Gadget Finder

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gears Of War error- Solution

How many of you guys have tried clicking on "Play" and then getting kicked backed to the desktop with an error? I bet there's millions of frustrated people out there who gave up on playing the game after going through all that aggravation. I was one of those people. I've had this game since it was launched but never played it coz it simply wouldn't start. I gave up trying to play it after many attempts at reinstalling it.

Last night, I was cleaning up the shelf where I keep my games and found GOW sitting there. Reminded me of all the hair I pulled out trying to install and play this game. So............ I decided to challenge myself to get this game running or else I wouldn't go to sleep. I'm glad to say I've sorted it out at last. It took a whole night and day though. Not funny at all. EPIC games.................... you guys SUCKKKKkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EPIC Phailure is what your company should be called.

Anyway, here's a step by step guide on how I solved it.

1. Install a fresh copy of Windows Vista and be sure to update to the latest SP2 update. Then install the required drivers for graphics, motherboard and sound.

2. Install Gears Of War. Be patient, this silly game takes a hell of a long time to install. Took about an hour on my system and I have a Raptor 150 HDD. I'd hate to think how long it would have taken on a normal HDD. It also requires about 10gb for the install so make sure you have enough space in the HDD.

3. Now you need to go and download and install the latest patch for GOW from here-

Click on the part where I've put my mouse pointer in this picture-

4. Next up is the Windows Live update. Get it from here-

Click on the part where I've put my mouse pointer in this picture-

5. Start the game and enjoyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Don't forget to log into you're Windows Live account first or you wont be able to save the game.

Hope this helps all the frustrated people who went through the same experience as me. Now, get into the game and let the fragging begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you liked this article or found it helpful, please check out the advertisements ya? Your support is much appreciated. :) :) :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

HP Mini 2133 six cell battery review

Okayyyyyyyy, here's the article on the optional 6 cell battery pack at last. This article's been long delayed due to my standard 3 cell developing a fault. I had to go get a new unit from HP. I waited until now so I can compare and show you guys the difference between both batteries. Let's take a look at the 6 cell battery now. Here's how it looks like-

Did you notice there's a really nice feature on it? There's actually a meter on it if you look carefully. Here's a closer look at the meter.

It will tell you the charge level if you touch the battery icon on the meter. It lights up to show the charge level like this-

It's a very useful feature indeed. Especially for people who have a few battery packs. How many times have you left home with a spare battery pack only to realise it's actually empty when you run out of juice at the coffee shop? It's happened to me quite a few times actually, with my other laptops and it's infuriating. It will never happen again coz I can now check on the charge level before bringing it out.

Here's the difference in size between the 3 cell and 6 cell battery.

As you can see, the 6 cell is double the size and weight. Some may think it will be cumbersome for such a small netbook. I like it a lot though. Here's why-

It lifts the Mini up at a very nice angle for typing. It also helps to keep the Mini nice and cool with all that air underneath it. Here's a few more pictures of how the Mini looks like with the 6 cell.

Let's get on to battery runtimes now. I didn't do any scientific tests or anything of the sort. Not my kinda style. I do real world tests for real world usage for real people. :) All I did was to calibrate both batteries over a few full charge and discharge cycles. Then I turned on the battery meter to see how much runtime Windows estimates for a full charge. Power Profile used was HP Optimised in Windows Vista Business.

Here's the screenshot of the 3 cell runtime.

6 cell runtime.

The results were pretty much expected since the 6 cell is twice the size and capacity of the 3 cell battery. In conclusion, I loooooooooooooove the 6 cell battery. It truly gives me the freedom to work away from the power outlet. No more worries about running out of juice while I'm out and about. With both the 3 cell and 6 cell in the bag, I've got almost 7 hours worth of runtime. More than enough to get myself drunk on coffee while I'm out at the local Starbucks. LOL.

Other articles on the HP Mini-
How to: RAM upgrade for HP Mini 2133
HP Mini 2133 review
Hewlett Packard customer service rocks!

If you liked this article or found it helpful, please check out the advertisements ya? You can also buy the 6 cell battery for HP Mini 2133 from Amazon through the links below. Your support is much appreciated. :) :) :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hewlett Packard customer service rocks!

