Thursday, June 30, 2005

Microsoft in Politics

Bill Gates may claim to not feel threatened by Linux, and yet they're doing some heavy politicking in an intricate web to advance their interests. In fact, there may be as many as three companies lobbying on Capitol Hill on behalf of the software giant. Not all this effort goes against Linux per se, but you know something is up when a consumer advocate claims that the open source platform stifles innovation. What's disconcerting is how much money they've been lumping onto the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Maybe that would explain why Bill is having more litigation issues in Europe than it is stateside. It's just disturbing to thing how many big players Gates holds in his back pocket. This is why Microsoft is so hated. Whereas competitors are really busting their butts, M$ has enough money to buy its way out of any problems. Not to say that their rivals are saints, but I don't think their web of deceit is quite as complicated.

In further tech news, Microsoft has also been in the news for something else: Longhorn. The recent announcement of RSS compatibility has turned some heads and now security experts are concerned of possible holes via the service. I really think that M$ will have troubles no matter what it adds to Longhorn just because Windows has such a huge market share. Meanwhile, Google is facing a lawsuit regarding click fraud of all things! Haven't they been actively fighting this for a while now? There must be something I'm missing, but I don't think they'll lose the case anyway. They've actually opened the API for Google Maps now for all you webheads out there. Fujitsu is developing what they hope to be the de facto technology for palm vein authentication all over the globe. There's an amazing amount of demand out there and futuristic stuff like this always gets me all dorky excited. The MPAA has really gotten heated up about the Star Wars piracy (despite the disgusting amount of money they raked in on it) and so the FBI in cooberation with 10 other nations has started cracking down and recovered an alleged "$50 million" worth of damages. They're really getting smart and I'm curious to see if they rattled any serious chains. I've been out of the warez game for too long to recognize any names. Lastly, Merill Lynch has estimated that the PS3 will costs $494 to build, but that Sony will charge $399 for it to stay competitive with the Xbox 360. None of this information is really official, but $399 definitely sounds like a reasonable price (though to you and me it does look pricey) for what's in the box and given what Microsoft will charge (probably about the same).

I'm going to keep the movie news short because I'm hungry and it's almost time for dinner. As if there hasn't been enough trailers for The Island there's now one more that's largely similar to previous ones with some added scenes here and there. Given what I've heard so far, I'm already worried about this movie turning out well. If you need more multimedia check out 11 new clips from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They should really get you in the mood to see the movie on July 15. JoBlo has an exclusive poster for Cannes Grand Prix winner Broken Flowers featuring Bill Murray among a host of great actresses, and the trailer makes the movie look like it really is great. Lastly, check out this poster from the next movie from the creators of Oldboy in their sadistic revenge trilogy:

Looks interesting

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. Have you ever been camping? If yes, do you go often? If not, why not?
I have been, and that was at Big Bend in the 7th grade. I don't go often because my family was never into camping and I don't know anyone to go with. I wouldn't mind doing it should the opportunity arise, hopefully before I start working (post-college working that is).

2. Are you an outdoorsy person, or would you rather stay inside the comfort of your house? Why?
Both. It depends on how tired I am from the week. I love going outside when the weather is nice, especially biking or rock climbing or swimming. Camping would be fun too, or even kayaking. I'm open to a lot of things.

3. Which do you prefer, hot weather or cold weather? Why/why not? How do you cope with each?
Cold weather I think. At least with cold weather I can keep bundling up, but with hot weather it just gets to be unbearable. Plus, I just hate to sweat that much. In Houston it gets so hot that I wish I could bathe like 3 times a day or at least carry some deoderant in my back pocket.

Not sure if I'll post tomorrow night, but it should be up Saturday morning I think. The reason is a family gathering I believe I have to attend tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Human Mind in Continuum

I'm disappointed that none of my regular readers tried to guess my 2 lies (don't think I don't know who you are). However, a lovely lady named Liz guess correctly: the lies were 6 and 8. I've always wanted to check out the UT Law building but never have. And I guess the name of this blog was a dead giveaway for my loser status. Girls have only been trouble for me anyway so we'll see what happens when I run into a worthwhile one. The topic at hand is the realization that our brains do not work like a computer but rather in a continuous state. In other words, it's not like the bit manipulations of a computer where the mind goes through discrete states, but rather there can be fluctuations in between two states and there are unique interpretations. This would also imply continuous sensory input, which makes sense since you do piece together the meaning of a sentence as you get it. This is just an alternate model, but it does sound like it makes a lot of sense as opposed to the computer-based model.

There is of course still more news for nerds to go. You know that you're an important company when Microsoft puts .NET on hold to deal with you. They're working on it much more slowly now, but they seem all fired up and ready to duke it out in the search arena with Google. Google has been in the news a lot lately, and now someone has even cracked their new video player to play other content as well. I'm curious as to whether Google was pissed off about that or not. Meanwhile, Apple has decided to combine it iPod line with its iPod Photo line to make all future iPods in color. They also seem to be half-heartedly excited about podcasters being able to sell their podcasts and not have Apple get involved with it. Sun decided to change its strategy and will no longer be working on selling Linux for desktops. Instead, they've decided to enter the laptop game with their first ever laptop computer. Of course it's mainly for scientists and engineers, but a bit change for them nonetheless.

There's not too much movie news today. It turns out that George Lucas just doesn't want to let go of his clutch on Star Wars and has now decided to put all six films into 3-D format. It may look a little better, but am I the only person who think that he's beating a dead horse here? In the X3 world, there are watered down rumors of Mike Vogel in the running for the role of Angel, but he may be committed to another movie already. There also seems to be word of interest in an X-men spinoff revolving around the students at Xavier's school, but I'm just not feeling it. Yahoo! Movies put up a trailer for Into the Blue, which is only noteworthy because Jessica Alba wears a bikini in said movie. War of the Worlds came out today, but if you need more reason to see it Moriarty put up his review. If you still haven't seen Cinderella Man though, you should go to an AMC theater where they have a money-back guarantee on the flick. I highly reccomend it myself, so go see it. Lastly, the real-life Domino Harvey died on Monday, and I wonder if recent events in her life leading up to this were the reasons behind the movie being pushed back. She really looks more like a bounty hunter than her former profession of fashion model:

Don't shoot!

Now for my favorite meme of the week, the Wednesday Mind Hump:

If you had a remote control that hypnotizes people you encounter throughout the day. List examples of the things you would have other people do at the push of a button in the following categories.

01. Useful

I'd have my government teacher stop blabbing so much during class about random nonsense so that I could either go home quicker or talk more to the cute girl who sits behind me.

02. Pranks
I kind of wonder what my government teacher's reaction would be to someone putting a whoopee cushion on his seat. Either that, or an opened condom on his desk. Just for kicks.

03. Significant Other or Parents
I'd have my mom talk in a softer voice! She talks so loudly all the time. She doesn't try to yell, and yet she does because she's so bloody loud.

And an optional example --

04. Mean

I saw a guy from high school at the gym I never liked (who will remain nameless so that he doesn't IM me and beg me to take his name off), and I would've like to have seen him do a rep on the bench press where he couldn't lift it up and no one would help him for while.

05. You have a magic remote control which instantly transports you to your happy place but only for 30 minutes (the average amount of total commerical time during a two hour made for TV movie. Also you can only do it once a day with no rollover minutes. lol Describe your happy place.
In the arms of a hot chick? Probably not, because I'd probably find out that she was taken like every other girl in my life and that wouldn't be very happy. I guess just drinking and dancing with my cousins with all my work taken care of and no school projects or tests in the near future. That was the last time I was really happy in recent months.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

3-D Imagery For Free!

