Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Nintendo is the Giant

I know that I have at least one Nintendo fan reading my blog so it's only appropriate that I talk about an article that totally caught me off guard. Many gamers consider Nintendo to be in a slump since in the past two generation of consoles with the Playstation and Playstation 2 dominated them. However, NintendoInsider points out that they're about more than the Gamecube: there's also the DS and the GameBoy Advance. If you look at the numbers they put together, they've sold more systems as a company than Sony or Microsoft even though their Gamecube's market share is lagging. It's a four-part series and in part two he shows that Nintendo's net profits are more than Microsoft and Sony combined. It sounds wacko, right? But it's 100% true. By playing it safe Nintendo has managed to quietly trump its competitors and actually turn a profit on every Gamecube sold unitl the price drop because they didn't pack in a lot of features. Going the minimal route got them more sales, which leads to more profits (remember, the PS2 and Xbox were sold at a loss in exchange for software royalties). I certainly applaud Nintendo's tactics because they manage to come out ahead without being cutthroat. I may have a bias towards the PS2 and PS3, but I hate Sony as a company. However, everyone loves Nintendo and most gamers have owned at least one Nintendo console in their lifetime. Unless nice guys, nice companies don't always finish last.

I didn't say that Microsoft had a good image either, and they're actually starting their own version of Google Base now called Fremont. When will they stop being such copycats? I don't subscribe to cable programming in my apartment because I don't want to pay $30 for only about three channels that I would actually watch, and now the FCC is actually pushing for ala carte pricing. This would alleviate my situation but it's more targeted towards parents with young children, but cable tv companies don't seem too thrilled about the idea. Wouldn't it garner more customers for them though? Every so often I post an article about the importance of comments in your code and now I've found one once again, and it's shorter than most. I really loathe reading commentless code. Lastly, I think it's funny that there's a device now to ward off teenagers without lethal force.

The movie news isn't too exciting today, but if you want to see some crazy stuff then the German site for Hostel has a rather gory trailer for the movie, and it's not hard to find (I guess "trailer" is the same word in German). It's worth it if you're a horror geek. If you never got a chance to the see the bootleg version of the Pirates of the Caribbean 2 trailer then it's online legally now, but it's not as taboo and rebellious as before to watch. If you wondered what happened to the Independence Day sequel that was in talks a few years ago then you can sleep soundly knowing that it has been scrapped altogether. The world is safe from one more crappy movie. Not much going on with the sequel for Batman Begins, but you can be sure that the Joker will be grittier and there are rumors that the Penguin could be involved with the Russian mafia. Since everyone likes Shrek I figured that you guys might want to know that they're leaning towards an Arthurian tale with regard to finding an heir to the throne of Far, Far Away and Shrek may even have a child to worry about. However, there will be a new director so there's no way to tell how good it will be in comparison to the second. Lastly, here's a new poster from that movie feature two hot chicks:

Click to enlarge a little

And now for the awesomeness of the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What was your favorite subject in high school?
I think I'll say Economics because I really enjoyed doing Economics Challenge and it was nice to really get the material. Thanks to the competition, I was always ahead of most of the class so I could just sit back and relax in class half the time, and read the Wall Street Journal.

2. Are you a dog person, cat person, both or neither? How many pets do you have?
I don't particularly dislike cats, but I definitely prefer the love that dogs offer. Cats are too withdrawn and needy. I have no pets because my dad never liked the idea of having a pet.

3. How was your Thanksgiving?
It was good. It probably could've been better since it has been in years past, but it was a nice break from school even though I felt guilty for not getting more work done.

4. What are you asking Santa for this year?
Many things, and they're all on my wish list because it's just the easiest way for me to remember them. It's largely an assortment of DVDs, CDs, and books. If Santa's pockets were full grown though he'd get me an iPod or a digital camera.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

DRM Hurts Those Who Love It

Click to enlarge
I feel such a kinship with Marten! I don't know if any of you read Questionable Content, but you really should because it's starting to get juicy. Am I the only person who has been in this situation? Anyway, the most interesting article today, in my opinion, was regarding the negative effects of Digital Rights Management on copy-protected CD sales based on anecdotal evidence. I'm sure that a statistical study would reveal similar results. For those of you who don't know, any CD with DRM cannot be loaded onto your iPod without the aid of a hack because some in the music industry are complete douchebags. As the article says, why would you want to piss off your customers? It just doesn't make any sense to me. Is it really worth the money to alienate us? It'll eventually cause a lesser image for artists under such labels and a rebellion of surging illegal downloads. Or so my conspiracy theory goes.

Another good article today details the showdown between the three big browsers and really highlights their strengths in case you haven't tried them all. I was never a big fan of Opera myself, but I use IE and Firefox. In fact, there's a new version of Firefox that includes a feature I've always wanted: movable tabs. Meanwhile, a previous IE flaw has been discovered to be much more damaging than previously thought and you may even want to put a hold on IE until a patch is released. I've always found the air guitar rather comical, but some Finnish students have actually created a system to make your faux playing a reality using a pair of gloves. There's a video there that's down right now (probably too many hits), but it still sounds pretty neat to me. Lastly, I'd like to wish Pong a happy 34th birthday. It looks like the game that started it all is approaching its midlife crisis.

I'm going to start off here with the most shocking piece of movie news: Kevin Smith may actually do a sequel to Dogma! He hinted on his site's forum that he's played around with the idea since 9/11 as he's had more reflections on religion. Let's keep our fingers crossed! Another strange piece of news is that Tim Burton and Jim Carrey may team up for a movie aiming to cash in on the "Ripley's Believe it or Not" television show, and while I don't know what the plot will be if Tim Burton agrees to it I'm sure there's more to it than meets the eye. I'll keep you posted. Tony Scott's next movie is Deja Vu, which follows an FBI agent traveling back in time to save the chick he loves, and Jim Caviezel may be the villain (a terrorist). I don't know that I'll ever see him again and not think of Jesus, but they can do wonders with makeup and wardrobe these days. All I have left for you is media. SuperheroHype got a few captures from the X3 storyboards included on the Fantastic Four DVD and while they don't reveal a whole lot they still look kind of cool. A couple of pictures from the new Pirates of the Caribbean ship have sprung up and it looks rather elaborate. Those interested in King Kong will want to check out a four minute clip from the movie previously aired on NBC that seem to pretty accurately reflect the intended tone of the film. Though Aeon Flux won't be screened for critics I'm sure a few of you still have hope and may enjoy a fun clip at Yahoo Movies. Lastly, I've found the worst movie promotion ever.

Now for the glorious Ten on Tuesday meme:

10 Things You're Thankful For
10. My parents' decision to come to America 27 years ago.
9. Having my brother (life would suck for me as an only child).
8. My friends.
7. The discipline my father bestowed on my to follow through on my studies and interests.
6. Staying healthy (some of you may not know that I used to be overweight).
5. My cousin's safe return from Iraq.
4. The means to get a good education from UT.
3. Being able to eat at least 3 meals a day.
2. Every good grade I get.
1. My family.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Perpetual Betas

I've got to admit that this Monday went better than most. I had a good workout, I took in a good 30 minute nap in CS 310, I owned my Latin quiz, we had a better NSC meeting than usual in terms of member interaction, and I took in some more Terry Tate videos with Jennyfer in the office, which I highly recommend you guys watch though they're quite old. Anyway, it seems to be a new trend in software development nowadays to lengthen the beta period by a lot and let the consumers do the testing for you. The main advantages to this technique is that you get better feedback from the people that matters most and you can keep it out there longer before you're held accountable for it. However, it hurts your reputation and dramatically revises the traditional development cycle. Google is a prime example of a company using long, public betas with Gmail, which has been in beta since before I graduated high school, and Google Maps (now Local), which was recently pulled out of beta but still has problems, among others. I have to say that I don't particularly like this strategy because it seems so cheap. Some may argue that you'll never know how reliable what you've made is until it's been in the hands of your customers, but if your project was managed responsibly why would this be necessary? And if you think of it that way, a project can be in beta forever because how will you know when you've added every feature you can and tested the Hell out of it?

