failing like never before


Ubuntu – Squishy Snake

I was riding my bike to the library today, when I happened to notice what appeared to be a brownish hose lying on the road in front of me. Since I have a mountain bike, I usually just run over small stuff like hoses. But as I got closer, I noticed all of a sudden, that it was not in fact, a garden hose, but a snake all coiled up and enjoying the morning sun. Instinct took over.

You see, I live in a fairly rural area, where rattle snakes, deer, and wild turkey are common. Something, every teenager learns when learning to drive in my town, (although technically, we're too small to be a "town") is that if a wild animal or domestic pet runs out into the road in front of your car, don't try to swerve out of the way, just hit it. It happens all the time; someone tries to swerve out of the way of a wild turkey, only to hit a tree, killing themselves and the turkey at the same time. So my instinct when I see an animal in my path, is to slow down a bit but keep going straight (a strategy which has no doubt saved my life but ended that of many a squirrel).

I cannot lie; at the last minute, I pulled my feet off the pedals, held them in the air, and screamed like a little girl. Which was probably a good thing, since the snake make a solid, squishy, sort of noise as both wheels of my bike went over it. It was kind of like the sound a large bug makes when you squish it, only less crunchier. I did not turn around to check if the snake survived, but snakes are quite resilient creatures so perhaps it still lives yet.

Ubuntu has always used alliterations in naming their releases, the distribution name taking the form of <adjective> <African animal>. I therefore propose that a future release be named Squishy Snake, in remembrance of the snake that I killed today.

Just think of the artwork that people could make for it.

I know you're all jealous of my amazing drawing skills. No eight-year-old can rival my genius artistic talents.


HP dv2910us (dv2700) – Build Quality and Design

(The beginning to my review of the HP dv2910us (dv2700) can be found here)

--- Exterior Design

The lid of the laptop features HP's "Imprint" finish, which is basically just a lot of cool swirly grayish lines on a shiny black background. The finish is surprisingly durable, despite being an absolute fingerprint magnet (I suppose that's why HP includes a wipe-cloth with the laptop); my roommate had an HP laptop with the same finish that remained scratch-free throughout the school year, even though I once dropped a ladder on it. The base of the laptop is made of a very solid, dull, black plastic. While there is some slight flexing in the lid, the base is as solid as can be. All in all, the exterior design is quite attractive (at least to me it is).


HP dv2910us (dv2700) – Unboxing

(The beginning to my review of the HP dv2910us (dv2700) can be found here)

Its become fairly popular in reviews these days, to include pictures and a description of one's experiences with unboxing expensive electronic equipment. Lemming that I am, here's my unboxing experience with my HP dv2910us.

The box is a standard, nondescript brown box bearing an HP and Intel logo on the front, nothing at all like Apple's shiny white boxes, complete with carrying handle, that so many people have become fond of. There are people that are of the opinion that it is Apple's attention to small details, like the box, that has allowed them to be so successful. I frankly couldn't give a crap what the box looks like, and I find the Apple boxes to be unnecessarily flashy.

When I opened the box, I was greeted by a lovely little instruction sheet from HP, a sure sign that HP really does care about improving the user experience. A sort of nice clever trick, the simplified setup guide had been stuck into a little slot above the laptop, so that it is the first thing a new HP laptop owner sees upon opening the box. Its the little stuff that counts, right?


AP English Literature

Because I know everyone loves reading my old high school essays, heres another one from my AP English Literature class. I received a nine (out of nine) on this 40-minute timed essay, and was the only student out of 60 to score so high (not that I mean to brag, I realize that my writing skills have grown worse afer high school).

Here's the prompt:

Read the following two poems very carefully, noting that both contain a depiction of a blacksmith. Then, in a well-organized essay, discuss how the relationship of the speaker to the blacksmith affects his attitude toward him. In your essay, you may wish to consider such things as diction, tone, figurative langauge, and style.


HP dv2910us (dv2700) – A Review

On Saturday, two days ago, I bought a brand new HP dv2910us from Circuit City for $680 (US), with a $50 rebate. The dv2910us is a pre-configured version of the dv2700 series, and its popularity with retail stores right now, is why it tends to be so cheap. The same model can be bought online directly from HP for $829.99.

