Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Yahoo! TV

Between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2, Yahoo! TV will be offering episodes of "Two and a Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother" for free. Granted the latter show is not worth your time, the episodes of "Two and a Half Men" available are great. But beware, don't get hooked on Yahoo! TV as it is planned to compete with iTunes' video store. But take advantage of it while it lasts.

Yahoo! TV's video quality is fantastic, quite a leap over Yahoo!'s older video technology on Launch.com. The player looks a little big, but has very intuitive controls and the sound quality is fantastic, with none of the metallic chirpiness associated with streaming video content. Videos are a little dark, however, but I will note that that might be due to my computer's color settings.

These episodes are available commercial free.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Milton Friedman on Charlie Rose

Just a heads up for anyone interested. Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman has a captivating interview on Charlie Rose tonight. It's amazing how on top of his game he is considering he's in his early 90's.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Holy Crap

So I went to an Indian grocery store here in Berkeley and I came across something amazing. The European version of Ovaltine! It tastes completely different than the American version. Less sugar and a stronger malted taste I believe. But all I can say is, "More Ovaltine Please!"

And for those of you wondering, I'm sorry to let you down but this version of Ovaltine does not come in an oval container. So you have my permission to reuse that Jerry Seinfeld joke for another six or seven years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Another One Down

Just finished yet another take-home examination. I celebrated by washing my dishes and toaster oven.

Hooray for the bachelor life.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

P-Diddy on Skin Care

P-Diddy recently appeared on an infomercial for the (surprisingly effective) Proactiv skin care system. As usual, he offered eloquent commentary on the benefits of the product:

"It moisturizes my situation, and preserves my sexy."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Planet Soul Network.com

Planet Soul Network is a fantastic site my friend Mat recommended to me. It's got great underground house music and offers songs superior to any Launch.com station featuring similar music.

And the best part, you can stream the site through Winamp, Windows Media Player, or RealPlayer (the latter two of which stink and suck, respectively).

See http://www.planetsoulnetwork.com.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Bowels of Television

Have you ever seen any Matthew Lesko advertisements? He sells a book offering you access to government grants, which is a fine idea except for the fact that Lesko has the worst peronsality in the history of television.

Do people only respond to absurdity and obnoxiousness now? I suppose that would explain the FOX News Channel . . .

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Freshly-Cut: Albums of the Month

(November 2005)

1. Songs: Ohia / "The Magnolia Electric Co."
2. The Dave Brubeck Quartet / "Stardust"
3. Thievery Corporation / "Babylon Rewound"
4. Tom McRae / "Just Like Blood"
5. Thelonious Monk / "Jazz Profile No. 24"

The Movie List

So, here it is. My infamous movie list in its full glory.

The idea for this list came to me a few days before I graduated from high school. I wanted to compile a list of great movies. A movie can be "listworthy" for many reasons: directorial quality, acting, screenplay, cinematography, music, camera work, special effects, tone, comic relief, set design, or just that unquantifiable feeling you get when you watch a good movie.

Sometimes I know a movie is listworthy the moment I see it (Million Dollar Baby). Sometimes it takes me a few months to mull it over (The Polar Express). The point is that there is no mathematical rubric for getting on the list. I will say, however, that a film's ability to put me in a foreign space and allow me to remember that space--its texture, lighting, mood, weather--and also remember the characters that emobody that space makes it more likely to be listworthy.

You will find dramas, comedies, animated films, art films, musicals and foreign films on here. I have not ranked the films because it would be too arbitrary considering the wide range of movies on the list. Feel free to add on to the list (or tell me why something should be taken off the list) by commenting.

