Friday, March 31, 2006

Bad Guys Use Google, Too

Is anyone else a tad-bit annoyed when you ask someone to take a picture for you and they ask, "What do I do? Press this button?" I know they're doing you a favor, but is it really that hard? I asked some LPPA guy to take a group picture of us on my camera, and he asked me that, and then the picture came out all blurred. Plus, he didn't zoom in, but I'm just befuddled that he asked me how to take a picture, and I've noticed that people ask this a lot. What other button would take a picture than the one on top? And where else would you zoom in and out? My camera has all of 10 buttons, come on! Ok, that's the end of that rant. I ran into this great eyeopener regarding the harms of Google since the cyber crooks out there know how to use it much better than you do to get what they want. If you read that article for any reason, it should be to help you understand how careful you have to be with your sensitive information online. You'll probably pick up a lot of new search term tricks along the way, of which I had only known a selection of prior to that article. He also plugs ways to remove your particulars from Google. On a side note, it's also rather easy to find someone online. When my car got towed last summer, the towers gave us the name the car was under, and so after about 20 minutes on the Internet I was able to find the phone number of address of the previous owners (who gave us spare keys and are going to help us fix the a/c since the guy is a mechanic). I don't see that as being too harmful, but if you're a target for stalkers then you may want to be wary of that. My point is to try to educate yourself more than the next person so that you don't get screwed over.

Forrester conducted a survey regarding brand trust among people over major companies' whole product lines, and what was really surprising was how far ahead Sony pulled ahead of Microsoft. I don't see either company as more trustworthy than the other, but I guess Sony has a better PR team. The figures can't be too accurate, but I'm sure they aren't too far off either, and Apple seems to have pulled pretty far into the lead. CoolTechZone strives to explain why Apple is so well-received by people, and it really comes down to innovative products (i.e. real evolution in their product lines) and customer service. IM users rejoice: there's a new beta for Gaim 2.0 out, and it definitely came with some welcome changes from Beta 2. I've tried a few different IM clients out there, and Gaim is definitely my favorite even though there are certain protocols it doesn't support (it's not like I do voice chat anyway though; I have a cell phone). TypePad is trying to up the ante on their blogging services by offering widgets for blogs. I think that the term "widget" is rapidly becoming a buzz word, and I don't see anything all that special in these offerings. The only cool one is the one that tells you what people click off your page, which I would actually use if I was on TypePad. Ars Technica is continuing to speculate on a Google TV service and believes that they may have some sort of online DVR service, but I honestly have no idea what they're coming up with. Their job posting for a TV Product Manager definitely gave away the secret, but we just don't know exactly what that secret is yet.

I saw 28 Days Later on FX a few weeks ago and it reminded me of how great it was for a horror movie even though like no one saw it. We now know that they're actually making a sequel called 28 Weeks Later though, so hopefully it'll garner more attention. It looks like this is a big week for trailers. Charlotte's Web will premiere a trailer tomorrow night on Nickelodeon, and it's actually supposed to look rather impressive, though I think I'll wait until it goes online rather than watch the Kid's Choice Awards. There are rumors that The Simpsons movie will attach a teaser with Ice Age 2, but it could be a fake leak created as a joke (though this movie is really in the works). There is one trailer ready for you to see though, and it's for a movie called Guys and Balls, which almost looks like the German version of Brokeback Mountain, except that it's much more lighthearted (kind of like Bend It Like Beckham). AICN's Harry Knowles got a sneak peak at the trailer for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, and when reading about it I just can't help think that this movie could use another five years before being made. It looks like a sequel to Jackass the Movie is in the works, and I must admit that that movie is a guilty pleasure of mine because it's surprisingly amusing. Lastly, Yahoo Movies has a subpar clip from The Benchwarmers in case you're a big Jon Heder fan.

Now for Friday's Feast:

Name 3 things that you think are strange.

Girls getting trashed without a friend to take care of them, Business majors who complain about 12 hour workloads when Natural Science majors take 14-16 hours on average including labs, and people who don't know how to use a camera (or steady their hand, for that matter).

What was the last ceremony you attended?

On Thursday morning I ran this event for NSC we call a Faculty Appreciation Breakfast where we honored 5 super cool professors, and I think it went really well. O's actually makes some pretty good breakfast tacos. Just take a look at these smiling faces:

Click to enlarge

What is one lesson you have learned in the past year?

When I have multiple tests in a week, sleep is a luxury I can't afford unless my weekend is especially long.

Main Course
Tell us about one of your childhood memories.

If you could extend any of the four seasons to be twice as long as normal, which season would you want to lengthen?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Time for Seppuku?

My Diffy Q test could've gone better, but I think I nailed all but one of them (only 6 questions total), but even if I got all that wrong and the others right I'd probably have an A compared to everyone else, so let's see what happens. I'm very anxious to see my grade, of course. Anyway, guess what time it is? It's almost time for Apple's 30th anniversary. So where's the "special event" or press conference or whatever Jobs likes to call it? No sign of it. One CNet reporter claims that he'll jump off the ledge of his building if there's no big announcement, which is either a joke or just his extreme hope for something new and spectacular from the bright minds over in Mountain View. You've got to hand it to Apple though, they really know how to throw an imaginary conference. Every tech podcast for the past month (I listen/watch probably about 5 or 6 of these regularly) has been regularly mentioning all these rumors accumulating and giving commentary on them (naturally). People are holding off purchases for it and wasting lots of time drawing all kinds of mockups on what the next big thing could be. Has Apple done anything to garner this kind of zeal? At MacWorld he flashed a little slide about the anniversary being this year at the very end of it, and at his last cruddy little event he said "we'll see you all real soon." We've read into these words as "new full-screen video iPod" and "30th anniversary Mac" and "movies on iTunes." I wonder if Gates ever wished he had that kind of power? Instead, he touts around his products while in development (ala Vista) or tries guerilla mystery tactics (such as with Origami), and gets slammed left and right. Poor guy; at least he has all that dough. Anyway, I don't think we should start stabbing ourselves with katanas quite yet because the week isn't done yet, and given how sentimental Jobs is with his companies, I can't imagine him not doing anything at all for this anniversary.

It could be that Steve is caught up in litigation what with Beatles record label Apple Corps suing Apple for their logo since they violated an old agreement they had that Apple could keep the logo if they stuck to personal computing, but now iTunes has really blown up. This really is a big deal for them since when it was first ruled on it was actually harsher than you think (i.e. I would consider a case like that to have been thrown out, and yet it wasn't), but the trial is just getting underway. I'm sure many of you have heard the buzz word "Web 2.0" in relation to the new wave of spiffy web application hitting the Net, and one blogger has actually commented on why it's no more than a buzz word. This actually reflects what I've heard from many other techie pundits, and I partially buy into that. However, I think that by making scripts easier to write it could diffuse pretty far, though I think it'll be a long long while before they overtake regular software. IGN got a leak from an insider on the Revolution's specs, and the processor looks to be a 3rd as powerful as the Xbox 360 (not even 1 GHz). Click to enlargeIt looks to be at least as powerful as the current generation, and Nintendo is sticking to their platform of rapid hardware upgrading being unnecessary right now, and I'll agree with them when I see some great games take advantage of their fancy little remote. Lastly, Gateway has inadvertently announced a new Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) Intel Core Solo chip by putting a laptop utilizing it online a couple of weeks before it's even going to be announced by Intel. They may have taken it down, since I can't find it now, but I wonder if Intel yelled at them?

