James Cassell's Blog

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter won't be on the New York Times Best Seller List

I came across an article today that mentioned that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows won't be on the New York Times Bestseller list. This is because they decided that "children's" books should have their own list. I checked the New York Times web site, and Harry potter has been banished to the "Series" section of the "Children books" list. This kind of bothers me, but I don't know why. Anyway, here is the article that I was referring to: Why Harry Potter Won't be a Bestseller


Friday, July 20, 2007


My how time flies! I only have three weeks left until I have to head off to RPI. I am no doubt excited about this, but there are some things that I wish to accomplish first.

Firstly, and probably most importantly, I want to finish off my work on the NHS web site. The work that remains to be done consists mostly of completing the system for updating the site via a web interface. I have done virtually no work on it so far this summer.

The next thing my queue of things to complete is a Beowulf cluster that my friend and I have been working on over the summer. We have been gathering older computers, and are attempting to get them to work together in parallel to perform computing-intensive tasks. We are doing it as mainly a proof-of-concept and to gain some additional experience.

Less importantly, but possibly unwisely high on my list, I am re-reading the first six Harry Potter books. As I type this, I am paused at the end of the fourteenth chapter of the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I am re-reading the first six books so that the story line will be fresh in my mind when the seventh and final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out tomorrow. I have ordered a boxed set of the entire series in hardcover, but it won't arrive until October according to Amazon.

Getting back on topic, I have recently noticed that there is too little time. There are all of the things mentioned above that I want to do, and more, but time seems to be flying. It is already Friday, and it feels as if Monday were yesterday. I notice that I am probably about a quarter of the way through my life, supposing I live to be seventy-six years old. There are several other things to be done this summer. For one, I need to start getting in shape for next month when I will go up to Rensselaer for the ROTC program. I also want to, some time in the future, watch the entire series of Star Trek Voyager. I watched an episode of it the other day on television, and it reminded me of how good the show is. I have watched the entire series of the following shows: Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, 24, and Smallville.

Anyway, back to reading Harry Potter -- if I don't fall asleep first, that is.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rensselaer Student Orientation

I recently attended the student orientation at RPI. I learned a little about the school that I didn't know about the school before, but not very much. Most of what I remember from Student Orientation was arguing my case with the registrar's office about receiving credit for Calculus 2. I took Calculus 1 and Calculus 2 at Germanna Community College this past school year, and expected to receive credit for both at RPI. They only wanted to give me credit for Calculus 1 because there were some things that weren't in the course description for the course I took at Germanna as opposed to the course description for Calculus 2 at RPI.

When I registered for classes, the system wouldn't let me register for Multi-variable Calculus. I asked the person who was helping with registration to over-ride the system, who did so after my explaining the problem. I still had to go to the registrar's office, and convince them to give me credit for Calculus 2, which they grudgingly did. They said that they would give me the credit, but put a not in the file that there were possible holes in the course I took at Germanna. I am satisfied that I got the schedule that I wanted for the first semester. Hopefully, all will go well.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

MP3 Quality vs. CD Quality

I was just ripping a CD to my computer when I decided to listen to the quality of the CD compared to the quality of the created MP3. I rip my CDs at 320 Kbps (Kilo bits per second), the highest that I can. Anyway, when I listened to them right after each other, I must say that MP3 sound quality is vastly inferior to CD sound quality. The CD sounded much better than did the MP3.

This concerns me quite a bit. I have been spending $20 per month on an eMusic subscription where I can download albums in MP3 format. (If you sign up using that link, I get some credit from eMusic.) I am surprised just how much better the CD sounds. I may have to re-think how I get my music. It may be very expensive to replace my music with the CD-quality version, as I have spent over $200 on the music I have obtained from eMusic.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Advanced Placement (AP) Credit

I haven't yet received my score that I got on the AP Statistics test, though I have been able to call the College Board for the past week or so to get it for $8.00 which is kind of expensive. On the student information system at Rensselaer, I am shown as having 4 credits from the AP Statistics test. That means that I scored either a 4 or a 5 on the test because that is what RPI requires to receive credit.

I will probably receive my official score in the mail sometime in the next week or so. Statistics was the second AP test that I have taken. The first was U.S. History. I only got a 2 on that test.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Rensselaer Laptop

The specs for the laptop package that Rensselaer will be offering were released late last week. It is a very decent computer, though I do have a few complaints. The specs are as follows:

  • ThinkPad T61
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 processor at 2.0 GHz (4 MB L2 cache, 800 MHz FSB, 64-bit CPU)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 15.4" WSXGA+ (1680x1050) TFT display
  • 160GB 5400RPM hard drive with Intel Turbo Memory hard drive cache
  • 128MB NVIDIA Quadra NVS 140M graphic processing unit
  • CD writer/DVD writer (dual layer)
  • 10/100/1000 on-board Ethernet and 56K modem
  • 802.11a/b/g/n integrated wireless
  • Ports: 3 USB 2.0, Docking/Port Replicator, External Display, Headphone / Line out, Microphone / Line in
  • PC Card Slot, ExpressCard Slot, Media Card Slot
  • UltraNav (touch pad/TrackPoint) pointing device
  • Fingerprint Reader
  • Bluetooth
  • Firewire (IEEE 1394)
  • 9-cell Lithium-ion battery (one-year warranty)

My main problem with the computer is that the resolution is not as high as I would like. It is 1680x1050, but I wish it were 1920x1200. Also, I would have preferred 256 MB of video memory rather than 128 MB. Finally, I would have preferred a faster (i.e. 7200 RPM) hard drive.

What this breaks down to is "I like everything about the RPI laptop package except where it is not as good as my current notebook computer." Based on that statement, I guess I will also mention that I wish it had 4 GB of memory rather than 2 GB. I will end up buying the package anyway because obtaining the required software legally would be prohibitively expensive.

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