Tuesday, November 02, 2010

On the Project Runway finale

I know fans of the show are up-in-arms about Gretchen winning over Mondo, but honestly I thought it could have gone either way. Yes Gretchen made a lot of fugly, uninspired clothes over the course of the season and yes she shouldn't have been picked over April and Michael (and yes the producers definitely just threw her in the final cuts just for the sake of drama,) but I mean the decision had to be made based on the final collection the three of them showed. Andy was probably ranked higher than Gretchen in most people's minds based on his previous work, but his collection was significantly weaker than hers. I thought her final collection was the strongest out of the three. The designs were edgy, sexy, cohesive and were accessorized beautifully. It really looked like a collection you would expect to see from a top-tier designer. Mondo's was brilliant but you could see that he was veering to close to fantasy and fashion pantomime. The fact that he chose the unaltered polka dot dress to be  his statement piece  to me buried him in the eyes of Nina and Michael. The dress was brilliant but too costumey - it would have been fantastic with a slit and skin to break it up but Mondo stuck to his vision, and went down with it.

I really disliked Gretchen because of her taste and her attitude towards Michael C. but you can't deny that for the final show she knocked it out of the park. And that's the reason, rightly so, that she won.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hannibal Rising

This film could have been much better with a better lead actor. Gaspard Ulliel's Hannibal is completely unconvincing and with that horrible accent is utterly amateur. But the story overall was good. For the first half of the film it's really an intense story that really gets you thinking on the nature of revenge. You can actually see the point where Hannibal tranforms from seeking vengeance to actually enjoying his killing. Gantz's revelation that Hannibal too took part in the act that drove him mad was a really good twist. It would have been nice if the story didn't just peter out though. A lot of the killing shown is just gratuitous - you could have made a whole film about Hannibal Lecter without showing any blood.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Red Dragon

It was decent - Hopkins was great, Fiennes was pretty good, Norton was kinda mediocre though. His character just didn't have any personality at all in this. The focus was on Hopkins and Fiennes. It was a decent Hannibal movie but they could have explored the Red Dragon mythology and the origins of the Tooth Fairy more..

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Google and Apple continue to make Microsoft technology obsolescent

It's just not fair. In every single online technology arena, from search to mobile devices to cloud apps, Microsoft is getting its lunch eaten by Google and Apple. Every new technology brought to the market by Microsoft hass been late and inferior to what Google and Apple are doing. Right now I really can't think of a reason to not use Google Docs in favour of MS Office 2010. I'm sure Office 2010 (and its non-free Web counterpart) have a lot of features Google Docs doesn't...but all the stuff I need to do day-to-day, including drawing diagrams and making presentations,  is in Google Docs. Plus I have zero work to do publishing documents online or real-time collaborating with others, or even just worrying about if my documents are backed up. These features alone are worth more than any sophisticated formatting features in Office 2010. I'm pretty sure a lot of small and medium-sized business owners around the world are evaulating whether buying yet another relase of Office makes sense compared to the power available from Google Docs
Meanwhile Android's 2Q sales outpaced the iPhone...while Microsft's Kin was an embarassing failure and Windows 7 is threatening to be the same. Bing is...well maybe some people like it, but in searching the Web for programming articles or technical information which I mostly do, Bing is horribly inferior to Google. I just like the fact that Google is catering to more tech-savvy users than MS. Gmail is perfect for following mailing lists and Android and Chrome OS will be hacked and customized and enhanced in infinite ways to provide the ultimate level of control which open-source users crave.

Chrome OS will probably become the standard on non-Apple tablets and e-readers and netbooks - which I suppose Apple isn't too concerned about since the people who use Android and Linux are in a different segment from the people who use iOS and OSX. I doubt Apple execs are losing much sleep over Android and Chorme OS - they already have their hands full figuring out how to spend the billions and billions of dollars their iDevices are generating. I'm sure there were massive grins in Cupertino when Apple's market capitilization outpaced Microsoft - quite a milestone in the company's history.

