Category Archives: Technology

Have a slow-loading blog? YSlow can help

Haven’t made a tech post in a while but I discovered this nifty tool from Yahoo called YSlow that I wanted to share.  It’s a little program that can run tests on any URL in your browser and give it a speed rating based on some pre-set rules.  It will run a speed test on the site and return a final grade based on the performance of Javascript, CSS, images, caching, and other general server configuration.  For each of these sub-categories, it will also give a grade and some advice/links on how to improve performance in that area.

Of course, since YSlow can only test the what it sees from the web server, it won’t be able to help if you’ve got an overloaded database or a maxed out CPU.  Still, a very useful tool for those who want to improve the performance of their blog or personal sites.

Since YSlow is a plugin for Firebug, you will need to have Firefox with Firebug installed to use YSlow.  But since all my readers are smart people, I’m sure you’re already using it (or maybe Opera) ;)

Dell Mini 9


I’ve been wanting a portable PC for some time and with my upcoming trip to Europe next month, I figured now was a good time to pick one up.  I had used my brother’s eee PC a couple months ago and thought it was pretty nifty so I’ve been looking at the various netbook models out there.  Eventually decided on the Dell Mini 9. Continue reading

Yay, my camera is back

Yep, I had to send my recently acquired Canon 40D back to the seller due to a problem with the backup battery. Basically, it didn’t work >_<  Every time I took out the main battery to charge it, the camera’s date/time would be reset since the backup battery didn’t take over.  This caused the main battery to be constantly in use (even when the camera was off) to keep the time.  The main battery drained faster and then I had to remove it again to recharge which reset the time again!  OK, I didn’t want to keep doing that so I sent it back to the reseller who, surprisingly enough, had a warranty program for their used cameras.  After about a week at the seller’s, I get a camera back.

And, yes, I did buy it used.  This model came in out late 2007 so it’s not exactly brand new but buying a new retail kit is still pretty pricey.  On the other hand, since it has been out for over a year, considerably cheaper, used 40D’s can be found.  The original camera I bought was in decent shape but clearly in used condition.  The camera I got back was not the same camera I initially had.  In fact, it’s nearly brand new :D  I ran a shutter count check on it, and it had only been clicked about 500 times.  In the life of a DSLR, that’s really young.  So, you could say I’m pretty happy.  I paid about half the price of a new 40D and ended up with a nearly new one in the end.

Now, back to taking more photos of cute figures ^^;

Laser Mouse

g5-1Recently, I was forced to upgrade my desktop’s mouse.  Due to an untimely and unfortunate event, my previous optical mouse, a Logitech MX518, ended its long service to anonymous_object.  I believe I bought that moue a good 3 years ago while in college.  Anyway, how did it die?  Well, that’s an interesting story… Continue reading

Otakon 2008

I just returned from Otakon 2008 in Baltimore, Maryland over the weekend. It was a good showing this year, with a record number of 26,000+ attendees at the Baltimore Convention Center. Considering I live in Indiana, it was quite a drive to Maryland. Luckily, I know some old college pals who live in the Baltimore area and we were able to stay at their house. In fact, the purpose of the trip was as much to see old friends as it was to go to the convention ^^; Continue reading

LCD monitors and what to know

Planar PX2611WPerhaps I’m a bit strange, but when it comes to purchasing new hardware for my PC, I’m as picky as they come. I consider most purchases of this kind to be a long-term investment, something I will be using for many, many hours and possibly several years to come. The purchase of my most recent monitor was no exception.
In case you’re not very familar with LCD technology, it turns out there are multiple types of technology used in the manufacturing of the LCD panels that consumers buy for their displays. The three basic types of LCD panels are:
-TN (Twisted Nematic)
-MVA/PVA (Multidomain/Patterned Vertical Alignment)
-IPS (In Plane Switching)

Without going into too much detail (which I definitely could if you wanted), each panel type has it’s own strengths as well as drawbacks. Most people thay buy LCDs these days buy TN displays. The main reasons for this are that TN has a very good response time and is cheap to manufacture. The response time is how long it takes for the pixels on the monitor to draw an image sent to it by the computer’s video card. This is a must for gamers who rely on split-second timing in their fast-paced games. The problem with TN panels is that they don’t produce colors as accurately as the other panel types and they suffer from poor viewing angels. If you have a TN display, you can probably tell by moving your head past the normal, straight-on viewing angle. Look at the screen from above, below, or from the sides and you will see the color will “shift” from what they should be.

MVA/PVA displays are generally considered a step up from TN displays because they have better viewing angels and can reproduce colors more accurately. This type of LCD panel is basically a middle of the pack panel in terms on overall quality. While they are better than TN displays for colors and viewing angles, they are usually do not have the fast response time of TN displays. If you plan on watching movies in a group setting, the better viewing angle may be worth it.

The final type of LCD panel is the IPS panel. IPS displays are regarded as the highest quality LCD panels in terms on color reproduction and viewing angles. In other words, if you do any type of graphic or photography work, this is the type of monitor you should have. For example, if you are editing images in Photoshop that will be sent to a printer to make brochures, ads, or any type of printed media, you want the colors on your monitor to be as close to the colors that the printer will print in the end. IPS panels can also have very good response times, making them usable for gaming and video. The main drawback of IPS panels is that they are expensive! You may have to pay 2-3 times more than a TN display for a same sized IPS display.

This just scratches the surface of what can determine quality on an LCD display. If you really want to get into it, you will have to consider how to best calibrate your LCD (using a colorimeter), whether the LCD can reach the level of brightness you desire, is it prone to backlight bleeding, is there significant input lag on top of the response time, are there ghosting problems with motion, is it wide gamut (> 72% of NTSC), what connectors does it support… and many other issues.

Why all the fuss? I just recently made a new monitor purchase and like the picky computer user I am, I researched LCD technology until I felt I knew everything I needed to know to make the correct purchase. Not only am I picky, but I do run an image board so I am working with images quite often and having accurate colors is a priority to me. I also game so I needed a monitor that could not only display colors accurately, but also have low input lag and response time. On top of all that, one of my siblings is a professional photographer and works with very high-end cameras and displays. After having seen her amazing new LCD monitor, I was convinced I should buy a monitor of equal or similar quality. In the end, after a delaying for several weeks and looking into the various types of LCDs, I purchased a Planar PX2611W. While it did cost me a small fortune, I foresee myself keeping this monitor for at least the next five years which somewhat allowed me to justify the cost XD. I am satisfied with my decision and I love my new monitor.

The moral of this story? Do your homework before you buy your next big item. You’ll be infinitely happier when you realize you got exactly what you wanted and you’ll probably learn a lot in the process as well! If you have any questions about LCD monitors, let me know and I will answer to the best of my ability.

For more info on LCDs visit:
Anandtech Forums