Friday, June 30, 2006

How Google Releases Products

I left work early today for the long-winded journey to Houston, and I managed to stay awake! That's two long trips in a row without totaling a car. Oh, and we got banana splits at work today. How awesome is that? Anyway, there was a strange lack of news with substance today, just little things. The only thing worth talking about was how Google releases new products. They all go through Marissa Mayer, who's almost a celebrity among geeks, and she actually gave human responses to BusinessWeek's interrogation. I'm surprised because usually people in positions like hers have to give pretty generic answers in interviews. My favorite thing that she said was blasting long specifications for projects as being unnecessary and restrictive to engineers' creativity. I understand that detailed planning has to be undertaken before a major software effort, but there's definitely a point of diminishing returns that I don't think some companies enveloped in red tape don't quite understand. It sounds like she has a good grasp of how their products fit in the big picture and that sometimes they think a little too much of the short term, which I was impressed that she was willing to state in print. I think it shows a lot to be able to learn from your mistake and build on them, and that's what Ms. Mayer is showing me here. Now I'm even more intrigued to co-op there to see if things really work this way.

Click to enlargeThe picture to the left here isn't particularly new or anything, I just love that it shows the people playing the game as well as the game itself and is just so representative of what the Wii is all about. You can see some other great Wii-related pictures you may have missed over here. People are starting to get pretty ruffled over Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage program and seem to think that it could balloon into another rootkit, so they've initiated a class action lawsuit. I don't think the program is big enough for them to end up winning this one. Dell has unveiled the first computer in a long time that has really impressed me: a 20 inch laptop that folds out like a computer. It combines the portability of a laptop with the ease of use of a desktop, and I think that it'll be huge when they managed to bring the price down a bit. If you've ever missed your music at work then you should check out Vibe Streamer to stream your music from your home computer. I haven't tried it out yet, but I'll have to see how well my craptacular Internet connection in Dallas can handle it. Lastly, Simpsons fans will get a real kick out of this clip from Conan O Brien showing some of the voice actors doing their stuff live. I've only seen Hank Azaria do them before this, and he's really fun to watch as well.

There's very little movie news today, but I'll make the best of what I have. Kevin Smith has finally decided to release the red band trailer for Clerks 2, and it's pretty damn funny. It's much more representative of the kind of humor you'll see in the movie than the normal trailers are. The good folks at Latino Review got their paws on the script for Wolverine and it sounds like they actually made a great screenplay out of the saga that is Wolverine's past, including his arch-enemies. I was definitely skeptical of this movie at first, but now I think that it could actually be pretty good. The last item I have is some new clips from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, many of which extend parts of the trailer. It's so nice being in Houston where I can actually stream video at broadband speeds.

Now for Friday's Feast:

On average, approximately how many times per day do you yawn?

At least 10, but probably around 20 or so times. I tend to yawn randomly, even when I'm not bored or overtly tired.

What was your most memorable school field trip?

Probably going to Big Bend for a week. It could've been more fun, but it was definitely memorable. I really want to go back to Big Bend again someday because it's just so gorgeous.

Fill in the blank: I was extremely __________________ this week.

Productive, which is a welcome change from my earlier weeks at TI.

Main Course
Which color do you think of when you hear the word "soothing"?

Light blue. Maybe because of the ocean?

What is something that, if you had to, you could save up the money to buy within one month?

A MacBook Pro :) I don't have to buy it right now though, so I'm not going to.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Google Checkout Has Everyone Abuzz

My first project release finally happened today after some drama from my mentor and after I spent a few hours tracking down the source of a bug with an error window not appearing. I was proud of that fix though because I got to tell the guy with the highest seniority that I found a bug in his code and that was causing the problem. Everyone else seemed to be much more excited about Google Checkout though, which was released today. If you've got a minute (literally), you should definitely watch their tour video before continuing here. At first, I thought that this was a dumb idea, but now I can see why it's good. Everyone trusts Google but no one knows whether to trust these little Internet sites because of identity theft running rampant and shady sellers, so what if they only bought stuff online through Google's system? Better yet, what if someone told you that you could buy stuff online through an arbitrator that didn't even tell the retailer squat about your credit card information but just paid them off? Sound like PayPal? Yeah, it does to me, too. I don't know why Google wanted to hide it, but this sounds like a competitor to PayPal except that they're integrating it with AdWords and makes it attractive for their AdWords clients to use Google Checkout with discounts. You can read about that part of the deal from a merchant who gave a little review of the service. What's important is that they're combining their strong image with more convenience, which is what consumers like. Think about it, aren't you brand-loyal in certain things? Would it be smart to cheap out on something like computer hardware? Likewise, would it be smart to cheap out on credit card security? Especially when things are even easier on you. My point is that it's a decent idea that has room for improvement but is still a competitor for PayPal, I don't care what Google says.

It looks like our Congress isn't entirely full of lunatics after all: there are Democrats in the Senate fighting for net neutrality directly opposed to what the telcos are pushing for, which shows that they've got some balls. The stuff they brought up either tied or failed, and it just amazes me how the Republicans can spew out crap claiming that net neutrality supporters want individual access to the Internet to double when, in reality, we're being overcharged right now with people in crowded places getting horrible service. Microsoft has finally decided to push back Office 2007 to be released in early 2007, which aligns itself quite close to the release of Vista, which is a move that has been speculated on for many weeks now. I wonder how they're going to make up for losing holiday season sales though? At least they released Beta 3 of IE7, which I'm sure we'll see reviews of quite soon. I, obviously, will be sticking to my Firefox. Oh, and Microsoft's Research group has come out to state the obvious: their successor to Vista is going to have to support multiple core processors more efficiently. Why hadn't they be researching this for Vista? I'll bet you that Apple has been working closely with Intel to beat Microsoft to this. A common question I get from people is what they can get instead of the iPod, and now I've found a list of five mp3 players that actually don't look too bad. Still, those compete more directly with the Nano than the iPod, and I still think the normal iPod is on top for higher capacities based on its build quality and Apple's support. SCEA's president made a very slight comment hinting that PS3 games could be pricey, and likely starting at $60, which is what Xbox 360 games typically cost. I understand that studios have to pump more money to develop these games, but I wonder how this'll fare against Wii's competitively priced games, which I know won't be nearly as hard to make since the platform doesnt sound too far off from the Gamecube platform. Lastly, if you like seeing scandalous ads, then you'll enjoy this article. I'll even show you my favorite one from it:

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The big thing today was the release of the teaser trailer for Transformers, which actually got away with showing no footage from the film at all, which I guessed since they're not very far along at all anyway. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing what Michael Bay comes up with. There's also a teaser trailer out for The Nativity revolving around, you guess it, the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus. It's about as revealing as the Transformers trailer except that it's coming out this December so I would've expected a little more out of it. Sony has picked up the distribution rights to Richard Kelly's second movie, Southland Tales, and plans to release it domestically, but how wide all depends on how well Kelly can edit it. It seemed to get mixed reactions at Cannes, but so did Donnie Darko initially so I guess we'll have to hope that he really can make magic happen twice in a row. New Line has given Chris Weitz's adaptation of The Golden Compass the green light to start shooting in September with an impressive $150 million budget. The lead role of Lyra has been given to a no-name actress, but Pullman approved of her so I'm sure she'll be great. We now have a general plot overview of Resident Evil: Extinction, and it sounds pretty dumb to me to be honest. I just can't get over the fact that even with suspended disbelief we're supposed to believe that there's only a small group of people remaining alive and that they're getting along just fine on their own. Lastly, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman will likely be on the big screen together in a Rob Reiner flick where they play two terminally ill patients. Reiner isn't known for great stuff, but it could still work out.

