Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Controllers and Sony Live?

The news today is pretty scattered, so I'm going to center the main topic in two articles, but both are related to video games. Revolution Advanced put up a list of all the popular video game console controllers (sans a couple, like the Virtual Boy) complete with pictures and descriptions of the evolution from previous controllers. It's really funny how many solutions have been developed to the issue of being able to intuitively play a video game, and it's almost hard to imagine a time before analog sticks. My favorites that I've used (I still haven't tried the Xbox 360 one) are the DualShock 2 and the GameCube one. It's almost hard to say which one is better, but I personally prefer the PS2 one since that's what I'm used to. We haven't heard much from Sony for a while so when they say that they're going to bring out the big guns and take down Xbox Live, it's definitely noteworthy. We really don't have any details other than that, which is good news because they would probably face a dismal launch without a better solution to online play than the PS2's random clash of 3rd party implementations. I don't think they'll actually be able to beat what Microsoft has built, but I think they'll at least be able to compete, especially if they turn out a cheaper service. They've exaggerated in the past (note the "emotion engine" we were promised this past generation) so I wouldn't get too excited about it, but it's something.

If you want more of a blast from the past than some controllers, some guy put up a compilation of the best Apple advertisements from the past 30 years in honor of their anniversary coming up in a couple of months. It's really fun to watch so check it out if you have a few minutes; it even has the 1984 commercial. If you're currently on a Mac, you'll want to check this list for some great applications to load yourself with. Anyway, Google has officially denied that they're working on any music service of their own at this time, and I believe them. I think it would be a bit premature and probably damaging to enter the music market at this stage. With video, it's just now beginning so it's not a big deal. They have not, as yet, made a statement about Google China searches giving uncensored information for misspelled words. Some commentators think that this was just in a huge lapse in Google's knowledge, but I think that's rather naive. In my opinion, this is their "gotcha" to the Chinese government as I'm sure that their agreement had no terms about correcting closely related search terms; they're not stupid enough to have not noticed it. Lastly, NewsFactor has a little piece about how e-money could become the norm, but that won't happen for a long while in America because of how vast our market is for things like cell phones. In Japan, DoCoMo has enough market share to force it along. Still, it's an interesting thought.

There's not a whole lot of movie news today, which is good because I have a Physics test tomorrow at 9:00 AM and I should study more. The big news today is that the 2006 Oscar nominations are up, but I haven't seen enough movies this year to make good guesses on the winners. However, I do think Best Picture will come down to Crash andClick to enlarge Brokeback Mountain. Since we're all mysteriously drawn to cool explosions in movies, I thought I'd post this shot on the right from MI:3 that came out today. Keifer Sutherland recently said a few words about the supposed 24 movie and seemed to hint that Jack Bauer wouldn't be in it, which is preposterous because then no one would want to see it. He makes the show what it is! If you really need proof of the awesomeness of Jack Bauer, there's a list of the top 60 facts on him over here. Lastly, Yahoo Movies has the theatrical trailer for Scary Movie 4, and I only laughed once in the whole thing. I don't know why these movies keep making so much money; they've gone downhill since the first one.

I'm playing in the Tuesday Twosome meme this week:

1. Have you been called annoying? If so, were you offended?
I think so, but it was a long time ago. I was a little offended, but on the bright side I've worked towards being more sensitive to how people are reacting to me in conversations. I think I've gotten a better sense of when someone is getting bored and when to change topics and stuff.

2. Have you ever insulted someone? If so, did you feel guilty later?
Yes, but only sometimes. It really depends on whether they deserved it or if it was just a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing.

3. What is more important to you, someone who looks great or who has a great personality? Why?
Definitely the great personality, seriously. I think my standards for looks are lower than most guys, and I tend to actually like a girl more after I've talked to her for a while even if I didn't think much of her when I first saw her. The opposite has occurred as well.

4. When was the last date you went on and how did it go?

5. What is more embarrassing, food stuck in your teeth or food spilled on your clothes?
I think the food spilled on your clothes because you can always clean out your teeth. If you drink water often I'm sure it's less likely to happen, and the other person would usually inform you of it. I know I'd tell someone about it, even if he was an interviewer or something.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Design > Usability

Tonight's post is so late because I spent a disgusting amount of time on a pair of physics problem that were being difficult because my calculator was being a punk. Anyway, the best thing to come out today was the new article on Joel Spolsky series on design, and today's topic is "What Makes it Great?" I'm sorry to harp on it, but it's a really good example: how is it that mp3 players like the Zen have been massacred by the iPod? Do they hold less? Do they less features? Actually, it's quite the opposite, and yet Apple's little gadget is so just so much prettier. I personally think that you have to combine that with high customer satisfaction ratings and amazing marketing tactics, but none of that would be anything without a winning design. Isn't that kind of funny? When I was looking around for headphones for my Shuffle, I picked up some Sony clip ones because they looked nice and functional, but they were horrible. I exchanged them for some cheaper Phillips behind-the-ear cans, and they were a lot better at staying on my ears. Sure they're uncomfortable sometimes and I don't even know if the sound quality is better or not, but I swear by them. Why? Because the design is such that I can always trust them to be on my ears (unless a barbell catches the wire or something). One reviewer of the headphones was agitated by the sound quality of them, but what mattered to me was that they just worked. I think the same holds true for the iPod: it's really just plug-and-play. I consider design as that balance between beauty, simplicity, and functionality.

There are a couple of Microsoft interviews both about Vista. One of them mentions that Microsoft Antispyware won't be bundled with it, presumably for business reasons, but they've kept mum about that. If I had to guess, I'd say that they're either getting heat from the competition or they don't feel like they'll be ready with a decent version of it by launch. The other one confirms that they really don't care whether or not it works on Macs, which I guess is a given, but it's always nice to hear it right from the horse's mouth. That brings me to a really big story: the Core Duo chip seems to be sucking power from the USB ports. It's not the chip exactly, it's more like the chipset as a whole, but the claim is that it's due to Windows XP SP2 drivers. I wonder how many days before someone tests this out on a new iMac to confirm? If you do get one of these shiny new iMacs, by the way, you can actually upgrade the chip later because it is not soldered on. That's just nice to know. I'm getting tired, so I'm going to end this paragraph with some of the most anticipated games of the year, though Halo 3 and Half-Life 2: Aftermath top mine. I'd say Starcraft: Ghost, except that it's delayed too much.

Click to enlargeI know that shot looks weird, but it's the best one of Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane in Spider-man 3 that I could find from the new set of pictures. I'm guessing that this is Mary Jane in some play, but who knows. We do know that Theresa Russell will be the Sandman's wife, but who is that? Some are speculating that it's the Black Cat, but I don't think they'd have so many big characters in this one. While I'm on comic book movies, Latino Review found out that Doom will make an appearance in the Fantastic Four sequel, in case you care. Casino Royale supposedly started filming today, but doesn't a movie usually have a full cast before starting actual shoots? Go figure. The Razzies nominations are up and they don't look pretty, not that they ever do. The only nomination I'm really disappointed in is Katie Holmes for Batman Begins because I really think they let the Tomkat stuff cloud their judgement. She really didn't do all that bad in it. Lastly, IGN has a new clip from The Hills Have Eyes for the horror fanatic inside you.

I'm going to go with Monday's a Bitch again this week because they have a neat theme going on about the 7 deadly sins:


1. In your opinion, what separates a healthy sexual appetite from being a slut?

If you have to have it every day, you're probably a slut. If you have multiple partners within a span of about a month, you're probably a slut. I think it's the point where it infringes on normal life.

