I’m back!

I’m back.

Well, sort of.

This blog has been languishing and I was never sure what to do with it.  I’ve decided to use what I have instead of creating (and paying for) a new blog.

So, I’m going to freshen things up around here and hopefully post more.

Records and Music

I got a record player for my birthday. It’s not a huge system, just something to listen to records on and transfer them to my computer if I want to. A Crosley.

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It’s not perfect and it’s not huge and it has mixed reviews, but it allows me to wander the aisles at the 2nd and Charles near my apartment and not be limited to what media I can pick up and listen to (CDs and records instead of just CDs).

I found Carole King’s Tapestry, Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E, and The Monkees self-titled album. These are three albums that I’ve always wanted but could never find in CD form.

I got them home last week Wednesday and the first one I put on was Tapestry. Now, I love Carole King and James Taylor, but I’ve not heard a ton of her own work; I’ve mostly heard it through James’ voice or her King-Goffin hits sung by others. I sat on the floor and listened to the whole thing through, and then since I was interrupted, I played the second side a second time.

Wow. Just a great album. The sound would be better with a better speaker, but hey, I live in an apartment, so I don’t need powerful speakers. The small one on the player gets the sound across. Anyway, if I want it louder, I can hook up a pair of headphones to the jack on the front.

That night, I also listened to L-O-V-E. I love Nat King Cole’s work and this is one of his most famous records, so I knew I needed to listen to it. And listen I did! The arrangement is a bit faster than I remember from what I’ve heard before, but I like it. It sounds beautiful.

I listened to The Monkees self-titled the following night and it was super fun.

The other thing I love about records are the covers. They’re huge and they’re art!

I like this format and will be listening to it for a long time coming, I think.

 

Fix catalyst driver in Ubuntu 13.04

This is great and I want to be able to fix my Ubuntu ATI drivers after the kernel updates again.

xpressrazor

1. Introduction

I found lots of people struggling to get catalyst driver work in Ubuntu. This issue has been persistent for some laptops, ever since Ubuntu 13.04 came out, specially for Intel, AMD dual graphics setup. For people, who have been looking at catalyst drivers since http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1930450 post was published, should not be that hard to find the solution, but for those who are new to Linux, or don’t have time for these kinds of issues, this might be a show stopper bug.

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Golduck Mac

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Finally updated the wallpaper on my Macbook Air.  This is Psyduck!  He was great to confuse an enemy then deal a wallop, switch out to another Pokemon and then finish them off!

Again, you can refer to my other Pokemon themed posts recently to get the wallpapers.  I love these, and I need to transfer them to my work computer so I can have Pokemon there too.

EDIT: it was pointed out in the comments that this is Golduck.  I must have been tired when I posted this because wow.  Changing the title too to reflect it.

Finding a Google Reader Substitute

I really want to like The Old Reader, but till they get a mobile app for Android, I’ll have to stick with Feedly. :(

The Well-Appointed Desk

Google Reader screenshot

After whining and moaning and crying a little, I went ahead and tried just about every Google Reader substitute I could find. While there is no perfect solution yet that bridges across mobile and web options that all syncs together, I have found my temporary workaround. I do most of my RSS reading on my computer these days so I needed to solve for that first and I’ve found The Old Reader to be the most Google-Reader-esque experience. It did take about a week for my content to be uploaded to their site as they were flooded with new users after the Google announcement but it was kind of worth the wait.

the Old Reader Screenshot

Its currently only available in a web browser version but I can access the content on any machine with a web browser so its a decent solution at the present. I did like that so many other apps…

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Wow, an amazing picture. The big three made some awesome cars in the 50s. I hope they make more.

The Woodward Spine

By Jeffrey Buck

The automobile has evolved over time. Materials, size and badging have all changed over the years to accommodate changes in lifestyle and cost. The curves and lines of this 1956 Cadillac have long since been replaced with more aerodynamic designs and will again change as new technology is discovered and created.

