Alternate Option
Thoughts from me.
Monday, May 30, 2005 8:34 pm
What does boycotting Bali mean anyway? Slactivism…
This dude Jeff Seemann wants to be a congressman (?) in 2006. He has written about the SC case, at length. And in the middle of his post says he will do everything he can to help Corby. And will start by boycotting Bali. Boycotting Bali has become a common war cry on the Internet. Banbali.com must have the prize for the most to-the-point domain name on this subject.

I believe everyone can decide how to spend their own $—that’s fair enough. I live in Australia, and have never been to Bali, nor am keen to. I travel lots to Malaysia. Bali sounds quite similar, but more touristy. Not my cup of tea. I’m guessing that most people—most travelers even—on the planet haven’t been to Bali either.

My point is, it is actually quite easy to boycott Bali. For most people it means you don’t buy an flight ticket and fly over there. It’s not like Bali manufactures anything that you can buy in the shops around the world. Boycotting Bali is really small effort on one’s part.

So, all these SC supporters who announce that they are boycott Bali—are doing this, wow, drastic thing, which doesn’t take up any effort at all. Whoop de doo. This is such slactivism at work.

On the Internet forums, when the topic is raised of boycotting Qantas and Brisbane [and/or] Sydney airports, there is a muted response. Why? Is it because of a silent admission that maybe the baggage-handler/airport security theory is suspect? Or is it because Australians who consider such a move will find it actually affects their life? Is it because it is actually more work to go picket Brisbane Airport and avoid Qantas, than to boycott Bali? I suspect so.

It’s harder to boycott Nike—widely thought to have sweatshops in Indonesia—than to boycott Bali.

I’m strongly boycotting the Isle of Wight, for no particular reason. I can be the world’s top Isle of Wight boycotter by sitting on my ass all day.

[posted with ecto]

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Saturday, May 28, 2005 1:54 am
iPod shuffle 2GB and 4GB rumours
Read here.

If Apple does release such beasts, will they need a screen? Well, maybe not. I do think though, that Apple should support multiple playlists on the iPod shuffle. That shouldn’t be an overly difficult engineering job. And maybe some niceties like Sound Check support.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005 10:54 am
Tom Cruise the big mouth doctor
Tom Cruise is excellent. During the peak of my movie-attending life > 10 years ago, Cruise's career was on the up. That was when he was in movies like The Color of Money, Rain Man, Cocktail, 4th of July etc.

Unlike many actors, he seems to have maintained his drawing power over the years. I still enjoyed the Mission Impossible series and Minority Report; and now look forward to War of the Worlds. One day he and Brad Pitt may appear in the same movie.

He's managed to keep his Scientology thing quiet for a while, which I think is great. He is free to believe anything he wants, really. But now, he says this (from IMDb):

Tom Cruise has criticized Hollywood pal Brooke Shields' “misguided” use of the anti-depressant Paxil, while declaring the actress' career as over. In an interview with Billy Bush on TV show Access Hollywood, to be screened on Thursday, Cruise speaks of his disappointment to learn Shields used Paxil to fight post-natal depression following the birth of her daughter Rowan. Shields is currently weaning herself off her medication so she and husband Chris Henchy can have another child. Cruise, who claims to have helped people fight drug addictions through his controversial Scientology religion, says the Suddenly Susan actress should have used vitamins to help her feelings of despair. Cruise says, “Here is a woman, and I care about Brooke Shields because I think she is an incredibly talented woman. You look at, where has her career gone?” Despite the Minority Report actor's declaration her career is over, Shields is currently receiving rave reviews playing murderess Roxie Hart in the London theatre production of Chicago. Cruise maintains, “These drugs are dangerous. I have actually helped people come off. When you talk about postpartum, you can take people today, women, and what you do is you use vitamins. There is a hormonal thing that is going on, scientifically, you can prove that. But when you talk about emotional, chemical imbalances in people, there is no science behind that. You can use vitamins to help a woman through those things.”
It actually seems a little silly. Just because Tom Cruise is an actor, or a celebrity, that doesn't make him an authority on every single thing. Is he an authority on paroxetine and anti-depressants now? By all means state your preferences in public, but there's no need to disparage other actors/actresses while you are doing it.

