The New Apple iMac (2019)

The new 27″ Apple iMac (2019) is very fast. Thanks to its Intel hexacore processor (which can be upgraded to an 8-core Core i9), this new computer zooms past through jobs like numerical simulations on Mathematica. The iMac Pro is still faster and more powerful but this regular iMac is cheaper.

The display is very good, although touch screen functionality is unavailable. Colors look alive and bright. 

This year’s model retains the old design but can be upgraded to use solid state drives (SSDs) and memory greater than 64 GB. You can buy more memory from Apple or from third-party sources like Other World Computing for a more reasonably priced upgrade kit.

To compare its performance with other Macs, try running Geekbench, a benchmark suite available for the Mac.

Firefox Quantum Is Very Fast

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded the new Firefox web browser (v. 57) which Mozilla named Firefox Quantum. For a couple of minutes, I had to get used to the user interface which differed from Google Chrome. As I started browsing, I noticed that web sites loaded faster and the browsing experience was snappier overall.

Mozilla is overhauling components of Firefox to better support concurrency and to improve performance. Starting with version 57, things have changed for the better. I have been using Firefox for several weeks now and am very happy with it. Aside from being very fast even compared to Google Chrome, I have noticed that memory usage is better than Chrome’s. With nineteen tabs open, for example, memory usage is more reasonable than Chrome’s and performance seems not to have degraded.

Since I have 16 GB of RAM on my Macs, I have set the “content process limit” for Firefox to 5 (4 is the recommended maximum) since I normally open a lot of tabs.  Setting the content process limit higher consumes more memory but helps in handling more concurrently open tabs.Firefox Content Process Limit

Firefox Quantum uses Gecko and Servo. Written in the Rust programming language, the Servo project is Mozilla’s venture to build a new web browser engine. Parts of Firefox Quantum depend on Servo in order to achieve high performance and concurrency. The other parts of Firefox are written in C++.

For developers of web applications, the Firefox Quantum Developer Edition is most useful. You can simultaneously run both browsers without conflict of profiles. I’ve used this edition of Firefox Quantum to debug some web applications I have been working on.

 

New MacBook Pro

I recently got myself a 2015 13″ MacBook Pro. I had it customized with 16 MB of RAM and a 512 GB flash drive. It’s a nice and fast machine. The Retina display is also very pleasant to the eyes.

I put some computational applications such as Mathematica 10 Home Edition and Matlab 2015 Home Edition. They both run great with the amount of memory and the 2.9 GHz dual-core Core i5 processor. For testing, I used the MacBook Pro as my main computer for a few weeks. The Retina display helps reduce eye fatigue, even if the fonts are small.

This is a great laptop. I only wish it can be configured with 32 GB of RAM like those workstation-class PC laptops.

2015 13" MacBook Pro 2015 13" MacBook Pro 2015 13" MacBook Pro

MATLAB Home Edition Now Available

MATLAB finally has a Home Edtion just like Mathematica’s Home Edition. This is great news for hobbyists who normally wouldn’t want to shell out thousands of dollars just to get a regular license. Like Mathematica’s Home Edition, MATLAB Home Edition cannot be used for commercial, academic or non-profit applications. You can also buy add-ons for MATLAB for $45 each.  Note that the product has the same feature set as the commercially licensed product.

I’ve been waiting for this product for some time now. A lot of engineering and computer science books usually use MATLAB code as examples. Previously, only students could get a discount for the product. As I’m not in school, the Home Edition fits my needs perfectly.

I could have both Mathematica and MATLAB now for my personal use.  Awesome!

 

The PlayStation 4

On November 15, at 0001 hrs, I was lucky enough to purchase a PlayStation 4 at Amazon.com.  After a few minutes, all the available units were gone.  I had the package delivered overnight.

PlayStation 4 Unboxed The package was light and seemed smaller than the original PlayStation 3 package.  I immediately opened it to see if everything was in order.

Connecting the PS4 to the TV was a breeze.  Luckily, it also came with an HDMI cable since I didn’t have an extra one lying around.  I held my breath and turned it on, hoping that the unit I got had no problems.  The unit started without any problems and a nice blue light turned on.  The DUALSHOCK 4 controller also had a light turned on.

The boot sequence was quick enough and I went through the setup process without any problems.  After all was done, it prompted me to download an update for the firmware.  The process was okay and I had it up and running in no time.

