Easy Peasy Lemon Squeazy.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours using a different version of Linux on my netbook that runs “live” from an SD card. It’s a version of Ubuntu for netbooks called Easy Peasy. It’s more meant for the EEEPC, but seems to be working just as well for my netbook.

I sometimes get a little tired of the “kiddie” interface of the Aspire One OS, which is based on Linpus and does look a bit candy store.

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It starts up like lightening, but adding software (even with an IT pro at your side) can be a bit of a bum. The first thing I loved about the Ubuntu version was fab games! I’m easily pleased!! lol

I like the look if it. The desktop is still not conventional, but at least it doesn’t look like it’s aimed at a 8 year old.

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The other part I initially liked was being able to install Adobe Air and use TweetDeck for twitter, thinking that I’d LOVE to use TweetDeck, as everyone else seems to use it. But I don’t really get on with that. I’ve got Spotify installed on here, and I can see thing attached to Wine in a clearer way too.

Pros and cons, pros and cons. Takes a while for the desktop to be up and running and it’s changed my keyboard around slightly, so my quotation makes are where my @ symbol is, and vice versa. Will just take a little brain retrain.

It’s not on permanently yet and I will make sure I give it some more testing before I decide to install fully. I’ll keep you informed.

Update: 10pm

I’ve installed it fully on the system. Had a few little teething probs. After it seemingly being the same, my keyboard (since doing some system updates) has been sorted and my @ and “‘s are in the right place again. Installed Spotify again, but was getting digital interference/cut-outs, which was making me think “uh oh! Maybe I rushed the install”. But all it required was a small change to the Wine audio settings. A click there and an unclick there and it was sorted, and the sound is now crystal.

So far, so good. I’m really getting into Easy Peasy version Ubuntu.
For more info check the Easy Peasy wiki page by clicking here.

You’re Not On Facebook?! Am *I* A Loser, Or Are *You*?

The BBC asked people on the “Have Your Say” forums to explain why they were not signed to Facebook (those who are STILL not signed up that is – as those who are signed up are free to leave comments too). Here are some of the misguided and ill-informed reasons why some people have not joined…

I’ve never joined Facebook because…

… I can’t imagine why anyone wants to tell everyone they know about all their personal information, what they’re thinking, where they’re going, what they’re doing. Worse than anything is the Single/relationship facility, which in the event of a relationship break-up immediately forces you into a position where you have to talk about something you probably really don’t want to talk about – either that or you leave everyone misinformed that you’re still in the relationship, and even worse your ex has probably used his/her Facebook to let the world know you aren’t. What a mug’s game.

Maybe because A) No one *HAS* to reveal all their personal information and those that do do it aren’t really hurting anyone – apart from potentially themselves (by revealing too much info). B) No one has to reveal their relationship status and turn it into a soap opera. Again, those that do aren’t hurting anyone, and if the break-up is thrashed out online, well, those concerned are a bit vacuous anyway. But please don’t put ALL Facebook users in the same boat.

…if I want people to know stuff about me, I’ll tell them myself. Facebook is the daily equivalent of a round-robin letter. If a friend of mine has news they want me to know, I’d prefer they made the effort to tell me directly rather than expect me to read their page to find out their news. I’m not going to check my friends’ pages just to read: “Eaten a pot noodle”, “Taken the dog for a walk”. If it’s important enough for me to know, it should be important enough to tell me directly. As for long-lost friends, I’ve not changed my email address nor mobile since I first got them years ago. If they want to get in touch, they can use those, otherwise we’re probably been out of touch so long it would be like chatting to a stranger.

I can understand what this person is saying, re: the round-robin stuff. I get put off by it myself. But if you have a piece of generalised information you want to share with everyone, why would you waste time generating individual emails, texts, etc? My niece informed me (and the rest of my/her family and friends) of her pregnancy via Facebook and I see nothing wrong with that at all. It was a shared experience of us all expressing our joy at her news. It was lovely. For those family members she is closest to (her parents and siblings) she told face to face.

