Outage From Lightning

Sorry if this is looking funny or has typos. I’m using the email on my phone.

Today has been “black Friday” for us. There was a rumble of thunder and a bolt of lightning and then my netbook died. We thought initially that was it, but after an inspection it became apparent there were MORE casualties. We’ve lost the netbook, the Mac Mini, the cable modem, and the wireless router.

So we have no internet, I’ve lost my netbook, but we at least have a backup old style Mac tower.

Sky is now getting £17 a month for a Sky Player package I can’t watch. I’m back to having to listen to the cricket on the radio. Despite the weather we’ve had here, there has been play at Lords today.

Em has just gone off to catch the bus to in to her parents to contact our ISP re: loss of cable modem. I’m sure we won’t get anyone out here before Monday at the earliest. She just called me as I’m typing this to say she’d missed the bus. It never rains!

I’m sure we’ll be able to get it all back over time, but it’s not really something we need.

God damn weather!


Larelle

Gadget Gals.

The Cheslyn Close household is a gadget minefield at the moment. I’ve just taken possession of my first ever iPod yesterday. I am LOVING it. Don’t know WHY I ever went for the X-Fi in the first place, or persevered with it for SO long! Money, I suppose. It sort of dictated my decision.

But I’m not the only one in the house who’s got a new toy to play with. Em has also got a gadget to play with. I only ordered it on Monday night and it arrived this morning! It was meant to delivered next week, but arrived this morning. No complaints here!

It’s an Internet radio. It’s a tinny, pink box, but it was VERY affordable for an Internet radio. At first it didn’t look like it was going to link to the ‘net, but with perseverance, Em got it connected. She’s still fiddling with it now. I’m not sure if it’s working or not at the moment. But it WAS working just before. We were listening in to Australian radio stations. Yep, it’s all up and running…

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As for me with the iPod. At arrived yesterday afternoon around 4.00pm and I did an “unveiling” with photos I uploaded onto Flickr. Em plugged it into the back of the Mac, it started charging. Shortly after Em started the iTunes syncing process and about an hour later 60GB’s worth of songs (some 8000 tracks) were loaded onto it. Amazing!

The one thing I WILL say is that, in agreement with most people, I would highly recommend getting a good set on in-ear headphones for it, as the Apple phones ARE crud! I’m keeping my Creative phones that came with the X-Fi as they are KILLER phones! Other than that, I cannot fault it. It’s got a lovely, earthy, rich sound and it works like a dream.

I Have Officially Bitten The Bullet!

For a little while now I’ve had a niggling doubt about my X-Fi. Not to do with its performance, it’s a GREAT player, but for its ease of connectivity.

See, I live in a Mac/Linux house. All forms of Microsoft and/or Windows are banned in this household (my choice, along with Em’s).

When buying the X-Fi I knew I was taking a gamble with connectivity. When it connects to a PC (and when I say PC, I mean PERSONAL COMPUTER – PC does NOT equal WINDOWS based OS computers!) or laptop/netbook, the X-Fi wants to connect using Creative’s Centrale` software, which is Windows specific. Us non Windows based PC users have to use MTP software to try and have the X-Fi be seen by the non-native software.

This hasn’t been the most successful undertaking. In the early days of owning my X-Fi, it seemed to work, but then I just ended up having endless connection problems (the software would see the X-Fi, but the X-Fi would crash, etc) and resorted to putting things on an SD card. Only problem with that is the SD card doesn’t integrate with the X-Fi, so the music on the SD card doesn’t get played in shuffle mode, for example. And you can’t load songs from the SD card on to the player! A real pig.

I’ve sort of come to the end of my tether with this and have now decided to get an iPod Classic 120GB player. I’m able to get it on a “buy now, pay July 2010” offer. So I’ve gone for it. It arrives tomorrow and I’m a little excited. Reserved excitement – which is RARE for me!

I tossed up SO much between the X-Fi and the iPod at the time I was initially looking to buy into a substantial MP3 player purchase. The price difference swayed me, backed with some negative feedback Apple gets for its prized player.

I’ve gone for the Classic as it offers SSOO much space! One of the bonuses I thought appealed with the X-Fi was its expansion slot for SD cards. But non integration makes it a help AND a hindrance. I’m sure the 120GB space I’ll get with the iPod will take a LONG time to fill, and also the fact that I actually HAVE a Mac will make file transfers so much more straight forward (I am REALLY hoping!).

So, I’ll let you know how I get on in days to come.

I fell like SUCH a lemming for finally relenting and buying into the iPod phenomenon. As much as I love Apple products, many can be a bit too “style over substance”, but we’ll see. I hope I’ll be eating my words in the next 48 hours.

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.