Friday, December 30, 2005

Online Console Gaming

Upon much whining I got my mom to make some fantasy fudge today (I helped, of course) since the only other Christmas sweet we made was rum cake whereas we used to make a ton of stuff, and it tastes orgasmic. I really don't remember it ever tasting so good. I just had to share that, sorry. So the Wall Street Journal wrote up a little something about Microsoft's big investment in online gaming with the Xbox 360 (and formerly on the Xbox) and I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk a little bit about their business model. Everyone praises their service, and yet the entertainment division of Microsoft is not turning a profit. They pumped $200 million into Xbox Live and charging users $50 a year, so why aren't they rolling in the dough? I think it just may be tricky to attract console users to play online. With the PS2, some great online games are free, but people complain that the quality isn't all that great. Still, with Xbox Live people sometimes say that there are slowdowns. My personal opinion is that the real problem is that there just haven't been enough online games for consoles to get people into them. The Xbox 360 has the right idea by having online features for all their games, but will the PS3 do the same? I think this will be the generation to really usher it in now that this concluding one has experimented. I think that Sony will still keep it free for the PS3, but that does push the burden more on the developers. It definitely throws into question more who will win the war. How important is it to gamers? It's pretty damn important to me.

I posted yesterday that Intel was going to show off a new logo in January, but apparently they've already leaked and they don't look all that different. You can see it a little closer over here, but I don't really see the point in the change. Am I the only one who finds it kind of stupid when security experts reveal holes in big name software? A hole revealed on Tuesday has provoked exploiters to write infectious code and it has been called very serious since even viewing an image in a preview pane could infect you. If you find yourself in spyware predicaments all too often then you must read these tips. I know someone who's always getting herself entangled in viruses and it annoys me because they don't use good sense like the tips in that article.

Knowledge is half the battle, kids!Did anyone know that there was a G.I. Joe movie in the works? I had no clue, but apparently there was recently a script revision so Latino Review put up their review and seemed to like it. It seems to stay true to the tv miniseries, and I hope it's more than just propaganda like the original intent of GI Joe was. There's not a whole lot going on today, but I discovered a trailer from a few days ago for the comedy Thank You For Smoking about a lobbyist for Big Tobacco, and it looks like it has done well at the film festivals. It's also Katie Holmes last movie before her relationship with Mr. Cruise. Lastly, the founders of Google have invested in an indie film called Broken Arrows, which I only mention because it's a slow news day and I'm wondering how far Google will go to diversify their interests.

I thought I'd try the Friday Fun meme this week:

1. What is the best thing that happened to you personally this past year?
It's a toss-up between getting my Volvo and my brother's engagement. Both of them made me quite giddy, and both will produce long-term joy for me.
2. What is the best thing that you saw happen in the world around you?
People reaching out after Hurricane Katrina. Not the government, but just normal folk. There was a lot in the midst of the threat of Hurricane Rita, and it was nice to see that there are still people out there who care.
3. What is the biggest lesson you learned this year?
I learned that grades aren't everything.
4. What things do you hope change for you personally in the next year?
I hope I stop becoming girls' "friend"! It's not that girls are bad friends, but it's becoming quite emasculating and I'm getting too tired. I need to put myself in check and get my act together or else I fear I'll always be just a loser. I don't mind being a nerd or a geek, but being a loser when I can change things bothers me.
5. What things do you hope change in the world around you?
I hope I can help out the College of Natural Sciences at UT more through NSC. I think we have the power to do great things through Council, and we don't use it enough.
6. Do you have any resolutions?
I've already mentioned them on Tuesday, so I'll refrain from repeating them.

I hope that everyone has a very fun, safe New Year's Eve! Please be careful out on those roads, not only because of drunk drivers, but also hyperactive cops. If you think you may have had too many to drink there's no shame in forcefully throwing up in a toilet and chugging water like there's no tomorrow. Urination is your friend. I'm so glad the party will be at our place this year. I'll probably end up talking about it on Sunday.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Preparing for the Job Market

There are a couple of articles today relating to preparation for the CS job market that I couldn't resist talking about. Joel Spolsky wrote a great blog entry, as always, about the problems with schools that almost solely teach students Java because they're afraid to weed them out. UT CS only works exclusively in Java for its first two courses, but it did irritate me a bit. While I do think that some of the concepts were challenging, I would've preferred having a harder time learning them and getting used to pointers at the same time rather than having to actually think everything I type a * or & in my code now that I'm trying C++. He brings up a lot of other good points, some of which I don't believe pertain to UT graduates. The other article I liked was the results of a Computerworld survey regarding what tech skills are most valuable in the job market for 2006. If you don't want to be afraid of being outsourced then you should really focus on a high level job like developer or project manager as they suggest. I'd like to work my way up to the latter if I were to get into any sort of managerial position. They also mention the importance of security, which leads me to consider more and more taking Introduction to Computer Security as one of my CS electives; I only hope that it's taught well.

I think many of you will agree that the "Intel Inside" motto is kind of stupid and trite, and now they've announced that a new logo will be unveiled next month. Let's hope they get a little more creative. If you're rocking out your iPod with those stylish earbuds, you may wants to reconsider because more and more anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that the fact that it blocks outside sound less (thus forcing you to pump up the volume) is causing early hearing loss. It's a good thing those buds don't even fit my ears. Now for a couple of top ten lists. One of them is for the greatest gadget ideas this year (thought not all of them released yet), and it brought up some stuff I never heard of before like Voicemail VCR. The other is failed tech trends, and a few may make you cringe to remember them.

Click to enlarge

A few Superman Returns pictures sprouted up online and so I just had to put up the one I liked the best. I could've just as easily put up Natalie Portman, but oh well. There's quite a bit of surprising new today, starting with the fact that Fox has bumped up Lindsay Lohan's Just My Luck to open on the same weekend in March as Poseidon, which may be their stupidest move yet. If they think they have a Saved or Mean Girls on their hands then they're high because this movie is going to get slaughtered. If you thought that was bad though, you should check out the trailer for Bottoms Up because I have no idea why Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith would do a movie with such a bad premise. It's not all bad stuff though because Brett Ratner is looking to introduce Psylocke in X3 with an Filipino actress who looks pretty but is still a no-name so hopefully it'll be more than just a cameo appearance for the historically hot mutant. Lastly, Steven Spielberg has apparently shown interest to remake Marry Poppins so don't be too surprised if his next venture for 2007 is that, but I should hope not because it's wholly unnecessary.

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

From your point of view, name 3 things that are wrong with this world and how you might go about fixing them.
I'd say the lack of free trade, apathy towards the environment, and stupid conflicts. I don't know if I can personally fix them, but there needs to be a conference to encourage free trade, people need to start realizing that the negative effects of global warming this year are more than just anomalies, and every needs to just hold hands and sing and love each other rather than shoot each other. This is why I'm not a world leader.

Can one person make a difference (good or bad)? Why/why not?
I definitely think so. It's why I want to do CS. Apple changed the world with the iPod, which had to be someone's idea, and it generated a lot of jobs and a lot of revenues so I would call that a good influence. Steve Jobs is the one who resurrected Apple from the dead. Adolf Hitler caused a whole war and he was just one person. I definitely think that it can happen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Windows on a Mac?

