Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Microsoft Throwing the Punches

Today was my first real day of work, and it was actually pretty good after the morning, which consisted of 4+ hours of safety training, of which maybe 90 minutes was actually interesting. I met the team I'm on, and my mentor is really cool, but it looks like I still have more training to go through before I can enter the fab. Oh, and what's better is that the boss took us out for ice cream before I could start on any real work. Now about Microsoft, they've started pulling off the gloves against Sony by subtly bashing the PS3 for essentially forcing consumers to support an unproven technology (Blu-ray), whereas they merely provide the option of watching HD-DVD on the Xbox 360. Microsoft also added that the PS3 price adds to the case for them to keep the Xbox 360 at its current place, which shows that they're asserting themselves to have a dominant position in consoles right now. They're also hitting McAffee and Symantec by announcing their OneCare service for Vista users which will cost $50 a year for up to 3 computers to have full anti-virus protection and support from Microsoft. I'm not sure how worried they'll be though since they're heavyweights whereas Microsoft is a newbie. However, Microsoft has much more monetary resources to throw at it as well as earlier knowledge of holes in Windows, which they'd be smart to exploit to gain a competitive edge. Of course, its success is based on people feeling the need to upgrade to Vista in the first place, but ExtremeTech's review makes it sounds like people will likely decide to switch. I think we'll just have to wait and see how it fares. And if that isn't enough, they've released a keyboard and mouse set for Macs, which could further improve the case for Mac users to install Windows assuming the mouses have at least two buttons (I haven't seen pictures yet). It looks like they're really coming out swinging on a lot of angles, doesn't it?

I'm going to have to move pretty quickly now so I can get in a good amount of sleep tonight. So back to Vista, they're upping the ante for peer collaboration where laptops can share information with nearby machines, which I'm sure will be really helpful in the workplace where many people at meetings have to be on laptops. Meanwhile, Google has announced that it has no plans to make its own browser despite geek speculation. It makes sense that they'd just keep supporting the Mozilla Foundation since they're already paying them to have Google as the default search engine. Click to enlargeDoes that little device to the right look kind of like the mockups of the supposed new iPod we've seen? Well, it's actually a real device, but it's targeted towards the Far East so no clue on whether we'll see it in stores here. Still, it's funny that someone noticed all those fan artworks. Major torrent repository The Pirate Bay has been shut down by Swedish authorities, which is significant because they're known for bragging about how they can get away with what they do and send frivolous letters to companies threatening them for copyright infringement, and since they had a good deal of political power where they are. I'm sure they'll try to come back though. Workers in India are finally having to start fearing outsourcing, but very few of them. Still, it's rather funny and ironic that it has come full circle so fast. Lastly, if you've ever wondered how a computer works, you can get a crash course in it over here. I'd say that it's pretty useful to at least bookmark.

It looks like Superman Returns will be the first movie to be offered in true IMAX 3D, which means 3-D glasses and everything! Apparently, this has been known internally for a long while now, but it has just been kept quiet until this leak. Even better: Sam Raimi has confirmed that the Spider-man 3 trailer will premiere in front of Superman Returns in less than a month! Speaking of superheros, Avi Arad has resigned from Marvel, which would be good news if he didn't also say that he'll still be working with the current Marvel projects and still wants to stay involved with Marvel. I'm mad at him mainly because he let X3 happen. Speaking of X3, The Snakes on a Plane trailer that premiered with it this past weekend has found its way online. It's nothing special, but it's the first official teaser we have. The man behind the Underworld movies is in talks with Fox to take over the Die Hard 4 film direction, and I don't know how to take that since I always had a bad bias towards Underworld. Lastly, Yahoo Movies has an exclusive clip from Click, which I'm still hoping will be a return for Adam Sandler to his golden days of funny movies.

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

Write a poem!

You can definie "poem" however you want. It can be long or short. It can rhyme or not. It can have meter, or just be a free-for-all. Just write something that you personally would call a poem.

I'm in Dallas now,
Far from home,
And still I don't know,
How well this summer will go.

Sorry, I just came up with it on the fly since I'm getting sleepy. I'd share an older poem I've written, but I only write poems when I'm depressed about something, and I wouldn't want my meme to make people sad.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How Google is Scaring Everyone

My first day at TI wasn't too bad, but I had to sit through a lot of talking. I was there for 10 hours hearing way too much about sexual harrassment, etiquette, benefits, safety, how the company is structured, and the like. I'm hoping that I'll get to start some real work tomorrow and meet my boss. Anyway, on to the real topic today: Google. Who are they a threat to? It may be more companies than you think, since their ad-supported business model is shaking up many fields of software since they offer so many free alternatives. This means that competitors, especially in media, have to make cutbacks that could result in downsizing and the like. I don't believe that the threat is as big as the article suggests simply because a lot of people would rather pay a fee than deal with ads, and it's not like Google is going to be turning out top-of-the-line products (we all know their UIs need work). Another problem is that its near monopoly over searching should be scaring everyone since it gives them the power of bias, and they already discriminate on popularity since their PageRank system favors the bigger sites. The article suggests that Google is not only keeping the rich richer by how AdSense works, which I talked about last week, but by how they're exposed. Could this weakness be big enough for a rival to expose? Or is it a necessary evil for relevant search results?

Click to enlargeNintendo has finally announced the price of the Wii to be a refreshing $250, which is no doubt a sweet sight to those sent into shock by Sony's pricing announcement at E3. I definitely think that this gives them a huge advantage over the PS3, and probably even a little over the Xbox 360, though as you can see to the right here the graphics don't quite match up. Still, they're banking on solid gameplay, which is what I think the rest of us are hoping for also. Meanwhile, I think Sony is banking on the Blu-ray to help sell PS3s, which means they're probably not happy with bad press like this highlighting the specifics of how crazy the DRM is starting to become with these new DVD players. Do you really need more reason to not run out and by a next-gen DVD player or PS3 the day it comes out? Microsoft has decided that they're going to save you a few bucks and sell you the Ultimate package with Windows Vista Ultimate and and Office 2007 Ultimate for just $679. I wonder how much less a Home edition would cost without all the bells and whistles, because I'd rather get a Mac Mini than spent the same amount on a couple of pieces of software I already have in an older version. Then again, I'll get a student discount, so we'll see. Do you remember Seagate's 750 GB (aka the biggest hard drive to date)? Well, we have a pretty extensive review of it, and it sounds pretty good, but I don't think it's worth running out and getting right away. I'm sure they'll work out the kinks within a year and offer it at a cheaper price. It turns out that Intel is looking to release a Conroe-L chip in addition to the normal Conroe one that would be single core and targeted more towards low-end desktop computer users. It sounds to me like just a hyped up rehash of a Pentium 4 chip though, but we don't have all the specs yet. Lastly, it looks like geek fight clubs are sprouting up and are run by bored IT professionals who want to try to get tougher. I think it's kind of funny since I can understand why they'd do it, but these guys may need lives if they prefer fighting other geeks in their spare time.

