Revamping the Blog ~ www.zackbatist.com

•April 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

For the past week or two I’ve been tinkering around trying to improve this blog. So now I am hosting at Bluehost.com and I have my own domain www.zackbatist.com. I also chose a new theme. I will continue to improve the site in the coming weeks. I hope to blog regularly from now on.

Currently in Exam Mode

•April 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Exams are in full swing, but I wouldn’t know because I’m currently in Montreal. I’m studying at home because it’s a lot more comfortable (real food, comfy bed, no roommate, etc…) and there are so many distractions on rez.

But it’s not all fun and games here. I’ve been studying a lot lately. My first exam is on Saturday (Modern Britain) and I think I’m gonna do well on it. I’m gonna catch the train to Ottawa Saturday morning, and then write my exam at 2 pm. Then after my exam I’m gonna bus it back to Montreal. I’m lucky that I only live 2 hours away, and it’s an easy commute.

I’m sure I would not be nearly as productive if I was studying on rez. There’s constant alcohol, poker and tomfoolery at school, and nothing would get done.

One thing I don’t get is why everyone stresses out during exams. I don’t see the point. Everyone asks me “are you having a hard time studying?” and I don’t know why they assume this. I almost never freak out, and I don’t plan on freaking out before tests. Stressing out is a big waste of time, time that can be used reading your textbook or reviewing your notes. I think that as long as you manage your time well, you’ll be fine. Making lists of things you have to do, day by day, really helps.

Anyways, I’m off to bed. I have a big headache (family issues) :P

Mike Runtz is the Man!

•April 5, 2010 • 2 Comments

One of my classes this semester is Natural History. It’s a video class, so I don’t attend lectures, and I can watch them anytime. I wish I was in class though because my prof is Mike Runtz. He is one of the best profs I ever had.

Mike Runtz has the best lectures ever. In fact, as I write this post I’m reviewing a video for my exam. He is so enthusiastic and makes the best jokes ever. It’s easier to learn the material because of these jokes. Whenever I need to remember a fact, I just remember the joke attached to it. I also learn so many side facts and tidbits.

He always brings in interesting books as well as actual living and dead specimens. He uses comic strips to explain some of the lectures. He brings in stuffed porcupines and ducks and swans, and also live frogs and insects. In fact he wakes up extra early to catch the bugs and snakes for the class. He even brought roadkill into the class! Seriously, he brought in a porcupine that he found on the side of the road!

He does research in Algonquin park in Ottawa too. He writes many books on Ontario’s wildlife, and is world renowned in his field. He’s also one of the best nature photographers out there.

Prof. Runtz also had a TV show in the 1990s. It’s called Wild by Nature, and it’s really neat. It’s awesome to know that my professor is comparable to Bill Nye :P Click on the link to watch some of the episodes for free.

Earthquake Relief is Now a Trend

•April 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m sure everyone’s been noticing way more earthquakes recently than previously. Well, maybe not everyone, perhaps just people who use Twitter :P. This XKCD comic posted today (Monday April 5 2010) is so true and really made me laugh.

But I’m thinking that maybe the amount of earthquakes happening in the world is staying the same but we’re just noticing them more. It seems as though whenever a celebrity or politician or any other public figure donates a bunch of money to a impoverish country that has been demolished, all of their sins are absolved. People think “<so and so politician> is supporting sending troops to help out in Chile, it’s ok that he was involved in <insert huge scandal here>”. It’s like a new trend. It used to be adopting orphans from Africa or raising money to fight autism. Now it seems to be earthquakes.

I noticed that earthquakes that occurred in Japan and other Pacific islands don’t get as much attention as ones that happen in South America or the Caribbean. Does this have to do with the North American perceptions of that region? “Those South Americans have evil dictators who use evil drugs and are friends with evil drug lords. And now the earthquake made everything even worse!”. The Pacific islands and the Mediterranean (which are both extremely earthquake prone) don’t have that kind of image and don’t get the kind of attention that South America and the Caribbean does.

I also thought that this video from Bruno is relevant also:

What should you do about it? Continue to donate money and resources to aid these people if you want, just don’t expect all your previous negative actions to be cleared.

Don’t Get An iPad

•April 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Now don’t get me wrong when you read this post. I love Apple and its products. I own a MacBook and an iPhone. I just think that this product is not worth it. There are some Apple haters who always side against Apple, and I’m not one of them. I worked really hard on this post, so please comment, retweet and share it!

The iPad will be sold to consumers starting in a few hours, when Apple stores open. It is only available in the US tomorrow, and will come to Canada and other countries later in April.

I think it’s overrated and won’t revolutionize computing as Apple claims. I noticed that reviewers associated with tech blogs or magazines gave it decent ratings, but not much love. However, everyone who isn’t a techie is raving about it. Apple is appealing to this “consumer crowd”, and not to people who study technology and have deep insight.

