Thursday, August 31, 2006

What if Apple Married Sun?

Click to enlarge
Today's day of classes were alright, but I unfortunately kept nodding off in both classes so I'll be sure to get my full 8 hours tonight. I also went to check out the Blanton museum today, and above is the roof in the main entrance room. I just can't get over how cool it looks. Anyway, yesterday the big news was that Eric Schmidt is now on Apple's board of directors, and John Dvorak believes that this may be to help facilitate negotiations to ally Sun with Apple since Apple can't seem to get a foothold on the server market. It makes sense that Apple would want to take on Sun and even that Sun would want to merge since their company isn't doing all that well except for the server market, but why enlist Schmidt as the mediator? He doesn't seem particularly apt for this just because he runs another billion dollar tech company. Can you imagine Sun servers running OS X though? Or even just Darwin (Apple's flavor of Unix) rather than the crapshoot known as Solaris (you know it's true)? I think it would be a great thing, but I don't think that Schmidt will be the stimulus. Instead, I think it'll just happen on its own since both companies no doubt realize how beneficial this would be to them. I'll keep you posted as these things develop though.

A number of schools have tried out issuing laptops to students in middle schools, and they're now feeling the wrath of parents upset about their kids wasting time on the computer rather than using it for real work. First of all, why would a middle schooler need his own computer anyway? It's not like they have to carry around heavy books or anything. This kind of program should be targeted at high schoolers who are going to screw around on computers anyway, just restrict their WiFi during class. Is that so hard? That money would be put to better use in buying new Lego Mindstorms NXT sets, which are even cooler than the ones I used to play with. I don't think that building robots out of legos is too nerdy for the average kid to get into since Lego builds such great software and documentation for it. Creative has announced their new Zen Vision W player with digital video and photo capabilities in addition to the standard mp3 fare. They seem to just be releasing a widescreen version of the Vision M except for the fact that the player comes with a nifty Compact Flash slot, though the $649 price tag seems a bit much for just 30 GB. Lastly, if you're tired of your browser leaving behind your footprints, check out Browzar. I don't know of anyone that zealous about their privacy though unless they're a teenager trying to hide porn from their parents.

Michael from Lost (Harold Perrineau) will be in 28 Weeks Later, which should be interesting because I think he's a fantastic actor and would love to see what he can do outside of his role on Lost. Another photo of Optimus Prime in Transformers has been leaked, and it really isn't all that impressive, though he does brandish a rather large weapon. All I have left today is multimedia. IGN nabbed a clip from I Trust You To Kill Me, and it's just so weird to see Kiefer managing a band rather than fighting terrorists. Lastly, the trailer from Dreamgirls is online, and it's decent but rather short. Will this movie really be Oscar material? I'm just really not seeing it so far.

Now for the 3x Thursday:

1. What's your favorite thing to do? Why?
Kick back a few drinks with family and friends because it helps take my edge off and unwind after long weeks (most of mine are pretty rough).

2. What do you do when you're bored?
I read a book for class or read webcomics. If I'm really bored I'll play cell phone games.

3. What do you do when you're lonely?
Look at old pictures and listen to Staind. That's why I try to not be lonely ;)

Bonus Question: What's your favorite genre of book to read? Why?
Probably horror nowadays because it's just so much more fun to see how an author can make a seemingly ridiculous idea out to be real.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Google Jumps in Bed With Apple

The first day of class wasn't too bad, but it was marred by my figuring out that I bought the wrong edition of my Probability text book and so I now have to buy it again and stomach the expense of the first one. Oh well, life will go on. The big news today may mark a turning point if it's as big as many of us are speculating: Eric Schmidt has joined Apple's board of directors, which could mean an implicit alliance between Google and Apple where they would help promote each other's products. I guess it makes sense since Google keeps releasing simplified online components of Microsoft Office and Apple is no doubt keeping an eye on the Zune. These companies have so much going for them that they, theoretical, could bring down Microsoft. Just think about it: Apple has the OS that probably should be #1 and Google keeps pumping out services that are winning the kind of praise from the public at-large that Microsoft probably dreams about rather than the bad PR they get (though it hasn't hurt their sales ostensibly, mind you). It is far-fetched to consider that anyone could bankrupt a company as diverse as Microsoft, but it has been sloppy in recent years where Apple has become sharp and Google has grown remarkably. Isn't it conceivable that they could create an extremely formidable technological powerhouse? Everyone likes spewing out their own speculation on this thing though, and no one knows what it really means who's willing to clue the rest of us in, so we'll have to just observe what happens next.

I was thinking of making today's topic actually center around Sony and whether or not the PS3 will be able to save them . Reading that article was actually a little addicting because it's so interesting how deep of a hole Sony has dug itself into over the years. It's a wonder that they're still around! I don't think it'll come close to saving them though and I think that it'll push them back even farther. Back to Apple for a second though, Macworld has a good editorial asking why Apple hasn't expanded its reach into airports yet. I'm sure that they're looking to do more business than just selling spare parts to forgetful airline travelers, but I'm sure that people will still wander around and buy stuff from an Apple store while waiting for a delayed flight. John Dvorak has dug up some history on Microsoft Office and how it never has been and still is not in danger of failing for several reasons including good auto-correction, menus ingrained in people's memories, and a good markup system. It's a good read to put into perspective Office as it stands today. Lastly, if you hate telemarketers then you'll love what this guy does to them.

There doesn't seem to be much good movie news today. Sony Pictures has released a trailer for Curse of the Golden Flower, directed by Zhang Yimou and featuring Chow Yun-Fat. It definitely looks like it'll be a beautiful movie, but no clue what it's about. IGN has some more clips from Jackass 2, and they're not quite as painful to watch, but they still make you wonder how stupid these guys really are. Lastly, MiraJeff over at AICN saw This Film is Not Yet Rated and didn't rave about it like everyone else, but it still sounded like a worthwhile movie. I, for one, am definitely curious as to how a movie qualifies for NC-17 status as opposed to R because it's not like there aren't already R movies that are extremely obscene.

I'm going to leave you all with a picture I took today at campus that I can never get since I never seem to have my camera on me when the East Mall fountain is on.

Click to enlarge

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars
Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter? Harry Potter (the movies are just so enjoyable)
Internet Explorer or Firefox? Firefox (no-brainer)
iPod shuffle or iPod Nano? Nano (though the Shuffle is nice because you don't have to worry about a screen getting scratched up)
Camera phone or mp3 phone? Camera phone (for the picture mail)
Dilbert or Jon from "Garfield"? Dilbert is so much cooler

And of course, the big question

Mac or PC?
I've always been a PC man, but I get pushed closer to the edge and over to the Mac side every day.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Next Step for Google

Click to enlarge Keri hitting Henro
These past two days have been pretty busy for me, and school hasn't even started yet! Above, you can see a picture I took when we were blowing up balloons for Gone to Texas (introductory event for the fish). It's so nice to be back in Austin though; I miss being around so much activity and so many hot chicks (I forgot how freaking many there were around here). I missed a lot of news though, so I'd better get right to it. Google has released a combination of its services for personal domains in a beta package called Google Apps featuring mail, a calendar, a page creator, and Google Talk functionality. It's not a bad idea, and ZDNet believes that their next move will now be to release a web-based version of Microsoft Money to help people manage their personal finances for free from where ever they may be. The article makes it sound more like it would be targeted at businesses for a price, but I"m sure that they also have normal people in the back of their minds as well. Here's the thing though, I really don't see companies trusting Google with this kind of financial information, even small ones. With the possibility of data mining and the fact that Google effectively has control over your company's personal information, I'm not sure that their big name would be enough to buy them credibility. Then there's the challenge of a complex software infrastructure. It's an interesting though, but I'm not sure if a full web-based office suite is what Google is really after right now. I see them trying to flesh out their core services more, namely Google News and Google Video.