What if a person lost your email address? Okay, so it’s the same one you’ve had for 5 years, but how many email addresses do you know off-by-heart? Many are long-winded and most people just hit “reply” when sending back emails. If you lost information in your email client, say your address book, would you know a person’s email address? Some addresses that people have had for years, I still get muddled, like Bec’s address. So, if someone, tragically, loses this person’s email address, as far as their concerned, it’s bad fuppin’ luck they’ll never have contact again? What a tosser!!

FaceBook is yet another indication of just how self-obsessed and self-absorbed we have all become. It’s nothing more than the online equivalent of jumping up and down shouting “ME, ME, ME, look at ME”.

Well, you don’t have to take any notice of it. You made a comment on a forum, that’s a little bit “me, me, ME” and “aren’t MY opinions VERY important” to me, but no one’s slagging you off! Well, I am 🙂

…it is for losers.
I have a life with real friends….

Well, bully for you. Aren’t you the height of status?! You could have the most vacuous friends on Earth, just because you converse with them face to face doesn’t make you any better than me for not having a Facebook account. What an absolute wanker!

I’ve never joined Facebook because…
I’ve never used a computer.

Erm, how did they leave this comment then, on an online forum?! lol Made me giggle this one. Obviously the person was being ironic.

“Danger! Danger Will Robinson!” The reason I don’t have a ‘presence’ on the web via either a website or a social site is the fact that I wouldn’t control who could and could not access the information. Too much information is often a bad thing.

You are an absolute ignorant f*ck if you think just because you are not on Facebook or any other social network that you are safe to browse the Internet. You have a “presence” on the web by just being ON IT, you dick!!! The fact that you are BROWSING and have an INTERNET CONNECTION is ENOUGH for someone to hack into your system and gather all the information they can about you. How deluded is this idiot?!

I didn’t think I’d be defending Facebook. It has its flaws, granted. You can be secure using it (well, as secure as anyone can be using the Internet and browsing). As another person said, to Facebook’s defence, it’s just another communication tool that is handy for people, especially those with far-flung friends all around the world. No one is forcing you to use it, and you are not a bot or social sycophant for doing so. You’re just using another source available to you for keeping in contact with people.

There. I’ve had my rant. Thank you HYS!!

The Kodak EasyShare Z1012 IS

It’s the biggest bang for the buck! As Em says. It’s our big joint Xmas present for this year. We just took delivery of it 3 days ago and it’s AMAZING. HD stills AND HD video! Amazing quality. I want share some of my fave pics and videos taken with it already. Of course, everything can be viewed on my Picasa site.

But here’s a taster.

 

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My Review Of The Creative Zen X-Fi 16GB

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I really did my research. I looked at several other MP3 players on the market, read reviews and really agonised over my choice.

The X-Fi was one of the first players I looked at and read reviews on. The reviews by and large were positive and it was becoming a clear choice for me initially, until it became obvious that the software provided with it was for Windows only. The player then was beginning to sound very Windows centric, which worried me, being a Mac and Linux user.

I then dabbled with the notion of getting an iPod. Despite being a Mac fan, I have always had reservations about getting an iPod. The price tag being the first turn off. Then the stories I’ve heard of poor battery life, cracked screens, poor sound quality, etc, really didn’t have me enthused over the choice. Especially when even iPod FANS were recommending buying replacement headphones for a nano that at base price was £100. To not be provided with high quality headphones on something with such a price tag sounded criminal to me!
Another thing that put me off buying an iPod was expandability. Once you choose the iPod you want, there’s no expansion slot, you are stuck with that fixed size of space.

