Friday, September 30, 2005

Hacking as an Art

I just made some East Indian Masala Chicken and it is fabulous. I don't use that word much, but it really is a lot better than I expected it to be. I started it out not knowing how exactly to cut the chicken, and now it looks like I put in the right blend of everything! I'm just proud because usually my first attempts at a dish are disastrous. Anyway, Whitedust has an interesting editorial on whether hacking is an art or a science. It's a bold claim since hacking has held such a negative connotation in recent years, but he makes a good point in that the act does require a lot of thinking outside the box. Is it really a science though? There's no exact way to do it, but there are definite heuristics. I don't really know where I stand, but I thought it was something kinda out there to ponder.

Apple is really starting to take some heat from the music industry over its stance to not raise mp3 prices. In fact, Warner Music is threatening to pull their artists from the service, and what's ironic is that these companies don't realize that the iPod drives sales of their clients' music rather than the customers just downloading it illegally. I hope Steve Jobs holds his ground still. If you want more insight as to why Microsoft picked HD-DVD then you should check out Ars Technica, and I think the biggest point is that there's a definite release date for it as opposed to the vagaries of the Blue Ray. Lastly, this article provides a great look at how some of the most beloved webcomics have evolved so if you read Penny Arcade or PvP or any of the other big ones then check it out.

Click to enlarge the PassionWe finally have a teaser trailer for The Passion of the Clerks and I'm pretty surprised that they got away with that logo. Not everyone gets Kevin Smith's humor but I think he's pretty funny and is even starting a video journal for it. Casting has already begun on the fifth Harry Potter movie, and I only mention this because it must mean that the fourth is almost done and they're just teasing us by having not already released it. IGN scored an interview with the writer of X3 and he tries to stave off concerns that it will disappoint the fans, but I suppose it's really too early to tell. Moviefone has some behind-the-scenes footage from Domino and it sounds even cooler than before! They did manage to hide that Domino Harvey wasn't totally satisfied with their portrayal of her (mainly whitewashing her homosexuality). Lastly, fellow fans of the Alba will want to read this interview at IGN.

Now for Friday's Feast:

When was the last time you visited a hospital?

A couple of summers ago I got some stomach virus upon my visit to San Antonio to head to Schlitterbahn and I had to visit the E.R. because I didn't think I'd ever stop throwing up. Not the most fun experience, but I don't get sick very often at all.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how ambitious are you?

I'd say a 9. I'm pretty high up there, but I don't think I take enough risks to be a 10. I really want a lot out of life and I can't wait to get it all. Sounds weird, huh? To hear this from a guy who writes in a blog everyday and has no girlfriend. I wouldn't get good grades if I wasn't ambitious.

Make a sentence using the letters of a body part. (Example: (mouth) My other ukelele tings healthily.)

Elton yells (while) eating a sandwich.

Main Course
If you were to start a club, what would the subject matter be, and what would you name it?

It would be the club for blog enthusiasts and I'd call it the Secret Order of Blogging. Not that I really need another club in my life at this point.

What color is the carpet/flooring in your home?

It's kind of tannish.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

My Belly's Full, But No Post Tonight

I'm too busy tonight to do a full post. We had our 4th NS Week event tonight with a lecture from Nobel Laureate Dr. Robert Curl on nanotechnology. I didn't see the lecture though because we had to cut 150 Chipotle sandwiches in half because we didn't have enough for the great turnout. Burritos are a lot heavier than you would think when placed in large crates. Anyway, the officers and Dr. Curl went to this place called Zoot off of Lake Austin for a nice dinner (paid for by the Dean's Office) and it was a pretty pricey meal (let's just say that including tip, it cost over $50 per person). The portions were small, but it was so good. I had a pumpkin soup to start out with, which I had never tried but the waiter recommended it and he was spot-on. My main entree was steak with potatoes and mushrooms, and the steak was actually just a few slices, but it went well with the other parts and ended up being so good. For desert I had some dark chocolate mousse terrini with hazelnut biscotti and it was out of this world. A great place to check out if you ever need a swanky meal. And now I have like an hour and half to finish reading 3 books of The Iliad and do some translation work for Latin. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Gaiman and Whedon on Geeks

Today was actually sort of a slow news day, which is good because I'm feeling rather lethargic and may even go to bed earlier than I previously thought because I've fallen asleep quite a few times in the middle of the day today. Anyway, in an interview with Time magazine, Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon mentioned that geeks are a big part of their fan base and how they're normal now. I think he was trying to get to the point that they represent a subset of the market now and are an important part of the body of consumers. I guess there's a misconception that geeks today are like they were in the 70s, but I don't think much has changed other than people's perceptions of what the word means. Plus, the media is just starting to realize that if you make shows and movies they like the money will come rolling in. Anyway, the rest of the interview is good two if you're interested in these two film heavyweights.

Security is constantly a hot issue and now even flash memory will be secure from SanDisk with their TrustedFlash chip design to ensure that privacy is hard-wired to it. This really makes flash memory more easily accessible to industry where copy-protection is essential. New Scientist has spotted a new patent for a microphone that fits in your teeth to amplify sound even better in high-decibel locales, like a battlefield. The switch would be tongue activated, but it doesn't sound like it would be used a lot in commonplace though it is pretty neat. Lastly, Mexican medical schools have begun experimenting with having their students use robotic patients in their training. I think it's a pretty good idea and will likely spread to the U.S..

JoBlo put up a pretty good quiz about Jessica Alba, so if you think you know everything about her then give it a try. I would put up a choice picture of her, but Blogger is being mean. The Project Greenlight movie, Feast, is finally done and Wes Craven approved of Peter Gulager's finished product. The movie won't release until January 20, and it looks like it'll challenge what we consider to be a good low-budget horror film. We also still have some time yet to wait for Domino, so if you want to see a really weird new clip from that click here. We may have a James Bond by next week as the finalists have been chosen, but I won't list them because I doubt you guys have heard of them. Lastly, if you're hankering for a sports movie, Disney's Glory Road might just hit the spot.

I'm going to go with the Question of the Day II meme today:

What are four things that are on your desk that shouldn't be?
1. Twisty ties - I'm just too lazy to put them up
2. A bandana - I don't know what to do with this
3. My ACL Schedule - again, I'm lazy
4. My cable bill - I already paid it

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Desktops in Decline

Today my posting will return to normalcy. It turns out that all my ACL-related posts resulted in my being featured in a bigger blog, so thanks to them for the plug because it would explain the strange surge in my visitor traffic over the past day. The nerdy topic for today is a notable trend in laptops rising over desktop computers. This shouldn't really be too surprising, especially as a lot more college students than in previous years are delving into the world of laptops as they get cheaper. The desktop will always be important for those who need more power behind their machines, like game freaks, and those who aren't tech-savvy enough to understand the intricacies of a laptop. Plus, laptops carry a higher risk with security, especially over wireless networks. I can see the drive for mobility though, and I just wonder if laptops will ever reach the kind of steep decline in prices as desktops did just a few years ago.

Today actually marks Google's 7th anniversary, and I guess that's why they didn't show at their own company night at UT today! Quite a disappointment from Google and I'll be looking more seriously at Apple, Goldman Sachs, and instead of them as a result of that annoyance. The struggle over the next generation of DVDs is even crazier now that Microsoft and Intel have joined the Toshiba camp for the HD-DVD. That's a pretty heavy weight to counteract Sony, but the battle is still a toss-up this early. An even bigger concern is that the MPAA is getting even sneakier now in how they put the broadcast flag into legislation to get it passed in Congress, but I'm glad that organizations like EFF are doing their best to call them out.

