Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogging, Sponsored by ______ ?

So it looks like not posting yesterday set me back a bit, and now there's all this crap to talk about. As it seems like is often the case nowadays though, it was used very wisely with someone special, so all is well. Anyway, what I figured I'd make the headline today is this new form of advertising from Google called Pay-Per-Action (PPA) where you're not paid by the click, but rather by the user doing something at the site on click-through. Also, rather than the box on the side like how AdSense is, it can be incorporated directly into normal text (presumably, via automatic, smart searching of your text). This isn't a new concept, but other people who have tried it kind of do it in an obtrusive and irritating way. It looks like they're handling it a little better, though being JavaScript can prove to be less than ideal, especially for RSS aggregators. What you have to wonder though, is whether this lowers the credibility of bloggers utilizing the text link ad format, because maybe they'll try to speak in a certain way to divert readers to those sites so they can get money. Paying bloggers who solely say good stuff about your products or bribery aren't unheard of, just usually quickly found out and excommunicated from blog readers. So I guess theoretically then, such a problem would iron itself out. It still feels weird though. With AdSense, it's like having a banner ad: you're not imposing anything on the reader, it's just there for when their eyes wander. With text links though, you're definitely getting a better chance at targeting an audience, but you compromise their trust in your site, even if you're not purposely trying to direct promote such advertising. Given that this blog is for fun, I would never do something like that. I prefer for everyone to realize that my opinions truly are my own without any doubt, but it's just an interesting ethical issue to ponder.

Speaking of Google, Ars Technica got its hands on their new mobile search, and it definitely sounds much more intelligent than before. Their thoughts are almost too positive, and I was hoping to see some flaws in it, but maybe it is just that awesome? They do have a knack for usability, after all (much more so than attractive UIs, ugh). YouTube is actually going to be launching a mobile site of their own this summer (I guess Google has really turned its attention to mobile applications now, I wonder if it has anything to do with that non-existent Google Phone?). June is when their deal with VCast expires, so that's why they have to wait. I question how easily people will be able to find videos on YouTube on their phone, if they'll really want it, and if it'll be worth whatever it costs them to access the Internet at incredibly slow speeds on their phone?

Meanwhile, poor Yahoo is still kind of straggling. In what I consider an off color move, they've decided to Hell with their premium mail service and are now giving everyone unlimited storage. That's exciting and all, but I find it annoying that people still can't forward from Yahoo Mail, and it still doesn't support Pop3 access. Combine that with fact that its interface is little more than a tab-based version of Outlook Express, and you have an inferior product. Sorry Yahoo, more space just isn't enough. Why not work on making things faster and more robust? You have a decent UI, just run with it farther, and optimize.

I guess everyone has seen their fair share of lukewarm receptions of the Apple TV, but because Ars Technica put theirs up I just have to plug it. It's the most comprehensive look you'll see around, and balances the good with the bad very well. Some sites are even going so far as to recommend the Mac Mini instead. Just be forewarned that rigging that up will take extra effort, so in that case you might as well just get a Windows Media Center machine instead.

One more quick thing with Apple: even the New York Times is supporting that rumor we heard a long while back that they may subsidize the purchase of albums for which you've already bought songs from, just within a certain time period. Maybe we'll hear official word soon, then?

So Microsoft is releasing their Xbox 360 Elite thing tomorrow, and I just had to remark at how stupid this is. You're paying $480 for an Xbox 360 in black with an HDMI cable and a 120 GB hard drive. The best part is that the hard drive costs $180 separately. Why don't they just take your first born child? I'm glad I don't have time for video games so much anymore, or else I'd be totally broke by now.

Surprisingly enough, Robert Rodriguez has already started talking a little bit about Sin City 3 and how Johnny Depp may even be in it. That sounds like it'd be a freaking cool movie, especially around the "Hell and Black" storyline.

I'm a little ashamed to say that I actually laughed during the trailer for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. I'm afraid it'll be a movie full of flat jokes, but I do hope that it does end up being funnier than usual for a romantic comedy because I like Kevin James and Adam Sandler. On the opposite end of the genre spectrum is the trailer for 28 Weeks Later, which is much better than I would've expected, though I think it follows a more typical zombie movie storyline this time around. It probably won't be as fresh as the original was.

Lastly, there are pictures up from the premiere of Grind House of its leading ladies. It's weird to see them now all dressed up and outside the context of their characters in the trailers.

Before I close up, I'm going to leave you a picture from my scavenger hunt this weekend for the ACM scavenger hunt. Apparently, the girls were less than willing in publicly trying to pull me back by the shirt, so we decided on the next funniest thing for the word "Axe"

Click to enlarge

I know, scary....

So I can't mind hump this week because I don't own any cats, so let's go with Loaded Questions instead:

Hypotheticals: If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
Ok, that's extremely hard. The point of a lot of novels are to really deconstruct characters, and so there aren't often characters who you'd love to be. I guess if I had to be anyone though, I'd be the main character in The Dead Zone. He's sort of a tragic character, but he gives up his life for something noble, and I dig that.

Anything Goes: What outdoor activity do you consider the most dangerous?
Probably mountain climbing. Rock climbing is hard enough as it is, how the Hell do you safely scale a mountain?!

No-Brainers: What is your favorite genre of movies?
Probably dramas. I like dramas that incorporate a fair amount of dry/dark humor though (hence my obsessions for Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction).

Personals: How good is your long-term memory, on a scale of one to ten?
I'll go with a 6, maybe a 7 if I'm being generous. I'll remember random stuff, but not always the most important stuff.

Fair warning: I'm not going to be able to post tomorrow night because I will be going to Copa.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Being Geeky is Hot

I bet that grabbed your attention, didn't it?! Sorry to have missed last night's post, but I had to spend some quality time with someone very important to me, followed by doing NSC work until I started falling asleep while typing (some point around 4AM). So anyway, back to the attention grabber: it's not actually a concept that I came up with on my own, I'm pulling it from this list of reasons why being a geek makes you more attractive. I think one dimension of being a geek is definitely thinking less of yourself, even if you're really a lot cooler than people who you would consider "normal" or "cool" yourself. Being obsessed in more interesting things in life tends to give nerds less time to work on confidence and such than the A-list kids have, though they usually end up better off in the end anyway once they figure this out. It's like finding money in your couch: it's pretty cool. If I ever have to step away from that paradigm and give myself credit for something, it'd be #10 on that list. I'm a passionate person, and I just find that important in life. I surround myself with other passionate people because it makes me feel better about life and I usually have more respect for them. I definitely know somoone who fits #4, #5, and #10, and she's pretty hot.

The Pandora blog made a little post about that plan I mentioned recently to increase royalty fees for Internet radio that threatens it entirely. It's a good interview, but it's just really slow and so I don't blame people for not sitting down and watching it. The bottom line is that this thing is a huge deal for those of us who hope to grow their musical tastes via the Internet, and it makes music harder to find and enjoy without bleeding money.

