Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Point of Higher Education

Sorry about not posting last night, but it was a rough day and ended up preferring to hit the sack. Not much news yesterday anyway other than the iPhone release, so I figured that it could wait a day. Then today, Internet was out so it's fortunate that I even managed to get thru this post. Anyway, Jeff Atwood make a great point, as always, about the point of college. The stuff you learn in college often isn't directly applicable to your career. Isn't that screwed up? This does not apply to all majors, but quite a few of them, nonetheless. I started to suspect this when I discovered how much more employers value experience over academics. Basically, you're in school to learn how to learn. Often, you discover that you don't need a teacher to learn the material and start skipping said class, and that's a sign that you've gotten pretty good at learning on your own (assuming you do well on the tests, that is). In CS, I cannot emphasize enough how important that skill is. A zeal for learning is required. I meet guys at Amazon in their early 40s who started out in Ada and now they're working in Java, two completely different languages with vastly different concepts backing them. I think a CS degree still gives you a lot of valuable knowledge, but you don't remember all of it. The fact that you learned it means that you can learn it again at another time if you need it, and that you have a vague idea of it, and that's what's really important. Plus, some of this material is still evolving. Anyway, I just think this is valid in many majors, so I thought I'd steal Jeff's idea and talk about it a bit.

The iPhone came out yesterday, and the bigger cities had the more hardcore campers. If you want coverage of that, it's everywhere. I don't feel like propagating it. Instead, I'd rather plug Gizmodo's video of their first attempt at sending a text. It looks tricky, but not as bad as some people seem to think. My brother got one, and says it's cool, but it only seems to ring once and doesn't keep an alert about missed calls.

Sorry, but that's not all the iPhone news. LifeHacker has the top iPhone 3rd party web applications. I must say, I'm impressed what people have done without even an SDK.

There are also rumors that Apple will announce a 3G iPhone in Europe to work with Vodafone and T-Mobile. I can see them working with other carriers, but I cannot see them making it 3G there and not here. It would definitely cause a massive uproar and backlash stateside, and they seem to always favor Americans with their technology than foreigners, so I don't see how the iPhone would be different. Obviously, Jobs denies this rumor in an interview with USA Today, but instead hints that they are working on getting the iPhone compatible with corporate e-mail systems. That is quite important (Amazon isn't letting us use it with our e-mail; not secure enough), and I can't imagine many big companies being compatible with it, so that'll cost them a lot of users since these are the high-end customers to target.

One-liner: ever wonder where else the famed Contra code works? 1UP did a great round-up of their discoveries. Definitely worth a read in case you have any of those games.

Christian Bale tells us that, for The Dark Knight, they're definitely trying to ground their depiction of the Joker in reality while recognizing that he is a cartoon character. I think the Joker is more complex than he gets credit for, so I look forward to Heath Ledger proving himself here.

We have our first father/son shot from Indiana Jones 4, but you can't see a whole lot in it. So instead, I opted to show you guys the poster from Rush Hour 3, which is very reminiscent of the second installment's poster. Oh well, it's Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan back together again, so it had better be fun. I don't care if it's far-fetched, it just better be entertaining.

My Internet is dying, so no meme tonight. I should be back tomorrow night though if I don't get too tied up at my cousin's place. Let's hope that my Internet is back in full force as well!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Interview with a Googler

Have any of my Seattle readers noticed this near Pike's Place Market?

I saw it on my way to work on Monday and have been wondering ever since where it came from. That little triangle has been empty since I got here, and seemingly overnight that sculpture appeared. I'm guessing that they want to plant a little garden there also because the dirt around it is really manure.

Google is like the wizard of Oz: every pretends to know how they operate but no one really knows because no one sees the wizard. However, a Microsoft employee got us as close as most of us are going to get: he interviewed a Microsoft employee who was a recent re-hire from Google. While things definitely sound nice there, he definitely acknowledged that it wasn't an ideal environment. Google kind of radically does away with private offices which follows the philosophy of openness and encouraged teamwork, but I definitely think there are certain people who need private offices and then there are also people who just work better with their own office. While I don't think a cube farm, I think that when you do have to do it you should do it like they do at Amazon: low walls, open spaces (not little faux-doorways). At a certain point though, you need higher walls and you need offices though to be more productive. The worst thing is that they do virtually no career planning. Wow. So you may just get a little more money, but never really a chance for managerial positions. Oh, and their managers seem to manage swarms of employees. That's stupid. I'm sorry, but that makes no sense. Again, I like Amazon's structure: 1PT or 2PT teams with managers and TPPMs, and this works really well. I feel well-supported, my manager is always involved with what we do through daily Scrum meetings, and since our team does sprints our projects are broken up into manageable pieces the end up getting planned out by month and divvied up quite well.

Ok, so I've turned this into a discussion about Amazon, but I just kind of wanted to compare what people perceive as a great place to work as opposed to a lower key workplace like Amazon that has some pretty interest techniques under the hood. It's just a perfect mixture of leaving you to do what you need to do to get your work done (including the ability to come in as late as 10AM) as well as guidance to stay on track and meet your requirements. I just love it. This interview makes it sound like Google has the relaxed atmosphere down, but not the focus, which would explain their plethora of products. Diversity is nice, but many of these products would benefit from better management of what customers would benefit from more and such. While this article is targeted at making Microsoft look better, I don't like the management structure of Microsoft. Too much middle-management. I only have three degrees of separation from SVP of E-Commerce Brian Valentine, who reports to Jeff B, which feels nice. It's comfortable but tight. Google isn't all bad though: free food, free snacks, health care on site, gym on site, barber on site, massages on site, free shirts, 20% projects (which you're fully responsible for, you don't get it if you don't use it), "Tech Spots" to service your hardware, laundry service, etc. Plus, you work with a lot of smart people and get a lot of freedom. Still, it sounds too much like a playground. I have fun at work without all those perks, and that's what I've come to realize is really important. Except for free food, those things really aren't a big deal as long as you love what you do, and I'm loving what I'm doing at Amazon and how I'm being led to do it.

On the bright side, Google Maps has unveiled a feature I've been clamoring for (unofficially) for a very long time: you can modify the routes it gives you. Your screen may glow when you use it for the same time by how awesome it is. I often wish I could modify just a couple of steps in my Google Map directions to see if it'll be shorter or faster, or when I give directions to people with Google Maps I'd like for them to take a shortcut or something but I couldn't until now. Kudos to you, Google!

The big boys of BitTorrent are encouraging supporters to start their own small sites so that it's harder for the MPAA and such to target torrents. The more decentralized it is, the worse their odds are, and the less successful they'll be. Unfortunately, I don't think people readily flock to do something like this, but I personally wish people would also. Not only for illegal content, but also for legal stuff. Why not a torrent site for stuff like video podcasts?

Supposedly, Steve Jobs is giving all his 17,000+ employees brand new iPhones. I know it sounds ludicrous, but he had a closed-doors event for employees only, which was leaked yesterday, and now this comes through as being the big news from the event. Jobs rarely holds such events, so it wouldn't be quite as crazy as it sounds, and he could afford to buy that many iPhones himself and still have a ridiculous amount of money. It would be a good reward for getting the iPhone out so fast and with minimal leakage, but it is unprecedented. I guess we'll know soon enough, he claimed they'll be given out at the end of July when public demand has been met a little. I have a feeling that'll get pushed back if this rumor is true.

