Email as a Post-It Note

21 May 2003 » In Me » 2 Comments

Don’t worry, Jeremy, I email myself all the time.

x2x

21 May 2003 » In Tech » 1 Comment

This is the coolest little piece of software I have seen in a while. Basically, it lets you control one X display from another. I love it.

Matrix, Shmatrix..

20 May 2003 » In Movies, Reviews » 10 Comments

I saw Matrix: Reloaded last Friday. In a nutshell: fun comic book infused with armchair philosophy, but overall fails to live up to the unrealistically high expectations the first installment created. A lot of the aspects of the original are amplified to the point of contrivance: we had one Agent Smith, now there are a hundred Agent Smiths; we saw a few sentinels, let’s throw thousands of them on the screen; we felt enthralled by a couple of great kung-fu scenes, why not have them occur every 15 minutes or so. Bigger is better, louder is better, more skin is better, more unanswered questions are better. But they still could not stop Keanu from looking like he is being manipulated by a particularly inept puppeteer.

Particular pet peeves:

  • The Wired article practically gushed over how the cinematography and visual effects in this movie would push the filmmaking 10 years ahead. You know what? I could still tell, without any real effort, the transition between live and CG portions, especially in the courtyard fight scene. Virtual actors still do not look like real actors, so hey, don’t throw away your SAG card if you got it.
  • Was it a simple case of we-are-smarter-than-you or a particularly egregious desire to make your audience wish they had Merriam-Webster handy during the most crucial scene of the entire movie? In any case, Brothers Wachowski, you blew it. Half of the people I talked to said that the Architect’s speech went over their heads. You weren’t making movie for academics, after all. Vis-a-vis the current point, what was it about “having 23 people, 16 man and 7 women, repopulate Zion”? Why would Zion be saved if Neo chose the other door?
  • Gratuitous sex scene: hey, Keanu looked stiff even there.
  • Who or what was the French guy?
  • One of the Twins fires, oh, about 7,000 bullets into the car that Morpheus, Trinity, and the Keymaker are in. No one is hit. A cross-eyed drunk anti-gun pacifist would have a better kill ratio than that.
  • So, let me get this right. Neo exhibits supernatural powers in The Matrix, and somehow they “leak through” to the real life? If that’s true, it’s so unbelievable that the series should end right there. The only plausible explanation is that everything, including Zion, is inside The Matrix, but that’s a depressing thought.
  • Apparently, virtual extraction of virtual bullet can heal your real self. How convenient.
  • Did they hire Neal Stephenson specifically to write the ending?
  • From now on I will remember that the solution to the problem of choice and destiny is to get naked and do the tribal dance until the wee hours of the morning.
  • As Howard Stern put it, “the whole thing was just ill-conceived”. At this point, I think X-Men 2 was a better sequel. More consistent, if anything. For now, I’m looking forward to The Animatrix.

    Hva sier du?

    19 May 2003 » In Rants, Tech » 1 Comment

    When I was in Norway this past January, I wanted to get a DVD that had audio tracks in both English and Norwegian, and the subtitles in the same languages as well, so that I could use it as an educational tool in my learning Norwegian. Apparently, the only types of DVDs that could satisfy the requirements were the ones intended for kids, so I purchased Toy Story 2.

    Now, my regular DVD player at home is region 1, and the disc would not be recognized by it. “No problem”, I thought, “I’ll just fire up my laptop and use mplayer”. 2 hours, 3 cups of coffee, and an untold number of lost neurons later, I still could not get the subtitles to display. The movie played fine, the on screen display indicated that subtitles were turned on, and yet all my efforts were for naught. I read through the man page, the online forum discussions, and googled for answers. Eventually, a post on some message board revealed that one needs to specify the exact location of the font and the encoding for the subtitles, which proved to be the answer I needed. I could finally watch Buzz express himself in Norwegian.

    The point of the story is, those who say that Linux is ready for desktop should check in with Reality from time to time. Now, I am fairly familiar with hardware, software, and other aspects of technology, and still, it took me a better part of the day to figure out what unique combination of options would get the DVD to work, so I don’t see how an average person can be expected to use Linux for any sort of multimedia without experiencing major frustration. And I wasn’t trying to do anything obscure — just turn on the damn subtitles. I’m sorry, Linux desktop-prime-time advocates, but that’s pathetic. Whatever bold proclamations you make, Linux will be relegated to the backend server room until glitches like these are a thing of the past. I will happily use Linux for software development, but on my desktop machine at home I will run Windows and save my neurons for something better.

    mod_auth_sqlite

    19 May 2003 » In Hacks » Comments Off on mod_auth_sqlite

    I wrote a module for Apache 1.3.x to perform user and group authentication from an SQLite database. You can check it out here.

    Akebono

    14 May 2003 » In Tech » Comments Off on Akebono

    Michael Radwin wondered how many links still point to akebono.stanford.edu, which is the original home of Yahoo!. Well, it’s pretty easy to find out with AlltheWeb URL investigator tool.

    PHP Con Wrap-up

    29 April 2003 » In PHP, Travel » Comments Off on PHP Con Wrap-up

    Getting to New York for PHP Con was easy, getting back though was miserable. I had to drive from New Haven to Boston in a dreary, disgusting, all-obscuring rain that continued all day. Probably one of the worst drives of my life. But the conference itself proved to be good.

    Some recommendations for places I visited this time:

    • Gallagher’s – a very good steakhouse
    • 53rd Street Cigar Bar – located in the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers
    • Le Souk/Harem – Middle Eastern-themed lounge, complete with belly dancers and hookahs

    Bizarre person of the month: a long-haired blond man wearing nothing but tight underwear and cowboy boots and hat, all white, strumming the guitar in the middle of Times Square and singing “I’m a little blonde girl…”

    PHPCon and Boston Marathon

    23 April 2003 » In Other, PHP » Comments Off on PHPCon and Boston Marathon

    Serendipity works in mysterious ways indeed. I wasn’t planning on going to PHPCon in New York, but after chatting with Sterling a couple of weeks ago it seemed like a good idea. And the management unexpectedly gave their blessings at the last minute. I should be in the city tonight – give me a shout if you want to get together.

    I didn’t realize that Boston Marathon was such a famous event. I decided that it behooves me to see one while I am still in Boston, and took Monday off. Good thing I got downtown early enough, another half hour and the streets would close and I’d be stuck on Com Ave instead of right at the finish line. The crowds thronged Boylston street, and the patios of eating establishments were crammed with patrons, standing shoulder to shoulder, barely holding onto their drinks and yelling for a new one as soon as the current one was drained. It seemed the Marathon was just another excuse for a prolonged happy hour. The men’s leader was predictable, but women’s race was won by a Russian, Svetlana Zakharova. I still can’t imagine how they can sustain an almost 13 miles per hour pace.

    Resume update

    16 April 2003 » In Me, Work » Comments Off on Resume update

    I wasn’t entirely happy with the way my current resume was organized, so I decided to rewrite it. The results can be seen here. Yes, this does mean that you can send me job offers or point me to companies that are looking for someone like me. Preferably in the Boston area, but elsewhere will be fine too.

    AlltheWeb Update

    15 April 2003 » In Tech, Work » Comments Off on AlltheWeb Update

    Yesterday we pushed out the new release of AlltheWeb. This one, while smaller in scope than originally intended, has nevertheless some fairly nice and even hidden features. There is also a short announcement about the new stuff that is a bit more verbose. And WebmasterWorld started the discussion of the new features, generating some wild theories along the way.

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