Trillian Astra Now Open to the Public

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for a while, then you may know that I’ve been testing Cerulean Studios’ latest version of Trillian which has been coined for some time as “Astra”.

Trillian gained a great deal of popularity in recent years when Trillian 3 was released and harnessed instant messenger features that had never before been seen.

Today, Cerulean Studios officially removed the restricted access and have made Trillian Astra available to everyone! Just head on over to the download page if you want to check it out!

trillian-astra

While Trillian Astra is still not in a final release stage, it should be close enough for you to depend on as your main messenger.

I will be interested to see how Trillian Astra competes with Digsby now that they are both openly available to the masses.

My One Year Anniversary With Netflix

As you can tell from the goofy title, I’ve been with Netflix for one year now!

I must say that I’ve loved the service! I use the Watch Instantly feature daily and get two in the postal mail every 3-4 days!

I recommend it to all of my friends if you don’t have it already. If you’re even the slightest bit tech savvy then you’ll also find that it’s easy to stream movies from Watch Instantly to your television!

My laptop has an S-Video out and my television at home has an S-Video in. If you’re not sure what S-Video is then here’s an image.

s-video-port s-video-cable

The image on the left is the port that you should look for on your television and computer, while the image on the right is the cable that connects the two. You can click on the images to view a larger version.

The only problem that some of you may run into after getting the two connected is figuring out how to switch the computer view to an output source. I won’t go into too much detail on that since there will be far too many computers and layouts for me to cover, but simply put there is typically a button on your keyboard up on the top row that will toggle output sources. You may need to use a key combination such as the function key and the output source key which for me is Fn+F4.

I hope that helps and for those of you who suddenly realized the potential of Netflix (and other video sources such as Hulu), I hope your on your way to streaming more. πŸ˜‰

You Don’t Mess With The Zohan is Great

This has to be one of the best Adam Sandler movies that I’ve seen in a long time.

True, it has plenty of stupid moments with stupid humor, but I actually appreciate those scenes.

For a while I was starting to wonder if Adam Sandler was losing his touch, but now that I’ve seen this it takes me back to the days of movies like Billy Madison and Big Daddy!

If you haven’t seen it yet then I would highly suggest it and if we don’t have similar movie tastes then just choose to watch everything that I don’t. πŸ˜›

I love Ubuntu, and here is why

I love Ubuntu for many reasons. Several of them involve the fact that Ubuntu is open source (but Linux in general is that way) while others involve the fact that Ubuntu is striving for a certain aesthetically pleasing appearance that Apple has managed to control for so long.

If someone says that they want a Mac computer and you ask them why then their response (in general) will almost always be that they like the way that it looks. For some people it’s the way that the hardware looks with the white case and backlight feature keyboard, but for others it’s the way the operating system itself looks.

These are the people who should really look into Ubuntu.

Ubuntu doesn’t make hardware and they don’t support a narrow branch of hardware devices the same way that Apple does, but they use a kernel that is supported by open source that allows the operating system to run and function on a variety of machines ranging from outdated 1994 computers to cutting edge 2008-9 computers.

That’s not an exact number so don’t take that literally, but to get the point across I mean to show that the Linux kernel support hardware of all types…even PPC (if you know what that means).

When most people think of Linux or even hear the word Linux they think of the command prompt:

While Linux can be run in command line only mode and be (at most times) more powerful than even Windows, this is not the Linux that is around today.

Ubuntu, which is a specific distribution of Linux — meaning that it’s based on Linux, but looks different than other versions of Linux that you can try, is one of the most user friendly versions of Linux that you could download and install on your computer to date.

Ubuntu has gone out of it’s way to include the latest and greatest that the open source community has to offer and has even simplified the interactiveness of the operating system in ways that only make other distrobutions (explained above) jealous and annoyed.

Some versions of Linux will not be so friendly as to even have a preinstalled instant messenger that (by default) keeps a log of instant message from your friends. This means that when you open the chat window and start a conversation with a friend you can see the history and see what you have talked about in the past. This also means that you can look up what was said even when you are not talking to that particular contact.

This is a very simple change and a very simple idea, but it makes all the difference in making a product intuitive and easy for the end user to use and it works just as you would “expect” it to.

Ubuntu also, only recently, has gone to great lengths to make the appearance of the operating system more appealing to new-comers. With a new theme (most of the good ones will need to be downloaded by downloading the community themes) they are trying to make the platform more comfortable and less confusing.

Linux in general has come a long way since it was first born, but with the help of Ubuntu it is now coming into the mainstream.

If you haven’t looked into it before, you should go to Ubuntu.com, download the operating system, burn it to a CD and install it today! It will not erase your already installed version of Windows or Mac. After installing it, you will be prompted upon starting your computer to start up in Windows or Mac (which ever you already had installed) or Ubuntu so you can keep all of your files that you had before and still install Ubuntu!