Some things that I do not like about the iPad:

  1. No USB ports or SD card slots. I think that this is a huge deal because it gives Apple even further control. You can not use your own USB keyboard and must buy one from Apple (70$ US). You also must buy a case which does have USB ports and a SD card slot (30$ US). On a related note, you must also buy a VGA convertor in order to give presentations.
  2. Word, Excel, Powerpoint. You must buy these apps for 30$ if you plan on sharing or reading documents that were created with Microsoft Word, Powerpoint or Excel. Pages, Numbers and Keynote do not support the same format as their Microsoft counterparts, and once again the consumer must shell out. This is one of the reasons why I don’t see the iPad replacing laptops or netbooks any time soon.
  3. iBooks do not support other formats. This is a big issue as well, because Apple is leaning on making the iPad a leading ebook reader. People who buy an iPad after purchasing a Nook or Kindle must buy their books again. If the general public does not like this, I see it possible for Apple to change this. However, this is only the case if demand would be very high.
  4. No camera. Cameras are now a standard part to be shipped in every laptop, netbook and phone out there. There should be no excuse not to have one. But there is a space meant for a camera which will probably be present in the 2nd generation. this is just another ploy by Apple so they can get you to buy another one next year when they update it.
  5. No multitasking. I could see why it is so important for developers, because it could make some apps such as Last.fm or Google Latitude better. Also, if I wanted to write an essay and listen to music at the same time, or have eBuddy open while reading my email, that wouldn’t be possible.
  6. No GPS. This is something that I was not expecting. Without a GPS so many apps focused around location won’t be able to function on the iPad. Location is big right now, and Apple will be missing out.
  7. No Flash. This is something that Apple feels very strongly about. They hate Flash. But so many of the websites on the internet use this. However, there are some sites that are buckling under and converting to HTML5 in order to be iPad compatible. I don’t see Apple backing down on this issue.

These issues are some of the reasons why I will NOT get an iPad. Sure, I’ll try one out when one comes available, but I doubt I will spend any money on it.

I also found another product that might be a serious threat to the iPad. It is the wePad made by German manufacturer Neofonie. I know, the name does shout “iPad clone” but in reality it has everything that the iPad lacks. Here is a list of it’s specifications compared to the iPad.

This seems to have eveything that the iPad lacks, from a camera, to USB ports, to Flash to multitasking. It even runs on Android and has access to the Android Marketplace so it will have apps galore. The only downside I see is the battery life, which is 6 hours rather than 10 which Apple offers.

The launch date of the wePad is not known, as well as the price. However, it is expected to be less expensive than the iPad.

The iPad looks like it would be really good for consuming content, but not for producing it. The app store and iTunes built in really ease purchasing content. Piracy will be harder on the iPad because of restrictions in the iBook reader and iTunes. Also the lack of USB ports will make it harder for external content to be delivered to the device. But it’s only a matter of time before someone jailbreaks it.

I see it as a step in the master plan that Apple is orchestrating. They will eventually make a tablet that runs on something similar to Mac OS X, but it will be OS 11 (but using a different name). This new operating system will be touch based. Apps will also play a key role in it. And the whole thing will be tightly controlled by Apple. That belongs to a later post. But what I’m trying to say is that the iPad is a transition to another product that will appear 2 or three years down the line. Apple thinks in the long run, and markets its products accordingly.

Choo Choo!!

•April 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This month I’m gonna be travelling back and forth between Montreal and Ottawa a lot. I find it’s a lot easier to study for exams at home rather than at rez where there are so many distractions. I bought a 6 pack of train tickets, and it’s only a 2 hour train ride each way.

I’m on the train right now actually. Via is having some problems with their satellite internet provider, so for the meantime their on board wifi is free. A little while ago, the speed of the internet was really bad, but now I see major improvements. And it’ still free!

I really like the train more than the bus. The train has comfy seats, lots of leg room, drinks and food, internet and is safer. The bus has none of those qualities. The bus is 20$ cheaper, but I think it’s so worth it to pay a little extra for a lot more.

•March 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Today is the first day of passover and tonight is the first seder. A seder is a big dinner where the whole family goes over the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. There are many symbols involved in the seder, and it follows a particular order. In fact, seder is the hebrew word for order.

Participants are supposed to drink 4 glasses of wine at a seder, and usually kosher for passover wine is not very good (at least the wine that my family buys). So today I took a trip to the SAQ to buy a good bottle of wine for me to drink tonight. The only problem is that people will want to have some, and I’m gonna end up giving it all away. So tonight I’m gonna drink it all myself. No sharing.

I’m a bit concerned about timing. We’re gonna sit down at the table at 7 pm, which probably means we’ll start at 7:30 lol. Then we might finish at midnight or 1 am. I guess I’ll bring my iPhone to amuse myself with. Tomorrow night we’re gonna start at around 8, but it’s at my house so we have stuff to do.

Happy passover everyone!

 
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