I'm just going to hit the high points in the movie news. The winner in this past weekend's box office was Flightplan at $24.6 million with Tim Burton's Corpse Bride following closely behind with $20.1 million. Both of those figures are impressive considering recent trends and how slow this month usually is, especially since Corpse Bride is animated. Kirsten Dunst rattled some cages when she revealed that the villains for Spider-man 3 will be Venom and Sandman indeed played by Topher Grace and Thomas Haden Church. I find it strange that her PR rep approved her remark since it hadn't been previously revealed, and now I just find the casting odd for the roles. There are now two possibilities for the Batman Begins sequels: 'Batman Attacks' and 'Batman Strikes', but there are likely others we don't know about. I think the latter would work better, but I'm sure they could think of something cooler than that. AICN has two solid reviews of Good Night and Good Luck, and the movie sounds as awesome as I hoped. I'll leave you with some Harry-Hermione lovin':

Click to enlarge the hug

This weeks' Ten on Tuesday is way too hard, so I'm going for the Tuesday Twosome:

What are the last two...

1. TV shows you watched?

Seinfeld and The Simpsons.

2. household chores you finished?
I washed dishes an hour ago and did laundry last night. Chores are the big drawback of living in an apartment.

3. food items you ate?
An Andes mint and my dinner (rice with egg curry, which I made).

4. websites (before here) you visited?
See the last two movie sites I linked above.

5. things you do before you go to sleep?
Make my bed and put on my retainer (I had braces a few years ago).

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Lazy Way Out

So I'm not going to do a normal post today once again. I went out seeking some pictures from ACL and added a few to my previous three posts as well as corrected a few grammatical mistakes. I searched far and wide but the only decent pictures I found came from Tiffany's LJ so I'm going to showcase those below in lieu of my nonsensical writing so that I can continue my laundry and the homework that's due tomorrow. I had a pretty wild and crazy day, but I had a few successful talks with companies at the Career Expo for 40 minutes (damn Erwin Center made us sweat it out outside until 1:05 PM) and I did much running around for Round-Up. The event didn't turn out nearly as well as I hoped, but at least we got through it. No prizes at the Microsoft company night I went to, but there was some pretty choice pizza. You can click on any of these pictures to enlarge them.

Rilo Kiley (Day 3)

Franz Ferdinand (Day 3)

Coldplay (Day 3)

Chris Martin up close (from the ACL site)

I'll still partake in some Monday Madness:

1. Ice cream or Yogurt?
Definitely ice cream. It's more fattening, but who cares you know that it's so much better!

2. What's your favorite board game?
Has to be Cranium. I haven't had more fun in any other game and it just encompasses so many different activities.

3. Do you play video games? If yes, what game system(s) do you use?
Yes, PS2 and PC sometimes I guess (Half-Life 2 and Counterstrike mainly).

4. If you were given a chance to change your name, would you do it? If yes, what would your new name be?
I don't think so. I'll stick with Elton.

5. What are the last 2 blogs that you've visited? Please share the links with us so we can check them out.
Tiffany's and Liz's.

6. What's your biggest frustration?
What to do about stress!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

ACL Day Three, the Bittersweet Conclusion

If I shouldn't have been blogging this morning, I definitely shouldn't be writing this up right now because not only do I have to finish up my stupid CS 310 homework but also I now have to get up in the morning and ship out a summer school book because someone bought it today and they chose "expedited shipping." I know you're not shedding any tears for me yet, but I also have at least one quiz tomorrow, the Natural Sciences Career Expo (which I have to run to/fro classes), and the Round-Up, which I can't back out of because I'm helping to run it! Was it worth it all for a music festival though? Let's find out, class...

I guess it's obvious that I wouldn't be writing this if I wasn't pretty happy with how today turned out. I went to a different church in the morning and it was like one of the best masses I've ever been to. And after our normally long trip to ACL, which took an hour from their house on 14th near I-35 (mostly because of the trek from City Hall), I rushed to Rilo Kiley while they split off for the Doves as I was seduced by the tune of "I, Never." Bethany's mom had the great idea of running to Academy and getting folding chairs (they ran out of UT ones, so I had to settle for the American flag), and so I propped out my chair, busted out my water and fan (manually powered, that is) and umbrella, and enjoyed the show. Click to enlargeIt was wicked hot out there (at least 100 degrees, but it felt like more), but after that long walk the sit was nice and hearing Rilo Kiley after waiting so many months was heavenly. They put on a really good show and they tried to connect to the audience by talking in between songs and sharing personal anecdotes, which I really like. They played 90% of the songs of theirs that I knew and a few I didn't, and it all sounded totally awesome. I wished that I was in the front, but I was so unbelievably hot and tired that I didn't want to risk the trip. Droves of people started flocking to the stage anyway (SBC) so it wouldn't have helped much by then. At that point I thought that it was the best show I had seen so far. But...

We met up and headed to the AMD stage to take in The Bravery. Much like The Frames, they were a true sleeper hit of the show. I didn't know much of their music and yet I was totally struck by how cool they ended up being. In fact, I ended up getting "An Honest Mistake" stuck in my head for the rest of the day, which is pretty cool considering how much other music I heard. Click to enlarge an Arcade Fire singerAfterwards, we headed back to Cingular for The Arcade Fire and tried to hide under the shade of a tree but it didn't help us much because the sun moved as such to screw us over. Hence, we had to all rely on my umbrella, but the people around us didn't make it much cooler. To top it off, some idiots decided to stand up amidst all the people sitting down around them and block our otherwise immaculate view of the stage and the huge monitor. We didn't move until halfway through the show, but it didn't affect my opinion of the band much. Their diversity of music made them sound really cool and indie,and I think they have the makings of something real big so it was a pretty big thing to me to get to see them live. Their album is called Funeral (I think it was because they had a lot of deaths in families in the year preceding the release) so go check it out because it's awesome. My favorite song off of it is "Rebellion". I had to read for a while, but I wouldn't have if I didn't absolutely have to.

Then we went to AMD for The Decemberists (I know, a lot of 'The's), and it was much better than I had expected. I really love them, but I also love Keane and their concert was less than I was expected so I set my sights low for this show also. However, they ended up liking to interact with the audience a good bit and even got them to make sounds imitating being eaten by a whale! Afterwards, we spent too long getting water and food so we only caught half of Franz Ferdinand back at the SBC, but they still played a couple of my favorites. What was really neat is that they monitor added a black and white filter so it looked like the whole thing was a live music video. They did pretty well, but I don't think they trumped the earlier bands of the day. At least the sun had finally set though and gave all our sweat glands some relief.

Coldplay was up at 8:30 PM so I wanted to get up real close, but Bethany's mom protested on account of the huge dust cloud that had overtaken Zilker and the difficulty of getting out (which was hard regardless). I ended up ceding because the dust was a little crazy, but we did come prepared with bandanas at least. They started on time with "Square One", which I thought was a superb opener. I'm not going to through all the songs, but the whole concert was out of this world and hands down the best I've ever seen. Their interaction with the crowd was beyond anyone else we had seen and Chris Martin even jumped in the crowd once during "In My Place" since he was "still not close enough." Plus, he added some custom verses for us featuring SXSW, ACL, and gratitude for us having waiting in the heat all day to see them. Much like Franz, the whole show seemed like a music video with seizure-inducing lights, a colorful backdrop of lights, and filters on the monitor (one of which simulated them as being animated and got really great angles of Will). I was thrilled that he actually played "Til Kingdom Come", but the crowd was too lazy to join in like they should've so he did a great Johnny Cash cover. He even gave lots of props to The Arcade Fire for putting them out of a job. I love it when the big guys support the newcomers. The show ended a little shy of 10:00 PM, but the experience was so exhilarating, even from where we were (probably in the middle row of the whole crowd) that I wasn't too bothered. I'm going to see them again one day and sit in the very front; I recommend you do the same. For the curious, their set also included "Yellow", "White Shadows", "Everything's Not Lost", "Clocks", "The Scientist", "God Put A Smile Upon Your Face", "Speed of Sound", "Talk", and "Fix You".

