Sunday, April 29, 2007

OK Couva, Here I Come

This weekend, I have to say was a bit different. Surprisingly, it didn't consist of me sitting at my computer in a pair of my most comfortable tighty-multicolouries, breaking a sweat as I got frustrated trying to find that legendary keygen for that uncrackable piece of sftware. Instead, my mom shipped me off to spend the two days of rest with my cousin in apart of Trinidad that's called Couva.

OK this is about as much as I know about the place:

The area circled in red ink is where I live. The area circled in blue is where I believe Couva is.

Ok enough Geography, let's move on.

So I spent my weekend in that regien of the country and I have to admit, it wasn't half bad. It's been eons since I breathed in some fresh, pure, crisp air. The air where I live is a stench horse saddled with a cowboy of weed, exhaust and my neighbour's cooking (not very good).

The jouney up was long, but relaxing; my cousin's lead foot didn;t seem to make the drive any shorter. Along the way, he pointed out various landmarks, significant structures all of whom I forgot existed no sooner that the street light's film of luminesence slid over my face. Facing forward, feeling the breeze wash over my hand as it precariously protrouded out of the passenger window, I felt the air losing density; breaking free of it's impure shackles. I saw new structures being erected, the smell of forward progress and development was all that was in the air at one point in time - the music of the car's stereo was all a blur.

I finally arrived at his house, a nice place - comfortable, *ultimately digitized, yet posessing the inevitable qualities of his wife's feminine touch. Clean as a whistle and inifitely more quiet was the general description I would issue to all of the houses existing in his area, including his. By docking of coincidence, he happened to live not to far away from my girlfriend's house - about a minute's walk, so automatically, paying her a visit (provided that it was OK with her parents) was bumped up high on my to-do list. Arriving at my place of temporary residence past the hour of 8 o' clock left very little time for many accomplishments. A few minutes of TV, a small meal and a quick brushing of the teeth was the order of the night before I retired to bed.

I awoke the next day in the wee hours of the afternoon, donning my trademark vest and boxer shorts; this was basically the outfit for the rest of the day. I had some breakfast then did the manly thing and helped my cousin out with his PC. The barter of information proved truly beneficial - he taught me some things, I returned the favour - a pretty educational bonding moment in my books. The visiting hour drew close at hand and a change of attire was in order. I followed the general dress code of the area, asked my cousin for directions to my girlfriend's street, plugged in my iPod and hit the road.

Something very strange happend at this point:

Now I know that i'm no geographer or any descendant of Christopher Columbus or anything but I know I can follow basic directions. Sadly enough, those Columbus genes would have come in handy from the moment my cousin pointed out the way to the point where I reached a part of the community that nobody knew of. You see, because of my cuz's position (in the bedroom) in relation to the street, when he said go right, it meant a left and vice versa so in essence I ended up in a part of the community where nobody knew where they were or how I could get to my destination; like they were teleported there and stripped of all X,Y,Z reference points as to determine their geographical location or to point me in the right direction.

What else seemed strange was the expression on their face and the activities that everybody seemed to be doing at the same time on the same day in the same section of their yard. When I asked this one guy for directions, he kind of animated in a slow atomaton-like manner, breaking free from the chains of his pre-defined slave-like routine and said that he didn't know the location which I ssought to find. I said thanks and walked away. Something about this place didn't feel right - a hard plastic, cast-in-stone society was the vibe I picked up. Another thing that was strange, however was the fact that everbody had one of three breeds of dogs yet nobody had a leash. Dogs seemed to be the only liberal beings in this town.

Rotwilders, pompeks and mixed-breeds all seemed to roam the streets, happier than ever in a sick type of harmony.

The suburbain Beetle Juice-esque maze got to me eventually. I got desperate. Long story short, a nice atomaton offered me a ride to where I wanted to be (she didn't know of my desired location either, it was my girlfriend's siter who gave her the directions... which she still seemed to have a hard time following; you know, the no X,Y,Z thing can be a pain.)

Thankfully, I got to where I needed to be, but no sooner than I set foot out of the car, the map of the community changed and I was consumed once moe by the beast of geographic confusion. No matter though, I was where I needed to be.

