Oct 26

Study Camp 2008

Blog, Misc, School Comments Off

Well, the inagural Study Camp for 2008 has been and gone.

Sure, the study sessions could have been longer and more frequent, but it was fine. Really, it was.

Sure, there were 6 laptops there (and one most excellent Linksys WRT-54GL router w/DD-WRT), and Mr Lineage is more than correct in saying that they were just going to be a distraction from study – which they were. I’m glad I didn’t take mine.

Because of the Study Camp, I don’t have any pre-prepared content for y’all to enjoy this weekend, so I’ll just whip something up now…

On my last post, there was a comment from turkeybrain about how he doesn’t think that anyone else reads this stuff.

Now, he may have gotten that from the fact that y’all don’t post any comments, man! I mean, really! Go ahead. make a comment – for what it’s worth, they’re free and you can say whatever you like – internet anonymity is awesome for that kind of stuff. Of course, I’ll know who you are (depending on your screen name and whatnot), but at least you’ll have the satisfaction of posting on freshbytes…

Anyway, I can safely say that there are actually people who read this stuff – even if you don’t know about it. Just because there is a definite lack of comments doesn’t meant that this place is a ghost town, turkeybrain.

I fully understand that not everyone is into the whole “ooh, Internet!” thing. While I certainly am, there are those of you who clearly aren’t with the exception of the odd MSN/MySpace/FaceBook session. I get that, I do.

Another thing I understand is how geeky it is to have your own website, let alone two. That’s a topic for another time, though.

Anyways, I hope you’ll leave a comment on this post – if you haven’t left a comment, ever, why not post one on the Freshbytes Wall? It’ll show up on every page – it’s the little block on the upper right hand corner of every page. Hit the button to get started.

I’ve been wanting to post this for a while now, so here it is…

Ever since McDonalds bought out the new burger packaging that has the funky info on the inside, I’ve been wanting to know what the value of M is. You know the one that tells you how much beef McDonalds bought, how many Mmmmm’s that equates to, etc.

Well, Lumus from the MacTalk Forums managed to work out the value of M – as according to McDonalds. Unfortunately, his working was out by a factor of 16, but hey – his post on his MobileMe shows just how easy it is to create a quick website using Apple gear.

You can read his post here. (Original credit MacTalk Forums)

One last thing – there are 5 days of school left. Forever…

written by Benny Ling \\ tags: , , , , ,

Oct 19

So along the same lines of last fortnight’s post, “iPhone, therefore I am“, as well as the very old “OSX > Linux > Windows“, I though I’d tell you why I use Mac.

So I saw this post that was comparing either Android and the G1 vs iPhone and it’s iPhone OS, or Android vs the iPhone OS, or the G1 and the iPhone, or Windows and Mac, or Microsoft and Apple, or any combination of the above. For the purposes of this post, we’ll assume that it’s the comment has been said comparing Android and the iPhone OS.

You can obviously tell that I can’t find the actual article/post that I’m talking about – if I could, I’d show you in a heartbeat. Anyways, what the post (or commenter on the post/article) said was:

“…polished and shiny? As opposed to what? Dull and lacklustre?”

Yeah – you can obviously see how that ties in to comparsions between Android and the iPhone OS, or Windows and OSX.

You can obviously tell that OSX is all polished an shiny, as compared to Windows which is, for the most part, dull and lacklustre. I’m all for Windows when it comes to gaming (damn Steam and they Windows-only stance), but for general productivity and what-have-you, OSX for the win.

I’m going to take another quote here, this time from Slashdot, Chris J’s favourite site in the world. Well, apart from the obligatory…

If someone is happy using, say, Word and Photoshop, what’s attractive in hearing that Linux can’t run Word and Photoshop but they can do pretty much the same things with Openoffice and Gimp, once they take the time to learn how to use them? Why should they do that when they can keep on using Word and Photoshop?

Like I said, i used Linux for ten years. I switched to Apple a few years ago because I wanted wireless to work. Now, I need to buy new hardware. I could easily save a few bucks and run Linux on something. But, why should I? I like Apple software, I’m accustomed to using it. Everything I did in Linux I can do on a Mac, often with greater ease and reliability. Why should I care if Linux allows me to do the same things once I learn how to use it and a bunch of new programs? Where’s the incentive? There are tens of millions of Windows users thinking the same thing.