Click to enlarge

We surveyed the damage afterwards to find dirt all over us and our stuff (my hair was even pretty brown). It was all in my ears and my nose (which is only producing black stuff) and I even got brown on my towel following my shower. Was it worth all the sweating and dirt and walking? Most definitely. It cost probably around $150 for everything (including food and ticket), but it was truly an experience to be amidst 60,000 fans (or so I'm told, and I'm sure it's not too far off) and just enjoy for a weekend. Sure, it screwed me over in the other aspects of my life, but we all have to take risks some times and don't ever forget that. Oh, and ALWAYS save your posts before hitting "Publish".

ACL Day Two, the Music Strikes Back

I definitely should not be posting right now. However, I'm afraid that today might totally overshadow yesterday, so I'm going to type as fast as I can. Do you think I can do it in five minutes so I can eat lunch and make it to Bethany's on time? Let's find out.

We started out at Built to Spill at 2:30 PM, where we took rest under a tree and I was sweating profusely from the one mile hike from the City Hall parking garage. It was a great band to start out the day because it was easy to just sit back and relax and enjoy it. Click to enlarge The FramesWhen we left the comfort of the tree to check out The Frames though, we really felt the sting of the heat. Not only that, but the wind kept blowing dirt all over us, and this was a theme throughout the day. The fact that we had to put on sun tan didn't help because the dirt just stuck to us better that way. The Frames, however, were really amazing. We only went there rather than waiting around for Death Cab for Cutie because Bethany had heard that they'd be the best show at ACL. I don't know about that, but I was highly impressed considering that I'd never heard any of their stuff before and yet I loved the way they sounded. They came from Ireland and I'd recommend it to you closet indie fans. Death Cab was back at the Built to Spill stage (Cingular), and it was a huge let-down. They're a good band, but I totally wasn't feeling it. Maybe it was partially because we were on the right side so we weren't in front of the speakers or that the people in front of us were talking, but if people are talking that much then they're not getting into it either. I spoke to some people afterwards who confirmed it, and it was rather sad because their music is actually good.

Afterwards I went on a trek for water and rather than buying it for $2 as Bethany's mom recommended I sought out the free fountain where I stayed for like 8 minutes to only move a few feet in the enormous line. Then someone told us there was a booth where we could take a survey and get a free bottle of water, but they were closing down soon after I got there. So I returned after making them wait without any more water, but the one bottle I had left ended up being enough. I'm telling this story to urge you to always bring the largest bottles of water you can to a music festival (I got a 6 pack of sports bottles for $2 today). We went over the The Walkmen and they were alright, but they only played a couple of the songs that I liked.

Click to enlarge the Jet drummerAt 6:30 PM it was Jet, and they blew me away. I was in the back just chiling and I could really feel it. Everyone was really pumped and they just put on a great show. They even played a song I didn't know was actually theirs (I don't know the name of it, but I guess it's their third single). They started out with like a five-minute intro to "Cold Hard Bitch", which was good because the audience went wild when they heard the classic drum intro the song. And of course everyone stood up for "Are You Gonna Be My Girl". Then we decided to camp out for Oasis, which was at 8:15 PM, after a bathroom break (port-a-potties are pretty gross) while viewing Bloc Party from afar. I have to admit that it looked like Bloc Party put on a damned good show. I was almost jealous of the people who were at the AMD stage (next to the Cingular stage) to see them, but we really wanted to see Oasis.

The awesome black dude leading Bloc Party

Oasis was good, but they weren't awesome. I liked the songs they played and they did pretty well with them, but they definitely didn't make it interactive enough considering how many huge fans were in the audience of several thousand. I enjoyed the show, but I almost wonder if I would've had more fun at Bloc Party! At least they played "Champagne Supernova" and "Wonderwall" and "Layla" though. And so our night ended around 9:40 PM. We were full of dirt and washing my face revealed globs of dirt under my eyes. My night ended at 12:30 PM, but I have to go for now. Looks like it took me a little over 10 minutes, not five!

Friday, September 23, 2005

ACL Day One

This post is going to be much shorter than usual, mainly because I have a slight fever (or so Sayali says, and I think she's right). Hence, I'm going to jump into bed right after this post, sleep for 8 or 9 hours straight, and try to sweat it out. My head always feels disoriented unless I'm sitting down, and it's probably my body trying to tell me that I need to slow down. I've had a busier than usual week though, and I think things will calm down after this coming week. I am pretty relieved that Hurricane Rita has degraded to a Category 3, so I no longer have to fear for my family members' lives and I can enjoy ACL (assuming I beat this fever) without much rain I hope. I almost lost my ticket actually, but by the grace of God I managed to find it on the floor of my CS 108 room (I know, I'm really lucky).

I didn't see many bands today, but just being there was so cool. I went with another NSCer and her mom, which may sound lame but it would be much lamer for me to get lost in South Austin. She was a pretty cool mom anyway, and she revealed the secret that parking at City Hall is totally free so we just walked a mile from there to Zilker. Zilker is such an amazing park being on Town Lake and so large. There's no equivalent to it in Houston, hence Houston being one of the fattest cities. There were thousands upon thousands of people there, and I believe there were 8 stages, though like 2 of them were kind of BS stages. There were like 4 or 5 that were really active. You could tell that it was planned really well though because the stages were set up well and the big bands had monitors so you could see them from the back. Also, if you were at one band you could mainly hear them because the stages were arranged as such that you would only hear what you came to hear. Also, the food court had a wide variety including Austin favorites like Amy's Ice Cream, Stubbs, Hudsons, Salt Lick, Thundercloud, and many more. Plus, the prices were $3-$6 for pretty decent meals. I got a sausage roll from Stubbs for only $3, so I'm glad that I'm not getting totally ripped off.

Click to enlargeWe got there later than we had planned, but as long as we got to see Keane I was happy. Keane wasn't as good as I thought they'd be as they sounded basically just like their album, but it was still pretty cool to see them in person and sing the chorus from "We Might As Well Be Strangers". I went to Blue October afterwards for the end of their set and they're actually harder than we had previously envisioned. They did play "Calling You" though, and that seemed to have more energy than anything Keane played so that was cool. Then my friend's mom wanted to see Lyle Lovett so we chilled there for a while before leaving. It doesn't seem like we did much, but we were there for like 3 hours probably, plus all the walking. What was really cool was that at night everything was even prettier because they had these big round lamps that were held in midair by helium and some string as well as various glowsticks among the audience and some of the stage sponsors were giving out free light things. Not only that, but from one stage there was the backdrop of downtown and it looked totally and utterly amazing, almost as good as sunset just a couple of hours before. The weather got real nice after sunset too. Despite being a little sick I had a great time overall and can't wait for round two tomorrow with Jet and freakin' Oasis among others. I'll likely try to give a Saturday report either that night or Sunday morning in lieu of having normal posts this weekend. This is my first festival after all and it's not like this happens all the time.

I'll still do the Friday's Feast meme:

Name something someone has done lately that impressed you.

Bethany actually completed a decent issue of the Catalyst! It's not that I didn't have faith in her, but rather that I'm not used to seeing the Catalyst (this is the monthly newsletter that NSC is supposed to put out for the College but didn't really do much of it last year).

Do you have any relaxing rituals? If so, what are they?

I think the most relaxing thing is kicking back and watching some television, or even better is laying on the couch and watching a movie. Other than that, not really.

If you could spend the winter season somewhere other than your current location, where would you choose to stay?

I'm not really sure. I kind of want to see snow, but can I really handle that kind of cold weather? Maybe I should just stick to Austin, though I spend half my winter in Houston anyway.

Main Course
When was the last time you had dinner out, and what was the name of the restaurant?

I think it was that time my car got towed, so Collina's. I try not to eat out too much. If you count the Stubbs booth at ACL having dinner out then I guess Stubbs!

If you had a boat, what would you name it?