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. How much patience do you have with your job (this includes the work, co-workers, and bosses)? Why/why not?
I haven't been around for long, so I currently have a lot of patience since everyone has to have patience with me as well since I'm not as experienced as any of them.

2. How much patience do you have when it comes to your health? How much is too much? What do you do to fix the situation?
I'm relatively patient. I know when something is more wrong than usual with me though, so I don't think I'm too patient or anything like that.

3. What's the one thing you have zero patience for? Why?
I'm pretty impatient with computers in general because I'm just used to working fast on computers. I hate just sitting at a screen and waiting for a response from it. I guess I'm just spoiled by my own wonderful machine.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why Google Will Stay On Top

I would've beta released my project today, except that the PE (i.e. my client) wasn't ready until late in the day, and the team leads didn't want to do a release so late in the day. Still, we tested it and it was just such a thrill to see it in action, but really scary at the same time. It made the past however many weeks all worthwhile. Anyway, someone posted a followup to Monday's article on semantic searching threatening Google by claiming that they have indeed taken out an insurance plan on their future and cannot be so easily brought down. I don't agree that Google isn't distracted because overtly they're all over the place, but I agree with his other points. They do appear to be pretty well versed in AI though, and it looks like they haven't lost sight of the semantic web after all. Plus, having boatloads of money doesn't hurt either. I'd definitely put my hope more in Google than any competitor for searching, but I wouldn't discount the possibility that someone could get there before Google. Let's think realistically here, Google was just started by a couple of smart guys and Yahoo never saw it coming. Who's to say that another team of smart guys couldn't pop out of nowhere and beat Google to the next big thing? I think he goes a little far by saying that no one can beat Google, but the odds are definitely on their side.

Meanwhile, another giant, Apple, is facing delays on their next big iPod arrival. Apparently, they want to increase the screen size while reducing the battery life, which are totally complementary things so I can see their problem, but it's totally worth the delay if they pull it off because battery life is so important to consumers. Microsoft released a newer build of Vista Beta 2 to a select few that fixed a lot of bugs plaguing the current public build leading some to believe that maybe they're on track after all. It's hard to gauge how good it is when they don't do a wide release with the changes, so let's just say that they're working hard rather than that they're totally on track. I recently praised a USB TV transmitter for Macs, and it looks like another one popped up for PCs at a trade show in Korea. We don't have any details on it yet, but at least the product is out there. Another neat gadget coming soon can read text out loud by taking pictures of it, and it's obviously targeted at the visually impaired. I just find the technology quite amazing and I just hope the price will go down from $4,000 soon enough. For those of you who can see just fine, you may want to take a look at this online photo editor that doesn't quite rival Photoshop, but it has a lot of impressive filters that put it ahead of Picasa. I'm not sure how they profit off this product, but I'll take it while it's free! Lastly, if you wondered about what was going to be replacing NYC's Twin Towers, then you should check out this article reporting that the tower design has been chosen and they hope to have it completed by 2010. I personally like the design they chose.

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I'm going to start off with a few news items on Grind House. It turns out that hottie Rosario Dawson is joining the cast of Tarantino's portion of the double feature, Death Proof, and Rodriguez is already finished with his portion of filming. Filming on Tarantino's half will start very soon. Entertainment Weekly interviewed the duo to find out how they met and such and it turns out that they're going for real authenticity here down to a reel being purposely missing in Rodriguez's portion for added effect. This should be a real movie geeks's movie. Nicole Kidman may be in the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass as a scientist/conspirator, but no word on how she feels about the role. When the writer of the book wants an actress though, you know she's right for the part. I ran into some spoilers for Spider-man 3 that are really spoilerific so don't read them if you don't want to know, but the source has been on the set for a lot of the filming and gives away some details that makes me want to see the movie even more now as opposed to the X3 spoilers that made me hate Fox with a passion. I'm actually going to watch that teaser again right after I finish this post. Yahoo Movies has a slightly different trailer for The Night Listener than what we've already seen, and like I said before: I'm interested to see Robin Williams and Toni Collette in a serious movie together. Lastly, Gael fans or people who just love French will want to check out these clips from The Science of Sleep.

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What are your favorite TV shows? If you can, also tell us the one show you absolutely HATE to miss.
24, Lost, and Family Guy right now. I really hate missing 24 because it's so intense and you literally spend the rest of your week waiting for the next episode.

2. Who handles the remote control in your household?
My dad, of course.

3. How many remote controls are there in your house? Not counting your childrens' appliances.
At my parents' place, I'm going to go with 8 or so.

4. Do you flip through the channels mindlessly, or do you stick with one or two channels?
Here or in Austin: mindless flipping. In Houston though, I know what channels are good all too well so I have a list in my head of what channels to flip through.

5. Adam Sandler's latest movie is "Click," about a guy who discovers a remote control that works on life. If you could have such a device, how would you put it to use?
I'd go back in time to undo totaling my baby :(

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Fiction Behind the IT Shortage

It turns out that tomorrow will be the real D-Day: my project release. I didn't realize until today that I'll actually be putting my code on a tool and watch it work live. Now I'm pretty scared that it'll not work, but I guess I should have more faith in my own testing, of which I'm mostly done save one simulator. Oh, and I was thrilled that I actually wrote my own code to fix a problem I discovered in the code of someone above me! Anyway, what I'm really here to talk about is a rather provocative editorial about how the IT shortage is caused by the companies rather than a lacking labor supply. She actually makes some pretty good points: the job postings I looked at last year through our school's eRecruiting portal seemed to really be targeted at all these specialties, and it's frustrating because I can't learn 20 different languages and be proficient at all of them just so that these employers will look at me. For example, I was questioned about my SQL knowledge, and I said I could get my way around it but I never used it because I haven't had to and have instead had to do a lot of other stuff. They probably weren't pleased with that response, but what can I do? It's unfair to gauge someone based on how many languages they're gurus in rather than how naturally adept they are at key concepts. Cutting benefits isn't a good idea either *cough*Microsoft*cough* if you want to attract workers you previously laid off, especially when competing with the stellar benefits packages offered by companies like Google and TI. Now this doesn't encompass all companies, but there are just a lot out there that are this way, and I hope that they'll change soon enough.

Click to enlargeWhat you see here to the left is, deliciously enough, Verizon's Chocolate phone, which bears an undeniable resemblance to the iPod. Details on the phone seem to be scarce, but it's likely to have some musical capabilities, probably for playing mp3s, and is a slider with a camera at the back. I just think it looks neat. Have you ever wanted to just scribble on your Google Maps outputs because of inaccuracies or to point out things to friends? Well, Quikmaps allows you to do just that and I'm sure that I'll become very close to it very soon because it really is extremely intuitive and fun. Intel has decided to sell off its cell phone processors to Novell, which I'm sure will make Novell an important company in semiconductors very soon, or at least to TI it will. I just thought it was a noteworthy thing since I think Novell has lost power in recent years. Microsoft has made its Office beta available online so that you don't have to download the large file and install it and such if you just want to see how it feels. Besides the long time it took for me to get anything started, I think it's a pretty good idea. It ran really slow for me, but I hope that's just because of my Internet connection because my computer is pretty well equipped. Otherwise though, I liked what I saw. Microsoft is also launching a code sharing site very soon where it can foster collaboration among some of its source code under the Shared Source license. I'm guessing that this is their dabbling into what open source is all about without taking a huge plunge, which I don't think is a bad idea at all. Meanwhile, we have received official confirmation from Apple that Steve Jobs will indeed be personally showing off Mac OS X Leopard at WWDC on August 7, which means that it'll be lots of fun to see so I'll look forward to it. Lastly, web developers will love this site from which they can test out their sites on different OSes and browsers for compatibility. Its server was being hammered when I tried it, but I'm sure it works quite well.