Click to enlargeThat's one of a couple of new posters for the new movie on the Man of Steel, and we finally also have a good quality version of the new trailer that premiered in theaters this past weekend. And if that wasn't enough for you, the movie has been pushed forward two days to June 28! I'm guessing that this has something to do with how well X3 did this past weekend. We also have a one-sheet for Apocalypto, and it looks pretty good. Some of the outlets are giving it a little too much praise though. Some new on-set pictures from Spider-man 3 have been leaked with Gwen Stacy, but the actress playing her (Bryce Dallas Howard) doesn't look as good as I would expect from reading the comic. At least she's from Texas! Chris Tucker has signed on to be in the Hollywood remake of Bollywood movie Munnabhai MBBS, or Gangster MD as it is called here. This is a strange choice for him, but that article points out how close in proximity the two movies will be for him averse to the rest of his career. Lastly, you can see a review of Pan's Labyrinth over here, and it sounds pretty good. Harry Knowles doubts its brilliance though, so we'll have to wait on more reviews.

Now back to the Ten on Tuesday meme:

10 Plans for the Summer
10. Slow my pace down from the normal school year.
9. Catch up on TV shows my friend has been bugging me about.
8. Clean out my hard drive and e-mail.
7. Get used to the layout of Dallas so I'll be familiar with three cities.
6. Drive even more carefully than before.
5. Get a new (used) car.
4. Completely finish the NSC site.
3. Try meeting some other interns and make some friends so I won't be all alone here.
2. Learn how to cook more stuff, despite the limited facility in my hotel room.
1. Have a good experience at TI.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Goodbye Vacation, Hello Summer

I thought that now would be the second best time to wrap up the Spring since the best time already passed me by. This semester was the most trying and intense semester of my life so far. Who knew that 14 hours could be so exhausting? As if that wasn't enough, I started out looking for an internship (though that was fixed quickly) and then I had so many issues with my apartment complex that I had to hunt for a new apartment and all the headache involved with that. To boot, our complex is now charging us some ridiculous fees. I couldn't be prouder of how I handled things up through finals though, and it was definitely a challenge. I realized that things have been difficult in life before, but the only real challenged I'd encountered before this semester was cluttering, which I'm still dealing with. What's sad is that I was so happy to be done after finals, and then I entered another crisis: my car crash. So it was just one thing after another, but I look back on it and see myself as having really grown from it. My biggest regret is that I didn't develop myself socially as much as I had hoped (read: didn't find any worthwhile girls to go out with), but I guess you take the good with the bad. It's also sad that my "vacation" is over (read: the two weeks I just spent at home in Houston), and other than the standard parental restrictions I definitely had fun. I'm especially glad that I finally spent an entire weekend with my brother and his fiance. Tomorrow morning I begin my first day at TI. I almost want to say that this is like my first job since that museum gig was really a high school thing whereas this internship requires stuff I've learned at UT. I'm pretty excited about it despite knowing that I'm away from my family and friends, and despite my hotel room being less than thrilling.

I've got a ton of tech news to catch you all up on since I had to miss my Sunday post for a family bbq. I'll start out with the Apple stuff: they're looking to replace the eMac series with newer educationally-targeted machines based on an Intel-chip. Also, the monitor will be flat (like the iMac), so that'll drive up their costs, but with renewed competition in educational computers I'm sure that they'll be sure to keep the price down. Apple has been recruiting programmers with a background in gaming, which would imply that they may be trying to make their own games, possibly for the iPod, or at least knock down that wall between gamers and Macs. Speaking of the iPod, if you're curious as to how it became a household name, you may be interested in this article. Gmail may soon integrate Froogle in your e-mails by showing you the prices of products mentioned in any given e-mail. This is based on an interesting line of code discovered in the web application, and it sounds rather feasible. There's also speculation of a Google shopping cart, but it's based on a company's address, so it's not quite as likely. They've publicly denounced trying to compete with PayPal, but I don't think that totally rules it out. Netflix is looking to follow a couple of competitors with their own movie download service, to be unveiled by the end of the year. I'm sure we're in store for yet another rocky launch. We all feel a little too comfortable with the Times New Roman font face, but could that just be because it's the Microsoft Office default? Well Microsoft is switching that to a new font called Calibri, leading some to wonder whether it'll become the new standard. Supposedly, they think it'll make reading large amounts of text easier, and I'll admit that it does look a little better than even Arial. Lastly, if you're curious as to how the PS3 actually got to be so pricey, you can read a really good explanation of it all here. At the base of it is Ken Kuturagi, who started development of it aggressively and once things were in motion it became too late to turn back and make it more affordable. I think he just did what he honestly thought would be best for the company, but I believe he fell a little short.

Click to enlargeThat's one of a few FX pictures released by Marvel from Ghost Rider, and it actually looks better than I would've thought. Anyway, the winner of the box office battle this Memorial Day weekend was X-men: The Last Stand at a shocking $120 million. What sucks the most about that is that they'll almost certainly make another thinking that they did even better since X2 made less its first weekend. Da Vinci Code had what I would consider a pretty reasonable dropoff raking in $43 million, and Over the Hedge earned a very impressive $35.3 million in third place. We have another review of Talladega Nights, and it's quite positive. My hopes just keep going up and up for this one. We also have a review of Clerks II, and it sounds awesome though it's from a fanboy (though most Internet geeks are Kevin Smith fans anyway). I'm looking forward to that movie even more. All I have left is some multimedia. Moviefone has the first trailer of The Great New Wonderful featuring some big name actors/actresses including Maggie Gyllenhaal, who I love. I can't make out the plot too well, but it has enough talent to be real good. A random movie site has some clips from Babel, though they're still in English. They don't reveal a whole lot though, so don't fear any real spoilers. Lastly, Yahoo Movies has clips from The Break-up if you actually care.

Now for some Monday Madness:

How many simple things have you learned to appreciate more, for one reason or another? Please list them and feel free to elaborate on each.
For one thing, my car! Having to spend 45 minutes at a McDonald's in Elgin waiting for my brother to come was really no fun. Then there's my own home, since each apartment and hotel room I've been in since leaving home hasn't been quite as convenient as my parents' place. I think I'll feel better whenever I actually buy a house. I'm going to stop there so I can rest up for my early morning.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

X-men 3 or How I Wasted 2 Hours

Sorry for the tardiness of this "Friday" post, but I hung out with my cousins last night and then went shopping with my brother today since I needed some collared shirts for work. Click to enlarge (sorry for the blur and bad angle)I think I got some nice stuff, but I was especially happy about the purchase of this watch to the right here. I think it's gorgeous, and it'll be nice to go to work in style on Tuesday. Anyway, one of the things we did last night was watch X-men: The Last Stand, and it was pretty much as bad as I had expected. It revolves around two major plotlines: the founding of a "cure" for the mutant "condition" and the Dark Phoenix saga. First of all, this was clearly too much story for a two-hour movie, and should've been split up into two separate movies. What really upset me was how shoddily the Phoenix storyline was handled since the real story is 95% different from the movie's adaptation of it, and so they effectively ruined what was the most intriguing plot in X-men mythology to me. As for the former plotline, it just had some logical issues. They claim to have gotten the cure from some kid, and yet they didn't explain why they had to keep the kid there at the facility in order to keep making it. It's littered with similar holes and strangely cut scenes, no doubt to cover for how rushed the production was (they wanted to "beat" Superman Returns to get revenge on Bryan Singer). What's worse is that there are scenes here and there (like the first couple of scenes, which go back in time) that are really cool and well done, and they show what this movie could've been had Fox not gotten so blinded with greed and idiocy, and had Avi Arad not sold out his fanbase. That's not all though, the dialogue was uneven and often painted characters totally different from what we've come to know them as (and what they are like in the series). It makes Wolverine look like a girly man, Magneto look like a black and white bad guy (his last line in the movie is pretty bad, too), and Rogue seem like she's a pushover, none of which make sense. Oh, and then they decide to get rid of key characters for no reason, and then pick the strangest characters to focus on instead and not even develop them very well. In fact, Angel has all of 5 lines despite having a cool intro. The more I think about the movie, the more angry I am at Fox for doing this to us and it shows how stupid they think we are to swallow this crap. It may have had some decent special effects, and the promise of a great movie with some awesome actors and pretty trailers, but in the end they failed to deliver an appropriate sequel to X2 (note that the title never had a '3' in it, but it picked and chose what elements of X2 it wanted to keep instead). I'm going to mercifully give it a D since it had some redeeming scenes, and I encourage you to not blow your money on it (if you do though, wait through the credits for the real ending) and, hence, encourage them to make another abomination like it. Someone who isn't an X-men fan may give it a C or even a B- if they're really generous, but I just can't do that.