Investors may be worried about the bubble of Google's stock price, but I think the rest of us are satisfied with just playing around with their products. I was pretty excited to learn today that Google Earth will now be free for everyone to use! I installed it and I have to say that it's totally and completely badass. This is one of those programs I always wanted but never bought (Microsoft had a similar program, but without all the 3-D stuff) since I can get maps for free online anyway. Instead of firing up your web browser you can just enter in a location (coordinates or address or city) in this program and see a satellite picture of the area from the Google Earth server. Of course your computer has to be pretty good to handle all this, but it's really useful if you can use it. Like if you're in a new place and you want to check out the night life, just check the "Bars/Clubs" box and all such places in the area will exist. It has that for hotels, restaurants, schools, and much more. You can also do directions and such just like you would in Google Maps, except it is a little slower given that it has to stream all the data directly to your computer. You should really go download this program right now, or you can dawdle with some more impressions of it. I should mention that the 3-D building stuff is only for select cities, and New York is one of them:

I love NYC (click to enlarge)

Nerds have more yet to talk about at the watercooler tomorrow. Google did have some bad press today coming from people disgruntled by all the spam blogs on Blogspot, which is a valid concern since it's hurting the speed and integrity of Blogger. The poster makes a good point in that they should definitely purge their server of such blogs and then they'd solve so many issues. Blogs are becoming a bigger deal after all with Technorati monitoring over 10 million of them. Sun struck it big today with a deal that packages Java with Blu-ray disc players, which means that actual Java bytecode will be on the discs. This will be a true testimony to the cross-platform abilities of the language. Another testimony today was to P2P with the rescue of a failed tv pilot for a show called Global Frequency. Of course no one involved in the show can endorse the illegal distribution of the show, but it did, in fact, save their butts since the WB is now reconsidering. Lastly, Apple fans will want to get the new version of iTunes with built-in support for podcasts.

Today's movie news is pretty good but not plentiful. All you action junkies will be happy to know that Tony Gilroy is currently working on a script for The Bourne Ultimatem and I hope that he's able to trump the fun-filled second film in the trilogy. Meanwhile, we have to settle for Fantastic Four, which is still getting some mediocre reviews and is only looking ok. At least King Kong is on the way and while some onlookers were disappointed with yesterday's teaser you can see how believeable the cg is in high-resolution. It's certainly no X3, which has now lost Lost's Maggie Grace, who was set to play Shadowcat (ability: can walk through walls). It's no surprise that we don't know why she left, but Fox has already started looking for someone else so we can expect to find out more about that very soon. Acclaimed director Brian De Palma may be taking the helm of a remake of The Untouchables, the story of gangster Al Capone, and I can't imagine how cool that movie would be if it gets made. I assume that it'll look better since he'll likely have a stronger financial backing and a better style for creating it given all his experience since then. Lastly, there's a new one-sheet for V for Vendetta for those of you who are interested.

Time for some Ten on Tuesday action:

8 Truths and 2 Lies About You (let your readers guess which are the lies)

10. I get a good alcohol buzz at most family gatherings.
9. I gave up all sodas (i.e. plain soda sans alcohol) a few years ago.
8. I've never been in the UT Law School building.
7. My favorite movie is Kill Bill.
6. I had a serious girlfriend in high school.
5. I'm moving to an apartment in Far West for the upcoming school year.
4. My middle name is Victor.
3. I was born in Houston, TX.
2. I spent the past winter break taking a History class.
1. I play classical guitar.

If people comment their guesses as to which are the two lies I'll reveal the answer tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Online Video On-demand in Infancy

Before I start, Circuit City is selling the special edition of Reservoir Dogs for only $7, which is a steal. If you haven't seen it but you like any of Tarantino's other movies I highly reccomend it since it's only a few bucks more than renting it and it's a great film. A few months ago, Google started accepting submissions for its Google Video service free of charge at the moment. Now, it has developed its own cross-platform in-browser video player called the VLC media player to view the videos and has started making certain videos available. The download is quick and painless, and then you can start searching its database based on keywords provided by the uploader and watch those with a play button next to them. What's great about this media player is that it shows screen shots from points in the first few minutes of the videos and allows you to start from there. The problem is that it doesn't go much farther than that for all long videos and there's no way to adjust the video size. Nonetheless, I think they're off to a good start and this may provide a vehicle for people to watch missed tv shows online, which many of you know is a cause I really identify with. This service is still in very early stages and they still have many kinks to work out, but at least they were bold enough to make that first step. Anyway, if you want to try it out yourself check out "breakdancing".

There is more techie news out there today. It's a great day for Linux users who can now play most Windows games on Linspire using Cedega for just $50. I'm kind of surprised that no one had previously done this, and this is a big step forward in making Linux a more easy-to-swallow operating system. Sun is edging closer to open source methodology itself by releasing the source code for its upcoming Java Application System Server. It's better than nothing. Some American scientists have found a way to bring dogs back to life after being clinically dead by draining their blood and replacing it with a cold saline solution. The craziest thing about that discovery is that it'll supposedly be ready for human testing within a year, which could be able to keep people alive long enough to say, "Goodbye," to loved ones. If you haven't been enamored by the iPod then you should take a look at this collection of articles about how rival companies designed their mp3 players to complete with Apple. The key is really to add important features (like radio and a mic and stuff) not in the iPod while keeping it simple and dependable. If you're interested in using VoIP to make unlimited calls over your cell phone you should check out this article explaining how to route calls through IPDrum. It's a little complicated, but worthwhile if you make a lot of calls and are short on cash. Lastly, it looks like Grokster has lost the case against MGM and while it's only overturning a previous decision it does come as a blow to P2P. I'll bring you more on the next step of the war as it develops.

I think I'll start off the movie news with some multimedia. Japan actually has a Fantastic Four trailer that makes the movie look better than we all would think it to be and is worth a look. If you missed the King Kong teaser premiere tonight then you can still check it out on the Volkswagen website. You can catch some shots from it here. IGN has the theatrical trailer for Cry Wolf that makes it look very analogous to Scream. It even has a token Black dude and Asian chick, both of whom I'll bet will be killed. Yahoo! Movies put up an exclusive clip from Hustle & Flow showing how good the acting is even in simple scenes. Harry Knowles put up a riveting review for War of the Worlds hailing it as his favorite movie for the year and upping the anty on my expectations for the production. I doubt the movie will disappoint though, and it will be out in theaters this weekend. There's an engaging interview with George Romero at IGN and it's sad how bad his movie did in theaters this past weekend. I didn't see it only beause I was so busy with suprise parties. Fox has decided to pick up hit video game Max Payne for a movie and it should be interesting since the game itself is so cinematic. David Goyer will be directing an original thriller called The Invisible this September and while the plot (an assaulted teenager trapped in limbo and trying to find his body) sounds neat I'm concerned that this will keep him from doing a Batman Begins sequel. I hope he gets his priorities straight! Lastly, hottie Peta Wilson has been cast in Superman Returns for a currently unannounced role and despite the unfamiliar name this is indeed notable because of how she looks:

Very nice

There are a couple of items of randomness left. You may soon have to pay taxes for ordering items online from some popular sites like due to legislators exploiting a loophole of an online company having an offline store in the purchaser's state (such as with and Borders). This could come to a huge blow to such sites since it would reduce the savings to customers. The other thing I wanted to mention was all the theories regarding the source of the huge housing market bubble stateside. I personally subscribe to the international influence theory, particularly Asian savings.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. If I could just figure out how to __________, I'd be real happy.
get a girl who's interested in me
2. I would be happy to hand over cleaning the __________ to someone else.
furniture (dusting)
3. One thing I try to do every day is ___________.
practice classical guitar
4. Someone once told me that I was very _________.
5. Probably the one word/phrase I tend to overuse is _____________.
indeed (apparently)
6. I need to work on ___________.
talking slower
7. When I'm cleaning house I like to listen to __________.
high energy music (Audioslave, Incubus, etc)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Mainstreaming Spyware

This weekend post makes my second late post in a row, but it was coincidentally also for a surprise birthday party. We had it for my brother's girlfriend and she was totally clueless so it worked out real well. Food was great and fun was had by all, and I ended up staying there for the night so I didn't end up coming home until a couple of hours ago. So anyway, the article I thought you guys would find the most intriguing was regarding major advertisers using spyware. The list includes JC Penny, Sprint,, Sony, and Mercedes-Benz USA among others. The good news is that prosecutors are going for the big companies as well as the subcontractors to show these bastards that they mean business. If I was a hacker I'd concentrate my efforts on getting viruses and spyware on these companies' computers rather than on just a regular person's system. I was really surprised to learn that some companies, like Expedia, support the practice as just another advertising tool! I don't see how this will help business as it grows. It makes me wonder whether spyware can actually be contained or if it's a Pandora's Box like drugs and weapons of mass destruction and such.

