Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Just the High Points

I spent a couple of hours tonight at a little salsa event, so I'm all sweaty now and need to shower and get some work done before hitting the sack. Tomorrow is the career fair, so I should probably gey a solid 7 hours. Anyway, just a few quick stories I felt I might as well bring up:

So we all know that Jack Bauer is a complete and utter badass, right? Well if you want to be just like him then you'll love this roundup of things he uses. I thought it was just a ploy to buy some crap at first, but they seriously are the things he uses on the show. Very cool to check out, though I wonder why the knife costs like $300.

Some kid in New York is suing the record industry! I think this is pretty awesome. He's basically saying that he didn't really pirate music and the music industry is just trying to use intimidation tactics since he knows he didn't pirate music back when he was 11 years old. In fact, the music was for CDs he had already owned. His mother was also accused of piracy. He's countersuing for a number of things including defaming his reputation, taking focus away from his school work, legal fees, etc. I really hope he pulls this one off! It's not likely, but I'm rooting for him.

On the music topic, there's a new service in the works called Grooveshark that would not only pay royalties to the record labels but also compensate the users for uploading music, and all the music would be DRM-free. I signed up for more information, so I'll be sure to post when we know more. It sounds really awesome, I just have no idea how they plan on pulling this off.

Because I loved Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, I naturally had to mention that filming has begun on the sequel in Louisiana. If you remember the first movie, they're heading to Amsterdam to track down Maria, but they actually get detained in Gitmo because they think Kumar is a terrorist. It features a slew of comedians making appearances in it, so I hope it'll be funny!

One more thing, the entire Dead or Alive movie somehow found its way onto Google Video. I can't imagine that it'll stay there long, but enjoy it while it lasts.

Ah screw homework, I'll mind hump:

Favorite rock band?
The Red Hot Chili Peppers (who else?)

Favorite 80s song?
"Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order

Favorite bassist?

Favorite male singer?
Chris Martin

Favorite female singer?
Sorry, but it's Mariah Carey. I don't care how embarrassing it is.

Favorite Beatle?
John Lennon?

Favorite song for singing along?
In The Still of the Night, maybe. Too hard!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vista is Out

There are a lot of little things to talk about today, so I figured that I should start with the biggest little thing: Windows Vista is out! I know that you're all exhausted from waiting outside your local retailer at midnight. I can't imagine that any of you had forgotten about it over the past 5 years. Alright, enough sarcasm. Bill Gates appeared on The Daily Show to help promote it to younger demographics, and it's funny just how different he is from his most formidable opponent, Steve Jobs. He's really not very personable, but I think he understood Jon's jokes even though he didn't ostensibly think they were very funny. All in all, he was pretty sober about the release. This is a man who is ready to retire, you can see it in his face. Even as he was talking about the future, he wasn't really getting into it. This isn't the same young man who had dreams of Microsoft, this is an old man who has seen a lot come to fruition through his achievements in the field of technology and is ready to move on. In any case, Vista is out and I've yet to try it out. It's not out at our campus computer store (massive discount there), so I'm going to wait until it does. Everyone raves about how great it is, but what worries me the most is that it may demand ridiculous hardware specs or else be very slow. Though this computer still rocks (2.4 Ghz P4, 1GB RAM), it was built before I started college. Maybe I'll wait until I get my laptop in May. In any case, it's out for the rest of you already.

Finally some supporters of what I was claiming earlier: the profit margins on the iPhone are closer to 20%, if even that much, when some of the parts (namely, the LCD screen) are more realistically priced. And once again, R&D still isn't being taken into account. Click to enlargeThe iPod Shuffle is being re-released in more colors now: pink, blue, [burnt] orange, and green. You can't look at that picture and tell me that it's not Longhorn orange. Anyway, they also come with the updated earbuds (guess they ran out of the old crap ones). Oh, and they seem to have released an 802.11n enabler for newer MacBooks, iMacs, and Mac Pros, which is a bit controversial since it costs a couple of bucks extra. I kind of agree, it was promised with the device in its specs, so why should you have to buy a driver for it? It's been a long time coming, but it's finally upon us: the floppy disk is basically dead. Its biggest manufacturers have stopped making them, and PC World has decided to stop selling them. I don't even know what they're useful for anymore, but they were a good friend for me back in the mid 90s. Because searching Google has become so important in today's society, I felt it was worthwhile to post about some more tips for searching efficiently using keywords. Definitely worth checking out. If memorizing is as painful for you as it is for me, then you'll get a kick out of It uses a wiki interface to quiz you on words and phrases, which makes it ideal for language classes or biology classes, I'd imagine. I don't have much use for it at this point in my college career, but I wish I had it two years ago. Lastly, if you need to share large files online easily, you should definitely check out senduit. I think it's a lot cooler than You Send It, and will definitely start using it myself.

I went through all the movie news, and it's pretty boring or just not noteworthy. So let's not cover it today.

Now for the Tuesday Twosome:

1. How often do you update your blog/site and why?
6 days a week, because that's when the most news breaks.

2. How often do you comment on other people’s sites and why?
Whenever I have something to say! Probably every other day or so.

3. How often do you change the layout of your site and why?
Of this blog? Like maybe once a year. If you change it too often it becomes gawdy.

4. Do you ever feel guilty that you don’t reciprocate comments or you really don’t care?
Sometimes, yeah. Usually though, I try to visit whoever commented, but I won't force a fake comment.

5. How many sites on average do you visit daily and of those, how many do you comment on?
Maybe 15 sites? They're not all blogs though. I may comment on one blog a day.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Norway Stands Up to iTunes

I think that despite the inherent pro-Mac bias in so many geeks nowadays, most either are perturbed by FairPlay or are just hiding their reprehension. Theoretically, what they're doing is not illegal here in America. They can add whatever protection they want to the product that the record labels agree to. However, in Norway, they're almost overly friendly to their people. They've ruled parts of the iTunes End User License Agreement (EULA) to be illegal and have given Apple 9 months to fix the issues before they're fined and forced to close the iTunes store in Norway. It's funny because a number of their concerns probably sound crazy to an American lawyer, but I guess that big business influences the legal system to a much lesser extent in Norway. First of all, I actually agree with Norway in principle. It does seem unfair for Apple to not share FairPlay, despite it being a good business practice. It's the same product that a lot of other legal mp3 sites sell, just strapped with DRM they keep under lock and key. It's close to defining them as a monopoly in the online music market. But more importantly, what the Hell is Apple going to do now? It's clear that they're not going to start licensing FairPlay in Norway, because then they're going to be pressured into doing it elsewhere. Are they just going to stomach the fine and lose a few European markets in the process? I'm really curious to see how it turns out.

