Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Tempered Success of Digital Media Distribution

I couldn't figure out a clever title for this post, sorry. Also, I decided to go to Copa last night so I was unable to do my standard post, sorry! It was worthwhile, though there is one girl I regret not dancing with when I first had the chance. Oh well, I connected with a girl I hadn't seen in a long time, so that was awesome because she was a fun dancer. Anyway, CBS attributes part of the ratings boost for a few of its shows to YouTube, which helps the case for distributing media online. Of course, that wasn't the only factor involved, but some of the top clips on YouTube came from CBS. What's really interesting and something I hadn't considered is that YouTube could really give them a good idea of at least what the Internet crowd enjoys seeing from them! I don't know if it's any less biased than Neilsen, but I'm sure it's helpful. Not everyone is so easily convinced though as movie studios put pressure on iTunes to restrict the number of devices videos can be viewed on (currently: 5 computers and unlimited number of iPods). Here's the only problem I have with such a limitation, let's say they cap it at 5 iPods and you get like the 11th gen iPod or whatever, which is your sixth purchase. Now what? You can't watch your movie on it anymore! Unless they make it 5 iPods at the same time rather than overall, which would be fine. Anyway, no word from Apple on their response, but I'll let you know should they change anything.

I actually have another thing from Apple about media: the way they've been talking about the iTV seems to imply that it may have more features than just streaming content from your computer. It will supposedly have an internal hard drive and "advanced user interface software." I doubt they'll let us know anything before MacWorld though, if even that early. Meanwhile, analysts are claiming that the choice of brown for the main color of the Zune was a mistake. No other hardware manufacturers are making a hot product in brown (except God, who makes brown people like me). That article clearly has a negative spin on the Zune's sales though, which is a common sentiment. BBC is launching a news program based on entirely user-generated content called Your News. I believe MTV also has a show based on just Internet jokes and stuff, but it's not all that great and this program will actually have useful content. Lastly, if you want to read some funny, yet slightly mean, anthropomorphisms of programming languages, you should read this. I personally like the one about Python.

Just a couple of quick movie things. Firstly, the full trailer for Hot Fuzz is online and it looks like a pretty fun movie! It comes from the makers of Shaun of the Dead, though it's about cops rather than zombies. Of course, you have to enjoy subtle, dry, British humor to want to see it. The other thing is that the Fantastic Four sequel will feature the Fantasticar! Supposedly, it's true to the comic book depiction, which I hope will mean good things for the rest of the movie being true to the comics as well.

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Now for the glorious return of Friday's Feast:

Have you ever flown in a helicopter?

Nope. Wouldn't mind doing it =P

What color is your warmest coat or jacket?

I believe it's orange.

What is your favorite rainy day activity?

Eating roasted corn and watching the rain.

Main Course
Describe your hands.

They're small, I know, but they're not yours they are my own. Sorry, had to make the Jewel reference. Um, I don't know. They're more brown on the outside than on the inside (and coincidentally more hairy on the outside as well). I only have my nails grown out on my right hand so I can navigate a fretboard with my left.

If you could eat only one nut for the rest of your life, what nut
would you pick?

Definitely cashews. How can you get tired of cashews?!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Nurse, Pass the Scpl

There's really not much exciting news out there today, but I figured that I'd talk about what interested me the most: the Razr's potential replacement. Motorola has been selling the Motofone F3 in India and it's poised to make a grand entrance to Europe and the U.S. very soon. It's the first in its line of Linux-based phones, strangely called Scapl for "Scalpel." They originally planned on Scpl replacing the Razr line because they were based on an aging OS, and it could sell for as little as $50 retail! What's really nice about the Motofone is that it's a damned phone! None of these stupid features no one uses. It focuses on making calls well, downloadable ringtone, and text messaging and that's mostly it. Hence, you can expect ridiculous battery life out of it. Plus, the display is e-Paper rather than TFT LCD, which means that once an image/text is displayed it requires no additional power to maintain it on the screen. Supposedly, they've improved the interface as well. I think that this is a great step for them because I think people are tired of phones costing so much money when all they want is a phone, not a PDA. It'd be perfect for high schoolers especially since they don't deserve/need fancy, expensive cell phones. College students typically don't either, and could one more cheap thing in their lives. And plus, it's perfect for older demographics.

As many of my regulars are no doubt already aware, I got into a pretty scary car wreck in May because I fell asleep behind the week after a grueling week of staying up late studying for finals. Now, Mercedes has developed technology to detect fatigue in the driver and try to warn them. It's actually a pretty neat system that relies on a number of factors including time of day, how long you've been driving, how often you blink, if you're moving the wheel, etc. I think that's pretty exciting because it could totally save lives (and probably will). I've been pretty harsh on the Zune because, well, everyone has and it's hard to find good things to say about it. Well, the NPD Group (generally fairly reliable) claims that the Zune was second in the portable digital player market its opening week. It failed miserably online, but I guess a decent number of people bought it at stores? I personally think that people are holding back to see a 2G Zune. Google has decided to take down its Google Answers service. They didn't explain why, really, but it was kind of neat for people who didn't know how to find answers to the questions they wanted answered. Lastly, BitTorrent has teamed up with some big names to add more mainstream content for legal download via BitTorrent early next year. I'm glad they're doing this, and I hope it works out for them. I'll, of course, keep you posted when these things actually go live.

There's actually some movie news today, and I'll start it off with some reviews, all of which are from AICN. One is for Curse of the Golden Flower and it sounds like not only is it a visual masterpiece but the acting is top-notch. As an added bonus, we get some cleavage shots, apparently, which is always appreciated. The other notable ones are for Apocalypto, but neither sound all that impressed. In fact, it sounds like one of those movies that are just as good with the audio muted. Now for the fun stuff: trailers, in order of increasing coolness. First off, Yahoo Movies now has the trailer for Pride, and it actually looks like it may be one of those good inspirational kind of movies as opposed to really corny and boring. Moviefone has the exclusive new trailer for The Dead Girl, and it looks better than before, especially since it's nominated for best feature film in the Independent Spirit Awards, and I didn't realize how good the cast was. Lastly, Apple has the totally sweet new trailer for Smokin' Aces, which sounds like Ocean's Eleven but for assassins rather than thieves. When you can toss around names like Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Common, Ben Affleck, and Jason Bateman, you know it's going to be a fun movie.

I just uploaded some pictures from my camera tonight and so I thought I'd share one of my cousin once removed (i.e. my cousin's son) in full A&M garb for the Lone Star Showdown last Friday. I know it goes against every burnt orange fiber of my being, but he just looks so precious.

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Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Who is your favorite electric guitarist? Or top three, if you can't decide on one?
I don't really know, but my favorite guitarist in general is John Frusciante, who likely wails on an electric guitar regularly.

2. Describe your dream guitar. What color is it? What brand? What special touches does it have?
A Special Grand Concert Francisco Navarro. You can see it here. It'd have to be Cedar top with a Brazilian Rosewood.

3. Bass guitars are electric guitars too. Who is your favorite bassist?
I don't think I really have one, but Tim Commerford from Audioslave (and Rage Against the Machine) is pretty good.