There's some pretty good technology news this weekend. PCWorld is running an article on the best ISPs out there in all aspects of service. I'm proud to be using Earthlink being at the top for cable providers and I think that's a good article to keep handy for future reference. It's become a growing concern as the number of broadband lines worldwide has grown to 164 million. I find it ironic that Communist China has the second most number of lines. Many of you already know the power of Flash memory from the USB drives you carry around, and now Apple laptops may soon be armed with them rather than hard-disk drives due to falling costs. The only problem I've noticed with them is that they seem to eventually go bad and get corrupted, but maybe the kind I've used is just old. I had reported a while ago that CVS was making disposable camcorders and you'd have to pay them for a DVD of it, but now some dude has managed to crack the camcorder in order to transfer the data to his computer. The video quality looks like a digital camera took it though, which I guess is expected from a disposable. Some fuzzy early shots of Internet Explorer 7 are online showcasing the RSS implementation and tabbed interface a bit, and I just hope that they try to close up more security holes. It doesn't look too bad so far. Lastly, a new keyboard called the DX1 is answering the call of gamers to have a keyboard that meets their needs by being totally customizable. At only $50 it's a bargain and looks pretty useful:

Very smart

There's just a little bit of movie news. The king in the box office this weekend was Batman raking in over $26 million despite three newcomers and showing that it means business. It has thankfully now made back its production budget in worldwide sales but will almost certainly be knocked down The King Kong production diary has a new entry from the good people at Weta Digital showing off some of the special effects stuff and it's looking good. Don't forget to catch the teaser trailer tomorrow night (or I guess it's already Monday for most of you). AICN has a lukewarm review of Serenity claiming that it's only providing an ending for the tv series, but he had better reasons for not being enthralled with it. The last bit of movie news I have is this article listing the best beams and laser rays in cinema history and is a nice walk down memory lane. I have one random thing I though I'd mention here and that is an explanation of why home prices seem to be rising despite receding inflationary pressures. It just goes to show that an economic measure is only as useful as the understanding of the analyst using it.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Useless::Bums (the people, not the body part)
  2. Radiant::A certain girl who will remain nameless
  3. W::Weary
  4. Unpaid::Parking ticket
  5. Geek::Loser
  6. Unfaithful::Adultery
  7. Reboot::Computers
  8. No!::That damn Capital One no-hassle commercial
  9. Squad::Pep
  10. Fetish::Hentai

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Zombie Networks

The reason my post for "Friday" is so delayed is because we threw my Aunt a surprised birthday party since she turned 50. I was basically out of commission until 2:00 P.M. until like midnight setting up and then being at the party itself. A good time was had by all, though I think there were a couple of wet blankets on my Uncle's side of the family (i.e. my side). Oh well, it happens. What i wanted to talk about today was the evil zombie networks marching in the streets feeding off the living. Ok, not really, but they are trouble. I never realized how dangerous spyware could be in harnessing computer power until I read this article about how hackers are doing it to block access to sites. So a company could pay them to do this to hurt a rival, but damage could also be done to federal government servers. More than that though, they could even bring down whole web sites or instant messaging services. Imagine what people who orchestrate such intricate schemes could do if they used their powers for good. I wonder how they even got turned out to that kind of stuff. I always had a penchant for computing myself but never that much.

Not too much tech news today. Microsoft is releasing Windows XP N in Europe as ordered by the EU but it turns out that distributors don't feel too rushed to go out and buy it. The only difference is the choice it gives the user with regard to a media player, and I think that it's a stupid punishment if that's all that came of the lawsuit. At least they're preparing to extend RSS support, presumably in Internet Explorer and in Longhorn. If you're a Mac user and you despise having to use Office then you should either switch to Linux or use ThinkFree Office, which will supposedly be compatibly with most MS Office files. I'm surprised no one had done this sooner considering how expensive Office is. IBM is great at losing face as it's now cutting jobs domestically and hiring more abroad (in India, namely). They claim it's because of the growing demand in India for their services, but the way IBM has been doing lately I don't think they're in it for the long haul anyway. Lastly, if you have any really sensitive data on your hard drive you should look into chemical misting for extreme security.

There's a good amount of movie news. AICN is reporting that Sean Penn may be up for the role of Joker in a Batman Begins sequel according to a drunk Christian Bale. It's a strange role for him, but it is just a rumor. AICN also has another positive review for The 40-year-old Virgin and a very promising review for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The director of the highly acclaimed Hustle and Flow is making a return to the big screen in a movie called Black Snake Man with Christina Ricci as a sex addict who gets an unlikely father figure in her life with Samuel L. Jackson, a god-fearing ex-Blues musician. I'm interested in this because of the great reviews for Hustle and Flow as well as to see these two great actors (I really think Ricci is underrated). All that's left now is video stuff. IGN has a new trailer for Transporter 2 revealing a lot more about the plot and may be a good action flick after all. MTV put up the Elizabethtown trailer in Windows-only form and it makes the movie look damn good. I think I'll have to catch this one, though the premise originally sounded boring. Lastly, Yahoo! Movies put up a few Fantastic Four clips. Why do I continue to post stuff about this movie? One reason:

Love the eyes

Since it's Saturday I decided to do the Saturday Six:

1. Yesterday, I linked to the journal "Mall Of America," a collection of photos from shopping malls of the 1960s and 1970s. What store do you associate most with your childhood in terms of happy memories and why? Is the store still around?
I'm not really sure. There's a Target that used to be near my house where I use to look at games and we would go to a lot, but it's no more. I could say the Galleria, but it's not like I went there all that often in my younger years.

2. What song makes you the most emotional and why?
There are some Coldplay songs that will do it for me if I'm in the right mood (like "Fix You") and also "Joy" by Talib Kweli, but not much else. Once I've heard a song enough it usually loses that effect. "Last Night" by Az Yet used to do it for me because I associate it with my brother moving out for college when I was younger.

3. Take the quiz: What year were you born under, and what year should you have been born under?
I was born under the tiger, but apparently I should be a rooster:

Resourceful and practical, you are a quick thinker.
You are very observant - and it's hard to get anything past you!
A total perfectionist, you are especially picky about looking your best.
You're a big dreamer - such a big dreamer that reality can disappoint you.

You are most compatible with an Ox or Snake.

4. What time do you typically wake up each day? What is the latest you're normally able to sleep? How many hours of sleep do you get in an average night?
Around 10:00 A.M. or 10:15 A.M., so I get about 8 hours or so usually. That time will probably change a little bit in July, but only by an hour backwards.

5. What frightens you the most about getting older?
Less years to find a woman! My greatest fear is dying alone after all. I guess another thing would be getting older and not reaching any of my goals (like a meaningful career).