Let's talk about another Apple product before I move on: unfortunately, it's the iPhone (again). This is actually interesting though, Apple approached Verizon before Cingular (AT&T), but were turned down. Why? Their crazy terms. Not only did they want a cut of the service plan money, but they wanted control over distribution and support. Given that no other phone manufacturer is afforded such authority, it's no surprise that Verizon scoffed. The question is, did Cingular roll over or did Apple actually negotiate? I'm sure you all remember crazy Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, who is now back with a bill similar to his bill that would have banned school children from virtually all interactive sites (the terms are more specific, but still ridiculous). Not only does it do that, but it forces video services to prevent distribution of child porn, allows schools to monitor minors' online activity, and makes it illegal to sell kids' private data. I totally agree with the first and last things, it's the other stuff that's horrible. I hope that it doesn't pass; they should rewrite the bill with just the good parts. Microsoft is out to enter the micropayment market with a better way to purchase things online that are cheap since normal credit card overhead for small payments are so ridiculous. I like the idea of doing this, but without implementation details I'm loath to really say anything else other than that I hope they do it right. God knows they had enough issues with the Zune, which is now appearing at under $170 at some places (even online). That's actually a pretty good price; I'd buy it at that price if I needed a large capacity mp3 player. CNN ran a piece last week about working at Google, and not having cable I obviously missed it. It's online now though and it makes me drool just a little bit. I didn't know they had 11 free restaurants and free massages. And free WiFi shuttles around campus sound pretty sweet too. Please at least give me an interview, Google! Lastly, I thought it was too funny to see LEDs and resistors transformed into sex positions to not share.

People seem all abuzz about a rumor that Rachel McAdams may play DA's assistant Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight. I'm a little surprised that they're not concerned about actress looking so different from Ms. Holmes. I thought it was more noteworthy that reliable sources claim that Sam Raimi is seriously considering taking on The Hobbit as his next movie. No formal talks have commenced yet, but that would probably signal that he wouldn't be working on another Spider-man soon, and I'm wondering if he's holding off to talk to Sony first (assuming this is all true). I love Jenna Fischer on The Office, so naturally I had mention that she's set to star in a comedy called Walk Hard that's really a biopic about a non-existent musician where she portrays the love interest. It's from the brains behind Talladega Nights and Anchorman, so I hope that turns out being just as funny. Lastly, the New York Times has an awesome article explaining a lot about the premise behind Grind House and what you have to know in order to walk into the theater and truly enjoy it when it comes out.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Do you make New Year's resolutions? If so, what is your most important one?
Not formally. I just habitually set goals for myself, more or less. Most important though is to stop cluttering. Setting myself up for a fun, fruitful career is very close behind.
2. Easter is coming. Many Christians give up something for Lent. Do you give something up for any reason (or season)? What is it this year?
I usually figure out something to give up for Lent, though I don't like sharing it =P
3. Do you watch the Super Bowl? If so, do you watch it with a group? If not, what do you do while the game is on? Anything special?
I usually do, but not sure if I will this year. I don't really want to watch it alone though, it's not very fun that way. I think last year I watched it at my cousin's place in Houston, and the year before I watched it at a friend's place (who lived up here at a condo in Far West, actually).
4. Would you miss Monday Madness if it stopped permanently?
Definitely! What the Hell would I meme on Mondays then?!
5. Name at least one theme for MM questions. Share at least one question for that theme.
How about technology =) Things you love about technology, things you hate, things you wish you could buy.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

YouTube Shares Money With...You!

I'm doing a little better since Friday. I'm not quite as depressed, I'd just feel better with interviews lined up. TLD practice cheered me up. Anyway, our little YouTube is growing up! It's going off to college and sharing revenues and everything! Does anyone else remember way back when, before Google bought them, when they were like, "no way will we ever allow ads forced in front of our content!" Yeah, I figured that wouldn't last. It makes sense though, I'm glad that they weren't close-minded enough to stay on that course. Of course, I hope they've thought about the possibility of spam videos. I wonder if they'll have some kind of quality control mechanism in place? And I wonder how much the cut of the profit will be? I see the potential for huge scams from this. Regardless, the site as it exists today won't last for too much longer, because it just isn't financially viable, so I'm glad they're being smart about it. I wonder if this will become optional or not? Will you be able to just host videos there without advertising and profit-sharing? What I find more surprising is that they're not worried about copyright infringement. Maybe they are though, and they're just not talking about it. Oh well, I'll be sure to post when this program goes into beta.

Going off the online video subject, wouldn't it be cool if you could watch shows for free on a Google TV service that would just serve ads based on your interests garnered from your e-mails? Well, it doesn't exist, but this is still a sweet hoax of such a service. It's impressively convincing. Bill Gates agrees with the concept of a service like that, claiming that television as we know it will be dead in a few years. That blog thinks he's just behind on this, but I think he's bold to say this. I think it'll take a little longer before television is abolished and it's completely user controlled because I don't think the networks will roll over so easily. I don't think monetization or technology is a problem (as that entry claims), I think that the networks are just slow and unwilling to adapt. If you're a webmaster, then you'll want to read this Google post about how to exclude certain directories and files from the web crawler. I had no idea this was possible and I find it useful myself as I've now taken on web development of three sites (though I'm not alone on two of them). Oh, if you use Gmail, you'll find this article about shorthand searches helpful. The new version of Paint .NET is out, and it's pretty sweet. I think they just fixed some bugs from the beta, and the beta was really slick. Lastly, NES fans will definitely appreciate this eBay auction of every game ever made for the classic console.

Ok, this is crazy. The number one movie in the nation this weekend was Epic Movie, which has (no joke) 0 on the tomatometer. Those who saw it almost seemed pissed that it sucked given the cast and great look-a-likes. Smokin Aces didn't get glowing reviews itself though at the #2 spot. And the tradition of my friend's birthday weekend continues: only bad movies come out on the weekend of his birthday (even Catch and Release did bad with $8 million). Since there's nothing else to talk about, here are some pictures from The Simpsons movie.

Click to enlarge

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Limit :: To the

  2. Voice :: Heard

  3. Change :: Money

  4. Expression :: Face

  5. Tailor :: Pants

  6. Lemonade :: When life hands Jack Bauer lemons, he uses them to kill terrorists. Jack Bauer fucking hates lemons.

  7. Thought :: Mind

  8. Phoebe :: Bufay

  9. Impression :: Interview

  10. Sister :: Act

Friday, January 26, 2007

We have found a witch. May we burn her?

Oh Monty Python, you slay me. Anyway, I had a lot of fun at Copa last night (despite my big blister)! (This isn't even half the of us who went, though)

Click to enlarge
Unfortunately, I found out today that my backup plan for the summer has kind of fallen through, which leaves me in a bad situation. Still, I suppose there are plenty of interview opportunities still available. If you're a cool company reading this, please contact me! Anyway, moving right along. Aside from the Holy Grail reference, my title did have a point. A Connecticut substitute teacher's computer was infested with spyware and adware, and so a few of her 7th grade kids gathered around a computer when she was away from it only for her to find out that they were faced with hardcore pornography ads. She was arrested for risking injury to a minor and faces FORTY years in prison, if convicted. That's practically the rest of her life (or at least the part worth living). And why? Because some 13 year-old kids were curious enough to look at a screwed up computer without her permission. First of all, how many 13 year-olds don't already know about this stuff? My friends made me well aware of it, and that was well before society became so inundated with sex and the Internet was such a glowing resource for that kind of stuff. Secondly, how is she responsible? It's hard to keep track of every kid in a classroom, especially in the middle school age group. And how does seeing a little nudity warrant 40 years in prison? Anyway, it's pretty bogus, and it looks like they just want to burn someone to make themselves feel more superior. Just like in Monty Python, they're nimrods bent on screwing someone over, despite what faulty logic it may entail to do so.

