Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Excitement

I'm a little too tired/busy right now to do a real post, and there's not even much good news out there, which is great because I can instead make this a photo post of my adventures from tonight. Here was my costume:

Click to enlarge Neo

I went in a group with a bunch of other CS majors. Here's the picture of the president of Turing Scholars because I loved his costume:

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My friend Jack was Kilik, so I thought that this was a halfway decent idea for a photo op:

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Tina was the banana from this video, and I found nearly everything she did in that costume pretty funny, so here are some choice pictures of her:

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Yes, she did do the dance when people noticed her on 6th Street. Of course I had to get my picture with her once we got Downtown, which was ridiculously crowded, by the way:

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Soon afterwards we saw some Tetris blocks and had to get a shot with one of them:

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And when I saw another Asian Neo, I had to get a picture with him:

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And lastly, the picture that I'm most proud of:

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My favorite costume was a coked up Big Bird walking around with his friend who was a giant block of weed, but I couldn't get a clean shot of him, sorry! He had fake blood on his beak though and bloodshot eyes and walked around very disoriented. Hope you all had a fun Halloween, too! Now to get some work done.

Monday, October 30, 2006

YouTube Purge

Tonight has been busy for me, so you're going to see a reduced post. Sorry, it's the way things have to be. YouTube has begun purging lots of content from Comedy Central that was quite popular but was clearly copyrighted. It's a funny situation though because on one hand, the people watching these clips are the key demographics for these shows, but, on the other hand, someone has to pay the piper. My crazy solution: why not partner with YouTube? The Motherload is nice, but it's clearly not good enough if people are turning to YouTube. Why not put clips on YouTube instead and stick commercials for those very shows to the end of them? I know I know, advertising on YouTube is evil and blah blah blah. However, this is Comedy Central's material and they have every right to advertise on their own content if they're providing it for free, and it only makes sense that they'd try advertising for other Comedy Central programming. Who knows, they may actually already be considering this option, but for now a lot of people are likely ranting about how they have to actually watch commercial to see these great shows, and the world somehow finds a way to move on.

Click to enlargeI like to shy away from talking about random tech products simply because there are too many out there that aren't exciting to most of you, I'm sure, but this one is really neat. It's a USB drive that serves as an FM tuner for your computer for just $20. I definitely wanted the radio while I was at work over the summer because bringing my own CDs got tiresome, and you'd be surprised how many people rely on the radio at work so I think this is a great thing. Plus, it's nice for when you're on the road with your laptop and your iPod battery dies on you. If you haven't heard of MythTV before, it's just a homebrew DVR project, and there's a quick read here on how it's so effective at skipping ads. I just find it fascinating, especially because this feature alone could ruin television as we know. I'm sure it won't because the networks aren't dumb, but just funny how easy it is. GMail may be expanding to 15 GB soon as people are reporting massive increases in their mailbox capacities, but it could just be a bug. Something to keep your eye on though. Lastly, if you haven't jumped on the FoxIt bandwagon, try Adobe's new lighter reader.

Guess what? Halo has been indefinitely postponed, which is another way of saying that it was effectively canned. I'm not too sad about it, but it does sound like it had a chance for being halfway decent. What's more interesting is that Lionsgate has already committed to Saw 4 and having it in theaters next Halloween! This series has to get old at some point, come on people. Lastly, Superman Returns is surprisingly getting a sequel. The receipts on the Singer-directed movie weren't mind-blowing or anything, but I guess it was enough to warrant a sequel with Singer still aboard though with a budget under $200 million. However will he make a movie without an unlimited supply of money?!

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. From bev:
Small town or big city?

Big city, because I like the activity.

2. From turtlemoonwave:
Do you have a favorite childhood memory, and if so, would you share it?

My childhood isn't something I enjoy remembering. If anything though, I had fun visiting my Aunt out in San Antonio though because she pampered me and I had other cousins there also.

3. From cat:
How do you calm down when something has really upset and/or angered you? Do you swallow it? Call a friend and rant? Go in the bathroom and cry? Punch a wall? Walk around muttering to yourself, complete with scary hand gestures?

Mostly cry myself to sleep. Ok, not really, I'll probably throw something that's not breakable (like a pillow) or play a really violent video game for a short while.

4. From dna princess:
What attracts you to memes?'

A chance to be introspective without having a blog that focuses on the minutia of my day-to-day life.

5. From mads:
How reliant are you on computers to get through your day?

Very. I'll leave it at that so as to not embarrass myself.

6. From tizzie:
In a crisis, are you calm or do you panic?

A little of both. If the crisis is really bad (like life/death), I'll probably panic. Usually though, I can calm myself down.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

No Post Necessary

Yeah, I'm not doing this post. I was starting to write it, but then I realized that I'd be talking about total crap if I did. Other than Firefox hitting 2 million downloads in 24 hours, there wasn't much in tech news. In the box office this weekend, Saw 3 took a commanding lead with over $34 million and second place was The Departed at $9.8 million. No surprise there though, it was Halloween weekend, after all.

I'll give you some Unconscious Mutterings, too:

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

  1. Costume :: Halloween

  2. Beg :: Dog

  3. Hottie :: Chick

  4. Celebrity :: John Travolta

  5. Saturday :: Night Fever

  6. Buckle :: Seatbelt

  7. Doorbell :: Ring

  8. Rude :: Awakening

  9. Absence :: of God (Rilo Kiley song)

  10. Hyper :: Tension

Friday, October 27, 2006

Taking Over Television

Sorry, couldn't think of a much better topic. There's actually not much interesting news out there today, so this should be a relatively brief post. The founders of Skype are looking to develop a legal, ad-supported Internet TV network incorporating professional content from around the world. The thing is though, is there really a demand for this? I don't know that Fireant and Democracy are really growing that quickly, and people seem to be happy with their video podcasts. If they bring some really good content to the table though, it would definitely shake things up. I think there's a much stronger likelihood that bringing the Internet into the living room would find more success, which may make purchasing YouTube a decent idea, and there are a number of players poised to take over Tivo for this purpose. Google is likely the first to pop in most minds because they just acquired YouTube, but they can really afford another hefty purchase in the near future? Yahoo has shown some interest, but how much could they really bring to this market segment? Amazon has Unbox, but it would be a pretty bold decision to make such a bold move with a service that has not yet proven its full worth. I think the acquisition of Tivo by any of these companies with something to gain from digital media would be the biggest takeover in a long time, and some believe that this would lead to the Internet's hostile takeover of our living rooms as people's demand for on-demand content grows. I definitely think that within the next 5 years the network executives will lose a lot of power in deciding when people watch what shows.

Click to enlargePeople have begun receiving Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros, and it looks like they've come complete with a draft 802.11n wireless card. Plus, it seems that they're running quieter than their predecessors. In other Apple news, they've filed a patent for purchasing music wirelessly via the iPod. This could be more of a preventative feature against the Zune rather than a planned upgrade, but a good strategy nonetheless. I'm actually quite surprised that Microsoft never went for this patent to try and screw over Apple. If you want to know what direction Google is moving into, a paper detailing their goals has been leaked, but mostly pretty predictable stuff. They want to grow their ad revenue, push their communities, spread their tools, and focus on innovation, among other things. It really isn't anything too confidential, in my opinion, but I was hoping to see that they were looking for ways other than AdSense to make money. Lastly, Facebook has implemented social bookmarking, called Shares, that can act as a bookmarklet as well to share URLs and pictures and stuff with your Facebook friends. Out of all their random ideas, this is probably one of the best ones in a long while. It's quite simple and I'd say pretty useful. After all, sharing is caring.

