Category Archives: Technology

Taking doodling one step up

I have to admit it: I am a doodler. I’ve done it since I was in elementary school, I did it in high school, college and I still do it at work. Wikipedia argues that doodling happens to students during boring classes. I don’t think that is my case: when I’m doodling at work I still pay attention to whatever is being discussed at the meeting. But I can understand how some people might see that as a sign of distraction.

Today I borrowed Marcospen tablet and gave it a try. I saw a tablet for sale at woot a few months ago and got curious about it. I must tell you it is more difficult to doodle on the tablet, but it is really fun. Here is the result:
Lincoln the turtle

Let’s get virtual

Almost a year ago I was posting about my new MacBook and how I installed Bootcamp in it to try it out. It was a fun test although I have only launched my Windows XP partition a couple of times in the past year. There is nothing I cannot run in OS X so having Windows XP on my MacBook has been pretty useless.

A few months ago I also successfully tried an Ubuntu Live CD. Ubuntu is a Linux distribution and a Live CD allows you to run the operative system without installing it in your computer.

Today I was reading the unofficial apple weblog and found out about VirtualBox: a virtualization open source software from Sun Microsystems. Up until now I knew that you could use VMWare (which I use at work) or Parallels on your Mac, but those were all commercial packages and I didn’t wanted to spend any money since all I wanted was to learn and experiment. I was really excited to find out that I could install Ubuntu on my Mac using VirtualBox for free.

Creating a new Virtual Machine (VM) was really simple and currently Ubuntu 8.04 is being installed as I write this post.

Ubuntu installation on VitualBox

It actually is taking me longer to write this post, than for Ubuntu to get installed on the VM. The installation is done, and now it is downloading 46 software updates which means that at least the network is working like a charm!

Ubuntu running on VitualBox on a MacBook

Now this is the bragging part of the post:
I can now run 3 freaking operative systems on my MacBook and if I create a Windows VM image I can run them simultaneously!

The world is no longer flat my friends.

Yes I did notice that the Ubuntu clock is one hour behind…

The DJ has a new toy

M-AUDIO x-session-Pro

Today I went to the Apple Store at the Domain and bought myself an xSessionPro: a USB mixing device that you can use to mix tracks on your computer and pretend that you are a DJ. It comes with a software called Torq Mixlab which is pretty simple but powerful and after a few minutes I was mixing good stuff. I’m going to play more with this and get better at it and maybe you will find me soon on iTunes just like dj jon carpenter.

Take that DJ Fucho!

Posting your pictures online

Sharing your pictures on the web seems like a very trivial matter, right? well I can tell you it is not that trivial. Here is my story.

Back in 2004 when I first created Chichipanguanorrea I chose Fotopic as the solution for sharing my pictures. The interface was ugly but uploading the pictures was very easy with a Java-based plugin. Unfortunately the free version of Fotopic has a limit of 250 MB which I reached a couple of years ago. Today if you ask me to rate Fotopic, I would give them a 4 out of 10.

flickr
Later in 2005 I created a flickr account and started uploading pictures. Since the free version of flickr has a limit on the amount of data you can upload each month and it only shows the last 200 pictures (the rest of the pictures can still be accessed through perma-links), I decided to use flickr as the place to upload ONLY my best pictures. I really like many of the features flickr offers: tags, a huge community, nice interface, geo-tagging, but the limitations prevents it from being the best option for uploading tons of pictures.

In 2006 I decided to try some options I could easily integrate with my WordPress blog: I tried FAlbum and Gallery but it was zenphoto who won my heart. I installed zenphoto in my blog and have been using it since then. It is really easy to upload the pictures and the galleries are created automatically. My only complain would be that including a picture inside a post is not so straight forward.

Today I decided to revamp my picture gallery after updating my blog with the latest WordPress distribution available last night. I’m between upgrading my zenphoto installation to the latest version which has some new features or trying NextGen gallery, a WordPress plugin that seems to be very popular among WordPress users. The good news is that I can try NextGen without removing my current zenphoto installation nor I have to duplicate my picture galleries.

Here are some examples of how NextGen works:

Test 1: adding a picture with the reflection effect
[singlepic=1,350,250,web20]

Test 2: adding a picture with a watermark
[singlepic=2,350,250,watermark]

Test 3: adding a gallery

At this point I’m liking NextGen a lot, but I’m having trouble getting the pictures to show up. I think this is because I’m pointing to the pictures from zenphoto and the permissions might not be properly set up. I noticed that even in zenphoto I cannot open a picture file directly

Writing in the middle of nowhere

It is 8:52pm on a monday of 2008 and I just challenged myself to write a post for my blog using a trial version of the application WriteRoom. I read about this application last night on Slashdot when some people were complaining that text editors like Microsoft Word are cluttered with so many user interface (UI) elements that you get really distracted when it comes to write something. On the other hand, this WriteRoom application presents you with the simpler interface on earth: just the text you are writing.

WriteRoom screenshot

These people also argued that when you open Microsoft Word, you feel like you are going to write a school paper and not the next bestseller novel. I think there is some true behind those arguments, but I wanted to try it myself and write a post using this simple application which happens to have a not-so-simple price of U$24.95.

I must say that besides the cool factor of writing with a screen that looks like a terminal from the 80’s I don’t really feel a huge difference using it. In fact it is now 9:02pm and these 3 paragraphs is my great contribution to the literature world. Maybe someone who is actually writing a novel and spends hours in front of the screen could really appreciate this tool.

My new MacBook

Apple MacBook
Finally I can tell you all about my new MacBook. I bought it last November but I couldn’t publish anything about it in this blog because I wanted to surprise my mother because I gave her my previous laptop as a present.

I’m very pleased with the MacBook but I have to admit that there are a couple of things where I think the PowerBook is much better. I like the PowerBook keyboard better and I also dislike the sharp borders of the MacBook, because it leaves marks in your wrist.

But to be fair, I love the new glossy widescreen display, the remote with front row, the iSight webcam.

I also installed BootCamp and Windows XP on a 10GB partition and was able to play Need for Speed Porsche. The process for getting Windows XP running on my MacBook was really straight forward and all the hardware in the MacBook was recognized and works great so I have to give Apple kudos for that.

Show me your teamwork

I spent all day yesterday at the 2007 Challenge organized by First Lego League (FLL) organization which is a Robotics contest for kids using LEGO Mindstorms. The day was very fun and the team i was coaching, the Pond Springs Pioneers finished in 19th place out of 60th teams. But the best thing is that our team got a 2nd place in the ‘Teamwork’ award and we got a nice LEGO trophy.

PondSpringsPioneers

KVUE news was covering the event and they said they were going to post pictures and videos later this week.