1. 100 Rifles (1969)
2. 12
Angry Men (1957)
3. 12 Monkeys (1995)
4. 13 Conversations About One Thing (2002)
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
6. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1916)
7. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954)
8. 8 Mile (2002)
9. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
10. A Better Place (1997)
11. A Bronx Tale (1993)
12. A Bugs Life (Animated) (1998)
13. A Christmas Story (1983)
14. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
15. A Few Good Men (1992)
16. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
17. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
18. A History of Violence (2005)
19. A Perfect World (1993)
20. A Place In The Sun (1951)
21. A River Runs Through It (1992)
22. A Simple Plan (1998)
23. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
24. A Walk In The Clouds (1995)
25. Aan (Foreign) (1952)
26. Aberdeen (Foreign) (2001)
27. About Schmidt (2002)
28. Affliction (1997)
29. African Queen (1951)
30. Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes – ‘Aguirre, Wrath Of God’ (Foreign) (1972)
31. Airplane! (1980)
32. Aladdin (Animated) (1992)
33. Alice in Wonderland (Animated) (1951)
34. Alien (1979)
35. Aliens (1986)
36. Alive (1993)
37. All About Eve (1950)
38. All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)
39. Almost Famous (2000)
40. Amadeus (1984)
41. American Beauty (1999)
42. American Graffiti (1973)
43. American History X (1998)
44. American Movie: The Making of Northwestern (Documentary) (1999)
45. Amores Perros – “Love’s A Bitch” (Foreign) (2000)
46. An American In Paris (Musical) (1951)
47. An Angel At My Table (1990)
48. Anatomy Of A Murder (1959)
49. Andrei Rublyov – “Andrei Rublev” (Foreign) (1969)
50. Animal House (1978)
51. Annie Hall (1977)
52. Apocalypse Now (1979)
53. Apollo 13 (1995)
54. Arlington Road (1999)
55. Around The World In 80 Days (1956)
56. Atanarjuat – ‘The Fast Runner’ (Foreign) (2001)
57. Badlands (1973)
58. Batman (1989)
59. Batman Begins (2005)
60. Ballet Mecanique (Foreign) (1924)
61. Before Night Falls (2000)
62. Being John Malkovich (1999)
63. Being There (1979)
64. Ben-Hur (1959)
65. Bend It Like Beckham (2003)
66. Best In Show (2000)
67. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
68. Billy Elliot (2000)
69. Birth Of A Nation (1915)
70. Blood Work (2002)
71. Blue Chips (1994)
72. Blue Velvet (1986)
73. Body Heat (1981)
74. Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
75. Boogie Nights (1997)
76. Born On The Fourth Of July (1989)
77. Bound (1996)
78. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
79. Boyz N The Hood (1991)
80. Braveheart (1995)
81. Breakdown (1997)
82. Bringing Out The Dead (1999)
83. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
84. Broken Rainbow (Documentary) (1985)
85. Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey (Documentary)(2000)
86. Buena Vista Social Club (Documentary - Foreign) (1999)
87. Bugsy (1991)
88. Bullitt (1968)
89. Bully (2001)
90. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969)
91. Caddyshack (1980)
92. Calling the Ghosts (Documentary) (1997)
93. Cape Fear (1991)
94. Capote (2005)
95. Carlito’s Way (1993)
96. Casablanca (1942)
97. Casino (1995)
98. Changing Lanes (2002)
99. Chicago (2002)
100. Chinatown (1974)
101. Cidade de Deus – ‘City of God’ (Foreign) (2002)
102. Cider House Rules (1999)
103. Citizen Kane (1941)
104. City Lights (1931)
105. City Slickers (1991)
106. Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Special Edition (1977)
107. Collateral (2004)
108. Coming To America (1988)
109. Contact (1997)
110. Courage Under Fire (1996)
111. Crash (2005)
112. Da Hong Deng Long Gao Gao Gua – ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ (Foreign) (1991)
113. Dancer In The Dark (2000)
114. Dances With Wolves (1990)
115. Das Boot - The Director’s Cut (Foreign) (1981)
116. Dave (1993)
117. Days of Heaven (1978)
118. Dead Man Walking (1985)
119. Dead Poet’s Society (1989)
120. Dead Ringers (1988)
121. Deliverance (1972)
122. Die Hard (1988)
123. Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)
124. Dirty Harry (1971)
125. Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
126. Do The Right Thing (1989)
127. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
128. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
129. Donnie Brasco (1997)
130. Donnie Darko (2001)
131. Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)
132. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
133. Duck Soup (1933)
134. Dumb And Dumber (1994)
135. Dut Yeung Nin Wa – ‘In The Mood For Love’ (Foreign) (2000)
136. Elephant (2003)
137. Emak Bakia – ‘Don’t Bother Me’ (Foreign) (1926)
138. Empire Strikes Back (1980)
139. Entre-Acte – ‘Between the Acts’ (Foreign) (1924)
140. Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
141. E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982)
142. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
143. Falling Down (1993)
144. Fantasia (Animated) (1940)
145. Far From Heaven (2002)
146. Fargo (1996)
147. Field Of Dreams (1989)
148. Fight Club (1999)
149. Finding Nemo (2003)
150. Fire In The Sky (1993)
151. Forrest Gump (1994)
152. Four Days In September (Foreign) (1997)
153. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
154. Frailty (2001)
155. Frankenstein (1931)
156. Frequency (2000)
157. Frida (2002)
158. From Here To Eternity (1953)
159. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
160. Game of Death (1978)
161. Gandhi (1982)
162. Gasman (Foreign) (1997)
163. Gattaca (1997)
164. Ghost (1990)
165. Ghostbusters (1984)
166. Ghostworld (2001)
167. Giant (1954)
168. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
169. Gods And Monsters (1998)
170. Goldfinger (1964)
171. Gone With The Wind (1939)
172. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
173. Good Will Hunting (1997)
174. Goodfellas (1990)
175. Gosford Park (2001)
176. Grumpy Old Men (1993)
177. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967)
178. Habla Con Ella – ‘Talk To Her’ (Foreign) (2003)
179. Hamlet (2000)
180. Happiness (1998)
181. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
182. Hate (Foreign) (1996)
183. Heat (1995)
184. High Noon (1952)
185. Homicide (1991)
186. Hoop Dreams (Documentary) (1994)
187. Hud (1963)
188. I Heart Huckabees (2004)
189. Igby Goes Down (2002)
190. In America (2002)
191. In The Bedroom (2001)
192. In The Line Of Fire (1993)
193. In The Name Of The Father (1993)
194. Innocence (2000)
195. Insomnia (Foreign) (1997)
196. Insomnia (2002)
197. Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
198. It Happened One Night (1934)
199. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
200. Jackie Brown (1997)
201. Jarhead (2005)
202. Jaws (1975)
203. Jerry Maguire (1996)
204. Jesus’ Son (1999)
205. JFK (1991)
206. Jing Ke Ci Qin Wang – ‘The Emperor And The Assassin’ (Foreign) (1999)
207. Jungle Book (1942)
208. Jungle Book (Animated) (1967)
209. Kalifornia (1993)
210. Kill Bill: Volume One (2003)
211. Kill The Day (Foreign) (1996)
212. Kundun (1997)
213. Kolya (Foreign) (1996)
214. L’atalante: Remastered Director’s Cut (Foreign) (1934)
215. L.A. Confidential (1997)
216. Last Of The Mohicans (1992)
217. Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
218. Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain – ‘Amelie’ (Foreign) (2001)
219. Le Samorai (Foreign) (1967)
220. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
221. Legends Of The Fall (1994)
222. Lethal Weapon (1987)
223. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
224. Life Is Beautiful (Foreign) (2000)
225. Lion King (Animated) (1994)
226. Lolita (1997)
227. Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962)
228. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended DVD Edition (2001)
229. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
230. Lorenzo’s Oil (1992)
231. Lost Highway (1997)
232. Lost in Translation (2003)
233. Love and Death (1975)
234. Lovely and Amazing (2002)
235. M*A*S*H (1970)
236. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
237. Magnolia (1999)
238. Malcolm X (1992)
239. Man With A Movie Camera (Foreign) (1929)
240. Manchurian Candidate (1962)
241. Matchstick Men (2003)
242. Mean Streets (1973)
243. Menace II Society (1993)
244. Metropolis (1927)
245. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
246. Midnight Express (1978)
247. Mies vailla menneisyytta – ‘The Man without a Past’ (Foreign) (2002)
248. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
249. Millions (Foreign) (2004)
250. Minority Report (2002)
251. Misery (1990)
252. Mississippi Burning (1988)
253. Modern Times (1936)
254. Monsoon Wedding (2001)
255. Monster (2003)
256. Monster’s Ball (2001)
257. Monsters Inc. (Animated) (2001)
258. Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)
259. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)
260. Mulholland Drive (2001)
261. Mulholland Falls (1996)
262. Murder In The First (1995)
263. Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)
264. My Cousin Vinny (1992)
265. My Fair Lady (Musical) (1964)
266. Mystic River (2003)
267. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
268. Narc (2002)
269. Natural Born Killers (1994)
270. Network (1976)
271. Night Falls On Manhattan (1997)
272. Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
273. Nirgendwo in Afrika – ‘Nowhere in Africa’ (Foreign) (2001)
274. Nixon (1995)
275. No Mans Land (2001)
276. North By Northwest (1959)
277. Notorious (1946)
278. October Sky (1999)
279. On The Waterfront (1954)
280. One False Move (1991)
281. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
282. Ordet – “The Word” (Foreign) (1955)
283. Out Of Africa (1985)
284. Pane e Tulipani – “Bread and Tulips’ (Foreign) (2000)
285. Panic (2000)
286. Passage (Foreign) (2001)
287. Paths Of Glory (1957)
288. Patton (1970)
289. Per un Pugno di Dollari – ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ (Foreign) (1964)
290. Peuple migrateur, Le – ‘Winged Migration’ (Foreign Documentary) (2001)
291. Philadelphia (1993)
292. Phorpa – ‘The Cup’ (Foreign) (1999)
293. Pi (1998)
294. Pink Floyd: The Wall (Musical) (1982)
295. Platoon (1986)
296. Pleasantville (1998)
297. Pollock (2000)
298. Primary Colors (1998)
299. Prince Of Tides (1991)
300. Private Parts (1997)
301. Psycho (1960)
302. Pulp Fiction (1994)
303. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
304. Quills (2000)
305. Quiz Show (1994)
306. Raging Bull (1980)
307. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
308. Rainman (1988)
309. Rambo: First Blood (1982)
310. Ran (Foreign) (1985)
311. Rashomon (Foreign) (1950)
312. Ratcatcher (Foreign) (2000)
313. Ravi Shankar: Between Two Worlds (Documentary)(2001)
314. Raw (1987)
315. Rear Window (1954)
316. Rebel Without a Cause (1959)
317. Requiem For A Dream: The Director’s Cut (2000)
318. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
319. Return Of The Jedi (1983)
320. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
321. Road To Perdition (2002)
322. Rob Roy (1995)
323. Robin Hood (Animated) (1973)
324. Rocky (1976)
325. Rocky II (1979)
326. Ronin (1998)
327. Rope (1948)
328. Run Lola Run (Foreign) (1998)
329. Rushmore (1998)
330. Salaam Bombay! (1988)
331. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
332. Saving Grace (2000)
333. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
334. Sayat Nova – ‘Color of Pomegranates’ (Foreign) (1968)
335. Scent Of A Woman (1992)
336. Schindler’s List (1993)
337. Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993)
338. See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)
339. Sense And Sensibility (1995)
340. Se7en (1995)
341. Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)
342. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
343. Shane (1953)
344. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
345. Shiqi sui de dan che – ‘Beijing Bicycle’ (Foreign) (2001)
346. Shrek (Animated) (2001)
347. Sideways (2004)
348. Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
349. Singin’ In The Rain (Musical) (1952)
350. Sleepers (1996)
351. Small Deaths (Foreign) (1995)
352. Smoke Signals (1998)
353. Solaris (Foreign) (1972)
354. Some Like It Hot (1959)
355. Sound Of Music (Musical) (1965)
356. Spaceballs (1987)
357. Spartacus (1960)
358. Stagecoach (1939)
359. Star Wars (1977)
360. Stir Of Echoes (1999)
361. Strange Days (1995)
362. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
363. Sunshine State (2002)
364. Switchback (1997)
365. Tape (2001)
366. Tarnation (2004)
367. Taste of Cherry (Foreign) (1997)
368. Taxi Driver: 20th Anniversary Edition (1976)
369. Ten Commandments (1956)
370. Terminator (1984)
371. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
372. The Age Of Innocence (1993)
373. The Apartment (1960)
374. The Battleship Potemkin (1925)
375. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
376. The Big Lebowski (1998)
377. The Boxer (1997)
378. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
379. The Candidate (1972)
380. The Cell (2000)
381. The Circle (Foreign) (2000)
382. The Color Purple (1985)
383. The Contender (2000)
384. The Conversation (1974)
385. The Crow (1994)
386. The Crying Game (1992)
387. The Deer Hunter (1978)
388. The Doors (1991)
389. The Dreamers (2004)
390. The Edge (1997)
391. The Elephant Man (1980)
392. The English Patient (1996)
393. The Filth and the Fury (2000) (Documentary)
394. The French Connection (1971)
395. The Fugitive (1993)
396. The Godfather (1972)
397. The Godfather II (1974)
398. The Godfather III (1990)
399. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
400. The Gold Rush (1925)
401. The Good Girl (2002)
402. The Graduate (1967)
403. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
404. The Green Mile (1999)
405. The History of English: The Loaded Gun (Documentary)
406. The Hunt For Red October (1990)
407. The Hustler (1961)
408. The Insider (1999)
409. The Joy Luck Club (1993)
410. The Killing Fields (1984)
411. The King And I (Musical) (1956)
412. The Laramie Project (2002)
413. The Last Emperor (1987)
414. The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)
415. The Last Waltz (1978)
416. The Little Mermaid (Animated) (1989)
417. The Longest Day (1962)
418. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
419. The Matrix (1999)
420. The Minus Man (1999)
421. The Mirror (Foreign) (1974)
422. The Natural (1984)
423. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
424. The Passion of the Christ (2004)
425. The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
426. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
427. The Piano (1993)
428. The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience (2004)
429. The Professional (1994)
430. The Quiet American (2003)
431. The Road Warrior (1981)
432. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
433. The Sandlot (1993)
434. The School of Rock (2003)
435. The Score (2001)
436. The Searchers (1956)
437. The Seven Samurai (Foreign) (1954)
438. The Shining (1980)
439. The Straight Story (1999)
440. The Sword In The Stone (Animated) (1963)
441. The Thief (Foreign) (1997)
442. The Third Man (1949)
443. The Untouchables (1987)
444. The War Room (Documentary) (1993)
445. The Wild Bunch (1969)
446. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
447. The Yards (2000)
448. Thin Red Line (1998)
449. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
450. Tigerland (2000)
451. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
452. Todo Sobre Mi Madre – ‘All About My Mother’ (Foreign) (1999)
453. Tombstone (1993)
454. Tootsie (1982)
455. Toy Story (Animated) (1995)
456. Toy Story 2 (Animated) (1999)
457. Training Day (2001)
458. Trainspotting (1996)
459. Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948)
460. Trees Lounge (1996)
461. Trois Couleurs: Bleu – ‘Three Colors: Blue’ (Foreign) (1993)
462. Ulee’s Gold (1997)
463. Un Chien Andalou (Foreign) (1929)
464. Unforgiven (1992)
465. Usual Suspects (1995)
466. Vertigo (1958)
467. Viskningar Och Rop – ‘Cries and Whispers’ (Foreign) (1972)
468. Von Ryan’s Express (1965)
469. Vormittagsspuk – ‘Ghosts Before Breakfast’ (Foreign) (1928)
470. Waking Life (2001)
471. Wall Street (1987)
472. Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave (Animated) (1995)
473. Wayne’s World (1992)
474. Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)
475. Welcome To The Dollhouse (1995)
476. West Side Story (Musical) (1961)
477. Whale Rider (Foreign) (2002)
478. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
479. White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
480. Wild Strawberries (Foreign) (1957)
481. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971)
482. Wonder Boys (2000)
483. Wings Of The Dove (1997)
484. Wo Hu Cang Long – ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (Foreign) (2000)
485. Wuthering Heights (1939)
486. Y Tu Mama Tambien – ‘And Your Mama Too’ (Foreign) (2002)
487. Yankee Doodle Dandy (Musical) (1942)
488. Yellow Submarine (Animated) (1968)
489. You Can Count On Me (2000)
490. Z (Foreign) (1969)
491. Zelig (1983)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Get 100 Free MP3's After You Eat