Google is a pretty secretive company, but do you know how their AdSense system actually works? It turns out that they end up screwing over the little guy without informing them of why they pay more for less popular keywords and similarly not being tough enough on click fraud. They need to focus on this rather than random beta products since this is a wound ripe for Microsoft or Yahoo to swoop in and nail them on. They did sign a deal with Dell to have their software preinstalled on Dell PCs, and I think it's so that IE on Dell PCs will have their homepage set to Google. It's not a bad idea, but I kind of think it cheapens Dell (though I can't bash Dell since mine survived my car crash). Speaking of deals, the Nike-Apple alliance that produced Nike Plus actually looks pretty decent to me (I don't care what cranky Dvorak says), and you can see shots of the interface over here. While I'm on music, there's now a site called where independent artists can sell their music much like normal artists do on iTunes. The prices are in pounds so they seem a little pricey, but I'm sure that as more American bands get on there, they'll start looking better. Canon has decided to stop R&D on film cameras, but they'll keep producing existing models. I'm sure that sales are pretty weak since only professional photographers would use those, but even they use SLRs, so this makes sense to me. If you want to see the worst tech products of all time, PCWorld actually has a pretty good list of them including AOL, IE6, and the Zip drive among others. Nintendo has confirmed that the Wii will not cost more than $250, which is a great reinforcement to what we had all expected. I wonder if Sony is sweating yet? Lastly, if you didn't have enough of the net neutrality debate, Popular Science has a pretty good article explaining it in laymen's terms. If you know nothing about it, then that's a must-read.

The only reason to actually witness Brett Ratner's latest creation is to see the new Superman Returns trailers, which is actually pretty neat and explains more of Lex's plan. YouTube has a low quality version, but I'm sure that we'll see an HD transfer soon enough. The one and only Helena Bonham Carter (of Fight Club fame) will now be some Death Eater character in the new Harry Potter movie (I haven't read the book, sorry) to take the place of Helen McCroryl, which I think is great news because I love Helena's work. There's word that Shakespeare in Love writer Tom Stoppard is in talks to pen the screenplay for Bond 22, and Roger Michell (who's done less impressive stuff) may be the director. To be fair though, Michell is supposedly good at character-oriented dramas. I didn't know until today that a Dukes of Hazzard prequel was in the works, and it looks like they have Laguna Beach starlet Kristin Cavallari in mind for the role of Daisy Duke. What's really funny though is that the producer tries to compare it to Batman Begins. Lastly, if you're really desperate for Pan's Labyrinth stuff, there are a few short clips here.

I'm going to go for the Saturday Six since it's technically a Saturday (though the news is up to Friday):

1. What is the last museum you visited? What single item there most impressed you?
Probably the Texas Memorial Museum for UT event I had to help out at in the fall, but I don't remember much from the visit. Sorry.

2. What piece of computer equipment that you currently don't own would you most like to have?
A MacBook Pro! I guess a laptop in general would be cool; that's all I really need right now. My second choice would be a backup external hard drive.

3. Coca Cola has recently released a new drink called Coca Cola Blak, which is a mix of Coke and coffee. Have you tried it? Would you try it? What flavor of soda would you most like to see someone create?
No and I don't think I would since I don't like Coke (at least not without rum) or coffee individually, so I can't see how they'd be better when combined.

4. Take the quiz: Which flavor of tea are you? (Thanks to Charley.)
I just get the cheap stuff and I'm happy with it, but I'd love to try out different flavors. If tapioca milk tea (boba) counts though, then I love that stuff in peppermint.

5. How do you like your tea? Iced or hot? Sweet or unsweetened? With cream or without?
I like it hot, sweetened, and with milk (but cream will do just fine). I have a huge sweet tooth, and I don't see the point in it if it isn't nice and hot.

6. You see someone run out of a store with a wad of bills. Shortly afterwards, a store employee runs out of the store after him, but stops just outside the door when it appears that the person has run down the street towards a seedy-looking motel. If you assumed you had just witnessed the getaway in an armed robbery, would you drive into the motel parking lot in an attempt to find out what room number or what vehicle the person got into, or would you pay it no more attention?
To be honest: pay no more attention =P How do I know if he's armed or not? If the guy ran like directly into me, I'd probably try to stop him, but why bother otherwise? He probably has accomplices as well, who may kill me. I'd prefer to let the cops do their job.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Leaving in Bugs

Great news today: Kenneth Lay and Jeff Skilling were found guilty on many counts of conspiracy and many other things. They'll probably be in jail for the rest of their life, which still wouldn't compensate for all the lives their greed ruined. What I want to talk about today is how software manufacturers leave bugs in their code. I bet you never realized that they're sometimes left in on purpose. People made a big deal when all these known defects were left in the Core architecture. Why wouldn't you squash them all? As the Guardian brings up quite appropriately, you have to consider severity, frequency of appearance, cost to fix (time literally is money since you have to pay your engineers), and risk. I think that risk is a pretty big factor, because I think all programmers have at some point experienced other things falling apart because they changed something to fix one bug. When you're working on a big project, this can more easily happen and it's typically harder to detect since you're not expecting it. There's a fine line between a bell or whistle and a necessary change, and even finer between a mundane detail and a critical problem. So when you curse your favorite software vendor because you experience a crash, just realize that it's pretty hard to achieve perfection, and you may never have that piece of software if they didn't leave certain bugs uncorrected.

Apple has trademarked the name Mac Pro now in two countries, leading Internet geeks to wonder if this will be the name of the PowerMac's successor since Jobs made it clear that he was doing away with the "Power" name across the board. I think they may just be trademarking it to keep others from using it to make their own knockoff and pass it off as a Mac, but maybe they do have something under wraps yet. John Dvorak is still taking potshots at Apple, but this time for their alliance with Nike. I can see the point he brings up about Jobs trying to create all these labels and brands, but I think he takes it a little too far. This Nike thing is a pretty small potato, and I'm sure that it was Nike's idea that Apple just decided they might as well profit off of. Nintendo told Famitsu that its Wii would be sold in Japan for the equivalent of about $223 USD, which of course makes us jump for joy that they may be selling it for possibly somewhere around that (more likely $249). Click to enlargeI hope they'll spill the beans soon enough. Meanwhile, we just keep speculating on what they're keeping from us regarding the Wiimote since some think that it'll have a mic, which may mean VoIP support as well. This is just hearsay though, and we still don't know if the Wiimote has more to hide, though it has been hinted that there is more to it. A bunch of networks have filed a lawsuit against Cablevision for their new remote DVR service where they basically store your recordings on their own DVR up to 80 GB for $10 rather than have you get the fancy hardware for it. I think the networks may be confusing it, because I don't think they're actually streaming it competitively to their original broadcasts any more than TiVo does. Lastly, you may remember all the hub-bub being made about sloppy thermal paste on MacBook Pros, but it turns out that the nerds were wrong: it really was the firmware all along (hence the mysterious patch Apple released last week for it). O'Reily's disassembled a MacBook Pro and found out from their experiments that the improvement many were getting was probably because of a disconnected heat pipe, not the thermal paste.

