Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pictures from Seattle

Still no Internet, but I managed to hack up a really slow connection somehow. At speeds this slow, I can't make a normal post without driving myself nuts. The router should be here by Monday though.

I thought I'd at least share pictures from Seattle though. Amazon seems like a really cool place, but things are moving a bit slow for me as I get setup.

What's really neat though is that my alias is on my badge. Check it out:

We get two monitors at work! I've never had a 2-monitor rig before! One of them runs Linux, the other is my Wintel laptop.

The location of the building is GREAT! Check out the view of Seattle from my workplace:

The location of my home is pretty good, as well. The pier for Elliott Bay is only a 5 minute walk from my place. Here's what sunset looks on the pier:

You can also see the Seattle Aquarium from that pier:

I had Tira Misu a few nights ago and it looked so nice that I felt I should take a picture of it:

The Target here is two stories large so it had an escalator for shopping carts. Isn't that wild?

Here's a night view of the building that I work in, PacMed:

And here's a beautiful night view of downtown Seattle from that area, as well:

I'm just missing one person who is very dear to my heart. Other than that, things have been alright. I got a pricey membership at a gym here (All Star Fitness), but it's the best facility I've worked out in so that should be an interesting experience.

I hope to be back to normal blogging here very soon!

You Lied!

Ok, I didn't really lie. What happened is that we have Internet at home, but my router is not working here. So we have to wait a couple more days for my room mate's router before I have the Internet. I'll try my best to find a way to post until then, but I'm obviously not going to post from work =P

I really do plan on blogging regularly once my Internet is up here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Made it to Seattle!

Alright, this blog will now be returning to its regularly scheduled programming. I just got into Seattle last night and it's even more gorgeous than I remembered because the sun decided to pop out today and the temperature is in the mid-70s. Still though, I feel homesick for Austin, especially for one person in particular. Alas, you can't have it all, and I look forward to starting work tomorrow morning. I wish I could share some pictures, but I do not have my camera cable on me and I'm on my cousin's computer right now (I'll be getting a laptop from Amazon tomorrow). I'll definitely be sharing a few tomorrow though, and hopefully I'll be able to get to the gym tomorrow. I feel like I should take a moment to talk about this semester though before this blog goes back to normal, because it has been quite an eventful semester. Two of my biggest prayers were answered, and I feel very grateful and blessed for both. First of all, after months of stress and worry about my summer, I managed to secure one of my top choices for an internship this summer at, and I've heard great things about this program as does my project sound really neat. The other thing is, of course, a girl. What's more important in life than God, your family, your career, your friends, and your love? I was willing to settle on some dates, but to have found someone as special and amazing as her was definitely a pleasant surprise. Spending the summer apart from her will be harsh, but I'm glad that at least she's in my life now and I feel whole for the first time in my life. It's quite amazing, and I'm very thankful for it. It's amazing how much can happen in just a few months, isn't it?

If this semester has made me realize one thing, it's how much can change in a very short amount of time. Like my room mate, who sustained an injury during a weekend at home and had to withdraw from school for the semester and is now trying to rehabilitate his leg and do summer school. My sudden changes were much more fortunate than his, but quite a lesson, all the same. While we should always have an eye for the long-term, it's important to focus on the present and not get too caught up in the future. Things can change in an instant, and we have to stay flexible.

I was hoping to get to some news items, but I think I have to go now. I'll be sure to have more tomorrow night, everyone!

Friday, May 25, 2007

What's Going On?

Well, as I explained before, I'm leaving for Seattle for the summer on Sunday, and so I've been focused for the past couple of weeks on spending time with the loved ones I won't see for the next 12 weeks. I will be back in full swing on Tuesday when I get my laptop for the summer. I'll try to post before then, but no guarantees. I'm a bit tired today, and my spirit's not really in it. Leaving Austin was even harder than I imagined.