You know you're going to be sitting around doing nothing after you stuff yourselves. While you're sitting there, sign up for eMusic's free month long trial of their download service. All you do is enter in your information (plus credit card info) and you get 100 free downloads. Your credit card is not billed until after one month if you decide to stay a member.

The downloads are in MP3 format, which are not copyprotected. The service is very intuitive. It is web-based, so there are no bulky programs you need to install first. The files are downloaded to your folder of choice, are named intelligently, and are fully tagged. Because they are in MP3 format, they will also run on your portable players and you can burn them for the ride back home without running afoul of any hidden restrictions.

Try out the service, just make sure you cancel within 30 days if you don't like it, but keep the 100 songs. To sign up navigate to the following site: http://www.emusic.com/compusa. If you just go to the normal homepage, you will only get 50 free downloads.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Taking a Stand

Papayas smell like vomit. There, I've said it. I feel better now.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Moods of Berkeley

Lost power at 3:30am. It was just restored. I suppose the winter is coming, which means Berkeley has rolling power outages for no reason at all.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Pitfalls of Webmail - Part 1

I hate webmail. Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail . . . even Gmail, too.

I have about 7 email accounts that have accumulated over the years and I like having them all synchronized in one place. As a side note, I prefer Outlook 2003. Here are some reasons why I hate web-based email:
  1. Space Limitations: so what if Google is giving me 2 gigs of space. Most of the emails I get are HTML based, which take up a lot of space if you don't want to delete them. With Outlook, you can keep your email server free from clogs and have everything locally.
  2. No visiting multiple webpages: people sometimes have an email address from work or school in addition to one or two for personal use. I'm not logging into multiple sites just to check my email. The fix to this problem is to just have all of your email forwarded to one address (but see #3).
  3. Identities: even if you forward all of your email to one central webmail location, it is difficult to reply from the address of your choice. If you are in Gmail and you want to reply to a message sent to your Hotmail address from within Gmail, your recipient will see the message as from "JDoe@gmail.com on behalf of JDoe@hotmail.com" which is frustrating.
  4. Calendar and Contacts: many businesses and individuals want a sophisticated calendar and contacts management system because they depend on it to keep themselves up to date and propose new meetings. Webmail is not tightly integrated with any calendar applications, so kiss it goodbye.
  5. No advertisements: I want to read my mail in peace and not be bombarded with popups or banner ads when I am reading. I would say privacy is an issue, but I doubt that my mail is that much more private in Outlook as compared to webmail.
  6. Archiving: what happens Gmail is no longer the hottest thing and you want to change accounts a few years from now? How are you going to forward that mail? If you sit there and forward them one-by-one, not only will this take a lot of time, it will also permanently alter your To, From, Date Sent, Date Received, and Subject lines. This makes it very difficult to organize your mail later on.
  7. Starting Over: even if I decide that I want to start using Gmail, how do I import all of my existing Outlook email into Gmail without losing my ability to categorize and cross reference emails? I've seen a few hacks, but they all have drawbacks. And again, if I forward my email one by one, I have the same problems listed in #6.
  8. Integration with Microsoft Office/Adobe: this is very helpful when you want to send out documents for review constantly and want to keep track of them. Dragging and dropping attachments is a lot easier than navigting to them through some half-assed attachment menu. Note: Yahoo! and Hotmail have promised drag and drop functionality in an upcoming release.

