Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Too Much Google

It turns out that a lot of the nerd news I have for today is related to Google. And I mean a lot. For the first time ever they decided to try out doing a factory tour, which is basically a tour of their office and a big press conference replete with progress in various fields and future possibilities. You can see the whole thing there including all 100+ slides and it's actually pretty interesting from what I've seen. What's really cool is they actually got everyone tickets to see Episode III that night since it was the opening day of the movie and they paid for all their own employees to go! Now that's a company with personality. One thing they showed off was the incipient Google Translator, which was created with researchers not knowing the languages they were programming for! How? You guessed it: by searching. They've just created algorithms to analyze previous translations of texts in those languages and it's amazing how accurate they can get. There are a couple of things they didn't mention though. One thing is the Summer of Code program where they will give $4500 to students who successfully complete an open source project. If I didn't already have my sights set on a project I'd jump on that bandwagon. The last piece of news for the company is the beta of Google Earth, which is competing with the similar product from Microsoft and is an enormous atlas of the earth that integrates features in Google Maps as well as 3D models in 39 cities. If I had a job I'd probably get it just to play around with it. See for yourself:

Click for the whole glorious shot

Just a few more techie items leftover. Sony BMG already has efforts underway to engineer CD-Rs that cannot be copied once burned. This is to combat copying copies of music CDs and while this is a valid concern I'm skeptical about how reliable such a technology would be and how compatibility would work out. If you have an account on Wikipedia then beware of your password because apparently the way that people are hashed by their passwords in the database someone with a certain password could find others of that password as well and access their accounts. There's a list of victims here and it's sad that Wikimedia could be so irresponsible. If you feel enamored with the Mac Mini but you're a PC fanboy then you're of a strange breed and will be pleased with a Wintel mini prototype called "Pandora". There are concerns that it can't touch Apple's $500 price tag due to Pentium M costs and Windows XP, but I guess we'll see what happens.

Onto the movie news. The big item for today is that director Matthew Vaughn has been confirmed to have left the X-men 3 project. It was a sad loss to the film and was apparently a personal decision on Vaughn's part, but now the pressure is on for Fox to meet their ambitiously planned release date of Memorial Day Weekend 2006. While I'm on superheros I should mention that there are mounting rumors of a Supergirl starring Miss Universe 2004 Jennifer Hawkins, who is very hot. I think I'd watch that movie just to see her. While I'm on hotties, there's word that Michelle Yeoh has been offered a part in Mission Impossible: 3, which is cool because I saw Tomorrow Never Dies a month ago and wondered about her and now I know that she'll also be in Geisha and possibly even Young Hannibal. There are a couple of videos today also. You can see a trailer for Pride and Prejudice over here if you're really a Jane Austen fan, but I'm afraid the dialogue will stick a little too closely to the novel and become as boring as Sense and Sensibility. The last thing is a random clip from Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle. I'm surprised that Disney has lent a hand to its production since it seems a little dark for their taste, but I guess it must be good if they took it in.

Before I conclude I just had to plug this article I ran into about a confessional blog. It's called Post Secret and you can snail mail the owner your secret for it to be anonymously put on the blog. It's rather addicting to read and I like that the author of that article points out that it's almost as if submittors to the blog are more proud of their work rather than venting shame. My favorite is: "I had gay sex at church camp 3 times." If you want more humor you can check out this site.

At last there is a Ten on Tuesday I can participate in:

Ten Favorite Things to Snack On
10. Oatmeal cookies (my mom gets the really big, soft ones and I eat them in pieces)
9. Various cereals (mainly Corn Pops and Oreo O's for snacking though)
8. Jalepeno potato chips
7. Starburst
6. Jelly Beans (Jelly Belly is the best)
5. Teddy Grahams (preferably the chocolate flavor)
4. Strawberries
3. Grapes
2. Honey roasted peanuts (choc-ful of protein)
1. Wheatables / Wheat Thins

Monday, May 30, 2005

Definitive Gamers' Wishlist

Before I start I've gotta ask this: am I the only person who feels saddened by compliments on their looks by relatives? It's not that I need people to comment on my looks, in fact I'd prefer they don't because I don't like lies or exaggerations, but rather that I know it's not true. It's not that I think I'm ugly, because I know I'm in the 'meh' range. When your aunt has to tell you that you look good though, something has to be wrong. On that note, I'm just geeky enough about video games to appreciate this list of items gamers worldwide would like to see in the next generation since consoles will likely not cost so much (though that PS3 price couldn't be more unofficial). I agree with the vast majority of those items because you could almost do a comedy routine on some of the ridiculous things you see in video games even today. Like why is it that people get all worked up about screenshots of cg sequences when the game looks and plays like crap? And how am I supposed to know not to walk into a certain part of the land because there's an invisible wall there? I think he takes it a bit far with the nipple thing and his distaste for consoles that do more than just play games. The more stuff it can do the more my purchase is justified. One of the best points he makes is with difficulty. What happened to the olden days of when games actually took time to beat and warranted my hard-earned cash? Some great observations there if you enjoy video games like I do.

For the first time in a little while there isn't too much news for nerds to feast on. A man with a harsh experience with his son with regard to drunk driving has invented a sensor that can be built into your steering wheel to check your BAC. If you're above the legal limit it won't start, and I think it's an awesome idea because drunk driving is a bigger problem than many people think. The Bush administration is trying to further violate our privacy rights by trying to push through the power to strongarm the identities of an ISP's customers from the company. The problem with that power is that it's not going to be used just for terrorism and it's just more than the government really needs at this point. We already have noise-cancelling headphones and microphones, but now you can get an electronic silencer for open spaces such as office cubicles. I think that technology is so neat because I've tried on those headphones and they really work. Lastly, one man is trying to come up with a Chuck E. Cheese for adults that would have computer terminals at tables (Linux-based) that would serve as waiters and entertainments as they would be loaded with video games and trivia games and such. I think it's a great concept given the amount of younger adults who are pretty childish in that respect.

The movie news isn't too shabby today. I apologize for how off my predictions yesterday were because apparently this was a very strong weekend for the box office with Star Wars bringing in over $70 million. If you though that was crazy, it turns out that Madagascar and The Longest Yard both got over $60 million each despite lackluster reviews. In good news, Indiana Jones 4 has met the approval of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg so it's now just awaiting Harrison Ford, who I doubt would be inclined to dislike it. That same article mentions that Chris Tucker did not end up signing a fast track deal for Rush Hour 3 as was previously speculated so things may move a little slower for the comedy flick. Godzilla fans may be saddened to discover that there will only be one more Godzilla film, which was only noteworthy given the number of Godzilla movies that have been made. All I have left now are pictures. There's a really crappy teaer poster online for The Ring 3 in case you wish to face even more disappointment. There are some new shots from the amazing art style of A Scanner Darkly for your viewing pleasure. And last but not least, there are some new pictures from War of the Worlds including this stunning one of Tom Cruise (who is way too in love with my Katie):

Is it ET?!

It's time for some Monday Madness:

This week I'm asking you to choose a letter of the alphabet. Now list the ten items below that begin with the letter you chose....

I choose 'S'.

