2007-12-31

Resolutions for 2008

Well, it's that time again. I need to think about what I'd like to do in the next year. To start, let me perform a little bit of a recap from my previous post on this topic.

I said I'd like to do NaNo again, progress on the CraGNo, play with Poser 7 more often, and make a movie. Needless to say, I did NaNoWriMo again, I even won! I did not progress too far on the CraGNo, but I could potentially work on that more this spring, if I don't decide to go crazy and edit my NaNo Novel. Unfortunately, I feel short on my Poser 7 and Movie making goals. I barely touched the camcorder, and now that I've got Leopard on the iMac, I don't even know if Poser 7 runs. Smooth moves, I'd say.

So aside from 1280x800 or 1440x900, what are my resolutions for 2008? Well, for starters, I resolve to do NaNoWriMo again. That one worked out pretty well for me last time, so it's kind of a freebie.

Lame as it sounds, I'd also like to do my best as a 68kMLA forum moderator, a position to which I was very recently appointed. I've kind of been moderating in spirit for a long time, so it's not too different for me. I just have actual authority now when I suggest that people calm down or when I say that something might be a good idea.

Another thing I'd like to do is make sure that I keep on updating UeberWiki, which is recently back from the grave, hosted on my decTOP. The main thing here is to just keep finding random things I like and loading 'em in. UeberWiki is cool because I can just make a page for about anything and drop it on there. I'd also specifically really like to revamp the Gotschland section of the UeberWiki, especially because of the new novel I wrote in November, which kind of changes a lot of things about how Gotschland works.

Something else I've got is a specific idea I've had for awhile, something I need to start planning for very soon, which is the photo-comic. I will probably display it using a PHP webcomic script for the decTOP, or maybe just a series of static pages on my dana site. I've got a few ideas for people I'd like to be in the comic, and I've got a few ideas for situations, mainly involving some things Glenn and I have spoken about in the past. I've got a few other ideas too, but a lot of them depend on me being able to get all of the "cast members" in the right place, at the right time, with my camera. A project for weekends, to be sure. I will have another blog entry about this at a later date.

I would also like to start posting blog entries on a regular basis. If at all possible, I'd like to have a new post ready every Monday. This one's even scheduled to come in before noon on Monday, December 31st.

2007-12-29

Publishing Schedules

One of the things I've noticed about some of my favorite web logs, even personal ones, is that they come out on a fairly regular basis. One of my intents for Strapped to a Desk has been to publish it on a fairly regular basis, my original plan for that was just to always be writing, and then I'd always have something to post to the blog. What ended up happening was a bit different. I kept writing, into a document called NaNoNovel 2007, and so I didn't have anything to publish during November. Between that, and not really having a dedicated blog-writing time, not only has my publishing schedule been sporadic at best, I've somewhat slowed down in my writing.

image So one of my goals for 2008 is to start publishing my blog more often. I'm going to achieve this by just writing more, plus I intend to use a calendar, which will help me keep track of when I've started to write things, and when I intend to finish them. I've already started the calendar, I'm using Windows Calendar on my ThinkPad R61i to keep track of when I start writing things, and when I intend to publish them. My intent is to have something fairly major ready for publishing every Monday, and I've already started filling in Mondays in 2008.

One thing I've definitely noticed is that I think to my blog a lot, or at the very least, I think in things I write that could potentially end up on my blog. Another thing I suppose I would like to do is write some more things that don't get published to the public weblog, but that do get written, primarily as a personal record. It's a need I have because there are a lot of things I see and hear and experience that most people don't need to know about, but that I'd like to have in the future. I may just start writing Word documents into a separate folder for that.

2007-12-27

Mom's House

I just had one of the worst visits anywhere I've ever had. Details may or may not follow.

Visiting Kingman

I've been in Kingman for a few days, at Dad & Brenda's house, and my brother has been here as well. It is very relaxing, even after only a day or two, to be in Kingman. It is exactly what I wanted to do this year, after a stressful semester, and a stressful week after finals, to sit down on the couch in dad's house chatting online and looking at train pictures. I've looked at every single Amtrak and Amtrak California photo on railpics.net

Another side-effect of visiting Kingman was going to work with dad, which I enjoyed well enough before he got DSL there, but I really do like sitting there, somewhere else, and browsing the Internet. It's better for my back I think.

I might also get a haircut while I am here, not sure yet.

The stress of breaks.

I'm mildly unhappy because I had an extraordinarily stressful post-finals week. Unlike my prediction of it being completely stress-free because there was going to be no deadline for leaving, it was more stressful because Megan and Glenn stayed in Gabaldon too, meaning that most of my time outside of work was dedicated to either hanging out at Megan's work, or making sure that Megan and Glenn didn't kill each other.

I realize that there was an expectation from Megan that she and I have some time alone, probably more than we actually did (which was still quite a lot by my standards), but there's also the fact that Jim still lives in the room, and has paid for it, and likewise with Glenn. Not only did Megan not get enough time alone with me, but she and I didn't get enough time alone without anyone, we estimate less than two hours alone time for the whole week, which is a lot less than either of us gets during the semester.

Those various factors led to what turned into an epic breakdown on Friday night, wherein I revealed that I actually wanted to sleep alone for a night, Megan revealed she wouldn't be capable of sleeping in Glenn's room for the night, and I got pissed (needlessly as per Megan) off at Megan and Glenn. Let's just say that neither of them know when to shut up, even if you say "shut up" to them seventeen times repeatedly. I also learned that I'm apparently a rather frightening person when I'm pissed off. Megan and Glenn wouldn't shut up though, Both of them were so stressed, or feeling so superior, that it wasn't an option to just close their mouths and open their ears long enough to realize that the solution to their problem was extraordinarily simple. I  moved one chair sixteen inches to the right, and moved the display we were viewing the movie on eight inches to the right, and all three of us were able to watch the last Real Bout High School DVD. Not too difficult, but some people seem to really enjoy being pissed off for no reason.

At least Megan got The Sims 2 installed on her Sony computer, which we picked up in great condition at Best Buy, and was able to get her people loaded back in fine.

2007-12-24

Lenovo 3000

So, I'm watching ShopNBC.com television, and today they're selling a Lenovo 3000 mobile computer. I've got to admit, I'm impressed that two TV shopping hosts were able to mess up on the specifications and capabilities of a machine so much. There will be many people who buy this thing and will be unhappy with it because they can't figure out how to use it to watch high definition television from the kitchen using what's included in the Lenovo box.

The hosts are a woman who sounds a bit like she is drunk or high, and a man with an annoying voice who is messing up on the facts of the IBM to Lenovo transition for IBM's Think products. To drive his point home, for one segment of the took the 3000 notebook to a kitchen and pulled it out of a drawer. How creative, because, y'know, there weren't PowerBook, iBook and ThinkPad owners doing that since 2000, or since 1994, or earlier.

Not only are the hosts mildly annoying, but apparently this Lenovo 3000 notebook with it's fully epic HD quality 15.4" screen was born out of an agreement between IBM and Lenovo, wherein Lenovo takes over manufacturing IBM computers, and IBM does designs and provides support. I can't think of anything more wrong, of course, the only thing that has gone on is that if they wanted to, Lenovo has the right to print the IBM logo onto ThinkPad notebooks for another year or so, but IBM hasn't been involved with their design or support since the T40-series, which are considered to be the last real IBMs, and which, by the way, I think are more powerful than the Lenovo 3000s offered on this program.

Not that the Lenovo 3000 notebook offered here is necessarily bad, just that it's not a particularly powerful machine, with a 1.6GHz Celeron M, 512mb (free upgrade to 1gig) of ram, and an 80gig hard disc. I think it *might* have had a DVD burner. The 15.4" screen was high def quality though, apparently.

So yeah, too many shopping channels on television here, I say. Although it's extraordinarily entertaining to watch them talk about these mobile computers that are either outright worse than mine, or not much better for more money.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Windows Live Writer

Hi Blog! I've recently found an interesting little utility on the Internet, it's called Windows Live Writer. imageIt's a nifty little Microsoft application that can help manage blog entries. It supports my Blogger account, and it's got the advantage over Word 2007 in that it supports posting images to the blog provider.If it's worked properly, a screen capture of the about window should be to the right of this text.

Oddly enough, I found out about Writer while looking at Microsoft's various products, trying to find out if they've got anything in the way of helpdesk call management/tracking utilities. I was at dad's work today and found out that they use something called Remedy, which is a ticket tracking system also apparently in use at Purdue University. Currently the ACHD uses something that was written by a CS student some years ago, and they're working on a new system, but being overzealous and bored as I am, I started researching additional solutions today, just in case they ever ask me what I'd rather use as a call tracker, or I'm tasked with starting my own helpdesk. (Unlikely, but you never know, eh?)

It looks like neither Microsoft nor Lotus provides one of these solutions, although I'm not finished looking at solutions, and it *is* possible that Microsoft has such a solution that they aren't advertising too hard, or it's built into Dynamics somewhere, which would make it difficult for me to find, I'll admit.

I will eventually start researching various open source solutions but I don't personally have enough of a setup to test a full call tracker on the decTOP. (Which by the way, is all set up and running! Just be patient with it, because it's definitely not the fastest machine ever, especially with the MediaWiki-based ueberWIKI as its homepage.)

2007-12-20

It’s Three A.M.