Speaking of shady betas, the buzz surrounding Longhorn (now known as Vista) actually hurt the launch of Windows XP, and now it could actually be on store shelves by next winter. They're not saying this publicly in the case that they have to push it back again, but they'd be stupid to delay it any further than that. I'm always interested in breakthrough research efforts and one research at TACC has actually created mathematical software that sets speed records in solving complex problems. It may not interest you guys, but I still think it's pretty crazy stuff. Most people have heard of the "War on Drugs" but why don't people feel as concerned about the "War on Cybercrime"? This article should open your eyes as to how serious it is as it makes more money than drug trafficking now and I think it threatens a whole lot more people. I want to conclude with a humorous article on how to looks like you know a lot about computers, which is funny because a lot of people actually follow it (I admittedly used to as well back when I actually cared about my intelligence and thought I was hot stuff).

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I feel that there's been a drought of really good animated films (the likes of The Lion King and Mulan), but that first shot from Kung Fu Panda makes it look pretty fun and though we don't know much other than the involvement of Jackie Chan, Jack Black, and Lucy Liu among others, we can still hope that Dreamworks doesn't screw it up. Some of us are clinging to the hope that Brett Ratner may actually do well with X3 and it's a good sign that he's taking the effort to think about the predicament of Beast with decent character development in the movie. Please, keep praying! Speaking of superheroes, for those of you who don't know the long journey of the production of the new Superman movie then you can get a crash course in it over here. It looks like George Romero is set to work on another installment of his "of the Dead" series due to the success of the last one abroad and on home video. Hopefully, they'll pick a better release date this time. Lastly, I mentioned a bootleg trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean 2 last week, but for those of you who didn't catch it in time it's still online illicitly in equally bad quality.

And now, you know you want some Monday Madness, baby!

1. I've always been afraid of ________.
bees and wasps (I don't ever want to get stung)
2. People should not talk on cell phones while ________.
in class (I've actually seen this before)
3. The one thing I look forward to every day is ________.
sleeping (besides blogging, of course)
4. My first meal of the day usually consists of ________.
milk (plus another component of my choice)
5. It seems like ________ is a never-ending job.
cleaning up (it's either the tub or the toilet or the sink or the floor)
6. The last time I painted a room in my house/apartment was ________.
7. The next time I paint, I'd like to paint my ________(room) ________ (color).
bedroom in Houston a neutral shade of blue (it currently has some crappy wallpaper that came with the house)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What's a ProductWiki?

I'm now back in Austin and I'm not as sad as I thought I'd be about it. Maybe that's because I'll be done with this semester in a little over 3 weeks, or maybe it's because I won't be as stressed out with EE 316 taken care of, or maybe it's because I don't have any tests for the next two weeks! Don't envy me though, because it's been harsh until now. In fact, I have to try to make this post short because I have to read about 70 pages of The Aeneid before I hit the sack tonight. It was a surprisingly slow weekend for news and so the most provocative thing is the introduction of a ProductWiki into's pages for its products. In case you're wondering what that is (as my title unnecessarily presumes), it's a way for customers to enter extra information into a product as I've demonstrated here. The question does have a double meaning though: what's the point of this? How is this radically different from customer reviews? Maybe they're just trying to play along with the trend, or, more realistically, they're trying to give your name a reputation among other customers and make more recommendations to you. It's an interesting idea and I'm glad they're branching out, I'm just not confident that it'll really take off.

I'd like to restore the Xbox 360's previously tarnished name on my blog due to reports of freezing with news that the problem was caused by overheating and is easily remedied by lifting the console just a bit off the ground. I'm not saying you should buy one, but, should you decide to, have no fear of faulty hardware. If you're tired of typing so many words into that address bar at the top then you can either learn how to type faster (the software is cheap) or you can cheer on a Dutch firm aiming to create dotless domains. It's too pricey for normal folk to buy, but I'm sure big companies will love it. I'm going to conclude here with some downloads. If you're on a Windows machine and hate using MS Paint and/or are tired of load times for Adobe Photoshop you should check out Paint.NET, which is sort of an upgrade for Paint and it's completely free. It's really lite and easy to use so I highly recommend it. If you remember the days before Windows 95 when most games were based in DOS then you'll get a kick out of this archive of games from those days including Wolfenstein 3D and WarCraft 2.

If you didn't think that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was going to dominate this weekend then you're pretty stupid. It managed to rack up over $54 million, which brings it over the $200 million threshold. The openers this weekend drew pitiful receipts in comparison, but Walk the Line managed to maintain #2 with $19.7 million. We all want Pixar movies to knock our socks off but I think many people are struggling with Cars. They've released another trailer for it, and all I can say about it is that it looks gorgeous in Quicktime HD. If you're more interested in King Kong then Newsweek got an early look at it and wrote a good article on it highlighting how sensitive the movie is. I cringe to inform you that a Tomb Raider 3 will be made and all we can do is pray that it gets a screenwriter with half a brain. It looks like we'll have Grind House, the joint effort from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino under WeinsteinCo., in under a year as the release date has been set to September 22, 2006. Let's hope they keep to that date. Lastly, I present you with the really neat-looking German poster for Hostel:

Click to enlarge, if you dare

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Stuffed::Animal
  2. Armstrong::Lance
  3. Bruise::Blood
  4. Content::Context
  5. Musical::Instrument
  6. Assistance::Disability
  7. Scrambling::Eggs
  8. Battle::Royale
  9. Extended::Scene
  10. Discount::Tires

Friday, November 25, 2005

Afraid of the G

As you can tell from the tardiness of this post, I've had quite a full past two days. We went to two Thanksgiving Day meals yesterday and I watched the UT v. A&M game today, which actually was a nailbiter for a few minutes. I won't make this post too long I think because I'm kind of tired, and it's not from turkey but rather my failed attempt to get Family Guy Vol. 2 from Circuit City this morning for $15. Oh well, you can't win every year. Google is typically a pretty hot topic and Wired took a look at who's afraid of the big G in various fields. When you put it all together, they really have a lot going on right now, which is really smart because they don't have all their eggs in any one basket. I actually didn't know that eBay's market value fell by almost $2 billion as a result of the announcement of Google Base, which goes to show that maybe there is reason to fear them after all. I think it's a very good thing because now companies like eBay and Paypal who have felt rather secure in their market dominance have to start to work for their money and maybe even innovate a bit in the process. We all win in the end so I suppose that we should all be cheering Google on.

This almost reminds me of Apple's situation some twenty years ago when they started to grow and one site has a great look back at the start of the PowerBook series in 1991. It's going to be crazy when one day we'll be teaching our kids the history of personal and portable computing. Then there's the famous sound byte you hear every time you boot a Mac machine, and it's funny how you don't think how perfect it really is. We can also teach them about flops like the N-Gage, which Nokia has finally admitted has failed and will step back from portable gaming for a couple of years. I kind of feel bad for them since they really put a lot of marketing into the device, but I just think that they were aiming for the wrong audience since kids are most likely to play serious games on-the-go whereas everyone else just wants Tetris. Lastly, Kazaa got lucky in their lawsuit (or so I think) as they just have to block certain search terms in their P2P network.

