Archive: November, 2006

Wii Popularity Exceeds Supply

I thought I might be able to get a Wii on Monday morning, but it is looking less and less likely the more I read online about the popularity of the Wii and the numerous Costco locations that have already sold out. I was banking on the fact that Costco has been overlooked in previous console releases. The Xbox 360 was still easy to get at most Costco locations the day after its official launch. The only way that I might still be able to get one tomorrow is if one of the local Costco stores didn’t receive a shipment on Sunday and get them in on Monday.

If I can’t get the bundle from Costco it’s not the end of the world. I won’t really have much time to play it anyway. I was still excited for it though. The bundle comes with Zelda: Twilight Princess and Excite Truck. It is looking to be difficult to get Zelda anywhere else; everyone is sold out. Message boards online are also saying that the only way to buy a Wii Remote is from Nintendo.com, so it looks like no two-player games for a while. I will post again when I have more information. Here’s hoping that I can find the Wii somewhere tomorrow.

Simple Tip for Better Photographs

I’ve seen it happen so many times, and I always feel bad when it does. Have you ever had a picture of a person where the background is in focus and the person is all blurry? There is a solution, and it’s called focal lock. It’s something that anyone who ever takes a picture with a camera should know about and how to do properly. It’s not a hard thing, but there are still many many people who don’t know about it. I hope the suffering in the world might be lessened by this post.

The Hardest Special Effect to Get Right

What do you suppose is the hardest thing to reproduce on the big screen or in a TV show? Is it space scenes? I doubt it. They look pretty good to me for the most part except for the sound and the fact that you can’t really see a laser unless it is hitting something (think laser pointers… all you see is a dot). Is it water? Well, it’s challenging, but it usually looks believable. No, I’d have to say that, based solely on the observation of the final product, it would have to be: the personal computer.

You would think that it wouldn’t be too hard to make a computer look and act like a computer on screen. I don’t know about you, but when I bring up a webpage my computer doesn’t make any high-pitched jittery noises. Almost every show I see has the computer make a weird chirping noise every time the screen’s contents change. I think the sound guy just gets jealous or something that he has nothing to do when the computer screen is the only thing in the frame. He looks at it and thinks, “I could make this part so much cooler with this super high-speed cricket noise every time the screen’s contents change!”

My number two complaint is computer technology that doesn’t exists. The worst offender for this sort of thing is the classic blowing up and “enhancement” of a digital image. It gets blown up, the pixels get huge, and then someone says “let me enhance it” or something similar, and the picture magically becomes so clear that what was a giant 4 inch by 4 inch single colored block turns into a license plate with letters that are an eighth of an inch high and perfectly legible. It just creates this detail data out of nowhere. It makes no sense. It happens at least once in almost every crime show.

When will Hollywood realize that everyone uses computers every day and we can see that the computers in their shows don’t act anything like the computers on our desks. It really makes it hard to stay focused and suspend my disbelief when the computers are such horrible actors.

512 MB of RAM in a Brown Paper Envelope

The final hardware piece of the Dell Latitude c600 puzzle arrived in the mail today. I had started to get the basic parts set up with only 64 MB of RAM, but it just wasn’t enough to do much. Firefox took up so much memory that after 15 minutes of browsing the system was stuck paging memory continuously in and out of the swap partition. This made the whole system utterly unusable and usually resulted in one or more processes crashing with out of memory errors. Today that all changed.

I opened up the mailbox to find a bunch of junk mail and one conspicuously poorly-packed package from the New England area. The homemade envelope was made out of what felt like brown grocery bag paper taped together at the ends. There was a tear in the paper and the green circuit board and some black chips were visible and exposed. I had read a negative comment from one individual who had bought RAM from the same seller I had on eBay. I guess his RAM worked, but he was upset at the packing materials used. There was a no DOA guarantee, so that was good enough for me. I popped open the back of the laptop and installed the new RAM sticks. It booted (which is a good sign) and everything seems to work perfectly!

I left the seller some glowing feedback and am now on my way to learning more about Arch Linux (the more I learn the more I like) and to tweaking this laptop. Browsing the web on this 700 MHz Pentium 3 feels just as fast as it did on the 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 Celeron (Dell Inspiron 1000) that Krissy is now using. This c600 has better support for hibernating, suspending, and sleeping which makes it more portable. It runs cooler, too. It tops out at 55 degrees C under normal circumstances, and I’ve seen it hit 58 degrees C when recompiling Xorg (but only briefly, and when one of the vents was obstructed by my knee). The Pentium 4 Celeron would run at between 52 and 55 degrees C under no load and would sometimes get up around 80 degrees C under heavy load. That makes for quite a toasty lap, let me tell you!

That’s two great deals now that I’ve gotten on eBay in the past two weeks!