a little bit of tech

I bought my partner the latest version of Google’s Nexus 7 for chrissy. Over the last couple of months I have watched it in use and played with it myself. This thing is light and cute and fast and cute. Really. At that point, I was using my Transformer Prime mostly in tablet mode though I was finding it a little on the heavy side for reading the SMH in bed.

nexusI thought a new tablet might be in order and had a look at the smaller ipads, figuring it had been a while since I bought an apple :-) I didn’t mind them but they didn’t impress particularly and just didn’t look as cute as the nexus. So a couple of weeks ago I bought a nexus for me, having checked staticICE for a good price. The nexus has rarely been out of my hands since. It is the best tablet I have ever used; it’s fast and the screen looks fantastic. It’s light in my hand and all my usual apps are running well. The size is just about right too, though I think slightly smaller might be even better. Battery life is fab and it’s always close to hand so I’ve been picking it up for casual reading every other moment. It’s been a long time since I read the SMH* on a daily basis but now I’m downloading it via the app every morning and having a browse throughout the day.

When setting up the nexus I used the restore option from my gmail account which meant all the stuff I used on the tablet and the phone, both android, were automatically loaded on to the nexus, and importantly that included their settings. Wifi access is fantastic. There are spots in the house which I thought were unreachable on the house network but the nexus still manages to get a bar of connectivity. One of those spots is the bed. With the previous tablet, I used to use my phone as a wifi hotspot to download the papers, whereas the nexus is fine.

I’ve even bought some games…I came across a mention of an interesting game called The Room and paid a huge 99 cents for it. Very, very addictive. It’s a puzzle game though not excruciatingly hard. Atmospheric with a strong steampunk oriented look and feel. Satisfying. I have since paid $3 to buy The Room Two which I’m now in the middle of.

* I recently bit the bullet and took out a subscription to the digital edition of the SMH. I now have it installed on all my devices across mac, PC, and android.

Posted in games, tech | Leave a comment

of mojo

2013 was not the best of years. It started well and started badly. On 24th Dec 2012, I went on a date. On 27th Dec 2012, my mother passed away after a long battle. While mum’s death was a mixture of relief and sadness, it has been with me for all of 2013; It has affected all my spaces. My abilities to be creative and to work, have been much impaired. My mojo for many things has disappeared.

canoe advancing through waterMum’s birthday in late November was a tricky time and I was not looking forward to my various anniversaries across the dec/jan period. Yet here I am, one anniversary to go and coping well. Dare I say, I’ve even been enjoying myself. For some years, I have been trying to do things to reclaim some of the joy I’ve lost for this time of year. There was a sense at the end of November that I’d turned a corner and my old self was returning. There has been a false alarm or two in that direction but this time it seems to be real.

I had a very good christmas, not to mention Christmas Eve being the first anniversary of first date :-) Mum’s anniversary was spent in good company, as was Ben’s. I got through both anniversaries in one piece and at peace.

closed ereader on empty tableMy reading mojo seems to have returned. Fully. I managed around 4 books in 2013, struggling even with those. I’ve read two books since Christmas and am now on to a third. In 2013, I would force myself to read and fail; now I hunger to get back to the book when I’m doing other things.

Posted in books, flotsam, health | 6 Comments

a little bit of age

I decided to give up drinking a few months ago, and I think it’s been about 5 months now. I haven’t given up entirely and have a glass every few weeks or so, though even with a glass of front of me, I often forget to drink it. I seem to be losing the habit. I’m also losing the taste for red which worried me a wee bit. I always figured that I’d still like to have the occasional glass of red.

I tried a favourite red ($20 bottle) in early July and was shocked to discover that it tasted horrible. It was like being 15 again and having a sip out of dad’s glass. Then I tried the private bin version ($40 bottle) of the same and it too wasn’t good. I was later relieved to discover that I did at least like the flagship wine ($60 bottle) from that winery. Whites are still mostly ok, and thankfully so is whisky.

When I bought my place a few years ago, I also bought a bottle of Penfold’s 1990 Grange to celebrate. I was a little concerned that if I left it much longer, I wouldn’t be able to drink it. It was my birthday recently so I figured it was time to open it up. The cork proved challenging and had to be dug out in bits. The wine itself was fine and one of the better reds I’ve tasted. However it costs stupid money and while nice to do as a one off, I can’t see myself buying another.

The surprise of the day however, was the 1972 d’Arenberg Burgundy. Dad gave it to me many years ago and he had been given it, along with a few other bottles, as a thank you for some work he’d done. It had been sitting in a barn for many years and was probably bought in the 70s. Everything I’d read about the vintage said it was decent but it was only good for 20 years or so ie til about 1992. It’s never been stored well, either in the kitchen of an old, fibro house or the occasional inner west terrace. The last few years it’s been stored upright.

I fully expected this to be complete shite. Upon removing the wrapping, I discovered that the cork was soaking, and required careful removal. On initial taste, it was ok though a bit strong, smelling almost of port. Finally tried it several hours later and it was very yum. Utterly delicious and it may even have been better than the Grange though I don’t really trust my tastebuds these days.

Posted in wine | 1 Comment

pretty book

I am procrastinating this morning…also it has been nearly two months since I last updated this blog, I even failed completely to keep up with #blogjune, even though I had a posting plan this time ie a list of potential topics.