Out of the blue, Yahoo Movies put up a teaser for Hostel: Part II, but it's really little more than a slightly creepy voiceover and a screaming man. We have the trailer for Bridge to Terabithia as well, and I was disappointed by it compared to how awesome the book is. I don't remember if I read it or not when I was little, but I definitely remember hearing great things about it. Will Ferrell is going to be in yet another comedy, this one called Semi-Pro about a washed up basketball player who comes back to coach a struggling team, but I don't see it as being all that great quite yet though. Stereogum has some pretty funny audio from Borat that I'd recommend checking out and maybe putting it on your mp3 player to spice up your next bus ride. Of course, you risk laughing out loud at random moments. Lastly, those crazy bunny animators finally made a Flash movie summing up Fight Club in 30 seconds, and it's quite a good little summary. If you haven't seen the movie though, you definitely should not watch this.

Now for Friday's Feast:

Create a new candle scent.

How about Mint Chocolate Delight?

Name one way you show affection to others.

Saying "sweet dreams" before they go to sleep. I obviously show affection in more ways than that, but it's different for different people whereas that one is a more general one.

What is your favorite writing instrument?

I used to like erasable pens, but I'm digging pencils more nowadays.

Main Course
If you were given $25 to spend anywhere online, from which site would you buy?

Definitely Amazon. They regularly have great deals on stuff that I want, especially CDs and DVDs.

Are you dressing up for Halloween? If so, what are you going to be?

Yeah, I'm going to be Neo. I wanted to make my own costume, but didn't have the time. I'll come up with something better next year.

Have a great Halloween weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Inside the Mind of an Interviewer

It's funny, I haven't actually used the prefix of my blog name in any other posts (except to explain the origin of it), but I felt that Joel Splosky's latest post of epic proportions warranted such a title. It's the third part in a series about hiring programmers, and this one covers, you guessed it, interviewing. I think it's an awesome read for not only people in high places but also students and the unemployed looking to get a tech job because it gives you some insight into what most responsible interviewers are probably looking for. It definitely helped me reflect on my NI interview and what I could've done much better, other than getting a good night's sleep, of course. Still, I wish they would've asked me more questions that allowed me to show that I can really crack a problem apart or that would reflect how much I've done despite only 3 months of industry experience. Anyway, I definitely buy into the ideas Joel puts forth in how people should be interviewed for a tech job. It is pretty harsh, but hey, the world is harsh! I met people at TI who I don't know how they ever got a job because they either couldn't cope well with emergent problems or just had no idea how to learn and adapt. I think that those things are key, and, as Joel says, an employee has to be smart and be able to get things done. The getting things done part can definitely be trickier than it sounds, even if you're not a lazy person. Anyway, it's a good read, and a great way to try to play the system by being more prepared for your interviews.

I thought it was pretty funny that the IE team over at Microsoft actually sent the Firefox team a cake to celebrate the release of version 2.0. I guess that they were happy because IE7 was downloaded three million times within four days of its release. Now that is just a fraction of their supposed install base upgrading, but I don't think that nearly a million downloads a day is anything to scoff at. Should you be joining the upgrade bandwagon? Well, one blog actually has a nice, concise roundup of the biggest browser players in this generation of the browser wars, and I'd definitely recommend looking there first now that we're at the cornerstone of these new releases and it would be a good time to try out something new. Of course I'm going to personally recommend Firefox, but Flock looks pretty cool. Meanwhile, plans are already afoot for Firefox 3.0, with that Places features that was highly touted in the early beta of version 2.0. They're also looking to move to Cairo for graphics, which I believe is meant to provide better rendering and improved graphical capabilities. Sounds good to me, but it's still really far away. Click to enlargeWe finally have a breakthrough in speculation for the 6G iPod, and it's on the right side here. According to a patent application from Apple filed today, they're looking to secure a patent for a touch sensitive bezel to surround the display for user input rather than the direct touch-screen we had all been talking about. It sounds like a good enough idea to me, and then no one would have to worry about serious smudging or scratches from your hands. In other Apple news, they may be revealing an 8-core Mac Pro in the very near future with two quad-core Intel Xeon 5300 Clovertown chips. I'm guessing that this would cost in excess of $3000, but the power behind a machine like that almost makes me foam at the mouth. Of course it'd be most useful as a server, not as a consumer PC (though that'd be a pretty intense home computer). Lastly, here are some fancy urinals to gaze at.

Massawyrm over at AICN has seen Stranger Than Fiction and gave it the most glowing review I've seen from him in a good long while. I was just kind of interested in this movie, but now I know that I have to see it. It definitely doesn't sound like your run-of-the-mill comedy, and that's what seems to make it so great. Yahoo Movies has the trailer for Smoking Aces (in a new, prettier presentation, I might add, with more viewing choices), and it was definitely better than I expected from a movie using Ben Affleck and Alicia Keys to help sell itself. It actually has some other great actors as well, including Ray Liotta and Common, and may be an interesting action comedy (like The Big Hit, which wasn't great but was very entertaining). Lastly, Apple has the trailer for Venus, which looks like a charming, mushy film, but I worry that it may become too corny for its own good. Still, it does have Peter O'Toole.

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. Do you like Halloween? Why/why not?
Oh yeah. Free candy and people in costumes? How could you not like that? Ok, so the candy isn't so free anymore, but it's still a fun occasion.

2. What did you do for Halloween as a kid?
My parents didn't like the idea of going door-to-door asking for candy, nor did they feel it was safe (which is why they never gave out candy either), so my dad took me to this church where they had games you'd play for candy. I always enjoyed it, and he would always get some pizza and share it with me and I'd get so much candy! It wasn't like what everyone else did, and my costume was always cheap and crappy, but still good memories. Thanks dad!

3. What's your favorite part of any holiday? Why?
Doing something different! Life can just suck so much out of you sometimes that we all need an outlet, and we all need things to look forward to. Having holidays to look forward to is so important, and Halloween parties are always really awesome in college. Of course this year it isn't Thanksgiving that comes next, but rather my brother's wedding! That feels so weird to say.

Bonus Question: What Halloween activities are you participating in this year?
An alumnus is throwing a costume party on Saturday, so I'm going to that for sure, and I think that TLD is having a party with HBSA somewhere on Saturday, so I'll go to that as well if it happens. I'm wondering if maybe I should go down to Bongo's on Saturday night if the party doesn't happen. Then, on Tuesday, a bunch of ACMers are going downtown in full Halloween garb. Plus, tomorrow is Big Event (big picnic thing in the park with pumpkin carving also).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Firefox and MacBook Pro

Should I be writing this post right now? Of course not, but I missed a couple of releases yesterday that I can't just go on without briefly talking about them. Firefox 2.0 finally came out and how glorious it is! It stands 8 feet tall and has a massive-alright, you get the point, I'm low on sleep and every little thing is amazing. In all seriousness though, it's a great product. The only thing I don't like is how it automatically uninstalls Tab Mix Plus and the Session Manager add-on isn't compatible yet, so I have to crash Firefox in order to save all my tabs. Anyway, it's still definitely worth the upgrade, and I'm liking the new features that have been included standard. I also missed the release of the Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro line yesterday, and it's slightly more glorious with a 120 GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, DVI output, FireWire 800, and a 2.16 Ghz Core 2 Duo at the minimum. With a starting price of $2,000 though, they're not exactly cheap, and I'm sure you could get it a good bit cheaper from like Dell, but then it wouldn't have all the bells and whistles and almost assuredly wouldn't be as sexy. I'd say it's a pretty solid notebook, but we'll probably see a MacBook with the same specs for cheaper in just a few months.

