A Place for me to Post my Thoughts and Other Things
- Toshiba Protege 620CTby aroundincircles
Hello and welcome to another AIC video.
So I’ve done a video previously on this laptop. It is a Toshiba Protege 610CT. I’ve enjoyed it, it brings back a lot of memories for me, because it was the first laptop I personally owned. I worked for a software company in the data entry department, and my boss was a big time Tech geek and so he had a ton of lightly used systems that he bought for the fun of it, but only ever used a short time before he got the next new thing. At the time I was struggling with my learning disability, and I learned that typing my notes and reports vs hand writing them was a huge benefit for me in overcoming some of the issues I had. I saw my boss’s pile of lightly used electronics, and in it was a 610ct, I instantly fell in love and I made him an offer. He countered my offer by just gifting it to me, being that it was already many years old at that point (this was mid year 2000) and he didn’t need my money. It was perfect for me to take to school and type up notes and work on reports for school. It also had a PCMCIA 56k modem, which I used for things teenagers in the late 90’s and early 2000’s used the internet for…. Yahoo messenger and napster! I spent HOURS on my laptop talking to my Girlfriend at the time, Rolanda, and downloading Metallica tracks.
This isn’t the 610ct I bought way back then, I sold it years ago when I went to live in Europe for a couple of years, and I bought this a couple of years ago when I came across it on ebay looking for something else.
But I had an issue with this 610, namely the original hard drive was failing. I tried to clone it, but it is so bad, the clone fails. So I tried to do a few things to fix it, and get a working system. I bought another Toshiba model with a floppy drive, but the included floppy drive didn’t work. So I bought another floppy drive and that was flaky, so I was looking for another 610ct, hoping to get a hard drive that was good I could just clone and I came across this:
A 620CT. AND Just look at it LOOK AT IT.
No really, lets take a look. on the outside, the only real difference I see is this – The place on the back where the exhaust fan was on the 610 is now blocked off. But the power button, the ports on the back, color are the same. One thing that remains is the folding feet which props the keyboard up a bit. This is something I’m sad has gone away on newer systems. It is a feature I appreciate for sure. It gives the keyboard a more natural feel for me, and lifts the screen up just a touch, which is so important with such a small screen.
When we open it up we see the next big difference, the screen is obviously bigger, despite the same footprint. This is a 10” screen, vs the 9” screen on the 610. The other big change is that the screen supports a resolution of 800×600 vs the 640×480 of the 610. it does run at just 16 bit colors vs 24, it can run at 24bit if I drop to the lower resolution, but for so many productivity, and media applications, the 800×600 actually works where the lower resolution becomes a problem. One of the things I love about the 610 as well as the 620 is the quality of the screen. On a lot of older laptops the lcd screens are not good, Poor color, poor viewing angles, and often very dim, and have a lot of smearing, but these Protégés were not budget systems, and as such, came with higher quality screens, making them very usable even in 2022.
The keyboard is identical on both. It’s not a great keyboard, but It’s not terrible, it’s small and non standard. It also is rubber dome, so feed back/feel is very…. Mushy. I will say though, it didn’t take me too long to get used to it and be able to use it proficiently. I’ve used way worse keyboards on compact systems. I am typing this whole review on the 620ct, with very little need for corrections due to typing errors.
Same goes for the trackpoint it’s just OK. It’s too slow but it’s also too inaccurate. It doesn’t have much acceleration it seems like either, so when you’re going across even the small screen its too slow, and when you’re trying to do fine detail, its too fast. You can use a serial mouse, and I have one, but yuck, going back to a ball mouse? No thank you. So you’re not going to be headshotting any n00bs on this any time soon… not that you could reasonably play those games to begin with.
What about internals? Well it has a Pentium 100, and 40mb of ram vs the Pentium 90 and 16mb of ram of the 610. Because I was able to clone the drive, I was able to make a copy and put an SSD into this laptop. That doesn’t magically make it a performance machine, but it does make using it far less frustrating and noisy. It really does bump up the performance of the system mainly the loading of the OS and applications. It takes a second or two vs up to a minute sometimes to load an application, and you don’t have the sound of the hard drive whirring and crashing away. I do miss the nostalgia of it, but because this system is pushing 30 years old, the drive simply does not have long for this world, and like the 610, is likely to fail on me. By also creating a backup I can deploy that OS to any SSD drive and plug it in here. So if something were to happen it’s a quick restore. I don’t do a whole lot with these, so they don’t change much from that base OS that came on it.
