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The internet: bringing you the best in the bagpipe world

In my last post (months ago… yikes!) I promised that I might be posting on a more regular basis. Looks like I’ve let that go. Now that I’ve gotten settled into my new area a bit, I’m starting to get back into the piping mindset, and since I’m thinking pipes more often, maybe I’ll post more often. I promise nothing, but keep an eye on this blog just in case. Anyway, coming up is an event that all pipers should know about.

The internet can be the piper’s best friend, especially for those of us who are somewhat isolated from the piping world at large. I do my best to try to follow the results from big events in Scotland and my friends on the east coast, and without the internet it simply wouldn’t be possible for me. But with the internet, I can follow the news of the piping world at pipes|drums, listen to recorded performances on Pipeline, and even watch the World Pipe Band Championship live.

This year, there’s another premier piping event the world will be able to watch live: The Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championship on Saturday October 27, 2012. The Glenfiddich is generally considered to be the world championship of solo pipers, and the ten competitors are invited based on the results from major contests through the previous 12 months. This year’s listincludes some of the familiar names like Roddy MacLeod, Jack Lee, Murray Henderson, Stuart Liddell, Willie MacCallum, and Gordon Walker, as well as some newcomers, like Callum Beaumont, who won the Northern Meeting Clasp this year in his first appearance in the event.

Coverage is available through the National Piping Centre’s website, and will begin at 10 a.m. local time, continuing through the end of the piobaireachd and MSR competitions. Be sure to tune in if you can.


I’m hoping that Google comes out with Chrome for Mac sometime in the near future. I use it on my Windows machine at school, and it’s a great browser. It’s much better than Internet Explorer, but it doesn’t take much to be better than IE. Match the superior browser with the superior operating system and you’d have a winning combination!

For shame, IE users

I have to wonder at some people. The average computer user still uses some version of Internet Explorer as internet browser, and there’s absolutely no reason to do so. It is far and away the worst browser on the market in terms of speed of operation and security. These are quantitative stats that can be measured, but I think it’s also the worst in terms of ease of use and what I like to call “not getting in the way of what I’m doing.” Windows in general is very bad about this second part, and I have grown to love Mac OS X after I switched in August 2006.

Back to browsers though; there are several excellent options out there. These are all free downloads and exceedingly easy to use, so no quibbling about the cost or having to learn new software. The most serious competitor is Firefox. It’s a great browser that appears basically the same as IE, but it runs much faster and takes less system memory and stuff. Apple’s Safari is also a great one, and there’s even a version for Windows. Google Chrome is the newest and most radically different browser. My prediction is that in five years every browser will look like Chrome; it’s really well planned and organized.

Like I said these are all free downloads, easy to install, you can import all your bookmarks, and they are more secure and faster than IE. If you’re still using IE, shame on you. Upgrade to something better. For your own sanity, and so I don’t yell at you anymore, just do it.

Death of the paper era?

I’m reading a book at the moment, and it’s very entertaining. Terry Pratchett is a very entertaining writer with a nice dry sense of humor, very much in line with Douglas Adams, another of my favorite authors. The book follows the adventure of an unwilling postmaster as he struggles to restart the derelict post office in the city. It has been made obsolete by the Clacks, a system of signal towers linking cities in the world much like telegraph lines. Where it would take several months to deliver a letter to a distant city by coach, the Clacks can relay the message from tower to tower and have it arrive in a few hours. The post office still has a chance because the Clacks has become inefficient, unreliable, and corrupt. If you’ve read the book, don’t tell me how it ends because I’m still working on it (3/4 through).

With the advent of all the high tech gadgets in our lives today, there has been some discussion about eliminating all paper from our lives. This would basically serve the purpose of making landfills very happy, paper companies very upset, and crossword enthusiasts very confused. It would also change my job quite a bit; it’s much easier to solve a physics problem with a pencil and paper than on a computer screen. I don’t think we’ll see a completely paperless society, at least not in the near future, but there have been some important changes. 

I’ve actually been largely paperless for some time now. You’d never know it to look around my apartment or desk (I am a teacher after all), but I do my best to not add new paper things. I no longer get paper statements from the bank or paper bills from credit cards or utilities. I barely look at bills besides the amount I owe and when I owe it by, and it just makes more sensitive waste that I need to be careful about throwing away. 

How do I survive you might ask? I get by. The phone still works and no one has come to take my car back, so I can only assume the payments I make electronically get to the correct recipient. I get a little upset when people send me something “for my records;” I’d much rather have an electronic copy of a document that paper. Two reasons: my cell phone can’t hide under it, and things don’t get lost on my computer. 

So the point of this is that while the amount of mail I get hasn’t changed a whole lot, them amount of worthwhile mail I get has decreased quite a bit. Lots of credit card offers, lower car insurance, and, as I’ve noticed while delivering mail to the boys in the dorm, lots of information from colleges. Most of these things don’t get read carefully, some don’t even get opened, and all but a very few of them will be discarded within an hour of them entering my apartment. I get quite a few letters addressed to me, but very few that I will actually read.

I figure that something like 91% of the written personal correspondence concerning myself these days is handled by email (text messages make up approximately 4% of the rest). It’s better in many ways: cheaper (read: free), faster, doesn’t clutter landfills when deleted, and gmail does a better job of filtering junk messages than the USPS. Better though it may be, getting a picture of an envelope on your computer screen just doesn’t match the excitement of getting a real envelope in the mail.  

Perhaps this post should be titled “Lament for the Decent Mail,” or “Death of Written Personal Correspondence.” You decide.

Download Firefox

The top ten reasons to use Firefox

10. It is the fastest browser out there

9. Firefox has a really good popup blocker

8. You can import your bookmarks from other browsers

7. The bookmark toolbar = really handy

6. Firefox has about 20% market share, and you always like to support the little guys, right?

5. Firefox has nearly 30% market share in Europe, and they know a lot more than we Americans do.

4. It’s free.

3. Firefox is not made by Microsoft

2. Internet Explorer is terrible

1. Using a different browser than the one bundled with your OS shows you know what you like when it comes to the internet and are not a slave to conformism.

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