I think issues 6 and 7 are the most important to me. To have no effective way of exporting or importing email in a number of different formats is a deal-breaker.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What Not To Wear on TLC

This Friday (11/18), the show What Not To Wear on the TLC network will air an episode featuring a friend of mine from college, Susan. The show is on at 9:00pm on TLC.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Universal Truths

Unproven in the traditional sense, the following 30 statements are and will remain to be true:

  1. Although bad for you, smoking is cool.
  2. Even if brand new, episodes of Charlie Rose that have the washed out gray color in the background warrant turning off the show.
  3. Rudy was the best Cosby kid.
  4. You are right, Windows does take longer to boot up as time goes on. And you are wrong, Windows will always take that long to boot up.
  5. Prego pasta sauce does have a metallic taste to it.
  6. King of the Hill is boring.
  7. Arcade games are no better than they were five years ago. Arcade games five years ago were no better than they were five years before that.
  8. Kenyon Martin will never admit to fouling anyone.
  9. Tablet PCs are stupid.
  10. Any slice of pizza more than $1.75 is too much.
  11. Tweeters make your car stereo sound like crap.
  12. Google is overvalued. Nevertheless, it will reach $450 per share.
  13. Hybrid vehicles are filtered cigarettes.
  14. We all know you do a half-assed job washing your dishes.
  15. The Matrix wasn't as good as you thought it was.
  16. Predator was better than you thought it was.
  17. Yes, that smell is you.
  18. Wiping off the toilet seat does not constitute cleaning it.
  19. A wristwatch with any kind of computer, weather information, e-mail, stock information or scheduling information will necessarily fail.
  20. Natural Born Killers is not easier to get through the second time around.
  21. Navy and black worn together is fine.
  22. The inset hinges that Toshiba and Compaq use for their notebooks are hideous.
  23. Nobody cares about Bam Margera.
  24. The market won't "take care of it."
  25. There is such a thing as too much bass.
  26. iPods suck.
  27. Parking meters that automatically reset when you leave the spot constitutes a government taking.
  28. Will Smith plays the same character in every role he does. And yes, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is unwatchable today, even though it was decent five years ago.
  29. If anybody claims they were doing it for "research purposes," they are lying.
  30. Gillette will beat out Shick in releasing "The Ocho" in July 2008.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Man and the Iron Past

I woke up a few days ago and have suddenly gained the ability to iron dress shirts with the utomost skill. It's like becoming a speed reader after you get into a car accident, only more useful.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Gordon Moore on Charlie Rose

In case you missed it, Charlie Rose interviewed Intel's co-founder Gordon Moore tonight. The full-hour interview was fantastic. Moore was candid and accessible, acknowledging that he has become a historian of the industry because his technological expertise became instantly obsolete when he removed himself from the engineering trenches.

To properly gauge Moore's performance, compare him to Charlie Rose's earlier interview with Lee Raymond, Chairman and CEO of Exxon/Mobil, who was slicker and more evasive than most guests on the show. Raymond would avoid most questions and find a way to backtrack, repeating the phrase, "Well that's not what I said" or "Not necessarily" (or some version of that) at least nine or ten times. Although sometimes it is fun to see someone successfully avoid questions by truly using the art of rhetoric and persuasive speech, Raymond was clearly not up for the challenge. He opted, instead, to ignore questions or just move on.

If you would like to see the Gordon Moore interview, the episode will be on re-run tomorrow on PBS.

A History of Violence (2005)

David Cronenberg's A History of Violence is quiet but not unassuming.

Set in a quiet town in Indiana, we are introduced to Tom Stall, a family man with a seemingly stable home life. Tom is played by Viggo Mortensen--who I only remember from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy but has been in a number of famous films. His wife, Edie, is played by Maria Bello. He has two children and works as a cook in a diner.

From the opening credits and the title of the film, we are all aware that this movie has a darker, more sinister side to it. Without giving too much away by way of plot, two men try to rob the diner Tom works in. It's almost as if Tom silently changes into an efficient killer. Tom completely wipes out both robbers in a rather grotesque manner. And it is from that point on the audience begins wondering what kind of past Tom Stall has, or used to have. That's all I will give in terms of plot.

The film's basic message is that violence has a way of spreading, almost like a virus. We see in very straightforward ways how Tom's son has violent tendencies, inherited of course from his father. Coming from the director who made Dead Ringers (1988), starring Jeremy Irons, I was expecting a lot more in terms of creativity. The relationships in Cronenberg's new film are too straightforward in comparison to his earlier work, which was enigmatic and puzzling. As I wrote earlier, this film is quiet but not unassuming. The film assumes too much. It sees too mathematical a relationship between family and violence.

I particularly hated the "bully" character who was picking on Tom's son. The bully gave the most ridiculous evil eye when Tom's son caught a fly ball in gym class, which the bully was on the losing side of. Are we to believe that they really fought over a lousy baseball game during gym class? Couldn't they write a better reason for their fighting into the script? Why not just make the bully the type of bully that has no reason for picking his victims--those are the worst ones, aren't they?

The audience laughed at various points, sometimes intended and sometimes unintended by the director. One of the most unexpected scenes was towards the end of the film with William Hurt. The film transforms from a mystery/drama into a semi-comedy. But the change in tempo and tone is welcome and the effect was well appreciated. This laughter worked well in offsetting the actual images of violence in the film. These scenes were designed perfectly. The gun shots are isolated, with very little music or sound in the background. It has the eerie quietness that reeks of realism.

Apart from the rather one-dimensional writing and smaller problems with the plotline involving Tom's son, A History of Violence is fantastic in its general effect.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

On Reality TV

The only reality TV idea that sounds appealing to me is the fake one on the GEICO commercial about the couple stuck in a miniature house.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Going Paperless

Here's something environmentalists and business efficiency experts can get together on: NO MORE PAPER BILLS.

Not having paper bills come in each month (or every three or six months) works wonders for me especially since I move twice a year. If you tell the post office to begin forwarding your mail, you'll be happy to get 10% to 15% of it at your new address. On top of that, they probably won't start forwarding it until three weeks after you ask them to start. And finally, they won't stop forwarding your email until three weeks after you ask them to stop.

No more paper statements from my: (1) bank, (2) credit card companies, (3) cell phone provider, (4) power company, (5) television provider, (6) auto insurance provider, (6) ISP, (7) local telephone company, and (8) stock broker. Combine this with a free online bill paying service from virtually any bank in the country, and you've got an efficient way to keep track of your expenses. Here are some benefits:
  1. Portability: If I am out of town and a bill arrives, all I need is an Internet connection to stay up to date
  2. Free rewards points up the yin-yang. The best part of paying your bills online is that you often get points just for signing up (because it is cheaper for your company to send out an email than a paper statement). And, if you pay your bills with a credit card (and then just pay the credit card at the end of the month), you are eligible for 1% to 3% of your money back in some type of rewards points.
  3. Boost your credit score. If you put things on your credit card on purpose, and just pay them off each month on time, you're on your way to a solid credit history.
  4. More time to pay. Let's say your TV bill is due on November 20. If you pay the bill online using your credit card on November 18, you probably won't see your credit card statement for another few weeks. Therefore, you've just bought yourself an extension without paying any interest whatsoever.
  5. No more stamps or envelopes. I would venture to say that stamps alone cost an average family 4 dollars a month
  6. Instant access to your history at every site. This means that your uncle can throw out his 7 year stockpile of useless receipts. If you need something, print it out. Also, you can set up daily alerts so that whenever your checking account or credit card is used, you will be the first to know.
  7. No more checks. You don't have to waste paper checks anymore. If you pay online, your bank either sends a paper check by itself or will transfer your funds electronically. This means no more "check printing" charges.
  8. Time. You know how much time it takes to pay a paper bill? Sit down, write everything down, write a check, fill in all the account information, stuff it, stamp it, then let it sit on the table for a few days when you get around to sending it.
I will say, however, that there are a few drawbacks. The first is security. There are plenty of stories of people getting scammed on the internet or getting their financial information intercepted through an insecure internet connection. But I feel like this is what fraud protection is for. Even if I don't pay for protection, if you complain to your credit card company or bank that there is a charge on there that you didn't make, they'll remove it. Plus, I don't really see checks being any safer a medium.

The other drawback is that many people think online bill paying and automatic bill paying are the same thing. They are not. You can have the company automatically deduct money from your account so you don't have to worry about paying bills at all, but I think this leaves people susceptible to being swindled. I know Verizon Wireless habitually used to charge people an extra few cents for no reason (35 million customers and stealing a penny from each of them equals big bucks). You really think someone with auto bill pay is going to notice the difference between $39.87 and $39.89? Not a chance. The fix? Just get your bill online, but don't sign up to have it paid automatically.

