Simpsons in HD, finally.

3 03 2009

“It was bound to happen sooner or later” but I kept saying that and after all these years, the once really very popular show and still good (in my opinion) has finally converted their video to high definition. Yea I know that The Simpsons has been on the high definition broadcast of Fox but until March 1st, 2009, it wasn’t in full HD and what do I mean by that? 1360 pixels wide and 720 pixels tall. Essentially in widescreen mode as that is the industry accepted standard of what it means to be in HD. Seeing that nobody else has written about it to my knowledge, here’s my way of saying FIRST!

So what’s new? The intro has been altered (or was simply modified for the 1st episode in high def) and in the picture above, you can see gramps snoring in the car alongside Maggie and Marge. Previously gramps wasn’t in the car. He was standing on the roadside waving his walking stick and cursing at Bart.

Then the intro screen flew through some time periods like during the early 1900s and then into a Brady Bunch style run-about-the-house jig. Then a Cheers variation with the family seated at a bar and the “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” song playing in the background. I was half expecting something with NBC’s FRIENDS but I guess NBC must’ve put their foot down to ruin the moment for us all.

The episode itself was standard fare. Homer forgets to mail in his insurance and goes into a series of adventures trying to prevent himself from being liable for any damages. In the meantime, Bart gets sent out on a fake vacation to allow the school to get a good average score to make it to the “No Child Left Behind” act. It’s alright but definitely watchable. And it’s in high def so you’re not going to see the black vertical bars on the sides of your tv. Finally.

So keep your eyes peeled out on HULU to see if they’ve included the new episode. It’s already there. CLICK HERE!!!

PS: I’m so sorry for not putting up anything since early February.

EDIT: I just noticed that Grampa Simpson isn’t in the car initially with Marge and Maggie but pops up when they zoom in the inside of the car.





Windows 7, Palm Pre, Apple iPhone, and the Nokia E71

3 02 2009

Just some commentary on these 4 tech hot topics.

Windows 7: It’s alright and if you had problems getting your video cards recognized with Microsoft Windows Vista, you’re back on square one with the number. Now if you got an older monitor, it is most likely a 4:3 screen (resolutions – 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768), you’re not going to see stretching or black vertical borders on the sides. However, since your graphics card can’t really be used, you’ll see slower performance compared to XP. You might run into compatibility issues with antivirus software. Another downer.. the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) you downloaded expires in August 2009.

My recommendation is as many have said – use it only for testing. Actually if you have a newer system, create a partition on your drive or get a 2nd HDD and install W7. The Aero visuals are stunning and runs smooth compared to the much despised Vista but for older machines, you should either go with Ubuntu or Windows XP.

Palm Pre: Put in the limelight at the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last month, this is Palm’s last ditched attempt to save itself from oblivion. The UI (user interface) is pretty and appears to have been influenced by Apple’s iPhone OS which would make this an obvious hit other than the ugly keyboard slide-out. The old Garnet 5.4 OS has been kicked to the curb in favor of a new inhouse developed linux-based flashy webOS. Palm’s promising GPS, a 320×480 pixel screen, 3MP camera, 600MHz processor, 8GB internal memory, and a host of other standard features. An innovative feature of using cloud computing technology lets you sync your stuff with an online server instead of your computer. Well, you don’t really have a choice in this case.

What really kills this for me are … the ugly keyboard, the battery life for a cellular device at that size and that powerful of a processor with the features given is going to suck, no expandable memory which means no microSD card slots, doubts about security, and the tanking economy (duh!) I do understand that the Palm Pre isn’t out for sale yet but if they don’t produce a GSM version (AT&T and T-Mobile), regardless of their partnership with Sprint (CDMA), it’s a definite no go for me.

I guess we’ll have to sit back and see what’s remaining after Apple strips Palm out of a lot of their UI features on the Palm Pre.

Apple iPhone: What else to say other than this is the industry gold standard that every UI designer is aiming to emulate. Other than it being cool and possessing easy to use menus, there are a lot of limitations. Some being the lack of multi-tasking capabilities, “real” internet on the webkit-based Safari browser (YES, they lied in those ads), replaceable battery, external storage, and other smaller concerns. But the whole package despite those shortcomings is tightly integrated and holds mass appeal.

My take on this is, … pretty … cool … not the phone for me. Oh and the battery life sucks on this thing. I have the new 2nd Generation 16GB iPod Touch which sports a faster processor than the iPhone 3G but has better battery life. Unfortunately for the iPhone, it’s battery life is significantly worse than the Touch.