[posted with ecto]

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005 12:49 am
24 Season 4 finale
Ah, what a brilliant ending to 24 Season 4. Can’t say the same for the rest of the series. But live and let live. I don’t think I’m looking forward too much to Season 5. For me the thrill is in knowing the story and plot, not really in watching the crew. Much of the “mid-game”, and the actors in general were pretty poor. Negative words like contrived, stupid, cliche, routine come to mind. So, this will probably be the last season for me.

Till next time.

Looks like Behrooz got forgotten. And whatever happened to the President vs Speaker of the House issue?

[posted with ecto]

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005 8:21 pm
Sith
I saw Revenge of the Sith on the Friday (20th May 2005, 4 days ago). For some reason, it is so hard to write a review of. I thought it was an awful movie, but can’t seem to express just why it is so bad. IMHO there are so many mediocre movies out there, that my expectations have been watered down. Or maybe it is because Phantom Menace and Clones were horrible by themselves.

I wanted to write a proper critique, given that the rating on IMDb (as of 24th May) is 8.2/10—obviously a whole bunch of people disagree with me.

As always, at least there’s the original (original original i.e. not DVD, not special edition) trilogy to fall back on.

Can’t wait to watch the finale of 24. That’s another disappointment. From Fox too.

[posted with ecto]

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Thursday, May 19, 2005 10:35 am
24 finale in 5 days time
Thank goodness Season 4 of 24 is ending soon. I haven't particularly enjoyed this season. The first 6 hours, and last 5–6 hours have been OK. But the “midgame” has been quite bad. What was all that about the McLennan-Forrester company bosses who started a firefight with Jack Bauer downtown? Are they going to pop up in the finale? Or just a plot device to get Paul Raines dead?  

And what about having Erin Driscoll to start the season purely as a seat warmer the seat for Michelle (setting up the Tony-Michelle non-existent-tension)… and Buchanan around to be the “tough”… and the Buchanan-Almeida rivalry that isn't. What about the torture of Sarah? And the China consulate invasion/investigation/Bern recognition—just another plot device?

I suspect the last 2 hours will be devoted to the Almeida killing, missile downing, and possibly a Mandy-Jack show down of some sort. Leaving the McLennan-Forrester, China, Amnesty Global (!) threads unresolved by the end of the season.
The writers of 24 have much more freedom than those in other television series. Massive numbers of plot devices can be used, with seemingly no repercussions. The above issues will probably have a mention (if that) in Season 5 as “been fixed”. In the current season, they are just “filler material”.

All a bit silly really. There might be debate as to the merits of Season 1, 2, 3. But Season 4 makes them all look good.

And where is newly orphaned Behrooz, who had a transmitter excised from his scalp? No urgency in his solving his abduction I'm sure.

[posted with ecto]

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005 11:22 am
Bloggers vs Journalists
Looks like Apple is ahead of the game again—although not in an exciting positive way. The lawsuit against Think Secret which I thought was about trade secrets eventually became spun as a David vs Goliath thing, and eventually also somehow exploded into the mainstream as a bloggers vs journalists issue. Prior to that of course, the Macintosh news sites (which I think preceded blogging), were already constantly being threatened for revealing screenshots of software and hardware in development.

Since the Think Secret suit, there has been the Singapore blogger thing that was picked up and reported in the Straits Times—Singapore mainstream newspaper (paid subscription needed). Looks like the threat of lawsuits has affected the Singapore blogosphere. The site in question is still shut down.

And now Australia's Mediawatch has highlighted a blogger vs journalist thing in the Janet Albrechtsen/Wall Street Journal/Opinion Journal/Arthur Chrenkoff issue here and here. And roped in Rupert Murdoch as well.