4. Name one of your favorite electric guitar solos.
Psh, I couldn't even say right now. A lot of my favorite guitar solos are on acoustic.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

UMG is Stupid

I must say that I may not have gotten enough school work done today, but I did get a good amount of shopping done today in under 30 minutes. I picked up the new Incubus album and a few gifts, and my Pop 5 game came in the mail. I'll hold off on my impressions until I play it (hopefully this Saturday). On with the show though: Univesral Music Group thinks that it deserves royalties from every iPod sold. Is this because of a patent? No no, nothing that makes nearly that much sense: they believe that they're entitled to money because they believe that the iPod will end up storing illegal music so this tax will help defray lost album sales. Of course Microsoft rolled over with the Zune and ceded to paying UMG a buck for all twenty Zunes that were sold, but I can't see Steve Jobs being so gullible. Why are you going to punish everyone for a crime they haven't committed yet? That's like having to pay a little more for a DVD player just in case you decide to burn copies of your movies for your friends. The article strangely suggests that a fee be levied so that people can download all the music they want legally once they buy an mp3 player. I don't see how that would ever be feasible for record labels, and I can't imagine that Apple would be happy about just giving away music on iTunes, though they admittedly don't make a whole lot from each purchase made on it. I can't be the only one sick and tired of these record labels getting so greedy. How about being more creative and putting out better music rather than try cheat more money out of the American public? Also, it's a matter of principle. They had nothing to do with the creation of the iPod, why do they deserve a cut of its revenues? They are a part of iTunes's success, but they already get paid for that. I wish that Ruckus would be released to the world so that people could try out albums before buying them like I've been doing; why doesn't UMG work on that instead? Idiots.

To make up for yesterday's dearth in Apple news, I have plenty to share today. Apparently, they're teaming up with ViewSonic to offer a 17-in widescreen LCD monitor by the end of the year, presumably with the quality we've come to expect from Apple Cinema Displays. That'd be a good, affordable component for a 15" MacBook docking station. Apple has definitely had some failed products in the past couple of decades, and there are some that never got to fail because they were never released, and you can see a few of those here. I got a kick out of it because most of them were just ahead of their time. Who knows, maybe we'll see that tablet one soon after all. I also love the new Get a Mac ads for the holidays, namely the gift exchange one. I'm impressed that they decided to get so geeky with it. TiVo has obviously been under fire for quite a while for hurting the advertising market on television, and in their quest to figure out how to gain from advertising they are going to try tacking on ads at the end of recorded programming. I can't imagine how this will help much, but at least they've been coming up with some creative suggestions. I'm surprised that the ads over forwarding hasn't impressed more advertisers. Lastly, VCast subscribers will soon be treated to limited offerings from YouTube on their cell phones. The service itself costs $15 a month, and I don't see why YouTube would bolster subscription numbers much. I don't think we have the technology yet for videos on cell phones to be desirable.

Not a whole lot of movie news today, once again. A Thai comedy called Tears of the Black Tiger that the Weinstein brothers had picked up while at Miramax will finally see American movie theaters! Miramax kept the movie after the split and never released it, but Magnolia has bought it and plans to show it in its entirety (i.e. uncut). It's supposed to be visually amazing, though I'll admit that the trailer is very odd. The Spirit award nominees have been announced, in case you're an indie movie buff. Looking at that list really makes me wish I checked out more of those flicks. Anyway, the last thing is a clip from 10 Items or Less. I think it stands to be a real fun movie, and I'm so interested in Paz Vega that I thought I'd post a picture for all to enjoy:

I'm going to go for TMI Tuesday this week:

1. My biggest sexual turn on is __________?
I'm going to go with a good dancer. I'm not going to lie, T&A is nice and all, but a girl who moves real well when I dance with her is immediately hot. Especially to Latin music, because it's so easy to be really sexy when you dance to Salsa or Bachata, but notice that there's no grinding involved. I just think that's so cool.
2. On a scale of 1-10, how jealous do you get (have you gotten)?
I'll get jealous, but not outwardly, so I'll go with a 6 or 7. I can definitely get jealous, but it's not like I'd shoot someone over it or anything crazy like that.
3. Have you ever had sex with someone you work(ed) with? Any negative consequences?
Sounds interesting, maybe I'll find out someday =P
4. Wash up, cuddle or fall asleep?
Right now, I could go for some cuddle time. Unfortunately, only my Automata homework wants to cuddle with me right now.
5. Which is more important of the two in "chemisty," physical attractiveness or sexual performance?
Physical attractiveness, I'd say. But what the Hell do I know =P

Monday, November 27, 2006

Microsoft is a Mess

Today's topic is actually a spinoff of the simplicity post I made last week, which piggybacked on a post from Joel Splosky. Funny chain there, huh? Just to jog your memory, Joel systematically debunked the necessity of the 15 ways he counted to shut down your machine in Vista and reduced the list to one, and now a former Microsoft employee who was a part of creating that menu very early on has kind of pulled back the curtain on what caused the menu to become so nebulous. In a nutshell, Microsoft has too much bureaucracy for its own good. You could argue that it's just this one team, but that one team happens to be working on its most popular (and arguably most important) product. Doesn't the story that he tells sounds like what someone from the Zune team would be telling? Granted, the Zune really isn't a total failure and had some nice things to it, the WiFi stuff had stupidity written all over it among other features that just felt thrown together. I think it says something about a software company when the guys doing the actual programming have their opinions so readily tossed to the side, and that's another reason why I'm glad to have not applied there. Again, I don't think that it's fair to consider this post a blanket description of the company, but this really isn't the first I've heard of red tape getting the best of Microsoft. I don't necessarily believe that it's because they've become worse at recruiting so much as I think that employees are getting frustrated and leaving (or fresh talent is heading for greener pastures). A large part of me also believes that it's not the company's fault, it just got so big because it has grown so much over the years, and I believe that something similar will happen to Google within the next 10 years. How long can then steer clear of being "evil" for before they get too big for their britches? If you look at the governments of the world, bureaucracy just seems to be a natural evolution for large organizations, but still unfortunate.

If you've heard the term "HD Radio" batted around the past several months like I have, you're probably just as curious as me. How Stuff Works now has a really great, easy-to-read, article on what it is and how it works. I wonder when non-luxury cars will start touting HD Radios out of the factory? If you care more about HD television though, then you may be interested to know that plasma is facing a downturn. I always thought it was the worst HD television system (dims over time, burn-in, not susceptible to economies of scale, etc), so you should be buying LCD or DLP (or probably SED, soon enough) anyway. For those of you without a nice television set, there's another site called Streamick to watch TV stations online, though I've seen better in the past. Still, the more the merrier. Fans of embedded video sites may want to check out this page for a comparison of the top dogs; the results may surprise you. I'm pretty sure that it's the same video on all the sites, some are just better at compressing it, I guess. There's a pretty funny video on YouTube about the evils of 1337 Speak that I couldn't pass up plugging because it's so ridiculous. Lastly, I think I was wrong yesterday about that online desktop, eyeOS has been in development for a while now and also looks spiffy, but a bit amateurish in comparison. It's not integrated with desktop applications and looks like some really bright students put it together, which is nice but it still needs some work.

