Friday, June 29, 2007

Windows XP under Windows Virtual PC 2007

I haven't geeked out in a long time so I decided it was time for a new project.  I don't have any pressing homework (due tomorrow, this weekend will be awful) so I decided to get XP up on my laptop.

It really wasn't all that difficult.  I simply obtained a legal version of Windows XP professional and then downloaded Windows Virtual PC 2007.  Luckily, Virtual PC 2007 is a free download and works under Vista Business edition.

The install was painless, but the fact I'm performing this on a laptop, I don't have the raw power that would make things go 100% smoothly.  I'm currently working on patching Windows and I'm not sure what I'll do with it once I get it up to date yet.

I know I want to get a version of Windows 98 virtualized (just for fun).  And maybe a Linux distro or two.  I'll probably post more when I get some more free time.  My initial impressions are that everything seems to slow down when I have the virtual computer running.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Michael Moore on Daily Show talking about Sicko

I'm glad our our country has its priorities straight and Paris Hilton is more important than health care.  Of course I'm talking about how Moore was bumped off of Larry King to make room for the newly released Hilton.

As for this clip, it was interesting to hear Moore talk candidly about his movie.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Internet Radio "Day of Silence" hushes thousands of stations

Tens of thousands of Internet radio stations are silent today in protest of the Copyright Royalty Board's decision to significantly raise royalty rates that will threaten the business of many webcasters. The stations beg readers to get in touch with their Senators and Representatives, but with the deadline for retroactive fees only weeks away...



read more | digg story

iPhone Rate Plans Revealed

Apple has put up a page detailing the cost of the rate plans. They aren't as bad as people had thought: All plans with unlimited data - $60 for 450 minutes, $80 for 900 minutes and $100 for 1350 minutes. Existing customers can add unlimited data for $20 - $40 with a varying number of text messages.



read more | digg story

Cassie submits Sicko story to Digg

This is really geeky...

Basically, I watched Sicko and really wanted Cassie to watch it.  She didn't want to at first but she finally did.  Then she blogged about it in her post: Health Care Doesn't Care That totally took me off guard because she never blogs, although I'm trying to encourage her.

Then she submitted it to Digg a while after she posted it.  Health care doesn't care (Digg)

I was just talking to her on Skype and she sent me this...

"I about died when I checked it and saw I had 6 diggs."

As of the time that I posted this article her story now has a total of 7 diggs.  That is definitely more diggs than any story I ever submitted to Digg.  It even has three comments! (Although one of them was mine.)

I am slowly converting her into a blogging, digging, computer geek.  My plans are progressing nicely... ;)

Cassie was actually really excited about the fact she gained attention on Digg.  Although she probably won't be homepaged, I promised her a cake if she ever does become homepaged.

I can't wait and see how many diggs it has tomorrow.  It is not the fact that it was submitted by her that is really great, it is the fact she wrote the blog entry.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Five Weeks Left!

There are now only five more full weeks of summer semester before I start my summer break.  Speed school really takes it out of you.  Hopefully, I'll be able to accomplish some stuff in between semesters.

I started to read Wikinomics at the beginning of the semester but I just haven't found the time to make any progress. I really like the subject of the book because it is along the same lines as what I want to do with the rest of my life (and my college degree when I finally get it).

Also, during the break I want to do some type of mod.  The last big thin I did was build my arcade.  That will be almost one year ago after this semester.  Maybe a little less.  I might do a brainstorm post about the possible things I could make.

One of the things I have in mind is to build a Digg button.  It wouldn't be that complicated and I would probably learn some things by doing it.  Also, it wouldn't cost that much money.  I'll probably have a tight budget for whatever I decided to do, but at least I'll have something to play with.

I will also spend some time with Cassie when I get back.  We don't get to see each other very much, about once a week tops.  I also have quite a long list of movies that I still want to see.  Maybe I can catch up on that too.  I know the break is going to go extremely fast and before I know it I'll be back here for fall semester.

Sicko: US Health Care - the grass is greener

I never found any reason in particular to like Michael More as a director.  I have never seen any of his movies until I decided that I wanted to watch his newest, Sicko.  I didn't expect to like it, I have come away from it with a new view on many issues.