The MPAA has come after Peekvid and YouTVPC which legitimize serving up television and other copyrighted video content by pointing to sites in other countries that host the media. The only reason the MPAA has some credence here is that these sites are running ads, which is a bad way to keep a site running in the grey area running. They should've just relied on donations. Now the MPAA may actually have a case, especially since they're actually profiting from copyrighted materials.

My Internet has decided to commit Seppuku, so I'm going to keep my movie news short. Yahoo has the trailer for The Hunting Party. Other than it having Richard Gere and Terrence Howard, I don't know anything about it.

I do know something about Knocked Up though, and Funny or Die has a deleted scene
from it that I wish I could see because that movie was awesome. I also can't see the Magnorium trailer, but it features Natalie Portman so I'm sure my male readership will appreciate it.

The Dark Knight has added to its roster a couple of new cast members for Lieutenant Gordon's family: his wife and son. I guess this is coming from Frank Miller's Year One, but it's been a really long time since I read that so I can't be sure.

And now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. Are you one of those people who is constantly busy with projects, social outings, etc or do you just like to lay low and stay home? Why/why not?
I am, but that's why I do like to lay low on many weekend evenings. I spend so much of my week busy that I like to relax on a Friday night with my girl and/or with a few close friends.

2. Weather you're busy all the time or like to just chill, have you always been that way? How so/how not?
I definitely used to seek out adventure more in the form of frat parties and other assorted seedy college entertainment, but after a couple of years of that you get tired of it and prefer the company of those closest to you instead.

3. Is there something you'd like to change about how you spend your time? If so, what is it? If not, why not? How are things manageable for you?
I'd like to spend more time playing guitar, but I blog too damn much =P

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The FTC is Lame

I think that today was like my fastest day of work. It really flew by, and I ended up staying until 6PM without getting the feeling that I was working late. I needed a power nap around 4:30, but that was about it. I have a design review meeting tomorrow and need to get some more work done tonight for it so I'm wanting to blaze through this post. I know that the title is a little childish, but I just couldn't come up with anything better. The Federal Trade Commission is saying that this whole net neutrality thing is exaggerated and legislation isn't really necessary to preserve it. This is just a report, so it has no legal binding to it, but I'm sure Congress will put a lot of stock into it since they are the freaking FTC, after all. I don't know if they've been bribed or anything by the telcos, I think that they probably see it as a far-fetched threat rather than the pressing issue that most geeks see it as. Personally, I think that the Internet does need serious protection from the government, even though I'm usually not big on government intervention, because it's a freedom that we're trying to protect; the freedom to view the Internet without censorship or discrimination of content providers. The FTC didn't totally roll over though, they do state provisions to revise this report should the situation become more dire, but by then I fear it may be too late.

Apple put up another great iPhone video, and this one outlines the usability of the on-screen keyboard. The word completion is nice, but what's much nicer is the correction of mistypings on-the-fly and more likely letters becoming larger on the keyboard dynamically. Once again, very cool stuff from this device, but let's not forget its downfalls. Consider those before you stand in line on Friday at an official AT&T retailer.

Supposedly, iTunes 7.3, the version required by the iPhone but not out yet, will allow you to create ringtones from your iTunes purchases. The price of this conversion will be $1 apiece, but no word on whether your ripped songs will be compatible with this service or not (I doubt it).

Kevin Rose has been working on another web 2.0 startup called Pownce, and it's just kind of a sharing network. I requested to be in the beta, but it really doesn't look all that exciting. It almost looks like it wants to be a more elegant, better-backed Facebook. We'll see what comes of it; it was just a pet project, after all.

I just installed this Firefox extension called PicLens that displays the pictures on sites like Flickr and Google Images and such in a slideshow-like fullscreen format for easy viewing and navigation. I highly recommend it because it's one of the most visually appealing and usable Firefox extensions I've ever used.

Now for a couple of one-liners. If you're a cheap bastard like me and shop online for your travel needs then check out this short article pointing out the best steps to take to find cheap flights. The other thing is Time's list of 25 sites we can't live without, and my bread and butter, Amazon, tops the list. Just had to plug that.

We have a trailer for David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, and I like it, but it seems a little dry. I'm a sucker for mob movies, but I don't know how compelling the plot will end up being.

AICN has plot details from the Harold and Kumar sequel, and they're spoilerific and still not funny. I'm sure it'll look better than it sounds though, so I'll hold off on passing judgement for now.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Crazy Weekend in Vancouver

Definitely feeling a lot better now than yesterday. I think I'm ready for things to start going my way again. And now, without further ado, a quick recap of my trip to Vancouver.

We didn't get in until like 11ish on Friday night, so we headed straight for the nightlife. We got to The Buffalo Club around 12:30, and cover was $9 CND! Oh well, it was cool to be carded and actually let in (drinking age is 19 over there). I was DD though, because I knew my girlfriend would prefer that, and I didn't feel like getting wasted anyway (plus, drinks weren't cheap).

We got some pizza afterwards since everyone but me and the other DD was at least buzzed, and the only girl Nirav successfully talked to was engaged and drunk. Cool shirt there though.

There's some of the change I got back from the club: a loonie and two quarters.

A shot from inside the hostel. Yep, that's where we slept! It was not very exciting, but it was cheap and did the job.

I had breakfast at the hostel, and got a 5 dollar bill back in change. Why are they playing hockey on their money though?!

We went to Sophie's for lunch, and I just loved that they had a fully stocked bar behind the counter. Oh, and the food there was spectacular!

We went to Granville Island after lunch, and walked around there. Check out the view of the bay.

We also saw some big geese and ducks at a pond there. Got a close-up of the goose.

We went to Stanley Park afterwards, and that's what you see when you look up.

The trees were so tall!

Beaver Lake was where we turned around in our little trek, and it was quite a sight. There were even heron there! I didn't have enough battery life at the time to snag a good picture of one though.

Look at the baby squirrel! =)

This is the first beer I bought legally! It's a Sleeman's Honey Brown, and it was delicious. Our dinner was at Indian Bistro. The special was awesome: butter chicken, salad, basmati rice, naan, and a glass of beer for $12.

Here's the view all around us on the way back home on Sunday. Isn't it awesome? All in all, it was a fun trip, though it sucked not being able to call my girl.

Wall Street Journal's own Walt Mossberg has infamously had the iPhone for a while but hasn't really spoken about it. Well, he finally broke the silence and really seems to like it. He's fairy well-resptected, so this is probably not a bad review to read. It may be a little sugar coated, but he doesn't shy away from pointing out its weak points. Sounds like it's still a great phone, even though it's far from perfect.

Before you run out and buy your iPhone though, you should probably check out the ridiculous contract pricing. I suppose it isn't too extreme, but it's still not the best deal for the consumer.

IsoHunt and TorrentSpy, in order to stay open to US visitors, have to use a filter called FileRights that automatically filters out trackers for copyrighted material due to their legal tiff with the MPAA. I'm sure there's a way to spoof your location to avoid this stupid tracker, but there's other ways to get torrents that the MPAA won't catch, so I don't even know why they bother trying; it's just going to get bigger and bigger the more they try to squash it.

