September 28 marked the birth of my new baby, whom I have christened Risk. I was toying with that name in my mind for a while now, but never imagined how apt it would be for my new notebook.

Yes, the 28th. Aside from the September 28 being a somewhat extraordinary date to me (again, Happy Birthday, Egay!, but no, it has nothing to do with her birthday!), we set out to Gilmore Ave., mecca of all things computers, to buy a laptop just as typhoon Milenyo hit the city. The lack of electricity made it no easier but we waited for the owner of PC Corner to arrive and explain the deal.

A few days ago, my plan was straightforward: consolidate my funds then proceed to PC Corner to snap up that Acer Aspire 5583 WXMI. A few months ago I had been eyeing a similar model, the Acer TravelMate 3282 WXMI, but the newer one already had Core 2 Duo. It was rare to find that in a laptop with a host of other great specs and a very competitive price.

But the last Acer Aspire was sold on the night of the 27th. We scrambled to look for an alternative dealer but the model wasn’t going to be shipped to the country for another few days. (I later found out PC Corner got their supply from Hong Kong.) We returned to PC Corner to see the owner’s other options for me.

When he finally arrived, he wasted no time and lined the notebooks up in front of me. He scribbled down a side-by-side comparison of the options I had: an Asus S96J, a Blue M636, and a Dell E1405. He picked them based on the specs I was keen about: a Core 2 Duo processor, video memory to speak of, and a reasonable price.

If you know me and you’ve listened to me get stressed over laptops the past few months, you’d know which one I eliminated first. Yep, the one with shared video memory (Dell). So it was a toss-up the one oozing with machismo (fifteen inches is, uh, too big and uncomfortable), and the runaway winner with respect to specs. Yeah, I’m an under-the-hood person too. If I weren’t so picky I would have bought the much cheaper MacBook and enjoyed the fact that I finally own a Mac. It’s on my life’s to-do list, after all. Right now, however, it’s about being updated with the latest with the most reasonable amount of cash I can muster, especially with Vista already winking at us. (No, the M$-Sux0r thing does not apply here. It’s about how that drastically higher set of system requirements will influence everything else in the future, just like what XP did.)


Note: I believe this is definitely a custom set of specifications for the Blue line since I have not seen a Blue notebook advertised as such. It’s very new, I think.

Blue M636/A737 Platform
Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 2.16 Ghz 4MB 667Mhz FSB
1 GB DDR2 Dual-Channel RAM
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 256 MB Video RAM
Intel® 945PM Express Chipset
Intel® Pro-Wireless 3945 a/b/g Card
80 GB Hard Disk Drive
DVD Writer DVD-RW and DVD-R Dual Layer
10/100/1000 Mbps LAN
Firewire Port
3 USB Ports
Card Reader
Fingerprint Scanner
Windows XP Professional COA

To make matters more complicated, the “more” ideal setup cost five thousand more than my projected budget, which paid for the dual-channel memory. The shop owner made things even more “attractive” when he threw in a bundle of freebies (flash drive, webcam, mouse, speakers, headset, Bluetooth dongle, etc.).

I thought I’d finally become a branded laptop owner with the Acer, but I knew that the Blue notebook was worth the risk. I’m still crossing my fingers and hoping it’ll work as smoothly as possible.

More Risks

Taking a chance with an unknown notebook brand had risk written all over it, but that was only part of the story of the name. The storm had gotten worse along Gilmore while the technicians were struggling to install WinXP on the notebook with close-to-nil power. When the battery finally gave up, we remained stranded in Gilmore IT Center; we could literally see an ipo-ipo forming and reforming in front of us; most of us could only watch in awe behind the thin glass doors how it whipped objects around, including motorcycles. We let the winds weaken a bit by having lunch at a small Japanese restaurant slash grocery (I’ve never tasted oriental cuisine that strong but maybe I wasn’t in the mood to experiment). Even in that warm place we could still see how the winds rattled the walls of the shop and battered the poor plants outside.

After a quick nap there (I couldn’t help it; I had no sleep for more than 24 hours) we left Gilmore with difficulty. If the roads weren’t flooded half a car deep, they were blocked by fallen, uprooted trees. The car even stalled when we almost ran out of gasoline and it took a while to find a station that had electricity to fuel the vehicles.

It would take days before the electricity, telephone, and DSL would come back, and because Risk had lost all power after the installation, I might as well have waited a week for that Acer Aspire. But we were all crazy enough to go out during the biggest storm to hit Manila in over a decade. Crazy enough to go mall-hopping despite low power and high heat there. (Just outside the Mall of Asia compound, cars were lining up to get their tanks filled up at a gasoline station. The staggering number of vehicles scrambling to finally get gas overflowed into the streets was like some surreal scene from Cars.)

Moving House

If Risk were a house, the right term would be “I’m still moving in” despite the days that have passed. I’ve finished moving my 12 gig file folder via local Ethernet but I’m still fixing the wireless router to share the internet to this notebook so we won’t have to fight over the desktop PC anymore. I hope I get comfortable with Risk quickly.

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