People always come to me for advice on computers and technology options over the giftmas season. To head this off somewhat at the pass, let me remind everyone that my advice from the end of last year's season still stands: get a Mac. Really.
I'm currently using the laptop as the interim solution / testbed for the LAS idea. It's struggling to run amarok, but works nicely with qiv running a slideshow on top of it, usually.
I admit it. I have a Windows laptop at home. For a very long time, it was my primary system.
For the past year or so, I've been using a Linux laptop as my daily system, reverting to the Windows system for reliable video and HD audio -- basically, it was my media system, which just happened to also have all my email, files, and whatnot.
Some kids had train sets. Actually, I did but it bored me to death. One xmas I got a SpaceWarp. Sure, I started out building the basic design they gave elaborate instructions for, but I got bored with that pretty fast. By the time it finally got dismantled (when my parents moved, natch), I'd rebuilt it at three times the designed height, had created elaborate track-jumping, triple and quadruple loops, and more.
People often ask me, as a technology geek, what kind of computer they should get, so I'm putting this post together as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to address the most common things people ask about when they're considering a new system:
I recently had the opportunity to watch a self-professed Java programmer give a presentation in which one slide listed Problems (with his current Java system) and the next slide listed Requirements (for the wonderful new vaporware system). The #1 problem he listed was code size: his system has millions of lines of code. [...]
So I was really glad to see that this guy had listed code size as his #1 problem.
I just don't like doing things the right way, OK? The right way is boring. You don't learn anything. It's... it's just too easy. So I refuse to use iTunes with my new iPod shuffle (a Chronicka gift) (Chronicka is my new Christmas-Hanukkah Portmanteau). I also dislike iTunes' harsh treatment of my carefully named and organized files (I have a huge "electronica" directory -- in a perfect world, my music would all have quality idv3 tags and I wouldn't need that, but seriously).
So I'm using gtkpod on Linux and winamp on Windows. gtkpod works perfectly, but doesn't seem to automatically transcode my ogg files (not that winamp is doing that well, but I think once I get the LAME mp3 encoder working it should be better), and while it manages the Shuffle's playlist correctly, the interface is a bit kludgy for moving whole groups of songs around on the playlist. Even with multi-select, it only moves one song at a time.
So back to Winamp, both for my larger media collection (though that's transferable, at least temporarily, using my external HDD), as well as for a slightly less grumpy interface.
Winamp's built-in portable media plugin, however, is limited in what it can do. I mean, it's powerful, has an autofill based on playcounts/ratings, syncing, and so on .... but it can't create a customized playlist order -- everything goes in in alphabetical order by file name. Uh.... Not ideal at all.
Replacing the built-in iPod support with ml_ipod, an open source, higher-functionality version, basically just fixes this.
You could probably guess that I love the Firefox web browser, right? I'm also naturally a big fan of the addons you can get to extend its power. I'm always hunting for my favorites each time I upgrade someone's computer, so I finally made one master list linking to the addons website for easier downloading: Firefox Addons
Steven Johnson has a nice quick list of topics we can move beyond when discussing blogs:
1. Mainstream, top-down, professional journalism will continue to play a vital role in covering news events, and in shaping our interpretation of those events, as it should.
5. Blogs -- like all modes of contemporary media -- are not historically unique; they draw upon and resemble a number of past traditions and forms, depending on their focus.
I guess this helps me narrow down my paper topics :)