Monday, July 31, 2006

Perilous File History?

I got an invite today at lunch to have lunch tomorrow with the head of World Wide Make IT for TI, who reports to Brian Bonner, CTO of TI. It'll definitely be rather intimidating, but it should be a good meal at least (Texas Land & Cattle). I just wish I didn't have this ulcer inside my cheek, ugh. Microsoft is planning on putting a feature in Vista that would allow you to view past modification on files and when they were made, which would look like it's pretty useful. After all, that's one of the founding principles of CVS for developers. However, someone could also see what files you've permanently erased from your hard drive by looking at the folder's history, which could be a scary thought. Couldn't that result in a rather grievous threat in privacy? At the same time though, if you're ashamed of something you've deleted, then maybe a new feature isn't your biggest problem. And as for your work computer, that's owned by the company after all. They have every right to see what you're creating and deleting on their own machines. I think that as long as you can choose the folders and files this feature is enabled on, it's fairly benign. I can't imagine what a hacker could do with this, unless it's easy for them to write scripts that would automatically undelete deleted files based on this, which I couldn't imagine. If anything, you could now see what files were modified by a virus.

The Linux Extremist has discovered a flaw in the $100 computer plan: what if the purchasers don't actually give the computers to their needy children? In Nigeria, there is a well known scam going around apparently, so what if they got these cheap computers? I just hope that safeguards are put in place to check for their usage, but it is kind of hard to enforce this on 1 million boxes. It was reported earlier today that E3 would soon be toned down because it costs too much for companies and it's too crowded, and that has now been confirmed by the ESA. This is probably a good idea so that more money can be invested in the games and less hype has to be generated, especially since the press can now be more effective at getting this information out faster. The founder of ThinkPad has given his opinions on the future of the laptop and what the ThinkPad, which I never cared for, will do to adapt. I agree about power and performance, but I don't think that he should be downplaying it as a multimedia machine so much. I think we're getting closer to the point where people like TV tuners and portable DVD players. A company called ReadyDrive has been working on a hybrid hard drive with a Flash-based cache, and it can perform faster than your normal hard drive because of this. However, this would definitely make them harder to service, and what do you do if your Flash memory has overstepped its limit of maximum erases? It's just a good overview for this up and coming issue. It's about time to buy textbooks for the Fall (if you want to get them cheap online), and one publishing company is actually offering a free Algebra book! I really wish that this would spread to other Math texts, but I'm sure that won't happen. Lastly, programmers will want to bookmark the recently released Krugle search engine for searching source code in the most popular languages around. I can definitely see myself using this in the very near future for the NSC site.

Click to enlargeThat still comes from Bobby, and it actually makes Lindsay Lohan look rather classy. You can see other shots over here. The most surprising news today was the announcement of the sequel to Batman Begins being The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger has been confirmed to be The Joker. The title is cool to me, but it'll be hard to publicize it that way, and so I think it'll get changed before it's released to have "Batman" in the title. Nicole Kidman has also been confirmed as the villain in The Golden Compass and will actually move to England since she'll also need to be in the movies for the rest of the trilogy. I think that's great news for the fantasy series. Tim Allen and Tom Hanks are back for Toy Story 3, and they claim the story to be much stronger now. We still don't know what that story is though. We do know the plot of Rambo IV though, and it's pretty bad. I see Stallone's career taking another dive. Lastly, I have a couple of trailers. The first one is just a teaser for The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D re-release, but it's not much. What was really good was the trailer for Babel, which I think almost looks a little too much like Crash, but it has a great idea behind it with some big name actors.

Now for Monday Madness:

1. Do you have a photo blog? If so, feel free to share the link with us!
Nope, sorry.
2. How many pets do you own, and what are their names? If none, have you had a favorite pet in the past?
None, but I always wanted a pet!
3. How many times a week does the carpet in your house get vacuumed? No carpet? How many times a MONTH do your floors get mopped?
Half a time? I only vaccum once every two weeks. Same for the floors: they're usually only mopped once every two months.
4. Which room in your house do you spend the most time in?
Bedroom, where the computer and tv is.
5. Have you read any good books lately?
I wish! I'm trying to get through Carrie though.
6. What is your biggest source of news? (Newspaper? Television? Radio? Other?)
Digg. I let everyone else decide what's important for me to know.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

AMD Actually Has Sense, But Congress Doesn't

The weekend has been pretty good, although I've had better here in Dallas. At least I've been finally able to do some cooking though, and hopefully I'll get some website work done this evening. John Dvorak has finally posted a reasonable opinion: maybe AMD's decision to buy graphics card manufacturer ATI was a good one. It was criticized at first by many as being too pricey (a hefty $4.2 billion) and a bit strange seeing as how AMD doesn't even sell chipsets with integrated graphics. What people have overlooked though are the possibilities in the home entertainment market. ATI could prove to be a valuable subsidiary if AMD wants to move into IPTV set top boxes or home media centers that could synchronize with your home computer. Of course, this is just speculation, but it would be neat if true. What's not smart though is that the House of Representatives has passed a bill that blocks social networking sites from schools and libraries. My problem with this bill is not that it tries to protect children, but that it's too broad in its terms. If you think too many kids are getting molested because they use MySpace then why not just block MySpace? Social networking is growing at a fast rate, and not all of it is dangerous. Like what's wrong with sites like Furl or Spurl? I hope it fails in the Senate because I hope that some of those guys in suits have the sense to not fall for rhetoric about protecting our children and crap like that through a blanket law.

It's always a little weird to see someone I've actually met in the news, so I just have to mention how funny it is that Jesper Johansson left Microsoft as their security guru since I just met him at a Microsoft tech talk a few months ago. He's a brilliant guy and I think he either left because he got tired of his job at Microsoft or because he was butting heads with the Vista team, but either way he's quite passionate about security. To top it off, M$ is going to start charging for downloading the Office Beta. Even though it's cheap, why would someone want to pay help Microsoft test unstable software? It just doesn't make any sense. I do have something positive from Microsoft: a video of Photosynth, an up and coming technology that would allow you to visit your digital photo library in 3-D. I don't know the details yet, but the video is pretty awesome. Google has added some new features to Google Talk, including a way to leave voicemail, but it still doesn't put them ahead of any of the other big IM players. On Friday, Apple was misquoted as saying that iPods were designed to last four years when they actually said "for years," which I mention because I'm tired of people asking me about alternate mp3 players because iPods are junk. A 5% failure rate is really good, in my opinion. PBS is jumping on the digital distribution bandwagon by offering some of its great shows (including Nova) on Google Video. I'm proud that they're taking this step, and I think that it'll definitely benefit schools that can show educational videos for free thanks to PBS. Tuaw has a review of the wireless Mighty Mouse for all you Mac lovers, and it sounds pretty on par with some of the better wireless mice out on the market for PCs right now. Lastly, any of you doing web development on a budget should give Aptana a look. It's like Eclipse, but for web development, though I'm saddened that it doesn't support PHP quite yet.