It is difficult to put into words how persuasive the movie truly is.  The message is a simple question: why do we pay for health care?  I'm going to ruin it for those that haven't seen it, but that doesn't matter.  Everyone needs to get the message, no matter how it is delivered.

The movie starts by looking at people in the US who needed medical help and how their treatment revolves around money, not the care they need.  It then focuses on the quality of care in Canada, England, France, and finally Cuba.  It is incredible how backward the US seems in comparison to ALL of these countries.

Did you know in France, if a mother needs help doing laundry the government will PAY to have someone do it for you!  Also, in all of the above listed countries (and probably more) there is next to no charge for any health services provided, including medication.  In England, doctors are paid based on how healthy their patients are.

That is the important message to get away from the movie.  Simply put, the US NEEDS to move to a socialized medical system.  The current system is based on monetary profit.  The problem is, we won't, at least any time soon.  The reasons for that get into political arguments which I would rather avoid.  I was actually surprised by the lack of "Bush bashing" that took place in the movie.  I expected quite a bit more, but based off of the comparison of me not having saw any of More's other movies, this was the most subdued with regard to political agendas.

The reason for that is that health care is not a political issue, it is a moral one.  Everyone who needs health services should have them provided.  I truly believe in that.  I am so absorbed in my own life (like many Americans - well... not even Americans because those in Canada get free health care) I don't know how to help promote any change.

I normally don't blog about this like this but sometimes I just get the urge to make my opinion known.  I don't know what to do other than blog about this topic.  I've never cast a vote in my life, although I'm now a registered Democrat (that is still weird for me to say).  I do know that I strongly support socialized medicine.  Hopefully there comes a point where I can make a difference.

I hope in some way this movie affects people to make it known that things need to change.  Maybe a change will happen.  I don't know.

I know many people will be skeptical about watching this movie, but I can definitively say it is worth watching.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Is the iPhone worth supporting the evil AT&T empire?

The iPhone is super-hyped, but is it worth getting if it means giving money to the privacy-hating, monopoly-having bastards at AT&T? Gizmodo examines why it might be worth skipping the iPhone to maintain a clear conscience.



read more | digg story

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Windows Live Writer: first impressions

I've been using Live writer for a very short time, but I feel that I have posted enough to actually write something of a review about it.

In short, I like it.  I is a stable and useful way to create blog entries.  I especially was satisfied when I realized the many different useful plug-ins that were available.  I have currently installed a grand total of 3.  First, the DiggThis plug-in that allows an easy addition of a Digg button to a post.  Next, I added the Ink Blogging plug-in, although I doubt I'll ever use it.  I just added it because I have a tablet.  Last, and most useful, I added a Flickr Image inserter.  The Flickr plug-in will probably be the most useful.  I'm able to search Flickr, including my personal pictures, and insert them without having to make a big deal of copying and pasting the correct size picture and everything.  It will save some time when it comes to posting.  The only down side is there is no way to automatically upload imported pictures to anything other than an FTP server.

I'm not sure if it is because I have a slight drop in the amount of homework right now, but I have been blogging more since I started using Live Writer.  I really like how I'm not forced to go to Blogger and log in and start writing.  Launching an application is faster and it more convenient.

I am glad there is a useful integrated Spell Checker.  I would only blog in Firefox specifically because it had an integrated spell check.  Other features I like are the automatic draft saving.  I turned the frequency up to 1 minute just so I won't lose any of my hard work.  I also was excited (and am testing out in this post) the built in PING feature.  So far I've added FeedBurner and Technorati, but I might have a few more places to PING as as well.

I haven't found any quirks that annoy me enough to mention.  I am still a little confused on how to edit old posts, but that is because I am not familiar with that feature yet.  The categories tool is much more powerful than any web based interface I have seen.  I'll continue to use Windows Live Writer for all of my blogging.  On an interesting but unimportant side note, unlike Blogger, the time that the Publish button is clicked is when the post is published (time stamp wise), rather than when it was first started. 