There's very little worthwhile movie news to report today. Another Southland Tales clip has sprung up, and Krysta (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is centerstage in this one, as well. She actually looks hotter now than before. The Miami Vice site has unveiled some new TV spots, but it's not much that we haven't already seen. Still, I like the style Mann is going for, even though he tries a little too hard. Lastly, MTV Overdrive has a trailer for My Super-Ex Girlfriend, but it's one of those trailers that pretty much runs through 90% of the plot in those three minutes. A friend of mine saw it and said it wasn't half bad, but I still think it's weird that Uma is doing such a worthless project.

Now for 3x Thursday:

1. Do natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, tsunamis) worry you? Why/why not?
Kind of, but I've been blessed to not fall under their wrath. I've been in a couple of nasty floods before, but I don't think I was in serious danger in either one.

2. Where you live, which natural disaster are you most prone to? Does it make you want to move somewhere else? Why/Why not?
Floods, but it doesn't make me want to move away. What makes me want to leave Houston is how crappy it is of a city! As for Austin, I don't think it's really prone to any kind of natural disaster.

3. Have you ever been affected by an Act of Nature? If so, do tell!
Like I said, a couple of bad floods. In one, I was just at home all day. In the other, it took my bus over two hours to get me home (I live like 5 miles away from school). It sucked to lose all that homework time and to just be stuck in a bus for that long, but at least we made it out alright.

Bonus Question: Which natural disaster do you find the most fascinating (cause hey, they are!)? Why?
Earthquakes because they show how alive the Earth still is geologically!

I'm going to go see my cousins tomorrow, so no clue whether or not I'll be able to post tomorrow night. Don't be surprise if it gets delayed to Saturday morning though.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Microsoft's Bad Press

Anyone else catch the crazy Lost finale tonight? If you didn't, then be sure to watch it at the ABC site (assuming you keep up with the show) because it was pretty awesome. Anyway, Microsoft wormed its way into a few popular articles today, and they don't help out the company's image all that much. The first one isn't so bad: an article at the NY Times with word from Microsoft that they're on track for their new target release date of Vista and they're entering their last round of testing now. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like Beta 2 is all that great. An MSNBC columnist had extensive troubles installing the beta on multiple machines, and it sounds like the troubles I'm having installing SP2 (long story short: I thought it would help with my cheap wireless network card that doesn't work). I don't doubt that they'll likely have such problems ironed out by its real release, but the columnist goes on to say that it's like just a luxury car rather than a better one overall (i.e. more bells and whistles, not a better kernel). There are other reviews more positive than his and others that agree with him, but I like to introduce you all to articles like this one that are representative of what many others are saying as well. As if that wasn't enough, their issues with worker morale have come up again. I suspected such problems when I've spoken with friends this past year who have interned at M$, and that's why I don't think I'll apply there again. This MyMicrosoft thing sounds like just a gimmick to pass on to investors as improving the workplace, but I don't think their employees are satisfied with their pay or how management is structured. At least they're trying to initiate change, but they're going to lose a lot more employees to competitors if they don't do more faster.

To top it all off, they may lose even more business soon (though I doubt it): Dell is going to start offering computers without preinstalled software to maintain the best possible deals. I think it'd be great for college students who can already get the software they'd need real cheap at their campus's computer store. I'm sure that most average people will go for it anyway (or come to their senses and just get a Mac, which has real neat preinstalled software). Speaking of Macs, anecdotal evidence seems to be pouring in that the ability to boot Windows on an Intel-based Mac seems to really be drawing in more people. It has definitely solidified my case for a Mac being my next computer purchase when I do away with my current machine, which is still pretty nice for now. Samsung has unveiled some new laptops with flash-based hard drives rather than magnetic disk-based, which means that it'll be a lot faster, but much more expensive (they start at over $2,400 USD). The less movable parts will be nice, but I hate that flash memory is an EEPROM (i.e. it has a set lifespan). IGN has an interview with an Opera vice president about the Internet browser being on the Nintendo Wii, but he was pretty vague on the details. I wonder how much Nintendo actually has planned out already about using the Web on the Wii? On the PS3 side of things, a rumor came out and was squashed today that the PS3 wouldn't play borrowed or used games because of DRM software. It makes you wonder though, could they really do that? More importantly, would they? Lastly, I think it sucks that schools are cracking down on students talking about school on their blogs. Why don't they just start putting wires on students?

We finally have a review of Talladega Nights, and it sounds like a really great comedy. I'm looking forward to it because I'm one of those people who considers Anchorman to be a classic, though I'm sure many of you will disagree. We have yet another teaser for Clerks II as Kevin Smith's online publicity machine keeps chugging along, and I like it. It's all based on a humorous observation regarding a commonality among many sequels. You'll have to watch to find out what I'm talking about though. The Weinstein brothers are opening a new label to release Asian films under called Dragon Dynasty, and it looks like just another way to hype up these movies (aside from the shameless Tarantino endorsement). Some of these films are awesome though and really need the boost though, so I can't hold it against them for doing it. We think that we know the actual title of the Transformers movie: Prime Directive. I don't really get it or care much for it, but it may just be a temporary title (or just a plain ol' rumor). Lastly, IGN has some exclusive pictures from Cars if you care.

Click to enlarge

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Do you prefer baseball games during the day or at night? Why?
In the day, because baseball just isn't a night game.

2. What's your favorite baseball team?
I'm not big on baseball, but I'd have to say the Houston Astros, of course ;)

3. What's your favorite baseball park treat?
Those unwholesome hot dogs. However, they've become way too expensive in recent years and almost the same price as a decent meal at a sit-down restaurant!

4. Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds are in a home-run hitting contest. Everything's the same - bats, balls, etc. Who are you rooting to win?
Probably Babe Ruth, since Barry Bonds was on the steroid for a while. Plus, I just don't think he's as good as Ruth. I don't know why, he just strikes me that way. Like I said though, I'm not big on baseball.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Google Busts Out Video Ads

Word to the wise: don't cheap out on computer parts. I bought a cheap wireless network card online for my computer since I figured that I'd only need it for the summer (my hotel only has wireless internet access), and now the drivers won't work. Hence, I have to trash that one and get a nice one from Fry's tomorrow. That takes care of about three hours of my life from the past two days. Anyway, some relatively big news today is that Google is going to start offering video ads on AdSense where a user could check out the video by clicking on it. Would anyone really do this though? TechCrunch, among other blogs, thinks not, and I'm inclined to agree. It bodes badly for it that Google doesn't even have enough confidence in it to put the service on their own site. I pretty much never click on videos in Flash ads right now because they're usually for movies I already know about, and I don't think I'd want to waste time on clicking on them just because Google is offering them. Google claims that advertisers asked for a richer delivery engine, and apparently they don't know what to do. Remember that click-to-call idea that never panned out? Google better think quick before competitors try to usurp market share.