1. a family member
Shawn (my brother)
2. a movie
3. a game
Silent Hill
4. an automobile
Santa Fe (my mom's new vehicle actually)
5. a fictional character
Silas (in Da Vinci Code)
6. a famous person
Salma Hayek
7. a food
Samosa (click here if you're a noob to Indian food)
8. a household item
Spatula (very handy for making college-style quesadillas)
9. a book
Survivor: A Novel by Church Palahniuk (of Fight Club fame)
10. a song
"Speed of Sound" by Coldplay (new single)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

At Last a Beach Visit

After quite a long time since my last visit to the beach I went to Quintana Beach at Freeport with my parents. I think I can best show how good a time I had with the following picture:

I'm glad I cut my toenails

That's what we call a "chapal tan" as I was in the sun all day with my sandals on. Freeport is only about 70 miles outside of Houston and it's less crowded and much cleaner than Galveston so all my dad's side of the family (here in America) managed to make the trip out. It was cool to have everyone together because usually my brother can't go, and I got to drive one of the cars (13 of us, 8 in another van). It was nice to get the experience of driving for so long on the highway since I wouldn't have been able to fall asleep in the backseat anyway. What's great about the beach is being able to act like a kid, which is always fun for me since I don't think my childhood was as carefree as I would've liked it to have been. It was funny to be collected shells to decorate our huge sand castle because I probably looked weird but it was all in good fun so the Hell with it. On my last visit to Freeport I got sunburnt (for the first time ever) but thankfully I did not this time and instead am an even healthier brown than before. A little cultural education for you all: in India the darker you are the less respected you typically are and so it's always a joke among us that our parents warn us about getting darker. It's strange how old stereotypes like that stick around though they should mean nothing in today's modern world.

The technology news isn't too bad with a strange flux of good articles from the New York Times. When my room mates last year started playing World of Warcraft, they were planning on selling their accounts when they reached max level but predictably couldn't let go. However, it's much more common to sell rare items for real money. I think it's funny how something created by a bunch of programmers and artists generates so much money (both for the company and for players). Speaking of programmers, there's an interesting article here about people who have been made millionaires by Microsoft investing their money in great ways, and that's kind of something I'd like to do someday (except not working for M$). Advertisers are starting to take a liking to the television revolution on the web by investigating ways to put video on their sites to showcase products. This means that change is on the way. It makes more sense anyway than that broadcast flag. It would appear that Yahoo! has finally one-upped Google with the introduction of Photo Mail (currently in beta), which makes it easy to send lots of pictures in an e-mail from quite a few different source. I'm glad that they're finally using their noodles! Lastly, I wanted to plug this article discussing the browser wars since all the talk of new versions and market share and such leave most people in the dark on how to proceed.

You know that the movie news is slow when I'm mentioning a JoBlo article about Did You Know? movie facts. It makes sense given the long weekend, and at least I learned from that article that the original Amityville Horror house still exists. Box office numbers aren't in yet, but estimates seem to suggest that Revenge of the Sith will remain at the top but with a much weaker gross. It's no suprise how much the drop was given the fan reaction. There's a strangely violent King Kong action figure made for the movie that you can see here, but we're still lacking real footage/images from the movie.

Before I conclude with a meme I wanted to exhibition this hilarious comic that's truer than you think in some cases:

Show us the pee!

This week I'm going to try the Sunday Brunch:

1) Do you enjoy eating out and why?
I do, but not too often. It's mainly because of the monetary factor. Once I start interning I'll like it more, but in any case I think eating out only a couple times a month makes it a better experience. After all, I also enjoy cooking.

2) Where is your favorite restaurant?
That's a pretty hard choice to make. When it comes to quick, cheap food I'd have to say Pho on the drag in Austin. If price isn't so big a problem though I'd prefer Saltgrass Steakhouse because I love meat, especially steak.

3) What are your standards for tipping?
Unless I'm in a big group or the service was kickass, I keep it at 10%. I think below that is impolite. The most I'll tip is usually 15%. I'll round up or down depending on if he service was actually good or not.

4) Do you have one entree, appetizer or dessert that you specifically go out to get at a restaurant from time to time?
Not really. I like to try different things upon repeated visits to the same restaurant, but sometimes I like to stick to old favorites. It all depends, so in general not really.

5) Describe a horrific experience that you had while dining out.
I haven't really had any. In New York I'll admit that it was quite odd to have my friends urging me to not eat the juicy, sumptuous steak in front of me at Delmonico's, which they were coaxing because it was before quizbowl in an economics competition and they believed the digestion would slow down our brains. Other than that I guess the Prom dinner thing wasn't that great because we had to pay mainly for the environment at a restaurant where the food was only alright and in any case my date was off center for the whole night (not blogging those details here).

Friday, May 27, 2005

Hacker Heros

First of all, I passed my road test! I got 25 points taken off in all, but very few "bad" marks and so I consider it to have been a great test. I drove on my own for the first time today to go to 24 Hour Fitness for my first hearty workout in a while. It's cool to finally have that privelage and I can't wait to bring a car to Austin. It would appear that not all hackers out there are bad. There are groups of vigilantes out there who are frustrated with the unchecked evil of phishing scams and other fraudulent sites, and so they've decided to take matters into their own hands. They deface the sites and try to provide warnings so that those who click-through know that the site is ill-omened. Do they get the praise they deserve though? Law enforcement is slow to act, and yet they disagree with the methodology of these so-called "heroes" of the internet. I think it's great that there are people willing to do this because it's hard to shut down people in other countries and its great practice for these hackers who are no doubt computer scientists or aspiring programmers with a strong interest in security and/or networks.

There much more techie news today. While I'm on security, airport screeners may get a whole lot sexier as they may be able to see through clothing! This is far from being accepted and implemented yet, but it's being fought for and I can both sides of the argument so it's hard for me to decide myself. I finally found an article stating the obvious: all browsers are unsafe. Exploits are inevitable, and all we have to do is be careful where we go on the internet. Oh, and in case you're still curious about the tabs in IE 7 there are some more details up on the IE blog. And while we're on Microsoft, it turns out that Longhorn is not written in .Net, a framework invented by Microsoft, because 2.0 isn't due out for a while and so it will instead only be used for the Avalon file system and Indigo communications system. That's the problem with big companies; too much going on. If you're tired of all this M$ talk then you'll be pleased to know that HP is coming around to support Linux for its new laptop computers, which is great because I know my friend Sid couldn't put Linux on his laptop and he wanted to try it out. Good job HP! With Google's introduction of a Q&A service to read your mind and answer your questions, those geniuses at Stanford have been taking an even closer look at semantical web searching. It's stuff like this that fuels my desire to go there for grad school.

The movie news today is pretty cool. There's an unusually long clip from The Honeymooners at Yahoo! Movies, and unfortunately it's not too impressive. It's nice to see John Leguizamo in another comedy, but this is a straight up family flick. If you missed the 10-minute Batman Begins preview last week then take solace in checking it out over here, and you definitely want to see it. Oh, and apparently the voice pitch change in the batsuit is a result of his bat ears, which is a nice touch. In worse news, a Ring 3 has been confirmed and they've officially beaten a dead horse. On the bright side, reviews are in for Serenity and it sounds like a delight for Firefly fans so I presume the rest of us will enjoy it as well. Silas in Da Vinci Code has finally been cast as Paul Bettany, which is probably a good decision given how he looks. This interview with Mark Steven Johnson has renewed my faith in the direction of Ghost Rider and so now all we can do is hope that all goes well. I thought it was notable that Lucy Liu is doing a thriller called Rise with Michael Chiklis because I think her acting ability is underrated and I'd like to see it really shine. Lastly, there are some character posters for Fantastic Four now available, but there's so predictable that I thought the poster for The Brothers Grimm would be better to showcase:

Hey there pretty-boys

I'm pleased to finally be able to embark on the Friday's Feast meme:

What job would you definitely not want to have?

Trashman. I thought of that because I saw the tv show Dilbert last night for the first time in a while and the trashman character just reminded me of how much that job would suck. You would smell bad for most of your weekdays!

Oprah calls and wants you to appear on her show. What would that day's show be about?

