Thursday, December 17, 2009

The 2009 Groton Community Christmas Concert

Having missed a year singing with my Groton Community for the holiday season, last September I decided to join the choir again because it's so satisfying to give this gift to the community — to kick off the Christmas season. An incredible community outreach… choir members come from Groton, MA and these 13 surrounding towns: Ashby, Billerica, Chelmsford, Dunstable, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, Tyngsboro, and Westford (MA) and Mason and Nashua (NH).

During the 2nd weekend in December it was my pleasure and privilege to sing with 75 adults and 35 children in the 35th annual “Groton Community Christmas Concert” — created and directed by Edie Tompkins, shown in the snapshot here on the left.

As a fund raiser this year, an innovative GCCC supporter created the framed hand-written score that you see in the picture of Edie's original composition “Down The Bethlehem Road ”, and the masterpiece was awarded to the lucky person holding the winning ticket. We sing this song every year as the concert encore. Check out this YouTube video clip of Edie directing this song during the final performance this year. Hopefully she won't mind me reporting her quip when I told her I'd taken this instead of singing: “If I'd known you were doing that I might not have been dancing !”. And I really like the kiss she blows to the choir as she walks away when it's over!

Since I am on stage for all of what the adult choir sings, I wasn't able to get much video or many snapshots of the concert itself. Nevertheless you can check out this Flickr album (or SlideShow) of mostly candid shots that I took during the warm-ups just before each of the performances. If you prefer video… this YouTube search lets your chose from all the video clips that I have posted from this year's concert, or you can see all of my GCCC clips over the past several years by clicking here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Dream Machine - a DeskTop Quad-Core Processor

I finally did it… I went out and bought a new desktop machine, ostensibly because the C: drive on my XP machine bit the dust, but really it was because my machine dated back to 2004 and I was just fed up with trying to keep it up-to-date with its dwindling set of hardware resources that just weren't cutting it any more.

So I bought myself a new HP — Pavilion Desktop with AMD Athlon™ II X4 Quad-Core Processor, pictured here if you wanna see the snapshot page from BestBuy, which I grabbed because these things change all the time.

Since my laptop (running Vista) is a Dual-Core, I knew for sure that I wanted to have at least 2 CPUs because otherwise it's really not possible to run any of the modern operating systems these days. But what I found when I went looking was that for "pretty much the same price" (as a beefed-up desktop) you could get a machine like I got, which has 4 CPUs, as you can see clearly on the left. Clearly? Yea, because the "CPU Usage History" (the Windows Task Manager) shows you what each of the CPUs is doing, with time on the horizontal axis.

Man, it's just not possible to flat-line this machine — at least, I haven't found a way to even slow it down! To get the picture on left (i.e. to "burn up" as much CPU as possible), I ran my usual 80-or-so processes but added in AutoStitch, a well-known image processing application that could easily render a single-CPU machine "useless" for the many minutes that it would take to stitch together a set of snapshots. In this case the rendering that took "15 minutes" before now takes about 30 seconds and there's still lots of CPU left to do other things while that's happening. e.g. Here's a panorama of the Amphitheater in Pompeii, produced by AutoStitch from 15 snapshots that Jilli took when she was in Italy recently.

Of course, this machine has a lot more going for it than CPU; that's just the feature that's easy to "make a picture of". I'm happy with the greatest o/s ever (Windows 7), the 1.6 TB of storage (on 2 disk drives), surround sound, the 6 GB of RAM, FireWire, and more USB's and etc. than I could ever use. (Yea, right. I know it's just a matter of time until I've figured out how to use all this. But I wanted to write about it while it's still way more of a computer than I've ever dreamed of.)