It looks like Superman Returns will be opening in IMAX and IMAX-3D, and if there are IMAX theaters in Dallas then I'm totally going to a midnight showing of it there. I can imagine people saying, "whoa, it's like he's flying into me!" Ok maybe not, but it should be cool anyway. AICN has two glowing reviews for The Fountain, which has rejuvenated my long dead interest in the movie and makes me wish they would release it sooner rather than later. Ben Stiller has signed on to do a comedy movie called Big Wave with a plot too ridiculous for me to care to summarize, but I just hope that he knows what he's doing with this one. Sony's UMD disc is really taking a beating out there as it loses shelf space and sales, and I wonder how long before Sony officially pulls the plug on it. Lastly, movie theaters are getting ancy about DVD releases inching closer to their theatrical debuts, but I don't see how this would help studios make more money. They're losing money because their films suck, not because people are tired of theaters. I suppose that pricing is another factor, but I was willing to pay $12 to see V for Vendetta, how many other movies could you say the same for?

I decided to go for the Thursday Threesome this week:

Onesome: External-- What sorts of gadgets do having hanging off your computer? We'll spot you that printer, but how about other goodies like scanners, card readers, cameras, MP3 players and such?
I have USB extension cable to plug my iPod Shuffle into, and another USB cable for my digital camera. Other than though, nothing really. Just my Altec Lansings, my mic, and my 17" MAG CRT (which I would love even more if it wasn't morbidly obese).

Twosome: Hard-- What part of working with computers is hard for you? ...working with one particular piece of software? Getting that camera to connect? ...or dealing with the family members who don't understand what the deal is ?
Theory. Definitely theory =P Working with naive family members can be trying, but these theory courses are really kicking my butt.

Threesome: Drive-- What drives you to the computer? Is it friends? Work? News? Recipes? The weather radar?
Probably my career ;) Same corny tale: been interested in them since childhood, and now I can't see any other route for my life. It has its ups and downs, but I'm really driven to learn more about it and try to use it to make mine and everyone else's lives more convenient. I suppose that my ultimate goal in life would be to build software to help the world.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Debt to IE?

I have a diffy q test tomorrow that I could be more prepared for, and I have an early morning tomorrow so I'm going to try to write this post quickly. Please pray for my soul tomorrow! Anyway, Microsoft evangelist John Carroll seems to have raised some eyebrows over at the Mozilla Foundation for claiming that Firefox couldn't have been downloaded if IE wasn't preloaded on Windows systems, as if they owe a debt of thanks to M$. One Firefox developer, Blake Ross, finds this notion fundamentally flawed, though I'd go as far as to say that it's ridiculous. The big picture is that your average person doesn't know much about the Internet let alone what the word "browser" even means, so why would they be out there trying new browsers and picking the best one? They use IE out of convenience, and that's why whenever I see a non-techie (at UT it's almost the non-CS majors whom I know) doing something online they instinctively open IE even when Firefox is available on the computer. I don't think this at all helps their antitrust case because the fact of the matter is that we've all been subconsciously brainwashed! It took some major crashes for me to stop using IE entirely and going so far as to install Firefox on computers that don't have it so that I don't have to endure IE crashes and pop-ups anymore, but I'll admit that it was a long time before I reached that point. Furthermore, how hard do you think you have to push the computer illiterate PC user before they try out the customizable experience offered by Firefox? One of my favorite points Ross makes is that this is analogous to Linux zealots claiming that people will switch just because it's a better OS. It doesn't matter how good your product is if people don't know about it or can't switch to it easily (this is what has held people back from Macs).

Apple made an extremely reasonable concession in that ridiculous lawsuit about hearing loss (from a guy who experienced no harm whatsoever to his eardrum by an iPod). They're going to have a software update for the Nano and 5G iPod to allow users to set a maximum volume for all their music, and I wouldn't use it if I had one because I'm good about keeping the volume low, but it's a good idea. Small startup Azul Systems has been developing a chip with 48 cores called Vega, which is ridiculous considering that you're probably reading this from a computer with one core unless you're a hardcore geek. The biggest issue with that chipset will be compiling to optimize for so many cores, but it could have good scientific uses. Click to enlargeIf you think you're hot stuff with your 1GB USB keychain, then you've just been upstaged by a $5,000 64GB flash drive, which is actually biggger (in capacity, not physically) than my current hard drive! I wonder how many years before this is within a few hundred bucks. If you miss PS3 coverage then you can see a whole Flickr gallery of pictures of the elusive device over here. Lastly, just a couple of nostalgia items for you. Modojo has a pretty good look at why the Virtual Boy failed, which my room mate actually has and I had the same complaints listed in that article when I tried it out myself. DigiBarn has shots of Microsoft Windows 1.0 including the installation process and the UI itself. I can't believe people ever used that (I started off on version 3.0).

Not much movie news today, so this should go quick. Yahoo Movies has a couple of clips from Lucky Number Slevin, and I really love Lucy Liu in this role. Finally, she's actually becoming a good actress! It looks like Marilyn Manson is directing a movie called Phantasmagoria, which apparently has no relation to the old school PC game of the same title. I wonder if he's has messed up as his looks would let on, and he's definitely smarter than you would think. Aussie actor Lachy Hulme may be a frontrunner for the role of Joker for a Batman Begins sequel, but you may only recognize him from The Matrix Revolutions. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't rely on a powerhouse cast now that they have credibility for the series. There's a little new footage online from Casino Royale, but nothing too exciting (or high quality). Lastly, Elizabeth Banks spilled very little about Spider-man 3 (her role being Jonah's secretary), but the little she did say would support the case for Venom.

Now for a good, clean Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What is your favorite veggie?
Probably salad, because I like covering it in dressing and croutons. I use the low-fat stuff, mind you. In close second are black-eyed peas, which I've mentioned before, but you can get tired of after too much of it.

2. Are there any veggies you don't eat?
I hate spinach! I can't stand to eat it, even with paneer. I'm sure there are more, but my brain is too fried right now to remember.

3. Which veggie do you think has the funniest name?
Zucchini! One of the few z-words we have is a vegetable; how crazy is that?!

4. If you're a vegetarian, why are you and do you like it? If you're not a vegetarian, would you ever want to become one?
No way in Hell. I love my meat too much. I can't imagine getting all my protein from tofu, milk, and protein shakes. Plus, life without BBQs and steakhouses isn't worth living ;)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Media Centers in Home Offices

This morning I woke up to what could've easily been mistaken for the apocalypse. Thunder was blaring in my eardrums, I could see all white through my eyelids from the lightning (our blinds being closed, mind you), the walls were shaking, and two cars alternated alarms every 30 seconds. An hour later, I headed to class. Could there be a harsher way to wake up in the morning? Anyway, the Australian CNet site actually has a pretty good editorial on why the media center will actually belong in the home office rather than the living room. The logic is that Intel's new Viiv machines can actually stream content to digital media adapters they'll sell for your home theater setup, which means that you could use your home computer for normal business stuff with Windows XP Media Center Edition at the same time that your significant others is watching the episode of Desperate Housewives you bought off of iTunes yesterday. This is possible because of the dual core, among other things, and would really be quite an amazing accomplishment. When you think about it, very few people actually work on a computer in their living room unless they're on a laptop, and even then many people have docking stations. In any case, that's not a media center, it's just a computer. No one actually puts their iMac center stage though. Why? Because who browses the web at the same place they watch Good Eats? Moving this media center into your home office would totally remedy this problem while possibly allowing for IPTV, but definitely opening all kinds of doors for digital media distribution for television shows (ala iTunes and Google Video) and movies; even in HD. Some may make the argument that this stuff is already out there, but if you're not a geek then chances are that you're not in the loop because it hasn't been marketed to you very well. It's all about simplicity, integration, and diffusion. That's why TiVO became so popular, and that's why this has some hope.

