Trillian 5

I recently (yesterday) discovered the Trillian 5 beta for Windows. Immediately I noticed, from the tiny thumbnail of a screenshot, that it didn’t look like a pile of vomit splashed on my computer screen, amiss to previous Trillian outings. Okay maybe that is a little harsh, all I know is I hated Trillian.

For those not born on the internet, Trillian, much like Pidgin, Digsby, and Miranda, is a universal IM/social media client that allows you to connect with MSN, AIM, email, Facebook, and Twitter among many other services all from one application on your computer.

Why Trillian 5 is Good

  1. The GUI looks exceptional.
  2. The tonal audio is pleasing.
  3. It has Skype control.
  4. Multi-login – I can be logged into Trillian on my BlackBerry, iPod, laptop, and desktop at the same time. Every message can appear on every device.
  5. Customizable interface.
  6. No ads.
  7. Can dock contact list to edge of screen with drag and drop.

Why Trillian 5 isn’t Perfect

  1. If I am logged into several places, I receive “unread” messages on every single device, even if I read them on something else.
  2. The pop-out menus when hovering over contacts and mail feels a little clumsy and loads a little slow. Optimization could probably cure this.
  3. As far as I can tell, there isn’t an option to disable notifications from certain services.
  4. It would be nice to be able to bookmark specific locations in conversations.
  5. Lacking a video chat option for Live Messenger.
  6. The Skype client needs to run in the background for Trillian to support it. Also, video calls open up a Skype client window. Any Skype support at all is still pretty good.
Trillian 5 Contact List and Conversation Window
Trillian 5 Contact List and Conversation Window
Trillian 5 Pop-out menu
Trillian 5 Pop-out menu

Update: I’m not sure why really, but I switched back to using Digsby. Trillian didn’t feel right for me.

Expensive Electronics I Hate

1. BlackBerry Bold 9000 and BlackBerry Bold 9700

I went through two Bold 9000’s. The trackball on both of them ended up becoming completely unusable. My friend also owned a 9000 (owns a new one now) – the standby button broke and then later on the trackball went as well. My dad also had a 9000 work phone – the trackball went on it. I thought that the Bold 9700 would remedy my issue, since it does away with the trackball. Well, the tracking is no longer an issue, but after a couple months of use my screen randomly goes all effed up; that’s the only way I can describe it – here’s an image. On the other hand, I’ve owned an iPod Touch 2g since before my first BlackBerry, and I have never had an issue with it, and the App Store completely destroys BlackBerry App World. Needless to say, I plan on getting an iPhone 4 in the coming months.

2. Razer Mamba

Before I purchased this $160 mouse I read countless consumer and professional reviews, all of which stated this mouse was the second (first) coming of Jesus Christ, more or less. It’s an OK mouse, but I wouldn’t pay more than $50 for it. When in wireless mode, the battery lasts about 5 hours. Even in wired mode, I occasionally (not often) experience a complete loss of mouse movement, and I need to unplug the mouse and plug it back in – it’s a software issue, not a USB cable or power issue. Speaking of software, the Razer control panel is a piece of garbage. Profile management is completely broken; in order to add a profile I ended up having to add a text entry in one of the .ini files. After having more than one profile, I realized the auto-switch upon loading a game rarely works, and if it does work it doesn’t auto-switch back when the game is closed. The macro functionality doesn’t work either, at all. I can’t describe how utterly useless this Razer control panel is. What I can do is change what every button does, change the dpi and scroll sensitivity, polling rates, and lighting. There is an on-the-fly display for the DPI settings; unfortunately, it doesn’t overlay on top of DirectShow – i.e. you can’t see it while playing any games. The button location for DPI changing is at the top left of the mouse. Half of the time I find myself left clicking while I stretch my index finger over the top to change the DPI settings, even after months of practice. On my old Habu, the DPI buttons were behind the scroll wheel – a perfect fricking location. On top of all that, when I restart my computer the DPI setting defaults back to 5600 DPI. That being said, the mouse looks awesome, and I am convinced most reviewers are deceived by the eye candy and the amount of money they blew on it. No one wants to admit they wasted money. Please don’t buy this mouse.

3. Nintendo Wii

Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out and I wanted it bad. I bought a Wii, a couple controllers, and Brawl. It was an impulse purchase. After a month of Brawl I was bored. I ordered a mod chip – and I did enjoy installing it and troubleshooting my problems – probably the most fun I’ve had with my Wii. Anyway, I downloaded loads of games, the only one I liked was Super Mario Galaxy. A couple months ago my friend told me about how he had all his Wii games running off of an external hard drive. I bought a new external to do the same for my Wii. I downloaded loads of games again, about 25 in total. I thoroughly enjoyed New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I also enjoyed Super Mario Galaxy 2, although I haven’t played very much of it. All the games I have downloaded are considered the “best of the best”, or “crem de la crem” for you Frenchies out there, and I like about 4/25 of them. Needless to say, the Wii sucks because almost all of the games suck, really, really bad.