Take a look at the photograph entitled “Elderado: 1955“:

A 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Seville photographed in 1955. From a series of 8×10 glossies with an ink stamp on the back reading “Styling Department, Ford Motor Company, Dearborn Mich.” Keeping an eye on the competition.

Image | Source

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Laptops in the College Classroom and Creating an Environment Conducive to Learning – Kelli Marshall

Laptops in the College Classroom and Creating an Environment Conducive to Learning

This is very interesting.  I come from a time where laptops were not prolific in the classroom (matter of fact, they were really rare) and most students did not have a laptop, but a desktop.  There were no tablets.  Cell phones weren’t the multifunction units we have today.  For the most part, students used engineering paper and pens/pencils to take their notes.  I do know many students transcribed their notes at home onto the computer but I had no need as I tried to stay organized with them and put them all into a ring binder.  Ahem.

A strict policy regarding technology (except maybe in a coding class) would be a good idea.  I know I would get distracted if a student in front of me was playing on their laptop instead of paying attention to the lecture.

I come from a different background (Kettering students tend to be… very driven in regards to their studies… not that other schools’ students aren’t, but it just seemed that KU students had a stronger drive for some reason), so I’m probably biased in my observations.

I can see how a student could leverage technology to improve their grades through note-taking and dropbox and working through examples in class (I’m thinking something like Matlab, programming, or a CAD-style class).  It would have been nice to have a Macbook on which I could have done my work and had a sweet dock/monitor setup and an iPad that could hold some of my books and other materials for reading.  It would have reduced my load of what I was carrying, but I think I still would have carried paper and pens and pencils because I find in many cases that taking notes on paper is so much better and easier than taking notes on a laptop.  I never got used to typing notes as they happen and I prefer to use a pen or pencil and engineering paper.

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Kelli, about your laptop/tech ban in class.  I hope it will increase class interest and participation.  I don’t have any experience on the other side of the podium, but I do have experience from being a student, and I feel that students with traditional notes materials seem to be more engaged.  I know I was.

Smoke shop haul

Now, I’m not a huge fan of smoking in general, but I’ve found that I love the contemplation of a good small cigar.  I’ve been smoking them since last Thanksgiving, and it’s been worth it.  I think I’ve had… seven since then?  Or something like that.  It’s a once every couple of weeks’ thing for me.  Like my brother says, “I want a hobby, not an addiction”.

So.  I went to the local smoke shop near my apartment, and holy whoa, do they have a lot of stuff.  What I got:

  • A box of five Moontrance flavored small cigars (larger than the Macanudo minis I had before, which were my first cigars)
  • An Acid Blondie single that my brother talked me into.
  • A Zippo lighter that has a seahorse on it.  I didn’t see any with a penguin on it in the case.
  • Some Zippo fluid.
  • A cigar for my brother (he took it with him)

And… a bit more than sixty dollars later, I’m out the door.  BUT, in my defense, the Zippo was $30 and it should last me forever.  My brother has our Dad’s with “Don” engraved on the back and a square and compass on the front.

How about a quick picture?

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Up top you can see the Zippo, the Blondie in the middle, and the box of Moontrance underneath.

I just had a moontrance, and let me tell you, whoa.  I need a cutter (my pocketknife worked, sort of) but this cigar has a lovely flavor with vanilla and fruit.  I never thought I’d say tobacco was tasty, but this is.

It starts off cool like all cigars do and you can taste the vanilla really well, and as you smoke it, the flavors get “hotter” because the smoke is hotter.  You don’t pull it into your lungs like you do with cigarettes, and that is the “draw” (haha!) for me.

I’ve found that the Zippo lights better than the crappy 7-11 lighter I have.

So yeah.  I probably won’t have another for awhile, but this is a good and different thing to do every once in awhile.

Lamy Al-Star and Nomadic Snap-Button Pencil Case

I announced on this blog awhile ago that I bought a Lamy Al-Star fountain pen for myself.  Well, I’ve been using it for awhile (a few weeks) and I think I have enough time on it for a review.