My recently purchased Mini 2133 had a failing battery. I used to get 2 hours on a full charge when I bought it last month. These past few days it dropped to about 1 hour on a full charge. Anyway, I called the support center and they told me to take it to the HP service center for an exchange. I expected them to give me all kinds of excuses like, "you're charging it wrongly" or "your power profiles are sucking a lot of battery life" and so on.

Anyway, I went to the HP Tower building and was immediately impressed. There was ample parking and all were reserved for service center customers. Most impressive!

The parking lots are right in front of the service center entrance. I turned around after parking my car and there it was.

I was highly impressed once I got inside. It's a very nice and cosy place with sofas and coffee tables. There were lots of tech and gadget magazines, also a plasma TV with satellite TV showing Discovery Channel. My favorite was the lil corner where they served up free coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and sweets. My kids were thrilled to bits. We actually sat in the lounge for another 45 minutes even after I was done dealing with HP.

Anyway, HP didn't try and make any excuses or try to get out of giving me a new battery. The customer service rep just asked me what the problem was. I told her the battery was failing and she said "no problem sir, give me a few minutes, I'll go get a new battery for you immediately". Off I went to enjoy my hot coffee while waiting for her. 5 minutes later she called me back to her desk and said they had just run out of stocks and promised to call me when it was available again.

I got a call the very next morning. So I went there again to collect the replacement battery. Guess who asked to come along? My 3 kids all wanted to come along again coz they liked it so much the day before. Hehe. How often is it that we actually enjoy a component failure. Most times, component failures cause us lots of aggravation. It's a lot of wasted time having to go over there and explain the problem with the part and then having to wait weeks or even months for a replacement. The last time I had a component failure was with an Asus motherboard and they made me wait 3 months for a replacement. That was totally lame. Mind you, it was a top of the line Striker Extreme motherboard which cost big bucks and yet the customer service left a lot to be desired.

Anyway, I went back the next day and got the battery within 5 minutes of arrival. That shows top notch customer service. All the counters were open and manned and they worked really fast to get things done. Problem is, we spent another 30-40 minutes in the lounge after I got my new battery coz my kids wanted to chill out there again. LOL.

Soooooo.......... I had a really nice afternoon tea with my kids, 2 days in a row, all thanks to this-

I'm happy to report that the new battery works just fine and I'm back to getting about 2 hours out of it on the HP Optimised power profile in Windows Vista. Thank you HP for the top notch customer service. My Mini is back in action after just 1 day. I will most certainly buy HP again when the time comes to get a new laptop in the future.

Other articles on the HP Mini-
HP Mini 2133 review
How to: Upgrade HP Mini 2133 RAM
HP Mini 2133 six cell battery review

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gaming mousepad. DIY for $1.50

I was shopping at Ikea yesterday and saw something which immediately lit a light bulb in my head. It's a flexible chopping board called Dralla. It only costs $3(rm10) for 2 pieces and I'm gonna make it into a gaming grade mousepad. Here's a step by step guide on making your very own $1.50(rm5) gaming mousepad.

1. Buy the Dralla flexible chopping board set from Ikea. It comes with 2 pieces inside. Colors available are black, aqua and red. I chose black.
Here's how the Dralla chopping board looks like.

It comes with 2 pieces inside in different shades of color. The black set comes with grey and black.

2. Buy some car dashboard gripper mat. You can get this from most car accessories shops or even departmental stores at the carpet section(it's used for keeping carpets in place). It only costs a few bucks and you can use it all around the house and the car which is why I didn't include this in the cost of the mousepad.

3. Cut the gripper mat to size and put in on the Dralla. No glue is required as the gripper mat is very sticky by itself. Just lay it on the Dralla. I've put it slightly off the edges to show how it looks like on the Dralla. You should cut it to exact size instead.

4. Flip the Dralla mat over. The gripper mat should be between the Dralla mat and table.

5. Voila!!!!! We now have an Ikea branded gaming grade mousepad for only $1.50. :)

I have a Func 1030 pad too. I can tell you that this Dralla mat feels just like the Func 1030 pad. The Func pad cost $17(rm60) and this DIY mat only cost me $1.50(rm5). No more uber expensive branded mousepads for me from now on. I will only use my own $1.50 mousepads which perform just the same.

If you liked this article or found it helpful, please check out the advertisements ya? Your support is much appreciated. :) :) :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

World Record laptop battery. 44 hours runtime!!

