Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year 2010

Наша ёлка.My favorite and biggest family holiday of the year is behind us, yet again. Year after year, decade after decade.

Папа и Мама.This time Lina, for the first time ever was not celebrating it with us. She greeted the new year with Lenny and his family.

Папа и тётя Лиля.Before the New Year we ate a god knows how many course dinner — my mom can never help herself and cook a little. Talked about the last year and the last decade1. The last decade probably had the largest number of changes that affected my life the most — meeting my wife being the biggest of them all.

Даня и Алёна.It was a good year, a good decade and I really hope our family can enjoy many more.

  1. Yes, I know that the actual decade is not yet over, but for the sake of turning over 2 digits, it is. []
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shublik Videos

Here’s are 3 shorts clips with Shublik being Shublik, that I promised to post earlier this week.

Here he’s playing with a birthday balloon. First couple of days he was terrified of it and would hide at a first sight of the balloon. He kept trying to attack the thread, the balloon would get pulled down, bounce back up and make a sound hitting the ceiling. He eventually got used to it and kept running around the apartment with a thread in his teeth. One day we found the balloon stuck under our bed. How? I don’t know.


Normal cats are usually pretty afraid of the vacuum cleaners. This one is always trying to attack ours. He doesn’t mind being vacuumed either.

And this is just Shublik running after his favorite toy — a feather, or rather what’s left of it. He finds it more fun to rip the feather out and run after a little red thing that’s left — I guess it’s more challenging that way. Feather is too big and too easy to catch.
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dell U2410 Monitor

Yesterday I had a new monitor delivered from Dell. I wanted to get an IPS monitor for some time and Dell had just about the best deal around for the value. And on top of that it was on sale at $499, down from the original $599.

Dell U2410, hooked up. Note the sound bar on the bottom.I hooked it up yesterday and I’m impressed. The size itself is a nice upgrade from the old 19 incher. 24 inch wide screen can fit a lot of stuff. I got somewhat used to my monitors at work, so the home one started get really annoying. However compared to most, this one runs at a native resolution of 1920 x 1200, as opposed to the usual 1080. Not only do I get much more space horizontally, I get some more vertically as well.

Box. Before opening.The stand is equally superior. It can be tilted vertically as well as horizontally. Height is adjustable and it can be flipped into portrait mode if one desires. It also has a built-in card reader, multitude of ports and luckily for me had the same very mount for a Dell sound bar that my ancient 15″ one had. So I threw out my clunky speakers and attached the sound bar from the 15 incher, which made for a nice and clean work space. I don’t listen to anything that would require high end speakers here anyway, so this setup is more than adequate.

Assembled.But of course the best feature is the color range. This is where the difference between IPS and TN panels becomes apparent. You see, I personally have a lot of personal sites and themes set in orange tones, to match Rubinary. By using only TN monitors I would say that they are close to the same color everywhere. But once I started opening the same things on this monitor I was amazed by how many variations of orange I actually have. However it can easily mimic sRGB color space with a press of a button when I design something for Web, giving me an accurate view of what the majority of the people would see.

Besides that it sports and near perfect 178 degree viewing angle and a very decent response time of 6ms for an IPS panel. Any photographer who needs accurate color representation would be happy with this purchase. I know I am.
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Computer Saga

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB DDR3 1600 RAM.As you might remember I ordered a new computer from Dell on December 10th, 2009. And as some of you might know, I have yet to get anything. Dell is at its lowest as far as I can remember. My ordered has been delayed 5 times. I have multiple conversations with rude customer support people who barely speak any English and who you have to stay on hold for for 30 minutes to get to. They provide no information claiming that my computer is about to ship, only for me to get an email saying that my order has been delayed yet again.

Western Digital RE3 1TB, 7200 RPM, 32MB cache, SATA 3.0Gb/s internal hard drive.I would’ve canceled long ago, but my order was not an emergency and none of the competitors could beat the price point. But waiting forever and being treated poorly by customer support — I just couldn’t take that anymore. Continue Reading
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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shublik & Tangerine

Chublya trying to smell a tangerine.Our Shublik runs around with wide open-eyes, helping and inspecting everything that gets into his sight.

However tangerines, which he keeps trying to smell every time he seems them, have an interesting effect on him. The closer he gets the more squirted his eyes get. It’s quite hilarious to see in person.

It also reminds me of his other funny reaction. When he does something he’s not supposed to do and he knows it, one of us grabs a green bottle with water that we keep around for these occasions to spray him with water. Every time he spots that bottle he starts to get an even more funny tick in one of his eyes.
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

California Road Trip

California trip plan diagram.We have booked1 yet another one of our mega-road-trips. This one is going to be our first official2 visit to California. California is where we’ll spend 90% of our time and about 10% we’re going to spend in a neighboring Nevada. We spent several days looking for the best route, picking out the hotels and lodges and reserving3 everything.

