Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mr. Grammar Nazi

The word is "withdrawal," not "withdrawl. There is a second "a" as the penultimate letter. "Withdrawl" is how Southerners speak.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My iPod Shuffle

I mentioned below that I just got an iPod Shuffle. I didn't really like the idea of getting something without a screen that only holds 1GB of music, but since the plan was to simply use it while running I figured that I could load it up with adrenaline-inducing songs and plug into my computer when I really wanted to get picky with my listening.

That plan has become somewhat complicated. See, the Shuffle seems to be doing the exact opposite of what I intended for it to be able to do. Let me explain.

I figured that high-energy songs, such as punk, ska, and rock, would do best while exercising. The classical and alternative stuff could hang out at home. However, odd as it seems, the sound quality on the Shuffle has blown me away...mostly. Songs ripped from CD are amazing, with both the highs and the lows projected well. Listening to some songs I'm hearing voices within the songs I'd never noticed before, not to mention the increased quality of the voices I was used to. Think of going from embossed to chiaroscuro, except in terms of sound. However, a lot of the most high-energy songs, such as those by Metallica, sound squashed and flat.

Thus, ironically, the Shuffle is best-suited for playing albums, rather than individual hits. Is this sound configuration peculiar to the Shuffle, or is it shared by the Nano and regular iPod? Is it a function of the solid-state memory and lack of moving parts in the unit? It's just odd to me that such an inexpensive device is successfully revealing elements that more-expensive products have consistently failed to convey.

What Have I Been Doing Lately? (yeah yeah!)

So it's been a few weeks since I've blogged. That's okay; nothing all that bloggable has happened.

I'm discovering that law school is really hard work. Not hard as in I don't think that I can do it, but as in spending ten hours in the library at a time doesn't seem unreasonable. The people here are great, though, and I'm very interested in the material, but at the end of every week (maybe even every day), I feel as though I've just gotten my butt kicked.

I also finally managed to score a victory in my two-year-long quest to have Best Buy acknowledge that the Toshiba laptop they sold me was a lemon. After being jerked around for months at a time, including almost losing important assignments for my graduate program several times, they finally said that I could, in fact, exchange it for store credit. The tale itself is epic and involves both heroes and villains, but now is not the time.

As I couldn't afford to have my sole computer periodically stop working, I had already gone ahead and gotten a Dell XPS 1210 as a replacement. It's kind of overkill to get a laptop designed for gaming when I'm just going to be browsing the internet and doing word processing (err...and maybe a little Half-Life and Halo...), but I'd heard that Dell's XPS line was extremely reliable and that their customer support for that line is amazing. A friend of the family was appalled that I got such a small computer, but since I take notes by hand in class it's not a huge deal. I also picked up a 20-inch monitor for when I have long papers to work on and don't want to strain my eyes (...and, again, in case I ever play Halo and Half-Life...).

Actually, let me say that the note-taking situation here at William & Mary is interesting. At nearly every school I visited there was perhaps one student taking notes by hand while everyone else had their laptop PCs up and clickety-clacking away. At W&M there were about five taking notes by hand, but nearly everyone was still taking notes on their computers. In my roughly 75-person classes, about ten of us die-hards are taking notes by hand. Also, oddly enough, a very sizable percentage of the laptops here are Macs. They seem to be heavily favored among girls and, oddly enough, those who served in the military. I have no idea why.

This actually brings me to an interesting development: paranoid about the idea of not having a working computer and being extremely suspicious of Vista (which has been finicky to say the least), I used my store credit to buy a MacBook, reinforced carrying case, and an iPod Shuffle. The way I see it, the Dell is my main computer. It's more powerful and versatile, I understand how it works far better, and it just looks cool (sexy like a weapon...FBI please don't put me on a watch list). The Mac is going to be my "ark," serving as a back-up in case of the worst while still enabling me to do basic browsing. Yes, I know there are children starving in the world but I'm not going to let the cost of a second laptop potentially cause my legal career to be derailed before it even begins. [/paranoia]

I'm also noticing how much Apple Mac is a completely different way of making computers from PCs. Basically, it comes with just about everything you need...which is good, because there's not a lot more available for it. A PC can be configured just about any way you like and do all sorts of things, but the trade-off is that things can go horribly wrong. I'm not a high-tech user; I could probably get by with a computer with a 486 processor if the truth be told (not that I'd be happy about it). I guess it's kind of like driving your own car versus taking the train. Actually, that'd make for a good essay. In any case, the Mac system is not one I'm very familiar with, despite Apple's attempts to sucker in young folks by providing discounted computers to schools. I still have only a vague idea of how a lot of things work, and I'm pretty sure that most of my solutions aren't the best way of doing things. That said, Apple has done a masterful job of playing to their strengths (listen to the music on iPhone commercials and tell me it doesn't make you feel safe and secure). While my Dell evokes feelings of power, control, and domination, my Mac seems to evoke feelings of peace and relaxation. Maybe it's just me. In any case, though, that's kind of what you want: competitive drive at work, relaxation at home.

I've rambled enough; I'm sure I'll be taking bits of this and developing them as time goes by.