2. Would you date a really nice, attractive, person with herpes?
Probably not since I have plans for abstinence until marriage (I said plans, as in not written in stone). It shows a lack of restraint and self-education to contract herpes.

3. Have you ever experienced coyote ugly?
Not that I know of. Unless my room mate has been messing with my while I've been sleeping!

4. WhatÂ’s the lowest youÂ’ve stooped to get the object of your desire?
I don't think I've really stooped that much. Sure, I've been a little artificially nice sometimes for one, but I don't think I've really degraded myself much (that I can think of, I wouldn't be afraid to admit it if I had).
5. Who do your loins burn for?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

OOP Language Showdown

Natural Sciences Council and Liberal Arts Council are collaborating this year for a Texas Revue skit, and I'm mentioning it now because we had an audio recording session today for "The Real World: UT: The Musical" and it went really well. Moving on though, one programmer wrote some code in Java, and then tried porting it to C++, Python, and Ruby to discover the pros and cons of each. What he ended up with was a great article highlighting what the four languages are good for and its a must-read if you have not worked much in all four languages. One of his bolder statements was that you shouldn't use C++ unless you have to for compatibility and/or performance reasons, and I'm inclined to agree with him. It can get pretty hairy at times, and it seemed harder for me to solve errors in my C++ code than my Java code (though that may just be because BlueJ rocks). I liked the tradeoffs he mentioned, especially between interpreted and compiled languages. The interpreted languages can drastically reduce the development cycle, but how much will your performance suffer? On the other hand, it's easy to go from Python/Ruby to C/C++ than the other way around. He also covers the subject of static type checking against dynamic type checking, which I can't say much about since I'm used to the former, but dynamic type checking is definitely risky. What if you forget a variable type? On the other hand, the code can become much shorter and, hence, easier to read. You can read the article for more of his conclusions; it's all good stuff.

While I'm on the really nerdy stuff I thought I'd just briefly touch on this blog post suggesting that colleges should teach their first-year students assembly rather than Java. I'm actually glad to have learned assembly my second year rather than my first because it's really sickeningly messy for fundamental data structures and algorithms. iTunes has now started selling certain shows before their network premiere, which actually makes some sense considering that the networks stand to gain more money from downloads than live television viewers. However, I don't know if this will take for really popular shows like Lost or 24 because that's where the ad revenue is pretty high. If you're an avid blog reader than you may want to vote in the 2006 Bloggies, which may even expose you to some new, fun blogs (like delicious days). Gamesblog put up what they consider to be some games that you can't just play once, but I think they really should've included Starcraft and even some old school hits like Super Puzzler Fighter. I would also call the Metal Gear Solid games experiences to be taken in multiple times.

I actually have some movie news to talk about today since I saved some of it from yesterday, but I'll start off with the box office. To everyone's surprise and overall disdain, Big Momma's House 2 ruled the box office with an iron fist at $28 million, which is about double the gross of Nanny McPhee at #2. I really would've preferred the reverse since at least the latter got fairly good reviews. More people really should've seen The Matador, which at least got #10. Click to enlarge Meanwhile, Little Miss Sunshine, featuring Toni Colette and Steve Carrell, is all the rage at Sundance. You can even see a couple of choice clips, and I was actually impressed by Carrell in the first clip. It looks like it's a dry comedy, which is just my comedic liking. Warner Brothers has announced that V for Vendetta will be released in IMAX at the same time as its theatrical release, which should be worth seeing on the really big screen given what some reviewers have said about the visuals. Lastly, the head honcho at Pixar promptly killed production of Toy Story 3 when the merger with Disney was sealed, and this is a really good thing. The plot, in case you've forgotten, was that Buzz Lightyear would be recalled back to Taiwan and the cast of characters would have to save his butt again.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings, per tradition:

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

  1. Long distance::Phone calls
  2. Meant to be::Together
  3. Here::There
  4. Endless::Eternity
  5. Resentment::Hatred
  6. Insipid::Foolish
  7. Bunny::Suit (as seen in the new iMac ad)
  8. Slogan::Campaign
  9. Naked::Nude
  10. Sarcasm::Sardonic

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Better Humanitarian

I'm finally back! The trip to Dallas went well, and TI even put me up in a suite at a Crowne Plaza! Apparently, calculators are less than 5% of their business and they're real big in semiconductors. I had six interviews and most of them went well, and I'll know the results by Tuesday. In this post, I'll go over the news I missed from Thursday and Friday. I felt that the most provocative article that came out compared Bill Gates to Steve Jobs in their philanthropic efforts, and it turns out that Jobs had none! Everyone seems to put Jobs on a pedestal and associate Gates with the devil, which just goes to show you the power of public relations. Is part of it media spin? Why is it that when Apple comes out with a new product it's gold, but when Bill Gates donates large sums of money no one seems to care? I know that they shouldn't report on every little move he makes, but should they be mocking each one of them? Jobs is really the "greedy capitalist," and yet he's seen as a pioneer and almost a hero to Mac geeks worldwide. So which one really deserves to be called a hero? The one with a generous heart or the one who has changed technology as we know it? Or maybe I should phrase it this way: the one who has crushed companies in the past and stolen ideas to get his way, or the one who selfishly tries to generate billions of dollars to go into only his own pockets while shutting out other companies from his development libraries and use of FairPlay? Not all heros and villains are as black and white as you may think they are.

Following up a little bit on Jobs: MacSpeedZone has conducted its own tests on the new Core Duo iMac to discover that it's a lot faster than Macworld (the site) had previously reported (which I mentioned earlier this week). It discovered the best results on applications with multiple processes going on at once (surprise, surprise), and its processor was used more efficiently than a Quad Core PowerMac. It'll get better as more applications take advantage of the Core Duo's capabilities. I have a bunch of Google news. Some people are claiming that their site may get a slight facelift due to some visitors' results having an extra bar to the left that contains specialized search possibilities. This wouldn't be the first time such a slip-up has happened, so this will almost certainly become permanent soon. Google is also revamping its search algorithm to become better adept at concise results by doing things like removing multiple results for the same page and discovering illicit redirects. Some analysts have been speculating that Google will roll out its own version of iTunes to compete with Apple, which I think is a little far-fetched at this point in time, but it is altogether possible given their expansion of Google Video. Plus, their strategy isn't really very focused. Lastly, Joel Spolsky put up a second article in his series on design that explains what design really is. If you think it's just about the aesthetics of a product, then you really need to read his awesome post. I know that I had to make countless design tradeoffs for my Latin program.

Click to enlargeThere was a surprising amount of movie news, so I'll keep some of it for tomorrow. What you're looking at to the left here is Jack Black in Nacho Libre standing next to director Jared Hess (of Napoleon Dynamite fame). Speaking of Napoleon, Jon Heder is slated to star in a comedy where he'd be participating in a sumo open, and it's actually inspired by this article. Superman II will soon have a director's cut out on DVD and will presumably come out this summer in time for the release of Superman Returns (*gasp* what a coincidence). While I'm on the man of steel, Warner Brothers decided that the biopic on Christopher Reeves called Truth, Justice and the American Way cannot use that title and must change it or face litigious consequences. Lastly, Yahoo! Movies nabbed the trailer for Dave Chapelle's Block Party, which is all about a block party that Chapelle throws with the best hip hop artists around (not Lil Jon, I mean truly brilliant artists) including The Roots and Common among others.

