Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Evolution of a Search Engine

So I had Amazon this morning, and it was quite intense. Definitely the hardest interviews I've ever had, though the first one went much better than the second. Not to say that I bombed the second, but I just feel that I could've been sharper. The fact that they only hire people better than their average employee is just slightly intimidating, but continue to pray I shall. Oh well, the rest of my day went better, so I'm feeling just fine right now! Honestly, there's not a whole lot to talk about in technology. Since the first website I probably ever visited was Yahoo though (back in like 1996 or 1997), I just enjoyed this look at how its evolved over the years. I guess it's hard to remember when the Internet was novel and exciting to me. I haven't gotten tired of it now or anything, but I was just so stunned back then by it, despite the ridiculously slow speeds. Doing research without having to go to the library and look in a card catalog and junk? Totally awesome. Anyway, you kind of see a really neat trend in how web design has progressed across the board from that. Just comparing 1999 to 2004 is quite a large change itself. I'm tempted to say that I like their current design the best. What's nice about it is that they don't clutter it with specifics of all these categories, which I never ever looked at. Instead, it's a really brief glimpse at certain things, and it loads really fast. It dares to be different from Google (so it's not a copycat), without being bloated (ala MTV). Sometimes the journey is more important than the end result, and that's the impression I get from looking at this. I like that they evolved, because no one ever gets anything right the first time (well, I guess except maybe God).

iTunes is starting to open itself up a little more to indie producers, or I guess maybe it's the other way around. Certain indie movies that failed to strike a deal through their distributor to get in iTunes movies' section are now getting in the TV shows section on their own for the $2 price tag. I think if you can't get in the big retailers, then iTunes is the next best thing to broaden your audience.

Of course some shows still aren't on iTunes, and we need to go somewhere else for our fix. You can such options over here. That TED thing looks pretty cool to me.

The only other appealing thing in technology today is some free online storage options. So when you're on-the-go and need to store your data, or maybe you need to share it, or maybe you just want an alternate back-up, look into those sites for some relief.

It looks like the movie news is weak as well today. People have been getting really really early screenings of Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie in its unfinished form and it sounds about as entertaining as those ridiculous teaser trailers they put out. I guess Seinfeld doesn't really need the money anyway though.

We have another video from the new Fantastic Four movie, and it's not bad. It definitely intrigues me, but the real baddies are conspicuously missing.

Hollywood Reporter has some news from the production of Get Smart that definitely interests me. Not only is Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway on board, but so is Little Miss Sunshine's Alan Arkin. I love him as an actor, so now I'm officially interested in this flick.

Lastly, enjoy this international poster for the next Die Hard movie (which is apparently only Live Free or Die Hard in America):

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

What is the last book you read?
Completely? Carrie by Stephen King.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
Definitely Carrie. What a really interesting character. I don't think I've read a book before where the protagonist is the antagonist. She's so innocent but ends up so guilty. Just a tragic story.
Did you enjoy the book?
Oh yeah.
Would you recommend the book to others?
Definitely. I liked the way it jumped around in sources of the storyline, and how the end of the book was told in bits and pieces. It makes you appreciate the little things more.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Weeding Out Bad Programmers

I saw Limas today in class and so he and Colt signed my football! I didn't do it for money though; it's way more valuable than money to me. Now just to get a case for it. Anyway, I have my hardest interview of the season tomorrow morning: Actually, it's two interviews, so I'll be in their hands for 90 minutes straight. So I figured that this would be an opportune time to talk about this post from Coding Horror about how easy it is to weed out people who can't program. I had no idea how common it was for college graduates to not be able to write simple programs, and I just don't get it. The program at UT is so rigorous that I can't imagine not being able to solve the FizzBuzz problem he posed in more than 3 minutes flat if you know anything at all about programming. So what are other schools teaching their kids? Maybe they're following the paradigm of teaching just languages and falling flat? Or maybe it's too much theory? In any case, I definitely think less of companies that don't ask me a technical question. I don't mean trivia, I mean an actual programming problem, which is why I'm hesitant about Deutsche Bank after my work at TI wasn't in the direction of my career, but was really impressed by my Xythos interviewer. So much so that I'd be ecstatic to get an offer from them, especially since they're in San Francisco. The pressure is mounting on me though as decision time nears, but now I'm really off topic. Oh well, you get the picture: there seems to be a sort of crisis among how universities are educating their CS majors. Granted, this is all anecdotal evidence, but this kind of stuff wouldn't hold well on the Internet with some credibility with the Digg watchdogs out there.

How freaking awesome is that ring?! You know what's engraved on it? That's right, binary. I'm not a fan of the binary clock or any of that stuff, but this ring is pretty damn cool to me. Plus, it's made out of recycled materials (though I guess it may be weird paying nearly $1000 for a recycled product).

Microsoft gets a lot of crap for making bad software, and so I love pointing out when they put out good software. There's a neat, free product called Calculator Plus that you can get here to do more than the built-in calculator can do, including some useful conversions. The catch? You need Windows Genuine Advantage. But take heart, they've decided to add another option in the middle of being a pirate and not where you fail some of their tests but not all of them. While I realize the need for this thing, I still think it's too intrusive and will frighten the average consumer.

Not a whole lot to get excited about in movie news. Alfred Gough claims that the third Mummy movie will not take place in Egypt but they're trying to bring back Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. It sounds like this movie may take place too much in the future for their respective ages to make sense in context, but details are still unclear.

The details of the soundtrack for Grind House are now out, but it's pretty random stuff, per normal for a Tarantino flick. I always love his soundtracks so I'm looking forward to checking out this one.

Yahoo Movies has some clips from Zodiac in anticipation of its release, and I really hope they didn't screw this one up because it just seems like it'd make for a great movie.

Now for the Tuesday Twosome:

Do you wish you would spend less or more time:

1. Watching TV and why?
More, because I'm behind on my stories! Still, no regrets.
2. On your computer and why?
Less, because it keeps distracting me from my work.
3. With your family and why?
More, because it sucks when I realize how long it's been since I've seen them.
4. Dedicated to your career and why?
Less, because it's conflicted with some other interests in my life. But again, no regrets as such.
5. Concentrating on yourself and why?
More, because maybe I wouldn't clutter anymore if I did.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lawsuits in Music

Sorry that I missed yesterday's post! I was out all night last night, and didn't get home until like 12:30 AM. I tried out for the merengue dance at TLD, but I don't think I got in. Oh well, I had a blast and I'll try out for salsa. Anyway, it turns out that I didn't miss a whole lot, but there were some litigation that arose. There's a patent troll called Texas MP3 Technologies who's claiming a patent on the mp3 player and suing all the big boys. I'd be livid if the courts ruled in favor of this company. Can they really wait so long to file a case like this? More importantly, how valid is their claim on this patent? It sounds shaky, at best. Then, Microsoft gets fined a ridiculous $1.5 billion for infringement of a patent on a technology that converts music to the mp3 format despite them already paying Fraunhofer. I'm on Microsoft's side, this sounds ridiculous. Are Apple and others also paying off this random Alcatel-Lucent company? I hadn't heard of this issue before. Irregardless, the fine is preposterous. Even further, I just don't like seeing bickering about who owns ideas like this. To have to pay to convert to a format they're already paying to use is just crazy to me. I guess that's always a gray area in technology though.