The S.S. Pinto, naturally!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Can Microsoft Hurt Google?

I would launch another lamentation about Hurricane Rita, but news that it has degraded into a Category 4 has somewhat assuaged me. I have more hope that it'll weaken before it hits Houston and my family will survive after all, but I suppose we'll have to wait and see. I also hope that it isn't too hard to make it to ACL. Oh, and I think I'm getting sick but I can't figure out whether it's a fever or just exhaustion. So I wanted to briefly cover the topic of Microsoft's bid for AOL, which some analysts believe could really hurt Google should Microsoft outsmart Google in switching AOL's search engine of choice to MSN Search. I don't think this would hurt the search giant much even if it did come to pass, but at least it would give Microsoft some muscle in dealing with them. M$ is actually coming to UT next Monday, but I think I've decided to not apply there this year. Let's see what I can get out there from other companies and see how I like not being part of the largest software company in the world. After all, in a big company it's too easy to get lost in the crowd and overlooked for your accomplishments.

I know you're tired of hearing about Google, but there are two other articles of interest dealing with them. The first is word that they're looking to hire a full-time project manager for GoogleTV, and from the job requirements it almost sounds like they're trying to compete with Tivo. Remember, Tivo is the one that is currently experiencing backlash from customers for selling out. The other thing with Google is trying to put together crowd wisdom to make predictions on things, and it's clearly the work of a group of geeks who get really excited about math and statistics. Meanwhile, Sony is slated to cut 10,000 jobs and write off this year as a loss, which can't be putting confidence in those anticipating the PS3. My excitement is still unfaltering though due to the MGS4 trailer. Lastly, if you've ever heard of Ajax and wanted to learn more about what it's all about, then click here.

Enlarge Devon AokiIt's not that I think that the Dead or Alive film adaptation will be good, but it's just because I like Devon Aoki for some reason that I showcase this picture from the set of the movie. It should come as no surprise that there are already talks regarding a sequel to Wedding Crashers. There's no plot details yet, but everyone sounds fired up to get on board again. The Simpsons movie will have a more refined look for the movie, which could either be very good or very bad depending on what they do with it exactly. Lastly, if you're interested in a Meet the Parents-esque movies, you should check out the trailer for The Family Stone. It has a rather controversial poster to boot.

Now for the Thursday Threesome:

Onesome - Gunning - What is it that you have been gunning for lately?
I've been gunning for my family to stay alive and for my house to remain in one piece! I would like to get through this weekend though, ACL and homework and all as well.

Twosome - Down - What brings you down?
Well the threat of being sick does. Also, getting in fights with close friends or family. And another thing is the lives of my loved ones being threatened.

Threesome - Romance - What's the most romantic movie scene you can recall? Are there any scenes that get your heart-a-fluttering?
I'd be inclined to say True Romance, but I've probably seen something more romantic. I don't see whole lot of romance movies though so I couldn't really give you a good one off the top of my head.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Heaven Help Us

I don't think I've ever been so afraid for the lives of my family (including relatives), and I don't know what I can do about it. When I was little I always feared the word "hurricane" on the news and I heard warnings about counties nearby, but they never hit us. I always thought they would be worse than they were, and thankfully we just always managed to miss it though Houston was vulnerable to hurricanes. I guess it's this false security that has caused me to enter shock today as millions of Houstonians evacuate the largest city in Texas and one of the largest in the nation. I can't help but praise the Lord that I came to UT for college and because of that I'm safe from harm's way. I can sit here and pray, but how will that help anything? He has made his decision, and we can't stop an act of God. My room mate's family is headed here so we'll provide shelter for at least 3 refugees, and I'm frantically trying to get a hold of my family members to see what they're doing. My parents are heading to Louisiana to stay with an Aunt's family and my brother is also headed there to stay with his girlfriend's sister, much of my mom's side of the family is going to San Antonio, and the two families on my dad's side currently have no plans to leave. Isn't that fucking scary? I don't want to say it to them, but what if I'll never see them again because they just stay at home through the storm? Less importantly but also a concern is the fact that I have one foot in Houston and one foot in Austin so I have many possessions at my parent's home. What's worse is that all their stuff is there, and even worse is that my brother just bought a house in Jersey Village he was going to move into next month. Uncertainty and fear have now filled my mind amidst all the stress of school work and NSC, but I'll try to briefly finish this post nonetheless.

Going with the disaster theme today, the Wall Street Journal has an article about new innovations in disaster relief technology including crank radios and disposable CellBoosts (cell phone batteries). It was actually written in response to Katrina, but it looks like it may apply to us very soon. I find some consolation in knowing that we're at least getting better prepared than the poor people in New Orleans were. Another big thing today was actually that the Authors Guild is slapping a lawsuit on Google, and they gave a response soon afterwards claiming that they're not actually allowing whole pieces of copyrighted content to be downloaded. Should be an interesting battle. Lastly, Mozilla fought off attacks themselves claiming that they have better security response than IE, and so far I think they're right.

I've got to admit that the new, international poster for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire looks pretty good. They even have a new tv spot to boot. There's also a new Saw II poster if you're interested. Quentin Tarantino has let out the titles of the two films that will be a part of Grind House: his is Death Proof and Robert Rodriguez's is Planet Terror. I wonder if I can ask Rodriguez for more details next Wednesday. Her hotness, Jessica Alba, has decided that her first priorities for films will be Sin City and Fantastic Four sequels should they be offered to her, and the former is almost certain. I don't know why she'd want a sequel for the other. Lastly, there are a few random X3 casting details for those of you who still care.

Now for the glorious return of the Wednesday Mind Hump:

01. If you were one of board games sold in stores (past or present), which one would you be and why?
I would be Othello (or Reversi) because it's simple and complicated at the same time. It's just a fun game in general and I rarely get tired of it.

02. Ever played Monopoly? If so, do you have a favorite property, block of properties and which token is your favorite? For your convenience -- a list of tokens (old & new): iron, purse, lantern, race car, cannon, boat, thimble, shoe, top hat, rocking horse, dog, wheelbarrow, horse and rider, sack of money.
My favorite token is actually the sack of money, but I also like the top hat. My favorite properties are the utilities, the railroads, and the purple real estate because they're like the forgotten gold mines.

03. Create-A-Board-Game: Create a board game based on your life. Describe it. Here's some features you might describe. What would it be called. What might some of the playing pieces be? What would be the object of the game?
It would have to be timed or something to create the illusion of stress. It would simply be called "Elton" and the object would be to advance towards a neverending series of goals thru a neverending amount of work. Not the best game ever I'll admit, but there are some good spots to it, don't worry.

Please continue to pray for the people trying to leave Houston and its surrounding areas that they manage to escape the path of the hurricane safely.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Conversation with His Holiness

"If you find what I have said today interesting then go home and think more on it. Otherwise, just forget it." - Tenzin Gyatso

I don't think any of us knew really what to expect out of it, but it was still surreal to see the 13th Dalai Lama place a scarf around President Faulkner, who gave the introduction, only several hundred feet in front of my eyes. What was neat about his whole lecture was that he was totally calm, cool, and casual the whole time despite having an audience of over 8,000 people. In fact, he even stated in the beginning that sitting in front of us would be just like having a conversation with someone. Indeed, he was right as his whole talk was a smorgasboard of random ideas centered around human emotion and compassion, which is only fitting given that he's the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion. He sat Indian-style on a big, cushioned chair alongside a member of his entourage to aid sometimes in translation with two microphones pointed directly at him at a big screen overhead showing his face. There was so much light on him, in fact, that he put on a red cap so that he could see the audience! Aside from the cap, he looks exactly like he does in the picture I have here that was printed on our ticket. I had forgotten my ticket actually and had to go home to get it (luckily my morning class was EE 316, which is self-paced) as soon as I reached campus in the morning, and I made it to the Erwin Center a little over an hour before doors opened. A few hundred other people gathered at our side of the Center alone (there are gates all around it) as it grew nearer to 2:00 PM, but the line was pretty poorly organized until about 1:30 PM. I hate the Erwin Center management because they even outlaw outside food and drink so they can sell it to you at disgustingly high prices.