After too long of a break from working on it, I got through penning most of the requirements for my Latin program, and I think I can do a good bit of the least demanding module tomorrow. I feel like a lot of decision overwhelmed me today so I'd like to pace myself. That coupled with some sad news for me made this a crummy day end badly, but I just need to stay focused on work now and worry about everything else later. I shouldn't have gotten ahead of myself. Anyway, the article I want to discuss today is the prediction by some that Mac machines will soon support Windows. Some speculate that the fast user switching cube you see in Mac OS X would support switching between multiple operating systems. While I find it unlikely that Microsoft would allow it, they could always try a VirtualPC running at native speeds. The importance of all this is that they eliminate a huge disadvantage many Windows users hide behind regarding Macs: the fact that you can't run most Windows exclusive applications (and video games). Apple never said that they'd sell machines running Windows, but they wouldn't prevent users from doing so unlike their stance on Windows users installing Mac OS X. I think its funny that many Mac enthusiasts pretend to not care, but inside I know that they're really itching to jump out of the boundaries imposed by a PowerPC-based computer.

If you want more Apple speculation then sink your teeth into this: they may start selling podcasts on iTunes next year. This isn't to say that many will be free, but I do have a slight fear that the desire to sell podcasts will spread with this opportunity given. Then again, if many of them do it right now they can't be that dissatisfied with their current model. Jumping to Microsoft, MicrosoftWatch posted their ten biggest surprises from M$ this year and despite the name of the site they're not all positive. It's a good refresher for those of us who don't realize how long 2005 really was. My biggest surprise from them was today though when I found out that the Xbox 360 may actually cost $715 per unit (including shipping) rather than $526, which would explain why they're so loath to ship more of them too quickly. This figure is just based on an "insider" and even if it's true they may not own up to it, but with the kind of hardware it packs it wouldn't be so unreasonable. And if that wasn't enough, insiders are also claiming that Microsoft is planning to throw their hat in the next-generation DVD war for HD-DVD with some powerful stratagems. None of that is confirmed, but I wouldn't be surprised since Sony is a competitor of theirs. Lastly, Gamespot has done something right for once in its list of the top 15 most influential games of all time.

The divorce between Pixar and Disney is common knowledge now, but it looks as though they may be patching things up so Disney can make a sequel to Finding Nemo and even Monsters, Inc with Pixar's blessings and input. Though I doubt they'll be kissing at midnight this New Year's Eve, time can heal. IESB nabbed a pretty good video interview with Mr. Quentin Tarantino, and I think it shows that Tarantino's name wasn't just shamelessly coupled with Hostel. He did, indeed, have a vested interested in the film and though he may have an ego I've never seen him lie. If you're more interested in Ghost Rider though the Superhero Hype forum has a Q&A straight from the horse's mouth about the comic book adaptation revealing some good stuff, like Eva Mendes's phone number. Lastly, UHM has a couple of Wicker Man pictures if you feel so inclined.

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What did you do for your last birthday? If your birthday is coming up soon, what are your plans?
I did a lot of homework on the day itself. To celebrate it though I went to Buzzfest and thoroughly enjoyed Audioslave. I haven't a lot of fun on the day itself in quite a while. I guess I'll have to wait until the big 2-1 for that.

2. What TV show do you absolutely HAVE to watch each week?
I have to watch Family Guy. I can restrain myself from some of my other shows, but that one makes me laugh even when I'm not feeling great.

3. What was your favorite vacation?
I went to New York City in the summer 2002 I believe (it was after my sophomore year of high school anyway) and I had an awesome time there. I really bonded with my cousins and I daresay that without it we may still be implicitly opposed to each other.

4. Are you doing any post-holiday sale shopping this week?
I've spent too much as it is, are you mad?! There aren't many sales over here that I've seen that are worthwhile anyway. It's not nearly as interesting at Black Friday.

Since I'm not typically in a sour mood but I am tonight, I thought I'd showcase an appropriate postcard. I should be able to put myself back together again tomorrow.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Kingship of Kong

Note: This is really the Tuesday post, just delayed.
I ended up seeing King Kong today, at last, to see what all the hub-bub is about. I went into it extremely skeptical, and came out of it very surprised. The movie really is all the positive things those reviewers say about it. At its best, it's an extremely heartfelt romance story, but at its worst it's a B horror movie. Allow me to elaborate on this a bit. I loved the movie, except for the fact that it was unnecessarily three hours long. I think Peter Jackson is overrated because he shows that he's still an amateurish director by not cutting the fluff. For example, a lot of people thought that Jack Black was miscast as Carl Denham, but I think these people have just seen too many of his comedies. He did fantastic in the role given to him, but some scenes that shouldn't have been in there confused his character and his motives, in my opinion. Jackson made up for this by packing in the emotion quite tastefully, albeit stretched at a couple of parts. The role of Anne Darrow couldn't have been portrayed by anyone by Naomi Watts because not only is she naturally gorgeous (without having to be flashy at all), but she captured the essence of this lost, but far from helpless, actress. Adrien Brody did rather well himself, though a little too black and white sometimes, and had good on-screen chemistry. Though Colin Hanks had a forgettable role, he couldn't have done a better job of fitting into it. I've seen him do well with the crummiest of characters.

Gotta love the eyes

Let me stretch this a little bit more to a new paragraph for a more complete view here. The movie is split up almost evenly into three acts. The first act is the character set-up before getting to Skull Island to make the movie, and though this was a bit slow it made you want the rest of the movie more and he had a lot of dialogue here. The ship also had a lot of important interactions. However, some of the things on the island were just too much. The native people you see in the commercials have too much screen time, and this island has too many bloody creatures! The scene between Kong and the dinosaurs were great, but some of the other encounters were way too stretched out. Let me take this opportunity to note that the CG was absolutely stunning. I wasn't disappointed by any of it, though I'm sure some purists will nit pick. Even rendering old New York was extremely well thought out. This is a movie that never skimps on details, especially when it comes to Kong himself. The third act, which I don't want to reveal too much of though I'm sure you can figure it out, is quite pivotal and I thought he did the best job with it. It tugs at the heart strings and really seals some key themes. Though there were definitely a couple of scenes that could've been trimmed down, you start to realize how much of a connection you've developed with some of these characters and certain attitudes towards others. Overall, I think this movie deserves an A-. As you can tell, being too long really hurt it, but it has so many other things to love that it won't be a forgettable experience. I think that it's a step-up from Lord of the Rings.

I'm loving my iPod Shuffle more and more, and it's a much better jogging pal than my cassette player Walkman. Having it is making me more inclined to listen to podcasts, and Wired has a brief article hitting some of the high ones including one of my favorites: Rocketboom. Trust me, they're worth your while if you catch yourself turning on your television too much. Well, there have been many more groundbreaking gadgets in the past 50 years than the iPod and PCWorld has aimed to hit the fifty best doing a great job at it. If you've been around technology for a while then it's a must-read. One gadget coming in our future is Blu-ray players, but they're apparently being held back by DRM complications because the companies behind the AACS, which is an encryption scheme to protect the discs from copyright infringement, aren't doing enough compromising. While the consumer may not be in a hurry to get BD-ROMs, it's going to be cheaper for us the longer that they're available before getting wildly popular (ala DVD-ROMs and players). Lastly, Computerworld is pointing out that some IT companies have been becoming less fun nowadays and it deeply affects job turnover rates. There's a reason why so few people who go to companies like Google and Apple leave quickly.

