I finally ordered a [this laptop] from [http://www.ibuypower.com] and I can say I’ve been impressed every day and would recommend it for others.

Here are the specs:
Battalion 101 SC-Turbo ($2,969.00)
Case ( Battalion-101 SC-Turbo 17″ 16:10 Wide Screen WSXGA 1680×1050 LCD TFT Notebook w/Li-Ion Battery, Universal AC Power, Deluxe Carrying Case Original Metallic Silver/Black 2-Tone )
Flash Media Reader/Writer ( Build-in 7-in-i Media Card Reader/Writer [Notebook] )
Carrying Case ( Free Delux Carrying Case )
Processor ( [Socket-775] Intel® Pentium-4 Processor 630 [3.0GHz, 2MB Cache, 800MHz FSB, 64-Bit + HT Ready] )
Operation System ( MS Windows XP Professional Edition )
USB Port ( Build-in 4x USB 2.0 Ports [Notebook] )
Memory ( 2048MB(512MB X4) DDR2-533 PC4200 [Notebook Memory] Major Brand )
Video Card ( User-Upgradable Mobility 256MB nVidia 6800 Go PCI-Express Video )
IEEE-1394 Fire Wire Card ( Build-in 2x IEEE-1394 Firewire Port [Notebook] )
USB Flash Drive ( None )
Hard Drive ( 80 GB 5400rpm ATA-100 Super Slim Notebook Hard Drive )
2nd Hard Drive ( None )
MP3 Player ( None )
TV Tuner ( Build-in TV Tuner with Remote Control [SC-Series] )
Video Camera ( Build-in Digital Web Video Camera )
Raid Configuration ( None )
CD-RW/DVD-RW Drive ( 8x Dual Format/Double Layer DVD±R/±RW + CD-R/RW Drive [SC-Turbo] )
Headset ( None )
Sound Card ( 3D Premium Surround Sound Onboard )
Fax Modem ( Build-in 56K V.92 Fax Modem [Notebook] )
Wireless Network Adapter ( [FREE] Wireless LAN Wi-Fi 802.11g 54Mbps Mini-PCI Module )
Network Card ( Build-in 10/100/1000 Network LAN [Notebook] )

Somebody on the Pricewatch forums mentioned that you can build custom laptops thru [http://www.coboc.com].
[http://pctorque.com] known as Sagar notebooks carries similar inventory to to Alienware.
[http://alienware.com] has highly recommended – high performance gaming laptops, yet slightly overpriced.
[DELL] is a well known corporate supplier, unfortunately they carry many overpriced products.

Get the Clevo SATA drivers [here].

[The manual]

I am not sure what the [maximum memory] could be.

Quickcam and a telescope

I hooked up a QuickCam Express USB Camera up to my Tasco Luminova telescope using rubber bands.

The tricky part was taking off the cover, taking off the lens cover, and connecting the lens to a 20 mm lens with a few rubber bands. I’m running GQCAM on Mandrake Linux 10.1, with the timer taking pictures every 1 minute through the telescope. Every picture is now auto posted on the Internet. Now let’s hope for some clear night weather.

Here is the first [telescopic movie] converted from an image sequence to a quicktime movie.

Quickcam and Infrared

After reading [this Slashdot Article], I decided to try the project and convert my Quickcam VC to an Infrared camera. As the article said, the Quickcam case is much harder to get open. I used a mini screwdriver and pried around the seam with no success until I found a little perpendicular groove. I forced the tip of the screw driver into this groove as was able to pry the case open. From then on, it was easy. Just unscrew the camera with an alan wrench, and then there was a little sticker that holds the current filter in. I puilled the old filter out. Used some old negative that didn’t completely block visible light. And then put everything back together. Presto. It works just like the article.

Picks up IR from remotes and shows the security strips on $US money.

There wasn’t else much to do, so I recorded [a few time lapsed] videos of the clouds with the IR detector, which look like a normal recordings with less saturated colors.

Then I took the filter out and experimented with other filters. I used the filter leader from 400 speed film and that worked just like his example. It only lets IR in. Which was pretty boring. So now I’m in the process of hooking the camera up to my telescope. I’m going to try some timelapsed video of the stars. Let’s see what happens…

Oh and there were some technical problems with the drivers. Since I got the QuickCam VC in 1999, it only has usb drivers that work with Win95/Win98. You go to Logitech’s site and they provide XP drivers for the parallel product but not the USB drivers. Luckily, I found the solution from a hacker on the web that already posted a solution to my problem.

Amazon Trail

Linae just completed another [article] about “Game Use in Children’s Lives and in the Classroom”.

Download the [DOC] and [PPT] presentation to read all about it!

“For my Everyday Technologies in Youth Culture class I looked at game use in children’s lives and how teachers can use games in the classroom. Included in the paper was a write up on how to use Amazon Trail in a 3rd grade curriculum” (Linae, 2005).

*New* Double 108 Mbps Wireless Firewall Router

I got a new NetGear WGU624 "Double 108 Mbps Wireless Firewall Router" from Stapels. The box claims that its range is 400+ ft. Which seems pretty accurate. I tested the actual distance by using a Wireless 108G WG111T USB Key. I used surfing the net and listening to Winamp radio to judge the reception. I had excellent reception until I got to right about where the arrows indicate. I got about 30 feet past the basketball hoop at pretty much the base of that tree. And still had good reception. Beyond that I couldn’t get a clear signal. Wherever I did have signal, the connection was fast. I didn’t use any kind of signal boosters.

Nehe Firefox Plugin Contest

Now that the Nehe Winamp Plugin results have finially been posted. I’m going to try and motivate some Nehe followers to get interested in a Firefox Plugin contest.

The technical aspects appear to be already worked out. And Firefox has really good documentation. The contest would be to run OpenGL code from within a Firefox plugin. The “Windowless” demo from the Gecko Plugin SDK uses Win32 calls to draw, so it shouldn’t hard to get OpenGL to work.

Just need to put this in here:

Piece of cake: