Archive for May 2009

MSI’s new bling

May 28, 2009

Wired has a good run down of the new MSI X340. They are calling it the MSI’s Macbook Air and for good reason. Take a look at the pics on Newegg. Now I haven’t gotten my hands on one of these just yet, but it looks rather compelling. It would seem that MSI fixed all of the shortcomings of the Apple Macbook Air, namely two USB ports plus built in Ethernet. Oh don’t forget the SD card, vga and hdmi slots. Oh and most importantly it comes in at half the price. I’d say the chief advantage the Air has is OSX, but I bet the X340 will run Linux pretty well.

Really if you are in the netbook market and are looking for something a little bigger (screen size is 13 inches) and looks good than this is the machine for you. I like a good looking machine. I don’t think you have to sacrifice style for price or size and the MSI proves that.

Android on Linux

May 26, 2009

I haven’t had too much experience with the G1 and I thought it was a little bit of a dude, but I am still very excited about the Android project. The potential is there and if someone could pair a good phone with the nice OS I think the market would boom. I do, however, think this latest bit of news is rather exciting. Ars is reporting that Canonical developers aim to make Android apps run on Ubuntu. From the article:

Canonical is building an Android execution environment that will make it possible for Android applications to run on Ubuntu and potentially other conventional Linux distributions. The effort will open the door for bringing Android’s growing ecosystem of third-party software to the desktop.

Google’s Linux-based Android platform is attracting a lot of attention. The new version significantly improves the platform’s reliability and could make it look a lot more appealing to carriers and handset makers. The availability of an experimental x86 port has caused some people to speculate that Android might have a place in the netbook market.

Count me in. This is exciting news. Hopefully we’ll see Android take off. I know I am rooting for it.

Why users fled paper classifieds

May 26, 2009

Ars is running a story about a dramatic shift in people using online classifieds over paper. This isn’t hard to imagine. In fact, my past two jobs, my current apartment, and my bedroom set were all found via craigslist. Of course as the research suggest I fit into the ideal category on all counts (24-44, urban, college student or husband to one, moved to new city, and looking for a job), but that is not to say that I didn’t try other mediums.

When I graduated from grad school in 2006 I moved close to my home town in IL. As such I was familiar with the local media and generally what jobs were available. So when I moved to the area I started searching via print news papers. I found a handful, but my field was technology and there weren’t enough results to meet my desires. So I went searching through the web. I think I typed something like, “Apple Jobs Champaign Urbana.” That turned up a perfect job opportunity via craigslist. Now I was fortunate and applied for the job and got the job offer all in the course of a week. To say that is a fluke is fair enough, also the job was advertised via traditional print media and I could have found it via the University of Illinois website.

Moving on to two years later my wife and I decide to move to Boston so she could do grad school there. Since I had a lot of lead time I started looking for ways to find jobs before moving. One of the main papers here in Boston is the Boston Globe. Unfortunately, you cannot find the paper in print in IL, so that left me without any print. Which is an inherent weakness of print classifieds. They work great if you are local, but if you aren’t they are pretty well worthless. You would think a great newspaper like the Globe would then put their classifieds online right? No their online classifieds pointed directly to yahoo jobs and that was a remix of I am pretty internet savvy and was already registered through Monster so the Globe didn’t offer anything I didn’t already have. Monster did a good job and gave me over 6 interviews, but in the end the job I got was found via craigslist. Searching for apartments was another chore. We used among other sites. They were helpful, but really only found commercial properties. Finally we started looking at craigslist and found a bunch of potential properties and settled on our current place. We are supremely happy. Finally when we moved we needed a bedroom set. First search revealed someone who needed to downsize and quick. We took a look and realized we were getting a very good deal and thus ends the story.

So what is the point? My point is that in all of those cases I tried the print version, but it was of little (in IL) to no (in Boston) use to me. In IL I found plenty of potential jobs, but without a search or backdate functionality (something other than the library) I would have missed out on good opportunities like the job I actually got. In Boston I needed to be local in order to see them in the first place. The papers had their chance. They once were THE place to go for all things classifieds, but their insistence to keep it locked up and to charge money for the adds left a hole. That hole has been filled by craigslist and co. What surprises me is that print papers haven’t realized their mistake and try to fix it. Such as the Globe just rebranding Monster…I assume (though I haven’t ever purchase the Globe) that their actual classifieds are different. Whatever there reasoning they missed their opportunity and I am afraid it is far too late for print classifieds to make a comeback.

