Archive for Computers/Internet

Useless keys

I whole heartedly agree with the Capsoff movement. The caps lock key is entirely useless to me and I assume to the vast majority of people. Does anyone have a legitimate use for it in it’s default mode? Yet, it’s meer existance is not a problem at all for me; the problem really just its prominent location on the keyboard. It would sit just fine on a wee little square next to it’s kin, the num lock. As it is, it gets a position even more prominent than the return key! Of course you can remap it, but why should we have to?


Location, Location, Location

Google map pointing to center of Ann ArborWe finally put up an ad looking for one (or maybe two, I’m still not sure if Latika is staying) new housemates for next year.  When I happened to be using a Google map of Ann Arbor it struck me that we can honestly say our house is “centrally located”. Check it out: a search for “Ann Arbor” points to our very own block, though on the other side. We are beat out only by the likes of the Ann Arbor offices of Weather Underground and Mysore Woodlands.

Incidently, here’s the description from the ad we are currently running,

A room is available in a six-bedroom, two-story house with friendly graduate studentish people (in fields such as anthropology, physics, and archeology). The house is on a quiet and very convenient tree-lined street near Kerrytown. The house has a large kitchen, two full bathrooms, free off-street parking, free washer and dryer, a living room, small reading room/dining room, very large basement storage space, a “mud room” for bikes and other storage, and a cable internet connection with wired and wireless networks. It is ten minutes walking distance to the UM Central Campus, even less to the Medical Campus, and on a bus route to North Campus (#1). It is one block from Kerrytown, Zingermann’s deli, the Farmer’s Market, and The People’s Food Co-op; and only minutes from downtown Ann Arbor.

We’d like to find considerate, environmentally-minded people with which we could enjoy sharing a drink and some chit-chat. If you enjoy life and keep the sink relatively clear of dishes we should be able to get along. You don’t have to be a non-smoker, but please no smoking inside. The cost of all utilities (including the internet connection and some common kitchen supplies) is an additional $65/person/month averaged over the whole year.


No E-mail for Me-male.

Destroyed Hard DriveMy email has been completely inaccessable since before lunch time Friday. A “raid lockup caused file system corruption” I hear. That’s techno-talk for good luck connecting to the outside world, your e-mail is officially frakked. For now I must cross my fingers and hope the interns weren’t playing with thermite, so I can get back the 3200 messages I had in my inbox.

If the problem was gun-play in the data center I’m sure HP would like to sell the U. some servers.

(Speaking of frakking, did you know there are 11 people nerdy enough to announce that they want to “frack a cylon” on 43things. Though I don’t stoop to their level, sadly, I am at least nerdy enough to understand what they are talking about.)

Update: my e-mail is back in commission!


Easy on the Eyes

It is true that the woman in this picture is hot, but is it wrong to think this is even hotter? Yes, I think it is; but, that doesn’t stop me from loving it.


Toronto’s Population

Today, just before going to bed, I happened across an article describing why London would be a good setting for the new GTA4 (Grand Theft Auto 4), which is a game I have “some interest in” and that is due out later this year. At first glance the article has the intense stench of immaturity and longwindedness; it uses phrases such as “it is purest logic”.  Don’t bother reading it.  Better info about the game is at  Anyway, my point is not about GTA4, it is about Toronto and it’s population. The article lists some city populations to make a comparison between previous cities used as inspiration for GTA games (NYC, Miami, LA-SF-LV) and London (which may inspire GTA4). I took note that they listed Toronto’s population as 2.4M, fourth largest in the US and Canada behind New York, Los Angles, and Chicago. Of course, as the dicussion for the “List of Cities by Population” article on Wikipedia indicates, determing what should be included in a city and what even counts as a city can be tricky issues. In fact, the list of cities with highest population includes Toronto, but Chicago doesn’t make the cut (though rightfully even Toronto shouldn’t have made the cut because Hong Kong was excluded because it isn’t technically a “city”, a pointless issue to quible over to my mind.  Nevertheless, it seems clear that Toronto is similar in population, possibly slightly smaller, than Chicago. It is an interesting issue because I was discussion it recently with someone. I knew Toronto was the largest city in Canada (the metropolitan area contains about 1/6 of all the people in Canada), but it wasn’t clear to me that it was above 2 million or as close in population to Chicago, somehow it seems a little smaller than that to me.