Check out the 3 cell battery runtime for my HP Mini 2133 netbook. It's 44.5 hours with 60% capacity left!!!!!!!! If that isn't a world record I dont know what is. LOL

Here's a screenshot of my World Record setting 3 cell battery for HP Mini 2133.

Actually......................... it's just a faulty battery. LOL. I've been getting some horrible runtimes in the past few days. I was getting only 1 hour flat on HP Optimized power profile in the past few days. It suddenly went bonkers and showed me this 44.5 hour thingy so I quickly took a screenshot of this rare occurence. Hehehe. Lucky for me, I have the 6 cell battery so I can send this faulty battery back to HP for RMA.

Next page- battery RMA, Hewlett Packard customer service rocks!

Mimo Monitor, coolest gadget I've seen in a long while

Check these lil lovely 7 inch LCD monitors out guys. I was browsing around the internet and found these beauties. They're USB monitors. Just plug n play. It's powered by USB too so there's no need for a power brick. Windows sees them as any other normal LCD monitor. Good for dual or triple display set ups. It will be especially useful for MSN, game stats, Vista Gadgets and so on. The normal 7" screen is $129 and the 7" touchscreen model is $199. Pretty decent pricing I reckon.


Now I must go find one for my desktop.

Check out the pics.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How to: Upgrade HP Mini 2133 RAM

Here's the RAM upgrade DIY I did after installing Windows Vista into my Mini Note 2133. 1gb was insufferable while using Vista so I went out and got myself a stick of 2gb, DDR2, 667mhz ram to make Vista go a little bit quicker.

It's a bit puzzling at first as there's no port or panel that can be opened on the bottom of the Mini. Look under the Mini and all we see is this.

Let's get on with the RAM upgrade now. The ram slot is located right below the keyboard.

Step 1
Take out the battery and flip the Mini over. You will see the 3 little screws I've circled in red.

Remove the 3 screws circled in red.

Step 2
Remove the keyboard by picking up the top edge. I found it easier to pick up the top right side as in this picture-

Keep lifting the keyboard until you have full access to the ram. Like this-

Be very careful with the ribbon connector right in the middle. It's very fragile and your keyboard will be useless if that cable is torn.

Step 3
Now press the metal tabs holding the ram on both sides. My picture only shows me pressing one side as my other hand was taking the picture. The ram will pop up at an angle once released from the tabs. Remove it gently by sliding it out.

Step 4
Grab a new 2gb stick of ram. I bought Corsair 2gb, DDR2, 667mhz. It only cost me rm90($25). Remember guys, the Mini only takes up to 2gb. Don't try and install a 4gb stick as it's not supported and won't work.

Now just slide the ram into the slot at the same angle as when you removed it. Once it's completely inserted at an angle it will stop. Then you need to press straight down on the ram to let the two metal tabs on the side pop back on and hold the ram down and we're done.

Step 5
Put the keyboard back on. Make sure you insert the 4 tabs at the bottom edge, carefully into the 4 holes above the touchpad area before you pop the keyboard back in.

Step 6

Flip the Mini over again and install the 3 screws we removed earlier.

Do a final check to make sure the keyboard is secured.

Voila! The Mini Note is now equipped with 2gb of ram and ready to roll. Boot up the Mini and go to System Properties. Make sure Windows sees the 2gb ram and we're done.

Other articles on the HP Mini-
HP Mini 2133 six cell battery review
HP Mini 2133 review
Hewlett Packard customer service rocks!

If you liked this article or found it helpful, please check out the advertisements ya? You can also buy the RAM from Amazon through the links below. Your support is much appreciated. :) :) :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

HP Mini 2133 review

I was having breakfast at a coffeeshop one fine Saturday morning and saw an advertisement in the local newspapers. HP was doing a promo on the HP Mini series of netbooks. I remember the Mini 2133 from a year ago when I saw it at the huge promo booth they did at the Pavilion shopping mall. It was a fantastic looking little thing and built like a tank. It was a wee bit too expensive then at about rm2000(USD550) so I ended up buying an Asus EeePC. The promo in the papers piqued my interest as the 2133 is now priced at a measly rm1049(USD290)!!!! It comes with a free HP branded bag too.

It was about 9am at the time. As the Mini 2133 was going for such a low, low, low price I decided to quickly finish up my breakfast and go take a look at the nearest HP shop. I proceeded to the HP shop at 1 Utama mall but the shop told me they had no stocks and the nearest place would be the HP shop at Mid Valley mall. So I went over to Mid Valley. All this excitement, running around looking for a superb deal, and I was still in my pajamas. I was so excited about the deal I didn't even go home to get showered and changed. LOL.

