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Microsoft Tags

February 9, 2009 Leave a comment

I have found out about a new technology. Scannable tags from Microsoft.  For example, download to your mobile phone the new Tag app, and use it to take a picture of the tag below.  It will then take you to the URL address that I made the tag into (in this case, my Website).  I see a lot of marketing potential for companies to use this.  Viral marketing especially.  Extra online hidden media with movies and video games.  Previews of new chapters from an author’s new book.  Just post the tag on the back of the book, etc.  Pretty cool!

Microsoft Tag

Windows 7…Wow

February 7, 2009 1 comment

I took the plunge and downloaded and installed the newest version of windows. Called windows 7, and slated to be released this summer, Windows 7 seems to fix a few of the issues surrounding Vista. In the afternoon that I’ve had it working, I’ve noticed a few key things. RAM usage seems to be much less than in Vista running on the same machine. 7 is a fresh install, but the amount that I’m saving in overhead (300-500Mb) leads me to believe it’s not due to the clean install, but rather better memory management. I have not had it crash yet. I tend to have desktop window manager crash on Vista once a day now, so I’m pleased. The new taskbar is awesome! Much easier to get around than in XP and Vista. However, I think Leopard still has the edge. Overall, the first impression is a good one. I’ll be trying to get all my daily use software installed on it, so I’ll have a better idea of whether or not I’ll kick Vista off the machine when 7 is officially released.

Tilt Shift Photography (Faking It in Photoshop)

December 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Tilt Shift photography is used primarily in model photography (not the Heidi Klum variety…the tiny little train type).  It’s a cool way to zoom into and make the little details of the model stand out.  I ran across a website today that teaches how to take real life pics and make them look like they are models.

Found here:

So I did up a few.  I tried the source file linked to on the website, since it was taken in a manner that really allows for the effect to work.  The pictures I have weren’t taken with this transition in mind, so the effect isn’t as noticeable.  It was still fun to learn!

Well…I’m a Mac

November 22, 2008 3 comments

I got a good deal on a used Mac, and since I had a buyer for one of our laptops, I took the deal.  I’m running a Powerbook G4 laptop, and I’m loving it so far.  The screen is 17″, huge for a laptop, and it’s super thin.  It has Leopard installed (the latest build of OS X), so the latest features and eye candy is here.  I really like the layout of the desktop, and some things I thought were drawbacks (the inability to maximize a window to FULL screen, weird option keys, no backspace key), are actually positives (easier to multitask, more functions in a single keyboard, and the ability to use one key for delete and backspace).  The operating system seems rock solid, and I have enjoyed learning how it works so far.  I am looking forward to making music, videos, and editing photos on it.  I was shocked at how easily it network will all my Windows hardware.  The only issue I have is I haven’t been able to get my printer to work over the network.  It sends the data, but nothing prints.  Odd….

Anyway, I think I may like this better than our Windows Vista lappy.

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Ubuntu Review

October 29, 2008 1 comment

When I was a teen, I messed around a little bit with Linux, and hated it.  I felt like I was learning a programming language, and the text based command line program installation just seemed too cumbersome, when Windows worked just fine for me.

Recently, with the problems I’ve had with Vista, general curiosity about what all the hubbub is about, and a friend that convinced me to give it a shot (thanks Matt!), I’ve decided to give Linux another chance.  So for the last few weeks, I’ve been messing around with Ubuntu, namely the Hardy Heron build.  I like it, but it isn’t without its problems.  I wasted a LOT of time trying to get it to play nicely with my laptop’s graphics card, and finally gave up.  This was frustrating, and not a good testament to Ubuntu’s ability to run on all recent hardware.  It runs like a champ on the laptop performance wise, but without the eye candy.  Ubuntu even installed the OS on a separate partition, and kept my Windows program intact.  I have the ability to dual boot operating systems, which is a must for me.  The only other major issue I had on the laptop was that the OS won’t put the hardware to sleep correctly.  Hibernation works, but not the sleep function.

Tonight, I got an old Desktop PC I built before college up and running with Linux.  I’m dual booting Windows and Ubuntu.  It has a cheap graphics card, an old 1.47 GHz processor, and only 600+ Mb of RAM, and it can run with all of the eye candy on.  It’s pretty sweet, and I am blown away by the visual effects.  It beats Vista’s Aero visuals, and even what I’ve seen of Mac’s OS X, and it’s running on OLD hardware.  I do need more RAM, becuase Compiz Fusion has a memory leak issue that doesn’t clear memory quickly enough, so I do hit my limit every once in awhile.

