Posts in "Geek"

Let’s Go Galaxy Hunting

Ever fancied yourself as a bit of a galaxy hunter? Ever looked up at the stars and wondered if you are alone out there? Well, never mind the second question, but if you want to help classify over a million galaxies, then Galaxy Zoo could probably use your help.

They have taken photo’s of around a million galaxies (each one contains billions and billions of stars like our own sun…do the maths, it’s not hard to realize there is going to be at least one other ‘Earth’ out there capable of supporting life) and need help classifying them all.

You have to take a short tutorial explaining the different types of galaxies (Eliptical or Spiral) and then have to take a nerve racking test to find out if your galaxy hunting skills are good enough for what they need. If you pass then you are allowed to start classifying real galaxies.

The whole concept of letting people around the world help out with scientific studies is growing in popularity. Classifying the galaxies has been difficult to do with computers because they are not adept at spotting patterns, and getting a few people to so the classification would take time and resources. By letting hundreds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people around the world help out they can complete their study in months rather than years.

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What Sort of Facebooker Are You?!

It seems that if you are a 20 something in the UK you can’t have a conversation with someone for more than 5 minutes without the dreaded words Facebook being mentioned.

Since it opened it’s doors to the general public in September 2006 it has seen a wild fire like growth in the UK. I don’t feel as if MySpace ever really cracked the 2nd generation of internet users (people that came online around 1995 – 2000), certainly amongst my circle of friends MySpace was never mentioned. With the garish profile pages, unreadable fonts and eyewatering backgrounds it was something that I feel appealed more to the teenagers than us college grads (being the sophisticated grownups dontcherknow).

Now here we are, July 2007, not even a year after Facebook opened it’s doors to the general public and I think 70% of my year group from high school is registered and a fair amount of people from my university. Most of my mates from back home have a profile and it’s growing day by day. Considering that there are were an estimated 1.3 million UK users in March 2007, I reckon there must be 2 million or more now.

So, with the meteoric rise of Facebook, certain types of users have emerged, which one are you?

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Windows Vista & The Memory Monster

My friend bought a new laptop the other day after his old died on him (shows a blank white screen on startup – anyone have any ideas?). So he toddled off to the local PC World to have a look at the laptops. I seem to remember a time a few years ago where desktop PC’s took up the floor space and laptops were confined to one or two rows. Now laptops dominate the floorspace.

While browsing the laptops, I came across a Compaq Presario with the following spec:

1. 1.6 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor
2. 2 GB RAM
3. 120 GB HDD
4. 256 MB Shared Graphics
5. 15.4″ Widescreen LCD
6. Dual Layer DVD +/- ReWriter
7. Vista Home Premium

All that for just £599 – an absolute bargain. Since I’m still using a beat up old Compaq with a PIII & 256MB RAM I knew that they make good sturdy laptops; which is more than can be said for the Toshiba my friend was using. So eventually after a bit of umming and ahing he took the plunge and bought the new Compaq (and I don’t know how I walked out without one, I was this close | | to getting one myself). He got a right touch on it too, getting £20 knocked off for signing up to their ‘care’ plan – which was free and can be cancelled at any time.

So he gets it home and spends the necessary hour or two installing and setting it up (I want to know, can you really take a Apple Mac out of it’s box and be on the internet in 5 minutes? Is it really that easy?!) we both noticed that it seemed a little…sluggish.

He had installed the latest version of Zone Alarm and Webroot’s Spy Sweeper and removed a lot of the none essential components and software. Even with 2 GB of RAM the system just seemed a little slow – like 1/2 second too slow, just enough to notice it. We timed the start up time and it came to 2 minutes to start up Vista with the ZA and SS installed. By contrast, my crappy old laptop which runs XP professional on a mere 256 MB RAM and hasn’t been tuned up, scanned or defragged in centuries, started up in 1 1/2 minutes.

The situation was even worse for shutting Windows Vista Premium down, it seems to go on for an eternity. This is for a brand new machine with Core 2 Duo and 2 GB RAM remember.

I called up another friend who had just bought a top of the range desktop PC and he said that just running Vista and Norton AV his computer takes up 1 GB of RAM…and that’s when it’s idle! I can’t see how you can buy a machine and run Vista normally with less than 2 GB.

I’ve been seriously considering buying a new laptop, and as I said earlier I was so close to getting one the other day. But after seeing the (non) performance of Vista…I think I’m gonna pass. If I do get one, I will have to find a company that still ships a machine with Windows XP or else I might have to be forced to uninstall Vista and get a copy of XP myself.

Update: I’ve done some further reading and research. It seems that start up and shut down times on Windows Vista that can be timed in milleniums is a common complaint amongst users. Some point to driver problems or software incompatibility.

Bored of the Rings? Not me!

Just read an article where the author fiendishly attacks the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars and various Steven Spielburg films.

You can read the article here

While the article is quite humourous, the part I like the most is this bit…

“What Jackson is essentially pandering to…is his audience’s adolescent reluctance to engage with the real world. A grand quest to save Middle-earth from the forces of evil is an ideal escape from the more prosaic realities of finding a job and paying the rent, while forming a cosy boy’s club with your hairy-toed mates can’t help but appeal compared to the thorny practicalities of flesh-and-blood relationships”

Man! I love LOTR and other escapist stuff like Star Wars, Back to the Future and the cool Discworld novels. There’s nothing like escaping the real world for a few hours and become immersed in a battle between good and evil.

I’m not sure how I’m going to pay the rent this month though…oh, and I don’t have a ‘proper’ job. Looks like the author hit the nail on the head 😀