On early morning of Saturday, April 24th, we fly4 out from JFK to Los Angeles. We rent5 a car at the airport and proceed to check out the city and its neighborhoods. Then we drive out east in the direction of Joshua Tree National Park and spend our first night6 in a hotel located in an adjacent town of Yucca Vallley. Continue Reading

  1. Full diagram of our route is available. Blue pins stand for the places where we’re spending a night and green ones for our planned destinations. Full driving map is also available via Google Maps. []
  2. Four of us. Alena and I have changed planes several times in CA, but that doesn’t really count. My parents have been to California before. []
  3. All reservation prices in the list below include the tax. []
  4. JetBlue, non stop flights, $269 per person, round trip + $15 insurance per person. []
  5. Fox Rent a Car, $478 from LAX to SFO, Jeep Patriot or similar. []
  6. Best Western, $154 total, 2 rooms with king size beds. []
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Студзеньская Нядзеля

Dell Studio 17 Laptop.Сегодня воскресенье. За окном пасмурно и даже немного дождливо. Последние пару дней на улице держится плюсовая температура, и от этого возникает обманчивое ощущение того, что весна уже на носу. Я думаю, февраль как обычно будет самым холодным месяцем, так что до весны еще далековато. Я вот недавно переводила Дане названия зимних месяцев на белорусский — Снежань, Студзень и Люты. По-моему, названия даны “в яблочко”. )

Сейчас мы стираем. Я как всегда оттягивала это дело донельзя, и вот сегодня это самое “нельзя уже не стирать больше” наступило. Вещи закинуты в стиральные машинки, и через 25 минут мы пойдём и перекинем их в сушку. Каждый раз когда мы стираем я убеждаюсь, что сама работа оказывается легче чем её рисует моё богатое воображение (хотя всё равно пару часов занимает процедура). )

"The Prince of Tides" by Pat Conroy.На прошлой неделе мне подняли-таки зарплату на работе. Повышение небольшое — 6%, но всё равно лучше чем ничего. Хотя бы это компенсирует возросшие расходы на страховку и проезд. Еще в пятницу Рон уведомил менеджмент о том, что через 2 недели он увольняется и переходит на гораздо более высокооплачиваемую работу. Что ж, получать он будет (с учётом бонуса) почти на 100% больше чем в нашей компании, да и повышение по должности у него получилось очень хорошее. Это подтверждение того, что рынок труда становится лучше.

Продолжаю свою писанину уже в понедельник (в воскресенье времени и сил не хватило дописать). Continue Reading
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Home Workspace

My home workspace setup.You can finally congratulate me. The upgrade to my home workspace is complete — new computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse and general clean up. And yes, I finally did get my computer. Not the way I planned it originally, but much better in the end.

Dell Studio XPS 8000.Here are the final specs of the machine — Dell Studio XPS 8000.
  • 2.80GHz Intel Core i7-860
  • 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws 1600MHz1 DDR3 SDRAM — 4×2GB
  • 1TB Western Digital RE3 32MB Cache SATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
  • 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 SATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
  • nVidia GeForce GTS240 1024MB GDDR3
  • 16x DVD+/-RW w/ Double Layer Write
  • 19-in-1 Media Card Reader

And that goes in conjunction with:
  • Dell UltraSharp U2410 24 inch IPS Panel Widescreen Monitor
  • Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution Keyboard & Mouse
  • Window 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Dell AS500 Sound Bar2

Inside the case -- not a lot of room for anything else.When I received my computer I had a lot of plans for it. I wanted to do a number of upgrades and modification, but I also wanted to gage how much of an effect those changes are having. For that I decided to use a rather simple benchmarking applicaiton — Geekbench.

Logitech MX Revolution mouse.My first 3 runs yielded an average result of 7071. After that I updated BIOS to a new version, enabled a bunch of BIOS features3, upgraded RAM and did a fresh install of Windows4. The top benchmarking score after these updates was 88085 with an average score slightly below 8800 mark. When I run the same benchmark after installing an antivirus, keyboard control application, a pair of IM clients, adding several gadgets to the desktop and so on I get consistent scores of 8650 and higher.

Ports on the top. Continent way to hook in a USB key without having everything else on the key chain hang in the air.Needless to say I’m very happy with the setup and performance. Photoshop CS4 starts up in under 3 seconds. Everything else starts up even faster. Also I can’t say how happy I am to finally move to a widescreen. Everything is just so much easier and more efficient. Photo editing is great as well with so much screen real estate.

Old vs New. Old Gen 3 XPS next to a new Studio XPS 8000.And on top of that I was able to get rid of a million useless cradles and accessories plaguing my work space. The card reader is built right into the computer, speakers are replaced with a sound bar and mouse and keyboard no longer need an RF receiver on the desk, just a simple bluetooth dongle in the back of the computer.

I also will say that I’m very happy with Windows 7. Never had the urge to try Vista, so I stuck with XP for many years. I’m glad I made the jump now.

  1. Because of Dell BIOS limitations RAM runs at 1333MHz. Mobo upgrade? []
  2. This one can be considered an antique, but it’s a nice space saver. []
  3. Dell, by mistake, has left several key performance CPU features on disabled. []
  4. I used a Dell CD that was included with the computer and was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s a clean version of Windows, without Dell “features”. []
  5. My score and how it compares to others. []
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