New Toy! HP Pavilion

It’s nice to have a job and a paycheck. Sometimes it’s the big things (like not needing to trade my retirement accounts, pay penalties to take the profits out and spend on essentials like, oh, food…) and some times it’s the little things.

Friday was my first “Payday” in a ‘very long time’. It was nice ;-)

As a reward for a half dozen years of living frugally and never spending any money I didn’t have to spend, I bought a new laptop. It’s an HP Pavilion g6 1b79dx (per the sticky label on the palm rest).

This machine has memory measured in gigabytes. For most of my computers, even the hard disks were not measured in Gigabytes. Frankly, other than really really crappy code, I can’t even imagine what could use gigabytes of memory. (Must be all those way-obese object oriented coding environments that load every library imaginable just to print out “Hello World”…)

The good news for me is that my 12 or so year old Mac iBook will now be used only for Mac Stuff and historical archiving. The (ever fattening) Java engine and the (ever bloating) Dancing Java Craplettes that are being added to every web page had made them so obese that I could have, at most, 2 web pages open at the same time before it began to swap horribly. (It has 256 Megabytes of memory, IIRC. More than enough for any well written program… but we seem to have embraced the world of “Cheap but poorly constructed” coding practices..

At any rate, with no changes to the Mac at all, it had gone from stellar performance to painful of late. All do to “crap” other folks decided I wanted shoved down my internet connection… So this machine will fix that, at least for a couple of years.

Also, the internal wireless had died on the iBook ( I’ve been using an external dongle). It works, but more “stuff” to carry around and not exactly subtle in deployment… it looks like a miniature satellite dish… but it picks up Starbucks Hotspots from a block away ;-)

At any rate, not exactly subtile for a quick stock market check or private email while at lunch.

What Does This Mean To You?

Well, a couple of things.

First off, it ought to mean I can connect and check things or put up new postings a bit more often.

Second, it means I can slide a linux onto this puppy and port over such things as GIStemp, my StockScreen program, and sundry other things. While that will take a while to do (maybe a couple of months) it eventually means I’ll have everything in one place and with me. So more things I can do with them (more “instant analysis” rather than “maybe in a month when back to the California Desk”…

All in all, I expect some significant improvement.

In the short run, it will mean a bit more time doing “computer set-up maintenance”. Shutting off all the “auto everythings” that are mostly for marketing purposes of the vendor. I’m not really interested in other folks controlling my machines… Then there is getting a download of a non-Windoz Internet Exploder browser. (Safari and Firefox both, typically, to Opera is nice too). And installing Open Office… And getting used to a slightly different keyboard layout… (I’ve already accidentally tapped something on the mousepad area a half dozen times that causes the cursor / hot window to run off somewhere else….

At any rate, I expect to be a bit less “distant” with this tool in hand than I’ve been for the last couple of weeks. Time will tell.

At any rate, I need to get back to working on this weeks WSW Posting.

A lot has happened

A lot has happened in the markets this last week. Mostly an “almost fast crash” and a very abbreviated ‘ring down’. It looks a bit like a Dead Cat Bounce short cover on Thursday, but too fast and slightly odd timing. I’d guessed it was some kind of computer driven event and was very gratified when one of the Fast Money panel said the same thing. (On one day, in something like 54/100 of a second, some odd millions of computer generated quotes / trades were generated against ONE stock and moved the price down something like 5%. Just crazy.) So, at any rate, it’s not just me looking at it and saying “What the?…” “High Frequency Trading”. Folks who issue a million trades in a second or two. It really does need some fixing… (Personally, I’d just advocate for having a Quality Of Service setting on their network feed that limited them to a non-damaging speed.)

At any rate, it will take me a bit more time, so will likely arrive late tonight. Not feeling comfortable about a re-entry anyway at this point, so “watchful waiting” is an OK default strategy for now.


I also need to find out what linux, if any, supports all the new devices in this HP Laptop. That’s the bane of the new computer for the Linux Geek. All those lovely new devices that have no software yet to use them. Lately it’s been the wireless cards that were least likely to work. Oh, and I have no idea where to get a Linux CD to install from in Orlando. (I’ve also lost track of which downloadable Linux release has the best “slide Windows to the side but keep it working” partition manager). So any suggestions / research on that would be very much welcome!

Time To Go Shopping

There are a couple of other “long put off things” that I need, so today will also have a shopping spree in it. More / better clothes (and getting rid of that 3 x week do the laundry thing ;-) and maybe even a new tire for the car (so the front axle has 2 of the same thing / size on it…).