This blog is NOT over though. Far from it, in fact. So don't go too far away!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Do You Remember...

playing on the playground swing set when you were like 10? Ok, maybe you were one of the kids who tried to be cool and stopped playing on a playground when you were 8. As for me, I think I enjoyed playground jaunts through high school. The point is, I think a part of all of us misses that. If you don't, then there's something wrong with you. My childhood was fraught with issues, but there was still something comforting about being on the swing. It's like nothing else mattered, and there was no stress to speak of. Your stress as a child usually involved monsters in closets and eating spinach. In any case though, things were calmer, especially at that playground. I had to get my parents' pool keys today for their neighborhood pool, so I decided to try out their swings while I was there. It was surprisingly fun. In actuality, it's kind of a metaphor for this month, maybe even this semester. It's fun and exciting on that swing, and it even gives you a bit of adrenaline at first because it seems frighteningly easy to fall off of it, especially when you get going pretty fast. Also, you really do forget your troubles, because you're more or less just absorbed in the moment. However, the world still continues on outside of the swing set, and I eventually had to get off and face it. I felt pretty happy this week, with how things were going. I don't know that things will stay that way, but I know that I'd like them to and I hope for the best and that's all I can do. The only thing I really do know for sure is that I'll only be in this state for another week, and then I go to work at one of the sole survivors of the .com boom. I didn't think I'd be so excited and so depressed about it though. As great as it will be is as sad I am about the people I'm leaving behind (one person, in particular, who knows who they are). I feel like it hasn't quite hit me yet though, and I'll be in Austin a few more days next week. So I'll get to ride my swing set again, and I have another week before I have to get off of it. Let's hope that I survive the transition!

Since I've missed so many days, I'll share some pictures from you guys. I had picked up some flowers the other week, and they actually looked kinda neat in the midst of dying and blooming:

We went to Mt. Bonnell last week...

...and saw sunset:

Went to Blanton for the first time in several months. They had copied an outdoor installation that MFAH had a while ago:

Finally went to the Ikea out in Round Rock:

Followed by a trip to the Round Rock Outlet Mall, which was nice (got a couple of new BR shirts, woot). Then, we went canoing on Town Lake...

and some ducks ended up following us for a bit:

Alright, now that you guys are all caught up, let's get down to business. It looks like EMI meant business about non-exclusivity on DRM-free music, because now Amazon has announced that they'll be selling DRM-free mp3s later this year. The way it appears, the only music they'll serve up will be DRM-free. I think that this is the best possible way Amazon can jump in the digital music market since they already have a CD store people trust and they just need to be sharp enough to bring that audience into mp3s. If they strapped DRM to them, it'd be tricky, but without the restrictions they may stand a chance against iTunes if they market it well and have a nice, fast, clean UI, something they've become pretty good at.

If you're one of these people that scour the Google blogs to find out about new products, then you may need a life. Seriously though, if you're interested in their new products, they've opened up a site to showcase experimental products for you to check out. I like the idea of the left-hand side search navigation, but I think that it may take up too much room and may work better as a rollover thing.

Apple has announced that the iPhone will be available at roughly 2000 stores next month when it's released. It'll only be sold at Apple stores and AT&T retailers, which is the bulk of that number. Oh, and despite what you may have heard over the past couple of days, the reports that the release will be delayed were bogus. It came from a supposed internal memo that ended up being a fake (likely purposely generated to smoke out leaks or to confuse the guerrilla bloggers).

Having been through a lot of interviews and drill myself with riddles, I had to plug WTF when they made a post about how ridiculous these bloody riddles are. There are a couple that I think are pretty damn cool, but I've had totally non-technical people get these riddles right, and obviously they'd be horrible programmers since they don't really know how. If you're interviewing someone in CS: ask them about their background, give them scenarios, and give them coding questions, but don't ask them why a manhole cover is round. That would just demean you as an interviewer.

The P2P client LimeWire is facing major litigation from the RIAA, but they're fighting back with a countersuit under antitrust laws. This Mark Gorton guy has balls, but I just don't know if he really has a case. Given the legal environment outlined by the Grokster case and the DMCA, I think he's facing a steep, uphill battle.

Just a quick one-liner: if you're tired of giving your computer the reach-around to plug in your favorite USB devices, you may soon have a wireless option. It's already selling in Japan, so let's hope that the price drops from the ~$328 a 4 port wireless USB hub currently costs over there.

One more one-liner: Starcraft 2 was announced! Woot!

Apparently, the Transformers trailer came out, and it's ridiculously awesome. So I'm more optimistic about it now than I was before, but I definitely hope that being a movie created for geeks that it will deliver in substance as much as in crazy special effects.

There's also a trailer out there finally for Bee Movie, but I'm still not interested. Putting Jerry Seinfeld's name on a movie doesn't make it funny, so I still have plenty of reservations on this flick.

If you're salivating for more on Ocean's 13, check this out. It's a little featurette that explores the plot.