Anyway, we managed to get seats on the main floor itself and by 4:00 PM the whole main floor was filled, as well as the lower level auditorium seats and probably nearly half of the mezzanine level seats. Crazy, huh? The Lama even expressed that he was just people like us and really didn't have anything special to share, but he would tell of his experiences. He spoke English as an Indian would, and the other language he spoke was some hybrid of Hindi and Chinese (understandable given his refugee status). Much as you couldn't explain everything that happened to you in the past month in order I cannot accurately relate the lecture because it was a random mesh of ideas about the good of emotions like affection and compassion as opposed to negative emotions like anger and fear. He emphasized that you needed peace of mind to guard yourself against being too swayed by crises and tragedies that occur in our lives and that inner peace also leads to more confidence and a happier life. Happiness requires affection though, and he noted that a lot of kids who grew up without enough affection (divorced or abusive parents) have problems when they grow up because of how necessary it is. As he would say, the whole point of life is to pursue happiness, and more importantly it's best if humanity is happy as a whole. He also spent some time to address the issues of global violence, but given his peaceful disposition you can guess at what he said.

It was kind of neat to laugh at jokes from a 70-year-old monk, and it was definitely inspiring to ponder the stuff he says as it puts a whole different perspective at life. We should really be seeking what's best for the general good, not just for ourselves. I'm sure that many people left disappointed, but in all fairness some people hyped it up to be more than it was. It's just a lecture from a very prominent person in the world. I felt it as fulfilling as reading Herman Hesse's Siddartha, and I think I'll try not to "forget it." As you can tell, I personally enjoyed it and despite being as tired as I was (several reasons, long story) I was hooked to the whole thing. It's crazy for a man so important to be so humble even admitting when asked what our government should do about the Iraq world that it was beyond his wisdom. The best part is how secular the whole thing was and it really shows that despite what denomination we associate ourselves with we should all be seeking the same ideals and following the same ethics. I think I've spoken enough about it, but comment if you have questions I didn't answer.

Given how much I splurged on the Dalai Lama, I'll keep the tech news very very brief. My alternate theme for today would've been more about the music industry. Steve Jobs has announced that he's staying firm on his iTunes pricing despite pressures from the industry citing that they're greedy. He's right, too, and he's even stating that there won't be any evolutions to the iPod in the near future (such as Bluetooth or Video) as had been hoped, which is understandable given the leap with the Nano. The RIAA is really pushing it by clamoring for copy protected digital radio, which is ridiculous given that analog radio never required this. Lastly, I find it really cool that there's a guy making a board game to help encourage kids towards Computer Science with boolean algebra. The game isn't as boring as it would sound, so give it a quick read-through.

There are only two movie items of interest. There's a pretty sweet new trailer for Saw II up showing promise for the quickly produced sequel. I personally thought the original was a neat horror movie. The other thing is that Rosario Dawson joined the cast of Clerks 2, which is notable because I like Kevin Smith's movies and she's hot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask you all to pray for my hometown, Houston. Hurricane Rita is giving it the evil eye and though I may not like the city all my stuff is there and a lot of my family is, too.

Now for the Ten on Tuesday:

10 Ways Your Country Can Change for the Better (the U.S. of A.)
10. Better disaster relief programs.
9. More information available to voters about who they vote for.
8. Better laid out voter registration system (i.e. easier to do).
7. More promotion of free trade.
6. Lower national debt.
5. Congressmen who actually work for their constituencies.
4. Better management at the INS.
3. Less coverups and feeding nonsense to the public.
2. Separation of church and state.
1. A smarter president with a better cabinet.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Fruits of Illegal File Sharing

Needless to say, P2P has taken a beating in recent years from the music industry, but some good as actually come out of it. A company called BigChampagne has started a service that analyzes data from the various networks to tell record companies about trends in their artists. This will give them more insight into what's a one-hit wonder or what songs should be made singles and such. It's a pretty smart idea and they're even starting to ally with sites like Yahoo! Music. Meanwhile, a company called Mashboxxx is trying to establish a service that allows you to sample music before you download it, and they're looking for fallen illegal download services as partners. The only problem that has come up more recently is copy protection on CDs that prevent the songs to be ripped to even an mp3 player. Some bands, like Switchfoot, are actually advocating techniques to circumvent the technology so that fans can rip the music. I admire them more for doing that because it shows faith in their fanbase.

I think the neatest bit of technology news today is a camera phone being developed by NEC that would allow you to scan documents right into your cell phone with a 1MP camera and some OCR software on board. It'll be a while yet before it's sold in stores because they have to deal with copyright protection issues, but if they actually figure out a way to protect the scanned text I think it would be really cool and I could've even used it today when my mom wanted a recipe that I had in my recipe book (weird, huh?). An even bigger issue to me is that Georgia Tech has developed a device that can detect cameras in front of it and block any pictures that it takes. It'll be great for secret products, but couldn't it lead to more privacy violations? Symantec seems to believe that Firefox and Mac OS X are becoming less and less secure than people previously thought as their popularity rises, and though there's no concrete evidence for the latter there have been more cross-site scripting attacks that hurt Mozilla based browsers. So much for the honeymoon! Lastly, if you're looking to waste time check out Millions of Games.

There's very little movie news today, so this will go quick. If you were hoping that Hugh Jackman would be the next Bond then I'm sorry to say that he has personally confirmed that it's not true. However, if you were afraid that Uwe Boll would direct the Halo movie, then you'll be glad to know that it's false. If you want so a few neat international posters for Doom, Corpse Bride, and Serenity then click here. Lastly, JoBlo dug up a pretty good clip from Saw II along with this creepy poster:

Click to enlarge the freakiness

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. When you're stressed out, what do you do to relieve your stress?
Play video games. It doesn't have to be violent, just fun.
2. Are you normally a patient person, or is patience NOT one of your virtues?
I can be, but it really depends. I'm usually not with people who have no business using computers and computers, but in a lot of things I can be quite patient.
3. How many times a week do you blog?
Six days a week for your viewing please (or displeasure, I suppose).
4. How many memes a week do you participate in?
I try to do one every day, so six.
5. Describe the perfect day, weather-wise.
Sunny with a high of 75, a low of 65, and windy all day long.
6. Would you rather be too hot, or too cold?
I prefer the cold because then I don't sweat. I have more summer clothes than winter clothes, but it's easier to bundle up than to dress down.
7. Do you eat out often, and if so, what type of restaurants do you frequent?
Not really. I hate fast food though so it's often Chinese food or breakfast food unless someone else is picking up the tab.
8. If you could run your own business, what type of business would it be?
Probably a software company.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

e-Paper Needs Steam

Do you ever have weekends where you get a lot done and yet you feel like you really didn't? I got some homework done and partied and went to the game and cooked for the coming week (egg curry, sausage, and mince meat) and went to the ACM potluck and vacuumed in addition to the normal stuff (church and working out), but I still didn't get all the homework done that I wanted. It makes the whole weekend bittersweet unfortunately, but I did have a lot of fun celebrating my friend JFo's birthday at least even though the UT v. Rice game was lackluster (61-10). Time to take a step away from the personal though: e-Paper is already pretty big in Japan but why isn't it popular stateside? I think not enough people really push for it, probably out of ignorance, which is understandable. Still, it seems archaic for us to use a format of publishing that has been used for hundreds of years and clearly can't withstand the test of time. e-Paper makes more sense than e-Books anyhow since it's more readable. Oh well, I guess the future will come someday.