If you don't want to go all the way, try paperless bills with a few of your monthly bills. But I promise you'll see why all of us younger whipper-snappers have faith in electronic commerce.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The "Live" Debate Episode

So West Wing decided to try and steal away loyal Simpsons viewers with a "Live" episode where the two presidential candidates debate the issues. It seemed contrived. There was an "outburst" from the audience that sounded remarkably similar to the dude who heckled the Governator last week, but it was still a snooze-fest.

Both candidates decided to "forget the rules" and act is if they were going to have a real debate, unlike the traditional song-and-dance routine we get in real presidential debates. Fine, it was an interesting idea, but both candidates got off of their podiums and started talking to an audience that applauded everything. It looked like a motivational speaking convention.

Towards the end, the segues into different topics were nonexistent and the writing became rather tired. They were covering too much ground for it to even remain realistic. The best part of the entire night, however, came during the intermission when Ellen Degeneres stole the show. Her bit on Social Security cards not being laminated hit the spot.

The great irony is that I missed the "Live" episode and watched it on my PVR.

File Sharer in Hong Kong Sentenced

Chan Nai-Ming, a native of Hong Kong, was convicted and sentenced to three concurrent months of jailtime for file sharing. Using the popular BitTorrent service, he traded three films, one of which included Miss Congeniality. This conviction marks the world's first successful piracy conviction related to online movie trading.

My guess is that the court imposed punishment on Nai-Ming because the making (or facilitating others to make) unauthorized copies of Miss Congeniality is a borderline human rights violation.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Eid Mubarak, Maybe

The holy month of Ramadan is now officially over. During the past month, I've been fasting from sunrise to sunset. Now that it is over, Muslims all across the world are celebrating Eid--well--sort of.

The Islamic calendar, like the Jewish calendar, is a lunar calendar (and not a solar calendar). We have been able to gauge the moon's different phases with pinpoint accuracy for probably more than 1000 years. In fact, there were a number of Muslim astronomers and scientists who have had access to the relatively simple technology. But somehow, we can't agree on what day it is . . .

People insist on being traditional and waiting for some yahoo to tell us that he "sighted" the moon before we're willing to say that the month of Ramadan is over. So if someone actually sees the moon (and this person has to have certain credentials), then we know whether the date has changed. The end result, different types of Muslims (sect, nationality, congregation) have different sources and Muslims end up celebrating Eid on different days. For example, most Sunni Muslims celebrated on Thursday and many Shia Muslims celebrated on Friday.

This is the dumbest controversy in the history of religion. Are you telling me that we can figure out how a calendar works and all celebrate on the same day? I can't tell you how uncomfortable it is going over my friend's house while they are celebrating Eid and I am still fasting (because I will be celebrating Eid the following day). This isn't necessarily a Sunni/Shia issue either, though I will mention that Sunnis generally appear to have their shit together.

Time is an essential unifying element and one of the most powerful forces that gives a group a sense of common living and common history. In fact the Muslim calendar began when the Prophet fled a town because of persecution. We have, over time, developed a calendar based on a single event and used the event to locate ourselves. So you can see why it is imporant to maintain that unity.

This is not to say that some disunity might be beneficial. Muslims all over the world also use the standard solar calendar. I celebrate my birthday every solar year, not every lunar year (which is shorter). We need the solar calendar to viably function in the world's political and economic spaces. Having multiple "times" allow me to exist on two separate trajectories, living multiple lives simultaenously, slipping in and out of one dimension seamlessly. But the philosophical impact of this kind of postmodern argument has its limits, especially when the Muslim calendar itself is fragmenting itself.

We've allowed something simple--sighting the moon--to remain a divisive issue for practically no reason at all except pride. Certain denominations will only listen to reporters of that denomination. Others will do whatever the people in a home country will do. It breeds distrust of the other group. There's only one moon, how can we manage to fuck this up?

The tricky part of this debate is that it has small elements of, but is not predicated upon a "Faith versus Science" theme. When we say that modern science can determine if the moon is actually visible, it is partially an attack on the clergy's unwillingness to believe that the moon is actually there if they can't see it themselves (due to cloud cover or other atmospheric conditions). The last I checked, wasn't believing something you can't necessarily see with your own eyes a basic prerequisite for all of the world's religions?

There are practical considerations too. If you have no idea whether tomorrow will be Eid, you can't give advance notice to your employer if you want to take off from work.

But then there's the simultaneous debate over tradition itself. We keep on perpetuating this ridiculous practice because, well, that's how it was done in the past. But our insistence on having some Muslims verify that the moon has been sighted is not only hyper-technical, but exclusionary. The greater good (unifying the Muslim calendar) far outweighs any benefits.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A ShapeShifter?

So there is this Herbal Essences commercial mystifies me. The person pictured below dances around for thirty seconds and supposedly sells the shampoo product. But what drives me insane is how different this woman looks in each segment of the commercial. Someone want to venture a guess as to her age?

Here she is looking like she's 24. One caveat, she is jumping, and is in mid-descent.

And here at Age 25; slightly sharper cheekbone structure and less baby fat.

Age 27?

And at Age 28, maybe?

Perhaps 30+?

My only other theory is that there is more than one model on the commercial; but the editing seems to be seamless. That the model sometimes wears yellow and at other times pink is not enough evidence of more than one model.

Quite a mystery.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Battle and The War

I've been avoiding a pudding cup in my fridge for weeks. I even left for the east coast last week and when I returned, it was still there staring at me. Today I picked the cup off the fridge door and looked at the expiration date. It was two months from now, so I ate it. I enjoyed it.


Saturday, October 29, 2005

An Elusive Album

If anybody can find a retail store or online merchant that is selling Howie B's album "AnotherLateNight," please let me know. The first track on this album, "What it is? - The Undisputed Truth," is absolutely amazing. It's got a trance-funk beat that's mesmerizing. If anybody has a copy of the album, I'll gladly purchase it used.

Even the great Rasputin Music has it on backorder. Amoeba Music doesn't have a clue.

Capote (2005)

Philip Seymour Hoffman showed me in Bennett Miller's Capote why he is an underrated actor. I really only remember Hoffman distinctly in a handful of movie roles, almost all films by P.T. Anderson (Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, and Boogie Nights), but to me, this movie is pivotal for Hoffman. I liked him in Almost Famous and Twister, but I never once got to see Hoffman in the spotlight; he was always off to the side somewhere. But now, he has arrived.

I assume most people read Truman Capote's book In Cold Blood in high school, a book I really enjoyed reading. I can't believe how much of the book I remembered, especially since the movie--a true story about two gunmen who executed a family of four in Kansas in 1959--tracked the book very closely. From what has lasted in my memory, the power of In Cold Blood was it's non-fiction base; some say Capote invented a new genre of literature, something Capote would definitely say so himself. Capote ventured to Kansas as a writer for the New Yorker and found himself with a wealth of material, which over roughly six years accumulated into a book.

Capote (and the audience) develop a strong relationship with Perry Smith, who was one of the murderers on death row, who Capote visited intermittently. Of course, my view of the original book is skewed since I read it awhile ago, but I distinctly remember Perry Smith being a sadder, dumber, more pathetic character, pushed around by his co-conspirator. The Perry Smith of this film is much more composed. But I don't know if this detracts from the film at all, since the actor who plays Smith, Clifton Collins, Jr., does the best acting in the entire film (even better than Hoffman). I sort of remember Collins (who is sometimes called Clifton Gonzales Gonzales) in this great little war film called Tigerland, which was also a great film.

Two smaller things. First, I was a little unimpressed with the lack time given to the other murderer, Dick Hickock. It would have definitely helped for the audience to compare Hickock's demeanor (unapologetic, self-interested) with Smith's, which is much more fragile and introspective. Second, I really enjoyed seeing Catherine Keener in the film, who played Harper Lee, a famous author in her own right who was Capote's friend and research assistant for the book. I really like her, but I was afraid at first that she would not be able to overcome how I remembered her character in Lovely and Amazing, in which she played a lethargic, middle-class bitchy character. She was fantastic in both films.