Lastly, Bat fans will get a kick out of this ad campaign for Harvey Dent from The Dark Knight. We won't see Two Face in this one, but at least we'll see the District Attorney we'll all surely love to hate. He's actually a fairly complex character, and I really hope that Christopher Nolan explores the grey area between where he's a good guy and where he's a bad guy in a later movie.

I'm going to try the Saturday Special Meme:

1. Favorite TV Chef:
Giada De Laurentiis
2. Favorite TV Cooking Personality:
Alton Brown
3. Favorite TV Dinner:
I don't buy TV Dinners, I prefer to cook =P
4. Favorite Watching TV Movie Snack:

I just wanted to give big ups real quick to the Blogger team for that auto-save feature they put in. I've wanted this for a long time, I just didn't think about it, because I've lost several posts in the past.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sorry (Again)

Ok, so here's what's up: I'm going to Seattle a week from Sunday, which gives me very little time to spend with my loved ones. Hence, I'm spending as much time with them as possible, so you can't expect regular posts from me until May 29 when I'm settled in at Seattle because obviously they're more important to me than this blog.

However, I will post when I can until then, and I hope to post tomorrow as well. Finals went well, and other than the realization of who I have to leave when I head to Seattle, I'm doing well also.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Sorry to be behind guys, but I have my last final tomorrow morning and I've been tied up lately. I'll try to get a post up tomorrow, but not tonight. Sorry!

Friday, May 11, 2007

MRT, You Are Pure Evil

That's right. I said what at least simple-minded geeks are thinking. Media Rights Technologies (MRT) is pure, unadulterated, Senator Palpatine-level evil. MRT is suing Apple, Microsoft, and RealNetworks, among others, for "actively avoiding the use" of DRM protection. While it's not likely they're going to win, it's the principle that I despise. They're literally suing these companies for not using MRT's technology, known as X1, which they believe is a foolproof solution to breaking DRM. But wait, what's the problem in the first place? Apparently, because these companies provide media players and can handle streams, they're in violation of DMCA since there's software available to steal these streams, including Windows Sound Recorder, apparently. I've read a lot of stupid lawsuits, but this may take the cake. I really do think so. Mistake number one: software is NEVER flawless. Even if you use formal methods, which no one does, it's exceedingly difficult to prove that a piece of technology does what you want it to do in all circumstances and is unbreakable. So no one can be forced to use X1 for the reason that X1 plugs some digital hole for good, because it doesn't. Secondly, under their argument, everyone must actively do everything to enforce the DMCA, even if the content providers don't care. Hence, if someone finds a flaw with X1, which will happen (see mistake #1), that means that MRT has also broken DMCA and can be taken to a federal court. And lastly, who really cares? There's no way to prove their inane figures about how much money the industry has lost to streaming, and most people won't go through that kind of trouble to steal music using otherwise legal software (like iTunes or RealPlayer), so this is clearly nothing more than a ploy to sell their X1 technology that no one seems to want (and I'm sure no one will ever want after this poor display of business ethics). MRT, I hope you have to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy so that we can all laugh at you even more.

There's an assload of news today, by the way. Let me jump right into Apple news here. MacRumors has the high points from Steve Jobs's meeting with the shareholders, and he seemed to hint at HD content coming to iTunes. Also, he actually admitted what everyone else has been griping about: .Mac sucks and needs a serious overhaul. The other item is that Disney has sold 24 million TV shows through iTunes and over a million films. I'd say that's pretty phenomenal since it was an entirely new form of revenue that was likely previously (at least in small part) lost to piracy. Piracy is still rampant, but I'd say that this helps them sleep a little better at night.

While I don't have a Mac and don't plan on buying one this year, I definitely appreciate how nifty it is when people use Expose, and I definitely think it's more that I like zoomable user interfaces. It works well in Google Maps, it's hella fun in Supreme Commander, and it makes things just feel more intuitive. Like it's another degree of control (kind of like how the idea of the Wiimote just seems to give you a totally different angle of control with the gyroscope it has inside). I just wanted to set down right now that a goal of mine before I die is now to create a piece of software someday that utilizes an intuitive zoom with the UI.

