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Journal mcgrew's Journal: .A couple of tech reviews... 4

Acer Aspire One
When I bought the newest notebook, I wrote here about all the extra shitware that had been installed on it. But they did fix two bad design problems I'd complained about when I had the first two Acers, which were both stolen in burglaries.

One problem was the power button. It was situated right next to the escape key, resulting in accidentally shutting the computer off when you only wanted to hit "escape". They moved it a tiny bit, made if flush rather than raised as it was previously, and made the spring about twice as stiff as on a key. I haven't shut it off by accident once.

The other was a horrible bug. If you had it set to hibernate when you closed the lid, and closed the lid and then plugged it in before it was shut completely down, the OS would go into fits when you tried to start it back up, whether in Windows or Linux. It was far worse in Windows, of course -- Linux is tolerant of hardware faults. It gave Linux fits, but it finally killed Windows dead. I imagine the thief was rather disappointed when they turned it on and KDE came up! But again, they fixed it. Good work, Acer!

I still haven't gotten around to getting Linux on the newest one. I tried once, but I must have messed up the install thumb drive. I really need to, too, because I can't find where to shut off the "tap to click". It took a month to find it with the first one, but less than five minutes in kubuntu. Alas, Microsoft has either removed the checkbox or hidden it better because it isn't where I'd previously found it. That's one of my biggest beefs with Microsoft -- they can't leave well alone. As soon as you get used to an interface, they change the damned thing. Stupid, stupid, stupid -- it makes moving from XP to 7 more of a change than moving from XP to KDE. They're just begging people to switch.

Come to think of it, though, why should they care? You're not their customer, the PC manufacturer is. I'm not Microsoft's customer, I'm Acer's customer, so I'm blaming the lack of an easy way to shut off that "feature" (I say "design flaw") on the Acer. They chose the OS. I wish they'd sell PCs without Windows.

RCA used to be a good company that manufactured inexpensive, quality products. No more, apparently.

When I decided to ditch cable a few months ago, I bought an RCA digital TV tuner for my nine year old analog TV (made by the evil Sony; I bought it before the rootkits and OtherOS and unsecured personal data debacles). It's a big, forty two inch flat screen CRT that weighs over 200 pounds. It has at least another five years left in it. I'm using it as a computer monitor as well as a TV, plugged in via S-Video.

I got the tuner (or "converter" as everybody calls these tuners) at WalMart. I bought a rabbit ears for ten bucks at Family Dollar. I hooked it all up -- and had a total of four stations, one of which was a shopping channel (100% content-free commercials) and another was a country music video channel (100% dreck). There were two more channels that showed up in the list of channels that I never picked up.

Everyone blamed the antenna -- an RCA. Especially the tuner, which displayed in a big box taking over 30% of the picture "No signal -- adjust your antenna or perform a new channel scan" every time the signal would "ghost".

Gaal's Magnavox tuner gets fifteen channels with his ancient, one square foot outdoor UHF antenna eight feet above the ground. So I bought a new antenna, an RCA, for thirty bucks, about the same size as Gaal's. It came with a signal amplifier that, as far as I can tell, doesn't have any electronic parts because it does nothing whatever. I have the antenna hanging on the wall about eight feet up.

I emailed RCA's incredibly hard to find tech support asking how to shut off that annoying message. The reply came back "you can't." Why do companies seemingly strive to annoy their paying customers?

Gaal told me about a new station, MeTV, so I did a new channel scan -- and two channel 49s showed up along with the new 55.2. But they're rarely with a useable signal. And I noticed that sometimes when 49.1 or 49.2 do come in, the signal is often mixed with a channel 55 or channel 20 signal! So this is obviously an incredibly poorly designed and engineered PIECE OF SHIT that won't get weak signals because its electronics can't properly filter out the frequencies of stronger stations.

Sorry, RCA, I feel like you ripped me off for about a hundred bucks between the tuner and two antennas. You may not be evil like Sony, but you're now on my "never buy" list. You won't fool me again with your poorly engineered trash.

I wish I could find some side-by-side product reviews of TV tuners.

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.A couple of tech reviews...

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