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Month: September 2010

First Show Transcript

GOOOOOOOD EVENING FURMAN UNIVERSITY! My name’s Zach Hall and for the next 2 hours I’m taking over the airwaves to bring you talk, music, and news! It’s CRAZY 8’s on WPLS-FM 95.9!

Random Assorted Music (or RAM) is coming up in just a few minutes, but since this is the first time I’ve ever done a show, I’m going to take a few minutes to tell you who I am and what the show’s about. Crazy 8’s started a week or two ago, not on WPLS, but on a homemade internet radio station that was available to everyone on the Furman LAN. The name was derived since I gave away prizes to people on my hall at 8PM on Saturday to encourage listenership.

When I showed up at the WPLS training session a few days ago, I was presented with the opportunity to pick a timeslot, and, pleasant surprise, Saturday 8-10PM was available! I took the time and decided to keep the name (although it won’t do me much good in an hour!) Crazy 9s, anyone?

Anyway, the fact that I have two hours to fill is going to make it difficult to stick to any one thing without an extreme amount of stuff to discuss, so for tonight it’s going to be a pretty free-form show. I have a few stories to talk about today and some news, as well as the weather and a lot of music to play so that I can re-gather my thoughts while it’s going.

Even though I’ve only officially been on-the-air for about 5 minutes, I’ve already learned a lot about being a LIVE talk radio host. For one, there’s no room for error. If I lose my train of thought, dead air WILL ensue. This being a non-profit station, I can’t well go to a commercial break. So what’s a host to do when there’s no commercials to fall back on and nothing left to talk about? MUSIC! Speaking of which, the first music portion of the show is coming up in a few minutes, so stay tuned!

Each week I’m going to have at least a half hour of music to play, but the reason I call the music segment “Randomly Assorted Music” is because (1) it has a cool acronym that reminds me of trucks, memory, and animals, and (2) I’m going to try and mix up the genres each week. I’ve never understood those people who say that they’ll listen to any type of music EXCEPT genres x, y, and z, or those people who say they’ll ONLY listen to one genre. That’s not to say that I think people should like all genres of music, or that people can’t really dislike songs of one genre, but I think the only reason someone should dislike a song is simply for the reason that they don’t like it. To put it in Lamen’s terms, don’t knock it till you try it. If you begin listening to a song and think you won’t like it before you even press play, you’re being unfair to yourself.

I’m gonna leave it at that for the moment. This week’s RAM is trance music, so let’s get into it right now!

Welcome back to Crazy 8’s on WPLS-FM 95.9! The next RAM segment is coming up in a bit. I hope you’re enjoying the music and having a great Saturday evening. I’d like to stop for a second to give you current weather conditions and your weekly forecast, provided by the National Weather Service at

Tomorrow: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Highs in the 70s. East wind between 5 and 8 mph. 90% chance of precipitation with rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch possible.

Tomorrow evening: Showers. Low around 60. Northeast wind between 8 and 11 mph. Same 90% chance of precipitation, but even more rainfall amounts, with between 2 and 3 inches of rain possible.

Monday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm before noon, then showers and thunderstorms likely after noon. Highs near 74. Calm wind becoming south between 6 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is a bit less than Sunday, now at 80%, but still between 2 and 3 inches of rainfall possible.

Monday Night: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Cloudy, with a low around 62. Chance of precipitation is 60%, but they’re predicting the rain is going to start to clear up by about then, as new rainfall amounts between only a half to three quarters of an inch are possible.

Tuesday: A chance of showers before 8am, but then partly sunny, with a high near 77. Chance of precipitation is  quickly dropping, now at 30%.

Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 60.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 77.

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 79.

and finally next week Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 75.

That is your weekly weather prediction for Saturday, September 25! Before we get back to RAM, Randomly Assorted Music, I’d like to take the next few minutes to talk about something that is dear and true to my heart: the eternal war between the three heavyweight consumer Operating Systems!

