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.

Obsolete Books

Books, especially technical ones, easily get obsolete within a short period of time.  I have several technical books that have recently become obsolete, one of which got obsolete in only three years.  This has made me purchase the new editions of some of these books.

There are times when the new editions have significant changes.  Others don’t have much changes – mostly reorganization and deletion of sections.  I get annoyed when the latter occurs, not realizing it until I have purchased the books.

I usually end up selling or trading in some of these obsolete books on Amazon.com.  The money I get isn’t much but it is better than nothing.  Obsolete books waste space in my shelves.  There are still a number of obsolete books that can no longer be sold and these books are harder to get rid of.

One thing I have stopped doing is to write my name on books I purchase.  That way, when I sell them, they still have better value than books that have markings in them.



The Holidays Are Coming

Everyone seems to be looking for good bargains after Thanksgiving.  There are some who are already lined up at the stores that have sale items on Friday.  I’m just wondering if Apple products are going to be on sale as well.  At least OWC might have some Apple items on sale.

From Apple comes a new line of MacBook Airs.  They’re light and nice to use.  As for practicality, I’m still not sure about them.  However, if you just need something like an iPad but one that’s more powerful, the MacBook Air is it.  Note that it doesn’t have a touch screen yet though.

Another on my wish list is the new Apple TV.  It’s now a tiny black box that allows you to rent movies from the iTunes store and stream music and videos from different sources that support AirPlay (e.g. iPods, Macs, stereos).  I hope to get it for the holidays.  🙂

Computer Technology and Life

Obviously, computers permeate our lives in many ways through the gadgets and machines that we use everyday.  The Internet has also linked these computers in such a way that a vast amount of information can now be found flowing almost anywhere in the world.

I saw the revolution and evolution of computer technology from the time the Apple ][ was introduced.  Those were exciting days when 16kBytes of memory was a big thing.  There were competing makes and models of what were called personal or micro computers.  Remember the Ataris, the Radio Shack TRS-80s, the Commodores, and the Sinclairs.  There were others and even some of them predate the computers I just enumerated above.

On eBay, one can buy these computers, some of which are still in working condition.  I have a couple of Commodore 64s myself.  Try searching for the above computers and see how much they cost now.

In high school, I spent a lot of time, tinkering with the Apple ][ Plus.  I learned Applesoft BASIC and Machine Language programming.  Later on, I learned Pascal via Turbo Pascal which was later available on the IBM PC as well.

The IBM PC rose to become the dominant personal computer in the late 80’s.  Apple, however, introduced a great machine called the Macintosh (it was misspelled — it should have been McIntosh) which featured a graphical user interface (GUI) and a pointing device called a mouse.  Eventually, PCs (which usually meant non-Apple IBM-compatible computers) got their own GUI with the help of Microsoft.  It took at least a couple of versions before Microsoft Windows displaced the command line interface of DOS on the PCs.  Meanwhile, Apple Macintosh thrived, carving out a niche and building a loyal customer base.

The Internet was still at its infancy in the late 80’s.  Some domain names like SUN.COM were registered around 1986.  In the early 90’s, I got a taste of the Internet, albeit without the world wide web (WWW) yet.  FTP and Gopher were what we used to transfer files here and there.  It was entertaining and fascinating to know that computers were actually linked to each other and could pass information to one another.

Further down towards the mid 90’s, Linux rose to be a popular and useful open source project.  I was lucky to have tinkered with sometime in 1993-1994 when the kernel version was something like 0.99.  Once again, I was amazed at what one could do with a full blown Linux kernel-based operating system.  We used Slackware, one of the few surviving Linux distributions today, to set up Linux-based servers.

I found it cool compiling and running UNIX applications on Linux.  The X Window System provided the GUI with the additional functionality of remote Window sessions.  Samba proved to be a great thing for those that wanted to use a Linux server as a file and print server.  Of course, one could not help but gleefully hack and program on a Linux machine with all the free development tools available (Perl, C/C++, bash, tcsh, etc.).

……and many more things happened…….

Where are we today?  Mobile devices, embedded computers in machines, tablets, smartphones, multicore processors, etc.  It’s quite impressive to know they exist.  Even more so that these gadgets and embedded computers are (or can be) connected to each other via a network, wired or wireless.  They can even be accessible from the Internet.

We are all benefitting from these developments.  Should we also be scared of them?  We already face problems daily with computers getting affected by malicious software meant to steal our wealth and identities.  We also face the difficulty in making sure complex software don’t commit errors where lives are at stake.  With all the flow of information in the Internet, is our privacy not safe anymore?