Over the entire holiday weekend, King Kong reigned supreme with $33.3 million, but The Chronicles of Narnia was close behind at $31.7 million and is doing impressively well for its third weekend as opposed to Kong's second weekend. Memoirs of a Geisha did pretty well itself among these giants garnering $10.2 million in its first wide release weekend, though it still has a ways to go to cover its $85 million budget. I'm also impressed that Harry Potter is still on the top 10 after five weeks. The only other thing to talk about today is the first video journal entry for 300, which is based on a graphic novel from Frank Miller and looks quite intriguing.

I'm going to go with the Ten on Tuesday this week:

10 New Year's Resolutions
10. Actually learn new classical guitar songs.
9. Get closer to my current friends.
8. Get better at driving in Austin.
7. Work towards more muscle and definition.
6. Finally get a digital camera and share the world as I see it.
5. Try out Python.
4. Meet new people.
3. Stop cluttering.
2. Grow some balls.
1. Get an internship.

Monday, December 26, 2005

My 1st Blog Anniversary

I'm sorry for the lack of a weekend post, but I ended up spending the night last night at my uncle's place and when I got back home I had to run off to a middle school reunion, which was pretty interesting. There's so much going on right now, but I would like to focus on the fact that exactly one year ago today, I reluctantly embarked on the creation of my own blog in response to seeing so many prominent techies doing so. I'd like to think that my blog and I have evolved over the course of the past year so I thought I'd do a review of some of my best stuff. My very first few posts were actually more in the vein of most techie blogs: focused on a single topic, like Microsoft vs. Google. Then I started talking briefly about what was really in my head, like slavery, in addition to a couple of other things going on and a meme. My favorite such post was probably one related to CS. What's fun about looking back is looking about things I didn't know anything about, like the Spring semester or trying out Linux, and laughing at myself. The problem with this format was that my posts were too short and I didn't cover much ground. So, I went for a more open structure where I talked about movies and technology in general, like this one about homosexuality, but I kept them relatively tame with just a handful of topics and very little one each. If they did go long, I split them up into more paragraphs. Then, my posts started getting really long because I didn't realize that I should do more filtering of the news. Some of my favorite posts from this era were when I would really reflect on stuff, and I should probably take more opportunities like those, but I also haven't been inspired by a class in a while.

In March, I got into the more structured format you see today though a bit more bloated, like this one after I beat Half-Life 2. I didn't shirk from controversial stuff even then though, and had a little spat about abortion and second homosexuality one. Another fun thing about looking back is remembering the good times, like when I went back home for Easter, went to the beach, went to Schlitterbahn, saw the Dalai Lama, went to ACL (days one, two, three), saw Audioslave, or seeing my cousin come back safely from Iraq. I did have a couple of inspired posts like one from a cool speaker at the Island Party who really got me thinking and another regarding CS as an artform. There are also historic highlights, like the showcase of new consoles at E3, the Hot Coffee craziness, controlling the Internet, or the new iPod. I also had a few posts much like this one in review or prediction, like the end of Freshman year, the end of summer (and subsequent new semester), or the end of the Fall. Then there's the fun ones, like why chicks should dig nerds *ahem*, trying out hookah, getting a car (part two), or UT beating Ohio State. And of course I just have to blab about the movies I've just seen or new CDs, like Batman Begins, Sin City, and Late Registration. Times weren't always good, but I learned from them producing great stuff like this.

I'm pretty amazed that I've lasted this long, to be honest. I started out with like 10 hits a day and not even a handful of loyal readers, and now I get upwards from 60 hits a day, more than 3/4 of those being unique visitors. I hope that I've come to deliver the stuff that you all want to see. I started out with no direction and now here I am with 315 posts under my belt I've molded this blog to give you the information that I consider to be the most important from technology and movies with occassional sidebars. How do you like this format? Or do you prefer one of my previous structures? Please let me know. I try to keep them as short as I can nowadays without sacrificing the good stuff. I'd like to think that my blog is more than just an hour of my day I blow and is more a window into my life without getting boring and too specific. Like I have no problem telling you that my brother gave me an iPod Shuffle and I love it, but I wouldn't dare go into the details of what all I did yesterday. You can count on my still being here for another year hopefully as long as you guys keep coming back for more. Thank you all for making this blog what it is and for the new friends I've made (you know who you are ;).

I was going to post about a select few news articles, but I got held up fixing a neighbor's virus problem (ugh, I should plead ignorant and pretend I don't know about computers) and it was so convoluted that I have her still scanning for it. So here's my Monday Madness:

1. Name 1 toy you owned when you were younger, that meant a lot to you.
I didn't really have a meaningful toy as such, but I did play with my little Captain Planet action figure a lot. I was pretty sad when I lost it and never found it again. Oh well, it happens.

2. Name 2 games you enjoyed playing as a child.
Monopoly and I guess basketball. I wasn't a balla or anything, but my brother and I would just shoot the ball rather than play games since he was so much bigger than me and just race to see like who got to 100 first or something.

3. Name 3 foods you didn't like as a child, but do now.
Broccoli (my mom started fixing it with cheese when I grew up), biryani, and paalak paneer.

4. Name 4 foods you didn't like as a child, and still don't like.
Spinach (how does anyone eat this stuff), potato chips, gizzard and I can't think of other stuff. Sorry!

I think I'll conclude this post with one of the few drawbacks to going to school outside of Houston:

Click to enlarge

Friday, December 23, 2005

GradeCalc 1.0

About a year ago, when I got sick and tired of drudging along in Java, I decided that I need to make some programs just for kicks in C++ that people could use and would help me learn the language a little better. However, it occurred to me that people are needy and need graphics and buttons to direct them rather than just a command line as provided by console applications. You're all spoiled rotten! Anyway, I had three ideas, one of which will remain secret for now: trying to figure out my average is annoying so I wish I had a program for it, and learning Latin can get tedious so I also wish I had a program for that. Hence, I played around with a free set of libraries known as wxWidgets to create my first GUI application, and after much toil in trying to statically link it (you have no idea how many hours it took me to get it to build properly), I've come up with GradeCalc version 1.0. I'm sorry that this came after finals season, but it will no doubt help many of you in May when you're trying to figure out how much you really have to try on that final to pass your favorite class. I know that it's pretty dinky (it weighs in at under 1000 lines of my code), but it gets the job done and I'm perfectly willing to improve it with some good suggestions. I'm sorry if you're on a Mac, but I spent a good part of today trying to cross compile it and will continue to work to that end in the background. So now what? I will be dedicating all my free time until school starts again to the latter project, which I've affectionately dubbed Amore Latinae ("for love of Latin"). Cross your fingers for a January 17th release date.

It has been a while since we heard anything about Mr. Kai-Fu Lee, but it appears that they've reached a secret pact and so now Microsoft and Google are cool again, kinda. Alas, the guns can stop blazing for the holiday season in Silicon Valley. Also just in time for the holidays, Microsoft announced that all Xbox Live subscribers are eligible for a Diamond Card, which comes with a lot of free discounts and stuff. It's probably just a marketing tool, but anything free is good. Meanwhile, Google has been busy updating the TOS on its Google Video service and looks like it's veering towards selling and/or renting videos. I wonder if they'll try competing with iTunes. If you do have iTunes, by the way, there's a funny video that you can download from SNL about a lazy Sunday afternoon. If you remember the good old days when SNL was funny, you must check out this collection of Nick Burns and Celebrity Jeopardy videos because they will make you keel over in laughter. Lastly, there are some pretty out there case mods over here.