It's a bit repetitive really—the arguments always seem quite similar—freedom of speech, opinion, censorship, bias, influence, accountability blah di blah. Supporters on either side making impassioned arguments with all sorts of points of views. Googling for blogging journalist reveals that this issue has been going on for years. I'm sure there'll be more of this coming up. Now that Rupert Murdoch has said “blog”, the topic of blogging can only become bigger. And murkier.

[posted with ecto]

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Monday, May 16, 2005 11:58 pm
Will the real Shayne Hatfield please stand up?
One of the people implicated in the Australian Police drug crackdown Operation Mocha, is Shayne Desmond Hatfield.

A Google search of “Shayne Hatfield” reveals a link to the Line Up Surf Australia website (now defunct).

But a Google cache is here.

The Shayne Hatfield on Line Up Surf Australia, seems like a nice guy.

His “Likes” include “…Money…” which is good. His “Dislikes” include “…drugs; alcohol; dishonest people.

And: “…Be true to yourself - stay away from drugs and alcohol - remember you are important and worth of the best life has to offer.

What a coincidence, that 2 people with the same name, and age, in the same Australian state, are poles apart.

Ooh.

[posted with ecto]

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10:55 pm
Not missing television
Less than ten years ago, I remember a television advertisement for the Commonwealth Bank (one of a handful of large Australian banks).

It was one of those “lifestyle ads” so it wasn’t much about the bank services at all, rather aimed at inspiring us consumers to get out and do something with our lives. There were images of smiling people, traveling, playing sport, smiling and so on. The soundtrack consisted of a enthusiastic speaker. During a montage of several images in the middle of the 30 second ad, the speaker said “…switch off your television…” and this was accompanied by a close-up image of a television falling from a height, hitting the ground, and breaking.

If the creator of that ad is reading this: kudos to you. I’ve never seen anything like it since.

Since then I kept hearing this thing about television. This was the time when shows like the X-Files and ER were popular. I did notice that television shows were becoming increasingly sophisticated, and targeted at the younger generation. Think “The Jeffersons” vs “Friends”.

In the name of “being daring”, and “pushing the envelope”, television shows also started to insidiously (or not) include more sexual, realistic violence, and profanity.

“So what” I thought—this has probably been happening since movies were first available. Complainants could either be luddites, or oldies (yea, like my dad). New TV was cool—and surely openly portraying sex, homosexuality, realistic crime, torture, murder, and other “issues” was a good thing? Everyone else—magazines, movies etc—was doing it, and the public demands it. Or pays for it.

However, something was bothering me—Were we buying televisions just to watch commercials? What’s this bad rap about television, as opposed to radio, movies, computer games? Movies and games have been criticised for worsening violence, but there criticism is usually limited to the content. The act of watching movies, or playing video games—aren’t usually the problem.

(I do recall an argument that video games indoctrinates the “save game” or “restart” feature into people’s minds, causing them to be poorly prepared for making choices in life.)

On the other hand, television itself, and not just the content, seemed to be a bad thing:

The Red Hot Chili Peppers sang:
“Throw away your television…”

Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element said:
“…rot your brain…”

The narrator in Fight Club said:
“By the end of the first month, I didn’t miss TV.”

Steve Jobs said in an interview: “The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called television…”

Another interview: “The majority of people in this country want to turn on a television and turn off their brain and that’s what they get.”

Cameron Diaz said: “I don’t even own a TV because I think it’s the devil.”

Frank Lloyd Wright said: “Television is chewing gum for the eyes.”

One of the senior doctors at my previous hospital had 3 boys at home, and rumours started to circulate that he did not have a television in the house.

These are all non-idiots. There had to be a fragment of truth to all that. So three months ago, I unplugged the television. And now I think it is true: television is bloody evil.