Microsoft's upcoming offerings seem to be everywhere today. CNet has a little video showing off Vista beta 2, but it's more of just a quick look than any kind of a critique or review, and they really only highlight its better sides. What's more interesting is that Microsoft has released the first beta of Office 2007, and I would get it, but I'm skeptical of Microsoft betas. It looks like a solid piece of software though, and you can see all the grueling details in ComputerWorld's review. It probably tells you more than you ever wanted to know, but it shows how different it is and the effort the Office team put into the next iteration. Click to enlargeWhat you see to the right here could revolutionize the future of 3rd world countries: early prototypes of MIT's $100 laptop. They may look a little funky, but they're much smaller than I would've expected. I wonder how they manage to keep the costs down if the laptop is so small. Apple has allied with Nike to sell a Sports kit that would allow your shoes to communicate with your iPod Nano about your physical activity. It sounds pretty gimmicky, but not a bad idea. Lastly, Ticketmaster has begun auctioning off high value seats at sporting and music events online to make even more money. This idea sounds fishy to me, but I would only agree with it if it kept down the prices of other seats. However, they're likely greedy enough to not do that.

We have some more impressions today from the 20-minute preview of World Trade Center shown at Cannes, and they're similarly optimistic. It looks like we just had a bad teaser trailer! Another followup from yesterday is that Akiva Goldsman (the screenwriter for Da Vinci Code) is on board to adapt Angels and Demons as well. I'm guessing that they had plenty of money to attract him with, but neither Ron Howard or Tom Hanks have agreed to do the prequel yet. We finally have real teaser trailers for Ghost Rider, and they look decent, but the CG almost looks a little too over-the-top. Plus, I don't think that Nicholas Cage is employing enough attitude in this role from what we've seen so far. Kevin Smith has done another video mailbag for IGN, and his humor requires no introduction. I'll let you just check it out for yourself. Lastly, if you're curious as to what drifting in the world of racing actually means, you can check out this video over at Yahoo Movies.

Now for the Tuesday Twosome meme:

1. Do you think you were born into this world for a specific purpose, why or why not?
Definitely, because I should've died twice in the past five months! Plus, I almost died right after I was born. God definitely wants me alive for a reason, and I intend to figure out what it is.

2. Do you have an old resentment or unhealed hurt? How has it affected you?
Yeah, with more than one chick. It's definitely hurt my confidence that they happened, but I'd better not go into more details because I don't feel like my blog should be an outlet for whining (much, at least).

3. Describe the perfect spring day. Tell about an activity you would do on that day.
Partly cloudy skies with the temperature in the mid 80s. I'd probably like to go to a water park (namely, Schlitterbahn) or take a trip to the beach (the closest one to me is Freeport) with my cousins.

4. Name two people who are alive today you would love to meet and describe why:
Steve Jobs and Kiefer Sutherland. Steve Jobs, despite being a cruel taskmaster, is just a brilliant guy. As for Kiefer, I just think it would be cool to get trashed with Jack Bauer.

5. Make up two new words and then give them definitions:
Fantabulous (adj) - the state of being fantastic and fabulous at the same time
Meh - an interjection expressing mediocrity

Monday, May 22, 2006

FlexGo From Microsoft

Sorry about the lateness of this post, guys (I fudged the time to make it fit). I went to watch the awesome 24 finale at my friend's place, and then we watched the Mavericks sadly demolish the Spurs in OT. Anyway, what is FlexGo? Apparently, Microsoft is playing around with the idea of pay-as-you-go computing. How does it work? Just as it sounds: you'd only pay for the amount of time you actually spend on a computer via tokens or pre-paid cards (like prepaid phones). Before you cry stupidity, realize that this is targetted towards 3rd world countries. I think it's a really interesting idea. However, how cheap would this rate be? I still question how worthwhile it would be, because then the family would be rationing their computer usage rather than embracing it. Why not just go to an Internet cafe instead? It reminds me of renting an apartment for several years in a place like Texas where it would make more sense to just buy a house instead rather than pouring your money into a dead investment. It only makes sense in places like New York where housing is limited and condos are very pricey, which means that the "rent" for using the computer would have to be much lower than the cost of buying a computer so that people who couldn't afford a PC could just pay the low rate. I guess I'm just thinking out loud here about this rather than providing an effective commentary, but I like that they're thinking a little differently.

Microsoft's Xbox division has announced that they would not be dropping the price of the Xbox 360 any time soon, but I think it's debatable how far reaching their plans really are because I think they could still do it this winter. If they didn't though, that would almost be an offense to Sony because it would show how little they'd be concerned with the PS3. IGN claims that the PS3 has really stabbed itself with the core PS3 unit since the lack of the HDMI port pretty much means that it can't output in high-definition. I'm not a tech fiend when it comes to video so I didn't know this, but it would make anyone buying the cheaper unit an idiot since it would be bad a couple of years from now when HD gets much bigger. Consoles were much simpler back in the days of Game Gear. One question that has come up in the midst of all these details is how harmful they are on our youth, and a new study claims that it actually helps kids. Though I question the validity of the study, I do believe that games are at least as helpful as they are harmful (in general I mean, not equally between all games, of course). I'm not sure if pricing on UMPCs had already been announced, but it looks like the Samsung Q1 will cost as much as the cheapest MacBook. I can't see why you'd prefer a near-tablet PC to a MacBook; they need to lower that price. If you've gotten lost among what all the television networks are doing with their programming online, here's a good roundup of their offerings. I believe that ABC has the best model, and they have already had 3 million views of their free streams from their site, so I would call that successful. Lastly, if you're curious about the Mac OS X kernel and other internal stuff, then you'll get all the information you could want summarized over here.

I latch on to any Southland Tales news I can find, and we actually have some now that it has been shown at Cannes. The festival itself has provided a clip from the movie in which the porn star Krysta (Sarah Michelle Gellar) talks about her business model, and it sounds like she'll be a pretty good character. We also have impressions of the film, and it sounds different from anything we've seen before. I don't think I've been this deeply interested in a movie since I first heard about Kill Bill. Moviefone has a clip from Babel, and I have my doubts about the film, but I don't think that Brad Pitt would knowingly take on bad projects at this point of his career. I have more doubts about World Trade Center though, despite someone who saw the first twenty minutes saying that it does a good job of capturing the historic day. I wonder whether Nicholas Cage actually does better with his role than the trailer lets on. That still doesn't top my dread for X3 this weekend, which apparently has a short epilogue after the closing credits. So make sure you don't leave until after the movie is really over if you decide to see it. Lastly, I should've seen this coming yesterday, but it looks like Sony is on track to approve pre-production on a screen adaptation of Angels and Demons as a prequel to Da Vinci Code. I haven't read that one yet (it's on my reading list), but I've heard that it's much better.

I thought I'd leave you guys with a picture from the weekend. My brother's pup has
gotten so big now!

