Time to take a break from the Tech Stuff for one episode and take you on a little sound-seeing tour of Antwerp. We walk through deserted Hasselt, Hitch a ride on the train and get a Cup of Coffee. All that and more with great music from No Plastic Inside and Ex Posthumus. All Aboard !
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- Deserted Hasselt.
- On the train.
- Antwerp Central Station .
- A cup of Joe at Foodmakers .
- Music : No Plastic Inside : The Knightcast Signal.
- Music : No Plastic Inside : Inside Coyote.
- Music : Ex Posthumus : Luna Sans Es.
- Music : No Plastic Inside : The last Ship in Grey Heavens.
I’ve had this little piece of equipment for three years now, no almost four. Back when I started as an IT consultant I had to drive to Beerse (near Antwerp) every day. In the beginning I took Cd’s along but, that started to bore me pretty quickly. I had owned an Ipod for a few months and was looking for a way to listen to my Ipod in the car, without having to use the headphones. After discovering podcasts, my Ipod became the center of my entertainment and the need for "pod-content" in the cabin rose even more. I had heard about the Logitech MM50, A portable little boombox that held your Ipod and gave pretty good sound. It ran on a 12 volt power adapter and also had an internal backup battery, so you could take it with you outside. 12 volts is the same voltage as a car battery so my father in law and I removed the power adapter and hooked up one of the cigaret lighter plugs. And what do you know, the thing worked like a charm. For 2 years the MM50 went everywhere, from Hasselt to Antwerp to Mechelen .. Everywhere the little bugger was playing my podcasts. A few months ago it started to malfunction , the little delicate power plug inside was starting to come loose. It wasn’t that bad because by that time I had gotten my new company car that had a line-in jack and did not need the MM50 that much anymore.
But Wednesday night we took out the welding bolt and put humpty dumpty back together again. Taking of the little powerjack we soldered the powercables straight onto the mainboard and the MM50 is purring (on net power) again. So far I have parked it in the kitchen where Nyana and I plop in our Ipods whenever we need to to either charge them or listen to music. So far I have found the experience of listening to podcasts while doing the dishes WITHOUT using either a pc or headphones to be very pleasant. The MM50 has a much warmer sound and strangely enough its like all the podcasters you are listening to are much ‘closer’ to you. It makes it all sound much more "professional". And with that the classic media has taken another step back here at the Knights castle. And if its up to Nyana, after the move we shall be going even one step further. A friend of ours showed us the B&W Zeppelin. Both the sound (and the price) of this system put the MM50 to shame, but it is an AWESOME peace of kit. Hearing it in a demo the sound blew us away. And the idea surfaced : If we have this we don’t even need a stereo anymore. No 5,1 surround sound hassle, no stupid little stereo deck on the kitchen counter .. just this thing. Insert Ipod (or external sound source) and you are good to go. It was one of the first "serious" ipod-speakers I saw out there and looking at the design , its just fracking ALIEN. So I wonder if the Zeppelin will find a new port once the move to our new house is complete. What I do know is that once we are there, analogue content will take another step into the realm of oblivion.
This weekend was the annual birthday party of Nyana’s grandmother. (Also known as the 81 year old "Ubuntu Granny") This Gutsy Granny is one of the Geekiest senior citizens I know and has been running Ubuntu Linux on her old laptop for two years now (See the article HERE) When we went to the family dinner a few weeks ago I took along my Asus EEEpc, just to keep me occupied and stuff. Granny walked in the living room, caught sight of my little new white friend and purred like a kitten ! "What is THAT" she said. I explained to her what it was , where I got it and how much it had cost me (or "how cheap it was") She was exctatic ! Of course 20 minutes later she had yanked the little device out of my hands and was playing "Frozen Bubble" like there was no tomorrow. Talk about your a-social teenager texting away when the family has dinner ? This is the 81 year old computer-savvy grandma who could not care less if her soup went cold as long as she made it to the next level of Frozen Bubble. Now with ther birthday coming up the family put their heads together and we looked into pitching in and getting here one of these. Of course they are not available in Belgium yett (but its coming) so we decided to give her a "voucher" on her birthday for "One EEE-PC " to be collected as soon as they arrived here in Belgium.
I took my EEE (or "Tripoli") pc with me as a "demo unit" and she got to pose with it (and play some more frozen Bubble) Just to show how geeky this family is : We hooked up the EEE to some stray wifi, where showing eachother youtube video’s and where uploading the pictures we took at the party straight to flickr. (As I said : this is one geeky family). So happy birthday Gran-EEE and may your Asus arrive soon !