4. TI-83 Plus

I can’t believe high schools force students to buy these over priced, out dated, massive pieces of shit. For $100 you get a 96×64 monochrome screen, a 6MHz processor, 512KB of ROM (of which about 350KB are used by the OS), and I think they might give you 4 AAA batteries in the box if you’re lucky. Hell, if you already own an iPod Touch or iPhone you can get a virtual TI-83 from the App Store. For $220 the Touch will get you a 480×320 LCD screen, 833 MHz processor, 256MB of DRAM, 8GB of storage, internal Lion battery, and all the other shenanigans like Wifi and Bluetooth. Oh, and it comes with a cable to connect it to your computer – you have to order one separately for the TI-83.

Downloading

I am sometimes asked where I download stuff, so here are my favorite websites that aggregate content from all over the web.

Newly Released Movies and TV Shows
rlslog.net

This is probably my favorite site to visit. It’s laid out in a blog type format and the commenters of each post provide the links to the content. Although it sounds very unsafe, in my experience I have never had a problem. I recommend looking for megaupload.com or hotfile.com urls – they are popular and have high bandwidth rates. Being in the Mountain time zone, I can almost always watch an entire TV show before it even airs on local TV.

Live TV Shows and Events
atdhe.net

This is hands-down the best place to find live TV streaming of sporting events. I use it to watch live hockey, football, and MMA fighting – oh man I am into violent sports.

Educational Text and Solutions
pdf-search-engine.com

I find this website useful when looking for educational material during school. It’s a helpful study aid.

Everything and Anything Else
Warez-bb.org
ForumW.org

These websites are laid out in a forum format. The downside is you need register (totally free of course) in order to search, view and comment on the posts. Similar to rlslog.net, I mainly look for megaupload.com [MU] or hotfile.com [HF] links. Unlike rlslog.net, the original poster provides the links, and the commenters merely provide a “Thanks”, “Links are broken”, or “teh crack doesnt work”.

Download Clients
JDownloader

CryptLoad

If the content is large, the links are split into several WinRAR parts. For this, I use either JDownloader or CryptLoad – they are able to automate the download process and enter in passphrases for popular download sites like megaupload.com, hotfile.com, and rapidshare.com.

Last Resort
Torrentz.com
Mininova.org
isoHunt.com

If I can’t find what I am looking for through direct links, I resort to p2p (peer to peer) downloading – torrents. My favorite site to find torrents is Torrentz.com since it aggregates links from several other torrent sites. uTorrent is the best client to download with. If the download is very large (4GB+), torrents are usually a better alternative compared to direct links because there is less of a chance the torrent will die, and most direct download sites have bandwidth restrictions. I don’t regularly use torrents because new content has a low seeder-to-leecher ratio (slow download). Also, my ISP knows something is up if my upload bandwidth is through the roof.

Firefox Search Tweak

Currently, if you type a search string into the Firefox URL bar, it will do a Google “I’m Feeling Lucky” search. If you want to change it to do a normal Google search (like Chrome does), all you need to do is:

  • Go to about:config in the URL bar
  • Locate keyword.url with the filter search
  • Change the string value to http://www.google.com/search?q=

That’s it.

AutoHotKey

AutoHotKey is a free little program I recently discovered. The name is pretty self explanatory. For lack of motivation, I’m going to copy and paste from the website:

“AutoHotKey is a free, open-source utility for Windows. With it, you can:

  • Automate almost anything by sending keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can write a mouse or keyboard macro by hand or use the macro recorder.
  • Create hotkeys for keyboard, joystick, and mouse. Virtually any key, button, or combination can become a hotkey.
  • Expand abbreviations as you type them. For example, typing “btw” can automatically produce “by the way”.
  • Create custom data-entry forms, user interfaces, and menu bars. See GUI for details.
  • Remap keys and buttons on your keyboard, joystick, and mouse.
  • Respond to signals from hand-held remote controls via the WinLIRC client script.
  • Run existing AutoIt v2 scripts and enhance them with new capabilities.
  • Convert any script into an EXE file that can be run on computers that don’t have AutoHotkey installed.”

http://www.autohotkey.com/
Continue reading AutoHotKey

Blog Publishing from Word

I wasn’t aware I could publish directly from Office/Word. Pretty cool. I’m going to test some things. I happen to be using Office 2010, but I’m pretty sure the functionality is similar in Office 07.

Pictures:

How about colors?

How about gradient colors?

(Edit: Looks like gradient colors don’t work)

Bold text.

Italicized text.

How

about

different

sizes?

(Edit: It looks like it screws up the formatting if the fonts are too big)

Line Breaks:

(Edit: I guess they do not publish. On a side note it is still nearly impossible to remove a line break in Office 2010. Disappointing…)

  1. Number lists
  2. Second
    1. More
      1. More

(Edit: It should read 2. a. i. (not 2. 1. 1.). Numbered lists have limited functionality)

  • Bullet lists
    • Cool
      • More
        • More
  • Second
    • More
    • More
    • More
  • Third
  • More

Plots:

3D Plots:

Tables:

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4
Row 2
Row 3
Row 4
Row 5

(Edit: The table is “expanded” vertically compared to the original version. I guess this would be a good time to try the screenshot functionality)

Screenshot:

Shapes:

(Edit: Mmm pretty)

Equations:

(Edit: Well, it looks like equations won’t publish. Frick!)

How about right justification?

How about center justification?

Highlighted text

(Edit: Okay, it doesn’t look THAT awful)

How about different fonts? (Engravers MT)

Not bad, not bad. The limitations could be due to the functionality of my WordPress theme.

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.

Pros

– 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.

Cons

– 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.