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Nerd-cation - n., similar to vacation, a nerd-cation involves spending time away from family and work to learn new technologies. May also involve heavy gaming.
I mentioned a few weeks ago in this blog entry that I had purchased a Creative Zen Vision, a portable media player like the iPod Video, but with a bigger screen.
Well, when I tried to convert one of my DVDs to an AVI file, I found that it took a REALLY REALLY LONG TIME on my old Dell GX60. The GX60 is a very small business-class desktop machine. It had a 2ghz Celeron processor and 512MB of ram. Not much but it had always suited my needs.
Well, video compression is the single most difficult thing you can ask a computer to do, and so the purchase of the Zen Vision made me decide I need a new computer.
Good excuse, eh?
I found a company up in Canada that was selling dirt cheap systems at www.btecanada.com. I bought a basic system from them - Pentium D 3.0 ghz (dual core processor), 1 gig of RAM, a 200 gb hard drive, on board audio, video, and ethernet, all shipped for about $500 US. A similarly configured machine through Dell would've cost me $1400. Through Intrex, it would've been $1200. Through Tiger Direct, about $800. So yeah, it was a good deal - even though the hard drive was a refurbished hard drive, I didn't really care.
On top of this, I ordered a brand new Maxtor 200gb SATA hard drive so I would have plenty of storage space, and the SATA hard drive is faster than the IDE hard drive my computer came with.
Today, I added two more 512MB chips, taking my total memory to 2 GB.
And finally, I ordered a video card and TV tuner from BTE with money from my paypal account. I got the ATI All In Wonder Radio X800 XT, an 8X AGP video card with 256MB of RAM. Top notch! Built in TV tuner, comes with PVR software and everything so I can do all kinds of crazy stuff.
And for the first time since I owned my Commodore Amiga, I've got a desktop PC capable of some SERIOUS gaming. I don't even know where to start!
Can anyone recommend a good shoot-em-up game? I always liked Doom II.
On the 4th of July this year, I celebrated America's independence by seeing a British band at Alltel Pavilion. Well, one British band and one American band - Def Leppard and Journey. I went with my friend and former boss Doug, and my sister Karen.
Alltel Pavilion at Walnut Creek is your standard outdoor concert venue - a covered pavilion and a large lawn area. And it was hot. Typical summer day in North Carolina - humid and 90+ degrees.
Anyway, we got there at about 7:15 for a 7:30 show - I had purchased the seats the day they went on sale and got awesome seats in section 5 row B, which is pretty close - right next to the VIP boxes.
Journey came on and opened with a song that I'd never heard before. No huge surprise, because I don't actually own any Journey albums. I mean, I was there to see Def Leppard but of course I knew most of the popular Journey songs. The song they opened with was "Faith in the Heartland". It was actually a really good song, and as it turns out, it is on their *new* album, which was released last year, titled "Generations". I've been listening to it a lot on Rhapsody and it's actually a really good album. They played the title track from the album later, which was actually sung by the keyboardist, and it was a really catch tune.
Of course, bands like Journey can put out great new music and nobody will really care about it, because most people that want to hear a Journey song on the radio want to hear "Open Arms" or "Don't Stop Believin'" or "Faithfully" or.. or.. or.. you get the picture.
At any rate, the Journey show was great. Most of the crowd near me stayed seated during the early part of the show (heck it was still light out!) but we were all standing by the end. I even saw a few lighters pop up during the classic ballads.
Journey really invented the rock ballad I think. I mean, Journey has a lot of hard rocking songs, and in general they're a rockin' band, but Faithfully and Open Arms and the like really set the tone for the glam rock bands of the 80s.
One worth note - we were next to an aisle that was restricted to the VIP boxes, and a couple of times during the journey show, one of the females from a box behind us came up to the front of the aisle and was just dancing and having a good old time! She was hot. Probably about my age, maybe a little younger, clearly a journey fan, clearly having a good time, and clearly a bit inebriated. Doug and I were hoping to see her pull a rock groupie stunt and show off her stuff, but luck wasn't with us!
The main event of course was Def Leppard. Journey may have had some huge hits, but I think Def Leppard had more hits. So many that unfortunately they were unable to play them all, but what can you do?
Like Journey, Def Leppard hasn't had a real hit in a long time, but they've continued to put out new music. Their last album, X (which was their tenth studio album) came out in 2002, and it's one of my favorites, but of course you never heard any of it on the radio. They've got a new album out now, as well, that is actually all cover songs of 60s and 70s brit pop music. They played a couple songs from it, including a wicked version of "Rock On" (popularized in my mind by Michael Damien in 1989, but actually originally released by David Essex in 1973 apparently. The other songs they played from the new album were "No Matter What" and "20th Century Boy". good songs!
We - and the crowd - stood up for the entire Def Leppard show of course, and Doug and I were pretty much going nuts all night long. It was hot. Humid. No breeze to speak of. By the time the night was done, pretty much all of my clothes were wet. I would've bought a bottle of water for $10 if they were still selling anything when the concert was over.