If you're puzzled as to why Apple is so secretive about new products and features then you'll appreciate this article explaining the facts behind how they're trying to avoid biting their tongue and working the press. I think part of the reason Apple is revered more by the public than Microsoft is because they've figured out the tricks behind making journalists talk them up and forget about any shortcomings that may come up with newer gadgets. Speaking of which, they may be releasing a couple of new products in just a couple of weeks in Paris, so definitely keep your eyes peeled for that. Phillips has starting showing off a prototype of an electronic ink display that they expect to release next year that will actually be able to display e-paper on a screen bigger than the size of the device itself with a pull-out screen. I would totally carry one of those around rather than my books if it was in color and just a little bigger with easy scrolling, all of which seem to be very likely possibilities in the near future. The blue laser diodes necessary in Blu-ray and HD-DVD disc readers are currently being produced in low yield, which means that tensions between the competing formats likely won't resume for several months. Once again, it amazes me how horribly planned out these next-generation DVD formats were planned out. Oh, and the PS3 has been downgraded again, though the 10% clockspeed decrease in the GPU shouldn't be noticeable. Still, it doesn't make the delayed release look any better. Vista's pricing was leaked on and its release date was also seen as being January 30. The pricing structure is still as stupid as always, and I wish that they would get smart and just keep it simple. You'd think that they'd try to learn from everyone else's successes! In fact, I'm not even going to bother going into the risky changes they've recently made in the Vista codebase. Lastly, AOL has re-opened its online media store to the public at-large rather than just its normal subscribers, but I somehow don't think that very many people will care. Is this supposed to help AOL pull itself out of the gutter? A music store that's too little too late?

Apparently, there's a movie being made called The Queen based on how Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II decided to handle the PR on the death of Princess Diana, and a poster has now been released for it (just a closeup on the main actress's face). I think I need to see a trailer to understand what's so gripping about this story. And doesn't the title seem a bit misleading? It isn't a biopic, after all. Everything else I have for you today is in the form of video. You can see the new Internet trailer for the next Jean Claude van Damme movie, Til Death over here, but it's rather weird and tells you very little about what the movie actually centers on. That's probably a good thing though so that you don't go into the movie already knowing half the plot like most trailers seem to reveal these days. We also have an Internet-only trailer for Feast (yes, it does still exist), and it looks pretty good. Why are they delaying this movie so much? I hope that it does actually come out by the end of September, though I'm guessing that it may only be in limited release. Lastly, Yahoo Movies picked up a few exclusive clips from The Wicker Man, though for some reason Nicholas Cage reminds me of his character in Matchstick Men when I watch them.

Since tomorrow starts off my fall semester, this week's Tuesday Twosome is only appropriate:

Goodbye summer...

1. Did you go on vacation? If so, where? If not, where do you wish you had gone?
Nope, though I would still like to go to London.

2. How many times did you swim in a pool? How many times did you go to a beach or lake?
At least 7 or 8 times I'd say, but no beaches or lakes!

3. What are the two best things about summer? Explain:
Being able to enjoy your free time more at ease and scantily clad chicks (sorry, I'm only human)

4. What are the two worst things about summer? Explain:
The ridiculous heat and sweating so much.

5. Recall the two best memories you are going to remember about this past summer (2006):
Dancing salsa beside a pool in the moonlight and singing karaoke really badly.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ad-Supported Textbooks

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It has been a long, tiring weekend, but I had some fun in the middle of it. The NSC exec retreat went well, and you can see our goofy group picture above there. That and my moving in extravaganza (I have way too much crap) is what caused me to miss my Friday post. I didn't miss a whole lot though. The most interesting issue appeared to be the idea of free, electronic textbooks supported by ads. With all textbooks there's always a balance that must be struck between price and quality, and I think that this idea falls below where those two curves meet. How annoying is it to not be able to take your book along with you to read on the bus and whenever else you're on the go? Not everyone has a laptop, and for those who do it isn't as easy as cracking open a real book to start up your notebook and open a PDF document. Not only that, but it because less intuitive to have to use a mouse to navigate the pages. This idea can't work yet simply because we still don't have affordable e-Paper readers. It is controversial to solicit advertising where students are supposed to focus in on academics, but if it's unobtrusive then it may be a better alternative than the current system of pricey books. Even better than that would be e-Books that are just cheaper (equivalent of the going price of a used copy of the book) than the paper editions with no ads in a world where e-Book readers flourish. I think such a world is coming, but I'm afraid that it won't be until I've already graduated!

I'm pretty exhausted, so excuse the brevity of the rest of this post. If you're worried about the privacy of your e-mail on popular web services like Yahoo and Gmail, you should check out freenigma (likely named after the famed WW2 code-cracking machine). It's a great way to try to keep the webmail services themselves from peeking into your private conversations. If you're curious about how huge sites like Yahoo and MySpace are hosted, CNet has a little featurette about one of the companies involved with large-scale hosting and a massive infrastructure for backups. The PS3 will be utilizing a neat concept I actually learned more about this past spring called distributed computing where a large task is split up among multiple machines running in parallel to complete the work faster. The task is research for conditions like Alzheimer's, and I think it's cool that Sony is doing something right here. Lastly, if you want to see some awesome advertising, check out this page.

The box office this weekend was pretty tame with Invincible strangely coming in first at $17 million and Talladega Nights following behind it with less than half that much. Not much else was really notable, but I am glad that Little Miss Sunshine managed to secure the #3 spot. According to Marvel, they'd like to see several more Spider-man movies after this upcoming third iteration, but I wonder if Raimi will keep coming back to do these? I'm sure he's getting ancy to try other stuff. Jackass fans will probably enjoy these clips and posters from the movie, which I haven't seen yet but I'm sure they're going to be painful to watch anyway. George Romero has his next horror movie all planned out and I'm really not feeling the premise so much of following around some indie filmmakers shooting a zombie flick that becomes real. Lastly, if you're bored and are looking for some movies to download legally and for free, you'll enjoy this site.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Visit :: Doctor

  2. Cake :: Birthday

  3. Period :: Girls

  4. Triumphant :: Jesus (thinking Xmas carols somehow)

  5. Screen :: Shot

  6. Neglect :: Abandon

  7. Guitar :: Strings

  8. Loathe :: Hate

  9. Sugar :: Sweet

  10. Montage :: Sports training

Friday, August 25, 2006

Miami Vice

I just came back a few hours ago from watching Miami Vice, and my friend put it best when he said that you could've watched it with the sound muted and it would've been just as enjoyable. Click to enlargeYou can take that as a compliment to the movie or a criticism since it's a little of both. Nearly every scene in the movie just looked gorgeous, and you could tell that some shots were only put in there just to make the movie look cooler. However, I think that one of the movie's pitfalls was that it thought it was too cool for its own good. It let the style take over the movie and muddled the story. You may have been confused the first time you saw Goodfellas or The Godfather and figured things out later on, but with this movie you're just plain confused. The acting was pretty good from most actors except for Colin Farrell (does his face ever change?) and his love interest in the movie, and Jamie Foxx was the best, of course. The dialogue was also largely pretty great stuff, if only it didn't make the audience feel like such an outsider sometimes it would be much better. The action scenes were good and the movie's length, though a bit long, seemed about wrong. I felt that it was an enjoyable movie to watch, especially on the big screen, but Michael Mann could've done so much better. I give it a B- since the goods outweighed the bads, but don't feel bad to wait to see it on video (preferably on a big screen DLP TV though).

