Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet

Yesterday I had an overwhelming urge to buy something, since I had a pocket full of gift cards from Christmas. I landed upon the tablet pens at Future Shop and thought they might be fun to try. Given the history of items I have randomly purchased, I knew there was a very good chance I would be taking it back. Needless to say, I bought the Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet.

The pen itself is fascinating. It’s wireless. It has buttons. It doesn’t use batteries. How the hell? After some googling, I got the jist of how it works. From what I gather, there is a grid of wires inside the tablet pad. When the pen becomes close enough, the grid induces a current into a small winding inside the pen which is then stored in some capacitors momentarily. This magnetic coupling with the grid also provides all the tracking information when the pen is hovering above the pad. Pretty epic if you ask me.

So anyway, here is what I think.


– The pad feels very well made. The plastics are nice and everything is solid.
– It’s very sleek and pleasant to look at.
– The pen tracks exactly how I’d want it to track. It feels accurate.
– Pressure sensitivity works well in Fireworks and Photoshop.
– The pen is weighted well.
– Battery-less design is very nice.
– Three extra pen tips are included.


– There isn’t many options for the programmable pen buttons. The default settings are pretty good though.
– The “Bamboo Pen” does not have an eraser on the back of the pen, and yet the “Bamboo Pen and Touch” does. This doesn’t make sense. I want an eraser =(.
– The dual monitor support is flawed. When using multiple monitors, the horizontal tracking is faster than the vertical tracking and it impossible to draw properly with. An option to only track on one monitor is needed. I have to disable one of my monitors to use the pen properly. This is a big issue.
-The pen is a little too fat for my liking.

Overall, the pen is good. I’ve had a ton of fun trying to paint and draw with it for the past day. There is no way I will be taking it back. Here is a painting I did with it earlier today. I’m not exactly an artist, hopefully I can get better.

Windows Exposé!

There is a free application for Windows Vista and Windows 7 which implements the exposé functionality found in Mac OSX or a Compiz enabled Linux distro, and it does it very well. It’s called Switcher.

If you have Vista or 7, I strongly suggest you try Switcher out. It’s smooth, responsive, and extremely tweakable. It works good on dual monitors too.

Credit to criccio for the video.

You can download it here http://insentient.net/

School, Games, Computers

Lately I haven’t had much motivation to post about anything. I’m now settled in Edmonton for another year of school, and everything is going smoothly; however, Math 201 (Differential equations) and Math 209 (Calc. III) are freaking me out. The last few lectures pretty much everything has been going over my head.

Besides school, not much else is new. I bought NHL10 this week for my PS3, and it’s a pretty awesome game. There isn’t any major gameplay changes, but it feels like they made a ton of minor tweaks to enhance the realism. One popular “enhancement” I don’t like: fighting after the whistle. a) It slows down the games pace a lot, and b) my cpu team-mates like to take penalties during this time and it’s frustrating.

I also tried Resident Evil 5 and Need For Speed: Shift for the PC:

RE5 was a let down to me. The controls are very sluggish with a keyboard and mouse. It’s pretty pathetic that I have to use my Xbox 360 controller on a PC shooter in order to have decent controls. Other than controls, the game is beautiful and immersive.

Quite surprisingly, Need For Speed: Shift is an excellent game! I’ve only played a few races, but I’m impressed. The graphics are a little dated, but the driving mechanics have been overhauled to handle more like a racing simulator. The game just feels good.

Oh yeah, and I ordered a new printer and a new mouse from ncix.com:

The printer is a monochrome laser Brother HL2140. It is my third printer in less than a year. I’m quite happy with it, but then again I said that for the last two printers.
Pros: only cost $72.57; short power-on time; fast 23 ppm; relatively quiet; crisp text; cheap toner; compact; large paper tray
Cons: no duplexing ability (not even manual); included toner rated at 1000 pages while replacement toner is 1500 pages

As for the mouse, it’s a Razer Mamba! Right off the bat, let me just say I have no rational reasoning as to why I ordered this VERY expensive mouse. The last few months I have been looking for a new mouse since my Habu continued to have a double-clicking issue. I clicked through lists and lists of mice, and the Mamba is honestly the only one that caught my eye. I would have went with the Logitech MX Revolution but I HATE the free scrolling wheel ability (because it comes at the cost of the middle click). So anyway, the Mamba is amazing. Everything about it is pure overkill. I’ll do a mini-review in another post.

