Alternate Option
Thoughts from me.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005 2:23 pm
Latham embarrassment
Mark Latham was the dude who was one of two choices to become Prime Minister of Australia in the recent last election. Judging from his current behaviour, it is embarrassing that the Labour Party chose him to lead the party.

Despite having a President and Prime Ministers that are endlessly ridiculed, the opposition parties in Australia, The United Kingdom, and USA are too ineffectual to take advantage of their opportunities. What a sad joke.

[posted with ecto]

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Saturday, September 17, 2005 5:24 pm
Surprises in movies
I’ve just spent the last 20 hour taking an international flight (including transit time). The longest flight was on a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777. Wow, even though it has been less than a year since I flew Malaysian Airlines, so much has changed—especially in in-flight entertainment .

The fact that each seat—even in Economy Class—can start, pause, fast forward and rewind movies was fabulous. I only realised that was possible when seeing several people in other seats starting up different movies at different times. And there was a wide selection of movies too. I ended up watching Mr and Mrs Smith, and half of Batman Returns.

The initial trailers for Mr/Mrs Smith made me sure that the movie was an updated version of James Cameron’s True Lies. And later trailers seemed to give away the entire story—it seemed like yet another clone Hollywood stupid summer movie. So I was quite happy to give it a miss at the cinema, and thought there was no way I was going to even rent the DVD. I’d wait till it was on free-to-air television, and maybe watch it then.

And so I grabbed the chance to watch it on the aeroplane—and surprisingly it was not as bad as I thought. It is definitely filled with implausibilities as most popcorn movies are, but the interaction between the 2 leads was something to see. I’m glad I saw it for “free”, but won’t try to see it again. Hopefully The Island is showing on my flight back.

While waiting for a transit flight I also got to watch The Interpreter on a laptop—that’s that United Nations movie with Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. The Interpreter was panned by the podcast movie review show Cinecast (mp3), and was on their Worst Movie of the Year list (mp3). Furthermore, my wife had seen it earlier, and said it was super-boring.

Surprisingly, I actually liked most of The Interpreter, and went back to relisten to the podcast containing that movie review. I couldn’t really see the problems those reviewers had with the movie—maybe it pays not to be too learned in film studies. No doubt the movie has some stupid bits—e.g. its plot relies way too much on likeable but bumbling Secret Service agents.

Sometimes, I find myself wanting to dislike movies so as to avoid spending the time to watch them. So much so that whenever someone says a particular movie is any good, my initial reaction is to think that they must have really bad taste. I see that both Mr/Mrs Smith and The Interpreter got 6.6/10 in the IMDb voting. Maybe my low expectations make it easier for me to enjoy the movies that I do see.

I have to say I’m looking forward to watching The Constant Gardener.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005 1:07 pm
iTunes AppleScripts podcasts
iTunes 5 looks gorgeous. That’s subjective… but I like it.

Given that I interact with iTunes daily, the new glossy tweaked interface is a significant change. The second thing I went hunting for is new AppleScript features. Sure enough there are a few new commands. The ones most useful to me was the updateAllPodcasts command.

To AppleScript neophytes on the Mac platform, copy and paste this into Script Editor (in the utilities folder):

tell application "iTunes" to updateAllPodcasts

Click the “Run” button to launch iTunes launch (if not already), and simulate a click on the podcast “Update” button. Trivial, but niiiice. Optionally, save the script as an application that can be launched PRN.

I have yet to find an AppleScript action that changes the iTunes output to AirTunes speakers, which is a pity. I won’t be looking too hard though: if it’s there, I can be sure that Doug’s AppleScripts will find it in the next few days.

So far, all my other iTunes AppleScripts have worked. No funny DRM limitations have been revealed (yet, too soon). Hopefully this turns out to be a nice positive upgrade. Someone on the MacNN forums lost his iTunes music folder. Thank goodness that didn’t happen to me. And of course, since every Mac user should have an updated working backup of his data, he deserves little sympathy.

[posted with ecto]

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12:38 pm
ROKR: so what’s new?
I don’t have any direct experience, but mobile phone usage in America seem totally different from that in the rest of the world. I’m used to the GSM standard, and having a massive range of mobile phones to choose from. And all the different mobile phone providers use GSM—even if I switch providers, I can still use the same phone.

So, the concept of a mobile phone with iTunes software, that is tied to cingular doesn’t seem all that impressive. Competitive phones that play MP3 files from SD or MMC cards not rare. My year-old Nokia 6230 did. The ROKR would (I’m guessing) support AAC and DRMed files, and uses a USB connection to sync with iTunes I suppose. I’d be most impressed if the phone uses a standard headphone jack… That’d would be new.

Anyway, people can’t make music purchases via the new ROKR, so why is it “iTunes” on the phone, and not “iPod” on the phone?

[posted with ecto]

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8:29 am
iPod nano. Appropriate in these times?
I just got off the couch, watching Steve Jobs giving his Special Music Presentation, during which he announced the new iPod nano, among other things.

I suspect Apple chose the “nano” moniker, so that the iPod mini can be reintroduced later, after the first-nano-adopters have had their fill, and due to “overwhelming customer demand”.

Secondly, I like Madonna.

Thirdly, I can’t help but wonder whether Apple has misjudged the mood of the market this time. The presentation was probably planned many weeks ago, and had several guest speakers. But is this really the right time for a big splashy launch of a new digital music player? It didn’t help that his co-announcers from Motorola and cingular weren’t as polished as Steve usually is.

After announcing the new ROKR phone, and the new iPod nano, Steve Jobs says that the most important thing is “the music”. I think he meant lives and homes. As we enter the Christmas quarter, America faces the double-whammy of a cataclysm and skyrocketing petrol prices. Ostentatious displays of materialism is the unnecessary.

Apple’s in the big leagues of music now. Unfortunately it shows. Disappointing.

[posted with ecto]

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