Hot, genius Indian kids are taking over the country! That would be an interesting topic, but I'd rather it be about some successful company I'd have started up or some crazy product I'd have engineered at least.

Name 3 vegetables that you eat on a regular basis.

I love salad, I think black-eyed peas are the bomb, and I can't get enough of corn-on-the-cob. Sometimes I have to eat it from the can, but I season it up nice to hide the out-of-the-can taste.

Main Course
If you were commissioned to rename your hometown, what would you call it?

Pintosville! Actually, this place sucks so maybe I'd call it Crapstown! Or I guess Houston is good enough. That name already evokes enough dread from people as it is so there's no point in changing it.

If you had a personal assistant, what kind of tasks would you have them to do?

Trim my nails and shave my face! Those are two of my more tedious habits, and the former is for classical guitar for those of you who don't know me well enough (my left hand is totally nail-less whereas my right hand is all grown out). Laundry is kind of boring, too, so he could do that as well. I enjoy typing though, so I certainly wouldn't want him to do secretarial stuff in that respect.

Have a great weekend everyone! My Sunday post will either be really late or really early but I'll get it up here somehow.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Improving Your Brain

Are you smart now? Do you wish you were smart? Do you want to keep from, ya know, losing it? Then give this article a good lookover because it has some awesome tips for improving your noggin. Admittedly, some of the things don't guarantee results, but many of them make sense. It's common knowledge that exercising regularly makes you happier in general, but did you know that it also fuels the development of brain cells? And not just in kids, but also adults can apparently develop more cells in their brains as well! Now I can give my mom a better explanation for why I work out I suppose. Another big factor is how well-rested you are. Apparently, being awake for 21 hours is equivalent to being drunk, which explains my late night fits of laughter whenever I stay up much later than usual. For all of you who pull all-nighters: don't do it! Your brain hones new skills and creates new memories and everything overnight. Another favorite of mine was the fact that gainful employment also makes you smarter because of the importance of our working memory in our IQ. Anyway, the other reccomendations including eating right, listening to the right music, and controlling your thoughts so be sure to check it out.

There's more nerd news yet. One security expert put up an editorial about how his company switched to Mac because they were tired of Wintel's instability. Ouch, Windows. Ouch. There's another accurate opinion piece here about how the showing from the Xbox 360 and the PS3 at E3 was really overdone and he reflects upon all the broken promises of the PS2 and Xbox and their E3. It's a little depressing so if you got all hyped up last week then avert your eyes from it. It would appear that Sirius is in talks with Apple about a satellite radio enabled iPod. Now that would be pretty sweet, but the price would probably only make it affordable to yuppies I'm afraid. I'm sure that ultraportable notebooks would be cheaper than the cost of the device and the service associated with it. The French, in their neverending effort to piss of American businesses, have decided that they're going to release those convicted of mp3 swapping with suspended sentences. I thought that that was pretty funny and strange. Lastly, I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the Das Keyboard, which is a keyboard that has no printing on the keys whatsoever! It's meant for expert touch typists and at an $80 price tag comes with weighted keys to enhance the experience. Now that's geeky and fancy.

There's an impressive amount of multimedia I'd like to share. We now have the final theatrical trailer for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which requires some strange plug-in, and it's pretty awesome so I reccomend checking it out. Yahoo! Movies seems to have gotten its hands on an exclusive trailer for Four Brothers about a group of adopted brothers who investigate the death of their mother, and I was impressed with how intriguing it looks. Another movie that was new to me that has a trailer up is Revolver, but it was quite ambiguous and sans dialogue. The trailer for A History of Violence has been put in Quicktime format and now you can also see a clip from the movie as well over here. Directorial geniuses Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have decided to team up to make two 60 minute horror movies on their own and attach old trailers and footage from other filmmakers into one project called Grind House. I'm not positive when this will come out, but supposedly it's Tarantino's next pet project. George Lucas apparently doesn't want to let go of the overdone Star Wars series and is considering a prequel to The Phantom Menace, but thankfully does not plan on helming it himself. Enough is enough, Lucas! Lastly, Michael Bay seems to think he can handle a remake of Birds at some point down the line, and I think he's lost his mind. But luckily, he's being humble about it.

And now for the 3X Thursday meme:

1. At what point do you finally decide it's time to move forward with your life (like, major changes)? How do you know? What do you do?
Up to this point, I've had most of my life planned out. I suppose it's just a gut instinct and is marked by the end of something else big.

2. When is it time to just let it ('it' can be whatever you choose) go? How do you know? What do you do?
When you realize that it's not what God intended. I'm taking 'it' to be some sort of argument or something that you believe is right but is displeasing others. Of course if you really are right, like gay rights or something, there is no stopping point. But for day-to-day issues, it's where you can look in the mirror and laugh and say, "What are you doing?"

3. How many times must someone push your buttons before you've just had enough? Why?
It's the point where I freak out and am ready to scream my head off. I don't get that tempermental that often, but when I do I have the anger of my father so please people, don't piss me off. As long as you're honest it shouldn't happen, but I think everyone has an inherent breaking point.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Power of Water

I actually just came back from the kitchen after drinking like half a bottle of water, so there's one demonstration of its power. What I wanted to mention though was this article about this dude who discovered that water can be harnessed to get unlimited energy. Crazy, huh? Apparently, water 3,000 feet below sea level is extremely cold and by sticking a pipe down there we can have power. That water could run underneath crops to irrigate them, it could replace coolants and compressors in air conditioning units, and by drawing both warm water and cold water so that the warm water could become steam to drive an electric turbine. It's hard to understand, but that article just gives me a vibe that this guy is just one of those genius types. If the concept of something like this is old, why has no one else put two and two together? I'm really waiting for the day when our dependency on oil crumbles and we can move onto alternative fuels. Water would really be quite an interesting choice.

My alternate main topic today was going to be on the Xbox 360 due to two new articles about it. The first is from a group of people who have determined the OS its based on to be something all on its own but in a nutshell it's just an evolved form of the Xbox OS, which was rooted in Windows 2000. That means that it will be a software platform all on its own for developers to learn, and I wonder if that could be a setback for them. What's more interesting is the Xenon CPU that powers it, and I reccomend that all you tech-heads give it a read because it's quite interesting. It turns out that it can do a lot of graphical operations dynamically based off of some vector data, and it can handle some pretty crazy multithreading (which I'm sure the PS3 can do and much more). For those of you still on a mouse with a ball or used to a laptop you may want to check out this mouse round-up exploring the pros and cons of the top players in the market. If you have an iPod then you'll be overjoyed to learn of this Winamp plug-in that can transfer files from your iPod to your computer and you can even use Winamp instead of iTunes to manage your songs should you feel so inclined. I think Winamp is a great piece of software, and that plug-in is an awesome idea. There's a new DVD on the horizon from Iomega called the NG-DVD that can hold up to 100 times the capacity of current DVDs at unheard of speeds, but its extent of competing with the HD-DVD and Blu-ray is currently unknown. And finally, the official BitTorrent search engine is online and looks much like Google, but I wonder how long it will be before they get sued.