For the first time in a long while, I'm going with the Saturday Six meme:

1. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
I think my grandmother, who ended up dying after fighting it in the hospital for a few months.

2. How many jobs have you held in your life? How many of those were part of your chosen career field?
Two; zero. My job being a TA at summer camps falls under education and my babysitting job falls under child care, neither of which really piques my interest all that much. Granted, the TA gig was fun for a while, but that's just not where my talents are. Some people have a gift for working with kids, but not me.

3. Of those, how many did you leave voluntarily?
Both of them. For the former, I wanted to do summer school last summer and this summer I want an internship, and for the latter, it was a temporary thing anyway.

4. Take this quiz: What animal were you in a past life?
You were a polar bear - A bit of a loner, you enjoy introspection and solitude.
You are a fighter, and you will seek revenge on those who harm you.

5. What animal were you expecting you'd be?
I was hoping for a tiger, but you can't win them all!

6. Time to pull this tactic again: Your turn to come up with a Reader's Choice Question. What question would you like to see asked in a future edition of "The Saturday Six?"
When you leave your home, do you ever feel paranoid that you've left something behind?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Great Design and Bad Programmers

I have tons to talk about today so I'm going to get right to it. Joel Splosky has put up his Introduction to Great Design, and it's a fun read, as all his articles are. It's not too long either, and it's an introduction to how important an intuitive UI really is. It's the first of many articles, and I can already tell that they're going to be good because he brings up the kinds of flaws in gadgets that people tend to brush off and live with, which is the wrong approach. Hacknot put up a list of 26 programmer personalities, which covers all the letters of the alphabet, and it's as humorous as it is true. My favorites are C++ Colin and Open Source Oliver, because I've witnessed both phenomenons. This is an especially good read for other CS majors because it's a precursor of what to expect out there in the real world. I think one of the worst stereotpes on that list is the Hacker Henry. I think there's a fine line between my coding world and my normal world. I sometimes consider problems posed in class when I'm bored (like just walking around), but I wouldn't use it as a panacea. Arrogance, unforunately, is one of the most common vices you'll discover among computer scientists. I almost consider it analogous to the tragic flaw you find in plays from Ancient Greece (and even a good amount of Shakespeare).

Google sadly broke its anti-evil campaign today by ceding to the Chinese government. Google China will now censor certain pages, and they will not offer Gmail or Blogger to them for fear of being subpoenaed for data by the government. I feel that they were cornered in that situation and I can see their concerns with staying adamant, but if everyone folds to the government's will, who will stand up for the people? Microsoft actually gave up a fight itself, but theirs was with the EU. They now have to license their source code to allow European developers to write software better compatible with Windows, which is actually a very good thing. I guess being a programmer my opinion in that situation is biased, but it is what it is. Apple has recently piloted a program called iTunes U to allow Universities to distribute audio and video content (mostly from lectures), and it has now begun to expand more after some successful starts at Stanford and Duke among others. The content offered is free, but I suspected that the colleges have to pay a fee (though I really don't know). It's a neat idea, and would be great for having audio tours right on your iPod. Lastly, the ESRB has decided to censor future E3s from having booth babes. This is a travesty because they were so hot! More importantly though, I think it's taking things too far. Honestly, how many kids go to E3? It's not meant for kids, but rather for journalists and other studios. It's not like they're naked or anything.

There's very little movie news (I sifted through all the crap already on your behalf), which is good because I still have to pack, prepare for tomorrow, and double check some homework. Suicide Girls got an interview with Wes Craven, who released a few interesting tidbits. For one thing, Feast, the Project Greenlight film, has apparently been pulled from its previous release date (which I believe was this month). It sounds like it's actually decent so that's sad to hear, but hopefully it'll make it to theaters. Craven said that he won't be involved with Scream 4 because he's tired of Miramax, which means that we can expect it to blow. IGN has some video interviews with actors and the director (who explains his reasons for doing it) from Annapolis, which I mention because I think that Justin Lin has the makings of a great director and I don't want to sell this movie short without seeing it. I hope it's something special, I really do. Lastly, JoBlo snagged a few new pictures from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which I thought I'd plug for my horror junkie readers.

Since there's no exciting picture to share today from the news, I thought I'd showcase this nicely phrased postcard from PostSecret:

Click to enlarge

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump (though my mind has been humped to no end by today being so long):

1. How many pets do you have? What species? Ages?
None, my dad didn't allow pets.

2. Do you know anyone who has a creepy/odd pet, like a spider or a hog?
My old science teacher in the 7th grade had a pet snake and we'd watch it eat gerbils. You'd be surprised how many 7th graders that'll entertain.

3. What do pets mean to you?
They're good companions and very loyal. They're more reliable than most people, and they're easy to please so they're fun to have around. Plus, a lot of times they're your bodyguard. I guess that last one only applies to dogs, but oh well.

For the folks without pets . . .

4. Forget dressing your pets, let's talk about dressing yourself! What are your favorite items of clothing in your closet? What do you just HAVE to be wearing when you leave the house?
I love anything with "Banana Republic" on the label because I feel trendy and they really do make me look good. I always wear this wooden cross I got from my confirmation retreat back in high school because it marked a big paradigm shift in my life, I met someone who changed my life there, and I can always glance at it if I ever lose my way.

5. Think back when you were in high school. Are you proud of the way you dressed, or do you wish you could go back and change it all?
I'm not really all that proud of it, but I don't really care because it was high school. I don't care what those people thought of me then or now. I was overweight for half of high school so anything I wore pretty much looked bad on me.

There will be no post tomorrow whatsoever. I will not be here tomorrow night and won't return until Friday night. I will try to post on Saturday to compensate, but it may not be until Saturday evening. Sorry about all this, but this interview just kind of came out of nowhere and I have to pursue it or I'll regret it more than the classes I'll miss.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Do What You Love

I'm pretty close to giving up on this cross-compiling thing. I don't know if it's possible anymore in Windows because Windows hates developers; it's true. To top it off, tomorrow will be a long day for me: class 9AM-4PM (with only a 60 minute break) and meetings 5PM-9PM. That's more hours than most people work in a day. Moving on to the real post though, Paul Graham put up his best blog post today and it's about doing what you really love. It's surprising how many people pick their career because they think it'll make them a lot of money or they were pressured or it just sounds good. When someone tells me they hate the classes in their major, it tells me that they're not smart enough to quit and switch their field. I suppose that's unfair to say, because we really are raised to think that work should be hard and boring, and subconsciously they're just doing what they think is right. If you're iffy on what you do, then this article is really a must-read. I know it's exceptionally long, but it's also quite well-written and hard to put down once you start it. It's funny how we can spend 13-14 years of our lives learning basic cognitive abilities (reading, writing, math, etc), and yet we never take a course in high school that helps us on learning about careers. I think that's a big flaw in our school system today, and I knew quite a few people who didn't know what they were going to do in college by their senior year in high school, which is a scary thought. I hope they'll pick what will give them the most fulfillment though, because that's all that matters. A lot of people told me I shouldn't (or couldn't) do CS at UT; well I have one finger to show them in retrospective response.

