Exciting and unexciting

Things that have excited me lately:

  • WakeMate – $50 and you might sleep better. It tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you between REM periods. It seems most useful for heavy sleepers, like me. My wife sleeps very lightly and wakes up often. I don’t think she’d need additional jarring.
  • Samsung’s Galaxy S phones – good Android phones on every carrier… including AT&T. This may be the first real competitor to the iPhone for those locked into AT&T. The only downside is that AT&T doesn’t let you sideload applications, i.e. install them manually.
  • Floppy drives with legs.

Things not exciting me:

  • eBook readers – they’re just not there yet. The Kindle (or DX) and Nook are getting there, but they’re just not what I want. I read technical books, so I need a large screen. I don’t care about color, and I don’t want a touchscreen because it lowers the clarity of the screen. I don’t particularly care about the 3G access – I can download books at home, and I’d rather use my phone for mobile internet access. I want simple, cheap, clear, and free.
  • Loss of freedom – particularly with regard to the internet. AT&T has already switched to limited data plans, Verizon probably will soon, and broadband providers have been considering the switch for a while. It makes me sick that this is possible when internet access should be a human right. I know for a fact that capacity far exceeds demand at some of these companies, so it’s dishonest.
  • 3D – ugh. Movies and TV are equally bad ideas. Give me back my Virtual Boy.
04.02 (0)
redshift: Clash of the Titans really doesn’t deserve the bad reviews it’s getting. If you like mythology at all, you’ll probably like it. They did take a few liberties with the story, but all movies do. The 3D effects were understated and didn’t detract from the movie like so many are claiming. Overall, good effort, and didn’t disappoint me as a fan of Greek mythology.
03.27 (2)
redshift: Quick tip – Not all Linux-based operating systems wake from suspend mode when you use your keyboard. To enable that feature, do this:
echo USB0 > /proc/acpi/wakeup
You can add that line to /etc/rc.d/rc.local (on Fedora, similar elsewhere) to make sure the setting is enabled on startup.
02.13 (0)
redshift: Important note if you have Intel 4965 wireless (the card used in the Dell XPS m1330, for example) – the Linux drivers for this card do not work well with “Afterburner” mode in Linksys routers. I assume it’s the same for “Super-G” and modes from other brands. Turn off that feature and you may save yourself hours of trouble.

How To Fix a Fedora Bug, Plus Free Mini-Review

In the spirit of my previous Exherbo review and guide to fixing an Ubuntu crash, let’s do the same for Fedora!

I was growing a bit tired of the development lag in Crunchbang Linux and needed a new distribution. I want a well-built system that doesn’t take too much administration so I can focus on other things. (As you may know, I have a tendency to set up and administer machines for fun, forgetting to do any “real” work on top of it.)

Fedora sounded good. All free software with fairly frequent updates. RPM hell is avoided with Yum. I particularly appreciate the use of the free Nouveau driver for my Nvidia card, and Kernel Mode Setting for a smoother start and fewer hassles.

When it works, Fedora is slick. They’re a bit ahead of Ubuntu in terms of features, with default SELinux, KMS, and better video drivers. Another thing I appreciate is that one of Fedora’s goals is to stay close to upstream. They don’t want to apply 10 patches to every package, preferring to send patches upstream and get down to zero distribution-specific patches if possible.

It’s quick to boot, particularly with KMS. The battery life is about 10-15% longer than with Crunchbang, even with more daemons running.

Continue Reading »

Why You Should Learn Go

I’m pretty excited about Go, the new programming language from Google. It’s been my obsession over the last few weeks, and I think if you’re a programmer, you should learn it.

Why did I start? Out of respect for its creators, Rob Pike and Ken Thompson. They helped create and popularize Unix, C, UTF-8, Plan 9, and many other things. It may seem like they’ve been under the radar lately in their research wing at Google, but I think they’ve just been building up a foundation of code and ideas.

Why is it exciting? It seems to have solutions for concurrency, compilation speed, and safety, while still looking somewhat familiar. You can run hundreds of thousands of concurrent goroutines. The entire Go library compiles in ~5 seconds. Go code runs almost as fast as C, without even being optimized yet. It’s type-safe without being too verbose.

It’s not as high level as Ruby or Python, but it can be more mentally satisfying in an OCD geek kind of way. It’s C without the pain.

Sure, it took ideas from Alef, Limbo, Newsqueak, and other languages (watch this then this for proof, and for enlightenment) – but how else can you make progress? Go has the momentum those languages never got.

And I, for one, am glad that the legacy of Bell Labs lives on.

Continue Reading »

12.14 (0)
redshift: Tim Pope is generously matching donations between now and Christmas on any of his Github projects. All money goes to Vim’s charity, ICCF Holland, that helps children in Uganda. Thanks Tim!

Energy Drink Reviews – Part 5

This is a continuation of part 4 of my energy drink reviews, a special on ABB.