There's some pretty decent movie news today. Recently there was a screening of the first 45 minutes of The Island and early reviews sound pretty optimistic. I wouldn't be shocked if this blew of of Michael Bay's other movies away. A very barebones Da Vinci Code site has been put online now with a really nifty intro for those who enjoyed the book. A new Japanese poster for War of the Worlds is up and is quite different from our poster though it doesn't add a whole lot to the effect of the hotly anticipated film. There seem to be rumblings that a doctor from ER could play James Bond in the Casino Royale remake, and I'm sure the studio is eating up all this free publicity. With the closing of The Contender, Host Sylvester Stallone announced his plans to move forward with Rambo IV. If you're really interested in Madagascar you can read about a recent press conference, but the only aspect of it that inspired any confidence from me in the animated feature is the impressive roster of actors they have. I'd really like it to be good, but I have my concerns. A few animated voices died this week and I bring it up because I grew up on the likes of Fred Flinstone, Jet Screamer, and Tony the Tiger. They'll surely be missed by our generation and those preceding us. Some unimpressive pictures of The Fantastic Four have gone online and I wouldn't click here if I was someone obssessed with the movie being a home run. We can keep our fingers crossed I guess though since Jessica Alba is so hot. Lastly, JoBlo got a lot of pictures from Batman Begins including this classic shot:


There are a few bits of randomness to go. The Fed seems to have some disagreement in the ranks about the direction of the economy, though they seem to agree that rates this low are bound to fuel inflation. Are we really in a transition period? Will the economy plummet? Or will our good luck continue? Stay tuned to life for more! I thought this site listing A, B, and C lists of blogs was rather humorous, but yours truly has been jipped of status on all three! Go figure. If you need something to waste your time on, check on this cute game called Tontie, which I suck at and can only get to level 7 on.

Now for the Midweek Music Meme:

What music do you like best for a roadtrip? Do you like relaxing music to get you into that kicked-back vacation mode, or songs that really get you revved up & excited?
I definitely preferred the revved up stuff. Relaxing music is great for studying or taking naps, but not for road trips. You need all the energy you can get to stay awake and ready for the good times ahead of you

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Flexible Relational Databases

I finally got to watch the finale of 24 and it was awesome! Best one yet in my opinion (Season 2 was the reigning champion for insane ending beforehand), and so if you haven't seen it I highly reccomend finding it now! I also saw The Contender and was very surprised (spoiler alert) that the Latin Snake, Sergio Mora, ended up winning. He was undefeated in the whole tournament and though he seems to always be smaller he kicks a lot of butt. The topic today isn't too exciting but I wanted to talk about it because I find databases fascinating since so much of our everyday lives depend on them. This article from the ACM magazine discusses the disadvantages with relational databases and how the solution to all its problems lie in modularity and configurability. It reasons that viewing SQL as a binary decision is far inferior to a family of richer languages that allow for different levels of sophistication. For example, if you want to search all the different kinds of content available on the web you need that database of information to be much more flexible and able to be configured depending on what exactly you need to do. Anyway, it's not a very long read and something I highly reccomend for the computer scientists out there.

There's no shortage of nerd news today. The theme this week seems to be computer hackers and now there's some news about hackers who encrypt files on a victim's computer and demand ransom money in exchange for the key. It's a scary thought, but it appears to only be a few contained incidents and can be easily traced through the financial transaction. If you're more afraid of phishing schemes then you may want to look into the Netcraft Anti-Phishing toolbar for Firefox. Samsung has developed a 16 GB flash drive, which means that laptops can be built with longer life because of the light battery consumption of flash memory. Meanwhile, IBM has decided to open up the Cell architecture very soon so that the open source community and software developers can jump on the disgusting technology that lies with in. I think I've made the point several times in the fast that this chip is a door to very big things. IBM is also trying to foster teaching open source skills in universities with the help of Red Hat, and I think that would be pretty sweet. The more diversified programmers you get out there the better. There are fresh protests for Google to face with reagard to its library project and possibly copyright infringements. It's curious that they're not answering these concerns immediately. Lastly, I think many of you should read this article about writind down your passwords! Using the same one everywhere is dangerous.

The movie news today isn't too shabby. Fallen star Sylvester Stallone, who was the driving force behind The Contender, has written a biopic about Edgar Allan Poe and is sniffing around for the cast. An odd writing choice but I hope he pulls himself back together again. Unfortunately, the highly anticipated movie Domino (with many big names attached to it) has been pushed back by New Line to November from this summer without any explanation, but the character the movie is based off of was arrested last week. There's another review online for Batman Begins and it confirms all the good stuff we've heard so far in a very spoiler-free way. I enjoy a cute movie every once in a while and I think Chicken Little will be one of those given the new trailer. There's also a trailer online for Sky High now, which can also be a good family film. Lastly, since the poster looks better than the movie I thought I'd share the poster for the Bloodrayne movie:

At least she looks pretty good

I thought I'd do the Tuesday Twosome this week:

1. What two shows had the best cliff-hangers this year? Explain:
24 had some awesome cliffhangers as well, and I also liked a couple of the ones from Lost.

2. What two shows had the worst cliff-hangers this year? Explain:
I don't have a huge variety of shows to choose from here but I guess I'd have to say Joey and Jack and Bobby.

3. What two shows (that have been renewed) are you going to miss over the summer? Explain:
I'm definitely going to miss my 24 fix every Monday, and I also thought Joey was a pretty fun show to watch every week.

4. What two shows (that have not been renewed) are you going to miss? Explain:
This is easy: The Contender and Jack and Bobby were both high quality shows and were sadly cancelled due to low ratings. Why don't people like boxing anymore anyway?!

5. What two shows (that have not been renewed) are you glad are gone from TV? Explain:
I thought Father of the Pride was pretty bad and I'm also glad they finally got rid of that stupid Extreme Makeover show.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Desperate TV Networks

Wow she's hot

I actually started watching Desperate Housewives because of that special they showed summarizing the season and I must say that it is a worthwhile show. Plus, it features the beauty you see above this. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure, but the king for me is still 24, which I have to watch tomorrow because my VCR decided it didn't want to record it. Anyway, I thought the title was fitting because major networks are starting to feel the heat from cable television and are appealing to genres. The article is a bit biased to disagree with their tactics, but I just think the names of the shows are horrible. "Criminal Minds" sounds just like CSI: Criminal Intent and "Ghost Whisperer" just sounds really stupid. It seems to be a trend for tv networks to produce more of what's popular, like with what happened to Survivor and the birth of reality television. Out of the gazillion reality shows I've only seen two or three that were worthwhile because they weren't based off fabricated drama but rather around interesting stuff (like The Contender). I'm surprised at how many new shows are coming out because I think America needs to detach itself from the boob tube. Go outisde people! Stop watching so much bloody television.

There's actually some real news for nerds today. I reccomend reading this great commentary on Google's move to allow customizeable home pages. Basically, it allows them to get closer to users, which gives them all sorts of powers. As a coincidental followup to the hacker stuff yesterday, a huge security breach has hit a few of the biggest banks in the nation. I wouldn't be surprised if the number of accounts affected ended up reaching close to a million. Apple may be poised to start buying chips from Intel instead of IBM, which would mean lower prices to help them compete because of Intel's marketing subsidies. This would be quite a surprising move, but Apple made a less suprising move today in deciding to support podcasts in its next iteration of iTunes. They may sue their fans but at least they know how to support a trend. In an effort to make BitTorrent more accepted, the creators are developing an advertising-supported search engine for torrents for legal content, and I think it's an awesome idea. And I'm not being sarcastic in case you've had damage to your prefrontal cortex. Sorry, it's hard to transition really random articles. Lastly, I wanted to mention a neat Google Maps hack that tells you where the cheapest gas in your area in. It needs some more work, but it's a great start.