This laptop is running windows 98, I have since cloned it’s drive to an SSD for the 610ct as well, and the performance between the two is barely noticeable, though being that they are only 10mhz difference in speed, I didn’t expect much of a difference in the applications I am most likely to use, like word.
Overall, the bigger screen with the higher resolution is probably the most critical upgrade of the system and makes the biggest difference while keeping the most important aspects of this system for me; The form factor and the memories of my teenage years.
I know this is a quick video. I just really am excited to use my 620ct, not just to copy the drive for the 610ct, but for times when I need to use a computer without the distraction of the internet. Word actually fits on this screen, without having to scroll back and forth, and I can comfortably type on it for long periods. I’ve been meaning to restart my journaling, but every time I do, I find myself lost elsewhere on the net. A big issue for my productivity.
Anyways if you have any thoughts comments or questions please leave those down below, Thank you for watching and I hope you have an amazing day.
- Hyundai Elantra Blue Hybrid Reviewby aroundincircles
Hello and welcome to another AIC video
So about a month ago, I uploaded a video of my new Hyundai Elantra Hybrid. At that point I had only owned it about a week, and gave a kind of quick review of my thoughts on it, but having only had it a short time, I could only go over a few quick things.
We’ve had it now a month, so I have a bit more I can go over, and what I did was actually ask my wife, who is the main driver of the car, a few things. What are some things she loves about the car, some things she doesn’t like, and lastly a few things she wished it had.
Starting off, For fuel economy, we’re getting a solid 53mpg, all in city, consisting of trips mostly 2 miles or less in any given direction. I have filled the car up once when it was at about half a tank, and again just last night.
I personally find the car very comfortable, the seat hits me well, I don’t feel like I’m squishing into a sports car seat, but I also feel like it gives me support where I need it.
Now as far as what my wife likes about it:
She loves the fuel economy. Obviously, being a hybrid, she was getting 16-18mpg, and is now getting 50+, that is a huge difference, and we’ve seen that difference in our bank account.
She loves the radio/bluetooth connection. This car does have apple car play and once it has been set up, that’s it, it also doesn’t fight between my wife’s phone or mine. In previous cars, it wasn’t uncommon that if one of us is in the kitchen, near the garage, when the car was started up, it would pick up the phone of the person inside the house, and not the person inside the car. In the last month, that hasn’t happened once. It also doesn’t drop connection and it connects very quickly.
It has plenty of power. It is no sports car, but it doesn’t feel anemic either. It’s power is adequate, and it never feels like it’s struggling, or being pushed beyond it’s limits. Overall, it’s just a nice car. Nothing fancy, nothing sporty, but it fills the role of “car” well.
The backup camera has been really nice, the ability to turn it on manually makes parking in the garage easier, makes the car wash more fun. We’ve had other cars with backup cameras, and either they had poor screens, poor cameras, or poor angles.
What does my wife not like about the car –
The cruise control buttons are not intuitive, are too small, and difficult to use. I would agree with this. I wish the cruise control buttons were larger and easer to determine what they are without looking. Even after a month neither of us has gotten used to the cruise controls.
The rear seats are great to sit in, but not great for visibility or for usability. They are not a 60/40 split folding but a one piece, that means if you are carrying a long item, you lose your whole back seat. In every other car we’ve owned with folding back seats, you would would still have a seat in the back for somebody to sit. The headrests are also non adjustable or removable and block visibility out the rear, which is already less than what we would like due to the shape of the back window.
My wife doesn’t like the side mirrors, I don’t mind them, but she wishes they were more square giving more visibility.
She also doesn’t like the noise it makes when in drive, and electric only mode. She wishes she could change the sound, volumn, and other things. The funny part is, when the engine is running the car is quieter because it turns off the noise and relies on the very quiet engine. but people have no idea what the noise is, so it’s not like they know to look out for a car. I wouldn’t mind if they had a choice of sounds to play so you could play one that was more pleasant to you, or upload a custom sound that would be more fun..