You know how everyone thought that iPhone was ridiculously expensive since their price for it was with a phone plan? Well, it turns out that Apple isn't taking any sort of subsidy from AT&T because they don't want to lose pricing control (especially should they release an iPod-only version of the iPhone). So you'd think that they'd give you a break for switching to them, right? Not so, the rumor I divulged yesterday has been confirmed as false. It was a pretty weak rumor to begin with, but it doesn't really help the financial case for the iPhone. Just to reiterate, by the way, the iPhone profit margin is not as high as Gizmodo would have you believe because there are so many costs that they haven't taken into account. If you're away from home a lot and miss your music then you may want to look into Avvenu for streaming music from your iTunes library. I'd use it if I didn't spend most of time away from home busy on campus as it is. I'd use it if I had a job, I think. If you use Firefox, this is a cool add-on to fix your URLs for you automatically when you make a common mistake. I tested it out a bit and it works pretty well. Lastly, if you're a web development fiend, then you'll appreciate this well-compiled list of tutorials for various technologies (minus Ruby, curiously).

Allow me to start off here with the worst trailer I've seen in a good while for a movie called Delta Farce. Not only does this movie look horrible, but I think I'm stupider for having actually watched the trailer. The Rush Hour 3 teaser trailer was slightly better, but doesn't really instill confidence in me regarding the movie being funny. What really blew me away though was the trailer for 1408, a movie based on a Stephen King novel about a haunted room in a hotel. This may be the first Stephen King-based movie to go right in a long while, I just think that they gave away way too much information in the trailer (I think I know how it ends now). Watch the trailer at your own risk. The trailer for Angel-A is probably better because it looks like a real interesting movie from a director lots of people love, but I'm still more interested in 1408. Maybe because the movie is in French? If you're dying for more multimedia, I just discovered some cool 18+ scenes at the Smokin Aces site that's worth watching (I think, at least). It looks like 300 will be the first movie of the year to be released in IMAX theaters across the nation, but I'm not sure if I'll be around an IMAX theater when it's released. I may drive to Houston just to see it in IMAX though because it looks so awesome. Lastly, IGN dug up some Bridge to Terabithia that make it look a little more kiddie than I would've preferred. That doesn't mean it can't be a really good movie though.

Now for the Friday's Feast meme:

If you could take lessons to learn any musical instrument, which would you want to learn?

Probably electric guitar at this point.

Have you ever mistaken a person for someone else?

At least once every couple of months. I'm usually pretty good about identifying people from their backs, but not always.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how well do you keep secrets?

Probably an 8 or 9. I'm pretty loath to reveal a secret, no matter how much I may want to.

Main Course
What's the closest you've ever been to a dangerous animal?

Just a really creepy stray dog in India many years ago, I believe.

When was the last time you lost your patience?

I'm not actually sure. Probably with my mom back in Houston though towards the end of the break when she was starting to drive me nuts.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

How to Beat Cable Companies

I wanted to talk about this purely because of my undying hated for telcos. I'm not a preachy man, by any means, but if there was a physical embodiment of the deadly sin of greed, it'd be the telcos. Their prices are absurd and their service is usually sub-par compared to the premium you pay for their services. Hence, how can I not love the idea of canceling your cable subscription in favor of *gasp* the Interweb! This guy did the math and found out that he could save half the money he spends on cable television by purchasing his favorite programs on iTunes and renting out movies on Netflix rather than waiting for them to come on television. What's that, you say? You need a VCR? Screw that, just get a media PC (or the Apple TV, I suppose), and you can watch your downloaded shows on that. Then, you can have the full television experience in your living room for much less at much higher quality and whenever you want it rather than when the television networks decide. Sure, you can get TiVo, except that their software is gross and not very intuitive at all. Sorry TiVo, I feel for your financial situation, but I'd care more if you cared more about your own product. Oh, and TiVo requires an even pricier cable subscription with even more channels you won't watch. Plus, unlike TiVo, you can store all your downloaded television shows for as long as you like! Of course, you can't save those Netflix movies (legally, anyway), but their new service will be allowing you watch movies online as many times as you'd like. If I wasn't a student, I'd totally get that set up, but I don't watch cable TV as it is.

A post popped up on the Google Blog citing that they've integrated YouTube search with the Google Video search so that you get two sites' matches for the price of one. I suppose this was to be expected, but I wonder if they're at all concerned that this kind of upstages Google Video since the majority of the results will come from YouTube. Speaking of YouTube, they were subpoenaed (along with a few other online video sites) for the identity of a user who posted episodes of 24 before they aired (he also posted episodes of The Simpsons). YouTube will be fighting to not have to give up this identity, but I assume that this would be a tricky thing to win for them. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that they're willing to protect someone who clearly violated their TOS by posting only obviously copyrighted content. I would think that that would void their Privacy Policy for that user. There are some rumors floating around that AT&T may be giving those who buy the iPhone a year and a half of free service in return. That's a rather bold discount though just to increase their base of users. I guess they figure that people will have to stick with them after they buy it anyway, and I assume that this would only apply to new subscribers. Lastly, in case you hadn't noticed, Amazon has been adding some Web 2.0-like features on its product pages recently. Strangely though, still no boost to their stock. I suspect that if people really dig these changes though (I like them, there are just too many things cluttering the page), that they'll become more dedicated Amazon users and increase Amazon's revenues, which will in turn boost investor confidence.

It looks like The Dark Knight will have the DA's assistant, but Katie Holmes will not be in that role because critics were none too happy with her acting. There's still just rampant speculation though regarding who will be Harvey Dent (Two Face). AICN saw Justin Lin's latest movie, Finishing the Game, at Sundance about actors trying to fill Bruce Lee's role in a movie he was shooting when he died, and it looks like a humorous mockumentary. Unfortunately, Quint didn't like the editing. Maybe they'll fix it up before it's released for the rest of us? I just have such high hopes for Justin Lin, I hope he makes good movies again! IGN has some clips from Epic Movie, and they're all really stupid. So much for my expectations of this movie. JoBlo put up some really cool Spider-man 3 wallpapers, and even I started using one of them to replace a picture that I had taken that was previously on my desktop! Lastly, check out this awesome Grind House poster from overseas:

Click to enlarge

Now for some 3x Thursday action:

1. Do you like kids? Do you have them? If not, do you want them? Why/why not?
Yes, but I don't have them. I'm not awesome with kids or anything, but I don't think I have a problem with them. I just have a problem with irresponsible parents (I've met plenty of them).

2. It's the beginning of the year, and that usually means new clothes or items you've gotten during the holidays. Get anything groovy (given or bought) so far?
My sweet Kenneth Cole shoes a cool pull over that looks like it's knit. Anyway, the shoes are obviously much more awesome, and I will be sporting them tonight at Copa! Woot woot!

3. Do you consider yourself selfish or selfless? Why?
Probably in the middle. I try to help people as much as I can, but I obviously have my career at the center of my life right now, so I'm not totally selfless, but I'm not really selfish either.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Open Up the iPhone!