So… It's three a.m. Yes, that's righteo, three a.m. What does this mean for all of you in blog land, or Facebook-land? Well, nothing really. Three a.m. has a significant meaning to me though, I suppose you could say. My junior year of high school, I had attempted most of the year to help create a school newspaper, and my efforts were finally realized when on the very last day of the spring Semester, I handed out copies of the underground magazine I'd created, "It's Three a.m. …" Not the best thing ever, but it worked and I did really enjoy creating it. It included some things I wrote, something another student in one of Mr. Simmons' classes had written, and a few things Ashley had written, plus there were some random photographs that I'd taken sprinkled in, including the one epic shot of Pam, with then-sophomoric Joey and Ashley sitting around.

It was quite an effort, and if I do say so myself, the thing didn't look so bad either, and ever since I've been attempting to do another one, although I haven't actually done so. One of the things I'm considering doing is just plopping some of my photos and some of my blog entries into an inDesign file and offering it for download as a PDF. It wouldn't be much, but you could return to me with the fact that the original one wasn't very much either.

What does somebody include in an underground magazine anyway? I suppose I'd want to include some technology news, thoughts about my job, some photos, and I'd need to find other people who would be willing to contribute some things, I'm sure Megan has artwork she'd like to put in, and I think Jim was going to write an UeberFriends short story, which would be fully epic.

In other news, I'm sitting here at the iMac typing this out mainly because Megan wanted some time to lie on a bed and daydream, which is cool, because I wanted some time to sit at the iMac and do some reading and writing. Also, I cleaned the room today, which I think is important to mention because the room had gotten very, very messy.

2007-12-18

decTOP

Well, I suppose it is time to let the world know that I’ve got the decTOP and it’s been set up, I did it last Friday at work, and I’ve gotten to know my way around Debian Linux and its apt system (which I manage using aptitude) fairly well.

For those who don’t know, the decTOP is an adorable little low-cost computer system. In a way, it’s what e-machines probably should have aspired to create. In another freaky way, it’s a lot like the technology eMachines was using in 1998-1999. It’s got a 366MHz AMD Geode processor, comes with 128mb of memory (Mine’s upgraded to 512) and a 10 gig hard disc. Aside from that, it has VGA graphics, AC97-based audio, and a usb Ethernet adapter, which works, although I would’ve liked onboard Ethernet.

Linux itself runs with acceptable speed, somehow it almost always does. The apache web server seems to dish out static HTML pages relatively quickly, but the real test of the decTOP for me is how well it handles an app like mediaWiki, which I use for the old ueberWiki which I’m eventually going to put back up. Unfortunately, it handles mediaWiki quite poorly, it currently lacks any decent caching software for PHP, and its slow processor makes it difficult to want to let it actually process every page on its own, especially if ueberWiki ever gets back up and starts getting hits again.

I suppose that that particular question is one for later, and if anything, it won’t be super-difficult to migrate back to a Mac or PC server from the decTOP if absolutely necessary, although I like the “uses almost no electricity” aspect of the decTOP. Plus there’s the whole thing about how its small size allows me to bring it from home to the university and back relatively easily, in comparison with, let’s say just for example, something huge like one of the surplusDells or the PowerMac G3.

For now I’ll move the ueberWiki over and if it becomes a huge problem, I’ll figure out how to move the ueberWiki back onto the iMac I suppose.

2007-12-12

Snow, Life & Tech Updates

Late as I know it is, here's my blog entry about snow. I really loved seeing it the first time this year, it was way overdue for sure.

Much as I love the snow, sometimes it's got some negative side-effects. For example, until my shift today, there was a large chunk of ice on the ground in front of the East entrance of the South Learning Assistance Center. I love large chunks of ice, until they prevent the door from closing, or they prevent me from making it all the way to work safely. Another disadvantage of the snow is that all of Cardiac Hill is covered in the snow, and not just the snow, but the accompanying ice. My heart has jumped around more times lately as a result of the near death experience of almost falling over than for anything else.

Also worthy of noting is that today is Meaghan's last night as McConnell, and it's also her Christmas Eve.

Other than that, finals have been going moderately well. I'm expecting a few more Bs this semester, but with luck, some of them will be As. The BIO100 final I'm taking with Meaghan is tomorrow, that'll be fun. After that, I'm done with finals, and I'm hoping that my packages (the decTOP and the A21m) will be actually delivered tomorrow. I intend to bring the decTop to work on Friday, so I can start installing Debian Linux on it. Once I'm done installing it, I intend to attempt making sure that I can start installing MySQL databases and wiki information on it. I hope that UeberWiki and UeberCompWikiChan will transfer over easily, since those are the two biggest things I've been missing since I installed Mac OS X 10.5 on the iMac.

2007-11-30

Thoughts on Improvement

Recently, I’ve been faced with the challenge of improving. Improvement works in a funny way. At first, improving is easy, it comes naturally, and it feels weird not to have improvement. Shortly thereafter though, Improvement becomes something almost to be avoided. I’ve noticed this mainly because I feel like I may have been avoiding improvement.

Improvement avoidance comes in at a certain time, right after you get comfortable with where you are. Let’s take UTV62.com as an example. I had gotten into a groove with it, spending only few hours on it every week, to rip the NAULive! DVD and put the new episode on the web site, with the occasional dose of “removing old stuff from the web site because we’ve reached our quota.” Doing it this way is fine in some ways, it lets me focus on doing the NAULive! episodes really nicely, but as a result of having gotten myself into that rut, the UTV62 homepage has found itself in similar rut. It has become stale, when it was once fresh and kept moderately up to date.

Another area for Improvement has been my relationship with Megan. The problem here is that I’m simply not sure what the next step should be. I know that there is one, but what is it? On the other hand, what I have to wonder is whether or not that’s a situation that even demands improvement. If the relationship is fine where it is, then maybe I should wait on improvement until it becomes “not so fine.”

I’ve also noticed a bit of an improvement rut at the helpdesk. We spent the first half of the semester continuously improving, and now that it’s near the end of the semester, improvement seems impossible. I am tempted to say that I’ve even seen some people’s performance slip downhill, because they’re comfortable with where they’re at.

I’ve decided that this is one of the main reasons I am here at Northern Arizona University, taking classes, and going beyond what is required of me by joining student organizations such as UTV62, and having a job at the helpdesk. By doing this, I’m improving, and that’s what I need to remember when I am in danger of getting into an improvement rut.

Epic Photo Lab Night

(This is posted a day later than it was written)

Last night, I had what you might refer to as an epic photo lab night. I arrived at about 3:15 p.m. because I was luckily very early in getting finished with my BIO100L work, and then stayed until about 9:30. I printed more than five different compositions for the photography project, which was awesome because I needed a least that many. This way, I can eliminate some of the less desirable compositions.

I’ve decided that six and a quarter hours in the photo lab is a bit too much, and I’ve still got a bit of the headache from last night, and I even spent a good chunk of my time in the photo lab applying copious amounts of HeadOn.

Additionally, if I really wanted to, I could actually begin mounting the film-based photos today. Of course, I am going to wait until I get the digital photos back from Photographic Works, hopefully sooner than later, I need to find out how to start using them.

Another thing I need to do I start considering gifts for the various people in my life. I may print some extra photos for some of them, but I am not certain yet exactly what I’ll do.

2007-11-27

Psychology of Colors

Today I took an odd bus ride, mainly because I didn't feel like walking in the cold from the comm building back to Gabaldon, in my flip flops. (basically, I keep running out of socks, I need to unpack some more it seems.) They've got a new bus for the NAU bus line apparently, and I think it either is supposed to be, or was at one point in time an airport shuttle. The door is in the middle of the body, instead of up front, or instead of there being two doors.

The most odd thing about it though was the eerie green color on the inside of the bus. They used fluorescent tubes that had a plastic cover with a green film, casting the eerie green glow. I wonder if there's a specific reason the manufacturer of the bus would include that, or even have it as an option. Do people who ride airport shuttles get angry? Does the green give them a sense of calmness added to the feeling of "going", as though to make them feel like they aren't late?

2007-11-25

More Memory

Today I received and installed the new memory in the ThinkPad. As you'll recall, this is a Core2Duo/1.5 and it previously had 1.5 gigs of memory. It also had a GMA X3100 Intel integrated graphics accelerator. I dropped a 2-gig stick of PC2-5300 in, and this thing now flies. With an explorer window, OneNote, Firefox, Google Talk, XChat, Ruckus, ThunderBird and this word document, plus a bunch of system tray icons and the sidebar running, it's using just about 56% of the system memory. I quit using sidebar before I started using the Internet on this machine, and I am quite impressed with the ram usage on this thing now.

Needless to say, if there's one upgrade anybody is thinking of doing to their computer, let's just confirm that the best one to do is memory. I am even thinking that at some point in time, I would not mind switching to 64-bit Vista and putting another 2 gig stick in, for a total of 4 gigs, but it's not a very high priority for me. By doing 2gig+1gig, I miss out on the speed benefit of having matched ramwith integrated graphics, but I don't mind so much because of how well it's running now anyway. Although I'm tempted to think about the increase in my WEI score if I were to drop a fresh install of Vista X64 on here, with matched 2gig sticks.

In other news, I'm not behind on my novel. I'm also not ahead, but I'm not behind. In other other news, the flash kit, and some other things arrived for my camera. The lightsphere thing looks really cool, and the flash shines very brightly with the rechargeable batteries.