To continue what that article was talking about I have another blog post, but this one is a guy detailing why he left Microsoft. It's a great read (much shorter) as he points out that it's easy to get stuck in a quickfix solution and pretend that you're happy. I never knew that Google's executives had $1 salaries, so I thought I'd share. Their stocks more than make up for that, but it's good trivia. Bad news for Intel fans: the Core Duo already has 34 bugs in it. It's not like bugs are uncommon in processors, but it's only been like 20 days since its release! Not a good sign. The really big story today was actually that the WB and UPN networks will be merging to try to boost ratings since they're both lagging in that sense, and I'm curious as to what they come up with for a schedule. I wonder if it'll even help much since neither has a whole lot going for them. Lastly, I've just wasted about 15 minutes reading the transcript of Penny Arcade's visit to MIT. It's really good stuff if you're a fan, but it's really long.

I've discussed this already so I'm not going to say much about it, but Disney has now officially announced its acquisition of Pixar, and Steve Jobs will be on the board of directors. So now, you're in the know. Netflix has announced that they'll start renting out HD-DVDs and Blu-Ray movies when they come out later this year, and I believe that they're the first movie rental service to do so. I'm sure the demand won't match it for a while though. The picture you see to the right here is from Christopher Nolan's The Prestige, and you are looking at Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, who are playing two competing magicians at the turn of the 20th century. It has even more impressive cast members and will come out later this year so stay tuned for more. X3 now has a title: The Last Stand. I personally think it sounds pretty bad, but maybe it'll grow on me, who knows. Latino Review has reviewed the script for Killshot, the next movie to be "presented" by Quentin Tarantino, and it sounds like it's not all that it's cracked up to be. Tsk tsk, Tarantino, for tossing around your endorsement so carelessly. Sam Raimi is going to adapt the PS2 game Siren, which was supposed to be a pretty decent horror game (with a banned commercial for being too scary) and I'm sure will take a while to make since he has a few other projects on his slate right now (including Grudge 2). Steve Carrell said a few words to Now Playing about Evan Almighty, and so far I'm not really all that excited about it. Hopefully it'll sound better when we get more information. Lastly, I'm sad to say that Chris Penn (Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs) is now deceased at the age of 40. No details on the causes, but there doesn't seem to be any foul play. My prayers go to his family; his great acting will be missed.

I'm gonna go for the Ten on Tuesday this week:

10 Great Things About Being a Kid
10. Most kids have a great metabolism.
9. Your memory actually worked like it should.
8. You actually finished homework early.
7. Having a boundless future.
6. Opening Santa's gifts.
5. Solving the little mysteries.
4. You actually have time for video games.
3. You don't have to worry about female mind games.
2. You get recess.
1. No everyday stress.

Monday, January 23, 2006

HD Comes to Radio

Sorry, I couldn't find a better topic to write about. Plus, I'm kind of burnt out from looking for cross-compiling solutions. It almost seems impossible because of Apple's native libraries, but if I can figure out how to build their version of GCC (that I got from their CVS) I may get somewhere. Anyway, you read the topic right: high-definition radio. What does that mean? I was confused at first myself, but apparently it means near CD quality music with more interactive advertisements. This is meant to fill in station gaps and compete with satellite (and mp3s, naturally), but it requires a special receiver to get the higher quality sound. These receivers won't be affordable (as in $200) until the end of this year. Why would anyone pay so much to listen to better sound when they can get an iPod Nano for about the same price and listen to their music without ads? You're going to have to do better than that, Clear Channel. The added benefit is that advertisers can put ads on the LCD screen that comes with them, and listeners can commit to their services right on the spot. I think radio is salvageable, but it needs to be heavily revamped. The HD switch is a nice start to what could someday (maybe in a couple of years) be really nice. What they need to work on is a better selection of music and less repeats. When they realize that they can't push their crap agenda for what songs should be popular anymore, they'll finally be able to grow.

Have you been wondering why we haven't heard from Sony in a while? Well, you're not alone. MSNBC brings it up with concerns that the system may not be ready until this November and may cost a good amount more than the Xbox 360. I don't think there's any chance they'll ship this Spring, and they definitely need to come up with a strategy fast before the Xbox 360 normalizes its console shipments and people forget about the PS3. The Postal Service doesn't seem too thrilled about the Apple-Intel ad, but I wonder if Apple will take the heat or the directors. The Times Online actually put up a little article about Steve Jobs, but it seems to mostly focus on the impact of the Disney-Pixar deal. Its best point is that this deal is mutually beneficial given Disney and Jobs's outside connections. Google News is now out of beta, and it looks the same except that it no longer says "Beta" on the main page. Lastly, if you're unfamiliar with torrents, PC Magazine put up a decent summary of it as well as reviews of the most popular BitTorrent clients.

Click to enlargeOne of those ladies is Psylocke in X3, can you guess which one? It's actually the third one, and the first two are Stacy X and Callisto, respectively. While I think the actress playing Psylocke is attractive, I think the costume is not good for the character. More pictures are here. A couple of sobering reviews have sprung up. One of them claims that Tom Yum Goong is a step backward from Ong Bak in how it executes the story, which is sad because I was really looking forward to it. The other is for Curious George and basically says that the movie is boring and uninspired except for the animation, which also sucks because I used to love those books as a kid. Sony has narrowed the new poster for Silent Hill to five fan favorites, and while the first four are more in keeping with the movie's style I really think that the last one looks the coolest. You should vote for your favorite and I'll announce the winner when Sony does. Lastly, if you want to watch the shorts from Sundance then there'll all up here. I wish I had the time to do that.

Since the Monday Madness today is a question I've already done, I'm going to go with Monday's a Bitch (since it is):


1. Have you ever caused someone physical harm deliberately?

Not that I can recall. I've never gotten in a fight before (of my own choice). My brother and I would fight when I was little, but I was pretty weak so I'm sure that most of the time it didn't phase him and the one time it did I don't think it even left a mark.

2. What mundane things in life frustrate you the most?
I think cleaning tubs, sinks, and toilets. It takes up time I don't have usually and it's just a whole lot of fun.

3. Have you ever had a screaming match in public?
I've never had a screaming match in private!

4. Which celebrity do you wish would just drop dead?
I would say Jack Thompson, but he's not a bonified celebrity. Instead, I'll go with Paris Hilton. She contributes 0 value to our society.

5. Do you believe in the death penalty?
That's a tricky question. The way our system works: no. I think that the risk of making a mistake is not considered seriously enough and even one innocent person dying for it is unacceptable. Anyway, life in prison is worse. In an ideal society, I might endorse it for some really heinous crimes. Like killing family members and such.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Amore Latinae Beta 1

Since the dawn of time, mankind has yearned for a computer program to help them learn how to write Traditional Latin. Ok, maybe not, but I made one regardless. Today marks the release of Amore Latinae ("For Love of Latin") Beta 1. Admittedly, I made the splash image with the help of Picasa, but the ones I was coming up with before that weren't nearly as visually appealing. As I've mentioned before, this program is meant for Latin students at UT since everyone uses Wheelock's Latin, and it's basically all the stuff I wish I had when I was in LAT 506 and LAT 507. It can quiz you on vocabulary, help you struggle through the conjugations, guide you before big tests, lookup words from difficult readings, and make sure that you can decline your words. It may not look like much, but it definitely took more than 70 hours (I'd guess somewhere around 100 though, more likely) because of all the data I had to type up and/or format for it (like 500 KB worth). Writing the close to 10,000 lines of code became easier as I became more and more familiar with wxWidgets and C++, and I got a little thrill every time I finished a module. The "Conjugation Blaster" was definitely the hardest part due to the complexity of randomly picking those questions and because I gave the user so much freedom in which conjugations he wants to be drilled on. It's pretty rewarding to have something to show for my winter break and to give to companies who interview me. I hope this increases my chances of getting an internship. Why is it in beta? Because the English part of the dictionary doesn't work (that's going to be quite a challenge, but the least important feature and I ran out of time), I didn't test it quite enough, and I'm sure that it's littered with typos. I plan on presenting it to the chair of the Classics department for departmental use once I get it compile for Mac OS X (let me know if you can help me with that, I'm totally lost).

