Mike’s Editorial — A Variety of Items

Man oh man what a time. You know how things come and go in cycles… This is one of those times. Lots of little things piled up…

My cousin was appointed as ambassador for Le Festival du Voyageur (a major local mid-winter party in French similar to Mardi Gras). Congratulations Roger!

I may have mentioned this one earlier. My new quad-core PC had a hard drive failure. It’s a good thing I backed up everything before it stopped functioning. I replaced the drive and bought another couple of hard drives.

While the Linux box was down I was doing all my work on the Mac Mini. Very stable little machine under OS X 10.6. I skipped from 10.4 to 10.6 with no problem. Although it has some features from Linux to make life A LOT easier it is slightly slower than 10.4. Then again I hear it is optimised for 64 bit machines and the Mini is a 32 bit machine.

The operating system I am using now is Mint 8. It is a derivative of the Ubuntu Linux distro. The main focus is multi-media. It contains all sorts of programs and codecs which are illegal in the States (and apparently Japan) but are legal in the rest of the world. At the moment I am running the 64 bit version. Oddly enough it seems more stable than the 32 bit version. Unfortunately KDE in this environment sucks. KDE is much better under 32 bits.

Loads of updates. Some are better than others.

It seems there is a war of zombie computers controlled by bot-nets. The whole net is slowing down as a result. Thank goodness I don’t run Windows except for games. Come to think of it I really haven’t played a Windows game in six months. At least I’m not part of the problem. There is some argument about an update to Windows 7 causing the BSOD on some machines. At first they denied it. Then they admitted it but blamed the users. Now they accept full responsibility.

Firefox keeps updating. I hope it’s a good thing. Google Chrome seems to be making progress.

Last Thursday I picked up a cheap MP3 player with a bunch of features. In addition to MP3 playback it also has voice record/playback, pictures, and video capability. The most annoying thing at this point is the video is only in the proprietary .AMV format. Of course they have software which will convert from .AVI to .AMV BUT IT ONLY WORKS IN WINDOWS! A quick search of the net shows there are no conversion programs for anything but Windows. There are some solutions which involve jumping through hoops but they appear to involve patching programs and wasting tons of disk space. DRM sucks! It might be an interesting project for someone outside the States. This is starting to sound like the battle to get video DVD support under Linux/BSD.

Related to the MP3 player… It seems iTunes is still the best program to convert entire CDs to MP3. Actually I should say it is the easiest program to use.

Friday I was told the lab where I volunteer is going to have a change in floor plan. I was trying to envision how it would look. I was going to run the GIMP (which I talked about in earlier issues) but decided to see what else was available. Open Office (which we use at the lab) has a drawing program. It is fairly rudimentary but is more than capable in this case. It lacks some features. However I suspect it was just a matter of looking for them since I only had 20 minutes.

My local ISP (Shaw) appears to be slowing net connections for anyone using bittorrent (there are legitimate uses like getting Linux distros, games, and programs like Open Office/Neo Office). We are paying for a 6Mbit connection and are barely getting 2Kbyte at times. Related to this, Google is looking to offer a package similar to what Bill gets in Japan in certain test markets. They are first going to start with the States. Rumour has it they will come to Canada next. Unfortunately the phone and cable companies have already started whining to the CRTC (same as the American FCC). In this case the competition will produce some good results. Either a reduction in prices (down to .001% of current) or a 1000x increase in speed (or both). Either way sign me up.

You know… For someone who is strictly speaking unemployed, I sure am busy.

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