Now, I pretty much regret even owning a television. I was going to buy a personal video recorder, but no longer have that urge with television out of my system. I no longer feel the urge to buy a plasma television. I no longer feel compelled to watch every episode of… anything now (exception). I no longer get aggravated when advertisements come on, and are too loud, strident or repetitive; or that TV shows are too bland and boring. Sitcoms, dramas, Big Brother, Dr Phil… all come and go with me oblivious.

Getting rid of the television has to be one of the best things I have done recently. Highly recommended… Even the space the television occupies, I wish could reclaim it and put an exercise bike (or whatever) there.

[posted with ecto]

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Friday, May 13, 2005 1:15 am
Apple’s Sherlock shame
Apple has 2 ways of maintaining their applications: Good, and totally shite. Sherlock falls into the latter group.

Sherlock arrived much heralded. It was a Internet search tool, that used multiple the search engines. This preceded Google, so it wasn’t a horrible idea. But multi-engine searching could be done on any computer platform with Metacrawler, and the benefits of searching more than one search engine was dubious anyway. Unfortunately Copernic decided to enter the Macintosh market at the time. Bad move.

Despite all that, and a brushed metal interface; phrases like VT-Win, relevance search and all that, made it sound good. Sherlock was a star attraction, even showing up in Apple ads, “Dad, why is the sky blue?”, “Why does a curve ball curve?”.

Somehow, Apple managed to insert ads into their search results.

Sherlock also came with other searches e.g. Amazon and auction searches. Apple encouraged 3rd party plug-in development, for a while. Sherlock plug-in downloads became popular for a time. And then Apple itself lost interest in updating their own bundled plug-ins.

Even more worrying, was that Apple decided to make this Internet search tool, the official file find tool as well. By default, command-F in the Finder launched Sherlock. Result: every file find caused a delay while a bloated (even back then) application launched.

File finding also incorporated file indexing, with the funky VTWin technology. In practice, indexing was total and utter crap. Actually, IMHO, the operating system was crap, and would never have handled it. UltraFind, which performed in-file searching without indexing, was more realistic, faster and better.

Sherlock was one of the first applications ported to Mac OS X, and it looked the same. It did start to make some sense why a brushed metal interface was chosen. Nonetheless, the Internet plug-ins continued to be un-updated; neither was the speed. Soon, Sherlock became useless.

And then when Jaguar arrived, Apple revitalised Sherlock—announcing it as one of the key Jaguar features. They did so by making a clone copy of a shareware company’s (Karelia) only application—Watson. Ethics aside, it was a home-run, a great leap forward. It was the golden days again. Movie times and trailers, flight details, auctions, dictionaries… you name it. File find, and indexing was removed from Sherlock. It was a focused Internet search tool now—even demoed by Steve Jobs on stage.

Scratch deeper though… and reveal superficial beauty. Sherlock was no comparison to Watson. Personally I suspect it made users appreciate Watson more.

Apple announced Panther for release a year later, and Sherlock entered maintenance mode immediately. Bugs were left unfixed e.g. It took minutes, to switch between channels (plug-ins), and the movie finding tool was buggy. There was no localisation either.

Apple claims that they had Dashboard on their minds when they created Exposé, which probably explains why Sherlock was mothballed during Panther development. After 1 year of Jaguar, and 1.5 years of Panther, Dashboard arrived. So did Spotlight. Sherlock—having lost its Internet searching task to Safari’s Google box, lost the rest of its functions to Dashboard. And also now Spotlight reminded us how file searching should be.

Although Watson outclassed Sherlock in every way—of all Apple’s conquests (LiteSwitch, Konfabulator) I think Watson stood out as being the best “original”—Karelia sold Watson to Sun Microsystems and stopped supporting it. Watson is still available for download. But its replacement is slow to show up.