I then in light of that, considered the Classic iPod. With 120GB of space, I’d be able to put my WHOLE iTunes library on it and STILL have loads of room to spare. And although my player was being purchased not for it’s portability to be taken outdoors, I was worried about the Classics potential fragility. Especially given the 120GB of space comes in the form of an actual hard drive rather than flash memory.
I still felt myself drawn to the X-Fi. The final element that swayed it for me was a company selling the 16GB version of the X-Fi for £106 – compared to it’s RRP of £140. It was the clincher.

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I’m glad I jumped at it! I’ve had the player for a week now, and it has been fab!

The positives:

Despite being provided with Windows software and having a program called “Creative Centrale” that only runs on a Windows machine, my Mac can see it. I use a program called XNJB which gives you an MTP user interface to upload/download MP3’s with relative ease. It’s not the MOST compatible way to do it, but if, like me you are a Mac user and were reticent to buy Zen products due to incompatibility, rest assured.

The storage space. Mine is the 16GB version, but there is also a 32GB version as well. There is an 8GB version on the market too, but it doesn’t have the Wireless LAN feature and has (as far as I am aware) inferior quality headphones.

Along with the fixed storage it has an SD memory expansion slot, which means you can expand the memory by anything from minimal mega-bites right up to 32GB – and in HC format too. Plenty of room for expansion!

Video playback is good and high quality. So far I’ve only done a little playback via an SD card. I haven’t put any video on the fixed storage of the player. But from what I’ve played from SD, the video has smooth and fluid playback and is quite good to view despite it being on a 2 inch screen. The resolution is sharp and certainly makes video watchable.

The sound quality is excellent. And of course, the better bit rate of MP3, the better quality of sound. I try as much as possible, to have an absolute MINIMUM bit rate for my MP3’s be to 192kbps. The headphones are superior quality to my previous Creative headphones which were of good quality themselves. No need to folk out for replacement headphones with THIS player (sorry Apple!). Be warned, this only applies to the 16 and 32GB versions though, from what I’ve read on other reviews, the 8GB version comes with a different set of headphones and I can’t comment on those.

Battery life. I’ve had the player just over a week now and I haven’t flatten the battery. This is due mostly from me still loading songs on the machine and it being charged via the USB port when linked to the Mac. Battery life for MP3 playback through the headphones is quoted as being 25 hours. Through the built-in speaker on the unit, 15 hours, and for video playback, 5 hours. I would expect that headphone MP3 playback would see you get pretty close to the battery life quoted. The most I’ve used it for in one period was about 3 hours and it came nowhere NEAR depleting the battery life.

Wireless LAN feature. As a Mac user, I didn’t think the Wireless feature was going to be of ANY use to me at all. But I have signed up to a chat account and have Yahoo on. I haven’t chatted to anyone yet, but could imagine the “keyboard” interface could be problematic. The other aspect to the Wireless is the Creative Media Centre. It’s not FULLY open to me as a Mac user, but it does let me listen to various podcasts, including, bizarrely, some Australian content like the Kyle and Jackie O show and some Triple J stuff.

The Negatives:

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Yes, there are some, albeit minimal (to me anyway)…

AAC playback. It WILL play AAC’s as stated, but I find for me it only recognises the tracks ID3 tags when loaded onto an SD card. If I load AAC’s directly onto the player, the ID3 tags don’t show properly and the songs get loaded but unidentified and all get bundled into an album by “Unknown artist” under “Unknown album”. This probably is only a Mac/Linux users problem as us users cannot access the “Creative Centrale”.

Video conversions needed for playback. So far, from what I can tell, it will only play “.avi” format video for me. And you need to convert video to 320 x 240 resolution. That isn’t so much the pain. One of the sell points for me was the larger range of video formats the X-Fi was meant to take compared to the regular Zen.

The X-Fi feature. This was the BIG feature, the “muts nuts” aspect of this player. I find it a bit like a chocolate fireplace, IE: quite useless. Unless you have appalling quality MP3’s (and quite frankly, why would you?), this feature will actually LESSEN the quality of your MP3’s. If you upload MP3’s of a minimum of 160kbps or higher, I seriously doubt you’d ever need to switch the X-Fi feature on.

