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Commodore was more than a stock scam

From time to time, I see the phrase “Commodore stock scam” or something similar come up in discussion or in books. Commodore, in case you don’t know, was a high-flying computer company in the 1980s that was literally making computers as quickly as they could sell them while Apple struggled for its survival, and was in the enviable position of being the main supplier of chips for its competitors. Imagine if Intel sold computers at retail next to HP and Dell, while still selling chips to Dell. That was Commodore in 1984. I don’t have 1984 figures, but in 1985, Commodore had 38% of the computer market all to itself. IBM and its clones, combined, had 49%. Apple had 13%.

But a decade later, Commodore had squandered all of that away and was out of business. That’s why Robert X. Cringely sums up Commodore as Irving Gould‘s stock scam, then goes back to writing about Apple.

The real story is more complicated than that. More interesting, too.

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HP Elitebook won’t turn on? Fix it in a minute flat

If your HP Elitebook won’t turn on, I have an easy fix. We used them at a previous job and I taught this trick to all of my coworkers who had difficulty getting their laptops to power up in the morning. It’s easy, and takes less time than calling the helpdesk, and less time than going direct to desktop support too (which they love, I’m sure).

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Follow-up on the Insignia NS20EM50A13 monitor

After about a month with an Insignia NS20EM50A13 monitor, I still mostly like it, but can note one annoyance. When booting up a system, the monitor sometimes likes to switch from the DVI input to VGA, without warning. If you happen to be sitting there when it happens, you notice it and can switch it back. But more than once I’ve rebooted, walked away, come back a few minutes later and wondered why I have a weird black screen in front of me instead of a logon screen.Read More »Follow-up on the Insignia NS20EM50A13 monitor

R.I.P.: Netbooks

The last two netbook vendors standing, Acer and Asus, have both announced they’ve produced their last netbook. So they’re joining the Playstation 2 in the land of the digital dinosaurs, though I suspect more people will miss the 12-year-old game console than the netbook. The Guardian has an analysis, but basically they blame the emergence of tablets, and the increased cost of producing netbooks with Windows.

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Review: Insignia NS20EM50A13 monitor

My 15-inch Dell LCD died this weekend. Its date of manufacture was October 2001, so I can’t complain. I bought it used a number of years ago and paid a pittance for it. It had been acting up for more than a year, and at least it had the decency to wait until a potential replacement was on sale before dying completely.

Best Buy had its house-brand 20″ LED monitor on sale for $90, and I had a gift card with a few dollars on it, so I braved Best Buy again, and found a good low-end monitor for the money.Read More »Review: Insignia NS20EM50A13 monitor

The trouble with Dell

Note: I wrote this in mid-2010 and, for whatever reason, never posted it. I found it this week. Although the information in it is no longer fresh and new, it’s still useful, so for that reason, I’m posting it now.

Dell is standing on some shaky ground right now. Bill Snyder has a good summary of the problem.

In recent years, Dell computers have, shall I say, made me nervous. Some of it’s been concrete. Some of it’s just been touchy-feely. Now one of those touchy-feely problems is more concrete.Read More »The trouble with Dell