Now, Sherlock sits like a lame duck in the Applications folder. After huge wastes of Apple programmer, developer and user time, it looks like it’s on the way out. Good riddance—Sherlock was a program that—by its nature— needed continual attention and little updates. Which is something Apple (and maybe Karelia) just could not do. Apple was happy enough to just create a little homeruns. Pity about Watson.

Hopefully this will be Sherlock’s last OS X appearance.

[posted with ecto]

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Thursday, May 12, 2005 1:41 am
Douglas Wood—hostage in Iraq
Here’s a plug for Douglas Wood’s official website. Nicely done by his family.

http://www.thewoodfamily.info

[posted with ecto]

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12:22 am
Apple iTunes continual absence & Yahoo
While Apple has expanded into an additional number of European countries, the Australian and New Zealand stores are still no-show.

I’m quite excited about Yahoo!’s entry into the subscription music download market. Yahoo! usually behaves like they have an idea about what they are doing. The Yahoo! features I use the most consist of Yahoo! slapping their brand on a 3rd party service. e.g. Yahoo! Travel, Yahoo! Weather, Yahoo! TV Guide, Yahoo! cinema times.

Yahoo! Auctions disappeared on me though, and I can’t remember the last time I used Yahoo! Search.

So, Yahoo! Music. Hopefully it’ll place continual downward pressure on the price of digital downloads.

[posted with ecto]

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005 7:58 pm
Spotlight: DevonThink killer
Spotlight continues to surprise me. I exported my DevonThink data out of that program’s database, into actual files. DevonThink had been one of my most-used programs, and also one of the more expensive downloadable software I have bought.

I used it to store all my PDF files and text documents. DevonThink stores all this in a monolithic database, hence text-searching was fast, and this was probably the killer feature. Over time, as a database grew, launching it at startup began to take ages. Slug city.

My previous text storage programs included IdeaKeeper in OS 9 (both now defunct). I then moved to MacJournal, which at the time was free. After a stint with VoodooPad Lite, I tried, and then bought DevonThink. Now, DevonThing’s era is over.

Over the years, there has been disquiet about Apple’s inclusion of shareware functionality into its operating system. The kill-list now includes:
Watson
LiteSwitch
Konfabulator (looks on the site like v2 is showing up real soon now)
Not to mention the countless email programs, and browsers whose features overlapped with Mail.app and Safari.app.

Some of those moves have been more controversial than others, and most have been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere. I think the saddest story is that of Watson. Previously a software that I used daily. I don’t have any evidence at hand, that Apple’s re-tooling of Sherlock directly caused Watson’s demise—that could easily have been due to other developer-related reasons, and moreover Karelia would need to be committed enough to continually keep their lookup APIs updated. Be that as it may, Watson is all but gone now. Worse, now Apple’s Sherlock looks like it’s gone and tripped into the “neglected” bin. At least its link points to a defunct Jaguar site.

http://www.apple.com/sherlock/

I don’t quite think that DevonThink fits right into this category. Still, it is quite sad… I was looking forward to DevonThink Pro a while ago. Now… I have a prediction that I won’t even notice when it is released.

Meanwhile, my Spotlight searches are revealing notes which I forgot I even made years ago, so now I’m glad.

[posted with ecto]

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1:47 am
Get A$123 from ING Direct (bank) on 10th May 2005
I found this link on link on the Sydney Morning Herald while reading about the cocaine bust in Sydney.

Seems genuine.

Or you can go to a Fairfax newspaper, and click on one of the text ads.

[posted with ecto]

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Monday, May 09, 2005 1:19 pm
One macro a day — AppleScript etc.
I bought Matt Neuberg’s AppleScript The Definitive Guide around September of 2004. It's quite a good book. I have enjoyed it lots. I read the first half, then tried some scripts out. And since January this year, have been trying to write at least one script a day. No matter how simple. One script that partially automates my computer. I do use both iKey (version 1.0.7) and AppleScript as they complement each other.

I now use Matt's book as a reference-type book. Other resources that have been useful have been Apple’s own AppleScript Language Guide, MacOSXHints and Google.