#1 this weekend was the movie I figured it would be: Miami Vice. However, it only raked in $25.2 million, which is only a few million more than Pirates of the Caribbean 2 over the weekend (which is now up to over $350 million). I'm sure that they're disappointed in Miami Vice's performance given its $130 million, while Dead Man's Chest is now Disney's highest grossing film of all time. Lady in the Water is much worse off than the former though with only $7 million, and Superman Returns is off the chart falling far short of its budget. Click to enlargeJoBlo has a couple more ComicCon panel reports of interest. The first one comes from Spider-man 3, which is a better recap of the footage shown than I had previously plugged. Raimi still won't talk about the fourth villain, but I've posted who it was before and I don't feel like digging up the link again so you'll have to just be surprised if you missed it. The other panel report that was awesome was from 300, which is shaping up to be quite a visionary film. Zach Snyder is really building up my confidence in him. I also have a couple of trailers for you. The first comes from Crank, which is actually a bit different from what we'd previously seen and makes the film look like a fun action flick. The other trailer is for The Departed, which looks like it could be one of Scorcese's better movies, especially with the unbelievable cast he's assembled. Lastly, the MPAA has admitted to illegally copying This Film is Not Yet Rated just because it had bad implications for them. I think it's funny that they would be so hypocritical when they're in the crosshairs.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Italy :: Shaved Ice

  2. Honk :: Horn

  3. Shades :: Sunglasses

  4. Tool :: Band

  5. Modern :: Look

  6. Tension :: Cord

  7. Conservative :: Republican

  8. Weight :: Loss

  9. Insurance :: Car

  10. Political :: Debate

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Horsemen Fall Off

I think that I kind of reached my pinnacle today at work when I realized how important I really am at this point. The development effort that I'm a part of is a big deal, and I've worked with it so much that the other co-op and myself are almost experts on its actual functionality, and I now have four releases to get through next week in addition to taking on someone else's project. Things are going to get interesting real fast. Anyway, Slate has an article about the quarterly earning reports from Yahoo, eBay, AOL, and Amazon, all of whom made it through the dot com boom and bust and are now starting to straggle a bit. Actually, all but AOL reported an increase in revenues, but a decrease in operating income due to upgrades to make them more competitive. With Yahoo though, I think it's just a lack of confidence in their ability to keep up with Google, which probably spurred a big drop in its stock price. I don't think that this really spells doom for any of them though, except AOL. They posted less earnings across the board, and they may be pressured into become an advertising-supported portal because it's clear that they're bad at being an ISP and their AOL high speed software just never made sense to me. The others though seem to be on the right track and still have huge product recognition, but startup costs for upgrades are always going to set you back short-term while possibly producing great short-term results. I still have confidence in their future success, especially Amazon, which is becoming more and more of a trusted, household name every day.

Microsoft has decided that IE7 will be released in the fourth quarter of this year as a high priority update because of the various bug fixes from IE 6. This is what pisses me off a little about Windows: there are so many updates to get that if any of them are installed in the wrong order then it can totally screw over your system, and when you label things "high priority" it makes people more nervous. Today was the official kickoff of Intel's Core 2 Duo chips, and they also took this day as an opportunity to announce price cuts of 40 to 60 percent on its older chips. If you look at the actual price sheet though, it's really only on select last generation chips and not on anything from the Core line. Google has decided to compile information on all its services into a comprehensive help section on its site, which I think is pretty great because it's sometimes hard to remember the URLs of some of the more obscure Google services. They've also officially opened up its code repository, which they claim is just to create an alternative for open source hosting using the Google infrastructure rather than a competitor to SourceForge. I don't see the distinction between "alternative" and rival though. YouTube has decided that it will stay exclusively to hosting shorter clips rather than full-length TV shows or movies. I'm kind of glad for that because I think they'd saturate the market and if they've already found what they're good at then why try to stretch themselves too thin before they've found an acceptable business model? Lastly, Kazaa has caved under intense litigation to become a legal service and owes the record industry $100 million in damages. Once again, that was a futile win for the RIAA because they're not even close to stamping out P2P networks.

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My favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was always Leonardo, so I naturally had to put up his poster after discovering the release of TMNT character posters. Just one blurb from ComicCon today: Veronica Mars will have three mini-arcs in its third season rather than a continuous season, which sucks because watching season 1 started getting me addicting to the show and watching Kristen Bell. She's hot and talented! AICN dug up a bunch of reviews today, and the best one seemed to be for Miami Vice, which blew away Massawyrm's horrible expectations for the movie. I'm now actually a little excited about checking this one out after finding out that the trailers are a gross misrepresentation of what the movie is really like. Meanwhile, MiraJeff saw Little Miss Sunshine and sounded slightly disappointed in it, which is sad because it looked like it could've been a neat little weird movie. At least Borat, on off-beat comedy in the style of Ali G, was received very well received and gives us something fun to look forward to. I always think that comedies end up being the best genre of movies simply because when are you ever not in the mood to laugh? Batman on Film sounds pretty sure that the Joker in the sequel to Batman Begins will, in fact, be Heath Ledger due to a very reliable source claiming that an offer was made to Ledger last night. Apparently, they're going with him because the audience will have no pre-conceived notion of how he'll play the role, which gives them more freedom to work with the character, and I can level with that. Oh, and the movie's title won't be revealed until closer to the end of production once again, apparently. Lastly, we have a couple of new trailers. The first is from The Black Dahlia, which features an amazing cast directed by Brian DePalma of all people (of Scarface and Mission: Impossible fame). The other trailer is for Happy Feet, which my crappy Internet won't let me watch but I'm sure it's just as cute as the teasers were.

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. How much email do you get on an average day? How much of it is spam?
Probably a couple hundred or so, but I don't know how much is spam because my Gmail has a pretty powerful spam blocker and I get practically 0 spam at work. If I had to guess though, I'd say about 20 spam messages a day.

2. Can you imagine life without the internet? What kind of life did you lead before the internet became an everyday thing? Did it change much afterwards?
No, I really can't. I don't remember much about how I lived before the Internet because that was before I was trusted to mess around on the computer on my own much, which is where my passion for computing started. My life was, needless to say, very boring before the Internet, although it took a little while for it to change much afterwards (i.e. getting involved with primitive web development and chatting).

3. What year did you start tinkering around on the internet? What did you do to pass the time? Do you still do it? Why/why not?
Probably 1997 or so, and I just surfed around to pass the time and just explored in the beginning. I don't surf as much any more because I have more stable sites that I visit nowadays and news aggregators.

Bonus Question: Did you ever do anything online-community oriented? What was it? Do you still do it?
I used to be on IRC all the time back in the day, and I still use forums regularly. Nowadays though, it's at a school organization's site rather than a global forum.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tracking License Plates

I caved and decided to do my post despite being busy tonight, but I'm going to have to do it quick so I can get enough shut eye. I'm already behind at work (based on my own schedule, I mean), but not from lack of hard work that's for sure. Anyway, we may soon face the threat of having our license plates tracked thanks to new infared technology that can read plates from afar, which has already been around for law enforcement officials but is now making its way into the private sector. These readers sound great for tracking down sex offenders and such, but wouldn't it be just as easy for a stalker to figure out where you are? Granted, that would take a rather wealthy stalker, but it's the principle of the matter. Another problem with this being sold to everyone is that maybe it would be easier to find bypasses for it, which would render it less useful cops. Then again, maybe criminals could figure it out even if they weren't. In any case, this just raises all kinds of privacy violation flags in my head since there's currently no regulation for it. I'm sure that the ACLU will push for more rules on its usage, but who knows how long that'll take. Or maybe these readers will stay expensive enough so that they won't be easy to acquire, but that's not quite a truism in technology in general. I just hope that something is done to keep it in check, and hopefully the good uses of it will outweigh the bad side effects of it now being privately available.