The USB cable supplied is frankly an absurd size. It’s a 2 inch long cable!! I had to sit it behind my Mac and couldn’t confirm downloads and that the thing was charging unless I looked at the XNJB software. Or got up out of my computer chair and walked around to the back of the Mac. I wanted to have the unit in front of me. We had an existing cable that is 36 inches long. Well ample enough to have the X-Fi in front of me. It didn’t need to be a 36 inch cable, but why the hell make it only a 2 inch one?! I really think the cable should be at least 10 inches long.

On this topic, the fact that you have to fork out extra money for a mains adapter charger is a little rich. But Creative aren’t the only ones. For iPods come with no mains adapter either. Honestly. What is it with these companies. They make systems with in-built battery packs. You’d think that they could at least provide an alternative to only being able to charge the gadget via a USB port. Okay, they provide the mains adapters, but at extra cost. Why not just include them in the kit and charge a slightly higher price? I don’t understand why they think people wouldn’t want a mains adapter as standard?

For a person with my nails (I bite them), I find it hard to insert an SD card as it takes an effort to push the card into the slot fully, and takes nails, or having a small, thin gadget to hand (say, the back of another SD card, or a pen, or similar, or even someone with nails – for me it’s my partner).

ONLY IN REFERENCE TO MAC/LINUX USERS:-

The organiser. Obviously it needs to “sync” with your PC, erm, which I haven’t got. This renders the organiser for Mac/Linux users useless. Not that I’m really bothered by that myself. I’ve got a mobile phone after all.

I think that’s about all really. I’d give it 4.5 stars out of 5. It’s not 100% perfect, but it is as near enough to perfection as I think you could get. It’s in the high 90’s for me! I’m really, really pleased with it.

Music I was Listening To Yesterday.

I was clearing away the kitchenware out of the dishwasher yesterday when I was thinking my usual thought (that is: that I don’t really listen to half as much music as I’d like to). Then suddenly a wave hit me. Our mac mini doubles up as a “media centre” with a little remote control that means you can control it without sitting in front of it. So once I was finished with the dish washing, I fired up iTunes, got the remote for the mac mini, brought up the media centre interface and sat on the lounge to listen to some TOONS!

I’d been going to sleep the previous few nights with Bowie songs in my head, so first off I listened to a few tracks from the Low album…

Sound and Vision
Always Crashing In The Same Car
Be My Wife
A New Career In A New Town

Then went to a few tracks from “Heroes”…

Beauty and The Beast
Joe The Lion
“Heroes”
Sons of The Silent Age
Blackout
The Secret Life of Arabia

Then more recent Bowie, from Heathen…

Cactus
I Would Be Your Slave
5.15 The Angels Have Gone
A Better Future
Heathen (The Rays)

Then it got a bit melancholy.

Jimmy Ruffin – What Becomes of The Broken Hearted
The Carpenters – Superstar

Then Em came home…luckily…’cos I think I’d have ended up in the fetal position on the floor had I kept going with what I was listening to!

Still, it was lovely to listen to some stuff and I am determined to do it more often.

Don’t You Just LOVE Banks?

I use on-line banking to check my balance, pay bills, etc. We opened a new account recently, and instead of being able to create in account online, we had to call the bank to have the online banking set-up. To sign-in the account requires sort-code, account number, two numbers of a four digit numbered code and then one final question answered. Five questions were asked, and any one of these five could be the one to fill in. ANYWAY, one of the five has never come up until today, and I CANNOT remember what this word is. I could only try to access the account three times until on the third occasion when I got the word wrong AGAIN and was blocked out of the account. We will now have to ring the bank to have the online banking account set back up!!! Friggin’ Mary!!! Momma said there would be days like this…

I Have A New Addiction.