2007-11-12

Spring 2008 Registration

Well, I've registered for spring 2008. I've got German 202, PHO382, History 102, Online VC251, and CIS120. I also want to get EMF252-4 again, and I would really like to sign up for PHO381, but VC251 was a prerequisite for that. I will ask an advisor or one of the photo faculty members if I can sign up for that anyway. Overall, it's pretty good and without the EMF and additional Photo class, I've got 16 credits, which is more units than I have this semester, plus I'm working on whacking out some more of those liberal studies requirements, which is always a good thing.

It looks like I've got almost exclusively Tuesday/Thursday classes, except of course for my German class, but that's earlier in the day next semester, at 9:10 instead of 10:20. I'll probably have to start going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting up in preparation for 8am work or classes, and just do homework in the morning. Of course, I've promised myself that a very long time and it's never happened, so we'll see how far I get in regularizing my sleep schedule.

In other news, Megan and I went on a date last Friday to Olive Garden, and then watched a movie for a bit at her room. Then I worked Saturday morning, then Meaghan's barbecue was Saturday afternoon, then I actually got to sleep a bit Saturday night, had to work Sunday evening, went to Chili's with Megan, Glenn & Douglas last night, and worked again at 8am this morning. My week continues like this until this coming Friday, when I might be able to sleep after work. Ah well, I suppose it's better than doing nothing.

2007-11-09

20,000!

Yeah, I've reached 20,000.

2007-11-03

Night Over, Broken Phone

Today, I worked a shift for one of my coworkers, because I quite like the Saturday morning shift, and because I'm a nice person like that. It was great until I realized that it was so great because the agent phone out in the lab was broken. (Saturday morning works out in the lab a lot like the overnight shifts do.) I tried a different cable but it didn't work, so naturally it's a switch problem, or the phone itself is broken. I called Mel and got permission to try a different cable, but that didn't help.

Anyway, I'm back here in the office working out the rest of my shift instead of in the lab. It's not much of a difference because there are so few people here anyway, but it does make me say things like "wow, I can't wait for the lab aides to get here" which I don't say all that often.

On another note, Megan asked me to stay with her last night because of her scare from yesterday involving some creepy guy who likes entering random rooms. It was the first time this year I've slept on a low bed, and I do say that I miss it ever-so-slightly. Also of note, we can sleep on the same twin mattress successfully if we don't have any additional padding. And no, nothing other than sleeping happened. Well, we did watch "Meet the Robinsons" which is an amazing movie, just so you know.

Also, my NaNoWriMo wordcount is about 7,300 now. Pretty good I think, but I am totally looking forward to increasing that, instead of the word count of my blog.

2007-11-01

NaNo Started!

Well, it's started and I'm already on-schedule! My NaNo wordcount is now, as per Word 2007, at approximately 1800 words. It's nice because I am busier this semester so I'd like to get as far ahead as I can. So far, the ThinkPad is holding up fairly well, considering it's running Windows Vista on only 1 gigabyte of memory. I had to restart it by force this morning, but since then it's been behaving great and I am well on my way to winning this year's NaNo.

In other news, Last night was Amber's Halloween party at "The Love Shack." It was great, and I went with Megan and Meaghan (although I was with Megan the whole time, and Meaghan was having more fun with our coworkers.) I'm glad that Halloween comes only once per year, because dying my hair, doing up the costume, wearing makeup, among other things. It was great fun and many people complemented me on my costume, but I maintain my happiness at not having to do that too often. Let's just say that undoing Meaghan's hair product involved ripping out about half of my hair in the shower last night.

Anyway, off to a great start this November, and so far I'm only about a quarter dead!

2007-10-28

Photo Organization

After installing Leopard and playing with everything it's got, I got bored so I decided it might be time to take a look at Aperture.

For people who don't know, or who haven't had the latest updates, I've nowgot more than 12,000 total photos, not including versions. (That number does include one or two events that were accidentally duplicated when I started my Bridge-Photoshop organizing system last year. I am going to be working at some point on eliminating those.)

What this means is that photos are difficult to find, especially since I haven't been tagging or keywoarding them at all, so I can't exactly go through and search for "Megan" or "7300." Tonight I've just started surveying the damage, but as I have more free moments, I'm going to start finding the best photos and starring them, as well as creating smaller projects out of my initial two groupings. For those who don't know, when I first switched back to Aperture, I had one folder, with many smaller folders, totaling about 10,500 photos.

The maximum amount of images an Aperture project can hold is 10,000 images, so I just split the groups of photos down into "older" (Kodak-era) photos and "newer" (dSLR Era) photos. It was a good approximate grouping, and now I'm going through and taking out specific events, and seasons. Right now for example, I have a project for Fall 2007, for KHS Graduation, for the 2006 talent show, for 2007 summer in Kingman, plus my August trip to Flag, my October trip to Tucson, my Summer trip to Tucson, and I'm going to start putting some of my Real Estate adventures into a folder, and I'm sure as soon as I get done with seasons, I'm going to be making albums for individual events.

Another part of this project is to find more of my older photos that I'd like to share with the world. Believe it or not, there are good photos that I took either before I signed up for Flickr, or during periods where I was not paying attention to it.

Also worth mentioning is that I've given thought to getting a pro Flickr account. It's $25/year, and the bandwidth limit goes away, my photostream will show an unlimited number of photos, and I can show really big, archival-quality JPEGs. I'm currently at about 300 or 400 photos total on Flickr, and I have reached 97% of my bandwidth limit for October, uploading some of those nice archival-quality JPEGs that I do so love. I'll probably get Flickr for a year or two once I actually get that RAID1 hard disc for my Aperture library.

2007-10-27

Using Leopard

Well, I received my Leopard on Friday and ran the standard Upgrade installer. Everything went off without a hitch, it's almost as though I've been running Leopard this whole time. Spaces, the unified interface, and Time Machine are all great. The only problem I've experienced is an issue with the BOINC client, which I use to do SETI@Home, but that's not a big deal at all.

Spaces is amazing, I currently have six of them, one for file management and music, the next for chatting, the next for web browsing, the next for eMail, the next for "productivity" and the next for "creative" type apps. Although, I may rearrange all of those again at some point, to put web/email back with chat, and break down creativity a bit, or return to only four spaces. For now, I've got bigger chat and Internet windows than I've had before, and I don't feel the need to

I am very happy about the unification of the interface too; it is something I was complaining about for a very long time. Yeah, a few people's visual cues are gone, but as somebody who uses Windows as well as Mac OS X on a regular basis, my visual cues (and indeed, keyboard shortcut usage) are already out the window.

Time Machine is my new main backup scheme; I went ahead and formatted my 200gigabyte "backup" volume for use as a Time Machine volume. I may eventually get another drive to do the superduper backups to, on a weekly or monthly basis, but for now the time machine has got me covered well enough that I'm comfortable. (Now all I need is the raid1 box for my Aperture library…)

Now we just need to see how this thing holds up in heavy use. It looks like it was optimized for leaving big/heavy apps open on a regular basis, especially since the "new, brighter app-is-running indicator" is so difficult to see under normal conditions. Plus with Spaces, not everything is necessarily immediately visible. Earlier today I had Aperture running for several hours when it didn't need to be, because it was in another space, and the app running indicator didn't stand out very well.

Overall, a great new release, they've tidied up a lot of things, and there are significantly more things in this release that make me happy than unhappy, which is pretty good.

2007-10-25

Prepping for NaNo!

It's almost here! It's the end of October, and I'm comfortable with using my ThinkPad in a variety of situations, and I've got an amazing word processor, and I'm ready.

That's right, it's nearly NaNoWriMo again! Although I've got to admit, I'm starting this year with a tad bit fewer ideas than I had last year, but hopefully this means I'll be able to get more. I've got a few ideas, a few character names and of course some locations, as well as a lot of dares I'll be doing this year – I just need to start writing on November first, and hopefully not stop (more than 50,000 words later!) until the end of November. This December/January, I may even take on the task of editing my creation!

2007-10-23

Avenue Q

So, I know that this post is very late, but it's worth noting anyway that Megan and I went to Tucson last weekend to see some of her friends and watch Avenue Q. The show was basically amazing, there was more and better music than on the CD, as well as some plot points that you really don't get just from listening to the cd. It was really cool to see the show in person with the other people, arranged very similarly to the original Broadway setup too, just with different actors.

Before the show, was Donald's football game, which was a decent photography opportunity, and after the show was a trip to Takamatzu (sp?), which is one of Megan's favorite foot spots in Tucson. The ways there and back were okay, except for the whole thing about the traffic in phoenix, and on the way there when Megan and Glenn freaked out at each other because of a stop we had to make in Casa Grande.

One thing I noticed is that whenever Glenn wants to do anything with friends, he has to have them come get him, and they bring him home. I'm giving Megan's mom points for noticing this, but I've got to admit that in my universe, it's always been a given that the parental units of both parties share the responsibilities of child transport. And while Glenn, Megan and I aren't exactly children anymore, it's worth noting that over the weekend, doing that would really have helped us, especially when on Sunday we were running late and Glenn's mother freaked out because he left without warning.

Overall, it was a great weekend, aside from the whole thing about "almost no sleep." Megan experienced the very-little-sleep even harder than I did, because she was apparently faced with a few more than normal adverse conditions at work. (That is, of course, to say nothing of my busiest-shift-ever at the helpdesk.) Oh, and there was the carpal tunnel, which Megan seems to be getting really hard, I need to teach her how to fix that, the wrist massaging thing really does work.

2007-10-16

Leopard!

Sometimes I wonder whether or not any given piece of technology will actually be worth my time, will actually be something into which I should look for good qualities and useful abilities.

