Dec 302010
 

I wanted to take a moment to thank Mr. Vasken Hauri. He is the author of the excellent Tagline Rotator Plugin for WordPress.  I use this plugin to rotate the quotes from the movie The ‘Burbs in my blog tagline.  He recently updated the plugin to version 2.0.  When I updated to the new version several bugs manifested themselves including duplicate entries and various additional characters being added to words with apostrophes in them.

I sent an email to Mr. Hauri and he literally responded within 2 hours and he updated the plugin to fix the issue the next day!  That’s service!  Thank you to Vasken for writing an excellent plugin and for providing personal service.  This is even more commendable when you factor in he does this for fun (not for profit) and he responded during the busy Holiday season.  Thank you sir!

Sep 142010
 

I must say this up front: I am unabashedly in love with my iPad. I use it daily for many tasks. I get my news from Reeder (which is the best RSS reader in the App Store bar none), Twitter and Facebook fixes, and of course gaming. When I first got the iPad I gave serious consideration to selling my Macbook. I was sure the iPad could replace it. I was very close to listing the laptop on eBay. When I decided to bring this site back after a two year hiatus, I soon realized I couldn’t simply sever myself from the full desktop computing experience.

The realities of setting up a website, even one as simple as a WordPress blog, still require the investment of time and the use of powerful tools. This is one area where the iPad cannot compete. Tasks such as website administration, managing FTP connections, SQL databases, bulk image uploads, and general CSS code editing and tweaks are not easily done from an iPad. A multitasking OS environment is an absolute must. This may be obvious to some as the iPad is generally known for consumption, not creation. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see my lofty expectations quickly grounded. After having not used my Macbook Pro for a solid fours months, I suddenly needed it more than ever.

The process of migrating this site from Serendipity to WordPress alone was a one and a half week effort (a few hours a night). I was knee deep in SQL databases, choosing themes and plugins, and tweaking code to get exactly what I wanted. My iPad sat on the sidelines. After that experience I’ve landed in a great place. I no longer saddle the iPad with the unrealistically high expectations of replacing a desktop computing experience. I can now truly enjoy it for its intended purpose. I now realize it’s going to be a while before the iPad or something like it can truly replace the desktop.

The iPad is indeed “magical and revolutionary” for its ease of use and media capabilities. It is obviously the beginning of something bigger in the world of computing. I can’t wait to see what happens next. But for now, I’ll be doing all my “real work” from a laptop or desktop. What ever else I can get away with will be done on the iPad.

Aug 142010
 

About two weeks ago I decided to bring back my blog.  And by blog I mean an area to jot down random thoughts that are too long for Twitter and/or Facebook.  I started PerfectCr.com in 2005 but got away from it the past few years.  I first discovered WordPress when I saw the iPhone app. (iTunes Link) There was only one issue; my “old” blog used the excellent Serendipity Weblog System.  Luckily I had performed a back up of the old S9Y SQL database knowing one day I would start back up again.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with S9Y.  In fact the software is very good, flexible, and open source.  The lead developer Garvin Hicking is always on the forums ready to answer questions.  However from what I’ve seen WordPress is a bit more user friendly.  That paired with the simplicity of creating posts from the iPhone/iPad app was enough to get me to switch.

The next step was to search for a method to import my old S9Y database to WordPress.  After performing some Google-fu, I ended up at Snowulf.com.  Jon there had taken an earlier version of the importer and updated it to version 1.4. Just let me say Jon was extremely helpful.  I bothered him on Twitter for well over a week as well as posting several questions on his site.  He was patient and very helpful.  Frankly I may not have been able to complete the import without his help.  I performed the steps he outlines in his readme and the import went smoothly.

So here we are!  I choose a minimalist theme and will continue to update some broken links in my older posts.  Glad to be back and I look forward to adding more content as time passes.

Jun 272006
 

The Joy of Widescreen
I recently purchased a Dell 2007WFP 20.1″ Widescreen LCD Monitor. I will share my thoughts on this monitor. We are all aware the world is moving away from boring square TVs in favor of beautiful widescreen HDTV’s. The human eye sees the world in wide aspect, not a 4:3 square, so why should you look at your PC that way? Recently widescreen PC Displays have become very popular. Game developers are now shipping products with widescreen support right out of the box. The 2007WFP has a native resolution of 1680×1050, which is a 16:10 aspect ratio.
Valve Software, makers of Half Life 2, was one of the first developers to embrace widescreen support in their games. Lucasarts included widescreen support for the PC and Xbox verions of Battlefront II. Others have implemented widescreen support via a game patch like Crytek did for Far Cry.

Gaming in widescreen, for me, is a completely different experience than gaming on a standard 4:3 monitor. Games look and feel more immersive. I find myself revisiting older games just to replay them in widescreen. WidescreenGamingForum.com is an excellent resource for PC gamers looking to migrate to a widescreen display. WGF.com also shows you how to run your old games in widescreen through .ini settings and other means.