Back to DRM real quick: MySpace has come up with a new system called "Take Down Stay Down" for copyright infringements that will actually remember the digital fingerprint of content that is removed for being illicit to prevent it from ever being uploaded again. In theory, I am not opposed to this idea. They have no obligation to host content that violates the law or their TOS, so that's fine. However, I think that this move is questionable mainly because I'm not convinced of the accuracy of this technology. We've barely scratched the surface of the field of computer vision, who's to say they won't end up with a lot of false positives and keep good, legal content from being posted? If it's accuracy was over 95%, I'd probably approve of it, though.

Meanwhile, over at YouTube, they've now started experimented with putting ads in content, and it looks pretty unobtrusive. Not sure if the little video ad appears if you don't rollover the floating ad text, but if it doesn't then this system is perfect. If not, I just hope these spots aren't longer than 15 seconds. If you have to wait like a minute to watch a 3 minute video, it would be kind of silly.

It looks like there are people out there who have high hopes for Firefox supporting the Open Web and basically becoming a completely open source platform. While I think those ideas are interesting and important to push, because I'm sure many of us remember the horrors of clicking XML links before Firefox 2 rolled around and don't want to have to keep waiting for browsers to play catch-up with new technologies, a browser's main focus is always a rich user experience. Without that, a competitor is just as good, but if you make things easier, faster, and more intuitive, your fanbase will only grow, and I think that's really what Mozilla is going for with Firefox 3. And while I think Open Web is noble, I just don't see things as going in that direction. I think open source always has an uphill battle, and this is just another one. This whole "microformat" idea basically needs its own browser to demonstrate it, as I see it, so why would people flock to it when things work alright (not perfectly, but alright) the way they are now? Just go play with these Firefox tricks instead.

There's a new type of cigarette now called the eCigarette that lets you smoke all you want but just removes the carcinogens from the experience to only give you the nicotine you may be addicted to. It's $200, and while I don't support smoking in the first place, I think I'd much rather see people smoke this than the real thing. Would this really eliminate all the risks associated with smoking though? It doesn't sound like it to me.

In movie news, I'm just going to talk about trailers today. It looks like Dead or Alive, which has been out for a while on video in many regions, is coming to the big screen, and IGN has the trailer. No idea why they waited so long to release it, but from the half of it I saw on Google Video, it looked like just mindless action and gratuitous partial nudity, so take that as you will.

Yahoo Movies has the exclusive trailer, and I like it. It reminds me a lot of Syriana for some reason even though I know it'll probably have much more action. I like the idea of putting Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman together in a movie though, so I hope for the best here.

Lastly, the red-band trailer for Knocked Up is out there, but it's not really all that vulgar to be deserving a strong red-band. It looks mildly funny, but this trailer just doesn't have me quite convinced that I need to see it. Then again, I'm still being scolded for not having seen Hot Fuzz, which I do intend to watch.

Now for Friday's Feast:

Tell about a time when you had to be brave.

I don't know if I'm really fit to define my past actions as brave. The only thing I can think of that I'd consider brave is when I was accused of cheating and had to have a chat with the principal. A friend of mine was involved with this "scandal", but I didn't rat her out. They pressed me on it, but I stayed loyal and played dumb.

Which upcoming movie are you excited about seeing?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!!!

Name an item you try to always have on hand.

Chapstick. I hate having cracked lips! I also always have keys and cell phone, without fail.

Main Course
Imagine the most relaxing room you can think of. Now describe it!

School is over, it's a weekend, and I'm enjoying sunset on the beach with a certain someone without a care for what I have to get done or what I'm going to do that day.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest), how spiritual or religious are you?

Probably a 6 or 7, I'd estimate. I'm definitely a Christian, and I'm partially a Catholic, but I'm not extremely devout. I'm quite liberal about what I believe in because I don't always like the Church's interpretation of things. I think a number of ideas were propagated to spread political agendas (church politics, that is) when they were created. I believe in God, Jesus Christ, and what I take from the Bible as how He intends for us to live.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Discontent with M$

