general

Why I like Windows 8 on my desktop machine

I like the Windows 8 operating system on my custom built “ultimate developer rig” desktop machine:

Why do I like it when there has been a lot said about that crazy new user interface?

Performance

First, the performance is great.

I built my desktop machine in 2008. It has 8 gb of memory and while my excessive tabs in Chrome browser were slowing me down, the machine itself felt a bit slow.

Until, I upgraded to Windows 8. With Windows 8, the UI felt fast again. To quantify, it didn’t feel like I suddenly got a much faster machine but I noticed and appreciated the performance improvements in speed and memory utilization. YMMV.

Missing Start Button?

For myself, I do not miss the Start button. I didn’t use it that much.

However!

The new ‘Natural user interface’ that is key to windows does not work well if you don’t have a touch interface. I don’t have a touch monitor. However, I’m a keyboard and mouse ninja so I don’t have many problems with just:

  1. Creating shortcuts
  2. Using Launchy (Alt+Space ftw!)
  3. And, occasionally, going to the main Win8 NUI to find/do something.
  4. Btw, the shortcuts mentioned by Hanselman in this blog post are very useful (Win+I and Win+X).

Windows 8 Features

Here’s some of the Windows 8 features that I do like:

  • Dual monitor support – independent backgrounds, taskbar enhancements and keyboard support to move apps is very nice. Btw, get the Bing Dynamic theme and you’ll have the amazing Bing.com pictures as your background.
  • Task manager – There’s been a lot of nice improvements in the Task Manager. Read this post to learn how to use the Win8 task manager.
  • File Copy – The file copy dialog *seems* more accurate now. Steven Sinofsky has a good post about it here.
  • Eject USB drives – Improved because it seems when I eject from Win8, it actually works. Small but annoying little feature that helps me.
  • App Snapping – I didn’t think this would be useful for me but it has been. So far, I’ve only tried it with the MetroTwit and Google search apps. The google search app is cool because you can perform a voice search right from your desktop.

Not for everyone

Windows 8 is not for everyone. In fact, I’m not saying that it’s the best OS out there (aka, I’d love to spend a few months with a Macbook Air). In fact, I would NOT want to trade in my iPad for a Surface.

What I am saying is that if you’re like me: a desktop Windows 7 power user who is not afraid of the keyboard. Then, you may want to check out Windows 8.

Summary

Windows 8 has a lot of minor improvements in the UI and experience that all add up to a good upgrade for my desktop machine.

Did I mention the performance improvements? That is my favorite Windows 8 feature.

Overall, it’s faster and smoother than Windows 7. And being that I’m a geek, I know how to get around it. So, it’s fun for me.
Keep an open mind and try it. Hopefully, it’s fun for you as well. Smile

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Y: The Last Man movie coming soon

Y! The Last Man is one of my favorite comics and it looks the director of an interesting short movie on YouTube is going to direct it.

Dan Trachtenberg pulled in 11.5 million views with his moody seven-minute fan film Portal: No Escape, based on the popular puzzle platforming game by Valve, a project that has spring boarded the new director to much bigger things: He’s now been tapped by New Line Cinema to direct the long-gestating movie adaptation of graphic novel Y: The Last Man for his first feature film.

The long-running Vertigo comic book series by brainy sci-fi writer Brian K. Vaughan pictures a future in which a plague kills nearly all males. Escape artist Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand survive as the only creatures left with Y chromosomes, forced to navigate their way through post-apocalyptic gender politics.

Read more: http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/01/y-last-man-movie/

iPhone Slow To Respond When Playing A Song?

My iPhone 4 has this annoying issue when playing a song. It freezes and locks up the iPhone while the song continues to play. The iPhone would not respond to ANY of the buttons for a good 30 seconds or so.

With the help a good friend, we investigated the issue and found something very unusual. (Btw, when I say we, he did 99% of the work).

Mashups, FTW!

First, let’s take a look at the specific songs and album. It’s a great mashup  album from the one-man band called Girl Talk.

Check out this great website that gives you a visualization of the many tracks that are used in the mashups. And, you can listen online too:

image

You can download it for free here (click on the image):

Insert 1

Album Art – The Culprit

Turns out the problem is not the mp3 but the album art that somehow got embedded in it. A few of the tracks had a JPEG album art file with embedded information from the original TIFF file. That’s not so much the problem. The problem was that the image size was 3744×3744. The image was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the TIFF was created from Adobe Photoshop CS4 Mac.