  • Adrenalyn Stack – Berry Energizing: 7/10

    First you get a strong blast of berry flavor, but unfortunately it doesn’t last very long. It fades to a general fruity flavor, similar to the Subzero Red, but has a slightly chalkier texture. I didn’t get an aftertaste, though, so it’s not bad overall.

  • Ripped Force – Fruit Punch: 8/10

    This is a good option if you want a strong energy boost. The Ripped Force drinks have 200mg of caffeine along with some blend called Adrenergic Catalyst Technology. I have no idea what that means, but it gives me a bit of the jitters. The Fruit Punch variety is an interesting beast – it has a nice (though very sweet) fruity flavor at first, and then completely disappears, as if you didn’t have a drink at all. Then, there’s a bit of chalky texture, but no real aftertaste. I haven’t had that experience before, but it’s not too bad – a little better than the Berry Energizing flavor.

  • Speed Stack – Lemon Lime: 9/10

    I love the flavor on this one. That means something because I normally hate lemon-lime flavors. In this one, the citrus is toned down and it’s fairly sweet – not overly bright. The energy level is fairly strong, as in other Speed Stacks, but not as strong as a Ripped Force. There’s a bit of aftertaste, but not of chemicals, just a slightly sweet flavor.

Continue Reading »

Energy Drink Reviews – Part 4

American Body Building was nice enough to send over a case of their energy drinks to review. I guess I’m an “authority” on energy drinks now. (Sweet.) See part 1, part 2, and part 3 of my energy drink reviews for non-ABB products.

Note that free products are great, but they don’t affect the ratings. ABB did well overall, and there are a couple great drinks, but there were still a couple let-downs. I’ll have some suggestions for ABB at the end.

I tried five types of drinks:

  • Speed Stack – No sugar, 250mg caffeine total.

    A couple ingredients you can pronounce, a few you can’t. This gives a moderately strong energy boost, and doesn’t seem to affect the flavor much.

  • Ripped Force – 350mg of their Adrenergic Catalyst mix, i.e. a bunch of things you can’t pronounce.

    This gives a strong energy boost, but affects the flavor slightly more than Speed Stack. Some of these still got very good scores.

  • Diet Turbo Tea – No sugar, 90mg of caffeine and guarana, plus some ginseng.

    A nice light energy boost. Doesn’t affect the flavor.

  • Adrenalyn Stack – 200mg caffeine and a whole pile of things you can’t pronounce.

    The most additives, the strongest energy boost. Unfortunately, it really affects the texture and flavor of the drinks. These got some of the lower scores.

  • Speed Shot Intensity – No sugar, but a lot of things you can’t pronounce.

    One of the more potent energy mixes. It doesn’t affect flavor consistently – sometimes it’s not noticeable, sometimes it is. See the individual reviews below.

There are a number of flavors for each of the above types. Originally, I was going to review the types and the flavors separately, but they affect each other more than I expected.

So, you get 15 reviews for the price of one!

  • Speed Shot Intensity – Subzero Red: 8/10

    This reminds me of a red Hug (the little barrel-drinks) but not as overpoweringly sweet. It’s sugar-free, so I’m not sure how they managed this without getting a chemical aftertaste. The energy boost was noticeable but it didn’t keep me up all night – just what I wanted. I can’t pretend I know what all of the energy supplements in this drink are, but they work well.

  • Diet Turbo Tea – Lemon: 9/10

    Tasty, natural tea with added guarana for energy. There’s only 90mg of caffeine total, so if your only goal is energy, try one of the stronger alternatives. The lemon flavor is balanced correctly for my taste. There’s a bit of tang from something – either the ginseng or the sucralose, I think. No chemical aftertaste. The tea flavor could be a bit more pronounced, but overall it’s quite tasty.

  • Speed Stack – Lemon Tea: 8/10

    The flavor base is the same as the Turbo Tea, but this one has a much more potent energy mix. It masks the tea flavor slightly, but it still doesn’t taste like chemicals. There’s a slight sticky, sweet aftertaste. I’m impressed that they’re able to make these drinks powerful without the strong overtones of common energy drinks.

  • Ripped Force – Grape: 7/10

    Similar to the Subzero Red, this flavor reminds me of a Hug. If you remember Hugs from when you were a kid, you can imagine these drinks. Sweet, slightly artificial fruity flavor. Not quite as sweet as a true Hug, which is a good thing. The energy boost is similar to the Speed Shot and Speed Stack, but a bit stronger. I’m a little jittery.

  • Speed Shot Intensity – Purple Frost: 6/10

    Tastes like the Grape flavor of Ripped Force, but you can taste the added chemicals in this concentrated form. It’s not too strong, but since it’s noticeable, it detracts a little bit. The energy boost is on the strong side.

Stay tuned for part 5, the conclusion of the ABB reviews!

09.14 (0)
redshift: Mini-review: Inko’s White Tea Energy. 7/10. I appreciate that it’s all-natural, but it’s slightly too bitter for me. You definitely won’t get jitters from its tea caffeine, but you won’t be fully alert, either.