Although the movie spans the years he wrote his wildly successful book, I am happy the movie was titled Capote, because it was about him as opposed to Smith or Hickock. For those of you interested, I would recommend the 1967 movie In Cold Blood, directed by Richard Brooks, in which Robert Blake plays Perry Smith. For some reason I found that movie to feel much darker since it was made earlier and was about such a brutal murder.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Wonderful Past

A good friend of mine I went to middle and high school with gave me permission to post his story here. I have, however, made minor changes to protect the privacy of my friend, Mr. Mark Keurian of Fordham Law School.

So here's what happened. I was running for student council in elementary school. Me against another for V.P. I had run an amazing campaign (two campaign managers making my signs, I had support, I was dressed up for the speech). So I presented my speech, people were happy and clapping. The person who ran against me, he did his speech through Teddy Ruxpin (he recorded it and Teddy said it). The crowd (including the teachers) went nuts. He won by a good margin. It's affected me since.
I can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Loveman Cometh

So some of you might be tuning into the World Series of Poker on ESPN every once in awhile. During the broadcasts is a public service announcement running non-stop. It features Gary Loveman, Chairman of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., who offers a "serious" message about gambling addictions. "There are some times in life when you should not be gambling . . . like when you are underage . . . ."

Oh it gets better; take a look at what Loveman looks like on the commercial:

Loveman looks like Jim Breur from SNL doing a parody of the real Loveman. It's quite sad that someone thought this message would be taken seriously.

p.s. For those of you who enjoy random trivia, before Loveman took the job with Harrah's, he served on the board of directors for the popular (and outrageously overpriced) clothing company, COACH.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Berkeley's Rat Problem

I live in downtown Berkeley and a number of people have been complaining about rats and pests lately. I don't have a problem with them in my apartment, but in my parking space. The rats will crawl up into the front end and leave their food within the engine compartment or in the rear differential area. A number of people I know have complained that the rats chewed through the wiring in their engines. One neighbor of mine had a brand new BMW's wiring chewed through, costing her $4,000 in repairs. Another had his car alarm system rendered useless.

I've had to get my car detailed because of the smell of the things the rats leave inside the engine, which range from fruit to dead birds; I got the engine and rear differential degreased and steam cleaned, but the actual problem (rats being present) persists.

Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from my landlord, which was given to every tenant in my building. It said, in part:
Dear Tenant, Please be informed within the last few weeks the rodent and pest issue has become a larger downtown problem. We are continuing work with the city and neighboring buildings to control the

Weird thing is I can't find any mention of this problem anywhere. I may have to sell my car or move, or both if the problem persists.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Freshly-Cut: Albums of the Month

Special thanks to my new subscription to Napster (review to follow in a few weeks).

(October 2005)
  1. The Wolf Parade / Apologies to the Queen Mary
  2. Billy Corgan / TheFutureEmbrace
  3. Beth Orton / Daybreaker
  4. Spokane / Able Bodies
  5. Spokane / The Proud Graduates

jetBlue Delivers . . . with Rocking Chairs

I was sitting at the jetBlue terminal at Boston’s Logan Airport and I came across at least twenty rocking-chairs along the windows. They were quite comfortable and everyone who either was on my flight or was at a nearby gate was staring at the chairs as if they were some kind of practical joke. It was as if the presence of something so simple, inefficient, unessential, and luxurious made us feel suspicious because we’re so used to getting the shaft from airlines.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Google Explodes

It's only10:25am and Google shares today are up more than $35.00 today (11%). This comes from Google once again beating analysts' expectations for quarterly earnings.


Jingle Jangle

I am positive that the dude who sings "Yaa-hOOOooo" with a country twang for the Yahoo! commercials is the same guy who says, "dot.coommm" for the Expedia.com commercials. Why do we need a quirky country yodeler to sing the name of websites?

Probably because I remember them . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Maxthon Anyone?

The epic battle between good and evil for web browsing has been going on for quite some time now and it's been entertaining. Microsoft's Internet Explorer versus Netscape, Opera, and now Firefox (and many others). 90 Million have already downloaded Firefox, which is made by the Mozilla foundation and is open source.

Firefox is great and I recommend it, but there is another browser out there that is completely under the radar: Maxthon. With almost 37 million downloads, I think Maxthon has been successful enough to warrant some exposure here. Maxthon is the browser that I use exclusively.

I. Features:

The hottest feature in web-browsing is tabbed browsing. Browsers have been tabbed for a very long time--well, everyone except for Internet Explorer, which still has no tabs. Tabbed browsing is very efficient because it lets you quickly open up a number of different windows without having to close previous windows. For example, with the hit of a button, you can open up a "group" of windows, like your favorite news or sports sites. If any of you are using dialup, this is a great feature because you can load pages in the background while you read.

So, of course Maxthon has tabs. It also has a number of other useful features. Here are some of the better ones:

  • Mouse Gestures: this is a feature many of my friends use, but I just can't get the hang of. You can program common commands like back, forward, reload just by gesturing your mouse in a certain direction.

  • Super Drag & Drop: you can open new links by simply dragging a link on the page, drag a selected word or phrase to the address bar and automatically run a search on it with a search engine of your choice

  • Ad Hunter: does a very good job of blocking popup, flash, floating, and image ads. What I like most about Ad Hunter is that it gives you a number of options to block ads. For example, you can "block this ad," "block all ads on this site" as well as manually create a white and blacklist for ads. This offers a great amount of control for different situations.

  • IE Extension Support: Maxthon is completely compatible with Google's toolbar and various other IE supported toolbars (more on this later).

  • Privacy Protection: you can erase all of your browsing info easily using one menu. Clear your cache, your saved passwords, your cookies and your history either altogether or individually.

  • Skins: you can change the look of Maxthon to suit your tastes.

  • Plugins: There are 400+ plugins available for a ton of different users.

  • Save Passwords: Maxthon lets you save your username and passwords on any site regardless of where it is. All you do is hit ALT+Q and the username and password are automatically entered. This is the BEST feature. You don't need to download a bulky "password saving" program.

II. What Sets Maxthon Apart?

Other than the great features listed above, what makes Maxthon a great option for me is that it is based on Internet Explorer. It is a shell program, so that everything that is compatible with IE (the giant in the industry), is also compatible with Maxthon.

What's interesting is that even though Maxthon is based on IE, it uses 65% less RAM usage than IE. This is extremely important when we have four or five windows open at once. Maxthon is extremely fast and efficient. Pages load up instantly. The toolbars are completely customizable

Many websites are finicky about using other browsers. For example, I always have trouble on ESPN and Launch.com when using Firefox, Netscape or Opera. Usually I would be forced to use IE, but Maxthon offers a great option because I am no longer limited by IE's lack of options.

III. Drawbacks:

The drawback, of course, is the same as the strength: Maxthon is based on IE. So if there are underlying faults and exploits in IE (of which there are many) then Maxthon is similarly susceptible to those same problems. But I've had no problems personally with it, especially if you have decent ad-ware protection and anti-virus software.

IV. Conclusion:

Maxthon's great features and IE compatibility make it my favourite browser.
To download Maxthon, visit: http://www.maxthon.com

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"Strategic Access Controls"

I am currently working on an article that will hopefully be published next semester in the Annual Review of the Berkeley Technology Law Journal. I am writing about the impact a recent 8th Circuit decision will have on videogaming law, specifically on the market for massively-multiplayer online games (MMOGs).

A portion of the article deals with the way in which developers and manufacturers have abused anticircumvention laws (found most prominently in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act) under the guise of piracy in order to manufacture an anticompetitive advantage in the market.

Enjoy the cartoon. It's the first time I've actually done something artistic in awhile.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Jury Duty

I got my first-ever summons for jury duty. I sent in my first-ever postponement for jury duty.

Monday, October 10, 2005

PBS: "Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs"

If any of you have time, PBS is broadcasting a well-made documentary on the conflict in Israel from 1999 to 2005 called Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs. The coverage offered was fascinating, mesmerizing, and sad. It covers the breakdown of several peace talks and a steady escalation of violence. The reporting was surprisingly even-keeled, offering insights as to the motivation of not only the Palestinians and Israelis, but also of intervening peacekeepers.

This documentary will be re-broadcast a number of times. To find your local broadcast times, see: http://www.pbs.org.