Click to enlarge

I'm going to go with Monday's a Bitch this week:

1. What's your favourite television theme song?
Hard to say, but I'll go with Knight Rider for now. It is a pretty awesome theme song, you have to admit, despite how corny the show got.
2. What tv character'’s “tragic” demise actually made you happy?
I'd say it's a tie between Sheri Palmer and Nina Myers on 24. Both were so horrible, though I think that Nina was worse since she actually killed Teri.
3. If you had to be implanted into a tv show (meaning as a character, not an actor), which would you choose?
Probably Family Guy, because it would be the most fun. If I was on 24 I'd probably get killed pretty quickly (Chloe is the only IT person that manages to survive).
4. What show do you wish would be released on DVD?
Don't think I have any requests right now. The shows I like the most are already on DVD.
5. What are you favourite conventional and unconventional tv couples?
My favorite conventional couple is probably Lois and Peter on Family Guy since they're more right for each other than you initially think, and my favorite unconventional couple (though I suppose it's a rather common situation) is Jim and Pam on The Office. That was a really good season finale, by the way. I'm going to miss that show this summer.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Da Vinci Code Movie

Sorry for the lack of a Friday night post, but I went over to my brother's place after seeing the Da Vinci Code and ended up staying there until just a few hours ago. So how was the movie that took in $224 million worldwide in the past 3 days? It was much better than I expected. In fact, I disagree right out with the majority of bad reviews it has. I've read the book, and I must say that a lot of the scenes in the movie play out on the big screen much like I had pictured it. In fact, I can't remember the last movie based on a book that was so true to its book. I'm sure they left out some of the nitty gritty stuff, but they didn't change things around in a way that affected the whole plot and they didn't add in any nonsense as far as I could tell. Click to enlargeA number of critics hated the acting, but I felt that they were rather accurate portrayals of the actors. Admittedly, I wasn't convinced by Alfred Molina's accent, but it wasn't really a big deal. Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou just looked great up there together, and Ian McKellen couldn't have possibly been a better Leah Teabing. I even enjoyed Jean Reno, though I hadn't seen any of his older movies. If there's one thing that can justifiably criticized, it's the length. However, I think they'd be hardpressed to cut more from this two and a half hour beast. Any less and you'd either feel lost or ripped off. Still, people found room to complain that it was too shy to push the Jesus thing too far, whereas I think that they spent just enough time on the controversial stuff. Some people even had the nerve to complain that there was too much talking, so let me assure you now that this is a drama; not an action movie. Another thing I'm sure readers will whine about is how the movie doesn't hold the suspense that you have in between chapters of the book, but I can't see how it would've been possible to translate that without either lengthening the movie or making it feel too choppy. I give it an A- because I think that Ron Howard did the best possible job he could with this one. It was clear that he put a lot of effort into it, especially since he even threw money into flashback scenes for explaining some of the history. Don't believe the critics: you might as well just see this one.

Ars Technica has finally put up their review of the MacBook, and it's extremely positive. I'm a sucker for their impressions on consumer electronics, and if you read the review for yourself then you'll see how compelling it is. Don't expect a 12" MacBook Pro though, because Apple has confirmed that they're not planning on making one. I suspect that they'll release one next year when it gets easier to shove all that fancy hardware in a smaller body. A common trait on the whole line of Apple notebooks is the iSight, and now there's software to help you find someone who may have stolen your laptop! It uses that iSight, and I'd strongly recommend it for Apple laptop users. The Washington Post has a review of Urge on WMP 11, and it sounds pretty good, but not quite there yet. I think it's annoying that it only has 2 million songs and no extras with your download, which really puts it behind iTunes, in my opinion. Pearl Jam has released their latest music video through the Creative Commons license, which is an awesome little license that allows free use of the media for non-commercial purposes. Way to hopefully start a revolution, Pearl Jam! If you love getting technical like I do, then you may be interested in this review of the Core Duo on the desktop, which makes it look like Intel is actually starting to catch up with AMD. Microsoft is getting sued once again, but this time it comes from Symantec for misappropriation of trade secrets that they acquired when they used some Veritas (which has recently merged with Symantec) code in Vista. Lastly, if you want to see a really badass mosaic, then you must see this. It requires some new-fangled Macromedia Shockwave player, but it's worth it.

I questioned before this weekend whether the controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code would attract enough people to offset the negative reviews, and it looks like I was more right than I had thought. It's the second biggest worldwide opening ever and a cool $77 million here in the States. I was also a little surprised by Over the Hedge pulling in second place with $37.2 million. MI:3 clutched onto to 3rd place, and now we just have to see how X3 will fare next weekend. We finally have some Grind House news. Tarantino has signed on Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas for his part of the movie, but not sure what the part is yet. Also, the entire movie has been delayed until next Easter. I'm wondering if it's because Rodriguez halted production a couple of months ago, but I'm sure that it's for the best. Remember that Superman Returns trailer we had word was coming soon? It turns out that it was the international trailer, and it's now online. It just has a few new scenes, including one of a bullet bouncing off of Superman's eye. We have some new set photos from Casino Royale, but none of them looked all that special to me. We also have a few new ones from X3, but I still wasn't all that thrilled by them. Lastly, Yahoo Movies has some exclusive clips from The Omen, which I still think has potential as a creepy movie.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Yours :: Ours

  2. Charcoal :: Drawing

  3. Platitude :: Plain

  4. Graduation :: Gift

  5. Hungry :: Man

  6. Somewhere :: Anywhere

  7. Nurse :: Silent Hill 2

  8. Freak :: Show

  9. Unbelievable :: Music

  10. Walk :: This Way

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Apple Store Strategy

I don't like to bring up my grades much because I don't want anyone to feel belittled. However, I'm so damn proud of these grades, that I have to share my excitement. I don't think I've ever had to work so hard in my life, and these grades were close right down through the wire. It cost me dearly, as my regular readers already know, but at least I have something to show for it. Anyway, Wall Street Journal had a little blurb about the Apple store, and I thought it was something worth talking about. You know what their great model is? Employees who actually know what they're doing! Seriously, have you ever gone into an Apple store? They're so helpful and knowledgeable! They also know where to place their stores. Click to enlargeThis is the new one to be opened in New York City this Friday, and it's on Fifth Avenue. Other authorized Apple retailers (you have to be authorized because you must follow Apple's pricing) claim that Apple unfairly favors their own stores with shipments, but I don't see what's wrong with that. They created these stores because the other retailers weren't doing such a great job of showcasing Apple products, so why wouldn't they want more of their goods to go where they're used best? I'll admit that whenever I go to the Galleria in Houston, I have to hit up the Apple store.

A new reason to visit an Apple store is to play around with a MacBook, and it's doing pretty well on benchmarks. Granted, it's not as good as the MacBook Pro or iMac since those are better built (and pricier) machines, but it does dominate the G4 PowerBook in a number of areas. One more Apple thing, they mysteriously released a patch that ended up fixing cooling problems on the MacBook Pro. However, users had to figure that out on their own. Why would they try to hide the fix's purpose? Sony has been claiming that the PS3 controller can't have vibration because of the new tilt sensors, but Immersion (the company hammering Sony in the courts over force feedback) claims that they'd be happy to help Sony fix this problem when all the litigation is taken care of. I'm sure Sony would be too proud to accept this help, but the key thing is that it may be possible, yet Sony isn't doing it. That's not good. Satoru Iwata claims that he doesn't care much about beating Sony or Microsoft, but rather that he wants to attract more people to games. I think he could definitely coexist with either console since everything about the Wii is so totally different. Microsoft has released a tool to test your computer and see how ready it is for Vista, and the requirements are quite heavy. Any computer that's not at least Vista-capable is probably almost obsolete, but to be premium kind of asks for a lot. Lastly, Yahoo has unveiled a video search engine, but don't confuse it with Google Video. It does not host videos itself, but rather allows you to search a lot of free content already out there. I'm glad that they went in that direction rather than a Google Video clone.