I think today was the first day in a while where I got like barely any schoolwork done and instead did chores and ran errands. I should probably get back on the wagon tomorrow, huh? It looks like when it comes to disappointment with Microsoft, Paul Graham isn't the only one with an opinion. Jeff Atwood brings up the case of some developers who are sick and tired of the Micro$oft way of life. Apparently, it's increasingly common nowadays for developers to grow weary of Microsoft's anti-competitive practices and quit their products cold turkey. However, I have to agree with Jeff: this is ludicrous. I don't think it makes sense for anyone to whole-heartedly support one camp blindly. Open source software has its place in our world just like proprietary software does, and Microsoft will not disappear from our lives anytime soon nor does it really need to. Granted, they're likely to continue to lose power, but that doesn't change the fact that some of their applications are almost standard, and Visual Studio still stands to be an amazing IDE. Sitting on your high horse and dictating how the world should work doesn't change things, and fighting tooth and nail to prove your ideals by suffering with shoddy tools doesn't really prove anything. I admit that I'm kind of glad that I didn't get the internship at Microsoft because I would've felt like a sell-out, but a software developer's first priority should always be to do to his best create beautiful tools for people. Yes, I call software beautiful when it's done right, deal with it. I think this is, at the least, an important lesson in open-mindness. No one is perfect, and no school of thought is perfect, so why not mix and match?

Joost is doing pretty well right now. Not only do they have all this new content, but they got $45 million from various investors (including Viacom and CBS) to keep on trucking. Their future looks pretty bright (I guess these investors are hoping to latch on to the next YouTube), in my opinion. I like the new content (lots of great music stuff), but they need an easier, quicker way to navigate it. Clearly, their scroll bar for seeing programming on a channel is not suited for when you have over 50 items in the list.

Apple hinted to its shareholders that they may soon be seeing video rentals on iTunes. I'm honestly surprised that this hasn't happened by now, and figured that it must've been in the works. Seems odd to add video content to compete with all these other movie download sites if you can't even match their features. Speaking of iTunes, Sir Paul McCartney will be pre-selling his new album on iTunes, the first of the Beatles to release content on the service. Remember, Apple Corps (owner of the Beatles music library) and Apple had bad blood for a while, so getting that music on iTunes is tricky, but this is probably a good sign for progress.

We have more rumors that the next Zune will let you download tracks from WiFi hotspots and that a Flash-based Zune to compete with the Nano is also on the way. Supposedly, we'll be getting more official word next month to offset the iPhone release, but it had better be pretty damn awesome if they want to take attention away from Apple, and it had better be before the iPhone drops or else no one will care (even if the iPhone flops, it'd be bigger news, because that's how the tech media operates).

Does that not look cool? I'll admit, not the Optimus Prime fans of the series likely have pictured, but I'm still going to give props to Michael Bay's visual flare. Anyway, he put up high-res images of other transformers on his blog. I like what he did with Bumblebee, also. By the way, the original show is on Joost and is stellar (I still have unlimited invites to the beta, by the way).

Yahoo Movies has what I think is the worst trailer I've ever seen: the trailer for Bratz. It gives away like half the movie as it is, and that half is horrible, even by kid movie standards.

The owners of the rights to the Terminator series have sold those rights off, and it looks like we'll be getting another sequel. Then another. And then, one more. Do we really need three more Terminator movies though? Isn't there a point where it gets tiresome? I don't even care to see a T4, to be honest.

It looks like one of the performers at this year's ACL festival could be the next Bond girl. Up and coming British jazz artist Amy Winehouse is supposedly being ogled by the movie's producer, but this could just be speculation. Still, it doesn't sound that far-fetched, though I don't think she necessarily fits the archetype.

Lastly, it looks like Sony is willing to create 3 more Spider-man movies due to the massive success of the latest installment. However, no one has said that they're returning, so I guess re-casting would be theoretically possible. Personally, I'd like to see someone other than Tobey take a crack at being Spidey. Still, this sounds like a bad idea because they're trying to come up with ideas out of a desire for money; they don't actually have any good ideas already.

Now for a Thursday Threesome:

Onesome: Super-- heroes and comic book characters? Have you seen "Spiderman 3" yet? Will you?
I have not, but I plan on it...eventually.

Twosome: Mario-- Brothers led one gaming revolution: are you a gamer? Online? ...or is this one of those things you just don't even notice?
I used to be really into video games, but I just don't have the time for them anymore! Maybe I'll try to beat Devil May Cry 3 this summer? It's so freaking fun! If Starcraft 2 happens, I may have to try that out if it's still an RTS. I used to love RTS games.

