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Nintendo DSi

Posted 2009.12.31 20.50 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

As I usually spend New Years alone, it has become a bit of a tradition for me to buy myself a new toy that I can disassemble on the 31st of December. In the past, it has frequently been something in the Amateur Radio genre, but this year I opted to do a Nintendo DSi.

I’m not much of a gamer, and I pretty much suck at almost all video games. I’ve had a DS for a while but the only game I was really happy with was the crossword game. Then I gave my DS to my mum so she could play that brain age thing. Anyhow, so I decided to get the DSi so I could take it apart. I like electronic gizmos. I like taking them apart. I like hacking them or breaking them or just finding out how they work.

The DSi has been around for a while now – feels like a year or so. But there’s very, very little info out there about hacking it. Really there’s just one site that has no news, just aggregates info from gaming sites. I don’t want cheat codes or that sort of thing, I want to mess with the hardware. It’s got 256MB of Flash storage, 16MB of RAM, and a 32-bit ARM processor at 133MHz. With the built-in WiFi and dual screens and SDHC expansionality, there’s more than enough oomph in there to run Linux, among other things… (Remember the Zipit?)

There’s no info that I could find about the software – is the DSi operating system a complete customized Nintendo thing? Or maybe the GUI is Nintendo but there’s something else under the hood? The CPU is supposedly custom made for Nintendo so that might preclude it doing other things…

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2009 – The Year In Review

Posted 2009.12.31 17.59 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

As the last hours of 2009 wind down, it seems like a good time to review the year, how it summed up against other years. And generally speaking, it fairly well sucked. There were a few good points, lots of sucky things, and overall, I think 2009 is getting a failing grade.

In fact 2009 was sucky enough that it actually reached back in time and ruined the last half of 2008. It was just that sucky. 2009 – The Year Of Suck.

So back to 2009. What were some of the good things? The whole aquarium thing has been a big positive. Sure it’s a bit of a money-sink, a lot of work, and some responsibility. But it’s very relaxing and enjoyable, and I can’t help smiling when I watch the fishies and snailies playing. Especially the wee babies. Les is doing well with the big fish, the nursery tank is full of snail babies and a couple corydora babies. All-in-all the aquarium stuff lets me forget about my own problems for a while and just observe their simple and care-free comings and goings.

Of course, I haven’t forgotten about my kitties. Misha and Pixie continue to amuse, bemuse, annoy, and purr. Misha is wonderfully affectionate when she wants to be. Even Pixie is getting affectionate now and then, in her own derranged way. Though I must add, even though it’s been four or five years, I still miss Sylvie, and think of him almost every day. It’s mostly happy memories though, so it’s all good.

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A Tale of Two Snail Species

Posted 2009.12.30 10.44 in Aquaria by Stephanie

I don’t really like using labels like ‘good’ and ‘bad’, but they have the advantage of being short, concise, and not-too-inaccurate. Good Snails are the ones that a) you pay money for, b) you give names to, c) you care for, and/or d) that you’ve intentionally raised from babies.

Bad Snails are the pests that sneak in on plants and things, that reproduce like rabbits on fertility drugs, eat all the food, clog up the filter, and generally have all the appeal of fleas on a dog. These are the ones that you spot one or two, then the following week there are four dozen, then the following week there are eleventy million.

They actually pick on the Good Snails, clinging to them like the aforementioned fleas, picking at any faults or flaws in their shells, laying their eggs on them, and driving the Good Snails, and myself, quite mad with frustration.

In the past 6 months, I’ve encountered several species of pest snail. There are the Physidae, commonly known as bladder snails, tadpole snails, or occasionally pond snails. These ones are sort of foot-ball shaped and have sinestral (left-handed) shells, with no operculum (no shell door). The Physidae breed quite quickly, but have thin shells that are easily squished or cracked, and many fish will eat them.

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Not Compatible With Life

Posted 2009.12.29 19.07 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

This is what Too Damn Cold looks like.

If this was my car, I’d go back indoors and hibernate a while more. Dial-A-Bottle and internet delivery groceries would be my salvation.

Tuesday Update

Posted 2009.12.29 7.46 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

There’s been a lack of posts lately, because I’ve been more tired and less ambitious than usual. A few times, I’ve thought of things to say, but haven’t had the motivation or energy to type.

