'Till We Meet Again

November 7, 2009

As you might have discerned from the title, I am officially announcing the closing of not just Spiderman’s Web, but also Thinking Chair.

It’s crazy to think that just two years ago, my friend and I started this blogging website. A lot has gone by since then: a new President, an economic recession, Michael Jackson’s death, the Amazon Kindle, my Twitter account, the breaking of the Curse of Billy Penn, etc… Even our very own website went through it’s own changes in the beginning – who could forget our “Coming Soon” screen with the stage curtains that stayed up for 2-4 months? Or the original split screen site? Or Pedro’s Notebook using WordPress? Okay, so I’m the only one who remembers, but that’s not the point. The point is that since we’ve (me and Pete) started this site, a lot has changed. We were both young, somewhat ignorant (okay, that’ was just me), and had just scratched the top of what our lives would become. Life was good… and manageable!

Since then, life’s gotten a little bit harder, a little bit more stressful, and a little bit more annoying. Blogging had gone from being my pastime to something I remembered to do every 1-3 months. The only thing that reminded me that I even had a blog were the constant emails from WordPress notifying me about a new user registration on the site (which had always turned out to be spam). What had been something that was enjoyable had turned into an annoyance (the guilt of not having written a blog post in 3 months)

That’s not to say I didn’t like blogging… it’s just I never had time and my free time was better used elsewhere. Maybe if I had more readers or if I had ads I would have taken more interest in the site… but that was never the point of starting this site. This site was meant to be a place where I could say what I thought when I felt like it for everybody to read. Through writing with this purpose, it taught me a lot about technology and has definitely increased my interest in the field. It also taught me some writing skills – which I was in dire need of – as well as some grammatical skills. It also taught me how to organize my disorganized thoughts.

Because of this, I am not just going to close down Spiderman’s Web. I will be exporting it to my old site spidermansweb.wordpress.com. It will not only serve as a shrine to the former glory of Spiderman’s Web, but I will still be able to post a blog post here and there whenever I feel like it. I think this is probably the best thing to do for this site because (1) everything I need to do on this site can be done on wordpress.com, (2) it’s free, and (3) I won’t have to update any of my plugins or WordPress (hallelujah!).  Does this mean I’ll be posting more? Probably not. Just because this sites changing, doesn’t mean my life is changing too. But, this new site (or rather the resurrection of the site)  still allows me to write while just closing down this site does not.

Would I like to keep thinking-chair.com? Sure, I designed the front page and I have some good memories with it! But because of the fact that I rarely use it and that it costs $40 between both me and Pete to run, it’s just not worth it for either of us.

Thanks for hanging in there,

Trevor Hawkins

Editor in Chief of Spiderman’s Web and Co-Founder/Co-President of Thinking Chair


Notes on Post-Its: Ubuntu

June 13, 2009

The Scenario: My Acer Aspire 3680 has finally given up, with the power unit unable to receive consistent power from the plug (trust me, I tried it with different plugs, it’s the computer). So where does this leave me at? Now, I’m using my Sony Vaio Desktop PC from 2002 (Pentium IV 2.0 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 60 GB HDD) as my full time PC.

The Problem: I updated my old 2002 PC to Windows Vista (en Route to Windows 7) from Windows XP. Unfortunately, when I updated to Windows Vista SP1, it just completely pooped itself. For some reason, my ATI graphics card doesn’t support DirectX 9 (or 10, I forget), so I could only use it in a beautiful 600×400, 8-bit color scheme. As nice as that might be, my only real option was to downgrade to Windows Vista (sans SP1). So, now I was stuck on an extremely slow system that was barely usable. Although, it was fine for just playing my music which is what I used it for.

Now, it’s unacceptable. Multi-tasking was near impossible.

The Solution: After some partition sleuthing (an adventure for another time), I finally got Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope installed alongside my Vista installation (I’ve got too many iTunes-DRM’d videos to give Vista up completely).