The "King" is Sinister

This dude from the Burger King commercials has a lot of potential. With a little work, he could be the world's creepiest serial killer.

DON'T EAT ANYTHING THIS MAN GIVES YOU. Not even a croissandwich.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Batman: The Animated Series DVD

I have recaptured my youth with one of the greatest cartoons ever made.

Batman: The Animated Series was fantastically dark, offering a level of depth and character and plot development not found in the standard cartoon.

The DVDs, which are broken up into four volumes (each volume having 4 discs) is polished, though not extravagant. Each volume has a ton of episodes: Volumes 1 and 2 have 28 episodes each, and Volume 3 has 29 episodes. I have not yet purchased Volume 4. I will wait until I get another gift certificate from my credit card rewards program for that one. Each volume also has an average of 3 episodes with a full commentary track by producers and animators.
There are a bunch of extras, with featurettes about how the series got started and the voiceover stars behind the animated series.

The drawback is that the series is a bit heavy on the wallet, though it is comparable to most season box sets for television shows. Each volume hovers in the $31.00 to $35.00 range at Best Buy, and Amazon has them cheaper.

Update: New York TimesSelect

My free 14-day trial for TimesSelect (the new service from the New York Times) is coming to an end. I've decided not to get the 1-year subscription.

Most of the big stories on the site are for free and I frequent other sources on the web enough so that I find myself running out of time. The trade-off is spending your time reading one source in-depth rather than reading six or seven sources, the latter of which I think has more benefits than drawbacks.

That's not to say that I am reading multiple sources superficially. There's nothing I enjoy more than reading four or five stories from different sources on the same "story." Perhaps my undergraduate training in critical theory has ruined me, making getting the news a bore compared to the thrill of deconstructing the coverage (it's probably the reason I can't enjoy novels anymore, either).

What I am saying is that if you don't want to spend any money for news coverage (home delivery, online subscriptions, magazines), you don't have to. You can be more than reasonably well informed just for free.

The best thing TimesSelect had going for it was the ability to search archives of past articles. But it turns out that my law school subscription for LexisNexis (and a whole host of other databases at my library's website) offer the same access. So I am not paying for access I already have for free.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I am going to be experimenting with the layout and design of the blog for the next few days. I was content with the standard Blogger template when I first opened the account, but it's time to learn something about HTML . . .

Feel free to offer suggestions or comments.

The Curry Problem

No this post isn't about the bad chutney I had two days back (for which I am paying for dearly).

Eddy Curry has been traded to the Knicks for refusing a DNA test. It pains me to say it, but I'm with Commissioner Stern (a.k.a. Urine-face III) on this one.

Basketball players are corporate entities. The Bulls signed Curry to a 4-year, $12,534,242 contract, with the 4th season as a team option worth $3,896,402. With that kind of money on the line, you should be required to give up this medical information provided that: (1) the information is kept private, (2) the results are not used for a purpose other than the purpose for which the test was mandated (for example, checking Curry's DNA for a heart condition as opposed to screening for a sexually trasmitted disease). Players already succumb to a host of blood tests, x-rays, and physicals. Why should a DNA test be any different?

Some cite privacy concerns, but I just don't buy it. It's not as if the need for this DNA test is completely out of left field; Curry has been sidelined since March due to a heart arryhythmia. It's the equivalent of showing probable cause. There's a reason the Chicago Bulls needed to know. They're making a huge investment in a marquee player and they want to make sure that this investment is good in the short and long term.

My friend suggested to me that DNA was different because it was inconclusive and cannot pre-determine someone's future heart conditions. But no doctor can pre-determine anything, so should all medical testing be out the window? All medical results of this sort are used as useful guides, not determinative (except for things like drug tests, MRIs or simple tests like cholesterol and blood counts). It is up to the Bulls to interpret the DNA results carefully, but they should have access to the results in the first place.

I think the most compelling argument in favor of DNA testing in sports is based on an information-maximization theory. Aren't players, teams, and fans all better off by knowing whether a player is putting their life in jeopardy? A team will avoid a costly investment, a player will become aware of this condition and be better suited to deal with it accordingly, and fans won't have to worry about people dying on court.

Sure the player's career might be over. The Eddy Curry stock will plummet in value because who wants a player with a confirmed heart irregularity--besides the Knicks, who need all the help they can get. Sure players themselves might say, "You know what, I'm willing to take the risk; I'd rather take the slim chance that I could croak and make a truckload of cash by running around for five years and cash out."

But that's not really the end of it. Think of the adverse consequences if DNA testing were banned as too invasive. Players would be more likely to hide their medical conditions and just desire to "not know." I am a firm believer that having more information--even too much information--is always preferable to not having enough. A ban on DNA testing would create a perverse behavioral response. Players would put their own lives on the line, never knowing or wanting to know what is in store for them.

So, you do the cost-benefit analysis.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Digital Retardation: Microsoft's Elite Keyboard and Mouse

After spending a lot of time doing layout for the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, my hands started bothering me. I started feeling my left pinky and my ring finger going numb (no it's not a stroke). So, I decided to venture into the realm of natural keyboards.

I. The Search

I was reluctant to buy a natural keyboard because the spacing of the keys seemed so awkward at first. But I started using one at the office and I really took a liking to it. The problem, however, was twofold. First, most ergonomic keyboards are barbones, lacking the function keys and the extras most other high-end keyboards have. This makes it very difficult for me because I have so many programs and shortcuts programmed into my keyboard.

There are plenty of specialized keyboards available. Take for example some of the specialty keyboards from DataHand, Safetype and Kinesis pictured below.

The problem with these keyboards is that they cost A LOT. Specialty keyboards usually run from $100 to $500. So, I decided to venture into the mass-market for computer peripheral. This market is dominated by Logitech and Microsoft.

Usually I prefer Logitech for keyboards and Microsoft for mice. I currently use the Logitech MX Duo, which has served me well for at least two years. It's got great layout and the driver software is far better than the competition. I will say, however, that Logitech's mouse is atrocious. It does not fit into your hand very well and the buttons are miniscule. So in addition to the Logitech combo, I also have Microsoft's Wireless Intellimouse Explorer, which is fantastic.

Unfortunately Logitech does not have a good ergonomic keyboard selection. So I opted for Microsoft's Elite Keyboard and Mouse duo. The duo costs $99.99.

I had high hopes, but as soon as I got home to install them, I ran into a few major problems.

II. Held Hostage

If you'll remember, I did a review of Microsoft's Wireless Intellimouse Explorer a few months back. That mouse is (and still is) the best I've ever used. As you can imagine, I had high hopes for my newly purchased product.

The first error message I received was that Microsoft's installer warned me that it could not install any software until Logitech's software was completely uninstalled. Typical Microsoft, trying to rid itself of competition.

III. Regression (Part 1)

Setting up this keyboard/mouse combo requires installation of two separate pieces of software: (1) Microsoft IntelliType 5.20 and (2) Microsoft IntelliPoint 5.20. I kid you not: it took me 55 minutes just to install the software, which required a number of restarts.

I finally started configuring the software. Holy crap! The so-called "media" keys on the keyboard (you know, the ones with Play, Stop, Rewind, Forward) only work with Windows Media Player. I use Winamp, so why should Microsoft determine my habits? So every media button on the top of the keyboard is useless now. I don't quite know if I am surprised.

Many of the other buttons on the keyboard are similarly hardwired. I cannot re-program certain buttons to open up applications that I want. I cannot tell you how infuriating it is to spend 100 dollars on something only to have some asshole programmer tell me how I can or cannot use my own keyboard.

Compare Microsoft's dim-witted IntelliType to Logitech's software, called iTouch. iTouch lets you control any media player you want. It lets you reprogram any and every button on the keyboard. You can open up any program, webpage, or program a custom keystroke.

IV. Regression (Part 2)

Now let's talk about Microsoft's mouse software, which is called IntelliPoint. I thought at least this part would work very well since my previous mouse also ran on IntelliPoint.

