Sunday, December 25, 2005

Recent history

I really feel badly about not posting in a while, so this will be the first of a couple of posts. I'll start with the easy stuff.

Old news [to some/but hopefully not all] that I thought was interesting:
  • AOL committed to continue using Google Search in return for one billion dollars from Google. The biggest bonus is the committment by AOL to interoperate with Google Talk. With Yahoo and MSN Messenger agreeing to compound their user bases, I couldn't be happier that the two protocols I don't use are going together into their own corner (what arrogance!). [probably first saw this on BetaNews | DAMN Ars Technica I started this post early afternoon]
  • Yahoo introduced something approaching the concept of using the search bar as a command line. You can enter commands by starting with the !. For example, !compose terry.semel@yahoo.com would bring up Yahoo! Mail and start a message addressed to Terry Semel. [probably first saw this on the Unofficial Yahoo Weblog]
  • Microsoft releases something very similar to the Web Developer Extension for IE called the Internet Explorer Developer Bar. It's not as nice or customizable as IE simply doesn't lend itself to be customized. [probably first saw this via BetaNews]
  • I love Yahoo! Widgets . I liked Konfabulator, but Yahoo has integrated the widget concept [small eye-candyish applications that you can access with a configurable hot-key] very nicely with its own services like Yahoo! Notepad, Yahoo! Calendar, Y! Contacts, Y! Maps, Y! Search, etc. So much potential.
  • Kathae told me about Pandora. It's like last.FM, but free and download free. You also have to seed the station by typing in artists instead of playing 100+ tracks.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Paralysis

Upon reading the post on Slashdot about Microsoft's IE7 RSS team settling on using the orange RSS icon used by Firefox, I considered how awkward the situation must be for them. Here they are years behind Mozilla on features like RSS, tabs, security, standards implementations/compliance, usability/extensibility, etc. Do they look at the source or not? If they do, then would they feel guilty of cheating? What level of innovation would they be satisfied at attaining to be able to say, we peeked, but now ours is better. If they don't look, are they wasting their time reinventing the wheel?

I would be quite stuck deciding on whether or not to look at the source. Now, if you've heard the story about MS studying the Macintosh source to "make Word better" before releasing Windows, you'll know that some at Microsoft have absolutely no problem with standing on the shoulders of giants. Isn't progress what the open source community is all about? Let's see if they release the source of IE7.


That was all just a really long introduction to the big question that today paralyzed me with indecision: how do you dispose of those pesky envelopes with see-through windows? Everybody likes to use them! Everytime I go home, I find my credit card statements and donation solicitations in a corrogated cardboard box, but I look through them and procrastinate against their disposal. I'm not sure what regular people do, but I find it hard to just throw them away in either the trash or the recycling bin. If you throw them away, they'll just be piled into some landfill. If you recycle them as is, would they be rejected because of the little window?

Now, ripping out the window is surprisingly difficult as the plastic tears like tissue paper. The only alternative I have is to carefully remove the window along with parts of the envelope the glued to the plastic. This results in UNRECYCLED PAPER that gets added to the landfill. On one hand, I can leave the junk mail to pile up in our personal landfill, their fate undecided. On the other hand, I can guarantee that some of them get recycled, but consign the others (at the cost of my tedium) to the same fate as the plastic.

If you can help me, please go to Yahoo! Answers and answer my question!
less
more

SOURCE: Digg

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Instant bliss

Dell%20Powerbook

I basically stuck a sticker that came with my iPod nano over the very nice and reflective recessed Dell logo. Matches pretty well, wouldn't you say?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

At least I'm not a hippie this time

Vercingetorix
You scored 68 Wisdom, 54 Tactics, 55 Guts, and 55 Ruthlessness!
Leader of the Gauls, a chieftain of the Arverni. He was the leader of the great revolt against the Romans in 52 BC. Julius Caesar, upon hearing of the trouble, rushed to put it down. Vercingetorix was, however, an able leader and adopted the policy of retreating to heavy, natural fortifications and burning the Gallic towns to keep the Roman soldiers from living off the land. Caesar and his chief lieutenant Labienus lost in minor engagements, but when Vercingetorix shut himself up in Alesia and summoned all his Gallic allies to attack the besieging Romans, the true brilliance of Caesar appeared. He defeated the Gallic relieving force and took the fortress. Vercingetorix was captured and, after gracing Caesar's triumphal return to Rome, was put to death.



My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 71% on Unorthodox
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 16% on Tactics
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 50% on Guts
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 75% on Ruthlessness
Link: The Which Historic General Are You Test written by dasnyds on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test


SOURCE: Skyplate

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Christmas

Since the days here are getting shorter and air, colder, I figured it'd be a good time to start thinking about Christmas. It always creeps up on us faster than we can prepare for it and I, at least, need a head start getting into the holiday spirit of giving and receiving. Yes, it's giving and receiving. It could mean other things, but that's why I need a head start.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Another obligatory post

If there's one thing I'll say about today's iPod announcement, it's that I'm glad I got a nano when it came out and not a regular one. Also, I don't know if anyone else thought it was abnormally proportioned, but suprisingly, the iPod today is just as tall and just as wide as the iPod of yesterday. It's just thinner. That widescreen really throws me off.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

You, too, can be a sellout

http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/50936 (expired, check techbargains.com for new deals)

I used that 25% off coupon and got the Dell Inspiron 6000 configured as follows for 897.07 (shipped and taxed). Make sure you get the free PC recycling kit!

  • Intel Pentium M Processor 740 (1.73GHz/2MB Cache/533MHz FSB)
  • 15.4 inch WXGA LCD, 1280x800
  • 512MB Shared DDR2,400MHz 2 Dimms
  • Integrated Intel Media Accelerator 900 Graphics, OpenGL 1.4, barely DirectX 9 compatible
  • 60GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive, 5400 RPM
  • Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, No media
  • 8X DVD+/-RW Drive
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 2200 Internal Wireless (802.11b/g,54Mbps)
  • Internal Dell Wireless 350 Bluetooth 2.0
  • 53 WHr 6-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery, Up to 4 hours
  • 1 Year Limited Warranty, 1 Year 24x7 Technical Support, Mail-in Service
  • Free Recycling Kit
  • At least 6.65 lbs
Last updated: 10/16/2005

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Asian restaurant etiquette?

Slashfood thinks that rubbing your chopsticks together to get rid of splinters is a faux pas and an insult to the restaurant. What if there really are splinters on the chopsticks?
My recommendation is to stay away from that restaurant, duh.
From now on, I won't assume that there are splinters on the chopsticks. But if there are, I intend to sand away. Click through to see their comic cell on the topic.

SEE: Slashfood

Random updates

  • New phone that's all locked down by Verizon, using mom's bluetooth headset.
  • Went on a visit to the new (1-yr-old) Bloomberg building, very cool. (BTW, it's a LLP, or some other kind of partnership).
  • Didn't get a McKinsey Interview after their cocktail party.
  • You can visit this site through willmonwah.com
  • Got new headphones for the nano, volume deficient, but maybe that's a good thing.
  • Actually played 3 matches at table tennis practice.
  • Completed the easiest sample problem at TopCoder. On second thought, maybe I should have deferred mentioning that.
  • I'm down a donut and a ticket to NY Penn Station. Realized too late that the "I just need some money to get home" "non-bum" was probably not interested in going home. How come my late night escapades in New Brunswick don't have happy endings like this.
  • Attempting a switch to Google Reader.
  • Believing the hype about the upgraded Airport Express. Airport express is a wireless router, range extender, usb-print server and an audio bridge between iTunes and your stereo system. Apple has already adopted an newer video codec called H.264 that would make it more feasible for them to sell you videos through iTunes and send them to your home theater. If it's that simple, they would've had to address the problem of controlling your movies from your computer remotely (!?), or maybe it's something else other than the video iPod.
SOURCES: Check links.