I might as well just come out and say it: I really do agree that it's not impressive for users to not be able to install OS X applications on the iPhone. The reasoning is reasonable, and it doesn't make me scale back my expectations for the success of this device, but I agree with 43 folder in that they're missing a huge opportunity here. Oh, and once again, sorry to talk about the iPhone, honestly nothing else fun to talk about today (unless you want to hear about Number Theory, that is). So anyway, why don't they use this to bring more people to the Mac side? Why not give out developer kits, and just sue people who release products without Apple approval? I'm sure that indie developers would want little to do with the wrath of Apple, but I'm sure would love mobile functionality for their next software release. To be fair, if software breaks their phone it would make them look really bad at such an early stage of the game, and it does make sense in a way for them to be exclusive about who they let release stuff for it. I just think there's a better way to handle it, and they could stand to gain a lot not only in more features but in more people interested in the OS X as a mobile platform because they're tired of Windows Mobile. Anyway, it is still early, maybe they'll have grander plans later.

Even after the iPhone was announced, enthusiasts were still clamoring for a new iPod. Well, there's rumors that we may see a Beatles iPod (like the U2 iPod) that would be a widescreen, touch screen, iPod. People believe that this could be announced in a Superbowl ad or the February 20 event, I'm just surprised that the other Apple is so gung ho about working with Apple, Inc on this. Click to enlargeThere's a photo blog with a bunch of pictures of art painted on people's hands to be made to look like animals, and it's really cool as you can see to the right here. I think several of them are touched up in Photoshop, but you can tell that a great deal of it is really painted right on the hands. Also for photo fiends: this is a cool bunch of free photography lessons that are really well-done and interesting. I skimmed a couple and will definitely be coming back to it to read them in more detail. Lastly, if you want a Blu-ray and HD-DVD player in one, don't hope too hard because this one looks pretty bad. Well, physically it's cool, but it sounds pretty sub-par. Looks like the war is still on!

So you definitely should not read these spoilers from Spider-man 3 because they're very intense. I read them on your behalf though and can tell you that I think it definitely throws things in a different direction. Like the second movie was very different from the first, I think this one is very different from both of them, and I'm pleasantly surprised compared to my reaction at the weirdness of some scenes in the trailer. I also think that it'd be easy for them to close off the Spider-man movies at this one, at least for a long while. If you're a loser like me and missed The Departed, they're going to re-release it this weekend at a limited amount of theaters to try to garner some more Oscar buzz for it. I'm really tempted to grab my friends and go see it. Unfortunately, we may not see Oldboy again over here, or at least the remake that Justin Lin was supposed to make. I think he's having issues with creative freedom because he's really intent on sticking to the original, but hopefully something works out with him or nothing at all because I hope they do respect the film. Lastly, there are rumors that M Night Shayamalan has been passing around his script for a movie called Green Planet to studios and not getting a warm reception. He's really been going downhill since his first release, so I wouldn't be surprised if this were true.

I'm going to be adventurous and try the Wet Wednesday meme this week:

1. body hair ... trimmed, shaved completely, or full-on bushy?
I guess shaved completely. Not that trimmed would really bother me much either though.

2. hairstyle (on the "top head") ... short-short, medium, or long?
Har har, on the pun. It really depends. I think in general, I love the medium. But certain girls (for some reason, mostly asian girls) can pull off short-short really well and that's commendable. As long as it doesn't make you look like a guy, it's all good. No issue with long hair either, I just imagine it to be a pain to maintain.

3. do you like your partner tall or short?
Short, because I'm so short myself. Nothing against tall girls at all, I just imagine that they'd want a tall guy as well!

4. intelligence ... are you intimidated if your partner is smarter than you are, or do you prefer them to be members of MENSA?
It depends on how much smart. If they're like a Turing Award winner or something, that kind of sucks. But I'd almost like them to be smarter than me otherwise so that we can also have intelligent discussions from time to time.

5. one of my hang-ups is a guy who needs to trim his fingernails ... it grosses me out to no end, even if they're sparkling clean! what is a "no-go" when it comes to your partner's hands?
Biting. Don't bite your nails! Not only does that put strange germs in your mouth, but it ruins your nails. I'm a big nail guy because of classical guitar, so I do notice that.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Star Treatment to Bloggers

I must admit, classes are definitely not bad this semester, content-wise. I though the Business courses would be stupid but I think I'll end up learning a lot from them. Anyway, I just had fun reading this so I figured that I might as well talk about it a little more. As you may have noticed on the right sidebar, I read Delicious Days occasionally because food just fascinates me (hence my regular viewing of the Food Network while in Houston), and that article comes from a blog that reviews restaurants. Anyway, people like reading about stuff like food and technology online because I think we just get a kick out of hearing from people who don't get edited by some important person or who isn't some elitist in their field. Hence, we turn to blogs. What's funny is that companies have started to notice this, and really targeted bloggers. Last month, as I mentioned, Microsoft sent Acer laptops to bloggers loaded with Vista. A while ago, I was actually offered a review unit for an IP TV product! Talking to my cousin's husband (another techie), he told me that companies are trying to find a better way to get to the consumer than standard advertising, and what better way than through people they trust: bloggers. It's an interesting thought, because I had never really seen it that way. I received a hat and a pat on the back from Cranium from praising them, but I don't think it necessarily affected my opinion of Pop 5 (though a friend of mine was sad I didn't bring it to her place last week because she really liked it), I still think it's a pretty fun game. That article I plugged was about that blogger's experience at a restaurant that gave her star treatment because she posted an unfavorable review. Funnily enough, it didn't change her opinion of the food, but she praised the owner for being so cool to them. I just think it's really funny for common people to become celebrities and get noticed within their fields, even though they're not really certifiably famous. It's kind of cool, in a way; that the web has become the platform for people to have intelligent discussions and get noticed, not just pre-teen girls talking about their drama on their Xanga.

In the vein of user-generated content, just wanted to briefly mention this list of YouTube mashups, several of which are fairly entertaining. I personally love the "I Love Music Videos" one for its integration with, which I still use and enjoy. According to a tipster, Apple will be holding a special event on February 20, presumably to talk more about Leopard, iLife 07, iWork 07, and new Mac Pros. They may talk about more stuff, but I doubt that we'll see anything really shocking. The music industry is finally acknowledging that they have an issue, and maybe DRM is the problem. I agreed with one great quote in the article that basically said that you can't get rid of all piracy, but if you try then you'll get rid of the whole industry. Stop with the DRM so people don't have to do so much damn research to buy an mp3 player and be happy with their music. The easier you make it for everyone, the more money you'll make. Meanwhile, someone has cracked the Blu-ray DRM. They managed to decrypt a Blu-ray media, and I'm happy for it. I hope that it's made very public so that Sony realizes how stupid their DRM is. Sun has decided to partner with Intel and have them provide the chips for some of their servers, and in return Intel will make sure that Solaris runs well on their chips. An interesting deal since Sun was a competitor and is now in financial troubles, let's see if Sun's situation changes anytime soon. Lastly, Windows Genuine Advantage has supposedly determined that 22% of Windows installations are illegal. Why do I feel that the real figure is much higher than that?

