Downgrading Acer Aspire 2920/2920Z to Windows XP SP2

badvista.gifYesterday was my first time to try Windows Vista — let’s just say it wasn’t love at first sight. I wouldn’t have bothered so much, since all I use my computer for is office work, web browsing and e-mailing. But when I compared Vista’s performance against my five year old Windows XP system, the results brought me to the conclusion that there was no choice but to get rid of Vista. Compared to XP, Vista used about three times as much system memory — in idle state! This is especially harmful to smaller laptops like the Acer Aspire 2920, which heat up quickly. Also, higher hardware demands of the operating system translate into shorter battery life.

I therefore decided to install Windows XP again, since this is the operating system I’m most comfortable with. Linux would be an equally viable choice — but with a high reluctance on Acer’s side to even provide the propper XP drivers for the Aspire 2920 for the European and American markets, I don’t have any illusions about the amount of work required to find Linux drivers for a relatively new piece of hardware. Fortunately, thanks to a number of helpful websites, setting up Windows XP on an Aspire 2920 is something a person with average computer skills will be able to accomplish… [...]

How to make Pidgin Unicode compatible

pidgin.gifAbout a year ago I was looking for an alternative to the original QQ software, the biggest chat network in China. One programme I stumbled upon was LumaQQ. Recently, however, when Gaim was renamed to Pidgin, its developers re-introduced a working QQ plugin to their free and popular multi-protocol instant messenger. Pidgin is not the most friendly programme in terms of usability, though, and frequently causes problems for users who need to exchange messages in languages that don’t use Latin characters. I therefore decided to give a few hints on how to make Pidgin more equipped for this type of task.

Pidgin has been around at least as long as Trillian, another popular multi-protocol instant messenger. Trillian has not seen a new release since 2004, however, is becoming increasingly bloated and monetized. From the first “Pro” version onwards, the free version of Trillian retained only a few basic features and its users were excluded from the ability to extend their application by plugins. Both versions kept becoming more resource demanding, although the core functionality remained more or less unchanged. The reason many people use it anyhow is because the original ICQ, MSN and AOL clients are no better. ICQ is bloated, MSN suffers from limited configurability and most importantly: each programme’s interface is cluttered with advertising and other nonsense. Pidgin closes this gap by providing a simple, modular cross-platform chat application. In terms of usability it still needs to catch up, however. We will tackle the most common problems here… [...]