Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SoC 2008 is on

This year I'll again be participating in Google's Summer of Code program and again with the Drupal org. My mentor will be Gordon Heydon. My project is adding output for microformats and RDF and JSON to Views, so content on a site can be easily exposed to semantic web agents and mashups. I'm really stoked about this project because it's going to be really interesting programming for the Semantic Web and I can envision countless uses for it when it's brought to fruition. I've been wanting to explore the fascinating world of semantic web data for a long time and now I'm going to get paid for it - how cool is that :D

This is my second SoC and just like last year I'm looking forward to meeting all types of brilliant interesting folk. I've always felt that one of the most important bits of SoC, besides the $4500 paycheck and the cert and the prestige (and of course the swag,) is the really cool people you meet on the way. I've already made friends with really brilliant people hanging out on IRC and hope to make more. So props to Google for giving students this fantastic opportunity.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

2 more very different movies

The Last King of Scotland didn't grab me at all. I was hoping to find some insight into Idi "The Butcher of Uganda" Amin's life and some psychological justification for what led this man to slaughter hunderds of thousands of human beings. Instead I got an adventure story starring Nicholas Garrigan as the protagonist and Amin his evil insane foil, with gratuitous sex and gore thrown in. The film doesn't even try explore the ordinary lives of Ugandans during the regime. Every panoramic scene is full of the same tired cliches of Africa - colourful clothing, women singing and men drumming in rural villages, tense unstable soldiers with weapons drawn...I just got tired of it really quickly. I really can't see what got Forest Whittaker Best Actor Oscar - he just put on an African accent and acted just as you would expect some insane African dictator buffon to act.

The Mist didn't win any awards but it was an outstanding film. The story, characters, acting, and special effects were top notch. Easily one of the best films I've seen for a while, probably one of my all-time favourites. The story is just perfectly paced - for most of the film you have no idea what the hell is really happening to the characters, and you share their confusion and fear. The scene where the fire-trucks and police car race by and then some Cold War siren starts blaring a futile warning is just brilliant - this is what would happen in real life you think.

I know I'm partial to sci-fi flicks but this is the second time a critically-acclaimed film
flopped and a lesser-known film ran away with me.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Google responds to Yahoo Pipes

I've always thought that Yahoo Pipes was one of the coolest (if not the coolest) web applications I've ever seen. It's no surprise that the big G, owner of quite a few web applications in this category, has responded with it's own data mashup builder - Google Mashup Editor. It's still in limited testing but it will be interesting to see where its similar and where it differs from pipes.

The most likely reason Windows does dumb stuff sometimes

Let's start with Explorer - on 64bit versions of Vista - by default your shell, Explorer, is a 64bit version of the binary (explorer.exe) and thus it has DEP enabled by default. But as it turns out - we have provided a 32bit version of this binary and many other system binaries in a special folder for you to shoot yourself in the foot with use. Why? For the same reason we do anything seemingly stupid - for backwards compatibility and application compatibility reasons beyond our control. :)
It's a good thing 64bit versions of Vista default to running the 64bit version of Internet Explorer by default right? Oh wait - they don't. What what WHAT!? Why on Earth not?! Well, for the same reason we do anything seemingly stupid - for backwards compatibility and application compatibility reasons beyond our control. :)

This is the 2nd time I'm reading a Microsoft blogger lameting on sacrificing common sense for app compatibility. The first was Raymond Chen explaining how MS would rather bend-over-backwards to support older programs that are buggy or using undocument stuff, than have those programs stop working. I understand their point of view - as both Robert Hensing and Raymond Chen note, if you upgraded to the newest version of Windows or IE and then programs you absolutely depend on like Flash crash who would you blame, MS or the app manufacturer? So in an atempt to keep a pristine out-of-box experience, new versions of MS products sometimes leave your head scratching and you thinking "Why on earth did they do that?"

This is also the driving force in the ongoing IE8 saga, which is excellent treated by Joel on Software This essay is what clued me into to Microsoft's eternal stuggle with backwards compatibility.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Elephant Paints Self Portrait

This is freaking unbelievable. I had no idea elephants were so intelligent. This can't be real; can it?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

2 very different movies

I watched two very different movies this week. I honestly can't see what got NCFOM all that critical acclaim including 4 Oscars. The acting was really good but there are logical gaps in the plot and in the overall concept that just aren't filled. I guess you have to be a Cormac Mccarthy fan to enjoy it. It did make me go and borrow Child of God from my library though, just to start getting into McCarthy's work.

Sunshine on the other hand was a movie you could just sit back and enjoy. It constantly left you in awe of how amazing the Sun is; the all-enveloping white light just hypnotizes you, just like it did one of the characters. Sunshine didn't win any major awards and flopped at the box-office but for my plain tastes it was a lot better than NCFOM.