About this blog and me

I've often visited blogs and wondered what they were about. Who is the person blogging and why are they blogging? Here's the answer to those questions concerning me.

Who am I?

I'm a recent graduate of Rutgers University and work as a programmer in the greater NYC area.

About this blog

On one level, as you can see from the title, this blog is frequently about Apple Computer, Inc. I have beenwas a small shareholder of the company since October, 2001. The title used to be Bits and pieces. When I realized that Bits and pieces is a terribly unoriginal blog title, I adopted one less cliched, but still implicative of no one topic in particular, reflecting my refusal to acknowledge any specific focus.

On another level, this blog is a my contribution to the web. I try to elevate and promote certain ideas and some times share some of my own. I also try to keep people I know and who care about me updated.

LAST UPDATE: 10/20/2006

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mid-day update

I saw Corzine (came within a couple of feet of him) at the end of a rally at the Rutgers Student Center surrounded by a small crowd of people and soon before he was rushed off. I couldn't really think of any questions on the fly, in awe over the celebrity of the affair. Here was one of just 100 senators representing 280 million people in the largest, most powerful modern liberal democracies in the world and I didn't have any questions to ask or interests to press. A student stopped to ask him one more question on abortion and his answer impressed me in framing it on the context of people who are actually affected by the issue. It wasn't clear what his response was, but the person who asked it recorded it on his 4G iPod with the Griffin iTalk accessory so hopefully it will appear in the media.

UPDATE 12:000 PM EST 10/06/05: And indeed it did appear in the Targum (I recognized the guy with the iTalk). And upon reading what he actually said about abortion, I guesss it's not that insightful but satisfactory, I guess.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Not sure what to blog about

I'm not sure what to blog about, so I'm going to ramble. This isn't necessarily out of the ordinary, right? First of all, I've been thinking about some positive qualities I'd like to develop related to a quote in that Maryknoll magazine I mentioned for Independence Day about different ways of looking at people. Basically, the story was about a missionary priest of a village feeling obligated to do something to punish a parish member who had divorced or otherwise cheated on his wife for another woman. The rest of the community, although in no way approving of the unfaithfulness of the man, felt little inclination to ostracizing or otherwise punish "the adulterer". The priest learned that his parish members took a holistic view of the man, weighing his contributions to society over his personal shortcomings and spiritual crimes, while he himself was fixated on the negative. WWJD? Obviously, it depends on circumstances and consequences.

My take on this is more general. While pessimism is a terrible philosophy in general, optimism isn't necessarily the cure. The priests parish members didn't necessarily try to just look for the good in a person, so much as looking at the whole picture. To do that, one should merely control their emotions. If something about someone really bothers me, I tend to get fixated on it and allow it to irrationally dominate my impressions of him/her, masking positive qualities. And, having heard the Dalai Lama talk last Sunday, emotion, be it love or hatred (yes, strong word) cripples reason. My original hope for myself, however, was indeed to look for the best in people--to see their potential and help them realize it, even if they don't see it themselves.

SOURCE: Procrastination : /

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I was fooled

iTunes for Windows Mobile 5. Well, at least I would have to replace my PocketPC before being able to listen to my m4p files and who knows when that'll be.

SOURCE: TUAW

FAKENESS 00:07 EST 9/29/05: A lot of people are saying this, but I trust PocketPC owners the most.

KTamas: 1. His phone is in Vibrate mode, so there is no sound, lol. Even then, he does listens to the music.
AND
brianchris: Perhaps another piece of evidence that it is a fake is the fact that the device is a T-Mobile MDA II ( http://www.pdagold.com/hardware/det...sp?DeviceID=154 ), YET is obviously running the Windows Mobile 5 OS (by the softkeys at the bottom of the screen). Very few devices are getting an upgrade to WM5, and certainly NOT the MDA II
AND FINALLY
Raphael143: Don't shoot the messenger, but the editor at msmobiles.com states that he knows a guy who knows the guy who did this and it's 100% fake. http://www.msmobiles.com/f/viewtopic.php?t=9816
SOURCE: PPCT

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Weekly

Just a couple things I wanted to share from this week.

First off, as my meal plan got reduced from 285 to 210 to 50, as if there wasn't enough incentive to attend company infosessions, I'm scoping 'em out on MonsterTrak and going to as many as I can. Preferably late so I have an excuse to eat and not be dressed up. I did attend the third infosession in business casual because I had a meeting later in the day. That's a savings of like 30 meal-plan dollars a week. Heck, I'm earning my iPod nano back by eating dinner at infosessions.

Next, iPod news! Duke has apparently revamped their iPods in education pilot program to be less of a waste of money. While giving iPods to every freshman (which I heard only put them back $100,000) makes it possible for instructors to integrate iPods into their classes, not every class is going to need one. So, Duke is only giving an iPod to you if you a) don't already have one and b) you actually need it for a class.

More iPod news! My iPod arrived in a little cardboard box the next morning after I posted about the shipment. I didn't get to see it until I got home yesterday for Mid-Autumn Festival, however. I do report that it is delightful and cool, and everything. The first complaint is that to undock it from the computer, you have to take out the headphones as you won't be able to unlock-via-squeeze the connector through the adjacent headphones. My mom gave me a small zip-lock bag for the iPod as a temporary case and it's no less aesthetically pleasing. It feels small and compact, yet dense and substantial. I'm truly beginning to appreciate the interface and design--especially the play/pause button.

What else? I found a friend from high school taking a semester off from Cornell and he's taking classes at Rutgers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Spin in place in style

Yesterday, I got a chance to ride the 1st generation of Segways. There was someone running around posting party cards (whatever you call them) at the bus stop riding a Segway. I had seen him before while tabling at the involvement fair and later regretted not asking for a ride. Upon seeing him again, I immediately asked and he agreed to let me take it for a spin.

By and all, it was an interesting experience. He told me to stand up straight and lean forwards to speed up or backwards to reverse. I wobbled a bit, but was able to stay still. There's a little wheel (?) around the left handle that controls turning and AFAIK, there's a zero degree turning radius. I didn't get to ride for too long, because I didn't want to keep him from doing his job, but it was fun.

This was another missed opportunity to photoblog due to my lack of having a digital camera.

SOURCE: Second chances

My (unpopular) nano has shipped

nano_from_shenzen Just thought it was interesting that my iPod nano shipped direct from China. The service type says IP Direct Distribution, so maybe FedEx handles the entire distribution process.

On an entirely different note, Apple stock dropped around the same time this article was published. The bad news is that retail stores have sold only a fraction of the iPods they had in stock. It's suggested that Apple may have anticipated demand and simply shipped an excess of iPods to the stores, but they point fingers at the perceived contradiction of paying more for less capacity. Well, that certainly didn't matter for mini sales, which likely greatly surpassed Apple's original estimates. ANYHOW, I own Apple shares as I'll occasionally mention so that you can tell that my favorite parts of the article are not objective.

Oh, and my color choice is 7 times less popular than black.

SOURCE: TheStreet.com

UPDATE 5:41 AM EST 9/15/05: Whoa. SAME information, totally different analysis. Forbes reports that Piper Jaffray raised the price target to $60.

SOURCE: The Inquirer

Saturday, September 10, 2005

(Why) is Google Talk better?

I looked at the 'About' information for Google Talk, and it seems that Google's using licensed voice technology from Global IP Sound. It gets better, because Skype, MSN, Net2Phone and tons of other companies use the technology in their products. I was at first naively disappointed, but it'd be quite absurd for Google to reinvent the wheel when it comes to VoIP. This makes interoperability seem more real and tangible (at least between Skype, MSN, and Net2Phone) if they're based on the same technology.