Apple Matters put up a great article exploring why so-called iPod killers have failed, and it seems like FairPlay is at the heart of it all since any other encodings aren't iPod compatible. More importantly: they're not innovating, they're just trying to replicate the iPod phenomenon by tweaking what it offers. I agree with the article that Microsoft is best poised dethrone Apple at this point, but it would be an interesting, arduous battle. BBC put up an article revealing the not-so-secret strategy of Google and mockings it claims of not being a portal, and the only interesting thing it really pointed out was that they really just release everything they have and quietly kill off the less successful ones. A better look at Google is offered by Bob Woodruff's video blog, who goes to their campus (which is a term used by quite a few big tech firms, not just Google as he'd have you believe) and interviews some of the employees. It rekindles my desire to see the video, and I'll probably end up applying there next year (unless I land a really sweet internship for this summer). Lastly, if you've always wanted to learn how to pick locks then you should check this out. It's a useful skill for testing out locks you use for lockers or storage or whatever you use padlocks for.

You'll never believe who dominated the box office this weekend: Underworld: Evolution. Someone must've sold their soul to the devil for that movie to make more than twice as much (nearly $28 million) as the movie in the number 2 spot (Hoodwinked). Another surprise is that End of the Spear (a small movie I had never heard of) opened up two spots above The New World, featuring Colin Farrell, which opened at number ten at that. I still can't believe that the movie with the worst reviews was at the top. Click to enlargeThis picture is one of a few leaked from X3, and AICN posted an early review to match it. This review is laden with spoilers (including who dies) so be wary of reading it. To sum it up: the movie betrays the X-men franchise and the first two movies in a few different aspects (especially with Singer's movies though), it centers around Storm too much, and it sounds like a lot of talented actors wasted by a director in way over his head (except for Ian McKellen, who does well with Magneto). The trailer looked so promising, too. Disney will complete its purchase of Pixar tomorrow, and the two companies will be sworn allies once again to hopefully turn out some great stuff. Oh, and Steve Jobs becomes even richer. Lastly, JoBlo has an interview with Jenna Dewan (from Tamara), which I mention because she's really hot and is likely to go places in her career.

Here are my Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Alone::in the Dark
  2. Science::Fiction
  3. Deposit::Money
  4. Faithful::Loyal
  5. Tender::, Love Me
  6. Chocolate::Hot
  7. Homework::Sucks
  8. Tamper::Break
  9. Friend::ship
  10. Wire::Cops

Friday, January 20, 2006

Crossing the Privacy Line?

I meant to release my Latin program today, but I still need a couple more hours to add finishing touches. It will definitely be ready in time for the Sunday post though. I read in the paper this morning about how the U.S. government subpoenaed the biggest search engines for their search results from the past couple of weeks so that they can "protect" minors from pornography. As I understand it, they want to use it as evidence to revive an law that was struck down that would require adults to use access codes to access such unsavory thoughts. Yahoo had no problem giving it up, but Google refused to. I remember thinking, "Wow, the next thing you know the government is going to sue Google." I came home after classes to find out that the government is suing Google for refusing to give over this data. Google's arguments are that releasing this information would reveal trade secrets and disclose the identities of their users, which would be totally unacceptable and a violation of their privacy policy. First of all, this whole "big brother" crap is getting old. These Republicans are letting the government get too big. Keeping kids from porn is the job of their parents, not of George W. Bush. Secondly, getting this information is definitely overstepping our privacy boundaries; it's the principle of the matter. If they can get this information from Google, what's next? Are they going to follow college students who buy liquor for parties? Are they going to put a chip in little Bobby to make sure that he's not smoking before he turns 18? And my final point: this law is idiotic in and of itself. If a teenager wants to get to the goods, they'll find a way to bypass these codes; it really isn't that hard to find it anyway.

Do you know how quickly you decide that you like or hate a website? It's actually in much less than a second according to this story, and given how fast our brain works it really wouldn't surprise me. Think about this: how long does it take for you to find a member of the opposite sex attractive (physically)? Macworld ran some application tests on the new iMac to come to the conclusion that it's only 15 to 20 percent faster than a G5 iMac. I don't doubt that Steve Jobs's performance claims were biased and, hence, exaggerated, but I think we have to realize that the software currently available for these dual-core processors are not optimized for the dual-core architecture. If they were, it would go so fast your head would spin. If you've ever wanted to take note of something you've seen online but you're not at home, then you should look into Mystickies. I haven't had a chance to try it out myself yet, but I think it's an interesting part of this revolution to keep our information universally accessible rather than just from our home (or work) computer. 1up.com conducted one of the best video game interviews I've ever read with Peter Moore from Microsoft regarding the Xbox 360. He didn't shy away from hard questions and even brought up the disappointing backwards compatibility list. I wish more interviews had balls like that. Lastly, if you want to know how the Nintendo DS has been selling so well you should read this.

Click to enlargeThere's not a whole lot going on in movies, but I'll give you what I have. There's a sneak preview for a new production diary entry for the film adaptation of 300 at Superhero Hype. The movie chronicles the legendary defensive campaign mounted by 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. This movie should be pretty damn cool. What's also surprising and cool is the unofficial announcement that there will be a few Futurama movies on DVD soon. Straight to DVD is better than not at all, and I'm sure that it's a test to see if it's worthwhile to bring back the show. Spike Lee is making a strange movie called Confederate States of America that explores what America's history for the past century would be like if the Confederacy won the American Civil War. It doesn't appeal to me much, but it did appeal to other movie geeks. You can decide for yourself by looking at the trailer. IGN managed to sneak a peek at the script for Casino Royale and they seem to be satisfied that the movie is on track to properly portray the Ian Fleming original, but I don't know whether to trust their opinion or not. After all we've heard on this movie and the actors and actresses who have turned down roles, is it really going to be that good? Lastly, we may be to able to expect Indiana Jones 4 in 2007, and lets hope that Harrison Ford doesn't need a cane by then.

I'm going to go with Friday's Feast this week:

About how many times per day do you check your email?

I would guess 20-30. I have Gmail always open so it's constantly checking for e-mail, and I also keep my webmail open (though I have to actually click to check mail in there). I've always enjoyed getting mail for some reason, though I do dread the bills nowadays.

If you had the money to collect something really valuable, what would it be?

I know I've thought of this before, but I can't remember what it was that I was thinking of. For now, I'll go with pieces of computing history, like old gaming consoles and computer motherboards and such.

Write a sentence using the letters of your favorite beverage. (Example: The egret admires.)

We all think Elton rocks! ;) Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'll give you another though: someone he is now enjoying reaches beyond obscure communications hitherto.

Main Course
If you could be on a game show, which one would you want it to be?

Either the Price is Right or Celebrity Poker Showdown. Probably the former because I'm better at guessing prices (squeezing pennies is in my blood) than playing Texas Hold Em (though I do enjoy it).

Name 3 computer programs or web sites you would hate to be without.