I find playing games in widescreen adds a different aspect (no pun intended) to the gameplay. The user has a larger view area. Instead of trying to focus on a narrow area in front of me, I now have a more natrual viewing area. My eyes are relaxed, able to see all the action without straining. The action feels like it is happening around me. I am not simply viewing the action, I feel I am part of it. It may sound silly to those would have not gamed in widescreen. Once you try it, you’ll know what I mean!

Working on the desktop is much nicer as well. The added screen “real estate” helps when viewing or editing photos and videos. Browsing the web is much more comfortable. I have Windows Media Center Edition 2005 and on my old 4:3 monitor a widescreen video would be a small band in the middle of the screen. Now I can enjoy movies and HDTV shows in full screen from a comfortable viewing distance.

Overall, I feel like PC gaming is “back” for me. I have a desire to now replay all my old games and conquer new games, all in widescreen! I got my 2007WFP when Dell was offering a $100 off coupon plus free shipping. Keep an eye out on websites like slickdeals.net to make sure you don’t pay full price!

Color Banding and the Fix
It’s rare these days to encounter good customer service,
as we’ve recently been reminded. I have always purchased Dell LCD monitors for my home PCs because of the low prices and quality screens Dell produces with partners like Samsung and LG/Philips. I never encountered a problem, but I heard the horror stories if one was unfortunate enough to have a problem. Long hold times, difficult to understand Customer Service Reps, and more. Soon after I ordered, I began to read the horror stories about the “07″ line of Dell LCDs. The initial factory line experienced a problem with color gradient banding, as extensively documented here, and here.

I headed to the Dell Community Forums and to my surpise Dell listened to their customers and responded! All I had to do was send a private message to Chris from Dell and I would be shipped a new monitor with updated firmware that fixed the problem! I sent my PM to Chris on 5/29/2005, and received my new monitor on 6/20/2006 at no cost to me! Now that is what I call service. Dell is to be commended for identifying the problem, listening to customers, and taking quick corrective action. I wish there were more of that out there.

Jun 252006
 

When I first looked into getting a blog I first tried the free ones. Then I tried some manual installs with well known software solutions like WordPress. Finally I stumbled upon Serendipity (www.s9y.org). What an excellent program! I won’t discuss specific technical issues, but let me say it was extremely easy to setup and install. The primary developer, Garvin Hicking, always takes the time to kindly answer any questions you may have on the user forums. If you are looking at a software package to handle your blogging versus a more generic setup like blogger.com, please give Serendipity a try. Best of all, it’s free! Of course, if you like it you should dontate to keep the project moving forward.

You may have noticed I changed the look and feel of my site. I went from a darker tone to a lighter, easier to read layout. This wonderful layout is the work of a talented gentleman named Carl Galloway. His excellent templates for Serendipity allow the user great flexibility in how your site looks. I am specifically using his 1024px template.

I am no expert when it comes to SQL, PHP, or coding of any kind, but if I can do it, so can you!

Jun 232006
 

Over at a blog called insignificant thoughts is a great five minute recording (listen to all of it) of a him trying to cancel his AOL account. A good friend of mine, no joke, got almost a year of AOL service free just by just calling up customer service and threatening to cancel every month. If you’ve ever dealt with AOL customer (no) “service”, you can sympathize with this guy.

AOL users are starting to realize the internet is more than a narrow portal with little to no added value versus what is already available on the internet. Goodbye.

Edit: The original link above has been nailed. Here is another direct link to the sound file if the above link does not work. Click here.

Dec 302005
 

I got myself a little Christmas geek gift! The AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Dual Core Processor. (review) So far, I am very impressed with the performance. The desktop experience is snappier, games are smoother, and media encoding is much quicker. Many current games support dual core processors through patches, and future games will ship with support out of the box.

Of course, I purchased the chip from Newegg, the best online store for computer stuff! ;)

While single-threaded performance is strong, where the processor really shines is multi-tasking on the desktop. The AMD Athlon 64 X2 blows away its main competitor, the Intel Pentium D. Say you want to play a game while running a virus or spyware scan in the background. Or encode a DVD while watching TV. With single core chips, this scenario is technically possible but horribly slow. With dual core, there is no need to compromise, you can do both!

It is amazing that such advanced technology is now available on the desktop, for people like us to buy. If you have a Socket 939 motherboard, usually a BIOS upgrade will get you support for the X2 CPU’s, and you too can enjoy dual core goodness!

Nov 272005
 

I just want to give a quick plug to my favorite tech news site on the web. The Tech Report is an excellent source of Technology news, information, trends, facts and figures. If you are a tech newbie or an enthusiast, you’ll find something of interest. Be sure to stop by the very active forums, I hang out there when I am not busy.

Also, if you play Unreal Tourmament 2004 (UT2004), catch me on the TR UT2004 Game Server.

Nov 242005
 

So I just picked up an EVGA GeForce 6800GS (from newegg.com of course, where else?) Sure, it’s not a huge upgrade from my old 6600GT, but it does make a difference when you want to use some AA and AF in games.
EVGA has always done a great job with their packaging and support. My 3DMark2005 score went from 3444 to 5049. Not bad for a video card upgrade. Just an early Christmas gift to myself!

For a detailed review of the 6800GS, be sure to visit my favorite tech website, The Tech Report. I have included one more glamor shot. :)