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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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].