Google has been quite useful, since I can append “AppleScript” to searches to limit them. e.g. google Camino “new tabs” applescript. No, I haven’t figured out a good way to automate Camino's tabs.

So far, I’m quite pleased with my progress. The scripts I have written are simple to the extreme, but at least AppleScript is no longer the big dark mystery it once was. And I have a great appreciation of Automator's functionality. I think Automator is a really big achievement for Apple.

[posted with ecto]

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12:19 pm
One macro a day — AppleScript etc.
I bought Matt Neuberg’s AppleScript The Definitive Guide


around September of 2004. It's quite a good book. I have enjoyed it lots. I read the first half, then tried some scripts out. And since January this year, have been trying to write at least one script a day. No matter how simple. One script that partially automates my computer. I do use both iKey (version 1.0.7) and AppleScript as they complement each other.

I now use Matt's book as a reference-type book. Other resources that have been useful have been Apple’s own AppleScript Language Guide, MacOSXHints and Google.

Google has been quite useful, since I can append “AppleScript” to searches to limit them. e.g. google Camino “new tabs” applescript
.
No, I haven’t figured out a good way to automate Camino's tabs.

So far, I’m quite pleased with my progress. The scripts I have written are simple to the extreme, but at least AppleScript is no longer the big dark mystery it once was. And I have a great appreciation of Automator's functionality. I think Automator is a really big achievement for Apple.

[posted with

ecto

]


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12:19 pm
One macro a day — AppleScript etc.
I bought Matt Neuberg’s AppleScript The Definitive Guide


around September of 2004. It's quite a good book. I have enjoyed it lots. I read the first half, then tried some scripts out. And since January this year, have been trying to write at least one script a day. No matter how simple. One script that partially automates my computer. I do use both iKey (version 1.0.7) and AppleScript as they complement each other.

I now use Matt's book as a reference-type book. Other resources that have been useful have been Apple’s own AppleScript Language Guide, MacOSXHints and Google.

Google has been quite useful, since I can append “AppleScript” to searches to limit them. e.g. google Camino “new tabs” applescript
.
No, I haven’t figured out a good way to automate Camino's tabs.

So far, I’m quite pleased with my progress. The scripts I have written are simple to the extreme, but at least AppleScript is no longer the big dark mystery it once was. And I have a great appreciation of Automator's functionality. I think Automator is a really big achievement for Apple.

[posted with ecto]


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Saturday, May 07, 2005 3:36 am
More Singapore blogging furore
My Firefox bookmarks menu frequently scrolls beyond a single screen, and defies organisation—sickening. Occasionally I take a peek at my Firefox history to see which links will be expiring soon. Like life, History expiration is forever.

I wandered into the Singapore Palm User Groups forums to catch up on the PSC scholar racist blog issue (my earlier comments). Ooh, it looks like it only took me 10+ days to find out that something newer has happened. A legal threat has been made against a Singaporean who broke his PSC scholarship—effectively shutting him up for now. After scrolling through what exactly did happen: this looks like the best summary.

Despite the blog disappearing act, another site has an email that tells the bloggers side. Looks like it ain't over yet. Emotionally, Acid.Flask has my vote. This feels like the Apple vs blog/O'Reilly of recently.

Good luck in your exams Mr Flask :). Not only Apple behaves like Apple.

[posted with ecto]

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Friday, May 06, 2005 11:30 am
Tom White movie
I watched an Australian movie called “Tom White” last night, which starred Colin Friels whom I like, and Rachel Blake, who was in Wild Side on ABC TV a while ago; along with several other Australian actors.

The movie revolves around an Australian white collar male—who looks like he was not coping well for whatever reason—who takes the plunge and dramatically changes his life. One days he leaves work and does not go home. Instead roaming and sleeping around the Melbourne streets. He meets characters along the way, and the movie documents random events that follow.