BitTorrent has added some content to its store, including pornography! Before you bust out your bibles now, it really isn't that bad. It's only softcore stuff, and it's $4 to watch it in 24 hours. I don't see the market for that though. Any person who buys porn is not doing it for the storyline, so the 24 hour limit just doesn't make sense. For the shocked, I'm talking about this because the adult film industry has always been a ridiculously important impetus for technology, and I think they just need to take a better direction than this with torrents.

The whole idea of an open dictionary has been around since at least Urban Dictionary, but Word Source has taken it a step further with tagging, voting, photo uploads, and more. It actually looks like a really neat site and stands out UI wise from other Web 2.0 sites, in my opinion.

Speaking of Web 2.0, want to download your favorite online videos? Try Zamzar then. It can convert other files online to another format for you to download, and I think it's actually pretty sweet. Not sure how legal the online video site thing is, but for other content even it's quite useful.

One more thing: what if operating systems ran airlines? This is a funny exploration of that. I thought it was pretty funny, maybe you won't, but I hope that most nerds will enjoy it.

Obviously, the Oscars were last night. If you were busy like me and missed them, you can see all the winners here. As you can see, Pan's Labyrinth was robbed in Best Foreign Language Film. Oh well, at least Scorcese took home some little golden men! The Razzies are up as well, and spot-on as always.

Once again, the box office made no sense. Not only is the critically defamed Ghost Rider still on top, but Reno 911: Miami barely made more than $10 million. It didn't get the best reviews itself, but it looked actually entertaining. Though Bridge to Terabithia did fairly well with a low drop. Good thing we'll have Black Snake Moan and Zodiac next week, one of which had better dethrone Nicholas Cage and Eva Mendes.

MySpace has a teaser trailer for The Ten, which is a movie that features ten storylines to explore the ten comandments, and it looks pretty interesting. The early buzz hasn't been all that great, but I'll keep hope alive anyway. I really hope it isn't self-indulgent.

Aaron Eckhart has said a few words about being Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, and it has me all tingly inside. I'm very excited to see what he does with this role, even though he won't be Two Face quite yet. The fact that they're investing so much in Harvey Dent's character is a very good sign.

We have a new poster for Hostel 2, and it's so messed up and weird that I'm not even going to put it up here. If you really want to see it, click here. Be warned that there is nudity, as well. How can any theater possibly show this poster? Instead, I'll just show you this G-rated poster for Silver Surfer:

Click to enlarge

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Do you ever use all caps when typing online messages?
Not really. If ever, it's extremely rare. It evokes yelling, in my mind, so I think it's kind of rude.
2. Does it bother you when other people use all caps in their messages?
Only if it's on purpose and for something stupid.
3. Do you use abbreviations (i.e. lol, brb, etc.) when typing email messages or text messages?
I don't send many text messages on my phone, but I use it in IM. I don't know that I ever use those abbreviations in e-mails, because I tend to follow proper English.
4. Do you ever receive faxes or other correspondence from a professional office that are typed in all caps? If so, what do you think of that?
I haven't when I've worked in an office.
5. Do you rely on the computer program to catch your typing errors, or do you proofread your material before sending it out?
All programs for me involving typing catch my mistakes. I have a plugin for Gaim, Firefox 2.0 does it now, Microsoft Word obviously does it, and my programming IDEs usually show weird colors when I screw up syntax.

Friday, February 23, 2007

YouTube Slips Again

Copa was pretty fun last night! Things were looking grim for a while with more guys than girls, but everything worked out in the end! That's everyone except Adam and Laurie, who will have to just make it in a future picture. Anyway, you probably came here for YouTube, not to hear recaps of my late night adventures, so on with the show. Their deal with CBS seems to have slipped through their fingers. Poor YouTube, things aren't as rosy for them as when they were acquired by Google. CBS is still in talks with them, but for small potatoes now, not the big stuff. What I don't get is what the Hell YouTube is saying in these negotiations that's turning everyone away? Maybe Eric Schmidt should step in and talk some sense into them? Comedy Central and Viacom are by no means small clients, and I'm sure that it's making other big players skeptical as well. Could this be the end of YouTube as we know it? Probably not, Google wouldn't let that happen. They're not totally screwed yet or anything, but they need to get their act together and fast. Once they lose the excitement they've had built up for them all this time, people will start to realize that the video quality on YouTube really isn't that awesome, and they'll start facing more lawsuits. I really do believe that time is ticking for them, the same clock that ticks for like-minded startups. It's really brutal out there for a tech startup, and buzz alone isn't enough to support a company, especially one that's still not 100% legit and may never be. I'm rooting for those guys, but things really are looking grim.

Are we all agreed that Canon is freaking awesome? Ok, I guess I'm biased because I love my camera and their products just have such impressive lifetimes. But anyway, to the left here is a $500 camera, the PowerShot TX1, that can film in 720p HD. How sweet is that? This is aside from all the sweet features that's on board (face detection, intelligent orientation, etc). Oh but wait, that's not all. There's also their new Digital ELPH models, one of which feature a stylish two-tone casing. I'd probably still prefer the SD 700 IS though.

So remember how the Sirius and XM merger was supposed to be cool and all? Um, not so much so. They're not actually merging the services, no no. That would make too much sense. They're just, merging the companies themselves, at no benefit to the consumers. Great. Oh, and it'll be a while before that happens even, so sit tight.

Firefox 2.0.2 is out, I just thought I'd mention that real quick. It's mainly security issues fixed, but those are still important things to patch.

CompUSA is hurting really really bad right now. So much so, in fact, that they're shutting down nearly half their stores. With the big boys beating them bad (Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-mart), and the interweb and all, they just can't compete. Sad, they used to have really good deals, too, and now they may go totally bankrupt.

Google has finally released a product to the masses that's not free: Google Apps Premier. It's just a premium version of Google Apps for Your Domain, and it's actually not at a bad price either. Not too shabby, Google, not too shabby at all.

We haven't heard much from the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD fronts for a while, so how about another comparison of the two? I like this one, it has pretty graphs and draws worthwhile conclusions. Still, I don't think people care about special features as much as video quality, and HD-DVD just seems to win there (though this article doesn't cite that as being very different between the two).

It looks like I've missed several trailers in the past couple of days. In the trailer for Next, we get a story that sounds like a spinoff of Minority Report where Jessica Biel can't pull of being Nicholas Cage's girlfriend because he's old enough to be her father. The movie doesn't sound that bad, but just not that amazing either. I was far less impressed by the trailer for Vacancy, as eerie as the premise of a hotel room where you're being watched and supposedly tortured is. It's just your standard horror fare. I thought that the trailer for Talk To Me was pretty cool though, even though it gave us a little too much information. I always love seeing Don Cheadle on the big screen because he's by far one of the most talented African American actors around.

I guess nerds should unite now in the announcement that wheels are turning for the creation of a Justice League movie. I just don't think they'll put together a good enough story with great enough actors to pull of making this movie what it should be. I can't imagine how they'd get Christian Bale on board if they wanted to stay true to that depiction of Batman, and I'm surprised that DC is even allowing this given that it could conflict with Superman Returns and Batman Begins in terms of character development.

Great news for other geeks though: Sin City 2 is ready to roll and could start shooting as early as later this Spring. Supposedly, the Austin heat may delay things a bit, but I'm sure that Rodriguez wouldn't let the Texas weather bring him down. I hope they're filming while I'm in town so I can try to figure out where they're filming and snap pictures!

Now for Friday's Feast:

Where on your body do you have a scar, and what caused it?