Threesome: "Brothers-- in Arms"? Just listening to some old Dire Straits this evening: how about something new on your music radar you can share with the gang!
I just downloaded some Damien Rice (O) on Ruckus and it's really awesome. I'll probably get music from other ACL artists soon, as well.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Parents Gone Awry

First of all, I just saw the 2007 ACL lineup and I'm totally pumped for it! If you plan on going, definitely let me go. If you look in my September 2005 archives, you'll notice that The Decemberists, Bloc Party, and Arcade Fire were among the top 5 acts that year. Anyway, the Number Theory final this morning was about as hard as I expected, and Business Law was harder than expected, but I think I did well enough on both, and now I just have Programming Languages left (next Tuesday) as I had already secured my As in Object Oriented Programming and Accounting (woot). Before I get to the real post, I'll share a few pictures:

This was Chris's Mii at our Cinco de Mayo Wii party. (I have a sweet video from them playing Super Monkey Ball, but Bethany would kill me if I posted it)

That's the plate I put together at the Mongolian Grill for NSC exec dinner on Sunday before being cooked...

and here's the after!

NSC Boat Party was on Monday, and there's a good pose from Henro and me.

Ok, so the topic today is parenting in our modern society because I like how Will over at Suicide Girls brought up the topic. I think what's really scary about today's world aside from our current geopolitical situation is that our future isn't really assured. I see more and more kids lost in a dizzying array of the convenience of modern comforts such as television and video games. What's funny is that this happens about every decade and everyone who's older believes it to be a huge tragedy because it's not how they were brought up. However, I think there's a real concern now because we're actually seeing the detriment to these kids. We're seeing kids becoming physically unhealthy and socially awkward, two things that I loathed being when I was growing up. Though I loved video games, both of those were brought on more or less by my own personal issues. Nowadays though, I think we're seeing families with more professionals at the head where their job never stops so they don't have time for quality time with their kids. I often see two extremes. One is where the kid gets everything he wants (not literally, usually, but more than most of our parents would've allowed) and the other is where the kid is sheltered. Both approaches are wrong. If the kid always gets what he wants he'll never learn to make due when things don't work out, and if he's hidden from something then he'll only want to rebel and get at it more. What I wish more parents would do is actually discipline their children and teach them moderation. All technology is wonderful in moderation, as goes with work, time with friends, food, etc. I honestly think that if parents really stuck to this concept of moderation, we'd have a lot more kids growing up normally. I have absolutely nothing to back that up, but don't you think it would be at least a step up?

Another great editorial to read is Joe Dolson's post about redesign being more conceptual than visual if it's done right. I totally agree with him. I think that a layout change should definitely come with interface improvements and such, but I don't think that modifying the usability of a site or adding to it necessitates changing its look, and I believe that it plays second fiddle to the long-term goals of keeping the site convenient.

Let me just pool together all the Google news here. They've overhauled the Google Analytics interface in an effort to probably entice more advertisers to trust them and determine how best to market themselves. Though I've been using the normal Google Analytics (still am until the migration is complete), I've actually noticed that I often have to guess at what to click to get what I want, so I'm glad they've fixed it (I use it anyway because I like the visuals better than Statcounter). Supposedly, Google is considering acquiring a job search site called Simply Hired that aims at the long tail of the market through widgets, though I think the service really isn't anything groundbreaking at first glance, personally.

Joost has taken on some more high-profile clients, and it's worth noting that this is still largely vintage content. It's not like you get new episodes of The Daily Show or anything, but I still say that it's amazing that they're able to attract networks faster than even Apple initially was with iTunes. This bodes very well for free, streaming television because I'm sure we'll see more valuable stuff if it works out. I still have unlimited free invites if anyone wants Joost, by the way.

Couple of one-liners now. Intel has unleashed its Santa Rosa chipset to be the Centrino of Core 2 Duo processors (i.e. optimized for laptops, especially on power consumption). It looks quite pricey, but I'll wait on unbiased benchmarks before passing judgement here. I've been using xplorer2 for a while now rather than Windows Explorer and love it. If you still use Windows Explorer (and are running Windows, of course), you should totally check out this article on the amazing things xplorer2 does.

I'm really tired, so I'm only going to run through some quick movie items. A mediocre clip from Transformers aired on the Ellen Degeneres Show. Yeah, we saw a decepticon, but only for like 3 seconds. The trailer for You Kill Me isn't much better video fodder either. Why is Ben Kingsley doing a movie like this? The mobster comedy angle is getting old, Hollywood. If you want videos to watch, check out HappySlip on YouTube; I just discovered her channel today because of the Buzz Out Loud podcast (which I can listen to now on the bus because of my Sansa). This is funny, too.

