(I know it's a long post, but I have to make up for the past five days. Also, prepare for a paragraph of introspection, sorry)
As of about 10:30 AM this morning, my fall semester was over. I was in such a state of shock that I was almost numb. My Physics final went very well, my Automata Theory final mindraped me (as it did for the other 17 people who decided to take it early), and this morning's Probability final was almost as easy as I expected (though I still had to study for it, mind you). I don't think I could be much happier that this semester is over, to be honest. All my classes were either boring, useless, or extremely difficult (or multiple ones in some cases). This was my first semester at UT where academically I did not feel very stimulated. I think my brain got some good critical thinking skills out of Automata, no doubt, and I do enjoy a good challenge, but I'm sorry: writing proofs is not fun to me. I'm really thrilled to be taking Object Oriented Programming with the awesomeness known as Professor Downing and Programming Languages, as well, this Spring. I've been waiting for both courses for some time now. And guess what? No more science or labs again EVER! That's the best news, really. Actually, I take that back. You know what the best news is? This was also the first semester I felt Elton the person really grow. Does that make sense? I've felt out of place for the longest time, like even despite meeting people I was still just a number and still sticking to high school friends. With TLD though, I just totally brought a new dimension to my life and my personality, and I'm grateful for that (I should be thanking Jose for getting me into salsa and pushing me to dance with girls even when I sucked). I've actually been meeting interesting new girls (and cool guys), and having lots of fun with them, and not just doing some service activity or putting together an event: but dancing and laughing and the like. I recommend dancing to any of you stuck in a rut in your life! It should've been a hint when I hated frat parties but loved dancing with my cousins at New Year's. I think that now I can really bring myself to new levels as a dancer in the Spring because I have a solid background now (probably even do Texas Revue), and make more time for dating instead of doing retarded Physics labs. Yep, I'm happy, and optimistic. Now I just have to not total my car tomorrow.
There's no doubt that I missed a lot of news, but I'll just aim for the highlights of the last few days. I haven't seen any major tech media outlets report this, but Google Maps has gone through an upgrade. If you try it out now, you'll notice that the left side has changed to where locations are draggable (so you can reverse directions) and you can add multiple waypoints to your route as well as collapse the directions between each pair. It took them long enough! I'm afraid it slows down the app a bit though. Microsoft redesigned its public site to make it more Web 2.0-like, but I'm not really thrilled with it. Yeah, the old design was getting a bit dated, but I think this one is a little too heavy and tries too hard to mimic Windows Explorer. I really hate to laud Apple so much, I really do, but I like their new holiday ad. Something about it just clicks with me, and it's much much better than those Get a Mac ads. More interesting: Gizmodo claims that they're 100% positive that the iPhone will be announced "on Monday," but he doesn't specify which Monday. Presumably, he means December 18, so I guess we'll know soon enough (oh, and he doesn't even say how he knows, so he could be lying just the same, but Gizmodo generally is reputable). There was some chatter of the iTV remote looking like this, but I just wanted to state that I think it's a complete sham. Jobs is going to want it to look like the iMac and MacBook remotes, not something much bigger and black (as opposed to the iTV being white). And apparently I missed an alarming Forrester report that iTunes sales were losing momentum, but Apple has, in an out-of-character move, come out to flat-out deny those claims. I'm sure we'll see the hard numbers at MacWorld, but I can't imagine that report making any sense in the first place. I usually don't like to entertain Mark Cuban's whimsical posts, but I thought I'd give him credit for making a creative one a few days ago suggesting how Google can break iTunes. Ready? Give away the music and make money off just the ads. I think Ruckus already does something like this, albeit only for students, and I just can't see that model working. I'm no business major, but I can't imagine record labels being pleased with that idea. At the best, they'd suggest less portability for the music, which isn't good for anyone. Not even Bill Gates likes DRM and he's an avid opponent of piracy himself! Lastly, take a few minutes and read Joel Spolsky's brilliant post on elegance. It's so awesome because it's just so true.
I'm going to start off with some trailers. The recently redesigned Yahoo Movies site has the first real trailer for Live Free or Die Hard (again, I think this title is stupid), which is little more than cool special effects and action sequences. Still, it does the trick, and piqued my interest, except that Bruce Willis is really getting too old for these kinds of movies. Meanwhile, Moviefone has the new Shrek the Third trailer, which starts out meh and ends up being pretty funny. I still don't know if I'm sold on this movie being good, but at least they're trying hard with it and not just relying on the franchise to make them money. We finally have a tidbit of news on The Dark Knight: the Batman suit will be a little more fabricky and sleek while the Joker suit will be less cartooney than it is in the comics to reflect the darker tone of the movie. I'm really excited to see what he comes up with, though I'm sure it'll disappoint the hardcore Batman geeks since it's different. Jackie Chan was hurt on the set of Rush Hour 3, just part of many problems for the film including cast/crew members getting sick and the film going overbudget. They must've Ratner a lot of money for this one, so how could he possibly go over? Tobey Maguire is claiming that he's not likely to do another Spider-man movie unless the plot is really something special, and Kirsten Dunst has echoed his sentiments. A part of me is sad, but a part of me is happy that at least they won't overdo the series and cheapen it. Plus, a lot of people weren't satisfied with Maguire (I had no problem with him, personally). I could've posted the new Hostel 2 poster, but it's so gross that I decided to show some restraint. Instead, here's one of a few new pictures from Grind House:
Now for Friday's Feast:
What was your very first job with a paycheck?
Being a teaching assistant at the Museum of Natural Science in Houston for these summer camps they had for kids ages 6-12. It was quite an interesting, minimum wage earning experience, but I'm glad I did that rather than some retail job (i.e. Best Buy, MacDonalds, etc) because I had some fun there and it was something really unique to be a part of my career.
Did you ever lose something really important to you?
I lost my Captain Planet action figure when I was like 8, and that was hard on me. He even had a string you would hold to make him fly! I'm still not over the loss.
What is the best Christmas present you ever received?
I really couldn't tell you. I guess the PS2 I got a few years ago, or maybe the iPod Shuffle I got last Christmas, which I've probably gotten more worth out of (despite it breaking last week).
Tell about a favorite "hang out" place for you and your friends when you were in high school.
There was a spot in the foyer of the school where we would "hang out" and have lunch. We didn't really go out and do exciting stuff a whole lot; just go to the movies or play pool pretty much. And I wonder why it took this long for me to figure out how much I enjoy dancing! =P
Name something that always brings a smile to your face.
The TLD Semi-Formal on Sunday night =) Aside from that I always smile when I think of my fumbles and successes when trying new moves with girls on the dance floor, there was something else I wouldn't feel comfortable talking about here. It is smile-worthy though, for sure.