Monday, September 15, 2008

Tech Odds and Ends

I'm a nerd when it comes to technology. (EDIT: Actually, I am a nerd in general.) So here are some miscellaneous things that I have been interested in recently.

Google Chrome is amazing. It is now my primary browser. There are a couple things I miss (primarily the ability to use the scroll wheel as a button and then slowly and smoothly scroll up and down by moving the mouse).  Occasionally I'll run into some java thingy or plugin that Chrome doesn't have. Aside from that, it's the fastest browser I've ever used. It has some nice features, too. You can search straight from the address bar. Just type in your search term. I still use Firefox for pages that Chrome won't open, but otherwise I will stick to Chrome.

There's a great Econtalk podcast on the Chevy Volt. It's not just about the neato technology of the Volt; it's also about the corporate culture of GM, and how the Volt is a deliberate attempt to change that culture. I'm not really a fan of GM, but in this case, I'm hoping that they'll pull this off. Oh, and for those who don't know what the Volt is: It is a kind of hybrid car, but it is able to go on batteries alone for about 40 miles. After that it uses a gasoline engine as a range extender, to recharge the batteries. It can also be plugged in. It is therefore likely that most people who drive a Volt will, on most days, never burn any gasoline.

I've been using Vista 64 for a couple months without problems. Because the move to 64 bits allows it, I decided to go from 2GB to 4GB (32 bit Vista cannot address more than around 3.5 GB). Initially I had two 2GB DIMMs in the computer, to run in dual channel mode, but upon the advice of a friend I decided to also stick in the two 1GB DIMMs that I used to have in there as well. So now I have a 3.2 Ghz Core 2 Duo with 6GB of RAM. The question is, what do I do with this thing? So far I've run a GAUSS program on it that crashed the computer in my office. This computer ran it successfully in less than 20 seconds. I've also done some audio editing with it since the upgrade, and found that it's a bit faster than the last time I did that

I've been trying to use Pandora to find new music. I have this problem: I'm incredibly picky about the kind of music I like. I tend to like music that is complicated, with lots of changes of time signatures and difficult to play. For this reason I've long gravitated toward Rush, old Genesis, and other Progressive Rock bands (I also like some ELP, Yes, and Happy the Man--cool video here--although I'm not into much King Crimson). For a while the only new band I really liked was The Mars Volta. I was hoping that Pandora would be able to use my preferences to find similar music. For the most part it failed. It even brought up Elton John a couple times. Elton John! Elton John is nearly the opposite of what I want to listen to. So I was working in my office, annoyed and somewhat insulted ("is the rest of my music this bad?"), when a song came on by Damiera and it quickly grabbed my attention. I'd never heard of them before. The song was M(US)IC from the album of the same name. I wish I could find a decent link to the song somewhere, but it's pretty interesting. Unfortunately it looks like they lost 3/4 of their members after that album, and their new sound is pretty different. It's no longer as interesting or complex (and of course, it's mostly this new music that you can hear on Myspace). Still, I'll give Pandora the credit for finding one new band I like. 




2 comments:

pkasting said...

Thanks for the kind words about Google Chrome :)

Middle mouse autoscroll is hopefully coming once we re-sync to the WebKit trunk -- probably we'll ship something to users in the next few months. If you need Java and don't have it, install the Java 6 U10 beta (32-bit) plugin from Sun, and that should make things go.

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