Have you ever heard of a car running on compressed air for fuel? I hadn't either, before I saw this video about it, and it sounds like a pretty exciting technology. I have no clue how much these vehicles would cost, when they'd come to America, or how long before they're actually ready for any market. It's extremely environmentally friendly though, much cheaper (fuel-wise), and could burn gas for high speeds (not that you'd be going over 60 MPH in rush hour traffic anyway, though). Microsoft put out a video showing off Office 2007, and this may actually be the biggest update to Office ever. I was already convinced by the screenshots I've seen, but from the comments it sounds like the video has made even more people believers, especially with that new "ribbon" idea for the UI instead of toolbars and menus. Apple has joined BAPCo, a benchmark consortium, which means that they've committed to Windows-based performance testing for their Macs! This implies that they're likely to include native support for Windows in Leopard, but that's just speculative reasoning. A couple of guys reviews hundreds of sites and decided to compile their findings into Web 2.0 Awards to highlight the best sites out there utilizing the newest web technologies. That's definitely a site to bookmark and keep for future reference, because they really found some awesome sites on there. Speaking of Web 2.0, there's a new version of Ruby on Rails, the fancy framework for web development with Ruby, with tons of updates. You can see most of them over here, and it makes me want to run out and buy a book on Ruby.

IGN has the trailer for an Aussie-made cowboy flick called The Proposition, and it's actually better than most modern Westerns so it's actually worth a look. Apple put up a featurette for United 93 that has no voices but just music over scenes from the movie as they're shot and family interviews, and it kind of serves to demonstrate what a human drama this movie will really be. I totally forgot yesterday to mention that Ocean's 13 has a good deal of its main cast members back, but not the female leads. The actors coming back were always my favorites though, so I hope that this one turns out to at least match the first one. Lastly, there are some excerpts online from the Rocky 6 script, and it doesn't read very well to me, but when it's not contiguous it's kind of hard to tell.

I just had to put up this postcard, because I think it's cute and it actually applies to me:

Click to enlarge

Now for some Tuesday Twosome action:

1. Do you suffer from allergies? If so, name it/them:
Not that I know of, yet.

2. What two things does spring signify?
Fertility and rejuvenation. The former was big back in Ancient Greece for springtime.

3. Do you look forward to Spring? Why or why not?
I don't look forward to any particular season. Maybe winter, but there's nothing especially good or bad about Spring. It's usually a shorter semester though (even though it isn't this time around).

4. What are two negatives about spring?
It starts getting hot again, and we remember what lots of rain is like. There's also daylight savings time (I'm not ready to lose an hour!).

5. Are you enjoying your current weather conditions? Why or why not?
Not really, because it's all rainy and gloomy, though it was beautiful last week. I guess that's what we get for all that nice weather.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fixing Windows

Sorry about this post taking so long to get out, but I spent much longer than I would've preferred on my Physics homework to get the A I needed on it (every cushion to brace my test grades count). Anyway, I didn't want to talk about Microsoft two days in a row, but this is really the best thing to talk about right now (I'm also still a day away from being caught up with my tech podcasts). It turns out that change was sparked within the company: Steven Sinofsky will be taking over for Brian Valentine on future versions of Windows, but no word yet on whether the latter will be fired or just demoted. Not sure if this comes from Gates, who's probably too rich to care anymore, but at least they responded to internal voices. The interesting part is that Sinofsky is actually all for the perpetual beta strategy as made popular by Google: habitually keep a product in beta while adding new features from a base version until it's actually ready for release rather than shipping one lump sum a number of years later with nothing new in the meantime. This kind of beta has ruffled some feathers among the CS community because it violates the project cycle as we've come to know and love it, but if it works then I don't see why not try it out. It would be worse for M$ to continue on this path rather than to try something new like the perpetual beta in addition to real-time focus groups (their nod to Live). Something I've neglected, unfortunately, to take into consideration is that each version of Windows carries the baggage of "legacy" versions so that old software is compatible with it, which Apple does not do in Mac OS X with OS 9 (or anything older than 9 for that matter) because they completely overhauled the OS (read: fixed up NeXT's OS) to keep it leaner and less buggy, which would explain their shorter release cycles. I suppose that Microsoft will have to bank on Sinofsky doing great things to fix Windows, though I'm not sure he can do much about support legacy software (not to say that he can't fix other important issues, because I hope he can).

Did you ever wonder why Intel-based Macs can't run Windows-based software? Well one reason is clearly the way that OS X maps inputs and outputs and such (i.e. the way it glues software to hardware), but a bigger issue is their Mach-O executable format, and someone has finally explicated how it actually works, which has puzzled me for about 5 months now. Many of the things are similar to how binary files are created in general, but the load commands and dynamic linker are kind of different. It's a good bookmark for anyone involved in cross-platform development (or planning on it ever). Someone participating in the beta for Gmail for domains snuck a couple of screenshots from it, and it looks pretty much like what you'd expect for it. Still, everyone likes a good inside scoop. BusinessWeek is resounding the thoughts of many techies about the next generation DVD format wars: they're going to go badly because consumers are going to be totally confused and this issue of trying to circumvent all piracy is going to be prohibitive. You'd think that with all this planning that Sony and Toshiba would've learned some more sense in designing an entirely new format. Lastly, visitors of a full-scale Apple store (i.e. not just a dinky mall outlet) will appreciate this article about its patented glass staircase.

Click to enlargeI've been one of the few sticking up for Daniel Craig as being James Bond, and seeing this picture (among other new ones out today) has made me really question his image as 007 as he looks so awkward holding those two hotties. If he doesn't ooze confidence and suaveness then he shouldn't be there, plain and simple. It appears that another bad idea was a sequel to Ice Age, according to a couple of reviews over at AICN. If those don't deter you though, IGN has a couple of new clips. They also have a featurette for MI:3 about JJ Abrams, who is probably my number one reason for wanting to see this movie. If you like Alias or Lost then you're probably an unknowing fan of his also. AICN also has a review for Bandidas, and it sounds like what I expected: just a fun buddy-action/comedy movie riddled with plot holes. The catch is that they put two super hot chicks in the mix. AICN also received a script review for Tarantino's portion of Grind House called Death Proof, and it's not too positive, but that doesn't surprise me. His movies typically don't bring people together with regard to whether they're great or not, and who knows if the reviewer even realizes what Tarantino is paying an homage to.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Do you use a bag/sachel/wallet?
I use a wallet, because a bag (or European Carry-All) would look pretty gay or metrosexual on a guy, and I'm neither. I don't really need a whole bag either. The most I'll carry in small luggage on any given day (not including supplies/binders/books for school) are my wallet, cell phone, keys, chapstick, and digital camera (and that's only for when I know I'll use it that day).

2. Do you use the same bag/sachel/wallet everyday or change depending on your outfit?
I love my leather Fossil wallet because it was a gift from a very good friend of mine and it's quite soft (though getting more and more worn, I'm afraid), so I just use that always. I do keep another wallet though at my place as kind of a bank with some extra cash (if my money was organized as computer memory, my wallet to wear would be the cache, the home wallet would be the main memory, and the bank would be secondary storage).

3. What do you carry in your bag/sachel/wallet?
My money, insurance information, driver's license, UT ID, credit card, debit card, birth certificate (artifact from before my license), and voter's registration card. I also keep a couple of small coupons (notably, Pluckers wings).

4. Do you check and change the contents of your bag/sachel/wallet before you go anywhere specific or do you take everything everywhere?
I just add more money as I need it, but will sometimes carry a coin purse if I know change can be used since I have all this change I want to use (but I don't have a Coinstar near me).