The Oscar nominees are up, and you can see the whole list over here. Not a whole lot of surprises, but I feel unqualified to comment much on it since I missed some of they year's best movies. If you didn't catch Prison Break or Heroes last night, first of all, shame on you. However, the 300 sneak peak you missed can be found here. Not a whole lot of new footage, but still fun to watch. It looks like Speed Racer may be a G rated movie, which doesn't bother me since it's based off a fairly light-hearted cartoon, but I'm sure it'll bother some people. It's not like the Wachowskis are experienced at family films. A random Russian site has a few shots from Transformers (including some impressive cleavage, sorry ladies), but the real money shots are for Spider-man 3 over at IGN. I kind of like the new Smokin Aces poster better than all those pics though:

Click to enlarge

Now for the Tuesday Twosome:

List the last two…

1. Movies you watched:
I guess Pan's Labyrinth and MI:3 (repeat viewing). I should've re-watched Spider-man 1 and 2, just didn't get around to it.
2. TV shows you saw:
Heroes and The Colbert Report
3. Items you purchased:
A textbook for Programming Languages and my water bill for the past couple of months.
4. Beverages you drank:
Water and milk
5. Internet sites you surfed (before coming here):
JoBlo and The Daily Meme

Monday, January 22, 2007

Is Vista Really People-Ready?

It's really weird not being extremely busy and yet being in Austin. I'm sure things will get crazier soon enough. For now, I'm just looking forward to Thursday! Anyway, I really hate picking on Vista, because I think everyone is too mean to Microsoft. However, I heard a term a couple of months ago: "people-ready." Mircrosoft claimed that Vista was "people-ready", but it doesn't sound like it from this article. I chose to highlight this article because it's not fanboy dribble like a lot of the stuff you see out there, and you can tell that he spent a lot of time with Vista before becoming irritated with these problems. It's funny that he brings up the copying problem, because it pisses me off, too. Why does a whole copy process or delete process die because one file in your selection has issues? Can't it be more graceful? What's more disturbing though is that they claim to have freed Explorer from Internet Explorer, but they really only did this in namesake. They obviously transferred the same UI over for opening files from some Internet Explorer shell, and it looks worse than what we currently have. And why is it that Windows search still can't match grep on Linux? Grep has been around for forever, and yet there's no equivalent for it in Vista. Despite his annoyance with the Start Menu though, it looks like a drastic improvement, and I don't think that they necessarily made the Network Connections box any worse than it is in XP. I would almost consider issues like this to label it not people-ready because they clearly didn't put the time in to polish it. They need to fire that entire leadership Windows team and hire people who understand what it means to set up a proper schedule for software development.

On the bright side, Microsoft Office 2007 is still a bang-up application and you can get more details on it here. I haven't mentioned its strengths in a while so I felt that this article is a perfect recap of what makes the upgrade special. What a great mockup!Also, things are looking up for the Zune: word is that we can expect a flash-based Zune (i.e. an iPod Nano competitor) later this year, likely near the holiday season. Supposedly, we'll also see Zunes with actual WiFi capabilities rather than the crippled firmware on current Zunes, which may finally give it some attractiveness against the iPod. Speaking of music, if you're tired of your music being too loud or too soft on certain tracks, you may like MP3Gain, which will level everything out for you. I'm going to try it out myself, because iTunes will only do it within iTunes, and I want my songs universally leveled. isoHunt has come back online! Not sure how, but I guess they raised enough money to buy some new servers? I mentioned last week that Blu-ray is screwed for having shunned the porn industry, and the New York Times even did a piece about how porn stars are trying to beautify themselves further so that you can't see the little details in HD! I think it's kind of a funny article to see in the NY Times, and am curious as to whether their customers will really care that much about the issues they describe. If you have a laptop and you use it to take notes, you may want to check out this list of top note-taking applications. I'm tagging it myself so that I can check it out when I get a laptop later this semester; the apps look really neat. Lastly, I've always wanted to find card tricks online, and now that I have I just have to share. Check out this list of videos of simple magic tricks and how to do them.

Just a couple of things in movies. David Koepp is speaking with Colombia Pictures to possibly pen a script for Spider-man 4. Nothing is confirmed yet, and no word that anyone would even return for a fourth movie, but I guess they liked the third enough that they felt they could convince everyone to return with a great script. Let's see if it works! The only other thing is the announcement of nominations for the Razzies, and it looks like we had some pretty bad movies this year. Win or lose though, they're all losers at heart.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Did you make any resolutions this year?
Just to get a good internship and to try to date some cool girls (I know single ones exist around here somewhere). Oh, and to stop cluttering, as always.

2. If so, which one do you think you'll really stick to? If not, is there something you're going to try harder to accomplish?
The good internship one.

3. Do you have a fear of any small rodents/insects/etc? If so, please share.
Mainly just roaches. They're so gross and just, gross. The thought of them crawling on me makes me cringe.

4. Share something exciting that's going on in your life.
Nothing, really. I'm going to Copa on Thursday, that's the highlight of my week. I'm still scared out of my mind about getting an internship for the summer.

5. Did you wonder what happened to Monday Madness these past few weeks?
Well, I missed posting for a couple of Mondays, so not so much ;) I actually did the super old one last week.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Underestimating the iPhone

As much as I hate contributing to all the buzz surrounding the iPhone, it's just too interesting to talk about it. Here's a product that can go so many different ways. If I was blogging when the iPod was first announced, I'd probably be eating up articles about it, too, and whether or not it would succeed. I found an article that's a very reasonable look at why the electronics industry failed to take down the iPod, and why they're going to lose market share to the iPhone: they like to underestimate. These are people who think they know what consumers want, but have no idea. It's funny how much the iPod can't do that a lot of other mp3 players can do built-in (like play the radio), and how many of its features are actually pretty plain. And yet, the interface was so appealing that it brought in enough people, locked them into iTunes, and continued to take over the industry. Now, everyone is claiming a similar story with the iPhone: it's nothing special, just a yuppie interface and a high price. This will be their downfall. I believe that it will definitely succeed, despite its high price, because people would love to try something new in their cell phone. I think everyone is tired of investing all this money into their phone only to have it be just a little better than their last phone, and they're willing to pay a premium to get out of this trap. Of course it's not perfect, and of course it's not for every single consumer, but they'll capture an alarming percentage of the market, and then competitors will start paying attention, when it's already too late. Or maybe history won't repeat itself, let's see if they smarten up this time.

If you have an iPod and like it but hate iTunes, you might like this program that gives you more freedom, including the ability to save songs from your iPod, but with a different, liter, UI. Personally, I'm sticking with iTunes (though it has been acting up lately) because of its nice podcast section. Oh, and while I'm on Apple, it turns out that Cisco may have violated the GPL since they loaded Linux on their iPhones but did not make certain code public. If Apple exploits this, it could help them out quite a bit. Click to enlargeIf you're like my friend Nirav and want to like marry Windows Vista, you might want to pick up Windows Vista Ultimate Limited Numbered Signature Edition (yes, that's the actual name of the product). It'll only set you back as much as a 30 GB iPod would, and you can pretend like you're friends with Bill Gates. Now for some actual bad news: roughly half the music you can get on Zune Marketplace can't even be shared between Zunes! I'm really more annoyed at the studios for this than Microsoft because I can't imagine what more DRM they could possibly want to secure their content. Unless the song stays on the Zune and can be hacked to be downloaded to your computer? Not that anyone would care enough to do that anyway. Google Checkout has been having some issues: people are not satisfied with it citing (anecdotally, mind you) that it's slow or that sales have been canceled mistakenly. They'd better get the kinks out quick, or they may be on a sinking ship since people don't seem to care about using it (though their $10 offer is tempting to most people, I'm sure). Lastly, Google is also working on a way to make soft copies of books more portable. That could be pretty cool, but would work better if they released their own eReader to boot.