Lastly, Google is acquiring a really cool site called GrandCentral that's still in beta but purports to be one centralized phone number for all your phones and adds functionality to what you can do with a cell phone currently. Not sure exactly how it works, but I'll probably try using it after Google refines it a bit because it sounds a little buggy as is.

There's only one movie item that I want to cover: the likelihood of Kill Bill volumes 3 and 4. I really don't think it's going to happen, but it's nice to dream.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Why Plaxo is Still in Beta

I'm going to put my pictures up in a post after this one, so I'll try to keep this post short to compensate. What is Plaxo? It's really cool, actually. I think it handles one of the biggest problems facing average people in technology today: integrating all your contact information and addresses and calendars together. There's a Yahoo Calendar, an Outlook calendar, a Google Calendar, etc, but you want them all to show the same stuff! Well, Plaxo will do just that for you. It cleverly will synch together all these things, plus AIM, Microsoft Live, your Mac, your phone, and more. Even better: if you manage to get all your friends on this, you'll never have outdated information for them and they'll never have outdated information for you because Plaxo will always show them your most up to date stuff and even notify them. Plus, it'll keep track of birthdays, tasks you have to do, and tell friends about changes to your Flickr account and blog. Unlike Facebook, it doesn't tell people about what you do automatically, you have to share it and you choose who it shares with. Pretty neat, huh? However, it's not without several drawbacks. It's still in beta though, mind you. None of my Google contacts were imported, and the Outlook plug-in doesn't seem to be working for me. It could just be because this is a work computer where I'm not admin, but isn't that going to be a common issue for this service since most people aren't admin on their work computer? It's a nice UI, but not everything is immediately clear. I didn't realize when setting up some synchs that creating a folder for it meant that it wouldn't synch with stuff from other services, which is not what I wanted and now it's not clear at all how to change that. Then there's the occasional graphical bug. Still, this is a great service on the right track that's only bound by the fact that you have to get everyone you know on it for it to be really helpful. Oh, and why doesn't it synch with Facebook? Doesn't that seem like a glaring deficiency? I love the idea, it just needs some refinement.

So we have our first iPhone nut jobs: they camped out this morning. That's right, a 100 hour camp out. I don't care what the device is, if you're waiting outside a store for 100 hours straight then you are a total moron. The rest of you may be interested to know how the iPhone upped its battery life numbers. I won't read the article to you, but it's a good read if you were curious like I was. Even a year of computer architecture didn't explain that kind of stuff.

Speaking of Apple, here's a cool photographic timeline of the company's history. It's just fun to flip through, to be honest.

Ever wanted to be invisible? Well, check this out:

The development of a web application is often long and sordid, and Vitamin has a cool feature about one site with an interesting lifecycle. A rather common story in this field, but still fun to look at.

Lastly, ever wanted to see a jpeg as a webpage? Yeah, I haven't either, but this is still a damn cool utility that will do that for you. Quite clever, though it seems useless.

I just wanted to bring up one piece of movie news: the trailer for Hitman. Why did they play Ave Maria in the background? I get that they wanted some kind of peaceful song, but you're talking about a holy figure while killing people in the foreground. I'm usually not one of those Christians, but this is one of my favorite hymns and they're blaspheming a classic.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

iPhone PR Machine at Work

The trip to Vancouver was fun, but it sucked not being able to talk to my girlfriend the whole time at exactly the wrong time! Oh well, I'll put up pictures tomorrow, but I should probably get to some news today. Unfortunately, almost all of it is Apple news. I'll start with the iPhone, since Apple is hard at work at hyping it up. They put up a 20 minute video tour of the iPhone, and that was definitely a great idea. If you don't have 20 minutes to spare, then you can get a recap of some of the cooler stuff over here including being able to view excel documents, the interaction with stock quotes, and some of the more prominent settings (like the variety of ringtones). It's funny how I listen to pundits trash the iPhone every day, but I still actually want this thing. Apple is freaking brilliant. They know just how to make you want this thing: simplicity. They cut out a glitzy image or celebrities and show you exactly what it is. Recognize the dude in that tour video? No? Exactly! The focus is all on the iPhone, and they show you exactly how much its features make sense. The most impressive stuff I saw that I didn't really see before was visual voicemail, handling images, and navigating Google Maps. People can say all they want about how it's lacking this or that and it's overpriced, but you can't say that it's not a pretty, intuitive-looking device. The biggest question is how good the multi-touch feels. If that feels right, then Apple is golden, and any naysayers aren't naysaying because they're inherently biased. It's not a matter of whether it's overpriced or whether you personally would get one, but rather a question of how good a piece of technology is it? It's obviously far from perfect, but you have to compare it to the cell phone market and realize how shitty most phones are already, and take it from there. No matter what the pundits say, Apple PR is still hard at work, and doing quite well.

Another reason why I don't think it'll be the failure that the experts want it to be is because it has been beta tested for a while now. Not to say that beta testing is perfect (it never is), or that the iPhone won't still have many issues, but at least they're not likely to be glaring bugs. It may be their first entry in the cell phone market, but they're trying to play it smart. Remember, everyone thought the iPod was going to be a huge flop when it came out (search newspaper and website archives in 2001 for this). Oh, and it will be sold online also, so people won't even have to wait in lines outside. I'm sure the site will collapse in on itself on June 29, but it can be purchased online, at least.

Bad news for my bread and butter: Amazon was overtaken in music retail by iTunes, which is now #3 in the world while Amazon is #4. It seems like at each freaking special event Steve Jobs announces leapfrogging another competitor on this chart, so I guess it was bound to happen. I wonder if Amazon's selling digital music downloads will help it get its place back?

Slate has a great opinion piece about how Facebook could surpass the other social networking sites by simpling incorporating features that everyone wants rather than the bloat of Facebook applications. An IM client and an RSS reader and e-mail checking all these things would help keep people on the site and probably attract more people than their platform thing. Not that it was a bad idea, just bad timing, in my opinion.

Since I blogged an article last week about why starting a start-up sucks. I thought I'd follow it up with how to do it right. There's definitely some sound advice there. It's not as easy as it sounds, but those are some of the basic principles I've heard from entrepreneurs over and over again.

Evan Almighty topped the box office with little over $30 million, and Rise of the Silver Surfer saw a steep, 65% drop to #3. Quite impressively though, Knocked Up has surpassed $100 million, which more than triples their production costs. That's what happens when you try to make a truly enjoyable film.

That is one of several new pictures that IGN snagged from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I like the blue hue it has to it and just that it almost looks like it could exist as a poster.

Speaking of posters, we have the final one sheet for Transformers, but I don't think I like it as much as some of the other posters that came out for it.

It looks like a Shrek spinoff movie is in the works revolving around Puss in Boots starting from his childhood as a kitten and how he group it. Supposedly, it's intended to be a good mix between emotion and humor that people are likely to enjoy. I'm skeptical until I see at least a trailer though.