I don’t know if it’s the weather or the lack of sunlight or what.

So anyhow, point form: Snails, Fish, Work, Winter, Tired.

That about sums it up I guess.

Graduation Day

Posted 2009.12.25 14.04 in Aquaria by Stephanie

Hard to believe, but it was about four months ago when I harvested a big mess of zebra fish fry from my fish tank. There were about three dozen of the little wrigglers, each no more than a little line with a dot at one end. Only about 3mm long, not yet free-swimming, they were tiny.

The first month or so was hard on them, with a couple big die-offs, and then they were re-housed a number of times as I kept trying to come up with a better solution. Finally there were just two left when I set up a dedicated 1-gallon nursery ‘tank’, and then before long, only one of them was left.

That last one has held on though, and thrived in the nursery. With the advent of several clutches of snail eggs, the nursery was upgraded to a 5-gallon tank, and the solitary juvinile zebra fish has continued to thrive and grow.

Now, at age 4 months, he’s roughly one inch long and big enough to be a serious threat to any other fry that go into the nursery. (Did I mention my corydoras were breeding like crazy?)

So today is graduation day. Today the sole surviving zebra fry is graduating from the nursery and rejoining his parents in the main tank. He’s big enough not to get eaten, and he knows how to socialize with others. (For a week I put one of the adult zebras in the nursery with him to make sure he could deal with it.)

His name is Les, because he is a survivor.

After moving Les to the 23 gallon fish tank where he hatched from a tiny egg 4 months ago, I watched him for a while. He actually seemed happy and excited – swimming in the big tank, with the big fish.

I must admit, it made me feel proud.

Merry X-Meh.

Posted 2009.12.25 9.32 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

So it’s the morning of Dec. 25th. I got my big gift – a new iMac! (It was a present from myself. Thanks me!) and things are looking pretty good so far. Nice bright screen, wide format, very sharp resolution, everything very fast and snappy.

The Magic Mouse is actually pretty darn neat, if only they’d come out with a Magic Trackball then I’d be happy. Anyhow, it’s very cool and I’m going to keep it, even if I don’t use it. It’ll be the first Apple mouse I haven’t thrown out or given away.

Transfering my data and settings over from my previous iMac was as effortless and flawless as usual, albeit a bit time-consuming. Well I guess you can’t transfer 75GB in an instant.

The new iMac’s hardware is so far pretty good. 4GB RAM is the standard, and I got the one with a 1TB hard drive. While I had upgraded my previous iMac to these specs, the new one still seems faster – perhaps because of the faster processors, faster bus, and/or faster graphics processor.

The new iMac also has a built-in SD card slot, which is a great idea. I haven’t tried it yet, but with most digital cameras nowadays using SD it’s a perfect choice to facilitate the transfer of photos to iPhoto, Aperature, or whatever you use.  I’d love to see a Micro-SD slot on the next version of the iPhone, in fact – it would be a great way to boost the capacity of the iPhone, at least in terms of storage space for music, videos, and a good place to store photos taken with the built-in camera.

I haven’t had time to play around much with the new OS (Snow Leopard, OS X 10.6) but compared to 10.5 it seems so far pretty similar.

Outside of the good and the ambivilent, there has been one huge disappointment. For reasons known only to Jobs, Apple has decided to change the external display adaptor yet again. I didn’t realize that they had changed this, so my “Mini DVI” cable that worked with my previous iMac is not compatible with the “Mini Displayport” on the new iMac. Had I known of this, I’d have ordered the adaptor when I ordered the computer. Now I’m stuck until I can get to an Apple Store, during the busiest shopping week of the year. Thanks Apple.

See, I run my computer with ‘dual heads’. That is, you have the built-in screen on the iMac itself, then I have a second screen next to it. This lets me use the smaller (21.5″) iMac but end up with more space than the 27″. My secondary display is a 19″ all-digital monitor. It was a great monitor in its time, but nowadays it serves admirably as a secondary display. Running dual-heads means I can edit / view things in full size on one screen, while having my tools, palettes, etc. all open on the other. So I can edit, tweak, change, etc. without having to page back and forth between windows or panes. It is glorious – once you’ve gone dual-head you can’t go back.

However, for the next day or two or three, I’m stuck with the single display.  Grrrr.