Right on my forehead, though I don't think you can spot it in the picture above. I was running with my cousins in India back when I was 12 on a gravel track and ended up tripping and falling, which jabbed my glasses into my forehead. Yeah, it wasn't a pretty sight, from what I hear (I decided to not look at myself in the mirror before it got stitched up). My mom's reaction was, "Good job, son."

What is something that has happened to you that you would consider a miracle?

Surviving my car accident last May. I don't care what people say about it just being because I was in a Volvo, that was the scariest thing to ever happen to me and I came so close to killing myself and hurting others. It was a miracle that the worst to come of it was totaling my car.

Name a television personality who really gets on your nerves.

Rachel Ray. She's so freaking annoying on Food Network, and even worse on that new show of hers. *shudders* Why can't you be more like Giada?!

Main Course
What was a funny word you said as a child (such as "pasketti" for "spaghetti")?

I'm going to plead the fifth here =P I don't think I care to publicly reveal the word I have in mind. Maybe if you press my brother he'll reveal it to you.

Fill in the blank: I have always thought ______ was ______.

This is pretty easy. There's dancing/awesome, Texas/hot, Austin/badass, booze/delicious, etc.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Goodbye, Live?

Happy Ash Wednesday, everyone! I wonder if you're supposed to happy or mournful on Ash Wednesday. It's not a solemn day like Good Friday, but it's not like you have anything to really be excited about like with Easter. Oh well, I'll stick with my greeting. Anyway, you may recall that Microsoft unveiled a whole Live brand a long time ago to help them market their web OS of sorts. I mean it wasn't a fully functional OS per se, but it brought all of your most important applications online so that you could store your information online as part of a movement towards an informal online OS. Well, they're starting to cut that moniker from some of its services, including shopping and e-mail. Are they shifting company interests, or is this a simple marketing change? It has me curious, and I can't help but think that they didn't market it well enough. I never really felt compelled to use any of the services other than Live Image Search, and I'm a total tech geek! I think that if they had just appealed to the masses that they could've gotten wider acceptance. I know they're fighting hardships with the Microsoft name being associated with evil, but surely it can't be that hard with all the money they've got. Anyway, I wonder if they'll end up phasing out these services altogether or just the names? Very curious, and I'm sure we'll know more soon enough.

While I'm on the Microsoft topic, the guy that they had hired to take pictures for the backgrounds that come built-in to the OS posted the photos that didn't make the cut, and they're quite stellar. They'd all make amazing backgrounds, in my opinion. Oh, and in other Microsoft news, it turns out that Bill Gates actually restricts his children's computer usage as any good parent should. I think that parental control software is totally reasonable through maybe 12 years old, because then they'll get smart enough to crack it.

Cisco and Apple finally reached an agrement on the "iPhone" trademark and can both use the name now. The only catch that we know of is that they have to explore interoperability with each other (I don't think that's restricted to the iPhone or anything). There's probably other stuff they're not telling us, but so ends that feud finally.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates spoke unrehearsed at the All Things Digital conference, and some pictures have sprouted up on line of them seemingly having a good time with each other. It's nice to see them getting along, if they weren't just faking it for the cameras, because they're so similar in a lot of ways. I guess it's where the differ that makes Apple and Microsoft so successful in different areas.

I know I'm not the only person who watches TV online because they don't get certain channels or their TV blows (or they're just too lazy to leave their bedroom). Anyway, for all you weirdos like me, here's an awesome list of good places to get your visual fix.

Not really a whole lot going on in movies. We have a clip from Zodiac that doesn't really tell us much, but it does help set the tone for what we should expect a little more. I found it slightly haunting though we don't know that anything bad will really happen (though, of course, it's about a serial killer so you naturally assume the worst).

AICN got its hands on a review for Reno 911: Miami and it sounds like a really funny movie. I wanted to see it when I first saw the teaser for it because the show was so damn funny (is it still on?). It comes out this weekend, though I don't know if I'll get a chance to see it before Spring Break.

Lastly, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Tom Cruise may all be in a movie together called Lions for Lambs, which is only noteworthy because of how phenomenal those actors are (I know Cruise is crazy, but he's damn talented anyway).

Oh, and IMDB tweaked its layout a bit if anyone cares. I don't think its any better or worse than before.

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What is your favorite place for delivered pizza?
Definitely Papa John's. The sauce is really good, as is the crust. And the prices are also reasonable!

2. How often do you have pizza delivered at your house?
Almost never, because I get so much pizza on campus for free as it is that I'd rather cook food at home.

3. What toppings do you want on that pizza?
I love pepperoni, mushrooms, pineapple, and Candian bacon. Probably not all on the same pizza, but awesome individually.

4. Thick crust or thin?
Definitely thick. Thin crust makes the pizza slightly less filling, and the crust doesn't taste as good either.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Compiling Vista's Flaws

For the record, I do not have Vista yet. In fact, I'd rather not talk about it yet, but there's absolutely nothing else going on. As you'll see in the rest of my post, it's just some little things. Anyway, here's the article I'm referring to, straight from PC World. I know, PC World really isn't the best magazine, but this is still a good article. At first, I thought they were just nit-picking. The more I read though the more I realized that this OS really does have some issues. I really do want to say that it's a great OS, and I truly believe that they've made some important leaps in this iteration of Windows, but when there are so many apparent problems, it's hard to not overlook them. I think there are probably lots of problems in OS X as well, but Apple seems more responsive to the ones that can be fixed (i.e. not things inherent to the OS). I started reading that article though, and I wasn't halfway through after a few minutes. I guess I'm just disappointed that they didn't put the effort they should've into enriching the user experience. My life goals in computing center around enhancing the user experience, and it disappoints me when a big company can't handle this over a period of 5 years. Anyway, I'm sure it's still a great OS, just not refined.

So I'm sure that everyone is going to think I'm a perv now but I could not resist: how hilarious is that mouse pad? It comes from this list of fun products involving breasts or alcohol. It's worth a look, just not at work.

Engadget has shots of the new line of Cybershot cameras, and besides looking as slick as ever they post such features as "face detection" and WiFi. I have never been a fan of the quality of the Sony cameras, but I think new features can really go a long way if they're easy to use and relevant. I don't see how music playback makes sense on a digital camera though, but I think WiFi could be awesome if executed properly.

Coding Horror has the best concise rundown of BitTorrent's functionality, pros, and cons that I've ever seen. If you're a total newbie to this whole field, you need to read it. Even if you're no stranger to it, his cons are still good to know.

Adobe has come out with their competitor to Aperture, called Lighthouse, for professional digital photography editing and Ars Technica has the review. It sounds like a good product, I just like reading their reviews.

While I don't think that Resident Evil: Extinction will be a very good movie, I still like the teaser trailer. I think it makes me more interested in the movie than I would be otherwise (despite loving the games). Plus, it's available in HD.

This stuff is just too funny for me to make up: guess what the title of Rambo 4 is? If you guessed John Rambo, then you'd be right. Hey, it's better than Live Free or Die Hard.

The Latina cop everyone loved on the Batman animated series, Renee Montoya, may end up being in The Dark Knight. Supposedly, auditions are being held for the role, though I presume it'll be more of a cameo appearance or else we would've heard more about her. But hey, maybe they want to try to bring her in as a more important character to help Batman. Without Harvey Bullock though, I wonder how they'll introduce her to the story (unless he's there also).