But, why did someone say that Google Talk's simply better? The difference might be due to the vast networks Google is supposed be superimposing over the internet that drives Web Accelerator. I haven't tried the voice features (!) but I think this is why Google still has a competitive advantage as more bandwidth + expansive network = better quality.

Lastly, here's some interesting insight from Jeff Maurone about who developed Google Talk at Google.

(UPDATE 11:22 PM EST 9/12/05: : / I forgot to factor in the fact that not that many people are using Google Talk, while Skype has tens of millions of users. I also forgot that Skype was started by the Kazaa people, and that it uses Skype users' computers to route calls over their p2p network. So much for that. So, while Google might be able to devote resources to Talk, Skype is efficiently handling much more traffic. Realized that after reading this interview with the SIPphone CEO. They also use the same underlying VoIP technology.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Idle thoughts...

a) I don't cut in line because, well, I never really did it and it's really annoying when you're about to be late for work trying to get dinner and people cut in line.

b) The pepsi machines that have the bill slot, coin drop, and coin return in the middle are more fun than our old coke machines. Why? They don't just spit your money back when you press the coin return. They give you entirely different ones. Think of the potential!!!!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

No one should buy the shuffle (anymore)

Just marking this "breath-taking" moment. Keep in mind that it syncs calendar and contacts from Outlook.

SOURCE: Engadget.com

UPDATE 7:00 PM: Before you go rush in and get the 4 GB, just remember that the 20 GB is only $50 more ($40 with education pricing)...

UPDATE 11:39 PM 9/8/05: Win a free nano. All it takes is picking your 10 favorite posts at TUAW and blogging about it. I wonder how many I've linked to.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Economic insight of the day

My business chinese professor said that oil prices are high, not because of any change in the supply or production of oil. Instead, prices are being driven higher and higher by speculation. In other words, people think the price of oil will be higher tomorrow, so they're buying it up. This makes what my roommate Mike said make more sense, that there will be a burst of the oil price bubble, just as Greenspan warned about an eventual burst in the housing market.

SOURCE: Prof. Qi Yun Fang

UPDATE 9/3/05 9:05 PM EST: So, apparently, this insight isn't the be-all and end-all when considering the effects of an actual refined oil supply drop of 1.8 million barrels due to Katrina. See the linked Washington Post article about the oil situation.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Typing on a G5...

So, several things happened today. I went back to work and had a decently quiet shift and a good conversation with my co-worker. The buses weren't running when I left, so instead of calling the knight mover, I just walked/jogged home. That's the most exercise I'll get besides table tennis. Being that it was like after 5 AM when I got back to the dorm, I figured I'd get some breakfast at the 24-hour dunkin' donuts. Planning on getting as much sleep as possible until my second period class, I forwent coffee...

Unfortunately, I was deprived of my first lecture of the semester (Democratic Political Philosophy) because our professor couldn't make it to class. I was really looking forward to it because I liked the topics on the reading list. Partly because of the resulting free time, I exceeded the bandwidth limit and lost my access for a week. Learning how to bump locks was not worth it. NO LINKS ON THAT.

My second class Computer Graphics involves learning about the core concepts of 3D graphics, including modelling, rendering, and animation. Despite falling drifting off to sleep a couple of times during the lecture (which I always do, for some sinister reasons), I'm excited about the class. Programming assignments are worth 65% of our grade, and are to be completed individually, but I don't mind as long as I hand things in ON TIME.

What else... more work tonight, brother's windows died :/ Katrina hit hard... That's what I should be posting about...

SOURCE: The swirling void

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Jordan's next book

Book 11 info at Dragonmount... and I still have to read Clash of Kings.

SOURCE: Amazon ad

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Spoiled rich (or hardworking) kids

Students are sharing details of their Mac hardware/software setups on TUAW. They range from the humble 12" iBook to the Dual G5 PowerMac + Powerbook combos. Pardon my characterization of students using macs as the ones I know are mostly of the latter type, but I'm just jealous (deadly sin).

My mac 'rig' is a graphite iMac G3 400 MHz with slot-loading DVD player and 384 MB of I-don't-know-what-kind RAM with a puck mouse and no-name USB keyboard. It took me approximately 40 minutes to build Adium using Darwinports (Fink didn't have it) and it didn't even work for some reason. I'm pretty proud of it, nevertheless.

UPDATE 1:40 AM EST: After looking up the definition of envy and trying to convince myself that I didn't harbor resentment towards mac users (!), I feel bad about my generalization and do apologize. It's like criticising people who drive BMWs or otherwise nice cars. I think what I do feel resentment for is people who have everything but take it for granted. Like me in many ways, if I wasn't me.

DISCLAIMER: Even though I will not further edit the title of this post, I acknowledge that in many cases, possessing luxury items does not mean you are spoiled. Furthermore, I do not believe that Mac users are either hardworking or spoiled and rich. One can conclude, however, that I consider myself to be either not spoiled, not rich, or not hardworking.

Monday, August 22, 2005

There were lots of people at the MoMA

Today was another trip with Kathae into the city. She wanted to take me to the Museum of Modern Art even though she's gone a billion times. First, we went to eat lunch (first customers) at El Faro where we had tapas, which are small dishes of food, downed with a half-pitcher of sangria. I'm not a fan of red wine, or wine in general, but it was so diluted it was almost refreshing. My conclusion from the trip is that stuff is egregiously pricy... deli meat was priced by the half-pound!

IBM EYE BEE M Some of the most interesting exhibits for me was of course the floor with industrial design pieces including an EYE BEE 'M' print donated by the designer and, well, the iBook and iPod. I hesitate to comment on the other art we saw, but it was a fun experience basking in the artistic and often pointed accomplishments of our century.

Broken Google Desktop news...

Version 2 of Google Desktop Search is out. Now with Google Sidebar! Features include search as you type, and massive cramming of features into a sidebar reminiscent of a screenshot I saw of an old prototype Longhorn sidebar. Now, if only I had my PC set up.

SOURCE: MarketWatch

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Panda baby

Check out the live feed from the National Zoo (or the mirror on Animal Planet). Hope it grows big and strong.

SOURCE: Washington Post

Friday, August 19, 2005

Packing sucks

I seem to have an emotional attachment to objects like plane tickets and movie tickets and letters, etc. I think it's because I'm so distracted and unthinking usually that things like objects trigger memory recollection. Anyhow, that's why it's so hard for me to throw things away. I forget things. I find things that help me remember. I don't want to throw them away and pack/file them somewhere. I forget. Unfortunately, these things rarely get reviewed and I might as well have thrown them away. All the while, I'm missing out on all the memory review I should be undergoing on a regular basis.

What doesn't help is that it all happens when you're packing at the last minute AND you have an irrational aversion to adding things to landfills.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Pre-wrap-up

Wow, that was a bad post. In any case, here's another. Came home for parent's anniversary (finally got a pay for dinner for once WITH CASH), used American Express Express Pay (now the name makes sense) at CVS to buy some cranberry juice (no signature necessary, but I forgot that I wanted to keep the magnetic strip immaculate because I'd already used it elsewhere). Said goodbye to david (is good with computers), Lori (email author), Cameron (who taught me how to floss), and Alex (who organized the paintball trip). Most of the rest of the goodbyes will be easier... My project partner will be at Rutgers and my new roommate (since Roy got his apartment) will probably be glad to be rid of me.

This is starting to sound like a Jehangir post. Anyhow, went to BN and added Freakanomics and Clash of Kings to my stack (My Life, Blink, The Right Man), had Apple stock hit another record high, got a crazy chance to see more opportunities in the company (for the first time, I can actually say gothank you, affirmative action), and oh, played some ping-pong/table tennis with Elande after work.

Will I ever organize this? Maybe not.