Hopefully Live Writer only improves my blogging habits.  It is really a quality piece of software.  Way to go Microsoft.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rocketboom adds Facebook Application

I will admit, I am a little excited about this.  In the latest episode of Rocketboom (June 20, 2007), right at the very end, they snuck in the fact they have a Facebook app.  Basically, it is just a player that displays the shows and you can cycle back through old episodes.  It is really simple, but I'll probably try and watch it on there from now on.

One of the best things about Rocketboom (and new media in general compared to old media) is the number of ways you can watch it.  You have the web site, YouTube (and other similar service), iTunes, and now even Facebook!  It is really impressive how wide spread the episodes are.  They probably spend quite a while propagating each episode to all of the different services.

The quality looked nice in the player, although it takes a little longer to load than some others.  I did like the quality of video that Democracy provided.  I was watching my Video podcasts with iTunes but it decided it would rather blue-screen over playing content.

As of when I installed the application, it had only 85 users and appeared to be an underground app.  This means it was not yet in the catalogue of applications that have the partial Facebook seal of approval.

Google Street Viewer: only the good stuff

Google Street Viewer (http://maps.google.com) has been available for a while.  As soon as it was released it became a race to see who could find the funniest and interesting pictures.  Most of which were quickly posted to Digg.The problem with using Street viewer is that there is just so much data out there.  While they only have a few major cities covered at the moment, they still have a huge area covered.

I was just listening to TWiT episode 101 and they were talking about a blog that summarizes the funny sightings found on Street Viewer.  Sticking with the Web 2.0 theme it is named streetviewr.

streetviewr is an interesting and well made site.  Basically, it lists the different sightings on Street Viewer and lets you view them without leaving using Google's API or you can go directly into Google Maps.

Testing Windows Live Writer

I saw a link on blogger about Windows Live Writer and I thought I would give it a try.  It seems to be interesting.  It is a strange cross between a web editing tool like FrontPage and a typical AJAX like text editor.

I'll be blogging with this software for a while and when I get around to it I'll write something about how it is to use.

First Impressions are good.  It is not that I disliked the blogger interface, it is just that a more powerful (and even offline) too is more attractive to me.  Plus, the preview feature on this that inserts the post like it was actually posted to your blog is really awesome.

Drupal

I have a feeling that I'll be playing with Drupal here in the next few weeks if I have the time. I'm excited I'll be getting my hands back on some PHP code. I also might dabble in the Facebook developers environment some if I get the time.

Drupal looks like a good system. Actually TWiT uses it. That is where I first hear of it. My main concern in using it would be the ability to make some rather crazy custom code work smoothly with it. We'll just have to see how it works out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Digg finally gets a real threaded comment system!

Finally, after a long wait, we finally get a real threaded comment system on Digg!



read more | digg story

Monday, June 18, 2007

Facebook Notes Importer - Not Perfect

I've talked about this before, but I am not a huge fan of how the Facebook Notes importer works. Basically it was reading my Feedburner RSS feed and it stopped working for an extended period of time. I decided it was probably best if I moved it over to the direct RSS feed and I just spent the past 5 minutes sorting through duplicate entries that were double imported into Facebook.

Hopefully they improve the functionality, but I don't see that happening now that the application platform is so important. I really do like having my blog imported because I think that is how some of my friends read it.

I really wish they would add a ping button because it is frustrating having to wait for something magical to happen of Facebook's servers for a blog post to suddenly appear in the notes.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Take that Gmail - Yahoo! Storage Now Unlimited

I'll probably never hear the end of it from some of my friends. I have used Yahoo! Mail for a very long time and probably have over 20 different email addresses that all get sent to the same mail box. Many of my friends use Gmail like their life depended on being overly loyal to Google. ;)

Granted, I use some Google products. (Hello, this is Blogger!) I also have a YouTube account. I have tried Google Docs but I can not stand it. I prefer ThinkFree's interface but I'm just not ready to move my documents to the internet. I blame the fact I use a tablet. I also use Google Analytics and Google Adsense. I was also forced to install Google Talk because of SSSC.

Back to my main point. Yahoo! has announced that they were going to unlimited storage but now it is actually part of the interface. Just to be funny, Yahoo! made a graphic of a broken storage meter and a note that the storage is now unlimited where the meter once was.