I'm going to talk about the most exciting news first: Quentin Tarantino will start working on combining the two Kill Bill movies in January, but won't show it in theaters until late next year and then he'll work on the super duper special edition. I'm dying to see Kill Bill again so he'd better release that DVD set sooner rather than later.Click to enlarge AICN got the picture to the right here from Superman Returns. I'm going to revise my workout goals to that. We have some good news from Robert Rodriguez: he's planning on releasing Sin City 2 next August and would make five of them if it was up to him! So at least there's no lack of enthusiasm in the project, and if he keeps putting Jessica Alba in, the people will come. A small movie studio has confirmed adaptations of Tekken, Pac-man, and Castlevania, but I have no idea why. I wonder how long before they go bankrupt? I have a couple of trailers left, both of them involving family trips. The first is for R.V. featuring Robin Williams and is a pretty standard family comedy. The other family's trip goes terribly awry in The Hills Have Eyes, but at least you see Lost's Emilie De Ravin in a bikini top!

I'm going to try the Top 5 Friday meme this week:

What would be the Top 5 items on your Christmas wish list if money wasn't a factor?
5. 19" LCD monitor (my 17" MAG CRT is way too bulky, but it's good quality)
4. Sharp Aquos widescreen LCD television (at least 32")
3. 17-inch PowerBook (they're so dead sexy)
2. Canon Powershot SD500 (it's small and efficient)
1. A current generation 30 GB iPod (surprise, surprise)

I hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas, and I'll likely delay my Sunday post to Monday morning. If you want something funny to show your family this weekend, then nothing beats an old classic.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

From Java to Ruby

I ended up mostly finishing my Grade Calculator program today, but I ended up going to Slick Willie's (hence the delay of this post), so I'll release it, as dinky as it is, tomorrow evening. To compensate for the tardiness of the post I'll show you something really funny: the video for "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk". I guarantee that you will laugh. Yes, it's real. Anyway, Bruce Eckel is an very well-respected figure in the programming community, and he's written a thoughtful editorial on the movement of hyper-enthusiasts from Java to Ruby and Zope. It's really an exciting time to be a web applications developer right now because of how big Python and Ruby have become almost overnight, towering over Perl. If you don't know what I'm talking about, skip this paragraph. When Java first came out, do you remember how it was supposed to do everything short of wiping your ass? Could we be approaching that same point here? I kind of doubt it, because these languages have really grown out of the wants and needs of the developers. Eckel doesn't presume to answer questions like this, but he does ponder whether Python users really even bother with Ruby, and that's what makes it so cool! It's an extensible language! Anyway, I'm only bringing all this up because I think it's important that web frameworks are created that are easy to use, and that's what we're starting to get with stuff like Ruby on Rails. Java was painful and slow, and Perl was just annoying for OOP fans, so this evolution is just great. This article is a joy to read if you have a few minutes for it.

The creator of the interpreted Python language, Guido von Rossum, has actually been scooped up by Google, which is the latest acquisition their series of high-profile hires. I wonder how much guys this brilliant are getting paid? If you're curious about what you search about, then you should check out Google Trends, which apparently will also better tailor results to you. They're definitely pushing the envelope as to how much they can garner from people's searches. All three of my female readers may be happy to hear of a drug that, if taken daily, can rid you of your period! It's still being approved, but some experts warn that taking away menstruation could thrown a woman's whole physiology out of wack and may make you more susceptible to STDs. If you're confused by that, then just read the article. Nintendo is trickling out their information on the Revolution to us, and we now know that for the Revolution of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, you will be able to use your sword interactively! How cool is that?! They are going to be filthy rich. Lastly, Microsoft is losing their fight in Europe and if they don't open up some of their software interface information in a five weeks, they'll face $2.4 million fines each day. I'm very impressed with the EU sticking to their guns.

Click to enlargeIs that the Lady in the Water? I'm not sure, but IGN got it from the movie so it should be someone important. There are quite a few trailers going on today. If thrillers tickle your fancy than the semi-realistic scenario posed by the trailer for When a Stranger Calls may entice you. If you're more of the Scary Movie type though, then you'll probably get a kick out of Date Movie, which actually had a mildly funny trailer. The last trailer today is from Click, during which I actually laughed out loud so I hope that it'll be good. If you need more video though then there's an extremely short Ghost Rider clip at Superhero Hype. Oliver Stone's 9/11 movie (the one with Nicholas Cage) will be called World Trade Center from now on, but it's nothing really striking. I hope his movie is more creative than that. Lastly, AICN put up a list of what really encompassed the classic movie geek movies of the year (with a couple that us normal folk haven't been able to see yet), and I bring it up for those of you looking for movies to rent and see with family this weekend.

Now for the 3x Thursday meme, albeit a little late:

1. Do you and your family celebrate the holidays? What do you do? If not, do you do something instead?
We do celebrate Christmas Eve (mass) and Christmas Day, where we just go over to one of my dad's family's place for lunch and/or dinner. However, this year we're also going to hit up my mom's side, which may be less interesting for me since all the people over there are like married/engaged! Oh well, I'm sure we'll make the most of it.

2. Did you get all of your shopping done? Did you have to buy for a lot of people? What kind of gifts do you tend to buy people?
Except for my parents, yes. I don't know what we're going to do about our parents, but hopefully my brother thought of something. I bought everyone very different stuff, but it was all things I figured they'd like.

3.. What's up for Xmas (the holidays in general, actually) this year? Doing anything fun?
I already answered above. Though we are going to my uncle's place for a while after Christmas Eve mass.

What was a typical Xmas like at your house when you were a kid?
It was more or less the traditional race to the tree when you get up in the morning to see what Santa brought you. We opened our gifts in our nuclear family, and later in the day usually spent some time with relatives.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dinner With E-mail Giants

I'm so excited right now that I'm hopping up and down to get half the functionality of my Grade Calculator program working! It'll be "released" by Christmas and will allow you to not only see your final average by entering in the grades and their weights, but will also also let you see what you need on like a final exam to make an A or B or what-not in the class. Anyway, if you want to share in my joy you can watch a funny Pac-man video. A Wall Street Journal writer sat down for dinner with the men responsible for Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail just for kicks to have a reasonable conversation. It's a good reminder of how much the latter two have evolved as a result of Gmail's inception last year. It got me thinking, what else could use a wake-up call? Up until that point, all the e-mail services were almost alike with mostly cosmetic improvements over time. We haven't seen anything too revolution in the OS world in a while, and I doubt Vista will do anything too extraordinary. What if another start-up came out of nowhere and rocked Microsoft and Apple? We're already seeing a revolution in web browsers thanks to Firefox, but I'd like to see 3rd party IM clients like Gaim or Trillian make a difference as well. Why should we have to have three different screen names to talk to our friends on almost identical programs? I wonder what 2006 has in store for us.

One thing is for sure though, we'll have a new contender to Wikipedia next year called Digital Universe that will only allow edits by people who are actually knowledgeable in those fields. PC World identified Wikipedia as a winner and a loser of the past year in their list of winners and losers in the tech world because of how questionable the edits on certain entries have become. That list is actually a good review of some of the major events from the past year. Another good list is this one featuring the best tech podcasts created this year, and it even spurred me to check out a couple of them. They're actually really good and almost a must-listen if you have an iPod so you can get your daily dose on the go. Lastly, if you've never known all the hotkeys in Windows XP then there's a great table of them over here for your future reference.

