Thursday, August 19, 2010

ASUS 1005HA netbook - first impressions

My new netbook (Asus 1005HA, Linux version) arrived today. I bought it to replace my Lenovo X61 tablet, not for any technical reason, but because the X61 won't fit in the trunk bag on my bicycle.

Software: The preinstalled Linux (Xandros?) is crap, so I immediately installed the Ubuntu 10.04 netbook remix. I have to say that I am extremely impressed with Ubuntu. There is a nice application launcher (in place of a traditional desktop.) The window manager uses the "one maximized application at a time" model, which I initially thought would be annoying, but is actually really nice. Each running app gets a small icon on the panel, and Alt-Tab switches between apps. Very good use is made of the limited (1024x600) screen real estate. I found it easy to add a new application launcher (for Eclipse!), and to add launchers to the "Favorites" category. Connecting to wireless networks (WPA and WEP) worked flawlessly. Installing software from the package repositories (openjdk, subversion) worked great.

Hardware: Awesome! The screen is bright and sharp. The keyboard is much better than I expected - I can type at close to full speed. The track pad works very well, and dragging on the right edge scrolls up and down. I haven't run any benchmarks, but it seems quite responsive. I installed Eclipse and did a bit of Java programming, and performance was fine. (It's some kind of Atom which supports hyperthreading.) Battery life is predicted (by the Ubuntu battery meter) at about 5.5 hours, which seems reasonable. I am waiting for a 2GB memory module to arrive, but with the pre-installed 1GB it works just fine. And the size - it really is significantly smaller and lighter than any traditional notebook, even ultraportables.

Overall: I really like it a lot so far. I'm looking forward to seeing how well it can handle serious work during the school year.

What I Did This Summer

It's been a busy summer. Things that I did (in absolutely no order):
  1. Full-time parenting. This was by far the most interesting and rewarding activity. Eli is now talking up a storm, and Gus is almost walking. I can now sing the themes to Super Why and Dinosaur Train from memory.
  2. Went to Charlotte to visit the Bridges clan. Lots of fun, but US Airways now on enemies list.
  3. Vacationed in Dewey Beach, DE with Bridges, Hovemeyer, and Swope families. Good times! However, fantasized about formally suggesting "Drunken Frat Boy, DE" as new name for town.
  4. Continued work done by YCP undergrads (hi Ray and Brandon!) to create an RTOS for AVR microcontrollers. The kernel is 100% C (no assembly)! Planning to somehow get a SIGCSE or CCSCE paper out of this.
  5. Successfully programmed a 22V10 GAL, for both combinational and stateful logic. (I need to break down and actually learn about FPGAs sometime.)
  6. Attended Heisler/Williams wedding reception and Hoyt/Spacco wedding. Latter involved travel to Chicago. Reconnected with UMD peeps.
  7. Advised one student doing an internship for credit, and another taking a course by tutorial.
  8. Retooling of Programming Language Design course.
  9. ABET stuff (don't ask.)
  10. Read all 3 books by Stieg Larsson. Highly recommended.
  11. Got netbook. How did I live without one of these? Lenovo X61 notebook now seems hopelessly large and cumbersome.
  12. Rode bike many times. Planning to use as main commuting vehicle during school year when weather cooperates.
  13. Reviewed a book.
  14. Attended CCSCE 2010 organizational meeting.
  15. Lunch at Victory Brewing Company twice with Kate to celebrate aniversaries.
There's probably some other stuff I forgot.