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Toshiba clears the way for Cell



Toshiba clears the way for Cell


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Taskbar

There taskbar , located at the bottom of the desktop, can be hidden manually by clicking on the small arrow located on the far right of the bar. From here, continuing to the left, you will find the following icons: system shutdown; help on line; task manager (curiously called by Asus SOS ); clock; menu for changing the keyboard layout / language; volume; caps lock lights; number block; power and battery autonomy indicator; network connection; wireless connection; and, on the far left, the icon Home , which if clicked minimizes all applications showing the desktop. In the central part, in standard Windows and KDE, the icons of the running applications are shown.

Internet tab

Instead of KDE’s traditional Windows-like interface, Eee PC adopts a menu-less desktop start and divided into tabs: each tab is dedicated to a category of applications, tools and services. The first tab is Internet and contains Web mail (a folder with links to Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and AOL Mail), Web (the Firefox browser), iGoogle (a link to the Google service portal), Messenger (the IM Pidgin client), Skype , Network (the tool for creating, managing and configuring network connections), Google Docs (link to Google’s online office suite), World clock (showing time zones and day / night zone), Internet Radio (link to the Internet radio portal mediayou.net ), and Wireless Network (for connecting to detected wireless networks).

Firefox

The version of Firefox included in the operating system is the standard one, without any form of customization and with Flash Player included. As you can see, the navigation area is rather small, and the atypical resolution of 800 × 480 points adopted by the Eee PC is certainly not ideal for browsing the Web: this often forces an intense scrolling activity. of the pages. In a device like this it would be preferable to have Opera which thanks to the functions Small Screen Reading And Fit to width is able to automatically adapt the page layout to the screen resolution. If Asus has decided not to include it, perhaps for its proprietary license (although for Skype it seems to have made an exception), do not worry: here the instructions (in English) on how to install it and eventually make it the default browser. Here are some tips (this time in Italian) to maximize the browsing area in Firefox.

Gmail

This screen shows how it looks Gmail with the default Firefox configuration: the layout of the web-based client, like that of the entire suite of services offered by Google (including Maps), is able to adapt to the resolution of the Eee PC and is able to show a fair portion of the mailbox.

VoIP and instant messaging

As for the communication the Eee PC lacks nothing: thanks to the Pidgin instant messaging client, compatible with all major IM services (MSN, ICQ, AIM Y! M etc.), and to Skype , moreover capable of taking advantage of the integrated webcam, it is possible to send messages, chat, telephone and make video conferences. Once launched, the Pidgin and Skype icons always remain visible in the system tray.

Network connections

Here you can see the two main network configuration tools: the first, Network Connections , is dedicated to the creation and management of all the main types of connections (dial-up, GSM / UMTS, DSL, LAN, VPN, etc.); The second one, Wireless Networks , instead, it shows all WiFi connections within range. In our case, the system was able to correctly detect the office WiFi router and automatically use it for surfing the Internet.

Work tab

The second tab is Work , and as you can imagine it includes applications and tools dedicated to work and personal productivity. In the Acessories folder we find the calculator, the personal information manager KDE PIM (with which you can manage emails, contacts, agenda, to-do-list, diary and notes), and a tool for capturing screenshots. Following are Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations, which are none other than their respective applications OpenOffice for word processing (Writer), spreadsheets (Calc) and presentations (Impress). The version of OpenOffice is 2.0.4, therefore not up-to-date, but it is possible to switch to 2.3 by following these instructions. The next applications are PDF Reader (it’s Adobe Reader 7), Mail (Thunderbird 2.0.0.6), File Manager (KDE’s default file manager), Dictionary (a commercial dictionary from Pearson Longman with which you can also translate words from one language to another) and Notes (Popup Notes 3.5, which allows you to write the classic yellow notes to “stick” to the desktop).