5. How often do you have a good clean out of your bag/sachel/wallet?
Not nearly often enough.

Post time was really closer to 1AM, but I wanted it to fall under Monday since it is a Monday post.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Mini-Coup in Microsoft

My weekend wasn't too bad, how was yours? I went to a party for the first time in a long while Friday night, and these white frat guys kept putting on this old 80s music that had some special meaning for them and none of the girls like. So I came to the rescue putting on the Mos Def. And what happened? Why I'll show you *smiles at camera*:
Click to enlarge
Getting girls to dance on a table was a boost of self-esteem for Elton the DJ, but that's not what you came here to read about, now did you? So what is this coup that I'm talking about? It turns out that there's a faction of Microsoft employees more disgruntled about the delay of Vista and Office than the rest of us. In fact, they're calling for big whigs Jim Allchin, Steve Ballmer, and Brian Valentine to resign. Allchin will be retiring anyway, but the others would be pretty high up. Unless this is just the inflated concerns of a few, which I don't think it is, maybe these guys should be demoted or fired. If a leader doesn't have the faith of his people, then he's not a very good leader. A good leader could tell his followers to jump into a well and they'd have so much trust in him that they'd do it, and I don't see why a project manager would have any less of a position. There's no doubt that a delay is better than a crummy product, but how is it that Apple can come out with these great incremental changes to Mac OS X so regularly and Microsoft can suck so much at it with Service Packs? And then, when the ideas that are already in Mac finally come through the pipe from whence they came (which was probably originated before a guy at Apple thought of it) it's no longer fresh. This really is hurting Microsoft, and now there's a lot of pressure on Vista when you think about it. I mean if it doesn't rock our socks off, then it's going to be quite debilitating for M$, especially with Intel-based Macs and all.

Meanwhile, over at Apple, Steve Jobs dumped 45% of his Apple stock to make a hefty $295 million. Is he hard up for cash? Is Apple going down the drain? Nope. Actually, he has too much money so he was just trying to alleviate some tax problems, which made everyone breath a sigh of relief for the future of Apple. BCS has a pretty good interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and it's always good to hear his views about the evolution of his brainchild, the Internet. What he's pushed as a big issue should be no surprise: security. Increasing security seems more and more like an exercise in brinkmanship though, I'm afraid. Nintendo announced at GDC that it would be launching an iTunes-like service for old school video games from their own consoles in addition the Genesis and TurboGrafx called Virtual Console. I wouldn't be surprised if they added more in the future (like GameBoy and Atari), and I always loved this idea. Sony, conversely, is taking a step forward to stop manufacturing PSOne consoles after 11 years of producing PSX iterations. However, the PS2 can still play the old games, the PSP will soon have an emulator for them, and word on the street is that the PS3 will be able to as well. Lastly, a web design blog put up its picks for the 5 best layouts of all time, and they actually are rather eye-catching. There's so much to appreciate in a web site when you really look at it closely and how much effort was put into it.

The winner of this weekend's box office shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but I really wanted V for Vendetta to stay on top (which did get #2 and has almost made back its production costs). Anyway, it was Spike Lee's Inside Man with an impressive $29.2 million, which did get better reviews that the graphic novel adaptation no doubt but didn't its trailers didn't pull me in as much. Anyway, I'm sure that it's a great flick and I do plan on seeing it (even if not while its in theaters). Larry the Cable Guy was held back to the #7 spot, thankfully, and Stay Alive got the number three spot since it was so bad that it wouldn't screen for critics. An Australian newspaper has produced yet another Brandon Routh interview about the pop culture significance of Superman and what the movie does for the caped crusader. Lastly, some behind-the-scenes footage for Casino Royale has popped up online at a French news site (you have to go to the March 24th news though), and I wouldn't have even mentioned it if there was more news out there but I figured that someone out there would ravish the scoop on 007.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Glass castle::Art

  2. Preserved::Safe

  3. Jealousy::Envy

  4. Territory::Dogs (they pee to mark their territory)

  5. Coffee::Beans

  6. Stephen::King

  7. Slut::Whore

  8. Dynamic::Programming

  9. Daybreak::Sunrise

  10. Dew::Water

Friday, March 24, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mac OS X!

My contacts finally came in today and I was ecstatic. You don't know how sweet your vision is until you've spent a week running at half-capacity. It's like going from watching TV on a dinky 15" normal set to a 50" widescreen HDTV: everything is crisper, clearer, and brighter. And now, for the real news. It was 5 years ago today that arguably the best thing to ever happen to Apple happened: Mac OS X. Sure, the iPod made a lot of money, but Apple's rebound started with a better OS, and everyone is the better for it. Comparing the experience on my roommate's iBook to learning typing back in middle school on a rather unappealing Mac has been quite a difference, and it's no wonder that so many people really have been switching. I'm not saying that it is the best OS or that there even is a best OS, because there's not (it all depends on how you intend to use it). However, they squeezed some great improvements in, and while some of them may go over your head the big picture is that they figured out how to make things faster much faster than Microsoft did. In fact, I'm itching for a MacBook Pro because of how easy they try to make things on developers as opposed to Microsoft's "they can figure it out" approach (not a direct quote, that's just what I call it). Windows machines are sold because they're the standard, but the majority of Mac machines are sold based on the OS that backs it, which is quite a feat. It has proven to be a nice alternative to what we're all used to and while it's far from perfect and it no doubt frustrates neophytes from Windows it still deserves a pat on the back for how much it has evolved over the years.

Looking to the future, Mac OS X Leopard is actually rumored to have virtualization right out of the box, which basically means that you could run Windows on top of Mac OS X and it'll be much faster than what Virtual PC users are used to. VMWare is big in virtualization if you're interested in it, and it'll be quite a sneaky move if Apple pulls this off (since they don't endorse putting XP on a Mac). Meanwhile, Vista may not even be ready for human consumption despite Microsoft's claims that it's feature-ready. A Forbes writer said that it wasn't "people ready" because the demo was pretty boring and unimpressive, and some are claiming that a lot of code has to be rewritten but whatever the case is, Microsoft really needs to pull itself together again in this OS game. They've already delayed Office 12 to provide an "easy purchasing process" (kissing that money goodbye is really not easy though), which had actually looked pretty sweet so I hope that they don't screw it up. Nothing can hold a candle to Microsoft Office (you know it's true, just admit it), now they just have to not blow their lead. Some images have popped up of the alpha of Firefox 2, and they've actually added some nice improvements to it, I just hope that it doesn't cause Firefox to eat up more memory. I always liked how lite it was. Google Earth addicts should take note that Google has, indeed, updated some of the program's satellite imagery, but a lot of it seems to be improvements to islands. Lastly, if you're looking for a high-end widescreen monitor, you should take a look at CNet's well-done roundup of the popular offerings from Apple and Dell.

Click to enlargeI haven't put up an MI:3 poster in a while so I figured that we were about due for another one. That one hails from Germany, and I like it better than the new American one. Quint over at AICN got to see the first 10 minutes of M Night Shayamalan's Lady in the Water, and it sounds rather interesting. There may even be a monster involved from what the end of the clip hinted at. AICN also got a scoop that Zach Snyder is in talks with Warner Brothers to direct Watchmen, which I'm a little surprised about since V for Vendetta didn't exactly break the bank last weekend (though it did decently well). FYI, that movie would be a comic book lover's wet dream assuming that the crew and cast continues to be awesome. Sam Jackson has joined the cast of the Farce of the Penguins, which is another movie taking a jab at last year's popular penguin documentary, and I can't help but wonder how he picks his movies nowadays? They're just kind of random. Anyway, all I have for you now is multimedia. A YouTube user put up what may be Tarantino's first movie, but it actually appears to be some home videos. It's just funny to see him so much younger. Apple quietly put up a trailer for an East Asian flick called The Promise, which sounds similar to Troy and looks gorgeous (particularly in HD plus my new contacts). Apple also has a trailer for Paul Greengrass's Flight 93, and it was much better than I had expected so I strongly encourage you to give it a look. Lastly, Yahoo! Movies has yet another trailer for Poseidon, which may have great production values but I just can't get into.