This is pretty small, but I didn't know that they're doing a third Mummy movie or that it revolves around the son, Alex, as a young adult. It's a pretty fun series of movies, I don't doubt that this one could turn out to be a good B+ movie (especially with Millar and Gough on board).

Now for an interesting TMI Tuesday:

1. be famous now & forgotten after you die or forgotten now & famous after you die, forever? & Why?
Probably the latter, mainly because I'd like to someday do something that's really impacting in the long term, not just a quick fix.
2. give blood or read Hamlet? & Why?
Probably give blood, because reading Hamlet benefits no one.
3. be extravagantly rich, but hated by others or be well loved and admired, but dirt poor? & Why?
Definitely the latter. Money is worthless without people to share it with. I want to make good money someday so that I can have more fun with friends/family and go on nice dates and stuff, not to buy more crap (except for cool clothes).
4. be imprisoned for the rest of your life or kill someone? & Why?
Wow. I guess imprisoned for the rest of my life; I think killing someone would drive me to insanity faster.
5. fight Mike Tyson or talk like him? & Why?
Talk like him, mainly because I don't have a death wish (I still have much to do).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Programmers and Coders

It sounds like people really liked my post on Friday, so I'm glad that I was able to turn my frustration into something fruitful! My whole weekend was kind of living in the shadow of sadness for some reason, can't pin it to one thing. I'm fine though; nothing I can't get over. I'm sorry that today's topic isn't quite so provocative, but I think it's a worthwhile thing to talk about (though I know I've touched on it once before a while back). While the line is very thing, there is a line between programmers and coders: programmers are the higher level engineers and the coders are, well, code monkeys. That's the more common usage of the term "coder" at least, though I typically say "software engineer" rather than programmer to make it denote that they do more design work. That post I linked is a slightly biased source since it is a guy in India (at least it seems so), but I think the trend he points out is pretty real: Indians (in India, that is) are being used pretty much as if they were assembly line workers for code, and they're tired of it. Naturally, it sounds like technological slavery, so of course they're not going to be satisfied because they can't have the ambition that we have here. Not only that, but Indian culture kicks someone else's butt again! Having a nice job title for their biodata is becoming a big thing, which is funny because it's totally true how you have to kind of sell yourself to get married. I don't know why Indian culture is still that way, I really don't. Do people really think that kind of stuff works? Personality is much bigger than your career choice. Anyway, what boggles my mind is that these guys don't try to startup companies of there own. Surely, there are VCs in other countries who see the potential for startups in India. Unless they're doing this and failing miserably? Anyway, back to the main topic: no one wants to become a coder (unless they lack ambition completely), so I wish the best to these guys in India.

It seemed like everyone read this post over the weekend from a guy who interned at Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo (or rather works at Yahoo now), and he just remarked at what their work environments are like. It sounds like all three are real winners, though I know people who have gone to places like Amazon and then Microsoft and then preferred Amazon. I have an Amazon next week, so I'm definitely hoping that it is a cool place to work at and that I do get an offer.

Back to Google: their radio advertising service, dMarc, isn't working out too well. The issue is that it's better tailored for bigger companies whereas radio advertising is used more by small, local businesses than anything else. Plus, radio stations aren't too crazy about the concept of bidding for commercial slots. I'm going to call this a flop unless something drastic happens (especially since the founders left), any disagreement?

In other radio news, it looks like the stage is set for XM and Sirius to merge, which I think is great news. Granted, it kind of creates a monopoly in satellite radio, unless they drastically increase prices or something, I don't think anyone would complain about the wide expansion in their radio plan. Plus, it's not like someone with better programming couldn't still come around and compete; I don't imagine that the barriers to entry are really that big.

As for as audio online, we all know that the legal kind is plagued with DRM. So how to explain the evils of DRM to someone who's not quite so educated/opinionated on the issue? This Wired editorial does a pretty good job of explaining prime examples of where DRM is evil. To me, the most irritating is the restriction of Internet access solely on irregular packet activity, which could be the transfer of totally legal content.

Does it pay to leave your computer on all day? Coding Horror had an article about it a long time ago, but I just didn't see it until now. It sounds like if you follow his tips (which I actually had already been doing), you can really cut down on your energy bill, so it's a totally worthwhile read.

The winner in the box office this weekend was Ghost Rider with over $44 million (I guess because it was an extended weekend for a lot of people), despite a fairly cold reception from critics. It's a shame because I was a fan of the comics and can't muster up the interest to see this one. Bridge to Terabithia, a film that many many more critics liked and seemed to be a pretty good fantasy movie for kids had to settle for second place with less than half the box office returns. Ouch. Oh, and Hannibal Rising had the biggest drop, 60% to go from #2 to #6, which reflects its horrible reviews.

We finally have a trailer for The Simpsons movie that doesn't suck, and it's actually rather funny. I like it. It kind of reaches back to the series' roots for comedic value, I just hope the plot doesn't suck.

A little while ago, there were rumblings that a prequel and a sequel may be produced for The Departed, but the writer has batted away such claims. He claims that there's not enough material for good sequels, and that he could get more working on a different crime movie. Fair enough; I was never in support of a sequel for the sake of more money anyway.

Lastly, here's the supposed final poster for Grind House:

Now for some Monday Madness (as if this Monday isn't crazy enough):

From sleeping mermaid:
If you could rewrite one pivotal moment in history, good or
bad, to make a change, which moment would that be AND what are some of
the consequences that you believe might come from that change?

Are you kidding me? It's Monday night, I'm not about to think back on history! Alright, well I guess maybe change the decision to go into Vietnam? We wouldn't have lost so many lives for nothing then. I really don't know, a question like this takes a lot of deep thought because changing any event in history could have drastic impacts on the rest of how history has played out since.

From beth:
What's the most unusual hobby you have? How did you get started with it?

I wouldn't say any of my hobbies are that unusual. I guess strangest would be Latin dancing given that I'm Indian, and I got started in the summer while at TI since a couple of my friends there knew how to salsa and it looked like a lot of fun when we checked out a salsa club one night.

From shelly:
Name one thing for each of the following: Favorite smell, texture, view, sound, taste.

Smell: a heater in the winter
Texture: the lines in our hands because our hands or so smooth but when you drag your nails over them you can can feel the ridges
View: high up in the RLM where you can see so much of Austin and the hill country
Sound: classical guitar
Taste: chocolate

Friday, February 16, 2007

Yay and Nay for Religions

Copa was a ton of fun last night! It was slightly less crowded than usual, and two of my friends bailing on me ended up leaving Adam and myself with five girls. However, it got me thinking about religion. And nothing else that interesting has happened in the past couple of days, so I might as well spew my thoughts here and get a discourse going. For those of you who don't know, I am Catholic (By the way, why is it still called "Roman Catholic"? What is it being distinguished from?), and despite my beef with the Church's stance on abortion and homosexuality, I'm pretty content with it. I think it's given me a lot of hope and a lot of explanations as I've grown up, and I think that's what religion does best. It explains what we can't explain, and what we fear, and what we feel. I think that people who were not raised in a particular religion misunderstand me, perhaps lumping me in a category with Christian fundamentalists. Faith, to me, is believing what you believe for no reason other than that you know in your heart that it's right. No evidence, no real reason to believe, you just do. So doesn't it suck that we have all these religions based on faith that are opposed to one another? I guess this bring me to difficult female situation #953: what do you do when you want to get closer to someone of another religion? For me: nothing. And it just frustrates me so much. It makes me want to scream and kick and cry like my two-year-old cousin once removed when he gets upset. It's just not fair.