All of these things are normally down to Em. She’s been using the service since June and I’ve only just finally caught the bug. It was prompted mostly by hearign the news this morning that the UK arm of twitter won’t be letting people update their tweets via sms. The UK are losing their twitter number. Thanks twitter!

So, anyway, it’s prompted my move to finally go to Plurk. Not that they offer sms either, but it looks a nice structured web site. You get your own dedicated plurk page, and there seems to be a little chat community on there. I’ve already got one Plurk friend that isn’t Em!

I’ve put a widget on the side bar of my blog, with a link to my page, as well as Plurk itself.

Just a quickie for today.

I Love Music.

And I just don’t listen to it enough.

When I was growing up, through my teens and into my late 20’s, I’d listen to at least 2 hours of music a DAY!

Now all my music I hear in a day is probably about 20 minutes worth of incidental music I hear whilst watching TV. I no doubt hear MORE than that, but it’s background stuff on TV shows and the like. Not music on the radio or from iTunes/CD’s/whatever.

On Thursday night there was SO little on TV, I decided to put the radio on and listen to Radio 2. Radcliffe/Maconie was just about to start – the program I was hoping to catch. Stuart Maconie was on his own this week while Mark Radcliffe was filling in for Steve Wright (in the afternoon). It was like stepping back in time…

Here’s a short back story. Mid March 2008, Em and I are on a anniversary break. We’d spent the afternoon in Birmingham waiting for the time to come around for us to go and watch U2-3D at the Imax theatre in Brum. We wasted time by sitting in the car listening to…Mark Radcliffe and Liza Tarbuck filling in for Steve Wright while he was on hols! That night as we were driving home (having just seen U2-3D on Imax), Stuart Maconie was hosting the show on his own.

I’d promised myself a few days ago that I MUST start listening to Radcliffe/Maconie because that night coming back from Brum, Stuart was playing some great stuff. So, lo and behold when I listen in for the first time since that night, Maconie’s on his own ‘cos Radcliffe’s filling in for Wrighty! It was like picking up where I’d left off!!

I only got to listen in to the first hour of the show and it was most enjoyable. And now because the BBC are so damn high-tech and stuff, if I DO miss a show, I can listen to it the next day via the BBC web site. Oh, technology!!

Tonight I listened to a program on Radio 2 that was repeated from 2004 about the history of Chillout music. I love Dance/Chillout/Ambient stuff. Love Chemical Brothers, Royksopp, Faithless, Daft Punk, Moby, Fatboy Slim, Paul Oakenfold, Massive Attack, Moloko, Goldfrapp, and then into similar genre stuff like Portishead and Everything But The Girl. It was a good prog and it made me want to get back into listening to dance. There’s an Oz group I’ve just heard about called The Presets, as well as another group called Midnight Juggernauts (Stuart Maconie played MJ’s last night), they both sound fab. I thought The Avalanches were going to be the only Oz dance group ever to make it out of Terra Australis.

After that, it was time to watch a DVD. I watched Sweeney Todd. Much better than I anticipated. I know, if I felt like that, why did I want to see it? Curiosity mainly, to see how Johnny Depp would play it. I thought he was good. I know the reaction was mixed. A lot of people saying he just parodied David Bowie’s singing voice – is that bad? I thought he delivered good vocally. It was enough of his own NOT to totally sound like DB. And let’s face it, if we’re talking parodies, DB himself was only parodying Anthony Newley anyway in his early days, or Scott Walker. I was worried I was going to tire of the musicality of it, but I didn’t. It had aspects of being an old-style film musical, which surprised me. It wasn’t “top notch”, but it was better than I was lead to believe it would be, or that I thought it would be. I could endure it again at some point. It’s something I could watch again, so that’s good enough for me. The one thing that was making me giggle through it though was Helena Bonham-Carter’s character and the young kid regularly referring to Depp’s character as “Mr. T”!