Not much movie news today. Peter Jackson may not be out of the running after all to direct The Hobbit as MGM may get the rights to make the movie and, in turn, hire Jackson as director. He said he'd still be interested in it, so we'll see what happens when New Line's deal expires. The trailer for Epic Movie is up, and it is stupid but it has enough funny scenes to make me wonder if the movie will actually be a decent B- parody. These sorts of movies have gotten worse over time, but given that no one has done one on epics before and there are so many to easily poke fun at I think it has a chance. Lastly, some real intense posters for Letters from Iwo Jima have been released, so I just thought I'd plug them for looking so good.

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Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Which of the holidays that you celebrate, do you feel is the most important?
Probably Easter. I like that it hasn't been commercialized to the point of Christmas and that it actually signifies and extremely important event: the cornerstone of Christianity (and the end of Lent). It's usually the most beautiful mass of the year, too.
2. Which holiday do you most enjoy?
Probably Christmas, because I like the time off to spend with family and just the general spirit. Plus, I long for cold weather for a good portion of the year.
3. Is there one holiday that your family tries to get together every year? If so, which one?
Not really. We just all try to get together for whatever we can depending on who's in Houston.
4. Share one special memory from a past holiday.
Getting up early on Black Friday when a bunch of us stayed at my Uncle's place in Midland.
5. Name one holiday coming up, that you're really looking forward to, and why.
Christmas. I like giving gifts to the few people I do give to and making Christmas sweets and all that jazz.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Firefox Lost Its Way?

Coming back to Austin really sucked, which means that school isn't grabbing me like it used to. I'm still interested in learning and in CS, my classes are just stupid. I can't wait to end this semester, I for sure have a couple of interesting classes in the Spring. Anyway, I wanted to briefly touch upon an article I saw today posing a viewpoint I don't think I've seen before: has Firefox 2.0 actually taken a step back from 1.5 as far as being an open source project? Their crux is that the features that have been added seem to be the product of a corporation rather than the work of an open source community. They also mock the UI updates and sub-par RSS reader. I think it's unfair to criticize the Firefox team like that. I don't think that you can keep all projects open source forever. I think that sometimes you have to take the reigns of it lest it become an unfocused, jumbled up mess. I think that the vast number of great add-ons speaks volumes for how active the community still is. I'll admit that it doesn't have the same kind of principles it was founded on running the show, but I do think that it's evolved and that we should wait and see what comes with the next version before we pass judgment on whether it has really gotten lost or not.

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That's right, the Chicago Sun Times really ripped the Zune a new one. I actually didn't know that it wasn't compatible with Windows Media Player and didn't realize that the Zune Marketplace cleverly hides variable pricing on music. The article is a good read, it's not just some biased nonsense, trust me. By the way, I created that image dynamically from this site and thought it'd be fun to put it up here. You can also create some fancy warning labels over here. We have word from the Far East that Apple is actually developing a dockable Mac Tablet PC for next year, which would be a plausible explanation for some of the touchscreen patents we've seen and is the first believable rumor I've heard of its actual existence. This would be a logical next step for Apple's portable PC line, especially given how well the MacBook and MacBook Pro have sold. There's a new site around called Gritwire that's actually the first I've seen of an almost web-based desktop of sorts. It combines a lot of great features for a web surfer in a single page (an application though, of course) and you can even listen to podcasts from it. I haven't had a time to actually use it myself, but I'm definitely curious. Lastly, I don't know C myself, but this article is pushing me even further to buying a book on it.

This weekend was a rather interesting one in movies since the top two spots didn't change: Happy Feet reigned supreme with $37.9 million and Casino Royale was just $6.9 million less than that. I was surprised that Bobby couldn't even get $5 million since it had an amazing cast, but I guess the reviews just weren't there for it, and I guess The Fountain equally deserved its box office returns given its reviews. The only other thing today is that Baz Luhrman has decided to name his next musical (with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman) Australia, which has a plot I really don't understand. I respect him as a director though so I think the trailer ought to shed some decent light on it.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Rhyme :: Song

  2. Substantial :: Progress

  3. Instant :: Oatmeal

  4. Greed :: Envy

  5. Brad :: Simons

  6. Season :: Change

  7. Accomplished :: Mission

  8. Invite :: Guests

  9. Sparkle :: Motion (who knows what this is from?)

  10. Rainbow :: Room

Saturday, November 25, 2006

iPhone Predictions

I hope everyone has been having a good Thanksgiving break! I've enjoyed it, aside from UT's loss, of course. But hey, your team can't always be one of the best in the nation, and we're still not out of the running for the Big 12 Championship, per se, since as of the time of this post OU is still playing Oklahoma State. Anyway, I felt like talking about the iPhone today, as cheap a topic as it is, so deal with it if you're one of those people who despises the possibility of an iPod phone. We have too much evidence to back up its announcement to just call it weak speculation, at this point. I like Mac 360's predictions for what will be inside the iPhone because they're so realistic. The bottom line is that this could do what no mp3 phone has been able to achieve thus far: complete integration. It can synch up with iTunes, iPhoto, and iCal (and probably Outlook), which is software a Mac user already has from when they first buy their machine. People love simplicity, and that's what made iPods fly off shelves. I don't think people should complain that this will replace any of the iPod models though, because it doesn't make sense that it would. The most far-fetched prediction is probably the inclusion of a camera, but since so many other phones are cameraphones Apple may suffer from lack of one, especially since it could encode videos with Quicktime. They've already achieved a great form factor with the Nano, so we know that they could fit an 8GB iPod into a cell phone. The biggest issue is really whether or not they'll be able to handle efficient power management. They've had a lot of experience with this, so I think we should give them a chance here. Personally, I just want to see them shake up the cell phone market.

Just one more thing here about Apple: their market shares have hit yet another all-time high at $91.63. That's almost double what it was back in July, which I'd consider pretty impressive investor confidence. I haven't seen much of this myself, but one blogger claims to be seeing Google's blog search being integrated with its normal search results, which I think is pretty neat. They already do that for possible Google Local and Google News matches, why not for blogs? Also, Google seems to be throwing some punches at Microsoft about open standards and the growth of interest in information and applications being hosted online. Microsoft has been striking back claiming that online applications will merely become integrated with PC-installed software and that proprietary software is better choice for "mission critical" situations. I think I like what both sides are saying because they make very good points, and I'd say that this level of competition is exciting purely because it's encouraging such different viewpoints to flourish. Lastly, I don't know the details (I guess no one really does though), but Nintendo Europe has confirmed a DS mp3 player. It sounds like this is just like a booster pack of sorts for the DS rather than a new iteration of the DS, and then you'll use SD memory to store your media on. I'd say that it's a pretty good idea to continue to lock out the PSP from the handheld market and attract back the people who would like their handheld gaming device to play other multimedia as well.

