder not only how the first rep missed it but why these cases are still being sold.

References:

  1. http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/04/a-kindle-case-causes-problems/
  2. http://www.amazon.com/cover-causes-Kindle-freeze-reboot/forum/Fx12U61UWYSO3UY/Tx17O3815XVEMVM/1?_encoding=UTF8&asin=B003DZ163E
  3. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20026116-1.html

Upgrade Complete

Several months ago I bought a desktop PC primarily for photo and video editing.  It’s a pretty sweet system: 2.5 Ghz quad core, 8 GB DDR2-800, 750 GB HDD, etc… I originally hooked it up to the HDTV in the living room but that didn’t work out all that well since I didn’t have a wireless keyboard or mouse.  I really didn’t use it all that frequently so it just sat there for a while until one day it started rebooting.  A lot.

At first I thought it was just installing updates but then I noticed it was happening too frequently for that to be the case.  After a few days of periodic troubleshooting I narrowed it down to a bad memory module.  I left it at 6 GB and let it run unused for anything but a file server.

A few of the guys at work have been upgrading existing or building new computers and got me thinking again about replacing that dead chip.  It also reminded me that despite the fairly beefy specs the overall experience index was only 3.4.  The rating was being held down by the graphics components coming in at 3.4 and 3.5.  Today I decided to join in the fun of hardware upgrades and not only replace that memory module but pick up a decent video card too.

The new module is a Corsair XMS2.  Adding the memory module went as painlessly as expected.  Pop it in, power up the system, viola – 8 GB.

As for the video card I picked up an XFX Radeon HD 5770 based on a handful of reviews and some friend recommendations.  This installation didn’t go quite as smooth as I’d hoped.  I installed the card without any problems but the drivers were a pain!  Every time I tried to run the installer it would crash.  Google revealed that I wasn’t the only one with the problem either.  I ultimately stumbled upon a post that said I needed to install a Visual C++ redistributable component.  After installing the redistributable the install went on without any problems.

With the upgrades complete I was finally able to rerun the experience index assessment.  I wasn’t expecting to see any boost on the memory rating of 7.2 since I didn’t run the assessment after the module failed but I did expect to see a slight boost with the new video card.  The result was more than I hoped for:

Windows Experience Index

Now the weakest link is the primary hard disk but at 5.9 I’m not complaining.  With the memory is back where it should be and a decent video card in there maybe I’ll start using it a bit more.  Any good game recommendations?