Click to enlargeI'm on a timetable now so I'll make the rest of this post quick. Jessica Biel is going to be in a new movie called London, and supposedly she goes full-frontal in it, but let's not hope that that's the high point of the movie (thought it wouldn't be a bad high point). I don't remember if I posted about a rumor claiming Phillip Seymour Hoffman being in the running for the Penguin in the next Batman flick, but a close friend of his has confirmed that he has definitely been looking into it. I think he'd be great for the role. The latest entry in the Clerks 2 production diary features critiques from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, and it's really just fun to hear them talk about it because they're so damn cool. Lastly, Michael J Fox appears to be interested in doing a fourth Back to the Future movie, but I wonder if they can really get a decent script together for it? He wants to be the professor, but I don't know if he'll really fit it.

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Where are your forefathers from? Ever been to those countries?
Does that mean my family's ancestors? That would be India, and I've only been there once but it was quite a while ago and I should really go again sometime.

2. Are you related to any famous people? Any kings or queens in your family tree?
Nope, my lineage is pretty normal!

3. Think about the first person in your family to come to this country from somewhere else. If you could ask that person anything, what would you ask them?
I already did a whole interview with my mom about this, but what I was most interested in is why she came. She went through great trouble to do it, and it was really just her ambition, which I can feel in my blood.

4. What's one thing you want to do before the year ends?
Plan out my Latin program! I need to get a schedule together on that development.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Apple Has Rocked Consumer Electronics

Winter break feels so weird because I don't do half as much in a day as I used to. I woke up too late and didn't exercise, but I got some new dumb bell clips so that I can somewhat keep in shape at home. I can't believe that 24 Hour Fitness would charge $50 for a one month membership! You'd think their equipment was made of gold. Anyway, maybe I'll get back in my groove tomorrow because I do have tons to do. If you're a regular of my blog then you're up to speed on Apple's announcements from the past year and now we can look back and say, "Wow, they really made a name for themselves." One online magazine considers them to be the new Sony, which is a huge compliment presuming that their previously low key presence in consumer electronics has exploded to the level that Sony was at that time with cameras, the PS2, audio equipment, and other random stuff. You know you're a big deal when you're not even at the Consumer Electronics Expo (CES), and yet there's a ton of buzz surrounding you thanks to the companies you've help build by giving them the opportunity to make accessories for your products. People are even modding their Nanos to play video. Their strategy of integrating so many ideas has really stunned the electronics world this year and we can look forward to more of that next year, I'm sure, with the inevitable release of Intel-based computers at some point.

Another thing that comes with the end of a year is the Google Zeitgeist, which is a listing of popular searches in the year. It's funny how search terms can showcase trends so well. Google is also scaring some authorities with the imagery from Google Earth, but I'm sure they're willing to comply with hiding any sensitive data. I find it very interesting that Microsoft has hired user interface expert Bill Buxton, which could really help them out. I don't see much variation on the UI of their software, and I think it hurts them. Lastly, if you hate viruses then you may change your mind when you see that a worm actually helped catch a pedophile. So you see, viruses like children! Just not in that way.

Click to enlargeIs it ever a bad day to put up a picture of Keira Knightley? I think not, but today it's because she's signed on to a movie called Silk where she's the lover of a French silkworm smuggler in the 1800s. We finally have a look at the actual Ghost Rider in the movie at the movie's site (click "The Rider Revealed"), and I think it looks pretty cool. I spoke of a clip for Apocalypto a few days ago, and we now have a teaser for the movie detailing the fall of the Mayan civilization. We still don't have that Mayan dialogue, and the trailer offers very little new footage. Christian Bale has been on a roll this year and gave an interview with IGN on the anticipated film from Terrence Malick, The New World, which gives an artistic spin to the Pocahontas story. Casino Royale is having trouble finding a leading lady for the film with three rejections already, and that can't mean good things for the movie or the franchise if people don't want to be a part of it. Lastly, Newsweek is printing an article on the Da Vinci Code movie featuring a number of pictures if you're interested.

Sorry that I accidentally mixed up my meme yesterday, but I'll just do the Ten on Tuesday today. I was pretty tired yesterday as you could tell.

Ten Best Things About the Holidays
10. Having a little time to do some reading for pleasure.
9. Making holiday treats!
8. Post-Christmas sales.
7. Realizing how good egg nog can be. ;)
6. Eating lots of kick ass food.
5. Dancing until it hurts on New Year's Eve.
4. A break from the otherwise overbearing heat.
3. Ending the stress of finals with time with family.
2. The look on their face when they open your present.
1. A fancy Christmas mass (I love the elaborate music and everyone being so dressy)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fall 2006 is Over

As I was starting to prepare my post I realized that today was the last day of the fall semester for me so I should probably do a recap post. The Introduction to Classical Mythology final was a little harder than I thought it would be, but I feel confident that I got enough points for an A. It's almost hard to believe that I'm halfway through my sophomore year of college. This semester really put the pressure on me and was much harder than last year. I found myself putting in 12 hour days on campus, squeezing some weekends between just football, homework, and the gym, and dealing with a couple of annoying classes. Did I learn a lot? I think I did, and in one of those classes it was mostly thanks to my own study habits. My grades didn't disappoint, but that's the same old story. I think I advanced myself a little bit socially, but not enough. I'm still lagging behind what I pictures myself to be in college, and I'm hoping that maybe next semester I'll get closer to the people who I wanted to see more this semester. Maybe I'll even take a couple of risks, but what's important is that I'm not just satisfied with the way things are, but really happy. I want to look back on my next birthday and see a better Elton. I also hope I can do more for NSC than I have this semester, and I think that Texas Revue is a good start to that because I consider it something that everyone can really get into. My big goals for the spring are getting an internship, getting straight As, and seeking what's still missing in my life. I think I can find it. Sorry for those of you who had to bear with me on this paragraph who really didn't care, but every once in a while I have to keep this blog human. I think it's only fair to end a contemplative paragraph with a provocative postcard.

Click to enlarge

It's a sad phenomenon that less and less chicks dig computer science nowadays, and I don't totally get it. I can't see any guys trying to purposely intimidate girls out of the major unless they think better of themselves than they actually are, and I don't know why universities would keep introductory weed out classes. I hope the trend reverses sooner rather than later. If you were wondering last year why Suprnova shut down, the answer is now online and it's due to police charges as many surmised. I'm sure that many in the community are glad that he ended up safe from charges, but definitely a scary situation. With P2P now at record highs, I'm sure that the authorities have bigger fish to fry. USA Today has a pretty good article on how reliant our society has become on Google for its knowledge, almost as a surrogate memory bank. How many times a day do you "google" something? Lastly, Mac users will want to make sure that they have these programs installed.

There's not a whole lot of exciting stuff going on in movies so I think I'll get through it rather quickly. There's a pretty good trailer up for Catch and Release, which is Jennifer Garner's latest and is may be less of a chick flick than I had previously estimated. Peter Jackson seems interested in The Hobbit, but he's rightfully taking a step back from the arguments between MGM and Sony on who gets the rights to it, but I just don't think it's as easily transferable to a motion picture as the trilogy itself. There are a few posters up for Date Movie and Scary Movie 4, and they're all humorous in their own right but I'm not so sure about how good the movies will be themselves. Richard Linklater (of Dazed and Confused fame) has gained the rights to the non-fiction book Fast Food Nation and is mysteriously turning it into a movie with some interesting casting choices. Lastly, if you're interested, Roger Ebert put up his rather controversial picks for his best movies of the year.