Anyway, I got to Mid Valley and the shop had all the Mini models in stock. They had the latest Mini 1000 black and also the Vivienne Tam limited edition. The silver aluminum Minis that I like were the 2140 and 2133. I was torn between choosing the 2140 and 2133. The Mini 2140 has a bigger 10" screen, 160gb HDD, Intel Atom 1.6ghz CPU and Windows XP and the price was rm1699(USD470). I settled for the Mini 2133 in the end coz all I really need is a nice lil portable netbook for surfing the net and updating my blog from anywhere I am.

Let's take a look at the Mini 2133 that I bought. Here's how it looks like.

The packaging.

The Mini from different angles.







Opened up

Here's the nice neoprene bag which comes free with the rm1049 promotion. Fits the Mini perfectly and looks really nice to boot.

My Mini came as specified in this list.

The specs don't look too impressive eh? Well, let's get on to my impression of it after trying it out for the past 3 weeks.

First impression
I'll start with the looks. This lil netbook is a real beauty. I absolutely love how it looks and it's built really well too. Build quality is fantastic, this thing is like Fort Knox as compared to the Asus EeePC 4G that I also have. The EeePC feels like a cheap Made in China toy in comparison. The externals are made of a nice brushed aluminum and I've read that the chassis is magnesium. It not only looks nice and solid, it feels nice and solid too.

Expansion slots and ports
It has two USB2, VGA output, earphone and mic mini jacks, Express card slot, SD card reader and an ethernet port. The USB port on the left side is powered so we can plug in an external HDD or DVD drive. Here's the powered USB port.

The other special thing that most other netbooks don't have is the Express card slot. This is the Express card slot and the SD card reader is right below it.

The express card slot is very useful as we can slot in a 3G modem and the Mini will be truly wireless at all times without the need to look for a WIFI spot. Personally, I'm just sick and tired of WIFI spots. They're so useless, I've tested many spots and most of them are much slower than my iPhone's EDGE network. I haven't used WIFI spots in years due to how slow they are. I don't use a 3G modem in the Mini though. I tether it to my iPhone through wifi and use the iPhone as my wireless modem. I use a program called PDAnet which costs USD29.90. Worth every cent in my opinion. You fellas who own an iPhone with unlimited data packages should check it out. Be aware that you need a jailbroken iPhone to use PDAnet though.

The LCD screen
The 8.9 inch LCD screen is absolutely gorgeous. It's the glossy type of screen which I prefer. Everything just looks so much better on glossy screens. Only problem is reflections in brightly lit places. The resolution is 1024x768. Windows recommends 1024x600 for best fit so that's what I use. It is soooooooo nice and sharp compared to my EeePC which has a puny little 7 inch screen with super low resolution. Web pages are displayed properly at this resolution. The width is just nice and there's no need for side scrolling. Those of you who have or tried the 7 inch EeePC will know just how annoying that small, low res screen is with all that side scrolling for web pages. So the 8.9 inch, 1024x768 screen on the Mini gets a huge thumbs up from me.

The speakers
The speakers are really good. A rather pleasant surprise since most netbooks have horrible speakers. I guess the build quality and solidity of the aluminum body pays off here. There's no unpleasant vibrations or crackling sounds. Just a nice smooth and clear sound. Don't expect any bass though. The position of the speakers on either side of the LCD probably plays a big part too. It's positioned right in front and projects the sound straight at us. They actually sound a lot better than some full size laptops I've tested.

The camera
There's a built in camera above the LCD. It's only a 640x480 res camera but it's plenty good for Skype usage. It can take photos too but I personally wouldn't bother since it's only 640x480.

Battery life
My Mini comes with a standard 3 cell Lithium Ion battery pack. It keeps the Mini nice and light but the battery life leaves a lot to be desired. I tested the battery life by playing an AVI movie and it only lasted 65 minutes before going into hibernation. Web browsing lasts about 1.5 hours. The power scheme I use in Windows XP is Portable/Laptop mode. Looks like the optional 6 cell battery is a necessity for any real work to be done while on the road.

