LHam is has just finished his first week of three years in Qatar for an engineering job. He’s blogging, so we’ll be kept updated and learn about Qatar in the process. He has inserted google map links so you can see where exactly he’s located at.
Monthly Archives: March 2008
Star Wars in ASCII
This was fascinating!
I love recognising the phrases – I knew the words that you see quoted in this ASCII animation by the time the kid that I was then was queuing up for tickets at 6.30am at the now extinct Odeon Theatre in 1978. The buildup to Star Wars had a radio station featuring installments of the audio track from the movie and I had recorded enough of those religiously to mouth the dialogue before the actors uttered the words.
So as I watched the animation, I could hear the soundtrack – complete with the sound effects and the sound track they had added in after the actors had done their bit.
You can telnet the ACSII animation here. Mac users, the link will call up Terminal and run the programme.
Read about the ‘mad enterprise’ here – “Ever wanted to see Star Wars in Telnet?” By Kieren McCarthy. The Register, 03 Dec 2001.
Mac Software I use
This is for my mac newbie friends. I’ll work on an updated list or delicious it, but in the meantime, see my workflow for installing combo updates – there is a section on Shareware; it’s not up to date but I didn’t have the heart to go through my applications list just yet!
I will highlight some of these later. Eventually.
Adobe Help Viewer 1.0
Adobe Reader 8
Email Backup Pro
Fan – smcFanControl
Free Ruler 1.7b5
Google SketchUp 6
Google Video Player
iMovie (previous version)
iView MediaPro 3
Microsoft Expression Media
Microsoft Office 2008
Mr. Tides 3
Picasa Web Albums Uploader
Snapz Pro X
Taco HTML Edit
Temperature Monitor Lite
Windows Media Player
WireTap Pro Manual.pdf
World Clock Deluxe
To search for any of these software and more, use VersionTracker or MacUpdate. I actually just use Google these days though!
Where to keep all those exam questions?
Twice a year we have to set exams, and that’s when I re-examine my security measures. This means no Auto-login (password always required upon startup), the mac is set to sleep in 15 minutes and a password is required to wake from sleep or the screen-saver (System preferences> Security). This is practically symbolic since students have no access to my computer and the mac is never left unattended behind unlocked doors.
If I am away even for seconds, my door is locked. It’s something we have had to practise since the late 90’s when many labs in the department were hit by a spate of thefts; you see, in the old days, every door was unlocked!
The mac is not turned on overnight. If I am called away I have no worries; an automatic shut down is executed every evening (System preferences> Energy Saver> Schedule). I do have to ensure my open documents are all saved before leaving since a shut down can be cancelled by a dialog box querying the absent user if he wishes to save or discard his unsaved document!
Since OS X 10.3, Mac users have had the use of FIleVault which provides encryption for the entire home folder. File Vault may prevents backup by Leopard’s Time Machine when logged in, so if I switch from SuperDuper to TimeMachine, I’ll sort that out.
I don’t leave sensitive material on my laptop, even though no one is allowed to use it. Staff members don’t exchange sensitive information via email, even encrypted files – although the real truth may be simply that many are clueless about these options! Instead of passing around soft copies, I use hard copy for exam originals and these are never left unattended or in full view.
When frequent access to exam files are necessary during the question setting and review process, I encrypt the specific folder using OS X’s Disk Utility. You can create an encrypted disk image in which to store files; it’s lovely! This excellent option is explained very clearly in this Flickr photoset by Derek K. Miller.
You can also encrypt the final version of your documents as pdfs for Preview provides this option in the “save as” dialogue box.
Midnight break-ins are ruled out by camera surveillance and probably more importantly by the ever-present graduate student researchers, many of whom stay overnight. Since the biodiversity group occupies just two floors, strange faces stand out.
Its not that I worry about my students ever attempting to peek into my computer, they are an honest bunch. But I have a responsibility to to ensure they are well protected from any possibility of suspicion, if ever a breach in security occurs. Exercising good security means thinking about possible scenarios and plugging the loopholes early. And then reminding yourself about it every six months!
Bicycle theft at MRT stations
Is it steel prices that are fueling the theft of cheaper steel bikes at MRt stations? And since when did Kembangan become a hot spot for bicycle theft (2005?).
See the Cycling in Singapore blog.
Immediate additions to a newbie’s MacBook Pro
A friend just got a Mac Boook pro; first thing I did was to tell her buy even more stuff!
- RAM makes all the difference so maximum the RAM your mac can hold – it’s reasonably priced now; just buy at Sim Lim.
- On that Sim Lim shopping trip, buy an external hardisk with a much larger capacity larger your mac’s hard disk. Then you can use Time Machine (the mac’s built backup software). An external 3.5″ may be bulkier but is much cheaper; leave it at home for dedicated daily backups. It is usually cheaper to buy the disk and casing separately, although I hear Western Digital has a good deal these days. When I needed something portable in a hurry one day, I got a 320GB Buffalo 2.5″ for the 80GB (sigh!) internal hard disk on my MBP.
- If you intend use your mac both at home and at the office, get an additional power supply immediately – the online Apple Store Singapore will usually deliver in a day, and to your door. The MBP battery does not last long, unlike the old 14.1″ iBooks!
- At home, if its your only or main computer, get a coolpad; it will angle the computer up and keep it cool (my MBP gets very hot); critical for non-air-con rooms which I prefer.
- External keyboard and mouse from Apple Store Singapore – no heat issues and much more productive!
- A definite must for lectures, especially if you are peripatetic – a wireless remote. You can actually use a bluetooth phone but I have been using a Keyspan Presentation Remote for a few years now. I finally got the remote’s battery replaced and it made all the difference in class yesterday; I got to roam!
Software suggestions next…
David Cook’s take on Billie Jean
David Cook had me look up from my mac this evening in the latest round of American Idol. This performance of Chris Cornell’s arrangement of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean highlights his superior grasp.
The theme was “the year you were born,” so they all did songs from their birthyear. With YouTube, the “instant reply” is a click away…
NTU Bike Rally 2008 webpage
NTU Bike Rally 2008 webpage is now at this location: http://ntusportsclub.ecpresence.com/bikerally2008/bikerallyweb/index.htm
Kok Sheng is a “poster boy” for NUS
Kok Sheng’s slightly evil looking mugshot appears in this NUS advertorial yesterday (25 Mar 2008):
He’s featured for the Chek Jawa UROPS project. Dan is mentioned too, and the department so they kept the good parts in. Its a good advertisement for the Science undergraduate research programme (UROPS), of which I am reasonably keen about.
Having 10% of the department’s students (i.e. 5) was mildly challenging, especially without the traditional lab space to host them like we used to be able to do. It required adjustment on my part but there was SMS (which they favour), IM (runner-up), Google Groups, GMail and of course my compulsory blogs allowed me to keep an eye on them.
Ya Wen’s essay published in ST
Toddycat Ya Wen‘s essay for the 2007 Oxbridge Letter-Writing Competition bagged the first prize.
She wrote a letter to Minister of Education Tharman Shanmugaratnam about the competition for University places, entitled, “Tackling the quality-vs-quantity dilemma.”