Not today however; as I'll admit I've dived right into pre-ordering Mac OS X 10.5, "Leopard." I can't say what I do and don't like about it yet, it's very early for that. I can however, say that I'm not impressed by Apple's pricing scheme. Retail Leopard is $129 as always, and Educational Leopard is $116, which is about twice what Apple has charged for Educational copies of Mac OS X in the past.

Could I get it for less at the NAU Bookstore? Probably, like iWork and iLife, I could get it for much less if I waited for it to be in stock at the NAU Bookstore. But when will that be? Purportedly, with having preordered it, I'll get Leopard on October 26th, the day it will be released. Not too bad given my existing track record, where I purchased Mac OS X 10.3 Panther only the day after it was released. Just that this time, there will be no cool giveaways or Apple Store bag for Cory.

I'm going to admit, some of the features of Leopard to which I am most looking forward are Time Machine and Spaces. I'm looking forward to Time machine because of my awful track record with data preservation, and Spaces because of my awful track record with window management. The potential to keep every application or group of application in its own area is great. I can already imagine having a UTV62.com space, a chatting space, a music space, etc.

I'm also interested in the new iChat, Mail, and iCal applications, and would also love to see more of the integration between the Leopard client OS and the Leopard Server system. I've heard that setting up managed workgroups is much easier this time around, but I'm only going to consider it significantly so if it's actually easier than using Windows NT 4.0 or Windows XP and Server 2003.

Anyway, I'm writing about it as though I already have it, or like I'll have enough machines to test its group capabilities, which isn't true in either respect. I did preorder it though, so I will have it eventually.

2007-10-11

Best Buy

Last night, Megan and I went to Best Buy, where I was basically in wonder-joy land for a nearly an hour. We looked at such things as blu-ray players and high definition televisions, as well as hard disc and high def camcorders (but not too many high def hard disc camcorders), computers with monitors that can rotate, and some video games.

Megan seemed to enjoy the camcorders, the iPods and the video games the most; I'll admit it's certainly entertaining to see Megan play the singing game. I did try the singing game "singstar" but I don't think I'm very good at it. I actually think I did very badly at it, but that's just because the game can tell you whether or not you're "above" or below" the proper level, note, or whatever. I was fairly consistently above or below.

My favorite parts were the camcorders, the cameras and the computers. Luckily I didn't accidentally buy another computer, but it's always interesting to see what the vendors are doing, and it was nice to see their products in a retail setting, because most of the vendors have websites awful enough that it's not even worth trying to check up on their pricing, and the peripherals they offer like monitors and keyboards/mice.

Anyway, I bought a PC card adapter for CF cards and a 2 gig CF card, upon arriving home after spending a few hours with Megan in Wilson, I tried them out to find that they worked gloriously in the ThinkPad 760CD. Now the issue is just finding the best way to transfer data to/from the card and my newer computers. What I may need/want to do is find a DOS program that can create .img files based on the entire hard disc, and write them back out from the CF card, it would be a fairly easy way to switch back and forth between a few different hard disc setups. Plus, they don't even all need to be Windows – it would be awesome to get OPENSTEP 4.2 or a Linux/BSD variant set up and handy. I don't know, once I find an OS setup that I really like, how often I'll change – but it's nice to know that I could use a different OS on the 760CD every day if I really wanted to.

2007-10-07

Overnight Considerations

Third and final random note for tonight's sting at the Cowden Hall Lab. The main thing is that I need to make sure I've properly cleaned myself, and that I've gotten enough sleep the day before to stay awake the whole time. I'm currently in here, with a bit of a headache, but luckily it was a pretty slow night. I've given myself permission to play music and that's helped a lot, especially since I'm playing some of John Tesh's more exciting stuff.

Bringing a mobile computer was an excellent idea, it allowed me to get my own things done at my own pace, although I'm not so sure I'll actually want to bring both mobiles next time, unless I'm certain I'll be able to accomplish more on that front. Although, I think next time I'd be able to get more done with that, purely as a result of having made more progress with it in my non-working hours.

Not the best time I've ever had staying up late, but worth my while given the pay that's involved, and definitely interesting, as something to say I've done and blogged about.

ThinkPad Install Disks

I've got to admit that it's kind of annoying to create operating system reinstallation media. I'm currently doing that for the ThinkPad 760CD, in an effort to eventually reformat the system and hopefully be able to upgrade the operating system to Windows 95. In theory, I should just be able to "make the install set" by writing an image out to floppy, then copying that floppy to my flash drive using the other computer. Unfortunately, it seems that mid-set failures in creating the floppy are happening. I'll get it eventually, which just doesn't happen to be coinciding with "today" right now.

Another thing I've noticed today is that all of the users seem to want to use the computers in the little hidden room by default. There are only three working machines in there, although I'll admit that 4 of the 5 machines back there have the nicest monitors in this lab. I was extraordinarily tempted earlier today to swap one of those monitors with the monitor we've got at the lab desk here, which I'll admit isn't that great.

There's also the one monitor here in the lab that doesn't match the other student machines. It's unbelievably annoying, actually. Ah well, there are inconsistencies like that all over South Lab, I suppose I'm just paying less attention down there, since there are more machines, and I don't have to look at most of the student machines anyway.

… and I've got four more hours yet!

Floppies

This is one of potentially many blog entries from tonight's overnight shift, just as an advanced warning. I found a small stash of old students' floppies here in the Cowden lab, and after looking at least one of them up in LDAP (degree completed status), I decided it would probably be safe to take a look at some of them, and format them so I can work on transferring data to and from the ThinkPad 760CD.

Unfortunately though, it turns out that most of these floppies are old and impossible to use, I started the night thinking that the OptiPlex GX520 here next to me might have a bad floppy drive, but quickly moved to thinking it might've been the TP760CD, Although I am now favoring the possibility that the floppies themselves are bad – It's possible that I'll just have to get my own floppies.

The only real bad thing about that is that I just need one good floppy for tonight, to install the PCMCIA tools on the ThinkPad so I can format the MicroDrive I got today, with the intent of actually using it to backup the data from the 760CD onto the R61i. Failing that, I may just buy some new floppies, or a null serial cable and one of those USB to Serial adapters.

Instead of backing up the data from the ThinkPad's hard disc, I would love to be able to just pop in an alternate drive, but since I'm not made of money-for-eBay (yet) I'll just work on backing up the important stuff the old fashioned way.

2007-10-05

Sleeping Schedules

I've noticed lately that I'm having a problem adhering to any kind of real sleeping schedule. It hasn't been a big problem in the past, but it is now starting to become a little bit of a problem. Thursday morning I overslept a bit, and although I did make it fine to my class, I am worried that if this gets any further out of whack, I'll not only have issues waking up, but I'll have issues actually making it to classes, and I wouldn't want to ruin my record of having extraordinarily good attendance, or in cases where the attendance isn't perfect, being nearly dead.

Aside from that, the sleeping schedule being messed up also causes me general discomfort during the day, wherein I'm generally not very good at doing my job, or I start nodding off between calls. Luckily after some water and a few calls, I'm not doing too bad, so at least that wasn't too bad. Although I'll admit to having been so out of it this morning that I actually got my door code wrong on just one digit, not even a trailing one.

As with many other things, I'll figure it out eventually. It may not improve for a short while though, what with my first-ever overnight shift coming this Saturday night. I'll have to post a blog entry about that one, for sure.

2007-10-03

Film & Digital

I recently got the opportunity to shoot an assignment for my PHO285 class in digital form. I still had to turn in a print in black and white, but I was definitely excited for the opportunity to do something with the digital camera, and I must say that I did immensely enjoy working in the studio, with the digital camera.

I brought both ThinkPads along. The 760CD was my subject, and the R61i was my helperPuter. I did the tethered shooting thing where RAW files are recorded right onto the hard disc of the ThinkPad, instead of shooting and gathering later. It's actually a rather nice way to get it done, since I can see the histograms of everything I'm shooting, and make a decision about whether or not I'll need to re-shoot. Add to that niceness, is the fact that the studio has amazing tripods and nice lighting capabilities, so I can do some good lighting without having to burn anything. Plus, as a result of the amazing tripods, I can do really long exposures with the aperture closed down, to get great depth of field.

Another great relief comes from the fact that I've already got the assignment done, even though it isn't due until the 9th. I may even start the next assignment early, or use some of my new extra time to go to the photo lab and reprint one of my earlier assignments.

Relieved as I may be about my Photo assignments right now, I do have to take some time to consider exactly how I've been storing my digital photos up to this point. Right now, they are on XIMETA, the 80-Gigabyte external hard disc that I formerly used as a cold storage drive. Over the summer, this drive had a few scares, so I've got most of the collection also duped over onto the 200gig drive that I intended to use as a full-drive backup for the iMac.

I'll have to take a look at that situation again, but I think I will probably get a new external drive for photos, and use the 200gig drive for full-system backups of the iMac, and then for time machine when Leopard comes out. If my understanding of Time Machine is correct then it will be a good idea to have some extra space on the time machine volume, so I can keep a full-system backup, as well as the versions of files that Time Machine is purportedly purposed for. I will also be thinking about potential backup options for the ThinkPad. I need to try out the ThinkVantage setup, because it supposedly has a function that lets you back up the entire system to DVDs, but I'm not certain of the best process for this. Sounds like a good time to read the documents.

Yellow Bikes

Today, on the way from the Student Union to Wilson, Megan had to walk her bike, so an NAU staff member pointed out to me that I could ride the yellow bike with her. So I did. The particular bike was very tall, but it was about the right size for me anyway.