So from watching my girlfriend psychadellically trip out over imaginary insects, to swinging a stick in a pseudo-karatica styled fashion and nearly impaling all of the family members and the neighbour's dog, the evening was well spent. Me my girlfriend and her sis (mih rheal hoss) sat down and ahd ourseleves a little evening lime. Nice, relaxing, no pressure... fun.

All in all, Couva ain't bad - with a few Geo. lessons and a group of niggas from the west side (The big DM) the area will be perfect. I didn't get a good look at al the hunnies up in that piece though, but suburbian girls are usually "da' shiznit"

So that was my Couva visit. I advise you take a weekend and head to the location that I outlined in the map - you just might like where you end up ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Comp - 101 Epi-issue 1

Welcome to Always thinking – the blog that puts its feet up on your mom’s new couch. For this entry, I think I’ll do something a little different – I’m going to answer most, if not all of the questions that I get pertaining to system memory or RAM as most of us know it. This entry was originally intended to be a Revision3 type episode but then I realized that none of you bastards reading this are worth that kind of effort (actually, my camera batteries died so I couldn’t do the video :( )

So what is RAM? Why is it so necessary? What are the benefits of adding more? Those are just a few of the questions we are going to answer on today’s entry. I’m going to take you on an in-depth tutorial where I will show you all the steps involved in upgrading your system’s memory.
Let’s get started:

What is RAM?

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. For simplicity sake, we’re going to say that RAM is a temporary storage space utilized by programs and processes that are running in Windows.
What are the benefits of RAM?

Basically, the more you have the better. It gives you, the user more headroom for maneuverability when using the machine. Having more means that you can have more programs running without enduring a sluggish and non-responsive windows session. For example, if you have 512MB of memory, this means that you can have programs like your media player and word processor running while surfing the internet or chatting and barely sense a lag in the response time of the browser or any of the other programs; as opposed to having, say, 128MB – then you might want to take it easy on the application launching. Using one app at a time would be your limit as opposed to three or four simultaneously.
Why is this? This is because every program you use takes up a certain amount of your computer’s total memory; some programs use more than others.

There is a way to detect how much system memory you have though. It’s a tool built right into windows (since Windows 95, I believe) that a lot of people seldom know how to use or use to its fullest potential, that is – the Windows Task Manager. We’re going to take a look at it right now.
Task Manager

Video 1 - Determining System RAM

Video 2 - Installing RAM

The Test

OK now that our new RAM is installed let’s see how our system’s performance compares. Here is a speed chart where I tested the start times of The System Startup Process, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer and just to push it to the limit, Photoshop CS3. As you can see, our system bears much better with the new headroom.

Graph showing system performance

System Startup: Not heavily affected by how much RAM you have, but the state of your registry, hard drive and prefetch folder.

Windows Media Player: This program used to take forever to launch when I had less RAM. Now it takes 3 seconds.

Internet Explorer: No big improvements, mainly becausee I don’t have any tool bars installed in IE. Now takes 4 seconds.

Photoshop CS3: The big wait as I used to refer to it. This is where having more memory shines: it takes 3 seconds to launch as opposed to a previous 15.

Knowing Your Type

Purchasing RAM is a pain in the ass. There are so many specifications that the module has to meet if it is to ever work in your system. If the gap in a module you buy is off by 2 millimeters, it simply won’t work. So before you go shopping there are a few things you should know about the type of RAM that you’re using.

Firstly, extract one of the RAM chips that your computer is currently using, there should be a label on it that looks similar to this:

My 256MB RAM Module

Pay attention to the brand, size, order and speed.

Place the chip back into the machine and go into the computers BIOS setup. You should see a prompt at startup similar to this “Press F2 to enter setup”. Once you’re in, navigate to the System Memory branch and write down the information there. Pay close attention to the Type (DDR1,2… SD/DRAM). When calling around to find our prices, the RAM type inquisition should follow this format “Do you have any PC(speed) DDR(1,2…) (size) memory modules?” In my case, the question was “Do you pricks have any PC3200 SD DDR2 512MB memory modules?”
Important! For Dell machines, tell the sales rep. that you do, in fact have a Dell and give the model number. Dell PCs don’t accept any old memory modules for some apparent reason. It’s best to go with a Kingston brand, which sadly is more expensive.