I have too much homework left to dawdle with the tech news so this will be pretty brief. I'm starting to feel sorry for Microsoft at this point because all kinds of columnists are crapping on them for not being as exciting as they once were including the UK Times. The writer criticizes their new products for not being as innovative as what they were in the beginning, but I think given how old they are that they're doing pretty damn well. At least they're going to make the front end for Vista cross-platform. Toshiba has created fuel cell powered mp3 player prototypes, and what's significant about this is the huge gains in battery life given by the fuel cell. It's still a little far away from becoming available in your local Best Buy, but it's gotta start somewhere.

The fact that Just Like Heaven dominated the box office shows how weak the weekend was, but it's even worse when you find out that it brought in a flimsy $16.5 million. I was disappointed that Lord of War raked in less than $10 million because it was the best release of the weekend, but oh well, at least March of the Penguins is hanging on. AICN has two conflicting reviews for Final Fantasy: Advent Children, so I guess it all depends on how much of a fan you are of the series. That's basically it for the movie news though.

Who's up for some Unconscious Mutterings?

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

  1. Less filling::The beer commercial where the two girls fight over what's better about it
  2. Glue::Horse
  3. Surprise me::Party
  4. Model::America's Next Top,
  5. Fee::Money
  6. Microphone::Mic
  7. Choices::Decisions
  8. To the bone::Bad
  9. Run!::Forrest
  10. Appeal::Court

I'm going to leave you with this postcard from PostSecret because, shamefully, it's indicative of how I am. Part of me feels sorry for them since I used to be like that and part of my just wonders why they don't go on a diet.

Click to enlarge

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Curse of Kai-Fu

Two thoughts before I get started. I've decided that I agree with everyone else: Wal-Mart sucks. I had to buy some NSC stuff from there and it's in the middle of nowhere first of all, and second of all their product selection is pretty craptacular. They also gave me a harder time than I thought with tax exemption. At least I got cheap gas there though ($2.61/gal). Second thought: it feels good when you've finished cooking. I made some egg curry and I must say that it came out pretty alright for a first effort at making it. It was also the first meal I cooked from scratch at my new place. The way home from Randalls made me feel pretty homey in Far West because this whole area is so nice and residential. Anyway, let me briefly discuss the main topic. This article doesn't say what my topic says, but it helps prove my point. The whole tiff with the former employee has drawn a lot of negative attention, and it's more than just one defection. People are now realizing a trend of M$ maintaining their empire rather that innovating, and that's really hurting them. It's no wonder why more people are switching to Google. If one company is stuck in the same place and the other one encourages you to delve into new ideas and you just came out of college, which would you want? They can definitely fix the situation, but do they really want to change their paradigm?

Click to enlargeTake a good your future. Just kidding, that controller is not going to impress gamers more than the Xbox 360 or PS3, but Nintendo seems to like it. It definitely sounds cool to use it as a wand, but more as a 3rd party peripheral than as a primary controller. Poor Nintendo, they're just taking too many risks at once with the Revolution. Macworld has an analysis up about why Apple chose Intel over AMD, and I think it's pretty dead-on to assume that it was the issue of low-voltage chips. If they want to revitalize their line of laptops, they definitely need them to last longer. Lastly, ZDNet has some figures regarding Firefox security vulnerabilities showing that the true test may be just around the bend for the IE rival. As more holes are found will they handle them better than M$ does with theirs or will they fall into a similar trap and, hence, lose some of their sex appeal? Stay tuned for more, kiddos.

I know that there was a must-see Harry Potter trailer yesterday, but another one has come online now from the UK. It has more cool footage from the movie, but it's a little more confusing plot-wise. AICN nabbed a great review for Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (from Chan-Wook Park of Oldboy fame), and though he can't say much given the number of spoilers in this series it does sound like it's just as good as the first one in the revenge trilogy. The dude who joined the Casino Royale project to fix up the script (Paul Haggis) spoke a little about how the style will be closer to Dr. No and the excitement of dealing with a younger Bond, so hopefully the screenplay turns out well. IGN has a little interview with Johnny Depp in which he talks a little bit about Corpse Bride, and it sounds like Tim Burton really had a clear vision for the movie (as always, I suppose). Lastly, if you're a Richard Kelly fan like me I'm sure that any Southland Tales news will entice you so here's some on-set pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar as a porn star.

Here's Friday's Feast:

Do your closer friends tend to be male or female? Why do you think that is?

I tend to be closer to my female friends, but my closer friends in general are men. It's probably because it's easier for meet guys since there's no intimidation factor or sexual tension (between me and her, not her and me).

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent, what would it be?

To talk normally like everyone else does!

Name a household cleaning item that you would recommend to others.

That Mean Green stuff. It's really pretty tough on stains and it's available at most dollar stores.

Main Course
What do you strive for in life?

Fulfillment, really. Sometimes it's pretty hectic, but most things are just means to an end. As long as I have some fun along the way I'm a happy camper.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how funny do you consider yourself?

I'd say a 6 or 7, maybe. Certain people find me funnier than others. In my defense, I have a very good sense of humor.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Why An IE Man Switched

The Student/Faculty Luncheon for NSC with the department chairs that I've been working on since school started is tomorrow and I'm kind of scared and excited. I just really hope it goes well or it's my ass and we lose respect from some important people. It's just one thing after another with NSC as I now have to do stuff for Round-up and then the Ice Cream Social, but it is kind of cool to have to make important decisions. Anyway, one of the guys who helped create Internet Explorer has defected to Firefox and he gave the five major reasons for his switch. He also gave a few problems with Firefox, but his bias is clear that the problems with IE outweigh them. The argument for switching has been made many times and I have a few friends who really harp on people when they use IE. So why did I mention this one? It's an interesting point of view but more importantly he gives some really good reasons that make plain sense. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned before how awkward working with Favorites are in IE and it's pretty ironic that for such an exploit laden program it keeps bugging you with security windows. The only one of his disputes with Firefox that I agree with is that the 'Find' box is at a bad place, but his other reasons seem kind of fluffy.

I consider the big news for geeks today to be that the Xbox 360 will be available in North America on November 22. That only leaves a waiting period of just over 2 months from now and it's not a good sign that advertising for launch titles hasn't really gotten anywhere yet. This is clearly they're "screw you" to Sony to payback the early release of the PS2 relative to the Xbox, but will they have enough quality titles to support the launch? At least Microsoft is admitting that they've been going about the Windows development process all wrong and are going about fixing it. Apple is slowly starting to throw its support behind video podcasting, which I hadn't previously heard of either but it's basically just a podcast with moving pictures behind it. Could this be a hint at a iPod Video? Lastly, if you're curious as to whether P2P trends have changed since the Grokster trial you should check out this survey presented in a pretty Flash format. It looks like P2P is still going strong.

Click to enlarge the professors

Stop reading right now and watch the trailer for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Back? Good. That was totally and unbelievably awesome, and one of the best trailers I've ever seen I think to pump one up for a movie. Another cool trailer that has finally come in its American form is for Memoirs of a Geisha, which is largely similar to the previous one but with a few extra scenes. That movie is also looking really good so far. If you're more in the mood for a comedy you should check out the clip that IGN has from Wallace & Grommit. Lastly, if you want to know more about which mutants will be featured in X3, click here. I won't reveal them here for those of you who don't want to know about them.

Now for the 3x Thursday:

1.Do you ever just take a couple of days and go radio silent from the world? Why/why not?
I usually don't listen to the radio except for Live 365 occasionally. Now that I have my Volvo I only listen to it in the car if there's something good on, otherwise I just switch to a CD.
EDIT: Apparently no radio means no cell phones or computers, and I don't think I've done that since before the Internet came out! Thanks for the clarification, Missy ;)

2. Do you ever make it a point to get outside your everyday life? What do you do? Where do you go?
I try to have fun on the weekends but that's about it. My life is too busy for me to get outside of it. I'm already too deep inside of it!