Why can't we all just accept that we're not going to believe the same thing? Why stick to rigid guidelines? Yes, I'm Catholic, which I realize is a very conservative religion, and I do follow their schedule of "days of obligation" and all that junk, but I do it out of choice. I enjoy going to mass, and it helps me meditate for an hour a week. The structure, to me, is no more than a guide, if you will, to finding some answers on my own. Why can't everyone just believe in that? Why is it that my parents would disown me if I didn't marry a Christian, but if they converted to Catholicism for me it'd be alright? Why are they upset with my brother for not going to Catholic mass anymore? He's more enlightened at where he goes to church now, so what if he doesn't think Mother Mary should be a tenet of a belief system? It upsets me that we get caught up in these semantics without regard for how we should be behaving or the consequences of our actions. In my case, they've led me to be forlorn. Worse yet, people who are hypocrites and merely complete the motions. I love what my religion has done for me, and I God for what he's done for me, but I hate that it's holding me back where I need the most help. I guess this is what they call a test of faith, huh? I think I can pass it...I hope. I hope my frustration will subside, and I really hope that things will be better soon. This isn't to say I'm miserable right now, or ungrateful for what I have, but it doesn't mean I can't be frustrated!

Alright, enough blubbering, on to the tech news. Wouldn't it be cool to be able to print without having to invest in ink or toner? A company called Zink Imaging is looking to make that a reality with heat-based printing. I don't get exactly how it works, but it could translate into printers being built-in to cameras and phones and such! This would spell disaster for the ink industry (which makes a lot from ripping us off), so I wonder what the catch will be? The price?

There seem to be pretty good odds that Steve Jobs will be announcing the return of an Apple line of sub-notebooks at WWDC this year, which is a class of notebook computing that's smaller than your normal laptop but also with slightly weaker specs. Apparently, these models may not even have CD-ROM drives! However, they will boost Flash memory, a first for Apple. I'll let you know when we have more details, though I think that CD-ROM drive is an absolute necessity.

In local news, a Texas judge has ruled against deep linking, which is linking to pages on a copyright-protected site other than the home page without express permission. They're appealing the decision, but this would definitely affect bloggers like me who are simply referring to articles on sites like the New York Times. I think it's a stupid ruling. If you're not directly stealing the content, it shouldn't be illegal.

This is a great list of useful applications for college students. I use about half of them, and with good reason. My favorite is Meebo, because I just love the effort they put into that interface.

Barack Obama is trying to attract younger voters by spreading his message on the Interweb, and I think it's working. The Facebook groups in support of him are getting bigger and bigger, and he's even coming here to UT to speak next Friday! If I didn't have an important class at that time, I'd totally go.

Google's Summer of Code is back! I strongly recommend this for Freshman and Sophomores (or even college students) who can't find a summer internship but want to have some experience for their resumes. Companies are always very happy to see open source software development.

The big news today is that Aaron Eckhart is now in final negotiations to portray Two Face, Mr. Harvey Dent, in The Dark Knight. This is pretty big news because this character is so complex and interesting, and I'm so glad that he's going with an actor who's relatively unknown. Not that Thank You for Smoking wasn't big, but it wasn't a mainstream blockbuster or anything, and so the audience won't have any predisposed notions of the character.

Now for some crazy trailers. The international teaser for Live Free or Die Hard is much more awesome than the one we saw stateside, though it carries the old title with it. I hate the title, but this movie still looks pretty cool. We also have the full theatrical trailer for Grind House, and it's also pretty freaking sweet. I still have high hopes for having fun while watching this movie.

Yahoo Movies also put up a couple of great clips from 300, which only fuels my anticipation more. I may explode when I finally get to see this movie.

AICN has another positive review about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which helps keep my doubts at bay about it. I was always hoping that it would be a fun movie to watch, though I can accept that it'll be a B movie at best.

Now for Friday's Feast:

What sound, other than the normal ringing, would you like your telephone to make?

I'd like it to play "La Cucaracha", OR the intro to "Oye Mami".

Describe your usual disposition in meteorological terms (partly cloudy, sunny, stormy, etc.).

Probably partly cloudy. Usually pretty nice/happy, though not bubbly, and occasionally a little weathered and forlorn (such as tonight).

What specific subject do you feel you know better than any other subjects?

Computer science =P

Main Course
Imagine you were given the ability to remember everything you read for one entire day. Which books/magazines/newspapers would you choose to read?

Probably the textbook for OS and maybe a few programming manuals (Ruby, Python, C++). I don't need to remember everything in a novel, just academic texts.

If a popular candy maker contacted you to create their next confection, what would it be like and what would you name it?

Well it would have to be low-fat so that you can eat a lot of them and not feel bad, so I'm thinking something fruity. Maybe a shock tart lollipop? I don't know, there's a reason that I'm a programmer and not a candy designer =P

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tough Times for YouTube

Today is Valentine's Day, which is pretty empty to me, of course. I'm not necessarily depressed or anything, but it is a rather wasteful idea to specify a certain day when couples are obligated to celebrate their relationships. That's just my two cents though. Anyway, darkness has befallen the house of YouTube as Viacom has permanently eluded them. Viacom and all its subsidiaries (including Comedy Central and MTV Networks) will no longer have any deal with YouTube and Viacom will instead host videos to be embedded on their own site, on their own terms. It's worked on Comedy Central's "Motherload" after all, and Viacom does own iFilm, so I'm sure they could use that as a channel for distribution. So in all honesty, they don't actually need YouTube. Viacom is huge enough to hold its own in the digital video arena, but it ends up as a huge blow to YouTube what with the 100,000 orders for content to be taken down and what-not. What doesn't help is the bad press they're getting from having revealed who it was that put up videos of "24" before they aired and vintage episodes of "The Simpsons" on YouTube to Fox. What I find is crazAsy is that people seem really upset by this. If you look in their privacy policy it clearly states: "We may release personally identifiable information...if required to do so by law...or respond to a court order, subpoena, or search warrant." So you kind of surrender your right to privacy by breaking copyright laws. Is that really so shocking? You agreed to it when you made your account, whether or not you read it. I support YouTube in their actions: it's not worth defending someone who clearly broke the law. He knew fully well that he had content that was not yet legally available. Anyway, this still doesn't spell good things for YouTube, but I'm sure they'll bounce back.

As many of you may recall, I enjoy reading Ars Technica reviews, so I couldn't pass up this one for the Nokia N800 Internet Communicator. It's really just a glorified, widescreen PDA, but it looks really nifty. I don't know how useful it would be for the average consumer, but I could see it being a great toy for techies or businessmen. I think once Skype gets on there, it'll then become much bigger for consumers.

The new version of uTorrent is out, and it's better than ever with bandwidth caps on individual torrents and important bugfixes. It's still my torrent manager of choice!

It looks like Apple was not able to garner exclusivity with The Beatles after all. They will definitely be available for download, but those of you without an iPod will not be left out in the cold, which is always good to know.

If you don't think your computer is secure enough then you're probably right. To see what you really need to protect your system, check out this list. I'm not going to lie, it's really long, but it's very useful. There are some awesome just common sense tips on there that we just don't think of about our computers, which are really one of our priciest possessions. So take care of yours!