Before you keep reading you really need to watch the Spider-man 3 teaser trailer because it's incredible and knocked my socks off. I see watching that trailer repeatedly in my near future. What's currently more exciting is the release of Superman Returns, and some of the key players have even expressed that they'd be interested in doing a sequel should the powers that be greenlight one and Singer be involved. Just a heads-up for anyone who sees it this weekend (starting tomorrow) and loves it. We actually have a couple of other trailers today as well, but they're not as important. One is for The Guardian, which I'm not too interested in but at least it has Ashton Kutcher in a role that doesn't make really stupid jokes as a sad cry for attention. The other is for Marie Antoinette, which I'd love to check out if my Internet connection didn't blow so hard here because I think it could be a pretty decent movie and Kirsten Dunst looks real good in it, in my opinion. Oh, and Pirates of the Caribbean fans can go here for a behind-the-scenes featurette for Dead Man's Chest over at Apple. Speaking of Apple, I wonder if they're bothered that Warner Brothers has struck a deal with video sharing site Guba to try distributing some of their movies there. I'm surprised that they think Guba can handle things better than Apple. AICN got an exclusive look at the poster for The Illusionist, which is that movie I mentioned a long time ago with Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti about a magician spinning tricks for romance. I think the acting will be better than the storyline. Lastly, Comedy Central is now promising that it'll be showing the episodes that Dave Chappelle shot of Chappelle's Show before he left on July 7, which I won't believe until I see because they've been pushing this back for several months now.

And now, I'm going to take a stab at the Ten on Tuesday meme:

10 Fun Games to Play at a Party
10. Truth or Dare
9. White Elephant Gift Exchange
8. Water Balloon Fight
7. Karaoke Revolution
6. Guitar Hero
5. Halo 1/2
4. Pictionary
3. Spoons
2. Cranium
1. Charades

Monday, June 26, 2006

Where in the World is WinFS?

Today definitely felt like a productive day at work, and I think I can release my project tomorrow before lunch! Also, I finally got a tour of the fab and it's unbelievable. It really is humbling to see how many tools are involved in making a processor. Anyway, sorry for the horrible joke in the title, I just used to love "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" growing up. One of the most exciting improvements that Microsoft promised to us was WinFS, a totally revamped file storage system that would make things closer to the ease of use Mac users generally experience. Now though, they've decided to dissolve it into their other data access products, which means that it won't come standard in Vista. Why did they do this? For one, they decided to appease developers since otherwise there would be two APIs for them to deal with, WinFS and Enterprise Server product APIs, which I find incredulous given that as a developer I'm getting sick and tired of working with Windows and am ready to jump ship to the Mac, which even has an awesome IDE (XCode) already built-in. So rather than give users a convenient "search and organize" experience, which was one of its biggest selling points to me, they're going to cut big companies a little slack, because they really need the help. I just don't get their decisions sometimes. I can see that their business partners are really important, but at what cost are they willing to appease them? Without Aero on the base versions of Vista (and some systems not even powerful enough to support it), is there really enough to bring users to the table and shell out a couple hundred bucks to upgrade?

It seems to be becoming a popular trend nowadays to talk about the future of searching, and a hot topic is semantic searching, which Evolving Trends thinks could mean the end of Google. They claim that a Wikipedia 3.0 could theoretically accelerate the progress of an ontology language model, or formally specifying normal language queries to produce results without having to know the right keyword. I'm still skeptical of this because I don't think the social collaboration model is as ideal as people would like to believe. Speaking of which, John Dvorak actually started poking holes in the Digg model just because they've released a new version, which is actually rather nifty. I see his point in how it can easily be tipped to a bias, but I just feel that the community is so large now that it would be enraged by such external control and Digg was instantly plummet. Rumors from analysts are starting to emerge claiming that Apple could release 16 GB iPod Nanos this fall with all the NAND memory they're purchasing. However, I think that they're preparing for a major iPod release rather than a large Nano upgrade and may just release a 8 GB Nano instead. Meanwhile, Apple servers will be getting an upgrade very soon with Intel Woodcrest chips coming out and promising large performance gains. I won't believe the improvements until I see benchmarks though. When you're enjoying your four day weekend in a few days you should leave some time for Circuit City to buy some video games, several of which are on sale for under $10! I'm definitely going to be checking out my local Circuit City this weekend, even though I don't usually shop there for anything but music. Lastly, I just had to mention that Austin made it on a list of 8 places you'd want to live if you're strapped for cash but still want to be in a fruitful place.

Click to enlargeThat's the new poster for Talladega Night: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and you can definitely see the similarities to the first Anchorman poster. Bryan Singer, previously penned to direct Logan's Run, has decided to take a much-needed vacation after the release of Superman Returns because the time he spent on it while juggling other things totally exhausted him. I'm sure that fans of the book will be very disappointed, but let's not moan until they decide who his replacement will be. Yahoo Movies has a new trailer for Snakes on a Plane, and it may not be much better than what we've already seen but I know that a lot of you must be clamoring for it by now. The new trailer for Pan's Labyrinth is much more interesting, but it's hard for me to make heads or tails of it without knowledge of Spanish. IGN brought up a rumor of Robin Williams possibly playing The Joker in a sequel to Batman Begins, and I'm only propagating it because I think it's a neat thought, not because I think it's viable. If he hadn't done so many comedic roles and done more dark stuff he'd probably be better suited in audiences' minds. Lastly, JoBlo has a rather positive review of Lady in the Water even comparing it to the time classic The Princess Bride. I'm sure it can't be that good, but it sounds like something I really want to see now.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Do you own a digital camera?
Oh yeah, a PowerShot SD 450. I've only had it for like 3 months, but I absolutely love it.
2. What is your camera of choice?
Obvious the SD 450 ;)
3. If you're a digital camera fan, do you print your own photos, or do you send them in to be printed? If you send them in, do you have a favorite place?
I haven't had them printed yet. I haven't had photos developed since Prom I think, and I really shouldn't have gotten those because Prom blew in the end. I'll probably take my digital photos to like a Wal-mart to get them printed when I need to though.
4. How many pictures do you take a month?
At least 30-40, but I'm sure it'll oscillate depending on what's going on in any given month.
5. How many of those pictures actually get printed?
So far, none!
6. Are you planning on purchasing a new camera in the near future?
Nope! I just got this one and am going to hold off on big purchases until I get a new laptop in a couple of years.
7. CHALLENGE: Go check out Favorite Five Photos and Foto Pherrets and choose just ONE photo to share
I liked the sunset shot over at this blog.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

When Advertising Goes Bad

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As you can see above, I definitely had a sufficiently fun weekend. I have other pictures, but many of the others were inside jokes. We played soccer Friday, went to the zoo Saturday, ate at Pluckers, took shots of Patron (not cheap, by the way) while watching Pulp Fiction, player poker for the empty bottle, and then played basketball today. And now, I have to work hard tomorrow to release my first project on Tuesday as I had promised. Anyway, you can see more pictures here if you're interested through Picasa web albums, which is actually not half bad. What brought me to center today's topic around what I decided to center it around was this article about how some dude bought Chappelle's Show on iTunes and complained because it had a few very short ads on it. You may say that a couple of 10 second ads isn't a big deal, but when you pay for a show it should be ad-free or else the price should be subsidized. Apple told him to wait a couple of weeks to download it, which we have reason to believe means that they're fixing up things with Comedy Central but just don't want to say it publicly. It sounds like an honest mistake though, right? Well that brings me to my next article, which is pretty far from an honest mistake: Best Buy is favoring Blu-ray over HD-DVD. Why? I'll give you one guess: it's green, smells funny, and Best Buy loves raking it in. I suppose we don't know for sure that Sony paid them off, but why else would they specifically instruct employees to not play movies on HD-DVD players and to sell Blu-ray players, despite the lower picture quality, solely because of "higher margins." What happened to retailers having some damn integrity?! Yes, I cursed, because this is curse-worthy. I'm not saying that I believe either one is particularly better since I think the whole format war is idiotic, but the fact that such a major retailer that already makes tons of money would do this is despicable. If you want to just carry one brand of product that's fine, but don't pretend to be an impartial retailer if you're just someone's bitch.