I'm going to start out here with the Mac news. A couple of Apple news outlets have confirmed that resellers are not taking batch orders on the Mac Mini until after Labor Day, which most likely means that Apple is planning on rolling out a new model since I can't imagine that they'd be lacking in supply of the small boxes. I wonder what else we might see after Labor Day? They are lacking in supply of their MacBooks though, which is causing current orders to be delayed and I'm sure pissing off their customers. Apple must be pretty happy though to see how well the new model has done, which makes me hope that they drop the price before I have to buy a new laptop! Oh, and if you use iTunes, you'll find this tip helpful on controlling videos from your taskbar. Meanwhile, Microsoft is pissing off its customers in a different way: the 32-bit version of Vista will not support the next generation of high-definition DVD formats due to, supposedly, a security hole. This isn't a big deal right now since it's not like people are chomping at the bit for Blu-ray or anything, but it's more disconcerting that someone could gain kernel mode access with these discs. How is that even possible? When else is it possible? For now though, everyone is happy with their video sharing sites online, and DivX is now trying to threaten the reign of YouTube with Stage6. Stage6 is a community-oriented video site that uses the DivX compression scheme to get higher quality videos with faster load times. The difference is quite notable, but I wonder if they can gain the kind of steam that YouTube has?

Christopher Nolan has let loose another small nugget of information regarding The Dark Knight. Apparently, the movie's title is actually strongly tied to the story and The Joker's role is highly influenced by Alan Moore's depiction of the character, which should mean that he'll become a much more three-dimensional character with a real story behind him. 28 Weeks Later now has its leading man, and it turns out that he'll be leading a special forces team into London to keep the peace in the aftermath of the first movie while efforts progress for a cure. It sounds like it could be a legitimate sequel to me, especially since the original producers will be involved. AICN has an early review of The Departed, and it sounds like Scorcese may have really scored with this one (despite it just being a remake of Internal Affairs). I wonder why it is that the public at-large is such a sucker for these gritty mob movies? I'm just excited to Jack Nicholson in an organized crime movie. Lionsgate is planning on distributing the first scene from Saw 3 with Crank, which comes out next week. Just an extra incentive for you considering seeing that movie. Lastly, Kevin Smith has said a few more words on his next movie claiming that it'll be a real horror movie, not a joke one, and his inspiration will likely be drawn from the 80's era slasher flicks.

I'm going to give the Thursday Threesome meme a stab this week:

Onesome: Name-- Ah, what about names? How did your blog name come to be? Is there a story there?
I honestly just couldn't come up with anything better. I wanted it to be clever, but, as you can see, that didn't turn out all that well. Most of all, I wanted it to represent that the blog is going to center on the news that interests me and my commentary on it, which is mostly fairly nerdy stuff.

Twosome: that-- and this. We've all thought about a change of locations from time to time: is there any place you'd like to try living for a while? (You can go back home when you're done with the tryout .)
I'd like to try out NYC or L.A.. It's a completely different setting from Texas, and I just want to see how I'd like it there. It just seems like there's so much more to do on the coasts, especially in the winter.

Threesome: Tune-- us into what you're listening to lately. ...anything on your radar we should be aware of?
Nothing in particular, I've just been listening to the radio since I don't do much in iTunes without my speakers, which I'll unpack when I get back to Austin. I've been really digging Stadium Arcadium though and look forward to the new Audioslave album release on September 5.

No guarantees on a post tomorrow since I have to prepare for my drive on Saturday, but I'll do my best.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why Windows is More Vulnerable

I know that I pick on Windows a lot, but that's just because they get so much bad press that I find really interesting. An InfoWorld blogger, irritated by an attack on his Windows server that was previously an Xserve, compiled a whole list of reasons why Windows is more vulnerable to attack than Macs. This is not to say that Macs are bulletproof or don't have backdoors of their own, but rather that Windows just has many stupid things in place that leave it open to attack. You'd think that after all these years they'd stop launching applications from "system". By the way, why is it that no one really knows what the things in the System32 folder do unless they dig deep in Google for it, and yet it has system-critical files in it? If files start disappearing or appearing in it, how would you know? It also still boggles me how they keep making the Registry file more complicated and yet it hasn't gotten much more secure. I sincerely hope that they've taken these things under consideration with Vista, but I guess you're always open for attack when you're a corporate giant. Still, you'd think they'd have enough manpower to steer them clear of obvious mistakes like these. For all the intricate interviewing they do with stupid questions (I won't share them, but I've heard what they ask) to stimulate your brain, they sure haven't had enough bright people on the Windows security team. Or maybe it's just run by nimrods and the peons are just getting pushed around. Either way, as far as our general knowledge of the Windows and Mac kernels are concerned, Windows is definitely more vulnerable for attacks, and that post lists some solid reasons why.

Microsoft did get something right though: you can now report people you believe may be sex offenders on MSN Messenger with an easy button. I'm guessing that a lot of teenagers will use this to play tricks on the friends, but as long as someone monitors the report I think the benefits definitely outweigh the abuses from immature kids. More bad press for the IE7 team though: the webmaster was told that his site doesn't display right in IE7 because of the CSS hacks he used to get it to work with IE6, which is nonsense since if IE7 was really compatible the hacks would be ignored by the browser since they're just workarounds that are normally invalid. I'm taking the policy with the NSC site of it working on Firefox and everyone else can just switch to Firefox or live without the site because they're an IE sheep. One teenager has actually built a device that will no doubt become the bane of many other teenagers, but it'll end up benefiting them in the long run. The device can track when you're speeding and where you're at when it happens, and then record (or digitally transmit) that data for your parents to see. I think it's a pretty great idea, but I'm surprised that a teen was the one to make it. Lastly, if you have time management issues then you may get a lot out of this Firefox extension that integrates fairly well with your Gmail account to help you out.

Click to enlargeI wanted to start off by posting that poster because that movie's trailer just rocks so hard and I love the way they're starting out their marketing campaign with posters like that. Oh, and if you care, we have some new pictures from Rocky 6. AICN got its hands on the refined poster for The Nightmare Before Christmas re-release in 3-D, and it looks a little sharper and informs us that we get free collectible 3-D glasses. It's the least they can do for a movie they'll be making nothing but profit off of. AICN's Massawyrm saw Idlewild and really didn't like it citing major script problems. He spends a long time ranting about it, and his complaints have really turned me off from seeing it. If you were wanting to check it out, maybe you shouldn't read this review. All I have for you now are videos. IGN has the trailer for Haven, and it looks good but the marketing is just way too focused on the hardships of romance. They needed to let that speak for itself and expose the criminality of the movie more. Yahoo Movies got its hands on the trailer for Driving Lessons, which definitely seems laden with British comedy, but I think it'll be a relatively funny movie, just very dry. Apple finally has the trailer for All the King's Men, which has a stunning cast (including Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins), and it's about politics rather than feudal Europe as the title might suggest. Not quite sure why they went with that title, but I'm sure that the movie will speak for itself when it comes out next month. Lastly, Apple also has the Quicktime version of the trailer for The Protector while Moviefone has a clip from the movie. I've been waiting for this movie since it was only known as Tom Yum Goong and so my hopes are high for it being a really fantastic martial arts action flick. Tony Jaa is just so awesome; he could be the next Jet Li.

