Asus R1F – A Second Life

Although I really love my Macbook, there are certain aspects of my Asus R1F tablet that I really miss. The biggest one, of course, is the ability to use the tablet function. While I type a lot of things, I actually write and draw just as much. The only difference is that most of it is done on paper and they never get transferred to anywhere else and often times I lose them too. While I have my handy dandy tgrmobile (HTC Fuze) with me close to 100% of my waking hours, there are a few shortcomings to it. The first is that it’s a phone. When I type information with it during meetings, the assumption is that I am texting someone or emailing someone. It does have Evernote on it but the reality is that it is too small to be truly useful to write lots of notes or jott down my ideas fully with it. So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about going back to the Asus R1F or purchasing an Asus T91 to solve this issue. There were quite a few things that frustrated me about the Asus R1F, most of them stemming from using Windows Vista. When it was announced that Windows 7 would be released, I decided to give it another go. Although my initial install of Windows 7 RC was quite disastrous, the RTM seems much more solid. Here are some of my notes about setting up the Asus R1F with Windows 7.

 
Tablet functionality
After installing Windows 7, one of the things that I quickly noticed about my install was that I didn’t seem to have the tablet functionality. That will be fixed after the Intel 965 drivers were updated
 
Screen Rotation
This took a little bit more research but after doing some reading the answer was to install the Vista ATK Hotkey Utility for the Asus R1E. Yes, that’s not a typo. For the most part, most R1E software and drivers should work with the R1F. This is one such case.
August 13th, 2009
Biometric security
I’ve been slowly starting to use the tablet more and more and I finally got around to looking into the biometric feature for the R1F. When you install Windows 7 the first time, it will download an updated biometric driver. I actually found that it wouldn’t work properly. After some digging and testing, I found that the best way of getting this to work was to install the drivers that are available on the Upek site followed by installing the Protector Suite software after. Both will require reboots. Once Protector Suite is installed, go through the steps to activate it. In my case, I had to the Biometric Device Centre to enable domain security for biometric.
I’ll continue to update this post as I come across more fixes for the install.

 

Wrote my first guest post

I am really proud to say that I’ve written my first guest post about the Sony Xperia X1 – ever and I was really excited about it. Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and get to know Howard Chui of HowardForums.com and HowardChui.com.For those of you who don’t know, Howard Forums is the major source of provider specific information or technical configuration for my phones. It is also one of the best ways to buy a used phone. I picked up my HTC Fuze by that means. HowardChui.com is where Howard writes about industry news and phone reviews.

Over that time, I’ve learned that outside of our passion for mobile technology, we both share the same passion for technology in general where we’ve traded stories about various servers and hardware components we have built or are thinking of building. Hope you enjoy the review and thanks to Howard who gave me the opportunity to play with a device I once considered purchasing and writing on his blog.

HTC Dream and Magic – Initial Review

There are some benefits in being a funded start-up by Rogers and that is access to wireless technology and infrastructure. When the Magic and Dream were first announced, I sent a quick message to both our internal executives and was quite pleasantly surprised when I was handed an unopened Dream for us to look into developing an Android app. I had previously picked up a Magic because frankly at $150, it’s hard to go wrong.

The HTC Dream is the same phone as the T-Mobile G1 that was released last year with some changes to the antenna as HSUPA/HSPDA run on a different frequency than the US. I did not know this and was an interesting tidbit to find out. I remember looking at the T-Mobile G1 and wondering how comfortable it would be to have something protruding while typing. After using it for close to a week, I found that part really intrusive. It was quite difficult to use as it made for very awkward typing over a period of time. One nice thing about it is that it gave easy access to the rollerball which came in handy at times. Overall though, I found the performance on the Dream quite sluggish. For whatever reason, it waited a lot and crashed a lot for me. It’s definitely not a replacement phone for my HTC Fuze.

The Magic, on the other hand, was awesome. I generally prefer a hardware keyboard but as a secondary play phone, it does so quite nicely. It is small and sleek. In comparison to the native Dream ROM, it is fairly solid. I did not run into crashing or slowness issues. The soft keyboard works as well as one would hope. I was quite surprised it didn’t have a dedicated key for the camera which would have been really nice. While the Magic still has that chin, it isn’t nearly as obstrusive as for the Dream.

The nice thing about these phones is that they are HTC devices and in typical HTC fashion, I’ve flashed the ROM already. My Magic currently has the Hero ROM on it with the HTC Sense software. More thoughts on that in another post. I’ll update this blog with pictures in a few days.

Dropbox – Initial Review

Outside of Evernote, one of my other favourite apps today is Dropbox. The Dropbox concept is rather simple; it allows you to store information in the cloud but it’s implementation is extremely effective. Ever since I started working, I’ve always had portable storage. Traditionally it’s come in the means of a Compact Flash memory card seated in a PCMCIA adapter that is always plugged in to my notebooks. If I ever decided to leave my laptop at work, all I would have to do is to eject my PCMCIA card and take it home with me and I’d still be able to hace access to my core information wherever I went. PCMCIA cards are no longer the norm; ExpressCards are. More importantly though this same requirement can be solved by web services like Dropbox.

I do my work on multiple devices. I have a Macbook as my primary work laptop, a Vista machine for when I’m home and a Ubuntu Linux box that I rely on to do system admin type tasks. I love the fact that Dropbox works on all 3 operating systems. For all 3, you install a client which then creates a local directory on that machine. Any time you make a change to a document in the dropbox directory, it will synchronize it to all the other machines. In that scenario, it works really well. For my mobile devices, Dropbox has a mobile friendly web site that makes these folders easily accessible. I often put cab files that I need to install on my Windows Mobile there as often times sites don’t make it easy to download apps from their site.

One of the really nice things that I like about Dropbox is the ability to share folders. This is most useful when you are collaborating with others and need to have information flow to multiple people. Instead of sending multiple files to multiple people, you can always have the latest copy accessible through a shared folder in Dropbox. One word of caution though, it doesn’t support the concept of file locking. If two people are editing the same document, the file that is retained is most likely going to be the last one. The good news though is that it does support some rudimentary file versioning which is accessible on the web.

The free account comes with 2GB of storage. It may not sound like a lot especially when USB keys are so cheap these days and when Yahoo and Gmail both offer storage sizes that is much larger than that. It all boils down to how you use your cloud storage. For me, it’s a very simple and cheap way to synchronize and cache the most critical files that I need quick and instant access to such as my work documents. For the laptops that I access to perform work related tasks, I default my local Dropbox directory as my Documents directory. That way any work I do gets saved that quickly. The nice benefit from this process is that I get file versions out of this by default. Just in case I do something stupid, I can always log on to the web to restore an older version. Since it’s cached locally, it means that I can still have access to a copy of the file. One risk though is that if it wasn’t synchronized before you took your computer offline, you might not have the latest copy.

Should you find that 2GB is not enough for your needs, you can upgrade your plan to a 50 GB or 100 GB plan for a fee. You could also get small upgrades to your account by referring friends. Each referral will get you an extra 250 MB added to your account. If you did find this review useful and would like to try Dropbox, please use my referral link.