Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick Notes

My desktop PC is borked right now, so updates may actually be more often in the short term. I tend to post from my laptop more for a couple reasons. Looks like I installed, uninstalled, reinstalled, upgraded, downgraded, and ratcheted things until Vista decided I should be punished by inexplicable freezes. In fairness, I have installed a couple hundred different programs, 2-3 dozen devices for product reviews (man, must have been about 8 keyboards alone!), AND the whole thing is an original, launch day install of Vista on an NVidia mobo 1st gen Intel SLI version with two different generation NVidia GPUs (NVidia's crappy-slow response to Vista's driver changes accounted for almost 1/3 of all crashes, according to the crash reports sent to MS). I'm amazed it lasted this long. There's one more thing I might try, but it is looking like a reinstall is needed, and that ain't happening.

So, second note, related to the first. The Intel Core i7 CPUs and chipset are out, and expensive. There is no upgrading from the previous generation - CPUs have different pins and some (I think all as of right now) motherboards support only DDR3. Important to note: If you are planning on buying/upgrading anytime soon, be aware that there is another major socket introduction in ~6 months. By socket, I mean the physical shape and number of pins that mount the CPU to the motherboard. These, too, will neither be compatible with the current (now 'old') crop, NOR the current i7 boards. The current i7 is Socket1366. The upcoming is something like Socket1066. The two i7 sockets will exist at the same time, with the 1366 marketed at enthusiasts and workstations (read: awesome pwnage machines), and the 1066 aimed at consumer and general use machines (read: nublet, whiney l00sorZ). Both will be major upgrades from the current architecture (Socket775). The 1366 has an on dye memory controller, similar to AMD's Hypertransport, meaning massively fast communication between CPU and memory, and no dealing with the rest of the device bus. I believe the 1066 has the memory controller on the mobo, but still dedicated to CPU-RAM communication only. Basically, on dye means faster performance, more upgradable, more transistors on the CPU wafers, and more complexity to manufacture, hence the two lines. So, if you want a blazing fast computer but heard that there is a new upgrade coming out in 6 months, unless you want to wait for the price drops (and that is a legit concern, since mobos are running AT LEAST $200, and the top of the line CPU is $1500 alone), the current 1366 i7 is the way to go. The mainstream 1066 will still be very fast, still outpacing the current architecture (775 that is), so don't think of this as a "Pentium versus Celeron" situation at all. It is more along the lines of the Xeon versus Pentium (not really, but you get the idea). I'll be upgrading to it within the next month, and no, I'm not aiming at the $1500 CPU, thank you very much, but I will post my experience. Maybe a few build pics to go along with it?

Next, as I said, Mendeley is on top of things, and they snuck out an update - 0.6.1 - which resolves the file renaming issue and a couple other bugs. I'd bet that the syncing has been addressed as well, but haven't tried that feature. The site doesn't list it prominently, so just download the installer that is listed in the usual download section. Oh, and the metadata extraction is at least 100x's faster than the 0.5.X versions. Nearly instantaneous. And I didn't notice before, but now you can query the DOI identifiers for metadata that is incorrectly identified. Again, haven't tried it yet, but there seems to be some type of new online check that runs after the metadata extraction that cleans up a ton of minor errors and inconsistencies. I dropped 40 papers in and it failed to extract data from 2, and had slightly messy recognition for 2. The others were perfect. Also, more accurate metadata means less chance of renaming files to ridiculous lengths, though it doesn't look like there is a check in there yet (still gives the fill title name).

Aaaaand... today's SPF will be the last for the year, probably.

Aaaaand... I will be in Iceland for the New Year's celebration, and giving a talk. Details will be posted as I get them. Probably at a nice bar, with drinks to follow. General audience. Come help the Icelandic krona rebound!

Aaaaaaaaand... oh! Almost forgot. Another computer bit. If you want to try a really spiffy music program with all the slickness of iTunes, plus the add-on capabilities of Firefox, and the responsiveness and limited resource use of Notepad (okay, lil more memory, but still great), definitely check our Songbird. This open source, Firefox code based, cross platform, iPod supporting, iTunes library syncing bundle of awesome is, um, awesome! After using iTunes for so long, I forgot what it was like to open my music program in 2 seconds and have buttons click as I click the mouse, rather than 5-10 seconds afterwards (Apple software on Windows machines sucks goat nads). And, it doesn't need 3 different background processes loaded into memory when not in use, oh, AND you don't have to download a crappy video player *coughQuicktimecough*, oh, and it integrates with a bunch of major music services, like No, there is no iTunes store, so iPhone users are stuck there. When my desktop gets working again, I will try syncing my iPhone's music to see if the only issues are app installing and Outlook syncing. I'd expect Outlook syncing to come in the form of an add on sometime within the next 4 months, or so. Anyhow, very excited about this app, as you can tell. I tried it in early beta and was less than impressed, but it has really matured.

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