I'm really happy that Yahoo! finally decided to go with unlimited storage. At least it is one thing they have over Gmail. Also, since I was a paying user of Yahoo! Mail I don't have ads so the interface looks really clean. I may eventually change to using Gmail but it is going to take something major for me to make the move.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How do I (you) Talk?

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)

Midland

("Midland" is not necessarily the same thing as "Midwest") The default, lowest-common-denominator American accent that newscasters try to imitate. Since it's a neutral accent, just because you have a Midland accent doesn't mean you're from the Midland.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.




Yay, I'm quite proud of my results!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Thoughts of the Safari Browser on Windows

I'll join the bandwagon in talking about the release of the Safari browser on the Windows platform. I have to admit, when I read about it on Engadget's live coverage post I was fairly excited. I didn't rush to download it immediately because, honestly, I didn't realize it was going to be available immediately. I assumed it was going to be released in the coming month.

Late yesterday I found a link pointing to the download. Creatively enough it was at http://www.apple.com/safari/

I proceeded to download the application, which for the internet connection speed at my university seemed to take forever. I haven't really played with it very much, but it does look nice. It is hard to pin point but there is just a shiny newness to the browser. Text and images just have a polish that is not there in Firefox or IE.

I honestly haven't used Safari for much browsing. I did post a blog entry from it and the first thing I noticed is there was no built in spell check. I am completely reliant on Firefox's spell check.

Most people boil the browser market down to IE and Firefox. I actually have Opera installed as well and will use it from time to time. However, my trusty fall back has been Firefox. I really WANT to find another better browser, but I just can't find it. I think it is a result of the the add-ons that are available for Firefox. These shape my browsing habits more than anything else. I actually really like the Speed Dial feature in Opera.

One of the complaints about the Safari browser as of yet was the amount of RAM it consumes. I'd like to point out the fact Firefox isn't very small itself. Currently I have 13 tabs open (maybe a little more than average) and Firefox is consuming about 250 MB of RAM! Needless to say I am glad I have 2 GB of RAM. Apple claims that it is faster than other browsers but I haven't used it enough to judge this for myself.

I doubt I am going to move away from Firefox any time soon. It is reliable and the add-on selection is unmatched by any other browser. However, I believe that having more browser options is only good for the market and will result in a better product for the consumer.

In the end, I now have 4 options for web browsers. That is more than I had a few days ago.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wii Play Tanks - Remixed

IMG_1945First off, let me preface this by saying these were not my ideas, they were my friend's original ideas.

These are alternative methods of playing Tanks, one of the games included in Wii Play. The game by itself is very fun to play, both in single player and multi-player modes. However, by changing the way you play, the game can be even more entertaining.

The first method, and more difficult, is to simply play two player mode and have the players trade nunchucks. In this way, each player drives one tank and shoots the other. This is extremely confusing as you have to track two different positions on the screen. I haven't played this way very much, but is is still very fun.

The other method, and more popular one from what I can tell, is to play with four players on teams of two. Each team has a driver and a shooter. This is fun for several reasons. First, more people are involved. Also, the driver and shooter need to communicate and each focus more on their own task.

One of the things I noticed while playing with four players is that the tank stops moving for a short period of time when a shot is fired.

Tanks is one of the best, if not the best, game on Wii Play. Altering the way you play the game can add an entirely new level of play making the game even more enjoyable.

The Diet of a College Student

This is just the following two pictures. They were both taken in my dorm room. The Coke is not mine, it is my roommates (I don't drink caffeinated or carbonated beverages). The snack food on the other hand is mine. :D

IMG_1943

IMG_1944

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Top 10 Blogging Mistakes I Made in My First Year

Lots of people ask about what it takes to write on a successful blog and one of the keys to it is to make your mistakes early on and learn from them fast. eMoms at Home offers 10 mistakes that were made the first year of blogging, the lessons learned and how she overcame them.



read more | digg story

Thursday, June 7, 2007

So I've never watched any of the Star Wars movies


So I've never watched any of the Star Wars movies. That is, until now. (For those keeping track, I'm in college. I managed to avoid a huge part of pop culture successfully quite a few years.)

