I saw a show on TV... don't remember which show... introducing this little indoor helicopter. I was intrigued as I have always had visions of being a chopper pilot. Bella and I took a weekend off and went to Albuquerque to get away. During this time off I found myself at the mall walking around a Brookstone Tools store and low-and-behold there was the object of my intrigue; the Micro Chopper by Excalibur Electronics. One of the salesmen saw me checking it out and walked up and told me that one of the other salesmen was demonstrating the Micro Chopper at the entrance to the store. I watched the young man trying to fly this tiny flying machine and .... well he was crashing it more than flying it. Pilot error? Well I had to find out.
I decided that if Brookstone Tools had one there must be a hobby store somewhere in the mall that would have it too. I started my quest and finally found a toy store that had a less expensive one that was made out of Styrofoam. It was $10 cheaper but the Micro Chopper was made out of plastic so I decided it was of better quality so I went back to Brookstone Tools and purchased it.
It wasn't that expensive, $30.00 maybe. The receipt is around here somewhere. No matter. It is available in several colors. I bought a red one and it was several days before I could play with my new toy. The helicopter itself has what must be a really small li-poly battery. The remote control takes 6 AA batteries and there is a small plug that is plugged into the helicopter which charges the helicopter. It took maybe 30 minutes to charge and when the charge light turned green I gave it a try.
The controller has a "go for it" lever as well as a direction lever. There are two buttons which are to be used to adjust the trim..... the annoying characteristic of the helicopter to just make little circles and not go anywhere. Ok, you may have noticed from previous posts that we live in a 30' RV trailer. There is not a whole lot of room to fly a little helicopter. But I tried anyway. There is no hover and after bouncing off of the walls and forcing Murphy the cat to find a safe refuge (Bella wasn't home at the time), I decided that this was not going to work. It was windy outside so it went back into the box for another day.
A calm day came and again I charged it up and took it outside. Well, it is controlled via infrared. The sun emanates all kinds of infrared light so I found I couldn't control the helicopter. So back in the box it went until the sun went down. I checked the charge and sit it down and pushed the go-for-it lever to the max and the little chopper took off. It took a number of tries to get the trim adjusted so it would sort of go in one direction. It usually was not the direction that I wanted it to go in however. And it seemed way under powered as I could hold it in my hand and sort of toss it in the air and start it up and it had enough power to sort of slowly go down instead of up. Bella tried it too with pretty much the same results. Pilot error.... I don't know. It certainly is not as easy as it looks and we didn't devote a whole lot of time practicing. I'm not giving up yet.
There are a number of videos on YouTube showing similar models. This one looked like the one I have until I noticed it has 2 main rotors which, I believe, would give it more lift and perhaps more stability. The one I have only has one main rotor and what might be described as a gyro above the main rotor that adjusts the pitch of the main rotor. The picture above looks identical to the one that I have.
I have been working with and maintaining computers a lot of years. In 1980 I purchased an Apple II+ and was hooked on computers.. In 1982 I picked up a new Macintosh. While working for an Aerospace company I took some unix classes and worked with minis. A few years later I used GIS applications on PCs running Windows NT and a couple of Sun workstations. Those Sun boxes were sweet....
The first Windows box I purchased was the Micron laptop I wrote about in another post. The only reason I purchased it was because I got a job writing code and needed a box that would run Coldfusion and SQL server.
A couple of years ago we started our own business and I was determined to get away from Windows. It hasn't been a totally realistic goal. Our main machines run Kubuntu. I started out with Ubuntu and decided I liked the KDE desktop a little better. Bella has been such a trooper putting up with my experiments and she had no problems switching from Windows to Ubuntu and then to Kubuntu. We have found open source software to meet every need we have had for our business. The only thing is, not everyone feels the same about Windows. There are websites and web applications that requires Internet Explorer to function. I can't say that I blame them. It is all about money after all, and coders need to make a living writing code for computers that will give them the highest return. There is also the point that it is expensive to maintain multiple platforms. I am just so thankful for those coders that support open source applications.
So what am I writing about here? How about our experience over the last two + years using Kubuntu for the primary machines in our company. Like I said, there are some web applications that either will not work or will throw errors when using Firefox on a Linux box. For example, when I log into Fedex.com to generate a shipping label I get a warning that my browser is not supported. It says it supports Firefox, but is probably confused by AMD64 installation of Firefox. Even though it pops up the anoying alert, it seems to function correctly. For the few applications that totally require a Windows application, I have installed Virtual Box on my machine and run a virtual XP desktop on it. I am really amazed at how well this works... except for the USB ports. I still haven't figured out how to get the USB ports to function.
So far I found an open source application for everything I have needed to do. Not all of the Linux versions of an application have worked the best. For example, I am using Wink to develop training modules for users of the 3Com phone system. Wink is open source and can be installed on Linux or Windows machines. I tried using the Linux version and it seems like the audio wasn't coming out quite right so I installed the Windows version on my virtual XP machine and it worked like a charm. The other thing I haven't got worked out is the syncing of our Palm TX brains. So currently I am syncing both to a XP box.
I know opinions vary concerning Windows. Personally, I have no use for Vista and the only reason I am running XP is because of the applications that require IE or Windows to run. Given a choice, I would rather use Linux and open source applications. I am not a super geek and I don't have a lot of time to spend configuring applications. For me Kubuntu just works.
I purchased a Micron Transport Zx laptop in 2000. At the time I was writing code and designing web pages. It came with Windows 95 and was soon upgraded to Windows 2000 Pro with SQL server and Coldfusion Server installed. When I started installing and maintaining 3Com VoIP Phone systems, it continued to be my main machine living in a backpack and traveling where ever I went. It now is running XP pro and is a little slow. It's biggest vulnerability however is the power transformer and since it is the only laptop we have, it is time to retire it to a backup position.
It is hard to know what machines are worthy anymore. I read reviews and examined specifications and finally asked the advice of the IT tech of one of the schools that I work with. They purchase a lot of laptops and they are in pretty adverse conditions being used by students. His recommendation.... the HP Compaq 6710b.
The model I purchased seems to be a solid machine. It has a 15.4" screen and the keyboard has a good feel to it. I purchased the external travel battery to extend the battery life. I have only had it a few days so there will be more to follow.
It's all about change.... I'll take a look at technical items of interest and put in my "two cents worth".