Hacking is fun if you know what you're doing. I, of course, am stupid and never invested the time I should've when I was younger in those things. The best way to understand something, in my opinion, is to know how to break it. So, the best way to make your passwords secure, is to know the easiest ways in which one could figure yours out. That's definitely a worthwhile read, and will hopefully be an eye opener for some of you out there.

Microsoft came up with a clever little marketing thing asking if you would prefer a buttload of beer and an Xbox 360, or a PS3. I think they should've stacked it with Shiner Boch.

So this South African woman had quite the idea: an anti-rape device that is inserted into the vagina and does a lot of damage to anything that should find itself trying to, er, pass through. Yeah, so I agree with the concept, but that's really kind of scary, to be honest. It makes me keel over thinking about how this device works. As horrible as rape is, I don't think this is really going to a work, I think a tazer or mace is better.

I thought that this list of ways to pimp out your office was pretty awesome. While I don't think anyone who works anywhere but Google or a small startup could possibly execute most of these ideas, they're still awesome concepts.

So my browser crashed when I was writing the film part of this post, so I'm just going to talk about the box office again real quick. TMNT beat out 300 for top honors with just $25.5 million, only a few million more than its rated R rival. What's really notable is that Shooter tanked with a measly $14 million. Oh well, next weekend sees the addition of two movies that are sure to bring in wider audiences: Blades of Glory and Meet the Robinsons. Yahoo Movies actually has a new clip online for the former.

Ok, I'll share one more thing: AICN has a pretty good review of The Simpsons movie. It doesn't sound like exactly what we wanted, but it sounds better than what most of us expected out of it, so I may actually decide to see it in theaters now.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. What kind of automobile do you drive?
2003 Hyundai XG 300
2. What kind of automobile do you WISH you drove?
I guess a Volvo S60 R. Of course I want to go back to the make that saved my life!
3. When is the last time you bought a vehicle (new or used)?
Last August (used)
4. What is your color of choice as far as vehicles go?
It really just depends on the car, to be honest. My car is maroon, which kind of sucks since that's the A&M school color, but it still looks good in it.
5. Do you regularly have your oil changed?
Yeah, my dad helps me with that.
6. How long do you generally keep a vehicle before thinking about buying a new one?
We'll find out =)
7. What kind of automobile will you buy next?
Not sure, but hopefully a lightly used Volvo.

Friday, March 23, 2007

News Corp and NBC Strike Back

So it's late on Friday night, and I'm actually still a tad bit tipsy from the 3 Jello shots, 1 Kamikaze, and 2 cups of vodka punch I had, but I figure that I should still write a post before I go to bed to make up for the post I missed last night. Sorry about that, but you'll have to believe me that I had good reason. Anyway, I find it wildly fascinating that News Corp (yes, the owners of MySpace) and NBC have teamed up to instantiate what has been a dubbed a "YouTube killer," and I'm here to comment on whether that's really a worthy title. Personally, I hate any nicknames ending in "killer" because they're always exaggerations that never live up to their names. This doesn't sound like a user-driven community, it sounds from how it's being described as a way to give the networks the power to combine forces in bringing their content online in a legal way to generate more revenues for themselves. This makes a lot of sense, but it almost sounds too good to be true. They're partnering with the likes of Yahoo, Microsoft, and Time freaking Warner to build up the content on this service. Not only that, but it's supposed to have shows like 24, The Simpsons, Heroes, Friday Night Lights, and many others. Plus, advertisers already on board include Cadbury, GM, Cisco, and Schweppes. There's no doubt that if these things are true, this could end up being pretty huge. However, I still think it can coexist with YouTube because it's going to have this very corporate feel to it, I have a feeling that the advertising will be very obvious, and it won't have the bank of user-submitted content that YouTube treasures. If they pull it off, it has great potential for being a huge success, but they shouldn't live under the delusion that they've screwed over Google quite yet.

Speaking of TV shows though, Sony has signed an agreement with Apple to provide such shows to iTunes as Charlie's Angels and the original Spiderman series. I was a closet fan of News Radio myself though, which apparently Sony owns because it will now be on iTunes as well.

Surely, I shouldn't let Apple get off that easy today. I barely even talked about everyone's impressions of the Apple TV! To help deflate the massive hype that will hit you about this product, I'd like to reiterate my pessimism with the things Gizmodo didn't like about the product, including the speed and the lack of control on your Apple TV hard drive. iLounge was much harsher with a list of reasons why you don't even need this thing, and I'd be inclined to agree with a lot of what they say. It doesn't do much more than you could do with some skill and an iPod, you need a fairly nice television set to use it, it can't play DVDs of any form (current or next generation), and it's still not a DVR. It's a nice product, it's just not a killer app, as such.

Ok, so it's not related to technology or movies, but I still wanted to plug this article about exercises that aren't good. It's good to know that my concern about people doing posterior lat pulldown and behind-the-neck shoulder press aren't unfounded. I was surprised that leg extensions aren't good for you either though, because I've been doing them for a couple of years now.

Yahoo Movies picked up the actual trailer for Neil Gaiman's Stardust, and it's much more fun to watch than what I had posted about just a couple of days ago. He's known more for visual flair than substance, so we should probably take this trailer with a grain of salt, but I'm sure it'll still be interesting to watch, at the least. Also, Comcast has the real final trailer for Spider-man 3, though it's not much more than we've already seen until the end, and it doesn't instill any more confidence in me in the movie. Still, it is worthwhile to see if you're as big a fan of the character as I am.

AICN has dug up the first review of Grind House that I've seen (I believe, at least), and it's quite good. It sounds like it'll be like a movie geek's wet dream, though I see it falling flat on many critics and most average moviegoers. Obviously, I'm going to try to see it at midnight when it opens! Oh, and it did get that R-rating, so no fear that it'll tank due to an NC-17. Now to see whether they earned that rating or if they got it because they're Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. I'm more surprised though that it's over 3 hours long. How many people, besides me, will actually sit through that?

Supposedly, insiders have revealed that Batman will be joining the cast of the forthcoming Justice League movie, and Christian Bale's contract actually stipulates that he must participate in ensemble cast movies, but I wonder if this is really reliable. It sounds awful early for them to already know if Bale will be in the movie, let alone Batman.

And now, my friends, for Friday's Feast:

Who is your favorite news anchor/reporter? Why?

I don't have one because the new on TV is biased and way too depressing. As you can no doubt tell, I prefer getting my news from online outlets!

Name 3 foods that are currently in your freezer.

Chicken tenders, ice cream, and probably some ice.

If you were to have the opportunity to name a new town or city, what would you call it?

I've had this before, and established that I have no clue. To be corny, how about Pintotown? Hey, it's pretty late, cut me some slack!

Main Course
What will most likely be the next book you read?

Probably Gunslinger, the first in Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

What's the first thing you notice about the opposite gender?

Definitely the smile. A pretty smile is very important, because it seems to tell a lot about a person.