Lastly, Yahoo Movies has the trailer for The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, and it looks like an alright kiddie movie. It's about the lochness monster, but it doesn't seem to appeal to a very wide audience.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Compulsion :: Obsessive

  2. Spiritual :: Church

  3. Spray :: Bug

  4. Compatibility :: Test

  5. Pursuit :: "Happyness"

  6. Fake :: People

  7. Mobile :: Phone

  8. Ceremony :: Graduation

  9. Ribbons :: Bow

  10. Mozart :: Music

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Of YouTube and Cell Phones

Sorry about yesterday guys. I'm feeling much better today though, and I even decided to start taking a boxing class at the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting next week, so that should be fun. Anyhow, anyone get the lame reference to the John Steinbeck classic? No? Yeah, I know I'm sad; deal with it. The first thing I wanted to discuss was this business with Helio and charging $6 a month to go to YouTube. There are two ways I see this. On one hand, they're providing the Internet service and can show you or not show you whatever they want, per their user agreement. On the other hand, it's outrageous, and the fact that they promise unfettered web access in their advertising leaves them vulnerable to a class action lawsuit. Hear that Helio users? It's not legal if they promised that to you! Under standard contract law, they'd have to let you back out of your contract should you choose to. The bigger issue is the moral issue of charging for a free service that is free on any other mobile phone or web browser. In fact, it's even free on the bloody iPhone! They have ads out for it and everything, and it looks better on the iPhone since it fits it to the screen. Of course, the lack of Flash support is disappointing on the iPhone, but that's aside from the point. YouTube on cell phones is about the cheapest way to get some form of television on your mobile phone, an idea that I think is kind of a big step in digital media, and they're trying to stifle it, the very thing that's meant to help them already! The very idea is baffling to me. Just wanted to rant a bit about it.

Back to YouTube real quick: the five Apple TV owners out there will be able to watch YouTube videos on their set top box via a free update that plays videos re-encoded to H.264. This is what the iPhone is doing as well. Why? The iPhone has hardware dedicated to displaying H.264 content, whereas Flash would take valuable CPU clock cycles, hence, hurting battery life on the iPhone. That's a really stupid reason to tell users they can't see Flash content on their iPhone, why not just warn them about that? There had better be a better reason for them not including it at launch than that. Oh, by the way, YouTube will get the beloved 12th spot. Isn't that a bit much for one website?

As most of you should already know, Dell has begun selling computers loaded with Linux rather than Windows at a reduced price. However, they're refusing to sell these machines to business customers. Why? I don't really know. I have a suspicion that it involves some deal they've made with Microsoft though since I can't imagine them making much more money off of Wintel boxes, but it's more likely a liability issue with support and such.

This is really interesting: Google filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft regarding the desktop searching in Windows Vista, and Microsoft budged. The complaint isn't being disclosed, but it's most likely the difficulty of changing the default desktop search application in Vista and, apparently, using another vendor's program was actually slower (presumably, from how it sounds, artificially so). No details as to what changes are being made, but whatever they are, they've kept Google quiet, who's still facing an FTC investigation regarding their planned purchase of DoubleClick.

Speaking of Google, did you know you could Google search terms from Docs and Spreadsheets from within the document? I also didn't know how many regressive copies of your documents they keep. It's slightly creepy, but more impressive than anything else (like most of what Google does).

Being a college student, I couldn't help but plug these cool bottle openers. I personally like the ring one best (my stupid keychain ones broke off).

Ok, so this news is huge! I've literally been waiting over two years for this. My bread and butter, Amazon, has listed Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair for a November 7 release date. It's a 4-disc set putting together both volumes in a nice, NC-17 package. Rest assured, I will be pre-ordering this as soon as humanly possibly; my first DVD pre-order ever.

There you have it folks! Our first look at Harrison Ford back in his fedora for Indiana Jones 4. It's nothing special, but still may send chills up the spines of true action junkies to see this classic character again.

Despite previous reports, it turns out that Cillian Murphy will actually be reprising his role for The Dark Knight according to tipsters who saw him on set filming a scene involving some sort of gang fight. Not sure why they'd want to keep this a secret, because they really have bigger secrets to keep for this one.

We've got a couple of new trailers today. One is for The Simpsons Movie, and it's better than what we last saw, but that's not saying much. I really hope that this movie is funnier than the show has been these last few seasons. The other is for Into the Wild, which I only bring up because I haven't seen Emilie Hirsch much in a while and he's a pretty decent actor. Plus, it has Jena Malone. Anyway, sounds interesting, though I just feel like it'll end up being boring.

This actually leaked a couple of days ago, but I didn't see it before it got taken down, and now it's on Yahoo Movies: the first 8 minutes of Live Free or Die Hard. To be honest, it looks pretty neat. Then again, it is dense in action, so they're catering it to look cool.

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Who?
My beautiful girlfriend
2. What?
She's freaking amazing
3. Where?
In Austin, far far away =(
4. Song
"Hey there, Delilah" - The White T's
5. Food
6. Animal
Tiger =)

I'm going to Vancouver tomorrow for the weekend, so I don't imagine that I'll be able to post for a couple of days. Have a good weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Case Against a Startup

Today was a very full news day, and so I actually had my pick of what to start out with here. I decided to go with this provocative blog post from Pmarca, a well-respected tech blogger, about why to not start your own startup. I wanted to talk about it because the startup route is one that I've considered for a while, and I only thought about a subset of the disadvantages he brings up. This is probably one of the best breakdowns of the situation that you'll find out there. The pros are what have always stood out to me: the chance to directly make a difference, not having to take nonsensical orders, being your own boss, the shot at a lot of fun, and an overall fulfilling career, on top of the power rush. I always knew there was great risk and lots of work, but I didn't think about the massive rejection you face (something I'm personally tired of), the difficulty of getting enough good talent, or the extent of the emotional rollercoaster, or the amount of time it'd take away from being with family. Still, I think I'd someday be interested in joining a well-calculated startup. If the people running the thing did their research, had their stuff together, had done enough research to know that it'll be profit, and all that jazz, I feel like I'd definitely be willing to take that sort of a jump. Of course, this is no indication of what I'll do after I graduate, because even I don't know quite yet. At least now I know I don't want to start a startup! I just don't think I'm built to be that kind of a leader, though I do want to rise to leadership positions in my career.

AMD is an underdog who I've been rooting for since I took Computer Architecture and learned the ills of the Intel-created x85 design. Unfortunately, they're in deep financial trouble and are looking at the very real possibility of contracting out most, if not all, of their chip fabrication and just focusing on chip design. That really complicates the decisions they have to make, and it's quite risky. I wish them 'good luck', because they're going to need it.

Remember how Blockbuster decided to only rent out Blu-ray in the vast majority of their stores? Well, an anonymous worker at a large retailer claims that many people have been canceling their HD-DVD player orders based solely off of this. That must be pretty scary for the folks at Toshiba who had already been seeing slow sales of HD-DVD players. Well, at least someone is on the verge of finally losing this insipid format war (where the consumers are the real losers).

Also, remember YouTube's little video editor? I had no idea that there are already several web applications out there that will do even more with your videos for free. Check them out here. I know I'm tagging it for future usage. Personally, I think that eyespot looks the cleanest.

Speaking of video online, it turns out that Google Video is no longer a repository for videos and is now just a search engine for videos on the Internet as a whole. Well, actually, you can right now, but supposedly that will be changing very very soon, and the searching itself has already been ugpraded. This definitely makes sense given that they already have YouTube, I just wonder how they'll handle the content that they've already accumulated. By the way, Google Blogscoped has a full report of their press day if you're interested, but it doesn't sound like anything useful was revealed.

