Alternative to Wacom Stylus?

Dart Stylus?

Now that Wacom have released a bunch of different styluses for tablets, the Solo starting at $20 ranging up to the top of the line one at $70…there suddenly seems like a lot of choices one of which is the Dart, also $70 but this seems to work much better across various platforms.

Not one I’ve had the opportunity to try right now, but it’s something that should be on any digital artists radar looking for something with a bit more control to be used on various tablets who aren’t in the Cintiq budget.

TrendNet TEW 424UB Wireless USB adapter – Update

>An update to the original review of the TEW 424UB Wireless USB Adapter –

They released a new driver on the 16th of December 2008 –here

This driver seems to have fixed the device from BSOD’ing your system, especially when you lose a network connection, it is able to reconnect without needing a restart or causing a BSOD. Also doesn’t seem to lose a network connection as often either, so a much needed driver update makes this a very solid and cheap wireless network adapter.

TrendNet TEW 424UB Wireless USB adapter

>TrendNet TEW 424UB Wireless USB adapter.

I’ve had mine for a while now, a bargin at $20 a while ago, seems to be found for between $15-25 these days.

It has a few flaws that people complain about, mostly relating to it over heating which causes it to do a memory dump and blue screen your computer, especially noticeable with Windows Vista for some reason, even using the latest Trendnet drivers, or using the Realtek generic drivers, no difference.

I had this problem happen to me a fair bit, but I discovered it is easily fixed. It comes with what appears to be a useless extension that the device plugs into and which then goes into a usb port, this puts the device about 5 inches further out. Bending this flexible extension into a “L” shape allows the device to free stand in the air, away from any surface. This has kept it cool, and I’ve not had a crash with it since doing this.

It doesn’t like being plugged into the back of the desktop if there isn’t any air flow, nor does it like resting against the desk if plugged into a USB hub, which was how I had it set up, but now free standing in the air, it’s golden.

The speed of the device is consistently good. The software included with it is basic, but it works, and you really don’t need it with Windows anyway. Certainly very easy to connect and get working.

I’d recommend it as certainly good value for money if you need a simple wireless connection for your desktop/laptop.

Acer Desktop Update

>Well I’ve had a lot of fun with my new desktop, not.

After a couple of weeks, the system started to fail. The screen would garble up after about 20 minutes and the system would freeze and when hard booted up, do the same again until the system had cooled down. It was a suspected blown graphics card and should have been a simple fix but it wasn’t. What happened, I went through technical support via Acer online web support. This went on for a couple of weeks, being told to do things I had already done to see what the actual problem was, which involved a system restore, re-install graphics drivers, check graphics card and memory were seated properly and to try other monitors. Not of that fixed the problem. Though to be fair, the person replying was polite and did respond in a pretty reasonable time.

He was just unable to provide me a contact number or arrange any help there after. The contact number to arrange me sending in the machine at first was disconnected. Later in the week, it had a pre-recorded message to go online and hung up on you rather than putting you on hold to speak to a rep as instructed in the email support.

Fixmyacer.com is the website to go, which wasn’t where I was pointed towards initially. Anyway, I arranged the repair and went to UPS for ship it back to them, out to Texas, which cost me $40. I really should have just bought myself a new graphics card, but that’s beside the point, it was under warranty.

A month later, I get my system back, the repair report said they had re-seated the graphics card. Low and behold, twenty minutes after I booted my system, it failed again. It would seem that they ignored my repair report that the system fails after 20 minutes.

Email support got me no where, just told to send my machine back. I wasn’t impressed, another $40 and a month for some knob shite to not fix it again? Just slightly pissed and unable to get anywhere.

I first found The Acer Guy who seems to want to help and has a great blog about what is happening with the company, but he’s based in Europe. He did after I emailed him offer to try and help.

I also went to the Better Business Bureau and they were fantastic. I lodged my complaint, they contacted Acer, and within a half hour of that, someone from Acer called me up to arrange for a prioritised fix on my system, which is within 5-10 days rather than the 2-4 weeks. They also paid for Fed-Ex shipping, I just had to drop my machine off at the local Fedex store.

The system arrived yesterday and they did replace the faulty graphics card and so far, seems to be running well again.

The details you’ll need to make the BBB complaint, to the company US headquarters, which is in California, so you would file at that BBB chapter

Company details:

Complaint against : Acer America Corp

Acer America (USA only)
Acer America Corporation
333 West San Carlos Street
Suite 1500
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 533-7700

Home Desktop System

Well it was time to finally replace the home desktop, so I got Acer Aspire M5100, which is the spec says has- AMD Phenom X4 9500 Quad Core Processor 2.2GHz, 3GB DDR2, 500 SATA II, DVDRW, ATI HD2400 Pro, Gigabit LAN, Vista Home Premium.

It’s not a bad budget desktop for $600 you do get a lot of machine, but my thoughts on it –

It should have included SP1 at the very least, as there were loads of windows updates to do.

I’ve uninstalled nearly all the acer software except NTI burner, which ain’t to bad for free though it isn’t very good for everything as it doesn’t burn images, so a freebie from filehippo was found, the rest of the software was rubbish except the back up stuff.

Vista found my Samsung printer and set that up easily enough and getting the network dongle working was pretty easy too, and it automatically set my tablet up, but it was rubbish until you got the proper drivers for it.

Over all, the system ain’t bad and certainly good value for money.

Pluses

  • It’s uber quiet, which is lovely, as my old system sounded like a jumbo jet
  • It’s pretty swift and even if the graphics card could do with upgrading, it’s still pretty good for my needs right now
  • The speakers are usb powered and quite cute
  • The keyboard ain’t to bad
  • There’s only the power light and Aspire name that glow, so not to annoying.
  • 8 USB ports and a firewire port
  • Easy to open the case up
  • A lot of hard drive bays

Cons

  • There’s no restore dvd’s out the box
  • Documentation was none existent, would have been nice if they told you what the software they included was about and how to do the restore dvd’s.
  • The speakers are a bit weedy in power and the wire isn’t long enough to have them far apart on the desk, just one monitors width, very annoying.
  • No restart button (though on the plus, you can’t accidentally hit it either)
  • The mouse is rubbish
  • The graphics card could have been a model or two higher
  • Could have included SP1 and newest version of software/drivers (acrobat 7 for instance? wtf)
  • Vista 32 bit, wtf was the point of that?


The things that bug me, vista, the constant do you want to install, move, delete thing, driving me barmy, that would be the UAC. There are loads of ways to switch this off, but this was a good way to switch it off. You’ll be left with a warning that it has been switched off every time you boot up however until you do this.

The tablet panel is also rubbish once you’ve installed the drivers for your tablet and I found this to get rid of it, here.

Opening in a new folder when you click on it, it doesn’t open it in a new window unless you’ve got the navigation option turned off, which can be found under the organise tab.

The menu bar and whole windows look, waste of resourses in my opinion and don’t add anything to the OS, so I switched everything to the classic view, which works pretty well, but some things are a little funky. Not being able to move all my start bar menu links around was annoying, but that can be fixed by changing the folder permissions to adminstrator and allowing full rights.

Some great tips on Vista can be found here.