Would you watch a continuous video feed of Natalie Portman's life? If so, you're scary, but apparently Natalie wants you to do just that. I'm still confused as to how this would work, I just wanted to remark on how stupid I think this is (largely because most reality television sounds like this and already sucks).

Apparently, we may see a sequel to Grindhouse. Dimension is apparently interested, but I think they'd have to get the movie down to two hours, and I wonder if Tarantino is really willing to work on something like this sooner than the end of next year, if even then. I think I remember him having another project (a Kung Fu movie remake) to do after Inglorious Bastards, and I doubt that Robert Rodriguez would do a sequel without Tarantino.

Masswyrm is usually a pretty harsh reviewer, but he really enjoyed 28 Weeks Later, which definitely offsets my skepticism. Maybe this is another actually great horror film after all?

Now for a Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. What is your favorite song with "Thank You" or "Thanks" in the title?
Probably the song "Thank You" by Boyz II Men.

2. Who do you want to thank, and why?
I'd have to say God, for bringing so much joy in my life more recently through one particular thing.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I have two finals on Wednesday: at 9AM and 2PM. My hardest final will be first followed by my easiest once. Both require a lot of studying though, and I have a lot going on the next few days as well, so I cannot possibly post without compromising my grade. I'll be back on Wednesday night, guys. Sorry!

Friday, May 04, 2007

On Passing Judgement

Sorry to have missed so many, but this week has been a wild and crazy ride. On the bright side, I got my Sansa today! I'll give full impressions soon enough, just not today. Today I'm going to cover a topic I've wanted to discuss for a couple of weeks and now Paul Graham has given me reason to do so: judging people. I like his view of there being two types of judgement: judging for the sake of judgement (as in for a contest or for a court case) where impartiality is vital and expected, and judgement as means to some other end, as in judging who's best to date or who should get into a university. What's interesting is that we often expect the first time when we're really getting the second not realizing that the second type doesn't have a concept of being fair. Just because a girl is at a club and chooses to dance with one guy over another doesn't mean that the other guy should take it personally, because she's not investigating his abilities or character to judge him in particular, she just wants to see who she'd have the most fun dancing with.

I even have a personal case to relay, where obviously no names will be revealed (so don't try guessing). There's an individual in my department who I knew of but didn't really interact with much because, well, I usually interact with friends I already have in my CS classes (as we all do when we know people in certain classes). However, this person judged me as being arrogant, unbeknown to be until a few weeks ago where it started influencing people who I had never met before. Understandably, I was offended by this and yet, this person didn't really mean any harm (at least I don't think). They didn't care to get the full story on me because they had no interest in this, they were just trying to make a prima facie analysis of whether I was a worthwhile person to know, which clearly came out as negative. In fact, we do this all the time. When the bus is full and you need to decide who to sit next to, who do you pick? Often, guys sit near guys and girls sit near girls, and it's weird to be offended if someone decides to not sit next to you because they're not trying to knock you as a person, judging you just wasn't their end goal. However, there is hope yet: make more of an effort to sell yourself, as Paul puts it. There's something I hate doing, but I hope that spending more time with certain people will replace false impressions with the real thing. We've actually been having judgement problems in ACM as well where a gender/sexuality workshop at meeting failed horribly because the moderator was close-minded. I took one thing from it though: we sometimes make subconscious judgements of people based on gender not because we mean to judge them a certain way, but it's that second type of judgement and it's become ingrained in us. Anyone who's not a jerk tries to treat women equally, I just feel like sometimes women mistake that second type of judgement for the first type and get offended, especially in this department. Anyway, I'm not going to get offended by the second type of judgement anymore. It's important to not be so self-centered, and to think of the bigger picture (just like in software design; what do you know, a nerdy parallel?!).

Speaking of design, Joel Splosky has a quick read that I just thought was cute: a new elevator technology that's really fancy and efficient, but it wasn't designed quite well enough. Don't cheat like I did, actually try to figure out what the problem is before you highlight the answer.

Usually, I pass on social networking sites nowadays because it's just done to death. It's a nice little trend, but it's headed right for the toilet at this rate. Anyway, I yielded a bit to Wakoopa, which is a really neat site that uses your software usage to suggest other products you may like and list updates and even show reviews of your software. It only takes 5MB of RAM while running, so give it a shot. It also provides usage stats and, lo and behold, tags (bet you didn't see that coming).