Microsoft is rebranding their IPTV platform as Microsoft Mediroom and including richer PC-to-TV capabilities. If it's anything like Windows Media Center, then I hope that we start to see a lot more of it.

A new web 2.0 application based out of Austin (*sniff* home) called Thoof aims to bring forth yet another nonsensical name but incorporate fancy algorithms to provide users with personalized news content as determined by the community at large. It's going to face the infamous bias that Digg has though, in my opinion, in that it'll get overrun by young geeks (high schoolers to guys in their early 20s) and not provide the intelligent news that they intend on. More power to them if it does work, because it sounds cool, but I just think they're being a bit too idealistic.

Lastly, Yahoo CEO and co-fouder Terry Semel has stepped down as CEO and given full control to Jeffrey Yang, which has to make you wonder what exactly is going on at Yahoo that he feels he can no longer effectively lead it. Their stock only took a slight tumble today though, we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Massawyrm over at AICN has seen Evan Almighty and, true to his style, totally ripped it a new one. It killed a lot of my interest, but if you still want to see it then Yahoo has the 8 minutes of it for your viewing displeasure.

We actually have a couple of better shots of the Batpod now, but since I already showed you guys a picture of it yesterday (and a video), I thought I'd put up a new picture of the Mach 5 instead. I like it! It's very true to the series.

I didn't report on this because I didn't think that it was important at the time, but the controversial Michael Moore film Sicko (this time controversial for illegal footage shot in Cuba), was leaked to online movie pirates, and so Lionsgate and Weinstein Co. have decided to move up the movie's release in Manhattan one week to this weekend. A mildly smart and risky move since a flood of bad reviews could mean disaster, but I guess they figure that's better than people getting it online? People are going to get it online anyway though, so I really wonder how much this will help them.

The director of Bond 22 (only a codename, don't worry) has been decided: it's Marc Forster of Monster's Ball and Stranger Than Fiction fame. He's definitely a diverse director, so I look forward to seeing what he does with 007.

Indiana Jones 4 has begun shooting! Nothing else to say, it's just very exciting.

Legendary Pictures has picked up the rights to make a movie out of famed Blizzard third-person action franchise Diablo. I used to play the game so I know that it's not exactly heavy on plot, which makes me wonder what the Hell (no pun intended) they're going to do with this one. It's a battle between Heaven and Hell with nondescript characters. Then again, they were behind 300.

FilmForce has some great brand new clips (new as far as I know) from Transformers over here. I personally like the "Ladies Man" clip. Optimus is so cool! IGN also has a 3-D view of a set from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix if anyone is interested.

Lastly, I have a couple of trailers. One is for Michael Clayton, but I don't understand what's going on in the trailer at all. It's definitely a drama, and it involves lawyers, but that's about it. The other trailer is more my style and is for The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. It's a documentary about a guy who always loses but is trying to beat the reigning champion of the original Donkey Kong. It may sound stupid, but I've heard good things from SXSW.

I'm going for the TMI Tuesday this week since it's less racy than usual:

1. If you were to face the Wizard of Oz, would you want more courage, more brains, or more heart?
Definitely courage. I'm not concerned with the other two, but I do wish I was braver.
2. Have you ever gone to court for anything? What for?
3. What was the last thing you did that you previously told yourself you wouldn't do?
Have extended fantasies about my girlfriend while at work.
4. Did you ever have a summer fling while on vacation?
5. Have you ever done anything sexual with someone who's name you never knew?
Ummm, ew. No.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Google Gears in Motion

I wonder if there's a reason why news has been so slow. Meanwhile, work for me has been getting pretty involved, and a little more fun, too. Still, I miss Austin and my friends there, and a big part of why I miss home is my girlfriend, who I really miss dearly. No good geek is complete without his girl, and yet the show must go on here! Apparently, Google pushed out a service called Google Gears that allows you to run web applications offline by storing data locally on your hard drive and then synching with the web application whenever you return online. Google Reader works with it, and so does Remember the Milk, among others, but it works because these services don't really require downloading a whole lot of data to your computer. If they did, then they'd probably be wasteful and piss off the users. It's a cool idea, and it will work in a subset of the web applications out there (including Google Docs, I'd imagine), but it's not enough quite yet to make an web-based operating system a reality. They're still not going to be able to give Microsoft a run for their money, but they are making the online experience a whole lot richer. I think that one facet of the online experience that pundits who scoff at these being threats to Microsoft are missing is that it eliminates the process of having to ship a product since you can immediately put updates out there without any cost to the user, and easily pull them back if they don't work out. In fact, Amazon tests their UI changes on a subset of their actual traffic to see how they affect shopping trends before implementing them, so that's just one small sample of the power of the web. So don't underestimate it, just don't be overzealous about it either.

We have a couple of updated details on the iPhone. Apparently, it's talk time is 8 hours, its idle lifetime is 250 hours, it can handle 24 hours of music, and it can handle 7 hours of video. That sounds pretty promising to me, I just wonder how much a battery you can't interchange will frustrate users. After all, there's always a decent percentage of cell phone batteries that go bad abnormally quickly, and I think cell phone users would be less forgiving of such an issue than an mp3 player user since a phone is a necessity of life nowadays. Oh, and things are looking good for not needing that 2 year contract agreement.

Also on the iPhone front, one blogger has a good, hacky solution to Apple's stupid 3rd party development solution of running things within Safari: add an icon that just goes to a place with favicon-accompanied bookmarks that open in Safari minus the chrome so it looks like an application rather than a webpage. It's a minimal solution, but it's better than their half-assed one.

Another item from Apple: they're probably going to be putting out the heavy hitting 20 and 24 inch iMacs by mid to late summer, which is the first upgrade for this line of computers since last fall. It's long overdue, I'm sure, and I hope it's better than just beefier processors.

Here's a one-liner: check out this list of great amateur photography tips. I live by many of these things, especially Canons being the best quality and megapixels being bullshit marketing.

How cool is that? It is being referred to as the Batpod, and is kind of like the motorcycle offspring of the Tumbler from Batman Begins. You can get a better look at it over here. There are also some delicious rumors out there. If you want to find out more about The Joker's plans, listen to this fun video. If you really want to have the movie spoiled for you though and find out who Anthony Michael Hall is playing, click here. The Joker thing, I'd say, is a fairly minor spoiler, assuming it's actually true, but the other is pretty big.

