Posts tagged ‘Hardware’

Chuwi Surbook review

As I said before in my GPD Pocket review, I don’t usually do reviews, but I need a posting for September. So, here is my Chuwi Surbook review.

I have always liked the form factor of the Microsoft Surface, but certainly not the price. When I saw this on Indiegogo, while the specs were not up to Surface levels, the price was certainly enticing, and it looked like they were far enough along that I didn’t have to worry about a lengthy wait for delivery. (My Fusion Guitar finally showed up, so now I’m looking at you, Jamstack.)

The durability and build quality of this device seem good, as it has withstood lugging back and forth to work for a month or so now without incident.

The screen is 12 inches in diagonal, and the resolution is very good, on par with the retina MacBook Pro computers.

This device does have a 1.1 GHz processor, so in terms of computing power, it is not the speediest, especially since it only has 6 GB of RAM. However, so far it has performed well for me on my light and medium duty tasks. I even installed Visual Studio 2017 Community on it, and I am able to do development work on a .NET MVC site that I have been futzing around with. There is a little delay when trying to run the application, but overall not bad.

The one big beef I have with this device is that the trackpad on the keyboard cover is very finicky, which led me to disable that mouse in the Device Manager, and then I use either a Bluetooth mouse or the included pen.

Kudos to Chuwi for adding a Micro SD card slot on this device.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5


  • Solid build quality
  • Great value for the cost


  • Keyboard case trackpad is very tempermental

BTW, I know I missed the actual date by a couple of days, but Happy 30th Birthday to Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Keezel review

The Keezel is another interesting technology item that I backed on Indiegogo, and so after using it for a while both at home and on the road, I thought it might just be time for a Keezel review.

The Keezel device is a VPN device that allows you to secure your wi-fi communications. After you power it up, you connect to it and then use a web browser to go into the device’s administration panel. From there, you can set up what wireless access point and VPN you want to connect to. In addition, it can function as a spare battery pack as well, powering any mobile devices that charge through a standard USB port.

Right out of the box, I had some issues trying to get the Keezel registered with my Premium activation code that was included in the box. No matter what I did, it still did not think that it was registered. After a couple of emails with Keezel support, it was working just fine. I suspect that there is some kind of issue with the Keezel software or with their back end managing the subscriptions, and that they did something manually on their side that enabled it to connect up.

Once set up, the device worked great at home. On the road, though, it did not work quite as well, but even then I suspect that it had more to do with the quality of the wi-fi on the road I was trying to connect to, than a problem with the Keezel device or software. Toward the end of my trip, the device was knocked out of commission because the wi-fi log in page that I was trying to use would not come through to the user, they would just get an error message in the browser.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5


  • Compact and light
  • Good battery life
  • Fast response from support


  • Can be a bit touchy
  • Location of supported VPNs does not include all locations

BTW, Happy Birthday to Clint Hurdle, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

GPD Pocket review

I don’t usually do reviews, but with certain products that I think are particularly interesting or innovative, I will make an exception. As a result, here is my GPD Pocket review.

GPD Pocket: 7.0′ UMPC-Laptop with Windows 10

I saw this campaign pop up on an email to me from Indiegogo in February of this year, and thought that the idea was intriguing. So I backed the project and received the device about 4 months later, which in terms of some Indiegogo campaigns, is practically overnight. (I’m looking at you, Fusion Guitar.)

For an inexpensive device, I do like the build quality. The case is an alloy case that feels very solid and light, which hopefully translates to durability in the long run.

The screen is a 7 inch screen at a resolution of 1920×1200, and from what I have seen so far, is very good for most traditional uses. This device is not advertised as a gaming machine, so I have not tried to do anything crazy complicated with it yet.

Atom processors are notoriously sluggish, but the one in this device seems snappy enough, although the caveat again here is that I have not tried running anything challenging. I suspect that the 8 gigabytes of RAM configuration that I opted for is helping out on this front quite a bit.

On such a small device, the keyboard is always going to be a problem, and the GPD Pocket is no exception here. The biggest problem I have been having so far is that the number keys are off to the right by about one key, or in other words, on a normal keyboard, I go for the 3 key with my E finger, but on GPD Pocket, the 2 is right above E. As a result, I have to stop myself when going to the numbers row.

The one thing that I wish this device had was a MicroSD card slot to expand the device beyond the 128 gigabytes of storage that it comes with on the internal drive.

For the price that I paid (about $400 as an early adopter), I think it is a great device that I will make a lot of use of. That said, if the retail price goes up significantly from there, I am not sure if it has the same appeal.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5


  • Compact and light
  • Good battery life
  • Good build quality


  • Hard to touch type
  • No MicroSD card slot to expand storage

BTW, a posthumous Happy Birthday to Bob Keeshan.

Monoprice mechanical keyboard

On a whim, I decided to take the plunge and pick up a Monoprice mechanical keyboard and see what all the fuss was about. Oh sure, I was alive during the clickety-clack days of the IBM PC-XT keyboard, which I am convinced was louder then using a Selectric typewriter.

The keyboard I purchased was a Monoprice MP-G9 mechanical gaming keyboard. This keyboard does not have backlighting, and has the Cherry MX Black switches. I must say I am impressed with the keyboard. It has that old timey feel without being deafeningly loud.

I could have spent a lot more money on a keyboard, but since I was not sure I was going to like this type of keyboard, I tried to spend as little as possible. I would have to say that my next keyboard purchase will be a more expensive model.

The only issue that I had with it was that I wanted to use it with my Mac, and the Windows and Alt keys are backwards from the configuration on my standard Apple keyboard. Luckily, the Keyboard section of System Preferences allows you to alter the modifier keys, so I went and assigned Option to the Command key and vice versa, and now all is happy.

BTW, Happy 45th Birthday to ARPANET, which first went online on this day in 1969.

