Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Chrome for Mac Review

I heard that Google released a version of Chrome for OS X, as I have firmly been using Safari since it was first available I thought that maybe I could try something new (I just never liked Firefox).

There are some really neat features in Chrome however the current release is just not good enough.

First things that I like over Safari:

  • Themes. I like being able to have an overall darker look to the browser compared to the grey of Safari.
  • Pages do feel like they are loading faster.
  • It uses less memory on my laptop, this is an issue when handling large files in Matlab.
  • The status bar only appears when the mouse is hovering over a link.
  • Zooming in using Cmd + is handy and functions better then Safari.

Parts that are not good enough:

  • I cannot set bookmark folders to open all the contents when clicked.
  • When loading 18 new tabs simultaneously some fail to load.
  • Chrome does not open PDF’s nor does it support Java well.
  • While watching a flash video in full screen the mouse cursor is constantly moving up and down by one pixel.
  • Difficulty logging into sites such as slashdot.org and getting Chrome to remember the login.
  • Terrible history menu. Instead of getting my history I get Most Visited and Recently Closed, not where I have been.
  • Cannot drag URL’s from the URL bar into the bookmark bar.
  • Accessing the system Keychain works sometimes and rarely remembers choices.
  • There is no obvious way to change themes once one is set.
  • Once a file is downloaded the download bar remains until the window is closed.

I also thought that it would be easy to sync bookmarks between OS X and Windows 7 via Dropbox with Chrome but I have not gotten it to work (not saying it cannot be done, just that it is not obvious). I have not done this with Safari but I know it can be done with Firefox.

I wanted to like Chrome but it just disappoints and falls short of a pleasurable web browsing experience.

Maybe in a few releases it might be worth coming back.

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That store is ripe for a hooligan to change the P to a B.

Ever since I struggled to write a paper for a physics lab class and my friend introduced it me I have been a fan of LaTeX. Since that moment I have written everything that needed any sort of typesetting in TexShop for OS X.

Recently I needed to organize several papers for their references, I conveniently found in installation of BibDesk. This was a wonderful find. BibDesk was able to create my BibTeX file for my references as well as organize all of the PDFs for papers. With it I am able to now start a centralized organization for academic papers, something that will hopefully help me in the long run.

Furthermore it has helped me write my papers. I was able to load in a dozen papers related to my topic (Ganymede) and systematically read through the papers adding more information to my paper. The simple addition of a read checkbox to BibDesk makes the whole thing just work perfectly.

Of course after talking to a Windows using roommate about this I was only able to recommend LaTeX and BibTeX and not any neat front ends.


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My grandma needed help opening up Zip files so I was about to recommend Stuffit Expander.

Then I realized how much that is a bad piece of advice.

She would need to fill out a web form, respond to an e-mail, give her e-mail again and then download the file. After that she would get spam e-mails from them until the end of time.

Instead I recommended The Unarchiver. A simple download and I hope an easy solution to opening Zip files (and potentially others down the road).

Never again will I download Stuffit Expander based on the unending e-mails they are sending me.


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Hanging About

It is starting to get cold.

After trying to program an almost intractable problem it is fun to help my roommates with their Matlab homework. Especially since I have never had a dedicated programming course before. And because their homework problem is very reasonable in what it asks and what it needs.

VLF attenuation in the earth-ionospehre waveguide is not as easy.

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Dragon Age



Slaying a dragon atop a pedestal in Rothenburg.

I lost a lot of time this weekend to Dragon Age: Origin.

After a bit of play I can say that this game encapsulates the joys felt while playing Baldur’s Gate.

My favorite part of the game so far is the lack of clear good/bad decisions, oftentimes there is either no clear answer or seemingly good decisions having bad consequences.

The biggest issue I have with the game (aside from trouble installing DLC) is the camera. A wider range of movement in the top-down view such as being able to tilt the camera without entering over the shoulder view. I understand the limitations on panning as it would require a fog of war to be enforced which would not work seamlessly with the over the shoulder view. But the tactical (top down) view feels very limited in scope and cannot even look from directly above, which can prevent visibility in small rooms.