Lastly, AICN has a slew of amazing reviews for Ratatouille, and so now I have to see this movie as soon as possible. AICN never tries to stack good reviews for a film and often tries to be pessimistic, so this speaks volumes, in my opinion.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. In your opinion, what is the perfect summer daytime temperature?
70 degrees Fahrenheit
2. What is the perfect nighttime temperature?
60 degrees Fahrenheit
3. Do you plant many flowers around your yard?
I don't have a yard, yet =P Someday though I will, and I'll have my wife decide that ;)
4. How much lawn do you have to mow? Do you enjoy mowing lawn?
Again, none. But my parents have a pretty big lawn (takes no less than an hour to mow).
5. Of the summer months, which is your favorite?
Probably May, because the break from school is most welcome then. By July, you've typically had your fill. As for me, I'm just waiting for August so I can see my girl again.
6. Do you take a long vacation each summer?
Not in a long time, though I am in Seattle right now so I'll be doing things here and there. Once again though, would be better with a certain someone, so it's not a true vacation without her.
7. Is summer your favorite season? If so, why? If not, why not?
No, winter is because I'm so used to the heat in Texas. Still, this is the best weather I think I've ever experienced on a consistent basis.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Blockbuster Boosts Blu-ray

How's that for an alliteration? I know, it's kind of wimpy, but I tried! Anyhow, Blockbuster has decided that the vast majority of their rental stores will only carry the Blu-ray format out of the next-generation DVD formats given that Blu-ray rentals covered 70% of the high-definition format rentals. What I'm curious about is why there's so much consumer support for Blu-ray. It seems like Internet geeks prefer HD-DVD, and it sounds like it has better video quality also, so why the huge disparity between HD-DVD and Blu-ray rentals? I guess the more important question is whether or not HD-DVD stands a chance. Given that these movies aren't going to have big price drops for a while, unlike current-gen DVDs, I'd estimate that more people would invest in rentals than in purchases. I don't know if I'd declare Blu-ray a winner quite yet though, because people have turned more to online rentals nowadays like Netflix and Blockbuster's online thing, which will have both HD-DVD and Blu-ray unlike the majority of their stores. This is a pretty big blow, but it ain't over by a long shot.

YouTube has added a new feature to their site: you can now edit your videos right from the comfort of your very own browser. It's not very fleshed out, or very pretty, but it gets the job done. I'd like to see them do a lot more with it, because it's not going to appeal to anyone who knows what they're doing with video editing.

In Apple land, geeks are planning to unite in a voluntary conference to discuss how to develop software for the iPhone without an SDK. These guys must be really obsessed, but I guess it's a good idea. Oh, and Apple is helping along the marketing with a little Flash movie on their iPhone home page showing how the multi-touch technology works on a very high level. I'm curious as to how the hardware works on the low-level though.

If you're a programmer who appreciates dry humor, you may like this look at Abject Oriented Programming.

The box office this weekend wasn't too surprising with the Fantastic Four sequel coming out on top at over $57 million dollars despite the less than favorable reviews. I guess that the well-cut trailers brought in enough people. It was followed as expected: Ocean's 13 and Knocked Up, with only a few million bucks between the two of them. What was kind of funny was how steeply Hostel 2 dropped, but I'm more surprised that Spider-man 3 is clinging to the #10 spot. Oh, and the DOA re-release was horribly conceived bringing in not even half a million dollars. I wonder if 1408 will be good? It is based on a Stephen King book, and I love his stuff.

A trailer has popped up for a movie called There Will Be Blood, and it features a cool, gritty monologue. It's another Western movie, but I suppose that we're about due for a sprint of Western flicks anyway.

AICN has gotten more reviews for Transformers, and they pretty much confirm what one would expect: it's great eye candy and a fun summer flick, but it's not without its share of flaws. Still, it sounds quite worthwhile. Do you really expect a heavy plot from a Transformers movie anyway? Come on, it's alien robots that transform into American cars.

Lastly, it sounds like Indiana Jones 4 will have an atomic explosion in it. Hmmm, interesting.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Riding :: Tractors

  2. Actress :: Julia Roberts

  3. Flowers :: Lilies

  4. Making :: the Band

  5. Robot :: Chicken

  6. Enjoy :: Coke (stupid ads)

  7. Identify :: Object

  8. 22 :: 44

  9. Busy :: Work

  10. Forward :: E-mail

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bush vs. The Bloggers

Sorry, I started this post last night and finished most of it, but a personal issue came up and then I was busy until tonight.

Once again, it's a slow news day. I'll admit, my topic exaggerates a bit, but the crux of what I'm going to be talking about here are bloggers. There's a little thing called the Free Flow of Information Act that aims to act as a shield for journalists so that they don't have to reveal confidential sources unless it's a matter of national security. What's controversial is that its definition of journalism covers anyone who publishes stories appealing to the public interest. The Bush administration believes that it's inclusive enough that terrorists could hide information under it, which I don't quite understand since it specifically has an exception for national security. So what's the real bone they have to pick here? I think you're reaching for straws when you're dissenting argument is that someone could just put up a blog if they were being challenged and claim protection. I don't think any court would hold up the law retroactively like that, and it's not like someone's going to find out about a murder from the killer, report on it, and then not reveal to the police who it is. I don't see what the connection between journalistic sources and terrorism is either. The only point I do agree on though is that it should not cover slanderous journalism. Purposely falsified stories should not be protected. Other than that though, it sounds like a pretty solid act, to me.

It's no secret that the Facebook platform is out in the open now, but what is interesting is the frenzy it has created. Applications have gained several hundreds of thousands of users within a couple of days, and the suite of applications has passed 1,500. Also, all these web 2.0 startups are itching to jump on board before it reaches saturation. I wonder how long this little craze will last. Facebook has had sustained popularity for quite a while now, after all, but apparently still not surpassed MySpace.

If I was in Austin using my desktop computer, I'd be all over this program right now. It allows you to sync from your iTunes library directly to a non-iPod mp3 player, and it's appropriately called iTunes Sync. I don't have iTunes installed on this laptop though, nor can I, so I guess it'll have to wait, but feel free to try it out!

How will laptops look in the future? Ok, so no one really knows, but Sci Fi Tech put up a neat concept art of a laptop that would be OLED based (so it can be a screen and have a keyboard) and very versatile. It would be modular enough to function differently on the run, at home, or at the office, and you could additionally use a stylus pen with it.

Lastly, check out Ars Technica's latest computer-building guide. It's comprehensive, as always, for the budget, middle range, and filthy rich kid computer purchasers. That budget computer actually looks pretty sweet though at under $800.

There's a new poster out for The Bourne Ultimatum, but I feel like it's actually rather drab. The movie is more important the the poster though, so it had better at least be a fun action flick. If it was a B- movie, I'd be happy.

All I have now are trailers, which are always fun to watch. Apple has the high-definition teaser trailer for the upcoming Pixar original movie (so nice to hear about an original movie) called Wall-E. If we're to believe the teaser, it was conceived long ago and has finally come to conception. Given the caliber of ideas Pixar has put out there, I'm sure that this will be something to keep your eye on.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the trailer for August Rush. It didn't look that great, but it sounds like an interesting story about how music brought an orphaned boy back to his also musically-inclined parents (Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers). I guess I'm just a sucker for music, but I like the idea of music being deep enough to bring families back together.

Yahoo has the stunning trailer for the Western flick 3:10 to Yuma featuring Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, and Gretchen Mol. The trailer was a bit too complicated to follow, but it looks like Crowe is an outlaw in a rather lawless town brought to justice by Bale among others, and crazy drama and shoot-outs seem to ensue. I'd love to see it just to see those two actors facing off against each other.

Lastly, but not least, there's the trailer for the romantic comedy Rocket Science. It's a love story for the nerd in all of us, and it looks really cute and funny, I must say. It's particularly relevant for me given that I've been cluttering since before the age of 15, and it was definitely socially alienating for me (still is, but when you have the girl and friends and family that I have in my life, it makes it much more bearable).

Now, for an even more relevant Saturday-8:

1. do you have an exercise routine currently?
Yep. 6 days a week!

2. what's the most amount of money per month that you would pay for a gym?
That's hard to say, but probably $60 since I'm paying like $55 right now. It's astronomical, but that's because it's Seattle and it's only a 3 month thing. I'll probably get a membership at a big chain like 24 hour fitness next year when I graduate. Too used to the free gym at UT right now.

