Saturday, September 29, 2007

Power management re-alignment!

Okay, I came up with a new strategy on power management: The physical power button on the computer puts it in hibernation. Closing the lid puts it in sleep mode. This both for when connected on AC and when running on the battery. But if you prefer, you can adjust it differently for each power source.

But worry not with the physical power button. If you press and hold for more than five seconds the computer powers off regardless of what is programmed to the button. This is handy when you have a program that refuses to close and holds up rebooting or shutting down. I had to use this a couple of times, the last time was today when Norton's Hogware Security stumbled onto itself while trying to update itself with Live Update. This is the program with the freebie 60-day subscription that came with the computer. I did not purchase it!!!

Now that's a vote of confidence, a program that is supposed to protect your computer, yet it can't even update itself properly. Ouch!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Quick hitters mainly on battery and such

I noticed that overnight, even if I turn it off (not hibernate) it seems to wake up at 95% or 96% in the morning. I don't know if it wakes up at 3am regardless and looks for Microsoft updates. I'll check and turn them off (if Microsoft lets me) and see what happens. This is a LiIon battery, not a NiMH or NiCad after all! Update: But this may also be the energy used up simply to boot up the computer again, since turning it off or hibernating essentially turns the machine off. Hibernation goes even further since it saves and restores your current state of affairs. So that could be the answer as well.

I continue to have the laptop cooler virtually glued to the computer. I do not know how much energy it uses, but when connected to AC it's a non-issue.

With hibernation instead of sleeping I have not noticed any of the occasional screen squishing

Oh yes, this is almost two months since I got it, so expect my "two month after" review recap in the next few days :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No screen squishing since switching to Hibernation

Since I switched the Close Lid function to "Hibernation" instead of the default "Sleep" mode, I haven't had any of the occasional "screen squishing"! Hibernation is my favorite because usually when I had put the computer in sleep mode in the past, I was gone long enough that it went into hibernation out of its own free will. So why waste energy sleeping when you can hibernate? I only do a true power off every few days. I don't want the power off software not to get any exercise :-)

By the way, if you are interested in this computer, it is on sale this week at Circuit City for $500 after a $30 mail in rebate. But you can also take the Circuit City circular ad from the Sunday paper (or the Circuit City store) and ask your favorite store to price-match them. So even offer 110% price match so you can get it for slightly less. I think the rebate is from HP/Compaq, so it shouldn't be an issue in the price match since most retailers also advertise the $30 rebate.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

F572us: To Sleep or To Hibernate, that is the question!

To sleep or to hibernate that is the question! Sleep makes it easier to wake up, hibernation take a bit longer but save more power, namely the pc is turned off. With Sleep the pc is eating up more power. This is not a big deal if you are connected to AC, but if you are running on battery, then that is something to consider.

The default is Sleep mode, but in my case I found Hibernation to be more convinient since when I usually don't turn it back on right away. I am currently using the default HP power plan but I changed one setting, closing the lid puts the computer in hibernation, since that's what I do most of the time. The default was to put the computer to sleeeep.

Another default I changed was to decrease the time it takes before turning off the display. If you are doing things like running scans, hard disk defrags, virus/adware checks, burning media, downloading stuff, etc, you may not want to sit there and watch it tick tock tick tock. Since the display does not have an ON/OFF button like a stand-alone PC display does, I found this to be the easiest way to turn it off.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A second unexpected blue-screen!

And I got my second blue-screen, it seems to be the same issue, the error reported was something about DRIVE POWER something, it went too fast for me to write it down or memorize it. The power cable was in the computer but it was not powered, it was running from the battery at over 50% full. I was merely looking at a browser window, I was not doing anything dramatic or intensive :)

It did create a dump file with an accompanying XML and .txt file for further analysis by Microsoft. Sending the problem information to Microsoft p;roduced "no new solultions". So some could ask, is Microsoft really interested in the problems or just collecting dumps from our computers? ;-)

To get to that program, you go to Control Panel, select Classic View, and then page down to find Problem Reports and Solutions. Then click on that, and then click on "See Problems to Check", look through the problems reported there, click on the ones you want to report to microsoft, then press the Check for Solutions button in the lower right corner of the screen. You can also recheck for previously submitted problems by clicking the "Check again for solutions to other problems" on the lower left corner of your screen.

This process can be done manually or if you prefer (*cough* trust Microsoft *cough*) you can set it up to happen automatically whenever a problem occurs. Check the settings for more details.

Friday, September 14, 2007

My first blue screen! Woohoo!