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

What I want you to do is go to someone's blog, website, myspace, etc. and leave them a hug! Instead of linking to your mind hump, you can leave a hug for me and our MIA mememistress Friday in the comment section.
That's easy! I went ahead and gave Liz's blog a hug ;)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

4 Habits of Highly Effective Programmers

I felt like I made a lot of great progress today on the NSC site, and yet I still have much to do tomorrow! I actually went back today though to older scripts I wrote for the site and cleaned them up a bit to make them a little easier to read and much easier to fix up in the future thanks to global constants. Which brings me to today's topic, what traits make for a truly brilliant software developer? Tech blogger Rob Walling (though he's not nearly as well known as Paul Graham or Robert Scoble) has asserted four qualities that he's noticed in coders who are so brilliant that you'd quit your stable job just to go work for them if they started a company. I strongly agree with all of them (most of which I noticed in my mentor from the summer). It's definitely important to be pessimistic in the short term to motivate yourself but remain optimistic in the long term so as to not feel helpless. Sloppy code that I encountered last week really pissed me off, and it's because lazy code like that could cost TI hundreds of thousands of dollars in scrapped wafers. In general though, it just shows stupidity (especially from someone who is a team lead). I can't stress enough how valuable a trait it is to be able to think in the long term and plan ahead in bracing your code for future upgrades and changes, which we did a lot of over the summer in light of a wafer-level tracking system being implementation in the fab I worked at. As for the last thing, attention to detail, that's what really separates the men from the boys because all the little things impress your client. For example, at a screen on of my automations that asks them to verify that the cassette is loaded it had a certain port hard-coded in, but I went in and made it dynamic, and I think my client really liked that because it's another check for the operator to make sure he's logging in the lot from the right port. Sorry if that goes over your heads, but the point is that the little detail I took a few more minutes to add in could potentially save some people's butts when they come to the automation screen and realize that it's expecting a wafer cassette in a port contrary to where they had actually loaded it, which could cause bad things to happen if it was processed as such. Never underestimate the little things, and never underestimate an individual in computing who possesses those four traits.

I'm not convinced that the brains behind Vista's Aero Glass GUI skin possess those traits though because it's so resource-intensive for such measly results. The guys at Apple dazzled their users with the bells and whistles in OS X and it didn't need to a muscle video accelerator card to show it. Maybe I'm being too harsh on them, I just don't see why it's recommended that I have 128 MB of RAM on my video card to show some windows and a task bar! And if that weren't bad enough, it turns out that the Zune's Wi-Fi capabilities are merely for sharing music with people around you, not for purchasing songs or loading them to your Zune. How incredible useless is that? I don't think I've heard of anyone being in a situation where they really want to share their music on-the-go with a friend who's sitting right next to them by transferring it to their mp3 player. Speaking of audio though, Gmail will now let you play mp3s from within your message in Gmail itself. It's a pretty neat little feature and might actually encourage people to send more voice messages via e-mail. The chief of the FTC has spoken out against net neutrality adding to the barrage of idiots in Congress who keep falling for the nonsense being spewed out by the telcos. When will these people get a clue? Facebook has unveiled a notes feature to allow you to blog from your Facebook, which I think is a kind of funny since Facebook has been getting so fat with features lately (just in time for the fall semester), but it is the natural progression for a social networking site of Facebook's stature. If you're ever bored and without television, this site is awesome and has legal streams from several popular channels (though I question the legality of the premium channel feeds). Lastly, Nintendo has retooled The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess port for the Wii to require physical swinging in sword fights and using the B button in the bow-and-arrow motion to release an arrow. That's actually one thing I thought was odd about the game and now I'm super-excited to try it out for myself.

Click to enlarge

Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of Southpark fame) have decided to create two more live-action movies: My All-American (a high school comedy) and Giant Monsters Attack Japan (guess what that one's about). I wonder if they'll be in these movies or if they'll stay behind the camera again? Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment studio and Sony Pictures are teaming up with Indian studio UTV to produce two movies for $30 million to be distributed worldwide. One will be live-action and one will be animated, but I wonder how much Bollywood influence Sony will allow in them? Three-hour long musicals wouldn't do too well here in the States. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise and his producing partner have split up over at Paramount, though it's being debated whether he left or was fired for his antics. I'm guessing that it's mostly the latter, and Cruise is recovering by saying that he was wanting to do his own thing anyway. Lastly, I have a couple of decent reviews to share. Massawyrm over at AICN really liked Michael Gondry's The Science of Sleep and all its intense weirdness. He still managed to pick the movie apart (he always does), but it sounds like a pretty solid movie overall. The other review is from Night in a Museum, which had a pretty hokey teaser trailer but apparently is a very worthwhile family film. I guess I'll have to re-evaluate my early impressions on this one.

Now for the Tuesday Twosome:

1. Where were you 2 hours ago and what were you doing?
I was here at home just practicing guitar. I'm so out-of-practice that it's gotten much harder! I missed practicing last weekend because of traveling and being at my brother's all weekend.

2. Who was your 2nd boyfriend/girlfriend and how old were you?
I hope to find out someday.

3. Who are your 2 closest friends and explain why you chose them?
That's pretty hard. I'm going to go with my friends Robert and Jeremy. Robert was a friend of mine in high school and we still keep in touch quite often, and Jeremy is just a good guy who I feel I can really depend on and I hope he knows he can depend on me.

4. What 2 accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
My Latin program was a pretty great accomplishment for me since it was such a big project to complete in four weeks, and my internship this summer was a pretty great accomplishment since I did so many projects (without starting any fires, I might add, except for one very minor bug) and even cleaned up messy code.

5. What were the last 2 television shows you watched and did you enjoy it?
Seinfeld and The Colbert Report. I definitely enjoyed both of them.

Monday, August 21, 2006

War in the Digital Age

There wasn't much great news to talk about today, but ArsTechnica had a simply amazing article up exploring the comforts of technological toys for those American soldiers currently in deployment in Iraq. What I find most fascinating about the article though is that, whether it means to or not, it almost draws parallels to what's being said about teenagers today, which is that they're "plugged in" to electronics too much and are missing out on the real world. It suggests that things like webcams are making it easier for those abroad to communicate with family, but that GameBoys and iPods are encouraging more reclusion than camaraderie and even a trivialization of combat (ala Hollywood movies) through music videos some make. Similarly, teenagers walking around with iPods are accused of wasting time they could spend thinking of brilliant ideas but the Internet has become so vital in research and getting help from fellow students on assignments. I think that technology will always be a gift and a curse, and I'm sure that even more primitive technology before what we know it as today was considered distracting from the way things were before. The fact of the matter is that, like all other good things, these modern-day comforts should be taken in moderation. Similarly, soldiers need a balanced life from what they used to know it as to the battlefield as they know it today. I would think that it'd help ease the transition and give them some form of comfort in their downtime. This isn't to say they shouldn't take solace in spending time with their fellow troops and getting to know them better, but sometimes you just want to be alone for a while to unwind, and you can still play PS2 with your friends.

Did you ever think that you could secure your data better by scattering it? This concept, now being enveloped in a project called Cleversafe, is almost the exact opposite concept of RAID and yet it could be extremely secure (though RAID is targeting more at backing up information, not securing it). This reminds me of my theory course last semester, and I think it's a pretty neat idea that sounds like it would've already been done. Meanwhile, new ideas are also sprouting in cell phones where cell phone providers are testing out new design concepts for their cell phones to match how fashionable they've now become. Some of them (like a phone with no buttons) sound a little extreme, but I'm glad to see that they're not trying to expand on the same tired old concepts. The UK press received word that Apple will have a "special presentation" at the Photokina photography show on September 25 in Cologne, but many are brushing off the news as being rather meaningless and exaggerated by most interpretations that think it'll hold the launch of a new fall product line. I personally agree with that and believe that they wouldn't have a big event at a photography show if they really wanted to unveil some important products (and outside of the U.S. at that). If you're confused about what ODF is, you might like this article explaining more about it. Lastly, Jon Stewart rightfully took some jabs at the 24 hour news networks for speculating even more about the new discovery in the Jon Benet Ramsey murder case, which I don't think is really any of our business in the first place. God forbid they'd report on things that matter, like any of the wars going on or net neutrality.