First, a picture gallery of the pen:

This pen looks cool.  I went with the blue option, and at the time didn’t realize that it was the exact same shade as my Fisher, so there’s a bonus there.  The pen writes amazingly well.  I would have preferred black ink, but that can be fixed with an inkwell and a converter.  I just need to order the converter and find some ink that I’d like to try in this pen.

I use it every day at work, and I was surprised that it would take over my “fav pen” spot so quickly.  It writes smoothly and has more character than the ballpoints and gel pens I usually use.  If I need a different color (red or green or black) I’ll go to those other pens, but this one writes well and is pure joy to use.  It seems to have adapted to my writing style and has improved my handwriting, which is something to be said.

Now, if there was just a retractable version…  ;)  I know that will never happen, but it’s convenient for the quick changes I do on paper for my work.

Now, onto the pencil case:

Wow, what a case!  This thing holds a lot of stuff, as you can see from the pictures in that photoset, as well as the picture below.  I keep it in my bag and I’m not worried about my pens and pencils getting broken because of something unforeseen happening to my backpack.  I mean, it’s not a hard case, so potentially things could break, but I feel my stuff is very well protected in this case.

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As you can see, I have my three Jetstream pens, two mechanical pencils, my earphones, one lead container, two erasure containers, the data cable for my MP3 player, my mp3 player, the Lamy and the Fisher.  The MP3 player has since been relocated to the backpack pocket, but everything else is the same.  The point?  This thing holds a lot of stuff, and I think if you were going out drawing with colored pencils, then this would be a perfect case.  Actually, I take that back… you might want one that has a zipper to keep your pencils in it because I’d worry about ones with no clips falling out if it was inverted.

Anyway, I’m extremely pleased with JetPens.  I will be buying more from them in the future.  Perhaps some ink and a converter for the Lamy.

New Beer

This time it’s “Solitude Abbey Style Ale”  by Vivant.

Interesting, to say the least.

This is a very smooth, malty beer that goes down like a good ale should.  You can see that it’s dark with a light brown, foamy head on it.  This is actually the second half of the can, as the whole thing didn’t fit in my glass!

A true pint, and a delicious one at that.

This beer is perfect for people who want something flavorful, malty, and easy to drink.  It has no “bite” like most IPAs do (and this is why I don’t like them).  It’s not too bitter.

Comfortable, I’d say.  It’s got a good mouthfeel, with no sour taste.  The end is bready, and I think I detect a hit of some sort of nut.

Anyway, this is yummy, and I recommend picking up a 4-pack from your local grocer.  I’m not sure if it’s only Michigan, or if it’s national, but it’s worth picking up if you like a bready style beer.  I do, and this is good.  It’s not something I want to chug, or something that I want more than one of in a sitting, but it’s something that’s to be savored.

Stars: 4.5/5

Notes:  Bready, malty, nutty.  Has a smooth mouthfeel.  I was maybe expecting something a little sweeter, that’s why it’s down a half star.  Overall?  Great.  Would buy again.

JetPens Order!

Some of you follow on Tumblr, and you’ll know this already…

I’ve finally broken down and bought a fountain pen.  A proper Lamy Al-Star.

I’ve never spent this much on one pen before.  How about a picture?

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Lamy Al-Star fountain pen.

It was $37.50.  Like I said, I’ve never spent this much on one pen before.  I’m thinking it will improve my handwriting, because I really need to do something about it.  It’s actually gotten worse since I’ve gotten out of school.  I hope to use it at work and such (it will go back home every day; that’s what the second item is for) and also take it with me if I’m going to be writing longhand.  I think if I write longhand more, it’ll be better.  Or something.  Maybe it’s an illusion.  I don’t know.

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Nomadic Snap Pencil Case

This is the pencil case I bought.  It looks pretty cool, and I think it’ll hold what I need it to.  My backpack has some pockets to hold stuff, but I’m not happy with the way my stuff floats around in it (my MP3 player is casualty to this, and I’m afraid something might happen to it).  I’ll be able to carry pens and pencils back and forth to work and not worry about them getting crushed or broken in this case.