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Virtually nothing has happened in the world of movies. The long-rumored return of the Revenge of the Nerds was squashed due to a very risque script that the studios weren't comfortable with. The only other thing is some clips from Spider-man 3 that were aired on Fox. They don't reveal much that the trailers haven't already, so don't get too excited about it or anything, but I'm too much of a Spider-man fan to not plug them. Oh, I just ordered the Spider-man Deluxe Edition DVD set so I look forward to re watching the first two movies in the very near future. I hope that disc 3 has some good special features, and I'll naturally let you guys know once I've checked them out.

I might as well give the Saturday Six a go:

1. Take the quiz: What was your Thanksgiving horoscope?
Thanksgiving Horoscope for Libra

You're the sign most likely to upstage the host or hostess with your charm.

Your signature dish: Green bean casserole

Your signature dessert: Chocolate cake

This holiday: Make plans early and stick to them. It's easy for you to change your mind.

2. Did you have either of those two dishes on your Thanksgiving table? Of the two, which would have been your choice?
There were some green beans (not in casserole form), but the chocolate cake probably would've been my choice had I been forced to choose.

3. Which single food do you blame most for your weight gain?
Just dessert in general (pies, trifles, and cheesecake).

4. Take the quiz: How thankful are you?
You Are 75% Thankful

You are a very thankful person - for both the big and little things in life.
Your optimism is powerful. Getting through hard times is fairly easy for you.

5. Which are you more thankful for: your family, your friends, your career or your possessions?
That's pretty hard. I'm going to go with my career because I'm grateful to have figured out what I want to do in life and that it's such a broad career track. There's so much to do in computer science and a lot of those jobs are a lot of fun.

6. Did you do any shopping at all on "Black Friday?"
Nope. I was thinking of it, but I had gone to bed at 2AM on Thursday night and had the A&M game at 11AM (went way the Hell out to Barker-Cypress to watch it with some family and some of my brother/sister-in-law's friends), so I decided to just sleep in. Not enough great deals to make it worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Choice Sucks

Sorry, I know I missed yesterday's post, but I went right from arriving at my place in Houston to a bbq at my uncle's place and then came home totally exhausted (especially since I hit heavy traffic on the outskirts of Austin and people in Houston don't seem to understand how a tollway works). Anyway, I piggyback on Joel Splosky way too much, but he's way too brilliant for me not to. His latest post is a diatribe on why choice really hampers us rather than frees us. I have a good real-world example: I voted a few weeks ago and there were a ridiculous number of offices to vote for. Honestly, I was only educated on U.S. Senate candidates, U.S. House candidates, the governor positions, and the 7 propositions. Do I really care who the 15 judges are? Not really; especially since they're judges and should be unbiased. With so many things to decide on the ballot, it's no wonder that people don't care about voting. In fact, it's no wonder that many people who do vote suck at it. Similarly, it's no wonder that so many people aren't computer-literate: we're bombarded with too many choices. Joel's post focuses on what should be the simplest aspect of using Windows: leaving your machine. He counted 15 ways to do this if you have a laptop and reduced it down to just 1 choice. People who proclaim themselves as indecisive aren't really stupid people, they've just realized that having to deal with so many choices is kind of stressful. I think it's every computer scientist's duty to make people's lives simpler. My dad said the other day that people have become slaves to computers; maybe he's right. I think it should be my life's mission to fix that however I can, because it's not right for advancements in technology to make our lives any harder than they already are.

Wii impressions keep pouring out onto the web since like no one has a PS3 (or they do and don't care to talk about it), and one dad had some real positive things to share aside from a diatribe on Toys R Us's incompetency. I think what he points out will be a common trend: kids are excited by the interaction they get from the Wii because it's so different. They don't care about realism in graphics, they just want fun. Not everyone is pleased though: the creator of the Castlevania series thinks that the Wii controller is gimmicky and doesn't want to make a game for the console. I think he'll change his mind though because I'm sure he'll be coerced into another iteration given that a movie is in the works. I think this is kind of neat: Wired found a Java applet that explains how BitTorrent works. Worth a look if you're curious. CBS has been using YouTube and is pleased with their results. This is interesting because it's showing that YouTube is good for more than just copyright infringement and may lead to proving people like Dvorak wrong about the Google acquisition being disastrous. If you've been behind on this whole next-gen DVD war, this is a great, concise way to catch up. It's kind of ironic, HD-DVD should win but probably won't. Apple put out a new iPod Shuffle ad and I don't know why but I love it. I guess I just like that it's not another dancing silhouette. Lastly, if you've ever wanted to build your own PC, you should definitely give this a read. That's actually the first part of a series at Tom's Hardware, and everyone in the know knows that they're the definitive source on PC hardware so you can definitely trust them.

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That would be one of two new one-sheets for Spider-man 3 (the other is just in a different hue). I think it looks pretty good and coincides with the conclusion of that first trailer we saw. Of course, I am a little worried about the Sandman plot line in this movie since him killing Ben Parker is really random. There's also a poster for Curse of the Golden Flower, but it's not quite as interesting. All I have left are a couple of mediocre trailers. One is for the remake of the old thriller The Hitcher, but I have no idea why they figured they needed to bring it back. The other is for Miss Potter, which sounded promising enough except that the trailer gives away 90% of the plot and it feels kind of boring.

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Red means stop. What song makes you stop and reflect on your life, or anything else?
Definitely "You Make Me Wanna La-La". Just kidding, that song is unbearable. I'd have to say "Get By" by Talib Kweli because it's so energetic but it definitely gets you thinking about the struggles of life that most of us will never have to experience and we should be grateful for that.

2. Yellow means caution or yield. What artist or band were you cautious about listening to for the first time, but ended up liking?
Probably The Decemberists. They didn't sound too appealing to me, but their songs really just stick with me. I don't know why, they just do.

3. Green means go. What song makes you want to go go go?
I immediately thought of "Cherry Lips" by Garbage. It should be obvious why if you've heard the song.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Wii's Peaceful Release

Man, getting back to real life after a wedding sucks! I spent half the day thinking about the weekend, and I'm just glad that I only have 4.5 hours of class left before I go home to a barbecue tomorrow. Fortunately, it doesn't seem like I missed a whole lot over the weekend. The news I felt drawn to the most today was about the Wii, so let's start with that. It sold out handily over the weekend in North America without any reported violence, and Nintendo made a promise I have an easy time believing: four million units before the year is up. It'd be a miracle if we saw very many more PS3s before 2007, so don't get your hopes up. The Wii doesn't seem to be reselling quite as well on eBay (at least not with the same sex appeal), but I can definitely see the Wii going into the new year with a more positive buzz. Not all the first impressions are quite so rosy though, I've seen several complaints about the speed of the internet service, lacking component cables, and just overall problems with the virtual console (for playing older Nintendo titles). I wouldn't be too concerned though because I don't know of a console launch that has gone off without a hitch. The important thing is that they address these shortcomings sooner than later so that they can really get a leg up on the competition. Also, good to know that they haven't been indirectly responsible for people getting physically hurt yet.

