Thursday, October 22, 2009

Windows 7 Party

Well, it's been a long few days. I finally had the party, and, with the help of my parents (who were invited and came early, everything went very well.

No, I don't live with my parents. I live about 9 miles from them. But I'm a single guy with a house to himself (and three cats; and several computers, if they count as family) and no close female friend (well, not human - one of my cats is a girl), and I can use all the advise on cleaning and organizing I can get.

I've spent the majority of the past week, and parts of the past month, getting ready. That long? Yes - remember, I'm a single guy with three cats. I rarely use the living room, so the cats had taken it over. Scratching posts (one small professional rope-wound one, one homemade larger rope-wound one, and two 2x10 boards 5' long, one on the floor and one clamped vertically to a table), balls (small ones with bells inside, plastic baseballs, tennis balls, 6" rope-wound balls), felt mice, rope spools (and the packing material they came with, since they weren't intended initially as cat toys but as post winding material), and sofa stuffing (from underneath, fortunately). I spent three hours or so Tuesday night/Wednesday morning just vacuuming the sofa. Cat hair, and lots of it... I had to dump the vacuum cleaner bin twice, and it was over-full each time. Oh, and the litter box was in the dining room. Not as bad as it sounds - it's an automated Litter Robot that doesn't smell bad, but it's still an eyesore in a public area, but I've moved it to the basement now (an unfinished half-house basement that I hope to make a den over the next few weeks), and I plan to make an full enclosure (with a door, of course, and opening sides/top for maintenance). For the party, I moved the cat food and water downstairs too, and when moving them back, I moved them to the dining room rather than the kitchen, along with the majority of the toys. The only cat things I put back in the living room are the upright board and the small rope post at the board's base; they're easy to relocate quickly if needed, and don't create clutter.

I had way more food than I needed. I invited 17 people and one RSVP'd. I talked with two yesterday, and they said they would come, and a third who probably would. But out of seventeen, I had five - including my parents, who had already munched on the food (especially the stuff with cream cheese) before the party. So I have lots of leftovers. Fortunately, most of it's fruit-filled pastries (turnovers, bites, pies), and I like eating those for supper - light and sweet, and relatively nutritious due to the fruit. I had steakhouse bread, the dark, small loaves places like Outback use, and they will work well for sandwiches, treating them like mid-size sub rolls.

Oh, and several of them very much want to get Windows 7. My parents will probably get a Family Pack since they have two computers, one with Vista and one with XP. My mother wants the new window management features, like Snap, Shake and Reveal.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Windows 7 Release Version, Very Initial Thoughts

I have just finished installing Windows 7 on my computer (from the House Party pack).

My computer isn't that great, but it's decent. It's a Core 2 Duo 4400 "Allendale", about 2 1/2 years old. It has 4GB RAM, the minimum recommended amount for a 64-bit installation which I used.

It took about an hour from beginning (initial boot to the DVD) to working (which I am using right now).

I knew that it runs a lot faster than Vista and frequently than XP, but I was not expecting it to INSTALL that much faster than the recent predecessors. And that's with the 64-bit version that's larger (and has higher requirements) than the 32-bit version.

Fortunately I saw online that with my Gigabyte P35-series motherboard I need to disable two settings in BIOS first; those settings allow the processor to dynamically adjust speed to reduce power usage, but Windows 7 doesn't like the way this board does it. But keep in mind this is a three-year-old board. It works fine - and fast - if you just disable those two settings. Sorry, I can't remember what they were, just that the first was a three-character acronymn, the second was a four-character acronymn, and they both has "1"'s in them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Stargate: Universe

Stargate: Universe just had its premiere episode.

General idea: Stargate Atlantis meets Star Trek: Voyager meets Battlestar Galactica.

On Atlantis, a reference was discovered in a database to an eighth chevron. One stargate was discovered to contain this eighth chevron, a gate which also had an incredible power source, which was required to power the gate to connect with the eighth chevron. Connecting with six chevrons uses relatively little power; connecting with seven (to a neighboring galaxy) requires a lot of power, such that only a ZPM can power it without being quickly drained. Eight chevrons use more power than we can generate using any known power source.

SPOILER: Highlight the space to reveal the text.

This eight-chevron combination wound up connecting to a spaceship far from Earth, with the eighth chevron indicating distance. Only one such eighth chevron was in the database, perhaps indicating only one ship had a gate onboard, but it seems many ships have been sent out, discovering habitable worlds, and building and locating stargates on these worlds. The ship the Stargate crew are on was sent unmanned, with a gate onboard to allow personnel to join the ship after it had already traveled a great distance. But the ship cannot power the gate sufficiently for a return trip, and the world containing the gate they came through was destroyed in the process. (Think of the Caretaker in Star Trek: Voyager; the ship was sent on a one-way trip with no way back. One could also make a comparison with Farscape's wormhole.)

We now have a group of people which have been thrown together, many unwillingly, with different goals and backgrounds. We started with a Senator and his daughter onboard. The Senator gave his life to buy the others time, but we still have his daughter. We have several IOA members who question the purpose and efficiency of the Stargate program and the intentions of those work with it. We have SGC members, some of whom are newly out of training and some of whom thought they had completed their duty tours. And we have an individual who was drafted after solving a long-standing mystery that was coded into a video game, an individual who is very smart but has exhibited little initiative or purpose in life so far.

They wind up at the end of the two-hour episode on a ship with one day of usable air, which is traveling through hyperspace AWAY from Earth and is currently billions of light-years away.

These people have two overall goals:
First, repair the ship so that they can survive to the second goal.

Second, find a way home. This part is in essence very similar to Star Trek: Voyager. Maybe this will be with the stargate that brought them here, but it is believed that the ship doesn't have enough power to do so. They may also be able to take control of the ship and reverse course, but, like with the Voyager, it may take a very long time to get home. And the third possibility is to settle on a habitable world.

But first, they must survive.

End spoiler.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season 2

Season 2 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars just had its first show (well, two shows back-to-back) tonight. My thoughts?

After last season, the creators said that the next season would pick things up a bit. Did things pick up?

Well, I'm reasonably sure the first season was rated PG. Few troopers ever died; it was mostly droids getting wasted.

This season is PG-13. For good reason. In the first show, we saw troopers get directly shot, taking multiple hits before dying. In the second, we saw lots of troopers get killed; one had his helmet blown off by weapons fire and his body was subsequently shown floating off in the weightless environment. And we saw a Jedi get tortured to death, full pain displayed, and all on-screen. This is going WAY beyond lightsaber duels.

Many people don't like The Clone Wars because it's animated. But it's not a kids show. If you like Star Wars movies, you'll like this. If you can get past that it's animated. (It also means that parents of younger kids should use the same caution they would for any other fast-paced, action-oriented, war-themed TV show. It's called Star Wars for a reason.)