3. Do you like it when people can't get ahold of you? How does it make you feel?
Not really. I'm usually pretty accessible though. The worst incidents with people not getting hold of me is when they IM me and I'm away and their window is on a tab that I hadn't noticed in a while.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Watch Your Ears

I have a lot to get done before I go to bed tonight for EE 316 and CS 310 so I wonder how fast I can type this post. It should be quite a challenge for me to try to finish in 10 minutes if I want it to be done by 11:00 PM like I had previously planned. My life feels a lot more stressful now with NSC and ACM responsibilities (mostly the former), but I think once I get used to it all I'll feel better. Anyway, Wired had an alarming article about how younger generations have been getting increasingly worse hearing. Why? Concerts you say? Possibly, but their conclusion is that it's likely the increased usage of portable music players. Is there scientific evidence for this? Of course not. The article would like for you to think that, but there's no causal link. It is highly likely though. Keeping an earbud in your ear for an extended period of time can't be any better than playing video games for a long time without break or prolonged typing, but there could still be stuff about the ear we don't know. In any case, be careful the next time you walk out your door with your iPod or Zen or whatever you listen to.

The nerd news is best begun with the nerdiest thing for today, and today it's a sneak peek at JUnit 4. The fact that most of you don't know what that means probably makes me sad enough, but it's a testing framework for Java and the improvements to it are actually very useful for those of you developing Java-based applications. Google has decided to compete with Technorati with its own Blog Search, but so far it looks pretty lackluster. They need to up the features and UI if they hope to becomes as big as Technorati. Bill Gates actually spoke a little about Google in an interview with the Seattle PI. They claim that they're as big a threat as Novell or Lotus, but maybe they're underestimating the company with sex appeal? GM is going to do its fans a big favor and make new cars smarter by featuring monthly diagnostic checks automatically built into the car's OnStar system. It'll only be free for the first year, but it sounds like a worthwhile feature. Lastly, TiVo has voluntarily decided to institute broadcast flags so that certain programs can't be kept past a certain date and can't be transferred to a computer, and I think they're helping out these stations in exchange for alienating their customers.

Luckily, the movie news is very light today. If you like Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette (from The Sixth Sense), then there are a few new clips from Yahoo! Movies for you. If you're a fan of Scarlett Johansson, there's a really random clip from her upcoming movie (from Woody Allen) Match Point over here. Lastly, JoBlo has a few wallpapers from Into the Blue, and since there's never a bad time to show an Alba picture...

Click to enlarge her hotness

I'm going to go with QOTD II today:

What new or returning TV shows are you looking forward to viewing this season?
I'm really looking forward to Lost and Desperate Housewives. I'll also continue watching Smallville just to keep seeing Kristin Kreuk every week and since the season finale was pretty crazy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Microsoft in a Jam

Mmmmm...Jam. Sorry, The Simpsons is on in the background. I think the big news today was that Microsoft has lost its lawsuit against Google over former employee Kai-Fu Lee. The judge will allow him to work at Google as long as he doesn't use information gleaned at Microsoft, and he also noted that he misled his former employer. In any case, I would compare this lawsuit's result to the Longhorn win last Saturday: they were all talk before the trial and now they probably feel a little embarrassed to have lost. They're also getting pummelled among pundits regarding the different versions of Windows Vista, including John Dvorak. Usually I despise his PC Magazine editorials, but this one is actually pretty funny and spot-on. The majority of these extra versions sound highly unnecessary. They might as well just make a version for each specialized use of a computer if they're going to do those 7 like porn watchers and gamers and such. I wonder if they feel that confusing the consumer with all this stuff will really help them out.

I want to start out the nerdy stuff with what I found most shocking: a study that has revealed the ability to trace what a person has typed based on a 15 minute audio recording of the typing. It's a pretty frightening prospect, but I think at this stage it's too much trouble for most identity thiefs. If you have a strong interest in security there's a pretty terse interview here with Alan Cox about the future of computer security. I think the most important development will be languages like Java that have made it harder to create holes, the hardest thing to fix though is the user's common sense. If you're really interested in Apple there's a spectacular roundtable discussion at about the direction they've been moving in. Lastly, if you were a fan of the now deceased TV Tome site, you may want to turn to the TV Wiki, which looks pretty promising.

Click to enlarge WolvieIt's not much, but we have a few more rough shots from the set of X3, and who doesn't love to see Hugh Jackman doing his thing? The theatrical trailer for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will start showing in theaters in Friday, but I'm sure that many of you can't wait so here's a description from the few who have been able to see it so far. It sounds pretty cool and I'm really siked for the movie. Latino Review has reviewed the script for Beowolf and it looks like it will be a juicy R-rated flick, so keep your eyes peeled for more on this adaptation of a classic story. Lastly, there are so many rumors going on about James Bond that I've been skipping them, but MI6 is just so deadset on the producers of Casino Royale going back to Pierce Brosnan out of desperation that I felt that I should at least mention it.

Now for a rather difficult Ten on Tuesday meme:

10 Weird Facts About You
10. I can't fathom how people can eat mayonnaise. It's just oil and egg whites!
9. I don't think it's clever when people compare my name to Elton John.
8. It drives me crazy to see dirty dishes in the sink.
7. I actually budget my weekly expenses because I feel like I'll run out of money (since I'm not currently working), but I've yet to get even close to bankrupting myself.
6. Latin actually sounds cooler to me than Hindi.
5. In my late pre-teen years I went through a phase where I liked pop music. Ugh.
4. I pretend to not check out other people in between sets at the gym, but if I didn't then I'd be pretty bored.
3. I'm not trying to lose weight, but because I've kept myself on a strict diet before I still monitor my calorie intake.
2. Every little thing stresses me and if I don't get them over with quickly I feel overwhelmed.
1. Whenever I leave a place I always feel paranoid that I've left something behind.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Science Dumbed Down

So that's where they were...
I know it's a totally random picture, but the Daily Texan put it in today's paper and it answered the mystery of why the cops didn't break up the mob of Longhorn enthusiasts! I guess they're fans at heart as well. If you want to see more pictures click here. Anyway, the Guardian has an insightful editorial piece about why science gets a bad rap in the media because all stories are either wacky, scary, or "breakthroughs". It's a long read but if you skim past all the examples you get to the meat of the matter: most science articles don't divulge the actual facts of the matter. These writers assume that everyone is stupid and then churn out these misguided articles, and the few times they're actually headline material they're usually overblown. I just felt it was quite provocative and I wish something would be done about it.

Given that Sun Microsystems is still best-known for Java and has not made much of a dent in recent years in computer manufacturing I felt it was necessary to start out the tech news with news that they're creating a new line called Galaxy. They will run Solaris, Linux, and Windows interchangeable and use AMD chips rather than Sparc, which sounds like a definite step in the right direction. Meanwhile, Yahoo is making some changes of its own and hiring media correspondent Kevin Sites to produce a multimedia website featuring his coverage of wars around the world. Could Yahoo be on the verge of its own online "tv" network? There are already a lot of free shows online actually for geeks like me and though I haven't seen most of them I think I will start watching some of them soon. Lastly, Ars Technica pulled apart the Nano for an in-depth review and autopsy so it's kind of neat to skim over. I warn you though, the stress test may affect the monetarily impaired.

Not a whole lot going on in movies today either, but the best part is this trailer for Jesus Is Magic, a comedy by Sarah Silverman. The trailer is pretty raunchy as I'm sure the movie will be too, but it still looks funny. AICN nabbed a first review of the new Christian Bale movie, Harsh Times, and while it's not another high-profile movie it sounds like it's something pretty awesome. Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist got mixed reviews, but there seems to be a consensus that all the pieces fit together except the script (which is what's debatable). This all comes by way of the Toronto Film Festival of course. I find it strange that Mandy Moore and Justin Timberlake will both be in Richard Kelly's next film, Southland Tales, which is supposed to be pretty great. Maybe they're walk-on roles? Lastly, Leonardo DiCaprio will be FDR in Martin Scorcese's The Rise of Franklin Roosevelt, and I hope he does real well because FDR is my favorite president.