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #56 from Debi: If you found the house of your dreams, right price, then discovered that a murder or suicide had taken place in the house, would you still consider buying the house?
I think I've watched too many horror movies to buy that. Phantasmagoria (video game) pretty much scarred me for life.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Evil of Outsourcing

I was never a very vociferous opponent of outsourcing because I believe in the cause of free trade and that money pouring into India is a good thing. The more players we have in the world economy the better. After all, I believe in the methods of teaching CS at the top 10 American schools over the education of some dude in India. But that's not what I wanted to address here. The problem with using such cheap labor is that they don't care about the company since they can't move up that much anyway and so they won't have many reservations about selling private information. The Sun managed to buy bank account records of about 1,000 British people from some crooked call center workers, and that's bad news for that bank (who was not named in the article). With problems like this arising, I feel pretty confident that I, and people like me, will be able to find programming jobs upon graduation from college (assuming they have previous experience) so I don't feel too worried about my economic future.

Behold, Windows on a Mac

There's even less nerd news today than there was yesterday. Think Secret managed to get a sneak peak at a development kit for an Intel-based Mac and tested it out a bit. It looks like Windows works on it but conversely, OS X didn't work on non-Apple machines because of some sort of handshake upon startup. Very smart, Steve. It turns out that Google's so-called threat to PayPal is just an internal payment system to manage transactions with their AdSense program. I wonder if the press gave them an idea for a move to make in the future? Before you download an ad-blocking plug-in for your Firefox you should check out this article explaining the damage an ad-free internet could do. I'm personally only bothered by those Flash-based pop-up ads that appear over the window. Monopoly is taking fun to a whole new level with an online game based on real-life taxis in London outfitted with GPS equipment. Didn't have time to play around with it, but just thought it was crazy that they'd actually do that. If you would like to play music in your home among several rooms you should look into the Sonos Digital Music System, which I'd get if I had the money because that is a problem that I often encounter (especially while doing chores). Lastly, a bunch of MIT physicists managed to discover a new form of matter that could possibly be the missing link in superconductivity. A lot of that goes over my head, but I'm glad there are some smart people out there investigating it.

I have some good movie news today, and a lot of it is in media form. I highly reccomend taking a look at the new video blog entry from Bryan Singer revealing some big plot details and neat footage from Superman Returns. Apparently, the film takes place after Superman disappears after the first movie and comes back to an even worse world. Things are starting to look up for it. The status hasn't changed for Fantastic Four, but there are some character featurettes online, which I only mention for the Sue Storm one (Alba in underwear). Moviefone has a trailer for the new Jim Carrey flick, Fun with Dick and Jane, about a couple who moonlight as armed robbers to help pay the bills and it actually looks better than I would've thought. Also looking better than I would've thought is this 7 minute video of randomness from Elizabethtown. I originally didn't give the movie a second thought but maybe it will be as good as everyone claims it will be. Yahoo! Movies has a few clips from the dance documentary Rize, which I think I have to see for all the crazy dancing. Rumor mills are still churning for a sequel to Batman Begins and Paul Bettany may be a frontrunner for the role of Joker. I think he could do an awesome job. Lastly, AICN has a review of Bewitched and more impressions of Land of the Dead if you need any more convincing on that one. Apparently, the former movie did not turn out well.

Now for some 3x Thursday:

1. Are you a realist or an idealist? How so?
Probably more of a realist. I'm very practical about my thinking and I tend not to daydream too much. I do have aspirations, but they're pretty realistic goals.

2. Is the glass usually half empty or half full? Why?
Half full I think. I like to think of things in happier terms because life is too short to be cynical and pessmisitic.

3. Are things usually black and white for you, or is there in fact a grey area?
A lot of times there seems to be a grey area! It's easier to say that matters are black and white than in actual practice.

Oh, and I likely won't have my Friday post up on Friday. I'll probably try to get it online Saturday morning.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

eBay Losing Its Edge

NOTE: I lost a lot of this post on accident so I had to shorten much of it. Sorry.
Before I start I just want to give an update on my personal situation. We spoke to the hit-and-run investigator yesterday and he was very understanding. He realized that it was a minor accident and will not press charges. Thank God! Now we just have to write a check to the other party's insurance company. Anyway, it turns out that eBay is losing a lot of money to alternative marketplaces due to fraud, increased listing fees, and a lack of quality customer services. It seems that people find it more profitable to sell direct from their own sites and advertise on search engines or even on another listing site like Amazon or Overstock. I find this to be significant because eBay is one of those companies that came out of the dotcom boom stronger than it went in and seems to have almost become a part of colloquial language. Can they really bounce back? It's not like they're in the red yet or anything, but if they don't start an overhaul they may start an downhill fall. With the evolution of the internet I just think it's important to realize the kinds of trends that are going on around us.

Not a whole lot of other news items in technology. Microsoft has recently acquired Sybari Software for their anti-virus software needs and has now decided that, contrary to the company's progress up til now, it will not support Unix or Linux. It may sound like a sensible business move for them, but aren't they losing a lot of money just for their pride? They should be more concerned though about the Indian dude who cracked their Genuine Advantage program. A blog has a great interview with Linus Torvalds about open source and proprietary software and I think he provides some great insights. The best point he makes is how different Microsoft's way of doing business is as opposed to other key players inasmuch as how dependent it is on Windows. It turns out that the broadcast flag deal that would've been snuck into a Congressional bill (that I mentioned a couple of days ago) will not go through thanks to thousands of angry e-mails and faxes. Democracy does work!

Now for some movie news. It turns out that Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) will not be bald in Superman Returns, though presumable the hair he has is a toupee. Why would they not want him to have hair? On the X3 side of things, Ian McKellan is not signed on as of yet to play Magneto although his involvement is planned. This goes to show how behind they are. AICN has a first review of Fantastic Four that confirms what I thought: it's only meh. It's too bad that they wasted that license. They also have another review of Land of the Dead corroborating its coolness. It'll be good to have a good zombie movie for our generation. However, Legend of Zorro isn't looking too hot. Yahoo Movies has a trailer for The Brothers Grimm, and I'm curious to see this movie just because Terry Gilliam is directing it. I wonder if the Monty Python veteran still has his touch. You can catch some shots from Speed Racer over here and a Spider-man 3 teaser poster over here, all from the NYC Licensing Fair (an annual international trade show).

He must feel hot

It's time for some Wednesday Mind Humpin' action:

01. Don't be afraid of being a sissypants ... we've ALL lavished love on a stuffed animal at one time or another. What stuffed animal or toy did you just love the stuffin' out of (past or present)
My keyboard! It's so soft and cuddly! Don't you sleep with yours at night? Just kidding, but the only plush animal I ever got attached to was a brown teddy bear a cousin of mine in India gave to me during my visit there when I was 12. I slept with it for a little while, but quickly grew out of it.

02. If Mattel or Fisher-Price were to create a stuffed animal inspired by you, what would it be ... describe the stuffed animal you. If it talked at the pull of a string what things would it say?
Hmm, well it would be cuddly and sweet just like me of course. Not totally sure what it would say when you pull its string tohugh. Of course on Wednesdays it would have to say, "Are you read for some humping?" On weeknights it would likely advise you to do your homework, but on weekends it would egg you on to party hard and do keg stands.

03. What stuffed animal best represents your state or city and explain your choice.
A stuffed Bevo! He's the mascot of UT Austin and being a longhorn would be a great symbol not only for Texas but also for Austin (which I consider my home over Houston even though I was born and raised in Houston).

