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Ten Percent

Posted 2010.02.06 11.39 in Pointless Blather

Time’s running out just as fast as it can. Again.

Seems like it only just started being 2010 and suddenly the year is 10% over already. It’s like, blink and you’ll miss it.

What happened to January? Vrooom it’s gone!

Someone should do something about this. There ought to be a study. Time’s going too quickly and we need to put the brakes on this before it gets out of control.

Merry X-Meh.

Posted 2009.12.25 9.32 in Computers/Internet/Technology

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.

What happpened to January?

Posted 2009.02.02 1.00 in Pointless Blather

Just realized that it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. Another long dark stretch where there wasn’t anything fun to talk about. I’m still on the crypto-spam but it’s not doing anything. I thought it might have been, towards the end of December, but now I suspect that what I thought was the drug working, was actually just me feeling good because the side-effects were finally ending.

I feel like my life has become a soap opera, and I’m not even one of the important cast. I’m just a reccuring character, who’s name they show 5 minutes into the episode, after the first batch of commercials, after the guest stars.

There’s lots of soap-opera-ish stuff going on all around me, but I’m not directly involved in any of it. Nonetheless, every aspect of my life is affected by the antics of the major players.

My part is also one of the ones that the directors feel is safe to cut, especially if some major drama is required – it’s the sort of role where you’re familiar enough to the regulars that there’ll be a sufficient amount of emotional return if the character gets axed, without having to risk one of the stars.

So that’s where I am right now. Not popular or important enough to spin-off and get a life of my own, stuck in a recurring bit part in other people’s soap-opera drama.

How Computer Programming Works

Posted 2007.09.19 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Writing a computer program is kind of like trying to explain a complicated task to a gifted three-year old who only speaks Esperanto.

What do I mean by this? Well computers are usually very fast, and they usually have a very good memory, but they are not very smart. They need you to explain things in detail, and the fancier the task, the harder it is to explain exactly what you want done. And in Esperanto, because no matter what your native tongue is, the computer speaks something different. Unlike three-year-olds, however, computers always do exactly what you tell them.

Example: Tell the computer to pick up your dry cleaning:

If you’re using a high-level computer language, then there might be lots of built-in functions or routines that you can use, such as getNextDryCleanTicket, accessCar, and driveCar. You still have to program the actual map to the drycleaners, so how many meters on what bearing. You’ll want to include some event-handling processes to respond to other traffic and so on. High-level languages work because someone else has done the low-level work of creating those various functions / routines.

If you’re using a low-level computer language then you have to build your own functions and routines, so instead of just accessCar you need to define how to access it (where’s the key, where’s the car, what the key does, how to turn the key, etc.)

At the assembly language level – the lowest level language – you have to tell the computer everything – not just what’s a key, and what’s a car, but what’s a noun. Then work your way up from there.

The bottom line is, computers always do exactly what you tell them; they just don’t always do what you want, or what you expect.