Not much movie news to report. In the box office, I'm pleased to report that Pan's Labyrinth made the most money per theater to gain the #7 spot. Stomp the Yard kept its reign over the top spot at $13.3 million, with Night at the Museum close behind. Oh, and new release The Hitcher managed to make over $8 million for the #4 spot. The only other thing I wanted to share was a review of Grace is Gone from Sundance. I had heard about it before, and it sounded like a pretty good flick much like it does now.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Audition :: Actor

  2. Urgent :: Letter

  3. Lunch :: Date

  4. Adult :: Movies

  5. Mug :: Cup

  6. Awful :: Something

  7. Comics :: Books

  8. Damage :: Control

  9. Kicks :: Boxing

  10. Experience :: Recruiting

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Crossplayer Genre

Click to enlargeSo I was watching the 1up Show, something I haven't done in a good long while, and they were talking about this game called "The Crossing" from Arkane that's so interesting that it almost create its own genre. So I explored and found an interview that was just put up today and sure enough, it's a pretty sweet idea. The reason it's called crossplayer is that it brings together singe player and multi player. They call the people playing the single player story mode "Elites", and the people who are online playing multi player the "Skirmishers". Basically, if there are Elites playing with spots available, Skirmishers can join in and take over the bodies of the A.I. units and their mission becomes to stop the Elites from completing their mission. If there aren't any Elites around though, the Skirmishers will just play deathmatch amongst themselves, but when they play with the Elites though, the Skirmishers form a team. This makes the game much harder, I imagine, and should make the experience quite interesting. I think one of the complaints of video games since the consoles with 3-D graphics came out are that the A.I. is just too stupid (before then, the games were so ridiculously hard that everyone kept their mouth shut). A.I. can only advance so fast, and here's a company that solves the problem by bringing you in the game to see if you can do a better job. It sounds pretty cool to me, just thought I'd mention it because it sounds like something that will be accruing a lot of press very soon.

My beloved Gaim has come out with a new beta that claims to fix some more bugs, including issues with crashing (which I myself have had, as well). They claim that it'll be the last beta before final release of 2.0. If you do use Gaim, you may want to check out this plug-in that allows you to encrypt your messages. In today's age of threats to our privacy, I think it's awesome to be able to encrypt your online speech. More than that though, I'm just fascinated by computer security (especially how RSA works). Microsoft has decided to also sell Vista online for download, which is interesting but I don't know who's going to go for that. Why wouldn't you want a physical copy of something that costs so much money? What if your computer crashes? It's possible that they'll allow you to re-download it in that case, but with their recent stint of anti-piracy measures, I somehow doubt it. Lastly, it turns out that both iPhone models cost less than $300 to produce, according to iSuppli's estimates.. The estimates do look reasonable, but do not account for R&D costs. 30 months of development is a long time, and I'm sure requires paying the salary of many expensive employees. Apple is clearly going to want to recoup those losses before reducing the price a bit closer to what each unit costs them to manufacture.

I have a few movie items to share. The 300 video production diary has a new entry, and this one is for Xerxes, the megalomaniac Persian king. He sounds like a pretty cool character, and makes me want to see the movie, once again, even more. Pixar has decided that its next movie (after Ratatouille) is going to be called Wall-E about a young robot looking for love. Doesn't sound quite as promising as Ratatouille, but you never know. Since The Departed received so much praise and attention, there are now talks in motion for a sequel and pre-quel to be made, since the original was based off of one part of a Hong Kong trilogy. Nothing is official yet, but the actors sound interested if Scorcese came back for it. Salvador Dali is my favorite artist, and I think it's awesome that Al Pacino will be portraying him in a movie called Dali & I: The Surreal Story and has the team behind the much critically acclaimed Thank You For Smoking working on it. The director could be better, but I'm not going to let that dampen my hopes. The cast of the movie 21 is being built up quite nicely with Lawrence Fishburne now joining in as well to be the security chief trying to bust the group of MIT students counting cards in Vegas casinos. That's the third great actor to join this cast (after Kevin Spacey and Masi Oka), so I hope the movie turns out to be good. Lastly, if you want a good horror trailer, check out the one for Dead Silence. The restricted version, by the way, has very very little extra in it.

Now for Friday's Feast:

Which television shows do you just refuse to miss?

All the ones I watch since I don't watch them live because of my intense schedule and just download them.

Who did you last speak to on the telephone?

My friend Adam because I'm getting ready to go out tonight to party with him and some of our friends.

How many pillows do you keep on your bed?

Just my head pillow.

Main Course
Name one addition to your computer (software, hardware, etc.) that you'd love to have.

I don't really know that I need anything else for my computer at this point. I pretty much have everything I need, I'd just prefer a laptop for portability.

What is your favorite foreign food?

Probably Indian food. Within the realm of Indian food though, no idea. Maybe tandoori chicken?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Steve Ballmer's Chuckle

It's really weird to see people walking around with umbrellas when it's not raining. The trees all around Austin seemed to be causing rain as ice fell down on us as well as its liquid form. Made for a very interesting first day of class. I learned that my Business Foundations classes will be a breeze though. Anyway, on to more interesting things. So we all know that Steve Ballmer is a little nutty, right? Going along with that trend, when asked what he first thought of the iPhone he laughed in ridicule of the price, which I know is a lie because the price is the last thing Jobs mentioned in the keynote. In the whole video he totally played down the device without showing any respect at all for what it could be. I think that when one of your biggest competitors comes out with a product that competes with one of your products, you should examine all possibilities and figure out how to tackle it, not laugh at it. I'll admit, Jobs is unprofessional about Microsoft as well, but if he disregarded what they do then Apple wouldn't be where it is today. I hope that Ballmer's reaction isn't indicative of Microsoft as a whole, because whether or not it's going to be a huge success is immaterial: they need to be prepared for the worst here. If they aren't, then they're in deep, but I have a feeling that they are. It doesn't bode well for them that the Chicago Sun Times has had some time with it and is praising it as being just as easy to use as it looks and the keyboard as being easier to use than many critics presumed. There's no doubt that the price is rather high, but we'll see how high it really is by how many units they sell this June.

Click to enlargeWhile I'm on the topic of cell phones, it's worth noting that fresh rumors have emerged of the magical Googlephone that supposedly is also a touchscreen and integrates GPS so that Google Maps is more seamless than ever. It sounds all too fluffy to be real, in my opinion, and plus there are all those patents that Apple filed on their iPhone technology, but I guess you never know. As you may know, the Democrats in Congress have been pushing through some interesting stuff now that they're in power, and they've also re-ignited the fight for Net Neutrality, so there may be hope yet! What I didn't know is that part of the deal to buy BellSouth was that AT&T preserve Net Neutrality for two years, which sounds meager but I think it may mean more in principle than meets the eye. We'll see what comes of all this soon enough, I'm sure. Gizmodo got its hands on the new Netflix streaming service, and it sounds pretty neat and fair. We can only hope that the movie selection gets better and induces more optimism for digital distribution of movies. Lastly, if you like Sprint, you may change your mind after reading about how they refused to discontinue the service of a guy who died. Could they get any greedier?