04. Winnie the Pooh is not just a Disney character ... he is actually the stuffed animal pal of Christopher Robin and comes with a bevy of stuffed animal friends. Which Winne the Pooh character are you most like and why do you think so? If you're not familiar with Winnie the Pooh here is a guide to the characters.
I'd like to say Tigger since I like tigers and I like to be happy, but I'd have to say Rabbit. I'm responsible like he is and also very caring. Rabbit is a he right? It's not like they ever show you any crotch and Rabbit's voice throws me off. It's not like rabbits have boobs either, so how would you know? *shrugs*

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Google-Yahoo Conflict

I think many of us have overlooked for a long time the threat that Google has posed for Yahoo and I'm glad that ZDNet finally addressed it. It's rather ironic that the creators of both companies both started out as doctoral students at Stanford, which is still my dream school for my Masters if I decide to pursue that. But anyway, with all the press for Google you'd think that it was clobbering Yahoo. However, even though Google leads it in search ad revenues, Yahoo has a better set of relationships with the people who matter. In contrast, Google is more focused on the technology side, and that shouldn't really surprise anyone. This author also seems to feel that Google is doomed to lose a lot of steam in the near future, but I disagree. The fact that the founders are so intimately involved with the company shows their passion for it and I believe that they can do a lot yet to keep it afloat and blow past Yahoo. I do think it's curious though that the media is staying so focused on Google despite some interesting recent acquisitions to the Yahoo empire that I hadn't heard of before including DialPad, Flickr, and Overture and I do think that after some time the media will start diversifying a bit. Still, the battle is kind of neat to watch from the sidelines.

There is more tech news yet, including a good amount about Apple. In a surprising turn of events, the computer manufacturer has decided to stop selling its single-processor G5 line in favor of Dual 2+ GHz instead. I'm trying to find a link between this and the Intel switch but I can't make any sense of the strategy of this situation. Apple has formed an alliance with Nokia though in creating an open source browser for its Series 60 phones to relieve the issues of awkward browsing on portable devices. It looks like Nokia is really experimenting though and may even switch to Linux. As if that wasn't enough for Apple though, they're also being sued over its iTunes interface for patent violations of some other dude's creation. The problem with litigation like this is that it's hard to patent creativity and prove infringement. AOL is primed to rejuvenate its web portal with an unveiling of a host of new features next month. I'm actually pretty interested in checking out the free XM stations myself. The creator if BitTorrent has attacked the Microsot alternative, Avalanche, to be underdeveloped with inaccurate simulations of their algorithms. When the guy who invented the idea says it's bad, you know it's gotta suck. Lastly, I think it's funny that the LA Times wikitorial trial run (which I didn't report on because I figured this would happen) has been shut down due to obscene postings they attribute to Slashdot publicity. Ironically, a lot of the audience they needed to aim at anyway is the Slashdot readership.

There's a good bit of movie news today. I was pleased to learn that the distribution head over at Warner Brothers feels optimistic about a sequel to Batman Begins, though Katie Holmes is unlikely to return (largely due to all her bad publicity). Tom, what happened with Nicole Kidman?! Let's help convince them to do a sequel and support the movie another weekend! Christian Bale was so much better than Michael Keaton after all. Marvel guru Avi Arad let some details go regarding some other superheros including Vinnie Jones being Juggernaut in X3 and the return of Dylan Baker as Dr. Curt Connors in Spider-man 3, which could imply the appearance of The Lizard. I can only hope they delay X3 for now, and Spider-man 3 is getting curioser and curiouser. It looks like Alice is now movie forward with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the lead but sans Wes Craven. I like the idea of a horror twist on a classic tale, but a gazillion things could still go wrong. I thought that Ice Age was a great animated feature and I was pleased to learn that Drea de Matteo will be John Leguizamo's (the sloth) girlfriend because I love her on Joey and think her voice could really fit. I was really surprised to discover another good early review of Herbie: Fully Loaded because I thought that they'd water down Herbie, but apparently they just ran with it. Lastly, check out the new poster for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:

Neat lion

There are a few random things before I sign off here. If you'd like to help some Chinese people free themselves of oppression you can adopt a blogger now and show the Chinese government that they're a pack of raving lunatics. There's a great study over at IGN about high-definition picture and its relation to the next generation of consoles that's worth a look if you have a few minutes to read it. I really hope that this high-definition stuff catches on and does become cheaper. And lastly, one senator is posing a true challenge to violent video games with Eidos's creation of 25 to Life, which does have some GTA-like things and I want to see how things turn out with this so I'll keep you posted.

Now for some Tuesday Twosome:

1. Are out with your friends, do you think your friends would let you get a ride with a person you just met that night or step in to prevent it?
That's a good question. I have no idea. I think they'd likely let me go assuming it's a girl. If it's a guy, I don't know why I'd be getting in in the first place. For a chick though, it could mean good things.

2. Are stalled (car) in your driveway, do you call a cab to get to work or do you call a friend?
I think I'd call a friend because I'm not sure how reliable cabs are down here.

3. Are at work and stain your clothes, you have plans to go out afterwards, do you go home to change or don't let it worry you and go out with the stain?
It depends on where I'm going. If it's not something fancy or important I'd just clean the stain in the bathroom with some soap. Otherwise, I'd bolt home first.

4. Walk up to someone you think you know and greet him/her, it turns out you don't know him/her, do you play it off and continue to pretend to know him/her or do you admit your mistake and laugh it off?
Admit my mistake. I can't improv for that long! I've done it before and it's kind of embarassing, but it's an honest mistake to make.

5. Order food through a drive-thru, and you don't realize the order is wrong until you drive off, do you go back to the restaurant or do you just "take it" and decide not to correct the mistake?
I would probably go back. But I rarely ever eat fast food, and since that has happened to a friend of mine in the past I think I'd be in the habit of checking it out.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Phishy Tale

How true!

I love Questionable Content and wanted to share that strip because it's so true! Many a good man have fallen to scantily clad women. Anyway, Joel Spolsky's blog is always an interesting read whenever I stop by and today he put up the introduction to his upcoming book compiling examples of good software writing. The introduction is a great read and I think makes a very important point. Why is it that so many programming books are so bloody dry? I enjoyed reading The Pragmatic Programmer and yet when I read books to learn languages they're hard to sit down and focus on. For example, this article about phishing is easy to read because it's not too long and has some great information to boot an actual story. If authors in the computer world wrote more like that they'd be rich! Don't underestimate the spending power of nerds. Back to that second article though, I find it interesting that our bank accounts can be so vulnerable to guys not much older than me. The question we need to ask is if these guys can do so much, why do they use it for stealing?

There isn't terribly more technology news. It would appear that MIS is is growing more than Computer Science in the United States due to a variety of reasons, and I can't decide how I feel about that. I wouldn't mind a managerial role (I am doing a Business minor of sorts anyhow), but I just don't want to be stuck in business my whole life. I'd ideally like to explore a number of possibilities in computing, but I guess I can't be too choosy. The digital world now has word that Hollywood is going to present the broadcast flag to Congress in a couple of days under the guise of an appropriations bill, and that could mean huge trouble. E-mail your congressmen and warn them! Intel seems to be on a roll lately as it has been developing a wireless chip that could work up to 30 miles away from a wireless hotpot. That seems a little excessive, but it would've made my life easier when I had to register for my fall classes in Waggener Hall (which has a weak signal). BBC has an interview with the creator of Kazaa and Skype, and the way he speaks is of a man who will continue to do great things. I just love that he always sees the big picture. Lastly, YubNub is a command line for the internet and at first I was skeptical but now I think it's great. I can keep it in Firefox and use it to search google by just typing 'g' rather than the whole URL and such.

There is some movie news to report on today. There are rumblings that Lawrence Fishburne may be in Mission Impossible: 3 as Hunt's (Tom Cruise) mentor.There are also rumors that Todd Macfarlane might go back to the movie business to remake Spawn in a better light, which is an interesting thought but it's unlikely that he'll get another chance with that one. Apple has some behind-the-scenes footage for Fantastic Four that's rather long but does give you a good background if you don't know anything about the superhero team. Yahoo! Movies has an exclusive clip from Bewitched, which I do hope turns out funny. One funny movie that seems to be doomed to failure though is Wedding Crashers though according to an early review. Lastly, another funny movie I've just been turned on to is called Pretty Persuasion and looks like it could be great. The premise is a private school girl who tries to get a teacher in trouble by framing him for sexual harrassment.