Programmers should really rejoice in this site. I thought it was just going to be a bland list of tutorials, but it's a really clean, well designed page for navigating resources on a multitude of programming languages including ways to highlight your favorites. Definitely a must-bookmarks for any coders out there.

Let me start of the movie news with some trailers. These teasers for Bee Movie are surprisingly unfunny. I don't get why they wasted the money to shoot them, because they're not very entertaining. It's slightly better than the trailer for Underdog though. The good news is that the trailer for Penelope looks pretty interesting. Doesn't mean it'll be a great movie, but I think it has potential to be a lot of fun.

I've been waiting anxiously for Southland Tales, despite not being well-received at Cannes, and it looks like we haven't seen it yet because they've had trouble with a distribution plan and apparently still want to put some finishing touches on it (as well as a soundtrack). I'm not sure if this implies that they don't have a distributor, but hopefully they're making the edits that were clamored for.

Latino Review got their hands on The Green Effect and seemed to really enjoy it. I was surprised to discover that it's not another flop script, though I'm confused about the actual plot other than that it somehow centers on the environment (hence, the title). So I wonder why it wouldn't get picked up? Are the studios just hesitant to trust him now?

When the author I love, Stephen King, partners up with a creative genius like J.J. Abrams, I definitely sit up and read carefully. Abrams and Damon Lindelof are fans of King and are looking into an adaptation of The Dark Tower saga. I'm not sure in what capacity (big or silver screen) or how many installments, but I've heard those books are great. They're still sitting on my bookshelf, I'm afraid, waiting to be read.

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. Who do you love?
Three big categories: my family, my friends, my God. That pretty much covers it!

2. What do you love?
Dancing, music, movies, and technology.

3. Where do you love? (What's your favorite place to be?)
Probably Austin, TX, so far =D

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

No Post Tonight

Sorry guys, but I went out tonight to celebrate a friend's 21st Birthday (not out out, because I'm still underage), and so I need the rest of the night to get my work done. I promise a post for tomorrow night!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Good Old Fashioned Apple Mind Game

Exciting news everyone: I have an offer for a summer internship with Deutsche Bank! I have to call in the morning to get details (obviously, I won't be able to share said details here), and it'd be fun to spend a summer in New York City! Anyway, moving right along: remember that open letter from Steve Jobs last week about DRM? I, like many other geeks, took the bait. We were excited about what he was saying without giving it much thought. Well, much thought has been exposed on the issue in the past few days, but I support this perspective the most. All things considered, Apple is selling a lifestyle. Face it fanboys, you pony up the big bucks for Macs not because OS X is the best OS (I don't think there is a best, for the record), but because you're an Apple user for life. It's ok, you can come out of your closet. Many of us are Microsoft users for life, sadly. Anyway, the point is, they're rallying their legions of followers under the easy banner of hating DRM and vilifying the music industry. In fact, people are even suggesting what Jobs can do to fix things. I must say, it's quite brilliant. Now if the industry wants to raise prices on iTunes music again, or stay the course of DRM (which, duh, they're going to do), Apple can wash their hands clean of it and claim to be on our side. How big of them. In reality, they could care less about us, they just want to look good so they can get away with questionable practices (like FairPlay) and maintain their loyal army of consumers in the face of a hot button issue like DRM (i.e., they want our wallets). This isn't to say that Jobs doesn't believe what he said, he may very well personally be opposed to DRM. That's immaterial though; what's at issue is the stage he's set for the future of digital music distribution, and the control he's solidified in his hands. Nice.

Before you head to Cupertino and hug their front door, you may want to consider the fact that they've decided that no one is to virtualize OS X, not even heavyweight VMWare. I really don't like that. Why do they like keeping their kernel so closed off? Do they think it'll make them that much more secure? They can't possibly be that disillusioned. Good news for Apple though: they've added Lionsgate to their library of movie selections on iTunes to bring the count up to more than 400 titles this month. Not too shabby.

YouTube is going to be providing over 4,000 hours of classic television very soon, all totally legal and free. This is a phenomenal deal, mainly because it provides a stepping stone into more modern, popular shows to become available on YouTube. Hey, it beats the return of rabbit ears, which I think is a funny development. I didn't know that technology followed the same retro rules that fashion did.

Circuit City is shutting down 70 stores across the continent due to shrinking flat-panel TV sales apparently (plasma TVs provide awesome profit margins, so don't let one of those retail store sales reps push you into buying one before you do your homework). They've always seemed to have better customer service than Best Buy, but I always perceive their prices as higher.

Couple of quick things. Intel is showing off a processor with 80 cores, which is so freaking stupid. I know it's just research and all, but what the Hell will 80 cores help us with?! We can't even optimize for two! Other quick thing are these fun geek gifts for Valentine's day. That Laser Star Project looks pretty sweet to me:

IGN has a full review of 300 and they gave it a perfect score! Of course, they broke the rules by giving it 5 stars since 4 is the highest you're supposed to give a movie before it comes out on DVD (that's why I do letter grades), but who cares. The idea is the same: add them to the list of critics enthused by the Frank Miller graphic novel adaptation.

I hadn't heard of Shane Acker's 9 before today, but apparently a lot of people are loving this movie as well purely based on its animation. Sound-wise, so far they have Elijah Woods, Martin Landau, John Reily, and Jonathan Plummer (yeah, not sure who he is). Not too shabby, and it's even being produced by Tim Burton! Keep an eye on this film.

Movie posters haven't advanced much in quite a while, but apparently there's now a company that's developed 3-D hologram printing that can produce a ton of different images for a full motion effect as you walk by a poster at your local movie theater. Not much to look at for it right now (their servers got hammered today), but the one I saw earlier looked pretty sweet.

Lastly, the director for the adaptation of another Frank Miller novel, Ronin, is one who is not very respected for such films as Stomp the Yard, but maybe he has raw talent hidden somewhere? No? Oh well, at least we'll have 300 to look forward to!

To spite Valentine's Day, I'm doing the Monday Music Mambo this week instead:

1. Of all the albums that won a Grammy this year, which is your favorite (or what you think would be your favorite if you heard it)?
Definitely Stadium Arcadium! I don't care what Robert says, I think it's freaking awesome (except for that Hump de Bump song; it's dumb)! That Mana album looked interesting though (I have "Rayando el Sol" stuck in my head now!).

2. Of all the songs that won a Grammy, which is your favorite?
I have to say Dani California given the selection, though maybe that Flaming Lips song (I haven't heard it).

3. Of all the artists that won a Grammy, which is your favorite.
Red Hot Chili Peppers =P

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I Don't Like Wal-Mart

I hope you all had a good weekend. Mine started out better than it ended (same old story, girls kicking my butt), but nonetheless I did get a good amount of stuff done (including cooking some delicious 2-alarm chili). So anyway, there are plenty of reasons to hate Wal-Mart, right? Screwing over small town businesses, reverse discrimination from employees, horrible service, etc. Funny thing is, I'm not really as concerned about those things because I don't really encounter them enough to be upset about them. Nope, my reasoning is much geekier. Remember that movie download service they announced? They opened up the site so that not only does it support Internet Explorer 7, but it only supports IE. Classy. I saw the site in Firefox a couple of days ago but didn't talk about it because I presumed it wasn't really up or was just having temporary issues. Apparently, they've pulled down the site entirely now, though I still get the unsupported message since I haven't updated my IE in forever. I kind of just take offense to them being so presumptuous. It's not that they're alone in this, or that I'm more perturbed by them doing it than anyone else, it's just horrible in general. It's always the big guys that do this. You never see a small company have an IE-only site; they invest in supporting everything. However, the big companies that bathe in money can't put more of it into a better web UI. I can't imagine that these people are really this stupid. It's pretty fundamental rule in the world of technology for consumer products: if it ain't pretty, is someone going to really want to use it?