One more thing on Apple: did you know that Apple already released an iTV-like product about 10 years ago that they called "Apple Interactive Television Box"? I don't have anything else to say on that, I just thought it was too funny to not link to. Fox is trying to save a couple of failing shows by making them available on MySpace for free for a period of time, but this strategy makes no sense at all. They're clearly scheduling the shows so that they'll get killed and trying to save them by putting episodes on a joke of a site? Fox is so stupid sometimes, especially when there are sites like YouTube and Daily Motion around that work much better. Barenaked Ladies are selling their new album online without all that DRM crap, which I think is a great move. I think we've gotten to the point now where DRM just isn't working and the frustration it causes outweighs the minuscule amount of piracy it precludes. Lastly, I think it's pretty funny that Thompson may be indicted for contempt because of how he reacted when a judge approved Take Two's game Bully for sale. Take Two is clearly being vengeful in trying to get charges pressed against him, and I think it'd be nice for him to get a taste of his own litigious medicine.

I'm not going to spend much time here on movie news. There's a "teaser" trailer for the remake of George Romero's Day of the Dead that isn't bad but I felt bored halfway into it. Maybe it translates better on the big screen than on my computer monitor? Apple has a trailer for Eragon, I've just lost interest in these fantasy movies. Not that this movie looks bad or anything (it looks even better in HD), these fantasy flicks are just starting to blur together for me. Lastly, here's a really random picture from Shrek the Third that I have no idea what to make of:

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Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What are some of your favorite books, and why?
I'm going to leave it at Catcher in the Rye because it was the first book I read that just absolutely blew me away. There are just so many ways to pull it apart and think about it. I almost feel that there was a Holden Caulfield in me when I was growing up, and that book forced me to examine some of the problems in my life, and I just loved the writing so much.

2. How many books do you read during a typical month?
None! Too much school reading, I'm still working on Carrie.

3. Where do you buy most of your books?
Definitely online, probably more on Amazon (or an Amazon affiliate) than anywhere else, but I use book search engines to get the best deal.

4. Recommend a good book to me (and your readers).
I just got Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham, and it looks pretty stellar. Graham is just such a great essayist, and so I'd recommend the book to anyone with any interest in technology.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Substantiated Apple Rumors?

Click to enlargeHey, it's not my fault that there's a media bias for Apple and it forces me to talk about them a lot. This really is the most interesting news today though. A supposedly well-informed executive at Apple has confirmed a full-screen iPod and an iPhone, to come out in December 2006 and January 2007, respectively. Here to the right is the common rendering for the next-generation iPod, in case you've forgotten. Why is this palatable? He ends with something pretty convincing: Apple needs 3rd party manufacturers ready with add-ons and junk so they can whore out the Apple name for a few bucks, which adds up to big-time revenue for Apple at virtually no cost. Mac OS Ken further confirms the January target release for the iPhone with word that there's supposedly a hiring freeze at Apple to make room for the hundreds of telco managers they'll be needing. That source also claims that we'll see a 50-inch monitor early next year, which does seem a bit extravagant except for the fact that it would match the iTV quite well. So much for my belief that these rumors were all fluff, I genuinely think that we'll be seeing the iPhone early next year, so don't be so pessimistic about it (as many people I've spoken to have been). Apple wouldn't enter this market with a clear plan like when they entered the mp3 player market, so just sit tight and wait for more information about the functionality. In less surprising news, we have word that we'll see Core 2 Duo notebooks next week (at least the Pro model), in all likelihood, along with bigger hard drives, FireWire 800 support (yep, it's back), better graphics cards, and better DVD burners. That sounds like it'll just be a MacBook Pro upgrade to me, but you never know. This is the first time in a while that I've been convinced by Apple rumors though, so I felt that warranted center stage today.

Firefox 2.0 should be coming out tomorrow (I'm holding out on upgrading myself until then rather then getting RC3), and Mozilla Links actually has a really nice, easy-to-follow review of the upgrade for those of you uninformed on what has changed. I haven't seen a better organized rundown of the features before, and it's very visual. I'm still pretty impressed with the upgrade despite many of the features coming from existing add-ons available for download. Google unveiled a new Google Earth layer today that allows you to get a better perspective on candidates in this the upcoming elections across the country in an effort to get more young adults to vote with more information on the candidates. It's actually pretty neat, though only covers Congressional districts so it won't help you for state representatives and such. IBM is suing Amazon for patent infringements on some patents that are so broad I don't even know how they got them. I'm really interested to see how this battle turns out because Amazon really can't afford to lose this battle given what's being questioned. If you're curious as to how far you can push credit card fraud, you'll get a kick out of these real pranks. They'll probably end up making you worried though, which is good because we should all be careful with our plastic. Lastly, Pandora came out with a lite system tray program to stream Pandora music without having to open a web browser.

I only feel like covering a few movie things today. First thing's first: AICN spotted the first four minutes of Borat and some deleted scenes and they are absolutely hilarious. I was laughing long after I finished watching these, and I don't know how I can wait another week to see this film since I'll be going back home next weekend. Yahoo Movies has a couple of clips from Death of a President, which I only mention because I hadn't heard of this movie before but it sounds really interesting. Lastly, what happened with Halo? Universal and Fox simply felt that they were getting screwed on the deal but Microsoft is stingy and doesn't want to budge. Do they think they're crapping gold or something? It's a video game, not an Academy Award contender.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. From: cassie:
Dramas or comedies?

Usually comedies, but I rewatch dramas more than anything else.

2. From: nutmegnine:
Your neighbor has frequent noisy parties on nights before you need to get up early. Do you confront him directly, call the police, call your landlord, join in the debauchery, or seethe quietly and do nothing?

I'd probably join in the debauchery if they were cool, or else I'd just talk to him politely. I think it's a pissy thing, especially in Austin, to call the cops without confronting them first.

3. From sherle:
Are you more comfortable in big crowds or small groups?

Small groups in general, but I'm not opposed to big crowds really either. I wouldn't be at UT if I were.

4. From zeno:
Do you prefer Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox?

Firefox. Anyone who supports IE is a nutjob (unless they're already on IE 7 and it's really that good).

5. From briar:
They say you learn something new every day. What new thing did you learn today?

I learned that a number of the questions on my sample Probability test are in the book, which is great because he's a jerk and didn't give us the answers.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Firefox Steals IE 7's Thunder

There's very little good news out there today, which is great because I'd like to get a solid 7 hours of shut eye in tonight since I was too busy enjoying the weekend to sleep enough. Club party on Friday could've gone better, but still a great night going out with ACMers, and the LAN Party on Saturday was great also topping it off with a nice lunch today with my cousin and a real fun TLD practice (when are they not fun?). As you can tell, Elton is back to normal again (especially with more parties this weekend). Anyway, IE 7 may be out, but it's only making businesses more supportive of Firefox. Why? Because IE 7 is not guaranteed to be stable on XP, so they're going to hold out for Vista. Instead, they're allowing employees to install Firefox, which could lead to people sticking to it even when IE 7 is allowed. It's kind of surprising that the IE team didn't see this coming. If they did, are they really confident enough that they're not concerned with more Firefox downloads by high-profile customers? This isn't to say that Firefox will rule the corporate world by any means, but if it's getting through to companies that never supported it before, could this be the start of a wider movement against IE? Or will it die off with the release of Vista? Only time will tell (and probably smartass pundits who think they know it all).