You know it's not Windows unless it blue-screens! And it blue-screened on me for the first time. A real blue screen, complete with a dump, an XML file and a txt file that Microsoft could use to spy check on my computer to figure out what caused the problem. I wasn't really doing anything intensive or hardware related at the time. I merely had three browsers open and they were not doing anything either.

So I decided to see what Microsoft had to say about this by using the Problem Reprots and Solutions feature. I clicked on the bluescreen problema and pressed "Check for solutions". Sadly there was no solution from Microsoft. So much for that feature :-) Needless to say I am not going to turn it on to report automatically. I don't like that, it sounds a bit too Orwellian.

And one more thing, the squished screen when returning from a Close-Lid sleep continues to happen intermittently. Not everyone time it returns from sleep, but it happened more than once, which means is not a random coincidence.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A couple of issues with the Compaq Presario F572us

There's a couple of issues to report with the Presario F572us. First, while I was using the dvd drive, and while processing a DVD in the drive, an error message came up from the software. When I looked at Windows to see what the problem was, the dvd drive had disappeared (!!!) in the eyes of Windows Vista - it was not listed among the current drives (C: and D: were listed), and the orange light on the drive was off. This got me worried because I thought "what if the drive died?". So a reboot was in order, but before I tried that I wondered whether going in and out of hibernation would help. So I did that, closed the lid to put it in hiberation, waited a couple of minutes, and then opened the lid again. At first the blue power light on the top left corner and the blue power light on the front left side were flashing in unison for a couple of seconds, but then the computer came back to life and the optical drive was back in use. I repeated what I was trying to do without any further issues. This is the third optical drive related issue that I have encountered, so this is something to watch for...

The second issue I observed a couple of times so far: When the computer returned from hibernation (closing/opening the lid), the picture was stretched horizontally. It was still full frame but less of it. For example pages looked different before and after. This happeened with the notebook's display and at the time there was no other display connected. The trigger appeared to be returning from hibernation. I did not dig into the nVidia/Control Panel settings to figure out the differences/issues, but I'll look into it if/when it happened again.

Other than those two issues, I haven't had any other problems. I had a couple of marathon sessions (5-6 hours non-stop) with the USB cooler always underneath the laptop, and while heat increased over time, it was nowhere near as hot as it would be from 2 hours of use without the USB cooler. If the battery wasn't at the bottom of the notebook, I would glue the USB fan on (just kidding on the glueing part - DO NOT GLUE ANYTHING!)

And one more thing I forgot to mention earlier: Want a USB notebook light without actually buying or stealing one? Think again - you may already have one: pick up your USB optical mouse and its red light may be good enough :-)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A few random thoughts on the Presario F572us

Here are a few random thoughts: Overall it continues to exceed expectations. I expected it to behave in a more entry-level fashion. Perhaps I'm not very demanding. I was able to run three different browsers with multiple tabs (Firefox 2.0, the latest Opera and the default IE) and I did not notice any significant slowness. This was using websites I frequently visit, I did not try to "test" it by loading up heavy-duty websites.

USB sticks are much more convinient in transferring stuff between computers than CDs or DVDs, especially if you are not transferring full DVDs but smaller files. And the transfer/copy speeds I have observed on the F572 between the USB 2.0 sticks and CDs are also a factor. Plus you have to burn CDs/DVDs (unless you are using a DVD-RAM formatted for data), but with USB sticks (flash drives) you just drag and drop or cut and paste (this when dealing with older/slower/less featured computers)

The top cover of the laptop is a fingerprint magnet. Period. But I guess this may be a security feature: If the laptop is stollen, they can figure out the guilty party by CSI'ing his/her fingerprints from the top cover :-)

I'm still trying to get a notebook case specifically for this computer, but so far I have not decided. Indecision 2007! I just want a simple bag without bling-bling and one that does not scream "I have an expensive laptop inside, steal me!". It doesn't help that I find some of the straps and other things hanging all over the bag annoying :-) My current candidate is a generic Targus clamshell case, but I have to make sure this laptop (and it's USB cooler fan shadow) can actually fit inside.

Speaking of the USB cooler, these little things are just amazing. I still can't believe that those tiny fans are able to cool it off so much. I basically put that under the computer all the time when it is in use or when it is sitting on an open surface. Imagine if you spill your coffee or water or soda on the table. Do you want to risk ruining a $500 laptop or a $15 cooler pad?

And if you are shopping for a new laptop this week there are some great deals at brick and mortar stores, ranging from sub-$400 really entry-level laptops to sub-$1000 17" widescreen models.

And if you like Targus bags, they have a promotional checkout code at Targus.com for free ground shipping for any backpack or messenger purchased in Aug or Sept 2007 in the continental USA. Enter coupon code BTS_1 at checkout.