Monday, July 12, 2010


My new work laptop came this morning. It's a Dell Inspiron 1764 with an Intel i3-350M(2.26GHz) Mobile CPU, 3GB of RAM and a 250GB SATA hard drive. It isn't the most portable laptop, having - like the Toshiba it replaces - a full-sized keyboard and a 17.3in. widescreen display. It looks and feels absolutely gorgeous, the screen is superb, the keyboard perfect for my fat fingers, and it's blisteringly fast. Click on the Firefox icon and the browser is there in a second or two.

What's more, the Dell doesn't cause any RF interference that I've noticed. The old Toshiba caused an increased level of hash that broke the squelch on my 2m FM receiver unless I cranked the knob round quite a way. Since I started receiving HF APRS I noticed that the Tosh caused a 3 S-point noise level on 30m as well, which all but prevented reception of any packets. So I am delighted with the new PC for that reason as well. I can now leave my radio station running all day as a VHF and HF APRS gateway while I work.

The old Toshiba had Linux installed on it early on in its life for security reasons plus the fact that Linux has some good web development tools. I was going to buy a PC with Linux preinstalled but I couldn't find what I wanted so I resigned myself to paying the Microsoft Tax. The Dell came with 64-bit Windows 7. I thought that I should try it under Windows for a few days just in case there was a fault and I had to send it back. But to be honest I think I may stick with Windows. It looks more polished than Linux, it's fast and I've already started to find replacements for the Linux tools I used. Firefox, which I spend most of the day using, looks and works exactly the same on both platforms, of course.

I certainly wouldn't choose Windows 7 64-bit for a shack PC as there are too many compatibility problems with popular hardware and ham radio applications. But for what I need to do to keep the business running it looks like being a good choice.


ConnerVT said...

I'm not surprised about the RF hash coming from your Toshiba. Their design and build quality has always been a bit Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, ever since they introduced their Satellite line in the early 90's.

Dell makes a good laptop, even though they let people configure machines too underpowered for what reasonable people expect them to do.

250GB isn't the largest HD, but you may consider making the computer dual boot, so you may also run Linux when you wish. Unless you install a ton of applications, you should have plenty of room for both. My main system here is full of apps, and the boot HD is only a 150GB. Of course, I have a second external (750GB) which is loaded full of media files (photos, camcorder DV video, music) as well as backup files, and a second drive that just is a backup of the backups...

Have fun with the new toy!

Fred -- N1ZUK

Theodore said...

Congratulations Julian, it's great to get a new PC. One doesn't realise how fast the new machines are until you get one.
I do a lot of CPU intensive stuff like blender animation and it is simply amazing how much quicker it runs on a contemporary machine.
I first thought windows 7 new bells and whistles would be redundant, but its amazing how quickly one gets used to using them, and would miss them if gone.
I had the same problems with incompatibility after migrating from XP to win7, but after a while found the compatibility mode had me running almost all my old programs.
Many of the popular ham radio programs have, or are developing, 64 bit versions as well, so it should be no problem getting that going as well.
Now you can use HRD/DM780 and all its tools, instead of being limited to FLdigi.
Nothing against FLdigi of course, great program, but HRD/DM780 is, in my opinion, the best digimodes program available.
Luckily, you did not get a Mac, that would be a whole new level of pain with ham radio software.

Unknown said...

This Dell actually for work so I won't be loading any ham software on it. I got a new shack PC a few months ago and kept that on XP for compatibility reasons.

I don't think I'm too likely to fill the 250GB hard drive - I think the previous laptop's disk was 80GB and I never even managed to fill that.

Steve GW7AAV said...

I like Windows 7. I was never a fan of XP and Vista was horrid. Worst ever was ME, did MS release that as some kind of Joke?

My latest machine has a 2TB HDD and I have a couple of similar sized portable drives for back up.

I thought the same about the 250gig drive in my laptop, but I filled it with my photographs during my last two week holiday.

One daft thing I did was install Ham Radio Deluxe so I could use it on holiday. I packed the leads and then when I got set up I realised the laptop has no serial ports. Doh! I bought a USB to serial convertor which works with some things but not the CAT leads for my Icom.

Theodore said...

Steve, 250GB of photos! Obviously very high definition snapshots.

Julian, did you notice that mode which must not be mentioned is officially dead?

Unknown said...

If I ever accumulate 250GB of photos it's because I've been too lazy to delete the dross. My 2.2Mpixel camera is high enough res for my needs (mainly to email to people or use on the blog.)

Yes I noticed that a certain digital mode developer had thrown his toys out of the pram and decided he wasn't going to play any more. I was going to write about it but I decided the less mention made of that mode the better. The Yahoo group set up to support the mode is hoping to carry on without the developer's involvement, however. Talk about flogging a dead horse.

M0JEK said...

Hi Julian, a new machine is always nice and fast :-) I hope you enjoy Windows 7. I haven't tried it yet. At work we are mainly Linux/UNIX based, and have a couple Windows machines for some vendor specific apps.

@ Theodore. I presume you were just trying to wind up some of the Mac users who read the blog. I only use MacOS in my shack, and have no pain. Far from it, it is a pleasure and things just work. Why do you think it is a pain?



Theodore said...

Julian, you are right, better to let the un-named mode die a natural death. Resuscitating it assumes it was ever alive, so that yahoo group will have a big task.

Andre M0JEK, yes I have to admit, I can't resist winding up Mac users, but in reality the OS is not important.
As long as it can run the applications important to you, all is well. MacOS/Win/Linux they are all really substrates for the applications to sit apon.
My reason for using a win/PC is that I am really lazy, and it is very simple to find applications for this platform.
More adventurous souls are drawn to Linux, and Mac users generally don't have enough money left over from buying a Mac to fund applications anyway.
So its PC/win for me, and with change to buy that new radio.
If only this PC would stop closing my windows explorer windows randomly!

M0JEK said...

Theodore, all understood and copied hi hi!
At the risk of adding more fuel to the fire ... hope Julian doesn't mind ... There is no need to buy ham apps for the Mac, they are free ones. For anyone interested, cocoaModem, RUMLog, RUMped, fldigi, MultiScan (SSTV) ...
Anyway, I had better go and close off the subject now.

73 and clear