*drum roll*

Nokia E71: Just got this last week and boy is it a beauty. The design is compact yet has a bright generous screen. The audio is loud and crisp. GPS. Multitasking. Stainless-steel back. Giant 1500mA battery. This is a significant improvement from the older Nokia E61, which more than held it’s own back when it originally debuted in 2006. I’ll be posting more about this next week. 😉

(L to R above) Apple iPod Touch 2nd Gen . Nokia E71 . Nokia E61

Also, NewEgg‘s having a super sale for the E71 at a super low price of $299 with a free Motorola Bluetooth headset and topped with FREE SHIPPING!
Here’s the coupon: EMCABCHBJ





Anyone Else Having Problems Installing Windows 7 on a Virtual Machine?

17 01 2009

I was able to get Microsoft’s upcoming baby, the beta for Windows 7 (build 7000) installed and running smoothly on a 3GHz P4 Dell Inspiron notebook running on 1GB RAM with no problems. Well I guess the only issue I faced was that it won’t let me create another partition so I could get Ubuntu 8.10 installed on a EXT3 disk format. But that aside, worked great.

Then I took the task of porting Windows 7 on my Apple Macbook via virtual machine meaning it would run within Mac OS X. Found a free tool Virtual Box (instead of the $80 Parallels or similarly priced industry leading VM Ware) to create a fake partition on my drive and emulate a system akin to a new hard drive so that Windows could be installed and executed on it.

The installation process was fairly quick and painless. Oh and I had it set it to Windows Server 2008 as there obviously didn’t have Windows 7 on the list and since Server 2008 was the latest one, it was my choice. By default, most new installs of operating systems default to a 4:3 screen ratio depending on your video/graphics card. Mine was on 1024×768 but when I went to switch it to 1280×800, that option wasn’t made available. Infact, there was nothing else other than the tiny 1024×768. My video card was listed as a generic VGA card and the mouse movements weren’t smooth.

I then tried to get onto the internet but my wireless card wasn’t recognized which was fine by me because I have an Ethernet cable (CAT5) to link up to my router and the VBox software was telling me that my LAN (local area network – cable) card was recognized. Too bad. It’s not working now for some reason on VBox. That meant I also couldn’t download and install the “Guest Additions” for Windows 7.

So now I’m stuck with 2 options:

1. Try and find a way to download the “Guest Additions” manually from the Mac OS X interface and then conjure up magic to install it.

2. Remove Windows 7 and reinstall it under the guise of Windows Vista since 7 is essentially built up on the much loathed Vista platform.

You could say I didn’t get the best first hand experience of a virtual machine on the Mac OS X platform but that’s just part of life.

 

When I load up Windows 7 beta on VirtualBox by default, it is set to “Windowed” mode (below).

 

I can scroll up or down but it gets annoying (below).

 

Or I could go into “Full Screen” mode but that’s annoying too with the black bars surrounding the main Windows 7 gui (pronounced: gooey … stands for “graphical user interface”) interface.

… any suggestions?





LCD Monitors? NewEgg > BestBuy

28 11 2008

Went to the local BestBuy store by Rosedale Mall to grab a few items including an Acer 19″ LCD – X191 but by the time we got there at 6am, it was long gone. It was long gone after the 5th nerd joined the line at 6pm the previous day. But as luck would have it, there was an Acer 19″ LCD for $169 and one next to it for $179. The only problem was, the monitor-in-box was located between the two price tags.

Took the monitor to a BBuy clerk to run a price check and after he matched the model and SKU #, he advised that we were looking at the more expensive $179 model (Acer X193Wb) which retailed at $239. Fair enough. Along the way to the cashier, I picked up the latest Guns N’ Roses album – Chinese Democracy – on sale a few bucks less ($11.99), only found at BestBuys nationwide, and after 15 years of waiting. All was fine until the cashier lady punched in the items.

I immediately noticed the amount on the POS (Point of Sale) machine screen for the X193Wb was displaying $239. TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY BUCKS??? I had the cashier run a price check through an extremely rude sales associate. It seemed like she took forever to return and when she did, she was virtually yelling at me saying that I had the wrong LCD model and the one going for $179 was out of stock.

How could this be? I remember matching the SKU and model # with the BBuy clerk previously on the computer screen personally at the store location to make sure we had the right model and now I was being rudely told to dole out the full retail value for a product on sale? I had had it with that retarded sales associate. Told her I wasn’t going to get ripped off by BestBuy and promptly purchased my CD and left. Point to note is that the cashier lady was very kind and caring in stark contrast.

Went for a coffee break at a Brueggers and checked the prices on my phone. The X193Wb was shown at $179 on numerous Black Friday websites for Best Buy. Then saw that NewEgg had the same monitor for … $99 with the deal expiring on Sunday the 30th. I’ve bought a lot of stuff from them in the past and they’re quick to ship.

We all know what happens next. So if you’re in for a decent LCD monitor for your computer, grab one at NewEgg soon. They’re ending on November 30 but on limited stock.