Firefox, Zone Alarm, and Gaim.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Selling Out Yourself

The third day of classes didn't bring me any new classes, but I will go to CS 337 discussion on Tuesday and PHY 101L on Wednesday. One entrepreneur has taken it upon himself to create something he calls "myware," which basically allows you to collect data on yourself. If spyware can do it, why can't you do it in a controlled environment? I guess the more important question would be, why would you want to do this? Think of it this way, if you're in control of getting information on your online activities, you can sell it the companies that want it rather than them stealing it from you and your computer would be safe from spyware woes. I'm not saying that it would be an ideal world; spyware would still exist. However, if you collect the information yourself at least you know that it'll be benign and you can make some profit off of it. It would eliminate some privacy concerns associated with the necessity of cookies and the like. You could also use the information for your own personal viewing, though I don't know how that would help you out. I'm a little skeptical about how this program could protect you from having this stuff stolen, but I think it's still rather early in development. At least this way though, you'd be the one selling yourself out rather than your innately stupid computer.

BusinessWeek has an article breaking down the likely cost differential between the PowerPC chips and the new Core Duo chips for Apple for the new iMac, and I must say that I didn't know they had been so cutthroat in negotiating with IBM. My first thought is that if the new iMac cost as much as the one released in the fall though it cost a good amount less to build, they must have just made that fall release to milk their agreement with IBM, or set up the price to purposely be the same as the Intel-based one (to show that it's not pricey). It's smart, but still just a bit slimy. It's not all mischief for Apple though, one blogger discovered a patent filed by Apple that would allow a monitor to capture images of you as well as output to you (think futuristic videoconferencing). They may not make this device themselves anytime soon, but it's still a cool patent. Sorry for all the Apple news, but that's been the best stuff lately. One guy managed to get to a boot loader screen on an iMac for Windows Vista, and so it seems like the legion of Mac nerds is getting closer to the coveted dual boot we've all been salivating for. Lastly, if you miss the Commodore 64, check this out.

Click to enlargeThe biggest story to me today was the release of the actual trailer for Silent Hill because it is freaking awesome. It sounds a whole lot like the first video game in the franchise as far as the plot goes, and the style is spot-on. I hadn't seen this poster to the right before, but how creepy does it look?! IESB found out that Todd MacFarlane has Matt Damon or Leonardo DiCaprio in mind for the role of famed detective Elliot Ness in Torso. It may sound like a weird choice, but it may work out well for the persona he's going for. Bryce Dallas Howard (of The Village fame) is apparently in negotiations to play secondary love interest (to Peter Parker) Gwen Stacey in Spider-man 3. It would help for her to be a little blonder for the role, but I'm sure she'd do fine. Lastly, the Bond car for Casino Royale will be the Aston Martin DBS, which looks as sweet as you'd expect from a 007 car.

Before I conclude, I just have to plug this hilarious comic from Penny Arcade. If you have a minute, you should definitely check it out.

Now for some 3x Thursday action:

1. Describe the perfect vacation.
Vacation? What's a vacation? It's been so long since I've taken one I'm afraid I will actually forget! It has been about a year and half since my last one. I guess it would be a fun city (like London or New York City or Bombay) with some of my cousins and my brother. If it's a foreign country then it must have a good night life.

2. Describe the perfect meal from appetizer to dessert.
That's a tough one. I'd have to say some Shiner Boch bread (from Saltgrass) and olive oil for the appetizer, and maybe some pumpkin soup to boot. I wouldn't mind some samosas either. The main entree would have to be some combination of steak or intricately cooked chicken with some soft mashed potatoes on the side. The desert would have to have a lot of chocolate in it and make me want to cry out in jubilation of its taste.

3. Describe the perfect day.
Also a tough one. A perfect day would probably be pushing my body to its limits at the gym, getting all my work done, sleeping early, practicing guitar (and learning some new stuff), and approaching some girl (successfully) that I never had before. Oh, and I'd catch the Far West bus right on time.

Bonus Question: What *is* perfection, anyway?
Maybe it doesn't exist, but I consider them to be moments where you don't have any stress or worry, but just a relaxed and happy composure.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Outsourcing Homework

Today's classes went well, once again, and it was still a pretty busy day (mostly for NSC stuff). My physics professor, Tsoi, seems to be alright and his class seems to be rather easy (I can drop a test and have five absences), which is good because I could use a little cushion. Our TA for Differential Equations is great, and she actually looks pretty good. Who would've thought that there are actually female grad students in math? My CS 337 (Theory in Programming Practice) teacher was pretty damn cool, Dr. Misra. This guy is like a pioneer in computing (he personally built the course), and I just love his theory of teaching. This may be my best class this semester. Moving along, I was rather shocked to read a WSJ article today about CS students who are outsourcing their homework! This is done via a site that is supposed to be used for accepting bids on very small programming projects from companies. This is rather appalling, and I can't wrap my head around someone cheating on work in their own major. In high school, sometimes things were unfair and I never felt guilty about cheating in Chemistry because our Chemistry teacher cheated us of a real education for that year. I will never take Chemistry again nor do I care about it, so it's not like it matters. And high school, in general, is kind of a joke. When you get to college though, why would you not want to work towards your career? I love learning whatever I'm learning in every CS class I'm in, and without doing the homework I'd have a really hard time with it.

I didn't realize just how successful iTunes has been until I read this article today. I can't believe that they sell 8 million videos and 3 million songs a day! It's almost as if they already have a chokehold on selling video content online. If you don't think that cranking up your iPod (or other mp3 player) hurts your hearing, then you should really watch this video. If you're walking through somewhere noisy, just pause it; don't kill your eardrums. Lastly, some fan site managed to find a buttonless DS online, and I just wanted to mention it since we all miss hearing from Nintendo. Apparently, it's used to view poetry and stuff. This may be an interesting addition to museums, but it was found on a Japanese site.

There's not a whole lot of movie news today and rather than fluff it up, I'm going to cut right to the chase because I'm in the middle of some nerdy work right now. The release date for A Scanner Darkly has finally been decided on as being July 7, and the movie may not be more than a visual masterpiece but it should at least be worth watching for that. Horror junkies may want to see the few clips that Yahoo! Movies has collected for Final Destination 3. AICN has discovered that Marvel will personally make a sequel to The Hulk, which got mixed reviews, and Avi Arad is currently looking for writers and directors and such. In other words, it's just now getting underway and will still take a lot of time. Lastly, since we all like looking at pretty people, here's a shot from the upcoming comic thriller Lucky Number Slevin:

Click to enlarge

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What artist and/or band (or a few) makes you want to crank your stereo so the whole neighborhood can hear?
Probably Audioslave. It's just really energetic music.

2. What are a few of your favorite songs to crank on your stereo?
I'd have to say "Your Time Has Come" (Audioslave), "Make a Move" (Incubus), and "Get By" (Talib Kweli). I'm sure there are more, but I'm too tired to think of them right now.

3. What artist or style of music do you NOT want to hear cranked up on a stereo?
Country music. It's just annoying.

4. What "stereo" do you use most often: regular stereo, DVD player, clock radio, computer, Ipod, or car stereo?
I'd have to say my computer. I love my Altec Lansing speakers, though they are quite old.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Essence of Geek

The first day of classes went well, and I only had to go to two classes since discussion section was cancelled for CS 337. I'm already pumped for CS 352 (Computer Architecture) and I think Keckler will be great, and I'm also pleased with my choice of Windsor for M 427K, who reminds me of my Linear Algebra professor, Dan Knopf (who was awesome). I'm spending more time now preparing NSC stuff than actual school work! Anyway, doesn't today's title sound like a recipe in a witch's brew? I finally found an article that addresses this New Geek movement of people proclaiming themselves as such just to look cool because they have a Sidekick or an iPod or something. I prefer this definition of a geek (from the same article):
"...what's important about a geek is the passion to understand the way things work, to the point of being able to construct working systems yourself. Programmers are admired not because of their fame or social status, but for the quality of the code they write."