I think the coolest movie thing today is the trailer for Fast Food Nation, which looks like it'll be quite a revealing movie. I hate fast food myself, so I'll be interested to see what I've been missing out on. There's also a trailer for Dreamworks's Flushed Away now, and it looks like it could be a cute movie. What's not cute is this new installment of Van Wilder they're planning on making. I smell a disaster on the horizon. It looks like Rocky Balboa will be released on December 22, but will it be worth seeing? AICN has a rather meh review of the movie as it stands right now, and it sounds as mediocre as I was expected. First The Contender, now this! Stallone just can't catch a break. I was an avid fan of Roald Dahl as a child, so I was thrilled to learn that Guillermo Del Toro will be adapting The Witches, which I actually have here on my bookshelf. It was quite a fun little book, but I'm not sure if he's the right director for the job. We're going to have to wait for a trailer to get a better idea of his take on it. Lastly, Kevin Smith, who has really been aiming to use the Internet as much as possible for free publicity, has done his first video mailbag over at IGN. He answers some burning questions from fans quite bluntly and humorously.

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. Are there medicines you have to take everyday? If so, is it a drag?
Nope. I'm sure it would be, and I'm sure that one day I will have to, but I'll savor the time I'm healthy for!

2. Are you more of a Western medicine fan, or Eastern? Wny/why not?
Western, just because I'm not all that familiar with Eastern medicine. I don't see anything wrong with modern medicine other than the ridiculous costs (I wish our health insurance system didn't blow).

3. Are you one of those people who avoids doctors at all costs and just self-medicates as need be, or do you check in with a 'professional' from time to time?
I usually try to avoid doctors, but if I'm seriously hurt or ill then I won't really hesitate to check into ER. However, for little things, I just self-medicate.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Honeymoon is Over, Nintendo!

Throughout E3, I think many game enthusiasts will agree that Nintendo had a pretty easy time. With the horrible PS3 controller and pricing, Wii had no problem stealing the show. Is it really all that snazzy though? It turns out that the technology that the Wiimote uses is pretty old and so the input isn't as 3-dimensional as you may expect. Hence, it won't sense things as pixel-perfect as you may need for FPS games. Also, it can only detect motion, not where you're actually moving or how much you've moved it by, and so you couldn't box or anything that would require such functionality. However, they have allied with a company that could provide sensor tracking to the Wiimote, which may suggest that they're still fixing up the controller. This is not far from likely since the console won't ship for quite a while yet, which would be enough time for finishing touches like that and debunk the concerns that article brings up. However, the PS3 and Xbox 360 may still try to replicate Wii features with technology from GestureTek that could do much of what the Wii can with your body rather than a controller. In fact, if the Wiimote at E3 was final, it can do much more. All developers need now is a camera peripheral and they'd be all set to do Wii-like stuff on the Xbox 360 and, presumably, the PS3. Looks like the Wii isn't a lock-in yet, and still has a long journey ahead of it.

Sony is trying to react to the bad press regarding the PS3 price by asserting that the core system is upgradeable to the full-fledged PS3, except for HDMI output (which I think is a biggie). As for wireless controllers, it turns out that both versions will support Bluetooth. My opinion on the absurdity of the lesser console hasn't changed. Analysts are looking favorably on the MacBook as being a strong seller for Apple praising its competitive price, great timing, and smart planning. What makes it so much better than an iBook? You can see the side-by-side specs here and see for yourself, and I'd say that it's a pretty big disparity. Oh, and some Mac geeks have discovered that it supports right-clicking as well! That will come in handy for running Windows on it. Apple has now decided to close the OS X kernel, which means that developers are no longer free to modify it as they see fit. Why? Mainly because they fear increased piracy due to the Intel switch, but I'm not convinced that the concern is all that warranted. If you're not sure what to make of new Yahoo home page preview, you can read this for a better idea of what all it actually provides, and it'll probably impress you more. Click to enlargeIf you're still confused on the net neutrality debate, then you have to watch this video. I'm going to keep hammering you guys with this until you understand just how important it is. Lastly, the RIAA is suing XM for their portable devices that allow users to digitally record songs from XM. This is pretty dumb and I have faith that XM will win since normal radio has already set a precedent for this.

We finally have a trailer for World Trade Center, and it didn't look as good as the United 93 one (I still need to see that movie), but I still think it has a chance. While I'm on trailers, IGN has the English version of the Casino Royale one, but I'm still going to need more convincing to believe in this Bond flick. Meanwhile, Yahoo has some character trailers for X3 and IGN has a few clips to boot. We may soon see another trailer for Superman Returns as reported by a fan who saw such a trailer in the UK. It's possible that this was just a European version of the trailer, but it's more likely that it'll come here. Lastly, View Askew has come up with a great idea: in theater commentary. Kevin Smith is going to record a commentary track for Clerks 2, which you can then download to your iPod and keep with you in the movie theater. No word on whether it'll be free or not, but it's an interesting idea.

Now for Wednesday's Mind Hump:

Name five things you can do with a rubber band. Get as creative as you like!
1. Punish those younger than you.
2. Wear them on your wrists and pretend that you're so poor that you can only afford rubber jewelry.
3. Send it to Maguyver with a paper clip and a pencil and see if he can solve your problem (I'm referring to Family Guy for those who are confused).
4. Try teaching yourself some magic tricks.
5. Make rubber band art!

P.S. The ACL lineup is finally online! It's not as star-packed as I had previously expected, but still nothing to scoff at.

MacBook Is Upon Us

This post is meant for yesterday, Tuesday.

Click to enlargeI showed you a peek of it yesterday, and now here it is again: the MacBook (no Pro). Pardon the tardiness of this "Tuesday" post, but the baseball game was impromptu (still no Bonds home run) and didn't come back home until morning. I will have a Wednesday post up tonight though and will just breeze through yesterday's stuff. Anyway, that is not my laptop, I merely stole the picture from AppleInsider's look at the new laptop. So what's the point of this new laptop from Apple? As Apple puts it, "it's the most advanced affordable Mac notebook ever." I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this replaces the iBook line (and likely the 12-inch PowerBooks), if you know what those are like. I'd personally still get a MacBook Pro being a developer and gamer, but your average Joe will verily enjoy this creation. It still has WiFi, it's extremely portable with it's gorgeous 13.3" screen and 1.08" profile, you have Front Row for multimedia use on-the-go, it actually has both USB 2.0 and FireWire ports, and it packs quite a punch in power as well with a 1.83-2.0 Ghz Core Duo (the MacBook Pros have been bumped up to 2.0-2.16 Ghz, in turn), 60-80 GB hard drive, and 512 MB of RAM. How much is it? $1,100 to $1500 depending on how fancy you want it, but the black ones are the high-end ones. There are even a few perks, like built-in iSight, an easily replaceable hard drive, built-in Bluetooth support, magnetic latching, an infared port, and of course the MagSafe magnetic power adapter. What's with all those rumors claiming that it would release last Tuesday? Apparently, they were producing them early and announcing later so that they could have them immediately available in the Apple store, so those insiders weren't necessarily wrong, just misguided. Any drawbacks here? Well, the graphics chipset is integrated, which helps keeps costs down, but means that you're not going to want to play Half-Life 2 on it. It's really not a big deal if you're not a power user. So should you run out and buy one? Well, you should go to an Apple store and fiddle with one, and weigh the price value, and you may want to wait for reviews and other geeks to try and find any issues with them being the start of the MacBook line, but it looks pretty solid to me.