Apparently it is a crime to have never watched any of the Star Wars movies. (According to my friends.) Assuming this, I am the worst criminal in the world who was just let out of jail. (Does it make it worse that I am a CECS major?)

I've just finished watching all six movies. Granted, it took two weeks to squeeze them into my schedule, but I've just finished watching the third movie today.

Yes, I did watch them in order. By this I mean chronological. By that I mean 4,5,6,1,2,3. (This isn't easy to describe.)

I can't say that I have a favorite one yet but of the last six I liked the 4th the most. Of the first three I wanted to watch the third the most (knowing it linked together the two halves of the Star Wars universe). However, that doesn't mean it was my favorite. My favorite character, without a doubt, is Yoda. I don't understand why everyone hated Jar Jar so much. He wasn't that annoying.

I'm not going to dwell too much on this topic, that would mean that I have become a Star Wars geek. The best part about having watched all of the is that I now understand more pop culture references. Also, my friends no longer look down on me. ;)

The one thing that has been cleared up by watching the movies, it was actually the fifth movie where I finally understood, is why a Yoda Backpack was so awesome.

(Digg) Yoda Backpack
(ThinkGeek) Yoda Backpack

I knew that I would have to watch them all at some time in my life. I guess it is good that I managed to watch them all in such a short period of time.

I'm going to end this now. I fear that if I talk for too long I may become like so many others and become obsessed with the lure of the Star Wars universe.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Very busy with homework

I've not been able to post lately because I've been very busy working on homework. It looks like I might have some time here this weekend to post but in the mean time my loyal readers will just have to wait. ;)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

It's official: Google has bought FeedBurner

Both companies just posted that the rumored acquisition has in fact happened. No mention of the rumored price of $100 million. See also FeedBurner post (http://blogs.feedburner.com/feedburner/archives/2007/06/feedburner_google.php ) and why this is smart (http://tinyurl.com/2uwx7r )



read more | digg story

Speed News Blog

I just wanted to post that the Speed News Blog that I just started is now up and running. It even has the first few articles posted and more are to come very soon. I'm going to have my first edition of the paper published this weekend. This is going to take a large chunk out of my time so I'll probably be posting on my personal blog a little less. I posted a link to the blog below.

Speed News Blog

Friday, June 1, 2007

Tablet PC: Organizing Files and Backing Them Up

I have been subtly influenced to post again about Tablet PCs. This time I'll focus on how I organize my files and how I make sure that I don't lose those very important class files that are on my tablet.

How do I keep myself organize? I have several pieces of software that I have to use in order to keep all of my files organized so that I can efficiently function during class and while I do my homework. During class I use OneNote 2007 to take notes and during EAC 201 I use DyKnow to get the class notes. I use Outlook 2003 for my calendar and tasks (although I don't use it for any email). For keeping track of my grades I use Excel. I use other office products for classwork (Word, PowerPoint) when appropriate, but normally not during class. Lastly, I use Windows Journal when I want to do homework in digital ink.

Obviously this is a large amount of files to keep organized and many of them are of different file formats. The first way I have found to keep organized is to make a root folder for each semester that I am in school. Since I've been in school for three semesters I have folders named the following:

  • Louisville 2006 Fall
  • Louisville 2007 Spring
  • Louisville 2007 Summer
These folders each contain sub-folders for each of my classes. I also have additional folders for organizations that I am in. In my case the folder is for Speed School Student Council. Even though I have folders for classes I do have files in the folder for each semester. These include scans of advising sheets, my schedule for classes, and excel sheet of all of my grades, and other random important files dealing with school. The list of sub-folders I have in the Louisville 2007 Summer folder are as follows:
  • EAC 201
  • EG 214
  • HUM 216
  • PHYS 296
  • PHYS 299
  • SSSC
From this point, I change the way I organize files based on the individual class. For EAC 201, we use DyKnow, so I have to save these files in a sub-folder named DyKnow. I also create additional sub-folders in the DyKnow folder for each unit so they are ever further separated. This may seem a little excessive, but I do it just to be on the safe side.