I’m also looking at a Fisher Space Pen, but that might be for another month.

A Recap of 2011 and What I Wish for 2012

Oh boy.  What a year!  And, I’ll create a list of everything I’ve done this year…

  • Served lunch/dinner at two successful Shrine Circuses in January and Febuary.
  • Installed as Queen of Makere Temple No 99 in March.
  • Had a successful GoEx for OES in May.
  • Had a Nile Ceremonial in May.
  • Went to my THIRD Supreme Session in June.  Met so many cool people and added them all to Facebook.
  • Nile Picnic in July!
  • Turned 30.
  • Successful Supreme Queen Visit in August.
  • Interviews in May, August, and September.
  • Second interview with Chrysler in September.
  • JOB OFFER IN SEPTEMBER!!!! (RGBSI at Chrysler.)
  • Alpena Nile Visit first weekend of October.
  • Moved to hotel in Auburn Hills in October.
  • Went to first CHC in October (haven’t been back because I’ve been busy).
  • Thanksgiving.
  • MOVED to new apartment same weekend as Thanksgiving.
  • Power went out the following week.  :-(
  • Power restored after two days; Cable and internet installed week following.
  • Work.
  • Work.
  • Work.
  • Christmas.
  • Happy New Year!!!

I go back to work on the third.  I’m looking forward to it.  :)  I’ve met so many cool people at work and on the internet, I really can’t complain.

What I wish for 2012:

  • To keep my job.  This might not sound like a lot, but shit.  I’ve worked my ass off for various places and they usually dump me after I’ve done a decent job and hit all their rīdiculus deadlines and stretched myself.
  • Keep on keepin’ on.
  • Create something for NaNoWriMo in November.
  • Finish my Holmes fanfic.
  • Watch more films.
  • Read.
  • Read.
  • Read.
  • Work.
  • Write.

That’s pretty much it.  Simple list, huh?

Computer Comparisons…

I’ve been looking at computers again.

This is a bad idea, as I find all kinds of stuff that’s awesome.

So yeah.

Lenovo is having a sale on their Thinkpads right now, and I’ve seen Thinkpads and I’m enamoured with them right now.  They look functional and simple and can hide a bunch of power inside.  The only bad thing?  I have to buy it with a bloody Windows license.

System 76 has a great desktop machine that I’m looking at, but their smallest laptop is 14″ and that’s a little big for a secondary couch-surfing system.  I just want something about 12″ that will run Ubuntu and is (preferably) under $600.  It has to be portable and it has to fit in a bag and be easy to carry around to coffee shops and easy to take home for a weekend.  Also, battery life.  Please be more than 4 hours on a charge…

I think I’ve got a pipe dream here.  ZaReason has an awesome laptop that’s 13″ and has a lot of the things I want, but it’s closer to $800.

I don’t know exactly what to do, but I’ll figure something out.  I’m not planning on pulling the trigger on any of these systems til well after the new year… closer to March maybe.  

You might be asking what I’m looking for in a desktop…  Well, here we go:

  • At least an i5 processor.
  • 6-8 gb of RAM.
  • 500+ gb hard drive.
  • nVidia card… 1 gb thing that’s on S76.  I don’t know what it’s called.
  • Decent cooling.
  • Low power usage.

Same with a laptop:

  • Battery life; at least 4-8 hours worth.
  • 12″ screen is optimal; I’ll go to 13″ or 11″ if I have to.
  • Decent keyboard.
  • 2-4 gb of RAM.
  • 100+ GB hard drive.
  • i3 processor (or equilivent).
  • 3 USB ports.

Both of the machines MUST be able to run Ubuntu with MINIMUM of fuss.  If I have to fight with it, I don’t want any part of dealing with it.  The desktop must run Windows 7 as a secondary OS with minimum of fuss.

I just want my stuff to work without a problem.  An OS shouldn’t get in my way of what I want to do, and both Ubuntu and Windows 7 are at those points.

Maybe I’m picky.  Who knows.