Where does this leave Microsoft? It's already losing developer mindshare to Google and open-source (which no doubt generates loud cackles from Google as it licenses more and more of its technology as FOSS and gives developers less and less reason to use Microsoft's proprietary stuff.) Windows 7 is great - a real step forward after the Vista debacle. Selling OS licenses are Microsoft's bread and butter - but what's going to run on the hundreds of millions of mobile phones and tablets and e-readers and netbooks out there all over the world? Microsoft STILL doesn't have a worthy answer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fallout 3 journal

Set out on some damn fool quest to find this boy's dad...notice a sewer plant, decide to investigate, this freaking HUGE scary radoscorpion attacks me...meet up and kill some ghouls...go down into sewers poke around...see door...with two LAWN GNOMES in front...wtf...next thing I know this crazy looking ghould runs out and starts shooting...shoot up his ass...he runs away...realize I stumbled on his hideout...sleep in his bed...rifle through all his stuff...take all the valuables...leave...feel bad I stole all this dude's stuff, after all he was just hiding down there trying to get by like everybody else...

Fallout 3 is one of the games that's generating real emotions in me - like feeling scared and disgusted and depressed at the state of the world.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Knicks making moves

Even though the Knicks didn't land Lebron, (which was a longshot anyway,) I really really like what Donnie Walsh has done. He's added significant depth in the frontcourt and at point guard, something they desperateky needed. Probably more importantly, all the new pieces have reasonable contracts that can be used in trades, well all except Stoudemaire. But even though I feel they significantly overpaid Stoudemire, given that no team was going to give him that much, I understand Walsh's thinking. He needed to get Amare locked up as soon as possible in order to entice Lebron and that's how much it cost. And hey if Amare can play at an All-Star level and entice impending FA like Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, then it certainly would have been worth it. Yeah I know the Knicks have had terrible luck gving contracts to people with bad knees but you'd think the Knick's legendary bad mojo must end at some point. We've suffered enough...

Besides Amare, we got Felton, Anthony Randolph, Ronnie Turiaf, and the Russian guy Timofy Mozgov. Toney Douglas is a decent PG but he's still learning and from what I've read Felton can really thrive in D'Antoni's system. Randolph if healthy could be the next NBA big man to break out, just like Amare did. The offense of Stoudemire and defense of Randolph could make a very imposing front court. And with the length of Gallirani and Chandler on the court the Knicks could finally be able to compete with the bigger teams, Plus it will be really interesting to see what the young guys - Bill Walker, Azubuike, and Landry Fields - can do. And of course everybody's waiting for Gallo to breakout, which he could do this year.

With all this the picture is even better. Curry's salary comes off the books this year, meaning in 2011 the Knicks will have a good chunk of change to sign a top-tier FA outright, or they could use Curry in a trade. Plus Felton's contract is only 2 years meaning they will have room to sign Chris Paul or Deron Williams. They might even be able to sign one of these elite PGs through a trade using Felton and Randolph and Gallirani and Curry's contract

As far as Mike D'Antoni goes, well I give him one year to prove himself. He finally has the roster he wants including one of his favorite players so now he has to deliver. I really don't think much of him as a coach at this point, he mad seome terrible decisions personnel wise starting with the Knicks' best player and coming down to the tail-end of the season he was starting to look desperate. So we'll see.

So for once I'm optimistic about the Knicks this season. The bad luck has to end at some point.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Steam 'Perils of summer' sale ends...finally

Before I was forced into selling my blood or some even more degrading action to get money, the Steam sale finally came to an end. Although it would probably be shorter to list what I did not  get, here's a list of the games my grandkids will have to finish before they can buy any more games:
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey and Abe's Exodus
Order of War
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Ultimate Sith Edition
Hearts of Iron III
Supreme Commander 2
Left for Dead 2
Introversion Complete Pack (Defcon, Uplink, Multiwinia, etc.)
Left 4 Dead
Killing Floor
Half Life Source
Blazing Angels 2
Just Cause 2
Civilization IV
Beat Hazard

whew...well I spent less than $150 in total and it was definitely worth it.

Windows 7 page file size

Even though I know 4Gb isn't really a lot for a developer PC, especially one that runs several VMs, one thing that I didn't understand is why under heavy usage my desktop would just suddenlly fly off  to la la land - thrashing and thrashing and thrashing for literally hours. It seems that I've found the cause - the size of the swap file. It seems that Windows started off with a relative small page file size (probably because it detected 4 GB of physical memory,) and was attempting to dynamically allocate the swap file and shed physical memory load at the same time - this lead to the machine being rendered unusable until cold restart.