There's not much movie stuff so this should go pretty quickly. The big news is that it has been confirmed that Sin City 2 (tentative title) will include at least A Dame to Kill and is already underway! Maybe they didn't win the Palme d'Or this year but there's always next year or whenever it comes out. If you're so Sin City obsessed that you want to see some pictures of Mickey Rourke at Cannes then click here. If you love exclusive clips, then you'll like this short clip from War of the Worlds that builds up a suspenseful scene in the movie. Michael Madsen loves to open his mouth and thankfully he revealed that the upcoming Tarantino flick Inglorious Bastards will feature Tim Roth (Pumpkin from Pulp Fiction), Adam Sandler, and Eddie Murphy (the latter two need no introduction). Those are some big names and I can't wait to see what Tarantino, who's legendary for reviving downhill actors, does with them. If you want more information on Fantastic Four you can see an interview with half of the superhero group over here. And lastly, Time magazine put up a list of the supposed 100 best films of all time. I don't think I agree with some of their choices, but I'm glad they included City of God and Pulp Fiction.

Now to end with some Monday Madness:

The following all begin with 'In your lifetime, have you....'

1. ...ridden on a rollercoaster?
Yes, many times actually. ;) I was scared for a while but then I just reached a point in my life where I was like, "I don't care if I die" (old, old stage) and I just started riding the crazy coasters and loved it.
2. ...performed (in any area of the arts) onstage?
Yes, but in all fairness it was like in elementary school.
3. ...planted a garden?
No, I don't think I have much of a green thumb and I hate pulling weeds.
4. ...ever had to reformat your hard drive due to a virus/spyware?
Yes, but the computer was not able to be saved. It was ok though because it really sucked anyway and was really old.
5. ...written a book? A poem? A song?
I've written a novelette and several poems, but I think it'd be too presumptuous for me to share the poems. I think the novelette came out well though it's a bit dated.
6. ...sang karaoke?
I have, indeed, at this place called U2 in Houston.
7. ...been interviewed by a local tv station/newspaper?
I have been for a newspaper for Economics Challenge, but I don't think they even ended up quoting me.
8. ...witnessed a tornado/earthquake/hurricane first-hand?
Nope, none of the above.
9. ...participated in a photo scavenger hunt?
Yes! Just a few months ago in fact and I even posted one of the pictures. See the rest for yourself.
10. ...traveled to another country?
I have been to India and Canada, and I think I like India better just because at least there I blend in! Not that there aren't Indians in Canada, but they're just different from Indians elsewhere somehow. I've been at airports in a few other countries as well for stops on the way.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Hacking Underworld

I'm back at my parents' place in Houston and it kind of sucks to be away from Austin. Yesterday was an excruciating experience taking two van loads to storage in the hot sun and then another van load back to Houston. I really have too much crap. I'm glad it's done and over with now and look forward to exploring some C++. Anyway, I wanted to share this great article that starts out as a story about how authorities take down crazy hacker groups. These are guys who make millions of dollars off of stealing identities and trading credit card information and passwords. I highly reccomend reading it because it's interesting how the heirarchy and operation of these groups is reminiscent of the mafia. It's great that authorities are coming together for once to fight cybercrime but it's sad that the damage done last year was over $17 billion. It's horrible because it makes you more scared to use sites like eBay and it forces us to be ultra careful about everything. Not only do I have to keep up a firewall and carefully choose the e-mails I open but now I have to carefully sift through IMs I get to make sure it's not a virus. What's the cyberworld coming to? It's despicable for people to make their living off of the work of others and it's one of those things the bible clearly bans (it was misconstrued in older times as referring to tax collectors, but that's an incorrect interpretation). I think it'd be a cool job to have if I got good enough at security that I could become a hacker hunter myself, but it's just one of many options I hope to explore someday.

Alas, there is more to talk about for nerds today. There's an immersive article here about the future of television detailing many things that are available today but just not widespread enough. Stuff like HDTV and determining your own schedule of shows and the connection to the internet (IPTV) and stuff like that, so give it a look if you have a few minutes. Speaking of developments in tv, first we were able to download special episodes of shows on our cell phones and now there's a pilot program in the U.K. offering 9 channels on cell phones for a nominal monthly subscription fee. I'd like to watch some tv to help kill time on the buss to class and stuff. The always ignorant MPAA has blamed BitTorrent for the rapid spread of Revenge of the Sith the night before its opening. First of all, BitTorrent is just a means and I believe the programmer is sincerely more interested in the possibilities of torrents rather than piracy and second of all Episode III set a record with its $50 million made on opening day and shattered expectations by making over $100 million this weekend; how much greedier could they get? Decentralized torrent networks like Socialized.net probably aren't helping the situation. Lastly, I found this article detailing why Microsoft is no longer feared to be intriguing. The writer posits that the anti-trust trial and the bureacracy of the company (as shown in the Longhorn delays) has made it less weighty and I think it may be partially true but it's hard to gauge.

Not a terrible amount of movie news today, but I already mentioned the amazing gross that Star Wars brought in. Making over $150 million in just four days is extremely impressive (beating out previous record holder Matrix Reloaded) and I'm sure the dropoff next weekend won't be too much. The winners of the 2005 Cannes Film Festival have been announced and the only American winner is a movie I'm sure none of you have heard of. Oh well, we still have next year! Apparently progress is being made on Ender's Game, which is notable because I've only heard the best things about the Orson Welles novel and I haven't heard any news on the film for a while. I guess working with child actors is even harder than you would think. The screenwriter of Fight Club has gained the rights to an upcoming crime/mystery novel called How To Be Bad which seems to have themes similar to Fight Club and should be totally sweet given the right director. Lastly, you can see all the tv shows that have been cancelled and renewed over here in a big list and I'm relieved at some of their choices. There's actually even chatter that Futurama may put some more episodes on DVD, which could lead to a return to normal television. Anyway, don't forget to watch the 2 hour season finale of 24 tomorrow night at 7PM CST on Fox.

Before I conclude I want to bring up Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's concerns with froth in the housing market. Basically, too much activity in housing could lead to a bubble due to speculation. This has happened in Japan recently and would be analogous to the stock market crash except in housing. Though the conerns are local and not national, it's an interesting pattern to bear witness to. If you feel bogged down by economics though you may want to read Freakonomics.

And now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Heimlich::Maneuver
  2. Gesture::Wild getulations (a memory from high school English)
  3. Party::Time! ;)
  4. Cuddle::Spooning (it's because I learned what this actually meant last week)
  5. Room with a view::Nice hotel
  6. Sebastian::A character in The Little Mermaid
  7. Ooooh::Aaaah, only at Mattress Giant!
  8. Sigh::Gasp
  9. Two fish, three fish::Blue fish (Dr. Seuss came to mind)
  10. Cake or death::Cake

To conclude, I thought I'd leave you with what I'd do if I ever got a chance to go to E3:


Friday, May 20, 2005

Goodbye Freshman Year

I decided a while back that I wanted to write a post on my last day in Austin for the school year to reflect on it all. I spent all of today packing, and now my life is in a corner of my apartment except for this computer and my bed. I don't think I'll ever forget the first few days I came here because it was so exhilirating. Coming to UT is a dream come true for me because it's away from Houston and it has one of the top CS departments in the nation. Plus, Austin is such a beautiful place. I was almost overwhelmed with the ability to schedule going out with my friends at all hours of the day to catch up from the summer and not having to answer to anyone. Strangely I became a bit homesick, but not for long once I got caught up in it all. There's so much to love about being here. The air I taste when I walk home from the gym every day is unlike the air anywhere else, or the kids playing at the turtle pond, or the hot girls crossing the street (there are a lot of those here). I think I also achieved a lot of my goals. I feel blessed to have earned a 4.0 GPA and I'm an officer of two huge clubs (NSC and ACM). I've met a number of new people here and my only regret is that I don't think I've gotten as close to any of them as I would've liked, but freshman year of high school was awkward like that as well. Though I've had many good times in this apartment with my room mates I'm definitely ready to move out of West Campus and into Far West in the fall. I don't think I could've imagined going to college anywhere else and having as much fun as I have here at the most random times, and I don't think I would've done much of it differently. Thank you to everyone who directly or indirectly made this year work for me (especially my parents for financial support and my brother for moral support) because I'm eternally grateful as being on my own has been quite a challenge. Now it's time to press forward, and I'll soon see what the summer holds for me.