The sun shades are also an issue. They have stops in them vs being infinitely adjustable. This is a major problem, because you either get 0 shade from it, or it blocks all your visibility. Nothing in between. This is almost a safety issue. If the higher trim models have better visors I may do an upgrade.
What doe she wish it had?
We’ve had air cooled seats on previous cars. We’re in Arizona, it gets hot hear, those air cooled seats are super nice.
She wishes it had an integrated garage door opener, like we’ve had on previous cars.
She wishes it had a sunroof, which is available on the higher trim, but not at all available on this one. A sun roof is nice for being able to vent the cabin, and have an open window without having to deal with your long hair blowing everywhere.
The last thing she wishes ALL cars had was Ford’s easy fuel capless system for filling the gas tank. While that would be a nice option, I will say that they did a good thing and have a place in the door of the filler, for the cap to go. A lot cars don’t have this, and it means you’re less likely to lose your cap, or have it just banging around against your paint while filling the tank.
- Compaq Armada E500by aroundincircles
Hello and welcome to another AIC video!
Today is a bit of a special day, This month my son is turning 12. And so I decided to get him kinda a special gift.
When I was around his age, my uncle worked for a law firm, and they went through a round of replacing all the computers in their office with new ones, and the old ones were going to be recycled, but anybody who wanted one, could have one of the 486 machines with a 25mhz processor… just minus the hard drive. It was a complete package, computer, screen, keyboard, mouse and even a printer. All I had to do was obtain my own storage! They even gave me the disks to install windows! This first computer was really my awakening into computers and technology in general. The family computer up until that point was an IBM with an 8086, and so this was such a massive leap forward, I felt like I was blazing new ground! Games, graphical interfaces, it didn’t just have windows, it had windows 3.11 with networking! (not that I had any network at home to connect to)
But mainly what it really did was give me a good foundation into how computers actually work. I learned how to write my own programs in dos, how to navigate the OS via command line, keyboard shortcuts, etc. from there I learned to build my own websites, and moved onto programming in Java, and to this day I my career is in computers. My main focus is on infrastructure, but I am still grateful to this day for my background I gained on that old 486.
My son has shown a strong interest in computers. I don’t know if he will follow my footsteps into the IT field, but I thought he would at least appreciate really getting a better understanding of computing, and I felt that going back to some basics would really be a good start.
So I went on the internet and I found this:
A Compaq Armada E500. Now, I will admit I was not looking for a compaq specifically, but what I was looking for was a computer that was already running windows 98, had a floppy AND CD rom drives, was cosmetically complete with power cord, AND came in at around $100 or less, and let me tell you…. That list is very very short. The last few years, as my generation has hit the point where they have disposable income, anything that falls under the “vintage” computing category has skyrocketed in price. Even computers I bought just a few years ago for $25 and $30 now go for well over $100, if not $200 for similar condition models.
Now this laptop is running a Pentium III e at 450mhz, it came with a 12gb hard drive, 128mb of ram, a 14” screen, that floppy drive and CD drive. It has pretty decently loud speakers, and a track point. It does not have a touchpad. Other similar models did, but I couldn’t tell from the description if this did or not, it doesn’t but that’s not the end of the world, the trackpoint is more than useful AND it comes with a single USB 1.1 port! That was another want, but not a requirement. I am glad I was able to find a laptop that met my needs with one, especially as I am transferring files onto this system, and trying to figure out what works and doesn’t with this older version of windows, I burned a few CDs trying to get a few different things to work. USB thumb drives have really spoiled us.But as far as other ports, it does have a PS2, which I picked up a PS2 mouse so the USB port would remain free, a modem jack, Ethernet via a PCMICA card, Composite video out, serial, vga, a proprietary port for a dock of some kind, a parallel port, and Headphone/microphone jacks.
It also has a few features that I really love and miss about older computers, physical dedicated volume up and down buttons, and fold out feet to lift up the rear of the computer! Why did this ever go away? I guess probably because few people use them, and are broken easily but I LOVE them, even my old Toshiba Protege 610CT has them! The CD rom bay, the floppy drive, the battery are all easily removable with just a latch. The hard drive, CPU cooler and ram are all easily accessible as well. With the first two hidden behind covers, and the last under the keyboard.