Bill Gates is being quoted as praising the iPod still and claiming that the Zune really isn't so much a rival as a catalyst to get people to subscribe to the whole "sharing is caring" after school special. I could believe that given how much they push the WiFi feature over everything else, but they still handled the Zune release inexcusably sloppily. Meanwhile, Apple is preparing for their Black Friday sale and have assembled a handy holiday guide. I'm only plugging this because I didn't realize that the Apple store actually did a Black Friday sale with some pretty decent discounts. If you're a computer scientist (or one in training), or even a general math nerd, you'll love this pdf cheat sheet detailing stuff that I've spent many a time digging through old notes for or Googling for. I'm going to have to snuggle with this puppy late at night before big tests. Lastly, as an avid DRM hater, I like to plug articles like this criticizing the stupidity of DRM. I totally understand that piracy is wrong and all that, and I don't endorse it at all, but to alienate your customers to make a few more bucks (it really is just a few, in the end, when you think about it) is annoying.

Click to enlarge

Harry is just a little excited about the release of the teaser trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was a pretty good teaser, though I personally preferred the last movie's teaser. Anyway, it has some pretty good scenes in it, so it's worth checking out. In a surprising turn of events, the winner of the box office this past weekend was Happy Feet edging out Casino Royale, which I've heard was the better movie, by just a couple million bucks. Oh, and Borat managed to hang on to the number 3 spot. Not much new this coming weekend though that's notable except for the low-key movie The Fountain, so I'm curious to see what happens. Peter Jackson is officially off the project to bring The Hobbit to the big screen. I wasn't the biggest fan of the LOTR movies, but I don't see how anyone but him could make this one. Lastly, a pretty good trailer for Curse of the Golden Flower is online (featuring Gong Li and Chow-Yun Fat), but I was a little insulted by the obviously westernized background music they chose (you may recall it from Spider-man promotional materials).

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. In order to protect my computer from viruses, I use _______.
Zone Alarm and Claim-Free
2. I also use _______ for protection from spyware.
Spybot SnD
3. I don't spend nearly enough time _______.
playing guitar
4. The first person I usually talk to in the morning is _______.
myself (I don't talk to someone consistently in the morning)
5. It takes me about _______ to get ready in the morning.
30-40 minutes (including eating)
6. I keep all my appointments in/on _______.
my school planner
7. It takes me about _______ to fall asleep at night.
5-10 minutes

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Best Weekend Ever

Sorry that I can't make a full post tonight guys, but I have a test at 10AM that I still need to prepare for and I'd like to fit in 4 hours of sleep somehow. This weekend was the happiest weekend I've had to-date with the marriage of my brother and his fiance. Definitely a lot of crying, laughing, drinking, and dancing. I'll replace all the grueling details with the few pictures I took. I was too busy to take more, and the photographer was awesome and took plenty anyway, so I'll share those when I
get them.

My brother and his fiance (at the time, at least) at the Roce ceremony (traditional Manglorian ceremony meant as final blessings for the bride and groom while they're bachelor and bachelorette as well as for any other singles in attendance).

Pretty light fixtures at that hall for the Roce.

A bad shot of me in my kurta, but trust me, it was a hot outfit.

That's my cousin's 4-week old son in his little faux tux.

My dad fixing up my brother's tux. The photographer got a ton of shots of the struggle of getting my tie on right, too bad I didn't have any on my camera to share.

Mr. Gonzales has to give away his beautiful daughter.

Yay! They're married! =)

My cousins and I at the reception. I promise that we looked hotter in real life.

The place-setting at dinner. It just looked so nice! The food was awesome, too!

The happy couple at dinner posing with a very close friend of Selina's and part of how they hooked up initially.

And finally, the money shot: my brother getting down and dirty with two guys (friends of Selina's).

These pictures don't tell nearly of all the fun we had, but I hope to have more pictures to share sometime soon! Now, back to studying ;(

Thursday, November 16, 2006

No Post,,,for a few

Guess what? My brother is freaking GETTING MARRIED this weekend! How nuts is that?! I have some NSC stuff tonight, and I drive to Houston tomorrow. Needless to say, I won't be posting the next few days, and I just don't have time tonight. I doubt I'll get a post in before Monday evening, but I'll try to post some pictures before then.

Take care everyone!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Zune Flops, For Now

It's funny, the only news I had leftover when I closed the articles in technology that I didn't really care to talk about were related to the Zune! So I guess you're going to get a couple of paragraphs about that today. It was released today and guess what? Maybe about ten people cared. Anecdotal reports were rather dismal, and people generally didn't seem to know about it. In fact, I just told a friend that it flopped and she asked me what a Zune was. So first step when trying to take on the iPod, kids, is to actually tell people about it! To be honest, I don't think I would've known about it had it not been for me finding articles on it while blogging. I go to one of the biggest universities in the country, so why wasn't news of the Zune plastered all over the walls? And yet, the Vista team is taking out whole page ads about events they're sponsoring in the Austin area. Does Microsoft just not care if this product fails? I just don't get it. They price it right at the iPod, give it WiFi for the stupidest of reasons, and don't even try to show it as better than the iPod. It has a fresh UI and different colors and FM functionality and all that jazz, but if they don't capitalize on it then why wouldn't it flop? It hasn't failed quite yet, mind you, but without any momentum at its release how will it magically pick up the pace unless it gets a next generation model?

As I hinted at in the title though, not all is lost. Microsoft execs have confirmed that they plan on developing a way to reward people for sharing their music over WiFi with Microsoft Marketplace points, which I believe can go towards buying more stuff. I think it's a cool idea since it could help spread interest in off-beat artists, but isn't there any concern of this being abused purely for the points? Maybe they should institute reward point caps within a certain time period or something. And apparently, they're working on adding video sharing to the Zune as well, intended to share user-created content (though not sure how they'd enforce this just as YouTube can't easily enforce copyright infringement issues). I'm not sure that this would be an easy software upgrade and I'm guessing would be a new model of the Zune. They also decided that they'll release a model of the Zune that doubles as a phone, which is surprisingly straightforward compared to Apple shying away from publicly talking about the possibility of an iPhone. Why would they be so open so early? I just don't get it; they're announcing to their competitors what they're about to do. Lastly, the Zune software sounds pretty decent, and you can get the lowdown on it as compared with iTunes over here.

The brothers Weinstein have struck a deal with the devil, as the saying goes. They're only going to be distributing their movies as rentals to Blockbuster in exchange for preferential advertising of their new releases. I'm sorry but that's stupid and shady. Shame on you, Weinstein Co.! Better news though: AICN has a review of Death of a President and it sounds like a pretty solid fake documentary. He clearly states that not everyone will like it, but that it is handled well and tastefully. Yahoo Movies has the trailer for Rocky Balboa, and it's not very good. The dialogue is so flat and stupid, and I hate that it harps so much on creating the underdog character as even more of an underdog. Oh, and just one more thing, the freaking sweet Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix poster:

Click to enlarge

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

Tell me what each word makes you think of.