Windows Vista, as you all know, didn’t live up to most people’s expectations, proving to be slow on older systems, unreliable, and prone to many errors that, although they were eventually fixed, didn’t give early adopters a very good impression. I remember it was during the day of Vista in which I got a Macintosh, partially because Apple’s flagship video editor, Final Cut Pro, was only available for Mac, but also because I was still using Windows XP, and while I think Windows XP is still a solid OS, I wanted something that was more modern, and Vista wasn’t an option at the time since I’d heard complaints about the upgrade to Service Pack 1. Being the cheap individual I am, I bought a Mac Mini, partially because I already had an okay PC, and also because of the fact that, no matter how you slice it, Apple’s products ARE more expensive than a generic PC with similar components.

After a year of using Mac almost exclusively, I came to a different conclusion than most hardcore PC users who I’ve heard over the years. I feel that Macs do indeed have their place in the world, but I also feel that without creative professionals and college students, everyone would be in Microsoft’s camp. Sure, there’s an Adobe Creative Suite for PC as well as for Mac, but on our campus computers, PC’s are the real losers in the speed battle. I’ve seen it in my old high school and here at Furman. The stock model PCs designed for Vista or Windows 7 and running XP with all sorts of creative software on them that takes forever to load. I was in my First Year Writing seminar the other day and someone was making a PowerPoint presentation on the PC in the room. I counted the minutes and it literally took about 5 minutes to get from the logon screen to the Windows desktop. I know that security software is required on PCs, and it really should be required on the Macs, because the “Macs don’t get viruses” argument is really a bunch of bologna, but whether it’s just an issue of out-of-date hardware or overloaded startup sequences, it shouldn’t take 5 minutes to log on to the computer.

The campus Macs, on the other hand, perform a lot quicker for stuff like Adobe’s Creative Suite, but I still wouldn’t use a Mac outside of the Library where they provide them to use. Even though game distribution platforms such as STEAM are starting up Mac clients and many developers are starting to make Mac ports, the MacBook Pro, (a college student’s best friend, apparently), is not a gaming machine. The hardware they put into a 2000-dollar or so MacBook Pro is not tailored to high-performance gaming. I looked on Apple’s website today and found that the hardware in my 1200-dollar ASUS laptop is about as good as a top-quality MacBook Pro, but for 800 bucks cheaper.

Now, having a PC for cheaper than a Mac may seem like the best choice, but for many, I’d say that those extra bucks would be well-spent buying a Mac. The Mac Operating System IS indeed built with the intention of being easy to use, and Apple’s iLife suite (which IS included free with the Mac, if not part of the purchase price) is a pretty nice set of stuff that can make even an amateur with no prior experience into someone who can get the task done without needing to mess around with drivers and CD’s. Just plug in your camera, press the button, and you’ve got a photo-book, etc. Apple’s iChat was one of the first simple video chat applications, and is still one of the only free and easy ways to do video chat with multiple participants. Its integration with AIM makes it simple to communicate with Windows and Mac users as well. All of the features that Apple packed into the Macs are useful, I feel they are targeted. They aren’t targeted, I believe, at gamers, but more to those who use a computer but don’t need or want to know how it works. Many Mac users who I’ve met aren’t the coffee drinking, stalking hat wearing stereotypes that they’re made out to be, but people who don’t want to think about defragging their hard drive all the time.

Now, Windows 7 is much better than Vista. It’s basically everything that Windows Vista was supposed to be, just as Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” wasn’t. I upgraded my Mac to Snow Leopard and their all 64-bit push wasn’t all it was hyped up to be. I had all sorts of problems with it, but thankfully Microsoft was there to save me from the wreckage with Windows 7, though I couldn’t get the 64-bit version to boot on my Mac. Microsoft also brought some new tools and tricks with it on this new release, such as a little software suite that wasn’t even included on the CD: Windows Live Essentials.

[ I’ve talked about these earlier in the blog. ]

Well, we only got about a minute left here, and I ran out of stuff to play a long time ago, so let’s end it here. You can catch podcasts in the future at SNHub and semi-incomplete transcripts each week at! Until next time, friends!