Wait, that's not all from Apple! Tuaw took a look at the improvements in iWeb 06, and they sound good, but still leave much to be desired. That seems to be a common theme for Apple though: just incremental improvements until the big releases. The Discovery Channel has added some programming to iTunes, but I'm not a big Discovery watcher. I'm sure at least one of you is. Shifting gears to Google, they've opened a new office in Sydney, and it looks almost as neat as their Palo Alto office. They've also opened the beta to their Google Notebook service, so I'll be trying that out and will let you all know how it is. Yahoo has totally redesigned their homepage, and thank God they didn't decide to just copy Google like everyone else has. It won't officially take effect until the Fall, but it is about time they update it. Lastly, Firefox has continued to gain ground as it gained almost as much usage as IE has lost popularity since January. Now we must wait and see if the release of Firefox 2.0 gives them a boost at all.

Click to enlarge

You cannot tell me that you don't like that Superman Returns poster, because it really is pretty neat. I'll admit, it looks a little CG, but what a nice shot. The Da Vinci Code will be out this weekend, but guess what? The reviews aren't so great! So far, in fact, it's dead rotten. Don't know what to make of all this, but of course Sony is still keeping the publicity machine running with the cast's grand entrance at Cannes, and some exclusive clips over at Yahoo Movies. Fantastic Four 2 has bumped itself up to a June 2007 release, presumably because the studio is afraid of the release of Transformers on July 4. That was probably a good choice for them since two big-budget movies from the same genre on the same weekend would just clash. Bryan Singer may be removing himself as director of Logan's Run should Superman Returns do well enough to warrant a sequel, as I'm sure it will. He'll probably still help out in a less time-intensive role, but this just goes to show how committed he is to Superman, and that probably bodes good things for the movie. Lastly, there's a new trailer for Santa Clause 3 (only for IE 6 users, I'm afraid), and it looks pretty bad. Martin Short must be getting desperate to have agreed to this one!

I'm going to kick it up a notch this week and go for some TMI Tuesday:

Note beforehand that I'm pretty inexperienced at this stuff, so don't take my answers to be advice for your life or anything like that.

1. Can you be in love with someone you don't trust?
No way! That would not work at all. I don't care how hot she is, that's an unacceptable turnoff.
2. If someone shoves you up against a wall while kissing you, your reaction is?
Neato. =P or, more likely: Really, God? Have I been that good lately?
3. Would you rather have a partner who has been around the block or a virgin?
Definitely a virgin. Don't comment and say, "yeah, right," because I'd probably be worried that I couldn't compare if I was with someone experienced, and I'm probably more geared towards waiting than rushing into things.
4. On a scale from 1-10, how controlling are you?
Probably a 7 or so. Sorry, that's just the way I was built! I try not to be, but being an officer in a couple of clubs and having to manage affairs at my apartment has certain side effects.
5. The old Dear Abby question... if you had to pick between kissing/affection/cuddling or sex/sexual touching and could only have one for the rest of your life, which would you pick?
Oh, that's so cruel! I'm going to go with the first one, but don't set it in stone or anything! I'm just a closet romantic like that.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Post Delay

Going to the Astros game tonight, so the post won't be up til morning. Here's a sneak peak of things to come (or things that have already happened, but I won't get to until tomorrow morning):

Click to enlarge the MacBook

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Crash of Video Games

I like how my visitor activity spiked today. I guess that personal tragedies really boost my popularity! Oh well, I guess it shows that I have enough people who care about me to want to find out what's going on with me, so thanks everyone. I ran into an extremely engaging editorial post about how the video game industry is heading for a major crash, and I'm actually inclined to agree with him. I differ with him on a few points, like I believe that the current generation was a big leap from the previous one, but I don't feel the same about this upcoming one, and only the Wii really changes the mechanics. The fact that the PS3 is using a modified DualShock shows that all Sony wants to do is churn out beefier boxes every year. Microsoft is trying somewhat, at least, with the Xbox 360. Everyone is praising their improvements to Xbox Live, which really do sound like they make the experience of their console even simpler, which means more of a focus on the fun. They're really trying to open up their Live Anywhere service and possibly start a revival in the lost art of PC gaming, which was a pretty big deal in my younger days. The fact stands though that the PS3, despite not having the worst pricing ever, bodes very badly for the industry as a whole. It's also about the games though, which seem to be becoming rehashes of old ideas and derivations from movies. Still, I have faith in Nintendo for the first time in years. You can review some of the big things we saw from them at E3 in this terse video and maybe you'll understand my sentiments. Will the industry really collapse though? We'll see soon enough.

Speaking of games, the PSP will be getting a camera attachment very soon. While it looks nifty, I just can't see it catching on very well. Why would anyone want one so late in the product cycle? Another topic I was thinking of centering this post around was that a lot search engines are copying Google now because they think that the same formula will work again. That's like guessing that lightning will hit the same place twice! I wish people would move on and realize that Google succeeded because of a couple of smart guys with great ideas, not because they followed a set path. You can still learn a few new things about Google over here though. Japanese company Softbank let the cat out of the bag that Apple has entered a deal with them to produce a 3G iPhone for the Japanese market, which has been rumored for several months now. No word on the American front quite yet, but I can't imagine that Apple would have put Japan at a higher priority (unless it's just a test market), so it's just a matter of time before an announcement. Lastly, MTV has launched its URGE music service, which offers both pay-per-download songs and subscription based unlimited listening. It's a decent plan except that it's still incompatible with Macs and iPods, which is going to really hurt its chances.

Click to enlargeWhy would I show you that poster? Well I know you like to see more than just black text, but other than it being a new poster, it's also a movie featuring Hugh Jackman, who I think is a pretty good actor. He also spoke with IGN about the sequel to Batman Begins and X3. It turns out that his consideration for the movie was pure speculation, but he wouldn't be averse to taking the role. Oh, and plenty more multimedia have sprouted about for X3. There's a pseudo trailer at AOL for The Devil Wears Prada about an overly harsh boss at a Vogue-like fashion magazine, and I thought it would be horrible but it didn't look half bad. Clerks II is now set to release a whole month earlier than before on the same weekend as Lady in the Water. Besides proving that Kevin Smith has a brass pair, it shows that he must have great confidence in his latest creation, which was budgeted at around $5 million. Lastly, Halle Berry has said that she may be willing to do another Catwoman movie if it were to be handled better, and it looks like she liked the director because she's considering a Cleopatra movie with her.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. If I could change ONE thing from this past weekend, it would be ________.
my car accident. That should be pretty much a no-brainer. It has come up in my head a lot, how close I was to having a perfect weekend by taking a break, which I was considering just minutes before the wreck occurred.
2. One of my favorite recipes includes ________.
3. If things don't go as originally planned, I tend to ________.
come up with a backup plan
4. My daily routine is very ________.
5. The one television show I will probably miss, since the season is coming to an end, is ________.
Joey, though I won't be that upset by it ending.
6. I have a calendar hanging/sitting on my ________.
7. I'm really ________ about changing the calendar when the day/month changes.