Joost has gone "live", which means that they now have premium content supported by ads (haven't run into this yet) and have given all beta testers unlimited invites. So leave me a comment with your e-mail address and name if you want an invite! There is a ridiculous amount of channels now, but my computer is running low on RAM so I'd better not try looking through it for you (Firefox is eating memory like no other and I don't want to restart until after this is done).

Speaking of new software, Gaim is now Pidgin and Ars Technica has a full review of Pidgin 2.0. The review is very positive, which is a big compliment coming from Ars Technica. Plus, I'm using it right now and I feel cool just using it because of how nice the interface changes are and the welcome bug fixes. If you're on Linux or Windows and use IM, you're really missing out if you don't try out Pidgin.

Yahoo has finally decided closed down Yahoo Photos. I speculated on this very early on because it didn't make sense for them to have two competing services once they acquired Flickr, and their justifications for keeping Yahoo Photos were pretty stupid. I didn't think it'd take this long for them to realize what was necessary, but I'm pleased that they're actually being quite graceful about it.

This post wouldn't be complete if I didn't briefly mention the Digg scandal about Digg taking down dugg stories referencing an HD-DVD processing key after receiving a cease-and-desist order. Using this key literally circumvents the DRM used on all HD-DVD discs released. Yes, they're just that stupid. I think the community backlash for doing this was a bit harsh given that releasing such a key can't possibly be legal and it violates Digg's TOS, but I respect them for decided that freedom of speech reigns over corporate control of the Internet. Personally, I agree with distributing the key as a sign of rebellion for how inane the HD-DVD schema is.

We have a poster for The Golden Compass, but I felt it was too ugly to post here (despite my love for the original book, mind you). So instead, I thought I'd show off one of a few new posters for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I like much better. There are also some new ones for The Simpsons if you're interested, but they're nothing special.

Now onto the trailers. Apple has an HD trailer for Rush Hour 3, and I felt very underwhelmed by it. My friend disagrees because he's afraid that fanboys are just going to hate on Brett Ratner, but my issue is with the trailer and not with him as a director as I enjoyed the first two Rush Hour movies very much. Moviefone has another trailer for Shrek the Third, and I think that I like this one even more than the last one! It's very funny and I think it'll end up making for a cute, family movie that adults will actually enjoy (like the first two). Yahoo has the teaser for Hot Rod, featuring SNL's Pete Sampers (of "Lazy Sunday" fame), and it's mildly amusing. I'm holding out on judgement (heh, funny to use that word now in this post) until I see at trailer.

Disney, in a strange display of openness, is showing off 9 minutes of Ratatouille on their website. I really like the animation style in this movie, and it's executed quite well. I didn't laugh out loud or anything, but it was still fun in its own respect, and I guess more of a visual feast.

According to Joe Carnahan, of Smokin' Aces infamy, he's seen the teaser trailer for Sin City 2 and it's supposed to be phenomenal. Now I'm really really excited to see some footage from this movie!

Lastly, given that people aren't saying the best things about Spider-man 3, you may want to try giving Lucky You a shot instead. It sounds like a worthwhile drama from some people I respect, but critics are butchering it.

Now, before I go eat myself, for Friday's Feast:

Name something you would not want to own.

A motorcycle. I'd be so scared to ride the bloody thing!

Describe your hair (texture, color, length, etc.).

It's black, very thick right now (in a fro when I don't gel it, almost), and very curly. It really is way too thick (like 2-3 in. above my head), but I'm too lazy to get a haircut here in Austin.

Finish this sentence: I’ll never forget ___________.

the girl next door. Just kidding, there was no girl next door, but I assume that comes from a comedy I love, The Girl Next Door. Anyway, I'll never forget how my luck changed on March 1, 2007 with a job offer followed by a night of Sandy's and dancing.

Main Course
Which famous person would you like to be for one day? Why?

John Frusciante, so I can learn his mad guitar skills (or at least a day's worth).

Write one sentence about yourself that includes one thing that is true and another thing that is not.

I enjoy smiling wide and polishing my gun collection.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jenn!

As you can probably guess from the title, I'm not going to be doing a standard post tonight. It was Jennyfer's 21st birthday tonight though, so I'll give you some pictures from that:

It was fun, but the dinner took 3 hours, which means no time for a post. That, and I'm feeling kind of blue about some other stuff, so I'm not really in the mood. Nonetheless, I shall live on and my studying will continue on.