Now to conclude this Monday with some Monday Madness:

Please list at least one anagram for the following words...

1. rentals eternals
2. wreathe weather
3. intidy (I assume he meant untidy) nudity
4. ruling luring
5. peaks speak
6. imprints misprint
7. meals males
8. reserve reverse
9. cosmic comics
10. heirs hires

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Blogging the Right Way

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Mine was kind of a rollercoaster of emotions, but I think Father's Day went well and now I have a couple of tough things this week (details later). What I wanted to talk about today was some stuff I came across that can help you be better bloggers like the newly found journalists in India. I'm pretty sure I had mentioned one dude's post about blogging a while back ago (who has a really awesome blog himself), but now I found another great one. I think it's funny how true the stereotype against Xangas are, and I personally prefer the functionality of Blogger in addition to the good name of Blogspot. Anyway, he talks about links and pictures and those are things I would like to see more in blogs because they prolong the experience and make me want to come back. A big downfall of many blogs is the lack of proper writing, which can be learned here. Why do some people feel exempt from using sentences and paragraphs? Anyway, I adore that list of tips there because I love writing (prose mostly) and I've forgotten how important techniques like highlighting ideas with verb voice and painting pictures properly.

I have nerd news abound today. Google extended their Maps site to also show the rest of the world including topographical views, except that you can't actually get directions except in the U.S. and U.K.. It's still kind of neat though, and I guess furthers the idea of Google being a media company. As if that wasn't enough for the growing company, there's also word of their moving into online payment services. This contributes to the popular question of what direction they're actually moving though. I don't care much myself though, as long as they do good work. If you're a newb to Linux like I am I think you'll want to bookmark this article that explains all the different distros' advantages and such. A new model of time travel suggests that if you were to go back in time you could not alter the present. I don't understand any of what's behind all this, but after seeing Back to the Future I have pondered it quite a bit and thought it was a notable finding. The New York Times is running an article about using your cell phone for international calls. I just thought that would be useful for some of you because I always had a curiosity for GSM myself. I think I'll leave off this paragraph with a picture of a paper thin clock:

Sweet, it's bendable

Since the movie news is so slim today I'll combine it with some randomness. Shame on all you people who read all the great Batman Begins reviews and didn't support it! It made a measly $46.9 milllion this weekend, though it did make $71 million since its opening on Wednesday. The last two Batman movies beat it and they blew. I am glad that The Perfect Man bombed so badly though, but it's unfortunate that Cinderella Man is getting clobbered. If you want more superhero news, it turns out that Nightcrawler will not make an appearance in X3 because Fox, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to stick with its horrendous script and lackluster director. I loved Alan Cumming! The last bit of movie news is the announcement of the premiere of the King Kong teaser trailer in like a gazillion places. This movie sounds like it could go well so be sure to catch that trailer (I'll try to remind you all on the 27th). Back to the box office problem though, movie studios now have to look into distributing movies online. It sounds like they're more focused on fighting piracy than providing a legitimate alternative, and I think the former would be easier if the latter was completed. With kids downloading movies these days and playing video games some people are asking whether their kids have a Nature-Deficit Disorder. I think playing outside is so important to physical and mental development and I hope I can show my kids how to live properly balanced lives (assuming I have kids someday way in the future). Lastly, my summer school teacher turned me on to an interesting site called 'Save This' where you can save articles that you encounter online totally for free. He's been using it for three years so I'd reckon that it's pretty reliable and useful.

Now for some Sunday Brunch:

1) Are you an organized person?
Yeah, I try to be. I'm sure my mom wouldn't think so, but I manage to get all my homework done and keep up with all my club stuff. The way I do it is with my planner plus a 'To Do' list widget on my computer.

2) What is one thing about your home that has to be just so or it drives you crazy when it comes to organization?
There can't be underwear on the floor! My room mate was bad about that for a while but he changed. It just makes the apartment look dirty. Another thing that drives me crazy is a sink full of dishes. It just looks unappetizing.

3) Do you have one little nuance about your organization that most people consider to be a little over the top? What is it?
Some people think it's odd that I harp on them taking their shoes off before coming into my place. Is that really so much to ask? If you walk into any Indian home with your shoes on it's a huge insult. I like to keep my place clean and I dont like to find leaves and rocks on my carpet.

4) What is your favorite organizational tool? (bins, closet organizers, etcetera)
Probably my planner. It really helps me keep my life organized. I guess next to that I really like the plasic drawers I got on sale from Target. I use them to store clothes in one and random stuff in the other.

5) Where is your favorite place to buy organizational needs?
Ikea is great because stuff there is so cheap and easy to assemble/disassemble. I haven't got much from there yet, but I can forsee it in the future.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A Couple of Polls

There's not much today that I can say a whole lot about, but there were two rather interesting polls. The first one I want to talk about shows that most voters would like the government to do something about internet security. Ironically enough though, they hold low opinions of Congress and the FTC, who would be the ones to act. I think people need to be careful about what they wish for because too much government involvement could be a bad thing. Of course that may be a necessary evil to counter the increasing rates of identity theft and spyware. Another poll showed that the movie industry has a more pressing issue to deal with than piracy: people staying at home. It shows that significantly more people prefer watching films at home rather than at the theater, which is kind of surprising for me given the big screen experience at the movies. However, it is cheaper to just rent a movie. I think it's wrong to attribute the box office slump to this though because the good movies this year have been few and far between.

There is still some notable techie news to go. A newer article on Sony BMG's new copy protection technology reveals that it's quite flawed in that files from such discs won't work on iPods! More than that though, Mac users have much more freedom than PC users with such discs. The whole idea just sounds dumb now. BBC is running an article about the decline of casette tapes, which may become obsolete in the very near future. I personally only use it for when I jog, and even then I just record a CD onto a tape (hey, I've gotta save money). A blog supporting free speech tested out Microsoft's Chinese censorship stuff for blogs to find a title with "democracy" or "freedom" called profanity! The same people even came up with instructions for how to circumvent the restriction, and I'm glad that someone is speaking out against it. Lastly, Google was so impressed with submissions so far in its Summer of Code program that it has expanded its funds to allow for more submissions. I just think it's great that they're doing so much to encourage aspiring computer scientists, and if that wasn't enough for me I even found a picture of the spread at their office's breakfast table:

It looks oh so yummy

There is quite a bit of movie news today, and I'll start out with the multimedia. There's yet another trailer for War of the Worlds online making it look even better. Oh, and Tom Cruise announced that he proposed to Katie Holmes! I guess it wasn't mean to be with me and Katie, but I find the age gap between her and Tom scary. Tom Yum Goong, the upcoming Tony Jaa movie, has an even better teaser trailer at its site and now I'm all pumped up for the foreign action flick. There are some new pictures from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire online just in time for the ABC Family premiere of the second movie on Sunday, which I'll probably watch because I think it's a real fun movie. We now have an early idea of what Kong will look like in Peter Jackson's King Kong, but I don't think we'll see much more of the film until the teaser at the end of the month. Speaking of teases though, we finally have a teaser poster of the hotly anticipated A Scanner Darkly:

Love the art design

We now have word that a Dead or Alive screen adaptation has begun production, but what we don't know is just how bad (or good, I suppose) it will be. What would've been better news is confirmation of a 24 movie, but it turns out that such a production would be at least 2 seasons away. However, we do know that if Land of the Dead does well enough, George A. Romero would make a sequel his top priority! Let's hope that the movie meets everyone's expectations. And last but not least, AICN got another reader submission about The 40-year-old Virgin that makes the movie sounds like a real hit.