Is Ubuntu ready for primetime (ie my parents, wife, and the general public)?  Not in my opinion.  There are a few things I would change.  No more terminal commands to get programs tweaked to get them to run properly (Screenlets, I’m talking to you).  Better documentation for the newbies.  More Windows programs need to be ported to Linux (Rhapsody, Photoshop, Itunes, to name a few that I use).  Flash and Java need to be easier to find and install (i only want to see the version that works with my build of Ubuntu)  Make the file system a little more intuitive and easy to get around in.  I wanted to find the default background files, and they were buried in a /USR subfolder.  I am still forced into some terminal mumbo jumbo to get certain things working, and if it wasn’t for the internet, I wouldn’t even know how to do half the things I need to in Linux.  The developers have done a bang up job in making installing apps more streamlined, but it’s still very different than in Windows, and I think a lot of the general public would be confused when talking about repositories, packages, third party apps, etc.

What do I like about Ubuntu that Windows doesn’t have?  Multiple desktops…awesome!   Ubuntu has a way to hide your widgets and expose them with a keystroke or mouse hover over a section of the screen, I like this as well.  Most importantly, the ability to get a great experience on older, cheaper hardware.

Will it replace my Windows machines?  Probably not yet.  It’s great to play with, learn, and use a bit here and there, but the overall usability of my Windows apps still beats the Linux apps.  I wish I could get the performance of Linux, the low-overhead eye candy of Linux, the stability of Linux, with the usuability and program library of Windows.

Tomorrow the newest build of Ubuntu will be released.  Called Intrepid Ibex, it has a few cool features I’m looking forward to.  They are USB stick installation of the OS, and Guest Sessions, which allows people to use your PC, without having access to your data.  I’ll upgrade both machines, and try to use Linux on them as much as possible, to see if I could make a permanent switch.

Call me impressed, Linux has come a long way.

New Itunes/Iphone Genius Playlist Feature and 2.1 Iphone Software

September 12, 2008 3 comments

I love Itunes’s new smart playlist feature!  I pick a song, select the Genius playlist feature, and it picks 25 songs from my library that are similar.  It’s pretty slick, and not only that, but Apple has integrated this feature into the Iphone, totally independent of Itunes, so it works on the fly.  It’s MUCH easier and faster than creating an On-the-Go playlist, and is more random than just picking genres.

I’m obviously running Itunes 8 and Iphone software 2.1, since that’s the only way to get Genius running.  I like the new firmware.  Backups and Syncing are now WAY faster, and my contacts list isn’t as laggy any longer.  I don’t know if my apps will still occasionally crash, I’ll have to give it a week or so of use to see if that problem has been resolved.  One HUGE increase in performance is how quickly the apps download and install.  It’s significantly faster.  I tested two apps, they were small, but I have never had apps install so quickly.  I’m also hoping to see the battery life increase that Apple is touting in their 2.1 feature release.  If you haven’t upgraded Itunes and your Iphone software, Genius gives you a good reason too, in my opinion.

Google Chrome

September 2, 2008 1 comment

I’ve done a bit of messing around with Google’s new web browser, called Chrome, that was released today.  I am a huge Firefox fan, so I have the bar set pretty high for what I want in a browser.  So far, Chrome isn’t nearly as fast to USE as Firefox, since I use a lot of gestures allowed by the Firefox addon FireGestures, but Chrome seems faster to VIEW and surf the internet.  Google’s apps load significantly faster.  GMAIL, and Google Docs are very responsive.  I have ran into a few bugs, for example, the Java weather radar loop on the NOAA’s website doesn’t work, and some pages seem to load slower than usual, but overall, I could get used to it.  I like the clean look, the “web” app shortcuts you can post to your start menu or desktop, and the memory management/task manager features.  The biggest issue I have right now is that there are no gesture based plug-ins available.  I hope these arrive soon, because even if I can load pages faster, if I can’t switch tabs and move around without mouse based gestures, the time saved rendering pages is lost.

Download the beta for Google’s new browser HERE.