Just as an aside, I would like to point out that HP makes a model called the dv2911us, which is the same as the dv2910us except that it lacks a Lightscribe drive. Lightscribe drives allow a user to "print" an image directly to the surface of a special Lightscribe disc. Its a neat trick, and if you burn a lot of discs and like to have them look pretty, then maybe Lightscribe is for you. But I doubt I'll be using my Lightscribe drive anytime soon though. For most people, the dv2911us is perfectly fine.


The Amazing Thinkpad

I was helping my uncle move last Saturday, and as we were loading his crap into the moving truck I noticed a laptop sticking out of a box full of cables. I pulled it out, and was surprised to find that it was an IBM Thinkpad T21.

I asked my uncle why he had thrown, what appeared to be a perfectly good laptop, (sans battery) into a box full of junk. He replied that the screen had stopped working years ago, and he had simply thrown tossed the laptop into his garage. He was about to throw it away, since he was moving, but I offered to take it off his hands. Luckily, we were also able to find the AC adapter for the T21 stuffed away in one of his boxes.

Its hard to understand why Thinkpads are so popular with large companies, until you've actually used one for an extended period of time. The old IBM Thinkpads were built to last forever, to suffer amazing punishments and just keep on ticking like nothing had happened; I don't think any other company makes laptops like IBM once did. It is still possible today, to buy a refurbished Thinkpad T20 online for about $200 (US), even though the laptop is close to eight years old. My dad didn't quite understand why I liked the Thinkpad line so much, so I showed him just how sturdy the old T21 was by pushing and pressing against various parts of the laptop's frame and screen, to show how it didn't flex at all, and then proceeded hit it a few times against the ground for good measure. Most other laptops will bend like a sapling in a light wind, the instant some pressure is applied to their screens, whereas I could probably use the lid of my Thinkpad as a hammer.


Daily Log – 26 July 2008

So just last week, I got an old IBM Thinkpad T21 from my uncle, because it was broken (screen backlight was dead), and today I finally got a really laptop for school! Now I have something that doesn't take up butt-loads of space, and I can also take to class and the library! Woot!

Its a HP dv2910us, that I bought from Circuit City for $780, with a $50 rebate. Details and a review will be forthcoming.

On another note, yesterday, I made it to the library and back without a flat tire, a first for this summer. I'm not really sure how long the route is, as I travel across some very strange dirt paths, but I put the one-way trip at about ten miles long.

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Lightbox Effects

So unless you've spent the last few years never clicking on an image on a web page, you're quite familiar with Lightbox-like effects (and if not with the name then at least with the effect itself). Here's an example of Lightbox2 for those unfamiliar with it.

When I say "Lightbox-like," I am referring to any kind of "effect" that allows for embedded pop-ups of images and other forms of media (i.e. flash videos, etc). The benefit of Lightbox, aside from the aesthetics, is that it doesn't result in an actual pop-up (which are often blocked by a pop-up blocker on a modern browser), or require the user to navigate to another page and then hit the browser's "back" button to navigate back to the main content. The basic idea is that Lightbox makes a visitor's life easier, supposedly.

I have two problems with Lightbox-like effects. Firstly, the Javascript files required for the effects tend to fatties. The Lightbox2 Javascript files take up 18Kb, but Lightbox2 also requires the Prototype and Scriptaculous libraries which take up 172Kb. Its not a big deal if you're site is already heavily AJAX-ified and already uses Prototype and Scriptaculous, but not everyone's site does. Quite frankly, I find it to be highly annoying that I spend so much time slimming down my images and making sure that people without lightening fast Internet connections can easily access my sites, only to have Lightbox, which is supposed to improve the visitor's experience, bog my site down by requiring 190Kb of Javascript files. There are of course, many alternatives to Lokesh Dhakar's original Lightbox and Lightbox2, many of them which are much lighter in memory. I stumbled across this helpful "Lightbox Clones Matrix" a month or so back, and it usefully lists memory sizes for each "Lightbox clone."