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The topic is often brought up that cell phones are too complicated now enough, and Motorola actually listened! Their new Motofone is actually a bare essentials phone that allows pre-paid calling, has a GSM version, and it's only 9 millimeters thick! Apparently, it'll have a new revamped UI system as well without a menu button, but no pricing information yet. Still, it's a grand idea on Motorola's part! Another great idea is Apple's marketing scheme on Facebook where you get a 25 song sampler if you join their Facebook group. I'm sure that this is a ploy so that they can send you advertisements via Facebook messages, but I'm cool with that for 25 free songs from independent alternative artists. The OpenDarwin project has sadly shut down after four years of not reaching its goal of developing a standalone Darwin OS. I'm not too surprised since the world of Apple development has always seemed to run into troubles (like the impossibility of cross compiling for Macs on a PC), but at least OpenDarwin helped foster a lot of other neat projects. The Indian government has turned down MIT's proposal to buy 1 million computers for their schoolchildren at $100 a pop claiming that they money can be best used elsewhere and that "intensive exposure" to computers causes worrisome psychological and physical effects. I can understand the monetary concern, but the other one is just outright idiotic. I hope they compromise to maybe just buy 100,000 computers or something. Firefox has released a new build of 1.5 with some security fixes that they recommend that you install, so you should probably go ahead and do that if you use Firefox (which you all should be using). If you ever find yourself having to buy a motherboard, you may like this Tom's Hardware article about it. I'm sure it's irrelevant for many of you, but I'm definitely holding on to it for when I build a souped up machine after I graduate. Lastly, one blogger put up things that users do to piss off IT professionals, and I thought it would be a good tip off for anyone working in a company with its own help desk. Remember, these guys are real people, not machines, so play nice with them.

JoBlo put up some great coverage from the Grind House panel at Comic Con, and I just love what I'm hearing about it. This is really a movie that piques at what both directors really want to do, and I think that you rarely get bad results with that combination. A couple of storyboard clips from The Simpsons movie from Comic Con have appeared on YouTube, and they're not bad but only a couple of parts were even somewhat funny. Oh well, it's still too early to tell how it'll be so we can still hope for the best. My hopes are quite high for Spider-man 3 though, which will actually release in IMAX at the same time as it does in normal theaters on May 4 next year. I will totally pay the extra few bucks to watch it at an IMAX theater somewhere in Austin, assuming that there is one. The greedy bastards at Warner Brothers have decided to put the Harry Potter DVDs in their supposed vault next February to drive up sales this holiday season since there won't be an actual movie release this winter. It sounds like a pretty cheap tactic, but it's not like they're not already milking Harry Potter from all sides anyway. The Fountain/span> has changed its release date once again to November 22 rather than the middle of October, which hopefully is the last change. It hurts confidence in a movie when the release date moves around. Lastly, IGN has a couple of new Miami Vice clips if you haven't seen enough of them already.

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What's your favorite beverage?
That's extremely hard to say. I'm going to go with the simple answer and say rum and coke, but that's subject to change.

2. Have you ever been surfing? If so, how did you like it?
Nope, but I'm mildly interested. There just aren't any decent beaches near Houston, and the only nice beach I've been to (Pensacola) was when I was much younger and I remember very little other than the white sand and transparent water.

3. What do you like to put on a hot dog?
Just ketchup and hot sauce, but I'll tolerate mustard. My mom gave me so many hot dogs when I was a younger that I've grown to dislike their taste though. They don't sound too nutritional in any case.

4. Who's your favorite Australian?
I'm going to go with Emilie de Ravin because she's so hot on Lost. I do have family there, but they don't count because they're originally Indian.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Simplify to Increase Your Productivity

Things are definitely crazy at work now. I'm probably going to have to get to work early tomorrow because I have much to do before my mentor goes on vacation. At least I know I won't be bored though! Although I'm not a fan of documenting tests. Anyway, I know the topic sounds lame today, but I just found a couple of small articles I liked. It almost seems counterintuitive that it would simplify your life to buy an extra monitor, but it really does. I've seen people work on them, and it's amazing how much better you can multi task! You could have code open in one monitor while the code is open in another! It performs as if they're just one monitor, so it's very intuitive. If I had the money, I'd definitely rig one of these up, and you can be sure I will when I graduate, because it's a surefire way to dramatically increase your productivity. Another great way to simplify your life is to use an online hard drive, like Omnidrive, which is now in private beta but looks quite promising. The interface is very reflective of Windows Explorer, which makes it easy for Windows users to get into. I think it simplifies your life to have data backed up online because then you have less to worry about in case your computer crashes or is stolen. Especially in the latter case, since it's not easy for someone to take your backup hard drive if it isn't physically with you.

Speaking of online repositories, Google may be working on a Sourceforge-like site of its own for developers to keep their open source projects. I look forward to confirmation from them on this, because I think that Sourceforge's layout is starting to get a bit dated. Apple's laptops are really gaining market share in the personal portable computing market and are now up to 12%! In a market as diverse as laptops and a world dominated by Windows, that's quite an achievement. Oh, and Intel is actually going to be talking up its Merom processor (for notebooks) this Thursday at its gala event to kickoff the release of its Core 2 Duos for desktops. Not much else to say on that, we'll just have to wait a couple more days. The classic game of monopoly is getting an upgrade in a few European countries where it will have credit cards that are handled electronically rather than having to use paper money. I guess that Visa wants to teach younger audiences the value of credit? Lastly, programmers will want to bookmark this page with a list of various cheat sheets and quick references for various languages and formats (like ASCII). I may have to print out some of these, actually.

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I still haven't seen Saw 2, but I'm loving these Saw 3 posters because they're just so creative. We also have a poster for Mike Judge's Idiocracy, thought it's still being approved for theaters. I like it though; it's nice and subtle. Richard Kelly's next film will be a former project of Eli Roth, who has too much on his plate right now to work on it, called The Box. It sounds like a drama/thriller since it's the classic story of good luck that's too good to be true, and Kelly's take on everything always seems to be pretty crazy and twisted. Lastly, a millionaire who was wrongfully accused of stealing a movie by the MPAA is now contesting this shady practice of random lawsuits with an all-out legal battle, which is a luxury most of the MPAA's victims can't afford. I think it's really awesome that he's doing this and I hope that he ends up winning!

I'm just gonna go with the TMI Tuesday this week:

1. Have you ever called in sick to have sex?
I would.
2. Do you feel "entitled" to sex when you are in a relationship?
That sounds like faulty logic. There is such a thing as date rape that I imagine stems in some situations from that.
3. Have you ever dated/married purely for money?
There's a fun prospect, but no.
4. Have you ever, of your own free will, had sex with someone you didn't really want to? Why?
5. Name three words that:
a) get you excited
desert sex games (I guess they're even better when in the same sentence)
b) make you squirm
ass to mouth (Clerks 2 fans will understand me here)
c) make you laugh
pussywillow fuckass peanuth (inside joke from a friend of a friend pronouncing 'peanut')

Monday, July 24, 2006

Live Code and 95 Theses

This is going to be a wild and crazy week at work. My mentor is going on vacation next week so I'm planning on releasing two projects this week and starting on a third one at the same time. Now the days should go super fast! I had never heard of live programming before today, but it sounds so cool that I just had to take a minute to talk about it. I always say that the best part of programming is seeing the end product go, especially after wrestling with a bug. It really gives your development time a sense of meaning, and the idea of live coding is that this happens while you code. What if you could see your changes immediately after you made them? It's a real neat concept, but only possible in languages like Python that don't have to be compiled (I think, at least), which are primarily interpreted languages. Still, it's a fun concept that I'm definitely going to try out sometime. I think we all remember from World History the 95 Theses that became the foundation of Protestant faiths, and now one guy has published what he believes to be the equivalent for techies everywhere to be the basis of geek activism. The vast majority of his list are great, and I'm especially good at preaching #31. He's missing net neutrality, but he has a ton of other great current issues like Creative Commons, the futility of DRM, and open source software. Anyone with a strong interest in a technology should definitely give that list a run through just to spur some thought and discussion if nothing else.