You know what? I agree totally. People shouldn’t have to change their choice of Operating System just because it’s “the next best thing”, similarly, people are as entitled to their Win-Mo smartphones just as I am to my iPhone. I’m not happy with Windows Mobile, and as a consumer I get some sort of choice over what OS I use on my phone – obviously, I could have chosen between Symbian, Palm, Blackberry, Win-Mo, or the iPhone, or even Android if I was feeling ambitious. However – I like Mac, I use Mac – iPhone OS was the obvious choice.

A little further on, it says:

Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, people coped perfectly well with competing computers and operating systems. Sure, an Amiga was a bit different from an Atari, which was a bit different from a PC, which was a bit different from a Mac, which was a bit different from an Archimedes… but so what? People coped, just like they cope with the way every washing machine or DVD player today has a different interface. When you started using computers, you became computer literate, just like everyone’s more or less washing-machine-literate and DVD-player-literate. And once you’re literate in a technology, you can learn to use any form of it relatively easily.

What the Windows monoculture has done is to destroy computer literacy among most users. Now, instead of learning to use a computer, people are trained to use Microsoft Windows. Instead of learning about launching applications and using word processors, they’re trained to click on the big button at the bottom left of the screen that says “start”, then to click where it says “Microsoft Word”. And so as soon as that button turns into a picture of a foot at the top left of the screen, and the icon they’re looking for says “Word Processor”, they’re left bewildered and uncomfortable.

Of course, this has now bitten Microsoft too: it’s one reason why Vista and Office 2007 are so unpopular.

It’s doesn’t get any better – now you have someone to blame for this mess! Handy, no?


Leaving that aside for a bit, I know nothing is perfect. Certainly freshbytes isn’t (a few more readers wouldn’t go amiss :D ) and neither is Mac OSX, the iPhone, or any beloved Apple creation. The iPhone itself has crippled bluetooth, and it’s battery life isn’t exactly spectacular – not great, better than other 3G smartphones, but still rubbish compared to my old dumbphone(s), Mac OSX has strange quirks which leave some users utterly bewildered as to why it would perform in that apparent non-sensical way, and the iPod, well, it doesn’t have as much codec support as your nearest Rockbox player does. Hell, there are even entire websites devoted to telling the boys at Cupertino about what’s what, and what the end-user would like to see. (Disclaimer – I write for DearCupertino.com – and that was yet another shameless plug…)

I was in the PC lab one day and the same person who asked if the iPhone could text asked a teacher why he was using a Mac in a room filled with PCs. The teacher responded: “It’s because I like to live on the edge.” – GOLD! Now, I’m not suggesting that using a Mac is living on the edge in any sense of the phrase, but at the end of the day, it’s not about which OS is better than the other for whatever intangible reason – it’s about what OS you’re most comfortable using.

For many of you reading this, that would mean Windows undoubtedly. For many others that would mean Linux exclusively. And then, OSX whole-heartedly. I was once asked to decide which OS was “the best” – and I couldn’t. I’m intelligent enough to see that there are merits to all OSs – not one OS is most suited to any one task, be it productivity, entertainment, business, or otherwise.

In my opinion, Linux should stay on the supercomputers, in the Cicso routers, the embedded devices (and their derivatives), and the web-servers. For those purposes, Linux does an excellent job – an example of this is Wikimedia (and, by extension, Wikipedia) changing their servers over to Ubuntu.

Windows can be relegated to gaming only and the business sector – even though there are more and more businesses changing to Macs, I’d say over 80% of people are most familiar with Windows – and market share goes a long way in determining how popular something is. Internet Explorer is a great example of this – it’s complete rubbish, yet it’s the most-commonly used web-browser in the world, simply because it comes pre-installed on each and every single Windows machine.

Mac OSX, on the other hand – I’m happy for it’s market share to stay roughly where it is. One by one, I’ve seen people turn from the Vista juggernaut, and those basic consumers (who only word-process, access YouTube and MySpace) who are sick of all the viruses, turn to Mac OSX. And I”m fine with that.

You won’t hear me preaching the gospel according to Jobs – similarly, you’ll won’t hear me singing the praises of Ballmer.

However, I reserve the right to cringe everytime I see someone using IE.

Comments below.

written by Benny Ling \\ tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oct 12

So I have this thing about apple juice – especially the local kind. I love it, it’s great.

If you’re not aware, Lucaston apple juice is the best there is. I’ve only found a couple of places that actually sell it, and yeah – it’s not cheap when you buy 330mL of it at some $4 a pop.

If you pop down to Margate to Meredith’s fruit place, you can buy it in relative bulk – $4.40 for 2L, WOW!