There's a bit of technology news today. Chase is the first major credit card company to issues credit cards that use "blink" technology, which means that transactions would be verified with an encrypted chip rather than by your signature. They're aiming to speed up transactions, but I doubt the safety since if someone had your credit card for a while and you didn't know it they could make tons of payments off of it. According to IBM, there's an impending shortage of computer programmers, which is really sweet news for me because that means more recruiters will come here for internships and jobs and since supply is low it means that salaries could go up as well. We experienced an extreme form of this in the late 90s, but I wonder if it's exaggerated like it was then (in order to import labor from abroad at a cheaper price). Enhancements in BitTorrent may give way to trackerless torrents, which would make them easier to make but harder for copyright activists to find the sources of the piracy since it could become quite decentralized. I'm sure they'll find ways around it though rather than sue Spanish professors. I'm refering to the lecturer at UPV who was censored for defending P2P. That is so freaking despicable because universities are the most important places to maintain freedom of speech and it's really important to share these kinds of ideas in computing. You may soon see ads on RSS feeds thanks to new developments with Google's AdSense program. While this could mean more revenue for publishers it could also mean more clutter in the feeds, but I guess we'll have to wait and see how that develops. Lastly, the FAA is clearly bored because it has decided that there will be no billboards in space. I don't understand why people should care about this.

The movie news today is a little sparse, but there are a few gems. Revenge of the Sith, which has gotten rather favorable reviews, has broken all kinds of records by making over $50 million in its opening day. It made more than a fifth of that from midnight shows! That blows away its predecessors' opening days (and the sum of the top movies' sales from the past couple of weekends) and from what I've heard it's with good reason. IGN managed to get a 360 degree view of the Batcave from Batman Begins, which looks a lot like it did during Wednesday night's preview. Keep in mind that it's at an early point in Batman's career. AICN has another early review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from another round of test screenings, and it sounds just as good as the previous one. It looks like Tim Burton is focusing less on the musical elements of the original movie, which I think is a nice change of pace. The official movie site has gotten a makeover for those who are interested. Lastly, there's a lackluster clip of Madagascar over here, and I really wish something would pop up to give me some confidence in this movie.

Since there's not much exciting stuff from the E3 floor today I thought I'd leave you with a new promotional shot from Devil May Cry 4, which is sure to be sweet on the new PS3 hardware since I know that the PS2 specs have been holding back the series.

That's a true badass

Now for another yummy Friday's Feast:

Approximately how many hours per day do you spend watching television?

During the semester I usually only spend an hour or maybe an hour and a half. On weekends it would usually be two hours, maybe three sometimes. Nowadays, it's about two but I'll likely keep the tv on in the background more when I go home since I have cable there.

Which colors decorate your kitchen?

The walls are white and the cabinets are white! =) The countertop is brown though, the stove top is white, and the sink is silver. My current kitchen is pretty small so I didn't bother to decorate it much. My mom's decoration of our kitchen at home is pretty haphazard.

Name 2 brand names you buy on a regular basis, and what do you like about them?

Brand names with regard to what? For food I always get Mrs. Baird's bread because it's so tasty and I guess I also enjoy Wheatables a lot. I don't have a whole lot of brand loyalties. For electronics I like Altec Lansing for speakers and Dell for computers because I don't usually feel inclined to build my own computer.

Main Course
What is your biggest fear?

Dying alone. I know that was pretty blunt but it's the truth. It's not that I'm a horrible person or anything, but I'm too good at making friends with girls rather than making moves. Having friends is nice and all, but they're not with you up until you die. Your family is there yeah, but it's not the same as companionship. I'm just worried that I'll die as the loser I've been up until now, but I'm definitely optimistic about escaping that.

If you could wake up tomorrow and find yourself in another location, where would you want to be?

New York City! That place is so awesome. Of course I'd need a sweet job so that I have enough money to subsist there, but I just love that place and how easy it is to get where you need to go without a car.

Bonus Birthday Question
What's your favorite flavor of birthday cake?

That's pretty hard, but I guess I'd have to say German Chocolate. It's not too sweet or rich but its taste is mindblowing when baked just right.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Pageant of Peripherals

First of all, the Batman Begins preview last night after Smallville was completely and utterly sweet and if you missed it you must bug everyone you know and see if someone taped/DVRed it. The first part was from his childhood, then a clip from his training with Ra's Al-Ghul, then a scene with Batmobile, then a run-in with Rachel (Katie Holmes) at the subway, and then an assortment of scenes, many of which we've already seen. Nothing at E3 today could've topped that, though we finally have some more details on Starcraft: Ghost as well as a trailer (just to go to 'Videos' from that page). There was also a sweet trailer from the PS2 port of Resident Evil 4. I also watched a 30 minute gameplay video for Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and I must say that it's simple incredible. If you have a Gamecube you need to preorder this game this very moment because there's no way in Hell you're going to be disappointed. The topic of today's post is regarding this article I encountered about how independent accessory makers have to bet on what the next trend will be so they can get peripherals out fast enough, sometimes within a few months. It's interesting that the console makers themselves help out so little because you'd think they'd like more products available for their console, but go figure. It's interesting how stuff almost as expensive as the system, like a 1 GB memory card for the PSP, sells so well and the only theory I can posit is that people who buy a PSP are wealthy enough to afford all the bells and whistles.

There's more news yet for geeks like me to feast on. Not to be outdone, TDK is competing with Toshiba's triple-layer 45 GB HD-DVD format with a 4-layer 100 GB Blu-ray disc. I'm rooting for BD because I want to be able to watch movies on my PS3! As a followup to yesterday's article on software piracy I have an article today foretelling an actual rise in software piracy in emerging markets, particularly in places where the piracy isn't even considered to be wrong. The Business Software Alliance has a long and hard road ahead of it. Steve Ballmer dealt an insult to Google in a recent speech at Stanford claiming that the company would be a "one-hit wonder". That only fuels my desire to work at Google so I can prove him wrong. Google isn't infallible and I'm sure it will come across scandals and such, but microsoft is set in a philosophy from the old days of computing and I believe they're underestimating newer companies with fresher ideas. Microsoft got slapped back in the face though when Cuba decided to switch to Linux, indirectly following the example of Brazil. Back to Google though, due to "user request" they've unleashed a customizable Google homepage. I think they're just trying to take the next natural step in competing with the likes of Yahoo!, but I never use those kinds of homepages anyway myself.

Revenge of the Sith is out today and I didn't watch it yet but I thought it was funny that CNN made a mistake in an article about the pirated version of it. The movie was actually online a few hours before midnight. Anyway, there are a ton of new trailers today and like half of them were packaged with the movie. The most exciting one is a trailer for War of the Worlds and it actually managed to top the previous trailer with some footage of the aliens in there as well. This movie is going to be unbeleiveably sweet. There was a Fantastic Four trailer with the movie as well that actually impresses me more than previous footage for the movie and it reinforces just how incredibly hot Jessica Alba is. Speaking of hotties though, there was also a trailer for Stealth, which features Jessica Biel. The movie is probably going to just aim to be a summer blockbuster like Independence Day without much substance, but I'm sure it'll be fun to watch. There's one last new trailer today and that's for The Island, a Michael Bay joint. Things are looking good for this movie so far to redeem Bay. Topher Grace, of That 70s Show fame, is joining the cast of Spider-man 3 to add yet another mysterious character to the film. Lastly, here's the new poster for Steve Carell's (aka Produce Pete) new movie:

I've gotta see this

Just a couple of last things. It appears that inflation worries have abated thanks to April reports showing that the core Consumer Price Index (CPI) stayed the same while the index as a whole grew only a marginal amount more than in March due to energy prices. Retail sales and employment also looked good, so let's hope that this becomes an ongoing trend. All you Strongbad fans out there will want to check out a couple of new e-mails he's put up because they're funny as always.