There was honestly no good movie news worth talking about, so on to the 3x Thursday meme:

1. Favorite TV show?
In case you guys hadn't figured it out: 24. It's the most compelling show I've ever watched and I just love the production values. From the writing to the acting, it's just so well-executed. I haven't seen any show that's as consistently excellent. Some runner-ups: Seinfeld and Family Guy.

2. Seen any good movies lately? If so, what?
Pan's Labyrinth =) There have been very few good movies to see, but I do still need to see Children of Men.

3. Favorite album? What are you really in to right now?
That's way too hard because I have no idea what my favorite album is. If I had to take a shot in the dark though, I'd probably say Coldplay's X & Y. I find myself coming back to it time and time again and I really love listening to it at any time. I don't have to be in any kind of mood to enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ice Ice, Baby

There's really no topic today interesting enough to devote an entire paragraph to. So instead, I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite pictures that I took today from all the ice that has accumulated from our "winter storm." Fortunately, classes are back on tomorrow at 11AM and so our cabin fever can cease (plus I can finally get a decent workout in). Sadly, I don't think it'll be warm enough to go to Copa. Anyway, on to the pictures.

Frozen grass!

The trees got pretty cold, too

Look how thick the layer of ice was on our stairs!

I've probably mentioned this before, but just a reminder: it's always a good idea to try buying your books online before going to your college's official book store because they have rip-off prices. This article is just more along the lines of that with regard to a site called Chegg that provides a free online marketplace for students to buy/sell their textbooks. I'm curious as to how they manage to stay in business like this though. Remember how I reported that IE 7 reached 100 million downloads? It turns out that this didn't correspond to a jump in market share but rather virtually all the downloads were upgrades from IE 6. Guess they didn't really dent Firefox's share after all. Ouch. Apparently, there's a new application called Joost coming out using P2P technology to show you TV, though I'm not sure if it's real TV or just video podcasts (I have a feeling that it's a little of both). Anyway, I signed up for the beta and will give you guys the scoop if I get in. One of the largest search engines for torrents, isoHunt, has been shut down by its primary ISP. They promise to be back online tomorrow though, and are unabashed in their efforts to provide its aggregating services. That's the spirit! Don't let The Man get you down, isoHunt! I reported on Sunday that Cingular was becoming AT&T, though my explanation wasn't very extensive. If you didn't catch Monday's Colbert Report, then you'll want to see this for the full explanation of the name change. Lastly, if you're a web developer, then you'll foam at the mouth when you see this.

Let me start you out with some trailers here. The first is for a Korean monster movie called The Host, and word on the grapevine is that it's one of the best films of its genre. The trailer gets me interested in it because it seems like a slightly different kind of plot line and I genuinely am curious as to what happens in the end. The other trailer is for Sunshine, and it looks really intense, but I can't see myself really getting into it. It does have a semi-realistic premise though, and it is Danny Boyle (of 28 Days Later fame). There are rumors floating around that Robert Rodriguez is getting tired of waiting on Angelina Jolie for Sin City 2 and has decided to try to vie for Rachel Weisz (who I think would be a much hotter choice) instead. I wouldn't be surprised if he was looking for another actress, the question is who. Lastly, I found a pretty crazy spoiler for Spider-man 3, but I want to caution you that it's an extremely bad idea to read this as it pretty much reveals the end of the movie. I decided to read it to see if it would improve my opinion of the movie, and I think it has in a way. It provides an interesting enough ending to properly conclude a Raimi-directed trilogy of Spider-man movies, though I'm not sure how believable it would be.

Now for a scientific Wednesday Mind Hump (science has never been so humptastic):

1. Ben Franklin conducted many experiments with electricity. What is your favorite gadget or appliance that uses electricity?
Probably my computer =P Even though I've been iced in for two days it's still kept me plenty entertained.

2. Ben also invented Bifocals. They help your eyes see better as they age. What sense or part of your body do you wish could be improved?
My eyesight sucks, so probably that. Or maybe my hair. My hair grows too fast and I haven't found a better hairstyle than the one I currently maintain. I'm ready to go for a change in my hair, if it's possible.

3. Ben Franklin lived in Philadelphia. What comes to mind when you think of Philadelphia?
Other than cheese steaks? Um, well I think it was our nation's first capital? Or so Haley Joel Osment claims.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The True Meaning of DRM

Not to say that I'm particularly smart, but I feel pretty stupid right about now. After reading this article over at Ars Technica's Infinite Loop, I can't believe I never fully realized the point of Digital Rights Management (DRM). It was never about piracy; it was always about control. All those times I griped that it was stupid to try to combat piracy with DRM because it's so easy to circumvent I really had no idea what I was talking about. Of course it's useless, the point was always to minimize your right so they could find more ways to squeeze money out of their content. I should've known when one music label exec claimed that you can easily re-buy your precious CDs should they get stolen. I should've also known when movie studios claimed that distributing movies on iTunes to up to 5 iPods was 4 devices too many. What's disappointing is that they don't see that they could probably make more money if things weren't so complicated. Take Netflix, for example. They've recently been piloting a service to allow you to watch movies on your PC streaming for free with your current subscription (up to 18 hours, that is), and you don't have to worry about time limits for when you can view them or what codec you need to play it or any of that stuff. That kind of system brings more people more interested in movies and more likely to buy these movies than if they had never seen them because of the rip-off movie theater prices (and who's going to buy a DVD for a movie they have no clue about unless it's in the $5 bin?). Maybe I'm just too naive, but I always think there's a better way than trying to restrict technology.

Want me to keep bursting the gigantic iPhone bubble over everyone's head? Alright, here's more bad news: you can't use songs purchased on iTunes as ringtones. I think that means they want to sell ringtones on iTunes, but if it can't at least match the Razr's features then that's kind of lame. Oh, and OS X will be stored on that 4GB or 8GB of memory you purchased with that phone at under half a GB. Now some not-so-bad Apple news: a few new Get a Mac ads have popped up, and two of them are actually humorous. Click to enlargeI know it's a random thing to mention, but watching those ads is a guilty pleasure of mine. Speaking of those ads, John Hodgman was on the Daily Show a while back talking about net neutrality and you may want to check out that awesome clip over here. Not only is it a great (albeit, slightly biased) description of the issue, but it's quite entertaining. Rest assured though that the concepts he's citing are true. If you hear people raving about Photoshop but can't afford the ridiculous amount it costs, maybe you should look into GIMP. There's a pretty solid comparison of the two here, and I agree with him: it's just what you need for home use. Another great application is Paint .NET if you want a slightly cleaner interface and a few less features (meaning faster load times). Lastly, I love this list of things we've learned from 24 and a few other movies (but mostly, 24) about technology. As much as I love 24, I point out these foibles all the time, but have learned to deal with suspended disbelief.

Once again, not much movie news to report. I guess everyone is too busy with Sundance, since it is tomorrow. Anyway, you can see the 30 second version of Borat, as re-enacted by bunnies, over here. It's pretty clever, as are most of their re-enactments. The only other thing is that I just ran into the short films I saw on the plane ride from Seattle to Atlanta over here, and I'd recommend watching "High Maintenance" and "Still Life" if you're getting cabin fever from being iced in for two days straight. I thought the latter was the best of the five, by far. Oh, and the splash image at the top of the page is how our plane looked.