I spent too much time on laundry, so I'm going to have to go through the rest of this post rather quickly I'm afraid. Going off the advertising theme, Google has starting testing out video ads on Google Video. What's awesome is that it means that certain shows that you usually have to pay for would be free because of the ad-support, and I really like that idea. A new Digg will be premiering very soon (I believe this week, actually), and it sounds like he's actually putting new features in. You can hear what Kevin Rose himself had to say over here, and it sounds like they're implementing some video component but I didn't quite get the specifics. Apple appears to be vamping up Leopard to compete more directly with Vista with features like an integrated mapping technology, comparable to Virtual Earth. This isn't surprising, I just didn't know that they were coming up with such software, but it is just a rumor. Oh, and while I'm on Apple, you should watch this video if you want a blast from the past. Tim Berners-Lee has come out swinging to support other big whigs (like Vincent Cerf) in supporting net neutrality and highlighting how vital it is. He does a great job of explaining what it is and isn't to clear up confusion, and it's a must-read. Lastly, the Wii looks like it will support SD memory, which is really exciting to me because it could mean that you can put pictures from your camera and stuff on it, and it's not a proprietary format (i.e. unlike Sony's MemoryStick).

I was rather surprised to learn that Click reigned supreme this weekend with a whopping $40 million. Also impressive was Cars only dropping a third of its audience to come in second place, and I can't believe that the Da Vinci Code is still on the chart at #10. We're going to see some craziness this coming weekend though with Superman Returns's release. Did you know that they've made another sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer? I was pretty sickened, too, and AICN got a bum review of it from Vern. Why do they keep doing this? It's a Scream or a Saw. Lastly, Apple seems to have a final trailer for Clerks 2, which is only slightly revised from what we've seen before. Still, now it's in Quicktime glory.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Newspaper :: Bathroom

  2. Crucify :: Jesus

  3. Sausage :: Biscuit

  4. Handy :: Man

  5. Cloak :: Dagger

  6. Drunk :: Stupor

  7. Fuel :: Band

  8. Caress :: Lotion

  9. Itch :: Scratch

  10. Vehicle :: Car

Friday, June 23, 2006

Propaganda From Telcos

Work really is pretty exciting now that I have two projects and I promised my boss that I'd be releasing one on Tuesday. This means that I won't be bored for a while, and after Tuesday I'll have finishing tackling the biggest hurdle of the summer: mastering the basics. There really has been a big learning curve. Anyway, my main topic today is going to center on this cartoon, so I suggest you watch it before continuing reading this paragraph. Done? Good. I was actually introduced to it by The Register, who poked fun at how the telcos corrected their "misconceptions" about the Internet. I can't believe that they'd stoop so low to actually lie about what their plans are. Anyone who thinks for one second that these companies care about anything but themselves and their piles of money must be high. I love how they paint this picture of an open web where there's no discrimination as if it's the end of the world, but their world (where they of course neglect to mention these special charges) is where sunshines and lollipops live. I can't imagine that people would believe that in order to make the Internet faster they need to end net neutrality, or that the geeks lobbying for it would want a worse Internet just to spite the telcos. It almost angers me to think that they would spread this nonsense, but it's not even necessary since so many people are grossly uninformed of this issue as of now. I hope that my readers at least understand the importance of this issue. If not, then check my archives or stay tuned for more developments on this battle.

Click to enlargeThat's one of just a couple of early screenshots from Leopard, and I just wanted to put it up because it looks so awesome. Opera is coming to the Nintendo DS real soon, and we already have a review of the beta. Apparently, it's really well-planned and fun, but I just wonder how many people will actually use it. The PS3 may be getting its own version of the PS2's EyeToy, and speculation seems to claim that it'll be used in games like Minority Report for some of the futuristic effects seen in the movie. The source of the peripheral news is pretty solid, but they later stuff doesn't seem as surefire. If you've been to the million dollar homepage before then you'll really get a kick out of this, which is a building based off the same idea. If you know what Ajax is then you may be intrigued by Fjax, which combines Flash with Ajax to help process data. I'm behind on learning these new web technologies, but they really do sound fun. Lastly, I've brought up what's gone wrong with the next generation of DVDs before, but here's another list of the top ten reasons why they've already failed. I think the biggest deal is the #1 reason because it seems like they've been trying to race to be the better format rather than working on making things really polished and easy to use/understand.

The movie news item that I enjoyed the most today was a rundown of the Spider-man 3 trailer, and it makes me want to watch it not once, not twice, but like ten times. I guess that I'm just too much of a fan since he's my second favorite superhero of all time. Speaking of superheroes, IGN has some pictures from the premiere of Superman Returns. Shaq made it to the premiere, but I wonder if they would've invited Dirk Nowitzki instead if the Mavs won? If you're more interested in Pirates of the Caribbean though, they have some new shots from that flick as well. The premiere of Dead Man's Chest is actually tomorrow though, and you can catch that live on MSN if you care to. I think showing these premieres live is an interesting idea, but it's only good if they have interviews and clips from the movie as well, which I'm guessing MSN will shoot for. It has now been confirmed that the director for The Watchmen will be none other than Zach Snyder, of Dawn of the Dead remake fame, as was earlier speculated on. I like what I've seen so far from 300 so I have no reason to believe that he wouldn't do a good job on this one. Lastly, if you really want to see pictures from Evan Almighty, then USA Today can hook you up.

Now for Friday's Feast:

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you like your job?

About a 6 right now. It's getting better, but I need to get a couple of projects under my belt before passing real judgement on it.

When was the last time you think you were lied to?

A few hours ago when I was playing soccer and everyone kept saying that it was "the last goal" for three goals. At 9:00 PM on a Friday, you just want to go home and chill.

Share some lyrics from own of your favorite songs.

"It's hard to believe that there's nobody out there
It's hard to believe that I'm all alone
At least I have her love, the city she loves me
Lonely as I am, together we cry" - Under the Bridge, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Main Course
What do you do/take when you are in pain?

If you mean headaches, just Tylenol. I don't have them often though. For problems on my skin, like bites and scrapes, which are more common, I use some Cortizone.