One thing that all techies should do is backup their hard drives regularly (I'm still looking for the right drive for me), and new services are making it easier to do that by synching up your data online. If my Internet here didn't blow I'd totally use that, but I strongly recommend that all you do if you don't already have a backup hard drive set up. AMD has decided that it will be slashing its prices by 47%, which was a bit more conservative than what some were expecting, but I think that it still gives them a decent edge in their lower range processors. The big daddy though, the FX-62, is still over $800. Apple is planning to release a Bluetooth-enabled wireless Mighty Mouse very soon, according to a recent FCC filing with revealing pictures, which have now been revealed for all to see. I feel kinda of bad for Apple since these pictures are very revealing, but it's definitely something that's long overdue. If you ever get permanent marker on your white board (a tool I use all the time, by the way), then you'll be happy to know that there's actually a way to erase it! I don't know how it works, and I haven't tried it myself, but I believe it. Lastly, if you're a loser like me trying to find a date, you might find this interesting for just general knowledge. I had no idea so many big dating sites existing, and a couple of them are really unique (I especially like GreatBoyFriends, which covers both sexes, actually).

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That poster is advertising the re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which will be in digital 3-D this fall. I will definitely try to see this one if I can find the appropriate theater in Austin. AICN got a close look at some Transformers teaser posters being shown at ComicCon, and they don't look half bad. We also have a new Iron Man poster, but it's little more than the one we got some months ago. MSN movies picked up the poster and trailer for The Protector which stars Tony Jaa, who is a totally awesome kung fu flick guy from Thailand who is a true spectacle to watch. If you don't believe me, rent Ong Bak. Meanwhile, JoBlo got its hands on some production photos from Grind House. They're not much, but I'll take whatever I can get. Real Player got exclusive rights to the trailer for Stranger Than Fiction, and it doesn't seem as funny as Will Ferrell's usual stuff but it's not all that easy to tell just from that trailer. It sounds like a decent idea though. IGN spoke to the key players in Spider-man 3 (Sam Raimi, Kirsten Dunst, Tobey Maguire) about the movie at ComicCon, and it's mostly the usual stuff, but it helps add some background to the production. Lastly, Pan's Labyrinth is sounding better and better as I learn more about it, and I just thought I'd share that.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. I won't eat past _____ o'clock in the evening.
10, unless I'm planning on pulling an all-nighter. I usually sleep by 11:30 (because of work), but even on school nights I'm in bed by 2:00 AM on my later nights, and so I like to have a good digestion buffer.

2. My favorite subject for photographing is _____.
Still life. It's just easier to take pictures of.

3. I use _____ most often to edit my photographs.
Picasa. I used to use the Canon software before I screwed up my computer by trying to install SP2. I have Photoshop, but it's just not needed for everyday edits.

4. If I'm having trouble sleeping, I usually _____.
Watch some television. It helps a little, but if I can't sleep than it really sucks. It doesn't happen to me very often, fortunately.

5. When I'm hungry for a snack, I usually eat _____.
Honey roasted peanuts. They're so tasty and actually surprisingly filling, but bad for you in large quantities. They are choc-ful of protein though!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lies about CS Shortage?

I have finally bought my first pair of shorts in many years. I just thought that was noteworthy because I never bought shorts because I don't like showing my hairy legs, but it's way too hot to not wear shorts; screw my legs. CNet put up a good perspective revealing a little scandal that took place a few years ago, but I think that they push it too far. Anyone could tell you that the US falling behind other countries in the ACM competition was way too inflated and we actually did pretty well, which is why I don't think I even reported on the stupid stories. However, what most people don't know is that college and industry officials cried a labor shortage in the late 90s, and the increase in H-1Bs to allow foreign workers helped contribute to the waves of layoffs the country experienced in the next couple of years in IT. What's sad is that the aftermath of that crap brings us to today's situation: miscommunication about how successful the industry is right now and a lack of interest in students to pursue the field. That writer is correct in say that our programmers can code, but I think he's wrong in asserting that we have enough of them. I think that the government should be doing more to encourage students, but I'd be just as satisfied if they offered more scholarships across the board. Oh well, no point in ranting about it.

Intel has already started shipping Core 2 Duo mobile chips (named Merom) to manufacturers, and the rumor goes that Apple has been receiving some of those shipments for a newer MacBook Pro that may be available in August. I think that they'll keep a stockpile of them, and then announce at WWDC while people start placing their orders online. We also have rumors that Apple is working on an eBook after an insider at a publishing house admitted that Apple requested that they archive their manuscripts and a source within Apple claims that their unsatisfied with just audio books. Supposedly, Microsoft is planning on "flanking" the iPod with their Zune brand by "transforming the market." This all sounds like buzz talk to me, and I think that Microsoft is going to need much more than that if they expect to gain some ground. Back to Apple real quick, I ran into some Steve Jobs internal quotes that I wanted to share because I think it's funny how blunt he is. I've heard similar quotes from people who have worked directly with Jobs, but I see it as just being a harsh business man. I bet his employees pray for days when he's in a good mood. One blogger has decided to create his own analogy of the Internet and the threat to net neutrality to oppose Ted Steven's infamous tubes and dump trucks analysis, and I think it's fantastic. I just love reading from people who share my frustration. If you're looking to purchase a new memory card for your digital camera or cell phone, you'll want to look into Trusted Reviews' roundup of memory cards. I found it useful because I'm thinking of upgrading my camera's memory. Lastly, if you need to make PDFs in a hurry, then you'll want to use this program. I convert to PDF a lot because then you know everyone can read it.

This weekend in the box office, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 reigned supreme for a third time with $35 million. Monster House actually managed to get second with just a few million more than Lady in the Water (which bombed at under $20 million), and Clerks 2 managed to make twice its budget at the #6 spot. Oh, and My Super-Ex Girlfriend didn't even rake in $9 million, probably because the trailers looked so horrible. Miami Vice had better take the top spot next weekend. Kurt Russell will be in Tarantino's half of Grind House, probably taking the place of Mickey Rourke. I'm not sure what Rourke's role was before he left though, so don't take my word on that. ComicCon has brought us a few more character posters from Spider-man 3, and I'm definitely digging the way . they look. However, this poster from 300 is so much cooler than those:

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Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Requirements :: Project