Now to answer a Question of the Day:

You’re a country at this year’s World Expo [currently being held in Aichiken, Japan]!

What country would you choose to be, and what would your main attraction, theme or event be?

I'd probably be India and my main attraction would be food. I think some people underestimate how good properly made Indian food is. You can't even get Indian food that good in America, only in India.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Honeymonkey Project


Surprised when you read that? I ran across that among some submissions to the inspirational Love is comic strip and there are some really funny ones. Anyway, I know I promised more E3 stuff today but unfortunately the west wing of the expo was without power so I couldn't see anything exclusive. I did forget to mention yesterday that Nintendo also announced the Gameboy Micro, which is just a palm-size Gameboy. This is obviously an attempt so supplement the DS against Sony's PSP and looks like desperation to me but it is rather stylish. I did want to briefly mention today the Honeymonkey project from Microsoft, which is just a bunch of Windows XP machines crawling the web trying to find exploits. It's quite a clever idea and I'm rather surprised that they never thought of it before. It sounds like all it does it track down what sites put programs outside the IE folder on your computer. I guess we'll know soon enough how well this technique works.

There's not a whole lot else going on in the techie world. MythTV, the Linux-based DVR system, appears to now be ready for subscription services. For a nominal fee not only can you get the programming information but also new themes and features as well as the satisfaction of helping out the Open Source community. Tivo will never know what hit it. If you're not a fan of IE then you'll love this side-by-side look at Firefox and Opera, which concludes that neither one is better than the other but rather that they're for different types of people. It's a great read if you're looking for a new browser. It's sad how rampant software piracy is and how slow results are on the campaign of the producing companies. They don't want to go the RIAA and MPAA route of haphazard lawsuits so they instead focus on the big warez groups, but I think it's funny how some companies consider the piracy a guerilla tactic for spreading the word on their product. You're only spreading the word among more pirates! Lastly, I wanted to point out this article on how vulnerable our personal information is online and that people should start being concerned about how this stuff is handled. All these recent scandals are scary.

I want to start off the movie news with something I forgot to mention yesterday: talks are starting to fall apart regarding a unified format for the next generation of DVDs. Let's not forget the loss of Betamax to VHS; there must be one format and I hope the PS3 supports it. There are a couple of new trailers today. The loveable cartoon characters Wallace and Gromit have a trailer up for their new movie and it actually had me chuckling so I reccomend checking it out. There's a teaser for Da Vinci Code also online and is one of those true teasers that only have words in it (like the Ocean's Twelve one). If you missed Smallville tonight you can watch a clip from the exclusive preview of Batman Begins at the official site. Now for the good stuff: X3 news. IGN scored an interview with Marvel CEO Avi Arad, in which he revealed that Beast will be played by Kelsey Grammar among other great random stuff. Supposedly the only roles left to cast are Angel and Colossus. Lastly, take a look at the Clerks 2 poster (production will begin in September by the way):

Dazzle me Kevin

Now for the Midweek Music Meme:

What two musical genres would you like to see blended?
I'd have to say hip hop and rock. I think The Roots did it well in some of their songs on The Seed 2.0 and I loved the tracks on the Jay-Z/Linkin Park collaboration Collision Course.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

E3 Fever

First of all, I'm really dorky excited right now because I got one of the 5 highest grades in my CS class. It doesn't mean much, but it's just really cool that Professor Downing recognized the other 4 top scorers and myself and I dunno, it's just cool to succeed in what you love to do. Anyway, that was augmented by IGN's coverage today of all three press conferences of the console developers. Yes, I watched all of them (the interesting stuff at least) and I do have the E3 fever now. It was only provided to Insiders, and so I'll provide some impressions for the rest of you. It was hard to name a clear winner because Microsoft had a great presentation with clever wording and impressive marketing. However, Sony really showed the muscle of the PS3 and showed that their latest offering is not a force to be reckoned with as it is 35 times more powerful than the PS2. It has 7 3.2 Ghz core processors! That means that you can do a lot more processes at once and graphics can have a level of realism that we've only dreamed of. Say goodbye to prerendered cut scenes, because it'll all be in real time. The lineup looks great so far, and the console is attractive, but unfortunately they were very vague on the online aspect of it. This is where Microsoft knocked them out of the park. There will be a free tier of Xbox Live and a paid one with extra features. Both developers came out swinging, and though I was more impressed by Sony I've gotta give props to Microsoft for coming up with some innovative stuff. Nintendo, meanwhile, showcased stuff for the current generation and only provided a prototype of the Revolution. The only thing that was awesome about their press conference was the fact that the Revolution is backwards compatible with all previous games (NES, SNES, N64, and Gamecube). How? Through downloads. PS3 is backwards compatible with all of its predecessors as well, and the Xbox 360 will have to use an emulator to play Xbox games due to the change in chipset but it will have limited backwards compatibility. I'll likely say more about E3 tomorrow, so stay tuned.

So what else is going on today for nerds? It's been confirmed that IE7 will feature tabbed browsing, which shows that Microsoft is acknoledging the prowess of Firefox and is trying to compensate. It should amount to an interesting battle. They're also firing shots on the desktop search front with a final version of their offering. I haven't had time to try it out myself so I won't say much else about that. The BBC may be starting a revolution today as it unveils plans to put a program called iMP into trial, which is a service they're playing around with to download television shows on demand. They want it to be analogous to iTunes and music, and the greatest advantage of it could be that shows that receive great reviews later (like Lost or 24) can be easily attained online and, hence, boost ratings. Let's hope American executives wake up to this possibility. And lastly, I wanted to share this look at the history of Apple computers.

There's so much going on in movies today that I'll go through everything briefly, starting with multimedia. Yahoo! Movies is showcasing an exclusive clip from A History of Violence, which features Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn from Lord of the Rings). You can see a great trailer of that movie over here. There's a new commercial out there featuring the Fantastic Four but strangely without any movie footage. There are some less notable trailers from Cannes over here for those are interested. There's some bad news today: Lindsey Lohan will be in Mission Impossible 3. I don't know why, but she better not ruin it. Now to balance with good news: principal photography on Casino Royale will start this summer, so we could see it as soon as summer of 2007. Want more good news? True Lies 2 is in the works and is planned to start seriously after the Governor of California is free to work on it. There's now word that Sony has given its approval on a Tekken movie, and lets hope it doesn't blow. Lastly, here's a shot of the Batmobile from E3:


I've gotta go watch Sideways now, so no meme today. Sorry!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Oldboy and Mallrats

Whenever I see notable movies I like to discuss them. I just finished the latter moments ago, but Oldboy was far superior so I'll start with that one. I'm always attracted to foreign movies that come stateside because that usually means that they're something special if a distributor was willing to sell it over here. Oldboy's sense of irony and storytelling definitely possesses that quality. Oh Dae Su gets drunk the night of his daughter's 3rd birthday and is taken into a police station for being so inebriated, and so a friend comes to bail him out. However, he disappears soon after and ends up being held prisoner for 15 years. In that time his wife has been killed and he was framed for the murder. Now his focus is on revenge, and the movie goes all kinds of crazy from there. Don't let having to read subtitled deter you from this movie because it's hard for me to compare it to any other movie I've ever seen and is probably best described as a psychothriller. I highly reccomend checking this one out at a dollar cinema or get it on DVD with an A rating. There's not a whole lot to say about Mallrats, one of Kevin Smith's earlier movies. It's much in the same vein as Clerks and revolves around two guys who loiter around a mall after being dumped by their girlfriends and try to get them back with the help of Jay and Silent Bob. It's a fun movie, but with many distasteful moments so I give it a C+.