Fill in the blanks: My __________ is very __________.

heart, weary

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Debating" Video Game Violence

"Seriously, the House of Representatives is filled with insane jackasses." - Jon Stewart

I think I'm starting to enjoy work now that it's keeping me busy, and hopefully I can get a second project assigned to me tomorrow so that I can double team this stuff. You're probably more interested in that quote, which I believe came from last night's Daily Show, but my cable here blows so I didn't see the episode myself, only the clip in which that quote was featured. I feel most inclined to talk about what I saw in that clip. What I saw really was a bunch of insane jackasses wasting our money. We pay these guys to debate the issues that affect our lives on a large scale, and we hope that they do the proper research so that they can make the right decisions. These guys clearly did not do that. Let me make it clear that I do not disagree with trying to keep young kids away from bad games or making the ratings stricter, but I think that there is a logical way to do things, and that doesn't include blaming games for people losing their lives. It also doesn't mean that a congressman can claim to qualified to legislate on the issue just because he used to play Pong back in the day. That's like passing laws over digital music just because you used to own a portable cassette player. I'm not saying that they need to be avid gamers, but they're choosing to not educate themselves about how things really work in the industry or conduct studies to see what's happening to children but rather believe what they want to believe. The more random gore scenes they show from video games the more support they'll get, right? It's just really frustrating for me and I'm glad that at least Jon Stewart stepped up to the plate on live television to comment on it. I can only hope that they'll somehow end up making the right decisions.

I actually have a real piece of video game news today: Nintendo has created a new subbrand called Touch Generations to release games under for older audiences, such as Brain Age and Sudoku Gridmaster. It may sound stupid, but it's probably a good idea since they need to step out of the kiddie brand everyone thinks of them as if they want to really grow. The search engine wars may seem to clearly yield to Google, but it turns out that things aren't that simple as Yahoo and MSN have improved quite a good bit in terms of number of searches. Supposedly the new trend will be social searching, but I think that's just analysts trying to hide under the latest buzzword because I don't know how much people really care about other people's opinions while searching; unless they're looking for reviews, of course. Meanwhile, Google is piloting a new service called the Content Referral Service where webmasters get paid based on a click through's action rather than just the click itself. I'm not sure if this means that advertisers will pay more for this service as opposed to normal AdSense or how it works for them, but it gives webmasters a better payoff and I'm sure will make advertisers happier regardless. One of the biggest jabs at iTunes from techies is that the AAC is a lossy, compressed format that's still not as good as CD quality, but we may see a lossless format in the near future. This means that the files will be bigger (more bits rather than prediction), but much higher quality. However, it needs DRM before iTunes will start selling it, so stay tuned for more on that front. Mac users who enjoy watching TV on the go should look into the TVMicro, which is a USB dongle that provides all kinds of analog television streaming and recording capability and I wish was compatible with PCs so I could pounce on one. Can you imagine recording that episode of 24 you missed and then loading it onto your iPod to watch on the bus or train? If you're having trouble with media formats though, then you'll like MediaCoder. CS nerds like me will want to hold onto this page forever with full texts of some of the most important and influential CS-related texts to be produced, though I was disappointed to not see Dijkstra on there. Lastly, since all we see are guys on the field in soccer games, I thought that some of my male readers would be interested in this gallery. After you see her, you'll waste a lot of time flipping through the pictures:

Click to enlarge

I was surprised to find so much movie news today, particularly from the superhero flicks. Not only do we have new production designs from Superman Returns, but IGN managed to scoop up a few new scenic shots from the movie itself. Spider-man, not to be outdone, has a new teaser poster, but it's quite blurry. That came from across the Atlantic though, so I'm sure that it'll come here soon enough and should be much sharper. Oh, and the teaser trailer that we'll see in theaters this weekend will run 1 minute and 38 seconds long, which is a decent size for a teaser. I can't wait to see the first footage to ever be released from the movie. We have strong speculation that Iron Man will be planning to hit theaters in May 2008, which would be coming rather close to the target release of Indiana Jones 4, though I doubt they'd drop on the same weekend. The blockbuster for this summer should be Snakes on a Plane though, and you can see more multimedia from that flick over at IGN. Futurama has been talked about a good amount in recent months as making some sort of a comeback, and supposedly it's now selling 13 episodes to Comedy Central. All the voice actors have inked their agreements, so it looks like this isn't a fake-out! I think it'll be good just because they want to prove that they can bring fans back in a big way. Lastly, if you're a fan of Zach Braff or writer Paul Haggis, then you'll no doubt want to see the trailer of The Last Kiss. My craptacular connection won't let me view it, but I'm sure it's decent since Haggis did write Crash and Million Dollar Baby.

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. Do you look forward to getting new toys (appliances, gadgets, etc)? Why/why not?
Definitely. I don't look forward to the inevitable credit card bill, but I like having new stuff because it makes me feel like I'm finally grown up enough to be able to handle nice things like digital cameras and computers and such all on my own. Seriously, my brother was always afraid I'd break stuff when I was younger since I broke his old toys when I was really little.

2. Have you gotten any new toys lately (say, the last 6 months)? Do you like them?
Just the camera really, and I love it. I was hooked on it for like a month, and I'd probably use it more here if I had more stuff to take pictures of.

3. Do you get any satisfaction out of getting new electronic equipment? Why/why not?
Oh yeah, mainly because I'm a geek and electronics fascinate me.

Bonus Question: If you could get any new piece of equipment, what would it be? Why?
A MacBook Pro because I'm tired of lugging around a tower and CRT, and the agony of trying to install SP2 has made me very weary of using Windows.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Apple's iTunes' Staying Power

I think today was the first day at work that I constantly had stuff to do, even if it is just testing. Then again, I spent half the day out of the office at a new hire luncheon and then an ITS co-op ice cream thing. To end the day, I lost in poker, but it felt good to play cards again. Moving along, Business Week decided to talk a little more about how precarious the movies on iTunes situation is. They make it sound like the studios are being so strict with Jobs that they'll never crack, but I'm sure that they will compromise eventually. I think that Jobs will waver on his flat charge plans, and I'm sure that he'll decide to commit to some of their demands, because there is no way in Hell that a flat price for movies could possibly work since it's a totally different market from music and they're bleeding too much money right now to give up so much ground to Apple. I agree with the studios' approach because they have to show that they have some balls and deflate Jobs's ego that he controls the world just because of the iPod. There's no doubt that it gives him significant negotiating power, but unless he's put them in the loop about some new upcoming device (which I doubt), what reason do they have to even believe that people would go for movies on iTunes any more than on Movielink or some other competitor? Still, I believe that iTunes and the iPod gives them enough power to lock Microsoft out of the market, which is what a Forbes columnist claims. Urge isn't doing much for Microsoft, and they'd have to have something pretty mindblowing to try to steal market share away from the iPod. I still think that it's possible to destroy the iPod because I've encountered lots of people dissatisfied with the lifespan of their iPods until they need to be repaired or need to have the battery replaced, but I don't see many people wholly satisfied with devices from big players like Creative either. For now though, iTunes remains strong, and I think that we'll see movies in the not too distant future.

Back to Microsoft: they've lost another executive, and this one used to run Windows Live. It's not clear to me whether he quit on his own accord or was fired, but I'm sure it doesn't encourage confidence in their investors. I still don't have much confidence in IE7 myself though, but one blogger interviewed the Project Manager (PM), and his answers were rather generic. I'm not saying that they didn't make sweeping security fixes, they just tend to be sloppy about it because they rest on their laurels since they know how big their market share already is. Click to enlargeI'm sure that those of you who enjoy video games are curious to see how people are actually using the Wiimote, and you can see it in action in a collection of E3 videos over here. They even have one showing off the virtual console. Man does Mario 64 bring back some memories. It's no secret that The Pirate Bay has some political power in Sweden, and it looks like the movement is spreading to America. I don't think that they'd actually gain control or plan on it, but I think that they're trying to encourage politicans to take more defined roles on the Internet, preferably to protect its neutrality. Otherwise, they're going to keep giving more power to the telcos thinking that their constituents don't care. Lastly, if you're a coder then you may want to bookmark this online book that covers some of the more important algorithms , many of which you've no doubt already learned if you're a programmer.