Here's something else that's crazy: Microsoft is quite supportive of DRM. In an interview with a Microsoft exec, it was revealed that they're happy with the current state of affairs in DRM. At least they're being honest, but that doesn't mean much. I don't think they'll ever sell me on this crap. I'd be willing to formally prove that there's no way in Hell an unbreakable DRM could ever exist, and even if it could, it would still really piss off consumers.

I really like AMD; I guess because they're the underdog. The fact that they have so much to lose makes them that much more interesting to observe. They've been working on a new line of chips under the codename Barcelona that appears to do wonders for the x86 architecture. The techniques sound interesting (I didn't even know nested paging existed), but the performance figures are yet to be seen. Still, 3 levels of caching is impressive.

It looks like we have some leaked information about Firefox 3 (though it may be an authorized leak, for all I know), and it sounds like not only are they looking to have PDF exporting built-in (thought there are still plenty of ways to make PDFs for free) but also add-on installation without restart and smoother handling of the omnipresent POST forms. Plus, I presume that they'll put Places in this time.

If you don't have time like me to watch TV live and you can't afford TiVo, you may enjoy for all your torrent needs. Though if that show is available online for free with ads, I encourage you to do that instead to encourage more networks to do that so that we don't have to rely on torrents to control our own television schedule.

Here are some one liners in the Web 2.0 arena. Ever need to communicate something by drawing in a hurry? Try out sketchr (I know, the name is annoying, but it's neat). If you're a pre-med then you'll love this medical dictionary.

This is pretty appalling: Norbit is the #1 movie in the nation with over $30 million, and Hannibal Rising lags behind in second with less than half. The suckage at the box office pushes on with low-quality movies getting low revenues. When do the good movies start coming out? I guess that Reno 911 flick comes out in a couple of weeks.

Click to enlarge

Yep, that's a poster for Hot Fuss. We even have a nifty little trailer to match. It doesn't tell you much, but from the new review over at AICN, it sounds like we should be interested in this movie anyway. Unfortunately, their review for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wasn't so enthusiastic. Oh well, maybe it'll at least have some campy value.

I know it's a lot of AICN stuff for one post, but everyone else actually takes a break over the weekend. AICN, however, put up a trailer for a documentary they're helping bring to the Austin Alamo Drafthouse called 8-Bit, and I'll let you guess as to what it's about. I may try organizing a band of nerds to go see it.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. The best thing :: is yet to come

  2. Hold :: On

  3. Rapture :: God

  4. Cover :: Take

  5. Restrictive :: DRM ;)

  6. Baker :: man

  7. Author :: Book

  8. Pill :: Birth Control

  9. Months :: Nine

  10. Valentine’s Day :: Sucks (it's just depressing for losers like me =P; do I really need a reminder of others' comparative blissfulness)

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Flashy iPod and the Zune Phone

Sorry about the hiatus, but it was definitely very necessary. Copa was fun last night, as always. Was probably a little better the time before because more people came out, but bringing NSC people to Copa has turned out to be pretty fun. Anyway, I've also gotten a deluge of interview offers the past couple of days including Cisco and Amazon, so I'm very excited about those. So moving on to the interesting stuff: the odds seem to be pretty good that Apple will move its iPod line completely to Flash memory because, as any good teach head knows, hard disk drives (HDD) are unreliable and not meant for portability (or shaking). It's a logical move for battery life, as well, cost will just be tricky. It looks even better in light of near official confirmation that the Zune phone is happening. They've already made a filing with the FCC that just falls short of explicitly calling it a cell phone, and an insider revealed that they've been working on it for a long time now, and just recently realized that it'd be a good thing to put under the Zune line. But get this, they're aiming to announce it in the middle of March for a May release! Isn't that wild? It'd beat the iPhone's release, but I suppose it'd have to have some amazing features in order to attract attention. I guess it's better than waiting until after the iPhone has picked up steam. I think it's good that they have a rival product, and I do wish them the best of luck with them, because they're going to need a Hell of a lot of it. To be honest, they have a fighting chance if they do announce it next month. If they can build up enough hype, if they can launch an aggressive enough marketing campaign, anything is possible. But they have to push it better than they've pushed any of their products before, or else they're in real trouble.

Back to Microsoft for a minute: Clippy has passed on. They've decided that no one really ever liked him, and to include him in the new version of Office was pointless. So he has been callously removed. Not that he'll be missed though, just thought you guys would appreciate that.

On to the Google stuff. They've opened up Gmail to the world at large, at last! I'm guessing that almost everyone who wanted Gmail already had it, but now it's even easier! Now for the bad news: Google has decided to roll over for the telcos and television companies. Google is claiming that they can't support TV on the Internet because they don't, get this, scale well. What a complete load of crap! Look, I have nothing against them forming an alliance to get more media content that they can make searchable and tack ads onto, that's what they do best. However, don't consider the rest of us stupid. Tell us the truth or nothing at all!

Speaking of content online, here's a good list that summarizes why I, too, am reluctant about digital distribution of films. I think it has way too much room for improvement for having been around for as long as it has, and it's still a wide open market, despite Wal-mart's deal. Until they make things simpler, less obtrusive (i.e., kill the DRM), price things more sensibly, and get better compression together, that whole industry will continue to play third (not even second) fiddle to movie theaters and DVDs.

I like bringing this up at least once every couple of months because it pisses me off when people laud their camera for having more megapixels. Guess what, it doesn't freaking matter! Much like microprocessors, camera quality does not boil down to just a single number; it depends on several factors including the light sensor size, quality of pictures in various environments, and usability. So go out and read reviews! Don't just buy into specs.

Trailers trailers trailers! I've missed quite a few, it seems! Most notable is the one for Shrek the Third, which was much funnier than the previous ones. I actually have some hope for this movie now! I was also pleasantly surprised by the trailer for Fracture featuring Anthony Hopkins (in another Hannibal-like role) and Ryan Gosling (I know, it made me skeptical, too). It's an interesting psychological thriller about a prosecutor figuring out a murder, though the trailer is way too revealing. Mr. Brooks is another serial killer oriented movie with a pretty entertaining trailer, and it looks like Kevin Costner is in it, who I haven't seen in a movie in many a year. It looks cool, but doesn't interest me quite as much as the above two movies. The trailer for Faces of Death is definitely one of the most disturbing trailers I've ever seen, though I don't know that it's the actual trailer for this remake. In any case, be forewarned, it is extremely graphic (definitely moreso than Pan's Labyrinth itself was).

Toy Story 3 is officially a go for a hopeful 2009 release. This movie has a sordid history, which was improved by the Pixar/Disney merger. It looks like they'll actually put some effort into it though, so don't lose heart!

More interesting is that Metal Gear Solid really is finally getting its own movie! Other than Michael de Luca producing with help from Konami's own legendary Hideo Kojima, we don't know much about it. But if Kojima is on board, you can be guaranteed that they'll make something worthwhile with what I consider to be one of the most amazing video game franchises ever (definitely my personal favorite, even over Zelda).