I’ve compiled a price list for those interested in bulking up on memory.

ECC Tech: $345
F1 Connect $700 (Fuck them!)
Circuit Zone $450 – ($550 for Dell Machines)
InterPC ltd: $600
The Wizz Computers:$400 ($650 for Dell machines)

Take it from me, KNOW YOUR RAM TYPE. It’s very frustrating to (1) Spend all day walking around the place looking (2) Buy memory, reach home then realize it’s the wrong type so you have to return to the store, which at this point might tell you that they don’t have the type you need. This can make you cry more so because most stores aren’t as friendly as Circuit Zone. Other stores (the Wizz) will tell you “hard luck”, take your money, leave you RAM-less and give you a shitty credit note for the money that they stole from you. As we all know, nothing that you need in a computer store is less expensive than RAM… aside from CDs… which you could buy 100 for $89.

I beg of you, take out your RAM chip, inspect the label, refer to this guide and get the memory that’s right for you. It’ll save you a lot of time and money in the process.

Well that’s all for this edition of Comp101. Any question or episode suggestions can be sent to Remember, this is not just a hardware show questions on software are welcomed as well. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next time.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Out With the Old...

Aaaah... Can you smell that? Can you feel that? It's the scent of free HDD tracks and the feeling of data rushing past your eyes at breakneck speeds... Can you hear that? That's the sound of my PC no longer screaming to boot up, the child-like sound of free pieces of RAM sitting idly by, ready for me to fill them with tasks.

I bet by now you're thinking that i'm celebrating 420 a little too hard but i'm not. I'm just really pleased with myself bceause I have just finished my PC's spring cleaning '07. It's the first time I did this kind of thing, it's really hard work, it's time consuming but it's 100% worth it.

When was the last time you saw a desktop this Clean?

What I did was I backed up all of my files that I deemed "keep worthy"onto DVDs and CDs and performed a clean installation of Windows XP. The drive was wiped clean of all existing data, as it was time to start anew.

I did run into some problems though. During the first installation attempt, I fucked up terribly to the point where I got the blue screen of death that basically said "Your hard drive is on the verge of becoming 100% useless" (Shame on you Partition Magic!) Anyway, as you can see from the screenshot, I bounced back and my PC is working as good as good can get.

Another problem was that Windows didin't have all of my drivers - including the one for my video card and my ethernet controller so I had to sneak back down the road of frustration and use TSTT's 619-EASY dial-up account. My God! Thank you for DSL! I forgot how slow that shit was.

Oh, the reason I did that was because I had to go to Dell's website to find the drivers I needed.

Me downloading the EC drivers. Observe the download speed

So once the Ethernet drivers were taken care of, I just went on to get the video drivers, etc.

I can't begin tell you how good it feels to work on a machine that feels light and welcoming to new commands... sigh....

This is how your Task Manger should be. Nothing more, nothing less.

Remember when I told you this was time consuming? Well I started this project since Thursday. I must admint that backing up my stuff was the hardest part. I occupied 130 out of the 145 GB that the partition could hold. Mom and my sister's entire user accounts were able to fit on 1 CD while mine... well... I'll put the pic of what my archive looks like tomorrow. (It's too dark now to take a picture.)

In burning all of my stuff to DVD,the drive got so hot that the DVDs scorched my fingers when I tried to take them out :P - now that's hardcore!

So that's about the size of that...

Things to look forward to:

  • Photoshop CS3 review (video)
    Plenty of people in my graphic design circle are anxious to see what the next version of Adobe's photo editing powerhouse has in store for them. I'm adding more memory on Monday, so i'll record when I have the resources.
  • New Site
    A website dedicated to my new independent film project: YOUth. News, updates and media coverage on the film's development.

That's it for this edition, hope to see you in the next. Peace, love and parrots!