Like I said, not much news going on. Roughly Drafted put up an interesting look at why Apple failed before Steve Jobs took the reigns again, and I think it's definitely important for us to recall these failings, especially those of us moving on to work for high-profile technology companies. Apple was not the only company to make many of these mistakes, but hopefully no one else will repeat them. If you're looking for some popular torrents, Torrop is a gradually growing site that aims to be the Digg for torrents. Lastly, a new simpler dating site is out there that I'm mentioned because I think the idea is kind of interesting: it's called yesnomayB. Basically, you vote on who you would, wouldn't, or might date and then sets you up with the people who choose you also. So much easier to understand than eHarmony or any of these other crazy sites, and it just sounds like something so obvious that it would work well.

The weekend box office was ruled by The Prestige with $14.8 million, but I was really hoping it would make more. What was really impressive was that The Departed managed to cling to the #2 spot with just about a million bucks less. Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers only managed to rake in $10.2 million, and Marie Antoinette tanked with just over $5 million. I wonder how Saw 3 will fare this Halloween weekend?

Before I wrap up here, I found a postcard that represents someone I know, who will remain nameless, so well that I just couldn't resist posting it here:

Click to enlarge

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Stuff :: Magazine

  2. Block :: Jenny from the

  3. Ingredient :: Cooking

  4. Flagrant :: Foul

  5. Dandruff :: Hair

  6. Betty :: Boop

  7. Tide :: Cheer

  8. Judges :: Jury

  9. Take it easy :: Dude

  10. Chef :: Boyardee

The post wouldn't be complete if I did remark how great it is that Texas actually moved up two spots in the BCS rankings. Woot woot!

Friday, October 20, 2006


So I've been rejected twice in the past 24 hours (NI and Extreme Blue) so I'm looking forward to having some fun tonight at Club Element. I haven't been in a club in so long! That's why this post is coming at you so early. Click to enlargeI stumbled upon this screencast for a piece of software called Songbird that markets itself as a media player for the Internet. It can pick out and show you any media available on the page and allow you to drag and drop it right into your library. The idea is that so-called "mp3 blogs" will have tracks for you to legally check out, such as local or indie artists, and you can even use search engines to find more music from artists you end up liking. It's all pretty legit since the idea is not like Napster at all but rather is meant to be a more intuitive way to stream media on the web. The files play almost as if they were on your computer so you don't worry about the details of streams or buffering or anything of that stuff, and it's meant to support most of the popular formats so you don't have to have lots of media players floating around. It's in developer preview mode right now (almost a pre-beta to get people excited about it and I suppose encourage more mp3 blogs), and I'd recommend checking it out simply because it's one of the freshest ideas I've seen in a while. This could potentially be big, and the fact that it's open source and can import your iTunes library is even better. If this is what version 0.2 is like, I can't wait to see what they come up with in version 1.0.

Did you know that Steve Jobs can't program? That's what Steve Wozniak claims, and I suppose it could just be a joke but he may be right for all we know. Anyway, just thought that was funny, but we do have word that Apple is looking to integrate Boot Camp into Leopard given that it has garnered over a million downloads. Defnitely a good move and something that they can use to help market Macs. Mac 360 believes that Apple pre-announced iTV (which is a move I don't think they've ever employed before) to compete with Slingbox. It's not a bad thought, but I think that it's so different from Slingbox as a product since it doesn't stream your living room to your computer so much as it streams your computer to your living. But hey, what do I know, maybe they weren't as concerned with Amazon Unbox as I initially thought. It's already clear that Jobs doesn't care too much for the Zune, but I thought I'd plug at least one set of positive hands-on impressions so as to not be too biased. Lastly, LifeHacker put up a list of great open source Windows applications, which I mention because there are a couple on there I haven't seen before but that are actually really neat.

We've received some casting news from Die Hard 4 (I'm not calling it by their idiotic title) for the villain and McClane's daughter, who was actually the bad guy in Sky High herself (saw it with my little cousin, ok). Speaking of kids' movies though, we'll actually be seeing a feature film for Fraggle Rock, for which the script is currently being worked on! I think a lot of college kids will actually go out to see that one. It looks like the Halo movie may be no more as Fox and Universal pulled out from paying licensing fees to Microsoft at the last minute, though Peter Jackson appears to still be on board. Will it get canned or will they just seek another studio? And what caused this to happen so suddenly? Very curious. Apple has the HD trailer for Dreamgirls, and I think it looks pretty good though I'm a bit tired of these music artist-based biopics. Not sure if I really care about anyone on that cast other than Jamie Foxx, but it really wasn't a bad trailer so we'll see what comes of it. Lastly, IGN has a hilarious press conference for Borat, and it's 20 minutes long but actually worth watching.

I'm going with the Friday Fiver this week:

1. Have problems sleeping?
Not often. I usually only do when I've gone too many nights with 8+ hours of sleep, which you can imagine hasn't happened in a while, or if I have to go to bed super early.

2. Last dare accepted?
No clue. I don't get dared much, so I couldn't tell you.

3. Last dare given?
I dared someone yesterday to pull one of the shower levers in Welch meant to wash off chemicals from your person, but he declined. Wuss.

4. Are you free with your feelings?
Somewhat. I'm pretty open with the people I trust, but I dont' trust everyone.

5. Tell us a lie:
I didn't get rejected multiple times this week in multiple ways.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Apple Doing Well, Will It Last?

I was really excited today to come home to a package: a birthday gift from brother and his fiance: a couple of CDs (Bloc Party and Incubus) and Paul Graham's Hackers and Painters. I can't wait to get started on this one (first essay is "Why Nerds Are Unpopular"), so expect a full review when I'm done. So Apple seems to be doing alright, if you consider a 32% increase in revenues last quarter "alright" adding up to some $546 million in net income. Not only that, but they sold 1.6 million Macs, a million of which were laptops. Suffice to say Steve Jobs won't be on the street with a beard and a can for spare change any time soon. However, ZD Net Australia had a pretty interesting editorial claiming that the gravy train will soon be over as Intel will likely not continue to give Apple the sweet deal they're currently getting on Intel chips. That wouldn't surprise me since they're a much bigger supplier than IBM and the honeymoon is almost over as so many have already switched to Intel-based Macs now. Still, I can't imagine that Apple would contract out sales of their machines to Dell anytime soon. They retain so much control by doing it all on their own and can keep things a little more furtive, and it just wouldn't be their style. Maybe after Jobs leaves, but as long as Apple keeps pushing their computers they'll be selling them all on their lonesome, and I think they'll maintain a decent presence because of how zealous their users are. How many Windows users do you see screaming from the mountains about all the cool things built-in to their computer? Still, I was rather surprised at how well they did last quarter, and can't imagine them doing any worse during the holiday season.