Have an awesome weekend everyone! Here's hoping that I get all my work done and manage a post on Sunday night!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Why Google Likes Litigation

I was not intending to post tonight because I have an OOP exam tomorrow night, but I decided that I could limit myself to a few articles because there are some things I really want to talk about, so I think I can get this post done and shower by 11:00 PM. Ok, *cracks knuckles*, let's get started! I really like this article's perspective on Google just eating up the litigation they're facing with YouTube. I know, it sounds stupid, just think about it for a second though. YouTube's major competitor really is MySpace, when you think about it. Sites like VideoEgg and Stage6 aren't really getting anywhere, and iFilm seems much more controlled and moderated than run by the people like YouTube is. In fact, if you look at iFilm two years ago and iFilm today, you'll see that it looks a lot more like a cross between Digg and YouTube. Again, a testament to YouTube's authority. However, MySpace really has grown in its own right and managed to get a lot of legitimate support and viewership, and that large audience is what makes YouTube what it is as well. So back to the point: without Google, there's no doubt that YouTube would eventually die. I don't care how idealistic you are, there's no way in Hell it was going to survive copyright issues on its own, and with News Corp's backing it's very likely that MySpace would take the throne. This leaves Google screwed though because Google Video never picked up the steam they wanted it to, plagued by an inherent lack of popularity and a strange UI. So what do you do? You help fight lawsuits, you move forward into making it legitimate, you keep all that DRM ugliness out of the picture, you bring in non-obtrusive advertising, and you become a very rich hero. Google has already proven that it can't duplicate YouTube's success on its own, so this is their only shot for a while at making video advertising a reality. Let's see if it actually works out now.

The other really article I wanted to visit is a topic I haven't touched on in a while: the Zune. The article talks about five ways to fix it, but I think it needs a little more work than that. I think that this is their shot to compete with iTunes and they're totally missing out. It's becoming more and more clear to me that people are getting frustrated with iTunes and are settling for it because there's nothing better out there, not because they adore it. Yes, they do need to exploit WiFi more and they do need to address DRM and the price does need to drop, but if they don't go above and beyond the call of duty here then they're going to get slammed by the iPod again. I'm fully aware of what an inferior product the iPod is on the inside, so why hasn't Microsoft made me aware of why the Zune should get my money instead?

Back to Google just for a brief moment: the rumors about the Google Phone seem to have kind of faded away. It seems like they're more focused on mobile applications, not on the hardware itself. This could just be a cover-up, but it sounds genuine.

Lots of reviewers have gotten their hands on the Apple TV, including the Wall Street Journal. It sounds like a solid product, but nothing more than what it looks like: a device that plays audio/video/photographic content from your computer on your modern-day television set. It has no online capabilities as such, nor is it compatible with old-school sets, nor can it record televised content, nor can it play your DVDs. I think it will succeed because it's very good at what it does do, and it makes the whole experience very robust. However, this will not impress tech heads, but hopefully for Apple it will impress the average consumer (if they market it properly, which is half of what they do anyway).

There's a security update for Firefox called, you might want to get it.

Yahoo Movies has some HD content for Spider-man 3, and I don't think it's anything new, but it is really pretty since it's in Quicktime HD.

It looks like the Wachowski Brothers have decided that Emile Hirsch, of The Girl Next Door fame, is to be Speed Racer in their adaptation of the popular animated series. He's a pretty decent actor, and it looks like they want a filming style similar to 300 so I'm really interested in seeing a teaser trailer for this one.

Remember that World War II thriller than Bryan Singer wanted to work on? Well, it turns out that Tom Cruise has been cast in it. No idea who he'll be, but the movie supposedly centers around a plot by German generals to assassinate Hitler. Maybe he'll be Hitler since it's the "starring role"? After all, he practically owns United Artists these days. Say what you will about his personal life, but I think he's a very versatile actor, so I think this is good news.

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

List your top five methods of goofing off.
5. Webcomics - I check Dilbert, Ctrl Alt Del, Questionable Content, and Penny Arcade, at least, daily
4. Forums - Mainly the ACM forums nowadays
3. Facebook - Not as much as most people, but I still mess around on it.
2. Gaim - I type faster than I talk, so chatting is fairly fun and time-consuming
1. Gmail - if it's not sending e-mails then it's chatting with people on Google Talk
Honorable Mentions: Digg, Blogging, Napping

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tech Speak is Cool

I have an exam on Thursday, but I promised a post today since I missed yesterday's (with good reason) and so you shall have it. Let's see if I can get this done in 30 minutes *checks watch*. Being such an overt tech geek myself, I love indulging in articles about why it's a good lifestyle, and so I just had to spent some time talking about this list of reasons why tech speak is the best language to learn. It's not really a language so much as a lexicon to be added to your standard bank of English knowledge. I agree with everything he said (except the hentai thing...ew). I've definitely become extremely efficient on a computer, it's given me more confidence in starting up conversations, programming has made me more organized (and helped me learn to see patterns), and helping people troubleshoot problems is probably the quickest way to their heart, to be honest. It ostensibly bothers me when people in CS are ashamed to admit it, as if it makes picking up chicks that much harder. Or when they think it's cool to not program in their free time, but instead to get plastered or something. I think what's cool is doing what you love doing and being passionate about it. If you love neurobiology then it's cool to collect random facts and help people understand themselves better. If you love microbiology then it's cool to be a local expert on diseases. There's nothing wrong with being geeky and there's nothing wrong with picking up tech speak, especially given how prominent computing has become in our lives. I mean look at how much crap I have to talk about here 6 days a week! It's better than watching the local news where you hear about people dying all the time; technology is much more exuberant.

I talk about the RIAA so much that I decided to give them their own tag here. Anyway, the Consumerist's readers voted them the worst company in America, which is quite an honor since it was a bracket of 32 companies that they were in competition with. It was a fairly close final round with Halliburton, but I'm glad they ended up winning since the RIAA victimizes many more Americans than Halliburton does.

Apple has invited select members of the press and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) to a special event in Las Vegas called "Lights Camera", which I think is kind of an odd title. It should probably be like "Lights! Camera! ...". I don't know. Anyway, I'm sure it'll be related to Final Cut Pro and/or Aperture since it's such a small event, so don't expect anything too extravagant from it. It'll probably be useful mainly to video/image editing professionals.

John Backus died today, which many of you may not care about but I'm sure that every Computer Scientist worth his pay knows who that is since they talk about him in practically every non-theoretical CS class. He invented Fortran back in the day, which is a huge deal because it was one of the first major, successful high-level programming languages. I guess it's just kind of surreal reading about someone dying who was such a big part of modern-day computing.

If you like buying gadgets, or you're like me and wish you could afford to buy more gadgets, then you'll want to read this article about how to time your technological purchases just right. Timing really is everything, so I especially support the "put off that craving" tip. The going to small business one is news to me though, I often find the best deals online or at Fry's.

There's a ridiculous amount of movie news for me to cover. Let me start out with the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean 3. I didn't even really care about this movie and even I enjoyed that trailer! Though I should probably see the second one first. has a couple of posters, if you're interested.

Eli Roth put up a particularly creepy clip from Hostel 2. It won't give you nightmares or anything, but it is a little unsettling.