I do have some randomness today. After a long battle, Governor Rick Perry signed into law a bill that allows for a non-voting student member on the Board of Regents. The Board consists of some distinguished members who make the big decisions on the University of Texas system, and it'll be nice to have a student voice there. Federal Reserve Board member Ben Bernanke will now be on Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, and this only puts him closer to a chance of being Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's successor. I like his views and so I hope he can make some difference on the CEA. The last thing I wanted to mention was a great NY Times article about the importance of globalization.

Now for some Friday Feasting:

What's one word or phrase that you use a lot?

A friend of mine claims that I use the word 'indeed' or not, so I guess I'll go with that.

Name something you always seem to put off until the last minute.

Doing chores! I hate doing dusting and menial stuff like that. It's necessary of course, but I just hate doing it.

What was the last great bumper sticker you saw?

I don't pay attention to bumper stickers much so I can't even recall the last good one I saw. However, the last one that I recall seeing was one that said "Yale" on the car of an old schoolmate of mine.

Main Course
If you could be invisible for one day, how would you spend your time?

Peeking in girls' locker rooms! Ok, seriously I guess I'd try to figure out what makes girls tick (especially current and previous crushes). Maybe in some spare time I'd try to figure out what other people think of me.

Describe your hair.

It's really thick right now because it needs to be cut! I usually wear it gelled up like spikes, but not totally straight spikes. I let it looks kind of like messy spikes because I think that guys with those perfect spikes in their hair spend too much time on it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I Suck at Life

If you don't care to know about my personal life then skip this paragraph because I have to get something off my chest. I did the worst thing I've ever done in my life a couple of weeks ago: I committed a hit-and-run accident. I was backing out from 24 hour fitness and my dumb self reversed a little too early and hit the car to the left of me leaving a little dent. At the time I wasn't insured (insurance began the following week), so in the spur of the moment the best choice was to drive off. Someone tried to stop me, but I was in such a state of shock that I just left. The covering of my front left light was a little broken, but I couldn't tell whether or not it was from that so I just had to hope for the best. I know, I know: I'm scum. Go ahead, say it. I was in agony the next few days feeling the guilt of someone coming back to their car with damage inflicted by someone else. It didn't break their bumper or cause mechanical issues, but it was still bad. I eventually got over it and though my dad discovered the damage to our car last Saturday I played dumb because I was scared of what they'd do. I figured that no one would know since we still hadn't been contacted about it, but I was wrong. We got a call yesterday about it and now I'm screwed. My mom has to say it was her so that I don't get into deeper trouble, but if the insurance company gets involved it'll be on her record! What a good son I am. To top it off, the other party is demanding several hundred dollars to replace the whole bumper for the little dent. I'm competely and utterly ashamed of myself, and what I did was selfish and inexcusable. The odds that I'll have a car in Austin now are miniscule and I'll likely give up my salary from my summer job last summer so that my dad doesn't have to put in his money. The consequences keep coming, and all I feel is depressed (and likely will for a good while). I've prayed for forgiveness but I guess not enoough.

Moving on, I do have some technology news. An international consortium is bringing the internet to rural areas in India in an effort to bring web-based services to people who otherwise have to travel long distances to have such access. This is an awesome thing and I'm glad someone is funding it. Some blogger wrote a neat essay on the importance of RSS with a focus on Google's embrace of it and it brought up stuff I never even though of before. RSS really does allow us to get more information and our diets and can only lead to good things. UT Alumnus Michael Dell has expressed his openness to providing Mac OS X to his PC customers should Apple decide to license it as such. I think it could help convert more PC users to Macs if Jobs was to do so. Another Apple mystery is their trademark of 'Numbers', which could possibly hint at a spreadsheet program to rival Excel. Not to be outdone, Microsoft is stirring things up with its P2P technology dubbed Avalanche that functions much like BitTorrent except that it encodes files so that each shared is a linear combination. This allows for more efficiency in that you wouldn't get slowdowns in the very end from a lack of complete seeds and I must admit that I'm impressed. They also had a Blue Hat summit to reveal bugs in Windows so that engineers can make better code. I wonder if it'll make a difference though?

There's a bit of movie news today. Batman Begins only made $15 million yesterday, but I have confidence that it'll make a good amount over the weekend. HowStuffWorks penned a great article about the batsuit and may be good to check out before seeing the movie.

I love the new suit

Yahoo! Movies has a trailer for The Constant Gardener, which is much more intriguing than I thought it would be though it is another government conspiracy styled movie. Still, the people making it are real good so it is worth a look. Yahoo! also has word that Disney is placing a closer emphasis on 3-D animation with another sequel to Toy Story. Apparently, a malfunction in Buzz causes him to be shipped to Taiwan so the rest of the crew has to go save him, but it doesn't sound too creative. I was surprised to see yet another trailer for Fantastic Four given how close the release date is, but it is better than the previous trailers. AICN has the first real review of War of the Worlds and it sounds like it'll be quite a movie as expected. Lastly, Tom Hanks and Universal have purchased the rights to the Mark Felt (aka "Deep throat") story and so we can expect a myopic in the near future. No title as of yet, but it definitely won't be Inside Deep Throat.

I have some quick randomness to conclude with. Firefly, the cancelled tv series that Serenity is based on, has been picked up by Sci-fi. I've heard good things about it so I look forward to it. Good news from the economy: consumer prices have finally gone down! This could mean an abatement of interest rate increases, but don't count on it without supplementary results. Oh, and be sure to catch the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone.

This week I'm going back to the Thursday Threesome:

Onesome: I can't come in--Have you ever locked yourself out of the house or the car? How'd it happen, and how did you get back in?
I haven't myself, but one time my mom and I accidentally locked my dad out of the house (he was outside and we were going somewhere). We were gone for a good while and my dad busied himself in the yard but was not happy at all when we returned.

Twosome: to work today-- What is your dream job and why?
Google! Is that really a surprise? They seem to treat employees well as well as encourage creativity. I'd love to be part of such an easygoing office atmosphere. Plus, California is probably a funner place to live than Texas (though I do adore Austin).

Threesome: because I...-- What's the worst excuse you've ever given or heard of for not going into work/ school? Why did you really call in?
I'm a goodie two shoes so I've never missed a day of school I didn't have to due to sickness. I don't really have a worst excuse, but the coolest one was in Ferris Beuler's Day Off.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Batman is Back, Baby!

Unfortunately, I cannot write this review with the exuberance I had wanted to due to some personal issues I'll likely discuss tomorrow. I'll do my best anyway. Movies usually either meet, go below, or totally exceed your expectations. Batman Begins was more masterful than I could've hoped and as far as comic book movies go it blows X2 and Spider-man 2 totally out of the water. Not only that, but it's a great movie even without being in the comic book genre. This movie has nothing to do whatsoever with the first four Batman incarnations and is not really a prequel. It's a starting Batman movie the way it was meant to be done. I was lucky enough to catch it in IMAX, and I highly reccomend that because it was well worth the few extra bucks spent. It really made each scene more powerful because of how stunning the visuals were and how important the sound is. The acting was completely and utterly spot-on. I can't imagine if Bruce Wayne would've been so perfect without Christian Bale and Michael Caine really puts Michael Gough to shame as Alfred. Hopefully, more people will show love for Gary Oldman after him aptly portraying a pre-Comissioner Gordon. Cillian Murphy is finally showing the mainstream public, who likely hadn't heard of him, how good he really is in his role as Scarecrow and it just felt right. Katie Holmes and Morgan Freeman did very well reinventing their characters and I just love how they both interacted with Bruce Wayne. I'm not going to talk about Liam Neeson and Ken Wantanabe to avoid spoilers, but just know that they were no different from the rest.

