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Comment of the Fortnight

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Comment of 31 December 1998
End of Year Review

I'll keep this short. I did some interesting things (the Russian Tutorial among them) and had a good time doing them as well. I'm still teaching classes for KeyPoint and enjoying it. On a sad note, Rainbow the Cat is no longer with me, but Tabitha is still doing well. The years has been very, very good; I can't complain.

Plans for 1999

I'll be on my way to South Korea for a 12-day vacation in the middle of next month. (I figure that Seoul won't be swamped with tourists in mid-January.) I know the address of an Internet café in Seoul, so I may sign on and, time permitting, write a brief postcard-like Comment of the Fortnight, but please don't get an angst attack if the 14 January edition doesn't appear.

I plan to do more teaching and, perhaps, less programming in 1999. As usual, I am contemplating a move back to the Midwest, but it hasn't gotten beyond the thinking stages for the past seven or eight years, so don't look for any major action in that particular arena.

In any case, have a happy, healthy, and exciting Solar New Year.

More On the Olympus D400Z

The comments from the 14 December issue still stand. The negatives are beginning to outweigh the positives, and I've seen posts on the rec.photo.digital newsgroup confirming my suspicion that the camera's effective ISO rating is less than the advertised 100. For those who aren't familiar with photo terms, this means you need to have really bright light before you can get any decent results without a flash. The pictures I got from the camera during my recent trip to Florida to visit my mom were pretty much underwhelming. I'm going to take the D-500 as my primary camera on the trip to Korea, and the D400 Zoom as a secondary, but when I get back it looks like the D400 and Nikon 900 will go to eBay to be auctioned off.

Speaking of the letter E...

Here's another company whose name begins with e: emachines. They sell really inexpensive personal computers. The computer that belongs to the guy who lives upstairs (let's call him "Joe") was getting old, and he asked me to recommend a machine for him. He's not a power user; most of what he does is web surfing with some word processing and spreadsheet use. I went to MicroCenter in Santa Clara and got him an e tower 266, which includes the following:

This is not a power machine for the person who needs the latest and greatest, but it's more than adequate for his uses. The price: US$449.00 No, that's not a mistype. US$449.00. He already had a monitor, but could have purchased one for US$100.00 more. Oh yes; they had a US$50 rebate along with the machine.

I left Joe on his own to set up the machine, so I didn't see the entire process. I did note that the connectors are color coded to make it easier to hook up the hardware. The only glitch he encountered was during the on-line registration. For some reason, he couldn't connect the first time and had to re-enter all the name, address, and user profile information on the second try.

In my opinion, emachines has a winner. They also have a unit with a 300 MHz Celeron ® processor and 3.2 gigabyte hard drive; I believe its cost before rebate was US$549.

Finally, two random thoughts:

  1. The e tower 266 would make a great Linux TM box for a home or small office. I'm going out on a limb here, but if you gave it a network card and 32 megabytes more memory it would probably make an adequate web server.
  2. How much of that cost is the tribute that emachines has to pay to Redmond for the operating system? One wonders what the cost might be for the same hardware with Linux pre-installed.

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