We have a couple of posters. The Shrek the Third poster is rather predictable: just the starring cast and the title. The one for 28 Weeks Later is much cooler, in my opinion:

I don't know how I feel about this Justice League movie being made. Supposedly, it will now have Superman, but I just think they're going to screw it up majorly. There are already movies being made for many of these characters, why not wait a while and do this movie right?

AICN nabbed a couple of reviews for Sunshine, and it does not sound all that thrilling. It seems to have great visuals but suffers in acting. I'm sure it'll be a decent movie, just not what we were expecting from Danny Boyle.

I'll go for the Tuesday Twosome this week:

1. What two things remind you of Spring?
Bunnies and flowers
2. What are two things you want to accomplish this Spring season?
Good grades and good times with a certain someone
3. What are your two favorite seasons of the year?
I guess fall and winter? Summer is just too hot over here, and usually spring is just a signal that summer isn't too far off.
4. Do you perform Spring cleaning in your home? Why or why not?
Not really, I prefer to just clean my place periodically.
5. What are the two best things about Spring?
How refreshing the change is from the cold and having a Spring Break.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

We Need to Fix IT

I hope you all had a great weekend! Mine was overshadowed with the knowledge that I have to get back to studying, but I did get a puzzler done yesterday (woot!) and we did some grilling (though did not go shopping):

People make fun of me for taking pictures of food, but who doesn't like looking at food? Come on! The food was so good that even Fred was beached and she didn't even eat any of it:

Anyway, on to the topic at hand: IT. Oh, and when I said "we," I mean IT managers, not poor college students. I think a clear concern amongst my friends is ending up in a dead end job. No one wants to be at a company like IBM where you get assigned to some project that no one could care less about and you beg for time to pass quicker. Part of the pull to this career for me is that the work is so fun and exciting that days zoom by, and I even at TI I started to become tired of just putting the same feature on different tools. Having innovative spirit is important, and when tech guys become maintenance men you really keep new ideas from the field. I wonder how much universities can really do to excite their students. How do you explain to students what they can do one day with what they know? That kind of spirit just comes from being around other smart people and meeting CEOs of startups and such, both of which I'm thankful to have been exposed to at UT. All you can really do is come up with interesting projects for students to do and hope that it sparks further interest, which is another thing I think UT is good at, but I have no idea how things are done at other universities. Well anyway, this problem is a very hard one to fix, but it is very real. IT isn't as sexy as it once was, and I think we need to go back to that time like 6 years ago where everyone was trembling with excitement over technology and think about what we had outside of an invisible bubble.

Google, you rock. I say that mainly because I just found out about Google Transit for Austin. You just put in two locations and it'll use Google Maps to show you what bus(es) you need to take as well as the times for the next bus and how much money you save on gas. Very cool, and it's in 9 other cities as well.

Some researchers in Australia have apparently used a study to develop software that can rate a woman's looks on a scale from 1 to 10 based on a picture of them. While I appreciate the talent it must've taken to even attempt something like this, I think it's fairly flawed. First of all, using a panel of 50 "volunteers" to determine beauty is really biased and not random at all. On top of that though, even physical beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I see something like this causing immense emotional damage to lots of women, which fashion magazines already do quite well.

We have some new software versions out this weekend. The cooler one is FoxIt Reader version 1.3 with support for more stuff and more pro-version features minus the bloat you'd expect. The other new version is iTunes 7.1.1, which doesn't ostensibly change anything but I'm thinking will fix stability issues that I've noticed in recent months and I'm sure that some of you have had to deal with as well (like erasing the library metafile for no reason).

Here's a one-liner: one blogger put up a list of 10 great sites for web developers and I had to plug it because some of these sites really are awesome (a couple of them I've been checking out for a while). Not only that, but almost all of them are really easy on the eyes.

I don't think it's much of a surprise that 300 managed to keep top honors this week at the box office with $31.2 million, especially since everyone and their mom seems to have seen it now. 300 and Zodiac are probably the best movies out right now, anyway. Wild Hogs also continues to impress everyone with $18.8 million at #2, and the new releases (none of which got much critical acclaim) took the next three spots. Of course, TMNT (not "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles") comes out next week, and I estimate it having a good weekend given its appeal among not only today's youth but also among college students and young adults who grew up on the original TV show and movies.

The only other movie news comes from the Russian site They have some character posters from the Fantastic Four sequel that look good, albeit a little too airbrushed. Hey, I can't complain when they give us a close-up of Ms. Alba on a poster like that. They also have some pictures from Pirates of the Caribbean 3, which aren't all that exciting but I'm sure that I have some diehard fans reading and there's really no other news out there this weekend.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. San Francisco :: California

  2. Sadness :: Morose

  3. Spirits :: High

  4. Harriet :: Tubman

  5. State :: Secretary

  6. John :: Q

  7. Offense :: Defense

  8. Timeless :: Classic

  9. Account :: Bank

  10. Refuse :: Reject

Friday, March 16, 2007


Hey gang, I'm back! So my Thursday did not end the way I was hoping it would, and today was even stranger. I don't even know how I should be doing right now, but I have some very loving and awesome friends and family, and I appreciate them, and so I think I'll be just fine. My sister-in-law and I cooked up some good Thai Chicken Curry last night, check it out:

I finally did see 300 today in IMAX (for a whopping $12, sheesh) and I really enjoyed it. In case you're totally clueless, the movie tells the tale leading up to the Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartan men stood up to the Persian army to try to push the rest of Sparta to fight for freedom. The action was really amazing. Every scene was meticulously planned, the special effects were spectacular, and the battle scenes were as gratuitous as you want. So, by all means, a true action movie. The acting was pretty good, too. British actor Gerard Butler really shined as Leonidas, and I really liked what they did with Xerxes. However, what you have to understand is that everything is going to be cartoonish. So obviously, things aren't going to be realistic. Not only that, but scenes are going to be exaggerated to make it more entertaining. Did the Persians really have superhuman monsters? Probably not. This movie isn't going to be historically accurate, and so it's going to have really random stuff in it to impress the eye. What it was really missing though was more of a plot. There wasn't a sense of why the Persians were at this stage other than pure evil, not much of a backstory on the Persians, and the character development was pretty hollow. All we had to go off of were these overarching values of valor and camaraderie and patriotism. I give this movie a solid B. I loved it, and I'd see it again, and I'd recommend it to people who enjoy war movies, but it did feel like it was missing a certain something.

So this is totally going to offend people, but I don't care because I think it's hilarious. 1up just has an editorial comparing consoles to women, and it's pretty freaking brilliant. I probably agree the most with his little blurb about the Sega Saturn, which I had always felt was underestimated.

Once again, the music industry has gone bat crazy. They've actually pushed to increase royalty rates for Internet radio, and it may kill such beloved services as Pandora. I don't think I have comments left on this topic that I haven't voiced in the past week: they need to smarten up and embrace these new ways to spread music, not restrict them.

