Monday, January 30, 2006

Typical pragmatism

I wouldn't have waited for a Firefox version to announce the new Google Toolbar which has tons of new features, but just so you don't get prematurely excited like me, it's only for Internet Explorer (Windows 2000/XP).

SOURCE: Google Blog (first reported in the Wall Street Journal).

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Trends among college students

Facebook, a social networking website for college and separately for high school students, is the 51st most visited site based on a weekly average (Alexa says it's currently the 38th most popular English-language site). Although less relevant to the meat of this post, it also gets about 1.5 billion pageviews a dayit gets .15% of all web traffic, or about twice that of

They've been doing something interesting, along with captivating the attention of millions of college students and garnering funding from CIA-linked sources, which is to track trends among student preferences for movies, music, books, affiliations, etc. Now take a look at this:

The left side is the Top 10 for my east coast public school and the right side is for the all students on facebook. If you're confused, look at #2 and #10. I'm not shocked, but am slightly disappointed that the "most students are conservative" meme is probably true or at least that most politically active partisan youths are. It also makes me want to say that I'm non-partisan, but progressive (in other words, not Republican). Of course, it could be the CIA trying to convince people that conservativism is mainstream. You know, sometimes I think it's easier for me to rationally agree with Republicans, but there's always an unexplainable reason in my mind as to why Democrats have to be on the right side of the aisle.

SOURCE: Facebook | Pulse

Friday, January 20, 2006

This one's for the logo

I doubt anyone really comes here for Apple news, but some happenings:

Apple's holiday quarter earnings were higher than ever with 14M iPods sold and over 1.25M Macs sold. Unfortunately, they saw a drop in Mac orders before their announcements at MacWorld so they're lowering their forecast. We saw this type of language after they announced their transition to Intel, but it was to little surprise that it made no dent in sales. If anything, shouldn't sales increase because Intel-based computers represent a really large jump in performance for the average consumer? Their forecast is a little below what it was for the holiday quarter, which they of course blew out of the water.

Even though the iTunes mini store (recommendations based on the currently playing song) could be turned off, Apple now has turned it off by default to appease those with privacy concerns, even after Apple claimed that it didn't store what songs users were playing.

Speaking of privacy, Google was actually the only major search engine not to open its search data to the federal government. It refused to do so since October and now the administration is asking a federal court to force it to comply with a law concerning access to pornography by minors. As if we needed another reason to like Google. By the way, if anyone missed it, Google, Inc. now has a lobbying presence at the Capitol. See 'Google Goes to Washington'. I knew there was a reason why Mr. Smith Goes to Washington caught my eye.

Back to Apple, the mini-controversy over Apple's Intel commercial went from Intel distancing itself from Apple's claim in it that PCs were boring to the video's obvious resemblance to a music video produced for Postal Service. Their[The band's] publisher later revealed that the producers were the same for both videos. [+]

Leeched straight from Apple because, hey, it's a commercial. Requires Quicktime.

SOURCE: Mac Rumors
  1. Intel: Our other customers aren't boring [via Digg]
  2. Another Apple Ad Ripoff? See Such Great Heights [use IE, via TUAW]
  3. False Alarm: Same Directors Behind Apple Intel Ad/Music Video

Friday, January 06, 2006

CES Trends

There seem to be a lot in common among products announced around CES time. Here are some I've noticed:
  • Using E-ink for things that don't refresh often. No backlight, flickering, and super realistic, low battery consumption
  • Players that look like the nano but may or may not play video along with audio.
    • Sandisk Sansa that plays videos! Too bad they won't play Vongo. Neither will the Zen Vision:M nor obviously the newest iPod.
    • Samsung's YP-Z5
  • Portable satellite radio + MP3 players. Apple's got to compete with these when they release whatever they're releasing at Macworld later this month. Killer feature: discover and bookmark new music while listening to your favorite satellite radio station and then download it from Napster (unlimited subscription).
  • Wireless webcams
  • Skype phones
Um... I give up. Others I'd include are video download services (Urge, Vongo, Google, and others). All of a sudden, the CE space seems awfully crowded. As I've said before, the Apple brand will only triumph as other devices compete each other to death using features. This would be bad, of course, as I no longer own Apple stock, and, instead, have shares of Creative. Speaking of Apple, Apple doesn't seem like it wants to restock the 1 GB shuffle. Are they replacing it?

That took 45 minutes... :/

UPDATE 5:17 PM EST: April Fools Jokes? Google releasing Norton Antivirus and RealPlayer in a bundle with Picasa, etc? Quantum Memory?