So I’m off to shopping for just a bit, maybe even a lunch out, and then laundry (to get ready for work and get the new stuff washed for wearing). With a WSW percolating in the brain while I’m at it.

I remember when Sunday was a day of rest…


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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27 Responses to New Toy! HP Pavilion

  1. RK says:

    Ubuntu Linux has worked on many laptops in my company running on top of the open source Virtual Box virtual machine.

  2. oldtimer says:

    Good luck with the new job! I hope this does not mean reduced time for or interest in all things climatic.

    FYI I keep on pushing my MP about the splicing artifact in the CRU land based temperature record. The official response is no response; they do not answer the question and try to change the subject. The latest was to refer me to the Met Office website on climate change here:

    They too have a whizzy new computer. You will be interested, I think, in what they have to say about climate modelling. They conclude one section with this none too confident statement “…Using Met Office models we have even been able to start to assign probabilities to more dangerous high temperature changes at the upper end of this range that could arise if climate turns out to be very sensitive to increased greenhouse gases.”

    There is even a section called Advanced climate modelling for policy makers. Your comments on all of this, in the fulness of time, would be appreciated.

  3. UninterestingConnections says:

    I stopped having to get special wireless drivers a couple of years ago. I use Fedora on my personal laptop and it had no problems with any of the hardware on the new laptop I got a couple of years ago now.

    Been thinking about a new laptop for a while, but will probably hold off and make do with what I have. Don’t want to feed the beast …

  4. Jeff Alberts says:

    “This machine has memory measured in gigabytes. For most of my computers, even the hard disks were not measured in Gigabytes. Frankly, other than really really crappy code, I can’t even imagine what could use gigabytes of memory. (Must be all those way-obese object oriented coding environments that load every library imaginable just to print out “Hello World”…) ”

    My 3d rendering apps need as much RAM as they can get. I’m running 64bit Vista with 8gb RAM right now, which I could put more in, but don’t have the cash.

  5. Verity Jones says:

    Enjoy! You won’t know yourself (even if it isn’t a Mac).

    (At least you can do something about the “autoeverythings”. They are driving me nuts in work where I don’t have admin priviledges on my PC. It has gone ‘safety-Nazi’ on me such that I can’t open hyperlinks directly from email or any document. Even if a colleague sends me a link to an internal file, I have to copy and paste it into the browser. I’m waiting for admin to sort out. /rant)

  6. H.R. says:

    Don’t let’s go crazy now, E.M.!

    Your lessons in frugality may pay enormous dividends over the next couple of years. The US economy isn’t out of the woods yet.

  7. Jay says:

    Try Mepis Linux, it has the new 11 version out recently.

    It is solid, based on Debian stable. It uses the new KDE 4.5 desktop environment and has one of the best communities available for help.

    I has worked well on other HP laptops, but as you know the wireless can be problematical with any laptop on linux due to the proprietary chip sets.


  8. Chuckles says:


    I’d suggest downloading a couple of ‘Live CD’ ISO images from your short-list Linux distribs, as these let you boot the HP off the CD and check out what’s working and what isn’t.
    Burn them onto a CD as a bootable image and test away.
    On the Ubuntu side, I think the latest ‘bleeding edge’ release has changed away from Gnome, so I’d suggest the most recent LTS long term support release, but hey it may be wonderful.
    As Jay notes, Mepis has had some good things said about it as well, but if you have a ‘favourite’ distrib, it almost certainly has a Live CD

  9. j ferguson says:

    I like Ubuntu 10.10. Chuckles notes that the latest 11.04 has strayed. It has moved from a comfortable gui to one suggesting Chiclets and sticky fingers – doubtless tablet inspired.

    you can also download a Live version to a USB stick for testing. The Ubuntu 10.10 download will be about 650 megs.

    An advantage (?) to Ubuntu is that it is in such wide use that inadequacies are quickly discovered and frequently fixed.

    A whole lot of stuff is out there which will run on it. I’m currently having a wonderful time with PIC programming to provide all manner of unnecessary sensor readings on the navigating display (on my HP G-45) so I can have even more to worry about than not running down kayakers.

    Having said all this, I have no experience with other Linux favors and my choice might not be the most suitable.

  10. Paul Hanlon says:

    Ubuntu has a huge userbase and is very polished. My own favourite is Zenwalk Linux. It’s based on Slackware, is very small, and only has one app for each of the main functions of a PC. It boots in about thirty seconds (almost like having a solid state drive).