  2. Pizza :: Ice Cream

  3. Dating :: Game

  4. Issue :: Magazine

  5. Sharp :: Marker

  6. Distinguish :: Medal

  7. Remote :: Control

  8. Felony :: Crime

  9. Exercise :: Machine

  10. Choose :: Power

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Clerks II

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That's what I was doing last night in case you're wondering why I'm posting today instead. We were also playing pool volleyball and dancing though, which made for a really funny. I went to catch a matinee of Clerks 2 today since no one here in Dallas wanted to see it and I've been wanting to for a while. To be honest, I was expecting a little more out of it. It picks up after Clerks, but the store has burned down and so Dante and Randall are working at Mooby's (the fast food chain you may have seen in Dogma) instead, and this movie also takes place in the span of a day (after the first scene, that is). However, it gets much raunchier, and seems to have a more conclusive ending. I wasn't offended by the humor really, but I just felt that not enough of it was really hilarious. Don't get me wrong though, it was definitely funny, I just didn't cry from laughter. There are definitely moments I can recall after the movie as being awesome though as the whole thing reads like an extended conversation almost, and one of the final scenes in the movie has a similar feel to the first movie where pretty much everything goes wrong in a really funny way. The acting was pretty good in it as the characters are all still as you'd imagine them to be, and I like that about the View Askew universe Kevin Smith has create. And, of course, Rosario Dawson is smoking hot. I give the movie a B-; I think it has many interesting moments (however gross some of them are) and too good of a thematic ending to not be at least a B movie. If you liked the first one and/or Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, you should enjoy this one. It's extremely raunchy though so if you're the type who's afraid to laugh at some dirty jokes, you're going to want to steer clear of this one.

AppleInsider has dissected Apple's latest patent filings related to a touch screen, and it sounds pretty neat and like they really are steering towards a touch screen iPod. The patent describes a technology that would only change the screen when it detects a hand approaching the screen, and it made me wonder if the functionality could be achieved without physically touching the screen's surface. Also, Apple has finally made statements that definitely sounds like a confirmation of their R&D into an iPod phone. Being as secretive as they are, they won't say anything more than this until they announce the finished product, but at least the rumors are no longer just rumors now. All the while Microsoft has been developing, and has also now confirmed, their new Zune brand media player. We know very little details about the device (other than super fuzzy pictures I borought you a little while back), but Xbox fanatic J Allard has been brought on board the group, so it should be interesting to say the least. There were concerns a good while ago about Google's revenues taking a dip below expectations, but they ended up doubling up in the second quarter completely trumping Yahoo. The vast bulk of this income is still coming from advertising though, which I think leaves the company vulnerable to competitors. Meanwhile, Yahoo Music has decided to push towards DRM-free music, starting with a customizable Jessica Simpson download. Big props are in order for them as they seem to be one of the first companies to realize how easy it is to bypass DRM and how pointless it is to invest in it for digital music. AMD has challenged Intel to build a quad core processor, which is just what AMD is planning on releasing in the middle of next year. Yes, Intel did mention earlier this week that they'd have quad cores later this year, but those are just two Core 2 Duos packaged together, not a true quad core. The one advantage that AMD has is that they've been gearing towards multiple cores for years, whereas Intel got into that game a little late. Lastly, Take Two has finally settled the Hot Coffee scandal with just a slap on the wrist from the Justice Department, but I'm sure that the sales they lost from stores pulling GTA is "punishment" enough.

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I really like that poster a lot. The Spider-man 3 marketing team is really doing a good job, I think. JoBlo was fortunate enough to catch some footage from the movie at ComicCon and saw the Venom symbiote dripping on Eddie Brock, and it sounds like it was a well done scene. I'm almost anticipating this one more than I did the second one. We also have some close-ups of the Grind House posters at ComicCon, which look just perfect. I also have some moving multimedia for you. Yahoo Movies put up some more clips from Miami Vice, which I'm hoping to get a chance to see next weekend when it comes out. Meanwhile, Apple has the full trailer for The Fountain, and it's visually amazing. The storytelling may go the way of A Scanner Darkly, but I think the idea behind it is pretty neat. It turns out that the voice of Optimus Prime in Michael Bay's adaptation of Transformers will be the same one from the television show, which I think is pretty neat. I may not have been a big fan of the series as a kid, but it was still fun to watch. Lastly, it looks like Daniel Craig will be back for Bond #22, which I figured would happen since they're so pressed on time to get this movie done by the end of last year, but I still don't see Bond in him.

I'm going to try out the Saturday 8 today:

1. what citizenship do you hold?
United States

2. if you could get dual citizenship with any country in the world, what would it be? why?
Probably India just because of my race. I don't have any particular desire to get a dual citizenship though.

3. do you agree with the current political status of your country? why or why not?
No, because I'm a moderately liberal Democrat and these Republicans are only pissing me off more and more. I'm not saying that if Democrats were in power we'd all be rich and dancing in circles while holding hands and stuff, but I believe that things would be better.

4. what is the best thing about your country today?
The freedom, of course. But I feel that the diversity (or at least where I've lived) is a close second.

5. what is the worst thing about your country today?
The fact that our government feels the need to intervene in international affairs where they don't belong.

6. do you feel 'connected' to your country, as in having national pride or a sense of belonging to it?
Oh yeah. I'm well aware of how much better my opportunities are here as opposed to how they would be if I was still in India, and I'm glad to be here. I was born and raised here, and so I definitely feel like an American above all else.

7. if you could change on thing about your country, what would it be?
Hatred. It sometimes seems that we have too much of it.

8. do you like visiting other countries? which one(s)?
Yeah, but I've only been to a couple of others so I'll go with the motherland (India) as where I like visiting because I have some good family there.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Death to Clockspeeds and Megapixels

Today was definitely a better day at work than yesterday, and after overcoming a hurdle I knew would be a pain to get sorted out (i.e. I had waiting time, which I hate because it feels like a waste) I think that I'll be right back on track tomorrow morning. People like to become experts on things like computers and digital cameras without actually doing some research, and it's starting to peeve me. I may smack the next person who asks about the MP of my camera as a benchmark, or even in general. What's the point of it? Megapixels are the game camera manufacturers play with your head to make you believe that you're getting the latest and greatest. I don't know why people pay for these 8 MP cameras when they take 5 MB pictures and you'll never use a picture of that size. More importantly, this guy points that you'll likely end up getting worse quality because of the site of the sensor photosites. The same goes for clockspeed. Would people stop bragging about their 3 Ghz processor? It doesn't make you cool. Neither does overclocking your processor, which I never understood the point of. People need to realize that sometimes you have to do a little research, or you can try talking to an expert, but please don't try to oversimplify things that aren't so simple. And most importantly, don't act like you're cool because you know that one number is greater than another; I've seen this all too often.

Microsoft has finally decided to let computer manufacturers decide what the default search engine is in IE 7, but I'm not exactly sure why they've decided to give in to Google's demands. To be honest, I don't think it was necessary for them to do this, but I guess they wanted to offer a show of good faith? Meanwhile, Google has created a new feature for Google Video: the ability to send a link to a video in the middle of the video so that the recipient can see the exact part you want. I'm pretty surprised that no has thought to do this before. If you didn't know you could look up phone numbers on Google, then you'll like this, too. Samsung is preparing to mass produce 8GB NAND flash chips, which could be a big sign that the next Nano will be 8 GB. This also means big things for USB drives though, which will soon be able to hold much more than just a GB or two, but you'll have to pay extra obviously. As I've mentioned before, everyone is getting pretty excited about Intel's Core 2 Duo chips, but it looks like they plan on releasing quad core chips by the end of the year! I'm sure they'll cost a good bit more, but that would imply a likely price drop in Core 2 Duos as well, so you should hold off on your purchase of a new PC for a few more months. CNet has a list of ten tech-related videos you should have seen or should watch now. My Internet is too crappy to check them all out, but the first one is definitely a keeper. Lastly, if you're tired of Adobe Acrobat taking forever to load and eating up system resources like there's no tomorrow, then you have to jump on the FoxIt bandwagon. You won't be disappointed, trust me.

