FallenRayne Dev One developer's random thoughts are better than nothing.

21Feb/115

The Downfall of My Productivity… Minecraft

Ok, so I had a few friends that claimed that Minecraft was the greatest game in existence. I laughed them off as crazy, thinking that there is no way a simple game of digging and building could be that great. On top of that, I had work to do. Lots of work to do. I finally got my website going at full steam. I got awesome progress with MongoDB and was doing really really cool things.

Then Dreamhost happened. Oh Dreamhost, why oh why can't you get MongoDB working in your PHP 5.3.5 configuration? No, instead I am stuck using 5.2 in order to use MongoDB. That is all well and good until I stop for a second and realize that I am using Fat Free Framework (PHP 5.3+) and the only other framework that I would really consider at this time is Symfony 2 with Doctrine 2 ODM (Object Document Model for MongoDB) which is also PHP 5.3+. So basically I got stalled out in my tracks. Awesome.

In comes Minecraft. I was bored one night. I got tired of playing Madden '11 and wanted something new. Well, Minecraft is new, and it is only $20, and I already have friends playing it. It would be a great way of wasting a couple of nights while I wait for Dreamhost to get their act together. So that was Thursday night of last week. I have now spent the last 5 nights playing Minecraft on my friend's server and it just doesn't end. Now I am all proud about how I build some fictional obsidian farming technique that is getting me a ton of obsidian in a short time, whereas the actual projects I was working on just sit there and do nothing. Granted, Dreamhost still has not fixed my VPS, so I have that excuse, but I really should be trying to do something more productive with my time.

Ah well, I'm off to play Minecraft. I need to build a new tower out of obsidian.

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13Feb/110

Upgrading

So this weekend I decided to upgrade my environment a little bit. I went ahead and purchased a Virtual Private Server with Dreamhost and upgraded my Github account to the Micro plan.

My current project, which I have yet to disclose, needed more room and a repository. I could have just went with SVN on my Dreamhost server but I opted to go with Github in the end because I can more easily get to the files when I need them. I also want to try and keep all my code in one place (whether private or public). With the Micro plan only being $7 a month, I figured it was a good place to start so I can still keep my current project private but have the code on Github. This is my first interaction with Git and I must say that it isn't too bad at all.

With VPS on Dreamhost I really just needed a MongoDB and I wanted complete control over it, so I basically needed either to host it myself or get a VPS. Hosting myself was not really an option as the only box I have that can host it easily is my old Ubuntu machine and I really don't want to try running MongoDB for many users on a 32bit, 3 ghz system with 1gb of RAM. That just sounds like a recipe for disaster. Dreamhost's VPS are 64bit which is important for MongoDB, and they are scalable really easily (and somewhat expensively). I even started doing some of my development on my CR-48 by going into the shell access and sshing into my VPS. I am not a huge fan of vim but it works in a pinch.

The one big problem I am having right now is that MongoDB won't start up on my VPS and the PHP extension isn't working properly. I currently have a trouble ticket in with Dreamhost to check this out for me. I have my data exported and ready to go to put it into the new DB on my VPS, I just need a working DB. Once that is done I already have Fat Free Framework setup and my code in place and working, so I am almost there. I just have a todo list that is about 15-20 items in length before I can launch this thing and start moving on to other aspects of the project. Hopefully I will be able to have a launch post in 2-3 weeks.

5Feb/112

CR-48 Unboxing




CR-48 Unboxing

Originally uploaded by brandon.skeen

Well, I was going to be posting a little bit more about my MongoDB app that I am working on, but then I got home yesterday with a box sitting in my office.

I looked at the box curiously because I wasn't really expecting any packages. I wasn't quite sure what could possibly come for me and the label on the box was not very descriptive of the origin.

I got a pair of scissors and gently sliced the tape on the top of the box. I lifted one flap of the box and suddenly saw a familiar pattern on another box contained within. This pattern I have seen a few times before on various sites like Engadget, Lifehacker, and even in a couple of Tweets. This is when I started getting more and more excited. I knew exactly what this was.

I rushed upstairs with notebook in hand calling out to my wife, looking like a 5 year old in a candy store. This was my brand new Google Chrome notebook code named CR-48. I had been selected to demo one of the coolest notebooks available.

So now that I got the notebook charged and I have been using for a couple of days, I guess I should write a review of it, eh?

Unboxing and Quality

So first things first. The unboxing was awesome. You can check out the photo I attached to see what it looked like. It came with the shiny new case decals and everything.

The instructions were entertaining and very simple. I connected in the battery and plugged it in to charge. Nothing really crazy here.

The build quality is definitely awesome. The keyboard has a very nice feel to it. The entire lappy is very slick looking, all matte black. It only has 1 USB, 1 AC charge, 1 headphone, and a VGA display port. Very simple, and very clean. The screen is very clear and it has brightness controls built right into the keyboard.

The keyboard takes a little getting used to. No function keys, no caps lock, buttons for search, full screen, and refresh are included. They do have a cool feature where you can press Ctrl+Alt+/ and get a keyboard shortcut map that is interactive. Hold down Ctrl to see all of the available shortcuts, same with Alt, Alt+Ctrl, Alt+Shift, and Ctrl+Shift. Past that, the keyboard actually has a nice amount of space between each key so that it doesn't feel cramped. I have larger hands and it is very comfortable typing this post so far.

The touchpad is very interesting, it is kind of like a Mac Air. It has multi-touch capabilities and is just a giant button. One thing I have to get used to is right clicking. You have to place two fingers on the pad and press down. I don't always put my fingers on there right though, so it doesn't always work.

Setup

Setup was a breeze. I logged in with my Google account information, took my profile picture, setup my network security, and I was on my way. They have a cool little tutorial that takes you through the major areas of the laptop. I also noticed that as soon as I logged in all of my Chrome extensions, bookmarks, and theme were loaded. This is an awesome feature of using Chrome OS, everything follows you no matter what your using, as long as you are using Chrome.

I setup Google Cloud Print on my Windows 7 machine and got LastPass running. I "installed" a few more extensions and apps from the Chrome Marketplace, but past that the laptop has just been working. No major issues so far, although I did have one problem that I will talk about a little below.

Performance

The performance has been pretty decent so far. The biggest problem has been my network more than likely. Images and websites load a little slowly. Once the page is loaded then it is very quick but I am finding myself waiting 30 seconds to a minute for some pages. Flickr is really slow to load.

I haven't really tried playing any games yet, but I will probably start playing around with that this weekend at some point.

Multimedia

This is where I have had a little trouble. When I first tried to play audio, either through YouTube or Last.fm, the audio came through with nothing but static and was impossible to understand. I powered the system off and rebooted (which took about 5 seconds) and tried again and the audio started working perfectly fine. I have a couple of pictures showing Charlie the Unicorn playing on YouTube to show that the video looked great too. I need to try out Hulu and see how that works, but YouTube is great.

The webcam seems to work really well. I haven't played with it too much but it seems no worse than the webcam on my 17" HP notebook.

Summary

So what do I think of this lappy? I LOVE IT! It is a gorgeous piece of tech and it just works for what it needs to do, browse the web. This is the perfect OS for someone who truly just wants to browse the web. I find myself on here more often than my desktop now. If I have to code or work on something a bit more intensive, then I will obviously move to one of my desktops.

I can't really complain about anything, and not that I really would with the price of it (free). All in all it is exactly what I would want out of a "netbook" style laptop. It is functional, simple, and sturdy.

If you are interested in seeing more photos of the lappy then you can view the photoset on flickr.

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