This Year's posts

Archive for November, 2004

More RAM for my Powerbook

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

I finally got more RAM for my powerbook. As I posted previously, I bought the machine with only 256MB of RAM, because it is much more affordable to purchase the RAM seperately, than have it installed by Apple. So FedEx delivered a new 1GB RAM stick today- it has made a huge difference in performance. It is well known among Mac users that OS X is RAM-hungry and I can certainly attest to that. My 1.33 GHz G4 w/ 256 MB of RAM felt slower than my 800Mhz G3 w/ 680MB of RAM. Now the new machine feels much faster. For the computer-uneducated, this is due to Virtual Memory.

What is Virtual Memory? I’m glad you asked. In laymen’s terms…

Virtual Memory is a way to utilize more memory than your computer actually has. It does this by swaping out parts of memory to a section of your harddisk (called, incidentially ‘swap’). So, when you multitask, as I always do, you invariablly make use of VM. That means that your computer is constantly having to swap pieces of memory to and from your harddisk. This is an expensive process.

My adding more memory I’m able to avoid this swapping, thereby making my computer more responsive. If you’re on a unix machine, its quite easy to measure your VM usage. A a command prompt simply type:

$ top

This will open the top program, which is a process monitor program. The last line of the header section will have two values of importance. Here’s what mine looks like:

VM: 5.77G + 83.1M 31428(4) pageins, 158(0) pageouts

First is called ‘VM’ and it will show the total size of your virtual memory. Don’t be surprised if this is several times the amount of physical memory in your machine. Second is ‘pagouts.’ This is a count of the number of times a program went looking for something in main memory, but had to go find it on your harddisk instead. The lower this number the better. You can see min is at 158 now. Yesterday, after running my comptuer for several days straight it was at about 1.4 million- a significant change.

I hope this was enlightening.

What I want to do when I grow up

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

A friend asked me not long ago what’d I do if I wasn’t a software developer. I think the one job I’d like to do is be a travel writer. Why? Well, I like to travel and I’d love to be able to write (I’m not particularly good now). Anyway, I just came across this article which describes one travel writer’s experience.

RSS expired

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

I’ve written a proposal for an RSS module that will mark a feed as expired. You can view the proposal here. Feel free to leave feedback as a comment in this posting or email me.

suburban life not sustainable

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

I’ve had this idea floating around my head for the last few days: the suburban life is not sustainable.

I first started thinking about this after reading a great article over at

The North American suburban life is grossly inefficient. In my mind the impetus is freedom. We all want our own car and we want to have it with use wherever we go. I’m not sure when the suburbanization trend with reverse, but it seems that it likely will at some point.

I, for one, would rather move to an urban environment (and I’m planning on it). I don’t like car commutes, they’re so anti-social and such a time waste. If I’m going to have to ride somewhere for 30 minutes, I’d like to at least be able to read a book or something. I also think suburban life is, in large part, anti-social. Let’s all move to the city and walk or ride bikes. It’ll be good for us and good for the world.

the french connection

Sunday, November 21st, 2004

I watched The French Connection last night. I wanted to see it because I really like Ronin and those two movies are consistently considered to be among the best car-chase movies ever.

All I can say about the movie is that I’m a bit underwhelmed. The case wasn’t particularly exciting, nor was the movie in general. I think my dad put it best when he said, “well, it was good for its time.”