UPDATE 6:08 PM EST: Ok... maybe it's not so surprising that Google would do something like this. At least the apps in the screenshot are stuff that everyone would install on Windows, not to mention that you have a choice in what you install. Think mainstream people. Let's not forget that Google is not only progressive, but realistic. And super corny.

UPDATE 7:28 PM EST: Full list of Google Pack software...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Movies to download from Vongo

Update 10/14/2007: I cancelled my subscription because I have Blockbuster OnlineTotal Access (like Netflix).

I went for Vongo, a video subscription service where you can watch what the Starz Network is licensed to distribute (up to a couple of years). 10 bucks a month for the Starz channel and unlimited downloads of a limited selection of movies. Nevertheless, here are some non-pay-per-view movies I plan on downloading out of those 1000+ movies that are available. It's partly for my own records so it might be updated.
  1. The Sixth Sense - exp. 6/30/08
  2. The Greatest Game Ever Played - exp. 12/25/07
  3. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - exp. 1/08/08
  4. Memoirs of a Geisha - exp. 12/27/07
  5. Monster House
  6. Cars
  7. The Hunchback From Notre Dame
  8. The Professional
  9. Clerks
  10. The Cider House Rules
  11. Thumbsucker
  12. Amazing Stories: The Movie III - exp. 5/31/07
  13. Why We Fight - exp. 5/31/07
  14. Alice in Wonderland - exp. 12/31/06
  15. Tim Burton's: The Nightmare Before Christmas - exp. 12/31/06
  16. Shopgirl - exp. 3/21/07
  17. 3-Iron - exp. 5/09/07
  18. Shakespeare in Love - exp. 4/30/07
  19. Underworld: Evolution - exp. 3/31/07
  20. The Matador - exp. 6/03/08
  21. Pulp Fiction - exp. 4/29/07
  22. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada - exp. 5/31/07
  23. Mallrats - exp. 8/01/07
  24. Revenge of the Nerds - exp. 6/30/07
  25. Bloodrayne - exp. 12/31/07
  26. Enemy of the State - exp. 2/03/07
  27. Steamboy - exp. 4/25/07
  28. Sin City

    A huge cast of A-list actors star in a graphic novel about a decadent city and its colorful inhabitants brought to life. Focuses on a cop who pays for doing the right thing, a tough man in a love-wrought quest for vengeance, and a man on the run who unknowingly gets involved with a conspiracy against Old Town, an independent burough free in a utopia (compared to Sin City) of prostitution and justice. - 1/29/06
  29. Hitch

    Will Smith by profession, helps men win the hearts of the women they love. It might be more exciting for someone with less experience, but it's a great story of someone who helps people genuinely build relationships, and at the same time realistically illustrates why it is so hard: you're either rational (composed) or emotional (in love), but it's hard to be both at the same time. So when the extraordinary Hitch (Alex Hitchens) falls in love for the first time since he resolved not to do so, he could use some of his own advice.

    This movie moves along like magic with everything happening spectacularly building up to a spectacular climax where everyone had to re-evaluate their motives and feelings. When the pace slows, it seems like it'll turn into a regular romance (don't read chick flick) but it doesn't. If you even remotely enjoyed wedding crashers, this will be less hilarious but more poignant. Some product placements:
    Starbucks, Google Search, Benadryl, MSN Explorer, Mini Cooper. hide
  30. Sleepless in Seattle - exp. 3/31/07
  31. Lost in Translation - exp. 3/31/07
  32. Dangerous Minds - exp. 1/21/07 (drama)
  33. Session 9 - exp. 12/31/06 (horror)
  34. Much Ado About Nothing - exp. 3/30/07 (comedy)
  35. The Terminator - exp. 12/06/06 (scifi)
  36. Dune - exp. 12/30/06 (scifi)
  37. Liar Liar - exp. 9/19/06 (comedy)
  38. Alien Resurrection - exp. 4/28/07 (scifi)
  39. How to Succeed in Business Without Typing - exp. 12/30/06
  40. Rent - exp. 2/19/08
  41. Derailed - exp. 2/21/08
  42. The Birds - exp. 8/23/06
  43. Spartacus - exp. 5/30/07
  44. Dark Man - exp. 12/30/06
  45. Highlander: The Final Dimension - exp. 12/23/06
  46. The Greatest Game Ever Played - exp. 4/19/07
  47. Layer Cake - exp. 5/01/07
  48. Howl's Moving Castle

    An animated movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki (Laputa, Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) colored with many familiar themes including an female heroine, nature in peril, a world ravaged by war, and wonderous steam-driven technology in a Victorian setting. This time, however, the original story was written by a British author, Diana Wynne Jones.