We have a release season for Indiana Jones 4: summer 2008. I wouldn't be surprised if this ended up getting pushed back since they're still in pre-production, but I'm sure that they'll want it to come out in the summer anyhow. I can hardly believe it, but they're actually going to make a movie out of the video game Clock Tower. This is likely because of Silent Hill, except that this game isn't nearly as popular or story-driven. The next Harry Potter movie will follow in the footsteps of its predecessor and be offered in IMAX. It shouldn't surprise anyone that a blockbuster series would be shown on the really big screen. Yahoo Movies has the trailer for Borat, featuring the actor who also portrays Ali G, and supposedly it has been getting some awesome advance reviews. I didn't see anything special in that trailer, but I suspect that it was just a teaser and that we'll see a full one soon enough. Lastly, AICN's Massawyrm saw Click and was very underwhelmed by it. I hope that it's just a fluke review, but Massawyrm is usually a pretty good reviewer. He doesn't claim that it's horrible or anything, but rather that it loses focus of a target audience.

The Wednesday Mind Hump totally copped out this week, but I'll play along anyway:

There's one thing that's up, but I don't feel comfortable talking about it here because this is too public of a forum. Let's just say that I'm a little caught up in how I should handle my life this fall. I think I need to balance school and life a little better, or else I'll keep getting knocked down and one of these times I'll stay down. Also up is work, but I'm going to bed for too little time each night so I'd better hit the sack right now so I don't feel groggy tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Smattering of Advice

Actually, the advice I'm referring to is mainly for programmers, but the first piece pertains to all college students. Business Week has a list of the top 10 goofs that interns often make, and I can vouch for all of them being pretty bad. So if you're still preparing for that first internship then that's pretty much a must read. One of the lesser known tips is to go to office social events rather than stick around and work because those things can be really important and it may not impress them for you to decline the invitation. The first step though is getting the position, and a Google employee put up her top tips for preparing for an interview in software engineering, which I still thing is the hardest industry to interview in. I don't know that EE majors have to write drivers or draw circuit designs in their interviews, but we're held accountable for our coding knowledge. It's definitely important to prepare properly though, so I encourage fellow CS majors to read it carefully. The last article I found that I felt was pretty useful goes on my common theme of writing reusable code. His 10 tips are pretty basic, but they really can help out immensely. For further fun reading, check out The Pragmatic Programmer.

One more article for the programmers out there: you should read this if you're confused about functional programming or only know of it on a surface level. Click to enlargeTo the right here is the black DS Lite as revealed by an employee at a game store in the UK. I had no idea that this had even been made, but apparently it'll be launching in Europe this Friday. It looks like black may be the new white. If you ever wondered what search engines, platforms, and browsers some of the biggest tech players use, then you'll get a kick out of this. It looks like all but Yahoo use Google the most for searching, and only Microsoft employees use IE primarily. Speaking of Firefox, there's a neat printable cheat sheet over here, which I feel is important because any computer geek will tell you that he saves a ton of time with keyboard macros that help him reduce mousing (I actually first heard that term at TI) time. Microsoft is planning to embed Live services in Windows programs, which sounds like they're just trying to support online authentication through your Live ID. Still, I don't see how this would be any more secure than good old encryption, but I'm no expert, just skeptical of this plan. Lastly, if you like magic eyes then you'll love this animated one. I have no idea how that guy made it, but I'd love to see more like it because I used to always buy magic eye books when I was just a tyke.

I neglected to mention it yesterday, but reviews of the new Blu-Ray discs are out there if you really care. It sounds like the worse movies transferred better onto high-definition. AICN's Vern has laid his eyes on The Sciences of Sleep and he enjoyed it. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, you can see the trailer now. I can't make much sense of the trailer since my Internet sucks, but Vern describes a movie that definitely piques my interest. Joss Whedon is still hard at work on the script for Wonder Woman, and I'm glad to see how much effort he's really putting into it. I don't personally care about that series, but if he can make a movie that makes a believer out of me then I'm sure he can make one out of anyone, and he's clearly talented enough to do so. To conclude, I have a couple of new posters. The first is the French version of the Snakes on a Plane, which isn't all that special except that the title sounds so much more dramatic in French. The other one is the final Clerks 2 poster, which really just combines some of the group character ones from earlier this month. Obviously I'm still enamored with how Rosario Dawson looks in it.

I'm going to go with the Tuesday Twosome this week:

1. Do you possess any family heirlooms, and if so, what two heirlooms do you value the most:
Not really. I think my mom keeps some important stuff from my christening in my drawer, but that's about it. I really only treasure the few things my grandmother gave to me like a rosary and scapular.

2. Did you have a childhood hide-out, and if so, describe it:
Just my room. My neighborhood wasn't safe enough for me to create a hide-out of my own, so I just called my room sanctuary since it had locks on the doors (there was a bathroom connecting my room to my brother's).

3. Describe your relationship with your immediate family and how it makes you feel:
It's much better with my brother than with my parents. I just wish my brother wouldn't close himself off to me sometimes. I can tell that there's stuff he doesn't want to tell me because I'm younger than him, and so that causes me to keep things from him, too. I'm on good terms with my parents and all, but it's not like we do a lot of stuff just the three of us. I do sometimes talk to my mom late night, but I don't really talk to my dad about a whole lot of stuff other than like my education and job and car and stuff.

4. Do you and/or your family do anything for the needy, and if so, explain:
We just give donations to the special collections at church. I do volunteer stuff through clubs at school, but it doesn't involve my family.

5. Did you have a close relationship(s) with any of your grandparents? Describe your relationship(s):
Well, only one of them was alive, and that was only until I was 12 so I didn't quite get her yet. She was a very strange person and very needy of attention being so alone. I still feel bad that I wasn't as close to her as I should've been, but I was young and stupid; what can I say. I sure wish my dad's parents were alive though, because they sound like they were pretty awesome people, especially if they raised my dad to be the way he is.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Theory for the Decline in Science

"God's watching me do #2? Oh man, I'm a sinner and God's a pervert." - Chris Griffin

That has no correlation whatsoever to this post, except that I just heard it on Family Guy and I always laugh at that line. Anyway, I thought I'd talk about education once again since it has been coming up a lot lately. College debt is a bigger deal than some people think. I always encouraged friends debating whether or not to go the college of their dreams to just take out a loan, within reason. With debts rising though, could it mean that science will only be for the wealthy? Some students are choosing public service jobs over careers in science solely because of the lack of debt. I'm not saying that those jobs are bad, but if someone has a science or math mind, don't you think they should be doing that rather than teaching your children? I can tell you right now that I'd make a crummy teacher. I wish we had a government that provided more grants for kids who are just smart. I don't think it'll happen for a long time, but it would be nice. Until then, what can we do? I would say to encourage any friends and family to follow their dreams, even if it isn't at an ivy league school. I think that hard work can take you a lot farther than a pricey degree. You can always go somewhere really upscale for grad school in any case.