Star Party
Dumb Blonde (I'm so sorry, I love blondes and have several blonde friends, that word honestly stimulates that association on first look though)
Blue Christmas
Stop Sign
Give Get
Hey Ya
Just a Little Bit
Let's Party

Can you tell that I'm ready for the wedding? ;)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

PS3 About to Fight Wii

You knew it was coming, the big battle between good and evil. By good and evil I of course mean the battle between the Wii and the PS3, in no particular order though ;) Anyway, the PS3 launch is a couple of days away and the Wii will be just a couple of days after that. In commemoration of the event, 1Up (which has some fun podcasts, by the way) has an article comparing the biggest aspects of the next-gen consoles from downloadable content to game outlook. It's a great read if you know nothing about either console because it shows you how sharply different they can be. What I love about this little battle here is that people buying either console aren't getting the same bloody thing with a few different games and slightly different graphics, but they're getting completely different machines for completely different types of games. You're getting a lot more power with a PS3 and some crazy RPGs and a great media machine since it can play Blu-Ray and DVD discs. With the Wii, you're getting a machine completely and utterly focused on the gameplay, including games from the past couple of decades, for about half the price in the end. One thing I feel it's important that people not do at this point is rank one above the other. I'll admit that I'm biased towards the Wii, but I don't think it's fair to compare it directly the PS3. Rather, appreciate the strong points of both and wait another 6 months before you start passing judgement on what's stronger.

Sorry, but I've got a bunch of Apple articles today to share. They're partnering with some big airlines to offer iPod integration, which sounds cool because then you could watch TV shows or movies on a screen on the back of the seat in front of you and charge your iPod as well. It's kind of ridiculous how widespread the iPod is becoming, and as cool as I think it is I think that Apple runs the risk of alienating the crowd of people who fear the mainstream. But screw them, I'd totally want to watch The Office or Diggnation on like a business trip on a real screen. Unfortunately, iTunes doesn't allow you to re-download purchases, which I believe that Microsoft's Zune Marketplace will allow. On one hand, I think it makes sense that once you buy a song from them that you should be able to download it as many times as you want on authorized PCs since it's not like you can P2P share them or anything, but it really is the responsibility of the consumer to have the brains to back up their data. You can do it while you sleep, it's so easy. Click to enlargeSo why put the burden of stupidity on Apple? Ars Technica has a review of the new Shuffle, which I'm plugging because they have the best reviews of products (although I think they get just a tad too nit-picky on this one). Lastly, Amanda Congdon of Rocketboom fame has actually gotten a job at ABC hosting a weekly vlog and making appearances on newscasts as well. Not too shabby for an Internet celebrity, and the producer of Rocketboom should be kicking himself for letting her go the way he did for that new chick (who sucks, by the way).

The only movie news I have today is Bond related. AICN's Massawrym got to see Casino Royale and gives as true a review as you'll read on it stating explicitly that this is not the mainstream Bond you've come to know over the years. This is a first Bond movie (a prequel of all the movies, if you well), not just another sequel. Walk into this one understanding that, and maybe you'll enjoy it as much as he did. You can see the intros to all the Bond movies over here. I can't seem to get it to work, but I suspect that it's down at just this moment. When it does work, I'm sure it'll be totally sweet because the Bond intros are really fun.

Now for the Ten on Tuesday meme:

10 Things You're Thankful For
10. A cool service like Blogger for me to keep doing this for free.
9. Having discovered how fun dancing is.
8. Having met the people in CS I've met who I can geek out with and struggle through homework with (it is a heartwarming feeling to see your friends in Taylor basement the night before a big test to study with, I don't know why).
7. Having a handful of friends willing to stand by me when I really need them.
6. Knowing what I want to do for the rest of my life.
5. The strength to pull through and do well even in my harshest classes.
4. Going to school in Austin.
3. My brother finding the love of his life and said person being really awesome.
2. My family, especially both parents still being alive.
1. Being alive! I should've died like 3 times by now (seriously).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Phones for a Few Bucks?

Reuters is reporting the head honcho of Google as claiming that cell phones should become free in the near future, when that's not exactly what he said. Still, at least they were on the right track in reporting it. He believes that phones should become heavily subsidized by way of on-phone adverts (texts and photos), which I have a couple of thoughts on. First of all, how can you make it feasible to transmit pictures to a phone? This satellite Internet crap is slow enough as it is. Second of all, if you're giving away phones that cost hundreds of bucks for even a few bucks, don't you have to show someone a good bit of advertising? Some sites online are bad enough, and I think there's a certain point at which people tire of advertising. With your phone, you want to be able to easily make phone calls, and I think people are willing to pay a premium for reliability and convenience associated with that. That's why the pay model (minus subscription-induced subsidies) works so well. No one would pay to use Google because that'd be annoying and pricey (I'd imagine), and obviously not everyone wants to pay for television (hence antenna-accessible networks) so advertising works there, but I've never heard of someone not getting a phone because it was a bit pricey because they consider it to last them a good while and be extremely useful. The three things you always leave the door with are wallet, keys, and phone, and if the first two don't have ads strapped to them then why should the third? Maybe Schmidt is right, maybe it is the future, but I just don't buy it quite yet.

Think Secret has discovered that the newly released Core 2 Duo laptops from Apple pack a secret feature: 802.11n draft 1.0 compatibility. No word on driver availability for this functionality in the near future, but the factor of 10 speed increase on this new standard would indeed be a delightful surprise to customers if it ends up being unlocked with the proper drivers and support, which isn't guaranteed by a longshot since it's just for a draft of the upcoming standard. I ran into this list of courses that nerds would have fun with, and I thought I'd plug it simply because I've taken a few of these (or heard good things) and they really are great choices for the nerd in you. Google Earth added a neat new feature: historical maps. They're not all that detailed, but fun stuff for World History enthusiasts, I'm sure. Photo editing enthusiasts will really love Pixer, which allows you to edit your pictures via the nifty Web 2.0 application. It's obviously not as feature-rich as something like Photoshop or even Paint .NET, but it's great for the quick things. Lastly, MTV has redone their site and I just wanted to point it out for the sake of what not to do when re-designing a site: moving backwards. I wonder if the designers were thinking that it would be a great idea to make the whole site Flash so that it'd be laggy as Hell, force you to watch videos from startup (and always have it off to the side, mind you, to kick your RAM in the butt), and then pop up an ad whenever you click a link.

In case you didn't catch The Simpsons trailer yesterday, don't worry because you didn't miss much. You can see it over here, but it gives us pretty much nothing. What's much more interesting is this extremely early review of Shrek the Third. The fact that it's good in such an early stage is definitely a good sign, though I'm skeptical as to whether they'll add in enough to make it as good as the first two as the reviewer suggests it's lacking since it's already storyboarded out. An early review of A Night at the Museum wasn't nearly as good though and claims that the movie was pretty disappointing and very much lacking in big laughs.

I thought I'd end here with a rather funny Post Secret postcard that most guys wouldn't own up to, but they know they're guilty of:

Click to enlarge

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. From ch'i:
If you could only read one blog every day- which one blog would be on your daily list?

