I’ve been busy the last week and haven’t been doing much long form writing and Futurist Now has suffered for it. What’s been keeping me busy?
My new EeePC
I picked up one of Asus’s delightfully tiny new netbooks, the EeePC. A netbook is a new category of sub-notebook device with low end specs designed primarily for browsing the web. The EeePC clocks in at a measly 900Mz, but at 9″ and under 3 lbs it’s easy to forgive it’s specs in lieu of it’s ultimate portability. So far I’m finding it an ideal email machine for use at meetings at work, and as a great bedroom/couch machine for keeping an eye on the tubes while relaxing or watching movies.
Being entirely solid state (the EeePC 900 series comes with 12GB of flash memory rather than a hard drive with spinning platters) it’s shock resistant, and gets surprisingly good performance for it’s diminutive specs. Due to the random access nature of flash memory the EeePC boots quickly and gets great battery life (3 hours of real use). While solid state drive (SSD) technology is still not competitive in price or storage capacity to typical hard drive (HDD) technology I can see the potential and am starting to get excited about the predictions that in 2011 or so SSD will all but completely replace HDD technology in notebooks and desktops.
While the EeePC 900 I picked up came pre-loaded with Windows XP I’ve done some experimentation with putting Ubuntu on it. As with my typical annual cycle I attempt to put some variant of Linux on my computers to see how the OS X/Windows competition is doing. This time however I was surprised – the latest Hardy Heron (8.04) release of Ubuntu is slick, polished, and works ‘out of the box’ on all the hardware I had laying around. While Ubuntu might be getting attention as a decent desktop alternative where I think it really shines is on a low end PC like the EeePC – it’s limited feature set and lean architecture work perfectly on a device with CPU and memory constraints.
Being a 3 day weekend I took the opportunity to see a couple of movies with Brien and Brian. We saw both Indiana Jones 4: The Crystal Skull, and Iron Man. Both movies were excellent (if not over the top) and fun movies to see while on holiday. I was never the hardcore fan of the Indy series that Brien was, and much to his horror I actually liked the newest one best from the series. It captured the fun essence of the earlier flicks while maintaining a fresh and modern feel even while being set in not so modern times.
Iron man also kept a modern feel, although it did so with a very modern setting. Having never read the comic book I assume I missed out on a lot of the back story, but still found the story presented in the movie touching and engaging. Having grown up idolizing gadget superhero (Hello, Inspector Gadget) it’s nice to see a modern take on a technological super-hero. Final note on the movie: I need a flying metal suit, that looks fun!
Lensbabied sneaker opus
Last but not least, a quick shot I took with my Lensbaby 2G while out on a photo walk on Saturday. I’ve been using my 18mm and 50mm primes a lot and decided to take the Lensbaby out and go for a stroll. I’m certainly glad I did as one of the resulting shots is a clear winner in my odd little abstract world.
It’s amazing in this increasingly technical world how something so small can cause such big problems. My Thinkpad T61 laptop at work developed a single bad sector in one of it’s 2GB RAM modules (specifically a 6 byte range) which has caused endless random behaviors and blue screens. Funny how a single bad transistor, less than a trillionth of an inch across can cause an entire computing system to careen out of control.
Thankfully Lenovo was quite gracious about it and sent a new stick via 2 day air and I got it installed. Aside from perhaps an overly-aggressive feedback cycle they managed to impress me with their customer service. I just received and installed the RAM module and a quick 10 minute pass of MemTest86 revealed no errors and so far Vista seems much more stable. Here’s hoping that the stability continues – as best as Windows can provide.
My Xbox 630 Chatpad arrived today in the mail – nifty little device. Barely feels like it will fit on the controller, but with a little force it pops on and feels very much a part of the controller. The key travel is nice, but they are spaced more widely than i usually like. Its lighter than I thought it would be, but does change the balance and feel of the controller quite a bit.
It makes both using the 360 implementation of Windows Live Messenger and the Xbox Live messaging service much easier to use. I wonder how long it will take before shooters and RPG’s start taking advantage of the extra buttons to make weapon switching and action selection easier – I suspect the day of the 360 MMO is drawing near now that both text and voice communication are so easy with the Xbox 360.
Months after having been given a key to activate Parallels I finally decided to give it a shot. I acquired a copy of Vista and installed it on Marbles, my macbook. I have to say right out of the gate I’m rather impressed! Vista runs decently well in a virtual machine, and I can run Outlook 2007 in coherence mode (where the Vista desktop slides away leaving your Windows applications on OS X desktop alongside the rest of my mac apps) – it’s a very zen experience and will make doing email from home a much more pleasant experience.
Bravo Parallels for the most polished and full feature emulation package I’ve ever seen – from installing Vista automatically for me from the DVD to providing slick OS X to Windows integration and hardware sharing features I’m impressed end to end.
I just found the coolest bridge between my Apple iMac and Microsoft Xbox 360. I found some software called Connect360 from Nullriver Software. It’s a simple preference pane that allows any Mac to share it’s photos in iPhoto and music from iTunes with a 360 seamlessly. It’s now possible for both Windows and Mac’s to communicate with the 360 for living room entertainment.
Installation was a breeze: after opening the zip demo from Nullriver’s website I double clicked on the Connect360.prefpane to install the preference pane. After starting the service I was able to select what I want shared and configure transcoding options for any files that the 360 won’t be able to play natively.
I walked into the living room and used my Media Center remote to browse to the media tab on my Xbox 360. My imac showed up and after clicking through an authorization screen I was able to browse my music library and playlists as well as browse through all my photos and albums in iPhoto.
The interface is snappy, and browsing the photo libraries were response. It even increments play counts and last played dates in iTunes when you play music. I have to say that Microsoft keeping media interaction open to developers is a big win. Connect360 supports MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF and AAC Lossless for audio files, and JPEG, RAW, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF for photos.
Update: With a photo update Connect360 now supports video as well. Check out the Connect360 website for more information.
If you have both a Mac and an Xbox 360 I suggest checking out the free demo. If you like it it’s $20 to unlock the ability to browse your full library rather than 1,000 items that the demo restricts you to.
Sadly for now Connect360 does not support transferring movies or iTunes store purchased content but hopefully that will be released in a future version. While waiting to check out Apple’s upcoming iTV it’s nice to have a good solution for getting my media from my Mac to my living room.