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Nice Toys March 8, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in life.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop reviewing physics analyses for DZERO and grant applications for some funding agencies. As a result, my mind often wanders (you really have to concentrate to understand these things). Looking around, the coffee shop is filled with mostly students. Perhaps pretty far along in the undergraduate level, or in med schoole or early graduate students — judging by age and books being studied.

But they have one thing in common. They all have cool cell phones. Mainly the high-end Treo’s, But lots of other PDA phones. And they all have iPods. The Nano seems to be the most popular, but the bigger iPods too — even one or two video iPods (where do they get the cash!?). But, here is the funny bit — many of the lap tops look like they were built in 1950. Looking at the applications they run: mostly a web browser. I see lots of Microsoft Word and a bit of PowerPoint (mostly to view someone else’s slides). One or two Excel’s. I’d say about 90% of the computers here are Microsoft based, and the rest Apples (and they look to be running Microsoft Office, though I can’t tell for sure). I see no Linux (but sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between Microsoft and Linux from a distance).

I suppose phones and MP3 players are small enough to be a fashion statement. Certainly, you can get an iPod equivalent for a bunch less money, but it won’t look nearly as nice. The lap top, however, remains hidden away in a bag. And costs a lot more.

I don’t have an iPod. My MP3 player is almost 2 years old; time to get a new one. I’d love it to look cool, but it won’t look like an iPod (as much as I’d like it to) — it has to be able to run one of the music subscription services, like Yahoo. Maybe before the summer…

This post was a bit rambling. I’m trying to avoid going back to the reviewing…



1. Aaron F. - March 9, 2006

“sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between Microsoft and Linux from a distance”

Really? I’d think the blue screen would be quite distinctive! 😉

2. Gordon Watts - March 9, 2006

Ha! Good point. I should have looked to see who had the commandline window open! 🙂

3. Philipp - March 10, 2006

Well, it’s true that all these mini gadgets are trendy and look nice. But I think the point in the disussion about mp3 player etc. compared to laptop which is missing is the user friendliness. Such a small player is easy and quick to handle. A laptop means more work and this is even more true if you want to use latex, linux etc. than just reading slides in powerpoint or surfing the web. And most of the people (I find around the university I attend) don’t want to ‘work’ that much, or even don’t want to come into contact since they are afraid they won’t understand it…

Gordon, concerning programs I do have a question: for my work I need and want to start using root now. Since it seems that you have quite some experience using root I wanted to ask if you could recomend me something like a user guide for beginners? 🙂 e.g. like reading files and similar basic things. I do have the root book and also looked at the webpage (root.cern.ch), but somehow I couldn’t find something for the absolute beginner… Thank you.

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