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AICN nabbed that picture from Comic Con of some early Grind House posters. I think they look pretty cool, but almost too akin to the early Sin City posters. Latino Review claims that they've been tipped off from a very reliable source that the role of The Joker in the sequel to Batman Begins will be Heath Ledger, which seems like an odd choice to me and I don't buy it. I hope that their source is lying to them. A couple of trailers have popped up on Apple Trailers, but I'm afraid that I'm unable to view them from home, so I'll have to check them out at work tomorrow. I've heard that Children of Men looks like it will be a must-see movie this fall, and I trust my source on that so you should watch the trailer. The other one is the teaser for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which sounds like it doesn't have much and is a real tease. Still, I have fond childhood memories of TMNT and the video games.

Now for the Thursday Threesome:

Onesome: Cooked to?-- Okay, the easy one: if you're having grilled meat (steak/hamburger) this weekend, how would you like it cooked?
Probably medium or medium-rare. I like my beef soft and juicy.

Twosome: Medium-- to large? ...too large? What do you think of the big ol' plasma screen HDTVs available now? I mean, would you if you could?
I would love a 50" DLP TV, but not a plasma. I consider plasma to be the worst of all the new HD television sets.

Threesome: Rare-- Footage: one of the major news services recently announced they would make archived news coverage available for personal purchase on DVD. Is there any one piece/segment/area of old news (or new) you'd like to have on your bookshelf to view "whenever"?
Oh yeah, when I was on television for complaining that my school bus sucked. They consolidated routes and so my stop was mile from me rather than just a 10 minute walk away.

A friend of mine is throwing a party tomorrow night, so I don't imagine that I'll have a post up. I'll try to post on Saturday to compensate.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Digital Home Still a Pipe Dream

Today was, in general, a bad day. It wasn't really all that bad, but it's the first day in a good while that wasn't packed with productivity, and I'm not looking forward to some stuff I have work on tomorrow morning. I think one of the co-ops is having a party on Friday though, so that'll be fun. According to the chief executive of Sonos, the digital home is still about ten years away. I partially agree with him: I'd say that it's more like 5-8 years away. Digital media is advancing rather quickly, but I think the the biggest problem is diffusion. How many people know how cool and possible it would be to stream music from their computer into their living room? Or buy a season of 24 from iTunes and watch it on your TV? Another issue is a lack of content. The iTunes video content is admittedly at a relatively low resolution since it's meant for the iPod and they want a relatively quick download, but I think that things will change soon enough, and we'll probably see more competition as well. There's also the issue of Pay-Per-View digital movies, which could offer better quality than normal Pay-Per-View, and possibly repeated viewings within a certain period of time. There's really a number of ways for the digital home to be built up in the years to come from some of the media consumers are already interested in, but I think that content providers are just as behind as consumers are. And among those who do know about this stuff, I'm guessing that another factor is cost. These things are inevitably going to get cheaper and better, so why blow money on it right now? I have faith in good things to come, but we're definitely more than a couple of years away from this stuff hitting the mainstream.

CNet has assembled a little table comparing the features of PayPal and Google Checkout, and it really highlights how different the two services are. I still believe that the latter is a competitor to PayPal, but I believe that they're targeting more small and mid-sized businesses than PayPal, which is great for peer-to-peer and all sizes of business. A question that's been raised to me a couple of times is what systems Leopard will support, and eWeek is positing that it will work on G4 and later, which sounds pretty likely to me, but maybe they'll draw the line at G5 to give their developers more elbow room with regards to the minimal hardware. They haven't made the transition to Intel boxes yet, so they can't restrict the user base too much, but Macs did take a majority of their revenue in the third quarter, which was their second best quarter ever. I'm just impressed that they sold 8.5 million iPods. ExtremeTech put up one of the best, and most concise, roundups of the current generation of top dogs in browsing (Firefox, Opera, IE). The selling point for Firefox over Opera for me is still the add-ons (it doesn't get much better than DownThemAll). Asus is delivering PS3s to Sony this month, which seems a bit early for a November release. Are these prototypes, or does Sony test and stow them away in a factory for 3 months? Lastly, Disney has decided to support Blu-ray in the next-generation DVD format. I thought that they would have support for both, but I guess I was wrong.

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That is the Comic Con poster for Pan's Labyrinth, and it looks so cool that it definitely deserved its own little space in today's blog entry. It's one of the posters that you could just stare at for a while. Rope of Silicon put up ten new clips from Miami Vice, and they look pretty good to me. I think I may have to see this one to see if it's as good as it's hyped up to be. JoBlo interviewed Kevin Smith, and it's your pretty standard fare when it comes to Kevin Smith interviews: just a geek speaking his heart. I'm counting the days until Saturday when I watch Clerks 2. Lastly, Arrested Development, which it seems like everyone but me watches and hails, may be made into a movie. I feel bad for the show since no one wants to pick it up, so I hope this works out for them.

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. How hot does it usually get in summer where you live?
Usually, it's in upper 80s to mid 90s. This summer though, it's in the lower to mid 100s! What a crazy heat wave!

2. What's your favorite ice cream treat (or other cold treat)?
Probably ice cream sandwiches. I never bought my food from school when I was little, but I would always save up some of my own dough for ice cream sandwiches at the snack bar.

3. What's your favorite cold beverage?
Beer! Second to that is water, third is lemonade, and fourth is boba (tapioca milk tea).

4. Cubed or crushed ice?
Cubed, but nothing against crushed ice.

5. Do you prefer swimming in a pool, lake, river or stream?
A pool, because they're usually clean! Lakes can be cold (and dirty), and rivers are even worse! I haven't tried a stream before though.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ability to Program Possibly Innate

If you've ever stuck your head near a hot pizza oven, then you've probably experienced how being outside today in Dallas felt. The heat was so overwhelming and dry, and the night hasn't brought much relief (100 degrees right now); all the more reason for me to miss Austin. What I'm really here to talk about is this article, which very briefly gives an overview of a paper that studied how to separate programming-centered people from those who just can't cut it. Of course, this suggests that programming is an innate ability, which is a theory I actually subscribe to. Some people are impressed when I say that my major is CS, but I just tell them that there's a ton of things I can't do (like practically any other major in my College), programming is just something I enjoy. It's not meant for everyone, in my opinion, and this paper even offers a test for determining how the subject thinks, which I believe is the most important part of programming. What's funny about the test is that all the questions just test to see if you can follow a consistent pattern. From skimming the paper, it looks like they asked some other questions as well, which were also pretty good. And the paper correctly boiled programming down to assignment/sequence, recursion/iteration, and concurrency. I think that they have the right idea, but I don't know if we can really reach the point where we can tell whether or not someone will succeed in programming when they first enter a classroom; I think it takes a whole semester. From their experience in that first semester though, you can definitely tell where they fit (or don't) among the pack.

