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Articles: 2011 July

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How to Audition for American Idol
Thursday, 2011 July 28 - 10:29 pm
KaitlynThis is my beautiful, smart, funny, and talented cousin Kaitlyn. We're actually first cousins, though separated by two marriages and twenty years in age.

Kaitlyn went to school with last year's American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery. After seeing Scotty win, she decided she wanted to have a go at Idol herself. So, I promised I would take her to audition this year.

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Posted by Ken in: lifemusictelevision

The End of the Space Shuttle Era
Thursday, 2011 July 28 - 8:42 pm
When I was 11 years old, I was utterly fascinated by everything to do with outer space. I'd grown up reading books about the Apollo moon missions, books about quasars, and anything else space-related I could get my hands on.

When I heard that the U.S. was building a highly advanced reusable spacecraft, a ship like nothing we'd ever seen before, my mind was blown. A spaceship with wings? That could fly back to earth and then be used again? It was like science fiction.

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Posted by Ken in: commentarylife

New Mac mini, MacBook Air
Tuesday, 2011 July 26 - 8:52 pm
Here's what's new.

Mac mini

Now starting at $100 cheaper ($599), the new Mac mini no longer has a built-in optical drive; instead, you can add an external $79 USB SuperDrive.

The CPU is now a 2.3 GHz Core i5 instead of a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo; this is a big speed increase. The graphics are Intel HD 3000 instead of an Nvidia GeForce 320M; pretty much a wash. A Thunderbolt port replaces the Mini DisplayPort. It still has 2GB of RAM; memory is slightly faster at 1333 MHz, and there's an SDXC slot instead of a standard SD card slot.

Instead of a $999 Server model, there's now an $799 model (with Lion Server available as a $49 download). Hardware-wise, it has a 2.5 GHz Core i5, up from a previous 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo. It has just a single 500 GB drive instead of the two that the previous server had; it has an AMD Radeon HD 6630M GPU, which is a significant bump.

In all, this is a big performance boost for less money than before. It's a nice improvement.

MacBook Air

The Air models are largely the same as before, except they have an Intel Core i5 instead of a Core 2 Duo. All the models use the Intel HD 3000 instead of an Nvidia GeForce 320M, and they have a Thunderbolt port to replace the Mini DisplayPort. So, this is mostly a CPU speed bump with the move to the Sandy Bridge architecture. The price lineup is unchanged.

All the new computers have Mac OS X Lion. Interestingly, these models support re-installation of the OS over the Internet, even if the hard drive has to be replaced; apparently there's Internet network boot code built into the firmware. Nice.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Current Events
Sunday, 2011 July 24 - 8:41 pm
Geez, I go away for a while, and all sorts of stuff happens. (I took my cousin Kaitlyn to audition for American Idol. More on that in a future post.)

Amy Winehouse was found dead at the age of 27. She was a terribly troubled person, but for the brief time she had it together, she put out some amazing music. It's just a shame.

The federal debt crisis is still unresolved, causing many to worry that the stock market will plummet this week. Me, I'm debating whether I should sell every stock that I own (and prepare to buy back in if/when the crisis is resolved). It's hard to know where to put money, though: precious metals are already overbought, and of course U.S. bonds are definitely out. Foreign bonds, maybe?

Apple released new models of the Macbook Air and the Mac mini. I'll have a brief summary of the new models in a separate post. Or I suppose you can just look it up elsewhere.

The Space Shuttle completed its final mission Thursday. As my Facebook friends know, my mom found the original drawing I did for the first Columbia launch in 1981, when I was 11 years old. Again, I'll have a separate post about that.

Anyway, I know, long time no blog. I'll try to catch up shortly.
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Posted by Ken in: commentarylife

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