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Time for a Breather

May 13, 2012 Leave a comment

So I finally finished this exhausting school year, and I’m seriously relieved. I’ve officially accrued all the grades that will actually initially be on my medical school application later this summer, so now all I really need to worry about is actually getting that done.

I’m home right now, and I noticed that instead of the crappy 4:3 monitor my mom had hooked up to the old Mac Mini before, we now have a gorgeous Aluminum Apple 23″ Cinema Display (a few generations old). I have the wonderful 27″ Apple Thunderbolt Display back at school, but this thing just makes me wonder why they ever changed the design. The brushed aluminum framing the matte screen just screams professionalism a lot more than the glossy, black-bordered “pretty” ATD. Anyway, I of course hooked up the display to my 11″ MacBook Air (currently my only computer) and it’s working pretty well!

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I recently picked up a new hobby – one that is, in my opinion, a lot more productive, and probably more healthy than my previous obsession to new computers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still tightly following general tech rumors, especially Apple stuff (I would like to switch to a single 13″ MBP this year, if possible). I took that money I made a while back from selling my 17″ MacBook Pro and applied it to buying a camera. A Nikon D7000 to be precise, and then burned some more money on an MB-D11 battery grip, a Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX, a Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR. and a Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR Micro. I also have the new Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G on preorder (it should be out at the end of this month, but I’m not holding my breath. For the past month or so, all of my internet time has been devoted to researching and learning (and lusting) about photography technique and gear. In the coming months, I may just start posting photos to this blog (or I might start a different one just for photos). Oh, I also spent a hefty chunk of cash on a new Ona The Union Street camera bag. It was expensive, but it’s also the only messenger-style camera bag that I could find that also fit a laptop AND didn’t look like a turtle shell.
Here’s my gear (I have Betty’s 18-55mm VR kit lens from her D3100 on my body right now, since she snatched up the 35mm for some sharper shots. That’s fine with me since the 18mm end of the kit lens is the only access I have to wide-angle right now.)
I’d like to point out that the HB-36 lens hood of the 70-300mm and the LC-62 lens cap of the 105mm are both 3rd party/knockoffs. When I bought these lenses off of Craigslist, I didn’t really know much at all, so I overlooked this. I did get good prices on the lenses, so I don’t really want to complain, but the seller probably could have mentioned that to me. The 3rd party lens cap isn’t bothering me too much (same design as Nikon ones, but without a logo), but the lens hood is very stiff and difficult to remove and put on. I’m tempted to spend the $15-20 to replace it. I did buy a Nikon NC clear filter for the 105mm and the 70-300mm came with a Hoya UV filter, but I will probably also buy two 52mm NC clear filters for the 35mm and the 18-55mm kit lens, just for protection.
Here’s a shot of my 35mm taken with a 50mm f/1.4G.
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Aaaand, here’s the camera bag:
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I’m not going to bother with any unboxing pics, since the boxes were not really interesting at all.
Categories: Discussion, Personal

A New Beginning?

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

So after a rather long, unannounced hiatus, I’ve decided I’m going to try and start blogging again. I may have brought up last year that I planned on expanding into a new blog, with less of a focus on tech, and more of a broad overview, but I’ve decided to simply do that within this current blog. I mean, how many people will actually care eh? Haha. I’ll probably start mixing in stuff about my life pretty abruptly, and I won’t really take any time to fill in any background info. Hopefully the few who do read won’t really care. I don’t care. This blog is for me anyway.

Anyway, I’d first like to apologize for not posting much last semester. School was absolute hell. Four jobs along with twenty academic units almost killed me. Physically. Seriously. This semester won’t really be any easier (fewer academic units, but still four jobs, three of which will likely take more time). I still have Quantitative Physiology, which, incidentally, is already becoming a huge pain in my ass. I already have an annoying lab assignment to finish, but thankfully it isn’t due for about a week. As of now, I’m just really thankful that the semester hasn’t really picked up just yet. I’m still burned out from last semester despite having winter break to recuperate, and although I’ve only been back for maybe four days, I feel like I’ve been chugging along for a month now. I’m tired. Luckily, I have my wonderful girlfriend keeping me company, and I can take my temporarily free evenings to relax and (re)watch Breaking Bad with her (awesome show by the way).

Speaking of Breaking Bad: I caught up this winter break, and I can agree with all the critics; Breaking Bad really is one of the greatest TV shows of all time. The acting, writing, and filming are all superb, and the ending of season 4 seriously left me salivating for more. I figured since my girlfriend hadn’t watched it yet, this should be our next endeavor. Just for reference, my girlfriend and I have watched (and kept up with) Scrubs (twice), Supernatural, How I Met Your Mother, and will soon be there with Breaking Bad as well. I also watch Dexter myself. I will be talking about these TV shows every once in a while.

Some interesting stuff. I’ve been eyeing a SATA III 256 GB SSD now (to replace the 128 GB Toshiba that came stock with my MBP), and over break, after a good two-three weeks of just eyeballing Slickdeals, I was down to two choices: a Crucial M4, or a Samsung 830. I ended up picking up a “like-new” Crucial M4 off of a seller on Amazon. The drive was still in its anti-static packaging, the seller had merely taken it out of the box, which he incidentally didn’t have either. Who cares. I got the drive for about $310 (including shipping), which put the drive at $1.21/GB. In contrast, the cheapest Samsung 830 I’ve seen is about $370 (ignoring the Microcenter price error a couple months back at $229), or about $1.45/GB. Either way, both drives seem fairly reliable, with the M4 having a longer track record. Note: at the time of my ordering the drive, the 5200 hour bug was already patched with the 0309 firmware. The Samsung 830 seems to bench a little bit better than the M4, likely due to the Samsung Toggle Mode NAND, but in real-world use, I wouldn’t see any noticeable difference.

Aaaanyway, I picked up the drive yesterday (finally), after the drive was actually delivered on Tuesday. Thank the campus mailroom for being super bogged down with students rushing in and ordering textbooks. The drive had 0009 firmware, so the first thing I did was burn the firmware ISO to a CD and update the drive. This obviously involved a little hackery, as I had to take out my OptiBay to put the ODD back in (Macs won’t boot from external optical disc drives). After the firmware was updated, I put the 160 GB Intel X25-M into the OptiBay, and the M4 into the regular bay (which has SATA III). The rest was a breeze (well.. it all was), with a quick ~20 minute OS X installation, then approximately ~1 hour of me clean installing my software. Yeah, I skipped out on the Time Machine restore, since I figured it was time for clean system, after having tested many beta Lion builds on the previous drive. As of now, the M4 has been running great, so that’s that. I’ll update later if anything comes up. I’m not really seeing any performance difference, but I also have yet to do any large transfers. No beach balls at all, though, which I would see maybe once a day on the Toshiba.

Over Winter Break, I also beat The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, the former of which sparked interest in the latter. I’m currently playing Phantom Hourglass (if I can find time to play during the school year), and I do still need to get to numerous other games backed up in my Steam account (Arkham City, LIMBO, Crysis, and plenty more…). I also bought Rayman Origins for $20 (actually $10, considering I paid $10 for a $20 TRU voucher, which I used for the game) over break, and only managed to play it for about 10 minutes.

This post is starting to sound a little stupid, but really, I haven’t posted for approximately 3 months. I have so much backed up stuff in my mind. I’ll stop for now, but I’ll eventually spit out whatever I feel necessary. With this blog kind of changing its tone, I will still keep reviews and tech tips fairly separate from the more personal posts. Hopefully, it won’t be too messy.