Click to enlargeI may not be too excited about The Producers film adaptation, but I can't help but love the Uma so that's one of a few new pictures that JoBlo have from the movie. It's totally different from what you usually see her wearing so I think it's a fun picture. If you'd rather see Lord Voldemort though, which Warner Bros. has been careful to keep under wraps until the release of the movie, then click here. There's also a clip there, but I wouldn't consider it much of a spoiler if you're worried about watching it. A few days ago I told you all about Kevin Smith talking back to fan comments and criticisms of his work on Clerks 2 and now he's made another post of them. It's definitely funny to just skim it if you a few minutes and you're familiar with his past work. I've saved the saddest bit of news for last: in case you haven't already heard, Pat Morita of Happy Days and Karate Kid fame died today at the ripe age of 73. I guess he's teaching karate in heaven now.

Now for Friday's Feast:

What did you look like when you were a teenager?

Technically, I'm still a teenager, but I would prefer to consider myself a young adult I suppose (more because of how much more responsibility I've had to take on over myself than anything else). If I consider my teenage years to be high school, I'd say that I looked chubby with some goofy clothes. There's no other real way to describe it other than hand-me-down stuff, but I've built up a decent wardrobe over the years.

Whose advice do you listen to?

Many people's as long as they know what they're talking about. If you're giving me advice on women and you aren't one or don't have one then I'm not listening to you! Mainly my brother and my father a few of my closer friends I suppose.

Name a book you would like to memorize.

Definitely Dante's Inferno. I guess I'd have to memorize an English translation, but that thing is so damn fascinating.

Main Course
How often are you sick?

Pretty rarely. I would say no more than twice a year. I don't count a sore throat for like 5 days as a sickness though, but rather an ailment where I really feel like crap. I was blessed with a better immune system than my brother from our gene pool, what can I say.

Do you like or dislike change?

At this point in my life, I like it. I'd like to think that I'm constantly evolving into a better person as are the people around me. College is all about learning how to handle life, after all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Good Techie Deed

Honestly, the only thing that's important enough to talk about today in my main topic, once again, is video games. Hence, I'm going to branch out to a neat article I found listing 10 things you can do for your mom's computer this Thanksgiving. I have had a personal experience introducing an older person (she lives on my street, actually) to Picasa and she absolutely loves it. So it can't hurt to show it to your mom either. No one likes a cluttered task bar, so installing Firefox and showing her how much tabbed browsing rocks will definitely help her out as she shops for gifts online this holiday season and such (ok, so she's more likely looking up recipes of stuff to cook for you). I actually learned about something new from that list: Evernote. It looks like it's a little better than Microsoft's OneNote in that it's more intuitive. Something that you really must do is run the maintenance wizard, which runs ScanDisk, Disk Cleanup, and the Disk Defragmenter. So be good little ambassadors of technology and spread the joy.

Now onto video games: the Xbox 360 seems to be running into some issues with freezing. Many gamers have begun complaining online, and if you don't believe them then you can see it for yourself. You may be rushing your launch if your customers pay $400 and aren't happy. Once again, I have an article comparing the three systems' highlights for your reading pleasure. I must be turning my readers into lean, mean gaming machines! This week is a big week for shoppers because of Black Friday, when stores go sale-crazy to put unneeded items on clearance. I managed to scare up one list with a lot of deals on it for this weekend, but if you're planning on getting anything then make sure you get there at the store's opening. Google is going to start providing its advertisers with a new service: free phone calls for those interested it to the company itself. With a click of a button they'll automatically connect your phone to the advertiser's phone number, but I'm just curious as to how they actually do it! Lastly, a couple of nifty web applications I couldn't pass up. If you ever feel like writing down some lyrics, this one will sing it for you using a database of sound bytes from songs. The other one I have is a Google map hack that simulates some of Google Earth's features in showing you restaurants and such near a location.

Click to enlargeWhat's this? Another version of the Sin City DVD? What a shock considering that the previous one was barebones. This is the version that you were meant to see with many interesting extras to boot, so Robert Rodriguez fans, rejoice! If you're wondering where X-men 3 has been, have no fear because some studio insiders have hinted at a more aggressive marketing campaign next month just in time for the holiday season. All I have left to show you are trailers. I don't know why Cheaper by the Dozen 2 got made but the new trailer doesn't help its cause in my mind. The trailer for the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean was online officially for a short time before it was taken down, but some crazy Russians have put it back online (just click the obvious link in the middle). Lastly, IGN discovered the trailer for a movie I hadn't heard of before: Grandma's Boy. It's red-band so you need to verify your age first (against DMV records), but it's nice to see it uncensored if you can and I'm afraid of being more stupid than funny. It's about a 37-year-old game tester living with his grandma, which I think would be humorous.

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What are you thankful for this year?
Lots of things, but I'll mention them in the Ten on Tuesday next week. Namely: my healthy, my family, and my A in EE 316 (thank the Lord).

2. Does your family eat turkey or ham for the Thanksgiving meal? Or do you do both? Or do you do something completely different?
Most times both, but definitely the turkey. Afterwards, my dad makes an awesome dish out of it for sandwiches and stuff.

3. What's your favorite Thanksgiving side?
That would have to be the mashed potatoes. I'm in love with potatoes, and they're best served mashed.

4. What's your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?
For the third time, pumpkin pie. :)

5. Are you going out shopping on Black Friday? If not, what are you gonna do on the day after Thanksgiving?
Most definitely. Hopefully I'll top off the day by either hanging out with my cousins or my friends.

In the case that I don't post tomorrow, and it's likely that I won't, have an awesome Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The 360 is Out

I'm back in Houston until next Sunday and it'll be nice to have a break from my day-to-day stresses as I have a minimal amount of homework to do. I'm sorry to make my main topic the Xbox 360 again, but when I have like three articles on the release of it today it'd be kind of weird not to. If you're totally in the dark about the console then it may do you some good to read more about it in case you have to buy it this season or so you can look smart in front of other gamers. That article places it in a better light than I have recently, and it definitely brings up some good points including multimedia functionality and Xbox Live Marketplace. If you're a Nintendo fan then you'll like IGN's article on why it's not the Revolution (besides the different name, genius). As I've briefly touched upon before, the Xbox 360 is being sold at a loss to them so that they can reap larger profits from game loyalties and sales of 1st party offerings, and you can read about the breakdown here. I want to wrap up this paragraph with something a little more general: some universities are actually offering a major in game development, and I think I agree with the dissenters in that article. Is there really that much to be learned second hand in game development? It really is a lot about technical knowledge and creative talent, not learning what's other people's opinions on how things should be done.

Since I know you can't get enough of video games you may find it humorous that in the Alabama case of Take Two being sued for the deaths of a couple of cops, Jack Thompson didn't withdraw his representation but rather was thrown out by the judge and currently cannot practice law in Alabama! It looks like gamers aren't the only ones to think he's crazy. If you have a Sony BMG disc with a rootkit on it then you can actually disable the software by placing some tape on the outer edge of the CD. I find it ironic how low-tech the solution is. The Barenaked Ladies are sidestepping the whole controversy by distributing their newest release on 128 MB USB drives with their holiday songs for just $30. It's a great idea because it has some extras on it and the drive can be reused if you just copy the music to your hard drive (or burn it). If you want to check out some cool, relatively unnoticed gadgets this winter then this article will help you out. It even includes a Pez mp3 player and a digital sound projector. Lastly, The Motley Fool is speculating that Apple may be developing an instant-on computer with all that NAND flash memory it has been buying up, which is a computer that would almost instantaneously be usable when you flip the switch on. We don't have one of these already because they're tricky to make and this is all just speculation anyway, but it would be awesome.