I'm surprised that I didn't notice before that Grind House still doesn't have a rating. Anyway, apparently, there's significant concern that it won't get an R rating. Yeah, when you combine nudity with Nazism and sadomasochism all in the same scene, it's not going to go well with the MPAA. Given that it's Quentin Tarantino though, I'm curious as to how it'll all play out.

It looks like the starlet to be featured in Indiana Jones 4 is Cate Blanchett. I personally don't think she's really that great looking, but she is a good actress.

Comic book geeks unite: Watchmen is, in fact, Zach Snyder's next project. I think the success of 300 has given him a good enough reputation for a greenlight this time, and so I hope he does well with it.

One of the Russian sites has a trailer for Stardust, and I have no idea what it's about but it just jumped out at me. Neil Gaiman is well known for visual appeal though, so no telling whether this one will have much substance, but I hope it'll be a fun flick.

Not that we need another Spider-man 3 poster, but there is another international one. Not very different, but still a good poster.

Now for Friday's Feast:

Name two things that made you smile this week.

I don't know about specific things, but I know two Hispanic women who did, and I think they both know who they are because they made me smile multiple times =)

Fill in the blank: Don't you hate it when ________?

you fall behind schedule

When you can't go to sleep, what is your personal remedy to help yourself drift into Lullabyland?

Thinking about all the work I have to do. That gets me pretty tired because I'm never short on crap to do.

Main Course
What is something about which you've always wondered but have not yet found a good answer?

Why bad things happen to good people. There probably is no explanation, but I just don't like seeing horrible people prosper.

What is your favorite pasta dish?

Not sure, maybe Fettuccine Alfredo. My eyes always seem drawn to that on pasta menus.

I'm going to the mall tomorrow with the sis-in-law to get some more business casual stuff (i.e. clubbing and work clothes), and we're going to be grilling! Perfect food for the soul, I'd say, so I hope you all have a very exciting weekend. Mine will be filled with that, getting to Austin, doing a crazy puzzler for Object Oriented Programming, and a very long meeting on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gabbin' About Unbox

The amount of news today was really weak, and I have to delay my trip to see 300 because the weather here blows. Oh well, the sun will definitely come up tomorrow, of that I am certain! Anyway, let's go back to the topic of Amazon Unbox, a subject I don't think I've touched on since I criticized its initial release. I did not know that Unbox will now let you download shows/movies to your TiVo until now, and SmugBlog has some nice, concise impressions of it. In my mind, this drastically increases the viability of Unbox compared with Netflix and iTunes and the like since TiVo is far more pervasive than a home theater PC (ala the Apple TV). Now it makes sense to rent movies online from Amazon because it sounds like it's pretty easy to watch it on your TV if you have TiVo. I know, that's kind of a catch-22, but I think it's enough to give them a competitive edge. Even cooler is that you can re-download the content. However, why do they not have HD offerings? Also, it sounds like they're still working out kinks in the UI, and they definitely need to figure out how to let you download stuff directly from your living room (though I'm not sure how feasible this would be, it would give them an even bigger edge). I think they're doing much better now than when they first released this thing, but they still have a ways to go. The only thing that they absolutely need now to succeed (the things I listed above are just things to give them an edge) is to massively expand their selection. If you make it convenient, the people will come. And as Wal-mart tells us, if you have a ridiculous amount of stuff, people will also come.

Analysts believe that the multi-touch technology that Apple had showcased for the iPhone will spread to more products within the next few years, dubbing it a "Mega-Platform". For some reason, I just don't buy into this. For one thing, if it's going to happen, it'll happen now. If they wait as long as 3 years, this technology won't be as fresh and they won't be able to capitalize on it very well. After all, would people really care about a touchscreen iMac?

In other Apple news, this guy is ranting about how iTunes can't re-download all of your music in the case that you somehow lose it. Songs that are removed from the store obviously cannot be re-downloaded, and I guess it's debatable as to whether or not this is fair. Apple never promises that your music is safe should your hard drive get fried, but on the other hand, what if your place burns down and you even lose your backups? I don't think it's unfair that they don't provide an easy way to re-download right now, but I think it would be a good idea and would make people much more secure about buying their music online.

Google stated today that they're going to start making server logs that have been around for more than 18-24 months anonymous in an effort to help improve privacy. While I appreciate their sentiment, I just don't think it's enough. 2 years is a long time to keep that kind of information available on demand, and I think it's reasonable to feel uncomfortable about it, but I wonder how much they could really appease privacy concerns before the government starts getting pissed? Or are they not as "not evil" as they claim?

Isn't that a really pretty hotel pool area? It's one of HotelChatter's best geek hotels in the world, and the wait staff will bring you the gear to charge your tech toys when you're chilling out pool side. Another one of the hotels is fashioned like a hobbit hole in the Lord of the Rings, and another has rooms outfitted with tons of Apple gear. It's a fun read, if you have a few minutes.

This is interesting, in a sad way. Iran is actually banning 300 because it paints Persians in a bad light. Guess what, Iran? The Battle of Thermopylae actually freaking happened! This movie depicts, albeit in a cartoonish manner (for entertainment value), an extremely important event in the history of the world, and Iran doesn't want to acknowledge it? Not only that, but it doesn't even directly attack Iranians.

Lo and behold, we have some good trailers today. The first is for a movie called Waitress, of which I'm not entirely sure of the plot, but it does have Andy Griffith and Keri Russell. I know, that's not saying much, but the trailer kind of caught my attention for whatever reason. The trailer for the Highlander: The Anime is also interesting, but only for those of you who like anime. Even though I'm not a big fan of anime, I still kind of appreciate the art style. Oh, and Yahoo Movies has the Shrek the Third one in HD.

The creators of the classic movie The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie) are teaming up for the first time since, well, The Usual Suspects! Details are scarce, but the movie will be a WWII thriller along the lines of The Usual Suspects. No idea what that means, but I am excited to see what these two heads cook up together.

Lastly, JoBlo dug up some pretty good Spider-man 3 shots, but there aren't very many of them. Most notable is just seeing Gwen Stacy in them.

This week's Wednesday Mind Hump is a bit more challenging than usual:

Tell me who you think is a genius . . .

Movie director
Quentin Tarantino, no contest. I just love his taste, for some reason.

Stephen King, just because his books are so amazingly entertaining (which is as good a reason as any).

Tough, but I'll go with Tom Morello. He's just come up with such great riffs over so many albums with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, and he's managed to adapt to these different styles of music.

Historical figure
Again, very hard. I feel obligated to say Jesus, because he's a pretty freaking amazing historical figure, after all. I don't know why, but that seems like an unfair answer. I'll stick with Jesus, because of the insane amount of influence his presence had on history, but for a less religious second historical figure: I'll go with FDR. I think the way he stuck to his guns was pretty genius, and he didn't single-handedly bring us out of the Great Depression, but he sure did a Hell of a lot for this country.

