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DDL iTruck Log Auditing
Software for Companies and Law Enforcement Officers
Need Information before you buy
Looking for a Laptop (Desktop for
The program requires a desktop or portable computer running Windows
95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows NT or
Windows 2000, Vista 32 & 64 bit, Windows 7 32 and 64 bit. or later versions of each. An 800 x 600 or higher
resolution display is highly recommended, thought a 640 x 480 display
will work fine. A color display will also help. The program is about 1.18 mb bytes
large and produces log data files that consumes about 65K bytes per month per
driver. A computer with a hard disk is recommended, but the program will install
onto a 1.44 Megabyte diskette. Just barely. Get a laptop with a hard
Printers - A common requirement for the OTR driver, who is
away from home for days and weeks, is a printer to print logs for DOT
inspectors. I prefer inexpensive laser printers instead of portable inkjet
printers. The inkjet ink is too expensive, and for the price of $350 for a
portable inkjet, you can buy an inexpensive HP or Brother or similar laser -
only prints black and white. Requires 120v AC so you may need an 12vDC to
120vAC inverter - modern trucks usually already have one for microwaves,
refrigerators, TVs, etc. Lasers are bigger but more reliable and cheaper to run
- toners and drums will yield 1000's of copies before replacement. Unless
you need color printing, consider a laser printer.
Laptop problems - The laptop displays will 'wash out' when used
in sunlight or even in shadows outdoors when the sun is out. You need to
'hide in the truck or indoors' when using laptops. Even brightest (TFT
technology) displays have this problem. The other problem is
reliability of laptops in bouncing trucks. I am on my third hard drive
since 1998. Fortunately the price of replacements has dropped from $400 to
less then $100 for 4 to 10 Gig laptop hard drives. Other drivers report no
problems. Your 'mileage' will vary, and I don't think a particular 'brand'
is any better than any other when reliability is concerned. Do PLEASE
backup vital files like DDL log files to diskette often - I do it every day.
I am paranoid, and I speak from experience. As the computer 'Geeks' say: 'It
is not a question of if a hard disk will fail, but only when a hard disk will
So, what should you look for?
1. The bare minimum. A refurbished laptop - Intel
CPU 486 25Mhz or better - running Windows 95 with a hard disk
drive - 100 Meg (not Gigs) and a diskette drive is the minimum. These can
be purchased for $100 to $200. Try before you buy, by installing DDL and
another software you wish to run. It will be kind of slow, but adequate for the
budget. Screen display about 10 to 12 inches on the diagonal. DOT
inspectors at scale houses have been very receptive to logs displayed on laptop
screens, as long as the 'vitals' - grid, remarks, recap, etc. - are displayed in
2. The internet capable. Look for a built in modem
(56K bits/sec is normal now) or PCMCIA modem card. Also look for a CDROM
(CD reader) so you can install larger applications - word processing, spread
sheets, business financials. CPU's Intel or AMD 100Mhz or better is
expected. 1 Gig to 3 Gig hard drives are normal and the price $200 to
3. The cost is no object. The 'dream machine' is the Dell
Inspiration 8500 fully rigged with 1.7 Ghz Pentium 4-M, built in CDRW, etc. etc.
etc. etc. Will run about $2300 to $3300 (2002 prices). This is
considered the 'Cadillac' of laptops. Toshiba models are also being
considered. Oh.. I like the 'eraser head' mouse mover instead of the
'touch pad', since I am a 'touch typist'. I don't like moving my hands to
the touch pad. The eraser head is in the middle of the keyboard - IBM, HP,
Dell, Toshiba models have this. My Winbook has it, but newer models do not
have eraser heads so Winbook is not being considered.
4. Logical new laptop. Prices for quite capable laptops have
fallen below $1000. 2.0 Gig Intel Celeron processors are offered and are
quite satisfactory for all applications (especially DDL) except for the most
demanding graphics or gaming applications. Then the Intel Pentium 4 might be
considered, but the prices then jump to $1500 or more. Expect a CDRW drive
but a 3.5 Inch diskette drive is probably not going to be included.
17 Jun 2002 - update to my laptop situation:
My Winbook XL 233 died a few weeks ago. I replaced it a few days ago with
a KDS 671DP laptop - very nice (see 05 Jul 2002
update below) - PIII 1Ghz (not M probably why the price is so good),
256Meg ram, 20gig hard drive, 8x DVD, modem and LAN, 14.1 TFT display, and Win
XP Pro - and the MicroCenter www.microcenter.com
was 'blowing them out' for $899 = $975 ($20 shipping) delivered including PA
sales tax. Not quite the latest and greatest but the price was hard to
beat for a very nice machine. A friend has an older version of KDS laptop,
and it has worked well for him. KDS is better known for their display monitors -
I have 3 of them. Getting used to the 'touch pad' whereas I would have preferred
an 'eraser head' mouse mover. But with proper Synaptic driver software,
the touch pad is fine. Had to download, from the Synaptic site, proper
drivers for touch pad.
05 Jul 2002 - update to update.
KDS has announced that they are getting out of the notebook business. Thus
KDS might not be such a good buy after all unless price is everything.
Mine still works great, and has a one year warranty. Hopefully I don't
have to 'invoke' it before the year runs out. Hopefully it will last as
long as the Winbook did (3+ years).
01 Oct 2002 - The new KDS laptop had problems with frequent
'blue screens of death' and had boot up problems. Calling KDS was not
quite the help I had expected. 'Run the 'Restore to Factory
Settings' CD and call us in the morning.' I presumed, based on past
experience with my old Winbook laptop, that the problem was a intermittent
cable or something attached to the hard drive. Finally figured out how to
'get into laptop' to the hard drive. Pop the display hinge covers off,
remove the panel just in front of the display, remove 2 screws and lift the
keyboard up and out, and viola - the hard drive is there on the left side.
Tightened some screws which 'holds' the drive's electrical connectors to the
'motherboard' (no 'father board' in this computer), and the problems have
vanished. Windows XP is finally going to get Microsoft some respect in the
computer world. It runs fine, lasts a long time, and has some nice features.
Desktop computers in trucks. Some - OO's with roomy sleepers - prefer
to purchase a desktop computer. The equivalent of the 'dream machine'
above will cost less then $1200 for all the same features and performance.
Just needs more space - a desk or cabinet to install into. The recent lowering
of prices of thin displays - same as laptops - have made the desktop even
more attractive. A particular 'brand' is not terribly important, but
name brands like Dell, Gateway, HP will work fine. I specifically
don't mention Compaq because my prejudice against them goes back to their very
first computer - a real 'piece of shit'. They have the reputation
for high cost and proprietary hardware (only Compaq stuff can be added for
Updates). Though many truck drivers like the laptops that Compaq sells.
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