I'm gonna go for an optimistic Ten on Tuesday this week:

10 Things You Do Well
10. Dance
9. Write (essays, short stories, blog entries, what have you)
8. Play guitar
7. Shop (I learned the art of pinching pennies from my mother)
6. Exercise
5. Type
4. Play video games
3. Follow a schedule
2. Program
1. Eat

Snow Day

So it's pretty cold out here. I'll put up a real post later on, but you can see some more pictures here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Movies Slow to Join iTunes

I'm a little jaded about not having school tomorrow. I feel like it's a waste of a day since I can't go anywhere and we'll probably have to make up the slack with a dead day. I'll probably find things to do, but I can't go to the gym! What a rip! Anyway, on to some more interesting stuff. Business Week is reporting on an issue few people have brought to the forefront, besides Disney and Paramount, no one has jumped at the chance at selling their movies on iTunes. I think Apple will definitely have a harder time swaying these movie studios because they have so much to lose from this business model failing, though I think their concern for DRM is stupid. I don't think they realize that people will crack it pretty much no matter what they do. There are always smarter people and there are always loopholes; you don't need a B.S. in Comp Sci to know that. Why not focus on providing your content more conveniently so that people don't have to resort to piracy? In fact, very few people pirate movies compared to the issue with TV shows and music. There are plenty of pirates, don't get me wrong, but being on a college campus, I don't see it all that much. The people to worry about are crazy Korean and Indian guys, who are always an issue, and bored high school teens, who will eventually stop doing it (I know I did). Once college and jobs start, people don't care to go through the trouble to look for movies online, and would much prefer the convenience and high quality of a legal purchase. That's my point of view, feel free to dispute it. I have a feeling that Jobs will prevail, but I don't think that there's any guarantee of it. He just has to be smart about all this, and he's not bad at that.

I've got some more good news/bad news for our favorite Redmond-based company! They've reached 100 million downloads for IE 7 making it the second most-used web browser (behind IE 6), and it's likely to grow as people start adopting Vista. I haven't used it much at all myself so I can't comment on it, but its standards compliance still sounds disparaging (Firefox may not be 100%, but it's much closer than IE 7). Bad news though: no matter how hard they try, they're not managing to catch up with Google. I kind of feel bad for them, because they put together the right ingredients, and they're failing. Here's a free tip guys: try shooting ahead of the curve. If you just follow Google's coattails, you'll never get anywhere. Back to Apple real quick: the Apple TV only has a 1 Ghz Intel Pentium M chip under the hood (though it has a health 2 MB L2 cache, to its credit), which is probably enough power, but just strange for them to go with such an old chip and then underclock it to work with the bus. What's really disappointing is that it won't act as its own router. They could've done so much more with this product; it's a pity. Lastly, Tech Zone put up some pictures of babes from CES, and I just had to share this one because I don't know why they'd need a baby pool at an electronics expo:

Click to enlarge

Just two things in movie news. AICN has a cool teaser art for Mutant Chronicles, a really interesting sounding movie which I hope to learn more about and share here. A sci-fi war movie could have a lot of different sides to it. The other thing is the Golden Globes. I felt it was rather shocking for Babel to have one Best Drama given the mixed reviews it received, but I was more shocked that Dreamgirls beat Little Miss Sunshine for Best Comedy/Musical.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. I get about _______ telemarketer phone calls on a daily basis.
0 since I'm on a cell phone only (no land line) and that Do Not Call list.
2. I never call anyone after _______ at night.
10 PM. I do aim to not call after 9, but if it's really important then I'll stretch it.
3. I never call anyone before _______ in the morning.
10 AM, because I'd be pissed if someone called me any earlier unless they're calling me for an internship.
4. I (please choose one) DO or DON'T screen my phone calls via caller ID.
don't; I rarely ignore a call from the caller ID unless I'm in a meeting or class and just can't take the call.
5. I really should call _______ more often.
my cousins?

Apple the Bully

Thankfully, I made it back to Austin in one piece today (errr...yesterday, but this is still the Sunday post)! I think I was happier to come back than to leave Houston. As much as I enjoyed my trips and relaxing, I felt lazy and really need to get back in my groove, though I'm confident that plenty of good times will still follow. Anyway, I think I give Apple too much credit here and I want to balance it out with some of their problems: they like bullying their employees and fans. I know, the bigger problem is FairPlay (what an ironic name for it), but that's a topic for another day. Apple's employees are monitored fairly closely and even reprimanded for visiting sites divulging Apple rumors. Plus, they're sometimes fed false information so that leaks can be traced. Of course, this is their right. They can treat their employees however they like in the name of turning a profit and paying these employees' salaries. However, they've started a fresh campaign now against bloggers reporting on Windows Mobile phone skins that simulate the iPhone interface, and they have been known to get uppity about YouTube videos that don't even give away their precious secret. I think this is a pretty crazy tactic, and I'm glad that bloggers are taking a stand. Talking about someone violating a patent shouldn't make you a criminal. What are they really getting out of alienating their fans? They keep doing it, and it's really starting to piss people off. How far should they really go to scare people from starting rumors?

Many many miles from Macworld, CES was going on where Bill Gates was doing the keynote. What's interesting is what a stark contrast his speech was from the one Jobs gave. In a word, it's boring. I think Gates just isn't the song-and-dance type of guy, he'd rather his products speak for themselves, and he's lost the zest that Jobs has for being so involved with his products. Still, I hope that the Microsoft-haters haven't lost sight of how important Gates was to personal computing as we know it today; he's just kind of old now (it happens). This is interesting: Napster bought AOL Music. Did that make anyone else do a double-read? Because it caught me off guard. Not only is Napster struggling, but it's considerably smaller than AOL. I guess they figure that they're not going down without a fight, which I guess is noble in theory; I just don't like the idea of borrowing music, I'd rather just buy the CD and be done with it. Lastly, Cingular is no longer "Cingular". It will now be AT&T. Why? Because AT&T successfully bought BellSouth, which frankly makes Cingular their bitch and no one else's. I guess we can say good-bye to those commercials with the orange man?

I'm pretty baffled by the box office this weekend: Stomp the Yard took the lead with over $22 million. It got pretty horrible reviews, but so did the other new releases this weekend. I recommend everyone just find a theater near them that's showing Pan's Labyrinth, because I'm pretty sure it's better than the top 10 movies in the box office right now. The only other thing to talk about is that Latino Review put up their script review of Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez's part of Grind House, and I was surprised to find that they loved it. I figured it'd be hollow and just meant to poke fun at campy zombie flicks, especially since Rodriguez has always had issues with solid dialog, but I guess Tarantino gave him some tips?

If found a PostSecret postcard very appropriate to my post from before I left for Seattle, so I felt that I should share:

Click to enlarge

Now, for the first time in a good while, some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Episode :: One

  2. Source :: Presents

  3. Jerk :: Face

  4. Introduce :: You

  5. Ralph :: Wiggum

  6. Stare :: Contest

  7. Cast :: Crew

  8. Scenario :: Campaign

  9. Flu :: Cold

  10. Mad :: TV