    Most of the Linux distros have solid support for wireless cards, etc. nowadays, and their GUIs are more than adequate, although not quite as polished as Windows and Mac.

    Good luck with the new job. Hope it keeps you stimulated.

  11. Tim Clark says:

    A paycheck makes a lot of stress disappear. Congrats.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    Some features are very much a mis-feature…

    I’ve had the screen sporadically change sizes (widths) on me… found a slider that makes that happen… The “gesture” “features” of the touch pad are giving me some grief too… I’ve got the bad habit of occasional ‘finger drift’ to accidentally gently touch the pad. Then Strange Things happen… Need to find out how to crank the sensitivity back. Notice that after the image had shrunken to “MICE TYPE” size I’d missed a missing ‘slash’ in front of an H and things were ‘headings all the way’ to the bottom… Fixed now. Teething… Yuck.

    OK, looks like some bootable biz cards are in my future… best bootable image gets to live on the disk drive ;-)

    I’ll likely get an outboard mouse just so I can shut the touch pad off some of the time and “type without fear” of strange things happening from the wayward thumbs…

    At this point, I’ve spent about 1/2 my weekly paycheck. Got a needed tire for the car, a needed laptop, some very much needed work clothes. Not much risk of “going overboard”…

    It’s also now 10 pm and I’ve not got the WSW posting done… We’ll see if I “hold up”, but I’ll likely be fading fast. (As I get up at 5:30 am, it’s already into the “less than 8” sleep hours range…) Somehow I think it’s going to have to wait a bit.

    We had typical bottoming volatility, and that argues for a ‘return to the trend mean’ that would be a small rise. HOWEVER, in the 2008 machine driven panic selling, we had 2 of those, then a flat out plunge. I’d expect folks to be edgier this time and given even less ‘tries’ before bailing. So I’m not tossing any money on on Monday. Too many moving parts… Will the EU hold up? European banks crashing Redux?

    Gold went near parabolic, then stopped and dropped. IFF the market starts a modest run back to the SMA stack, expect gold to sell off to fund it. My target “fully out” range is $1800 to $2000/ounce, and we’ve spiked over $1800 and dropped back. IMHO, time to be out. (Though I’ve not yet been able to enter a trade to sell my GLTR… maybe tomorrow…)

    Maybe I can make a ‘short form’ version of a posting…

    At any rate, while finance and trading is presently more interesting, I’m not going to drop the interest in weather and climate (it is closely tied to trading in any case).

    So, more as time permits.

  13. Chuckles says:

    ‘The “gesture” “features” of the touch pad are giving me some grief too…’

    Given the propensity of computers to do what we tell them to do, rather than what we want them to do, that’s hardly surprising? That said, I’m sure you’re not talking about the gestures we usually make under those circumstances – ‘The laying of the hands on the keyboard, is followed by the banging of the fists on the cabinet…?’

    I checked a couple of reviews on the Pavilion g6s, and several said that the performance with gestures is less than stellar, so it might be innate – it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

  14. PhilJourdan says:

    ‘The “gesture” “features” of the touch pad are giving me some grief too…’

    Ditto 3!

    Enjoy the laptop. I agree with you on how code SHOULD work, but we know that is not the case. So fast laptops today become tomorrow’s dog. I still have a Dell laptop that works fine – albeit like molasses running up hill on a cold day! Manufacturers do not need to put in planned obsolence on hardware. The software does it for them.

  15. Rob in SD says:

    I too recommend the “live CD” approach to checking if a particular Linux can work with your machine.

    The idea of carrying your entire OS and work environment on a CD or a USB memory stick seems to have a lot of portability and security advantages.

  16. j ferguson says:

    Pavilion is an interesting choice of names for a machin. in the late ’80s the name used by our Engineering IT customers for the over-clocked 386/486’s which were always Turbo something or other was Turbo-Gazebo. I loved the term but doubted that the guy who told me of it had thought of it.

    I wonder if it was an HP gag. Someone in marketing was fool enough to ask the guys in the shop and one, thinking of Turbo-Gazebo suggested Pavilion.

    Far out.

  17. R. de Haan says:

    Great to hear you’re doing well. Congratulations are in place me thinks.

  18. BULLDOG44 says:

    If you achieved so much on an old ibook, just imagine what you could do on a new MacBook Pro running the latest Lion operating system – I can’t imagine ever swapping from the trusty Mac OS to anything else.