And one more thing. My friend Simon altered his website so his Facebook status would automatically update in his website description. Not to be left out, I found a widget that would do the same for me. It’s called StatusPress. I particularly like this version. It was kind of a pain the ass to find/make a Facebook RSS feed of my own status. This used to be very easy, it was right on the main page. Instead, I had to make a new Facebook account, add the real me as a friend, find the notes page and copy the rss link, then edit the rss link so it was for status instead of notes. Why Facebook, why…?

Huge Flash Drive

DataTraveler 300Well, someone said my posts are too long to bother reading, I’ll try and make them shorter and more to the point from now on. Yesterday I was thinking about how wicked it would be to have a huge flash drive. Today I read that Kingston is going to produce the DataTraveler 300 touting a 256 GB capacity. This excites me. It’s only a matter of time before this kind of high capacity flash memory makes it’s way to mp3 players and cell phones. *drools*                                                               Source: Physorg.com

Fixing My Mouse

I’ve owned the Microsoft|Razer Habu gaming mouse for about two years now. When I first received it, I discovered the firmware that shipped on the mouse was semi-corrupt and the Habu configurator would not recognize it. I had to flash it with a firmware from a different mouse with different software before I could change any of the DPI settings. It was a huge pain to say the least. Then, last year the USB cable frayed at the end that connects to the mouse and it would randomly disconnect when I moved. I fixed that. Soon after that the mouse began to double click when I would only be doing single clicks. After a quick Google search it seemed as though a lot of people had this issue. I took the mouse apart and cleaned the button mechanism with a contact cleaner. That did the trick. About five months ago the USB cable began to fray again, this time at the other end with the USB plug. About a month ago the ‘back’ button also began to double click when I would single click. Tonight I decided to fix these last few problems.

I ‘jimmied’ the cable like that with a tie-wrap back in university because I didn’t have time to properly fix it. Wrapping it like that basically prevented the frayed part from breaking any further.

This is the end that is inside the Habu. This is the part I fixed last year. I just cut the frayed part off and soldered it back together. That piece of rubber to the left was the trickiest part. It was molded onto the old broken part of the cable, so I carefully cut it off with a razor blade and then slid it back onto the fresh cable.

I took a USB cable from an old mp3 player with some proprietary end and cut it off. I soldered it back onto the Habu’s internal plug as you can see in the picture above. That clear plastic covering on the wires is heat-shrink. It works just as it sounds; slide it over exposed cable, heat it up, and it shrinks.

The new USB cable is slightly thicker than the old one, so that plastic rubber doesn’t fit completely around it but oh well.

I also fixed the ‘back’ button afterwords. I’ve invested so much time into this mouse I am rather attached to it. I’m looking for a new mouse but nothing seems worthy. I wouldn’t mind if someone gave me a Razer Mamba though.

The sad thing is, it took me far longer to make this post than it did to fix the mouse.

2009 Computer Build

A few weeks ago I finally ordered the parts to build a new desktop computer. Here is the specs:
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Quad Core 2.83GHZ 1333FSB 12MB
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 280 Superclocked 621MHZ 1024MB 2.268GHZ GDDR3
Power Supply: Corsair TX750W 750W ATX 12V 60A Active PFC 140MM Fan
Memory: OCZ Gold 6GB DDR3 3X2GB DDR3-1600 PC3-12800 CL 8-8-8-24 Triple Channel
Hard Drive: Western Digital WD1001FALS Caviar Black 1TB SATA2 7200RPM 4.2MS 32MB 3.5IN
Motherboard: ASUS P5Q3 P45 DDR3 3XPCI-E1 SATA RAID eSATA GBLAN Audio 1394A
Case: Antec 300 ATX 3X5.25 6X3.5INT Front USB & Audio
Monitor x2: Samsung SyncMaster 2343BWX 23IN 2048X1152 5ms 20000:1DC
Fans: Arctic Cooling Arctic Fan PWM 120MM 400-1500RPM 56.3CFM FDB 3/4PIN Speed Controller
TV Tuner: Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1600 MPEG NTSC ATSC QAM W/ Remote & IR Receiver