This movie shows Wayne as a human who can get hurt

I still have more to say though so indulge me for another paragraph. Acting is all well and good, but what is it that makes this movie so special? The careful attention poured onto every shot. When you can't tell what's cg and what's real, you know you have a winner. You may think that the bats aren't real, but you'd be surprised which scenes actually had live bats. Part of this grueling attention comes from the dialogue though, which I just fell in love with. Not a single line was actually corny or out of place, but rather it got to its point without having to dumb things down at all. It all seemed pretty intricate, and I liked how key lines (especially those relating to big themes) came back. Batman Returns came on last night and comparing this script to that one is like comparing night to day. David Goyer really outdid himself and so did Christopher Nolan. For the latter to top Memento is no small feat, and yet he managed to do it right here. Not only was his hand in the script good but also his sense of art direction and grabbing the essence of Batman. The whole movie seems designed for people my age and older because of how dark it is. Batman isn't scary when he goes around in a batsuit like in those old four movies, but he may strike fear in you a couple of times when he does what he does this time around! It's hard for me to scrape up anything I didn't like besides one thing I don't really want to spoil (very minor anyway) and how fast the hand-to-hand combat was. I think the latter was on purpose, but I just would've preferred to see them go a little slower. Of course, it makes sense that in real life the people fighting wouldn't slow down and what this movie did best was putting you in a world where everything happening seemed possible, not gimmicky. I loved the subtle explanations of things and the batmobile may not look as sleek as before but it's definitely more useful. I give this movie an A+ and demand that you go see it right now to make sure it kills in the box office.

I wanted this post up early for the review in case any of you were willing to see the film tonight and so there's not a whole lot of nerd news this early in the day. The new iteration of the popular DivX format will launch today and supposedly they've gotten the quality even better despite how well they can compress the size. It's ironic how what started out as a format for pirates is becoming more and more accepted for legal media. Gale Publishing put up a review of the Google Scholar beta and they don't seem to like it a whole lot. I'm not surprised because it's not yet at the point that other scholarly engines are at but rather still in its infancy and definitely not ready for a collegiate crowd but instead just an average joe of sorts. Speaking of Google, there's a great article here about what companies Google has bought and may buy next, and I agree with many of their choices (especially Technorati). Of course it's hard to tell what their overall plan is, but those are good guesses. Lastly, it turns out that businesses have been slow to upgrade to Windows XP, and I can't really blame them given the price of Windows software.

There's actualy some movie news available, and I'll keep my tradition of starting out with the Batman stuff. IGN has another interview with Christian Bale and it's just kind of cool to hear his thoughts on Bruce Wayne. IGN also has a behind-the-scenes clip of just a few scenes from the movie and it's nothing particularly exciting but geeks like me thrive on this stuff. A better piece of video is this new tv spot from War of the Worlds showing more of just how good this movie will be. There's now word that Vin Diesel will be the leading man in the screen adaptation of the videogame Hitman, which doesn't surprise me too much and I'm glad that he's sticking to movies I don't really care about. Oh, and it also looks like Felicity (Keri Russell) will get a part in the formerly unstable Mission Impossible: 3. All that's left are pretty pictures. There are some new pictures of Land of the Dead at JoBlo (as if I haven't been feeding you enough on this flick). The teaser poster of what will likely be the biggest comic book movie let down, X-men 3, is now available and is ironic since Wolverine won't even play much of a leading role. Lastly, we have a very appropriate poster for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride:

Lookin' good, Mr. Burton!

It's Wednesday so it must be time for some mind humping!

01. Besides your blog, do you own anything with a smilie on it? If yes, what is it, where did you get it and does it get much use?
I have some happy face stickers somewhere in one of my drawers, and I usually use them for greeting cards.

02. Since it's Power of a Smile Day ... if you were a super hero what special power would your smile have? How about your laugh or maybe even your frown?
The power to make people feel better about themselves would be pretty useful. Then everyone would love to be around me because they'd always feel good when I smile! Not to say that people hate being around me, but that's just the best answer I can think of. Maybe my laugh could cure diseases or something? I'm kind of low on ideas for that one. And I wouldn't really want my frown to do anything beacuse it would have to hurt people otherwise I'd always frown!

03. Using the letters of the word S-M-I-L-E, tell us some things that make you smile your best, happiest, most powerful smiles.
Movies like Batman Begins
Interesting vacations
Likeable girls

04. All day long, everywhere you go people are smiling at you. What the heck are they smiling at?
Probably about either a joke they can't get out of their head or a loved one they're crazy about (likely along the lines of a significant other).

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Profits From Piracy?

I believe that this is my 150th post in case any of you care to know. I'm kind of surprised that it has been that long and even more surprised that I've managed to keep this habit up so well. Anyway, I posted a little while ago about how bad piracy was hurting the computing industry and The Economist suggests that those figures are overblown, and I think they're right. As big a problem as it is, the BSA was just pulling those numbers out of its ass. Another writer though goes so far as to say that piracy could help Apple! It sounded pretty crazy when I read the title, too, but he makes some good points. My main reservations with Macs are certainly whether are not it can really serve all my computing needs, but if I could try out OS X on my Wintel machine it could potentially push me to the dark side (just kidding Apple enthusiasts). The developer version of the next version of OS X has already started to leak supposedly, but I wonder if this would really help more than it'll hurt them? I guess we'll see in due time.

Moving on with the tech news though, some believe that the Apple-Intel deal may not hurt Linux because the early assumptions being made about having Windows and OS X on the same machine are premature since that'll take a while. Plus, there are price concerns. Intel has also teamed up with Nokia to work on WiMax, which they hope will be a new standard for wireless broadband technology to replace the less-than-perfect Bluetooth standard. Intel rival IBM, meanwhile, is shifting its concerns to the Community Source program, which is their way of integrating open source techniques with proprietary software techniques. It's an interesting theory of a bottom-up process and I'm curious as to how it'll work out for them. Wal-mart is not, in fact, phasing out VHS as certain reports claimed and I'm surprised that so many people still use VHS tapes. I mentioned concerns yesterday for printer ink prices and now it looks like alternatives to name-brand cartridges are on the rise, though the quality isn't the same. It's not like I'm printing out photos anyway so it's no matter to me. Lastly, there's a provocative editorial at CNN suggesting loosely that the current computer age resembles the dot-com boom, but they admit that the current key players are on firmer ground.

Not a whole lot of movie news today, but I'm going to see Batman Begins in a few hours so you'll get a full-blown review of that tomorrow. There's a better trailer of MirrorMask finally available at Yahoo! Movies and further suggests that the movie will be a visual masterpiece and a creative adventure. Speaking of stunning visuals, there are some more pictures of Howl's Moving Castle online for those of you who are interested. If you have hunger for multimedia you can also check out some clips for Bewitched over here, which I really hope turns out to be a decent film. If you want to get more hyped up for the upcoming Land of the Dead film you should check out this tribute video to George A. Romero's invention of the zombie horror genre. There's now word that famed writer Matt Groening will indeed be contributing his talent to the confirmed Simpsons movie , which is apparently on a relaxed schedule and will be out in theaters before the series ends. Poor tv series; it's really suffering. Lastly, Moviehole has a couple of creepy pictures from V for Vendetta up including this one:

Interesting villain

Fellow bloggers may want to check out this article regarding the life that blogs have breathed into journalism. And if you're planning on going to Disney World any time soon, beware of the Mission: Space ride.

Now for the Ten on Tuesday meme:

10 Things You Wish You Knew When You Were in Highschool
10. You can't save all your friends from bitter realities.
9. You won't be able to keep in touch with all your friends.
8. Drama is the norm, get used to it.
7. The SAT is useless except for stupid college applications.
6. Learning C++ is extremely helpful.
5. Guitar classes in college as opposed to in high school are hard to get into.
4. Cheating is a meticulous artform.
3. Being a nerd is acceptable.
2. Prom is way overrated.
1. AP credits are the only useful, tangible things you get from high school.