  19. wolfwalker says:

    Congrats on the new job. May it last as long as you want it to.

    Frankly, other than really really crappy code, I can’t even imagine what could use gigabytes of memory.

    Photo editing. Photoshop is one of those applications that’s perfectly happy to use all the memory you want to give it. I’ve never used The GIMP, but I imagine it’s not much different. See also video editing, Flash animation, and anything else of a similar vein.

  20. kuhnkat says:

    “I can’t even imagine what could use gigabytes of memory.”

    Two words, VIRTUAL MACHINES!!!! Get VMWARE and VirtualBox downloaded and have a ball testing all those different versions of Linux and darn near anything else you want to try!! Haven’t gotten real expert at it yet, but it is how I started playing with Linux.

    The versions I would suggest are Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and openSuse. They all have very good support of hardware and communities. Plenty of searchable stuff on the web. High quality. Another favorite is Puppy. Makes a very good utility install, liveCD, or thumbdrive. Very small and fast. No users, just the root with autologin and minimal apps. Customizable and expandable.

  21. Chuckles says:

    j ferg,

    It’s quite possible that Turbo Gazebo was a ‘code-name’ for the machine(s) and that pavilion came out of it. Sounds very like the true hacker sense of humour, and HP has previous in that area.

    The HP 9845A was released in the 1970’s, probably one of the original ‘workstation’ machines, and had the code-name ‘qwert’, as it was their first machine from the desktop calc division that had a true QWERTY keyboard.
    The 9845B released a year or two later had 4 times the memory of the 45A, and had the code-name ‘Galleon.’

    Because 4 ‘qwerts’ make a ‘Galleon’…..

  22. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.Smith: You are right about Gold. As the guys who sold trash bonds and were changing into real metallic gold, now they will have to turn it back in liquid assets.

  23. j ferguson says:

    In one of those “seemed like a great idea at the time” moments, we used the term in an advertisement which we hoped would provoke Sun workstation sales.

    We found a stock photo which looked over the shoulders of two guys on a balcony looking down at a neighboring house, garage, and driveway. There was a canal with a very large Hatteras yacht tied up next to the garage. The doors were open and a Ferrari, 600 Benz, Bentley, and a couple of Norton Atlases could be seen.

    The tag line was “And with all this, the guy runs his engineering on Turbo-Gazebos.”

    And then there was some stuff about why a $20k Sun was a better investment than a $3k Turbo-Gazebo.

    The result of this ad was a flood of phone calls wanting to know where to buy Turbo-Gazebos.

  24. PhilJourdan says:

    BullDog – you may want to wait on Lion. It breaks some apps that some people find critical to their usage. Stick with Snow Leopard for the short term.

  25. Earle Williams says:

    I cut my Linux teeth on Slackware, and was sysadmin on a couple of work servers back when non-IT folks were allowed to dabble in the dark arts. At home the entire family is on Ubuntu. Ubuntu 11.04 has a few changes, and they may be more familiar to a Mac user. The Unity interface was too new for my tastes, so I log in using the “classic” interface.

    If you relish the sysadmin role, Slackware is probably the distro of choice. Best way to go with a minimalist install. Mr. Google suggests that there isn’t an official LiveCD, but plenty of folks haven’t let that stop them from rolling their own.

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    To all those who suggested distros to try, thanks. I think I’ll go the live CD route and try starting with Ubuntu.

    For all those mentioning their favorite memory hog program as a justification for needing GB of memory: The SuperComputer I ran had 64 MegaWords of memory. Each word 64 bits long. It did just about anything you could want because the codes were incredibly well written. The laptop I’m using now is faster than it was, and has massively more memory; almost all of it wasted by MS Windoz… and the apps that run on it.

    Good tight code would make all those fat apps fit easily in MWords of memory, not GB… so Yes, they suck memory; but that was my point. I know what apps suck memory; but they didn’t need to…

    At any rate, it runs a browser well ;-)

  27. Jeff Alberts says:

    “Good tight code would make all those fat apps fit easily in MWords of memory, not GB… so Yes, they suck memory; but that was my point. I know what apps suck memory; but they didn’t need to”

    I beg to differ. For graphics applications, such as CG rendering, to get the quality, you need the ram, it’s that simple. That’s why they have render farms for the big production houses. I daresay they’re hitting terabytes of RAM to make movies these days.

    If your word processing app needs gigs of RAM, then I totally agree with you.

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