I recommend Ubuntu to anyone who is looking for an alternative or curious. If you have any questions (anything at all), feel free to ask!

I currently have Ubuntu and Windows Vista installed on this computer at the same time, but I only boot up into Vista about once a month and that’s only to install updates. Ubuntu is amazing and if you give it a chance then you will quickly find that you’re wasting money by paying for operating systems such as Windows and Mac when you can get the same quality and sometimes more by Β installing Ubuntu or other variants of Linux for free!

Orbitfiles: 6GB of online storage waiting for you!

Orbitfiles I just came across a very handy website called Orbitfiles where you get 6GB of online storage and the best part is that you can join it now for free!

As they say in their welcome email:

…you can store and access any type of files – documents, videos, music files, presentations, photos and many others from any computer at any place on earth.

While 6GB can easily be filled with an average photo album collection, it can still go a long way. You could use Orbitfiles to share a download with someone or the entire world or even use it to keep a playlist of songs that you like to have access to at all times. πŸ˜›

If 6GB of free storage isn’t enough for you then you can even get unlimited storage for $5/month.

I’m going to give this service a good test drive, but I think 6GB will be enough for me for a little while.

Arrested Development

Netflix has been nagging at me forever to watch Arrested Development, but I had never heard of it and so I kept putting it off.

Well, Ben happened to have the first and second seasons on DVD so I’ve been watching a show that is turning out to be great!

I can’t believe that it was cancelled after the third season, but then again the narration does get a bit old and the plots of each episode already seem to be growing shorter and shorter.

Nonetheless, I do like the theme of the show and will most likely finish the remainder of the sitcom with a bowl of popcorn at the wee hours of the morning. πŸ˜‰

I can’t believe that I hadn’t already heard of this show or seen it aired at all. Did anyone watch it while it was being aired?

Ubuntu 8.10: Compiz-Fusion Cube Deformation

This is one of the many things that I have come to love about Ubuntu. Although Ubuntu is not the only Linux distro that comes with Compiz-Fusion, it is one of the most user friendly ones!

Ubuntu has impressed me for a long time and working with Workspaces in Linux has made my occasional returning experiences with Windows a complete nightmare.

I’ve been testing Ubuntu 8.10, code named Intrepid Ibex, for a while now. Well, since Alpha 1 was releasedback in late June of this year. If you want to follow the release schedule then you can find it here.

The current latest stable version of Ubuntu is 8.04, code named Hardy Heron, and while it is a very stable and strong version it’s just not the latest and greatest…which is what I demand out of the software that I use.

I just wanted to share some screenshots that I took today to show off some of the eye candy that Ubuntu has to offer. This time it’s only dealing with Workspaces and how Ubuntu can handle these in a three-dimensional way very well with the aid of Compiz-Fusion.

Here are some screenshots of the different effects that can be selected when navigating between workspaces. They are in the following order: cylinder, sphere, cube (option is entitled none, for deformations)

It’s neat eye candy like this that attracts attention, but it’s performance and reliability that attracts users. What impresses me is that I can have all of this eye candy and all of the software that I need running at any given moment and still only be using ~600mb of ram!

Now you try to run the bare minimum in WIndows Vista and see how close you are to 600mb of ram. With Aero enabled in Vista and all of the normal applications opened I typically use around 900mb. It’s not a major problem considering that’s not even half of the ram that I have available for Vista to consume, however, it is disappointing once you realize that Vista isn’t even offering any eye candy other than “Window Decoration” that is fancier than Windows XP.

Window Decoration is one of the many features that is easily customizable in Ubuntu to the extent that you can have Ubuntu mimic Vista in appearance and behavior if you wanted or even Mac OS X with an application dock.

If you haven’t tried Ubuntu yet then be prepared to give it a test drive when Ubuntu 8.10 is released on October 30th! Installing Ubuntu is easy and it even lets you pick between starting in Windows (or Mac if you’re installing with Mac already installed) and Ubuntu. So you can keep Windows if you already have it and start your computer in either Ubuntu or Windows when you first turn it on!

Maybe I can find some more eye candy and benefits to using Ubuntu over others.

Microsoft Desktops: New Virtual Desktop Manager for Windows

If you’ve ever used Linux for a while and started to get familiar with it then you probably used Workspaces (or at least on occasion).

Most people who get used to Workspaces find it difficult to live without them and switching back to Windows can be difficult or not even fully possible.

Now you can have your Workspaces in Microsoft Windows with Desktops!

Desktops is currently at version 1.0, but runs smoothly. By default it comes with four workspaces and is a single executable file. No installation is required at all!