The Linux Conundrum


Ubuntu Linux and I go way back, and we’ve had a love-hate relationship with each other that ultimately goes as follows: (1) a new version of Ubuntu is released, and I’m interested, but remember how the experience was last time, and I stay away from it as long as I can. (2) My curiosity gets the better of me and I give the new version a try, taking a liking to it almost immediately. (3) I come across some big issue that makes it completely pointless for me to use Ubuntu, or I just realize that most of the things I want to do still give me a better experience on Windows, and thus (4) I abandon Ubuntu yet again, until step 1 rolls around a few months later. This cycle almost continued with version 10.04, but this time it was partially my fault. Either way, I’m a bit ticked off about it, so here’s what happened: I used the fabulous Wubi installer to install the 32-bit version of 10.04, thinking that it would probably be the most compatible version, and in about 30 seconds I was to the CD’s installation script, which went okay until the end when it froze. I rebooted, and found myself at a kernel panic. I retried and I guess 32-bit Linux just doesn’t like running on a Core i7, or there was some other hardware issue, because the same kernel panic occurred. I decided to try the 64-bit version, against the opinions of my friends and even the Ubuntu website which states that the 64-bit version is “not recommended for daily use.” Even so, it installed correctly and I was brought to a nice dark-themed Gnome desktop. I was extremely pleased to hear the logon sound, see an extended desktop on my HDMI output, and to be able to simply open Ubuntu’s new Software Center and install Chromium without needing to configure my internet connection, but the good times turned rotten when I opened up Evolution Mail and tried to bring up my email. Evolution saw my e-mail address and assessed that the best server to use would be “” (yeah, so I still use AOL’s email… so what? Unlimited space FTW!), and I said OK, sounds good. I should have paid more attention, but hey, Thunderbird also uses the imap server by default, as does the iPhone’s, so why should I have to check and make sure that Evolution isn’t going to connect to the IMAP SERVER BUT USE THE POP PROTOCOL?! Well, it did just that, and by the time I knew what had happened, all of my 3,000 emails were gone from the server and neatly filed on a virtual Linux partition in a program I wasn’t even planning on using. Just. Great.

Who even uses POP anymore? With services like Dropbox making it so easy to share files and Microsoft’s SkyDrive giving you 25 GB of storage for simply signing up, who needs to send large files via email? Not to mention the fact that most e-mail providers give you a ton of space to store attachments and whatnot, and that you could probably store thousands of text-only emails on a mail account if you really wanted / had to. If you’re at work and it’s part of your company policy to keep all important emails, it would make no sense to me that they’d store the mail on a workstation that could break or be replaced rather than storing it on a backed up server. POP is the reason I’m always hesitant to reinstall operating systems on my client’s computers because they’ll tell me they have 10 years worth of mail on their computer and it’s all stored in Outlook Express (which I really hate backing up) and that they couldn’t do without it. USE IMAP, PEOPLE!

Anyways, I slowly started moving messages back onto the server, but the server really hated this and bumped me off every 5 minutes because I had too many connections or something, but after turning off auto-fetch and any other background server interactions the server still fussed about too many connections, and thus I’ve only copied back 3/4ths of my mail. Oh well, at least I have a clean inbox now 🙂

After this whole email fiasco, I decided to move on to another problem: getting my email. Huh? Yeah, my university uses a FirstClass server for all email communications, and while I’ve taken a liking to the client, I dislike its webmail interface and am not too pleased with the fact that they make you use the client if you want to read email in other “conferences” than your own private mailbox or send mail. Sure, they let you forward email to another address, but it’s kind-of like watching a TV program that was captured by someone’s webcam pointed at the screen, then compressed to 15MB and uploaded to Youtube: it’s better to get the mail from the source. So I went to my good friend Google and found the client available as a .deb, installed it and it’s dependencies, started it up, and… nothing. Apparently FirstClass didn’t like the fact that I was running 64-bit Ubuntu, and so it refused to load until I got a few more libraries. Well, at least it’s working now, but wouldn’t the package manager notice this? It seems to do quite well every time I try and install a package and it alerts me to the fact that the package is the “Wrong Architecture.”

I could make a long story longer, but to kill it while it’s still slightly interesting (I hope), I’m still running Ubuntu quite often, and I can do a lot of fun things with it, some much better than on Windows, but I still prefer Windows for getting work done and playing games. Windows makes my life easier, and at the end-of-the-day, isn’t that what computers were designed for?