Dell Windows XP reinstall cannot find new SATA hard drive

I recently have been trying to resurrect a Dell desktop computer with a bad hard drive, but after putting a new SATA hard drive in it, the Windows XP installer has not been able to find the hard drive. As it turns out, I had to go into the BIOS settings on the computer, and change the hard drive setting from “Autodetect RAID / ACHI” to “Autodetect RAID / ATA”, after which I was able to make the installer happy. Huzzah!

BTW, Happy Birthday to Joe Bonamassa, one of my favorite all-time artists. I can’t wait to see Joe later this year when he comes back and plays Ohio. (Hey Joe, Columbus is a better crowd than Cleveland. Just sayin’.)

And on a somber note, I learned this afternoon of the passing of Jeanne Cooper, the long time Mrs. Chancellor character on The Young and The Restless. I hope they do not try to put another actress in that character, Michael Learned did an OK job but it just won’t be the same without the original Mrs. C.

I Want My MP3

Please take a look at the two electronic devices in the following picture:

Electronic devices

One of these devices plays the MP3 files that I ripped in iTunes from CDs that I own, and one of these devices does not. (The Joe Satriani pick is included just to give you an idea of the size of the device on the left.)

I think you can see where I am going here with this one. The cheapo flimsy extra-white Kube MP3 player on the left plays the MP3 files just swimmingly. Conversely, this is not exactly what I am expecting to see when I go to the music player on my shiny new Samsung Droid Charge from Verizon:

Android screen shot

Anybody have any ideas? If I reboot the device, the MP3 files play for a while, and then it goes back to the wonderful “Sorry, the player does not support this type of audio file” message. Also, I have no intention of uninstalling the Twitter app. I use the Twitter app and I am not sure if it would even go away if I tried to uninstall it. (I have tried repeatedly to uninstall “Let’s Golf” from the device, but alas each time I uninstall it, it shows back up again.)

If you would like to follow along with this on the Verizon support board, please feel free…

MP3 files will not play

Unfortunately, you would need to sign up for a forum account to contribute. If you have something to add, please feel free to click the Comment link just below this post.

BTW, Happy Pi Approximation Day. July 22, 22 divided by 7 is 3.142857 (decimal pattern then repeats), which is as close to pi as you can get with a fraction made up of a numerator and denominator that are reasonbly small.

Win32 EXE to service in Windows Server 2008

We had a server meltdown happen here earlier this week, and as part of the collateral damage, an automated order processing application that has been running since 2004 has been off-line. This application was written in VB6 with a minimal user interface, and as such, I have always remoted into the server, started the program up on the server and left it open, and then just closed my remote desktop application, which left the session open and running.

We wanted to change this to make it a bit more reliable, which means Windows service. Unfortunately, the application does not have the correct hooks in it that make it be able to be seen as a service. (I could create a service with the EXE name as the target, and the EXE would run when I started up the service, but it would soon crash as service manager could not find something it was looking for.)

After a little bit of digging, I found some suggestions on using the srvany.exe application as a shell to launch my application, and I must say it seems to work marvelously. Here is the link where I found the solution:

Application as a Service “srvany.exe” in Windows Server 2008

Here are the important steps from the article above (in case it relocates or disappears):

  1. At the time of this posting, there is no Windows Server 2008 Resource Kit Tools, so get the “srvany.exe ” from the “Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools ” and copy it to a suitable location on your Win2008 server (e.g. C:\Windows\System32\ ).
  2. Use “sc ” to create a new service that launches “srvany ” (e.g. sc create MyService binPath= C:\Windows\System32\srvany.exe DisplayName= “My Custom Service” )
  3. Using RegEdit : create a “Parameters ” key for your service (e.g. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MyService\Parameters\ )
  4. Using RegEdit : within the newly created “Parameters ” key , create a string value called “Application ” and enter the full path to the application you are wanting to run as a service. (No quotes required.)

In the article linked above, keep in mind that Parameters is misspelled at the end of item #3, I have corrected it in my item #3 above. Other than that, it seems to be working great.

Spell checkers should still work in other countries, shouldn’t they?

The rechargeable battery for my Dell Axim X51V was looking a bit puffy, so I ordered a replacement battery pack off of Amazon.

Batteyr Pack

Batteyr Pack

BTW, happy birthday to Niecy Nash. Tempestt is doing ok, but we miss the special energy and chemistry you had with your co-hosts.

Code 39

Did you ever get the dreaded “Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware. The driver may be corrupted or missing. (Code 39)” message in your Device Manager for your DVD/CD-ROM drive?

This happened to a computer here at our office, and it did this for both the internal drive and for an external USB drive that we hooked up to it as well.

Well, to solve the problem, we found this link and ran a neat little automated program from Microsoft that went in and fixed up the drivers for both the internal and external drives.

Your CD or DVD drive can’t read or write media

Very cool. This was way easier than some of the other solutions that we were seeing.

Droid tethering with PdaNet

By the way, I forgot to mention that while John and I were on our Codestock trip, I got tired of hoping beyond hope that the 2.2 Froyo update would appear on my Verizon Droid and purchased a license for the PdaNet software for Android. (I have a great fear of open wi-fi access points.)

It worked flawlessly with both the Mac OS X and Windows 7 operating systems on my BootCamp MacBook Pro. Nice job June Fabrics. Here is a link to their Android product:

PdaNet Android tethering

The demo of the software will run for 14 days, and then it will start blocking secure web sites. Also, you install a client application on your Windows or Macintosh computer that you need to run, along with running the PdaNet application on your device and activating the USB or Bluetooth mode. I did not try the Bluetooth mode, I just brought my Droid USB cable and communicated that way.

I highly recommend the software for Droid owners who need an internet connection on their laptop while on the go.