So what's going on in technology? Well, a couple of students at a Chicago high school got caught stealing social security numbers, kinda. The funny thing is that they got caught months after, and the kids say they did it just for sport. I can see trying to access the files for sport, but copying them to incriminate yourself? Moving on though, it seems like OpenOffice has heard complaints about the Java trap and is now fostering discussion about how they're trying to avoid it. There's also a project called Harmony that proposes to make an open source version of Jav, and I wonder if the increased support of it sprung out of the OpenOffice issue. There's a new Firefox extension called Greasemonkey that allows client-side modification of webpages. Of course this is only for the true nerds so if you are one then read all about it here. Now for a couple of silly things. There's an odd gun shaped mouse that you can see here, and I just bring it up because it's a quirky way to play FPS games. And finally, there's a nifty article here about the worst foods to eat in front of your computer, and thank God I haven't eaten any of those near my keyboard except for the rice, which I haven't had an incident with as of yet.

There's a healthy amount of Batman news today. You can see a new Batman Begins tv spot here, and it's a different style from the others in being narrated by Bruce Wayne himself. There's a comprehensive article up on the history of the upcoming Bat-flick, and I knew about the later stuff but not all the earlier information so it's definitely a worthwhile read if you like Batman as much as I do. If you're really impatient you can read a spoiler-filled review here along with another review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You can also see a very early review of Mr. and Mrs. Smith over here, and it sounds like a slightly better than action movie so that makes it even more likely that I'll see it. If you can't enough action then check out the French trailer for The Transporter 2 over here (click the obvious link in the middle). If you need more for for you multimedia fix you can check out the fascinating trailer for the murder mystery thriller November featuring Courtney Cox, which is not to be confused with that crappy movie Sweet November. One of my favorite bands, Incubus, has recorded a few tracks just for Fantastic Four and it includes their first duet! This may be my only reason for seeing that movie. Lastly, IGN is doing a feature on the lamest Star Wars characters and it's surprisingly accurate.

All this E3 fever gives me the urge to blab about video games. There's an article here about cell phone video games getting bigger for those interested, but I'm more interested in the unveiling of the PS3. So what does it look like?

They like silver I guess

Clearly they've lost their damned minds. I like the sleek look of the console itself (which also comes in white and black), but why a boomerang controller? It has all the same buttons and is likely wireless, but it's not going to feel right. It will be out in the Spring of 2006 (just in time for my first paying internship most likely), it is going to be backwards compatibly with PS2 games, and has raked in 3rd party support. Games to be developed include Devil May Cry 4, another Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid 4, another Final Fantasy, and Fight Night 3 among others. Part of the reason I'm posting so late in fact is because I've been reading more about it including the specs, which do beat the Xbox 360. It has many features to rival the Xbox 360, include HD standard on all games and Bluetooth support and a hard drive, and you can host your own radio station (with video actually) from your console! I'll bring you more as it develops.

Now to end this obese post with some Monday Madness:

How much do you think is the most you would pay for...

1. ...a loaf of bread?

$2.00 if it's that high quality Golden Wheatbury
2. ...a gallon of gas?
$2.50, but do I really have choice?
3. ...a pair of jeans?
4. ...a computer?
5. ...a camera?
6. ...a pair of shoes?
$30 for tennis shoes, probably like $80 for real nice dress shoes
7. ...a television?
$2000 for a really nice one
8. ...a recliner chair?
$1000 if it was really really comfortable (I <3 recliners)
9. ...a month of 'lightening speed' internet service?
Any more than $40 is a rip
10. ...a cell phone?
$300 for one of those keyboard ones

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Corporate Radio Starting to Lose

I'm done! That's right, finals officially ended for me at 4PM yesterday. I think I put the hurt on that Linear Algebra final, but I'll post reflections on the year as a whole when I move out. Until then, the show must go on. I've been mentioning music a lot lately, and that's because it has come up so much. There has been huge growth in alternatives to normal radio: 22% for listening to songs from computers and 37% for listening to streaming internet radio online. The cost to corporate radio is only a few percent so far, but if they don't start playing more good music they'll probably lose more. Plus, I'm amazed at how many don't offer streams of their shows online. The great thing about podcasts, which I mentioned a couple of days ago, is that they're easy to obtain through a computer and transfer to your mp3 player or PSP. What's also really cool is this little device called Infusion that can tune into internet radio through a WiFi connection. It also has an FM receiver, can play mp3s, and can record sound as well. More devices like that could make the music market much more mature and almost monopolistically competitive.

So what else did the news have in store for technology? Well, TigerDirect lost its ridiculous case against Apple for use of the name Tiger for its new version of OS X 10. They ultimately just couldn't uphold the burden of proof and the court determined that the harm of siding with TigerDirect would be much worse than that incurred against TigerDirect. Serves them right! I ran into a great article about the good of tv piracy in that it can expose audiences to shows they've never seen before so they can get easily hooked on it. What's more important though is that the writer makes a great point about having an advertiser's watermark on each frame of the show to bring in revenue. It sounds pretty feasible to me given how widespread this has already become. In quite an interesting move, Sun and Microsoft have begun outlining projects to help their respective products be compatible with each other and communicate. A marraige between .Net and Java could be huge, so I guess we should just stay tuned for more developments in this fresh alliance. Microsoft is also planning to cross-license some patents with Toshiba, which could either mean that we'll see more innovation or more evil. There's a good, brief op/ed piece about our favorite M$ rival, Linux, over here regarding the lessons to be learned from DOS. It makes sense, but I think the reason Linux won't become mainstream is because it isn't simplistic enough.

Now for a spat of movie news. Some great early reports today. There's some information here regarding the showing at Cannes of the first 14 minutes of George Romero's Land of the Dead, and it sounds like it has the makings of a classic horror movie. Some lucky bastard got into a test screening of Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but thankfully he shared his tale. It sounds like it'll be very different from the original and should be a lot of fun to watch. There's a new tv spot for War of the Worlds now online to get us even more pumped up, and I'm expecting great things here. Oh, and Quint at AICN visited the movie set, but it's quite a long read. JoBlo put up a ton of shots of posters on his visit to Cannes that you should look over here. Not much else going on though. The weekend box office looks pretty weak so far, but official numbers will be in tomorrow. If you can't get enough of Star Wars you can see just how much money the empire rakes in over here and celebrate the forgotten background characters here.

I actually have some randomness today. There's a cool editorial here about what it takes to be a real blogger, and I'm glad I can just talk about random stuff here. With E3 just around the bend Nintendo is giving some small details about the Revolution beings backwards compatible with Gamecube games (so the same damned tiny discs) and also supporting wireless internet, and worked with IBM and ATI on the hardware. Not much else though, and it's expected to be out next year. Don't forget about the PS3. If you're interested in current games though, you'll savor some details on SOCOM 3's multiplayer, which looks totally sweet so far. More levels and vehicles and all that good stuff.

That's a big tank

Now, embrace some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Grandma::Granny
  2. Pet::Dog
  3. Desolate::Empty
  4. Backspace::Keyboard
  5. Common ground::Debate
  6. Storm::Thunder
  7. Dark::Night
  8. Water bottle::Good stuff
  9. Training::Buff
  10. Dot coms::The web