I realize that it's kind of funny to dedicate a three-page article to geekdom, and almost a matter of pride to argue for it, but I just find it ironic how some people will look down on the real geeks and then put themselves on a pedestal as being hot, preppy, and a geek at the same time as if they're the perfect person. Wearing a faux vintage shirt identifying yourself falsely as a spelling bee champ doesn't make you cool (I have seen this before). The article explores the more historical side of how the term originated and how it has evolved rather than all this fashion stuff, but the last page is a little far-fetched as it tries to link geekiness to ADD and autism. It's a fun read if you're interested.

Click to enlarge the iMac's behindI've said it before and I'll say it again: the best reviews for new gadgets and other tech toys is Ars Technica, in my opinion, and they put up their review of the 17" iMac Core Duo today. What really stuck out for me in the review is that they mentioned that Rosetta translates PowerPC applications to work on x86 on one core while it actually runs on the other. How cool is that?! While I'm on Apple, it turns out that the Intel switch ad looks like the "Such Great Heights" music video because it's the same directors, so they're definitely not going to have any legal trauma to worry about. Businesses have started putting their logos on their rooftops so that when you go to "satellite" view in Google Maps, you can see exactly where they are. I think it's a pretty clever idea and I wouldn't mind seeing more of it. iPod lovers can rejoice in knowing that the company producing iPod audio chips have managed to reduce the power consumption to theoretically allow 70% more listening time. I wonder when Steve Jobs will release a new iPod now? NBC and ABC are boasting that ratings for some of their top shows have gone up thanks to iTunes, but some comments below that post rightfully pointed out that this correlation doesn't imply causation (i.e. nothing has been proven). Lastly, this is going to become big soon (I can feel it), so I thought I'd mention that crackpot Jack Thompson is threatening Take Two (presumably with legal action) if they don't recall their games. If they recall those games, I'll sue them for being morons.

The Digital Bits managed to conduct a rather lengthy interview with a big man over at Pioneer, who is creating hardware for the Blu-ray format, and it really sounds like Blu-ray is here to say. Of course what he says is biased, but he makes some really good points, like that it can hold more and support the transfer of more data, which means it'll probably last longer as a format. Riding on the coattails of the one weekend's success, Weinstein Co. is more than willing to host a Hoodwinked 2 since the original made back almost it's entire budget in one weekend. The creators are very interested in a sequel as well, so I hope the movie is deserving of one because it looks like it'll happen. IESB has a video interview with Mr. Brandon Routh, who will the Man of Steel this summer, and he doesn't say a whole lot, but if you're as excited about this movie as I am I'm sure that you'll want to see anything related to it. The Sci Fi Wire has more of their previous interview with him over here. Lastly, Sony has plans to remake the old school cult-horror-classic Black Christmas, and has already begun casting some pretty ladies to be the sorority sisters. If the female leads are hot the people will probably come.

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

10 Favorite Current Shows
10. Southpark
9. Joey
8. The Colbert Report
7. Desperate Housewives
6. Prison Break
5. Smallville
4. Family Guy
3. The Daily Show
2. Lost
1. 24

Monday, January 16, 2006

You're Never Safe

My meeting tonight ended early so I decided to do my post after all. Before I start though I just have to share my excitement that I got a call this morning from Texas Instruments. I'm going to Dallas next week for on-site interviews, and I'm excited because I've never done that before, though it means missing two classes. It was definitely a pleasant surprise for my first day back in Austin. Onto my topic though: I made it ambiguous to purposely freak you out (I know, I'm lame sometimes), but I really mean with regard to your computer. A BBC columnist put up a good editorial about how Mac users are mistakenly complacent in their little Mac world. In fact, Mac OS X is built on Unix, which has some very well-known flaws. Windows is still much worse, but maybe that's just because people like to push it around more and the higher volume of users puts its problems in the limelight. There's no doubt that viruses spread much slower to Mac machines, but they do exist and users should use the built-in firewall and scan for viruses weekly just like everyone else does. The more users that are smug about it, the more they're taunting malware writers to come after them, so watch yourselves Apple lovers!

I promise, only one more Apple article today! There's just been a lot of media coverage on them lately. MSNBC caught up with Steve Jobs to get his thoughts on the new chip, and his responses are pretty predictable, but I'd like to point out that he mentioned the power consumption issue for the first time. He said that they'd match the PowerBook G4, but I was personally hoping that it would be better than that. Also predictably, Intel has decided to drop the Pentium brand line, which I thought was getting ridiculously long when they came out with the Pentium 4. I think a new chip does them some good because there are too many chip brands to keep up with. Mozilla has announced that they'd release a version of Firefox for the new Intel-based Macs in March, which is good news for those users who are sick and tired of dealing with Safari. Lastly, you can find a great collection of some of the best free content Google Video has to offer over here. Being the sad person that I am, I've seen a number of them before, but the last one on the first page really caught my attention as being especially cool.

I have to correct what I said yesterday about the box office yesterday: Hoodwinked pulled in first place today for the three-day weekend to just barely inch Glory Road into second place. At least Hostel only dropped to 5th place. Could this lovely lady to the right be the next bond girl? Click to enlargeMI:6 seems to think that she's the favored choice, and she may not be really hot, but I thought she looks pretty good as Briseis in Troy. They also found out who two of the villains are, but I didn't recognize either name. I would've put up the first picture from Bobby, but it makes Emilio Estevez look pretty bad. I reported about some new Superman Returns pictures yesterday, but I didn't know that the rating may be dropped from PG-13 to PG! It had better give fans something to drool over or there's going to be some trouble. Superhero Hype found out that Vinnie Jones (Juggernaut in X3) will be involved in Brett Ratner's next project, Rush Hour 3, and has agreed to participate in future X-men films. Now all he has to do is not suck in X3. The Golden Globes were tonight, but I was only excited about Lost winning best series and Steve Carell getting best actor in a comedy series. Lastly, you can take a look at the best (and worst) posters of 2005 over here, if you're interested.

And now, it's time for some Monday Madness:

1. Before I walk out the door, I always check to make sure I _______.
turned down the thermostat. I don't care if my furniture gets cold.
2. I can't seem to catch up on my _______.
reading! I have so much Stephen King sitting on my bookshelf crying out to me.
3. The one surface in my house that always seems to get cluttered fast is _______.
my computer table. I'm really just a lazy bastard and put random stuff on it.
4. If I sleep past _____, I feel that I've slept in too late.
noon. Even after long nights, I try to be up at noon.
5. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to _______.
stop cluttering!
6. I hope to have my income taxes done by _______.
whenever my dad usually hopes to get them done. ;)
7. This year I'd like to make more time for _______.
socializing. I need to put myself out there for a change.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

An Engineering or a Science?