    A girl mature beyond her years, a young wizard burdened with great responsibility, a demon bonded to a walking castle, an orphan, and a cursed scarecrow are brought together in a time of war and life-threatening conflict. The causes of these conflicts, however innocent, reflect the realistic results of human weaknesses out of control. - 8/18/06
  49. 2046

    ? - 8/1/06
  50. Oliver Twist - exp. 11/30/06
  51. Walk on Water - exp. 9/14/06
  52. Crimes and Misdemeanors

    A film by Woody Allen with an existential theme that examines two men engaging in extramarital relationships and what becomes of them. One is a successful doctor who has had a successful career and a happy marriage yet wants to end a relationship with a younger flight attendant. The other is an unacclaimed documentary film-maker (played by Allen himself) whose marriage is deteriorating but seeks a happier life with a newly divorced producer with whom he has much in common. It seemed like Woody Allen wanted to explore our perceptions of morality and the pursuit of happiness through the experiences of the characters and our shared flaws. I'm still left with many questions, but I definitely enjoyed the movie. - 7/30/06
  53. Finding Neverland - exp. 12/04/06
  54. Rounders

    Wow, I'm still clueless about poker, but Rounder gives you a very good picture of the experience of all levels of poker playing. The art is almost like the highest level of humanity. Rounders educates, relegates, and inspires. - 7/23/06
  55. Junebug

    Falls under the category of Art Cinema. Madaleine, a museum curator/owner, marries George, a man from the South, and meets his family for the first time in an attempt to sign a local artist. Madeleine ends up spending more time than she expected with her husband's family than cementing a deal with the eccentric artist, but her husband, returned to a mixed reception. His family is obviously glad to see the prodigal son return, but his brother still thinks he's an asshole. Seemingly dragged down by baggage from his history, he mostly absent or sleeping--I never caught onto what his job was.

    The film reaches a climax when their sister-in-law goes into labor just as Madeleine's deal is put in jepordy. A great movie with great character development. - 7/25/06
  56. Rise: The Story of Rave Outlaw Disco Donnie - exp. 12/30/07
  57. Tae Guk Gi - exp. 10/31/06
  58. Van Helsing

    This was a pretty interesting vampire action movie about a man indentured in the service of a secret society in Rome dedicated to protecting the world from supernatural evil.- 5/22/06
  59. Philadelphia - exp. 6/30/06
  60. Last Dance - exp. 8/31/06
  61. The Verdict - exp. 3/31/07
  62. Stealth

    The navy sends an AI driven fighter plane to learn from a group of human pilots. Interesting take on what happens when you try to make AI-soldiers that are smarter and more efficient yet still expect them to follow instructions.- 5/17/06
  63. Mad Max - exp. 12/05/06
  64. Blade - exp. 5/31/06
  65. The Kitchen Toto - exp. 6/30/06
  66. Basquiat - exp. 1/15/07
  67. Nixon - exp. 1/31/07
  68. Zatoichi

    This 2003 movie about a blind swordsman, two geishas with a vendetta, lots of yakuza, and more combines several plots, rhythm sequences, and comic relief to make for one hell of a bloodbath. It seems like a mix of Kill Bill, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. Didn't know what to make of it. - 4/14/06
    BTW, it was dubbed with English by Japanese voice actors.
  69. The Winter Guest

    A Scottish movie show four generations of interpersonal relationships: a window and her mother, an adolescent son and the girl next door, two school boys, and two elderly women. Their stories cross and they each learn about when to hold on and when to let go of each other. I liked this but didn't quite understand it all. - 4/14/06
  70. Vera Drake - exp. 12/20/06
  71. Monty Python and the Meaning of Life

    A smörgåsbord of skits wittily making light of catholics, americans, accountants, french, naked people, and more. Definitely Rated R and more inline with And, now for Something Complete Different and less like Life of Brian. - 3/7/06
  72. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

    Bill Murray stars as a oceanographic documentary maker who has a very interesting team of honest and quirky people. - 5/06
  73. The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl

    Sympathetic premise (everybody believes you're making things up but you're not), but the lack of 3d on Vongo and kinda the whole premise of the movie is kinda confusing. Is it a dream, a figment of Max's imagination, or is it reality? We're led to believe that Max is just dreaming. Then, we're led to believe he's not. But then, he, along with his two heros both say it's his dream. Before they leave Planet Drool, however, Max learns that some dreams can come true and how to make them happen. Unfortunately, the same dream then persists into the dream world not entirely consistent with the lesson he learned. Anyway, may be good enough for kids. - 3/3/06
  74. All the King's Men

    The movie is adapted from a book based on the story of Huey Long. Willie Stark, a self-made politician who tried time and time again to run for office on a platform of exposing corruption and setting things right. Election after election, he gains support but each time he loses, until he realizes what he needs to do to win.

