The June 8, 2007
How Things Ought to Work
Time for a cursory product review. This is not Craig's List, and the Almanack
will not be responsible, your mileage may vary (literally), etc, etc.
Recommended OS: SimplyMepis. Stupid name for a Linux distro, but the Almanack
believes in this one. After uncountable installs of Fedora, Debian, Freespire,
Ubuntu, in 32- and 64-bit incarnations, and flirtations with Slackware,
Mandrake and Mandriva, all of which have notable virtues, Mepis rises above.
It really is a better distro, especially for users who just want a computer
that works. I'm a programmer, so I *can* compile the kernel, but I don't want
to. And I really don't want to have to. Mepis assumes that I might want to
edit documents, print, use my built-in wireless card, run the C compiler, maybe
talk to a Windoze machine. It keeps logs, runs fast, boots quickly, all that
good stuff that Linux is noted for, without painful googles and builds. If you
want good software free, get Mepis
Recommended auto: Mazda3. This unpretentious little number was targeted at
the youth market, but some engineers just couldn't resist turning it into a
real car. It has a willing 2-liter coupled with a very smooth 5-speed for
about 35mpg (really), windows that roll all the way down, and decent
cupholders. Best of all, "it corners like it's on rails". No, best of all is
the sticker: $15,000. This car just feels great. We'll come back to you
after about 20k on the clock.
Recommended yo-yo: Yomega Firestorm, sold as licensed merchandise by the
University of Texas Coop (bookstore). This was part of a welcome basket at our
niece's wedding, and a very thoughtful token it was (they know we like yo-yos).
But the virtues of the toy are an unexpected bonus: very nice balance, not
too heavy, responsive play for loops, easy to land for string tricks. The
price at the bookstore is $13, about 2 bucks more than the unbranded Firestorm
on the Web, which is a fair license fee. Also, the Yomega-brand Firestorm got
some awful reviews from the users (average age about 13), so we suspect that
the re-branding may have included some quality-control tweaks. Longhorn YoYo
Recommended camera: Canon PowerShot A710 IS. Large-ish pocketable, AA
batteries, optical viewfinder, full set of manual options, best-in-class
click-to-capture times, 6x zoom, optical image stabilization. Even if you
don't think you need IS, you need it. And IMHO, the nastiest attribute of most
compact digitals is shutter lag. Sample wedding shots.
Latest reading: More Sex is Safer Sex, by Steven E Landsburg. A
serious treatment of real-life issues considered by an economist. Landsburg
avoids sounding pedantic (after all, he's taking 248 pages to tell us our
thinking is wrong) by nailing some outrageous arguments, in a breezy, friendly
voice. He teaches some very popular classes at the University of Rochester
(full disclosure: my son's a student).
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