Click to enlarge a little

I suppose I am the type who would just put up picture of girls in bikinis for the hell of it, but that's actually a capture from the first trailer for Uwe Boll's Dead or Alive. I know his name only bring up bad thoughts within you, but rather be offended by this movie I think it's a better tactic to hope for it to just be a fun, nonsensical action movie with minimal corny dialogue since it already has the hot chicks (I'm sorry, but I am a guy). If you want to see something less racy, there's a poster up for what I believe is the first animated film from Weinstein Co: Hoodwinked. I like the subtle satire of the Usual Suspects poster. There are also some pictures online from the set of Mission Impossible: 3, but nothing terribly special. Kevin Smith put up some humorous responses to questions from movie geeks and potshots from critics on the View Askew forum for your viewing pleasure. I just love Kevin Smith, he's so freakin clever. Lastly, if you were thinking of seeing Ice Harvest then some reviews at AICN may convince you otherwise.

Before I conclude I'd like to note that I find it shocking that the Vatican has decided to ban homosexuals from the priesthood. It may make sense to them as a way of preventing sexual harassment, but what makes them think that people won't lie about it? And also, how will this help the shortage of priests problem? I wish they'd get to the root of the problem rather than dance around it.

I'm going to give the Ten on Tuesday meme a crack this week:

10 Things You Like Eating at Thanksgiving Dinner
10. Sweet potatoes
9. Buttered rolls
8. Pecan pie
7. Pola (it's an Indian rice cake thing and I don't know how to spell it)
6. Stuffing (I don't even know why, it's just good)
5. Green bean casserole
4. Pork vindaloo (it's not an Indian Thanksgiving without it)
3. Mashed potatoes
2. Turkey with gravy (who doesn't like turkey?)
1. Pumpkin Pie

Monday, November 21, 2005

Wait for the PS3?

I did it. By nothing short of a miracle, I managed to ace my EE 316 final and, hence, the class. I also aced my CS 310 test, but that's not nearly as important. The EE class was one was so important because it was something I set my mind to and it was a long, hard journey but I did it and I now only have 13 hours to worry about. Oh how I've dreamt of this day. Moving on though, with a lot of gaming pundits downplaying the Xbox 360 release, is it worth waiting another year or so for the PlayStation 3? We now know that it'll cost between $300 and $400, which I suppose should've been obvious since it can't cost more than the Xbox 360, and the real kicker is that very valuable Blu-Ray player it comes with built-in. IGN compiled a great list of the top ten reasons to wait, and my favorite is Metal Gear Solid 4, which is something that the Xbox 360 direly needs: a killer app. Some of the biggest Xbox games can't be played on the 360 whereas the PS3 supports both of its previous generation of games. The most interesting reason they cited was the support of Japanese developers, which is something I wonder if Microsoft underestimated because these guys are pumping exclusive stuff out for Sony. I can't think of any cons to waiting right now, so just hold out for another year!

Sony BMG is not sitting as pretty as Sony Computer Entertainment, of course. The president of the RIAA, however, supports their rootkit idea and the way they handled the discovery of the exploit. That's a pretty scary thought because that means he's ok with totally violating your privacy just to ensure your integrity. The Texas Attorney General of all people is actually taking them to court for damage inflicted due to their "spyware" and is demanding quite a lot of money. As much as it'll hurt them financially, it would be an important victory for us if Sony lost. TiVo is planning to expand its TiVoToGo service to allow iPod and PSP users to download shows to their device, but with the appropriate copy protection measures. This really helps out Apple and makes the iPod an even hotter item. Lastly, programmers may find some humor in this article explaining how to write unmaintainable code.

Click to enlarge

That's actually the best look we get of the lady of M. Night Shayamlan's upcoming Lady in the Water in the new trailer released this weekend with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and is now online. It's a proper teaser of the movie and should be an interested departure from his normal body of work. The King Kong tv spots are finally online for those of us who don't watch much television and the first halfs of them are pretty unique to one another unlike most movie spots so check them out. I personally think that the Rush Hour movies are hilarious and am glad to see that a third is finally underway, but only after New Line heaped even more money in front of Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker (who, remember, had declined before), and Brett Ratner. I wonder if Tucker will mention his greed on the DVD extras, because it's not like he's done so many better movies to turn out a surefire box office hit. Lastly, Bryan Singer visited Princeton and in addition to showing a few minutes of footage from Superman Returns he fielded some very insightful questions and even revealed that Batman would have a very small cameo in the movie.

Now it's time for some Monday Madness:

1. I have little or no patience when it comes to ________.
people who are condescending for no good reason
2. I wish I could spend more time ________.
reading Stephen Kings and other gripping pieces of literature
3. The most productive thing I accomplished this past weekend was ________.
managing to get all my homework done and journeying to/from Houston and going to that potluck all in one weekend
4. The most enjoyable thing I did this weekend was ________.
dance at my cousin's homecoming party
5. I've always wanted to learn how to ________.
play electric guitar (I can only play classical)
6. If money wasn't an issue, I'd buy ________.
an iPod, a digital camera, and pre-order a PS3
7. I blog because ________.
it fills the void inside my soul! Just kidding, it's really because it feels nice to be in-the-know and blogging forced me to stay up-to-date. Plus, I have all these great blogging buddies now!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Family Back Together

He's the one in the middleAfter what has seemed like an eternity, my cousin has come back from Iraq and I went back to Houston this past weekend specifically for his "surprise" homecoming party. It was definitely worth the 6 hour round-trip drive. On the left you can see him at age 8 and on the right you can see what he looks like today. 1st Leuitenant Prem PereiraI put these up because it's so crazy to know this guy who has known me since I was born has done his country proud by serving it out there on the frontline and even representing Indian Americans well (supposedly, he was the only Indian there). It was surreal for us to all see him again and it makes you realize how important some people can be to us. You just don't realize it until they're not readily at hand anymore to see or speak with. I'm sorry, it's cliche, but it is really important. At every family event we have had there's been a huge hole where he would usually be, and I could feel the energy in the air of having a family back together in one piece again; it was quite a cool experience. I decided that the only way I was going to have fun and not be stressed was through booze, and it worked quite well though I had four different drinks and was on the brink of throwing up quite a few times (I had a full dinner, as well). I hadn't danced like that in a good long way (we hired some dude named DJ Rocky to handle the music), and it made me realize that I should be doing a whole lot more of that in Austin. If any of you catch me not having fun when I party (i.e. keeping to a group rather than dancing) then just smack me around a bit, will ya? I ended the weekend with an ACM potluck tonight, and I'm still stuffed!