The keyboard

The keyboard is outstanding. It's specified as being 92% full size by HP. It's nice and big, touch typing on it is a breeze. I dont feel cramped by the keyboard at all. The EeePC I have is terrible with it's teeny weeny keyboard that's made more for little elfs. It also supposedly sports a spill proof design but I'm not about to put that to the test. LOL.

The touchpad
The touchpad has received a lot of flak from other reviewers but I beg to differ. I reckon it's actually really nice. The unusual format of left and right buttons on either side of the touchpad is the cause of all that aggravation. I find it really nice and comfy though. Takes a few days to get used to it but after that it's plain sailing. There's also a touchpad on/off switch located just above the pad. It's really handy for extended typing sessions so you don't touch the pad by mistake. Touch response is nice and smooth once you have adjusted it to your preference.

The Operating System

My model comes with SUSE Linux Enterprise. The very first time I booted up the Mini, I decided that this version of Linux is just useless. Can you imagine, it took about 2 minutes to boot up! I can't recall any other PC taking that long to boot a Linux OS. It looks very nice and works well. In fact, they've made it look kinda like Windows. However, since I couldn't see any benefits to using Linux on the Mini I tried out a few different versions of Windows on it.

First thing I tried was Vista Business, bad mistake. It looks great with all the bells and whistles turned on. The Mini runs Vista properly with everything turned on including the Aero glass effects and Flip 3D. Only problem is that it is slooooooooooooooooooow. Very, very, very slow. My hair practically turned grey while waiting for it to boot up. That was with 1gb of ram. I then changed it out for a stick of 2gb ram to see if Vista's performance improved. The 2gb of ram did improve things a lot but it was still mighty slow. I wasn't happy at all. I'm a big proponent of Vista and I love it to bits on my desktop PC. But I've never realised how slow Vista runs on low spec machines as the desktops I own are monstrous beasts with quad core CPUs and dual graphics cards with fast HDDs and 4gb of ram. Vista is a big huge no no for the Mini.

Next up was Windows 7 beta. Things improved tremendously with W7. Everything ran nice and quick. A whole new experience when compared to Vista. It's like a turbocharged version of Vista. As I use my Mini for work, W7 is too much of a pain to keep right now as it's not a complete OS. I'm looking forward to the official launch of W7. I will be 1st in line to buy W7 for all 8 PCs I have at home.

Finally it's on to good old Windows XP Pro. The Mini runs like a totally different machine with XP in it. It runs so much faster, it's indescribable. Everything runs real quick and there's no more waiting for that irritating little turning circle in Vista to finish loading up programs. Just click, click, click and off you go with your work. I've finally settled on XP for my Mini. Performance is of utmost importance as I use it a lot while I'm out of the house. I really miss a lot of the features on Vista though. Fear not, as I have discovered a rather nifty program called Vistamizer. It makes XP look like and even work like Vista. It even has the Aero glass effects, taskbar tab preview and Flip3D. I'll do a write up on my experience with Vistamizer after this review so check back a lil later for the report on Vistamizer.

I looooooooooooooooooooooooove this lil netbook. It is absolutely awesome. I can't ask for much more from such a cheap thing. Best thing about it is that it looks and feels like a million bucks and performs really well with Windows XP.

Those of you interested in getting a netbook now, go take a real good look at the Mini 2133 or 2140 if you need that little extra LCD size and faster Intel Atom CPU. I'd recommend the 2133 since it's on a run out sale now. The current rm1049 promo is just too delicious an offer to pass up. Even if you don't need 1 for yourself, go get it for your wife or mother. It'll be a perfect gift for mother's day and they can surf for recipes and stuff like that with a nice lil HP Mini in the kitchen. Just think of all the delicious food they'll be cooking up for you with the aid of the Mini in the kitchen. :)

Well that's it for my experience with the Mini 2133 in the past 3 weeks. I'll be doing a how to guide for upgrading the ram and also the performance of the optional 6 cell battery pack right after this article. I'm actually running down the 6 cell battery pack while writing this article to test the battery life. It's looking really good so far. Be sure to come back and check out the ram upgrade and optional 6 cell battery articles. :)

Page 2.- How to: RAM upgrade for HP Mini 2133
Page 3. HP Mini 2133 six cell battery review

If you liked this article or found it helpful, please check out the advertisements ya? You can also buy the HP Mini 2133 from Amazon through the links below. Your support is much appreciated. :) :) :)