So far, I really like the direction that Desktops is going! It seems that a lot of work has been put into it to make it work as intended. However, I did find several flaws with the behavior and limitations that Desktops currently has.

Upon starting, you will notice that none of the other workspace areas are activated until you select them. Selecting them takes a short period of time to configure that workspace and show applications that are apparently pre-decided for all workspaces (such as system tray applications and icons).

There was no way to drag windows between workspaces and that caused other limitations. Web browsers such as Opera and Firefox don’t like to run more than one “instance” of the application. It’s easy to open more windows to separate your tabs, but what happens when you’re in another workspace and need a browser window? Clicking the little application icon will most likely result in one of the two.

You will receive a message explaining that there is already an instance of the browser running (in another workspace of course) or your browser will interpret the action to mean that you need another tab and simply open another tab in the window that is not even visible (on another workspace).

These can be frustrating alone, but one of the most frustrating things is that your applications such as Winamp, AIM, Digsby, Trillian, Windows Live Messenger or where you’re using are not accessible via the Β system tray in other workspaces so you won’t get a visual notification when that girl that you’re interested in sends you a message on AIM inviting you out with her for a night in the club. πŸ˜‰

I also noticed that Aero didn’t work on workspaces 2-4 on my system. Maybe it’s still too soon to expect flawless performance though. πŸ˜›Β Maybe these will be fixed in the near future.

If you’ve followed little tools like this that Microsoft has released in the past then you may have also seen Virtual Desktop Manager which was released a while back. Another desktop manager worth mentioning is Vista/XP Virtual Desktop Manager which offers some features stunningly close to those found in Linux!

Opera 9.6: Feed Previews

Opera just released a snapshot today of version 9.6 with several new features.

For now I will just be talking about the Feed preview feature that they just included. I have been asking for this for a while now since Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari already support this (maybe others as well).

With the preview feature, it’s very easy to look over a feed and decide if the content is worthy of your subscription. Previously in Opera, clicking a feed icon meant that you had to immediately decide if you wanted the feed or not.

You could of course remove the feed later upon realizing it’s not worth following, but it was just extra steps that shouldn’t be there. Now the feeds are not mixed with your other subscriptions unless you decide to add a feed after previewing it.

The design seems to always be generated by Opera on the client side just to add a style that you can easily recognize and get a quick overview. The theme or design that they use is very clean and simple.

They also insert a little badge of honor at the bottom of the page to let you know that Opera generated the preview for you and they even inform you of the address to the feed!

Over all I’m pleased with this addition, however, I do feel that it took far to long to implement.

It’s a little sad sometimes to see our stagnant friend Internet Explorer a head of Opera sometimes in various aspects and implementations. For the most part Opera is usually a head, but at the same time they try to get a feel for things long before they decide to implement them to make sure they are promising…which is a good move, but frustrating sometimes to the end users who are expecting a feature for so long.

EDIT:
Here is a screenshot comparing the same Feed Preview across Opera, Internet Explorer and Firefox respectively. Opera takes the cake on simplicity. πŸ˜€

If you can take a screenshot of a kyleabaker.com Feed Preview in any other browsers that I didn’t have access to while taking the ones above then please take them and upload them to ImageShack or something and post a link!

08-08-08: Just another day

What does that number mean to you? It means absolutely nothing to me, but it’s always fun to take notice on days like these (that really aren’t anymore unique than 04-13-08 or 07-05-08).

So I guess many of you already know that the Olympics started today. Something about the number 8 being very special in China. I haven’t taken the time to look it up (cause I’m a little tired and lazy right now, haha), but I may look it up later and post some more about why it is special…or if any of you feel like posting something then just throw it in the comments!

Obviously the fact that the number for the day, month and year is cool…but it’s cheating at the same time cause the year is not really 8….add 2000 to that and you’ve got your year…it’s just an abbreviated year of course…but I still don’t see how it’s so special since it’s not even the full year like the day and month are. Anyways, just rambling.

On this “very special day” I am most likely not going to see any clips from the Olympics, but instead just relax…take in some mountain air and maybe waste a little time on the web.

Just got my Nalgene bottle that I got off eBay a week ago or so. I got the sipper from an outdoors shop in Raleigh (can’t remember the name of it at the moment), but it’s not the Nalgene brand sipper. You can find these sippers, called SplashGaurds, at http://www.guyotdesigns.com/splashguard and they are the best ones I’ve seen or used before.

Nalgene with SplashGuard

I would recommend finding a local shop to buy one from though if you decide you want one, cause the shipping on their website was going to cost me like ~$12-13 for a $3 item…just crazy.

I “had” to get a new bottle since my Eddie Bauer bottle got a crack in the lid. The sipper plus this cooler bottle makes the investment well worth it, haha.