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Are those designs real? Actually, they do call from Apple patent filings, and someone dissected a recent firmware update to find references to variables that sound very much like they'd be necessary in a cell phone. Maybe Apple has more planned for WWDC than we all think? There's even word that you'll be able to customize your iPod with themes and such. One surprise for WWDC that insiders seem to feel pretty sure of is movie rentals on iTunes, which several studios are supposedly pleased with. We don't know about the restrictions or price yet, but I just can't help thinking that Jobs wouldn't do this without a new, wider iPod. I also suspect that we'll see news at WWDC that more cars are iPod-ready. There's stuff going on up in Redmond as well: Microsoft has sued 26 companies for piracy because they've allegedly been loading computers with pirated Microsoft software. This move doesn't surprise me, and I don't blame them for doing it. More power to them for protecting their IP. They've also acquired Winternals and Sysinternals, the latter a company that makes enterprise system recovery tools and the latter a community of Windows zealots. I'm guessing that this move could serve to improve Winternals products since they'll likely have a better look inside Windows (or just to shut them up for revealing embarrassing security secrets), and Sysinternals may just give Microsoft more feedback. Now for some bad press for Microsoft: TechWeb's rundown of Vista's biggest hits and misses, and I must say that it's quite comprehensive. If you want a crash course is all thats good and bad in Vista, then this is the perfect read for you, but I've covered it all in the past. AMD is going to be dropping the prices of its current line in a few days, and it looks like it will do it again in October shortly after my birthday; likely to try to out-price Intel if they can't beat Intel's newlyfound good press. Yes, I will accept a chip as a belated gift; I can build a machine around it. Lastly, I found more cool freeware utilities. The coolest one, in my opinion, is CamStudio.

AICN dug up an early review of Talladega Nights and it sounds a lot like Anchorman: mindless fun. Im ok with that though because that's all I ask for. AICN also found out that Science of Sleep is pretty much what it looks like: a subtly sweet romance movie with crazy visuals, a crazy story, and top-notch acting, much like Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. I'm definitely looking forward to this one. Oh, and if you want another mixed review for Lady in the Water, you can read how Massawyrm weighed in. Yahoo Movies has a featurette on Clerks 2 with Smith explaining how it's different from the original, and I just love how he thinks of the movie. Nicole Kidman has been confirmed to be in The Golden Compass as an antagonist, and Paul Bettany may be in the movie as well. I just can't wait to see the teaser trailer for this movie, though I know it's far away. Lastly, we have a poster for Bobby, and I love how simple but cool it is. If the brothers Weinstein approve of the movie, I'm sure it'll be a good (plus it has an all-star cast).

Now for the Tuesday Twosome:

1. What are two ways you find relief from the summer heat? Explain:
Cold water and air-conditioning. What else is there? Slushies? Swimming?

2. Is it generally warmer or cooler where you live this summer? Explain:
Warmer! It sucks to be outside even at dark and you still can't play sports because you feel like you're going to explode from the heat.

3. On a hot summer day, would you rather go to the pool or to the mall (air-conditioned)? Explain:
It depends. A private pool with friends would be nice, but I hate public pools because I feel they're dirtier. Malls are pretty fun usually though.

4. If you could be on vacation this week, would part of your decision-making be based on the weather? Explain:
Oh yeah. I wouldn't go anywhere as hot as Texas for a week in the middle of summer.

5. Name two cities you believe have the best weather and two cities with the worst weather year-round:
Los Angeles and Berlin for the best, and Dallas and Tehran for the worst. I haven't been to three of those places though, so the Hell if I know.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Apple's Secrecy: A Double-Edged Sword

Today at work I realized how many of our problems come from the idiocy or laziness of people who worked on code before us. It can be irritating at times, especially when it makes people upset about problems that you had no control over. I'm sure this isn't the first company I'll encounter where that's a problem though. Apple is know as being a rather secretive company, and some people chalk this up to their marketing and, hence, the source of their powers. However, this isn't always a good thing. It also means that bad things become too high-profile, like the Asian sweatshops (which is more commonplace than people choose to believe). Sure, Microsoft has bad press, too, but only for Apple does the press claim disaster among its consumer. Funny, I don't remember Apple filing for bankruptcy recently. I think the press is very emotional, like any person is, and so many of them use Macs that they report with more bias on Apple news than Microsoft news. That doesn't mean that average people are all that affected. I'm sure that just as many people know about the MacBook Pro battery problems as people know what "net neutrality" actually means. We're still not living in a completely tech-savvy society, and I believe that the press has lost its power over the common people. As Jon Stewart commonly laments, investigative reporting really has gone down the drain.

If you want to read more about Apple, you can get Ars Technica's thoughts on their architectural roadmap since Intel is so transparent. AMD has begun a counter-campaign to Intel's Core 2 hype claiming that Intel's power consumption numbers are based on average usage rather than maximum power draw, which AMD bases its power ratings on. That sounded a little crazy the first time I read it because I know I'd want to know average power usage, and Tom's Hardware has determined that Intel's newest chips beat AMD's flagship product by any power standard. I respect AMD, I wish they wouldn't drag themselves through the dirt like this. Gracenote, a site which formerly offered lyrics for songs for free but was shut down, has struck a deal with the record labels to legally distribute over 1 million song lyrics. It sounds like you'll only get them free on services like iTunes and maybe through codes on CD jacket inserts, but I just think the idea that this has to happen is kind of stupid. They're just song lyrics! I could buy the song or memorize it and then write down the lyrics and use them; is that piracy as well? The Indian government has decided to block several sites, many popular blogging services among them. What's alarming about this is that it was apparently initiated because they believe terrorists are using blogs to communicate. I can't believe that people from my own race could be so stupid, and I hope that the people fight back this heinous censorship. The last time I checked, India wasn't socialist or communist.

I was a big fan of 28 Days Later when it came out, so I latch on to every piece of 28 Weeks Later news I can find. The script is apparently still in the works though as the actress who played Selena was told that they're not sure whether or not she'll have a part in the sequel. I hope they take their time and make the sequel just as good as the original. We have some casting news from Grind House: Mickey Rourke has left the project just as Rose McGowan has agreed to portray her character in both movies and Tarantino will make an appearance in Rodriguez's half. I can't wait until April for what they come up with. Robin Williams may be in The Bourne Ultimatum, which I only mention because I think that Williams is a strange pick for an action flick. Lastly, the actor who plays Jonah Jameson in the Spider-man movies has revealed that there is on-set talk of a fourth iteration, but no contracts extend that far so it's all just ideas in people's heads for now. Still, they sound like they'd be willing to give another one a go.

Now for a humorous post card. I don't think I need to translate the Latin on this one:

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Now for some Monday Madness:

What comes to mind when you think of the following colors?


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Game Industry in Crisis?

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As you can see, I had a pretty good weekend. One of the co-ops threw a pool party yesterday and a good time was had by all. According to GameDaily though, the party is over for the video game industry. They believe that the industry is now broken, and I'm not sure whether to agree with them or call them crazy. They make good points, and they still have one more part of this series of articles to write, but this one seems to be the meat of it. I think that if the industry was really broken, people would stop buying games. On the contrary though, game sales seem to be rather strong. However, the creation of the Xbox 360 and PS3 do bode bad for the future since they propagate development environments that make life harder for programmers and require studios to pump more money into their games to really take advantage of these new systems, which is a big reason why I think Nintendo will win this round. When you up risk like this in a title Game Daily is right, creativity does take a hit. You can't risk your money on something that may fall through, which is why you saw so many GTA clones when it did well, and similarly for survival horror and the like. I'd rather wait until the next generation starts before passing judgement on how deep of a hole the industry is really in.