However, what I’m here to talk about today is friendship…

So when I was younger (think year 8/9) a couple of the guys from my grade (Dave L, Aidan J, Liam B?) who all lived in blacker’s would all come around, and we’d go biking together. This wasn’t hard-core downhill trailbiking, it was just “get-on-your-bike-and-pedal-around” biking. We never went anywhere in particular, just sorta hung around Blackers and surrounding areas.

There was this one time I remember, though, were we all went to Aidan J’s house and drank his apple juice. His sister wasn’t very happy about it (apparently because it was for their dinner or something) but it was a sign of Aidan’s friendship at the time that he let us drink his apple juice.

Now, I’m not sure how much this means in the grand scheme of things (especially seeing as it was apple juice, for crying out loud), but we were thirsty at the time, and Aidan gave his special dinner-only apple juice when

he could have easily given us water, or told us to go down the the beach to satisfy our thirst.

The fact is, he didn’t – he gave us bona-fide apple juice.

Now I recently went to see Wall-E with another friend. He’s a friend, but also a colleague – he’s an excellent guy.

Now William L and I now have this scheme on Saturdays where we pack our lunch and take it to work, therefore saving the $10 or so dollars that we would normally spend on lunch. Now, Will’s taken that $10 a week and bought a DSLR (a 40D, at that), and I’ve taken it to pay for my iPhone bill :P

Even though we pack our lunch separately, we take it in turns to buy the liquid nourishment. We’ve only just started, and Will was first – can you guess what he bought?

Apple juice? Nope.

If you guessed orange, you would have guessed correct.

There’s a pic of this orange juice below.

I have no idea how I managed to write link apple juice and friends, but hey – it’s tasty, and also informative = win-win.

On to the normal stuff, and I’m totally disappointed that Dean has decided to CAN THE 2008 DIGITAL VIDEO SCAVENGER HUNT for Radi8! Oh noes!
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out our video that I posted on YouTube here (or the freshbytes post that contains it here)- otherwise, join me in lamenting the loss of the week…

Juicy comments below, thanks. (Wow – the puns just keep getting better and better around here…)

written by Benny Ling \\ tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oct 08

So it’s that time of the year…

The time of when we fill out those forms for the Calvin Magazine (more on that later), saying who we are, what we want to be in 5 or 10 years time, etc.

So I came to the part labelled “What is your favourite memory from Calvin?”… and I paused.

Favourite memory from Calvin? There are far too many…

  • Year 3 – there was an incredibly awesome teacher. She was also heaps pretty, too. Anyways, this incredibly awesome teacher was definitely the highlight of Year 3 – she made maths fun, for crying out loud! It doesn’t get much better than that – ‘cept when all your other year 3 subjects are fun as well! I don’t really remember much else about year 3 (apart from extra music below) – I was fairly good friends with Ben Steyne, and together we conquered the whole Primary campus with his 3-2-1 Thunderbirds! playset. It was awesome…
  • Again, year 3 and it’s extra music classes. Now, because Ben Steyne and I were so damn excellent at Music (as a result of separate, private [piano] lessons), we were entitled to go to these special music classes for people who were musically gifted. Unfortunately, these weren’t so much extra music classes as much as they were bludge lessons – at the time, all Ben and I did when we weren’t practising for our next concert or whatever (which was 99% of the time), was socialise with the (at the time) Year 6 girls… Good times had!
  • “Monkey”-ing around in year 5 (or 6) – imitation is definitely the best form of flattery. I was imitating someone in my class when she started to get really annoyed. I think the teacher then noticed it was annoying her and she (the teacher) then told me to stop being a monkey, ‘cos apparently, to monkey someone is to imitate them. I think it was designed to embarrass me, but I didn’t care…
  • Year 6, and it was time for our buddies. Now, we got to choose partners, so that each Prep kid had 2 year 6 buddies. Not unlike when I was in Prep, we also had to write stories for our Prep buddies. I don’t have the foggiest idea what my story to my buddy was, but I do remember that I chose one friend over another… Callum A was his name, and I was fairly good friends with him as well. More so than another guy you all might know, Jaymes C. Somehow, I managed to pick Callum over Jimmy to be my buddy-partner, and I don’t think Jimmy ever forgave me for that…

…and that’s just Primary school! :shock:

I’m fully aware that some of you mightn’t have primary school stories as colourful as mine – there were definitely some other stories that aren’t really appropriate. Now is not the time, nor the place.

So, back to this leavers interview…

I’ve put down “Tamworth 2006, aka Science and Engineering Challenge 2006″ as my favourite memory from Calvin… It was completely epic. So epic, in fact, I’ve got a website (almost) dedicated to it… See here.