SOURCE: The swirling void

A day in the park

Last weekend I went to the picnic/BBQ Will McG organized and had a good deal of fun. After Mike B drained a couple (2?) of cups of water over my head (and conveniently over my shorts), Will McG splashed water into his crotch area in such a way that could only result from a real accident to show his solidarity with my wetted state. I did get Mike back by getting him in the face with a paper towel drenched with diluted sweat.

Noteably, I learned to play Ultimate Frisbee after being stuffed with a hot dog and three cheeseburgers. Volleyball stung, kickball was fun except for the man temporarily down part. Eventually, the day ended with a bathroom adventure into the CS building, or as Jehangir calls it an "inefficient trip around rutgers looking for an open building to use the bathroom". BTW, this was a draft post started at 11:44 PM EST on August 7, 2005. It will likely be further updated about 20 times.

Apple/Google iTunes rumor

I'll use a term I first heard used by my freshman year roommate... this is bull crap:
According to market chatter, Apple is set to announce a deal with Google (GOOG:Nasdaq - commentary - research) calling for Google to offer Apple's iTunes music store through its own site. The rumored deal would pair the nation's leading online music store with its leading search engine.

The most I could see happening (could be wrong) is sponsored iTunes links for searches for music...

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Movie reactions

So this summer, I've seen more movies than perhaps I did all last year. Today, I saw Bewitched at a discount place and damnit I ended up with a collection of small impressions that don't link up into a cohesive one.

Same thing with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. One of these days... more tomorrow?

UPDATE 8/6/05 11:49 PM EST: I guess that didn't make a whole lot of sense. I posted this at the end of a moderately long day from my pocket pc right before going to sleep. I guess, the point was top mark my wonder at the quantity of movies I'd seen (totally relative to my viewing history) and the lack of coming up with a proper reaction.

I can't really remember what I wanted to follow up for this post, but I can finish last sentence. 'One of these days', I want to be able to write a good movie review.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

I did get a visible welt afterall

Paintball changed my life! I no longer get motion sick from playing this 3D game, at least. Anyhow, two welts, one on my head and one on my shoulder I just noticed this morning. As promised, my thighs hurt significantly when I stick my legs out straight or standing up or sitting down. But, it was all worth it (soreness, money and all).

What else do I predict it will change? I will be better at FPS games, a better driver and possibly be able to read in a car. Tom warned me about tunnel vision before I went, but I didn't make the connection until my last couple of games. It was paying more attention to my surroundings and environment that I was finally able to last through the end of two woods games.

I think the paintball survival experience (and that doesn't mean staying back) really helped multi-task better and not get bogged down in less relevant details so much.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Things not to get too good at...

I read or heard somewhere that being too good at crying or smiling was a bad thing. I think it was mentioned in A Game of Thrones but I'm not sure. Anyhow, it's simple enough to understand what he means: if smiling/crying becomes like acting, then it's those acts are no longer sincere, right? Smiling and acting are emotions that over expressed (emoted!) overtly.

Humility and courtesy are not emotion so much as expressions of philosphy but can be similarly analysed. When humility and courtesy become more like learned behaviors, habituated rather than rationalized, they lose their sincerity. Anyway, the lesson of the day is to think and act rationally! That is, unless you've seen the Fantastic Four movie.

Guessing game

What did I eat for breakfast? The second one'll be hard, depending on who's guessing.

  1. Canned Food Item (3.5 servings):
    Calories: 350
    Sodium: 1260mg, 52.5%
    Total Carbohydrate 54g, 18%
      Dietary Fiber 17.5g, 70%
      Sugars 7g
    Protein 24.5g
    Calcium 21%
    Iron 21%
  2. Canned Food Item (1 serving):
    Total Fat 4g, 6%
      Sat. Fat 1g, 5%
    Cholesterol 30mg, 10%
    Sodium 450mg, 19%
    Total Carb. 2g, 1%
    Protein 9g

Friday, July 15, 2005

Some cool yoyo videos

So asides from a full episode of Naruto, I also found some cool videos of people yoyoing on Google Video.

Video0 : 2005 World Yoyo Champion Shinji Saito 2a event.(Added 8/28/05)
Video1: A big yoyoing event somewhere Spanish-speaking.
Video2: A kid demoing smooth tricks that seem very possible.

Google Video Viewer necessary

Sunday, July 10, 2005

RFID American Express Blue Card?


Saw this on the cover of an American Express mailing yesterday. The mailing was about some sweepstakes that would lead to "swipeshock", but doesn't that look like an RFID tag on the card? How come I haven't gotten it yet? All the images of the card on the AMEX website reflect the new look.

UPDATE 6:22 PM EST: Called customer service to get the new card. Apparently, all new cards issued since June have RFID instead of smart card chips.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Christopher Rose Tragedy

From the NYTimes:
"I didn't know who he was," Mr. Rose said yesterday. "He called me on my cellphone, at 4 maybe. Or maybe it was 5." Mr. Rose said he had stopped noticing the passage of time since his son was killed.

The men spoke for a few minutes.

Calling him by his first name, Mr. Jobs asked how Mr. Rose was doing, he said, and conveyed his sympathies. "He told me that he understood my pain," Mr. Rose said. "He told me if there is anything - anything - anything he could do, to not be afraid to call him. It really lightened me a bit."

...

"Some people talk to you like they're something remote," Mr. Rose said. "He was so familiar. After every word, he paused, as if each word he said came from his heart."
No parent would trade the life of their child for even a huge favor from Steve Jobs, but even if it was meant to stave off bad Apple press or foster some good, Steve Jobs came off as having helped the family. Jobs said that he really understood the pain they were going through, and although I don't know that he's literally lost a child, but he did at one point think he only had a couple of months to live and spent it with his family and kids like they really were his last (excerpted from the transcript found here):
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
Even though Jobs had months to do what Rose was deprived even a second for, at least it would seem Jobs was truly sincere in his telephone call. I originally wanted to post about the Christopher Rose's heroism in not giving up his friend's iPod, it boils down to a tragedy that we could only hope would lead to positive change, maybe with some help from Steve.
In the days since Christopher's death, Mr. Rose has spoken of finding meaning in his family's misfortune, and of working to help teenagers like the ones who attacked his son.

...

"We live in a world which is changing rapidly," Mr. Rose said. "We have the technology that can give us the iPod and everything else, but it's not all these things. We have to work on the minds and the hearts.

"We're failing these kids. We're not loving them like we're supposed to."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

That took a while

We'll see how long this lasts. Index-only(!) validation, check. Next up, CSS validation.

Valid XHTML 1.0!

Update 10:19 PM EST: I cleaned up my act, but can't do anything about this.

Independence Day

Independence Day has come and gone and as I wanted to post something more meaningful than last year, I've tried to reflect on the celebration. I was inspired by a story I read about a Maryknoll sister named Dorothy Stang who was killed for championing the rights of poor Brazilian farmers who were given rainforest land to farm by the goverment. Loggers who could no longer stand to have her in the way killed her. Now, there are many reasons why this tragedy wouldn't have happened in today's America, but sometimes one needs only to be reminded not to take rights for granted.

Then I saw this linked from Instapundit. I'll just be satisfied in sharing Ed Cone's emphasis on rights. Our rights themselves aren't the only reasons America is great, but that it was our nation's founding resolve to protect and guarantee those freedoms for its citizens that makes us unique. It certainly hasn't been perfect from day one, but we've been making progress. Sister Stang lived her life in the spirit of fighting for the equal right of people to exist with dignity and pursue happiness.

Eh, maybe one day I'll have some shareable insights of my own on this topic.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

It can be at G8

Live 8 (July 2, 2005), watch it, sign the list, help convince our leaders to eradicate poverty in Africa.

Hey, that sounds familiar...

On the topic of compliance with the government's wishes in a slightly different context:
... Mainland and Hong Kong businesses willing to advertise in other Hong Kong publications seem to avoid the Apple Daily, which has retained its independent voice. The popular paper has the second-highest circulation in the territory.

