Interesting discoveries #07

Time flies when I’m busy. It seems like April’s here and it’s a rude awakening for me. I’ve met interesting people lately, some from the Singapore Humanism Society and also from one of the frontend developers kinda meetup.

1. Google Whatsapp

Rumor has it that Google’s acquiring Whatsapp. Had a quick conversation over this this evening and it’s a sensible choice for Google. Even if it is 1 billion. Google has not been fast enough to jump into messaging and the other companies are taking over. LINE and WeChat has been especially popular in Asia and Google’s probably finding this hard to ignore. If Google does get Whatsapp, I can imagine improvements to it. I love to watch for SMS integration in this, especially for the iPhone.

2. ChannelNewsAsia has a new design

Woah new design. It definitely a great improvement. The new site takes some getting used to but this is a great step forward. They are a couple of jarring mistakes, more on the choice of colors and there’s some awkward color decisions. I do not think the trend graph is sensible too. Love the bigger images and larger text.

3. Mad Men

I’m watching Mad Men this month and advertising is such an interesting industry. I thank Grace for getting me to watch this. If you’re looking for some drama to watch, this is something.

4. On web design in general

Web design has evolved so fast that tools can’t keep up. I find that designers are painstakingly using Photoshop to work on their designs and there’s no way Photoshop can express responsive layouts. Designers can probably imagine how the layout would change in their minds but it’s too tedious to create mockups. In the bigger design houses, some designers got their hands dirty and do HTML and CSS to just design directly. I think that has to be the way at some point of time. The web designer title is evolving. I see this as an interim though, perhaps tools will catch up and allow designers to express web designs better. Seriously designing a whole website in Photoshop or InDesign is making lesser sense these days. (Note: I’m a web user interface developer.)

5. Grunt.js

Grunt.js is such a joy to use, I’ve been automating some LESS.js and minification tasks at work and it’s making me happier leaving these highly repeatable task to this wonderful tool. I’m starting to use this more efficiently and have introduced this to my colleagues at Tremor Video as well. It’s a slightly different workflow as what we are doing but definitely worthy of further exploration.

6. My best 50 bucks spent

I’ve been bring the phone charger and adapter back and forth for months. One day I bought a set to keep it at home and have my existing set at work. The new adapter at home charges both my Apple iPhone 5 as well as the Amazon Kindle together. I now have one less thing to think about when going home from work. That freed me to think about under things and I swear this reduces my overall stress. Consider getting yourself a set of these too.

7. The curse of credit cards

The curse is to watch out for payments. I’ve been scalded once, OCBC charged me 60 dollars for late payment for 20 bucks. That upset me. I have 8 credit cards today and I only use 2 regularly. I know what to do. I’m just waiting for the time I can cancel without a penalty. I recommend everyone to have as little credits cards as possible. Forget about the dinner discounts, they’re limiting your dinner choices anyway.

8. Roger Ebert, RIP

Roger Ebert died at age 70 after battle with cancer (Sun Times). Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago. He’s one of the best writers I admire. Have a look at this article that’s not movie related.

4 Gb RAM is a significant improvement

I never regret getting an additional 2 Gb for my memory, the improvement is significant and it delights me when applications launches quicker. I noticed the improved performance in applications such as Firefox and Photoshop. There’s a slight improvement in iTunes too I think, yes, that piece of crap.

The difference is less obvious in Windows 7 which already is pretty quick.

Upgrading the Acer Aspire One A150 netbook

It was a sudden decision to head to Sim Lim. I made several acquisitions there:

  1. Laptop memory, it’s a 677 Mhz DDR2 (1GB) SO-DIMM whatever Kingston RAM.
  2. Desktop memory, it’s a 800 Mhz DDR2 (2 GB) Kingston RAM.
  3. A SATA to USB convertor.

I opened up my Acer Aspire One bravely voiding the warranties. I own an Acer Aspire One that I gotten upon a SingNet contract renewal. It’s a netbook that came at a time I wanted to get a notebook. I treat it as a sign from the gods that I should delay a notebook purchase (to yet another year). It comes with 1GB memory, of which 512 is soldered onboard. I followed a hardware guide to open the netbook and add in new memory.

For the Acer Aspire One A150, the maximum amount of memory it can go is 1.5 GB. I chose the option to rid the 512 MB RAM and placed in a 1024 MB RAM. I don’t really know what I was doing. I hesitated before I buy but I thought, heck, it’s just 18 bucks and I’m already here so let’s get it and try it out.

Acer Aspire One A150 opened up to add memory 1
Acer Aspire One A150 opened up to add memory 1

Here’s how it look like when it’s all naked. It’s the first time I opened a notebook and I’m extra careful with everything. I didn’t follow the full instructions as it didn’t suit my model but the guide still help a lot.

Acer Aspire One A150 opened up to add memory 2
Acer Aspire One A150 opened up to add memory 2

It become apparent that Acer designed the netbook without upgrading concerns in mind. The DDR2 slot is located all the way inside, you have to unscrew everything, rid the keyboard, the daughter board and sound card to reach the memory slot. I almost given up at the keyboard stage actually (that’s when I realized the guide has 4 more pages).

I fixed in the RAM and put everything back and am glad it is all working fine. But it’s certainly a task not for the fainthearted.

I also fixed in more RAM in my desktop my Windows Vista and Windows 7 are both significantly quicker. Photoshop did launch slightly quicker. I don’t feel an improvement in the start up time though. As for the netbook, I have yet to feel much improvement actually.

I went to try Windows 7 Beta

I was going to totally ignore Windows 7 till it is released but I couldn’t resist anything that is marketed to be with the words “faster”, “stable” and yeah basically “faster”. I mean who could resist “faster”. Henceforth, I grant my fingers the liberty to click around and downloaded Windows 7 64-bit. And burnt. And installed. And played. Windows 7 is the yet to be released operating system from Microsoft.

I thought this is be a good time I try if the software I use would work in 64 bit. It did. Well accept a lame anti-virus software but that’s okay. Some software didn’t work on Windows 7 because it requires Windows Vista unfortunately.

I basically want to see these programs running:

  • Java (64 bit)
  • NetBeans
  • XAMPP (I couldn’t get 1.7.0 to work out of my download, perhaps my download is corrupted. But I downloaded xampplite 1.6.8 and it’s runs fine in Windows 7)
  • Microsoft Office 2007 (My guess is that it will run since it’s from Microsoft)
  • Photoshop CS4. (Yes, but I downloaded the 32-bit one. The 64-bit one probably would work too)
  • Notepad++ (I need this.)
  • Windows Live Messenger 2009 (It worked)
  • ESET Anti-virus (I downloaded the 64-bit one)
  • Dropbox (A must have)
  • Live Mesh

The great news is that all of the programs I tried to install actually worked just like that. Live Mesh did not work right and went to disable Windows Aero but a later update has that issue fixed.

But after I played with it, I’m back to using Vista. Most of my school and work stuff is all back in Windows Vista. I probably would migrate to Windows 7 when the operating system has been released. So far, I am very pleased with the new software. It also boost my confidence in 64-bit software. If not for my Windows Vista having so much of my user settings customized, I would have switched to Windows 7. I felt it was indeed, as advertised, faster. There are lots of subtle improvements to the interface too. I probably blog about it some time later next week.