Now for Friday's Feast:

How would you describe your personal comfort zone?

Not really sure how to answer that, but I guess my home. Either my Austin apartment or my parent's place are both comfort zones, but probably moreso my Austin place since it feels more like my place.

What is your favorite tree?

I'm not big in botany, but I do like maple trees because of their pretty colors (and probably quite photogenic, but I don't see him here in Austin).

List 3 foods you'd like to include in your dinner plans for tonight.

I've already had dinner, and it was rice, salad, and fish curry. I can't think of a better Lenten Friday meal!

Main Course
What is the best advice you've ever been given, but didn't heed?

Don't worry about your GPA, it's only a number.

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), how much attention do you feel comfortable receiving from others?

Probably about a 7 or 8. It really depends on the environment though. If I'm publicly speaking, I'd prefer an 8 or 9. However, too much attention can cause me to clutter when I speak.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Old School Gaming

Argh, still no new contacts! I got some more solution though, but got the cheapskate $4 CVS brand stuff because the name-brands really do jack up their prices! Anyway, on to what you really came here to read about. I ran into an article today just showing side-by-side screenshot comparisons of old games and their new counterparts, and it just felt very nostalgic. I totally remember that cool slam dunk animation from Double Dribble, and getting whooped by Mike Tyson in Punch Out, and other great memories. Things really have come a long way, and not only in graphics. It used to be that games were damn near impossible to beat! Now people just don't beat them because they're lazy and their attention flies to a newer game. It's no wonder that the game industry has grown so much since adults are actually getting more into them than kids, which actually makes sense because I keep seeing people in forums and online games who get all the new stuff, which would only happen to rich kids when I was little. It's hard to blame them though since all you want to do after a hard day of work is chill at home and have a little fun rather than go out clubbing or something. Then you see trailers like this kickass one for The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and you nearly piss your pants. I guess part of it thought is just knowing how far Zelda has come. Then there's the vaporware (i.e. games that never actually get released) like the ever-popular Duke Nukem Forever, which Kotaku has some old trailers for. I know it's hard to find time for games at all, but I encourage you to try and pick up an old game (easy to find online, and I'm sure you can get the consoles loaded with games on eBay) and just relive the past. I know that I still have my old NES and SNES (though not here in Austin).

Speaking of video games, Sony had a double-whammy prepared for us in the midst of GDC (Game Developer's Conference) today: they're definitely going to redesign that boomerang-shaped PS3 controller they originally showed off (I personally thought it was horrid-looking) for the next E3 and the PS3 will be region-free (i.e. you can play imported games on your American console assuming your TV is compatible). I hope that both will restore some of the faith that gamers lost in Sony with all the lies about the release date. We all now know that XP can be loaded onto a Mac, but is it worthwhile? Macworld tried it out and managed to get it working and functional within 12 hours, which is a massive amount of time but it's well worth it if you're a Mac user who has had to suffer through Virtual PC. Of course, if you don't already have XP you might as well just get a cheap Dell box with it pre-loaded, but if you do then it could reduce the size of your home computer lab. In fact, XP seems to work better on a Mac than on normal Wintel machines. Of course, benchmarking is inherently biased, but as long as it isn't significantly slower than a normal Wintel box that's a pretty sweet deal. Another very critical hole has been discovered in IE, and you're supposed to turn off active scripting to stave off a possible attack until a patch is released. However, you might as well just switch to Firefox and be on with your life. Lastly, Google Pages has launched into beta if you really need another easy website builder, but I can't say much about it until we get more screenshots and impressions.

Click to enlargeI haven't said much about The Notorious Bettie Page, but it sounds like it'll be a fun look back in time at 50's culture (kind of like the first Back to the Future), and I think Gretchen Mol looks great in the role. You can see some more scandalous new pictures than that one over here. Capone put up a good review of Thank You For Smoking, which I bring up because I've heard good things in general about this flick so it's definitely something to check out when it comes out in theaters for us normal folk. There are numerous rumors floating about regarding casting in Grind House, and I can't say which are actually likely to be true, but it would be sweet if Rose McGowen was cast because she's so hot and would make a great damsel in distress. We do know who's being cast as Harry Knowles in Fanboys, and that would be Kevin Smith! The movie follows a group of friends taking their dying friend to see Star Wars Episode I at Skywalker Ranch before he dies, and I wonder how far Smith will actually go to poke fun at Knowles. Universal will be launching what I'm pretty sure actually is the first download-to-own movie service next month with King Kong as the starter film in the UK, and I'm sure that it will soon come stateside if it's successful. Now the trick is if they're going to smother it with DRM. Lastly, Spider-man 3 will be shooting an outdoor scene in Ohio next month rather than NYC since it's much cheaper to do there, and I just wonder if we'll be able to spot the difference in the movie? Probably not, I'm guessing, though since their visual effects team must be pretty awesome.

I'm trying out the Thursday Threesome meme this week:

Onesome- New: What's new in your life? New car, new house, new job or new person, or even just a new toy you bought for yourself?

The last new thing would probably be my contacts, but my parents paid for that. The last new toy I bought was my camera of course, and I don't know that I've met anyone new as such this week.

Twosome- Car: What kind of car do you drive? What kind of car would you like to drive if you could?
I currently drive a 1996 Volvo 850 Turbo, and I enjoy driving it (despite its a/c problems, which we will be fixing soon). I like Volvos, so I'd probably ideally be driving a Volvo S60 since it has that sweet turbocharger, but it has some room in the back for passengers and transporting my junk. Plus, the interior is way gorgeous (even better than the exterior). I didn't say the C70 because I think it looks too small from the outside, which I don't like. I hate matchbox cars.

Threesome- Scent: Scents are great at bringing back memories. Is there a scent that any time you smell it you flash back to something in your past?
There's the smell of the streets of India I smell randomly every once in a while, and that takes me back to my summer vacation there. There's also the smell of a heater, which reminds me of winters at home when I was younger.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Rocking Out in Coding

I can't wait for my real contacts to arrive because my current pair is driving me crazy! The pair I received last week was just a trial pair to get my eyes used to them and so that I could learn proper application and removal, but they're much weaker than my real prescription, which is on special order and should arrive this week, and they will make my life much easier. Anyway, I picked my topic today because of this game called Guitar Hero that all the ACM officers are obsessed over where you can turn your guitar vertical to "rock out" when you're on a roll to get extra points. Some dude put up his tips on how to be a better programmer, which would be the translation of rocking out since you get brownie points for actually doing your job well. I like the big monitor suggestion, since back when my parents had a 15" monitor it drove me crazy since I'm used to my 17", but sometimes I feel that even it is inadequate. Two screens would probably be perfect since when you're working with multiple modules, you have a lot going on at once. I'm glad my computer is fast though, which is the sole reason I got this beefed up machine a couple of years ago (and it's still running strong with its 1GB of RAM). The not asking advice tip should be taken with a grain of salt, because I think that there are times when you definitely should bump your head a few times to learn it better, and there are other times when it's just really not worth your effort (especially if its a subtle nuance of an API). I wish I read more CS books, but I'm already swamped with school reading! Anyway, if you're interesting in programming then that short article is a must read.