Why did I specifically go for one with windows already installed and with a power cord, despite it’s higher price? Two reasons, 1) time. My son’s birthday is less than two weeks away, and I didn’t want to chase parts down, or find out that something was seriously wrong with it and not have it ready in time, and 2) while the initial price is higher, if I had gotten one that had a bad system board, or a cracked screen or a malfunctioning keyboard. Buying these parts alone often push the cost of the system well above a fully functioning system.
Since getting it I have done a few things to it. First, I re-pasted the CPU. it is soldered to the system board, and is not upgradeable, but I pulled the cooler to check the fan and it was actually surprisingly dust free but the thermal paste was absolutely every bit of 23 years old, so it got some noctua thermal paste. I also removed the battery. While I have it here, I do not trust batteries this old to not catch on fire or leak, and I do not expect my son to tow this laptop around with him, so I popped it out. I might open it up and dispose of the batteries themselves, so that this just becomes an empty shell, that way it can be inserted back into the laptop so it doesn’t have a gaping hole on the side, but we’ll see. If anybody has any suggestions for that, please let me know. Next I tried the floppy drive and it worked perfectly. I have some old floppies sitting around still, and it was able to read them no issues. Next the CDrom got a test of one of my favorite games from my childhood – Riven. And it installed and loaded the game just fine. I plugged in a USB mouse, which was recognized right away, and lastly I pulled out a USB thumb drive. I have this super old 64mb drive that is my go to for older systems. I’ve had this for years, and i’ve never not had it work… Until now.
This laptop could not find the drivers for it. Yay! Troubleshooting! I went online and found an updated driver, perfect, burned it to a CD and installed… which promptly completely corrupted the USB drivers and I just kept getting a message telling me that “NTKERN.VXD device loader for this device could not load device driver” after more research I finally found instructions to use SFC to extract the required files, and where to put them. I will admit that several hours transpired between the start and finish of this… where I was frustrated that I had broken the thing that I had bought my son. But in the end, all was good.
Until…. I wanted to do my next upgrade. I wanted to change to an IDE ssd. I use these guys, they are just an msata adapter to IDE. They are not perfect, newer versions of windows sometimes see them as removable drives, but typically on older systems like this, they have 0 issues running. Mostly they are silent, when the old drive is so loud, it actually gives me a headache with the noise it makes. So I did created a backup of the old drive using macrium reflect, and restored it to this new drive. Put that drive into the computer and…. Crap. it didn’t work. It would load, but every few seconds it would freeze, and then periodically it would freeze hard, and just stop functioning. Dang it. After hours and hours of troubleshooting, creating multiple backups, changing settings etc. I gave up and did a fresh install. And that fixed it. The problem with that, is that I’m back at ground 0 as far as drivers, software, and documentation. Many many hours of searching and downloading and I’m down to drivers for a non existent game port that is not working. But everything I care about seems to be working just fine, and I got it loaded with all the docs and applications to help him learn.
So what have I put on here for him? First of all, I put on a bunch of documentation. Instructions for DOS, Basic, and Java. It has frontpage already installed, I found a copy of RGPmaker 2003 in english. My goal is to really give him an opportunity to teach himself. To figure out what he wants to do. I will be setting some goals/challenges for him, that I will also work on with him. One of my favorite things about computers is just the ability to be creative and create something from nothing.
I will admit that I’m probably more excited now than he will when he gets it, but I look forward to his reaction and the things he will learn to create.
If you have any suggestions for this system for him, as far as applications, or tools, or anything else you would recommend for him to use on this system, I’ll take those for sure.
Anyways, thanks for watching I hope you have, an amazing day.
- Lenovo Thinkpad X280 showcaseby aroundincircles
Hello and welcome to another AIC video.
So in my last video on my lenovo thinkpad x series, I waxed eloquent about my x270, and how much I thought it was one of the last real thinkpads, so why am I sitting here with an x280? Greener grass.
So not all that long ago, I had a P43s, which I was using to work on and edit my videos, and it was a pretty decent mobile computer as well, but I decided to upgrade to a Legion to be able to game and do more editing of 4k video. The legion however is not as portable as I would like. So I got the itch to fill that hole in my computer needs, something small and portable, that I could take with me on long trips and also be able to play some light games like minecraft with my kids. I had had an X270 before, but thought that I really wanted something newer, hopefully with better graphics. I found a seller with these on ebay for a pretty decent price. I’ll link to that seller in the description, as they have a pretty decent inventory of both x280’s and x270’s.