Oh, I won't be posting tomorrow night. I have plans =D Have a great Thursday though and I should be back on Friday!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Idiot-Proofing PCs

You know I never thought I'd hope for Spring Break to pass by faster. I think seeing the people I'm dying to see is starting to outweigh the work I don't want to do. Oh well, at least I've learned some fun new songs on guitar that I know someone will love. Anyway, enough of indulging in myself: let's talk about idiot-proofing. Crunchgear wrote a bit about how to make your parents' computer more, well, parent-friendly! While the article has its heart in the right place, I think it's a little too naive. I think there's still more hand-holding involved than he implies. While Gmail is fairly intuitive, you're still going to have to endure calls at random hours of the day if you don't spend enough time walking them through the core features. Same with Skype and e-mail clients and such. I do like the tip about getting a new computer though, because it will cut a lot of your big problems down. It's a wonder that there's not more software to make remotely supporting a machine more doable. For example, I have a firewall on my parents' computer, but it often frustrates them. I wish I could remotely tell it which applications to allow and such. I mean yeah, there's that stupid remote desktop thing in Windows that's only used in offices, but there needs to be something that works more readily and the consumer-level. That would be truly idiot-proofing it: a help key on their keyboard that would let you easily remotely access their computer. Anyway, that's just my late night idea. By the way, I don't like the idea of that presto printer unless you can afford the ink it would take to print pictures like that!

How could I possibly pass up a blurb with a Microsoft executive claiming that piracy is actually good for Microsoft despite their public stand against it? In my opinion, you're always going to have to accept certain losses to piracy and make up for the rest of the losses by price targeting those segments more carefully (hence the deals that college students usually get on pricey software).

Click to enlargeYep, that's a pretty big iPhone ad alright. I'm almost a little surprised that they'd be doing this over two months in advance of the anticipated release, but I guess that marketing is everything with a product like this. In case you can't tell, that's at the new store in New York City.

I definitely think that this is a must-read, because it tells you how to surf the web without getting tracked. Maybe I've just become a privacy whistle-blower nowadays, but I think being able to surf the web without a trace is a pretty powerful thing. I decided to install Tor myself.

Everyone likes pictures! You get get a whole crapload of stock pictures over here that are largely available under the popular Creative Commons license. I've just blown some time totally browsing the tags randomly and it's a lot of fun.

Real quick: SanDisk is launching 32 GB solid-state drives, which fall under the flash category of memory. Does this mean we're going to see a new Sansa soon? I don't think this hard drive would be very inexpensive though.

So my cousin tonight said that Grind House looks stupid, and I'm sorry but I could not help but scoff at that. I usually am not a movie snob in real life, honest. But this movie is going to be so fun and I'll be so pissed if it does bad because people can't appreciate it. Anyway, the point is that Yahoo Movies has a nifty little interview with the directors to check out. Oh, and Robert Rodriguez is planning a spinoff based on one of the fake trailers (the machete one) that would be direct to video. Does he really think he can make enough money off of it? I guess he's doing it just for fun, which you can afford to do when you're freaking Robert Rodriguez.

There's some new pictures and posters from Lonely Hearts online that are actually worth checking out. Maybe I'm just a sucker for John Travolta and Salma Hayek, but I do want to see this movie.

Quint at AICN got to see the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and enjoyed it, and then saw some footage from Ratatouille and loved that, so if you're bored you may want to read all his impressions. All that matters to me is that Brad Bird is trying to not disappoint us with his sophomore effort, and I did love the teaser we got a long while back for this one.

Lastly, IGN has some promising clips from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which not only features beautiful CG but also some Jet! Yeah, I think I should definitely be looking forward to this flick.

I think I want to do the Ten on Tuesday this week, though it's very difficult and the order is even harder:

10 Favorite Albums
Honorable Mention: Be - Common (I couldn't decide whether I liked it more than the Kill Bill soundtracks or not)
10. Kill Bill Soundtracks
9. Revelations - Audioslave
8. Shine On - Jet
7. More Adventurous - Rilo Kiley
6. Morning View - Incubus
5. Things Fall Apart - The Roots
4. Black Star - Black Star
3. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Lauryn Hill
2. By The Way - Red Hot Chili Peppers
1. X & Y - Coldplay

This list definitely doesn't cover all my favorite artists, and note that I did not count greatest hits CDs because those aren't albums!

Monday, March 12, 2007

College Students, Prepare to be Violated

So my friend Josh is a jerkface and I didn't see 300 last night, but I'll see it with my friend Robert on Wednesday instead. I got some good news last night that I think will end to my break ending well though, so the universe is back in balance. Anyway, it's no secret that the RIAA and MPAA have been pretty pissed with college campuses for being sloppy about copyright infringement. It's hard to blame them given that they're kind of, you know, more concerned with educating students. So this company Red Lambda decides to make a piece of software called cGrid that does what telcos have been struggling with for many many months: monitoring Internet activity to determine who's using P2P clients. While I appreciate the skill it must've taken to develop this, every single one of those programmers should feel like total freaking sellouts. You're helping rich, selfish bastards extort defenseless, poor college students. I know stealing is wrong and all that jazz, but there's a fucking limit to this nonsense! Why not just install cameras in people's dorm rooms to see what they're doing on their computer? Hell, why stop there, let's require keyloggers! Alright, I guess I'm getting really uppity on privacy, but I think rightfully so. While I understand that this is probably legal, I just think it's unfair. Why not push services like Ruckus (which I still adore, by the way) rather than persecute some of your most avid fans?

So I know that the whole tablet PC thing never took off, but I still think that a dual touch screen would be pretty sweet (though I'd worry about screen smudging because of the keyboard). That's just one of a few concept laptops you can see here. I highly recommend watching the Lenovo tapes, because they're ridiculously fun to watch.

As anyone with SBC Global knows, AT&T and Yahoo have had a partnership going on for quite a long time now. There's strong speculation that AT&T is trying to acquire Yahoo, which has seen another dip in its stock price because of the rumors. It's kind of sad to see Yahoo struggle so much, but what innovation have they really promulgated in recent years?

In rather big news: GoDaddy was slammed with a major Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) yesterday, which basically means that someone flooded their servers to kill service to many sites. I really want to know why someone would do this, because a lot of times an attack like this would be targeted at a certain site whereas these hackers made kind of a blanket statement.

Here's a one liner: check out some pretty art over here.

AICN has another review for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it sounds like he really liked it except for the little things (some of the characters a little off balance and a few plot holes). The CG sounds amazing, which you can see more of over here.

They also dug up some reviews of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which are much more positive than the other early review they had received. It sounds even darker than before, which I love, and I think the plot sounds like it could work really well (Harry leading a bunch of wizards to fight Voldemort). Whenever I think of this movie I see the eerie poster in my head that says "You will lose everything," and it gets me pumped about the movie.

What do you know, we have yet another good review today! This one is for that fun movie Meet the Robinsons you've probably seen commercials for (I think the dinosaur is pretty awesome). Supposedly, it's not on par with other Pixar favorites, but still worthwhile.

Lastly, the release date for Speed Racer has been moved up to May 9, 2008, so I wonder if they'll put out a teaser trailer by June? I'm really curious to see what kind of style the Wachowski Brothers will run with here. I used to love the TV show (I mostly watched it while I was in India for a summer when I was 12).