3. have you ever been unable to exercise, for instance, due to an injury, lack of funds or time, etc.?
Yeah, last week! I was way too sick to work out. I only ever skip working out if I'm out of town or if I'm really ill. I haven't been injured in a very long time. I definitely will lose sleep to work out.

4. have you ever had a friend or family member that exercised TOO much, to the point that they were anorexic (or very, very close)?
Not that I can think of.

5. have you ever exercised too much, to the point where it was unhealthy?
Well, when I first lost all my weight back in 2002, I probably was underweight, but that was totally on accident. My metabolism was really high, and so I stopped jogging but I kept losing weight anyway, and that was unhealthy. I evened out after a few months though.

6. have you ever had a negative experience at a gym (with other patrons, equipment, trainer) or with the gym themselves (billing, closings, etc.)?
Yeah, it's called the bench press =P I've probably almost killed myself with that thing several times. Fortunately, I have enough adrenaline to finish the rep or someone nearby comes to my aid. I think it's cool how guys at the gym watch out for each other instinctively.

7. one form of exercise that seems bizarre to me is spinning as i cannot understand sitting on a stationary bike for an hour with some little skinny bitch screaming at you from HER stationary bike. what form of exercise do you not 'get' or would never try because it seems too weird to you?
The sex machine. You know what I'm talking about! My brother and I decided to start calling it the sex machine. It's always a girl on it, voluntarily opening and closing her legs while seated. I also don't get lat pulldown behind your head or the guys who bend and straighten their knees while doing side raises. Oh, by the way, it's not a bench press rep if you don't touch your chest with the bar.

8. if you had two free, dedicated hours each day to do something athletic that would NOT take away from work, friends, or family time, and the unlimited funds to do it, what type of exercise would you do daily? lipo, by the way, does not count... ;)
I'd spend one hour lifting weights, and I'd spend the other hour rotating between biking, kayaking, racquetball, football, swimming, and boxing probably.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Skitch is in Beta

I wish I could say that I've tried Skitch and I'm here to review it, but I'm afraid that I have to wait for a beta invitation just like everyone else. I wanted to talk about it anyway because, once again, it's a slow news day. Also though, I think it solves a problem I've always had and I'm sure is very common. So what is Skitch? I recommend watching their little 3 minute video. Granted, I haven't used it yet, but it looks so intuitive it makes my eyes want to pop out. It looks like everything a consumer level graphical application should be. It's drag-and-drop, and it saves without you having to tell it to, and resizing and cropping doesn't requiring finding some menu item somewhere, and all that good stuff. Even better: you can create an image based on what's on your screen right now rather than hit the "print screen" button and crop and all that jazz. And I do that quite a bit, which is why I say it's a problem I've wanted solved for a long time. Paint .NET is as close as I've come to a nice, free, lightweight image editor, but this one may take the cake. I guess I'm hyping it up, but I just love that it looks like it was totally designed with the user in mind.

In the past two days, there have been more than 1 million downloads of the Safari beta for Windows. Who are these people? They must be hardcore techies, or Mac users who have Windows dual booted. In any case, it looks like you can get all its special features via Firefox add-ons except for its improved search highlighting. I never knew it had a porn mode; I think that's pretty funny.

Kodak thinks that it may have dug up an old patent of theirs that would allow them to create cameras with better light sensitivity, which may eliminate the need for flash in their lower end cameras. This would mean no more red eye, if it was really possible. It doesn't look like it'll hit the mainstream any time soon, but will more likely see camera phones and scientific equipment much sooner. I don't understand how they're able to do this, but I'd love an ultracompact camera that didn't need flash, and would totally pay a premium for it.

This is kind of funny, eBay decided to stop using Google Checkout, so Google set up a party in Boston to coincide with this eBay seller conference to protest eBay's decision. Wow, what a childish move. I think that eBay was justified in subsequently pulling their ads from Google because I would not want to do business with someone who was being so unprofessional. It's like they were saying, "so you're not going to give us as much of your money anymore? Alright then, we're going to strongarm you into it!" Oh well, I guess companies have their stupid slip-ups every once in a while.

How cool does that Batsuit look?! That scan from EW highlights the updates to the Batsuit made for The Dark Knight, including the sharp things on his arms we're used to seeing in the comics, better material, and a movable neck. Rock on, Bruce Wayne. Rock on. We also have a shot of what we believe is the Joker car and pictures of the convoy that may be taking him to or from prison or something of that sort. Oh, guerrilla pictures; you gotta love them.

In further comic book movie news, Marvel's next project will be Captain America. Meanwhile, the Mulroneys have submitted their draft of the Justice League America script to the WB, and Zak Penn will soon start penning the script for The Avengers. And somewhere, a cash cow is being millked as we speak. Zak Penn had better not disappoint us! He negated X2 with that third abomination.

The newest Transformers poster looks really sweet, and there's a new clip online from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. No action, but it's still kind of neat.

If you want to take a look at how Ratatouille was animated, there's a little decomposition over here. Animation never ceases to amaze me because I'm a horrible artist.

The trailer for No Country for Old Men has hit the Interweb, and it's confusing and obscure. However, it has a great cast and people who saw it at Cannes seemed to like it, so it's probably worth our attention. Man, I haven't seen Josh Brolin in a film in a really long time.

Now for the 3x Thursday meme:

1. Are you, or have you ever been in a managerial type position? Do you/did you like it? What about it did you like or not like? If not, would you ever *want* to be in that type of position? Why/why not?
Not really, except for being an officer in a school organization, which is not the same thing. I would want to be in that position, but as a technical manager. I'd still like to be connected to the code that I'm helping manage, even if not directly, kind of like how managers are at Amazon.

2. If you've ever been in a managerial position, have you ever had to fire someone? What was that like? If not, have you ever been fired? What was that like?

3. At the end of the day, we're all employees, but would you rather be the Boss or the Employee? Why?
That's hard to say, I don't know. Being THE boss is a lot of work and responsibility, but I don't want to necessarily be a sheep. I'd really place myself somewhere in the middle, because I'd prefer to manage a small group of people.

By the way, this is my 700th post! W00t!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Yahoo's Blue Bar

No single news item today really grabbed me, so I thought I'd just talk a bit about the new blue Yahoo search bar. What's so great about it? That's just the thing: nothing. Let's compare it to the Google search bar, shall we?

I could've sworn that there was a time when Yahoo was actually creative. Granted, this isn't quite as direct a knock off as their Yahoo Mail chat thing or their changes to Yahoo Maps, but when I saw it I immediately was reminded of the Google search bar. More importantly is that I don't know why they even care to make such a UI tweak. It just makes it look a little more like Launch, or Yahoo Music or whatever they want to call it nowadays. I really think that Yahoo needs to get its butt in gear. They're kind of just hanging out there as a minor competitor to Google, and they haven't been on the offensive in a long time. By being on the offensive, I mean that they don't have any application that makes them better than Google, they just minimally compete. Hell, maybe they are just coming up with the same ideas but taking longer on them. Still, that's a problem. This blue bar might as well just be a blue screen of death if they don't put forth a better effort.