It doesn't help that I spent a paragraph on personal stuff when there's so much other stuff going on, but there's not much in movies anyway so you'll have to just bear with it. When Napster went legit I think some companies were hoping that it would come back just as it was before: a P2P service, but with payment. That may just may come true with Shawn Fanning's newest offering, Snocap. It blocks copyrighted downloads either for payment or because it cannot be traded. There are concerns over whether this is a feasible competitor with normal P2P, but if iTunes has survived this one may be able to, too. Google has been buying up dark fiber like crazy recently, but why? Robert Cringley seems to believe that they're trying to create densely populated data centers connected through the fiber optics cables, which means that they'd be able to process Internet data much faster and spit out results more easily, and hence stuff like Internet TV. This is all still top secret though, so in what capacity are Cringley's reasonable presumptions correct? Blizzard is being sued by the parents of a 13 year-old boy who jumped from a high location to his death, supposedly because of a scene in World of Warcraft. If you die in the game, you're a ghost and have to be resurrected, but if your son believes that then maybe you're a pretty crappy parent. Just maybe. Lastly, Jack Thompson's book is getting totally owned by gamers and liberals alike on and he is pissed. He's threatening legal action on for not regulating the page enough, but I'm not sure what he's planning on nailing them for. In case you skip the article, here's my favorite part:
"Out of Harm's Way has likewise been plagued with a slew of negative tags on Amazon, as well as linkage with books on gay erotica, presumably caused by mischievous back-and-forth clicking between Thompson's book and various sex manuals offered for sale by Amazon."

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire managed to snag over $101 million over the 3-day weekend, which surpasses all its predecessors, and it surprised many pundits who felt that its PG-13 rating would hold it back. I knew it would do well because of all the excitement, and I'm impressed that Walk the Line managed to follow right behind it at $22.4 million. I wish I could say that the box office is back, but it's only a temporary boost because of a few really good movies being released and they'll probably maintain their strength next weekend against new movies that are either lame or not well-known. If you Harry Potter fans don't know what to do with yourselves you can check out IGN's good list of their top 25 fantasy films and then head to your local video store. Since there's no other movie news to speak of I might as well point you guys in the direction of a few geek babe calendars, which I just find funny because no one wants to date geeks and all of a sudden they're hot now? Well the ladies of Geek Gorgeous and Girls of Geekdom really are hot, but if they were really geeks they'd be interested in guys like me. My head is totally going to explode here.

And now the time has come for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Heads up::7up (remember that game from elementary school?)
  2. Kicker::Punt
  3. Aggressive::Mean
  4. Getting ugly::Wild
  5. To be continued::Suspense
  6. Twist::Lime
  7. Form::Woman
  8. On the road::Me today!
  9. Import::Car magazines with more chicks than cars
  10. Flowers::Pretty

Friday, November 18, 2005

More Control for Labels

This post probably will end up being shorter than normal since my parents' computer totally blows and cannot handle much multitasking. I went to the grand opening of the outdoor portion of the Aquatic Complex today and it was so cool to be one of the first regular students (as in non-RecSports employed) to walk out there. It was so awe-inspiring and gorgeous that I couldn't stop smiling. I may even go for a dip there next week, who knows. I urge all UT students to swing by there, but you won't get the free food and shirts we did, unfortunately. Onto more important matters though: Joel Splosky has put up one of his best entries better (I think) about the possible truth behind the new proposed flexible iTunes pricing. What these record labels really want is more control, and they get by setting prices because they essentially become the ones who decide what's more valuable, not market forces of supply and demand. If one song is priced less than another then you're naturally going to think that it's not as good and it won't sell as well. This also means that the artists get screwed over because they're at the mercy of these labels, and we'll get fancier version of the other words (that is, we'll be forcefed what they want to sell better). It's a scary prospect, isn't it? I would hope that Steve Jobs is strong enough to fight it, and it would hurt him since then iTunes wouldn't have the clout that they used to by promoting artists on the front page. The problem is, maybe the record labels would take their business to MSN Music or some other competitor instead. It's quite a pickle, and I can provide no resolution I'm afraid.

If you think you may have a rootkit CD then Sony has set up an exchange program for you to get the music on a clean CD. I wonder how much this is costing them? NBC Universal is planning on distributing selected movies online (for a price, of course) through P2P as well as uncensored episodes of some shows, but the system doesn't sound all that great. It'll be available for viewing for 24 hours after the download, and then it'll stay on your computer for 30 days so you can help distribute it to other people. Try again, NBC. Microsoft is toying with the idea of making their software free or low cost with advertisements to support it, and that article actually gives a lot of good reasons why it would make sense for them. However, how long before some hackers end up cracking it? Lastly, our armed forces are developing a technology that would allow American soldiers to have their speech automatically translated to Arabic, which would keep translators out of harm's way. It's still relatively early in development, but I don't think it'll replace a translator anyway. It'll more likely be used in dangerous situations I'd think.

Click to enlargeWhy is it that Penelope Cruz looks so damn sexy there? Does anyone else agree? You know you want to see more pictures of her and Salma Hayek in Bandidas, so click here. There's a new lackluster poster for Match Point, and I say that because half of it is white! If you're interested in seeing some teaser art for King Kong instead though, then JoBlo has the goods. They're actually failed posters that became billboards, but they look really neat. If you're not sure whether to see Walk the Line then AICN has a couple of well-balanced reviews that may tip the scale for you. I'll probably end up renting, but I would see it myself if I could. Lastly, IGN has a good analysis of the new Superman Returns teaser trailer if you don't know what to make of it. They even pointed out a few things I didn't notice in the few times I watched it.

Now for the Friday's Feast meme:

When do you feel impatient?

When people don't try to do their work and expect me to bail them out. If you try and have trouble that's alright, but if you just don't care then I hate when people come to me. I also get a little impatient around people who have computer problems and when I help them don't remember my advice and keep having the same problems again and again.

How many times in your life have you had a broken heart?

I'm going to estimate three. Maybe four, but I think three is probably more accurate and less pessimistic.

Name a book you would like to see made into a movie.

I would say The Golden Compass, but I think they're already in talks over that one. Maybe Siddartha?

Main Course
If you could thank one teacher for what they taught you, who would it be and what would you thank them for?

I would thank David Johnson, my old debate coach, who taught me the value of a good argument. I'm sure a lot of people who went to my high school would make fun of me for that, but he was really cool to me. He even yelled at my speech pathologist because he didn't think she was helping me (she really wasn't).

What is your favorite kind of pie?

I've had a good chocolate pie before, but I'm going to go with pumpkin pie. Once again, just thinking of it is making me hungry.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Apple is Everywhere

So I got the lowest grade I've ever gotten on a test here at UT on my CS 336 test: a C. Fortunately, she lets us submit corrections to get half the credit back so I'll end up with a B+, but it's still a little disheartening. I'll just have to work extra hard toward the final. I am excited to be going back to Houston tomorrow to welcome my cousin back from Iraq though, so it all balances out. Anyway, I couldn't think of a better title, but I was referring to the news today. There are three separate important things going on in Cupertino. There are some reliable rumors that an Intel-based iBook will be announced next January at the MacWorld Expo, and given that the hardware guy who spoke on campus to recruit for Apple wouldn't comment on the claims, I think that it'll probably be true. There are also rumors that a new iPod Shuffle will be unveiled the same Expo, which may be even smaller than a pack of gum! And even better, the prices are expected to say the same for the same capacity, and it'll come in different colors. I'm really impressed that they have such a huge driving force with their product line. Lastly, we have word that iTunes may institute variable pricing within the next year in order to suit the needs of record labels pushing for higher prices for higher demand artists and citing other retail business that also have different price points. Older music will cost less in turn, but I wonder if this will hurt the service at all? I guess it all depends on how big the hike will be though.

Click to enlarge, you won't regret itSo what is Microsoft doing in the midst of all this? It's right to your left here: the Microsoft Office 12 beta. PC Magazine has a full review of it, and it looks like a rather pivotal improvement, actually. The interface got a huge overhaul and they decided to go with tabs, so it looks like they're doing something right. I wish I could say the same about the Xbox 360 though, which a CNN reviewer also agrees is subpar at launch though the box may have powerhouse hardware inside of it. You may be tired of hearing about Sony's rootkit issues, but Wired has an extremely insightful article about some horrible flaws in companies that gently hint at some sort of conspiracy, but I definitely consider it a must read. How much do we really know about this problem? Lastly, there's a relatively new player in the tech news portal game called Digg, which just started a year ago and is much like Slashdot except less moderated. Wired did a short piece on it and I think I may start reading it daily myself.