Apple Daily's journalists may not report on the mainland and are often excluded from public media events in Hong Kong.

"It's like punishment," Fung said. "It obviously has an impact on other papers. When they look at what is happening to us, they will think twice before taking a more critical or independent position."

Critics say that in an industry dominated by tycoons clamoring for business opportunities in the mainland, many media executives are willing to compromise their editorial integrity...
That's from the LA Times via Glutter. It doesn't sound too much removed from describing the depressing situation here in the states, where journalists who've earned the ire of the the federal government are barred from getting access to officials and events and FOX news gets preferential treatment.

I don't know whether it's a result of our being too distracted (myself included) to care or whether we can shift the blame and say marketers have too much control over the population to the point when journalists resort to self-censorship.

Civil disobedience, duty, or compliance with the law?

It's not getting any easier being a journalist these days. I guess it depends on who you are. Take the case of Matthew Cooper. He wrote an article about why the Bush administration may have deliberately leaked the identity of a CIA agent. It gets pretty confusing, because todayyesterday I read about how the editor of Time agreed (to the dismay of journalists everywhere) to give away the name of the anonymous source that clued Cooper in to a federal investigation when Cooper was prepared to go to jail to protect his source.

The success of the investigation would seem to be in the interest of truth and justice, but a major publication willing to shatter a journalists promise of anonymity means the journalists word is worth very little. It also means that sources will almost certainly face retaliation for telling the public what it may desperately need to know. Check out this 2004 article by Slate editor Jack Shafer (and Cooper friend) that explains some of the background of the federal investigation and the law that might have been broken in leaking Plame's identity.

It was mentioned in the Times article that "legal experts said yesterday that they knew of no other instance in modern journalistic history in which a major news organization announced that it would disclose the identities of its confidential sources in response to a government subpoena." It's something of a big deal I guess. I wonder if some Bush apologists would be complaining of liberal bias despite so many being against this disclosure. Some accused the paper to be acting in the name of Time shareholders to avoid the fines with which the judge threatened the magazine (and other business interests) but the editor has denied it, separately saying that they were not above the law.

I still don't think I understand what's going on... BTW, got the link to wsj.com from instapundit's post on the topic. He links to his editorial in USA Today about his views on journalistic privilege.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I want the iTunes phone

Lots of news from Apple these days (just reposting some particularly interesting ones):
  • Out with the old Mac minis and in with the new? Hopefully, they'll have 512 MB of RAM and doubtlessly have Tiger.link
  • iTunes phone concept picture featured in a Motorola presentation? French say it's coming.link
  • iTunes phone references found in iTunes 4.9link
  • No more black and white iPods (just 20/60 GB colors)link
BTW, I'm prone to being optimistic because I own shares : )

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

So it's not for spying on us...

So yesterday, Google posted its improved Personalized Search by transforming Search History from a way to "remember your searches" into a way to rank the results of your queries. This makes sense, because Google already uses the number of clicks on a result in determining its placement. I guess their other personalized search didn't quite work out compared with other Personalized Search offerings.

Thanks, Google for leaving us in the dark about why we were letting you record our search habits whereever we go. If you're logged in already, you won't even notice a difference between Personalized Search and Search History.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Classes for Fall '05

I'm feeling ambitious about taking classes again... I think it's because I've been too long away from school and it's associated workloads. Don't worry, it will pass and I will settle down on a minor, either Chinese or Political Science, most likely Chinese. This past semester, I definitely did myself an injustice by taking two hard CS classes together and doing uncomfortably in both.

Just because of that, I think I'm going to delay Software Engineering until second semester. Instead, I'll take either Distributed Systems and/or Computer Graphics. One or two CS classes should do it fo me. For the last two slots, here are the classes I'm considering. Some or all may be ruled out due to the crazy scheduling contraints we now have at Rutgers.
  • Business Chinese, 29068 [W 9:50-11:10 AM SC-219 & F 2:50-4:10 PM SC-219]
  • Organizing and Developing Chinese Writing, 32917 (or is it Organization and Development of...) [Th 5:00-8:00 PM WL-A108]
  • Advanced Chinese Grammar, 27837 [TTh 2:50-4:10 PM MU-111]
  • Introduction to Computer Graphics, 31187 [TTh 3:20-4:40 PM ARC-203 & T 5:15-6:10 PM ARC-110]
  • Software Engineering, 20258 [MW 1:40-3:00 PM SEC-212 & M 3:35-4:30 SEC-212]
  • Distributed Systems, 26864 [ W 6:55-7:50 PM SEC-218 & M 6:40-9:30 PM SEC-203]
  • Sub-Sahara African Politics, 33709 [ MW 1:40-3:00 PM LSH-B267]
  • Interest Groups, 29881 [TTh 5:35-6:55 PM HCK-138]
  • Western Tradition, Plato-Machiavelli, 20609 [ TTh 2:15-3:35 PM CHM-204]
  • Democratic Political Philosophy, 32920 [MTh 9:50-11:10 AM MU-212]
  • American Constitutional Law I, 29178 [TF 10:55-12:15 PM CDL-110]
  • Religion and Politics, 33650 [ TTh 3:55-5:15 PM RAB-208]
  • Compative Public Policy, 28415 [TTh 3:55-5:15 PM HCK-202]
  • American Foreign Policy, 29177 [MW 3:55-5:15 PMARH-200]

update 7/6/05 11:49 PM EST: bolded classes I'm currently registered for

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Save Public Broadcasting

UPDATE 8:21 PM EST 6/26/05: The cut was voted down in the House.

If you've watched the PBS fundraising campaigns and felt like donating, but never did, here's your chance to do your part. Congress is ready to cut $220 million from PBS's budget, which combined with other cuts to public broadcasting cuts funding by almost a half. Go here to find your representative's homepage. Don't be so sure it's not ideological. With dimishing funding from other sources like corporations and states, a sudden cut/shift in federal funding would be detrimental in the short term.

PBS has a number of talking points on their page, but the one that hit home asides from the size of the cut is that slated for cancellation is the Ready to Learn program- out of which came Arthur, Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow. Considering that PBS was pretty much the only TV station my mom approved of her children watching, this is a big deal. Please act before this Thursday, June 23, 2005. If you missed that, talk to your senators as they will also debate the issue.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

More pics from the USMA

battle_monument
Photo credit: David Daro

Here's a picture of my roommate Roy, our dormmate Dave, and me in front of base of Battle Monument, the largest piece of turned granite in the Western Hemisphere. It's a civil war monument honoring 2230 soldiers and officers who fought for the Union army. Our tour guide said it was also called a tribute to Southern marksmenship.

battle_monument2
Photo credit: David Daro

West Point Museum

usma_museum_guns
Photo credit: David Daro

This is a shot from the West Point Museum. Believe me, the guns looked much bigger in person. Sorry this isn't a very flattering picture of either of us, Roy, but I had to post it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Tallest water sphere in the world

I'm so proud. This is in my town. Google Sightseeing was mentioned in a Slashdot post on the recent voluntary take down of Google Wallpapers. Sightseeing posts intereing satellite images (military bases, anomolies, famous landmarks, fighter jets in mid flight, and even sunken ships).

The point is, they featured the tallest water sphere in the world, which is in my town and proudly bears the UNION name in bright white capitals. You can see it here. Make sure you check for its shadow : )

union_water_sphere
Picture credit: Dan Becker

SOURCE: Google Sightseeing via Slashdot

Monday, June 06, 2005

You may have noticed a change

I can't promise not trying again in the future, but that the adsense box is now gone. Well, what can I say, the cost was too high to have them up and the benefit was next to nothing. They're gone, and in place of them, my recent posts have been upgraded. Just remember that they never got higher placement than my blogroll.