Now for the Tuesday Twosome meme:

1. Name you are most frequently called? Nickname you are most frequently called?
I don't really have a nickname. Some guys in the ACM call me Eptiger because they knew that before my real name, and a couple of people may call me E, but that's about it. My name's too short to necessitate one!

2. Age people think you are? Age you wish you were?
People probably think I'm 16! To look younger than you are as a guy really isn't good. I direly wish that I was 21. It'd be so cool to go to a club with my brother, and I wish I could before he gets married but it looks like there's no luck there. Oh well, his fiance is probably a lot of fun for clubbing also.

3. Have you ever had someone mess with you while you were sleeping? Have you ever messed with people when they are sleeping?
Not that I can recall. I wouldn't be embarrassed enough to not share, so don't think that I'm hiding something. I used to tickle my brother when I was younger to see if I could wake him up because I was bored and had nothing else to do. He was always busier than me when I was growing up (that's what a big age gap will do) so I had to amuse myself somehow.

4. Have you ever actually listened to Telemarketers? Have you ever prank-called someone?
I have a couple of times, but only for surveys, not actual sales companies. I did assist a prank call for my cousin to this girl who was being a bitch to her. I think we got her pretty good because when she answered the phone she thought we were someone else.

5. What is the longest you have gone without food? What is the largest amount of food you have ever eaten at one sitting?
I'm actually not sure. I'm pretty hard pressed to skip eating, and I actually plan my days around food, so I couldn't say. The largest amount of food I've eaten is like four kinds of a meat at a barbecue. We need to have another family one soon.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Low Music Sales

Click to enlarge

Update: There is a God, I aced my hardest final, CS 336!That's just some food for thought for you (you'll want to click it to be able to actually read it). I've spent all day studying (for my CC 303 final tomorrow) and it still made me pause and reevaluate my behavior for the past couple of years. Anyway, I bear good tidings of my CS 336 exam: domination. It took me a while to get through it, but with some help from the teacher I think I nailed every question, and last night I got my pet program to finally compile and link. This is my last night in Austin for four weeks and I'm so going to miss this place, but I do need to get away from school for a little while lest I lost my mind. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that music sales have been suprisingly slow this holiday season. They're pretty upset about it and some blame iPods while others still think its file sharing. What these people don't seem to understand, much like the movie industry, is that they keep trying to forcefeed crap to us at stubbornly high prices. What happened to the days when CDs were between $10 and $12? And what happened to artists caring about how good their music is? The CDs they report as bombing I haven't heard much at all about, and for good reason: no one wants them. Kanye West generated a lot of buzz regarding his album and he got out there and sold it, and that's why he succeeded. Does anyone own Eminem's Encore? I don't, and don't plan on it. 3/4 of the albums on my CD wishlist are from past years.

I reported on the music industry even reaching out and shutting down lyric sites last week, and one of their attacks was on a program called PearLyrics that just searched the web for them. In an unprecedented showing of good will, they apologized, and with good reason. Could we see a Napster-esque conversion in the near future? There's a lot of speculation regarding Apple as the Macworld Expo quickly approaches, and The Brig seems to think they'll showcase a black iBook with an Intel processor. Some people think it's crazy, but I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility. HP has now decided to support Blu-ray and HD-DVD, but it looks like they'll abandon the former if they don't concede a few things so the battle is really starting to get heated up. This one isn't over by a longshot. Lastly, if you think that Take Two is the first company to be rocked by video game lawsuits, then you'll want to visit 1up for their coverage of the history of video game developers going to court. Who knew that Phillips tried to copy Pac-Man or Nintendo created it's own version of Street Fighter.

It's not really so much of a surprise that King Kong was #1 this weekend at the box office but more that it only made $50.1 million ($66.2 million since Wednesday), which is only a quarter of its budget. The Chronicles of Narnia in second with a decent $31.2 million, but what was most impressive was Brokeback Mountain's clutch on the #8 spot despite being released in only 69 theaters. I think everyone has now come to realize how underrated Christian Bale has been, and he's really thinned down for his role in Rescue Dawn, for which we now have a trailer. It should be a real interesting movie. I was real glad to read a good review for New World, which I was keeping my fingers crossed for and now it looks like it's just as good as I thought it could be. It's very much an artistic film though.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings action:

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Replenish::Rejuvenate
  2. People::Persons
  3. Trend::Metrosexual
  4. Girlfriends::Horrible UPN show
  5. Spirit::Squad
  6. Banshee::Evil
  7. Oasis::Bad in concert
  8. Thrills::Chills
  9. Fountain::of Youth
  10. Boxes::Brown

Friday, December 16, 2005

Shifting Out the Graphics

Tomorrow is going to be my most challenging final so I'm a little scared about it. In fact, I'm going to go to mass right before it to make sure that God is happy with me beforehand. I should've studied more today than I did, but I got caught up on my pet program like the loser I am, but I also went to Din Ho for dinner and it was some yummy stuff. The most appealing thing to me today was the fact that Microsoft has decided to move Avalon, the UI for Windows Vista, outside of the kernel. What does this mean? The kernel is the meat and potatoes of an OS and as such it has undisputed control over all the memory in a computer. Hence, anything inside of it could cause serious damage (ala freezing) if stuff goes wrong, which many Windows users are already aware of. If the UI and the drivers are run in user mode, Windows can recover from such problems much more gracefully. It's an extremely smart move that has taken them way too long to figure out. Mac does this and it makes the OS X GUI less dependent on the hardware. In fact, it leads to the richer graphics that most Mac lovers are accustomed to. It used to be that if it wasn't in the kernel that it would mean that everything would take a huge performance hit, but in this day and age of 1 GB RAM and 3 GHz processors, I'm sure that won't be a problem.

Google is always up to some new service, and this week they rolled out Google Music, which makes it easy to get more information on your favorite artists. You can check out all their albums, find lyrics, and buy the music through iTunes or Real Rhapsody among others. I think most of us has used eBay at some point, and hopefully you haven't gotten swindled, but now eBay has come under fire for not working very hard against fraudulent auctions. Maybe some of us have gotten too comfortable with buying stuff on eBay; just try to be more careful. Harvard Medical School is claiming that keyboard usage is not a dominant factor in getting carpal tunnel syndrome, though it can cause other problems. I kind of doubt the study though because carpal tunnel really does seem to fit. Lastly, if you're curious as to the history of personal computing then Ars Technica has a really in depth look at it.

To continue the series of trailers this week, we now have one for American Dreamz and it's a lot better than I would've though. The movie is basically a critique of how focused our society is on pop culture and I think it could turn out very well. There are a couple of extra creepy clips from Hostel at Yahoo! Movies in case you're scared by finals and don't realize that there are worse things. I don't know how I'll sleep after seeing this one because it's basically about sadism. We also have a clip from Apocalypto, which is the first we've heard of from Mel Gibson since that little Christian movie he put out last year, and it's about the end of Mayan civilization. It doesn't look too good yet, but we barely have anything at all to go off of. has some great clips from the Munich soundtrack, which is composed by John Williams and sounds pretty damn good. Spielberg has worked with him a couple of times before, so I think it makes for some good chemistry. Bryan Singer has gotten the gears turning on a documentary about the Superman legacy and it will have a limited release, but he wants it to be on a Superman Returns Special Edition DVD so I'm sure it's not too far away. Lastly, we have a poster for Miami Vice and I think it looks pretty neat.