I honestly didn't get it.

Colin Friel's in the lead role gave a pretty good performance. The actors portraying his family (including Rachael Blake) did well with their limited screen time. Unfortunately the rest of the cast was pretty bland. When Tom White “steps out” of his world into the seamy side of Melbourne, there are the obligatory bar scenes, drug and party scenes, the obligatory gay young man, obligatory female, and the obligatory “man-who-has-been-there-before” among others. Poor acting, events and characters memorable only for incredibly cliched dialogue.

Tom White follows a handful of movies with similar theme: Falling Down with Michael Douglas, Fight Club, American Beauty. Unlike those movies, the characters and episodes documented here are disconnected, and nothing much eventuates. Which reminded me of a cheap man's Magnolia.

The movie uses too much shorthand to replace character development. For example Tom starts off as a middle class man, then metamorphoses into a homeless man (with a hair stylist).

The reason for this change is hinted to be few things: the word “despair” is tossed around, possibly work or family related. Or was he having a psychotic episode? Was he depressed? Or did he have Parkinsons Disease? The movie doesn't explain this. Instead it just shows Tom's hand tremor, his daughter complaining about his work, some lunch time drinking, lots of yelling, some of Tom's computer drawings, and leaves it at that. Maybe that was the movie maker's intention—to keep things open-ended and for viewers to decide for themselves. In which case it lost me.

Unfortunately the rest of the movie follows this model, such that the only things I remember are irritatingly bad dialog, unmemorable characters and events, and melancholy music.

3 out of 10.

[posted with ecto]

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005 2:32 am
Spotlight… needs work
My PowerBook 1.25 GHz Aluminum has been an excellent machine. Since I find myself working at a desk more often—possibly related to the new Dell 24“ LCD I just bought—I run it closed screen all the time now, with an external keyboard and mouse.

Recently I added a FireWire 800 250 GB harddisk to the mix, mainly for backup purposes. However, I booting from the external HD was so much faster that I soon realised to use the PowerBook internal HD as the backup, and run off the external harddisk exclusively. I thought it might also help reduce heat from the PowerBook.

I use SuperDuper!—a disk cloning application—to make sure both disks are identical before changing the boot drive.

So far it has been good. The speed is addictive. I can see myself getting something new real soon now.

Spotlight has not coped well with the change though. Indexing when booted from the new drive is bloody unreliable. I followed some hints from MacOSXhints, on how to re-index the hard disk. That part works, but searches are no longer magically kept up to date.

In an earlier post I mentioned how I felt that Spotlight was earnestly trying to keep my data and its data in sync. This is how what happens when it fails.

I'm not sure what to do now. I better just do a restart. Should do anyway—the external hard disk doesn't benefit from the PowerBook internal battery, and could shut down anytime there was a power failure.

[posted with ecto]

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Monday, May 02, 2005 1:29 am
Hi Definition trailers of Kingdom of Heaven and others
I'm not too keen on the new Ridley Scott movie Kingdom of Heaven. The subject matter doesn't appeal to me; and lots of people charging at each other with medieval weapons doesn't do much for me. Movies I have previously seen like this one include:
(Yes, thank goodness I skipped Alexander.)

Other movies have similar fantastical themes: e.g. Gladiator, Starship Troopers, Attack of the Clones
CGI dudes fighting CGI dudes with a whole lot of bad actors (pretenders, really) prancing around, buffed up with period costume—who knows if they are accurate—and around green screens. Where's the excitement in that? What next? Hannibal…? Oh yea.