Learn tab

The board Learn , which contains software dedicated to study and learning, is divided into the sections Science, Language, Mathematics and Design. In the first section we find a periodic table and a planetarium (KStars). In the second, a game to learn how to write (Tux Typing 2), a game of anagrams (Letter Order), and the classic game of hangman. In the third section, a program for practicing fractions (Fraction Tutorial), a game for learning basic arithmetic (TuxMath), a program for drawing geometric figures (Geometry), and a tool for generating the graphs of mathematical functions (Function Plotter).

Play tab

In the card Play you will find everything related to the sphere of entertainment and multimedia. It starts with the games: suite of solitaires, tetris, sudoku, the famous Frozen Bubble and Extreme Tux Racer, the only one with 3D graphics (albeit very spartan). Then there is a media player, three software dedicated to managing music, photos and videos, a tool for taking photos and recording videos through the integrated webcam, and a tool for recording sounds from the microphone. As for video management, the system already has the necessary codecs to play files pre-installed DivX, Xvid and WMV . However, video playback is not excellent: even at intermediate resolutions, in moving scenes you can see frequent uncertainties in updating the image.

Settings tab

The board Settings is the most populated of icons, and contains all the main utilities for configuring the system and its various components: for example, it is possible to change the resolution of the VGA output signal, configure a printer, adjust the sensitivity of the touchpad, run diagnostic tests and add or remove applications. From here it is also possible to launch an antivirus scan and activate the VoiceCommand speech recognition function: this allows you to run the main pre-installed applications by simply spelling their name. Probably due to my very Italian English pronunciation, in my case the system turned out to be practically “deaf”.

Software update

One of the most important tools in Settings is Add / Remove Software , which despite the name is used exclusively to update the system via the Internet, using the official Asus repositories. On the EeePC we tested, the system proposed new versions of Skype, the dictionary, the driver for the touchpad, the VoiceCommand functionality and the antivirus. But the most important updates are those related to the BIOS : in our case the factory one was 0204, which can be updated with 0401 or the more recent 0703, dated 9 January 2008. As previously mentioned, unofficial BIOSes are also circulating that allow you to increase the brightness of the screen and, what more important, to bring the processor to its nominal working frequency, equal to 900 MHz. To the most savvy users Add / Remove Software will immediately appear a very limited tool: it is not possible to use it to install / uninstall packages downloaded manually from the Internet nor to manage other application repositories besides the official Asus ones, which contain only a few updates and little else. For more experienced users it is therefore advisable to use Synaptic, executable from the shell, which allows you to add even the well-stocked unofficial repositories (here a small list with tutorials in English).

Favorites tab

The last tab, Favorites , is nothing more than a container where you can put shortcuts to applications and tools used most frequently. If you click on Cutomize a window opens that lists all the software pre-installed in the system and accessible from the desktop: just select the ones that interest us to see them appear on the tab. A little more flexibility wouldn’t hurt, such as the ability to add bookmarks and user-installed applications. The first icon you see on the tab is a link to the Asus website.

Shutdown and stand-by

This is the menu that appears when you press the shutdown button or click on the button Shutdown present in the taskbar or in the Settings section. From here it is possible to shut down the system, restart it, put it in stand-by, launch the task manager or, if activated, switch to the Full Desktop (see below). Stand-by, which can also be activated by closing the screen, uses the so-called mode suspend to ram : in practice, all the hardware components are turned off except the RAM memory, where the state of the system is preserved at the moment of suspension. Compared to suspend to disk present for example in Windows, the suspend to ram it has the advantage of an almost instantaneous restart of the system, but the disadvantage of consuming the battery, even if in a very gradual way. Attention, because if the battery is discharged while the system is in standby, all unsaved data will be lost.

Standard desktop

And here is the Full Desktop of which it is mentioned several times above. This is an unofficial feature that allows you to activate the standard KDE interface, with the classic start menu ( Launch ) and the ability to customize the desktop by adding new icons. This option, to activate which it is necessary to follow these instructions (in Italian), will be particularly appreciated by those who are already familiar with KDE menus. For the less geek, or for those who only use pre-installed applications, the default interface is undoubtedly more comfortable and intuitive, if only because the icons are larger and better readable.