Click to enlarge

Now for Friday's Feast:

What is a word that your family uses that would not be considered common?

One word we use is "chalo" when we want to leave somewhere, which means "let's go" in Hindi. It's really just random Indian phrases like that.

What theme of calendar do you have on your wall this year?

It's one with family pictures that my cousin's wife made for everyone. Usually I get the Chick-Fil-A calendar, but this one has served me just as well except that I don't get free food with it.

Name 3 people you speak with on a daily basis.

That's tough. Probably Robert, Bethany, and myself! I don't tend to talk to certain people every single day.

Main Course
If you could put a new tattoo on someone you know - who would it be, what would the tattoo be of, and where would you put it on them?

I'd probably put a tattoo of Kate from Lost on John. I think he'd like it.

What is the last beverage you drank out of a glass bottle?

That would be a Shiner on Sunday night. That is the best beer in the world, for future reference.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

More on the Next Generation

I effectively dominated my Latin final today. There's no doubt that I likely missed a couple of questions, but I definitely was on a roll with the translations. I'm sad that my Latin experience at UT is over, but I'll be working on that program this winter so no worries, yet. I know I've been talking about video games a lot, but they're just a hot topic nowadays. interviewed the creators of the Xbox 360 and PS3, and you can see a real interesting contrast between the two of them. J Allard almost seems like he's more genuine than Kaz Hirai (who's actually the president of SCEA). Hirai seems to spew propaganda and praise Sony too much, whereas Allard gives a good basis behind the Xbox 360's philosophies. In a separate article, Microsoft denied rumors from yesterday that they would later release an HD-DVD-enabled Xbox 360 next year. In essence, they realized that they said too much and are taking a step back, but I can guarantee you that they've talked about it and are still considering it. It makes sense that they'd want to announce it on their own terms though and make sure they're on the winning side of the DVD format war. On the PS3 side, we now have a video with commentary from Hideo Kojima and some other guy about the technical aspects of the Metal Gear Solid 4 trailer, and it's amazing that not only is it all real-time but also quite detailed. If you're a Nintendo fan and feeling left out then don't worry, because CNN Money somehow snagged some hands-on time with the Revolution and they seemed to love the experience. It looks like the remote isn't just a gimmick.

Moving on to the exciting world of iTunes, NBC Universal must be pretty happy with sales of their TV shows because they're planning on making some announcements of more shows through Apple's service within the next couple of weeks. Following suit, HBO is also planning on selling some of their programming to Apple. This is an excellent idea because I'm sure that many non-subscribers have been downloading some of their really good shows, like Rome and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Google has decided to make a couple of extensions for Firefox, and the one that really appeals to me is one that will let you know what bloggers are saying about certain sites that you visit. If you're curious or bored, you should check it out. Lastly, if you think that more MHz in one processor than another means that it's faster, you should definitely give this article a look. It actually manages to explain it in an easy-to-understand manner.

Cool maskThat man to the left is happy because there's a new trailer for V for Vendetta up and, as is the theme this week, it's totally badass. Beware that it reveals much of the plot, but I think in doing so it really compels you to see the movie because it's just so 1984-ish. King Kong premiered today at under $10 million and some may feel that it's already failed, but I think that since most people have work tomorrow or are in the middle of finals they don't want to give up 3 hours of their Thursday to see a movie because it's not like it has some huge prior fan following. I think the critics will motivate people to see it over the weekend though. In a very new move, Match Point has released podcasts with interviews with the main cast members to stir up excitement for it, and I'd say that it's as good an idea as the recently burgeoning population of production blogs. I'm not all that interested in The Producers, but I do love Uma Thurman so I thought I'd plug IGN's video interview with her. I just have a couple of posters for you, one is for The Hills Have Eyes, and the other is the Italian poster for Hostel. The latter is actually creepier than its previous iterations.

I'm going with the Thursday Threesome meme:

::Candy canes and Peppermint sticks::

Onesome: Candy canes-- Treat of the Christmas season or something you just never got into?

I definitely like candy canes. I used to always get them from teachers in grade school and I still like the ones that have different flavors even today. I don't know why anyone would have an issue with peppermint.

Twosome: and Peppermint-- or cinnamon scented candles and such? Which do you prefer when you walk into a home or business this time of year? ...or maybe even fresh evergreen from a real tree?
I think the fresh evergreen would actually be nicer. A Christmas tree is just so much more symbolic than peppermint scented candles.

Threesome: sticks-- ..or schtick? ..or even maybe kitsch? Yeah, what is your most un-favorite piece of Christmastime memorabilia? That display at the hardware store? The "Simpsons Nativity"? That ornament you made in third grade that still ends up on the tree each year?
This is a tough one. It's hard for me to think of a piece of memorabilia that I have a particular disinclination to. I guess I'd have to say this chirping thing that my dad has put on the tree in the past. It basically makes chirping noises from inside the tree at certain intervals, but it just annoyed the Hell out of me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More 360s on the Way?

I took my CS 310 final this morning like a man, and it was harder than I had initially predicted, but I think I did well enough on it. After the exam I discovered that I only needed a 50 on the exam for an A in the class so it's pretty unlikely that I failed it. I almost wish that I had studied less in retrospect. Tomorrow afternoon I will be taking down my LAT 311 exam, and I'm predicting that it will be my easiest final. There's not a whole lot to talk about today, but there were multiple Xbox 360 articles for some reason. Microsoft seems to be pretty hard pressed to fulfill its initial projections for Xbox 360 shipments. Supposedly, they'll ship out another 300,000 more next week, but that still doesn't amount to a whole lot. Best Buy is claiming that they'll have 20-60 units at its stores on the 18th. It seems like there's still a little confusion as to what will happen next week though, but game sales are lagging because there still aren't any great games for it! With the exception of a couple of them, they're just glorified Xbox games. Gamestop has decided to be a jerk and sell pricey bundles behind the backs of those who put down deposits on preorders. That's sickening if it's true. The last article I found claims that the Xbox 360 may include HD-DVD functionality next year, but no details as to whether it'll be an add-on or only on newer iterations, which I think would be lame.

Google is getting a little more clever with its personalized homepage by opening up an API to allow for widget-like features, which have been dubbed Google Hacks more universally. I think in a few more weeks it'll have a decent library of applications. I guess that Microsoft got tired of negotiating with record labels because they've now joined forces with MTV instead to create a joint music service called Urge, but they're being very ambiguous as to what that entails. I'm guessing that they haven't decided on much yet, but I'm curious as to what they actually come up with. If you're curious as to how businesses ship large amounts of items, Joel Splosky made a blog post detailing how Fog Creek shipped their new DVDs on their internship program and it's actually really interesting how the process evolved.