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Do you believe in reincarnation?
I'm really not sure. While it's hard to believe that we die and that's it, it's also hard to believe that we can come back after death. I'd almost like to see the afterlife as it's painted in What Dreams May Come (hey, I thought it was a good movie, though I really don't want to see it again).
2. Do you own any anime figures?
Um, no =P I only have one anime movie: Rurouni Kenshin.
3. Are you one of the fanfic writers over at
Nope, I only write here :)
4. Do you review stories which are posted in
Again, nope.
5. Are you looking forward to seeing the third Spider-Man film?
I am, but I think I'll be disappointed. I really loved the second one, but the trailers for this one are just worrying me because I'm such a huge Spider-man fan that I really want them to stay true to the original intentions of the series. I don't mind the little things (like the webbing coming from his body, not from a mechanical arm thing), but why does it make sense for Sandman to have killed his father?
6. Are you looking forward to seeing the Fantastic Four sequel?
I didn't think I would be, but the whole Silver Surfer thing makes me want to see what they do with it.
7. Do you like "Deal or No Deal"?
Nope. It's so stupid! Why don't you just roll a dice for an hour? The whole game takes no skill whatsoever and is composed of stupid melodrama as well as the annoying antics of Howie Mandel (I never even liked him when I was a kid and watched Bobby's World).
8. Are you a television watcher?
Yeah, but only on my free time. I just watch shows when I'm eating meals, I don't set aside time just for television.
9. Do you write letters to people?
Only e-mails, which I write much more informally than one would a letter.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Embracing a Harder R?

I know, I know. You all must hate me by now! I'm sorry, the blog isn't dead. I haven't abandoned it. Life has just taken an interesting turn for me the past couple of weeks, but I'm doing just fine for the first time in a long time, even if things don't end up exactly as I'd like. To compensate, I thought I'd show you guys my new haircut. I've never been to a place where they actually shampoo your hair and everything! Anyway, on to the real stuff: the MPAA's fight to not look like total slobs. It's no secret that they're despised for their ratings system among film buffs and geeks like me, especially once you see the first NC-17 movie that blows you away. Now, they're seriously considering splitting up the R-rating into a "soft" R and a "hard" R. I know it sounds stupid, but I think it'd be better than giving movies an NC-17 rating because it's merely an extra admonition. It holds no extra weight in enforcement. In all honesty, an NC-17 rating nearly guarantees that you're not going to make back your production budget. If they think this middle rating would mean less movies get NC-17, then I say we definitely push forward with that. And hey, while you're at it, why not make your methodology for assigning these ratings less nonsensical and more open? If they don't stop being so irresponsible then I'm sure that they'll face government intervention.

For those of you who don't know, the JPEG image format is a lossless form of compression that drastically reduces the size of a picture by way of a neat algorithm, but not every bit is guaranteed to be correct. Hence, Microsoft is leaning towards an HD Photo format that supposedly has a better algorithm and can accommodate both lossless and lossy compression. It sounds all good and well, but the adoption of a new format is a huge undertaking. Not only that, but it had better be damn good if we're going to make it a new standard. Not to be pessimistic about it, but this is an issue that has been an issue for a very long time now because JPEG is so meh. Microsoft definitely has the resources to do it right, I just hope that they do.

Click to enlargeWhile I'm on imaging, check out these tips on taking good black and white photos. I've always been fascinated with how taking pictures in black and white makes things look cooler. Just look at this picture to the right that I took of my cousin's son. Why does that shot work in black and white? Just an interesting puzzle to me, I guess. I don't think my camera can shoot in RAW though. I'm a bit too poor to get a DSLR (yeah, the EOS is pretty hot).

Any nerd who wants a solid chuckle should definitely go here and check out some programming theorems. Despite them being stupid, they really made me laugh out loud. Only the most intense nerds can appreciate such intricacies as the 3-beer UI test.

Guess what, biatches?! 300 DOMINATED the box office!!! For the first time in God knows how long, Americans actually used their brain and saw a movie that doesn't both suck and blow at the same time. I'm actually going to go see it myself in a few hours, and am very excited about it. Obviously, I'll come back with a full review. Somehow, Wild Hogs managed an impressive cling to #2, while Zodiac somehow slip to #5. But oh well, at least Zach Snyder prevailed for geeks everywhere!

Yahoo Movies has the trailer for a movie called Slow Burn that I thought looked pretty cool, but I'll probably remain skeptical about it for good measure. Yeah it has Ray Liotta (I think he's way underrated) and Mekhi Pfiffer, but something about the way the plot is explained rubs me as almost contrived. I don't know, I think it could still be good.

If you want to see a really gory trailer instead, head over to the trailer for the low budget zombie flick, The Mad. I like that it doesn't take itself too seriously, but I'd only see it if the whole movie was a definitive kind of satire on zombie movies because of how ridiculous the plotline is.

AICN has a minor spoiler about the costume for The Dark Knight, and I don't even think it's a spoiler. It's so insignificant, I'll tell you: the suit is going to change. *gasp* It's going to look more like it should look. Big surprise. I look forward to seeing actual shots of it.

It looks like Toy Story 3 is slated for a 2010 release date! That's right, as in 3 years. Kind of a long time to make a movie, but as long as they do it right I don't mind. I'm sure no one else will. Tim Allen and Tom Hanks will be back, and the writer of Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt) is handling the script. I definitely have high hopes for this one.

Lastly, Quentin Tarantino wrote a really neat article about why he makes movies and how it's important to break all the rules. Of course, it's easy to break the rules when you're freaking Quentin Tarantino. He definitely comes off as a bit arrogant, which isn't uncommon when you hear him speak, but it's still an awesome read and a must-see for anyone considering being a director.

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

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

  1. Contribution :: Donation

  2. Ryan :: Stiles

  3. Minimal :: Investment ;)

  4. Cleansed :: Clean

  5. Centered :: Life

  6. Arrow :: Head

  7. Beyond :: the Sea

  8. Execute :: Death

  9. Intuition :: Jewel

  10. Apology :: Sorry

Oh, I almost forgot to say that I ended up getting another offer last week from a neat company called Xythos. It was definitely the saddest rejection I had to make because they sound like a real neat company and being at a small company for the summer would've been fun. But still, I just couldn't pass up Amazon in the end.

Friday, March 09, 2007

No Post

I'm sorry guys, I just can't post right now. My head is kind of swimming, and I need my rest so I can drive home tomorrow. I'll do what I can to put up a post tomorrow night, I just really need to clear my head right now.

Don't freak out or anything though, I'm doing just fine. The tests were fine and all, I just can't post right now. Sorry!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

No Post Tonight

I'm not going to post tonight because tomorrow's test is more important than today's was. I may be back tomorrow? Like I said, I'll be back on schedule by Friday for sure. Sorry!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Really, Music Industry? Still Clueless?