There isn't a whole lot of movie news today, but the big item was the Superman Returns teaser trailer, which aired during tonight's Smallville (which was really good, by the way) and is now online. As I reported last week, the it's also attached to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this weekend in case you want to see it on the big screen. We now have a cool new poster for Hostel, which Quentin Tarantino has endorsed to help boost its ticket sales, and it genuinely looks interesting and freaky. Lastly, Will Ferrell is looking to ally with Jon Heder for a comedy called Blades of Glory also featuring Amy Poehler and produced in part by Ben Stiller. It's about a pair of ice skaters suspended for brawling with each other, and it has quite a few big names already on it so hopefully it'll be good. Oh, and if you didn't catch this week's Southpark then I highly recommend you catch a rerun because it shows how stupid Scientology really is.

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. We all know what society thinks about sex, but what do you think? Is it/should it be a taboo subject? Why/Why not?
I think it should be handled tastefully. I'm saddened that society takes it so lightly and, hence, puts a lot of pressure on younger generations. It's almost as if I'm a loser just because I'm a virgin. I'm not saying that I'm not a loser otherwise, but it's not because I haven't had sex yet. I don't think it should be taboo, just less forced as a necessity in a relationship.

2. What do you think about sex on tv/in the movies/in songs? Too much? Too little? Should it be there at all? Why/why not?
I guess my answer above really sums it up, but I do think in some shows it goes a little far. On the other hand, only adults should be watching that stuff anyway. I don't have a problem with it being there as long as it's not too obtrusive.

3.Do you think sex should be openly discussed (regardless of context), or should it remain in the bedroom?
I don't think there's a problem with discussing it, just not in public. If you're hanging out with a friend it's ok, but not like on a shuttle bus or something.

Bonus Question for Comments: Does it make you uncomfortable to talk about sex? Why/why not?
Only with older people, not with my peers. It's not like I have much experience though so I don't know what I'd say about it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

360 in Just 5 Days

I am Elton's sense of relief. I feel like 10 tons have been lifted off my shoulders now that I have completed the last tests I have to endure until finals in mid-December. I dominated CS 310, I think I really did well in CS 336, and I spent 3 hours tonight wrestling with my EE 316 final but I think in the end I'll get the 78 I need for an A in the class. What's even better is that my Batman Begins DVD finally came in! I haven't even popped it in yet (I got in the door from the final at 10:50 PM), but I'll give you some impressions by next week. I thought I'd spend the rest of my headlining paragraph talking about the Xbox 360.Click to enlarge What you see to the right here actually is in the inside of the beast, and you can see more of what's inside the box over here (great for those of you in CS 352 or if you're just a hardware fiend). I'm not going to talk about that though, but rather this editorial in today's Daily Texan that sums up a lot of my main thoughts on the upcoming release. I didn't think about it until today that a lot of old people are going to get the cheap version and not realize that they're screwing over the recipient since it has neither the HD nor the wireless controller. He criticizes the price being high for the audience and, in all fairness, the PS3 will be pricey too, but the hope is that it'll be worth it with a more impressive launch lineup. This launch is riddled with more problems that I had previously surmised, and it looks like they're going to start at a disadvantage to the PS3 rather than with a head start. Their cards are on the table, and they suck.

While Microsoft prepares for that, Google is officially unveiling the beta of Google Base, and it sounds really cool, actually. This can be used for tons of things including classifieds, reviews (professors, CDs, movies, etc), and other randomness. Meanwhile, Yahoo and AOL are partnering up to start a service that would verify downloadable software as being free of spyware, and this could really do wonders for their image. I think AOL made a bad move today, however, in adding bots to everyone's buddy list. It's just a little intrusive to know that they can modify your buddy list as they please. Lastly, if you have friends or family far away and you want to have some video chats with them then you should look into yakForFree, a new, free VoIP service that also features video and looks to be a lot cleaner than software that I've used in the past for video chat.

Click to really enlarge

I just had to post that poster because I love the art style of it. AICN has another V for Vendetta poster though if that one isn't to your liking. While I'm on posters, IGN has an eerie one for Marebito, a Japanese horror movie from the creators of Ju-on: The Rage. The movie sounds so much cooler and more original than any horror movies we put out here, but I'll let you read the terse IGN synopsis for yourself. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is just a day away, and IGN put up an interview with the main characters just in time for the release revealing that they're pleased with how they're treated and how the production has been on this new installment. Sony Pictures is putting out a 9/11 movie in competition with what Oliver Stone is working on and rumors have it that they hold Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler in their pocket, which combined is actually quite a force to be reckoned with. It's not official yet, but if the writer is hinting at it then I'm sure that it's pretty likely, which begs the question of why they want to compete with another 9/11 movie when they could just wait a few more years and make more money?

I'm going to start another paragraph since that one was getting too long. If you thought that the Lord of the Rings hold on pop culture was akin to Star Wars then you'll want to get this documentary called Ringers about the huge fan following. You can see a trailer and some clips there, too, and they actually got some big actors to sound off on it including David Carradine. My last movie item is that the always lovely Jessica Alba is currently working on Awake with Hayden Christensen (whom I personally loathe as an actor), and what's important here is that it's a winter based movie so she'll be covered up, which means she may get more acclaim for acting than being hot if she pulls it off right. Before I conclude though I thought I'd mention my excitement for the new Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex, which opens this Friday so I'm totally going for the ribbon cutting ceremony. It's been under construction ever since I've been at UT so It'll be awesome to see the end result in person. You should go, too, if you're a Longhorn.

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump you've come to know and love:

1. If you could take a pill that would allow you to eat as much as you wanted of either turkey OR pumpkin pie, but not both, on Thanksgiving, which food would you choose to stuff yourself with?
I'd have to say the pumpkin pie. I have a real sweet tooth and it trumps my affinity for meat. Plus, the turkey would make me sleepy and then I couldn't party it up with my cousins.

2. Were you ever in a school play? What play was it, and what was your role? Got a funny story about it?
I was, but it was in elementary school and I believe it was a musical so I just danced as part of a group. I was never much of an actor; I think I'd be too nervous to get up on stage like that. I was nervous enough introducing Dr. Iverson at Props for Profs this year!

3. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Or do you think he'd just use a chainsaw?
If this woodchuck had taken my EE final tonight he'd want to take out his frustration and just hack at it with a chainsaw at full force. Poor trees.

4. What was the last concert you went to?
That's easy: Audioslave at Buzzfest last month on my birthday weekend and it was totally sweet (I reviewed it, but am too lazy to look it up and link it so just click on the archive link for October). Thanks, Robert!

Oh, I fudged the time here so it could be marked as a Wednesdsay post (thanks, Liz!), but it was actually closer to 1:00 AM because I got back so late from that final.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sony in the Hot Seat

Once again, I have something really funny to share with you thanks to my brother's girlfriend. She found this hilarious clip from the Conan O Brien Show about a tech support call outsourced to India. I'll leave it at that for the comedic value of the clip. The company you don't want to be today would be Sony. They've been forced to initiate a recall of millions of discs because of their own idiocy. The rootkits that come with the disc, which have spread like wildfire to at least half a million networks, and while meaning to prevent too many copies of the CD also open up the computer to attacks from hackers. You can even see the damage and I find it ironic in that in a move to forcibly prevent copying in order to get them more money they've cost themselves a lot with this recall. Do you think they'll try it again? They may be crazy enough to, actually, but I think we all hope that they'll learn their lesson.