Now for some Monday Madness:

True or False...

1. I'm at my best in the early morning. False. I feel better about my day when I get up earlier, but my mind isn't too sharp.
2. I start each day with a healthy breakfast. True. My breakfasts vary between cereal, oatmeal, and bagels with jam plus some chocolate milk.
3. I'm always sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. True. Except for extenuating circumstances, this is a must-have. I usually aim for 8 hours though.
4. I enjoy my job. N/A, but I enjoy my classes and I like programming.
5. I get along with most everyone. True. I'm not prone to making enemies.
6. I'm looking forward to the new season of tv shows this year. True. Lost and Desperate Housewives will be staples.
7. I make sure I take some time for myself every day. True. Not a whole lot of time, but whatever I can do.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

How Dare You Doubt Texas

Sweed is my new heroI'm of course referring to all the pundits who expected us to lose. I'll admit that I only had faith up to the last quarter when we weren't scoring for a while because of their solid defense, but when Young started making those crazy passes we all believed again. I knew that we faced worse odds last year and overcame and now we did it again. I watched the game at Moncrief Neuhaus and left immediately afterwards to head back to my car when I saw not only the Tower half lit Burnt Orange but fans going crazy on 21st. When I got to Guadalupe I knew there was no chance of getting home because it was at a complete standstill with 80-90% of the cars honking their carhorns (wearing Burnt Orange as well likely with nowhere to go) and passerbyers screaming and showing Horns in exchange. People were running across the drag with Texas and Longhorn fans, and one lane of Guadalupe was just a parade of fans. Mind you, this was less than 15 minutes after the end of the game. I went to some parties in West Campus with JFo and I've never seen so many people so friendly or so excited in my whole life. Every few minutes you heard "Texas..Fight!" or "OSU..Sucks!" and people were anxious to shake your hand or give you five or hug you. The rest of the night will be uninteresting to you, but some girl did pinch one of my nipples (trust me, it's not what you think or you'd hear more). I would talk about all the fun I had canoeing yesterday afternoon also on Town Lake with the new NSC members, but there's no room for it and it pales in comparison. Man I love Austin!

I'm going to start off my nerd news with this article that mentions a lack of practical courses in top Universities' CS programs. I personally feel that UT seems to have a good balance in letting you get involved with software engineering and understanding the science, but I'll admit that it does tip more towards theory. Nonetheless, I feel that the semantics are easier to acquire later than the underlying concepts. Maybe more CS majors should've been more focused on the Summer of Code than taking summer classes in AI. PC World has a great article, for once, on the most important things that hardware manufacturers don't tell you and is a must-read for those of you interested in buying a new computer anytime soon. The Observer has a pretty good editorial explaining why the Rokr, upon closer examination, isn't what we all had hoped for. This would be a great time for a competitor to step in and dominate. Lastly, Microsoft is really pushing it by deciding to release not two, not three, not four, but seven versions of Windows Vista, presumably to match the Seven Deadly Sins I suppose. It is as unnecessary as it sounds.

There's really not a whole lot to say in the world of movies this weekend. However, the box office stunned us all when it showed The Exorcism of Emily Rose on top with a cool $30.2 million on a pretty random weekend. They've already turned a profit on a movie with no especially notable qualities to it and only lukewarm reviews, which is more than The Island did (and has not made that much money so far). I'm also impressed that Wedding Crashers and March of the Penguins are clinging to the top ten. The only other thing of note is that AICN has a rather positive review of the Wallace & Grommit movie, which looked kind of funny in its previews so hopefully it is funny.

Before I conclude I want to mention that things are getting heated up even more with the video game debate. Political figures like Senator Hillary Clinton are aiming to make it a federal offense to sell rated M games to minors, which seems like trying to kill an ant with a bazooka. California is leading the cross-state upheaval to impose penalties for selling video games to minors with a law that has passed their legislature and is now awaiting and action movie star's approval. My opinion is that we're running a double standard here. Why not jail people for selling rated R DVDs to minors or music with Parental Advisory stickers?

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings, as usual:

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

  1. Related::Relatives
  2. Soothing::Sounds
  3. Flashback::Flashdance
  4. Turmoil::Pillaging
  5. Immense::Large
  6. Guitar::Classical
  7. Nonsense::Malarky
  8. Blame::Scapegoat
  9. Childlike::Thinking
  10. Duff::Hilary

Friday, September 09, 2005

Linux's Maturity

If you're also going to Austin City Limits could you let me know? Not only do I want to meet up you with there so I'm not walking around alone like a weirdo but also I'm trying to find out if anyone else is interesting in carpooling since parking costs so much. A lot of people who are really pumped about open source software may have you believe that Linux is getting to enterprise IT structure at an alarming rate, but it may actually be another five years before it hits the mainstream. It's doing pretty well on servers, but on the desktop it's just an issue of the costs of migration to it, and it is a pretty big leap of faith for many businesses. I think Linux is really ideal for a network environment where it's fast and affords much control. One of the most outspoken open source advocates, Eric Raymond, was actually offered a job by Microsoft. He strongly turned it down and actually rebutted that he was their worst nightmare! He was probably a little nicer than that on the phone, but he sent them a pretty harsh but funny e-mail. I just wonder why they wanted to hire him.

Speaking of Microsoft, it turns out that Windows Vista may have some pretty beefy requirements. The problem with that is that when you increase the complexity of a kernel you're inviting more trouble on yourself, but it does have room to do very well I suppose. Hot on the trail of Apple's iPod Nano announcement yesterday, Sony decided to up the ante with their new line of smaller Walkmen. I don't really see anything about them that makes the devices stand out, but rather it shows that Sony has really gone down in quality with the age of digital music. Lastly, in a surprisingly awesome move, Cartoon Network has actually decided to make Adult Swim programming available online on Friday nights when the shows are usually not on. It will be available to stream from 11:00 PM-6:00 AM EST and sounds like it's the step in the right direction for cable companies. Look for it on their site next Friday.

Click to enlarge the Albino monkIt's kind of weird to see Paul Bettany in costume as Silas for Da Vinci Code, but I think he'll do well in the role. That shot is actually from his own site. If you want to see some new, neat posters from A Scanner Darkly then head to If you're more interested in Saw II though then head over to Yahoo! Movies where they have the first teaser trailer for the movie and it looks to be in the same style as the original. It looks like the Silent Hill movie is approaching the end of its shoot and I'm really hoping that Christophe Gans does a lot of good for the movie stylistically. Those of you disappointed with the weak DVD for Sin City can now put the Special Edition on your Christmas list as it also features an extended cut of the movie and a graphic novel from the series. It'll definitely be on my wish list. Lastly, Family Guy fans won't want to miss out on IGN's interview with Alex Borstein in which she talks a lot about the Stewie DVD and you may learn a few things like how long the animation takes to complete (9 months).

And now, you know you want Friday's Feast:

Who is the easiest person for you to talk to?

I'm not actually sure. I guess either my brother or my friend Ketan.

If you could live in any ancient city during the height of the quality of its society and culture, which one would you choose?

I'd probably go for Rome because their practices seem radically different from today's world or even ancient Greece to see a tragedy performed live. You don't see too many of those nowadays.

What is the most exciting event you've ever witnessed?

Have I really witnessed anything that exciting? I guess when we beat Oklahoma State last year after being down by so much by haltime. The whole second half was just energy-packed.

Main Course
If you were a celebrity, what would you do for a publicity stunt?

Challenge another celebrity to a Chubby Bunny contest.

What do you consider the ideal age to have a first child?

Probably 28-30. Assuming I get married I wouldn't force my wife to have a child that early, but it seems like it would be easier to do it sooner than later if you want kids.