I really shouldn't be writing this post, but I figure that I can write it quickly and get back to studying. So I never thought I'd be so excited to see a brown folder before, but I was when I saw that this morning. It was probably the second most beautiful thing I saw all day. Anyway, on to the real news, which is still DRM (kind of). If only the news was more diverse. It turns out that they want to enforce pay-per-play for Internet radio. Wow. This market segment is composed of total music geeks, who use this to fuel their purchasing decisions, and you want to extort it? Awesome. Music execs are lovely people. You can see the figures over here. It pains me to see things this way, because I love music so much. In the beginning, going to the gym was about getting bigger muscles. Now, it's about taking some time to stop and enjoy some music while doing something that improves my health. And yet, for something so amazing, it's being managed by people who don't know how to sell it and have no concept of taking risks. It's a shame.

Did you guys know that Daylight Savings starts next Sunday? So we lose our hour sooner than we used to! That screws over a lot of software, and, more importantly, it makes no freaking sense. Congress has way too much time on its hands. Oh well, at least it will be during Spring Break.

We haven't heard much from YouTube in a while, but it looks like Google is still working with it, which I guess is kind of 'duh', but it just hasn't been well-publicized. Like I had no idea about all the basketball stuff it got, or the Sundance channel. All you hear about is the copyright questions, so it's good to get a more well-rounded view of things.

I'm so disgusted by the box office, I don't even really want to talk about it. Wild Hogs brought in $38 million while Zodiac brought in $13.1 million. What the fuck are you doing, America?! Yeah, I don't curse here usually, but I have to for this. You went to see a horribly conceived movie that got awful reviews rather than see a David Fincher thriller, the same guy who brought you Se7en and Fight Club?

Instead, you should really go watch the exclusive Spider-man 3 footage in HD while it's still online. Personally, I think they've lost the charm of the first two movies. These 7 minutes feel really forced, for some reason.

Now for some Monday Madness:

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

Unusual hobby? Um, I don't really know. I guess an Indian guy dancing salsa is unusual?

2. From briar:
How many different kinds of music do you listen to? Name a few favorites, if you please.

Quite a few. I like rock, hip hop, alternative, softer stuff (like Coldplay and Snow Patrol), R&B, some bhangra, salsa, merengue, and bachata. Favorites though, I do not know. That's way too hard.

3. From iris:
Do you take advantage of the outdoor areas where you live? What's your favorite thing to do outside? What's your favorite local bird?

Not enough. The parks in Austin are too nice for me to not go out there more. Of course, Seattle's outdoors is even more amazing.

4. From kristy:
Children: Do you have any?

I'm a little bit young for that ;)

5. From amy:
What is your favorite part of spring?

Definitely not daylight savings. I guess maybe seeing new flowers and stuff. Yeah, that's a pretty girly thing to like, but I don't know what else really marks Spring for me that's good.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Why DRM is Doomed to Failure

I'm back, folks! Not sure if I'll be here tomorrow night, but we'll see how much studying I get done between now and then. Since I appear to have some new readers unfamiliar with the deal with DRM, I figured that now was as good as any to do another rant about it with the advent of this article, which talks about why Digital Rights Management (DRM) isn't economically feasible. To sum it up, we have a non-scarce good, music, and they're trying to make it scarce. I know, it sounds kind of stupid, but it's true. It's reducing the value of music because it's reducing how we can use it. When you have to have more than one application to manage your music, that's pretty messed up. As if it isn't enough that these companies don't trust the consumers, they also don't trust each other! Not only that, but this stuff is trivial to crack, it's just annoying to do so. So what's the point? I wish I knew. It's really bad economics even without all this scarcity stuff, because they're trying to gain a market segment that's losing them another market segment: the people who will put up with this crap in exchange for the people who will now find illegal ways to get music because they don't want to pay to deal with DRM. I wish I remember more from Economics. I guess second at nationals only gives you mad skills for like 6 months tops.

Is it just me, or does it sound 1984-ish to track who uploads images or photos online? I don't mean by user name, I mean entire identity and all. And I don't mean just new stuff, I mean everything. Maybe I'm just a fan of privacy too much, but I just don't buy this business of giving the government more power under some umbrella concerns.

Does homework really stink? According to a Chicago area school, it does. Wow, I really sucked at bringing that up in a clever Seinfeld reference. Anyway, I think this is kind of extreme. Kids are overworked, but not quite that early in life. If they play too much it's going to hamper them. They need homework!

To balance out my illegal endorsements of torrents, here's a list of legal torrent sites. They really are worth checking out, it's not just junk content. Oh, and how's this for another one-liner: someone codified the responses of Nirav. I don't even think you need to know who Nirav is to enjoy that list. The accuracy is impeccable.

I wanted to read this, but I didn't have time. It's a huge round-up of whether or not Apple can take on Microsoft. I do like reading these things, just no time today.

So I know some of you came here to read about more than technology. Too bad =P I need to go to bed now so I can get up at 8. In the interest of including a picture in this post though, let's see who can figure out what this poorly taken picture was supposed to be:

Friday, March 02, 2007

Yep, There's Definitely a God

So I have to talk about something important here, which means that technophiles have to wait a little longer for a normal post from me. As I was cooking my lunch for today last night, I got a call from an unknown ID, which almost always means an out-of-state company. It turns out that it was Amazon and that I GOT THE OFFER!!! It was fairly difficult to not break down right there on the phone, and I was shaking for a good while, even after I got off the phone and got on my knees thanking God. The rest of the night wasn't much less exciting, for undisclosed reasons, so it was just a good day for me in general. That's the first time I've cried from joy since my brother's wedding (my mom freaked out because she thought I got in another accident when I called her about the job), and the second time ever. So as you can tell, this is huge to me. I've taken a lot of crap over the years. Whether it was being the ugly kid, or the stuttering kid, or the brown kid, or the accused cheater, or whatever the case, I always hoped for a break. That someday, everything would just fit together. And now, I have a way to jumpstart my career, and that's an incredible feeling for me since I've been living in fear for so long now.

This isn't necessarily my end-all-be-all dream job, but it's still pretty awesome. I get to pick the team I want to work with and everything! Plus, I get to be in one of the most gorgeous cities in the U.S. and hang out with my cousin's family (including their cute 2 year-old son) and a bunch of my friends will also be in Seattle for the summer. I know it sounds like I'm making too much of all this, but each time I have an excruciating amount of work to do, I just tell myself that someday it'll all be worth it. And getting the phone call automatically repayed these longstanding debts. Someone important recognizes my zeal for technology and my competence, and I guess I just like that validation. I'm not saying I'm anywhere near a guru, don't mistake me there. I'm just glad that the stuff I've learned while here at UT has been worthwhile, and I'm really excited to see how the summer turns out.

I'm terribly sorry that I have to rob you guys of a regular post, but I do have a lot going on right now, some of which I'm not at liberty to talk about, and this blog is just a lower priority. I'll try to have a post up on Sunday, and next week will be spotty because I have three exams. But I should be back on schedule by next Friday!

I know I know, I look goofy. So? That, my friend, is what happiness looks like. I'm going to savor it for a while now, if you don't mind. I have tests to worry about very soon.