Life, Technology, and Meteorology

Month: January 2006

WebnoteHappy Lite 1.0

Luis de la Rosa just released version 1.0 of WebnoteHappy Lite. I’ve been beta testing this app for awhile now and Luis has done a great job on it. Congrats Luis!

WebnoteHappy Lite lets you write a note for any web page that interests you, creating a bookmark in the process. But “web page bookmark with a note” is kind of long, so let’s just call it a “webnote”.

Fun with Fours

Logtar tagged me with this meme over a week ago, and with everything going on last week, I’m just now catching up with it. 🙂

Four jobs I’ve had.

  1. Student System Administrator for the ECE Department at UCSB.
  2. Software Engineer Intern at Pacific Advanced Technology doing embedded development for an infrared video camera.
  3. Software Engineer and System Administrator at Ephibian.
  4. Everything from lead developer to janitor at Gaucho Software 🙂

Four movies I could watch over and over.

  1. Back to the Future
  2. Lord of the Rings
  3. The Matrix
  4. Any Pixar movie

Four places I’ve lived.

  1. Santa Maria, California
  2. Santa Barbara, California
  3. Tucson, Arizona
  4. Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

Four TV shows I love to watch.

  1. Top Gear
  2. Monster Garage
  3. The Apprentice
  4. Friends

Four favorite books.

  1. Harry Potter series
  2. The Soul Of A New Machine
  3. A Separate Peace
  4. The C Programming Language (it’s a love-hate thing…)

Four places I have been on vacation.

  1. Maui and Oahu, Hawaii
  2. Cruise to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica
  3. Telluride, Colorado (Ski Trip)
  4. Disney World, Florida

Four websites you visit daily (These are all RSS feeds).

  1. Ars Technica
  2. Slashdot
  3. NWS Website
  4. Autoblog

Four favorite foods

  1. Mexican food (especially Enchiladas and Burritos)
  2. Chinese food
  3. Italian food
  4. American Breakfast food (French Toast, Waffles, etc)

Four places I’d rather be right now.

  1. Spending time with Katrina
  2. On any beach drinking a Margarita
  3. Zoom-zooming in my Mazda
  4. Mountain Biking in Santa Barbara

I’m tagging anyone who wants to answer these questions… Post a link in the comments.

XRG on a Quad G5

Today I was pleasantly surprised when Edward Miller sent some screenshots of XRG running on his new Quad G5 system. This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in awhile, so I thought I would post a crop of XRG’s CPU graph on a quad-processor system…

XRG was designed to work with n-processor systems years ago, but I couldn’t imagine seeing more than 2 processors in a Mac for a very long time. At the time it wasn’t really something I could test either…it worked on 2 processors, but who knew what would happen when there were more than 2 CPUs. It’s really cool to see this feature in action on 4 cores, and I can’t wait to see it on 8 core Macs.

Seasonality 1.2

Most of you have probably noticed that Seasonality 1.2 was posted today. I’m pretty excited about the announcement. While this release didn’t take nearly as long to develop as version 1.1 did, it was still a significant undertaking. The beta-testing stage alone has been over a month. So I’m both excited, and in a sense relieved that the hard part has now passed. 🙂

Today has been a pretty typical release day. I’ve spent most of my time in and Safari, submitting the update to different news sites and responding to user feedback. I’ve been trying to target French news sites because obviously with a French translation my market just got a lot larger in that country. So far the release is going really well. The server’s been keeping up with the load without any slowdowns or problems there. Speaking of load, this will probably end up being the most traffic ever served in a single day for Gaucho Software. Since around 8:45am when the announcement hit the first news sites, the web server has hosted over 8GB of traffic. Data rates averaged over 450KB/sec for the entire hour from 1-2pm this afternoon. I wish I could see what the peak traffic values were.

Again, I want to thank Ronald Leroux and Philippe Martin for working on the French translation. I can’t even guess how many hours they must have spent on it, and it turned out great. I also want to thank all the beta testers for giving me feedback this time around. I know there were a couple of changes requested that didn’t make it into this release, but I’m hoping to have them ready for the next one. 🙂

Gaucho Software News Feeds

Ever since the beginning of Gaucho Software’s web presence, the index web page has displayed general news items about software updates and other miscellaneous items. I decided it was time to offer an RSS news feed to make it easier for users to keep up with what Gaucho Software is doing. A few weeks ago, I came across an excellent RSS generator called Feeder created by Steve Harris through his software company, Reinvented Software. Feeder finally gave me an easy way to create RSS feeds and post them on my website. So here it is, the Gaucho Software news feed:

 Gaucho Software News Feed

A general Gaucho Software news feed is great and all, but each individual app has their own news items. I’m planning to create feeds for each of them starting with Seasonality, which has an update coming soon…

  Seasonality News Feed

I’ll be adding feeds for Dash Monitors and XRG when I work on porting them to Intel in the coming months. In the mean time, any app updates for either of them will be posted to the Gaucho Software news feed.