If you don't use Gmail, or you use it in a minimalist way, then you should totally rock out in e-mail with the aid of this awesome article detailing some key tips to making things go much faster. Have you noticed that all the improvements to Yahoo! Mail seem to come from Gmail? It also makes searching your messages so convenient, but wouldn't it be great to be able to search your pictures better? Riya aims to let you search your photo albums purely on face recognition algorithms, and it's still in beta but it's an incredible concept. All the image processing is done on the client computer, which means that it could take forever if yours sucks, but it's probably faster than doing it server-side and I think that this idea will (and should) really take off. Microsoft has finally come to its senses and decided to separate Windows Explorer and IE, which in addition to being extremely annoying when errors come up (especially from spyware residue) can also pose a potent security risk. This will happen in XP as well as Vista, so keep your eyes peeled for more. Many Apple speculators quietly buzzed about an iPhone (and even a conspiracy against the Rokr, as I reported on a few months ago), and it turns out to really be in development. They've approached many Taiwanese suppliers for the parts, and it could be released as soon as the end of this year! Another rumor gaining steam is the Nintendo Revolution getting a new name (though Revolution is just a code name, anyway), and while I have my doubts about it I don't think it's impossible at all. Click to enlarge the liperatorMake has put up pictures of Modern Marvels' top 25 inventions of 2006, and it actually has some extremely cool stuff include a quad zipper and a liperator. Lastly, Dell has acquired Alienware, which is probably meant to spread the high-end computers more since they're currently just the dirty secret of hardcore gamers and equally hardcore nerds.

It's years overdue, but it looks like a Simpsons movie will actually be happening. The voice of Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy spilled the beans in a radio interview about recording sessions already being underway, but I wonder why it has been kept secret all this time? It looks like we'll see the return of Sirius Black in the fifth Harry Potter movie as he has been confirmed to be reprising his role in the Order of the Phoenix. I know nothing about the book, but he is an amazing actor. AICN put up a better review of Spike Lee's Inside Man than I would have expected, and Yahoo! Movies has a new clip to boot. It does have a rather impressive cast, but the trailer didn't grab me as being a unique heist movie, which is contrary to what the review suggests. IGN has a clip from the noir-inspired film Brick, which sounds cool because I totally remember reading the Hardy Boys series back in the day and I miss movies like Chinatown. Just a few pictures left. JoBlo has some scans from a magazine with a few more details about MI:3 as well as some pictures, but nothing groundbreaking. They also dug up some character posters from Da Vinci Code that look pretty much as you'd expect them.

Oh, and if you've seen Requiem for a Dream then you must watch this trailer mashup of Toy Story 2 with the druggie movie that I just discovered today (sorry if it's way old). Yes, it is as brilliant as you think it is.

Now for some Wednesday Mind Hump action:

1. What's your favorite way to goof off?
That would have to be screwing around at YTMND or reading top quotes from Both are rather geeky, but way too addictive to pass up.

2. How much goofing off do you do on an average day?
I try to keep it to about an hour, but I may sometimes get caught up talking to people and that could go to two or three hours even.

3. If you got paid to blog, how would you goof off and not do your job?
Probably do way too much research into articles or play the fun games that get dugg. I'd probably also blog search off of memes (like the other responders to the mind hump).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

To Boycott or Not to Boycott

Usually when you think of a boycott it's a pretty big deal and a historical landmark since it's so hard to successfully organize them. I'm sure that everyone remembers hearing in grade school about the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and now people aren't too happy about the next generation of DVD. Not to say that it's nearly as big a deal as racial equality, but it is rather provocative. The people who are uneducated about it don't really want to adapt to a new format and those who know something about it either think it's revolutionary or see past the propaganda to some of the harsh realities, which I've actually brought up briefly in a previous post. One guy wants to initiate an actual boycott, and I'm actually starting to feel inclined to agree with him. On one hand, you know that there's better quality than DVD, you hate it when you get errors with them sometimes (especially when it's a scratch), and you may have a PS2 and want to upgrade to a PS3 because of a sequel to your favorite game or something. The former two are fixed by the new formats, but did you know that the MAPI and RIAA think that DRM is worth at least as much as human life? That means they're going to work extra hard (and have had some crazy ideas in this vein in the past) to build it into this new format. If you jumped on the HD bandwagon early on, it's unlikely that you'll even get to experience the full effect of these new formats! And are DVDs really so bad that we need a new format right now? There seems to be more negatives than positives, but in all fairness, neither format has been released yet so it may be prudent to wait a little longer before we take to the streets here.

Click to enlargeA Chinese company has created a dual core mp3 player, which apparently could present higher quality sound but since mp3 player software isn't too complex I don't quite know what this would mean internally. Doesn't get you throwing your iPod in the trash, eh? Well SanDisk is looking to steal market share away from the iPod Nano, which has been lagging in sales recently (I'll get to this next), by offering more features (e.g. built-in voice recording, FM tuner) at a better price point, but I don't think the $20 gap is enough. Plus, there's the FairPlay issue to consider, but I'll admit that it's the best-looking competitor to the Nano that I've seen. Meanwhile, one research firm believes that Apple's next 60 GB iPod (which everyone speculates to be released very soon) will feature Bluetooth functionality for wireless headphones. They also estimate more capacity or lower pricing for their Nano series because sales have been lagging, which I would attribute more to the widespread scratching scandal. Microsoft had a double-whammy today: not only are they going to delay Vista until 2007 due to software manufacturers' requests, but they're also planning to release new versions of IE on a yearly basis now! I think the Vista delay has more to do with their own QA problems than they're claiming, and I can almost guarantee that the latter is due to Firefox's growing market share. Samsung is planning to be the first to launch 32 GB Flash disk drives to serve as secondary storage for computers to replace HDD, but no one seems to point out that flash memory has a limited number of erase-write cycles, which may mean they'll last longer than current hard drives despite being faster and smaller. Lastly, Google has released its answer to Yahoo! Finance in beta form, and while the main page isn't as attractive the individual pages for companies are pretty slick.

DreamWorks finally started spilling some official beans about the third Shrek movie: it will be called Shrek the Third and the plot is largely what we knew before regarding Shrek and Fiona looking for an heir. AICN got a few words out of M. Night Shayamalan about Lady in the Water being a bedtime story, and it really sounds like a movie he's making from the heart so I expect good things. IESB used a child to garner from the head honcho over at Fox that the Wolverine spinoff movie will be a prequel to the X-men films, which I would've expected given his rich past but wasn't sure if they wanted to include it in a later film in the series itself. Cool Hunting got a vidcast about A Scanner Darkly animation style from the people behind it while at SXSW and that's what really makes the movie worth seeing, in my opinion (plus a topless animated Winona). The 7th Annual Quentin Tarantino Film Festival will be in Austin (as always, since Austin rocks) at the end of April, and if I had the money to spare I'd go to it because he's definitely going to bring out some great, obscure films (since he watches way too many of them). Oh, and Tarantino will be there in the flesh. Lastly, Adult Swim will start putting entire episodes from their lineup online starting next Monday, which chalks up one more win for IPTV (don't forget about In2TV).