I'll start you guys off with a couple of trailers today (thank God I can finally watch streaming media again). The first one is for Bug, which looks like it could be an interesting horror movie, but it seems like it'll end up being a trainwreck nonetheless. You can watch it and decide for yourself though. The other trailer is for Macbeth, which looks really awesome. Similar to Romeo + Juliet, it's a modern-day adaptation taking place within the confines of Australian organized crime. I actually recall some of their lines from English 3 in high school! There was apparent word earlier that there would be more than one sequel to Ocean's Twelve in the near future, but Steve Soderburgh has stamped out that plan claiming that the next one would be the last one. I bet you that if it ends up making enough money though (it probably won't though) that they'll try to squeeze another one out. AICN got a pretty decent review of Fanboys, but it makes me skeptical of how funny that movie will really be. They also have an interview with the director of the new TMNT movie, and it sounds like it'll take place after the fall of Shredder. Oh, the excitement of seeing one of my childhood favorites back on the big screen! Lastly, there's been an outpouring of publicity for Black Snake Moan, so I have to post a picture of how Christina Ricci looks scary and sexy at the same time in this movie.

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Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Would you shave your head for any amount of money? If yes, how much?
Probably for just $10,000. It would grow back fast enough to have made that worthwhile.

2. What "whacky" thing might you do for a large sum of money?
I'm not really sure. I'm not the "do crazy stuff" type, but I'm open to suggestions.

3. What do you think is a "large sum of money?"
$100,000 is a lot of money.

4. Do you watch "reality" tv shows?
Only The Contender because the fights are awesome.

5. If so, which do you watch and in what order do you prefer them? If not, are there any you may consider watching?
See #4.

6. Which reality show have you thought about participating in? Why?
Beauty and the Geek, though I don't think I'd be interesting or geeky enough. I don't know any other reality shows I could do though.

7. Share one thing you would like to do in life but have not yet done..... think about why you haven't done it and share if you wish.
I'd love to try jetskiing and snowboarding. Those sounds like they'd be real fun, and I definitely think I'll be doing them someday within the next few years.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fun Things I Got

I know I'm behind. Sorry guys! Click to enlargeHowever, I do have a couple of great things in my personal life I feel compelled to report, and so I think this post will make up for it. First off, my new external hard drive (Western Digital 250 GB Dual Option) is awesome and my computer is now back to working pretty well again thanks to a format. After years of hand-me-downs, I finally got my first new phone! It's an LG LX 350 and I love it. I'm currently working on getting a Bluetooth headest, but I just love the speakerphone and how it has voice recognition built-in for my address book. If anyone knows of a good USB cable I should get for it let me know, because I don't want to pay extra to backup my address book and download pictures. I thought it was a pretty good bargain at $50 for all the features you get with it and the battery life it seems to have (though I obviously haven't stress tested this). My only gripe is that it didn't come with the USB cbale. I also have a new (preowned) car of my own! It's a 2001 Hyundai XG 300! Apparently, this is their flagship car, and since my parents have become so enamored with Hyundai I figured that I'd be getting one myself. Here are the money shots you really want to see:
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It drives real smooth, it actually looks really classy in person, the hubcaps almost look like low-end rims (better than nothing!), the climate control is great, and it's very roomy. I think I'm going to enjoy this car, but now I'm always going to have my old car in the back of my head and so I'm hoping that I'll be extra careful with this one since I keep picturing how super bad it would be if I wrecked this car as well. It may not be a turbo, but it's still way too good for this poor college student! The only problem is that it almost looks maroon, but I'll be sure to put a longhorn on the back of it as soon as I get back in Austin so as not to confuse everyone (and I'm afraid that people may key it!). Oh, and to top these off, I got a haircut after a couple of months. My head feels so much lighter now! Alright onto the real news now.

It wasn't too long ago that I posted about the conditions in Apple's factories abroad, and they've been trying to run disaster control with an audit of how things really are. I have to admit that it sounds more honest than I would've predicted, and I can only hope that they really actively try to fight such human rights violations. Some good press from Apple though is coming from Lionsgate, which has confirmed that it has penned an agreement with Apple and will have some of their movies on iTunes, among other video stores, by the end of the year. No word from Apple, but I'm sure that Apple is hauling ass to try to get this out by the holiday season. We now have visual proof that Amazon is going to be challenging Apple with a video store of its own with a $2 price point for shows and apparently a $10 price for movies (though that wasn't pictured). Not sure what all the features will be, but it looks like they're targeting the living room as well, so I wonder if that means you'll be able to burn the shows and movies on DVDs? If this post wasn't already so full of pictures, I'd post one of Sony's transparent television, which looks totally sweet but I bet that it'll cost a lot. It has that post-modern look to it. One blogger put up his thoughts on why the "stickiness" of Google's many products doesn't matter because it requires so little investment with so little risk when compared to how much money they already make through advertising already and since they already have such a well-built computer infrastructure. Another blogger discovered the first Steve Jobs keynote ever on YouTube when he unveiled the first Macintosh. It's really almost awe-inspiring to see the roots of personal computing as we know it today and without all the flash and glamour. Lastly, if you're trying to lose weight (aren't most of us?), I think you can take a lot away from Traineo, a free web 2.0 site to track your progress and help motivate you. Trust me, motivation is the key to losing weight. The rest will just fall in place.

In the box office this week, Snakes on a Plane did get the top spot, but with a measly $15.3 million! Since the movie only had a budget of $33 million though, that's probably not so bad since I'm sure it can make that up, but they definitely shelled out a good amount on publicity. I feel kind of bad for it, but maybe it'll do better on video? Talladega Nights is still doing well in second (now at over $110 million), and Material Girls thankfully tanked with under $5 million. AICN got its hands on the one-sheet for The Prestige, and I think it looks pretty cool. Admittedly though, it is rather simple. It looks like 007er Daniel Craig has signed on to be in all the movies based on the Philip Pullman fantasy series His Dark Materials, though I'm not sure if that's good news or not. I guess we'll see soon enough. It sounds like Zach Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's 300 may be a slam dunk as someone with no prior knowledge of Miller's works raved to AICN about a screening of it. Now I'm really really excited to see this movie. Lastly, Prison Break fans may be intrigued to know that Dominic Purcell may be the Hulk in the next Hulk movie to take Eric Bana's place since he will not be in any more Hulk movies (or so he says).

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Cruel :: Intentions

  2. Jive :: Hand

  3. Weak :: Evil

  4. Understand :: Knowledge

  5. Bum :: Street

  6. Stairs :: Case

  7. Tone :: Deaf

  8. Quickly :: Moving

  9. Moment :: in Time

  10. Beating :: Drums

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Goodbye, Rapscallions!

Before I make the long drive back to Houston today, I felt that I should do my end-of-summer blurb. At the center of it though are the rapscallions, a group of co-ops at TI who I've become very good friends with over the course of the summer. I started out this summer with hopes as to what this job would be like, but I definitely didn't expect things to go as great as they did (8 projects affecting 6 automations for 16 tools in 12 weeks), and I especially didn't imagine that I'd meet so many awesome people. I was expecting to want to go home a lot, but now I don't want to leave.

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To all the rapscallions: I don't know how to say goodbye to you all. I don't even know how to write this with dry eyes, because I feel so glad to have met all of you. You have no idea how much this group has meant to me. Having spent half my life being overweight and being an outcast from many people it felt nice to feel like I belong somewhere. I'm so sorry that I never got a chance to individually say "goodbye" to all of you and thank you for the good times. Work got the best of me this week, but I'll hold onto last Friday as our last event with all the rappies together. To all the original rapscallions (especially the man who started it all, JC): I'm going to miss you all the most. You were the ones that started our little e-mail listserv and everything took off from there. The newer recruits: I've definitely grown attached to most of you all, too, don't worry! The originals one though are the ones I spent the entire summer with. Thanks for all the pool parties, shots, salsa dancing, laughter, stellar pictures, trips to strange places (zoo, rodeo, etc), NBA finals viewing sessions, sports games, and, of course, beer galore. The people in Austin had better call me this fall! I can only hope that I see you all again in the near future. Don't be a stranger, and definitely call me if you're in Austin or Houston. I love you all, will miss you dearly, and wish you the best.