It's actually a very cool idea, and a good mode of transport for those of us who either don't have our own bicycles here, or don't feel the need to futz around with our own bicycles just for getting places on-campus. I left the bike in front of Wilson today while visiting Megan, although I am thinking of riding it further to the Wettaw building so I can get to BIO100L quickly.

My only complaint so far is that the first bike I tried was actually missing its chain and the red sign informing of the purpose of the bike, but I suppose it's to be expected so early in the program, especially with less than 100 bikes in circulation, that some of 'em would develop such problems. The other thing is that they're all used bikes to begin with, so they've got their own problems of various sorts.

It's not perfect, but sometimes, it's more convenient than waiting for a bus, and it's faster than walking up or down Cardiac Hill to get to or from some of the popular South Campus locations, such as the Business, SBS and Engineering buildings.

2007-09-29

Legit Software

I'm sad to admit that I'm actually surprised at how much legal software I've got here on the new ThinkPad. Windows Vista is legal on it, and I have now got my legal copy of Adobe Creative Suite (1) on here, and last night I found and took advantage of a pretty good deal on Microsoft Office 2007, the Ultimate Edition, straight from Microsoft, for $80usd. So… here I am on the ThinkPad, with all legal music and all legal software. It's cool, and it was surprisingly affordable, especially given that this used my Windows software collection, which is, as we all know, extensive and varied. I like this setup though, especially since it allows me to move some of the responsibility away from the iMac, which I want to be my graphics/gaming computer.

On another note, I really do quite love Microsoft Office OneNote 2007, I've already started using it for notes for my classes, and I intend to keep using it for other things, such as keeping track of tasks, and other pieces of information I want to have handy. It'll definitely be something I use on a regular basis while I'm doing NaNoWriMo and other similar projects, I think.

Speaking of NaNo, I've got a bit of an idea, and I'm working on developing it a bit more through the end of September and into October. Hopefully by mid-October I should actually be ready to start writing, although what I'll do then is just start plot-sequencing onto notecards or some similar media. (like OneNote, since I'll be using the computer all the time anyway.)

In other news, I think I am going to expand my collection of DVD-RW media, I'd like to be able to use them to back up the ThinkPad, which means I should need about 30 total, maybe fewer. It'd be something I'd do not-too-often, maybe monthly full-system backups onto DVD-RW and weekly or nightly backups of just the changes onto the 40gig drive in the external enclosure. We'll see.

2007-09-25

Fire Alarm

Well, it's happened. Gabaldon Hall has had a fire alarm that I've been here for. Apparently, according to Jim, it has actually happened multiple times, but this is the first time I've been here for one. It was about midnight, and luckily it didn't seem too serious, although it was quite interesting. Although, I didn't see Meaghan or Glenn, presumably they either were elsewhere, or just didn't come out. Oh well.

2007-09-24

Epic Song

Jim was browsing 7-Chan today, and we discovered this most-epic song. Here is a YouTube video of it.



I love the Internet.

In other news, I discovered something called Ruckus. It's kind of stupid and kitschy at first, until you realize how much awesome, free music can be attained from it.

ThinkPads

Well, I suppose it is time once-again to update the ol' Blog. Of course, since my previous update, many things have transpired, all of which I would desperately love to let the world know.

But my time is purportedly more important than updating the blog everything minor (or major) happens in my life, even if it's one of those things that I consider to be of utmost importance.

One of the things for which I especially feel the need to update my blog is whenever my arsenal of computers is updated or changed, or I experience some major computing difficulty. (Silly dead hard discs.) In the past week, two major computing-related events have happened.

The first major event was that I got a ThinkPad. It's an old one, from mid-1995, a ThinkPad 760CD, which has a Pentium 90 or Pentium 120 processor, 8 megabytes of memory, and a 1.2 gigabyte hard disc. It's a nice little machine, has an okay keyboard, it was in amazing condition when I got it, and it's got a working battery, that yields about 3 hours of runtime, including fairly frequent hard disc access for things like opening and saving files, and freaking out trying to figure out where OS/2 Warp 3 puts some command I wanted. It feels like a very durable little machine, and the battery life on it is amazing. OS/2 Warp 3 isn't even that unusable as an operating system on it, and it does have some cool features like a "notepad" app that keeps groups of "pages," in what basically amounts to a book of notes and things, It's definitely a nifty notion, and I like the idea, but it's somewhat outdated, and it's difficult to move that data to a newer computer or put it online.

The second major event of which I will write, is that I got a ThinkPad. No, I'm not entering some crazy time warp where I repeat the same day over and over again. I got a second ThinkPad. It's a much newer one, and I do think I got a pretty good deal on it. I was at Staples with Megan, and naturally started wandering around, and the ThinkPad was there. It's the low end model, but it's at the bottom of a very high end series of computers, touted for their amazing durability and reliability. It was one of the machines I was already looking at buying, and after seeing the specs and the price, with both an instant reduction and a rebate, it was extraordinarily tempting. So I went ahead and got it, the Pismo is falling apart anyway, and the other ThinkPad, while a novel little thing, isn't exactly an effective machine when it comes to moving data in and out.

I did get a warranty from Staples, but I think I am going to go ahead and call Lenovo and see if they've got a warranty, if they do I will probably cancel the warranty from Staples. After the rebate, this machine will come to about $700, almost $200 cheaper than I could've gotten it for straight from Lenovo, even with the Educational discount.

It's not the slim X61 or the mighty T61, but it's got approximately the same computing power, and I don't mind the extra bit of chunkiness anyway. An added benefit is that this is a model that's got the ThinkPad RollCage, which is a nifty implement that will hopefully keep this thing running a long time.

Well, I'm sure there's more, but I've been sitting on this post for nearly three days. I've got to post it eventually.

2007-09-15

Word 2007

Today, I'm working the desk in the South LAC as well as the ACHD phones. This certainly provides an interesting opportunity, as I am now having some time up close and personal (for the first time) with Microsoft Office 2007. I would still like to get my own copies of Vista and Office 2007, but at the very least, this is proving to be an interesting foray.

It'll be the first time since its release that I've had Word 2007 opened for more than a few minutes. I find it interesting, actually that the first thing I find in Word 2007 is the blog post function. I can see the usefulness though, it's a nice simplified view that provides mainly the functionality that I would need/want while writing a blog post. I can see actually, how somebody doing this for a living might want something like this.

One of the biggest changes is the ribbon and that new Office button. The ribbon provides what could be an excellent and much simpler interface to Word functionality. Although, it could also confuse a lot of veteran office users to no end. Plus, with no "traditional" menus such as File and Edit, I happen to have received several "how do you print?" questions about Office 2007. Once I got over myself and my Office 2003/2004 expertise, I realized that this is a great program. Presumably, it's suitemates in the Office 2007 systems are also worth their weight, but I haven't tried them yet.

I suppose this means that I am holding out, and instead of switching all of my office tasks over to Apple's new iWork '08 suite, I am going to be looking at Office 2007 and Office 2008 more closely. I am even considering just only using a PC for Office tasks, were I to get a newer mobile computer that happens to have the ability to run Windows. (Thinkpad T61, R61 or X61!)

Another interesting tidbit is that the monitors here at the S-LAC can be raised pretty high up. I can see how for somebody concerned with ergonomics, or rotating the display, that would be a pretty important little tidbit. It is accomplished on these (and other similar Dell LCD monitors) by pressing the button on the back of the base, and lifting the display up.

Also: I've linked my blog site to the blog of one of my online friends, Aeroraptor.

2007-09-13

Of Pismos and ThinkPads.

The Pismo has developed a few more lines on the screen. It's now got a vertical red bar 3 pixels wide in the middle of the screen, and just a few pixels to the left of that, a 1px white line. Add to that, the screen's hinge hasn't been getting any tighter in the past few months. (Although the lower half is, in general, quite reliable it seems. :P)

I was therefore thinking about possible replacement of the Pismo, just because it turns out that having a fairly reasonably-well working mobile computer is actually extraordinarily helpful.

And then "The Eternal Question" popped up. Would a Pismo replacement be used or new?

I don't need all the functionality of a brand new laptop, so something even as old as the Pismo would be just fine, but I do wonder whether or not the added cost of a new one would make it worth waiting longer and getting a new one.

I suppose the benefit of a brand new laptop is that (unlike a used laptop), I'm here in 2007 at the very beginning of its life, instead of here in 2007 possibly at the close of what could have been a very long life.

Recently I asked somebody online about an IBM ThinkPad T20 mobile computer they were offering for sale. It was a fairly upgraded unit, having 512mb of memory and a 40 gigabyte hard disc, as well as a CDRW/DVDROM Combo drive, and some PCMCIA expansion cards. However, what I observed from this is that older ThinkPad computers are inordinately expensive, purely because of their longevity I suppose, similar to how overpriced some PowerBook G3 models are, I suppose.

The funny thing here, I suppose, was that if I could afford the T20 at its asking price, I was already more than a third the way to a newer laptop computer. (A Lenovo ThinkPad even.) Unexpected, but welcome benefits include not having to buy extra batteries straightaway, less fumbling with expansion options to do the same things, and more room and speed for more, and more sophisticated programs. Of course, there's also the whole thing about it lasting for so long.

On the other hand, getting another older laptop (even the insanely priced T20, or an insanely priced PowerBook G3) saves me a little bit of money, ensures I'll stay on-task while in classes, plus the whole thing is less valuable in case it's lost or something else awful happens.