The previous afternoon, I had purchased the game “Killzone: Shadow Fall” for the PS4.  I also bought the PS4 Eye Camera which costs U.S. $ 59.99.  Plugging the camera to the PS4’s auxiliary port was simple and I mounted it on top of the TV.  Included in the PS4 was an application called “The Playroom”.  Before I could use it, I had to calibrate the camera.  Calibration required me to move the coffee table away to have a clear space between me and the TV.

PS4 Power and Eject ButtonsNotice that the power and eject symbols are quite small.  The buttons are subtly located at the front of the unit.  The top button is the power button and the bottom one is the eject button.  There are two USB 3.0 ports in front which can be used to charge the DUALSHOCK controllers.

The hard drive installed on the PS4 is a 2.5″ 500 GB 5400 RPM hard drive.  It can be replaced by opening the top part of the case.  You can find tutorials on how to do this in YouTube.  So far, I’ve seen one video where the hard drive was replaced with a 1.5 TB hard drive.

The optical disc player is a front-loading unit.  The PS4 supports blu-ray discs and DVD.  As of this time, CDs are not supported.  I’m not sure if this is just a software issue.  Discs can be ejected either via the menu or the eject button.

The PS4 supports recording 15 minutes of gameplay and capturing screenshots.  You can even stream your gameplay to Twitch.TV if you want.  The quality of the stream is okay but a video capture card probably can deliver better resolution and frame rate.  Unfortunately, the PS4 does not directly support the use of external video capture devices, although a few people have successfully streamed using an external device with some hardware workaround.

A few more pictures of the PS4 are posted below:

PS4 Eye Camera PS4 PS4 and PS3

 

 

16GiB of RAM Feels Good

Upgrading my iMac from 12 GiB to 16 GiB of RAM makes things feel faster.  Actually, it simply allows more breathing room for multiple applications to run concurrently,  avoiding things like swapping to disk.

I utilize a bunch of virtual machines (VMs) running different flavors of Linux and,  at certain times,  Microsoft Windows 8.  Once in awhile,  I run a couple of Windows Server 2012 VMs for testing and this requires a lot more memory than Linux.  The upgrade makes running VMs and native OS X applications easy and problem-free.

If you need to run a number of applications simultaneously,  more RAM is good.  Having more cores per processor is another good thing,  especially when your applications take advantage of them.  Finally,   a fast graphics card with a good amount of memory (say, 1 GiB),  makes your games run more smoothly.

Don’t hesitate to upgrade your Mac or PC.
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2013 Is Here

Another year has passed and I haven’t updated this site much.  Many things have happened but most of them are trivial.

I still have to catch up on Yamato 2199.

Mazinkaiser SKL: A Great Action-Packed Anime

I just finished watching the 3-part saga of “Mazinkaiser SKL” and was very satisfied with it.  The pace was fast and full of battle scenes.  The Blu-ray disc release by Anime Works was very good, albeit lacking a bit on special features.  The total run time for this anime was about 80 minutes.  Music was powered by some heavy metal songs that added to the intensity of the battle sequences.

For an overview of the plot, you can read the Wikipedia article here.

If you’ve seen the other Mazin machine anime such as Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, and Mazinkaiser, you’ll note that Mazinkaiser SKL is operated not by just one pilot but two pilots who take turns operating the robot.  One pilot is an expert in guns and projectile weapons while the other is proficient in sword fighting.  Both pilots are pretty intense.

Mazinkaiser SKL, which integrates a skull-like design, is very powerful, able to defeat a horde of enemy robots.  Witness the battle against these robot hordes and one-to-one combat with very powerful robot enemies.

There are references to other Go Nagai characters, both robots and beings.  Some of the enemy robots have similar designs to enemy robots of the previous Mazin robots.  The female robot Wingle integrates some designs taken from Devil Lady and other Go Nagai female robots.  Even Mazinkaiser SKL’s detachable wings resemble that of Devilman‘s.

 

 

2012 Is Here

It’s been quite a while since I last posted something in this blog.  It’s 2012 now and it feels good.

A New Year means new things to do.  There are things that I plan to do in the coming months that may involve a lot of hard work.  Things have been boring so I have decided to do something interesting.

I have been able to sell and trade-in some old books of mine.  I’ll use the money for new stuff which I’ll purchase from Amazon.com.

Microsoft Greets Linux Happy Birthday

As a friendly gesture (I think), Microsoft has made a video wishing Linux happy 20th birthday.  It is an interesting video that has animation of a penguin (Tux, I suppose) side by side a Bill Gates-like person carrying a birthday cake. Is this a ploy of some sort?  Or just an honest wish?

Perhaps Microsoft is starting to learn to live with the reality that Linux is here to stay.

Microsoft Wishes Linux Happy Birthday
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