The IntelliPoint installer first made me uninstall the version of IntelliPoint I previously had installed (which is version 4.11) and replace it with version 5.20 instead. But version 5.20 inexplicably removes at least five of the most useful and efficient commands that were previously available! I can no longer map a custom keystroke to a button of my choosing. I can no longer open any program of my choosing. I can no longer open Windows Explorer from my mouse. I am dumbfounded.

So I thought, "Hey! Why don't I just install the older version of IntelliPoint and use that one instead?" Well, you can't; Microsoft has made their new products incompatible with older versions of IntelliPoint. So I'm stuck using a mouse that has five buttons, none of which I can program in a way that I want.

V. Design

I should say a word about the actual design and feel of Microsoft's keyboard and mouse. The keys, design, and layout are fine; nothing too special but they get the job done.

The problem, however, is that you can't remove the hard plastic wrist wrest along the bottom of the keyboard. You are stuck slamming your wrists against curved plastic the entire day, instead of using something like a gel wrest. What irony, a keyboard meant to be ergonomic and comfortble actually makes it even harder on my hands than a regular keyboard.

The mouse is remarkably similar to the mouse I already owned. The only difference is that it has a "tilt" feature on the scroll wheel, which lets you scroll left and right in addition to the standard up and down. This is mildly useful in theory, but not very well designed on the ground. Your finger is not very well positioned to get enough leverage to control movement comfortably. The other problem is that the scroll whell itself has a weird flow to it. It does not move with ease.

VI. Conclusion

I give Microsoft's keyboard an F- just because their programmers got greedy and forced me to choose between (1) using Windows Media Player or (2) losing all functionality of my keyboard's media buttons. Downright unforgiveable behavior.

I also give Microsoft an F- for REMOVING features that made its earlier products such best buys. It astonishes me that someone at Microsoft thought, "Hey, these customers are enjoying these features too much. We should scale back. I mean, being able to choose your own button assignments, that's surely a sign of the devil! Summon Mr. Gates."

If it looks like a turd and smells like a turd, its probably this product. The Elite Keyboard is completely useless. I returned it this afternoon.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Language Alert: "Son" is the new "Bitch"

Reminiscent of the rampant overuse of the phrase "bling-bling," it's time to lay to rest the common sentence end-cap "bitch." As reluctant as I am to blame him for anything, Dave Chapelle has single-handedly exhausted this phrase of its cultural cache, most notably when he said, "I'm Rick James, bitch" and also while impersonating Samuel L. Jackson.

Therefore, it is time to proclaim that "son" is the new "bitch."

You don't think I have the power to do that? Well, too bad; it's already done.
That's right, son.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Greatest Show on Earth

They should have a channel that has round-the-clock footage of factory lines.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Freshly-Cut: Albums of the Month

(September 2005)

  1. Brian Eno / Ambient 2: The Plateux of Mirror
  2. The Black Keys / Thickfreakness
  3. Devendra Banhart / Cripple Crow
  4. Blind Melon / Nico
  5. The Velvet Underground / Peel Slowly and See (Box Set)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Yet Another Option: TimesSelect

So once again I find myself back-tracking. The Times has started an even newer service called "TimesSelect." For those of you similar to ESPN's Insider service, this is very similar. TimesSelect has material that is not normally available on the standard NY Times website.

Valuable material included with a TimesSelect subscription include:

  1. Access to 100 Times articles back to 1981 per month

  2. Breaking News and Award-winning Multimedia

  3. Daily News and Features from The Times newspaper

  4. Today's Headlines & Breaking News E-mails

  5. Current and Archival Movie, Theater, Book and Restaurant Reviews

  6. Online Classifieds

  7. Editorials and Op-Eds written by outside contributors

This service is web-based, so you can access this material from any computer with a web connection. The price is reasonable as well: $49.95 per year. I am currently trying their 14-day trial. If you want to try it out, beware that you will be automatically enrolled unless you cancel before the end of the 14 days. Tsk tsk . . . predatory behavior.

In comparison to the print edition or the electronic delivery option, TimesSelect seems like a better deal not only because it is cheaper, but also because you have access to their archives, which go as far back as the 1860's. I also like the idea of not just being stuck with the print edition's original layout. Instead, I prefer a webpage, categorized by topic, with each story containing links for background information or other related stories. In effect, TimesSelect is a much more efficient news service.

For more information on TimesSelect, see: http://www.nytimes.com/products/timesselect/whatis.html.

Update: New York Times Electronic Edition

The Times is offering much more competitive rates for the Electronic Edition now. A one year electronic subscription (7 days a week) is $150.00, which is 75% LESS than the home delivery rate.

If you don't plan on reading the weekend issues, then you should get a Monday-Friday subscription because it brings the price down to just $75.00 a year, which is really good for a daily newspaper like the times.

Friday, September 23, 2005

New York Times: Electronic Delivery

I have heard about NY Times' electronic edition for awhile now, but I never really got around to checking it out until today. You can try it out for free. Register and download today's entire NY Times issue for free.

I. What is the Electronic Edition

Obviously the NY Times is a daily newpaper that anyone serious about current events should be interested in reading. But buying the print edition is cumbersome. If you get it at a newsstand, you actually need to make the trip each day to pick it up. I used to get home delivery in high school, but I hated it because the delivery would never be on time, so I would be at school the entire day without seeing the paper.

Now, in the interest of "going paperless," the Times has basically scanned their entire paper and made it available for a daily download. You can read every page at your desktop at home, on a notebook or at work.

II. Installation and Downloads

In order to use the electronic edition of the Times, you will need to first register at NY Times' site: http://homedelivery.nytimes.com/HDS/Transition.do?mode=EE&ExternalMediaCode=N22AA. You choose a username and password (be sure to uncheck the boxes for getting advertisements and special offers). Next, you need to download required software, called NewsStand. Installation was a breeze. It took me five minutes to set everything up.

III. Usage and Features

NewsStand is your portal to the electronic edition of the Times. You simply click the "download" button and an issue of the Times will begin to load as you read it. For those of you worred about not having a constant internet connection, you have the option of downloading the entire issue of the Times at once. This is a much better option in general. An entire issue is generally about 45MB to download, which is remarkably compact for an entire newspaper.

The software is very functional. The pages and the user interface are similar to Adobe Acrobat, which I think is sort of clunky, but all-in-all, very strong. NewsStand allows you to zoom in on any page, making every article razor sharp and easy to read. You can drag your mouse to pull the page in any direction. In addition, you can use the "Pen" tool to mark up articles, though I thik this is kind of useless unless you have a tablet pc with a stylus.

One of the better features is the ability to search for any word. Since the paper is not just an image, but recognized text, you can enter in any search term and find it. For example, I can search for "Rwanda" or "Stem Cells" or "Reverse Engineering" and find anything related to those terms. This is a great leap forward from paging through the print edition.

Other options include the ability to print out articles and send an email to a friend or colleague with a link to download the article. However, I have not figured out how to get this send feature to work.

IV. Price

This is my main sticking point. Each edition is roughly $0.65 a day, though the Times is currently offering 6 weeks of issues for the price of 4. For those of you who purchase the print edition or get home delivery, this might be a lot of savings. Currently, home delivery 7 days a week is roughly $0.82 a day, so this adds up over the year.

Nevertheless, I still think the price is steep for a product that they can reproduce with ease. They have no printing costs or expenses for distribution. All they really have to pay is probably a license fee for the software as well as bandwith for sending out these files. Needless to say, I'm still undecided about buying a long-term subscription.

V. Conclusion

What's the advantage of electronic delivery? No wasted paper, ease of downloads, ability to zoom in, very sharp and clear text resolution as well as various tools for searching and commenting on articles.

Nevertheless, there is something you miss out on from not having the print edition. First, people love to carry the Times because -- regardless of whether they read it or not -- it makes them feel smart. Second, having the print edition is great if you read the paper during a commute, which makes whipping out a laptop to read an online version a problem if you want to save battery life or are uncomfortable with using a notebook in a crowded public place.

Though the media and the bundled software for the Times are relatively well-designed, they don't come without their drawbacks, mainly the steep daily price.

For more information, to sign up for a free trial, or to take a quick tour, see: http://homedelivery.nytimes.com/HDS/Transition.do?mode=EE&ExternalMediaCode=N22AA.