To my regulars: I'll try to make a real post tonight if I'm not exhausted from the long drive to H-town.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

No to WiFi iPod, Yes to Better YouTube

Again, I left the office today at 8:30 PM, but I must say that the day flew by except for a two hour department meeting I had to go to (at least I got a book bag and some free food out of it). I'm going to be going through this post as fast as I can, and there were two little things that really piqued my interest today. Apple rarely acknowledges rumors, let alone confirm or disprove them, but they've now actually come out and said that they are not planning on releasing a wireless iPod, or at least not anytime soon. The funny thins is that Steve Jobs came right out in an interview last September (somewhere around September, at least) and said that there wasn't enough demand for a video-enabled iPod for him to justify selling one. What a big lie that ended up being! The biggest drawback to WiFi is the power drain, and I'm sure that they'll push forward with it faster when they figure out how to keep down that disadvantage. Meanwhile, YouTube has told Reuters that it plans on making all the music videos ever made available within the next year and a half for free! A few music labels have confirmed that they are indeed speaking with YouTube about such a possibility, and I think that it would be really awesome because I sometimes really enjoy watching music videos (since MTV doesn't like showing them anymore unless you pony up the dough for digital cable), especially the older ones. Oh YouTube, when will you stop bringing joy to the masses?

While I'm on the subject of video, Apple has now created a page under its TV shows part of iTunes that just lists episodes that are free to download. This reminds me of when they first started the free download of the week thing for music, and it makes me happy that I have iTunes. Google has upgraded Google Talk to allow for voicemail, file sharing, and photo sharing. Definitely a big step up for the IM service that was severely lacking in features when it first came out, especially the voicemail thing. Also, Google has opened up Google Analytics to all its users, not just those in its private beta and on AdWords, and it looks to be a pretty neat little service. I've just installed the code on this blog and the NSC site (which I maintain) and I'm sure I'll have more to say about it in the near future. So far though, I'm impressed at the ease of installation across a site and the ability to add users to view your reports. I've definitely spoken before about how bad IE7 seems to be with standards compliance, but now one of the developers is vehemently debunking those claims and saying that they're working harder on standards than anything else in IE7 development. I don't think the article I had cited before was necessarily bad overall since it's true that they're still far from total compliance with the latest CSS standards, but I'm glad to see that they're putting some honest effort into it. Lastly, Earthlink lost an appeal to an FCC ruling that telcos can lay new fiber networks without having to lease them out to other companies, which is a really bad decision, in my opinion, but they idea was to not deter telcos from laying new lines. Then again, I guess it is in their best interest to keep all their bandwidth just for their own customers.

I'm not going to cover movie news today because I'm tired and there's nothing so great that I have to talk about it today, but I will show you an interesting PostSecret postcard that reminds me of my own speaking disorder. I'm not proud of it, but it does kind of define me now, which is a tad scary.

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Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Do you have a true love? If so, tell us a little about him or her.
Nope, I suck at life.

2. If you don't have a true love person, I'm sure you have a true love hobby. What's your favorite activity?
Besides programming, I'd have to say playing guitar. It can get annoying sometimes, but I always feel good about practicing and afterwards. Programming is always a true love kind of a hobby because it's so productive and I love feeling like I've accomplished something with the time I've spent on something. That's part of why working 12 hour days the past couple of days hasn't been too bad. Plus, I've been doing more coding at home (not this week, but in prior weeks) in PHP for the NSC site.

3. What's your favorite romantic movie?
Probably True Romance. I don't know why, I just love the way it handles falling in love and all that good stuff. I also love the romance in Donnie Darko between Donnie and Gretchen (Jake Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone) because it's so real and believable and cute. Yes, I said it, it's cute. If you have seen it and don't think so then you might be dead inside.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Video on the Rise

I actually worked more than 12 hours today, and as a result I not only missed seeing some co-ops that I won't see again, but I missed church and The Contender. How much does that suck? Similar story yesterday when I missed my post. I'm going to try to keep this post brief so I can go to bed since I'm so exhausted. Google has replaced the link to Froogle above its friendly home page search bar with a link to Google Video, which shows how their paradigm has shifted. I think that they realized that people aren't using Froogle as much as many of its competitors, and Google Video is probably going to be making them more money anyway. Plus, their most famous services now are search, maps, images, video, and news. They don't change their homepage layout much (except for the logo on special occasions, of course), so I think it's safe to imply that this is definitely a shift in where they see themselves going as a company, and Google Video is becoming more and more important to them. On the other side of the coin, Fox is moving more towards digital distribution of television shows and movies on their sites and on MySpace, and that same article actual points out how other studios are following suit in an effort to not become as reliant on Apple as the music labels have already become. Is it really going to take off this way though? If they were to offer shows for free with commercials then that may attract younger audiences, but are people going to be so excited about digital distribution without an effective engine of viewing and storage? Media centers and portable media devices haven't altogether taken off yet like the iPod did when iTunes got big, and I predict that the studios will be at the mercy of whoever makes digital videos easiest to watch and obtain away from the computer screen.

Back to Google for a minute though. They've opened up registration for their Code Jam competition (hadn't heard of this one before) where you can compete with programmers worldwide for fabulous cash prizes. If you're an aspiring computer scientist then I'd highly recommend this as the only reason I won't be doing this is because I know that I'll be struggling to keep afloat around the time. It would also appear that they're preparing for a major upgrade on Blogger including privacy settings on your blog (this will get them a lot of teenagers), easier template editing, tagging capabilities, better publishing structure, and more feeds. I'm really excited to see it since it's been so long since they've updated anything on this thing. It looks like Apple may be preparing for their fall product launch very soon as they've not only been preparing massive freight shipments, but also there are signs that its inventory management system is preparing to phase out the Nano and Seagate's announcement of a small 60 GB hard drive would bode well for a new iPod. I'm going to hold off on getting excited about this, but I can't help but wonder if they're going to replace the Nano with an iPod phone? Does that sound so crazy? The LA Times/Bloomberg have determined something that my friend and I have discussed on a few occasions though: young people these days don't really care about watching TV and movies on small screen devices, like a widescreen iPod, perhaps. That would support the theory that the movie store thing is for a Mac Mini media center, not a new iPod. Lastly, Microsoft has unveiled Live Writer for your blogging needs on Live Spaces with some real nifty features including map and photo publishing. The only drawback, of course, is that you have to blog through their service to take advantage of it.

I actually have some real interesting movie news today. First off, remember word that you'd be able to download director commentary for Clerks 2 and listen to it in the theater? It turns out that everyone was all ready to go with that, but theater owners were concerned about it bothering other movie watchers so they didn't allow it. How much does that suck? It was such a neat concept! If you want to see all the ComicCon videos for Grind House, Movie-List has your video fix covered. I think I saw them already, but any Tarantino fans that missed it should give them a quick look. The Japanese site for Iwo Jima has the teaser trailer for the movie (in English for a bit of it), and it looks like it could have the makings of a great war movie but it's really too early to tell. The teaser trailer for Saw 3 has finally hit Yahoo Movies, and it looks real awesome. It makes me want to run out and rent Saw 2 so that when I catch this one I can decide if the series is losing steam. I really do think these movies are predicated on a pretty genuinely scary idea. Now enjoy this blood drive promotion that coincides with the movie's publicity:

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Now for a rather sappy Tuesday Twosome:

In your opinion...

1. What are the two worst things about people of the opposite sex? Explain:
Passive aggressive behaviors (why not just be straightforward with me about what's bothering you?) and mind games. I guess they're both related, but the mind games thing is mainly directing at the point where the guy is trying to get the girl and she screws with his head in any of a variety of ways.

2. What are the two best things about people of the opposite sex? Explain:
The female figure is so much more beautiful than the male figure, and they usually have a level of sensitivity that makes them easy to talk to without having to have your guard up about things.

