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Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Joy of LEGO

I came across this on one of my RSS feeds today, and it is an ad for LEGO from the early 80's, the era in which I was growing up playing with LEGO.

This picture encompasses my early childhood joy of playing with LEGO, and even after almost 30 years I can relate to this little girl's look of pride and achievement, and this picture continues to melt my heart as I can see a similar look that my 4 year old daughter gives me when we build something non-descript together with LEGO...

So all I can say to all the kids out there now... is to ditch the instructions that came with all those cool Lego sets that mum and dad bought you and go and build and create something as beautiful and unique as yourselves!!! :D

[via Gizmodo]

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Technical Evolution of swang - Computers

So my first computer was an Apple IIe, I think my parents heard that a computer would be a good investment to give their only son from my uncles and aunties, and so they purchased it for me to play some games. I took to it like a duck to water and played classics like 'Olympic Decathlon', 'Karataka' and other games which I can't remember now. I had a green monochrome monitor, a chunky 5 1/4" floppy disk and had a distinctive clunking floppy drive startup sound.

What I ended dabbling with was also a touch of BASIC programming, which I think the computer came with and also a guide for writing some simple programs. I distinctly remember that my first program was a 2 line program which repeated wrote a rude comment about my eldest sister in an endless loop on the monochrome green screen. It was something like:

10 PRINT "[My Sister's Name] is stupid."
20 GOTO 10

This is so childish and juvenile, but was a source of annoyance for my sister when I showed her and made me proud with glee that I could make my computer insult my sister, and annoyed her in the process... "Hrm, this programming thing is awesome and has so much potential!" :)

My next computer was an IBM PC XT clone and we got it before migrating to Australia when I was twelve. As usual I played lots of games on it, and what was great was that in Singapore in the 80's you could get tons of pirated games on it. I remember it was a beasty machine, as it had an EGA graphics card which provided 16 colours instead of the 4 provided by the standard CGA graphics card which is the standard XT PC clone. It had a 5 1/4" disk drive, but I added a 3 1/2" floppy drive which cost me $250!!! which was steep for a 12 year old boy. I even added a 2nd 20 megabyte (yeah, megabytes!) hard drive, and I think this started off my whole building/modding PC bug going through my g33k veins... This was also the same machine that I hooked up a 14.4k dialup modem to connect to the uni mainframe system from home to chat to some cheerleaders in the US, but I'll leave the details of this for another post on my evolution of social networking...

Next was a non noteworthy Pentium 200Mhz which I got when I was in uni, and other than playing games like Quake and doing uni work, it wasn't very significant my first laptop was a Gateway 2000 Solo 2300 which I bought with my first few paychecks working at my first job, and it was awesome as it was my first laptop, and I could pay for it myself. In fact, I still have this laptop and it still works... well mostly...

Next laptop was an NEC E680 and it was the first generation Centrino classed laptop. Cost a whopping $4K, but was my main computer for about 4 years from 2004 to 2008, and I absolutely used it for everything! Programming, personal emails, downloading of photos, photo processing, and I started to blog on this laptop. I has since been retired and handed over to my 4 year old daughter as a play machine to goto sesamestreet,org and other fun websites.

I finally made the switch last year to a Mac based on the influence of my best mate which is a huge Apple fanboy, and got a late model non-unibody 15" MacBook Pro, and never looked back. Granted I do development for Microsoft centric applications, mainly surrounding .NET and other Microsoft offerings, but for personal and fun stuff I use the MacBook Pro running Leopard OSX, and it is so refreshing using the Leopard operating system as it is such a paradigm shift from the Microsoft Windows world that I have become used to over the course of my professional career. To be fair to my best mate and all the other Apple fanboys out there (myself included), I can see why people who use Macs become such evangelists for Apple. Sensible and logical user interface design, and all the pretty fruit (pardon the pun), and ease of use makes this an ideal candidate for use by anyone that doesn't need to put up with the M$ Windows ecosystem if they don't have to. I know I'd be recommending a Mac for anyone that can afford one, as they are pricier but I think you get your money's worth.

Incidentally, with the onset of the popularity of netbooks, I also managed to pick up a Lenovo S10, which I specifically got so that I can load up Leopard OSX and use it as a Hackintosh and dual boot into Windows, and primarily used as a compact machine to lug around the house to surf the web, email and watch tv shows in bed... and would be a great travel companion when I head off overseas in a couple of months.

So it has come full circle already, and it's only taken about 25 years from an 8 year old with an Apple IIe to an older 33 year old with a MacBook Pro... the amusing thing is that I was resistant on making the switch in the past thinking I had both feet planted firmly in the Microsoft Windows camp, but now happily becoming proficient and comfortable with one feet in either camp...

Technical Evolution of swang...

Was listening to a podcast a few days ago, and it was the 100th episode of the TechStuff podcast from the howstuffworks.com crew... and they were reminiscing about the computers and gadgets and technologies that they were involve with from way back when... which inspired me to jot down a few notes about my own experiences from when I was a wee lad...

I'll be writing a number of posts of my technical evolution which includes but is not limited to areas like...

- Computers
- Gaming Consoles
- Music players
- PDA's/Smartphones
- Journaling/Blogging

Sure it's a bit of nostalgia and fun, but is quite interesting from the perspective of recalling these things as ultimately these all contribute of who I am today and also my opinions and passion in the area of technology/gadgetry... :)

Mobile Blogging Fail!

In an attempt to resurrect my blogging endeavours, I thought I'd try out LifeCast, a free mobile blogging app for the iPhone. I set it up, entered in my blog credentials, all looks good. Then attempted to post the following...

Blogging Again... Now with Tools

Thought I'd start blogging again, and now evaluating LifeCast, a free app for the iPhone, to help kick start this attempt at restarting my blog.

Will post experiences more as I use the app more... And no, using mobile safari and the Blogger webpage is not a decent solution... :P

Now the keyword here is 'attempted'... LifeCast seems to find my blog okay during setup, but seems to lose the settings, and when I enter a post, there is no button to post the blog, almost as if it's in a demo mode. I trawled the intrawebs and seems to be an issue with the app and new iPhone 3.0 firmware...

So posting my first experiences with LifeCast... #FAIL! :)

Hopefully it will be fixed soon, and will try other free apps for blogging on Blogger... incidentally, WordPress does have a native free app for blogging on WordPress blogs, but not keen to migrate all my posts to WordPress so will try and actually blog more first... then work out the feasibility and usability issues when my post output improves... perhaps when a re-design is in order, I may just bite the bullet and shift over to WordPress...

But then again my life revolves around Google at the moment, with email, contacts, calendars etc. and everything syncs up via the cloud services that is Google... but that I'll save for another post on what I have setup with regards to this... :)