Vista SP2 is available

May 26, 2009

Vista Service Pack 2 is now available for download for those who want it.  It will later be pushed through Automatic Updates.

There is a Service Pack blocker tool in case you want to have greater control over which updates you receive.

F6 hack on XP installation

May 13, 2009

Those of you who have installed XP onto a hardware RAID drive know it’s a pain.  You have to make the floppy and use it to install a third-party RAID driver.  This also means you need an internal (not USB) floppy drive.  As these drives go more and more out of the mainstream, it becomes more and more of a pain to install XP on a RAID drive.  

I am having a particularly difficult time with this – not because of lacking a floppy drive.  I have a floppy/card reader combo.  The problem is, I don’t have POWER for a floppy.  I think I have a cable for it somewhere in the studio, but that’s the beauty of a modular supply – I don’t have it when I need it.  But I need XP, because 1) I don’t really want to use Vista anymore, and 2) Vista has issues and won’t even install  Gigastudio LE, and 3) Vista isn’t really compatible with my recording equipment for the home studio (do you see a trend developing?).  Virtually all the cool features (like motorized faders, jog wheel, recording buttons, EQ) don’t work.  So today I’m taking the plunge and going back to XP.

Back to the problem at hand.  I don’t have power for the floppy drive in Computer 1 (though I’m sure there’s an adapter out there somewhere).  But I do have Computer 2 (which does have the correct power).  And this brings me to the hack.  I powered up the Computer 2, and ran its floppy power cable into the floppy drive in Computer 1.  Bingo!  It works.  It probably shouldn’t, but it does work and my RAID drivers are installed.  Don’t have a camera handy, or I’d post some pictures of how crazy this looks.

Is Apple going to lower prices?

May 6, 2009

ars technica has an interesting take on the pros and cons of Apple lowering their prices. I think they do a fair job. Essentially it boils down the fact that once Apple lowers their price they won’t easily raise it back up. One interesting point was that Apple has weathered the downturn in the economy quite well turning record profits, no doubt a huge portion of that is due to high profit margins. I see the point of the ars article, but I am not sure I totally agree.

There are two things speaking as a consumer. First I haven’t ever purchased a Mac. I am writing this on a Mac, but never purchased one on my own. They are expensive and I am just not sure I am willing to pay the increased price when I can get something quite similar at a cheaper rate (I think a lot of business fall into this same problem). I like the OS and they do build beautiful well engineered machines, but for that price? I also like choice, but that is quite a different topic. Now all that said applied to me before the downturn in the economy. Now with the boom of netbooks and general lower prices on computer hardware it is almost impossible to justify a $2000+ 15″ laptop (and I know it isn’t fair to compare a netbook to the MBP, but even a comparable 15″ laptop from most other PC makers is well under 2K). It gets worse if you compare the desktops (with a possible exception with the starting iMac). Of course lowering the prices now on Macs may be bad timing (if things are truly as rosey as Bernanke tried to indicate yesterday).

I don’t know that Mac really needs to lower prices per se, I mean people are still buying their current lineup. The reality is that they should have more choices and with that lower prices. Most people don’t need the processing power of an MBP, but when it is either that or a 13″ screen many opt for the higher price just for screen space. Same is true of Mac Pros. I can think of very few people in the consumer world that need that much computing power, but if you want an expandable desktop there is your option. The point is that they should offer laptops of varying price points with varying sizes. Maybe offer something other than a Mac Mini sub-1000. And lets be truthful is the Mac Mini really that good of a deal? It starts at $600 with no monitor, keyboard, or mouse. By the time you add everything else up, oh and don’t forget the upgrade because the base system is crap, and you have a $1000 machine. Dell could get you into a desktop, not quite as small or sexy mind you, with monitor (flat screen), keyboard, mouse, and printer for less than the $600 price tag of the Mini unit.

My point is that lowering prices might help, but I know Apple, their lowering of prices will be marginal and almost meaningless. Oh people will praise them for it, but it won’t change my mind about purchasing one. I would rather get choice and variety. I think if Apple builds it they will come. The ars article suggests that when people buy the cheaper machines (given that they will be made cheaply) that will cause problems for Apple. I suppose they are right that some will complain, but I think most will realize that you get what you pay for. If you don’t like the quality of the $1000 15″ upgrade to our $2000 MBP. I think that is how most companies work. And for the few that will complain you will reap a whole heap of new customers and wider market share (and probably profit too).