I'm sure that you've noticed laptops rising in popularity in recent months, and BusinessWeek is actually pointing out that they're actually comparable to really good desktops, whereas they used to always be way behind. The disadvantages are customizeability, price, and power consumption, all of which are steadily getting better. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Apple shut down its budding new office in India without any reasons provided, but now we know why. Insiders claim that the rapid growth in India has meant that expanding there is not as cheap as it once was, and I guess they figure that they might as well focus more on America for their skilled labor (I won't argue with that). Oh, and Apple is still having issues negotiating with movie studios because they're doing the smart thing and trying to set up variable pricing for movies on iTunes from the start. No clue how willing Jobs will be to do this because I think it may cause some unrest from music labels, but I'm sure he knows that movies won't be on the iPod unless they go through iTunes since their DRM is needed to be iPod-compatible. Meanwhile, the future may be brighter than I had expected at Microsoft with Ray Ozzie being described as "a programmer's programmer." This sounds like what Bill Gates was when he first started up Microsoft, so I guess it's possible for us to see big changes in a couple of years (or at least gradual improvements). While I'm on M$, I should mention that Samsung is getting mixed reactions from its UMPC citing that those exposed to the Origami marketing campaign are disappointed whereas others seem relatively pleased by the new consumer electronics market created.Click to enlarge The Wii is now rumored to have an IM service by some rather reliable sources, and it's supposedly going to be called !!M (i.e., Wii upside down and backwards). It's a neat idea, but I think that it'll just piss off people who don't like the Wii name even more, and how would people know how to pronounce it? Lastly, Sony Music is finally being proactive and is going to try offering songs to bloggers for them to promote rather than staying on their current track of DRM craziness. Not to say that they'll cease and desist, but it sounds like they're at least trying new venues, which I respect.

Movie piracy has been an issue for a long time, and now some college researchers are developing a technology that could block digital cameras by detecting them and flashing a conflicting white light into the CCD, which would neutralize it totally. I think it's a pretty neat little development. Superman Returns is using Marlon Brando's voice and likeness for the role of Jor-El, and IGN has a good read on how they managed to do all that. I think it's awesome that they went through all the trouble just to stay truer to the originals. The score for the teaser trailer for Transformers has now been recorded, but I have no idea what indication that is for the teaser itself being released. I suppose it means good things though. All I have for you now is multimedia. Rope of Silicon is hosting some new clips from Clerks 2 since we all know that Kevin Smith loves feeding his adoring geek fanbase. Yahoo Movies has some clips from The Road to Guantanamo, which I didn't find out about until today though I'm kind of interested in it now. Lastly, they also have clips from Strangers with Candy (featuring Stephen Colbert, the reason I mention it), which seems like it should've been released a long time ago for some reason. Am I crazy? Wasn't this in the works for a while?

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. How many cop shows can you name?
Just two: Cops and Reno 911.
2. Do you send text messages?
Nope, but mainly because it costs me money (my brother pays for the plan, I don't want him to pay extra either though).
3. If you could be on a gameshow (current or old), which one would you be on and why?
Probably the Price is Right because it's the only one I've always enjoyed over the years. And being Indian, I know a thing or two about prices.
4. What are some of your favorite websites?
Most of them are listed on the right side here, but I like the webcomics the best because they're quick and easy.
5. What are your favorite things about the internet?
Chatting, e-mail, and blogging (i.e. the ease of getting news).
6. What about least favorite?
Trolls and viruses.
7. What are some good ways to deal with a pet loss?
I don't know, my dad never allowed us to have pets. I guess you just have to grieve a bit and move on. They can sometimes be as traumatic as a person dying, especially for older people who have less human interaction.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Thoughts on the Next Tech Hub

Click to enlarge the cuteneess
I hope that you all had a good weekend. Above here I decided to put up a picture of my cousin's little boy, and he's real cute, because I saw him last night. This weekend I met up with a UT friend, saw my cousin (and her family) after a long drive to Arlington (geeking out with her husband was awesome) and her brother, hit up the mall today with another co-op, and then played some basketball. Once again though, Monday has caught me off guard and I'm actually going to crash right after I finish this post. Not a whole lot happened this weekend in the news world, but I spent the most time reading this article about what cities eWeek considers to be booming enough to be a possible next home for tech companies. I don't agree with their list since they're missing companies in some cities and they totally rejected Austin even though I think it's a better contender than Dallas. Still, I think I want to live on the west coast; I just hope I can get a good enough salary to work over there. I think the fact of that matter is that programmers want to be somewhere fun where other intelligent people live also. This is not to say that people in other fields aren't smart or anything or like hanging out with doofuses, it just seems to be part of the job culture. When you work as hard as some of these guys do, you want to have something to look forward to when you leave the office. I don't think that would really happen in Dallas or even Charlotte, but I can totally see guys liking D.C. or Seattle, which I already feel is a big place for IT firms (or at least the surrounding areas are).

Amazon is extending its base of e-commerce to a new product: groceries. So far, they're going for foods that don't have to be refrigerated, and they're partnering with existing grocers to create a more efficient network than past failures, but they still have a long way to go before it's even close to catching on. I went to an Apple store today and had fun playing around with the new laptops, but if you're not so fortunate then you can see this video of the MacBook in action. It was definitely faster than I had expected for what's inside the box, and of course looked dead sexy. Oh, and if you're a Mac user who ever wondered what all OS X does on startup, then you should read this article. It's pretty short and briefly runs through what all happens. I mentioned the Flock beta last week, and now we have a review of it. I've been too busy to try it out myself, but if you're unsatisfied with your current browsing experience or just want to see what else is out there, I'd definitely go for it; it sounds like a pretty stable beta so far. If you're on IE though, you may be surprised by what you see here. Make sure that you put something on your clipboard before going there though. Lastly, if you're curious as to who uses DSL and who uses cable, then you may wanna read this. I wouldn't have brought it up if better news was out there though.

I'm quite impressed that Cars managed to hold onto the top spot this weekend despite the release of Nacho Libre (in 2nd place). Granted, it was only $31.2 million, but this is it's second weekend and so it dropped 50% of its audience. Plus, Nacho Libre is only a few million from making back its budget. I was also impressed that Tokyo Drift managed to come in third place with almost $25 million, and very pleased that the Garfield sequel only pulled in $7 million. It looks like Pan's Labyrinth is being pushed back a couple of months to the Christmas season, which makes absolutely no sense since it's not a festive movie at all and I just don't see why people would want to see it during the holiday season. Maybe there's something I'm missing here though. AICN has a review of A Scanner Darkly, and it doesn't sound too good. It's possible that he's totally off on it, but I've heard mediocre things elsewhere as well, I'm afraid. Lastly, AICN also has another positive review of Clerks 2, though it's probably hard to trust Internet geeks on this one since they're all going to be Kevin Smith fans.

And now, per tradition, Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Voice :: Sound

  2. Us :: U2 (hey, I'm being honest)

  3. Passionately :: Kissing

  4. Humbly :: Serve

  5. Love songs :: Elvis Presley

  6. Dim :: Lights

  7. Calendar :: Girl

  8. Careless :: Life

  9. Block :: Brick

  10. Goal :: Soccer

Friday, June 16, 2006

Bill Gates is Everywhere

Sorry to have missed last night's post everyone, but I ended up watching half of the Mavs game with a friend and then grabbed some dinner. Don't get any ideas though, I would definitely have at least a footnote here if something really cool was going on in my life. The past couple of days saw quite a few Bill Gates related articles since it was revealed yesterday that Gates will be stepping down from his position at the helm of Microsoft in the summer of 2008 to run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CTO Ray Ozzie will reign supreme instead. I'm actually sad to think about that because as much as we all rag on M$ sometimes, the fact remains that Bill Gates is and always will be a legend in computing. Anyway, he's not perfect and so Microsoft Watch compiled a list of Microsoft's 10 biggest flops while he's been in power. After thinking about some of the items on that list, I think I agree with them all: they were pretty big oversights. Personally, I don't think he cares about the company anymore because he's just burnt out. I can't blame him though. Joel Spolsky actually worked on the Excel team for a while back in the early 90s and wrote a blog post about pioneering something better than the macros existent at the time in Excel, and he talked about how Bill Gates personally reviewed his project and read his specs and everything. It made me wonder what Microsoft would be like today had Gates continued this strategy. When you have a programmer running a software engineering company you have someone in a great position to oversee things and keep his people in check, and when you don't you have Lotus. His problem was that he started getting too caught up with the business side of things to realize that he was letting bureaucracy run rampant in his company. I'm not sure that things will get better or worse without him, but the fact remains that he's a brilliant man who started some pretty amazing things, without which the world as we know it would be crippled. I think we can all appreciate that.