Unlike replaying favorite games like Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment I do not know what is going to happen. And to fully embrace the unknown I am not reloading for a bad outcome, if that behavior starts it leads to trying to play for the most powerful character instead of a consistent one. I just wish the weekend had more time in it to play.


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Matlab Magic

Images are sometimes too easy to make.

Images are sometimes too easy to make.

I occasionally stumble across some interested images in Matlab while testing things out. Particular when trying to run random data through my programs to see if the results are from the data instead of the program itself. In this case I cross-correlation a normalized magic square to get the above surface plot. It looked neat so I kept the code:






for i=1:points











clear a i mg mg_norm norm points

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Unix Mail


Glad I did not need to sort these.

I had a departmental computer account set up for me, or at least I asked the IT guy to set one up for me. After I asked I never heard back about it.

Three weeks later my professor mentions something he showed me but he never did. He looks at his e-mail and he did send it to me, to my departmental e-mail address. I did not know that I had this e-mail address.

Turns out that I had an e-mail account and computer account set up but I was never told about it. Once I found this out I hunted down the IT guy and got the default password for the account. I then figure out how to set up forwarding.

However I noticed that I had about ten messages that I could get too, I know this since there was an error file with the names of the e-mails. Hoping a solution would turn up I continued on my way.

Today I logged onto my friends linux machine through SSH and saw a line at the top that I have never seen before “You have mail”. Odd I thought. I did not know what to do with this, so I blindly typed ‘mail’ and there it was. From here I could access the mail on my departments unix machines and finally read those e-mails.

I just could not forward the existing e-mails to a better e-mail account.

An important aspect of figuring out computer problems is knowing how to fiddle without breaking things or causing irrecoverable damage.

To get those messages I could probably use a modern mail client, I reasoned. I started up OS X Mail and tried to set up a new account based off my department server. Strangely it worked quite easily. I set up a temporary POP account, downloaded the messages, dragged them to an IMAP account and deleted the POP account.

It would have been nice if I knew I could do that from the beginning.

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Easy to set up.

Easy to set up.

Windows 7 is finally all set up on my Macbook Pro through both Bootcamp and Parallels.

A few thing that caught me up in the installation:

  • Partitioning a large part of the hard drive could be difficult if you have large files that are frequently used, for me my XP Parallels files prevented me from partitioning my main hard drive.
  • Use the Bootcamp Assistant to start the installation process, otherwise everytime the installer restarts you will start to boot in OS X.
  • If installing the Student Upgrade edition it will only accept the License Key if the install detects a previous version of windows when it initially starts up. Install Windows 7 once then install again over it to get the product key to work (I had to wipe my XP Bootcamp before installing).
  • An “Untitled” Bootcamp partition can be renamed by changing the name of the C:/ drive on the Windows side.
  • Backup everything. After a clean install of Windows 7 is working use WinClone to back it up.

My only real complaint about Bootcamp and Windows 7 is that the trackpad tap to click is much more sensitive then in OS X.

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Installing Windows 7

Windows, more then seven.

Windows, more then seven.

I downloaded Windows 7 Professional 64bit Upgrade last night using the student discount. I tried to get it to work today. It has not been easy and it is not working yet.

The current problem is that I want to repartition my OS X hard drive but it won’t let me create a partition past the 40GB point and I want a 60GB partition. So i will need to reformat and reload the hard drive. There were other issues such as created the ISO and the CD-Key which I hope that I found solutions for.

Now I am leaving it for the weekend because I need a steady computer for tomorrow and some Matlab code needs to run overnight.

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Performance Update

Day 2 of Rain: got wet going to the bus stop. Sunny on the way back.

Day 2 of Rain: got wet going to the bus stop. Sunny on the way back.

Today Apple released Performance Update 1.0 for a swath of recently made computer. Mine was one of them. Hopefully this update will fix the problems I have been having and trying to fix. After twenty minutes everything seems to be running better. Though it might be a placebo effect.

The update notes state that the issue was related to the hard drive which would explain why I had more hang ups while having Matlab process and save a bunch of data.

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