I think I just wanted to try them out as you usually need to own a domain to put up Google Ads, but Google made the allowance for blogspot users. Too bad they rejected my highly qualified Adsense for Feeds beta application.

While I'm at it, I might as well explain the brief stint of my Archives list at trying to be cool in the form of a drop-down menu. What I didn't realize was that those archive links were the only thing linking to my old posts. Changing it into a script driven navigation menu made them invisible to Google and depriving me of the little search traffic that I got. Seeing as that would deprive the world access to my bonsai kittens post, I remedied the situation.

SOURCE: Adsense

Saturday, June 04, 2005

A new job, computer, and even a new processor

First update in a while so sorry about the length.

I moved up to my job on Sunday, but of all the things I could've forgotten, I forget my passport. Federal regulations gave me three days to bring it in so thankfully, my parents came back up and dropped it off for me along with a ton of supplies.

Despite my missing papers, my first two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) netted me lunch with my manager and co/op coordinator, a nice ThinkPad T30 (for work, of course), my first meeting, badge reels, t-shirts, notepad, a message board, and my first assignment. Oh, and lots of donuts. Our co/op coordinator put lots of donuts in the office to give me a chance to meet people in our department.

Getting free stuff is nice but meeting smart people is a privilege. In some ways it feels like taking a summer class at an elite private institution that draws students from all over the country. Not that there aren't smart people at Rutgers, but you don't usually meet people from Texas (like my roommate Roy) around Rutgers. The full-timers are also pretty friendly and I don't want to disappoint them. Unfortunately, that's not going to be easy given my current track record.

I stayed late on Thursday (day 3) I was trying to boost my productivity by extending my desktop to an external CRT monitor, but it taxed the video card to the point where my displays eventually blinked out. After several restarts, it stopped booting up so I went home hoping it would get better the next day. Friday came and the situation didn't improve, but the workstation guy brought me a replacement laptop using the same hard drive so my productivity went back up. I was able to end the week on a positive note, for which I'm tremendously grateful. Of course, I'm so happy that I forget to save the last couple of donuts from getting stale over the weekend in the office.

Friday also brought a CNET report of the upcoming WWDC announcement that Apple will phase IntelX86 chips in to replace IBM PowerPC chips. The initial rumors supposedly brought Apple's stock up 5% but it seems people are afraid of backwards compatibility issues, the difficulty for developers to adapt so soon after going to OS X, and a gap in sales as people stop buying the old Macs.

The bottom line is that I'll need to work harder and be more focused than ever before. I feel that dedication is my strength and I'm motivated by the people I work with to do my best work (or something approaching it). Of course, I also need to try my best to have fun. [-]

[+]

SOURCE: CNET / SOUNDTRACK: The Long Day Is Over

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Something bad about the iMac for once

Ok, so it's at least the second time. Last time I warned against buying the Mac mini without Tiger, but those guys at Apple have eluded me by not including Tiger on current Mac minis. Instead, they offer to give you Tiger for 10 extra dollars under their Up-to-date program.

Anyhow, it seems that the first generation iMac G5s have been having problems (mostly with the fan/heat related) and even breaking down. That'd explain why there are so many refurbs on the market. The second generation looks much better (such that I don't really consider the refurbs) with twice the base-ram, what seems to be a better graphics card, and other improvements, which hopefully include fixing whatever issues were in the old ones.

So that pretty much was just to show that I'm not above posting some bad things about Macs. Or that I don't only post the good news.

SOURCE: TUAW

Friday, May 27, 2005

New wifi card for my Pocket PC

SanDisk Connect Plus Low Power Wi-Fi Card with 128 MB

This post is for those with a spare CF slot or looking to replace a dead-beat compact flash wifi card. The first thing I can say with confidence about this card is that the reception is better than that of my old Belkin Wifi card AND it's not so wide that it impedes the audio jack on my iPAQ h2210. My only fear is that this is not so low-power, fairing a bit over 2 hours in my estimates using a 900mah battery.

There are a couple of key features that make this a good card:
  • supported by MiniStumbler for wardriving
  • seems to have great reception (at a cost?)

  • For 29.99 (coupon code: Techbargains) at Surplus Computer with free shipping, it's a decent deal for casual use. The included PC Card adapter and 128 MB of flash memory are bonuses. Comes with a 90-day warranty.

    Note: There's no WPA support, so if you're concerned with privacy, you'll have to be extra careful. There also doesn't seem to be a 'Flight Mode' to turn off the radio without unplugging the card (or using PocketWarrior). Drivers for PPC 2002/2003 available here.

    Thursday, May 26, 2005

    Missing pictures in Picasa

    If you've noticed that small pictures are being grabbed and indexed by Picasa 2 but aren't appearing in the gallery, it's not a bug or anomaly. Just be sure to select View->Small Pictures.



    Otherwise, they're hidden (too low-quality I presume) along with well, hidden pictures.

    SOURCE: Frustration

    Another R.R.

    From George R.R. Martin, who happens to be the screenwriter of the Beauty and the Beast TV Series (making him the Hans Christian Anderson of the 21st century), comescame A Game of Thrones. It is heart-rending but undeniably absorbing and involving. It is involving because you get to know the characters really well; heart-reading because they hurt so much as they play their parts in Martin's cruel game.

    The book is set in a world about 15just 10 years after a war that ended the reign of the Dragon-riding Targaryen family where the younger generation is young enough to look forward to the next, but the older are still suffering from the wounds the previous war, some plotting and others mourning. It is summer, but winter is coming and with it the unnatural forces of the land that had been only the stuff of old wives tales are gaining strength. Those plotting are themselves pawns in a strange and sinister conflict.

    Each chapter is named after its protagonist and after each, I was tempted to jump the next one similarly named. Here's a hint: don't get too attached to the characters. Eddard Stark is the Lord of the North, who fought with King Robert to avenge the murders of their loved ones by the then reigning king. His honor is both his greatest strength and greatest weakness. His wife Catelyn of House Tully is a proud, but a loyal wife and loving mother to all her children, but not of Eddard's bastard son. Ned's kids find a litter of wolves left by a direwolf who choked to death on a broken antler, which is astonishing because they haven't been sighted in generations. Events draw the Starks from their northern stronghold beginning with the sudden death of the King's Hand, followed by a visit from the King himself. While Ned is honorable and strong, can he and his family survive the Game of Thrones, especially after the last round cost him almost all of his kin?

    Fantasy elements in Martin's 700 page prologue are forebodingly played down by the characters who supposedly know better with the dragons extinct and spells and magic the stuff of old wives tales. By the end of A Game of Thrones, however, it's clear that it was all part of the plot. Of course, it's just the first book that I've gotten through and I've read 10 of Jordan's. This is on par with Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time in terms of the seriousness, but I still think Robert Jordan's work is more sophisticated and in some scenes less for the eyes of children. However, most of the principle characters are fairly young lordlings who are forced to grow up quickly as they inherit the burdens and intrigues of their houses. I heartily recommend the book. less

    more

    SOURCE: Christmas present from cousin, thanks Kathae for [the] R.R. observation.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    Tablet Mac rumors mature

    Categorized under yeah you've heard about it, but it's my blog

    So, not only was Apple granted a patent for a Tablet-style Mac, and met with Intel about potentially using their chips, a prototype has been sighted and the concept has been corroborated by multiple 'sources'. (emphasis added)
    ...And it exists, honest, seen a prototype. Instant On, ASUS-Tatung whiteish looking, running a reduced version of OSX, with some funky start-up PDA like Apple icon menu. Touch only (white touch pen), least the version I saw.
    The interesting thing that makes the Intel rumor more credible is that the talks were supposedly focused on low-power chipsets like the Centrino for the PowerBook (I think it's unlikely) or a tablet-style mac. Apple has denying rumors that it is ditching IBM's PowerPC chips in favor of Intel's and that makes sense. It wouldn't even be a PowerBook anymore.