DVD’s to come are…the first series of Black Books (re: Dylan Moran discussion a few posts back) and Threads – 80’s “crap yourself” drama about potential nuclear annihilation. Nothing like a bit of 80’s nuclear war drama to cheer you up! Credit crunch?! Peh!!!

We bought a new 4 slice toaster earlier today.

We haven’t had a toaster in about 2 or 3 years. Anyway, we tested it tonight and the damn thing doesn’t work properly! It has 2 independent controls so it can do 2 slices without heating all 4 elements. One side works, the other side pops the bread back up after 5 seconds. . .every time, all the time! Damn modern appliances!!

The New Love Of My Life – The Nokia 6300!

“Am I in love? aaaaahhhhhh I must be in love!”

It might still be the honeymoon period at this stage (as I’ve only had my phone just over 48 hours), but I *LOVE* this phone. I was hesitant because of reviews I’d seen. People seem to either love it or hate it.

It’s WAY more advanced than my old Siemens SF65 (which always has a starring role each week in The Bill) which makes me feel like I’ve joined the 21st century.

The phone is just PACKED with features:

  • 2 mega pixel camera
  • video record and play
  • bluetooth
  • music player
  • radio
  • mp3 ringtones
  • organiser
  • fully integrated SMS, MMS, MMS+, video messaging, flash messaging – even Push To Talk
  • themes
  • wallpapers

Just everything I wanted to upgrade for. My Siemens had a camera, but it was only an SVGA quality, 1.3 mega pixel camera. Photos looked crap from my phone. I had no PC linking capabilities with my phone because I use a Mac. No probs now with my new phone as it has the LOVELY Bluetooth!

A lot of reviews say “2 mega pixel camera, not good enough”, but I am very happy with the photo quality. The highest resolution of this camera is 1600 x 1200 and it takes some great photos. It doesn’t have a flash, which makes it struggle in low light levels (not great for the UK market, really), but in day conditions, it’s fine. The digital zoom does start to make a meal of the image when you use it – you really don’t want to have to zoom in too much – but that’s the bane of digital zoom. At full resolution in good light conditions, the photos are good.

Video is great albeit small at 178×144 not the 320×240 as seemed to be promised in spec. Being my first video phone, I am happy with the quality, it makes a somewhat “blocky” but very watchable video clip. I’ve even finally opened a YouTube account and added videos from my phone to the account already. Bluetooth just makes everything SO easy!

I find the ease of use with bluetooth for file transfer really good and fast. Mp3’s, video clips and photos all transfer in seconds. I LOVE being able to finally make up my own mp3 ringtones and load them on the phone. The joys of being a Mac owner. No DRM to mess about with, bluetooth already in the Mac’s system – not having to use any PC suite (bblllleeeerrrrrkkkk WindoZe) – EASY!

I saw one person in a review complain that the phone only had one alarm!!! ONE ALARM?! HOW MANY DO YOU WANT? At first I was thinking there might have been a back-handed valid point to this seeing as my Siemens had 3 alarms. But upon quick reflection I could see that you could have limitless alarms with the Nokia because of the organiser. Either the person making that comment had no brain or…well, they just had no brain obviously!

The only downside I have seen with my phone so far is the common complaint – battery life – but as I’ve been playing with the phone quite a bit to familiarise myself with it – I doubt this will be a real problem for me in the near future. I’ll see how it goes.

The only other slight down point is the highly probable ease at which this phone would become disfigured. I have invested in a crystal hard case which goes around the phone but still allows all it’s functions to be available, so keypad is accessible at all times, as well as the input and output points (charger input, USB cable input, etc). The most important things are protected…screen, corners, back. Other cases I looked at either would make the phone look ugly or would be impractical as you would be having to take the phone in and out of the case all the time to access all the phones functions. The crystal cases are cheap as well, so once they start to get too marked and scuffed, you can just buy another.

I really, really love this phone! Rated out of 10, I would give it (minus points for fragility and battery life):

9/10