Bottom line is that with only 4 GB RAM and impending heavy application usage, the Windows page file must be set to a minumum size of at least 4GB to avoid excessive paging. If your system pages incessantly and becomes unresponsive under heavy memory load, setting a large enough minimum pagefile can work wonders. It won't be a s nice as upgrading to 8GB or more, but if you blew all your  money on the Steam summer sale, it's a good temporary fix.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal the latest casualty in the Dirty War of Afghanistan

The original article:

This mess about Gen. McChrystal is way overblown. If you read Blackfive or any other mil-blog you would come to conclusion that any officer above the rank of captain in that theatre has similar views to McChrystal on the civilian leadership in Afghanistan.. And any cadre of military men in Afghanistan, from the lowest boot privates to the COs, probably would express the same attitude and make the same snarky marks that McChrystal's inner circle did if given the chance. Obama and his diplomatic adjutants would have to be extremely thin-skinned to get offended by this interview.

The biggest mistake McChrystal made was putting his trust in a journalist who clearly had the sole intention of furthering his own career - even at the cost of McChrystal's. The whole media too is now after his head for some reason - Keith Olbermann last night even went so far as to quote the UCMJ about officers bad mothing the civillian leadership. I mean COIN is a dirty and costly and lengthy business with no guarantee of success but it did eventually succeed in Iraq.

I mean c'mon what does Olbermann or Michael Hastings or any of us know about the war in Afghanistan? McChrystal was the commanding general of Special Forces - the best of of the best. He made his whole career about unorthodox tactics, thinking differently, and speaking his mind. Maybe he overplayed the whole rebel-warrior thing for this reporter and deserves to be pegged back. But not lose his job.

McChrystal is not beyond, reproach far from it. His actions in the Pat Tillman case many view as reprehensible. But there are no clean-cut G.I. Joe heroes any more. All that stuff came to an end on 9/11.The War on Terror is about as dirty as it can get. And maybe McChrystal is just the guy for the job. His actions going after the insurgency structure in Iraq probably broke a lot of rules, but as one famous WWII admiral remarked "When the going gets tough they send for the sons of bitches." And he succeeded.

It's really ironic that neither Al Qaeda or the Taliban nor the despicable Hamid Karzai could cost McChrystal the most important job of his militrary career, but one Rolling Stone reporter. But that's the dirty war that's being fought today. Those are the rules of the game. Just like Vietnam the war is being fought and lost in the hearts and minds of the Afghan and American people. And one mistake in the eyes of hostile media can be more costly that a whole regiment of Taliban.

UPDATE: It's official - McChrystal's done.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cross of Iron

Caught this on TCM last night and I thought it was pretty damn good. I think this is the first WWII film I've seen from the POV of German infantry. It really takes you through the pathos and trauma of soldiers, especially in a desperate, hopeless situation like the crumbling German Eastern Front. It doesn't try to be ultra-realistic and historically accurate like Band of Brothers and modern war epics, but the story really isn't about the combat. It's mostly about ordinary men in an unnatural situation and the extremes they are driven to - both good and evil. It is ultra-realistic about the insanity of war. A lot of the stuff that's depicted, Saving Private Ryan and most American films wouldn't touch.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Friday, June 04, 2010

Filtering join/quit messages in Irssi

Even though I followed the instructions in the startup howto, I couldn't seem to filter all those join/quit and nick change messages in any of my channel windows just by setting /window level -JOINS -PARTS etc. This write-up shows you how: http://wouter.coekaerts.be/site/irssi/wclf

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Steam games so far

I bought the THQ pack when it was $50 last year, the Total War pack this year, and now I just bought The Orange Box. I have no idea when I'm going to find time to finish all these games. Steam is like "k buy 25 KILLER GAMES for only $49.99" and the intended victim is like"Wow what a great deal..." What they don't tell you is that most of the games are so engrossing you'll only have time for like 2 or 3 at most after. Only thing I've played out of all these is Rome Total War and it could easily take a year to finish everything in it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reall Ms. Rand, really?

I shall be the first man in this valley to hire a servant." He got up, reached into his pocket and threw a five-dollar gold piece down on the table. As an advance on your wagess," he said.
She was startled to discover, as her hand reached for the gold piece, that she felt the eager, desperate, tremulous hope of a young girl on her first job: the hope that she would be able to deserve it.
"Yes, sir," she said, her eyes lowered.

Still was good though.