Speaking of Apple, someone claims to have gotten information on the phone's interface, and it sounds like the stuff we thought we'd see in a new iPod (i.e. touchscreen). It looks like they packed some neat features onto it, including iChat and interactivity with other Apple devices, but no word on how soon until we see it. This doesn't sound like it was made up, but I guess you never know. I'm sorry that I'm so weak for Apple technology, the applications for OS X are just so neat. I just picked up the new Beta 4 of Gaim 2.0 and it's really neat stuff. They need to go ahead and just call it a stable release now because they've already fixed so many issues, and this version is even slicker than before (though takes a hefty 30MB of RAM). Neilsen may soon be tracking video game playing, which I think is a little useless since people actually buy games as a good barometer for how good they are, but I guess companies want to know the shelf life of these games so that they can keep making the ones that last longer. Lastly, I just love that Stephen Colbert is a Firefox contributor and his tips for more secure computing.

Just a few quick things in movies. We have a couple more clips from Borat over at Yahoo Movies and they're pretty funny. My favorite is him trying to drink while driving and then have sex with a female driver who drives past him. This movie had better be awesome. YouTube is playing host to a trailer for Goya's Ghosts (featuring Natalie Portman, of course), and it looks like a pretty neat movie. I guess historical movies really pique my curiosity, especially when it comes to abuse of power through religion. Lastly, IGN nabbed some great shots from 300, including this one:

Click to enlarge

Now for the 3x Thursday:

1. In general, are your friends your age, or are they older/younger? If they're not your age, why go with the younger/older crowd?
They're definitely older than me. I mean I'm a junior and I just turned 20! I started school a year earlier since I was born in October. So I was really like 3 when I started Pre-K and turned 4 that year whereas most kids are already 4. Of course I'm paying the price for that right now.

2. Do you believe that age makes a difference in certain situations? Why/why not?
Definitely, but only through college really. After that, age matters much less because everyone has so much life experience by then. I think the difference between a Freshman and a Sophomore is much much bigger than between like a 23 year-old and a 25 year-old. You face so many different things at those ages.

3. What about in relationships? Does age matter? Why?
Again, only when you're younger, I think. You're just more or less at the same place in life for longer once you get older.

Bonus Question: Do you think that how you resolve conflict changes with age? Why/why not?
Oh yeah, I definitely think so. I think you become more rational and cool-headed with age. That's the trend I've seen at least. Diplomacy ends up winning more in the end with maturity.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Downward Birthday Trend

Sorry, this will be one of my rare introspective paragraphs, so you may want to skip it if you don't care. So my birthdays have been on a total downward trend for a few years now. I've probably said this before, but do you remember back when you were little and you counted the days until your birthday and all the kids at school wanted to sit next to you at lunch and stuff? As selfish as it sounds, I kind of miss that. Today was another pretty bad birthday. Not only did I only get only four hours of sleep, but I didn't finish the homework I had to do after much effort, I didn't do so hot in my NI interview, and I had to walk to the bus stop in the rain while in my good clothes (from the interview), not to mention that the week started out less than ideally. Of course, I definitely appreciate all the birthday wishes I received, especially from NSC exec (I <3 you guys), but I think my depression today was kind of independent of it being a crummy birthday and just a mid-semester crisis. I feel like I'm on a downward spiral and I'm letting myself down in my school work and I'm still not doing my best socially. I think the stresses of grades, finding a job, and being more social are just really cracking me right now, and all I want is to go back to the summer when we used to work 8 to 5 and have pool parties on the weekend (see my profile picture) without any cares of homework or trying to play the dating game. I think I have to put all that aside though and realize that you only achieve excellence through much brutality, and I still have a few more semesters of that to go through. Still, it would've been nice to just be a normal kid and go out and party on my birthday and all that stuff, and I can't help but wonder what my life would be like if I didn't care about my own intelligence or about having a meaningful career and solely enjoyed school for the ride. And I guess that's what the point of this paragraph is: is it all worth it? Sorry, I'm rambling, I'll stop now.

I've talked about the possibilities for Apple's iTV remote before, but looking at the patent there's now speculation that the remote could automatically discover devices nearby with possibly even a touchscreen (would this mean a changing button layout?). I somehow doubt that it'll end up being this fancy upon initial release, but that would still be a pretty awesome future product for them. We're much more certain about Core 2 Duo MacBooks and MacBook Pros coming out soon, and Engadget even believes that it'll be next month. That's definitely a pretty likely thing to happen, though I wonder how they'll keep costs down on the MacBook models? Meanwhile, Microsoft has finally hatched IE 7 and so it's now available for everyone to rush out and download. Of course I haven't gotten it yet because I could care less about an IE that's still behind on standards and security, but I'm glad that at least they're making an effort to improve it. Then again, Firefox 2 still isn't all that exciting, though it has some really nice additions to it. I think it's pretty equivalent to adding another 0.5 to the version number, though people were probably hoping that it would be a whole number version increase. Lastly, Microsoft has finally cracked under pressure from the EU and will be giving away software to run multiple OSes at the same time, which is quite an interesting move. I wonder if it'll be free here in America also?

Just a couple of quick movie things here. Yahoo Movies has some hilarious clips from Borat. Even in the mood I'm in, I laughed at them so I'd recommend watching them if you're at all amused by Ali G. Yahoo Movies put up the trailer for The Good German, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. It has potential, but I just hope that it's not one of those movies that tries too hard to be great.

Click to enlarge

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What's the longest distance you've ever traveled?
However far it is to Bombay from Houston!

2. What's the longest distance you've ever walked?
Just walking, probably a couple of miles? That's contiguous walking from one place to another though, not just in any given day. I walk much more than that in sum over my average day.

3. How far away is the friend/relative who lives the longest distance from you?
I have a cousin in Australia, so I guess that would be the farthest? Then again, if you go West she really isn't that far away, so maybe my family in India? Too tired to think about it, sorry.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Some Great Ads

Most of the news today is pretty short so there's really nothing anything for me to make a main topic out of. However, I saw some ads that I got a kick out of and thought I'd share first. click to enlargeSony has recently launched a marketing campaign for its new Bravia LCD television line, which seems to just be replacing their Wegas. Anyway, this full-length version of their television spot for it is pretty cool and it must've taken an enormous amount of effort to pull off the exploding paint in all those settings, especially considering that a lot of it (if not all of it, though I slightly doubt that) was actually real paint (i.e. not CG). Remember when tech ads were simpler? PC World does, and has a list of some of the greatest computer ads of the past 25 years or so. If you can't appreciate how funny their strategy was for marketing computers back before they became an invaluable commodity, you have to appreciate the completely random cameos. Where else can you see a young Bill Cosby and a much much younger Steve Ballmer? Especially great is the Commodore ad suggesting that you'll be a failure at school without a computer, and the failed Apple Newton, and the knockoffs of Apple's famed 1984 Superbowl spot. Definitely fun stuff to watch (you'll probably blow too much time on it, too).