Plus, with a new laptop, I lose the reputation of being efficient enough that I can do everything or nearly everything I need to do with the 8-year-old laptop. (It's 7 now, but it turns eight in January or February of next year, less than 6 months away.)

I suppose the real solution is just to wait until the Pismo dies, and I actually have enough money for a newer mobile computer. The Pismo isn't preventing me from progressing in my life, and admittedly while those lines are disconcerting, they don't prevent anything from getting done. I wouldn't be surprised if (even with the degrading condition of the screen) the Pismo really does still have another year or so left in it as my main mobile computer. So it's possible that at some point, I'll be "the guy with the ten year old laptop!"

2007-09-09

Speaking of wild expectations...

Two posts in two days. Nice. I'm kind of unhappy though, right now. It turns out that I now have to drop my COM383 class, which in addition to my VC251 class brings me to about 12 credit hours, I think. Nice given my job, but unfortunate given the fact I really wanted to stay above 15. I think it might not be that bad, probably with EMF252 I'm sitting at 15 or 17, I'll look on LOUIE when it comes back up.

Although I suppose the advantage is that this gives more free time, and reduces my course-load, which will let me focus better on my other courses (many of which are actually important for my major) and of course my interpersonal relationships.

To be fair, my COM382 buddy had already dropped, so now we can be COM382-dropping buddies.

2007-09-08

tehMegan

Well... I'm going out with somebody now. Megan, of course, is her name. Anybody who knows me will probably be fairly familiar with her, and astute readers of this blog will probably have read about her before, whether or not I actually mentioned her by name before. I met her before my freshman year at NAU, along with Glenn and Ally, also hailing from Tucson, at new student orientation.

I really do care about Megan, and I'm looking forward to a good relationship with her as "more than a friend." Last night, we spent a good chunk of time together, had dinner, went to the Flagstaff downtown art walk, watched a movie, and then just reclined for a few hours.

So it's with this blog post that I officially add the "Megan" category to the blogspot blog here. You'll probably be hearing more of Megan. ;)

2007-08-31

Extreme Week

Well, I apologize. I've had a lot to write about lately, things I've done, reflections on working the phones for the ACHD, some NAULive/UTV62 things, and the SBS reception I attended representing NAU Live.

Although, what I've found is that between classes, work, and hanging out with Megan almost any time I'm not at work or in class, I really don't have the energy to write any detailed blog entries.

Although I think it's great to be back on campus, I do have some concerns. I'm not sure how long my little 750 dollars in dining money will last, and I am also not sure about my current financial aide and payment status. I work many many hours this coming weekend, and then my schedule should even out a little bit, which should improve everything.

As a sidenote, I am thinking of getting a Wacom tablet before long, I've been borrowing Megan's (Thank you, Megan!) and they're amazing. Although, I've got to fix my storage/backup situation first, so the first paycheck is likely to go toward an external 2-disk (mirrored, for data protection) box for my photos, some random temporary crap, and probably my video work.

Well, it's movie night, so I've got to wrap this up. Hopefully I will write again within the next week.

2007-08-19

Macintosh LC520 Liberation


I have had a bit of an opportunity to use the LC520 for any amount of time, and after a bit of writing about it, pondering it, and doing some research and reading the documentation, I’ve decided to a) write an actual blog entry about it and b) write a blog entry using this interesting machine. So here it is, a blog entry that I am writing on a Mac LC520, using a cool old word processor called MacWritePro 1.5v3, which is only about a year newer than the 520 itself.


My particular example of the LC520 comes in a stock 5/80 configuration, which means it has 5 megabytes of memory, and an 80 megabyte hard disc. Think about that for a second. Five megabytes of system memory. And the thing was expandable to a total of 36MB. An 80 meg disk too, maybe it’s only me, but I think that that’s amazing. Add to that, the fact that after installing the operating system (Mac System 7.1), two word processing apps, a popular graphics application and a popular desktop publishing application, the disk still has nearly 48 megabytes left over for user data.

Although the ratio isn’t the best one ever, this is including the fact that “user data” was a whole lot smaller in 1993 (when the machine was manufactured) anywa, and the fact that I’ve got awful disk space management skills. So if I were to go through and delete things like sample docs, extensions I’ll never use, and actually optimise everything, (including removal of one of the two word processors), I would probably end up with about 20 to 30 megs used, which is much closer to the ratio of my modern computers.

It’s a usable machine overall, words appear on the screen as I type them, the whole thing boots to a desktop and allows me to launch and use applications. As a whole, it’s a great little system really, the 14 inch Trinitron display surpasses most modern CRT and some LCD displays in text readability, the built-in stereo speakers produce reasonably nice sound, and in fact, I think the only downside of this system is that the keyboard leaves a little something to be desired, but I chose this one (as opposed to an AEKII, which I could’ve gotten) for the authenticity.

I may at some point bring this machine to the university. It’s good for writing, and since it’s floppy drive works, it is easy enough to transfer such little bits of data (as documents and screenshots) back and forth between the two machines. Even if I don’t bring it to the university, I do have it here and it is set up on my desk here at dad’s house, in the spot my iMac used to have.

2007-08-17

Back to K-Town for a few days, then.

Well, I’ve awakened and gotten ready to go, or at least almost completely ready to go. All I’ve got to do is put the water bottles into the little ice chest and be on my way, if I want to walk. Of course, I don’t actually know if I want to walk, but if I do I’m mostly ready. I think I will leave from the front exit today, in a bit of an effort to let everybody know I’ve gone, and I need to thank Amber for allowing me to stay here since Wednesday.

I could actually go to the SLAC at any given time, and I’d actually like to so I can "check my email" along with accessing a few other features of the Internet, such as AOL-IM and maybe IRC. I’ve also got a long queue of blog entries that I need to post, including this one, and it would probably be easier to do that if I had an Internet connection. On the other hand, it would be quite easy for me to just keep writing things. Although I’ve found out that if I do loads and loads of writing when I’m not online, I end up never posting the stuff I wrote, for one reason or another. (typically because I’ve told everybody who I think might read the blog over an IM anyway.)

[later in the day]
I’m now sitting in the business building with my laptop, hooked up to the internet via the NAU VPN and Wifi. It’s working fairly well. Mostly I’m just "checking my email" and now uploading blog entries. Add to that, I'm waiting for my ride back to Kingman. I'll then come back to NAU next Tuesday, as dad switched his day off.

Job, NAU Changes

Well, it’s pretty much official. I am going to start training for the Academic Computing Helpdesk job on Tuesday, the 21st. This means I am moving into Gabaldon early. However, for the first week or so, I have heard that the ACHD job is very extreme, and that I’ll have almost no time at all. Other than that, I don’t know how many hours I’ll be working or how much spare time I’ll have, between the ACHD job and my classes. We’ll see. I’m excited though, I think that between this and my driver license, which I got on Tuesday while finishing projects at the high school with Kate, marks the beginning of what I hope will be another great school year, and the beginning of "Cory as a member of productive society."

Today [Thursday the 16th] I walked around campus. It’s interesting, and weird all the things that have changed over the summer. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll list the changes from South to North.
- Flood at the duBois Center. (it’s in a reduced state of operation, and apparently the basement is totally full of mud.)
- There’s grass around the McKay apartments, and the landscaping all around the campus has been tidied and looks great.
- The Applied Research & Development looks AWESOME.
- The new dorm is almost a recognizable building structure now. And while standing in front of Tinsley or Cowden, you can’t see Allen. From Cowden, you can barely see the East end of Wilson.
- They built a dumpster holder at the northeast corner of Cowden, a lot like the one they built near the southwest corner of Raymond, and the southeast corner of McDonald.
- They moved the sundial that used to be to the north/east of the student union to the west side, in front of Cline Library.
- They started a project for expansion/improvement of the Student Union dining area, it goes almost all the way to the peace pond, and it’ll be 2 stories, presumably filled either with dining accoutrements and the like.
- People have moved into the science building on North Campus, I have serious doubts about the claim that it’s not actually fit for it’s work, but I’ll have to check on who exactly said that.
- Various other maintenance projects have started, especially behind Morton/North/Campbell Halls, and in some of those far-north walkways.
- The bookstore is totally different inside, Megan might like it, and on a sidenote, I didn’t have any mail in my PO box.
- Allen Hall now has the ID card entrance system. I wonder if Allen/Wilson is still a complex, or if Wilson Hall will be doing things on its own now. Maybe they’ll make the Wilson/Tinsley complex. (although I personally think Tinsley/Cowden would make a better complex.)
- I’ll leave mentioning anything about Surplus Sales for later, although I did visit – I’ve got to let Seth and Jim find out on their own. (although I can say this much: no TVs for really cheap.)

After my on-campus adventure, I came back to Amber’s house, and used her computer for a bit. After "checking my eMail" (which means about an hour or two on NAU eMail, G-Mail, Google-Talk, Facebook and deviantArt) I went back down to discover that Sarah was around, unloading a few things into her room (which is where I’ve been staying here at Amber’s house.) Nice little diversion, we all went up to this room and alternated between watching Sarah set up her desk and watching Amber’s bunny Zoey hop around the room. What a cute little bunny! After Sarah & Family left, Amber and I went to a cheap little Mexican restaurant, nice and cheap for some cheese enchiladas, which is great. I can also now say I’ve seen all of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was certainly an entertaining movie. Although I feel gypped because it ended in an unexpected (although very funny) way. Afterward I came back to the room up here and took a nap, then woke up and started writing this (very, very long) blog entry.