Where do we go from here?  I guess we should proceed carefully but with a positive attitude.  As human beings, we are quite smart and we adapt.  We will learn from our mistakes and make things right.


New Blog Site

I migrated http://albertusunbound.wordpress.com/ to http://www.albertus.org/ today because I wanted more control over the site.  It wasn’t too difficult to migrate and setup WordPress on another server since I read the manual.  😉

WordPress is suitable for my purposes at this moment.  If I need to migrate to something else like Drupal, I’ll just have to do it.  WordPress already has enough features to keep me happy in the years to come.

I hope to write more often this time.  It’s not easy for me to think of a topic to write about simply because I keep myself busy with other things.  Perhaps I need to structure my time a bit more so I can spend more time on blogging.

By the way, take a peek at these websites:

LinuxUnbound is one of my sites where I post stuff about Linux.  Alumni.NET, on the other hand, is a global organization registry that has been around since 1994.  It started as a simple registry for a single high school.  It now features some social networking features.

Well, I’ll post more stuff later.

The iPad Is Unleashed

It’s been a few days since the iPad was released to the public, generating a lot of buzz in the press and on the Internet.  There’s even one YouTube video of some guys smashing an iPad, presumably the cheapest model.

I visited our neighborhood Apple Store in the Galleria Mall and tried it out.  I was curious about the landscape-mode virtual keyboard and tried to type something.  I could get used to it after awhile but I was making mistakes.  I imagined myself using an iPad in some café writing an entry to this blog.

There’s a lot of things in my mind now as far as wanting gadgets is concerned.  I want this iPad and I want an iMac.  As for the iMac, I’m waiting for Apple refresh their current line of models to include the new Intel processors.  The iPad is a luxury for me, but I might like using it in my living room while watching TV.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Soundtrack

I am currently listening to the original motion picture score of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5).  This is the digitally remastered special edition 2-CD set.  Compared to the 1-disc Polydor CD release back in the late 80’s, the sound quality of this set is superb.  Well, another soundtrack now goes to my iPod(s).

I must say, the music is dramatic and visual.  You can actually “see” the movie as you listen to the soundtrack.  I need to listen to it a few more times so I can say more.

Searching for Portable CD Players (aka Discman)

I was looking for a decent portable CD player to replace my old Sony Discman D-F411.  Coupled with a pair of decent headphones like the Sennheiser PX 200, the sound quality was pretty good.

I use the portable CD player to sample CDs and to compare CD sound quality to digitally compressed audio (MP3s, AACs).  I still love the sound of the CD, but I hope they improve the quality of compressed audio while reducing file size (there must be a limit to that, given that you throw away information to get to a certain file size).  Lossless formats would be ideal if it were not for disk space and bandwidth limitations (imagine iTunes selling lossless music files many times larger than AAC files).

Some of the major manufacturers of portable CD players have only a few left.  Panasonic doesn’t even have one featured on their web site.    Philips just has one model of portable CD player, but, if it were like my Philips portable CD player, it doesn’t support gap-less playback of contiguous gap-less tracks (something you would encounter often with classical music CDs, for example).

I am saddened by the demise of the portable CD player.  Sure, I do have two iPods, but portable CD players are something I’d like to bring around the house if I want to listen to a CD.  I hope that either the CD format remains or that a new type of media capable of storing uncompressed music emerges.  Perhaps, we’ll have one of those cube-like thingies that you see in sci-fi films…….

Posting Again

It’s been awhile since I posted something on this blog.  I’ve been busy with other things, including the launch of a site called Linux Unbound.

The new year started with the purchase of a few books such as “Classic Shell Scripting”, “Flex and Bison”, “Sed and Awk”, and “The Illustrated Network”.  I am trying to go through “Classic Shell Scripting” as fast as I can.  The book is an interesting read and is useful for the UNIX/Linux/xBSD administrator.

I still have to study Mathematica though.  😉

Well, that’s all for now.

Star Trek:The Next Generation Movies On Blu-ray

There has been an announcement that Paramount is releasing a 5-disc Blu-ray set of all the Star Trek:The Next Generation movies this Fall.  This is our chance to see the movies in 1080p resolution and HD audio.  I am wondering now when are they releasing the Next Generation series on Blu-ray like they did with the original series.

Blu-ray players are still expensive and most people are probably waiting for a reasonably priced player.  Perhaps a $149.99 Blu-ray player with the latest Profile is the new sweet spot.  I wonder if the complex licensing scheme for Blu-ray is hindering the arrival of cheaper players.  With more cheap Blu-ray players around the corner, an additional number of people will be able to enjoy their favorite movies in High Definition.