So, I’ve got this puppy on here right now. I’ve used Ubuntu many a times, but this is the first time I’ve actually used it to resurrect a system too slow to run Windows. Here’s some thoughts:

  • Quickness: On Windows, I couldn’t even drag the Window boarders without lag! I can finally run multiple programs without taking up at least half the memory (Firefox, Songbird, Transmission). It feels like I’m on my regular PC using Windows. When I would scroll down a web page, it would pretty much redraw the entire thing. Now, I’ve got nice ‘n’ smooth scrolling. Also, for some reason, I feel like internet is a lot faster for some reason.
  • It just works: Out of the box, I didn’t need to install ANY drivers. I was very surprised because I had some WiFi issues with my Acer when I had Ubuntu up and running. No WiFi drivers, no audio drivers, no DVD drivers, no USB drivers… nothing. It was great.
  • Compiz Fusion = Wow! I’ve always thought that Compiz had some of the best effects out of all other operating systems. Although, I had known this from my Intel 945 Integrated Graphics, which ran it with relative ease. I was unsure about a system as slow as my Sony. Let me say it again: WOW! I have Compiz running full blast and let me say… it doesn’t falter. Right now I have four virtual desktops running with different backgrounds on each one. The transitions are all smooth,  easy, and best of all they look good too!
  • Songbird: I chose Songbird because (1) it resemble iTunes (2) it supports ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) which for some reason I had trouble get Amarok to support and (3) its based off of the Mozilla platform, which is pretty cool (and very extend-able!). The only beef I have with it is that there are almost no widgets for AWN,  Screenlets, or the Ubuntu panels (that works with the Beta).
  • Installing programs is still a pain: Find a cool program online that’s not in any repository? Good luck installing it if its not a .deb package. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, if an easier way to install .tar.gz files doesn’t come up, Ubuntu will never go main stream. Though Ubuntu has gotten better over the years, there is still way too many things that depend on the user using the command prompt.
  • I still hate that orange: One of the first things I did after installing Ubuntu was look for a new theme. I hate the orange and brown. Yuck. I don’t know what it is, but I cannot stand it. So, I settled on the blue theme which comes prepackaged in Ubuntu. Lovin’ it.
  • I still hate those fonts: One of the next things I did after using a new theme, I installed the Microsoft font package. Now, you might be saying, but that’s not open source! To be quite honest, I really don’t care about programs being open source or proprietary. I love to support open source stuff, but at the same time, I hate boycotting proprietary programs too. If something is proprietary and I does the job better than its open source alternative, I won’t think twice. Microsoft Office over Open Office, every time. Microsoft fonts over Ubuntu fonts, every time. In my opinion, it’s kinda stupid to sacrifice some software that makes life easier. Now, sure I could live with the ugly Ubuntu serif fonts, but why make life harder?

So, though I’ve had a few problems with Ubuntu, the great thing is that everything can be fixed or close to being fixed. So, since I’m going to be using Ubuntu for at least the next couple of days, you will see a couple of posts centering around Ubuntu (yes, really). I’ve got to say though, using this computer with the speed of a new computer is very awesome. It’s going to make this whole sans-laptop period a whole lot easier.


Words to the Not-So-Wise: A Rookie's Mistake…

March 8, 2009

Just thought I’d post something quick so that way it doesn’t seem like my blog is too dead. Anyways, I just wanted to mention something to current bloggers, newbie bloggers, or those thinking of starting a blog.

Don’t EVER put “clips” or “snip-its” of your blog posts in RSS feeds.

Read the rest of this entry »


Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

December 29, 2008

Twitter

I wish you could strikethrough the titles of posts because really… time doesn’t fly when you are having no fun. Yes, school has been a pain in the rear end the past couple of months, but a little vacation is just what I needed. I’m terribly sorry to some of the people who had originally subscribed to my blog with the intention of seeing some posts, but yeah, the whole school thing. Like I said, a pain in the rear end.

But guess what? I may not be the most frequent blog updater in the world, but Twitter is a whole different story. I do occasionally post some interesting links in my Tweets, but most of time, its just about my life. So whether you just want to get to know who runs the blog just a little bit better or you’re just a creeper, go ahead and follow me at www.twitter.com/11hawkinst (please, no followers from the latter category).


