FedEx Delivers

August 2, 2007

FedEx LogoJust a brief note to let you know that my physical Zonbu should be in my hands before the close of business today.

The good folks at my local FedEx depot are keeping an eye out for it and I’m going to go pick it up to ensure I have it so I can give you a more detailed overview ASAP.

As an aside, I’m disappointed Zonbu isn’t using or at least offering FedEx as an option for delivery.

FedEx, no matter where in the world, has consistently excellent logistics and tracking. In two decades they’ve mis-shipped one package on me, and I did get it back. Now, you pay for that pleasure, but for those of us who might be accused of being a bit “type A”, it is often worth the extra cost to know where our stuff is.

I’m working on a piece on the “buying experience” via the Zonbu store as I think there is substantial room for improvement. Look for that soon and look for lots of updates from me on my experiences with my new toy.

-Mr. Zonbu


Zonbu Mini-PC & Solar Power = A match made in heaven?

August 1, 2007


Solar PanelsWith a draw of only 15W, the Zonbu is not only green when using traditional energy sources, but its energy needs are so modest it may be well suited to being powered by alternate sources like solar.

I’m no expert in this space, but is running an interesting story on concentrated solar power that I think may be of interest to you as a reader.

We will be exploring this topic in more detail over the coming weeks, but I wanted to toss the idea out to the growing readership for discussion and comment.

Are you using any alternate energy at home now? Would you consider alternate sources to power your Zonbu?

-Mr. Zonbu

The Zonbu desktop is XFCE…

August 1, 2007

I just wanted to do a quick post to report that the Zonbu desktop runs XFCE.

There has been some confusion about it, since the “start menu” bar looks very windows/KDE-ish, but it is in fact XFCE underneath, and the Thunar file manager….

Read the rest of this entry »

Irony – I can’t play a Zonbu promo video on my Zonbu?!

July 30, 2007

[EDIT – 16:40 Eastern, July 30, 2007 – Looks like the video has been removed. I suspect they’ll link it back in once they figure out the problem. Since I had the same problem on windows I’m sure its either the server that is hosting it or something missing in the Firefox configuration. What a great test of Zonbu’s response time, I’d say they are listening so let’s see what happens.]

I was looking at the reviews page of the Zonbu website this morning, as their intrepid marketing people keep slipping more stuff in to the middle of the page instead of posting it at the top or bottom so you have to pay attention.

While there, I noticed they had posted a new video of their CEO talking about the Zonbu. The video is in French but my comprehension isn’t terrible so I thought I’d take a look…

Lo and behold, after clicking on the video I was told I needed a plug-in to play it. I tried the FF “install plug-in” option and it failed. I think I saw that it as an .m4v file. This would be the first video clip I haven’t been able to play. Heck I spent a half an hour watching quicktime video trailers at last night.

Now I realize the offending video appears to be hosted on someone’s blog and they are just linking to it, but it is kind of ironic I can’t play a promo video about their product, from their product – n’est pas?

-Mr. Zonbu

PS- Come to think of it, doesn’t that seem to suggest that their web master isn’t checking the website functionality on a Zonbu? Not to be a jerk, but I’m thinking they should drink their own kool-aid.

PPS – I just tried it on my Vista laptop at work, and the video doesn’t play either, nor can FF find a plug-in. But then again, HP isn’t linking to the video on their website…

A screenshot of my Zonbu desktop

July 29, 2007

I thought it might be time for some eye-candy.

Here is a screenshot of my Zonbu desktop (taken with the handy screenshot tool they included).

I’ve got the IM client running, connected to MSN Messneger, Skype, Rhapsody playing via the web (is there any woman with a more beautiful voice right now than Colbie Caillat?) as well as Firefox with about six tabs open.

I’m running 1280×1024, and I’ve downsized my fonts and panel as well as added the mixer control to my taskbar.

The wallpaper is one of the stock photos that come with the Zonbu, and I think you’ll agree, it’s a beautiful option.

-Mr. Zonbu

Zonbu Desktop 1 - AMD Duron 1.1GHz test system

PS – What is with the “drag and drop” functionality resulting in “copy” instead of “move”? That’s confusing, coming from windows, and is going to result in extra copies of files all over the place. Shouldn’t a file I drag and drop on a folder, move in to that folder?