Unfortunately, many of my faves have been on a sort of hiatus, so I'll go with Delicious Days (link on right sidebar).

2. From kat:
What do you do to de-stress from a hectic day?

Dance and/or sleep =P

3. From paxil princess:
What is your favorite piece of clothing to wear in the winter?

This nice brown, stretch merino sweater my sis-in-law-to-be got me from Banana Republic a couple of years ago.

4. From sherle:
Do you prefer discussing problems with a sibling, a parent, a significant other, a psychologist, or a total stranger?

None of the above: a close friend.

5. From trista:
How long have you been blogging?

I believe I started in December 2004.

6. From lisa e:
Which side of the bed?

Left side =P Thought I have a twin bed here in Austin.

7. From elton:
How often do you pig out when you eat?

Yay, they used one of my questions! Maybe once a week or so. It depends on the week, but it's usually on the weekend if I do.

8. From karen:
Do you watch the space shuttle launches?

Nope. Astronomy just isn't my bag.

9. From dawn:
What's your favorite leisure-time activity?

Other than sleeping? Probably dancing, I suppose, because it's so social.

10. From sherle:
When is the last time you said, 'I love you' and to whom?
What about hugs? Who is the last person you hugged?

Not sure. I probably said it to my friend Jennyfer in the past few days though. Maybe I said it to my mom yesterday? Last person I hugged was my friend Raquel at TLD practice last night.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The PS3 Hits

Click to enlargeIn Japan, that is. You can see to the left here what you get in the box, and IGN has a number of articles that should answer your wildest questions regarding the launch of this behemoth. IGN does have a retail unit, but I believe it's another week before you can get one yourself, and if you manage to get one then you'll find a Blu-Ray copy of Talladega Nights inside. It has actually already sold out in Japan, but I think it would be wrong to claim that this implies a successful launch. Low yields on the Cell processor is restricting their supply (just 100,000 units in Japan), and the Japanese gamers are looking forward to the franchises they know will be on the PS3, which is why they're flocking to get one (plus, it's cheaper there than here). Also, their launch title line-up is very Japanese-centric, and it looks like American gamers will only have Call of Duty 3 and Rainbow Six: Vegas to look forward to for now. I'm sure that it'll sell out here from low supply, as well, but I think that you'll have to compare the absolute figures over a few months with the first months of the Xbox 360 and the Wii to get a good idea of people's interest. I, personally, could care less about this launch and was more delighted to see the Nintendo Wii start-up sequence. I love that the controller vibrates when you hover over buttons (see, Sony, we actually like vibration in our controllers). Game sales have been going south more recently though, so let's hope that the next-generation picks up the pace drop-off from the current one.

There's strong speculation that the iTunes music store may soon credit your individual track purchases towards the whole albums they correspond to so that you don't end up paying for the same track multiple times. Now that is a pretty brilliant idea, and would make iTunes even more popular if they pulled it off. Google Checkout has unveiled a couple of neat features: coupon creation and e-mail invoices. Plus, they're waiving transaction fees through the end of the year. I like where they're going with this service, and I'm glad that they're figuring out how to do what PayPal has done wrong (including customer service). A company called BlackArrow has sprung up basing itself around a fantastic idea: showing ads despite DVR forwarding and it looks like they're also aiming to improve the advertising model online. It's not near completion yet, of course, but I'd be real interested to see how people react to seeing ads like that. Lastly, this site is a really fascinating effort to find the most beautiful images in the world by randomly pairing them and having you vote on which you like better. It's fun to play around with if you're bored, and pictures like this are what's always inspired to keep taking pictures regularly. Here's one of my favorites:

Click to enlarge

I was a little surprised to find Borat at the top of the box office this weekend with $29 million, not only because it's an increase from last weekend (which is extremely rare), but it also doubled the grosses of Will Ferrell's Stranger Than Fiction, which had opened this past weekend. Also, Babel only weighed in at #6, though I suppose there wasn't a whole lot of publicity for it. Anyway, don't expect to see Borat at the top after this coming weekend's release of Casino Royale. The only other movie thing today is the trailer for Fanboys, which I thought was pretty funny. I love all the random Star Wars quotes and scenarios they decided to pepper throughout it. Not a whole lot of Natalie Portman in that trailer though, I'm afraid.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Nick :: Fury

  2. Focus :: Eye

  3. Police :: Man

  4. Miles :: Away

  5. Earn :: Cash

  6. Twice :: a Lady

  7. Razor :: Mach 3

  8. Personality :: Disorder

  9. Dumped :: Girls

  10. Reliable :: Car

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sonos Sounds Cool

As you can see, I've upgraded my layout to one that plays nicer with the new Blogger, so please do let me know if you like/dislike it by commenting. If you're a Blogger user then I recommend doing the same because it's really awesome (and free), and if you're not but looking for a home for your blog then I'd also strongly recommend Blogger now that it has finally come up with this long-awaited update. The only thing it's missing is integration with Google Analytics, which I was disappointed about. Anyway, I'm a little tired and lazy right now (though I didn't party since I danced enough last night), so I thought I'd piggyback on another Joel Spolsky post. I had heard of Sonos before, but his description of it makes it sound much better than I ever imagined it was. If you're in a house or large apartment, the issue of music can definitely be interesting, especially when most of your music is digital or when you don't have time to shuffle through CDs, and even more so when you have guests over. This system allows you to have Sonos setups in each room (up to 32) integrated with each other and your computers quite painlessly and controllable over a sleek little remote. I had to give a shout out to it because it embodies what I want to do with my life: stuff that works without having to worry about it. With the growing complexity of technology nowadays, why aren't we hiding more details from users? Why give them options they're never going to use? Why have manuals that are longer than the works of Tolstoy? And when it comes to music, it has been made clear by what has done well in the past few years that convenience is extremely important to consumers. I feel that it's really neat that Sonos hit on all those things, I just wish they would get the word out better because I'm pretty sure that it's only well-known in nerd and audiophile circles.

Disney has sold almost half a million copies of its 75 iTunes-offered movies, and I'm sure that Apple will try tooting this horn in the direction of other studios. That's quite a bit of business to do on a piece of media that costs much more than a song or a television show, so the people buying it must be really interested. Click to enlargeMac Rumors announced the winners of its mock ad contest, and I thought I'd mention it real quick because I loved the winning entries. The videos were especially creative, and the Generations one actually looked like something Apple would put out. If you're tempted to spring for a 1080p compatible television set, then this article may change your mind. It's a topic that I've almost assuredly brought up before, and that is that 1080i really isn't much worse. Don't fall for the hype or a perpetual need for the latest-and-greatest, just be sensible. Lastly, I've found another site with Black Friday ad leaks except that this one has the sales papers themselves scanned in high resolution. Some of these deals look way too sweet for me to pass up in a couple of weeks.