IGN managed to discover a few new things about the Wii, including Bluetooth functionality, the buttons all being digital, and the uses of the LED buttons. Nintendo refused to comment on what IGN has learned, but it all sounds pretty legit. VMWare has released its VMWare Server product for free, which will likely be misinterpreted as a response to Microsoft giving Virtual PC away. However, this was supposedly planned for a good while now as a further impetus to encourage business to purchase VMWare Infrastructure 3 (meant for server farms). Microsoft has pulled a feature from Vista that would allow people to password protect folders due to an uproar among companies worried about lost data due to lost passwords and employees keeping secrets. It seems like it would be a good idea for home users though, so I don't understand why they wouldn't only pull it from certain versions of it since there are like 7 of them anyway. Current Windows users will love this little tool, which allows you to see the size of your folders when looking around in Windows Explorer. I've wanted something like this for quite a while. If you've played around with the idea of graduate school (which I have, personally), you'll probably want to think over this article highlighting some of the plus points to grad school. The only problem with grad school, in my opinion, is the cost since it's hard to get a fellowship that covers your whole term or make enough money from being a TA to go to school and feed yourself. If you're not convinced that a dual core processor is better than having two chips under the hood of your machine, then you'll want to read this. The most glaring difference to me though has always been the cost differential. Lastly, if you're interested in the Nike appliance for the iPod but don't want to buy new Nikes, then you should check this article out on how to set it up with your pair of shoes. If I jogged more, I'd probably do it.

A little movie called Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest took over the box office this weekend, once again, with over $62 million and is the highest grossing movie of the year thus far and the best first ten days of any movie ever. What's really sickening is that Little Man weaseled its way into second with over $21 million, and You, Me, and Dupree followed close after that while A Scanner Darkly's very limited release actually made #10. Next weekend will be much harsher with Clerks 2 and Lady of the Water hitting theaters, and I should hope that one of them take over. It turns out that Reservoir Dogs will be re-released (or triple dipped) this October in a special edition 15th anniversary set with a bunch of new merchandise. This movie is not good enough to warrant a third release, and I'd much prefer a good transfer of Kill Bill in a tidy set. Yahoo Movies has another Snakes on a Plane trailer, but don't expect a whole lot more than what we've already seen. Lastly, a poster has popped up for The Fountain, but it's pretty weird and I don't know enough about the story to explain it, I'm afraid.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Video :: Game

  2. Fantasy :: World

  3. Homework :: School

  4. Crush :: Jennifer Love Hewitt

  5. Late :: Registration

  6. Husband :: Wife

  7. Soccer :: Match

  8. Wine :: Tasting

  9. Before :: After

  10. Romantic :: Evening

Friday, July 14, 2006

Core 2 Has Arrived

I actually left work today not satisfied with myself because I wasn't understanding something my mentor was trying to explain and I felt like a moron. I should just attribute it to being Friday though and move on. Intel has finally revealed all the gory details of their Core 2 Duo line, with the Conroe chips (designed for desktops) being sold July 28. As such, there are reviews of the final product left and right, and they're pretty good. What really got me pumped about it was this article's explanation of the microarchitecture, which sounds really sweet. Maybe I'm happier that I'm actually using stuff I spent tireless hours learning last semester in Computer Architecture. It sounds like it blows the Pentium M line out of the water, which means better power consumption without sacrificing speed. Each core can handle 4 instructions a cycle, which means 8 in all on average; a rate previously unheard of. Maybe I'm just blinded by not reading up on a lot of competing chips, but it sounds like they put a lot of effort into this one, especially with the smart shared cache and macrofusion to combine instructions together. For this kind of performance, it's going to cost you no less than $500, which is probably at least double what's inside your computer (unless you're a pretty big tech geek). This pushes AMD back into the background again seeing as how their current competing chip (the FX-62) got smoked by the Core 2 in benchmarks, which is a shame because everyone likes rooting for the underdog. You gotta hand it to Intel though, they've been packing something pretty impressive without having to play up the clock rate.

What's unfortunate is that computer sales are hitting a slump right now, even more than what's typically expected for this time of year. It's hurting Dell and Apple the month, and Dell can't afford to keep losing investor confidence because they keep running out of rope to pull themselves back up. I think that article is way too pessimistic about things though, and I see an upturn due in the coming months. I reported a couple of days ago that the Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 was released, but it turns out that it's really not much of an upgrade from 1.5 to warrant the 2.0 title. Sure, it looks pretty, but part of the challenge for Mozilla is to come up with stuff that the community hasn't already provided through extensions, so they're just integrating some of the most popular stuff. It sounds like it's as great as it always was, but I think everyone was just expecting a little more. I finally have good news from Microsoft today: they're giving away Virtual PC for PCs! I'm not sure where they're getting the pressure from to do this, but I'm sure that it made VMWare a little ancy. Also, they came up with a pretty good idea of releasing something called Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs that turns old, crappy computers into thin clients. Hence, they run a few applications locally, and then run everything else from a server thanks to the OS. This will probably save companies a good chunk of change, especially small companies who can't afford to upgrade very often. Google has added a few new features to Google Spreadsheets, and they're cool despite how small they are. They're mostly just to make using it more intuitive, just like that scroll wheel addition to Google Maps. If you've ever wondered what IT workers make around the world, then you'll probably waste a lot of your time reading this page with postings from people from all over of all types of experience and salaries. It just goes to show that your major doesn't absolutely determine how much you'll be making. If you're like me though and still looking around, then you'll love Emurse, which actually lets you create and publish your resume online for free.

Click to enlarge

You are looking at the new, lenticular poster for Spider-man 3, which means that the angle you look at it from changes what you see (obviously from Spider-man to Venom in this case). You can get a better look at it here. I think it's a pretty great idea, and almost a no-brainer in this case! The really big news today though was the full trailer for The Prestige, and it blew me away. I now have really high hopes for this movie. The multimedia fun doesn't end there though. I also thought the trailer for 13 Tzameti was neat, and usually foreign films are pretty intriguing. I don't know how, but IGN scored the first 24 minutes of A Scanner Darkly. I'd watch it, except that my Internet blows. Moviefone has some behind the scenes footage from 300, which is always fun to watch because this movie just looks neat. There's also some footage from Transformers, but it was less thrilling. Some SNLers have joined the cast of Shrek 3 to portray various fairy tale characters from Cinderella to Snow White. I still don't have reason to have faith in this movie though because it sounds like they're making a sequel just to make one rather than because they had some good ideas. Lastly, if you can't contain your anticipation for the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, then you can find the first 56 pages of the script over here. It's strange that it's on MySpace, but it's been confirmed to be legit, though it's just from a rough draft. Oh, and it definitely has spoilers in it.

Now for Friday's Feast:

Name one thing nice that you could do for someone else today.

Give them a compliment? Pray for them? Give them a ride somewhere?

When was the last time you were frightened by the weather?

When it flooded in Houston like four years ago and I was stuck on my bus for a few hours. That was pretty crazy.

What would you say is the most useful website or blog that you visit?

Definitely Digg. I could waste so much time there while learning so much at the same time.

Main Course
Who was your favorite singer/group when you were a child?

Probably Ace of Base. Hey, it was the early 90s! They were cool back then!

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

Oh yeah. Blogging! Also, I go to the gym pretty much every day. I also enjoy the rituals of eating, bathing, and urinating.