200+ Krispy Kream Donuts.
38 students.
3 teachers.
13+ hours of bus.
4+ hours of plane.
4 days.
3 parents.
2 hotels.
1 Grand Challenge.

Yeah – that’s pretty much the best excursion ever. No idea how you’d top it…

Comments below.

written by Benny Ling \\ tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oct 07

Not the way most people would start out a review of the latest desktop environment (unless Vista was mentioned in close proximity). Not only that, most people wouldn’t know that Gnome I’m referring to is not one of those boring (no offence) little characters in gardens around the world. The Gnome I am referring to is a desktop environment found predominately (and to be honest, only) in Linux and BSD distros. If you have ever used Ubuntu, it’s the default desktop interface. You know, that taskbar with a list of windows at the bottom of your screen…ok, maybe you don’t know. Regardless, I’ll continue.

The latest version of Gnome is 2.24. Most distros out in existence are still using 2.22, which is nothing to sniff at. 2.22 was stable, unlike previous versions where the file system browser (nautilus, think of explorer for windows and you’ve got the picture) would crash when doing nothing in particular. The latest version of Gnome, and the time of writing, is only included in two distros: Ubuntu 8.10 (beta) and Fedora 10 (beta). Notice that they are both betas, which means that they are likely to be unstable, thus not of ‘production quality’ you would expect from final releases. And thus, the reason why I am unmasking and installing Gnome 2.24 on my Gentoo Linux laptop (against previous advice).

I can’t say that 2.24 is a major leap in any particular direction. Think of it more as a few security updates, patches, bug fixes, and some features here and there. However, one bright feature that was included was the ability for the file browser to have multiple tabs! Think of using firefox for file operations, and you’re right on the money. Not only does that feature save screen space, it also makes the screen space more efficient.

Nautilus 2.24 under Gentoo Linux

Nautilus 2.24 under Gentoo Linux

About the only other two features I can think of include an ability to setup monitors with a lot less effort (including rotating your desktop), and the date & time applet having the function of being a calendar as well as a note-taking/planning application. Not that most people would use them, but I might :) .

Well, I’ll leave you to decide what you think of the new file browser (as shown above), and scan the web looking for the release notes while I go and emerge -av =gnome-2.24 (Gentoo Linux package install command for Gnome 2.24 for those who have never used Gentoo).


written by Chris Jacques \\ tags: , , , ,

Oct 07

Yes, I know it is late. The AFL grand final was two weekends ago, and the NRL grand final was last weekend…but anyway.

Regardless of which predominate code of footy you follow, it is the end of the home-and-away season. Some say that it’s a good thing (like a good friend of mine who does not enjoy watching either of those codes to great lengths), and others (like myself) dread when the season comes to an end. It’s not like I do not enjoy either of the grand finals (the AFL one was a let-down, I tipped Geelong, and the NRL one was fantastic to watch, even though I don’t follow it to great lengths), it’s just that this time of the year incurs a void.

A void which is not usually filled until the beginning of November. The cricket season begins!

After planning most of your year around watching your favourite team play on the TV, it’s hard to get back into the mindset that there isn’t sport to watch on the TV of a weekend. No doubt that Soccer fans will complain that they always have a competition going on at any time during the year, but it’s not the same. It doesn’t feel Australian to me. If you look at the history of sport in Australia, you would realise that Soccer hasn’t been played for very long in this country. If you take a peek at the two predominate codes of footy, one has been played for 150 years (AFL), and the other 100 years (NRL). My apologies to the purist Soccer fans, but the two major codes are entrenched Australian sports. Soccer, I believe, is just another import from a foreign country.

NRL (National Rugby League), one of the Grand Final plays.

NRL (National Rugby League), one of the Grand Final plays.

AFL (Australian Footbal League), one of the marks of the 2007 Grand Final.

AFL (Australian Footbal League), one of the marks of the 2007 Grand Final.

Anyway, enough of that.

I’m not sure what happens during this time of year leading up to the new year for NRL, but I do know that the AFL have ‘trade week’ where players are bought, sold and traded to clubs for large sums of money (still nothing like the ridiculous sums of money in the English Soccer League). No doubt that both Hawthorn (AFL) and Manly (NRL) will still be celebrating their grand final victories in grand style, while the rest of us are back at school/work.

So, what do we do now?

Sit and wait, I suppose. The cricket season isn’t far away, so while there is a void at the present time, it will pass… Just the same way that it does for every other year.


written by Chris Jacques \\ tags: , , , ,