In case you missed it yesterday: the Spider-man 3 trailer is still around online and is still freaking awesome. I just watched it again in 480p and it totally blew me away. I'm really really really looking forward to seeing this one, but I'm afraid that no sequel could possibly surpass the Venom storyline. We'll be seeing a new The Simpsons movie trailer on Sunday during the show's normal airing time, so be sure to keep an eye on that (though I personally don't care much for the storyline as it sounds thus far). The only other stuff I have is rumors. The sequel to Superman Returns may end up being called Superman: The Man of Steel, which almost sounds unbelievable since it's too in parallel with The Dark Knight for the Batman Begins sequel. The other rumor is of two more Godfather sequels based on newer, officially sanctioned books centered around Mario Puzo's now famous characters. I think it'll be tricky getting support for sequels to a franchise that is already a classic and that people probably don't want messed with. I don't see how you can possibly assemble a cast to look similar to the originals and be nearly as good, which means that it'd be heavily criticized in comparison to the originals.

Since Friday's Feast is on hiatus, I decided to go with the Friday Fiver meme this week:

Tell us your favorite songs / types of music for...

1. Getting in the mood to party:
Anything from my collection of Merengue songs or my underground hip hop artists.

2. When you're depressed:
Staind and 3 Doors Down

3. When you're in lust:
Boyz II Men and Musiq

4. Exercising:
Red Hot Chili Peppers and Mos Def

5. Driving / riding in the car:
Aerosmith and Audioslave

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Xbox Steps Up to Digital Distribution

I'm feeling pretty tired right now, so this also won't be a lengthy post. At least it was a fun evening though. Anyway, Microsoft has expanded Xbox Live to allow you to beam television shows and movie rentals right to your console. I'm unclear as to whether this will be subscription based or pay-per-download or what, but I think it's definitely interesting. The biggest problem that I see, however, is that you need to be able to transfer these files on your computer since you're obviously going to get rid of it in a few years. Plus, you would probably trust your computer and a backup HD more with paid content than just your Xbox 360. I'm not saying that this is going to fail or anything like that, I mean it's definitely a good move on their part to try and compete with Apple for the living room here, but they need to make sure that they think it through all the way. If it's too restrictive or complicated, people won't like it. The reason that iTV has a chance from the get-go is because of how easy iTunes is to use and how easy I'm sure Apple will make the iTV to set up, as opposed to a $400 video game console. Again, not to say that Microsoft's program has no chance, but they really have to blow people away to get them excited about this service if they really want to put a dent in Apple's sales.

Yesterday, you'll recall that I was talking about Google entering print ads. Now, they've extended their reign to radio advertising, as well. They won't even start testing this service until the end of the year, and they're still building up a team of people to work out all the logistics, but I presume that they're looking to expand DMarc. I'm not sure what exactly they have up their sleeve here that will be so much better than DMarc is right now, but I trust that they've got enough resources to not blow this. Meanwhile, they're being attacked on the Google Earth front with the launch of Virtual Earth as a more integrated product to compete with Google Earth. It pretty much adds all the features that Google Earth should have without alienating itself from Live Local, the online mapping service. They really need to work on publicity though because 99% of people I know use Google Maps or Yahoo Maps.

Click to enlargeThat's right, baby, it's a Reno 911 movie! The trailer for Reno 911: Miami is now online and it's pretty funny. Not as impressive as the first Borat trailer, but fans of the show will love this trailer because they're already familiar with how crazy these characters are. I guess the stupid cop angle for comedies never gets old. Also big news: tomorrow night will bring with it the release of the full trailer for Spider-man 3! I'm going to run straight to a computer after my Automata test just to catch this one, and I recommend that you keep an eye out for it, too, because it's sure to be fun to watch. Lastly, Scorcese has signed a deal to keep making movies at Paramount, which is nice because he's often overlooked since his movies are more brilliant than they are blockbusters.

No interest memes to play today, sorry!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Google Moves Into Print

I've definitely been wasting too much time chatting on AIM, but I'm going to give you guys a post anyway because I think I can whip one up pretty fast here. Google has decided to make the transition into print ads, which seems kind of funny in a way. It's almost as if they're working backwards since, theoretically, newspapers should become extinct someday in favor of electronic distribution of news (likely through e-Readers for convenience). I think it's funny that newspapers are agreeing that they suck at offering advertising space to clients and are willing to partner with Google for this. I guess it isn't all that demeaning working with a company like Google, but I feel it would be like Microsoft helping Apple sell iPods and trashing the Zune because they felt that Apple had it right. Of course, the demand is really coming from the advertisers, who have been pleased with AdSense's tracking abilities. They've actually tried this out before, with limited success, and are changing it up now so that advertisers bid on ad space inventory and let the newspapers directly decide what makes sense. Does it sound like anyone else that they're just playing middle man? I'm not terribly optimistic about this venture. This system isn't very creative on Google's part and I just don't think that it'll generate enough interest to sustain itself.

Just crashed Firefox and so I lost what I was going to say here, but I'll try to rebuild it. PC World has really taken a shine to the new iPod Shuffle iteration, and it looks like it hasn't lost ease-of-use in the next generation. It should be readily available now, and I think I saw someone on campus with it the other day. Click to enlarge Paul Thurott posted some pictures of Office 2007, and it looks pretty nifty. Dare I say that I'm a tad excited to get my hands on it? Microsoft does pump out neat stuff from time to time, after all. If you find yourself in a situation like I did last week where you only have Linux machines at your disposal to open a .doc you need for class that morning, you'll appreciate Zamzar, which will convert it to another format for you online. Fortunately, I managed to make a clean break from that situation without it, but I may not be so lucky next time! I'm going to end off this paragraph with a sneak peek at Best Buy's Black Friday ad since I know that you'll all be chomping at the bit for these sales in a few weeks to kick off your holiday shopping spree. Don't act like you wouldn't be one of those people who stand in line at like 6 AM in the morning!

Not going to spend much time on movies because I'm still behind on my work for tonight. Borat took the box office this past weekend with over $26 million, but I honestly thought it'd be more given how many people were buzzing about it. Much more surprising is that Santa Clause 3 was #2 because I have no idea what would possess so many people to see it. It's not even Christmas yet! How could it beat out Flushed Away?! Anyway, I also spotted this neat artwork for TMNT and had to share.

Click to enlarge

To make up for the lack of posting, I'll give you guys some TMI Tuesday action:

1. Would you vote to legalize marijuana? If not marijuana, what drug would you like to see legalized and why?
Yes, because if booze are legal then what's so bad about weed? It's not like it kills people anymore than alcohol does. Why tell people what they can do with their money if it doesn't directly hurt them or others?

2. Would you vote to legalize prostitution?
Probably. If it's going to happen anyway, why not tax it and make a few bucks off of it? Not that I personally support prostitution because I think the idea of sex being casual is weird, but why keep people from doing it? At least have prostitutes checked for STDs.

3. Ever fantasize about a teacher in grade school/high school/college? If not a teacher, was there someone else? Classmate? Secretary? Janitor? Ever act on your fantasy?
I remember having a crush on a 3rd grade teacher, but not so much since then.

4. Do you feel everyone has a soulmate?
I like to think so. It gives me optimism.

5. Do you have a foot obsession? Ever given or received a footjob?
Nope and what does that even mean?