I'm an avid fan of Popular Science and they've put up a list of what they consider to be the Best of What's New in 2005 in several fields of science from automotives to recreation. I think it's funny that the iPod Nano or new generation iPod didn't make the list, but it's kind of a good thing because it leaves room for other relatively unnoticed devices. I've been posting articles as they pop up on the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD battle and it's hard for even me to keep up, but now there's a handy article from PC World with all the details summarized. Lastly, the United Kingdom is trying out a new system that would process license plates so they can track traffic and spot speeding, but the main goal is to find uninsured or stolen vehicles. I wonder if such a system would even be allowed here because it sounds so intrusive and just too much government control.

Click to enlargeWhy do I keep posting pictures from the next Harry Potter movie? Because it's almost upon and they look so damn cool! Another fantasy movie that some people have a penchant for is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and we now have clips from the soundtrack featuring the legendary Harry Gregson-Williams. It sounds pretty good, but I'd expect nothing less from the guy who scored Metal Gear Solid 2. We know that there will be a teaser trailer for X3 packaged with King Kong, but we now have reason to believe that a full trailer will appear in February. Spider-man 3 has begun shooting second unit photography in Los Angeles, and it's not much but I think we're all excited to see progress in a surprisingly good comic book movie series. Lastly, Scary Movie 4 has been announced and a few actors are now on board including Leslie Nielson and Carmen Electra. Why do they keep making these movies? This one pokes fun at The Village, but I'm sure they'll do a bad job of it.

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

Ten Favorite Movie Characters
10. Wolverine (X-Men)
9. Brick Tamland (Anchorman)
8. James Carter (Rush Hour)
7. Bruce Wayne (Batman Begins)
6. Virgil Hu (Better Luck Tomorrow)
5. Beatrix Kiddo (Kill Bill)
4. Peter Parker (Spider-man)
3. Peter Gibbons (Office Space)
2. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
1. Donnie Darko (Donnie Darko)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Geeky Stocking Stuffers

I wanted to mention this a few days ago, but there's a really funny video from a few years ago that I just discovered with comically rejected cartoons. It's a great cure for a bad day in case you're having one. I couldn't really decide what was important enough to talk about, so I decided to just plug this article highlighting the most wanted stuff for technophiles this Christmas. Click to enlarge the binary clockIt turns out that stuff that's less popular is what really gets geeks going, so a binary clock or mp3 player watch may score you more points with the nerd of your dreams than an iPod Nano. Most retailers that the most sales will come from mp3 players, digital cameras, and external hard drives. Why? Because who would really be disappointed with one of those rather than something they can't use like software that may not work on their computer. Also, it looks like convergence devices, gadgets that combine several different uses, may be a new, popular contender.

For many guys though, the best gift will be an Xbox 360, and now the launch lineup has been announced. I would consider it to be rather disappointed since there are no killer apps on there and the only games that come close to that are Project Gotham Racing 3 and Perfect Dark Zero. Is it enough? We'll see in just a week. I'm pretty excited that Warner Brothers is starting an online service next year that will offer episodes of retro television shows absolutely free, supported by a couple of minutes worth of ads. Maybe this means I can see Gillagan's Island again. If you want to know a little more about the fight over control of the Internet, you can read more about the Icann over here. It sounds like a very hairy situation. If you're looking to track traffic to your site, then Google Analytics may be what you need. It doesn't work with my blog, but if you have your own domain you'll probably like it. Lastly, while you're preparing for interviews you may want to read this article about unit testing to impress your interviewer.

There's not a whole lot going on in movies. Martin Scorsese has decided that his next film will be Silence and will explore the persecution of Portuguese missionaries in Japan. The Portuguese also came to India by the way, hence my last name, so I'm interested in what he comes up with on their escapades in Japan. If you enjoyed Aquaman's guest appearance on Smallville the other week then you'll be thrilled to know that a spinoff show is in the works, but with a different actor. It looks like Jon Heder is reprising his role as a humorously stupid character in Benchwarmers alongside David Spade and Rob Schneider, and I'm shocked that he isn't worried about getting typecast. Anyway, the trailer is up and I'm disappointed that it doesn't look better. Lastly, IGN has a teaser poster for Cars if you're a Pixar fan.

Now for the Monday Madness meme:

...choose a letter of the alphabet and answer each of the following with a word/group of words that begins with the letter you've chosen...

1. Name one color. Blue
2. Name one song. Bohemian Rap City - Queen
3. Name one movie. Better Luck Tomorrow
4. Name one vehicle. Buick Lesabre
5. Name one food. Bun Bao (it's a Vietnamese thing)
6. Name one household item. Beer (no household should be without it)
7. Name one book. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Developing in a Scrum

It looks like it's only going to be USC and UT in the running for the Rose Bowl! I hope we don't slack off in our next couple of games as a result, but I'm sure that the team is pretty focused at this point. I hope your weekends went well. I think mine was pretty productive and I've been anticipating the completion of this weekend because it includes two tests and a final, and the last tests I'll have until my remaining finals in December. So wish me luck or pray or whatever! It was a surprisingly slow weekend for news, but I did find out that there's a new agile software development technique out there named 'Scrum', supposedly after the huddle in rugby bearing the same name. Microsoft has started using it for some projects and as I understand it, your team meets for about thirty minutes at the start of each day and then break off to get done what they need to get done. I think the idea is to keep the project on track with realistic short-term goals rather than follow specs for a long-term deadline. It sounds like what should be done anyway, but I suppose on larger projects things like that get pushed aside and people on a team may communicate more through e-mail. Anyway, now you've learned a new techie word and can impress your friends.

Another thing you can learn about today is OpenOffice. If you've never tried out the free alternative to Microsoft Office before then now would be a great time because NewsForge is offering free training videos online that are basically videos showing the procedures live with a voiceover. A research group at MIT has developed a program aptly called HitPredictor that they claim analyzes current trends and a song to determine how popular that song will become. Maybe we're more predictable than we think we are. I mentioned the halt on Sony rootkits a couple of days ago, and now the EFF thinks that their EULA (end user license agreement) is much worse. Do you think they'll realize how greedy they are before the next time they shine their gold shoes? If you want to get a unique mp3 player this Christmas rather than an iPod then you'll want to read this article listing the top contenders. It's funny how many different ones there are that none of us have even heard of. Lastly, if you've had "Disc Read Error" problems with your PS2 then you may be entitled to some dough.

Click to enlargeSince I had a pretty picture today I thought I'd share that first. It's a more cleaned up version of the CG version of Ghost Rider for the movie. I'm pretty shocked and almost offended that Chicken Little is still #1 in the box office. Why did $32 million worth of people see that movie but not good movies like Good Night and Good Luck or Serenity? The big flop this weekend though was Pride and Prejudice, which pitifully made under $3 million despite getting much better reviews than the paranoid chicken's movie. If you're in the mood for a weird foreign trailer than you should check out the new ones for the Russian horror movie Daywatch, which comes out over there on January 1. If you're more interested in animation then there's a trailer out for Monster House, which looks neat to me because it almost looks like a children's book come to life. Lastly, voting has begun for the People's Choice Awards, but I'm not totally satisfied with all the nominees.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings (surprise, surprise):

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

  1. Mighty::Joe Frazier
  2. Gotta find time to ....::sleep
  3. Statistic::STA 309
  4. Midnight::12:00 AM
  5. Thaw::Chicken
  6. Hips::Curvaceous (just how I like em ;)
  7. Reader::'s Digest
  8. Related::Relative
  9. Brilliant::Smart
  10. Posture::Hunch

Friday, November 11, 2005

Drop Vista for Mac OS X?