For my physics classes, I do my homework on my tablet so I have a folder named Homework. Since I scan most important documents from class into my computer I use a folder named Scans which keeps them together. Another case where I use folders is for my CECS classes where I need to keep program files for homework, labs, and lecture's organized. In this case I make additional sub-folders to divide lab dates and chapters or units.

Having an organized hierarchy of folders is only part of getting organized. Naming files is important so they can be located quickly. This is more important under Vista than XP because of Vista's wonderful search feature. I recommend putting the course number in the file name as a prefix followed by the descriptive filename. For example my physics 299 chapter 22 homework would be named PHYS 299 - Chapter 22 Homework. Under Vista, if I want to open this file all I type is "PHYS 299 22" or even "299 22" and the file will appear!

Not only are the files important, but having them in a useful form is important. I keep all of my class syllabuses and other class documents in OneNote. I do this by using the OneNote 2007 printer. Basically, I go to file print from any application and print to OneNote where I can keep my important class documents. These files normally come from scans, PDF files, and Word or PowerPoint documents.

As for organizing OneNote, it is nearly identical to the way I organize my files. I use a notebook for each semester, a large division for each class, and one section for the class in general (used for the syllabus and other important things) and an additional section for each unit in the class. This results in almost two identical file structures but keeping them separated is not that big of a deal.

Using OneNote is more of a preference. It would be possible to use a notebook for each individual class. The best part about having notes in OneNote 2007 is the fact they are highly searchable. This is the main benefit of using a tablet PC to take notes in class. Being comfortable using OneNote is by far the most important thing to learn about using a tablet as a student.

As for keeping a schedule organized, I use Outlook 2003. The only reason I don't use Outlook 2007 is because the university will start distributing it to students July 1. I put all of my classes into the calendar. While this may seem redundant, classes are canceled, rescheduled, and sometimes moved. Also, with all of my classes in Outlook it is easier to squeeze meetings into my day. The reminders are useful but I don't rely on them very heavily.

The tasks feature is how I keep track of all of my homework. After I receive my syllabuses for each class I immediately type in every test, quiz, and homework. I tend to rely on the Next Seven Days view in order to know what needs to be done in the coming week. The only major problem is when professors do not assign homework until right before it is due. This requires quite a bit of work keeping up with my tasks, but it helps me stay organized.

Between my school files, OneNote, and Outlook I have over 2GB of files just for class! These files are extremely important and at any given time I will have a handful that will be absolutely devastating if I lost. This is normally a project or my class notes right before a test.

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to back up your files. I've lost many files due to hardware failure before I came to college, and I was determined to be backed up at all times. Since internet is available almost everywhere on campus and is extreamly fast, online backup services are perfect. The one I selected to use was Carbonite (I earlier blogged about Carbonite in my post Software: Carbonite) It costs about $50 a year for unlimited backup. It is basically set it and forget it. Only 10 minutes after I make a file it is backed up to an online server. They update the file every 24 hours. This all happens automatically without any user intervention.

Theoretically, if my laptop batter were to explode I wouldn't lose a single file. While not having my laptop in class would be very difficult, having all my files disappear would be even worse. I spent all this time organizing my files I don't want them to disappear when my hard drive fails.

SSSC Freshman Game Night

I can't resist, I have to post a response to the blog entry Travis just posted. First I suggested that he blog about it (the freshman game night for orientation) and suddenly he replies to my my Facebook wall where I suggested it post saying he already did.

His entry was: SSSC Society Game Night Numero Dos
(Side note to Travis, your welcome for the Technorati rank increase)

Travis covered the drama but I have to tell the story of what he said while he was on the phone. Myself and Mary were covering the play by play of his conversation on the phone with the DPS office, it was quite entertaining. I won't tell the entire story, but Travis needed buildings to be unlocked and they were not cooperating because we were not in their schedule. (In the end it was resolved and everything worked out.)

The first person he talked to he pulled out (approximately) the following line while trying to get the buildings unlocked:

I hope we can resolve this issue so that the freshmen never knew it even came up.


Awesome! That was such a one two punch. However, when he moved on to the second person, he wasn't as slick with the words.

Overall the game night was amazing. The networking with the freshmen went awesome. It's late so I'll cut this post short even though I probably have more to say about the subject.