I'm going for the Ten on Tuesday meme this week:

10 Things You Worry About
10. Getting a beer belly when I get older.
9. My dad's job.
8. Getting a good job after college.
7. Finding a great girl who's available.
6. My parents or brother dying before I'm ready for them to (which I guess would be never).
5. Getting into a car accident.
4. Maintain my GPA this semester.
3. Finding a good apartment for next school year.
2. My hard driving failing one day unexpectedly.
1. Dying alone :(

Monday, March 20, 2006

End of Spring Break and Southern Hospitality

Click to enlarge
I've been confined to the shackles of glasses for the past 12 years, and I've been ready to break free for a few years now. As you can see, my parents finally decided to foot the bill for me to get a pair of contacts, and I look quite a bit different. Admittedly, I look horrible there because the smiling makes me cheekbones pop out, and glasses have left dark patches under my eyes, but they really do look good in real life as you'll see in the future, no doubt. This is a big deal for me because it's the last step in a physical transformation I planned years ago, and now I just have to work on my cluttering and I'll have to fight off the ladies with a stick (theoretically). Call it shallow if you want, but I feel much more normal without glasses. So spring break is over now with contacts and a new camera in hand, and I probably could've gotten more done over the break, but I was pretty lazy and did what I felt was convenient (hence the homework sessions last night in place of posting). On my first day back for classes I witnessed something I've never really discussed before: people just being nice. Our bus this morning was crowded and I was standing among a few others, and midway through our trip a guy fainted. He seemed pretty puzzled about it and someone gave him a chair and the girl who was sitting next to that seat took care of him by talking to him about it and giving him some food and asking for water. A few minutes later, he started convulsing so she got him some more food and water and worked with the ladies around them to fan him and try to keep him conscious until we got to campus (which was like a mile away from that point). I guess it just seems like good sense to do all that, but she really showed a lot of care and concern for a perfect stranger, and others did as well (to a lesser extent, granted). I've heard that up north (especially in the New England area) people aren't nearly so nice. I guess that's one of the things you can love about Texas: people really are friendly. That's one of the things I'll probably miss sorely when I leave Texas someday.

Unless your parents are really in tune with technology, you've probably had them ask you several questions about how to use their phone (or they have one of those old, simple ones). The solution to this problem would be the Motorola C116, except that it's so cheap that they don't even sell it in the U.S.! I think that really sucks because there are low-income families here who could use that as well as older people. Being in Houston this break I clearly missed SXSW, and one of the panels they had was about UI where former designers from Apple and Microsoft spoke about the philosophies and processes at their respective companies. The one thing I took from that was that the former Microsoft employee said that they had ideas at the same time as Apple but just weren't as quick to release them, and it makes them look like copycats though they're really not. I think that we should be less accusative against M$ on copying Apple ideas because this is certainly feasible. If you're more interested in how the OSes differ functionally, you can check out this article comparing the two with Ubuntu (Linux) so that you can give yourself a crash course on their respective strengths and weaknesses. Back to Apple though, Times Online put up a really great look at their history from a design perspective and it's really the history of the company in a nutshell in addition to insightful observations on the aesthetics of their products. It's a good read to celebrate their upcoming anniversary. Microsoft has thrown their hat in the arena of portable gaming with what has speculatively been called an "Xboy" since it's being head up by some of the big players in the Xbox 360 (including J Allard himself). It won't be out before next year for sure, but they're focusing on Xbox-like graphics and long battery life, which will only help if they can price it competitively against the PSP (they won't lure the DS audience, in my opinion). This is running way too long (since I missed the Sunday post) so I'm just going to quickly plug this article talking about how standby power for consumer electronics may not be such a great idea, after all.

Thankfully, V for Vendetta reigned supreme this weekend in the box office with over $26 million (half its budget), though I was really hoping that it would pass $30 million (thought unlikely for R-rated releases). The other chart toppers were expected and She's the Man actually managed to open with $11 million. The real big news for today was the new Da Vinci Code trailer that hit Yahoo! Movies and it looks really good except for the fact that they show one of the big twists in a split second of it so don't watch it too closely if you didn't already read the book. There are mild rumblings of Brett Ratner returning for the Wolverine spinoff movie (from X-men, of course), but I really hope not. If you're really desperate for X3 news you can watch this low quality video feed from ShoWest of some alright scenes. There's a new MI:3 poster out there, but it wasn't exciting enough (or original enough, for that matter) to be worthy of actually putting up here. Some people don't like Brandon Routh much, but I think he'll do just fine as the Man of Steel and Latino Review even sat down for an interview with him. Lastly, ABC has finally decided to try out an idea I thought about months ago: streaming episodes of shows after they air on their site with commercials included. I could totally go for this since I'm rarely at home when many of my favorites air live.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. When driving in my car, my radio station is usually tuned to _______.
The Mix because the other stations seem to play a lot of teeny bopper pop music. Bob FM is pretty good, too.
2. When I turn my television on, even if I'm not really paying close attention to it, it's usually on channel _____.
Fox here because it syndicates Seinfeld and the Simpsons. In Houston though (where we have cable): Food Network.
3. If I owned a pet, I would own a __________, because ____________.
dog because they're so fun and loving
4. I own a _________ printer. I bought it because ____________.
N/A; I don't own a printer because I just use my room mate's.
5. You can find all kinds of books in my bookshelves, but mostly this type: ________.
Computer-related (hence my major)
6. I take about _____ pictures every month.
N/A; I just got my camera, so we'll work on averages in a few months ;)
7. I blog about _____ times a month.
20-25 times a month, I'd say.
8. I've been really busy ___________ lately.
doing Physics homework (though I managed to actually finish it about an hour ago)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

V for Vendetta

"There are no coincidences." - V

That line may seem kind of stupid (or corny), but it sounds a lot better when V says it and it's actually one of the main themes of the movie. The last movie I saw in IMAX was Batman Begins, and while it was a better movie I don't think that V for Vendetta is anything to scoff at. If you don't know what it's about, think 1984 but a little more modernistic and slightly more realistic. Much in the vein of Minority Report, it uses a pretty feasible vision of technology 10 years from now, and I thought that it made the movie more believable. The whole movie is in Britain and is at a time when censorship is strong as enforced by a very conservative and religious dictator. I know that this may sound familiar, but I'm probably one of the few people who don't see much of a connection between the movie's antagonist and George W. Bush. I don't think that Bush is evil, just misguided, whereas the Chancellor in this movie is very much aware of what he's doing. However, it's clear that the message of the movie is to make sure that you don't ever let your government get too much power over your lives. Anyway, Hugo Weaving plays a pretty convincing V, which I would consider quite a challenging role in that mask. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Natalie Portman (portraying Evey Hammond).

What's strange is that Ms. Portman really acted pretty well, but this role just didn't seem to suit her. I didn't feel the emotion where I should've, and there was actually an animated scene in Kill Bill very similar to one of her scenes except that I only got teary eyed in the Kill Bill version of it. That's one of the two things I felt really held this movie back. The other thing was that the pacing wasn't right. It felt quite uneven where some parts were stretched a bit too long where others came too fast and could've used a bit more character development. However, this was one of those movies where I walked out feeling a lot better about it than afterwards when I talked to a friend about it a bit. I still consider it an A- movie. I felt that the plot was rather compelling, and I loved how the whole background story was unfolded via an investigation of sorts. The commercials were wrong to market it as an action movie because it was really more of a dramatic thriller with a few pretty good action sequences, but don't expect The Matrix action-wise here. I haven't actually read the graphic novel so maybe my grievances are unfounded when compared to the book, but either way I'd consider it very worth seeing. I'm being harsher on it than I would normally because of all the hype, but don't let that discourage you because I really did enjoy it. There's no question that the production values were pretty high (including some great set designs and special effects), it was fun to watch, and it's probably the first movie to come out this year that's truly worth seeing.

