Archive for January, 2005


Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

Time to celebrate. Celebrate a new PowerBook in an old case. Today the order I placed at Fastmac did arrive. I ordered two things: a 2x SuperDrive (in non-Apple lingo: a DVD burner) and a processor upgrade for my Pismo PowerBook.

2x SuperDrive: This drive is advertized as an upgrade for PowerBook G3 laptops like mine. This is correct in so far as the drive works flawlessly in my Pismo, and that FastMac is providing a detailed installation manual for putting this into a Pismo. However, the front bezel does not match the port into which the drive is fitted – it is too small. That means that there is a small gap of about 1 to 3 milimeters around the front of the drive. Through this gap dust and whatnot can enter the case of my PowerBook. Booo, FastMac, booo! I will see if I can find a fix for this. This doesn’t really hamper the functionality, but it doesn’t look good and facilitates the entry of unwanted substances into my dear PowerBook.

Processor Upgrade: I chose the best they have: the Motorola G4 7410 running at 550 MHz, with 1 Megabyte of L2 Cache (2.5:1). Installation was easy, at least if you have opened a Pismo before. ;) They offer three modes of delivery, two of which include sending your old processor board to them, which they will replace with a new one, and then send back to you. I chose the other mode; they send a new processor board to my address and I send back the old one. Since I had to place the order in the US I chose this option, because sending stuff back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean is risky and takes a lot of time.

I am really happy with the result of this upgrade. The PowerBook is a lot faster now. I timed the ripping of an MP3 from an audio CD file before and after the processor upgrade (both with the new drive). Before it took 2:06 minutes, after the upgrade it took … 57 seconds!! That is a speed increase of more than 120% in a real world app! I am still impressed. But there is even more good news.
Two things bothered me before I decided to purchase this upgrade:

  1. I was not able to play DV files in iMovie fluently. To be able to do this is definitely important when I am presenting video clips that I recorded for my research project. The last time I made a presentation containing video clips, for example, there was too much stutter to show the small movements of people that are most important to my analysis.
  2. I was not able to play Divx or Xvid encoded movies of a good quality on my Pismo, especially if the video file is on an optical disc. Too much stutter. Now, I can use my PowerBook as a Divx, Xvid etc. player, connect it to a TV or projector and watch movies without any stutter.

This is soo good. Working in the Finder, starting applications and everything else is faster too. A great upgrade. For me, it was worth the cost: US$ 550.89 for drive and processor including shipping. (I got a rebate of US$ 20 for pointing out a problem with their online store.) That is € 411.60. The only bad thing is the not-exactly-fitting case of the disc drive and that the German customs got their hands on the delivery. It took them one week to process it and I had to pay a € 65.86 customs fee (16% of the price). All in all a reasonable price to enable my Pismo to do the things that I really need it to do and nicely accelerate everything else. Being able to burn CDs and DVDs is great too. (My old DVD drive was almost completely broken.) Another great side effect: saving resources, and prolonging the use of electronic equipment is better for the environment than always buying the latest and greatest. My trusty Pismo rocks and the trees are happy too!

Slow beauty.

Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

Surprisingly, I had the opportunity to watch Girl with a Pearl Earring in a movie theater this week – would have thought that this chance has passed by. I did like the movie. Vermeer’s pictures are beautiful, the colors used for painting, the food, and the linen are beautiful, and, of course, Scarlett Johansson is exquisit. This is not an action film, the music is not adding much to the drama either (at least I did not notice that), so you have to rely on your eyes and your patience for the story to unfold. If you can do that, you will most likely like this movie. I did. Oh, I already said so. Well, it’s true.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Conference getting closer.

Thursday, January 20th, 2005

Today, Sergej has finished the website for our upcoming conference Negotiating Urban Conflicts. The conference will take place in Darmstadt, April 7th-9th. Yours truly will talk about Pacification by Design: An Ethnography of Normalization Techniques.

(Yes, the html has been generated by Dreamweaver and there are lots of ugly font tags – if I find some spare time, we’ll see if we can fix this.)

Oh, what a beautiful movie.

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

This is not the title of one of my favorite songs by Ray Charles. But it could be said about this movie. Lars, Sybille, and yours truly enjoyed watching the story of Ray Charles’ life unfold on the screen. Listening to the great musician and watching how and where those songs were created and performed makes me wonder why I have never taken the opportunity to go to a concert of the recently deceased Ray Charles. This is not an outstanding movie, but it is very decently made, Jamie Foxx’ performance is great, and the music makes it a definite recommendation for everyone who doesn’t hate Jazz.
Ah, almost forgot it: the title is another quiz. The first person who guesses the title of the song that I hint at will be invited to a free beverage!
IMBd entry | Trailer

Singing the hymn.

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

What would life in Darmstadt be without the 603qm? A bleak and frustrating experience. This Sunday, for example, we enjoyed the Österreichspätstück. The employees of the 603 served Austrian food, and they even created a mountainscape out of cardboard to adorn part of the interior. Lars and I spent a happy afternoon there, lounging, listening to good and unobtrusive tracks, looking at the cardboard alps, and scrutinizing other customers – as every sociologist who is sincere about his or her calling has to.

Less drama than expected.

Saturday, January 8th, 2005

When visiting Kerstin in December we watched Garden State in a movie theater. I really liked this movie. Natalie Portman is very charming, the setting is relaxed, the colors are nice. The only thing that perhaps disappointed me a bit (and Kerstin a fair share more) was that although both main actors have psychological problems, and the main character – Andrew Largeman, played by the director and writer of this movie, Zach Braff – has been taking calming drugs for most of his life and suddenly stops taking them there are no real conflicts. In spite of this problematic constellation neither the lovers themselves nor their social environment really disturbs the linear development of their romantic love. However, this movie has a most excellent sound track which makes the whole experience very pleasant – I do recommend this movie, especially if you are in the mood for some romance.
IMDb entry | Trailer


Thursday, January 6th, 2005

New year, first entry. Old Lars, new shirt and pants. Shirt navy-blue with narrow stripes in brigther hues of blue. Pants made of corduroy, some kind of almost black color. Lars made of more stuff than before, stuff that is lighter than water – stuff has accumulated over the holidays. Tomorrow, Lars in swimming pool. Guess why?