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.
[GARD align=”center”]

HTML5 and Semantic Markups

I just got a book from Amazon.com called HTML5 & CSS3 For The Real World.   Published by Sitepoint, this book is a wonderful read.  The still-evolving new HTML specification has a lot of semantic markups that help web authors add meaning to the various components of a web page.  These semantic markups not only give meaning to the structure of an HTML document but also aids in styling of the page.

HTML5 is not just about fancy features.  It’s also about building HTML documents that make sense when analyzed for structure and design.  One aspect of HTML documents that is important is the outline of the document contents.  To aid in authoring HTML5 documents, there are some tools that analyze the documents’ structure.  One of these tools is the HTML5 Outliner,  which takes advantage of the outline algorithm for HTML5.  Try using it in your HTML5 projects and experiments to see if you have a semantically correct HTML document.

It is also important to understand the meaning and use of the various HTML5 markup elements.  Their use determines the logical structure of a document, aside from the styling.  There are certain HTML markup elements that should only be used in certain contexts.  One case is the use of the <em> and <strong> tags.   While <em> is used for emphatic stress, <strong> should be used for a span of text that has strong importance.

The proper and canonical use of HTML5 markup elements should be of concern to today’s web authors.  Reading the HTML5 specs carefully, even if they are still evolving,  is a good thing.  It’s best to future proof your HTML projects now.   See the Website Design and Construction page of this site for links to helpful resources.



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.



SCO To Put Most UNIX Assets Up For Auction

SCO is going to put most of its UNIX assets up for auction, according to this article.  Will there be somebody who’ll step in and continue supporting the products and the customers?

If I had lots of money in my pocket, I would probably buy the assets and see what can be done with the products.  Their UNIX is somewhat a direct descendant of the original UNIX created at Bell Labs.  It would be interesting to dissect it and see how it ticks compared to other UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems.  Moreover, it would be of historical value.

Anyway, that’s just a thought.

Also, I wonder what’s going on with the Solaris/OpenSolaris issue.

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.


Gaming On The PlayStation 3

Lately, I’ve been playing games on my PlayStation 3 (PS3).  It has been one year since I last played a game on the console, using it mainly as a blu-ray player.

I’m not an expert gamer and I do it just to pass the time.  However, I like playing games that have very good graphics, the ones which give you a cinematic experience.  Metal Gear Solid 4 is pretty good.  Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is also a winner.  Resistance: Fall of Man, being one of the first titles available on the PS3, is showing its age but the gameplay is still okay.  (I miss Gears of War, an Xbox and PC game which is definitely better than Resistance:FOM).

Note that I’m not playing the latest and greatest games.  I’m a bit hesitant to spend $50-$60 on a new game since I’m not yet an expert gamer.  I usually buy old and/or used games.  Amazon.com is one good source of them.

The New 2010 Mac mini

Apple had a surprise announcement of the new Mac mini.  It’s now in an all-aluminum case.  The form factor is a bit shorter but wider than the previous Mac minis.  They also upgraded the graphics and processors, making them faster (though I would still get the 2.5 GHz model and upgrade it to 2.66 GHz).

I am thinking of this as an alternative to an expensive 27″ iMac.  I would forego with the processing power of the iMac but I would save a lot enough to buy an iPad 🙂 .

I’ll wait and see.

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.

Trying Out Aardvark

I have recently been using Aardvark, a service recently acquired by Google, to ask questions about things of interests such as computer and martial arts stuff.  The service works by forwarding your questions to experts selected using some AI algorithm.  The company that runs Aardvark does employ PhDs in artificial intelligence to build and enhance the service.

Aardvark is promoted as a social search engine.  You can post and receive messages via a number of ways including instant messaging or mobile phones.  There’s also a way of linking your Aardvark account to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

So far, I’ve been receiving pretty good information about the things I asked.  I encourage you all to try the service.  Google seems to have plans to integrate this to their products as part of their initiative to enhance their prowess in social networking stuff.  Right now, Aardvark is part of Google Labs and is still active.

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…….