Before I get started, if you want to see something really funny then click here to see a really random video of supposedly rejected promos. So ZDNet believes that you should ignore Windows Vista for another three years. Why? Because when you think about it, it is kind of a small step for them. When Apple makes small steps like they did with Tiger more recently, it comes pretty often, not after nearly a decade. Their point is that it sounds like it's more of a glorified package of security updates with some already available functionality (like Konfabulator, for example). I'd like to stick up for them, but I think it's true. Sherlock, on Mac OS X, you know you want itAnd what's more is that Apple looks like it's well on its way to making the transition to x86 a success. Their processor performance and power consumption is comparable to Windows, though its application performance is still lagging a bit, and even has a better installation process and some spiffier utility programs to boot. When Apple came to campus this week, their hardware guy mentioned that Intel was really excited to work with them because they felt a certain degree of freedom to show what their chips can really do. That can't bode well for Microsoft's use of the x86, and on top of their rejection of me it adds all the more to my desire to work at Apple (they'll be back in February).

Since I'm still riding off my rejection I might as well point out that Unix beats Windows XP in some tests that none other than Microsoft ran to show that their Singularity kernel will smoke everyone. However, Singularity only beats Unix because of how they ran their tests (amateurs). I'm sorry that I haven't reported on this before, but there has been an outpouring of anger against Sony for software that their new music CDs secretly install to prevent a CD from being copied more than 3 times. I bring it up now because they've pulled it off shelves in response to hacks exploiting it. This is really why many hackers do what they do: to prove a point. And it worked. Amazon has secured a few important patents that give it control over the idea of customer reviews and the technology that, when you're at a product page, advises you what other people who share your interests buy. This is a big win for them, and I'm sure we'll see some fallout very soon. Lastly, Nintendo is saddling up for the next generation console war by hinting that they'll price their console below the offerings from Sony and Microsoft, but will it be too late? I think so, and I feel bad for them.

I'd consider the most interesting item today for movie lovers to be the new video journal entry for Superman Returns about costumes, which features the elegant style of Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey). Some of you are probably pretty interested in the Da Vinci Code movie (I know I am and feel like it makes me mainstream) and you may like to know that along with Miami Vice, it will have a new trailer tacked on to the distribution of King Kong next month. If you want to see a trailer for an almost humorously bad movie, check out the latest offering from Uwe Boll (ick) for Bloodrayne. The rumors continue on the next Bond girl and Movies Online claims that the gorgeous Cassandra Hepburn is in the running, but I don't know what they're basing it off of exactly so don't put too much stock in it. Still, I'd like to hope that the next person will be at least as good as Halle Berry. Lastly, since we all love seeing stuff from abroad check out a few international posters for King Kong.

I'm going to go with the Friday Fiver this week:

1. Have you ever been to the ocean?
I think so, but if the time I'm thinking of is correct then it hasn't been in a long while.

2. When is the last time you wore a swimsuit?
In early September when NSC went to Town Lake to go canoeing for our new member retreat. It was a ton of fun.

3. Do you respect people more for staying through difficult times or knowing when to call it quits?
I think staying the course, unless that's clearly the wrong way to go. But usually, it's important to get through tough times to learn a little something about ourselves and how to handle it in the future. It makes us stronger. I think I'd prefer someone too bold than possibly cowardly.

4. Name a TV show that made a huge splash in the beginning, but has since gone downhill:
I'd have to say Family Guy. What's going on this season? Only two episodes in this season have been as hilarious as past seasons' episodes.

5. Have you ever eaten shark?
Um, no. Should I have?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cerf's Plea

Today was balanced between good and bad. I botched my interview with Microsoft this morning since they only asked me one tech question (and it was really easy). He must've not been satisfied with my answer or he would've asked me more, which means that I'm out. I did pass R2 for EE 316 though, and so all that's left is the final next Wednesday. I'll be so happy I may actually cry. There's been a lot of drama in recent months about who controls the Internet in the world, and I think some crazy Europeans are mad that we have some sort of hegemony. So anyway, it has prompted Congress to hold a hearing on Internet neutrality, and Vinton Cerf, the badass who created TCP/IP, has submitted a great letter for their consideration. Microsoft will be in attendance to argue the case for the Internet companies who share the same concerns. I think his letter should hold a lot of weight since he's almost like the father of the Internet, and much like we consider the intent of our country's forefathers in interpreting the constitution, they need to pay respect to his vision. Internet businesses are clearly more concerned about Internet neutrality so that they won't face regulation, but it's really important for the rest of us because centralized control may not allow blogs like mine or yours or your friends depending on what they talk about. Or they may tell you what you can or cannot access. It's a scary thought, so let's hope it never comes to pass.

If you're craving more speaking out from important figures in the computer world, it may gladden your heart to see this post from a former Apple executive in which he trashes DRM. I agree wholeheartedly with what he says. Why can't I play the music that I got from MSN Music (I had gift cards) in iTunes? I feel that it's a totally rip that I don't get all what I paid for, and I hope it eventually dies off. I spoke yesterday about the Rokr, but there are a couple of other offerings from Sprint that really blow. Not only do you have to pay a lot for the phone and pay a monthly fee for Internet access, but each song is $2.50! What were they smoking? A few big names are combining their powers to create an organization that would hold royalty-free patents for Linux, which is a good idea and has me left without an ulterior motive. Lastly, if you've heard the term AJAX bounced around and have had your friends glance at you in shame as you blabber about the two brothers in classical mythology, then you'll want to read this interview.

Click to enlarge

I've gotta go play broomball with NSC pretty soon so I'm going to breeze through the movie news. As you can see above, we have some new pictures from Superman Returns as the official site has been updated with wallpapers and the official plot line as well. There are also a few new pictures from Clerks 2 but they're a little less interesting. There are also some humorous new video journal entries on the movie's blog, which is close to wrapping production by the way. If you're a fan of Chronicles of Narnia you may be interesting in some footage from a recent segment on Disney Channel's "Movie Surfers". Lastly, Steven Spielberg spoke at USC yesterday in which he revealed a few things regarding his upcoming movies. The most notable revelations were that the script for Indiana Jones 4 is not near completion and he has no plans to use 3-D technology despite some rumors (which I heard about and didn't mention because they sounded false).

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. If you could write one law regarding the driving laws, what would it be? Why?
It would be that people have to signal when changing lanes! I know it was in the driver's manual, but it must not be a law since no one seems to do it. It really annoys me and if I wasn't such a careful driver I would've encountered some accidents thanks to people who don't believe in turn signals.

2. If you could get the entire world to change one thing about itself (the way it works, the way we think on the whole, etc), what would it be? Why?
I don't really know, but I guess that people should just try being nicer to each other. I don't know what else to say. If people would act in the image of Jesus maybe the world would be a better place.

3. What's your plan for 'alternative energy source' plan? Can it work in real life?
The hell if I know! I hope that it can work out, but I've heard disparaging things about the possibility of a fuel cell or cars running on hydrogen due to high production costs.

Bonus Question for Comments:If you could remove one law, what would it be? Why?
The 21 age requirement for drinking. It should totally be 19! I guess I'm just saying that because I'm tired of not being able to go out to 6th street, but if I can vote and die for my country (potentially) why can't I get liquored up?