Friday night with the Zonbu…

July 27, 2007

Well kids, I remain impressed.

I have installed the virtual machine at home, where I have the graphics horsepower to run it full screen at 1280×1024 so I don’t even see my XP desktop underneath. After a few more hours of exploring, I’m still very very impressed. I’m taking notes and I’ll post in more detail, but I have to admit that the bulk of my comments so far fall in to the “fine polish” category and I’m sure they can be addressed relatively easily by the software team.

Overall, I haven’t hit it with anything I’d need to do on a typical quiet Friday night at home that it can’t handle. I’m enjoying Rhapsody Online in my headphones while I write this and I have my Messenger contacts open as well. The system has pretty much done everything as promised so far, with the caveat that I’m still running in a virtual machine within my normal desktop. I even ssh’d in to a server at work to check on something. No problems at all.

-Mr. Zonbu

P.S. The Zonbu team needs to find a way to work with VMWare to make sure the optimization toolkit for video and mouse performance can be installed via the VMWare host, so people can have a smoother experience. Mouse performance in particular is sketchy under Zonbu on VMWare. By the way, why don’t they have a proper pre-built VMWare image ready to go to save us the hassle?

Dude, where’s my Zonbu?

July 25, 2007

I ordered my Zonbu a while ago.

A few days ago I received a notice saying it would be shipping shortly. So I waited. I can pretend to be patient.

Strangely, I haven’t seen any sign of a tracking number which is really e-commerce 101.

Ah, they just sent me an e-mail saying that the units are expected to ship later in the week? Hmm, so they started their PR campaign and either weren’t ready to ship (pessimistic me) or have completely sold out their stock already and are waiting for more (optimistic me)?

Either way, a bit of a snafu in this age of immediate gratification.

Back to waiting…

-Mr. Zonbu

Mr. Zonbu makes his entrance

July 22, 2007

Hello everyone,

I recently read an article about a new silicon valley company called “Zonbu” who is selling a low cost/low power PC that they are positioning as an environmentally friendly desktop PC replacement. You can find their website here:

Zonbu Mini-PC

I was intrigued. I think the green thing is seriously overplayed, but saving power always helps. In my neck of the woods I pay almost $.40 per kilowatt/hour so I’m probably a bit more motivated than most…

I watched a few YouTube videos, read a few reviews, listened to Chris Prillo prattle on excitedly about it as he unboxed and set up his trial unit (you can watch the video here) and decided to order one to see what all the hype is about.

Now, to be fair, I should mention I work in the broadband business and have exposure to a very wide variety of end users on a daily basis so I probably have a better idea than most about what the average broadband home user does and what hurdles they run in to. In fact, over the past few years I’ve been involved in a number of initiatives that have resulted in a significant reduction in our call volumes by introducing various solutions to help limit the impact of spyware and viruses on the network. Needless to say, a semi “locked down” but fully functioning Internet ready PC has its appeal.

Like many of you reading this, I also have various family members whose PCs I get called on to support. I was amused to read that Zonbu’s founder was motivated to pursue this particular project because he found it difficult to support his father’s windows PC (back in France) remotely from the US. It got me thinking, I should try this thing out and see if it really is a viable option. Which then got me thinking… What do I really use my home PC for? But more on that later..

Since this is 2007 and we live in a 24/7 reality TV, blog about it, nothing is private, “google is indexing the contents of your underwear drawer as you read this” world, I thought I might as well throw my hat in the ring and tell you if it really is suitable to replace a low end desktop PC used primarily for Internet access. Besides, if this lady can draw an audience and make a name for herself by being attractive and unpacking electronics at her kitchen table then I can probably at least elicit a few snickers…

What follows in this blog is my experience with the Zonbu, from ordering it, to musings while I await delivery, to installing it and attempting to use it for virtually all my daily computing tasks for at least a month. I’m not going to dissect the hardware (which isn’t really unique to Zonbu anyway – more on that later), or analyze the various apps, or get religious about the flavour of linux it runs or the apps available on it natively. I’m going to plug it in, hook it up, and tell you what happens.

Oh, and don’t be alarmed if you do come home from a movie Tuesday night and find two college kids in a Google Beetle are rifling through your underwear drawer with a flashlight and a digital camera. I wasn’t kidding…

-Mr. Zonbu