Friday, July 20, 2012
what a difference 16 months makes!
alright, my non-existent posting schedule makes this a complete joke, so let's dispense with the personal stuff since the two or three people who subscribe to this blog know me personally. if not, I have another son who is 2 in addition to the one who is now 5, and I also got a new and better job.
so, in the Give Our Abilities Time technical world, here's what's new:
- the new job doesn't do tablet PCs. they don't do Windows 7 or Office 2010 or OneNote, really, either. so I loved that TabletPC, but the world shifted around me in the last 16 months and I don't think I'll ever lay hands on another TabletPC.
- however, I did get an iPad 2 as an unexpected gift from my parents. at first, since I had just switched from Blackberry to iPhone (4), I didn't entirely see the utility of it since it just seemed like a big iPhone, but I started to enjoy the fact that it was a lightweight device good for sitting on the couch and surfing without having to boot up a big behemoth work laptop that heats up your knees. then I discovered ebooks and the fact that your place in the ebook synced between the iPhone and the iPad, so you could read on iPhone on the subway and then the iPad would turn right to that page when you were home, and that was cool, too. and then I decided I would make a concerted effort to use it at work, and started using Penultimate for note-taking with a Spigen SGP Kuel H10 stylus, GoodReader to read PDFs and annotate/think about stuff in a kind of OneNote-like fashion, Dropbox to sync them all, and I finally figured out how to get DisplayLink to work consistently with my work wifi so the iPad could be a portable 2nd monitor, and now I am finding I don't miss the TabletPC that much. I mean, I miss it when it takes 15 minutes to boot my work PC and launch my apps, and writing on the iPad is not the same as the TabletPC, and I wish Microsoft had a usable solution for iPad written input (and I've tried MobileNoter but having only their cloud or a service to sync with my PC via wifi doesn't work for me given the way things are set up at work) but in some ways the iPad + laptop combination is more functional, if harder to lug around.
- oh, I do still use OneNote, but it's version 2007 since that's the version of Office we're on at work. I knew this coming in so the shock and horror took place before I got my hands on my work PC so I'm at peace with it. I still use 2010 at home, and just installed 2013 the other night which seems nice enough so far but, on Windows 7, not nearly as radical as screenshots of the Metro UI and radial menu would have you believe, but at work it's all about 2007 and local disk repositories (or I set up a share on my laptop hard drive for teammates). and that's OK, I don’t remember what I'm missing.
- news that Windows Media Center is dead bums me out a little but I'm not in a huge hurry to switch over to Windows 8. one thing that has changed is that I've simplified my environment, so I have a single desktop that does all the downloading and converting of TV shows as well as hosting them for the XBOX Media Center Extender, and it's also my PC that I type this on and play Unreal Tournament 2004 on and run the occasional VM on and stuff. the main reason for this is that my older PC, the previous Media Center host, died, and I had to hastily move its functions (and disks) to the newer desktop. as a happy accident, my inability to configure DVRMSToolBox to convert MKV files to DVR-MS so they could play on the XBOX led me to explore other options, specifically conversion to WTV, which not only works fine but also takes like 30 seconds instead of 30 minutes for DVR-MS. so the death of "seer" and subsumation of its features into "snake" has been a net positive for me.
- having reduced my power usage from two giant desktops running all the time to one, I have been thinking about further reductions. in a Gartner presentation in December ("The Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2012"), I rolled my eyes at "The Anti-Virtualization Project," which posited that certain applications would benefit from being pulled from VM on shared big iron to a small low-power server. then, of course, my wife began to complain about the loud fans on my desktop PC which blasted away to cool all 8 processor cores during the 23 minutes it took to convert downloaded TV shows to iPhone. even when idle, the PC's fan still made it noticeable that a relatively large desktop PC is on all the time in my apartment. the truth hit me - if I don't load any shows onto my iPhone until 7:30AM the next morning, and the newsgroups release them between 11PM and 4AM, a really slow device can still convert them in time. and now that I convert to WTV to watch on XBOX instead of DVR-MS, that part takes no time at all.
- consequently, I have just spent $35 on a Raspberry Pi. though it could also replace the XBOX for Media Center type stuff, or attach to Lego robots that I'd like to build with my older son when he gets a little older, for now I am thinking that it might be nice to give this PC, which has been on pretty much non-stop since May 2010, a little break and let something else download the TV shows at night. and maybe convert them for iPhone during the day. who knows how slow it will be compared to this 12GB RAM, 8-core, SSD+2HDD monster, but it might be nice to not hear the fan, and maybe the apartment would be a degree or two cooler, too.
- I finally said the hell with Linksys/Cisco, and switched to an ASUS RT-N56U -- this thing is the jam. I had problems with my WRT610N overheating and having to be turned off all the time, culminating in its heat death after maybe 2 years of service, then I replaced it with an E4200 that died the same night I bought it after I used the setup wizard to update the firmware as it suggested, then Best Buy didn't have a replacement so they sold me an E3000, which I think was literally just a WRT610N with an "E3000" sticker stuck onto it to make it seem newer. It had the same overheating problems which got worse and worse over a year to the point where I turned it off every night after my wife went to sleep, and then I saw this article which made me think, why am I spending so much time troubleshooting and getting angry about this $250 Linksys piece of shit when there is a $100 router that everyone loves? so far, I've been really happy with the ASUS these past six months, it improved my ping in Unreal Tournament 2004, and I have not had to power cycle it for any reason unlike the Linksys which was a monthly occurrence. I'm now using it to host the 1TB drive from my former Media Center PC via a hard drive docking station and it seems to do that just fine (albeit at a maximum of 10MB/s or ~100Mbit, which I'd think should be faster). I expect to continue this in the Raspberry Pi world.
- dear Facebook iPhone app, do you somehow get paid by switching me from showing the news in "Most Recent" order to "Top Stories"? because the number of times I have to switch it from Top Stories back to Most Recent, which is the way I always want to read it, is astonishing and drives me batshit. generally speaking, the Facebook app for iPhone is slow and annoying, but the fact that it keeps switching the sort order, so I see old stuff on top of new stuff, fills me with a murderous rage.
- too late to tweet this, but I read with amusement an NY Times article on potential RIM shareholder lawsuits. with all due respect, do any RIM shareholders expect to recoup their investment in any way other than by suing RIM? to be blunt, does anyone still own RIM stock other than to be part of the class seeking damages for RIM totally sitting there like morons while every other major smartphone platform took all their lunch money over the course of the last 4 years? is there actually any such thing as a RIM stockholder that believes RIM is going to rise from their grave and resuscitate the stock? no. you dumb fuckers should have sold 2 years ago, don't sue RIM because you were too dumb to read the writing on the wall, which is now in neon orange and basically is the whole wall. that writing says "YOU LOST ALL YOUR MONEY ON THIS STOCK TWO YEARS AGO, MORON, AND IT IS NEVER COMING BACK. DON'T SUE US BECAUSE YOU'RE A FUCKING IDIOT."
That is all. I may post again within the next 6 months. Keep your RSS reader at the ready.