Peter Griffin’s Favorite Band Gave The World “The Bird”

23 11 2008

After seeing the Family Guy episode (Season 7 – Episode 2) featuring The Trashmen’s one verse hit “Surfin’ Bird,” I got news from a close friend that the band was actually in town playing on Saturday evening at a dive (The Turf Club) on University and Snelling in St Paul, Minnesota. For those of you who’ve heard of the Surfin Bird song (and who hasn’t?), you might be surprised to find out that the group is actually based here in Minnesota. They were also the original kings of surf music. Before the Beachboys. Before the Beatles. Probably even before you.

15 bucks and a few cover bands and beers later, Tony Andreason (lead guitar), Dan Winslow (guitar), Bob Reed (bass), and Mark Andreason (drums) were rocking it out at a packed house a quarter after midnight. Time meant nothing to these “geriatric rockers” as they let loose a barrage of 50s-60s surf rock to a frantic wild crowd, of which half appeared to be well over 40 years young. Songs such as Surfin Bird, King of the Surf, Gloria, I Fought the Law, and It’s So Easy were instantly recognizable which brings me to the big question as to why in all these years of my existence did I not know who sang them until recently. Maybe it’s because The Trashmen don’t have a website?

Mini-mosh pits formed and disappeared in seconds possibly due to the age of some of the patrons. My only disappointment with the event was that there were no body surfers present. Disappointment with myself – not buying memorabilia (cd/tshirts) because the line was too long.

Some classic covers were splayed out much to the happiness of the retro-loving crowd. At the very end after we heard the gurgling sounds of a wet surfin’ bird bailing out into the waters, masked members of the Neanderthals jumped on stage with their drums and clubs (along with the Trashmen) pumping the crowd to a exhilarating finale with more tunes from that era. Best of all, I got a chance to shake Mark Andreason’s hands after the gig. One cool cat.

And so in case you still don’t know THE BIRD, you might want to check out a clip from the Surfin Bird episode of Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy show below.

PS: They’re playing in GreenBay (Wisconsin – booooo) Sunday tomorrow which would be technically today since it’s almost 5am right now and I need to catch some sleep. G’nite!





Google Themes Your Gmail. Cloud Computing on the rise?

19 11 2008

While at work today sometime early afternoon, I happened to accidentally click on my GMAIL tab on Firefox to find new colors running across the screen. Was it the Websense filter doing it’s job by filtering out some color script? The blue was a deeper hue than I could recall and after going through the settings on the “settings” link, was not able to find a solution for the color change. The only thing referencing to “color” was the labels. Asked Kaci if her Gmail looked any different but she replied with a negative.

Got home and checked Gmail. Surely, this wasn’t the Google Gmail blue we’ve always known. Had to check again so clicked on “Settings” on the top right corner and booyah, there was a new tab “THEMES” listed at the end – not visible when I was at work. Was this merely a cosmetic upgrade?

It was a tough choice between “Planets” and “Ninja” but we now know who won.

After Microsoft launched a half-hearted theme option on their HOTMAIL/LIVE website 2 weeks ago, I guess this was just an inevitability especially since the iGoogle page had that feature as an option some years back. Also, the iGoogle page had been tweaked recently to get all the gadgets incorporated in a seamlessly convenient package. A positive step from Google but a giant leap towards the social acceptance of cloud computing.

When we say “Cloud Computing,” think of being able to use your computer anywhere you go without having to tug along your laptop. The concept thrives on the notion that any computer that can connect to the internet can connect to your “computer” which in actuality, exists on external servers. When you download an MP3 or movie or any file for the matter, or when you write up papers or make charts, they get stored on a server making them accessible from any internet ready machine at your disposal. The trick is to make the UI (User Interface) all effortless by blurring the lines between what is stored on your computer’s physical hard drive and what is stored on your “online” computer.

In the future, when you log on to your computer, the operating system you see and interact (Mac OS / Windows / etc) won’t be stored in your hard drive. Google Docs, Adobe’s Photoshop Express, and Microsoft’s Office Live Workspace are a few examples of commercial software backed by well known companies basing their ideas on online applications. The full featured desktop operating system is on it’s way out and even Microsoft’s making sure they don’t miss out on this trend (hint: Azure).

Simply put, Google’s Gmail themes is the tip of the iceberg of bigger things to come. We are going to be seeing another major technological paradigm shift in the next 5 years and whether we like it or not, it’s already taking place.





Battle of new Operating Systems – Snow Leopard v Windows 7

12 11 2008

It’s no big secret that Apple’s latest Mac OS X Snow Leopard (OS 10.6) will be available for purchase early next year while rumors point out that the new Microsoft OS (aptly named Windows 7) should be out late that same year to replace the Titanic-esque Windows Vista operating system.

So as the armies of darkness gather up their zombie ponies to do battle with one another, it’s time we take a pre-war analysis before plunging head-first into the chaos to get a glimpse of what’s to come.

Hilarity brought to you by The Onion. 😀