So I ordered it, and got it, and yeah, It’s just OK.
So what is similar to the x270? It has the same screen, keyboard, and touchpad, they are excellent in both devices. So it is not an upgrade there for sure.
What is better? Well it is thinner, and lighter, it has a better battery life than the standard batteries in my x270. The 8th gen CPU is a pretty big step up from the x270 in performance. Graphics is slightly better as well. This is probably the biggest selling point of this laptop over the x270, if you need raw cpu performance, yeah, this is the better system. The thing is… if you need raw CPU performance, you would probably buy a different system. Of the same generation of laptop, you would buy a P52, with a 6 core 12 thread processor that isn’t an ultrabook cpu as it puts this system to shame.
It does support NVMe storage. My x270 only has sata 3 speeds, where this has pcie speeds, so storage is faster on paper, but honestly, I cannot tel much of a difference in person.
What isn’t better? Wellllllll…. The thing that is probably the most frustrating for me, is the lack of upgradeable ram. Only 8 gigs isn’t enough for my use case. I like to run virtual machines for work stuff, or when I’m testing out software I’m not sure about, or trying to troubleshoot other issues that people are having. And while the CPU is good, with 4 cores and 8 threads, with only 8 gigs of ram, I run into a bottle neck often of not having enough ram. Just booting the system consumes over 3gb of ram, a single chrome tab will chew up another gig. Ram is a strong limitation.
A minor annoyance is the vent. On previous thinkpads I’ve owned, they have either vented out the back, or to the left. This one vents out the right. The times I’m using a mouse on this, typically means I’m pushing it pretty hard, and the laptop directing that warm air on my hand is annoying. I know that this is probably a non issue for most people, but it annoys me enough for me to mention
And one of the more frustrating aspects is the lack of ports. So on the right hand side, we have the always on USB 3.0 port, and a place for a smart card reader (not included on my system). On the left is where you find most of the ports, a type c with power delivery and display port, a lightning port with the dock connector, another 3.0 port, hdmi, and headphone/microphone jack.
While the two type c ports are a nice addition, it’s missing an all important ethernet jack. I know this might not seem important to most people, but I personally use my wired network quite frequently. Mostly to transfer large video files around, and the lack of a jack is frustrating. I have USB dongles that give me that back… but that means remembering where they are, something I don’t feel should be necessary on a computer meant for work.
Another VERY annoying port is the SD card reader… It’s not a slot you can just plug in on the side of the system like EVERY OTHER COMPUTER I OWN! Even my nearly 20 year old notebooks have just an SD card reader slot on the side of the system. But NO, they had to integrate it with the SIM card slot on the BACK of the computer. What does that mean? To access it, you have to have a special tool to eject it, and you cannot do it while just using the system, you must either have the screen closed or open all the way. And OK, fine. On a sub $200 notebook that has only 64 gigs of storage, I get it, you toss the SD card in there and leave it. It IS your storage expansion. But on a system like this that has upgradeable NVME storage? Nope, IF you need to pull things off the SD card, it’s going to be in and out all the time. I know I’ve probably spent more time on this than I should but its DUMB, and it’s dumbness makes me mad.
And while you can use any of these other USB hub thingies, if you want a proper Lenovo dock, they haven’t been around all that long and are far too expensive 2nd hand. They go for close to $100 with power cord.
Are there any redeeming qualities? It’s actually a pretty darn good computer. It’s light, with plenty of battery life, USB-C charging is life, and for 99% of people out there, they would be perfectly happy using this for day to day activities. So much so, I bought my wife one. She loves it, and it has nearly replaced her desktop for daily use. It plays the games she likes to play without hiccups, it has enough guts to manage dozens of open chrome tabs. My wife loves the touch screen, and the finger print sensor, two things she really wanted in a new laptop.
And that’s the thing. The x series has gone more main stream. It used to be a serious work laptop for the serious professional, with the x280, it has become… friendly for all. My wife will never open this up and upgrade the ram or the memory, she’ll just use it till it becomes too slow to use anymore, or broken, and she’ll be ready for the next device. If you need a good computer, absolutely get one, but if you need a work tool, find a good x270.
Thanks for watching.