I drove back to Austin today and it's good to be back, but I am going to miss the comforts of home and I'm already dreading some of the work that I have to get done this week. Other than not seeing my brother much, I think I had a pretty good and fruitful break. I could've stood to relax a little more toward the end, but I'm almost done with my Latin program now and should have a beta before this week's end, which brings me to today's topic. If you never knew the difference between computer science, programming, and engineering, you should read this article (or at least skim the first few sections). My major is computer science, of course, (I don't even think any four-year university has a computer programming degree) and many students complain about all the theory we learn. I don't get it; if your major says "science" right in its title, do you not think you're going to study it in great depth? I personally enjoy learning this stuff since learning languages is fairly straightforward. Yet, it's ironic that what I learned last semester doesn't help me one bit in finding an internship for this summer. CS majors really do usually take up the jobs associated with "computer engineers," which means that rather than test hypotheses we are used to apply well-known ideas to practical problems. In my mind though, knowing the science of it gives you an innate understanding that I'm sure causes non-graduates in the field much grief, such as understanding a linker error or translating disassembly to debug an error. I hope that I haven't confused you too much at this point and that you learned something new, because I know I did.

Last week, I reported that Apple was holding out on an even bigger announcement at MacWorld due to the legal battle with Burst.com and/or Intel being unready. From listening to an episode of MacCast from just before the expo featuring predictions, one from a listener who was fairly confident about his struck me: what if they were going to announce an instant-on computer? That's a computer that uses flash memory as a cache to start a computer almost as soon as you hit the "on" button. Just thought I'd share it in case that listener was right. Speaking of podcasts, if you find yourself without time to read for pleasure, you should check out podiobooks, which are podcasts of whole books for free! Back to Apple though, the MacBook Pro came with only a 4x single-layer SuperDrive, much to the dismay of Mac geeks, and ZDNet found out that it was because they couldn't fit an 8x in it just yet. Maybe it'll be part of a 17" model? Microsoft has decided to keep providing versions of Office to Macs for another five years, presumably in that universal binary format. I wonder if that new format makes it easier for them to port it? Lastly, Popular Mechanics put up a great feature on 15 new tech concepts you'll need to know for this year, quite a few of which I had never heard of before. What I found to be the coolest thing was a technology from Raytheon that would warn you of cars in your blind spot when you try to turn.

Click to enlargeSome people are still skeptical about Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth being in Superman Returns, but I personally think that they look pretty good together. You can see more new pictures from the movie at Calendar Live. Unofficial figures are in for the box office, and it looks like Glory Road reigned supreme with over $13 million despite mediocre reviews and whitewashing the racism card. I have no clue how Last Holiday managed to get second, but this is historically a slow month in movies anyway. Many of you will remember that Christopher Nolan is currently working on The Prestige, and a spy is now claiming that Andy Serkis (from Lord of the Rings and King Kong) will be in the movie playing an assistant of sorts. I think that Serkis is better than the movies he's been in so hopefully he'll shine here. Lastly, Twitch has an interview with Eli Roth on Hostel, and it sounds like Mr. Roth is really into his creation (as he should be since it was #1 last weekend).

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Paralyzed::Disability
  2. Bossy::Moody
  3. Worth::, A Woman's (Alicia Keys)
  4. Breathing::Deep
  5. Uneventful::Boring
  6. Return::Advent
  7. Splint::er Cell
  8. Notice::Eviction
  9. Hero::Jet Li
  10. Vulnerable::Invincible

I just noticed that UT Athletics put up some slick wallpapers for the Rose Bowl. I personally chose the first one.

Friday, January 13, 2006

More Predictions

The New Year may have begun long ago, but some Robert Cringely hasn't announced his predictions for the year until now, and they actually sound pretty realistic for the most part. He only got 2/3 of them right last year, but I think a few of his new ones because pretty obvious will boost his accuracy this year, like that Google won't create its own PC. One of his more interesting ones is that whatever we might think Google to release could just the same be created by Yahoo since they've been operating under the media radar for the past several months. I disagree with him in saying that PS3 will release with a dearth of games just because the silence we've heard from that front may hint at secret development. The fact that Sony has waited another year shows that they're not going to rush now that they have no one to race. One of his better points is that Apple will make some sneaky inroads against Microsoft, and another is that Sun will continue to run itself into the ground. They're starting to run out of that money they made in the 80s and the more I learn C++ (and, hence, hate Java), the less sympathy I have for them. I don't think there will be another service pack for XP, but I can totally see Microsoft delaying Vista or no one caring about it like people did about XP, which was only because Windows 98 was so horrendously unstable. I also wouldn't be surprised if Google did sell more stocks because I'm sure that they're looking for some new projects this year. I guess now we just have to see what happens.

One of the things he mentioned was that Apple will announce the stuff it didn't talk about at MacWorld, which may sound obvious, but it's because the media expected him to discuss more. One of the reasons, according to this scoop, was that Intel wasn't stocked with enough Core Duo chips and something especially cool should've been released. He says that it's better than a 17" MacBook, but what could that be? Another reason is likely their legal battle with Burst.com. You can take a look at what they did release, the MacBook Pro, in this hands-on video with a MacWorld prototype. A trademark filing from Apple is leading some to wonder whether they're going to release their own iTunes enabled phone in the wake of the release of the Rokr E2, which is sans iTunes. Given that people have been expecting an iPod Shuffle replacement, this wouldn't seem like too crazy of a replacement. A ZDNet blogger questions the pricing of .Mac, which is something I was actually thinking about during the keynote as well. It would make a lot of sense for them to have a free, lower-tier service (like they used to) and let you buy more bandwidth and space. Hopefully, it's more than just wishful thinking. Sorry, there's just been a lot of Apple articles today, and the last one I have on them is regarding a study that reveals that proportionally few iPod users download illegal P2P programs. That's probably biased data, but it can't be too far from the truth since iTunes is so easy to use, it's pretty, and $1 a song is pretty damn cheap. Lastly, if you're a Linux newbie and you ever need to use one, this command list will save your butt.

A few trailers came out today. The most fast-paced one was definitely for Ultraviolet featuring the lovely Milla Jovovich, which almost makes me feel like she's been typecast. It looks like it's probably more fun Aeon Flux (which similarly has a female lead kicking butt, of course), so maybe this will be the year of good action movies. BET put up a trailer for 16 Blocks, which has Bruce Willis and Mos Def (a phenomenal artist) and is about Willis transporting Mos Def 16 blocks to a courthouse even though tons of cops want to kill him. Again, year of action movies (though this is more of a thriller). JoBlo shamelessly plugged a sponsor's teaser trailer: Final Destination 3. It has some scenes from the old movies, but it still oozes campy horror movie goodness. IGN has a clip for another horror movie, but this one is called Tamara and sounds like a new take on Carrie (which I still haven't finished reading). Lastly, Tim Robbins appears to be interested in a film adaptation of 1984, which I think would be a pretty good idea.

I thought I'd post a postcard that may serve as some advice I should follow this semester:

Click to enlarge

I'm going to go with the Friday's Feast meme

Name one chore you don't really mind doing.

Vaccuming. I just feel cleaning walking around my place when I see those parallel lines on my carpet from the vaccum cleaner and no stray pieces of trash.

How many times have you moved homes in your life?

Well my parents moved houses when I was like 3 or 4, I moved into my West Campus apartment in 2004, and last year I moved into my Far West apartment. These apartments are really just temporary homes though.

How old were you when you had your very first kiss?


Main Course
What time of day do you usually feel your best?

Later in the night when I can look back on my day and say, "wow, I got a lot done!" It's also great because it's close to sleep time and I can look forward to a new day. Plus, I always crave breakfast before I go to bed.

Using three words or less, describe your current local weather.

Warm and uneven.