Sony not all fun and games…

So as per my last post, I decided to buy a new Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S….
Is this computer stylish? yes absolutely.
Does it feel good to use? Yes
Does it work? Well yes and no…. and this is why I am now not recommending Sony Vaios to anyone who wants a high performance gaming desktop replacement…

These are the problems I have faced with the Sony in the week I have had it.

1. The remote control that comes with it… used to work… Until I cleaned out the windows installation, and put on a fresh copy of windows… Now the remote does not work… and I have spent 2 days researching why it does not work… there is not a scrap of documentation on the subject on the internet (including support forums) and the 188 page manual only states the obvious like replace the batteries….

2. The enter key skips a beat every now and again… and gets stuck when you press it while typing fast…. This is one annoying factor about having a notebook PC… the keyboard is not replaceable, instead its serviceable… This means that should anything go wrong with your keyboard, like mine, on a brand new pc… then you literally have to take your notebook back… this means being without your notebook for I would guess up to a month… to have it serviced… depending on where you are in the world… for example in Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, things tend to happen here at a snail pace…

3. The SD Card reader stopped working after a clean install of windows… Which is a pitty, cause I really liked having this card reader for use with my Digital Camera… Ok so you might think I am some idiot unable to install drivers… actually not the case… the correct drivers are installed, the works…. but…. nada, not a bloody thing…

4. This is a huge concern… Its not possible to install Windows XP on the Sony Vaio VGN-AR41S. Now I want you to think about that one for a second… Not possible? What do I mean, not possible? Everything is possible right? Well… here is the thing – the Notebook was designed for use only with Vista, but I am guessing Linux would install… The problem is XP just can’t see the HDD (hard disk drive), so it simply will not install… Also even if it could install… guess what there are not enough windows XP drivers out there…. because most of the components… including the graphics card… were only meant to be used on windows vista… This is most frustrating…

5. The nVidia GeForce 8600M GT that is installed, only operatates with Sony Provided Drivers… and this means that its at the liberty of Sony to provide drivers… Not nVidia.. basically off the shelf nVidia drivers simply do not work even though the card installed is nVidia…
So already Sony is not providing the most recent driver thats available on the nVidia site.. meaning that you are limitied to the fresh off the shelf driver, that was basically the first driver written for windows Vista…

6. A fresh clean re-install did not fix all the problems… they still persisted….

7. The overal gaming experience is seriously not impressive… I think its because of the windows vista thats installed…. but I can’t be sure… infact no one could be since you can’t get XP installed on one of these babies…. Anyways… this is not a gaming PC… and if you don’t believe me… You are going to get really pissed off if you rush out and buy one… But thats your choice… I was also warned against buying one, and I bought one anyways… Main thing is that the games will run… just not as sweet as you would think…

Anyways – hope this tip helps


Windows Live Writer

Well it turns out you can compile blog posts in the comfort of your own desktop space, or more specifically using a new tool provided free of charge by Microsoft called Windows Live Writer….

Link not included, and this is for good reason…

1. I can’t figure out if the software is in Beta or Not. A week ago I downloaded the full product, and now I see that the Windows Live Mail is once again in Beta… really wish Microsoft would make up their minds on this…

Even though it appears to be in Beta, and the link is almost secretive, its pretty good software.

You should try it – happy treasure hunting.

Acer 9920, Why I eventually just bought a Sony

I would like to thank Acer for the terrible service I have recieved from them. I really want to thank them because they prevented me from making a huge mistake, and that would be buying one of their products. After 1 month of patience with dealing with Acer, I have decided that their service really leaves a lot to be desired, thank fully I will not have to re-encounter such crap service from them again.

Am I knocking the product? No absolutely not, I did not get to recieve the product, even though I tried to purchase it many times. A laptop not in hand is a laptop I can’t comment on or review.

Despite my best efforts to purchase the Acer Aspire 9920, I found it an impossible mission for the following reasons. I only stuck it out so long because I was interested in this particular model of notebook. But I am since relieved having not purchased this oversized piece of trash.

