Dell mini-9

My new Dell Mini-9 just arrived, I quickly unwrapped it and booted it up. Obviously I picked the Ubuntu version (8.04 unfortunately), and I upgraded the memory to a full 1GB (the default configuration is only 512MB). System booted up pretty fast, and brings you through a quick setup "wizard". No problem so far, other than that the keyboard is really tiny for an adult male to type on. And various important characters are "hidden" on the keyboard, and the layout really isn't what I'm used to. But hopefully that'll get better with time. After all, I got this for it's tiny size.

After booting it up, I quickly enabled Wireless WiFi, and this mostly worked well. I had to change the wifi to use WPA Personal 2, and for some reason it wouldn't "remember" this. It took a few times via the Network administration UI to get it to keep this setting. I haven't played with the wifi outside of my home network yet, but hopefully it'll be equally easy to setup different profiles for other WiFi hotspots.

I also went through the Synaptic package manager quickly, uninstalled a few completely uninteresting packages (cleared up several hundred MBs getting rid of Chinese fonts, and Japanese input tools etc.), and I had to install a few missing important packages. In particular, the Mini-9 did not come with Emacs, wtf! There's plenty of space left on the SSD, well over 4GB is left. But of course, I've already ordered a 16MB SDHC card from Amazon, which should arrive on monday.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with this little gem. I bought it during one of the Dell sales, with Ubuntu and the 1GB RAM, it was around $260, which isn't a bad price at all. And the system is surprisingly snappy, and battery seems to last quite a while. Now, of course, I haven't tried to compile YTS on it yet :-).

Update

Minime (i.e. the Dell Mini) had to go back to Dell, due to some issues. The suspicion is that the thermal sensor and/or the CPU thinks it's getting majorly overheated, so the CPU throttles itself. Many other people have reported this problem, and it shows up as major performance degradations (anything from 2x - 4x is possible). Since I got a second Mini-9 for Michelle, I quickly swapped her SSD with mine, and ran my installation (and benchmarks) on her HW (CPU + mobo) over and over again, and even though it gets hot, it never once dropped the performance (i.e. no throttling).

Dell is taking Minime back in for service, I really hope they can find something (because it's definitely broken, no question about that). If they don't, well, then clearly I can no longer recommend this HW. I would definitely benchmark my Mini-9, on the Geekbench benchmark I usually get over 900, I've seen as high as 940.

Three gadgets any new dad will need

Here are the top three things I wouldn't be able to be without, now that I have a little poopy machine in the house. Forget the cool toys that you really want, like the Flip Mino, or a new Dell Mini laptop. Sure, you'll need those too, but only after you've covered these three bases.

Oxi Clean baby stain remover

This little gem is the first thing you need to go buy. Trust me. The little monster will from the beginning make huge messes, in front, back, top and bottom of anything you put on him (or her). You can buy this pretty much anywhere, this is what I bought.

A nasal aspirator

Forget that little rubber sucker bulb they give you at the hospital, you need a battery driven power sucker (the baby noses might be tiny, but they generate a good amount of goop). I got the Bébésounds Nasal Clear Battery Operated Nasal Aspirator, which has worked really well so far. Just clean it often, dried snott will clog it up. You can typically find it on Target or any other baby friendly store (be careful though, trips to these hell holes can get very expensive, specially if you bring the wife).

A non-contact infrared thermometer

This is probably the best investment I made, it's pricey, but well worth it. The ear-poking thermometers don't work on these tiny creatures. Trying to keep a thermometer in the armpit, or the little butt, is just impossible. Instead I got a Thermofocus 5-in-1 thermometer at Wallgreens. Get it, it even lets you check that bath tub temperature before throwing in the little porker.

There you have it. I hope these three little nuggets will be useful to you as well.

Dr. Dobbs R.I.P.

This is obviously old news, but Dr. Dobbs the publication ceased to exist a while ago. They made a big announcement how integrating with Information Week will make Dr. Dobbs content stronger, bigger and better. Well, I got my first look at what Dr Dobbs now has become, when I recieved my first copy of Information Week. Sadly, there's no question about it, Dr. Dobbs is no more. I for sure would not waste my money on Information Week, to get the few pages of the worst possible Dr. Dobbs articles. All the good stuff, specially the things that Dr. Dobbs integrated from C/C++ journal, is completely gone. All that is left is the management/CIO babble that used to be a small portion of the good old Dr. Dobbs.

I'm sad. And needless to say, there's no reason to waste my money buying (or subscribing) to Information Week...

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