Upcoming Seasonality Release and Survey

The release of Seasonality 1.2 is coming up pretty quick. I’m taking care of the last changes and it should be ready to go sometime next week. This version has a ton of bug fixes and a couple of new features as well. The biggest change is localization support, and I’m happy to announce that Seasonality 1.2 will be released with a French language translation. A lot of time from both a programming perspective and a language translating perspective (thanks Ronald and Philippe!) went into this effort, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Look for other translations to be included in future versions. If you are interested in doing a translation, get in touch with me.

Since the Seasonality release is close, I thought I would take advantage of the extra web traffic by posting a Seasonality Survey. I’m hoping to get a lot of user feedback to guide my development path for version 1.3 and beyond. If you have a few minutes, please take the Seasonality survey.


Flip pointed out this very cool new online music streaming site, Pandora.

Pandora is a music discovery service designed to help you find and enjoy music that you’ll love. It’s powered by the Music Genome Project, the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. Just tell us one of your favorite songs or artists and we’ll launch a streaming station to explore that part of the music universe.

I’ve been trying it out this morning, and I’m pretty impressed so far. The stream is a reasonable quality (128kbps) and the songs picked have been pretty accurate so far. Best of all, it’s free. I guess they plan to pay for the music licensing by selling ads for free account users. If you purchase a paid membership, you can ditch the ads for $36/year.

MacBook Pro

Well, I’ve placed my order for a new MacBook Pro (with the 1.67Ghz Core Duo). I ordered the base configuration (512MB RAM, 80GB drive), and will be purchasing another gig of RAM separately. I don’t understand why Apple charges so much for their memory upgrades… Now all I have to do is try to forget about it until it’s supposed to ship, sometime in February. I’m horrible at the waiting game. 🙂

While my current Powerbook is already 4 years old (and only a 667 Mhz G4), I didn’t really need a new laptop right now. 95% of the time I use my G5 at home for development, and I can put up with a slow machine on the road since I don’t travel too much. The main reason I’m purchasing this one is to port Gaucho Software apps over to the Intel architecture. Overall, I think the switch to Intel was a smart move for Apple. Probably the biggest drawback of a switch from Power to Intel is leaving Altivec behind. This will be sorely missed by developers of graphics and mathematical-related research applications where SSE3 just doesn’t cut it. I’m still anxious to see how Seasonality performs after I port it, since it uses the Accelerate framework for doing image manipulation while generating the satellite image. Apple claims that they have already optimized the Accelerate framework for SSE3, so I’m interested to see how well it works.

On the plus side, Apple is gaining a platform that is more focused on laptops. The idea that I’ll be using a dual-processor laptop sometime next month is amazing to me. I never realized how much benefit having an additional CPU was until I got my G5. It’s really a huge gain to have a spare processor at your disposal while you are working, and it will be pretty cool to have this capability in a laptop. This brings mobile platforms one step closer to becoming a desktop replacement.

The other big advantage to switching to Intel is that Apple no longer has to put pressure on IBM to innovate on the Power architecture to keep up or surpass processors available for Wintel. The G5 is a great chip, and my Mac really does feel a lot faster than current PCs do, but IBM’s development was pretty slow when it comes to bumping the CPU Mhz. To take two and a half years for only a 700mhz speed improvement is just too long these days. Of course the dual core G5s are a great benefit, and really those Quad G5s Apple is offering right now are incredible machines, but I have to ask, where is the G5 platform going from here?

Returning to the MacBook Pro…it looks like a good upgrade from my point of view. Yes, the name sucks. I’m almost waiting for a company to come out with some kind of “Powerbook Pro” sticker to put on top of the MacBook Pro label beneath the LCD. And will the LCD really be as bright as the Cinema displays like Apple says it is? If so, I would be pretty happy, my Cinema display is so bright that for the first time I actually have to turn down the brightness while using a monitor. Having that extra brightness while using the MacBook outside will help immensely. How about battery life? Nowhere on Apple’s site do they mention it, but I would suspect it to be somewhere around 3.5 hours. Lots of questions I’m looking forward to finding definitive answers for sometime in February…

Update: Apple updated my order status. Estimated shipment is on or before February 15th.

Al Fasoldt on Seasonality…

Check out this excellent review by Al Fasoldt in The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)…

I’m a big fan of good weather-reporting software for years but never thought I’d find nirvana so easily. No weather program I’ve ever tried, for Windows, Linux or OS X, comes within a light year of Seasonality.

Happy 2006!

Hope everyone had a happy New Year. I’m just now getting caught up again after taking a couple of weeks off for the holidays. We went out to California to visit Katrina’s family for Christmas. After that we flew to Minnesota for a wedding on New Year’s Eve (my cousin got married). Overall it was a very enjoyable holiday season.

Family and friends gave me some great gifts this year, so that was pretty cool. Katrina bought me a Powershot G6 digital camera, which I have been wanting for a long time. I’ve already taken a few hundred pictures with it, and I’m pretty happy about the results so far. I’ll be heading down to the Detroit Auto Show next week, so I hope to get some good shots then. Though I haven’t posted any new pictures yet, I have a feeling my Flickr account will be more active now… 🙂

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