Saturday, December 20, 2008

riding the technology wave

Hello everyone. A couple of very interesting things have happened this week. My Trekker Breeze arrived and is now charged up for use. Unfortunately, the weather and GPS gods haven't been all that kind right off the bat. I haven't yet gotten the high GPS coverage which would let me feel confident making important landmarks such as the location of home. Once the landmarks are set accurately, I think lower GPS coverage will still give me enough confidence to explore knowing that the Breeze at least knows precisely where I actually want to go. I think the snow in the air might have screwed it up over the past couple of days when I've tried it. Even under that limitation, it still was able to figure out which street I was on eventually. Clearly, I have a lot of experimentation ahead of me with the Breeze.

Dad and I took a brief trip to Futureshop one morning. It's been quite a while since we've done that sort of thing and it was fun. I finally got to feel a few of these netbooks and get a tangible idea of what they're all about. Even the 8.9-inch keyboards feel a lot more comfortable than I initially expected. Given that I'll be using my netbook more extensively and for longer stretches than most average people, I think a ten-inch model is a good investment. In particular, I'm going to try and get an Asus EEEPC 1000H. It seems to be the best option from my purspective. The power management will be completely accessible, it has the new N wifi capability built in, the keyboard is roomy, the battery life is excellent and it even has good built-in speakers. For gaming, I expect I'll still need to carry my XT1 speakers due to the distance between the built-in ones unless they've somehow dealt with that problem as well. That's worth a little extra cash considering I'll be using it over at least the next four years or so barring catastrophy. It's also one of the easiest units to upgrade or replace batteries, hard drive, etc. I'm counting on getting a good deal after Christmas online. The EEEPC 1000H isn't sold anywhere we could reasonably drive to unfortunately.

I'm all ready to enjoy some nifty holidays this year. Janene's going to be with her parents. I would certainly have enjoyed having her here with us on Christmas but she very much wants to spend some time with her parents. We'll be alternating between families when it comes to Christmas after we're married so when you look at it, this is probably the most fair way to spend our last Christmas before that starts. She'll be back to join me for New Year's Eve which I'm going to host here at my parents' house. I keenly look forward to that. Meanwhile, I have a lot more to look forward to. Unless fate is unusually cruel, this should include talking with Janene via telephone hearing her fully rested and healthy this time. She needs time off that she doesn't have to spend recovering from illness like what happened last year. She works so hard and deserves the kind of restorative enjoyment which comes with having time and the energy to put it to good use. Things are winding down much better this year for her.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

living in interesting times

Hello everyone. It's been interesting over the past while. Certainly, the political stupidity our esteemed leaders have displayed lately has been nothing short of stunning. Let's all go for a power grab right when the economy is tanking and people actually need good government the most, shal we? They should all be held acountable and summarrally replaced with more sensible and civil people. It's been a while since being Canadian has had any real embarrassment attached to it for me but the past while will keep all of us from getting too smug for some time to come. I'd love to use my cane to knock some sense into the lot of them when they go back, dare I hope, to actually get some god damned work done?

Janene and I got together yesterday night after she finished writing her last paper for this semester. We had a nice dinner at East Side Mario's. Their Hell's Kitchen Chicken absolutely rocks. Thankfully, Janene can do a lot more relaxing over the next while. She keeps everything together quite nicely but it can certainly ware her down when the major stuff comes due. She's definitely in the Christmas spirit now. If anybody deserves to be so, it's certainly she. While she's been chasing high marks, I've been after a little high technology. For the past while, I've been fascinated by the rapid emergence and development of these netbooks.

A lot of people are complaining that they aren't powerful enough to run Windows Vista on. There are already a couple of exceptions to that though. For me, a netbook represents quite a welcome upgrade where I actually want it. They're a heaping lot lighter and smaller. They have far longer battery life. I can get one with a minimum of twice and quite likely four times the hard drive space for much less than my current laptop cost. Also, they use Windows XP Home edition. It's probably my last real crack at getting a new system using that operating system. I'll be able to run my current version of Jaws on it. It'll take care of my portable computing needs for the next number of years . Janene wants my old laptop for those relatively rare occasions when she could use one. I just need the prices of the current crop of netbooks to come down a chunk or to find a good deal on one as stores shift to the newer netbooks starting to come out. The conditions are all present for such a price drop to take place.

I saw a terrific deal on Ebay where I could have had an EEE PC1000H for less than $300. It was the first Ebay auction I entered for myself. Right up until damned near the end, I was the highest bidder. However, at least a couple of people got into heavy bidding action near the end and the winner ended up paying something like $400 US for it. It was a fun experience despite that though and I may try again if another such opportunity presents itself. Despite being far above what I would pay for a netbook which doesn't come directly from a store, he still got it for a bit less than normal current prices for it. I don't think that will hold true for much longer though. Given the desperation of retailers in this economy and the appearance of the next generation of competing netbooks, I feel confident that I'll be able to get one at a reasonable price by the middle of next month. Of course, I hope not to have to wait that long. I am, after all, a gadget freak. Also, I don't mind not having the absolute latest and greatest. Even 80 gigs is plenty of space for my travelling needs. It'll be nice to have something that much more portable.

My training cession went very well with Linda today. We went through installing Calendar Magic. She hasn't done a lot of installing different programs like that and I think it was a good overall experience for her even if she doesn't use the software. We also did some downloading of electronic Braille volumes from the CNIB digital library and I showed her how easy it was to load them into Kurzweil 1000 where they're instantly translated into ordinary text. In the process, we also got her profile set up so she can actually find more such books. I'll never be caught dead using Norton security software though. That stuff causes some serious accessibility grief. She's going to stick with it for the next two hundred plus days until her current subscription expires which shows far more patience for it than I'd have. My AVG Internet Security software is purring along quite contentedly and fully under my control.

The only thing that hasn't been so under my control is my sleeping lately. I seem to get enough to manage but I'm always waking up at five thirty or possibly even earlier these days. It's not that comfortable gentle sort of "I could lie here and mentally drift for a few hours" kind of wakefulness either. It's that "Gotta get up, get going, get that brain in proper gear and do something fun with it!" kind of wakefulness. Thankfully, there's plenty to keep me busy. Plenty of podcasts and sites to keep an ear on as my quest for a good quality but inexpensive netbook continues. I've also been playing more games lately. Smugglers3 and Nethack are the two most common. I also play the odd game of Superdeakout and Alien Outback. One of these days, it would be terrific fun to get a few friends together for an afternoon game of Talisman. I've had fun fiddling with it but you need other players to truly enjoy the game. Perhaps, someday, I can arrange that circumstance. The next order of business in that department is to start working on New Year's Eve.