3. What are the two worst things about people of the same sex? Explain:
Sex on the mind too much (hey, I'm victim to it but it doesn't mean it's a good trait) and the urge for power. It always seems like when guys do jerk things it's because they feel like their power is threatening (again, I have been victim to it, but it's still bad).

4. What are the two best things about people of the same sex? Explain:
Ability to bulk up in muscle and look good with it, and I guess that they usually have similar interest to me in stuff like video games and sports? I don't know of something else that most guys possess that are great because guys can be so different from one another.

5. Which would you rather have happen: dying alone with nobody to love or dying miserable because you were with someone you didn't really love? Explain:
Definitely the first one. It is my greatest fear to die alone, but to feel like you actually wasted your time with someone when you're on your deathbed and to know that you were living a lie is even worse.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Talladega Nights

I saw Talladega Nights last night, and I liked it much more than I was expected. I heard from people that it was only alright and only funny for the first half hour or so, but I was actually laughing throughout the whole thing. In case you haven't figured it out, the plot revolves around the racing career of Ricky Bobby, but he gets into a bad wreck and has to get his life back together in its aftermath. While having many of the same people involved as Anchorman, I didn't find it as funny as Anchorman, and it had many more subtle jokes (probably why less people like it) though also a good amount of off-the-wall jokes. I felt it was a good mixture of the two overall that kept the movie entertaining, and even though it clocked in at only 90 minutes I felt that I got my money's worth (especially since it was a totally sweet DLP cinema). To me, the big problem with it was that it was confused as to what kind of movie it is. It was definitely a parody of NASCAR, but I think it tried to hard to make fun of other things as well (like over-zealous American conservatives) that the overall flow of the story began to fall flat. Some of the scenes that tried to bring heart couldn't decide whether to be funny or serious, and it made things awkward. Despite those things, it was definitely a worthwhile movie to catch with some buddies and so I'd give it a solid B. Not everyone will enjoy it, but if you go into it understanding that it's ok to laugh at even the dumb jokes, you'll have a great time. Just try to not go in after being saturated with the marketing campaign.

We may soon see high-quality, lossless audio on iTunes due to an upgrade in the iTunes Producer software that allows for the creation of lossless AAC files. These files would be a good bit larger and studios may even try to charge more for the higher quality, which I think would be ridiculous since it's the exact same music, but no word from Cupertino yet on their exact plans with this. Apple may soon find itself off of Nasdaq if they do delay filing their 10-Q quarterly reports, but I'm honestly a little confused on the source of delay. In any case, it sounded like this may come up again very soon so I wanted to at least bring it up real quick. Digital Trends, like many other sites, think that they have Apple's strategy with Leopard all figured out, and they're banking on further media enhancements. Their mistake is that they put too much stock in people being satisfied with OEMs and Windows except for media creation, whereas I think people are more worried about spam, viruses, familiarity, and the integrity of their system. Still, it's an interesting read if you buy it. Oh, and if you want to see more of the Mac Pro, you can check out a video walk-around of the system over at YouTube. Speaking of which, Time Warner is unveiling a service similar to YouTube called PhotoShowTV where subscribers can, for free (supposedly), create slide shows and videos and then share them with other Time Warner subscribers. It sounds cool in theory, but I just wonder how effectively they can pull it off. I've brought up the concept of group text messaging before and now Kiboze is trying to make it a reality, thought I wonder if the potential for obtrusive text messaging advertisements will hurt it. Samsung has developed a 3" VGA LCD screen that you may see on digital cameras in the near future, which would really be awesome. I love my SD 450's 2.5" screen, and I think that it's so much better and easier to handle than the 1" ones I've seen on pricier camera models. Lastly, a site called Famster has come to my attention that is really awesome and does what my brother and I proposed to do a while ago: create a hub for family information and pictures and such. I'm playing with it right now and highly recommend you at least give it a quick visit to see its features if you care about keeping in touch with more with your family and keeping a family tree.

Number one in the box office this weekend was Talladega Nights once again with over $20 million and edging out, get this, Step Up, which took #2! I wonder if Oliver Stone is pissed that World Trade Center was number three behind a poorly received dance movie, but it's still more than United 93 grossed its first weekend, which had much better reviews. Oh well, at least Zoom tanked (under $5 million). AICN has an early review of Scorcese's The Departed, and it sounds quite worthwhile. With a cast like that though, it's hard to screw up. There are also a few pictures from the movie online now if you're interested. Lastly, DOA may look like a horrible movie, but it has some hot chicks so I just have to share one of the several character posters the studio has released:

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Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Kim :: Bauer

  2. Designate :: Driver

  3. Liner :: Coat

  4. Weed :: Pot

  5. Infusion :: Asian (I'm thinking of Asian fusion restaurants)

  6. Nutritious :: Delicious

  7. Favorites :: Movies

  8. Transform :: ers

  9. 42 :: Math

  10. Sunday afternoon :: Maroon 5

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Who's Copying Who?

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I've missed posting the past couple of days because of Kodak moments like that. Thursday was Casino Night and hanging out while Friday was a going away pool party for one of the guys who left today, but I really hope to see everyone else before they leave (I'm going on Friday myself). Oh, and my presentation went really well; I was especially glad that the CIO shook my hand and referred to a joke I made in the presentation when thanking me. Paul Thurrott decided that it was time for him to offer his rant about Apple's potshots towards Microsoft, which I was expecting from the Microsoft community at large since they were rather blatant and even I thought that they went too far at times. I think he makes a lot of very balanced claims as to what Windows has stolen from the newer iterations of OS X and what Leopard is now stealing from Windows. I think the biggest thing to take away from his thoughts are that there are these neat things here and there, but nothing that warrants a new software release rather than a little upgrade. The biggest features have already been done before (Time Machine and Spaces), though I'll admit that it seems deeper and more user-friendly when Apple does them, and that's what gains them customer loyalty. Another blogger decided to take on Thurrott's ramblings in a drawn out rebuttal on behalf of Apple, and he makes some great points, but I think he lets his bias get the best of him at times. In any case, the best thing he brought up was that it doesn't matter so much who came up with what, but rather who did the best job of implementing it. The mp3 player wasn't a new idea before the iPod hit the scene just like system restores and backup isn't a new idea but Apple is trying to put a spin on it to spread awareness of the value of holding on to important information before you lose it. You can think what you want after reviewing these two editorials, but I think that Leopard will be a very nice enhancement, not a home run.

Just a few days ago, there was a big ruckus about AOL releasing personal search queries, originally intended for research purposes, that were anonymous though surprisingly detailed. Google is now claiming that they have secret systems that wouldn't allow such a thing to happen with their users' information. It sounds hoakie, I know, but I don't think a couple of PhDs would get very far with a startup that they have everything to lose with without thinking carefully about such eventualities, so they're probably being honest. One more thing about Google: Google Video is now going to start allowing adult content to be published, and I'm wondering if they're trying to strike deals with the porn industry? No clue yet how they plan on filtering this for public viewing or if it'll even be available for free viewing (which would then be a layer of protection since credit cards have become an accepted standards to verify being an adult), but it certainly is an interesting discovery. Dvorak made a pretty good discovery himself: YouTube is already a success because of how easy and convenient it is, which I definitely thing is a big sticking point for it. I've tried out other video sharing sites myself, but none of them have the combination of community and ease-of-use that YouTube does on all sides, and I think that should buy them a lot of good faith with the VCs. The rumblings have been ongoing regarding and iPod Phone, and some are saying that Apple may catch everyone off guard with an earlier-than-expected announcement of the device. Jobs has reportedly been very excited and loquacious about the project, and I just wonder how he's going to pull it off without hurting the demand or pricing on his other iPod products. Ars Technica has finally reviewed the Mac Pro, and the verdict is pretty good on it. If it gets a 9 from them, then you know it's a solid product despite its shortcomings (like a cheap video card and a bulky exterior). Maybe we'll see Merom in their notebooks sooner than later though, who knows. Lastly, if you're still not satisfied with personal map creation sites I've shown you thus far (all based on Google Maps, of course), then try Show Me Where on for size. It's a little simpler and more pulled back in terms of features, but it's probably perfect for many of you.