Plextor has created a PlexEraser drive to wipe your discs clean, which is primarily useful when you have highly sensitive data that you don't want anyone to be able to reconstruct even after scratches or cracks. I wonder if this will become the next paper shredder in offices now? Ars Technica managed to get a look at Safari 3.0, which is funny because I met one of the team leads for Safari just a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, some of its updates include support for nifty features of CSS 3.0 (including resizeable fields), live search, and much more comprehensive dragging and dropping among windows and tabs. Maybe it'll be more on par with Firefox by the time I get a Mac myself. Apparently, Google will also be lending Safari a hand with functionality to be more wary of phishing or other dangerous sites, which I'm surprised they haven't approached Mozilla about. Maybe Apple is paying them or something? Speaking of Google, they're making their Mountain View office solar-powered, which would make it the largest solar-powered office in the country. Of course their servers will still be on normal power, but with a campus that's always open like theirs you have to imagine that they'll be saving a buttload of money despite the initial cost of setting up the system. Lastly, if you're tired of generic error pages in your browser, you'll love Errorzilla.

There's actually no good movie news, and I have an interview tomorrow (I know, it's craptacular timing for a hard interview), so I'm going to move on to the Tuesday Twosome:

1. The perfect autumn day and what activities you enjoy.
Partly cloudy with the temperature in the lower 70s, and I'd be either taking a nap outside or studying outside.

2. Two things about yourself that make you different from everybody else:
I blog far too much and I actually seem to feel better when I get less sleep (4-5 hours) than when I get 6-7 hours.

3. The last time you laughed really hard and why:
Nirav's plans for the UT chapter of the ACM (and I quoth, "beer and hookers").

4. Two items of clothing that best represents who you are:
Burnt orange football shirt to show my school spirit and khaki shorts to show how lazy I am to not put on full pants with a belt and all that.

5. Yourself as others see you and how you see yourself:
I think others see me as really smart and super involved, but I see myself as barely getting by and regularly losing touch with reality.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Interview with a CEO

When your main topic covers an interview with Steve Jobs, it's hard to make a catchy topic, especially one that doesn't sound Apple fanboyish. With that being said, I'm going to be applauding Steve Jobs for how candid he is in this interview and not nearly as superficial as I usually see in tech interviews (which is why I usually don't mention tech or game interviews here). He makes the most sense when talking about iTunes and that he didn't want higher prices in iTunes because they're trying to compete with piracy and raising prices would definitely feel like betrayal to a lot of music lovers after they've committed to a library of FairPlay music and an iPod and such. His answers reflect exactly what his products are like, and I think that shows a great deal of control on his part over his company, which is good because as much as hierarchy can suck, it's so vital for someone to keep a company focused. I think he was lying when he said that they didn't aim to make their products "cool," I think that marketing always works it in to their design plans. The most interesting part of the interview is when he scoffs at Zune's WiFi functionality, much like many tech pundits and webcomics have. He doesn't seem concerned at all with the Zune, and I don't see much reason why he should. I still haven't found many people day-to-day who know what it is yet.

That's not all I have for Apple though, they've filed for rights to the iPhone trademark, which means that they're either going out of their way to keep us rumoring an iPhone or that they really have been pumping R&D into it and are going to come out with it. Also, many think that we may see a (RED) MacBook from Apple, which would be really neat, but I'm not sure that they'll be so bold as to come out with a red MacBook or if it's even physically readily feasible. Still, I think it'd look hot in a fiery red. TechCrunch has put together a really useful roundup of the big players in digital movie downloads, and I definitely recommend checking it out if you're at all interested in what's out there. I can't decide what service is best right now, and I don't think that there's quite a clear winner yet like there was for music with iTunes. It's still a fledgling industry, but worth keeping an eye on. Speaking of digital media, CNet often has some decent multimedia and they've decided to create an online TV channel with decent quality for all their newest reviews, previews, and other video features. The drawback is that they're all rather short, of course. Lastly, if you never know what do when your ISP goes down, you'll enjoy this list.

It looks like Hugh Jackman is just a year away from portraying everyone's favorite X-Men character in Wolverine now that the script is done and they just have to work on pre-production. I'm always skeptical about spinoffs, but if Jackman is excited about it then I hope that this will be the real deal. Oliver Stone may be making another 9/11 movie called Jawbreaker dealing with America's response to it, and I think that this would be a horrible movie since we're kind of still responding to it. If you want to make a movie just about 9/11 or hero stories then that's all well and good, but when you're actually taking a look at something as protracted as our response to it, you have to wait like 10-15 years before you can get a worthwhile perspective. Lastly, Rogue Pictures has some clips up from Hot Fuzz, which I think could be pretty funny. It's from the same people who brought you Shaun of the Dead with the same two main characters, so that gives you an idea of the type of humor, but this time it's with cops (kind of like Super Troopers, but more British).

Before I conclude here, I have to share a really great PostSecret postcard. I think that this has been my life's story up til more recently, and I hope that I really have turned a new leaf (some of you, and you know who you are, know what I'm talking about).

Click to enlarge

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Name 10 things you would do if you had more time.
Sleep 8-9 hours a night.
Find people to go to salsa clubs with regularly and learn more moves.
Practice classical guitar every night.
Pick up electric guitar.
Read aloud for longer to help with my cluttering.
Write scripts to make some of my computer tasks more automated.
Watch some of the great video podcasts I've been missing out on.
Clean my apartment more often.
Read the Stephen King books that have been sitting dormant on my bookshelf.
Workout independently even when I have Weight Training class.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mac Popularity

I'm pretty tired and still have some work to do, so this will end up being a much abridged post so that I don't have to skip it entirely. I thought it was just me, but apparently others have noticed that Macs have been gaining popularity lately, and it's worthwhile to ponder why. I think there's no doubt that iTunes and the iPod have played a role in that in the sense that they've made Apple as a company cool again and has made Apple very hard to forget about, which leads people to look towards their other products. When they see how slick the MacBooks look and how slim the iMacs are, I'm sure they become very appealing. And then their switch to Intel put them in lots of news articles and watercooler conversations among geeks. I believe that they either had a smart marketing team or a lot of dumb luck with all this. To top it off, some of their Get a Mac ads have been contraversial, which we all know is an even better marketing technique. I always figure that the most important thing to selling a product is to generate excitement about it, and I definitely think that that's what separates Apple from companies like Dell.

It looks like Mozilla realized that not everyone was happy with the new betas of Firefox because they've begun accepting suggestions for version 3, which I think is an important step for them. It's quite rare for browser developers to reach out to the community like that, and I think it'll pay off big time for them in the end. Paint .NET has a new version in beta featuring a really neat Multi Document Interface (MDI) for intuitively handling multiple pictures. This is a great step for them, and I recommend checking it out. A lot of people seem puzzled over what the differences between LCD and Plasma TVs are, and now there's a rather unbiased video available to help you decide. Click to enlargeI personally avoid the whole issue though and just support DLP. Lastly, another common question is what to get instead of the iPod, and there's a god listing of decent choices over here for this holiday season. Just be sure to research before you buy and make sure it has what you value most.

In the box office The Grudge 2 barely reigned supreme with a still weak $22 million, and it's likely to drop by a good bit next weekend whereas The Departed only lost 30% of its viewership with $18.7 million. The only real failure was Man of the Year with a pitiful $12.6 million. Next weekend should be a much more interesting one with a number of good movies includings offerings from Christopher Nolan (The Prestige) and Clint Eastwood (Flags of our Fathers).