This weekend has marked a little bit of a "landmark-event" in our own personal computer history. Saturday morning we said goodbye to our "very first mac". I still remember when, almost four years ago I was thinking about buying my first mac. I had been listening to my very first podcasts (Back then , the Daily Source Code" and was following Adam Curry’s experiments on a daily basis as he brought the simple basics of what was to be a podcasting revolution, online. I had been bitten by the mac-microbe some two months earlier while buying my first Ipod. Listening to podcasts made the itch worse. Everybody was talking about macs, and more and more I was thinking about owning my very own mac. A colleague of mine had been working with macs for some time and he gave me some good pointers. So I went online and started looking for my very first stray of the path of the "pc user". It took for ever to figure out what I wanted. (Well, not really , I looked at what I could afford and that was that) So it was going to be an Ibook. it was small, it looked pretty nice (Girly actually) but it was a mac (AND IT WAS WHITE !) So it took some surfing to find out where I was going to purchase it and I decided to go for a store in Germany, because they gave me a better price then the Apple store. It took forty emails and 10 phone calls to get my hands on the Ibook. (Most of these emails where "is it there yet ?" …"NO" …is it there yett ?" …"NO" …is it there yet ?" …"NO" …is it there yet ?" …"NO" …) So after three weeks of waiting I got the call " Ihren Ibook ist arriviert" said the German shop lady. I jumped in the car (I was working in Antwerp at the time) and drove all the way to Aachen, barely making it before the shop closed ! I was so exited. The first time you unpack a Mac, use it … stuff like that. I’m no apple fan-boy but still, after owning nothing but beige boxes .. your first Mac is something different.
The little Ibook went EVERYWHERE with me. I had a little Hedgren backpack I would use to drag it around and it was awesome. Even when I decided to trade up towards a Macbook, my little Ibook got a second lease on life. My wife loved the thing. And again the little Ibook followed her around for two years. It has always been treated with care, never dropped, never had its lid snapped shut in frustration. It was never yelled at .. It just always did what it supposed to. After it came mac mini"s and Macbooks and Imacs but It came and saw them all but continued to preform its duty.
But it was time to move on. With a G4 1.2 gig processor and 758 megs of ram it became one of the slower models in the house. And since I had my eye on a Macbook Pro for a few years now, we decided to see if we could find a good home for the Ibook (at a good price, otherwise we would hold on to it unitl it was absolutely obsolete). But after a few days a buyer turned up and handed over 400 euro’s for this 4 year old Ibook (good deal) and our little white friend was handed over to a young gentleman for whom it was going to be "his first Mac". Cool huh ! I’m not one to get mushy over hardware and stuff, and seldom have emotional ties to laptops. But your first Mac is a little bit like your first car, and so I hope it will have another nice new lease on life.
Now .. where did I leave that bookmark about buying my Macbook Pro.
This must be the fastest post i’ve written so far. And with that I mean that I have never blogged at this velocity. As I’m writing this I’m flying through the sleeping landscape of Belgium , Its Six am , i’m on the train to Antwerp and I have a new best friend ! With that I mean my UMTS Data-card that is snugly sitting in the PCMCIA slot of my laptop. Man .. that is one nice peace of kit. Connectivity is pretty good, sliding up and down in between UMTS and classic GPRS, but still enough to do the trick.
If I look back only a few years ago, I would have only dreamed of technology like this. Ever since my first smart phone i’ve been dreaming of ‘constant connectivity’ The ability to have access to the net no matter where. These last few months that dream has become a reality more and more. If I look at the evolution of portable technology in my life it has been quite a ride. Starting out with a simple PDA, a smart phone, then going to a smart phone with GPRS and lately the portability of my ASUS EEEpc with wifi connectivity .. there are not that many places where I cannot get online. If its not for my cellphone or Ipod picking up some stray wifi (which is pretty abundant these days) I can use my EEEpc or in this case my work laptop with the UMTS data card. ( or as a client of mine calls it : "the nerd card"
How has that changed the way I use technology in my life ? Well for one : I have lost the concept of "waiting". If I need to "wait" for something these days i’ve got plenty of ways to keep me entertained. Watch a movie on the Ipod ? Type something on the Asus ? Chat with buddies over MSN ? Where it used to be something that was reserved for doing at home ? I now have that connectivity everywhere. Things like commutes, train rides, for me they are opportunities to consume content (like listening to podcasts and stuff) to "contribute to the web" when I’m writing an article or doing something productive, or to "tap into the grid" and hook up with the virtual crowd and the powers they bring
But the social impact is even more profound. With the new job and the "open firewall policy" I’m constantly connected to my peers in Cyberspace. A nicely stacked Pidgin contact list (with experts on a variety of subjects spread all over the world) Constant access to Gmail and web based applications, A fair amount of memberships on forums and of course : The Twitter posse. All of them have made me a citizen of the web. Nothing new there, but "being part of cyberspace" and the social entourage I have there used to be something I could only do when I was at home. These last few months I have felt that "presence" creep into my everyday life. No matter where I am , an IP address is never far away. And with that connectivity to the net comes the power the web has in store for me.
It makes me laugh, especially when you look at the "mega mindy incident" but in many ways it IS like being a little bit of a superhero. There is this nerdy guy sitting on the far side of the table, doesn’t look very special. But when he whacks in his UMTS card he turns into this virtual superhero with an enormous amount of knowledge and power at his fingertips. Its like becoming a virtual powerranger… or just a bigger nerd