    He starts taking money and 'making deals' with big businesses all over the state of Louisiana and through patronage, blackmail, and bribery.- 3/3/06
  75. Groundhog Day - exp. 8/30/06
  76. A Man for All Seasons - exp. 4/30/06
  77. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    A lot of imagining went into this, and I think the only thing I didn't like was Zaphod's second head. Don't know too much about whether this stayed true to the book(s) and I only read the first in the series, but it's definitely more fun if you read it first I think. Gives you a head start. - 2/06
  78. Psycho

    The classic Hitchcock thriller. Favorite quote: "You eat like a bird" - uttered in a room full of stuffed birds. - 2/10/06
  79. A Day Without a Mexican - exp. 6/30/07
  80. Dead Poet's Society - exp. 3/14/06
  81. The Bourne Supremacy (For some reason I think I saw this) - exp. 3/31/06
  82. America's Heart & Soul - exp. 3/31/06
  83. The Fog of War - exp(ired)
  84. Brave New World - exp(ired)
  85. Bride and Prejudice - exp. 5/04/07
  86. What the Bleep Do We Know?
  87. American History X - exp. <1/05/07/li>
  88. West Side Story - exp(ired)
  89. The Notebook

    The Notebook tells two remarkable love stories in two different time periods, the present and another told from the pages of ... The Notebook, both of which become connected as the story unfolds. - 1/06
  90. The Village - exp. 9/29/06
  91. The Station Agent - exp. 3/14/06
  92. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring - exp(ired)
  93. Slaughterhouse-Five - exp(ired)
  94. Shall We Dance?

    A remake of a Japanese movie about life and being happy starring Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, and Susan Sarandon. Makes you want to take dance lessons. - 1/06
  95. Samourais - exp(ired)
  96. Quiz Show - exp. 1/05/07
  97. Phil Collins: A Life Less Ordinary

    I finally understand what getting that Oscar for the soundtrack of Tarzan meant for him. He was a phenomenally acclaimed musician but people just got tired of his success. - 1/06
  98. Peter Pan - exp(ired)
  99. The Pacifier
  100. Once Upon a Time in China I, II, and II (Wang Fei Hong) - exp(ired)
  101. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - exp(ired)
  102. My Girl - exp. 2/28/07
  103. Return of the King - exp. 3/26/06
  104. The Last of the Mohicans
  105. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
  106. Jonah: A Veggietales Movie
  107. Jane Eyre
  108. The Incredibles - exp. 1/07/07
  109. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  110. Hidalgo - exp. 3/31/06
  111. Hellsing
  112. Good Will Hunting - exp. 3/31/06
  113. Ghost Busters
  114. National Treasure

    Benjamin Franklin Gates is pursuing a treasure that can only be found with the help of the Declaration of Independence. Watched/listened as I practiced calligraphy, so I didn't pay complete attention, but it was enjoyable. Something of a misnomer. - 2/6/06
  115. Harry and Kumar Go to White Castle

    A comedy about the lengths two recent college grads would go to have fun and satisfy cravings that are common to all people. Several cameos, pokes fun at lots of racist stereotypes that are funny because their true (the craziness, racism, and I wouldn't say all the stereotypes as they are always based on something). I think all Asians have to watch this because of this line after a guy dumps his work on Harold, "I'm telling you, those Asian guys love crunching numbers... you probably just made his weekend. Hah...haha.." - 1/06
  116. The Aviator

    Interesting history of American aviation and war politics from the perspective of an brilliant but troubled moviemaking/aviation pioneer - 1/06
  117. The Joy Luck Club - exp. 4/23/06
  118. Shaolin Soccer - exp. 3/31/06
  119. After the Sunset

    Don Cheadle, who plays Paul Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda, is in this movie along with Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek, the latter of which are genuinely retired thieves tempted with an impossible-to-steal diamond but they have to do it right under the nose of an FBI agent who's career they've ruined. An action movie with interesting plot elements. I originally really watched this because it happened to be on Starz's live channel stream. - 1/06
SOURCE: Engadget CES Coverage and too much scrolling.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

If you put it that way (on China)

Interesting [imperfect] quote of Dan Blumenthal during US / China relations segment of Washington Journal on C-SPAN:
Here is a regime that has no legitimacy besides the economic growth it can sustain.

SOURCE: C-Span: Washington Journal