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Weeks :: Years

  2. Cough :: Cold

  3. Jail :: Bird

  4. Produced :: Movie

  5. ? :: Question

  6. Stapler :: Red

  7. Next :: Please

  8. Perky :: Pigs (not sure why)

  9. Oxygen :: Mask

  10. Musical :: Play

Friday, October 13, 2006

Early MacWorld Predictions

Someone was actually bold enough to offer their predictions for MacWorld 2007 (January 9) over two months in advance, so I figured that I'd be so bold as to talk about them a bit. One thing that everyone assumes is a surefire is that we'll see the iTV, and even he suggests this, but I'm not sure in what capacity. I don't think that we'll be able to start buying this thing in January because it's predicted that 802.11n won't be ready until July, and I don't imagine that 802.11g is powerful enough to handle what Apple wants (read here if you're confused). It's not altogether impossible or anything, but I think it's morel likely that we'll just see more of its features and a release date. iLife and iWork are more solid predictions though, as is the lack of a new video iPod. January would be a very strange month to release a product like that in, and MacWorld just isn't the right event for it. Something like that would warrant its own little press conference, so don't expect it so soon (though again, not impossible). You can be sure to see more Microsoft bashing, of course, and comparisons between Vista and Leopard as well as Zune and the iPod line. Speaking of Leopard, I'm sure they'll reveal some more features as we inch so much closer to its final release, so hopefully that'll be something to look forward to. I don't agree about the iPhone though: I've seen so many mixed signals about it that I don't think it's going to happen, at least not in January. I also don't see an iTunes 7.5 so close to the release of iTunes 7, but ringtones will likely be in iTunes's future. Instead, I'm sure we'll see more TV shows and movies available on iTunes. Yes, the future is bright for MacWorld, but Apple is known for throwing curveballs, so don't try to pin everything down. I'll keep you posted on more reliable rumors as they develop.

Some of you may have heard of this new RED campaign to get people to buy certain products from which a certain portion of your purchase goes to help fight AIDS in Africa, and Apple has decided to join in with a RED iPod Nano that looks really good in fiery red. It's an interesting campaign, and I'm glad Apple joined in because God knows they make enough profit off of Nanos. click to enlargeIGN decided to do a little feature comparing the Wiimote's form factor to other remotes and controllers, and I liked the way it looked in comparison to a PSP the best. It definitely looks slick, and it's a big plus that it's so small. Time Warner has come forward to take its turn to jab at YouTube for copyright infringement, but they're actually more interested in striking a deal than suing YouTube, which is quite surprising to me considering how evil Time Warner is. They're taking their case to Google given the recent purchase, and I'm sure that many other companies will do that as well in hopes that Google can better enforce a vehicle for change. I'm just glad that YouTube isn't getting sued, yet. Google offices in India are claiming that the talent pool in India really isn't all that great, mainly because people there aren't experienced with all the newest web technologies. While it's nice that that probably means more jobs for us, I think it's unfair to be so selective if the people themselves are smart and can learn the stuff easily. Nothing in programming is that hard to learn if you have a degree in CS. Congress is playing around with legislation requiring electronics manufacturers to take care of e-Waste, which is a nice gesture except that it's going to be a major pain to enforce. Why not just give tax breaks to companies that do recycle? Re-using those parts could help the economy with saved expenses, so it's good use of government money.

AICN has some fresh new reviews for us. Quint saw Babel and Man of the Year but didn't seem impressed with either. I found that kind of sad because I wanted to see both of them, especially Babel. They also got a review of Lifted, a short film from Pixar, and it sounds like a pretty fun little animated featurette. All you Old School fans should take solace in knowing that the sequel's script is still in the works, so give it some time before you hear casting details and such. Lastly, IGN has a few new shots from 300 for those of you interested.

Before I conclude, I just thought I'd plug something shamelessly. So apparently, someone at Cranium noticed that it's my favorite board game and contacted me to thank me, which I thought was pretty cool so I thought I'd mention their new game Pop5 real quick. It's more pop culture based and faster since it's a timed 5 round thing (kind of like Guesstures) where you have to do a different Cranium thing for each round within a certain time frame back-to-back. They have it online if you want to try it out, and it seems fun, though not quite as fun online since you're not playing with friends or family, but a good idea no less. I think I'll end up picking it up before Thanksgiving.

Now for Friday's Feast:

Approximately how many hours per week do you spend reading other blogs?

Maybe an hour or two.

Your community wants everyone to give one thing to put into a time capsule. What item would you choose to include?

I still have a newspaper from 9/12/2001, so maybe that. Or, there's my ACL wristbands!

What is the most interesting tourist attraction you've ever visited?

That's really really hard. I'm going to say the Statue of Liberty simply because it's so humbling to see it in person.

Main Course
If you could give an award to anyone for anything, who would it be and what would the award be titled?

It would be my friend Jennyfer for being the most fun to poke fun at ;)

What do you think your favorite color reveals about your personality?

Not sure what blue says about me. Maybe that I used to be very blue but have grown from it to become happier?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Will YouTube Make It?

I'm pretty tired right now from my Automata Theory test (two grueling hours, but I think I did well), and there's honestly not much better to talk about today than YouTube again. Sorry, it's this or nothing! We have another article about whether or not Google can make YouTube fit their business, and I think they definitely can. People are still skeptical about it, but the fact remains that Google is still giving them a lot of control and seems to be doing little more than adding their own brand name to it and getting a cut of any profits they manage to make in the future. I think it's stupid that people despise them for making money off of other people's content because they are the ones who are hosting all of this at great expense and made it as easy as it is to upload videos and share them. So just because you could've thought of such a simple idea and make millions off of it doesn't mean that you deserve what they have now. Brilliant ideas definitely deserve great rewards. It's definitely important for them to keep things simple though and not morph into Google Video, most importantly.

AMD is calling their quad core chip design "Barcelona" and have already started showing it off and all its 128 KB L1 cache glory. Isn't it a hot, sexy microprocessor design? Ok, so maybe that's not possible, but you never know. ComputerWorld has a ridiculously detailed review of Office 2007, and it still sounds pretty cool. They still don't recommend that everyone upgrade, but I'd say that it's more worthwhile to upgrade that than Vista (though I'm not sure if the new Office will run on XP). No new version of Windows Explorer though (except for the slightly upgraded one in Vista), so you may want to look into some alternatives in this roundup. I'm really interested in taking the plunge sometime soon because Explorer is just so clunky. Lastly, Apple filed a patent for a new universal remote for iTV and it's pretty spiffy, though we don't have any pictures of the physical design so I'm just referring to the supposed features. I don't recommend reading that whole document, but the diagram gives you an idea of how well integrated they want the iTV to be, and I like that.

Only one thing in movies I wanted to bring up: the trailer for Freedom Writers. As corny as it sounds, I still think it could be good and at least a decent B teen movie. To make up for the lack of movie news, I present you with this PostSecret postcard. I'll admit that I can sometimes relate to it on days when I'm tired, but I think that blogging has definitely helped me stay in touch with things and to keep writing (and I guess my typing speed also).

Click to enlarge

Now for the 3x Thursday:

1. What's your opinion of nuclear war?
I think it's ridiculous, of course. The only thing worse than sending humans to go and fight in a war is killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians so that soldiers don't have to physically fight other soldiers.

2. Do you believe a country has the right to possess nuclear weapons? Why/why not?
No, but I think they should now only as a deterrent because they're here now and you can't uninvent such an evil.