HD-DVD has suffered another blow in their fight with Blu-ray as they have now had to delay their March 28 launch by three weeks, and with less movies to boot. Of course, Blu-ray won't be launching until the middle of May itself, but that was planned all along (to coincide with the release of the players) whereas HD-DVD has now lost the confidence of some supporters. It looks like iTunes has really boomed as far as unique users is concerned as it has already surpassed Quicktime and will soon pass up RealPlayer as well, which would leave only Windows Media Player in front of it. I think that iTunes is a far better overall media experience than WMP though, although I believe the latter does support more codecs (correct me if I'm wrong). Apple has put the 60 GB iPod on its "at risk" list, which means that there will either be a price change, discontinuation, or replacement in the near future. This could be to throw us off, but there could be no new iPod without it. Note that the 30 GB is still not "at risk" though. Bad news for Gmail: Google has been subpoenaed for all the e-mails (including deleted items) of an account in a lawsuit against AmeriDebt, and a magistrate judge ruled in favor of turning over the e-mails. This can't bode well for those who have had privacy concerns with the web application from the start (though for different reasons), but I'm sure that they'll appeal to the district court. Good news for the environmentalist in you: European Smart Cars are coming stateside at reasonable prices and sickening gas mileages. Any car with more than double the gas efficiency of mine is ok by me. Lastly, GamerFeed put up a pretty comprehensive look at some of the biggest blunders in video game history, which will be a trip down memory lane for most old school gamers.

Click to enlargeI think that that's a rather cool shot of Superman in his Fortress of Solitude, and it was just released. AICN actually saw some footage from the film at ShoWest and put up a recap (in text though, no video, sorry). Also at ShoWest were a bunch of new posters, and Latino Review posted a bunch of them include the Da Vinci Code poster. There are also some good character shots from Miami Vice so you should take a second to check those out. The big news was actually the release of the new MI:3 trailer, which wasn't radically different from what the Japanese saw but it's hard to not make a kickass trailer with that theme song attached to it (soon to be remixed by Kanye West, remember). There's a good amalgamation of footage from Snakes on a Plane over here, but I'm not really motivated to see this movie yet (despite having Sam Jackson). It turns out that Indiana Jones 4 really is ready to shoot despite what we previously heard about more revisions being made. However, insiders claim that Spielberg is taking a year off though, so we'll have to just wait a little longer (which may give more time for revisions to be made anyway). Lastly, there are some more stills for X-men 3 floating around, one of which I may have posted here since they actually look pretty good if not for that Superman Returns shot I found.

Now for the Friday's Feast meme that I missed yesterday since I went out with some friends:

What job would you definitely not want to have?

Garbage man. It just seems like such a demeaning job. I would place a janitor on a higher level than someone who just drives around and operates a big garbage truck crane.

Oprah calls and wants you to appear on her show. What would that day's show be about?

It would have to be two months ago when we won the Rose Bowl so that I could talk about how awesome of a season we had since I actually managed to catch every single Texas football game.

Name 3 vegetables that you eat on a regular basis.

Salad, corn, and black-eyed peas. Salad goes down the best because I got these awesome croutons now (forgot what they're called though because they're back in Austin).

Main Course
If you were commissioned to rename your hometown, what would you call it?

Crapsville I guess. Ok, I guess that's a bit harsh, but Houston really does kinda suck. Houston seems to be an alright name for it, though it was founded by the Allen Brothers, not General Sam Houston.

If you had a personal assistant, what kind of tasks would you have them to do?

My Physics homework, first and foremost. That, and my chores, and my laundry. Then maybe I'd have more time to learn to cook better.

The next post I make will be in Austin, so I hope you all have a good weekend and you can expect to see another comparison picture of me before and after contacts tomorrow now that I have my trial pair (though they're a pain in the butt to wear).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Case Against Mac on a PC

Note: Sorry about the delay of this post. It was really ready hours ago, but Blogger was being mean and wouldn't let me put it up.

First of all, I have to note that Physics blows. It's the only subject I have homework in over the break and it's extremely difficult and taking me days to finish. Ok, enough of that little rant, now onto the good stuff (which will be as short as possible so I can get to the movie theater early for V for Vendetta). Ever since Mac announced its Intel switch (I know, it seems like ions ago), there have been Mac fans anxious to try dual booting and Windows purists itching to see if they could try out Mac OS X without having to buy a whole Mac machine. This guy feels that the latter would be a bad idea, and I actually agree with him for the most part. It's not for the same reasons that NeXT and BeOS failed, but I suppose that it's somewhat related. Putting Mac on a Wintel machine is like gutting a dolphin and putting its internal organs into a whale: chances are that that whale isn't going to be doing too well since it's a completely different animal! For example, there's no eject button on a Windows keyboard and no Apple key. For them to include support for all those drivers would take a lot more money than would be worthwhile because people who want to use Mac OS X usually just go out and buy one. People shouldn't make this Intel switch into more than it really is. It doesn't mean that everyone is on the same page now with software and such; it just means that Apple is trying to improve power consumption on its computers and if you're a real nerd you could possible dual boot Windows on them.

In all fairness, the guy who claimed just recently to have booted XP on an iMac was not bluffing as has been confirmed by other geeks like him. I wonder how much time he put into that? Google is planning to expand its exposure in Europe a bit by trying to push Google Base more on retailers to list items on it (probably similar to how Amazon has other businesses list stuff through them). I think that Google is going to really have to overhaul Google Base to make it more appealing abroad (especially that UI). Sony, in an amazingly smart move, has decided that Blu-Ray will not downsample video when its media is played on an analog HD television (i.e. the old school HD technology) but will rather output at full definition. If HD-DVD doesn't do the same then it may hurt them because while there is a risk of piracy, I think they feel that it's less than the expanded consumer base they'll likely get. Intel's Viiv technology is feeling a similar privacy vibe as they've announced that they're not going to be implementing much along the lines of DRM, which basically means that users can do whatever they want with their content! I'm amazed that they'd be so cool about this since DRM has really become a pain in the butt. Lastly, I just have to mention this scrolling LED bra because I think it's ingenious! Ok, maybe it's not that great, but you've got to admit that it's rather amusing. Oh the messages you could put on there.

Click to enlargeThat's the new poster for Cars, and it looks better than the old posters but it's still not getting me too excited about the movie. Lauren Graham has signed on to costar with Steve Carrell in Evan Almighty (aka the reason The Office will have a short season) as his wife, and I see nothing wrong with that because I think she's pretty foxy. John Goodman is also joining the cast, but I can't remember the last good movie he's made. It looks like The Golden Compass production is looking to fill the role of Lyra (who is the second most important character, I'd say) in Britain, and I hope they find someone good because I love that book. Yahoo! Movies has a trailer for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which I didn't even know was in production. I suppose it's the logical shift because I've known many an Asian boy way too into fast cars, but I think that they're starting to stretch the franchise a little too far. Lastly, IGN has the first few minutes of the upcoming comedy series The Loop, and it looks alright but I was hoping for more funny in it.

Now for some 3x Thursday action:

1. How do you feel about weekends? Do you look forward to them, or do you loath them? Why/why not?
Who would loath the weekends? I pretty much love them and look forward to them because they mean a short break from the normal tedium of my life, and possibly some fun with booze, which will certainly be true this weekend.

2. What do you like to do on the weekends? What don't you like to do?
I like to sleep in, pick up some groceries, cook, and party. I don't like doing chores (including laundry) or doing homework though, but I pretty much have no choice in those matters.

3. Do you ever leave town on the weekends? If so, where do you go? What do you do?
Nope, not usually. I used to head home to Houston on weekends, but this semester has been working my like a dog so I haven't had a chance to until now (Spring Break).

Bonus Question: What do you do when you have the occasional odd-day (3 day weekends, vacation day, etc)off?
I usually play catch-up and also try to hang out with friends I haven't seen in a long while.

Expect a review of V for Vendetta tomorrow evening!