2007-08-11

Returning to Flag

Well, shortly here I’ll be heading back to Flagstaff. The only thing that makes this noteworthy is that I’m going a week early, in an effort to potentially get a job. I am scheduled for an interview at the Academic Computing Helpdesk at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Hopefully I can get the job, because it would certainly be nice to have a bit of extra money during the school year, I can say with some confidence that the next major thing I need will be either Leopard, or some additional storage for the computer, but I’ll save all of that figuring for later.

Anyway, I’ve got to get to bed fairly early (a few minutes before midnight, at least) because tomorrow, Dad and I are going a few places to get some last minute wardrobe additions for the coming year.

Another sidenote: I have intended for a few weeks to write a little retrospective on what I’ve used this blog for, and what I think the future for it holds, but with all the technical notes, and now status updates I need to do... who knows whether or not I’ll be able to do any of that.

2007-08-07

iWork '08

I am currently working on testing some of the new features in iWork ’08. I typically use the Word Processing features of any given application or application suite more than any of the other functions, so let me go ahead and explain about some of the things I thought were wrong in previous versions of iWork.
The main problem with iWork, as I’ve had in the past is its insistence upon styles, and the difficulty I had in controlling them to my benefit. Also, it is very difficult to write an MLA format paper with it. What I’m discovering here though, is that it’s much easier to do these things now in iWork ’08, which includes a fairly standard toolbar. Another thing I always disliked about iWork was the awful file format, which seems as though it’s here to stay, but iWork will at least be able to open and save Word Documents, and I can export or save-as whenever I need to migrate a document to another computer. It does concern me that .doc is not a selection for default file format, but it shouldn’t be difficult to just “save as” whenever I need to move a document around to another machine. Especially to my mobile computer, which will be running Mac OS 9 with Office 98, most likely. (battery life issues: the machine is perfectly capable of Mac OS X 10.4, and therefore Pages ’08, but I can get about 1.5x the battery life if I run Mac OS 9.)
Spreadsheets in various forms are the other thing I use more often than presentations. I typically use them for lists, checklists, and little database-like things such as my list of RW media, which I update every time I re-burn one. Numbers then, is what I’ve been waiting for. It allows great flexibility in how I set up my spreadsheets, and what can be done with them. For example, it allows pull-down selections for pre-determined values, and it’s got sliders, steppers and a few other interesting things. If I actually did spreadsheets with numerical data, there is other enhancements and features I’d be able to use, like the ability to have more than one table on any given page, or the ability to combine tables and charts on the same page. I can imagine this being pretty good, especially for tables charts and whatnot created as part of a report that’s destined for a printer.
I’ve yet to look at any more of the integration between the iWork apps, nor have I looked at some of the other features like change-tracking or commenting in Pages, but I really think that this will be a reasonable replacement for my traditional productivity app, Microsoft Office. The main problem I’m having with even thinking about Office is the fact that it won’t be available until next January. By then, I’ll have learned iWork and grown to love it.

2007-08-05

It's Official

Yes, that's right folks. It's official. Rotating storage hates me. Between now two failures of my iMac's hard disc, the various issues I've had with burning CDs and DVDs, and my latest little issue... I have just got to say that I've currently got very little faith in rotating storage.

Presently, the failure at hand is of my 80 gigabyte XIMETA external hard disc. The one I got a few years ago to use with my PowerBook G4. My temporary solution to this is to copy all of XIMETA's data onto my backup hard disc -- thus putting my iMac's data at risk again. Long term, I have no idea what I am going to do about this.

My biggest problem right now is a huge chunk of data -- 42 gigabytes of photos -- that I don't want to split up, or lose on DVDs. One idea is for me to just archive them onto DVDs now, and re-archive the whole set every two or three years, either onto bigger media, or at least onto newer discs that will be "good to go" for another few years.

I suppose this is where I need to say something about how I need to reevaluate my data backup scheme. We all know it's true, but I'm not going to say it.

As an aside, today is the fifth anniversary of me signing up for the 68k Mac Liberation Army, way back in August of 2002. I would have been just between 7th and 8th grades.

Merits of Expandability

Hmm... Well this is entertaining. One of the things I discuss with certain people quite often is whether or not the average mere mortal will actually need in-computer expansion capabilities such as slots and extra hard disc bays. I know, almost everybody could always use more memory, but honestly, will most people ever actually install an upgrade graphics card?

I typically say that most average human beings won't need these things, and in fact a lot of people who are considered "high end" users don't actually use a lot of the expansion capabilities bestowed upon them. I typically include myself in this, because I realize that almost everything I've ever wanted for my Macs has either been an add-on that I could do externally via a firewire port, or something I didn't need.

On the other hand... just today, I found one or two different PCI Express cards that I'd like, and I realized that if I had the opportunity to do so, I would probably have all four bays of a MacPro filled within a year. Getting those drives will cost more because I've got to figure out something to put them in, and when I do that, I won't even get all of the performance the drives are capable of offering. (after filling the internal bays, I'd probably have to try to get an eSATA card. :P)

And all of this comes from just two tangents I went on today... data longevity and video i/o. Actually, data longevity led to video. I was researching using a MiniDV deck as a tape drive for making backups of my iMac's external hard discs. (one of which is, in and of itself, a backup of its startup drive) From there, I was surprised at how much cheaper it is to buy a whole MiniDV camcorder than to buy a standalone MiniDV or Digi8 deck. From there, i researched high def camcorders. I found that there is a 3-ccd Panasonic camcorder selling for less than 600usd. The catch is that it records AVCHD data onto DVDs or SDHC cards, and AVCHD is pretty much impossible to use on a Mac.

Enter another PCI-E card. It turns out that blackmagic design has a card out there with HDMI input for just $249 This brings a complete high-def setup (with a fairly nice camera) for less than a thousand bucks. (though there is the Canon HV10 for 650 too, which is "proper" tape-based HDV that can be imported into imovie or final cut.

Well... not that I've got money for any of those upgrades now, or for the prerequisite "really high end Mac," but it was at least an interesting observation on the apparently "not totally useless" expansion slots, and how a higher initial investment in a system with more options for connectivity can result in a lower investment later for things like getting into high def video, or expanding storage capacity. I think next time I buy a Mac, I'm going to save up a bit more and try to get a MacPro [or whatever midrange/highend system is suitable at the time].

2007-07-21

The Stress-Relieving Powers of Sarcasm

I'€™m visiting my mother'€™s house. It€'s great and all, except for all the ways in which, over the past year, it€'s become awful. I pretty much let my mother know this back in November. I believe there was no shortage of funny faces, somewhat rude comments, and a variety of other ways in which I was somehow able to say "I'€™m dissatisfied with this."

What I've found is that I've got a similar thing going on now, except that things are a little bit better. However, she is now using other physical cues to tell me that being in her home causes me great stress. Back in May she told me I needed to lose weight because I had somewhat high blood pressure, which was apparently evident because my foot wasn'€™t as bony/veiny as it should'€™ve been. On Thursday when I came back, I thought my foot looked okay and showed it to her, hoping for evidence of some kind of progress with my health, but she said it looked just as bad, and she introduced the possible factor of stress.

It occurred to me that it is probably pretty stressful for me to be here now. It isn'€™t as though I really dislike her or her house, or even my brother, but they'€™ve made some choices in the past year that it'€™s really difficult for me not to comment on. And yet, after some of the disasters that happened last November, I'€™ve managed to do very well holding my tongue in December and then again in May. Mom told me this past Thursday that it must have stressed me out pretty badly, the thought that I'€™d have to come here.

I suppose it did add a bit of stress. At mom'€™s house, I sleep in the office on a couch(1), everybody smokes but me, and the entire thing is allowed to be significantly more messy than it ever was in the past, in addition it'€™s become a much more "€œopen" environment where any one of my mother'€™s many new friends(2) can just walk in and out as they please.

What I wonder, I suppose, is whether or not I'm stressed because I don't feel I can speak openly. One of the things I suppose I became used to at NAU is the expectation that I was able to say pretty much whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to say it. So pretty much everybody knew how I felt about a lot of things, because I didn't feel bad about making snarky little comments about things. Here, on the other hand, the slightest little offhand comment that wasn't intended to mean anything, goes a very long way, down a dark, destructive path. Recovering from those tiny comments takes much longer than it should here too.

Ah well. They'€™re my family and I suppose that means I'€™ve got to love '€˜em. It probably isn'€™t as bad as I think it is, and I'€'m sure it's healthy for my mother to be indulging in such things as having friends, and running her house as she chooses. I'€™m just not quite adjusted to the changes I suppose. I'€™ll be back at dad’s house in a few days anyway, and then back to NAU on the 23rd.

1. Which, believe it or not, is actually worse than just a mattress on the floor.
2. Most of whom I don'€™t particularly like.

2007-07-18

Bike Ride

uunnghh....

No, I'm not a zombie, but I suppose I'm close. I decided today at about 10 a.m. that it'd be a good idea to return my library book today. (It was LoTR-1 -- and no, I still haven't read it.) Having walked to the library last Saturday, I thought it would be a good idea to go a different way today. (Well, I thought I might give LOTR a try -- I literally fell asleep after reading some of the foreword.) (Or was it the prologue?)

Anyway, I rode my bike to the library today, and discovered that it was an incredibly stupid thing to do on my part. Mainly, it got way hot outside way fast, I didn't bring enough water along, and it turns out that I'm not really *that* great at riding a bike, it takes a lot of strength and energy to do it in the heat like this, and more water than I brought.

So for next time, more water, not biking, and I still need to get a hat, it seems.