1. Acer do not deal directly with the public, and there staff are seriously lacking in the PR department. For example – the only number listed for Acer in the country where I was trying to purchase is in fact a service division of which no one there knew the contact details for PC purchases or dispatch.
2. Acer Suppliers have an equally difficult time in getting any info out of Acer. Acer Suppliers simply can’t get it right to provide the correct info back to the client, instead they attempt to cover up the mistakes of Acer….

At one point in time I very nearly had my hands on an Acer Aspire 9920, however… it arrived to the computer shop where I ordered it… and guess what… it was broken… it did not even turn on… so now here comes the lovely suprise… it went to the service center… where it lay there for a week…. once I found out they were going to try and sell me this already broken laptop (bearing in mind its not a cheap deal) I decided to cancel the whole dealing with Acer and Co… and move on….

I am now very excited to recieve a new Sony VGN-AR51SU. I have decided to go for this PC cause…

1. Its actually a laptop… and it can go places… not just live its life at home as a desktop replacement.
2. It can fit in laptop bags not suitcases…
3. It has a proper fully compliant 1080p HD Ready LCD, not like the Aspire with a XSVGA+ which is not full HD.
4. It has a blue ray RAM. unlike the Acer… that is falsely marketed as having an HD DVD drive… but actually does not when you order it , in your country…
5. I CAN ACTUALLY GET IT…. not like the Acer which was really a waste of 1 months worth of waiting…

Please post your thoughts.

Microsoft Windows Vista Speech Recognition

Vista comes with speech recognition as part of the package you buy when you buy Vista. So what is speech recognition and can it be used to improve your life?

Many people have envisioned a time when the computer is so intelligent, it can understand commands and respond back with natural speech, a computer so intelligent it is able to hold a conversation. Well this sort of system is still a long way off. However if you happen to own a Microphone and a copy of Windows Vista, you can try the speech recognition out for yourself, and you will see – its actually not half bad, infact it actually works!

This is my experience with the speech recognition that comes with Vista. The very first thing you should do, is run through the training, if you don’t do this the computer will battle to understand correctly when you are dictating. However once you have run through the training 2 times or more, the computer starts getting better at understanding what you are trying to say.

There are 2 ways that you can use speech recognition to command your PC.

1. You can use it to navigate around windows. In other words you can say commands like “start” – which will bring up the start menu or “Maximize” which will Maximize a window or perhaps “switch application” which will allow you to switch between running applications. I like to think of these as command mode. And this is where the speech recognition performs extremely well, and is so impressive, the computer usually understands exactly what you want it to do.

2. Using your Microphone to dictate a letter. Firstly forget about using speech recognition in your instant messengers, like Skype or MSN. It simply will not work, so you might have thought you could sit around all day, and talk to your friends over skype with your voice and save your fingers… sorry not going to happen. Instead dictation is only available in popular programs like Microsoft Word, Wordpad or Notepad. Email programs also seem to be supported.

The overall quality of dictating is very good. I would say its about 7-8 out of 10. I would also say that a lot of the errors made are from the speaker not hitting the right tone a lot of the time. This is a problem with speech, there are some words in english that sound rather similar for example: hear and here. This is where AI comes into play – and the speech engine is certainly not dumb. It can usually get the context correct of such examples. Also it seems to understand and capitalize names and proper nouns so you don’t have to do a whole lot of correction. Another great benefit is that the spelling of long and complicated words always comes out correctly, since the speech engine naturally does not intentionally mis-spell words.

Having said all those nice things about Microsoft Vista Speech Recognition, I am now going to tell you that its simply not practical enough, and its roughly about 1/3rd the speed of typing the content. This as you would imagine, is simply too slow. There are times too when manual intervention is required, after about 10-15 minutes you just get the feeling that the whole exersize would end up taking a whole day to type a letter.

I would be really proud though if I was part of the development for the speech recognition, it is a marvel of modern technology, and is really a master piece. I would imagine that within the next 2-3 years it will be really ready for production usage, and right now its just been born.

For the critics of the speech system, remember that the engine when it says listening…. is listening for you… to say…. anything…. and that anything factor…. how it can transform….. what ever you want to say to what you did say…… out of a near infinitive choice of options…. you can see that in milli-seconds its translated to text…. this is a near miracle, and its taken some great contibuting minds to get that right.