3. What do you think of this whole North Korea testing a nuke thing? Does it make you nervous? Do you care? Why/why not?
Not really, because they've done this before. Kim Jong Il just wants to show that he has a bigger penis, that's all. He's not stupid enough to try anything, I think he's fully aware of the backlash.

Bonus Question: Do you think there will be a WWIII or something similar to it? What do you think will be the outcome?
I don't doubt the possibility, but I don't think it's all that soon. We don't have a clear threat right now like the Nazis or the Communists or anything, so it's hard to start a World War out of anything right now. Who would we be fighting? The terrorists?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

DVD Retailers Get Defensive

So I have a huge Automata Theory test tomorrow, but I didn't want to miss this post, so I'm just going to blaze through it as fast as humanly possible here. Sorry if it's less dense than you'd prefer. It's no secret that Apple has joined a number of other companies in selling digital copies of movies online, and they're usually cheaper than what their price off a Target/Walmart/ shelf would be. Well, they're none too happy about it and are demanding that they get deals on the wholesale of these movies as well. Will they get their wish? Given that the movie industry has been in a self-pronounced slump for a while, I'm going to go with, "no." I cannot emphasize how stupid these retailers are. First of all, Apple was not the first to sell movies online, so why raise a fuss about it all of a sudden? Secondly, they're already losing sales to online piracy, would they really rather lose even more sales to piracy than have other legal services pick up that slack and put money into making more, better movies? Thirdly, online purchases of movies are not likely to exceed demand for physical copies because people are going to have a hard time getting used to the idea of not having a hard copy and the portability that comes with it. Fourthly, these online purchases don't even have special features, much like when you see the movies on television, so why is a couple of bucks less such a big deal? And lastly, what will they do with that extra shelf space? People's demand for movies aren't going to just go down dramatically, so they'll be forgoing revenue. I think they're bluffing. If they do reduce shelf space they'll just be driving demand from themselves and onto online outlets, which will screw them over even more. Face it Walmart, the cards aren't in your hands for once, they're in the studios' hands.

Google has finally done something I was hoping for: they've combined Writely and Google Spreadsheets into Google Docs, which is like a Google Office that you can easily access with a pretty short URL. It's obviously still not a substitution for normal word/spreadsheet processing applications, but it's a good free alternative, especially when portability and collaboration are key. While I'm on Google, someone has made yet another clever mashup that combines Google Maps with Happy Hour listings in lots of areas of the country. It's obviously still a growing site, but something to keep your eye on no doubt. Apple nabbed a patent for Home on iPod, which would allow you to transfer your "home" directory from your Mac onto your iPods as a backup or I suppose to use those apps and files on another machine. It's a pretty decent idea, especially with how ridiculously large the iPod's capacity is getting nowadays. Click to enlargeSamsung has created the world's first 10 MP camera phone. Why? I have no clue. More megapixels really isn't that good, and I don't know why someone would pay over $900 for a phone with that functionality when they can get a better camera and a different phone for probably the same price. Still, it looks cool. Lastly, if you like watching tv from your computer like me, then you'll fall in love with FreeTube.

I was going to skip the movie news in the interest of time, but the trailer for Grind House was just so awesome that I decided to press on. It's clearly an homage to old school horror flicks, and you must watch it. It's going to be hard for me to get over how cool that trailer is. There's also a pretty neat poster out there for David Fincher's Zodiac if anyone's interested. Lastly, look forward to a trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with Happy Feet on November 17.

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

Tell us about a woman who has done something you think is noteworthy. It could be a musician, a scientist, an athlete, or even your daughter.
I don't know why, but Grace Hopper comes to mind. She was a distinguished computer scientist who created the first compiler ever, and I think that's a pretty neat thing to have done in such a male-dominated field.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Developers Versus Programmers

I think a lot of people in CS are guilty of interchanging the terms "software developer" and "computer programmer" when describing what they're interested in what they want to do or what their position is, but this editorial brings up the great point that the two terms aren't actually equivalent. I warn you that the article is too caustic about straight up programmers, but if you put aside the negative connotations you do have some well-drawn distinctions. It's reasonable to say that a programmer is what is more colloquially referred to as a "code monkey" and is not what your typical CS major is interested in doing because that's bound to get repetitive and tiresome over time. Software development is much more interesting because you look at big pictures and solve problems on all scales rather than just code-level. This shouldn't suggest that just strictly programming is unskilled labor or that it's particularly easy, but rather that those who prefer to just code are usually people who could care less about things like long term viability or simplicity or how the users will react to something. They typically just follow the specs given to them, typically by developers if not project managers. Obviously I'd consider myself a developer, but people are really needed for both positions just like we need doctors as well as janitors. Someone's gotta do the dirty work, and a lot of these people tend to enjoy it. I don't think it's that big of a deal to make this distinction between developer and programmer since it's not like we have an accepted textbook definition of either, but all computer scientists learned the hard way how important semantics are, which is why people like me talk about junk like this.

Following up on yesterday's news of Google purchasing YouTube, we now have a better reason for the purchase: sheer hit statistics. This disparity between Google Video and YouTube is pretty extreme, and I can't imagine that Google didn't notice. Meanwhile, iTunes will have two more studios on board right after the holidays, though we don't know who quite yet. I definitely think that putting movies and tv shows online is a big part of counteracting piracy by offering a reasonable, legal solution, and ABC totally gets that. They're actually extending their free online television viewing service after seeing huge success, and they're already on iTunes of course. I just can't help but praise companies who just get it like ABC is right at this moment. Speaking of iTunes, Apple actually bought out the only English radio station in Bombay (no, it's not Mumbai, screw that stupid name change) and made it Hindi-only in a supposedly surreptitious attempt to boost iPod sales with a fresh ad campaign. They definitely saw a boost in sales, and I'd say it's a fairly valid assumption to say that they meant for this to happen, though it's almost as evil as it is smart. Still, I don't think people in Bombay care as much about English songs on the radio since I'd imagine that it's pretty badly managed. Lastly, a new type of television has been unveiled called Laser TV that supposedly takes advantage of much more of the colors that the eye can perceive than today's high definition televisions display. It sounds good and well, but I need to see some demonstrations to be convinced.

It looks like yesterday's Pan's Labyrinth trailer was a tease and we now have a full-length one to rock our socks off. I'm finally really interested in this movie now, especially given the great reviews so far. All that's left today are posters. We have some alright ones for Ghost Rider, though I like the older ones better. The sadistic minds behind Saw III used the actual blood of the actor who plays Jigsaw in the original version of this new poster for the movie, though the prints themselves are not bloody. You can bid on the original if you're a vampire or just really weird though. Lastly, I leave you with this trippy new poster for The Prestige.

Click to enlarge

I'm gonna finish up this post quickly and do the Tuesday Twosome:

1. Shower or Bath
Shower, because a bath doesn't actually make you clean! What's the appeal of lying in your own filth?

2. Comedy or Drama
Comedy, because I need the humor to keep me going here.

3. Coffee or Tea
Tea, because I think that caffeine fix is way bad for you. Plus, tea just tastes so much better in general and is more fun to drink.

4. Fiction or non-fiction
Fiction, because I'm tired of non-fiction!

5. Television or Movies
Television, because Hollywood is pumping out a lot of crap right now whereas so many new shows in the past couple of years have been slam dunks (though not necessarily in ratings, I'm afraid).