    Well, despite my longtime love of the Pocket PC, this is something I could use.

    SOURCE: Engadget

    Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    iMac G3 upgrading

    I bought tiger for the iMac G3 that Will found for me. It already had OS X on it so I figure it will run even better with Tiger.

    SOURCE: Craziness

    UPDATE (2:54 AM EST 5/26/05): I used Tiger for 5 days straight. Some cool stuff I was able to do: I used Skype on something other than my pocket pc (thank you built-in mic), used Eclipse for C, installed Firefox (although I mostly used Safari), RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, Xvid and DivX codecs (I didn't even do this on Windows but, alas, it was too slow), tried KeyNote and Pages, accessed files on my brothers Windows box. I learned how to change icon images (copy the image you want from Get Info dialog and paste it into the Get Info image of the target icon), how to turn off the constant hard drive spin downs via energy saver, enable full tab-key accessing (+8), use expose (Fs 9-12), learned how to keep dashboard widgets on the desktop (go to terminal and run the following command: defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES, then run this: killall dock, then bring up dashboard [F12], drag your favorite widget and release it after pressing F12 again), and more. It was pure joy. Well, most of it.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    Losing the iPod

    categorized under more-of-the-same

    I was on the bus [yester]today and saw someone listening to music on an old CD player. First thought in my mind was, "This guy likes listening to music. He might be want to get an iPod." As the bus hopped along, the I heard the inevitable skip because his huge headphones that had been blasting fairly loudly literally skipped, despite the ESP logo on the player. I took the opportunity to get a confirmation from him that his player had indeed skipped. After he took off the the headphones, he admitted to having the player for way too long. I suggested that he buy one capable of playing MP3s referring to the truly affordable CD players that could play CD-Rs burned with 700MB of music.

    Since he thought I meant a strict MP3 player and not a discman that could decode mp3s, he responded by saying that it was too expensive. I clarified to say that he could spend around $40 for a decent replacement that would play his existing CD collection. Surprised, he said he was actually looking into buying an iPod. I was right.

    WOW. Here was someone who didn't seem to act or dress trendily (this is not a criticism) and not too familiar with new consumer technology who referred to a whole class of electronics by the one name that had first and most successfully penetrated the mainstream as a household name. "iPod" in his mind was probably for MP3 players what "palm pilot" is to PDAs. Today, someone who borrowed my iPAQ Pocket PC left a message on my door saying that he wanted to return my "palm pilot". Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

    Here I'll quickly say that Palm Pilot is no longer a name being used by Palm, Inc. (or is it Palm One?) and was stricken from geek vocabulary as being a violation of Pilot pen company's trademark. Palm then went after Microsoft, which had been trying to sell it's haldheld form-factor devices as PalmPCs making them adopt the name Pocket PC. Anyhow, this is all old news, but people still call the darned things palm pilots and the darn copy machines Xeroxs. Some people do at least. Now, it is my understanding (from some conversations with someone who attended business school) that this is bad for a brand. It means you can't control what people thing about your brand name because it's associated with the whole darn industry.

    Before we go on, I'll try to characterize as best as possible this person on the bus. He didn't know that the iPod has a rechargeable battery, which means he's never really researched the iPod as if he was going to get one, much less look at competing products. The fact that he didn't know of CD players that could play MP3s means he probably doesn't much about the iPod at all except that many people use it. He is also a commuter that presumably works and lives at home. He only listens to music on his portable player during the school year (he said he would put off upgrading because school was almost over).

    But what I care about is whether it's a good thing that 1) the concept of an MP3 player still hasn't penetrated everyone and 2) the name people associate with modern MP3 players is the iPod. For both questions to be salient, my sample population has to be pretty darn representative. Let's assume it is. Before we can seriously consider the second question, we have to decide whether Apple's product is adequately unique for this not to happen. Remember to regular folks, a PDA (not public display of affection, but Personal Digital Assistant) is a PDA is a PDA and some people honestly cannot tell one from another. Or is the phenomenon I witnessed on the bus just a combination of iPod proliferation and insufficient marketing on the parts of Apple's competitors.

    I have a feeling it was more of the latter, which means the iPod has a long way to go. Even in the first case, the iPod is sufficiently distinct and simply beautiful that it'd be hard for Apple to accidentally (vs. deliberately) allow the iPod brand to be diluted. But given this and that the previous assumptions are true, the iPod hasn't gotten to everyone. On the other hand, some say that the popularity of the iPod turns people away. I'd have to disagree. Sorry I'm falling asleep. Maybe I'll update this sometime tomorrow.

    Show/hide rest

    SOURCE: Ride on the A bus -> Exam

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    Housing found for the summer

    I've decided to settle for an un-airconditioned dorm to live for my summer job at a nice company. I'm kinda scared, but I will have time to brush up (Mike knows how understated this is) before I move in around the 29th of May. They are a good place, relatively close (try extremely) to the site and extremely cheap.

    I didn't really consider anything too expensive but got Wifi, and an airconditioned lounge area : )

    Hope I get along with my roommate.

    SOURCE: More procrastination :/

    I can make short posts too

    Trying to study... Bluetooth for linux doesn't work for me because my hardware isn't being properly recognized. I'm still only an extreme newbie to linux :/ Even after that Linux OS project (spoiled by Mike's shell scripts), if it doesn't work automagically, I'm in trouble.

    SOURCE: Exams week -> Finish

    Saturday, May 07, 2005

    So,how appropriate that my last

    So,how appropriate that my last post in a long while was ushering the new age of anarchy online in my life. Now that it's final

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Anarchy Online Revival

    Anarchy Online is again free until the new year! I'm Brethlor, a humble level 3 Solitus Militiaman who has yet to sign with a side.

    I beta-tested this in junior year of high school and think lobbied hard for broadband because of it. www.ao-basher.com was my favorite fan-site until it collapsed.

    Friday, April 15, 2005

    11th hour post

    So, with only 10 minutes before 12:00, I need to type something up as my daily post. How about this: I'm about to begin writing my candidate statement for President of the RUTTC. The funny thing is that I never got elected for the previous two years I was "in office," as the first year I helped start the club and the next we only had a handful of people attend elections, much less run. I had to convince all the members of our current executive board to take their positions. Even though this year, I doubt there's anyone running against me (I kinda hoped there would be), it'll be nice to finally be elected. The current top player of our team felt it was too early for him to take the responsibility, only being a freshman, but I think we'd make a good team with him as a Vice-President.

    My main reservation is that so much is expected of a president. To be able to [help members improve](Added 4/17/05) lead in tough times, to motivate people to do the work that's necessary for the success of the club, and raise spirits in the face of tough competition. The thing I'll try hardest to do in my senior year is to try to get more people involved, because instead of being able to delegate many tasks, I mostly end up doing stuff that I may not be the best at doing. I did get tons of help this year ,though, and for that I'm grateful.

    Wish me luck.

    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    US Team Places 17th in ACM World Programming Competition

    I've toned down the more disappointed (or derogatory) headlines:
    The San Francisco Chronicle: "American universities fall way behind in programming; Weakest result for U.S. in 29-year history of international technology competition"

    The Inquirer: "American universities produce pants programmers"
    The nerve for the British to call us pants programmers. Their excuse?
    We should point out that the UK didn't make the top 12 either, but we never expect to, it is part of being British.


    Let me just say that I greatly admire the team from Rutgers who competed at the Worlds. They consisted of Bin Tian (Coach), Christopher Ross, Jun Dai, and Robert Renaud. Why did we get beat by Canada? I think it's because we didn't take it seriously enough.

    I barely heard anything around campus about them competing on behalf of the STATE, the COUNTRY, and heck the CONTINENT among the best schools in the world. What did the winning team do before winning? Their city/university/country decided to freaking host the World Finals.

