the ebay seller who sold me that garmin gps finally wrote me back sunday with his return address. the only catch is he's leaving the country on friday, so i need to ship back the gps to him as soon as possible if i want a refund. had he replied to my e-mail when i wrote him friday morning, i could've sent out the package already on saturday. in any case, first thing i did this morning was to bike down to the post office and send back the gps. the address is in washington state so the package has to travel across the country. shipment was $6.95 for priority mail, with an additional $5.10 for insurance ($235 value). i was afraid i'd have to pay $20-40 for faster delivery, but it's scheduled to arrive on wednesday (sometimes i just love the post office).

i called harvard square eyecare to reorder my contacts. apparently whoever took my call on friday never did ask the doctor about changing the the type of contacts i wear so the order was never placed. as long as it gets done this week, my soon-to-expire health insurance will cover the cost for 2 boxes.

i also called the head nurse at my doctor's office, asking about travel diarrhea medicine. specifically, i wanted to get a prescription for loperamide and azithromycin. she told me loperamide is available over the counter now, and they don't prescribe azithromycin for bacterial diarrhea anymore, and my safest bet would be to visit a clinic since i'll be mostly in well-populated areas.

with 2 weeks left, i'm hoping to spend this week gathering the last of my essentials and cleaning up the house. i don't plan on doing anything in my last week but just relaxing and enjoying my final days. if i want to order anything online and still have it arrive in time, i better order within the next few days. i put back the drawers of my dresser and did a load of laundry.

i'm still not at 100% from my new york city trip. i still haven't gotten enough sleep, i'm hungry all the time, and my digestive cycle is all irregular. for lunch i made some clam chowder. originally i was going to make it for my grandmother, but she has very discriminating tastes, and i don't think she'd like my chowder. at the very least i wanted to try out the recipe first. i've made chowder in the past, the only difference this time is i used clam juice to cook everything (usually i just pour it out). the chowder had a sweetness that probably came from both the potatoes and the heavy cream, with a subtle clam flavor that wasn't overwhelming.

my father passed through the area on his way to the supermarket and i asked him to stop so he could pick up a container of my chowder for my grandmother. while he was here, he helped me lift the heavy CRT television (formerly in the living room prior to my HDTV upgrade) onto my dresser. he also helped me call the taiwanese "embassy" to find out about my passport; apparently it's all ready but they never contacted me about it. i'll try to pick it up tomorrow.

on his way back from shopping, gave me a ride to belmont since there was a forecast of strong thunderstorms this evening.

i brought my dell mini hackintosh to play with, but discovered the laptop wouldn't boot up. after some research, i discovered the larger 1TB hard drive is to blame, with its bigger sector block sizes. the computer will boot up however if it goes through the boot selection of an OS X installer USB drive, but i forgot to bring it with me.

today was a hot and humid summer day. i was relieved to be at my parents' place where they had the AC installed and turned on. compared that to my place, where the AC will not get installed this season and the inside of the house was even hotter from the laundry and the cooking i was doing.

despite the heat, my father was out in the backyard trimming the bushes and mowing the lawn. normally i'd help, but the temperature was making me lazy and all i wanted to do was stay inside and sulk over my non-booting hackintosh.

my mother gave me a ride back to cambridge because my father was busy reconfiguring his ipad, which i helped him restore to the original factory setting. even then, his first generation ipad can only go as high as iOS 5, so he's missing certain features like 3D maps. compared to the recently purchased hisense sero 7, the ipad really chugged, and kept stuttering on streaming video playback while the sero just cruised. the ride home was scary, but suddenly it began to rain hard plus some crazy lightning strikes.

my cosmos black neoprene tablet pouch arrived today. it's a bit snug but fits perfectly, and seems to offer some protection for the sero 7. also my amazon-brand microSDHC card (with adapter) came as well. i swapped out the memory between the tablet and my ZS20 (which currently doesn't have a memory card).

i tuned in to the hockey game but quickly tuned out when the bruins lost, ending the series. the blackhawks won in the most dramatic fashion, with a minute left in the game to tie it (substituting their goalie) and then score the winning goal with 30 seconds left. bruins scrambled but the clock buzzer ended their season. i'm going to avoid watching any sports coverage for the next few days.

after so many iterations of reinstalling OS X on the dell mini, my feeling towards the hackintosh is something like walking on eggshells. maybe it's just because i'm going the initial setup and still figuring things out, but the OS seems fragile, like it's easy to break. accidentally update the OS through the apple updater? brick. close the lid to put the laptop to sleep? brick. run the latest release of netbookinstaller? lose wifi. revert back to the previous version of netbookinstaller? lose audio. start the machine without an OSX installer USB thumb drive? machine won't boot.

but finally tonight i've got the most stable and robust version yet, after installation number 5. everything works now: wifi, audio, built-in card reader, webcam, reboots fine, and can now sleep on its own and wake back up. i wasn't so sure at first. after the 4th install, i ran netbookinstaller 0.8.5pre, hoping the latest updates will fix the startup issue, but i ended up losing wifi. i then reverted back to 0.8.4 RC1, which returned the wifi but lost the sound. i should've just restart the machine again but the audio would've come back. figuring i tweaked the system to the point where it was glitchy, i reinstalled for the 5th time. i didn't have audio when i first rebooted, but the audio returned on subsequent restarts.

i also found a fix for the boot0 error, which involves extracting a key boot procedure (boot1h) from a bootloader install (in this case chimera) then copying it onto the boot block of the unmounted hard drive. it sounds more complicated than it actually is, and the hardest part was just tracking down a copy of boot1h. they should add it to the suite of fixes included in the netbookinstaller. it's not a big deal if you keep the default hard drive, but if you end up upgrading to something bigger and newer (say, 1TB), you're going to need to know how to do this otherwise the hard drive won't boot up.

some more things i noticed about the dell mini hackintosh:

  • there's no on-screen brightness display. the dimming buttons work but i miss the indicator icon overlay, so i can't tell exactly how bright the screen is.

  • when the mini goes to sleep it flashes it's power led just like on a mac. i wonder if it does this under windows as well?

  • the mini doesn't get that hot. it did heat up while it was undergoing intense OS X installations, but under normal operations, it seems fine.

  • i love how much juice you can get out of a larger 6 cell battery, but i'm curious about the original 3 cell, which would make the dell mini more compact. the 6 cell battery sticks out of the laptop like a stand

  • i noticed with the proper version of netbookbootmaker that the graphics seem to be faster. it's most noticeable on the dock, icon magnify animation is very smooth and fast. in my initial install, the dock really chugged.

  • i'd imagine in the days before tablet pc's, having a netbook was probably the best portable web surfing experience you could have. now they're kind of stuck in between the portability of a tablet with the productivity of an actual laptop.

  • this is more of a memory card issue than a dell mini issue - i found out it'd only read my microSDHC card inside of a SDHC adapter but not erase the photos afterward it finished downloading from the card reader. i couldn't figure out why, but then i tried a different adapter and that worked.

  • i don't really need illuminated keys (like on the MBP), but it'd be nice to have some sort of caps lock indicator light.

  • the viewing angle on the dell mini is very narrow, you basically have to be in the sweet spot otherwise the image is washed out.

  • the speakers on the dell mini is underwhelming. unlike MBP speakers which fire up from both sides of the keyboard, the dell mini fires down below the palmrest. fortunately the headphone output is pretty robust.