How did we find all this info?

  1. Using a different MP3 player (MediaMonkey) loaded the mp3s and viewed their properties.
  2. Then saved the artwork to hard drive.
  3. Viewed that artwork in an image viewer.

The Fix

Fix, is very simple.

Remove all embedded images in the mp3. Then, add a new image, with a smaller size.

I’m not sure whether the original mp3s had the large image issue or perhaps I accidentally added the large album art myself.

Lesson here, check your mp3s if your iPhone is slow to respond when playing certain songs. Winking smile

The year 2008 in photographs – boston.com

discoveryliftoffCheck out this set of pictures from Boston.com. It shows greats photos of events both happy, momentous and extremely tragic.

And this is only the first part. I’ll have to keep an eye out for parts 2 and 3:

The year 2008 in photographs (part 1 of 3)

2008 has been an eventful year to say the least – it is difficult to sum up the thousands of stories in just a handful of photographs. That said, I will try to do what I’ve done with other photo narratives here, and tell a story of 2008 in photographs. It’s not the story of 2008, it’s certainly not all stories, but as a collection it does show a good portion of what life has been like over the past 12 months. This is a multi-entry story, 120 photographs over three days. Watch for part 2 and part 3 tomorrow and the next day. (40 photos total)

How We’re Wrecking Our Feet With Every Step We Take — New York Magazine

I try to walk for 30 minutes everyday. It feels good to have this walk. Turns out though that the highly padded shoes I’ve been wearing could be hurting me more than helping. Check out this article in the NY Magazine. Here are some alternative shoes to going barefoot:

MASAI BAREFOOT TECHNOLOGY

The thick sole mimics the soft, unstable ground on which our ancestors walked. But your foot won’t roll through each step—the sole does the rolling for you.

NIKE FREE

After decades of gimmicky shoes, Nike released the Free: light and flexible, and available in various stages, with Free 5.0 pitched as halfway to barefoot.

VIVO BAREFOOT

Basically a leather slipper with a 3-mm.-thick puncture-resistant sole. It’s thin enough to feel pebbles underfoot and flexible enough to fold in half like a wallet.

VIBRAM FIVE FINGERS

This fabric-and-rubber sock with individuated toes is primarily for outdoor sports like kayaking—though at least one entrant wore them to run in the Boston Marathon.

How We’re Wrecking Our Feet With Every Step We Take — New York Magazine

Things I wish I’d known when I was younger – lifehack.org

Although it’s good as a refresher too:

  • Most of it doesn’t matter.
  • The greatest source of misery and hatred in this world is clinging to past hurts.
  • Waiting to do something until you can be sure of doing it exactly right means waiting for ever.
  • Following the latest fashion, in work or in life, is spiritual and intellectual suicide.
  • If people complain that you’re too fond of going your own way and aren’t fitting in, you must be on the right track.
  • If you make your work your life, you’re making your life into hard work.
  • The quickest and simplest way to wreck any relationship is to listen to gossip.
  • Trying to please other people is largely a futile activity.
  • Every winner is destined to be a loser in due course.
  • You can rarely, if ever, please, placate, change, or mollify an asshole.
  • Everything takes twice as long as you plan for and produces results about half as good as you hoped.
  • People are oddly consistent.
  • However hard you try, you can’t avoid being yourself.
  • When it comes to blatant lies, there are none more egregious than budget figures.
  • The loudest noise in the world is the sound of people whining.
  •  

    Read more here:

    Things I wish I’d known when I was younger – lifehack.org

    Go Speed Reader

    I’ll admit that I don’t read as often I would like to. It just seems like there is too much crap to watch on TV or YouTube. The last book I read was Freakonmics. Great book. Gets you thinking even if you don’t agree with it.

    I’m a slow reader but this book took me two months to finish. However, I only really read it for about 20 minutes a day and the information is worth comprehending. But I’m still pretty slow to average reader.

    So I was happy to discover this link to improve your reading speed with comprehension. The article was so interesting that I actually read it and not just file into my Del.icio.us links that I will probably never read.

    Take a look at this interesting article on doubling your reading rate.

    I’ll report back on if it works for me but don’t hold your breath. It will take me some time to master but I immediately liked what he said about the subvocalizing.

    Btw, speaking of good books, this one looks good too:
    Survival of the Sickest