Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

DVD: Miracle Maker

One of the most engaging portrayals of the life of Jesus is a 2000 film called Miracle Maker. Would you believe it's claymation?

See it.

Miracle Maker still

Camera shopping for Mom

I wanted to buy a camera for my mom that is fully automatic—just push the button, and it takes a good picture. Panasonic’s fully automatic FS7 was tempting, but didn’t have many reviews, so I decided to stick with our tried and true brand, Canon. I figured Mom’s requirements matched the snapshooter profile, and wanted the following specs: automatic scene selection, image stabilization, and long battery life.

The three candidates were the SD1200, SD780, and SX120. All of them have automatic scene selection, image stabilization, and reasonable battery life, so she couldn’t go wrong with choosing any of them. The SX120 has a nice big 3" screen, but the others weren’t too bad at 2.5". I wasn’t sure if she would find the SX120 complicated, as it has more buttons and dials than the others. It was also the largest of the three.
Image StabilizationAuto Scene SelectionLCDBattery LifePrice
YesYes2.5"260 shots$200
YesYes2.5"210 shots$250
YesYes3.0"370 shots$300

In the end we went with the big SX120. The tipping point was its use of AA batteries—easy to replace while travelling.

I’m definitely jealous. It has twice the megapixels and LCD size of my camera, a 5-year-old Canon A75. The 10x optical zoom is pretty cool. I would recommend turning off the 4x digital zoom though—it makes the pictures blurry.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Using MaxiVista on Linux to give Windows an extra monitor

If your main computer is on Windows but you have another computer running Linux, which you want to use as an extra monitor for Windows, you can do so using a combination of MaxiVista ($40) and Synergy (free).

MaxiVista lets you use another computer as an additional monitor. But it is a Windows program. So you'll need to use Wine to run it on your Linux box.

One issue though is that, when using Remote Control mode (i.e., viewing your Linux desktop instead of your Windows desktop), mouse clicks and the keyboard won’t work. I stumbled upon a workaround though: if you run Synergy at the same time, your mouse clicks and keyboard will work. The catch is that your Synergy screen is “one screen past” your MaxiVista screen, so you’ll need to move your mouse across the screen until it reappears on the other side. At that point, your mouse clicks and keyboard will work on the Linux desktop. A bit annoying, but it’s not that bad.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Single Irreducible Purpose of Existence

Suppose that you were destined to live the rest of your life in a dark, closely fitting, narrow box. How would you spend your time? You couldn’t read any books—there are no books, nor light to read by. You couldn’t write letters—there’s no-one to read them, and nothing to write with. You couldn’t exercise—there’s no room. What would you do?

In this bare minimum of existence, if you can figure out what you would do, how you would stay sane—this would be your Single Irreducible Purpose of Existence, your SIPE. It’s not much different from being imprisoned by torturers, or confined to a bed for the remainder of your life. This thing that you would do, without mobility, without light—this would be your single irreducible purpose.

I think I know what I would do. What would you?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

OK, O.K., ok, or okay?

“OK” and “okay” are the correct variants. It is an abbreviation of “oll korrect”, a slang spelling of “all correct”.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Playing around with Linux (Ubuntu)

I’ve been meaning to install Linux for a while, and decided to when I saw the book Ubuntu Unleashed in the 005 section of the library. It had a CD with Ubuntu 7.04 (which I later found out is rather old), so I took it home and was pleasantly surprised to see that it “just worked” when I inserted it into my laptop. I decided to install it on my 5-year-old 2.4GHz Celeron with 512MB RAM. The hard drive was dead so I dusted off my scooter and went to Office Depot to pick up an 80GB one for $50.

As expected, there were a few obstacles, but nothing that couldn’t be solved by Googling for error messages. I’m happy to say that I’ve got the Jaunty Jackalope version of Ubuntu finally up and running. Sticking with Gnome rather than KDE, which I haven’t tried. My primary computer is still a Windows laptop, but this Linux box will serve as a third monitor (via Synergy) and as a print server for the other computers on the network. I’ve signed up with SpiderOak to back up my data directory—they give 2GB for free.

Installing Ubuntu has actually been pretty fun. And there are still a bunch of things I’d like to learn, which I’m looking forward to reading about in this big Ubuntu Unleashed book—which the Amazon reviews rate poorly, but it seems alright so far.

Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope

Friday, September 04, 2009

Prepaid dial-up as broadband backup

I found a prepaid dial-up ISP called Maglobe, and I'm writing this blog post with it, via my laptop modem. The speed is surprisingly usable. Sorta.

I'm going to use this as a backup when my broadband connection goes down. I'm pretty sure Maglobe is legit as it was mentioned in a 2001 LA Times article. I paid $15 for 28 hours—it expires after a year. Works in the US and Canada.