On the iPhone front, Apple has announced that iPhone users will be required to have accounts with the iTunes music store. Why? No one really knows quite yet. Could it be for synching data to their servers or something? Because that would be interesting, but scary privacy-wise. Even then, why require it? You're just complicating the release process. Even more interesting is that cell phone retailer Pure Mobile is selling unlocked iPhones to work on any carrier. They're a legit service, so it doesn't seem like a con, but how is this possible? Maybe it's only for Canadians? It would have to be legal, or else Apple would've already sued them. It's especially fishy though because Apple said that only AT&T and Apple stores would sell the iPhone, or at least in America.

Something I didn't really mention about the WWDC keynote is that Steve Jobs pimped out EA as providing more games to Macs now that they're on Intel chips, but it turns out that they're really just EA PC games running in Cider. And what, pray tell, is Cider? It turns out that it's a portability engine that adds a layer to your Mac to allow you to run Windows games on it. Hence, these EA games aren't ports, and won't be running natively. I'm not even a Mac user and I think that's lame. What a total cop out from the largest video game studio in the world.

Sorry, there's just a lot of Apple news today. Ars Technica tried out the new 17" MacBook Pros featuring Santa Rosa chips, and it turns out that they're really not much of an improvement over the last iteration of the 17" MacBook Pro (Revision B). It still costs nearly 3 grand, and it's still a solid machine, but you just get a faster FSB, a slighter faster clockspeed, and a little bit more battery life. So much for the hype behind Santa Rosa. Ars Technica also tried out Safari for Windows, and they weren't impressed. I'm glad that I never got it.

In an effort to be more sexy, eBay has opened up its APIs in beta for eBay, PayPal, and Skype for third-party development. I wonder if uShip is using this? In any case, it's an interesting move from one of the few companies to survive the dot-com boom. At least they're making the effort to adapt, but it's still restricted, and one would hope that that changes once it's out of beta.

I think that the Business 2.0 list of who matters is kind of funny because it has Bill Gates at #41 but Digg creator Kevin Rose at #6, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at #14, Engagdget founder Peter Rojas at #9. Yeah, that list isn't skewed at all.

It looks like Live Free or Die Hard isn't too hard for teenagers, because it has earned a PG-13 rating. There's no doubt that this will rake in more money for it, but it doesn't bode well for the quality of the movie. Not that PG-13 movies are usually bad, but this movie's action can't be too violent (it's an action movie, for Pete's sake!) and it can't be too dark of a plot either. Oh, and kiss sexual inuendo "goodbye" (except for a "brief sexual situation").

David Goyer has decided that his next project will be re-imagining The Invisible Man. Doesn't he have a better movie to do? Not to knock the original movie, but I'm just tired of re-makes and sequels.

AICN has a review of Transformers from someone whose background seems to match mine with the franchise, and I swear it sounds like they had an orgasm during the movie or something. So it would appear that the movie is more than just eye candy, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Now for the Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Have you ever cut or burned yourself while cooking?
Almost every time I cook, yeah! I just often cut my thumb a bit when I'm cutting onions.

2. Have you ever put in a wrong ingredient in a dish (sugar instead of salt, for example)?
I was boiling eggs once just to eat them like that, and I accidentally sprinkled MSG on one instead of salt because my room mate's mother had given him a shaker of MSG (they were Vietnamese). That was an interesting experience.

3. Have you ever dropped, or otherwise ruined, a dish just before serving it? Bonus points if you had a large number of people waiting to eat it.
Not that I can recall.

4. In case you aren't a cook - Have you ever had a restaurant make a klutzy move that affected your meal? Tell us about it!
Last Friday, I went to dinner with some other interns, and one of my friends ordered fish and chips, but the waitress dropped them on her way to him. Then, when she went to get a new plate, the cook dropped it. Third time was a charm though, and he got it free (plus a free pitcher of beer).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Facebook Platform

There's really not a whole lot of interesting news today. The best thing for me to talk about is actually the Facebook API that was opened up in the middle of my little hiatus. Facebook applications, more like widgets, started popping up like mosquitoes on a humid Texas night based on this API. I never really said much about it, but I really like this blogger's analysis of the situation. I think he exaggerates in saying that it's a giant leap forward for the Internet industry, because I don't think that Facebook is that big of a deal, but fortunately he lists plenty of problems to compensate. I, for one, think that it's a double edged sword. On one hand, it's great that they've opened up and people can do almost whatever they want within the Facebook platform, including make money, and it's basically free labor to the Facebook team. They get all this extra functionality at no cost to them other than the processing power required as being a proxy. However, I think that this is just one more push that's making Facebook too complicated. True, it's a totally optional addition for you, but when it shows up on your friends' news feeds and then they invite you to install these things and all that crap, it becomes quite a bit. Plus, everyone's profiles are bound to get pretty cluttered very soon. And if an application breaks, it'll look bad on Facebook even though a third-party made it. Worse off yet are third-parties like iLike whose servers died because developers have to host their own code. Does all this mean that it was a bad move for Facebook? Not necessarily. It may need to be tweaked a bit, like they may want to support the ones that do really well, but I think it's better for them to be open than to be closed off.

There's plenty of Apple news hanging around in the aftermath of WWDC, and I'm going to shave it down to the things that you'll actually care about. The iPhone will not support the Adobe Flash Player, which I simply don't get. Is there some serious security hole that would kill the iPhone? Or did they just not have time to support it?

The bigger issue though is the issue I mentioned yesterday about not providing an SDK. You can see one example application over here that doesn't require an iPhone SDK to work, but it does need Safari. I don't have Safari so I can't use it, but maybe you can. If you're a stubborn Windows user like me, you can see what we're missing out on over here. They definitely strove to preserve that Mac look and feel, which is good and bad, but still doesn't attract me to download it. Anyway, if my little rant yesterday about the lacking SDK wasn't enough, then Gizmodo has even more to say about how it means that the iPhone is craptacular unless Apple does some really amazing stuff with it since the third party applications people were dreaming up can't happen, and that's sort of a buzzkill (but not totally, in my opinion).

Google has quietly rolled out a way to view PowerPoint presentations from within Gmail without having to have Microsoft Office installed. I don't really have any powerpoints in my Gmail to try it out on, but I'm sure that'll come in handy when school starts again.

If you want to see more pretty web pages, check out Zen Garden's top 15 CSS designs. Very worthwhile, and very cool, creative stuff out there. I wish I was that good at making nifty layouts!

That's the first look we have at Saw 4, which has started its marketing hot on the heels of the DVD release of Saw 3, apparently. That's probably better than our first look at the Hitman movie, which is just the back of Timothy Olyphant's head.

There are a number of reviews out there for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer already, but it seems to be a mixed bag. Anyway, here are a couple more to whet your whistle.

I, personally, don't watch Battlestar Galactica, but I can appreciate that it's probably a phenomenal series. As such, I felt it was noteworthy that it may be getting a film. There seems to be interest for it, so we'll have to see what happens.

Lastly, a couple more of clips for Die Hard 4 went up on Yahoo Movies.

Now for the Tuesday Twosome:

Two Immediate Reactions

1. When you are lied to?
hurt and offended
2. When you make a mistake?
regretful and apologetic
3. When you embarrass yourself in public?
shame and to run away
4. When you see someone make a fool of themselves?
feel bad for them and look away
5. When you realize you have hurt someone (emotionally)?
apologetic and scared