The Notting Hill director (Roger Michell) who was supposed to be directing the 22nd Bond flick has backed out due to "creative differences," which means that Sony has alienated yet another person in their zeal for making the same Bond movie over and over again. I don't see why they're trying to push for a May 2008 release date on this one rather than the fall or late summer. AICN has a review of Marie Antoinette that more of a long synopsis than anything else, but it looks like it should be a really good movie. I've heard great things about her vision for movies and I think she has a lot to work with for the life of such an interesting queen. If you want to be appalled by a movie clip, check out this one from Dead or Alive. I like seeing a hot chick jumping around in an action movie just as much as the next guy, but a whole movie like this really devalues women in our society. I hate to sound like a chick about it, but to have a game with bouncing breasts is one thing, and an entire movie focused on it is another.

Since I'm posting on a Saturday, I might as well participate in Patrick's Saturday Six:

1. Has your blog received more comments, less comments, or about the same number of comments this summer?
I think about the same. I've gotten comments more from other people though rather than my regulars.

2. What do you think best explains your answer from the last question?
My regulars must be having as good a summer as I am!

3. With the latest terror alert about liquid bombs on airplanes, are you any less likely to schedule a flight somewhere?
No, but I think it's idiotic. Do they really think that if they continue to restrict what we take on a plane that it'll eliminate all terrorism on airplanes? Security is a priority, but we can't just react to things that happen. If we want to save lives, we need to be more proactive and smarter about these things, not just blacklist them as people figure out ways to make ordinary things terrible.

4. Take the quiz: What color flower are you?
I can't believe I took that quiz...
You Are a Red Flower

A red flower tends to represent power, seduction, and desire.
At times, you are loving like a red tulip.
And at other times, you're very enthusiastic, like a bouvardia.
And more than you wish, your passion is a bit overwhelming, like a red rose.

5. What was the last occasion in which you sent someone flowers?
I can't even remember. I don't have a whole lot of special women in my life I'm willing to send flowers to, but I'm definitely willing to change that. When you're a college student though your life can be so upside so much that you lose touch of everything, and I think everyone knows how dire my dating situation has been, unfortunately.

6. A hypothetical science question: A couple has a young child that they love very much. He has a rare genetic disorder that will be fatal unless doctors can use embryonic stem cells, and the only way to get them is for his parents to donate eggs and sperm so that a lab can create another embryo. Should the parents and the doctors be allowed to create an embryo to save the child's life?
As I understand it, stem cells are taken before life is actually created, and so I think it's alright. This is a totally uneducated opinion though and should not be taken with strong conviction. I do not have strong opinions on this hot-button issue.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Novice to Pro in 16 Weeks?

Before I get started I just have to say how excited I am that tomorrow I get to tour a fab at TI called DMOS 6, which was built just a few years ago and is probably one of the most state-of-the-art fabs in the world seeing as how there are no people in the clean room! We had to get special clearance for it, so I'm totally siked for it. Anyway, my topic is based on this article reporting that a company is starting a program in India to train novice programmers to become "experts" within 16 weeks. They claim that these people will be the equivalent of any man or woman in the world when it comes to CS, and I agree with the author in claiming it as an impossibility. First of all, I'm afraid that this will spread to the mass media and cause another outsourcing panic. I think that most domestic businesses value genuine, experience talent quite highly, which is why interviewing for me has been extremely hard. Companies don't buy good grades, they only subscribe to hard results. I think I get a lot from being around people at UT who are as enthusiastic as me and upperclassmen who are much wiser and can't teach me the tricks of the trade. Hell, I learned even more being at TI and realizing how important standards are and using good style when writing code. There are some things you only get with experience, and a lot of concepts that can only sink in over time. There are just so many things to learn about computers that to claim to learn it within the span of a single semester is humanly impossible. It's hard enough just learning architecture, let alone theory or data structures or compilers or OS kernels or any of that stuff. I'd imagine that even the people on this site would require someone with some degree of experience and a little more than 16 weeks of knowledge (which, at the most, is an undergrad freshman's experience). This program may be just fine for workers specifically for that company, but not for the world at large. Not by a longshot. Not even if they are college graduates in another field (which is worse because it's hard to learn these things as you get older).

I've got more Apple stuff for you today. Apparently, Steve Jobs mentioned that there were some aspects of Leopard he wasn't going to cover at WWDC, which makes sense due to time constraints, but MacWorld has decided to ponder it further. Of course, I'd prefer to subscribe to the theory that they're trying to hide future hardware plans. Parallels is working on 3-D acceleration for Mac gamers who want to play PC games, which is great because I think that it'll attract more people than you may think. A lot of gamers steer clear from Macs because of the Windows games they can't play. Click to enlargeLevi is planning on selling a new style of jeans that have a special pocket and bright red cord for your iPod that I think looks ridiculous. Just look at the stupid cord! Do we really need more pockets on our jeans? The cell phone one is enough. Gmail has gotten out of beta in Australia, which means that we'll probably see it without invites in the very near future stateside. It really is long overdue! The Yahoo Developer Network has added a section for Python that not only points you to resources for using and learning Python, but also interacting with the Yahoo API. I think it's really cool and makes me want to learn Python! If only I had a web host (and enough time) to play around with it on. Lastly, if you want to create a CG version of yourself, you'll have fun with this.

The big movie news today is that Disney is trying to sell off the distribution rights of Apocalypto, likely because of the controversy around Mel Gibson rather than the content of the movie, which looks pretty weird and possibly awesome. I can't imagine that it'll still be released in early December, but you never know. A lot of movie sites seem to be excited to report the director of the Halo movie, which is some random guy named Neill Blomkamp. This reduced my confidence in this film's production even further. Alex Bledel told IGN that she may be in Sin City 2 since apparently it's a prequel and she didn't even actually die in the first movie (if you haven't seen it by now then you're a loser and deserved that spoiler). I thought she was cast so perfectly that I'd love to see her again in the sequel. A movie I didn't know about until now called The Ten (a parody of The Ten Commandments) appears to have attracted more high-profile actors/actresses including Winona Ryder, Famke Janssen, Rob Corddry, and Jessica Alba. This leads me to believe that this may actually be a comedy movie to look forward to. The Reservoir Dogs video game looks pretty bad, but this commercial for it is so funny that I just had to link it. Anyone who has seen the movie with definitely appreciate it. Lastly, Hostel 2 has been pushed back from its prior January 2007 release date to make a better movie, which is exciting because you rarely hear a movie being pushed back solely so the director can spend more time on it.

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Do you use email much?
Oh yeah. At work I use it all the time, but even at school it's pretty important to me being an officer in two clubs and having to organize stuff and send club-wide communiques all the time.

2. When did you start using email?
Probably back in like 1996 when Juno was free an available on Windows 3.1. I used to send a lot more personal e-mail back then though since I was so bored.

3. How many email addresses do you have?
Right now, four: personal, school, spam, and work. The work one is only for another week though.

4. If you could send an email to your favorite actor or musician, who would it be and what would you say to them?
I'd either ask Jessica Alba to have my baby or tell Chris Cornell how glad I am that he moved on after Soundgarden to help form Audioslave and how much I admire their music.

Be forewarned that I may be missing tomorrow night's post for co-op events, but I'll try to make it since I definitely can't make Friday's post on Friday itself due to a pool party (our last big one, I'm afraid).