Here are two fun visualization applets,


Bike Tree

bike tree
A few years ago hi-tech bicycle stands sprouted up Geneva like fungi. While I was there I kept meaning to swing by one of the bike trees and check it out, but I nevered seemed to cross my mind when I was actually in town. This week Gizmodo reminded me of my negligence. I promise I won’t let it happen again. Also, even if you are a bicycle hater who lives and dies on a minimum of four wheels you still should visit the bike tree website if only for the nostalgic early-90s web design complete with prominent use of the blink tag.


Laptop Lost in Kentucky

I finally received my new laptop today. It rocks! It’s a Thinkpad 42p with 1.8GHz Pentium M, 60G 7200RPM drive, builtin Wi-Fi, builtin keyboard light, a DVD writer, and the usual kick-ass IBM keyboard and solid build quality. I love it! It wasn’t cheap but I didn’t spend as much as I could of for a computer like this because the T42s are being replaced by the newer T43 models so the T42s are nicely discounted. The -p model Thinkpads are a special workstation variant with a hi-res (1600×1200) screen and special video adapters with more video ram (128MB). It even has a finger print reader to supplement or substitute for password security. That isn’t a feature I really cared about, but it certainly sounds cool. In addition, IBM invented the TrackPoint, that little eraserhead in the middle of the keyboard, and they implement it very well on all the Thinkpads. It’s shocking to me that people consider Trackpads an acceptable alternative. The Wi-Fi and keyboard light are notable IBM features. This laptop has better Wi-Fi reception than many laptops because IBM had the smart idea to locate the antannea along the top edge of the screen rather than buried under the keyboard. Also on the top edge of the screen is a small LED to illuminate the keyboard when it is very dark.

My only two unfulfilled desires with regard to features is builtin flash media slots and a Firewire port. I can get along fine without them, though. With regard to design I only wish the CD drive opened toward the front instead of the side. My messy desk leaves little room to the side, but plenty in front. (I can see how the placement on the side might be advantageous on an airplane, often there is more room to the side than in front.)

What’s this in the title about the laptop getting lost in Kentucky? I ordered the computer over three weeks ago with shipment estimated to be “within 2 weeks”. That did in fact happen, but when the shipment arrived in Kentucky from Hong Kong it was held for a random customs inspection. When I called about it I was told that the issue affected a large shipment of computers and Lenovo had to send someone in person to Kentucky to resolve the issue. (Lenovo is the Chinese company that now owns IBM’s desktop and laptop division. Though my laptop is boldy stamped with “IBM Thinkpad”, as of this summer it is technically a Lenovo product, not IBM.) If you view the rest of this entry you can seen the detailed and confusing tracking info I was faced with for over the week.

Read the rest of this entry »


New Games Journalism

A somewhat old article, but I’m cleaning out a few of my saved links…

The New York Times surprises me a bit with some intensely interesting references to New Games Journalism sprouting up in the UK and hopefully other places soon. It is a mode of video game description and review skipping over specification and impression and cutting right to the human heart of the thing, vignettes of drama played out in well written and intensely personal essays.

The link they don’t give directly, presumably because their publishing policy forbids use of the n-word (not unreasonable, be even inside a link?), is right here.


Get Perpendicular!

Speaking of music videos… In case you are sourcing harddrives for your latest iMod, here’s some news that you can use: Hitachi is promoting their new technology where the bits on a hard drive platter are oriented vertically, increasing data densities 10 fold. They have sent out an animated call to all you portable rockers to “Get Pur-pen-dic-ulaarrrr!”. It is not to be missed. Rock on, bits, rock on. (found via Gizmodo, which also mentioned some interesting magnetic concept cups found alongside the questionable a urinal lamp )


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