Gadget Galore: Typing on Thin Air

December 29, 2008

microsoft_ergonomic_keyboard_4000_black_usb_large When I first encountered an ergonomic keyboard, the year was 2001 in late December (around this time actually). I thought they were hard to use, weird lookin’, ugly (note: it was from the beige ‘90s era) and, most of all, loud! Click Clack Click Clack CLICK CLACK! Ahhh! I hated it! From that point on, I never touched an ergonomic keyboard again.

Fast forward to mid-2008.

My parents got a brand new computer (and for a very good deal might I add) and Office Depot threw in a new ergonomic keyboard. As I set up their computer, I could tell that this was no ordinary keyboard. Why? Well, that’s why I bought one for myself and why I’m reviewing Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.

Read the rest of this entry »


What’s the point of Widgets, Gadgets, etc?

November 22, 2008

gadgetsOn most Macs and PCs (and even some Linux-based OSs) you’ll find a widget/gadget system. Wikipedia defines them  as:

Widgets are interactive virtual tools that provide single-purpose services such as showing the user the latest news, the current weather, the time, a calendar, a dictionary, a map program, a calculator, desktop notes, photo viewers, or even a language translator, among other things.

I used to be a Widget nut. I always was trying to find the latest Widget-engine which not only had good-looking widgets, but would also not take a huge chunk out of my memory. For years, I tried to center myself around widgets, but behold, I have seen the light.

Okay, so now I can understand where gadgets could come in handy. It’s basically a way to combine a ton of information into one location (your desktop). Okay, I don’t have a problem with that. Now, here’s the problem. Do you really ever see your desktop? For me, I always have iTunes open, a couple of Firefox windows open, and a blank Word document – all full screen. I will rarely ever make a pit stop to my desktop. In reality, if I ever did want to check the weather, see how horrible my portfolio is doing , or translate my French homework into English, I really just use the internet. Why? Because I’m probably already on the web and I don’t want to minimize all of my windows just to check one measly little bit of data. Besides, with all of those windows open, I need to find a way to salvage every little piece of the 1.5 GBs of memory I have. Let me tell ‘ya, whether it be Google Desktop Gadgets, Windows Vista Sidebar, the Yahoo! Widget Engine, or Samurize, they all take up a fairly hefty amount of memory.

I do think the sidebar-based gadget engines (Windows & Google) are better than the Desktop-based ones because of the fact that their always open on your screen. Then again, it still takes up memory and some valuable screen real estate. I also think Apple got it right when they created a Hotkey which would bring up your widgets and then they would go away one you are done looking at them. Still, valuable memory is at stake.

So, under certain circumstances, widgets do make some sense. Under most circumstances, I think they are extremely pointless. What do you think?


Zorro: The Non-Lethal Version

September 29, 2008

zorro

If you’ve ever watched TV shows or movies online that were not available on Hulu or its network site, chances are you’ve probably watched video on some pretty ugly sites. It’s probably ad-ridden, ugly, in Chinese, and an overall eyesore. That’s were Zorro comes in. Here’s the developers description of the program:

Zorro is a utility to completely blank the screen except for a rectangular area selected by the user. This is especially useful for watching videos on your computer without being distracted by other programs.

Like it says, you choose an area of your screen which you would like to see. Using some magic which is unknown to the common man and the pressing of a hotkey, it blanks out the rest of the screen. I’ve found this very useful for watching videos on foreign sites (especially when it has Chinese/Japanese subtitles). In my opinion, it makes watching video a whole lot nicer and it also doesn’t hurt your eyes as much. Zorro is also useful to block out some of those pesky toolbars at the bottom of a full screen video. Although I use it for mostly video and what not, I’m sure this is very useful for productivity as well. For example, if you always check the time or your email, this can be a helpful way to keep you focused. That’s just one (lame) example, but I’m sure there are many other ways to use this flablawesome program.

The Hookup: Gabriele Ponti

P.S. Just incase you want to watch the Conestoga Drum Line Special, here it is.


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