    Anyhow, congratulations to the team from the University of Illinois for solving the most problems (PDF) among US teams and of course Shanghai Jiaotong University for winning. See the full standings.

    SOURCE: The Inquirer

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Doubly bad news

    Well, the OS Design project is over (on with the next one!), but AAPL is down even before they announced their earnings due to some bad economic data about retail sales for March. Even though profits ended up being, 5 times more than last year, I guess that was expected. The biggest reason for the drop, according to Reuters is that they didn't raise their expectations for nextcurrent quarter. It'll probably drop even more when everyone else hears this news tomorrow, but I'm optimistic.

    In other news of the same flavor, those big ionic breeze air purifiers that we got a couple of months ago can be quite bad for all the ozone they generate. And it seems they don't move as much air as everyone else. But, hey they're the quietest and easiest to clean (read, if we could return them we would).

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    I officially give up

    I don't actually, but I admit that there is little hope for me as far as continuing on my current path of doing things. I've been throwing around the idea of designing and implementing a "scheduling policy" for my life, but throwing around isn't what I do. I threw the idea and kinda never caught it. What is my current path? Delaying the things I think are most challenging/important and doing those least so first. It's ugly, I know. Oh, wait... I'm not the only one in the world who procrastinates?

    Way to go for my first daily post, eh?

    Here's a committment

    Because I suggested that Umar could try to blog about stuff that happened in his own life, I figured at least I should try to do the same instead of making this just a bi-weekly ordeal (j/k). Let's try this: I'll try to post once a day to make my sub-header ("a hit a day...") hold some clout. If you never read my longer posts, they won't be complete summaries of the day's events, but rather just short updates that will be bearable.

    Today's post is forthcoming. Three cheers to not making promises you can't keep.

    Friday, April 08, 2005

    A belated post on the success of the iPod

    Today, I observed that the color of the tag that you're assigned at the computer lab not only gives you the number of the assigned computer, but that the color of it denotes the area in the lab where it's located. I made a similar common sense observation when I saw someone holding an iPod shuffle today. The reason Apple gets away with selling such simplicity in all its products is not that they make the best computer, but that they show people why need computers.

    The reason the iPod sells so well against its competitors is that the iPod makes you want to listen to music and get in that zone that those silhouettes are in during iPod commercials. Not just in your car, or in your room when it happens to be on, but all the time. I'm guessing that the majority of iPod owners listen to music a whole lot more than before they owned an iPod (supported by a web anecdote). It would be especially interesting if people didn't really listen a whole lot to music before they bought into Apple's marketing and got an iPod.

    It seems so obvious, because we know that in order to sell a crazy new product, you don't convince people why it's better than your competitor's product and need to do more than add a bunch of cool features like FM radios and stopwatches (something Apple's done little of, see iPod shuffle). You need to convince people that they have an unmet need that iPod can fill. Now, the conclusion is that although anyone who actually wanted to have tons of music at their fingertips before Apple let them know they did, already had ways to listen to their music. These people care about what device has the best battery life or the best sound quality. They buy the Sony MD players or more affordable Creative Zens. They, however, aren't most people.

    Yes, another post on Apple by a shareholder.

    An original recursive acronym

    Here's some competition for Splenda ©:
    Who needs Splenda when you've got:

            SINS: Sins Is Not Sugar.

            Got Sins?

    Monday, March 28, 2005

    PyMusique just misunderstood?

    So you've heard of PyMusique? The software that lets you buy music from the iTunes Music Store but in an unprotected form (without FairPlay digital rights management)? Well, this came as a suprise to me since I didn't properly investigate, but apparently the software was originally developed to enable Linux users to download (and pay for) songs from the iTMS.

    So you CAN download songs from the iTMS on Linux! I'd settle for listening to songs I bought, but this is great. While the Forbes article says that losing the copy protection was an "unintended consequence," so I'm assuming this is because if the software does apply the copy protection, Linux users wouldn't be able to play the music. Apple refuses to let anyone license the technology for media players, especially to Real and Microsoft.

    SOURCE: Forbes.com via Yahoo Finance

    Friday, March 18, 2005

    Anandtech explains the Cell processor

    Anand takes you through the inner workingsdesign of the Cell processor in 13 pages.

    SOURCE: Anandtech

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Yahoo's new "social networking" service

    Yahoo is about to leverage many of its most popular services and roll out a "blogging" service that seems to me like it's going to blow MSN Spaces out of the water. They're focusing on how easy it is to incorporate your photos, news, videos, playlists, and a whole bunch of other really cool things people would love to share into a new way to blog. The social networking aspect comes in when you have easy access to finding other people through their Yahoo 360 pages.

    A tradeoff I see is that everything is very much a Yahoo! branded experience and less of a this is me experience. Still, it looks fantastic and is worth checking out.

    UPDATE 3/17/05: I should've included this link to the beta sign-up.

    UPDATE 4/9/05: Contact me for an invitation if you're interested in seeing what it's about.

    UPDATE 3/26/05: And screenshots...

    SOURCE: John Battelle's Searchblog

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    Wait, there's more!

    Someone who works at Google remade the Google home page to be a model of the OS X dock calling it Google X, even paying homage to the OS at the bottom of the page. It was taken down before I got to try it, but there's a picture available. It's an interesting solution to Google's problem of having too many services but not enough space on it's ever growing home page menu.

    In other Apple news, people all over are saying that we were wrong to blame the carriers on the delay of the iTunes phone (we thought they didn't want to be cut out of this new money-making deal) and that the true culprit is Apple. Their reason is that it's not their style to announce new devices before they're ready to be launched. I have a feeling is that they want to control their stock price with this down the line. The worry is that giving out too many employee options to get stocks for free or at a discount is bad.

    So I can never be done talking about the iTunes phone, and I've resolved to get one. That or a phone that tells me when I have email like an MS Smartphone or a Mobile Messenger/Blackberry/Pocket PC Phone type device. A while back, I stopped wondering when the Blackberry patent infringement suit would be resolved. First they're guilty and an injunction is ordered to stop them from selling their patent-violating wares. Then, that order is stayed. The fact that so many powerful and important people like lawyers and politicians use blackberries always helps. I'm not sure what happened next, but now they've finally settled, and RIM is paying NTP a one time (?) licensing fee.

    This is kinda important for them as companies had been wary of them. Just after the announcement of the settlement, mobile device manufacturer HTC announces that it will license RIM's Blackberry technology in its upcoming devices. They already make a ton of Windows Mobile Smartphones, the Palm One Treos, almost all the iPaqs (including the up and coming HP Mobile Messenger which runs RIM-competitor technology likely the for aforementioned reason), and a whole bunch of other devices under other brands.

    SOURCE: Lotsa places

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Quote of the day

    What a gem from Stephen Shanklan of News.com:
    It's not too much of a stretch to say GCC is as central an enabler to the free and open-source programming movements as a free press is to democracy.

    SOURCE: News.com via Slashdot.org

    And you thought using Firefox was safe

    Like a question you'd see on the LSAT

    People over at Vitalsecurity have found a flaw in Java that would allow an applet to launch Internet Exporer from any browser and exploit an IE flaw to do potentially bad stuff to your computer. Ironically, the best way to prevent against falling victim to this specific flaw (next to being careful abot what applets you give permission to run) is using Internet Explorer. Microsoft has patched this flaw but obviously hasn't fixed it thoroughly enough.

    I wonder how they're going to fix this. It's not so easy to update Java and get users to apply a patch on a large scale. It hardly seems right to expect browser developers to do something where you stop Java from launching IE. This seems a bit like an LSAT question my sister told me about where you have to assign liability, I'd say it's still MS's fault and they need to really fix their browser software. This begs the following question: Is it safe to even have IE on your computer? And that question begs another. Why are you still using Windows? Ok, I guess I'm taking this too far :)

    SOURCE: BetaNews

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