Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Apparently I wasn't as skilled with Legos as I once thought

I just found this on Digg... Basically it is a bunch of Legos that build tiny Lego cars.  Yes, that is correct, they are building, one for every man woman and child in Zion.  Now that sounds like a robots thinking to me.

Eureka would be more entertaining if I was a business major

I need to give credit to Alex for saying something along these lines before I did, but I couldn't help but blog this.

We were watching the new episode of Eureka that just aired today in my dorm room, and we were analyzing the episode where space junk is falling from the sky.  This was the episode that aired right before the new episode.  Simply put, the science in this episode is just crazy.

First off, you can't really repel metal using a magnet, it has a tendency to attract.  This totally negates the final resolution of the plot.  Also, the sudden realization that helped some of the main characters solve the problem with generating enough power was the difference between parallel and series circuits.  There is also a mention of PV cells (photo voltaic) and they are definitely indoors where there isn't very much sunlight.

Back to my main point, Eureka is still a great show, but their science has slipped a little bit.  The engineering classes I've taken just make some of the things they say just comical.  They have nothing to do with the science.  Not to bash business majors, but as a geek, if I took fewer physics classes I'd probably enjoy the show a bit more.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Windows Vista Ultimate

I just finished upgrading from Windows Vista Business to Windows Vista Ultimate on my tablet.  I purchased the very affordable, $8 copy from the IT store today.  It is specifically for Speed School students and is at a reduced price because of our technology fee.

The install took about 2 hours.  It was an upgrade, I'm certain a fresh install would not have taken as long to install the OS but in the long run, I didn't want to reinstall all of my applications again.  After the upgrade I was getting several very scary error messages and driver problems.  Slowly things started to repair themselves and after installing all of the windows updates, things seem to be in good shape.

I haven't had time yet to play with the exclusive Ultimate features, but I'll get around to it.  I'm most excited about the media features that are typically in Home Premium but missing from Business.  Specifically, the media center for Vista may prove to be quite useful.

Lately a large amount of my friends have been installing Vista.  I'm seeing a big move towards the new OS.  It might be because of the fact it is almost free, but none the less, it is still worth using.  Although it has some problems, as a whole, it is as reliable and useful as Windows XP when it was first released.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Egyptian Ratscrew

A while back I programmed the game of War.  It was a simple problem to solve.  My goal was mainly to see the distribution for number of rounds it took to win a game.

Having mastered that problem (but never really published my results, I'll do that sometime) I moved on to a new challenge.  The name of the game is Egyptian Ratscrew.  While there are many different variants of this game, I'm focusing on the one I'm familiar with.

The problem with ERS as opposed to war is the choice involved.  While War involves no decisions by the player, ERS adds the component of "slapping" the deck.  I'll attempt to overcome these difficulties by applying different approaches to the game.

Although I currently have a working prototype of the game, it is not worth publishing anything yet as it is still in the early stages of development.

Skype Outage

Today I was having trouble logging onto Skype on my desktop and though nothing of the problem.  Then, when I turned on my laptop and found it to not be working there as well I became suspicious.

My first though was that there was some problem with my ISP but I was able to browse the Internet normally so that was not proving to be the problem.  After browsing Skype.com I was able to track down the problem to a major outage that will last from 12-24 hours.  This is very out of character for Skype as in my previous experiences I was able to connect to Skype even when the most limited Internet access was available.

The Skype post about the problem indicates it is a software problem and they are working quickly to resolve it.

Apparently they work faster than I can blog because now Skype is now logged in.  Hopefully it lasts.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Scanner for College

I never wanted an all in one scanner/printer/copier for college.  I always wanted a laser printer, which are cheaper in the long run.  However, I often found myself in the situation where I needed to scan in, and even on rare occasions copy documents, but I didn't want a bulky costly all in one.

My old, old, old scanner, an HP ScanJet 4200 just retired to the great computer junk pile in the garage and a new scanner will grace my dorm room next week.  My extent of shopping consisted of looking at several online retailers that sold scanners, realizing they all cost more than I wanted to spend, then going to Staples and buying the cheapest one in the store.

I will admit, it wasn't the most informed purchase I've ever made but I'm satisfied with it.  I purchased a Canon CanoScan LiDE 70 - flatbed scanner (I even reviewed it on CNET and you can see my review here).

My biggest decision was between a single document feed scanner and a flatbed scanner.  I went with the flatbed because I sometimes end of copying and scanning out of books and I wanted to leave that possibility open.

Now for the reasons I really like this scanner.  This scanner is different from older technology in that it uses LEDS as a light source.  As a result it uses a fraction of the power of older scanners.  This technology is the LiDE part of the scanner name.  Since it uses less power it can run off of a USB cable.  This scanner is also very compact.  One of the problems I face with my old scanner was storage and cords.  My new scanner will store upright and take up a fraction of the room.

An additional bonus is this one will run on Vista.  My pervious scanner was too old and will never have any Vista compatibility and I was forced to do all of my scanning from my desktop.  While I've not really scanned many things yet, I'm excited that I'll now be able to scan materials from my classes directly into OneNote 2007.  Scanning paper documents distributed in classes allows me to have everything with me at all times by having it stored on my Tablet PC.  This scanner will hopefully make that process a little easier.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Vista Updates - Service Pack Zero

This isn't Windows Vista Service Pack 1, but it might as well be.  The updates released by Microsoft came in two parts.  The first was the performance and reliability pack while the second was the compatibility and reliability pack.

While the names leave something to be desired, the updates do cover a wide range of problems.  This bundle is not yet included as an automatically pushed Windows Update, but the stand alone installer treats is exactly like any other Windows update.

While the only problem on the list that may have ever affected me was the printer spooling and file transfer speeds, it still seems like an important update for anyone using Vista.  From what I can tell there have been limited problems with people involving the install.

It appears that the main result from these updates is correcting longstanding, but very specific, problems that have plagued some Vista users.  While Vista comes under sever scrutiny from many Windows XP users, I have found it to be a superior operating system (even though it still has its problems).