Also..it may be hard to tell from the picture to the left, but there are actually two different sipper style built into this sweet thing.

There is the one shown to the left with the stream of water coming out..which is good for sipping from when you’re jogging or biking or something and then the one at the top (where you see a little lip sticking out). It’s pictured better in the image at the top of the post.

Very good design though! I love this bottle and I’ve had it for like a hour and a half now, haha. 08-08-08 has been a good day so far. πŸ˜€ Hope yours is great as well.

“Sliders” – Watched and Reviewed

“Sliders” was a Science Fiction (Sci-Fi) TV series that aired from 1995-2000. It’s one of those “oldie, but goodie[s]” if you know what I mean.

The tag line sums it up very nicely.

Four people just found a gateway to another dimension, but they forgot one problem… how to get back!

I’m personally not a fan of The X-Files or anything like that, but I really did enjoy watching this show. I just finished watching the entire show, seasons 1-5, on Netflix with Watch Instantly! Well, almost entirely, there were about 8 episodes that Netflix did not have available to Watch Instantly (it’s like a little scam that Netflix tries to pull thinking we’ll never realize that they would rather slow our watching with rentals). πŸ˜›

The show was at times very interesting and at other just plain old interesting. I did, however, notice a number of flaws in the story line and other facts that were distributed randomly. I didn’t let any of those get in the way of an honest rating for this show, because I enjoy watching these older shows and movies usually more than brand new shows. πŸ™‚

If you haven’t seen the show and are planning to watch it or catch-up on some episodes then you may not want to read the details below (possible spoilers)!

One big annoyance that I had with the sitecom as a whole is that the worlds that the original four always slide into are the same as their original with different twists, such as communism and lack of technology. What’s funny is that their duplicates are always there as well and one of them usually holds a pretty powerful position in the alternate world…so the double takes advantage of that situation to make sure they slide to their next world safely.

Another funny thing is that in alternate worlds your double may or may not exist. They would, however, never play with these cases in the stories that were released. When a character died on the show, they would never be seen again. Now that doesn’t make those worlds very alternate does it?

Also, they stress time and time again that the slider device does not allow them to move forward in time or backward in time. They always end up in the same year and same hour and same minute…only a different world. They tend to mess this up two or three times in one of the seasons and say that they are in the pas. Then a new sliders asks in one episode if they slide to the past on another world and they aren’t sure…of course not! The prof. and Quinn already decided that they were not affecting time travel…so where is the confusion? Only in the writers minds. πŸ˜›

I’ll have to say, the two worst actors on there are Rembrandt ‘Crying Man’ Brown (Cleavant Derricks) and Colin Mallory (Charlie O’Connell). At times they can be decent, but I get sick of Rembrandt Brown always having the role where they land in a world where things aren’t perfect and always asks questions like: “I have one question. How can you people blah blah blah..on this world?” like it’s any of his business and his duty to make everything perfect.

He has to be one of the most annoying ones on the show. And then in the fifth season he begins to run the opening lines on the show…just pathetically read if you ask me. πŸ˜›

Colin Mallory, Quinn’s older brother, plays a very poor role of being behind times (technologically) and he has a terrible accent. Blah.

Also, it seems that the focus of the show shifts three or four times off course from the original focus in the show. The start sliding just to be the first in the world to see what happens, but then they immediately run into the problem of not being able to return home. The show follows this and runs with it for a couple seasons, but you can tell that the writers are drying up and running out of ideas. Shows start going from minor twists to enormous twists. Not that dinosaurs couldn’t rule the earth in an alternate universe, but the lack of anything that different and then all of a sudden everything is that different is just a little confusing and crappy.

Then, after the crazy worlds with primitive people and animals…we got the whole Kromagg (or however it’s spelled) thing. The Kromaggs were on basically every alternate world that they slid into after they saw them the first time. Kind of stupid how they tried to save every world from the Kromaggs. Honestly, if you’re just sliding so you can get back to your own world wouldn’t you just lay back and enough each world or hunker down in the war zone worlds? I wouldn’t be wasting the time trying to save each alternate world, because they are alternate for a reason. You can’t make them all the same as your own and who says your own is better anyways? Just not very well thought out if you ask me.

I would be sitting out on the beaches and hitting up the popular tourist sites and snapping pictures! Not risking my life to save a world and each time narrowly escaping into the vortex and into another world, only making it by a minute or less at times.

Over all, it’s a good show from start to finish. Worth watching if you can find the time. Just don’t keep notes every time you see something that doesn’t add up or contradicts what has been previously outlined. The best thing to do is just sit back and enjoy the show! If you want to see some comments on the show by other fans who loved the show, but found that it was ruined or flawed in some way then check out this group f comments on Sliders from TV.com.