Bad snail.

I just had a look at BibliOdyssey which I haven’t looked at in ages and the current post features a very pretty manuscript on gunpowder, that was published in 1594. Surprisingly, it’s full of pretty pictures: colourful, surreal, spectacular…there’s even pictures of dragons.

I want! It would look really nice on my shelf.  I don’t think there’s a facsimile available alas so I suspect I’m out of luck this time.


Posted in books | Leave a comment

tech revisited

A while back, I mentioned some of my concerns around my tech setup and the various machines involved. That was September and it’s now June and little has changed. The need hasn’t disappeared and I’m missing the portability of my old laptop, that ability to access all my stuff wherever I am, without being entirely reliant on the cloud. Some things I can do across all devices, some things need my main machine at home, a mac pro tower.

One important tech change is that I do have my new hearing aids, and got the final ear molds for them a couple of weeks ago. Working well so far and will blog about them later. Substantially less obvious than the old pair…undecided if this is a good thing or bad. I will be also be upgrading my Samsung Galaxy S2 phone to the new S4 in a month or two.

I’ve been looking at various laptop options including offerings from Samsung, ASUS, Apple, Lenovo and others. In my 7 years on vendor side, I went through several iterations of IBM/Lenovo thinkpads and remain ever fond of them. I also like some of the work being done with ultrabooks and laptop/tablet hybrids. I’ve especially liked the hybrid nature of my transformer prime.

an older setup, pre-tower

I will not be retiring my prime as it’s good for meetings and notetaking, not to mention reading the paper, and at the moment, occasional blogging. However it lacks true multitasking and hasn’t been particularly great as a development environment. The tower is fine if I’m in one place all the time but it’s not easily portable. Consequently I have decided to go for a dedicated laptop. Though a concern with laptops is that it means all my secure stuff will often be with me and thus more easily steal-able.

I suspect I have mostly decided on an 11″ Macbook Air. It’s still the case that some mac stuff annoys; on the other hand, I will be able to load mac software I’ve bought eg iPhoto onto the Air. The 11″ Air weighs just over a kilo and still feels good in the hand. On the downside, the mac pro hasn’t always played happily with my logitech equipment including trackball and wave keyboard.

I was ready to buy last week but I thought I’d better touch base with friends who are into apple and check development cycles. Sure enough, there’s a big Apple conference next week and everyone is anticipating several announcements including updates for their laptops. I’m now in a holding pattern and hoping that the Air includes Intel’s new Haswell chipset. It would be nice if it had the retina display but that’s not expected this year. I’m also hoping that the updated model will be available sooner and not later.

update: just noticed that Sony have released a new Vaio with Haswell and the 11″ version weighs 870g! Hmmm…

Posted in flotsam, june, tech | Leave a comment

g is also for grog

I stopped drinking a couple of months ago. Particularly as I was concerned with how alcohol was affecting my sleeping patterns. I get very restless at night; to be honest I’m often fidgety during the day anyway :-) Also I figured it would be good to see if i could actually stop. 

I’m happy to report that stopping has been much easier than I anticipated. My sleep has improved and even better my snoring seems to have eased quite a bit too. Like my dad, I have a reputation for being a horrible snorer. On my trip to Borneo last year, it was reported that my snoring could be heard two rooms away. Now, I no longer sound like a strangled cat on steroids. 

My original intention had been to give up for a couple of weeks and then ease back in but drink less. Now it’s been a couple of months and I’ve had a glass of wine a couple of times altogether. Tonight I had a couple of glasses with dinner and felt light-headed, not felt like that in a long time. Happy to continue in abstinence. 

update: while the wine last night was fine, I didn’t feel particularly great afterward. My wine tolerance has definitely dropped substantially. Sleepwise I was much more restless and kept waking up. Thankfully, my snoring didn’t worsen…this time at least.

Posted in flotsam | Tagged , | 3 Comments

g is for games

I have to do a presentation tomorrow…just a 5 minute lightning talk but my consciousness is utterly lacking. I slept well last night and generally sleeping a lot better in recent months. Perhaps the buzz I mentioned yesterday has caught up with me. I don’t know.

I have managed to throw a few things together anyway and I have my topic sorted out: the preservation of computer games. However I’m not touching so much on the preservation itself but rather, what I believe is one of the controversies in the field. In book terms, we talk of content vs container especially as we describe the move from print to digital. For many books, the container doesn’t matter, however occasionally it does, and I have documented elsewhere my fetish for nicely bound editions of books that interest me.

So too, in gaming. There are numerous games that have been ported and for which there exist emulators on a variety of systems. This means that the content remains available as technology advances. I’m also interested in the potential for preserving the experience of gaming whether it be:

  • the sound of a dialup modem “handshaking” at 300 baud (or even 1100/75)
  • the whir of a C64′s 1541 disk drive as it loads data between turns
  • the sore thumb from overuse of an Atari joystick

This is a harder thing to preserve as it means preserving working equipment and in that direction, there are some efforts to preserve hardware too. With that said, does anyone really want to destroy their bodies using poorly designed joysticks anymore?

Posted in games, june, tech | 3 Comments