Lastly, it looks like Ghost Rider is better than I initially thought! It sounds like it really is a decent comic book movie, I'm just waiting for other reviews to confirm this.

Now for Friday's Feast:

Appetizer - Have you been sick yet this winter? If so, what did you come down with?
Yeah, but just with a nose cold. Nothing too harsh, fortunately!

Soup - What colors dominate your closet?
I guess white, blue, and burnt orange! I could use some more green, though.

Salad - How would you describe your personal "comfort zone"?
I'm not really sure how to answer that. I guess it involves the people who I've known the longest because I know what I can and can't say/do around them.

Main Course - On which reality show would you really like to be a contestant?
I don't really want to be on any of them. If I had to choose, I guess I'd say Beauty and the Geek because those girls are hot (though I don't think I'm geeky enough for it, not to make me look better than those guys or anything, I just don't think I am!).

Dessert - Which holiday would you consider to be your favorite?
I enjoy Christmas the most because I have fond memories of it and enjoy the break from school, but Easter means more to me, I think. It's the one time of year when going to mass really means something special to me.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No Post Til Friday

Sorry guys, but I have two tests and interview tomorrow, and my day starts at 7:30 AM. Would you post if you only had 3 hours left to prepare? =P And tomorrow night, I've been suckered into going to Copa, so you'll have to wait for Friday to get your fix. You can re-read yesterday's post in the meantime since it was so long.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pop 5

Click to enlargeI've talked about this board game in passing, but Cranium actually sent me the board game itself. I already have it, and have been playing with it for a while, so I'll be giving it to my friend Bethany, whose pop culture and board game prowess probably makes her more deserving of it than most of my other readers! Anyway, since they were so kind, I'll do them a favor and give my full review of it here: the good and the bad. The way it works is that there are two teams, and the opposing team picks a card and ranks the 5 games (drawing, humming, acting, sculpting, restricted word clues) so that harder games are worth more points (5 point max). Then, you pick a game and have to get your team to guess what's on the card before time runs out, and the first team to 21 points wins. Sound easy? Actually, it's been taking an average of about 2 hours to complete a game, so it's trickier than you think. There's a lot to love about it, to be honest. It seemed like there were a lot of 80s cards, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it's a pretty even spread among the past 30 years or so and in several categories (fashion, fads, food/drinks, celebrities, tv shows, movies, music, etc). Plus, they have free booster packs available on their site, which is great in this day and age of nickel and dime-ing. I think they've provided a neat solution to the boredom that's typically in games like these with multiple teams for the opposing team since you have a vested interest in picking your rankings properly and it plays into a lot of strategy, and it makes watching them try the card more fun when your whole team knows what it is.

I do have some gripes though. It's not playable out of the box. Isn't that crazy? You need to pick up 3 AAA batteries. For what? To power the timer (the giant circle you see in the box), which is just a blinking light. You'd think they'd put a speaker in there if they need so much power (my Bluetooth headset needs 1 AAA battery for 30 hours of talk time). They give you little cups to hold your points in (neat little green chips), but the markings on them are confusing. We once miscalled a game thinking that a team only needed 1 point to win when they really needed 2, but I realized that there were only 41 chips totally and we had too many left, so the cup actually needed one more chip to be 21. My biggest gripe has to be the notepad that it comes with: it has like maybe 20 pages in it. Come on! That'll last maybe a month. Physically though, I like that the podium spins, and I like the letter-line up cubes, though it's strange that there's a slot in the front to hold the card and yet pulling out the card doesn't start the timer automatically (you still have to push the big green button). As you can tell, these things are nit-picky. I'm just trying to show how small the negatives to this game are. It costs $30 retail, which is more than the original Cranium (I guess the timer is expensive), but I think you'll probably enjoy it if you enjoy games like Cranium. I think it's awesome because you're hard-pressed to find people my age or older who are totally dumb in pop culture. Even when I played with people who weren't born here, they could still find creative ways to act out cards they had no idea on. I'll probably bring this to the ACM retreat on Saturday; I think the CS nerds will get a kick out of it. If I had a letter grade scale for board games, I'd give this one an A or A-. I don't think I'm ever with friends/family and not in a mood to play it.

Ok, so massive crazy news: Wal-mart has already brokered a deal with the six major movie studios to sell their movies online (for download) for $12-$20 a pop. They haven't even built the service itself yet, though. They're entered an already pretty loaded market, though being the giant they are, I don't think that puts them at much of a disadvantage. Nirav is a Microsoft fanboy and disagrees with me (I like the Xbox 360, but I'm sorry, I'm not going to praise its re-release), but I just don't think the market for movie downloads is there yet. It'll be established once home theater PCs really hit the mainstream, and I think that'll coincide with a boom for the IP TV industry.

Steve Jobs posted some thoughts on the Apple site about music and DRM, and I guess there's no guarantee that they're his own, but he's not the kind of man to delegate his own opinions to someone else to be written. If they're true, then I guess we've all underestimated him as simply greedy with the whole FairPlay schema. I guess I can see his rationale better now for keeping it in-house, but I don't think it makes FairPlay any better as a technology. The fact that it's DRM makes it inherently flawed, so I think he's protecting an idea that inherently cannot be protected.

This is pretty cool: Kodak has a new ink that lasts longer than regular inkjet ink (100 years rather than 15) and is half the price! No idea if the quality is better/worse, but it sounds like it's no worse than what we see already. If this takes off, it could make Kodak even richer because people really hate paying so much for ink cartridges and would probably buy a Kodak printer solely to curb that expense.

Crave is reporting on a new technology that uses face recognition as your password, and I'm going to reiterate what Jesper Johansson impressed upon me: biometric scanning and anything related to it is a bad idea. If your face gets scarred, what are you going to do? There's no admin to give you back your old face. And if he can give you a new one, then what makes it more secure than current keyboard-based passwords? If someone wants access to your system, they could gruesomely peel your face off.

TechRepublic has some good myths dispelled about Vista. If you've read a lot of bad press about Vista, it's definitely worth checking out.

I've talked about these before so I don't want to spend much time on them, but here's a great roundup of the social music sites out there. It's very concise, and the top three on that list are still my favorites.

Yahoo Movies has a cool video interview with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez that kind of brings to focus their excitement about Grind House for everyone who just doesn't get it and why it'll be a fun movie to see. I'm definitely excited about it!

Another interesting video is this one about Spider-man 3. Not a whole lot new in it, it just kind of frames the movie a little better. Again, still concerned about what they're doing with the Sandman storyline. And I can no longer stand the line, "The power! It feels good."

Now just short things. The Fourth Installment of the Indiana Jones Adventures movie release date is tentatively May 22, 2008. It looks rather ambitious to me, but I'm sure they can pull it off if they really want to. AICN has another good review of Blades of Glory, I guess it really is better than the trailer shows. There's also a negative review of Fanboys, which is a shame because I love Kristen Bell so.

Now for the Tuesday Twosome:

1. List two items of clothing you would never wear again.
Denim jackets or shirts (yes, I have worn both in the past)
2. List two food items you would never eat again.
Plain spinach and chopped liver
3. List two types of music you would never intentionally listen to again.
Country and Tejano
4. List two TV shows you would never watch again.
My Boys and Mad TV (it's just so bad now)
5. List two beverages you would never drink again.
Plain soda and grapefruit juice

Don't count on a post from me tomorrow night, and possibly not Thursday either. I have two tests and an interview on Thursday.