Black Hawk Down, at least that had people acting as kids, behaving like kids.
I have to say though that the new high definition trailer on Apple's website is breathtaking on few levels. First the quality is jaw-dropping. It does look a little too pristine maybe. It reminded me a little when the first time computer games moved from VGA to SVGA. e.g. some in-game shots of Wing Commander IV and System Shock. VGA at the time was a little faster, and blurrier. Sometimes the SVGA versions of the same thing just looked too—sterile.
The second thing about the KOH trailer: the scenes are unbelievable. Scenes of fire rocks being tossed about, quiet scenes in the forest, battle scenes.
Third thing, is the excellent music. At least until the electric guitar came on. Having that in the final movie—can't do wonders for suspension of disbelief. Although imagine it being a good idea.
Fourth is a negative: Killer overuse of the fade-to-black. Turn-off! Bad bad.
Fifth: Why does Liam Neeson keep acting as the same character: Gui-Gon Jinn in Phantom Menace, Henri Ducard in Batman Begins, and now whatever in Kingdom of Heaven. Not one of my favourite actors.
By comparison, the Batman Begins trailer looked a little tame. I've seen the Batman origin story once in a movie now, and in several comics, all in one form or another. It is easier to see in full high definition glory that Katie Holmes' lopsided smile is “Right corner up, left corner down”. Can you say “Annoying”! I'm excited about Gary Oldman as the the future police commissioner though.
On the whole, curiously, I'm more tempted to see Batman Begins that KOH on the big screen. Maybe just to stick to what I know. I think I'll end up watching both on DVD.

High definition! I have seen it, and I can't wait.

[posted with ecto]

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Sunday, May 01, 2005 9:24 pm
iChat AV 3 does not work. Move along now.
From my personal experience, and from (extensive) travails over the Internet, the prize for most overhyped Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger technology has to be iChat AV 3.

iChat AV 3 was one of the highlights of Steve Job's MacWorld Tiger demos. Video conferencing lended itself well to a gorgeous live demo when it worked. For Steve it did.

There was the sliding animations, crystal clear audio and video and the emulated shiny desktop. Indulgence personified.

The current iChat AV 3 discussion board is filled with misconnections. “1 frame per second… Virex… 15 frames per second… No improvement over iChat AV… Cannot chat with Windows… It used to work goddammit…” (paraphrased).

The current solutions are further questions… usually about configurations that the original poster did not include.

e.g. someone mentions “this used to work, now it doesn't”. The advice are picked from: “Maybe you should do a Archive and install/clean install”, “Did you repair permissions?”, “What sort of broadband connection do you have?”, “You have opened the ports on your router?”, “Have you done it correctly though?”, “Have you tried a DMZ?”, “What about the other side?”, “What was his installation…?”, “Maybe he should do an Archive and install/clean install…”.

Just pick one response, that covers the details the original poster did not, and send that one.

Disturbingly, there have been no happy posts at all. Usually, there are a couple of posts, that say “It's working for me…”. Just take a look at the iWork Pages forum. From the posts, my solution is simple: “iChat AV 3 as it is is flawed, and will not work. At least not on most of the computers out there…”. However, it is only at “Longhorn” stage, not quite “cold fusion”, so at least there is something to look forward to.

Unfortunately video conferencing itself is a bear to troubleshoot. The above “advice” are unfortunately relevant. There are twice as many Mac configurations to figure out + the network + it is easier to pick up the telephone.

Previously
Steve has done it before—when iChat AV was demoed. That time, the iSight was shown off, at eye-level vs being on the table, single cable, no configuration, many frames per second. iChat AV (to me) is still the best video conferencing effort on a consumer computer. After AV was announced, and bundled with Panther though, complaints started coming on the discussion boards. Some were dismissed, as scum who either wanted to get a < 600 MHz G3 to use video or those who insisted on using USB webcams. There were those who could not get their router working, and Apple worked and worked on those.

Most importantly though, there were those who did get it working, on not-very-powerful machines. A 600 MHz G3 with iSight could video conference well over a broadband connection. Woo wee, they said. Over time, Apple has somehow made the experience even better. From my experience in the last 6 months, iChat AV has been wonderful.

The pity then, is that those who installed Tiger, cannot go back to iChat AV 2. A big shame.

[posted with ecto]

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