So far it has been running perfectly on Windows 7 Beta build 7264. Startup and shutdown speeds are around 20-30 seconds. I haven’t done any heavy “processing” yet, but I’ll just say the q9550 can extract a WinRAR archive much faster than my old desktop’s AMD 3500+. The “Windows Experience Index” rates my computer a 5.9 (not very good),  which is determined by the lowest subscore; in this case the Western Digital 1TB HDD. This makes me slightly sad, I bought the drive because it was touted as “the fastest 7200 rpm drive” a couple months ago.  All other major components were rated 7.3.

The Hauppauge TV tuner is pretty good. I spent about 3 hours making new cable wires all over my house (we have kind of a crazy setup with amplifiers and splitters and signal combiners) so that I could finally get a crisp image on the tuner. It’s not perfect though, my actual TV can pick up a much cleaner picture and sound, but this is adequate. The packaged WinTV feels like out dated piece of junk software, but luckily Windows Media Center does the trick for me. Now if only there was something good to watch on TV.

I have had some fun gaming thanks to the gtx280. I am about halfway through the Call of Duty 4 campaign. I can run the game on maximum settings at 2048×1150 resolution, and I get around 140fps on average. I gave FEAR 2 a try, and I can run this game on maximum settings also. I’m not sure of the fps rate but it’s darn smooth. I was expecting the game to flat out suck, but it’s actually pretty fun. Somehow, they still manage to scare the hell out of me every single time the creepy Grudge girl pops out. I also tried out Crysis Warhead. I’m not sure what to think of this game. I can run it on *almost* max settings and I get around 30 fps. The game looks pretty good, but nothing special. The single player game play is pretty intense but I’ve only just started playing. My favorite game right now is actually GRID, the racing game by CodeMasters. The game looks very good, and it runs smooth on maximum settings. I use an Xbox 360 controller to drive, it works well.

Enough with writing, I don’t feel like talking too much about it. It’s a computer. It does things computers do. We all know what new computers are like.

Here is a picture of my friend Benson playing on my old setup with my laptop. At this point I had given my old main computer to my dad, all I had was my laptop and a monitor for the PS3 (poor me..).

And here is my new comp all set up with my cleaner than usual room.

The pictures are kind of blurry because I took most of them without flash, I wanted to capture the color of my room.

I still have to post about:

-A kitchen renovation I did for my mom
-Minor reviews for some of these comp parts
-Another hiking trip in Waterton
-A project I am working on in the garage.

Hopefully they wont be as poorly done as this post. I’m just not motivated right now.

Mumble Makes Talking Cool Again

There is a new voip app on the block, and it’s name is Mumble. It’s very similar in purpose to Ventrilo and TeamSpeak. The reason I like it:

  • available on OSX, Windows, and Linux
  • open source
  • low resource
  • low latency
  • easy server-side setup
  • very useful headset setup wizard
  • clean non-flashy interface
  • minimizes to system tray (I know this is a minor feature, but very handy)

You can download it here: npopson.com/software/Mumble-1.1.8.exe or sourceforge

After installing Mumble, connecting to a server is a breeze. Just click the “Server” tab, then “Connect”. There is a long list of public servers, or you can click “Custom Server” and connect to mine. =). Address is npopson.servegame.com, port is default (64738) and don’t forget to pick yourself a username.


The server should be on 24/7 since I set it up as a Windows Service.  This isn’t a tried and true program, so I can’t promise it will be perfect, but what I see looks very good.