2007-07-16

New HDD Installed

Today, the replacement hard disc for my iMac came in. I am now booted from the utility partition of the USB2 drive, and am restoring the backup to the primary drive. After that, I am going to think about running all of the software updates. This will be a prime way to test my theory that this particular backup system will be acceptable as a method to use to test new system updates for a few days before deciding whether or not I really want to commit to that update.

Another possibility for backup -- later on -- could be to get an ethernet/usb2 disk that I can back up to over ethernet from one or maybe even multiple computers, and then yank out and hook up directly to the machine with USB2 if I ever need to restore from the drive. we'll see whether or not I ever do that though. For now, the 200gig drive over USB2 will work.

For what it's worth, the "iSight" based iMacs are very complicated. -- Needlessly so. You must remove the front, then lift out the LCD panel (which is a pretty big and delicate part) before being able to access the cool bits of the motherboard, the hard disc or the optical drive.

2007-07-13

Getting Things Done

On this luckiest of days, it occurs to me that this summer has been wasted mostly on trivialities, little things that don't matter much in the long run. That's fine with me, but I feel as though I should do something that I feel will have some kind of lasting effect.

More importantly, I've been thinking about the status of the 68kMLA, and the 68k User Base. What I've noticed is that the users of older 68k and PowerPC machines are really just that -- users. We've got very few mega-hobbyists who do programming on them, and get deep into the hardware and architecture of the machines. The 68kMLA/PPCMLA on their own aren't very conducive to those discussions, and most of the people around wouldn't be interested if it were there.

So I feel like I should do something for the retro Mac community -- but what? Should I be writing software? Lobbying for the simplification of websites? I personally don't think that either of those is a very great idea, but I do believe that there are things I can do to help the community.

One of the things I've tried to do before is work on a database of software titles for Macs. This is important for a lot of reasons. It gives me something to do, for starters, and I think it's a fairly important contribution to the community. Especially if I could find information on things such as intro and discontinuation dates on various pieces of software, plus prices to help indicate to people just how much software actually cost.

We'll see though. I'm working on setting up a spot on my own website where potentially, a few people will be able to post information as they get it, but with any information-gathering project, it's not just something we'll be able to do and say "oh cool, done now." It's something that we'll have to work on, pretty much for a long time, I don't think that archiving all of the information about 68k Macs, even just about the software, will ever be done.

Another thing that was pointed out was the fact that the information about Apple's systems is really inconsistent, not only between Apple's website, but given the fact that there were a certain, well-known range of models released, I find it less important to release yet-another specs database.

Anyway, maybe one day I'll start on my Software Titles database, but for now I'm just going to write blog entries about how I think I should. Plus, I'm not entirely sure how I'll coordinate it yet.

2007-07-07

Unlucky Bus Ride

The superstitious people are saying that today is a very lucky day, what with it being July (7) Seventh(7), 2007(7). On CNN this morning, there were images of loads of people getting married because of the luck of the day, and I even thought myself that I might have to do some things to test my luck.

I did just that, I rode a bus today. Wasn’t that smart of me? If everything had worked out properly, I should be hurrying right along at the present moment, on my way back home to Kingman, ending out a great week in Tucson. (I was visiting my NAU friends, Glenn, Megan and Ally.)

Unfortunately, the test of my luck (or of the combined efficiency of Autobuses Crucero, USA and Grayhound Lines, Inc) was… unfortunate, let’s say. I found out that the testing of my luck wasn’t the best idea ever. Apparently the bus from Tucson to Phoenix has been delayed significantly several times in the past few days. We were, in fact, lucky that the bus scheduled to depart at 8:40 a.m. left “just” two hours later at 10:40 a.m. The day before it had left at about 1:40 p.m. I suppose I’m glad I wasn’t delayed that much.

On the other hand, any delay at all from Tucson causes me to miss my bus from Phoenix to Flagstaff-then-Kingman. The bus, which was scheduled to depart at 11:40, was missed by more than a whole hour. The only other bus leaving to Kingman today is at 8 p.m. Oh well, I suppose. Too bad I don’t know anybody in Phoenix close enough to have come get me.

Or more accurately, too bad I haven’t got an Internet connection that I could otherwise have used to contact some people I do know that live in Phoenix. It would be quite nice to be able to get food outside of the station here, because I’m not too big on bus station food. Add to that, I don’t know if I’ll have enough time in Flagstaff now that I’m on a different route, to carry out my original plan of eating at the restaurant there. This is especially true now that I estimate I’ll be in Flagstaff at midnight. Yaay.

Luckily though, I had enough money to call dad and tell him I won’t be coming exactly as planned.  The new plan is that I’ll call him whenever I show up in Kingman. Reasonable I suppose, given that the new ETA is comfortably after midnight, as opposed to comfortably prior-to-dinner.

(Yes, I posted this way late, but ohwell.)

2007-06-29

Once Again/Backup Frenzy

On this June 29th, the day of the iPhone release, I come bearing news of the impending death of my new-in-December iMac. The s.m.a.r.t. status of my hard disc, as reported by Apple's Disk Utility application, is "failing."

S.M.A.R.T.
is definitely a cool piece of technology, invented in the 1990s and widely implemented in consumer computers... just after 2000 I'd say. It's handy, and if everything goes over right, I won't lose any data, but I am going to have to call Apple up after my trip to Tucson, and arrange the repair of my iMac. It might, but I hope not, result in a trip to Vegas or Flagstaff.

If it does require that I visit a mac shop, I'll look for one in Kingman (Yeah, right!) or just wait until I get to Flagstaff, and if/when the drive dies, I'll just use the 200gig-external, and pray that that doesn't fail because after that, all I've got are the 80 gig, the 40 gig and the laptop.

Well... wish me luck in my backup adventures, and after my trip to Tucson, in my adventures calling AppleCare.

2007-06-24

Odd Dream

I get a great smooth jazz station from Vegas where I'm here at home. I love to listen to it, and I have my alarm clock set to turn on at 4:30 a.m. with it.

Actually, there's a mildly funny dream story related to that. My dream last night/this morning involved me, trying to get somewhere to do something and three other people, who were part of some radio show about job fairs in Las Vegas. We started at NAU I suppose, piled into a car and were conducting a phone interview. We then stopped at a toy shop, eventually met some brave-little-toaster esque appliances and went to an electronics store, where for some reason I saw my mother and somebody who looked very similar to my COM101 instructor from NAU.

I woke up at like 5:30 and it turned out that the radio alarm had turned on an hour before, and there was some kind of radio program about job fairs in Las Vegas. Although, in the dream, mostly only one guy was talking, but on the actual program, all four people (three men and one woman, if I recall) were speaking.

I am going to have to put some more research into suggesting things for my dreams, quite possibly trying with my iPod and/or my iMac and the radio on a timer, to see whether or not my dreams can be suggested using other materials. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few albums I want to try... the Wicked soundtrack, War of the Worlds audio performance, the Rent soundtrack, mostly because those things have plots that can be dreamt. Though, I'd be interested in whether or not a standard disjointed album of music, or a new-age or otherwise instrumental album such as Mannheim Steamroller, Yanni or John Tesh could influence my dreams.

2007-06-23

Relief.

This probably sounds lame, but I'm now relieved. My mobile computer, which suffered from a spate of... mental retardation, let's say, is back on its own two feet. More accurately, it's back to booting from its own hard disc, and luckily enough, its remaining battery still works. With this, there'll be no more talk of selling the PowerBook G3, probably very little if any talk of buying any new batteries, and I won't need to worry about using the Toshiba Satellite laptop (the one with Windows 3.1 on it) as my main mobile computer.

Not that anybody cares, but for some background, my PowerBook G3 is a "Pismo" model, the last G3 PowerBook before Apple introduced the PowerBook G4 computer. It has a 500MHz PowerPC processor, 512mb of memory and a 30 gigabyte hard disc. (Those are upgrades though, it originally shipped with 128mb of memory and a 12 gigabyte hard disc.) The model was introduced in February 2000, and discontinued in January 2001. My particular model is from early 2000. This means it's 7 years old!

Old and slow it may be, but it remains a very trustworthy machine, with very good expansion capabilities for its time, and some really great battery life.

One of the unique things about this computer, compared with more modern laptops/notebooks, is that the CD drive is removable, and can be replaced with another device, such as an Iomega Zip drive, a Floppy disc drive, or a second battery. Even the primarily battery is very easy to remove. When they were new, Apple suggested that a machine with dual batteries was capable of achieving 9 to 10 hours of battery run time. In my experience, with newer third party batteries actually brings me closer to 20 hours, with the battery meter reading between 17 and 19, and actual runtime being between 14 and 17 hours. It is somewhat difficult to do, but it can be done.

Even if replacing the one now-dead battery is a $150 proposition, or $300 for two, it costs less than a new laptop, and I somehow think it might last just as long anyway.

So here's to you, Schraubenschleussel, and here's to at least three more good years.

The Pismo

2007-06-21

Happy Ice Day!

Well, I've started to get back to my old shenanigans of declaring every day some kind of holiday. I've been drinking a whole lot of water with ice lately, so I declared today a Day of Ice

I learned also that there was once an emperor so crazy as to have ice brought down from mountains.
Bethany: And Emperor Nero would send servants up mountains to get ice for his form of ice cream :3
So this begins the first of probably-several incidental random celebratory days.

I've gone ahead and created a calendar that anybody with a google account can subscribe to. If you've got suggestions for a celebration, feel free to send me a message through the message-sending implement of your choice.