I've got a lot to get through and I actually have to head out soon so I'm going to have to rush through this stuff. Going off my little rant about how bloated Microsoft has gotten over the years, another blogger who used to work at M$ posted his thoughts on why Vista is delayed, which centers on things being too unnecessarily complicated. I think he's exaggerating a bit, but I'm sure that what he cites are causing major issues in the development cycle. We all know that the RIAA has been getting rather unruly for a while now, and their latest exploit is to sue YouTube users who dance to the beat of copyrighted music. So far they've just sent out threatening letters, but I think that this whole situation is stupid in general. What can you do to fight the good fight? You can support artists without paying the RIAA's lawyers by doing stuff like trading CDs, supporting local bands, downloading free music, and the like. Unfortunately, I can't see this as having an effect unless a concerted effort is actually made. Neilsen, the company that tells advertisers how much commercial time is worth during your favorite tv shows, is now investigating a ratings system for online television, which is great news because that would legitimize bringing more televised content online. There are rumors from analysts that Apple may be developing ultra-mobile PCs and notebooks with flash memory (to speed up their boot time, which has been speculated on for several months now). The latter is expected to appear in early 2007, so you may want to hold off on your next laptop purchase until then just in case this is all true (which I think it probably is). Lastly, the Blu-ray format will be launching next week. However, as I've mentioned before, Sony is pushing back the release of its players until August and even Pioneer has delayed theirs to lower the price a few hundred bucks, and so you'd have to splurge on a Samsung player if you were really desperate for Blu-ray.

Not much other movie news today, which is good because I'm starting to run out of time here. As I had suspected, World Trade Center doesn't seem to be a very good movie at all. The acting in the trailer apparently was an indication of the rest of the movie, which doesn't sound good at all to me. Another movie that sounds pretty bad is the Garfield sequel. I don't know what possesses people to make sequels to horrible movies. We have a plot for the 3rd installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, but it does have a minor spoiler so I wouldn't read it if you don't want to know. It doesn't sound like much without a trailer to back it though. Lastly, I have a bunch of clips for you. Some are for the Adam Sandler comedy Click, which I personally have some faith in. The others are for a movie I care much less about: The Devil Wears Prada. I figured that some of my female readers would be interested in them though.

Let me go ahead and end with a funny postcard since it is the weekend.

Click to enlarge

Now for Friday's Feast:

What is a word that you use that would not be considered common?

I don't use that many weird words. I use "hella" sometimes just to mock that Southpark episode about it, but not sure if I use much else strange slang.

What theme of calendar do you have on your wall this year?

Nothing actually. As a poor college student, I've decided that investing in a calendar is dumb as I always rely on my computer one (I use a widget for even quicker reference).

Name 3 people you speak with by telephone a regular basis.

My parents, my brother, and my brother's fiance. I don't like using the phone much, but those people are important to me so I swallow my pride and do it anyway.

Main Course
If you could buy a new outfit for someone you know - who would it be and what would you purchase for them?

I really don't know. I don't like messing with people's styles, because that's part of them.

What is the last beverage you drank?

Just water. I had chocolate milk this morning. However, I'll be drinking very different beverages very soon. Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

No Post Tonight

I'm really sorry everyone, but I went out to hang out with someone tonight who I look forward to spending time with, and I didn't get back til just now. My sleep so that I'll be alert for work tomorrow is a slightly higher priority than blogging, sorry!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Secret Weapons

I'm short on time tonight and my fuse is short (exhausted and irritated that trying to install patches for Windows broke my Canon software) so this post will be as quick as I can make it. Google's secret weapon is often argued about as their search engine or their people or some project they have under wraps, but not often is it claimed to be their data centers, which they're building another one of. They're big construction efforts and they create new jobs, and Google would be nothing without them. When it comes to Apple though, I see their secret weapons as their fanbase. I don't know of many fanbases that are as loyal, forgiving, and evangelical as Mac geeks (unless you count religions). Did they take things too far when they closed up their kernel? Do people really need the raw source code? Apparently, some people do, and those are almost the people who matter most. I can see that writer's concern and the principle that he's so upset about, but I think that there will still come a day when Apple becomes so concerned about security and/or piracy that they end up closing up the Mac OS X kernel. Even then, I think the fans will stick around, because they know it'll be better than just plain Linux (you know it's true). I think it'll definitely happen when Steve Jobs leaves Apple though, because I doubt his successor would care as much about keeping it open. I think they should keep appeasing their loving fans though, or they may see bad things happen. They need to bank on word of mouth support if they ever hope to topple Windows.

Back to Google real quick though, they've apparently released the beta for Picasa Web Albums, which would allow you to easily upload pictures from Picasa and publish them online in photo galleries. You can see initial impressions here, and you can count on more extensive looks in the near future. I'll stick with Zoto myself. Did you know that you can break Notepad by just telling it that it can break? I've managed to play around a little more with it and get it to unbreak, but it's just a fun anomaly I thought that the geek living inside some of you would like to learn more about. I didn't think about why it would happen at first myself either, so don't feel stupid if you're a techie and you didn't either. Since LCD flat panels' inception, CRT has always retained better picture since they don't have a lamp that's constantly on. However, eCinema believes that the contrast ratio on their LCDs supercedes this boundary. I wouldn't be surprised because I don't doubt it's possibility, but I'm sure that it'll cost you a pretty penny for now. Lastly, if you've never heard of Rockbox for your mp3 player, then be sure to read up on it here. It's a quick read and quite worthwhile, trust me.

Click to enlargeThat's one of a few new posters for Click, and shamefully, I think it's rather clever. But hey, whatever sells the movie as a decent comedy. All the other stuff today is also multimedia. We have 11 clips from Superman Returns that are probably meant to bring you back around from those lukewarm reviews claiming that the movie is good but not great. I'll probably still go for it my opening weekend. Yahoo Movies has the teaser trailer for Jackass: Number Two, and it looks like it'll be just as offensive and hilarious as before. Still, I have no idea how these guys go to sleep at night after doing some of this stuff. The other trailer we have is for The Night Listener, which has a great cast (Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Sandra Oh) and sounds interesting. However, I haven't seen the trailer yet because it's taking forever to load on my horrendous Internet connection.

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

Tell me what the U.S. flag means to you. If you're not from the USA, tell us what your own national flag means to you.
I am from the USA (though my parents hail from India), and the flag to me means a lot to me. It means all those corny things we don't talk about out load for fear of sounding so corny: freedom, democracy, and unity. We may have our hard times and our questionable leadership, but that flag remains a symbol of how far we have come since 1776. The Indian flag doesn't really mean anything to me, other than representing India. I don't even know the Indian national anthem though (it's in Hindi, "Jana Gana Mana").