A bomb was dropped on the movie world today: the trailer for the Da Vinci Code was released today. The verdict? It looks freaking sweet. You can count on this being a blockbuster next summer. Pay attention to the letters highlighted in the end credits and you may find a secret site. While not nearly as exciting, there's a trailer up at Yahoo! Movies for the animated movie Over the Hedge, and it has potential to be a funny movie but I've yet to see the trailer for another animated movie that has got me as excited as I was about The Incredibles. JoBlo snagged an interview with Peter Jackson if you're curious as to all the hub-bub about King Kong, and he may be an overrated director but at least he has vision. Following a trend of movie blogs, Rocky 6 has started a production blog and it may even rejuvenate your interest in the series once it really gets underway. I think it's great that they're using a real boxer as a main character. Lastly, check out the new poster for Lady in the Water:

Click to enlarge

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Have you ever received a gift that was so horrible you couldn't wait to return it?
I actually got a pretty bad gift on Sunday during our ACM white elephant gift exchange. One of the more eccentric members wrapped a CD of some random local band. I bought a Harry Potter DVD and I get that in return? I ended up trading for a Toastmaster Sandwich Maker, which I may actually use.

2. What's the last book you finished? Was it any good? How long did it take you to read it?
The last book I read was The Aeneid I believe, and it was pretty good. It wasn't as good as I had remembered it because of all the battle scenes, but oh well. I still enjoyed the story it told.

3. If you could go on a vacation right now, where would you choose to go?
I have no idea to tell you the truth. Anywhere I can have a lot of fun and just take a load off would be great.

4. Do you call it soda, or do you call it pop?
I call it soda, but I don't drink it without alcohol. Just plain soda is pretty boring, but it's more because of a diet I started a few years ago where I gave it up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Blu-ray Springs Forward

I know I say this often to no avail, but I really have to make this post as short as I can since I have a CS 310 final tomorrow morning that I still think I need to work more towards. There's a lot to talk about today though so I'll get right down to it. In the midst of word that Toshiba is delaying the introduction of the HD-DVD once again, due to delays in AACS, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) gave an update on the status of the BD-ROM format and it's looking good. Not only will Blu-ray players be backwards compatible with DVDs, but they'll support MMC and may even support the download of trailers and stuff. Plus, they make claims of even more interactivity in menus. In other words, they're trying to impress everyone to the level that the DVD format initially did, and I think it's working. I'm not saying that the HD-DVD is out of the running, but it's just lagging behind at this point. I'm sure they can come up with some impressive stuff as well, but we're closing in on Q1 2006 very quickly and promises made earlier will be called into question. The deciding factor will be who follows through on them.

Another controversial topic today was an article that highlights a debate that has developed in the past year or so: the discussion over whether or not Java is dead. I think that other formats have definitely smacked it around a lot with better functionality, but I think that its use in businesses is too deep-rooted to be so easily disposed of. I'm personally not a big fan of it though. The East has been ahead of us in technology for quite a long time now, and one luxury they've had is watching TV on their cell phones. Phillips is working on bringing chipsets to the U.S. that would make such a thing feasible to us. They still have to work on the business model, but it would be great for if you're at a Longhorn football game but you want to see if anyone is beating USC yet. I encountered a blog post where a System Administrator listed the ten most common problems he's dealt with, and it's actually really useful so I highly recommend it. Lastly, one blogger posted his best guess for Nintendo's big surprise for the Revolution that they've hinted at, and he thinks it's a relatively unknown technique called displacement mapping. It's a good read if you're interested in Nintendo at all.

I have been intrigued by Munich since I first caught wind of it, and now has a little featurette on it exploring the vision behind the film. I wonder how it will play in people's minds against the current "War on Terror." IGN has an exclusive clip from Hostel that is intense and a little gruesome so view it at your own risk. I think this has the makings of a great horror flick. I was least impressed today with the trailer for Poseidon, but it is a Wolfgang Peterson movie so you never know. AICN got a first look at V for Vendetta, and all they can do is rave about it. I guess Natalie Portman didn't shave her head for nothing! Superhero Hype has discovered that Adrian Lester from Hustle and Flow will be in Spider-man 3, and supposedly he'll be "[curing] the baddie." I don't know who that would be, but the only doctor I can think of is the Lizard. Lastly, the Golden Globe nominations are now online and remind me of just how few new movies I watched this year.

Since the start of my week is marred with the agony of studying and other matters floating around in my head, I thought I'd post an equally deep PostSecret postcard (though I do believe in God):

Click to enlarge

Now for the Ten on Tuesday meme:

10 Things You Want for Christmas
10. Any Frank Miller graphic novel
9. Angels & Demons
8. Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
7. Get Born - Jet
6. Spider-man boxed set
5. Any Rilo Kiley album.
4. More nice clothes (like business casual stuff)
3. Devil May Cry 3
2. Any of the Family Guy seasons
1. An iPod (any kind)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Nintendo's Drawbacks

Last night was the ACM Holiday Party and I must say that it's the most fun I've had at a college party in a long time. It would not be wise to detail my adventures here, but you can IM me if you're really that curious. The great thing about being around other CS majors is that you never feel any nerdier than them. Speaking of dorky stuff, I ran into an article today detailing the greatest failures of Nintendo. It's misnamed "Nintendo's Ups and Downs" because it very rarely focuses on the good. It was probably written in response to the fanboys who have stuck with it since the beginning and think that the Big N is infallible. I think it's unfairly harsh on the company, but they have done some pretty stupid stuff in all honesty. I really have no idea what they were thinking when they came up with the Virtual Boy. The decision to stay with the cartridge with the N64 was a horrible play and gave Sony an in to steal market share. They always seem to be one generation behind, like their support for DVDs in the revolution and online play. I still see them as an old-fashioned company with their heart in the right place, but they really need to work on the execution. I think that the Nintendo DS is more than just a gimmick as the article wants to call it, and it's probably much better than the PSP in its value.

While I'm on games, Engadget toured the Microsoft Xbox offices and posted some pictures for your viewing pleasure. It looks to be a very open environment. It seems to be more and more likely that Apple will be releasing a 13.3-inch iBook in January with an Intel chip inside of it. I posted about how this could potentially be a very damaging move, but they're probably smart enough to make it work for them. If you're looking for a good technical book but just don't know what to get, this bookshelf has a great selection of books to look into. My favorites are the Dilbert selections. Yahoo has upgraded Konfabulator to Version 3.0 with a new name to boot: Yahoo! Widget Engine. I prefer the old name, but it seems to be largely the same (it may take up less RAM). Lastly, McDonalds may soon include pieces of multimedia with Happy Meals rather than toys, and the more you visit the more of it you get. This is all based on a patent application
they recently file, but I think kids may just appreciate the toys more.

Click to enlarge

Yes, you're seeing right, that is Blade. This is not another sequel though but rather one of a few first shots from the upcoming television series that will be on SpikeTV, and no word yet on how good it will be but maybe it'll be fun to watch. The Mission Impossible: 3 trailer premiered today and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I had no interest in it before but now I really hope that it turns out to be a good movie. There's also a good trailer up for Michael Mann's Miami Vice, but it's a pain to get to it. It's worthwhile when you do though because it perfectly conveys his style of filmmaking. The good DVD edition of Sin City is just around the corner and so Yahoo! Movies has a couple of clips from the special features that they were holding out on us before. Lastly, there's a decent poster online for The Pink Panther, and let's hope that Steve Martin can make this movie good.

Now for some Monday Madness:

For the following, please list as many words as you wish...

1. Words most commonly mispronounced.

"Guadalupe", that's all I got.
2. Words used improperly.
"Literally" is all I've got, once again.
3. Words most often misspelled.
I can never spell "recommend" right (I use spell check in Blogger).
4. Words or phrases that you feel are over-used.
Like, lol, pimp (noun and verbal usages)

I think I've wasted enough time via AIM and blogging, so back to the books I go!