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Explaining Inception

by on Jul.17, 2010, under thoughts

After first hearing about the movie Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, the movie seemed… strange. It was as movie that I knew I would have to see when it came out. A movie that toyed with your mind. Exactly my kind of movie! I would group it in the same category of movies such as Memento, Donnie Darko, Primer, and Shutter Island. Confusing, but all fully explainable if you can piece everything together.

Eventually, I decided it would be fun to go see Inception at the midnight premier. The only other movies I’ve seen at their midnight premiers are Harry Potter 6, and Avatar. Both were just awesome movie-going experiences. If you’ve never seen a movie at midnight, it’s really something you should try once.

Anyway, I’m glad I went to see Inception, because it really is a great movie! The problem is… seeing it so early left me no one to discuss it with. So, I’ve been scouring the Internet for opinions and discussions. After reading quite a bit, and fueled by inspiration from an article on CinemaBlend, I’ve decided to write my own small FAQ for the movie Inception.

DISCLAIMER: This article contains major spoilers. Please, please, please do not read this until you’ve seen Inception. The film is very enjoyable if you go in with an open mind. Reading too much about it before seeing it could kill the whole experience. (continue reading…)

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Kindle Pricing Makes No Sense

by on Jun.08, 2010, under Uncategorized

I was just browsing the web, when I found out that “Shit My Dad Says” has a book. I don’t follow him on twitter, but I’ve heard of it before, and read it whenever I’m linked to it. Wondering how much this book cost, I went to Amazon, and here’s what I found:

Kindle is more expensiveWait… WHAT? The hardcover is actually CHEAPER than the Kindle version? I’m going to ignore shipping for argument’s sake. This means that it costs less to cut down a tree, turn that tree into paper, print words on the paper, and glue the pieces of paper together than it does to send you a bunch of ones and zeroes.

Can anyone explain this to me? I mean, really. I’m pretty sure writers type on computers in today’s world, and I’m sure Amazon has some software to automatically take whatever and turn it into a Kindle book. Of course you’re in part paying for the development of such software, but there’s a LOT more to a hardcover book than there is to a digital copy of the same thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Kindle is an awesome platform, and I hope we see more and more e-readers. But, until the pricing scheme gets fixed… they’re not going to take off.

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Light as a Potential Field

by on Mar.24, 2010, under thoughts

Last night, a friend of mine proposed an interesting way to think about light. Although, it wasn’t until later that I actually understood what he was proposing. When he said it, I really wasn’t sure what he meant. Let me first try to describe the idea as it was described to me:

Imagine that light is neither a particle nor a wave. Instead, we only see light because there is a potential path for light to travel between whatever object we’re looking at, and our eyes. So then, what is dark? Dark is the impossibility of light.

Now, I had a couple problems with this. First off, if this is the case, then where does the light come from? The only answer I was given was basically “we don’t know”. But, I think I’ve solved the puzzle that is this proposition. Again, let’s imagine that light is neither a particle nor a wave. Instead, think of light as a field of potential. If you don’t know what a potential field is, think about gravity or voltage. We can describe both of these as a type of potential, and observe the potential compared to other places in the field. These fields are not local fields, they are everywhere, but they are very weak away form the sources. (continue reading…)

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Should I Defrag?

by on Mar.16, 2010, under technology

If you use a computer (and, since your reading my blog, I assume you do), you might have heard the term “defrag” at some point or another. Maybe instructions for installing a program said you should defrag your harddrive before you install it (I believe “The Sims” had this in their instructions), or perhaps you’ve just heard one of your friends use the word. Today, Ireceivedan e-mail from my dad asking me a seemingly-simple question: “Should I periodically de-frag my laptop? What does this do? How do you do it?” My response, however, was a bit more complicated.

In this blog post, I’m going to attempt to explain, very simply, what defragging a harddrive actually does, and why you should, or shouldn’t, do it. Some of my more technically inept readers may think I’m oversimplifying things by not dealing with the different filesystems, not explaining exactly how data is written, etc., but that’s not the point of this post. My goal is to explain, in the simplest terms possible, how your harddrive works, and what defragging the harddrive does, in terms of how data is stored on the drive. To start, I’ll explain the typical way data is stored on the drive, then I’ll talk about what types of situations create harddrive fragmentation, next I’ll explain why fragmentation is bad for your harddrive, and, finally, I’ll give an argument about whether or not you should run a defrag tool. (continue reading…)

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I Was Wrong!

by on Mar.16, 2010, under thoughts

Meant to post this earlier. Just a small post to admit that I was wrong in my prediction of best picture. If you watched the Oscars, or have talked to someone who watched the Oscars, you probably know that The Hurt Locker won best picture. This is slightly surprising. At its peak, The Hurt Locker was in a mere 323 theaters. Compare that to a major picture like Avatar, which had a peak of 3,461 theaters. That’s over 10x the number of theaters. Not that this number should, or does, matter, but a film with such a small release is a surprising pick for best picture.

Another interesting fact about The Hurt Locker is that it is the lowest grossing movie to ever win the title. The current estimated gross is about $16 million. Although, the low gross of the movie could be, in part, due to the limited release of the film. Again, this isn’t something that should, or does, matter, it’s just an interesting tidbit.

One final note on The Hurt Locker. The director of The Hurt Locker is Kathryn Bigelow, one of James Cameron’s ex-wives. Apparently, Kathryn Bigelow was debating on whether or not she should actually direct the film. So, she called her good friend James Cameron, and he convinced her to do the movie. It’s quite possible that if The Hurt Locker had not been in the running for best picture, Avatar might have one (although, history isn’t on Avatar‘s side, read my previous post). James Cameron, however, has said that he really liked The Hurt Locker, and even voted for it to win best picture, instead of Avatar.

So, there’s a blog post that’s about a week overdue. Now, on to write a more technical blog post!

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Who Will Win Best Picture?

by on Feb.19, 2010, under life, thoughts

Well, it’s that time of year again! That’s right, it’s Oscar season. Since all the nominees were announced a little while ago, and we have 15 short days left until the Oscars, about now is the time when everyone makes their predictions and tries to tell us who is going to win each award. Of course, we can’t know for certain who will actually win until the winners are announced, but… if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

So, while I don’t think of myself as much of a movie critic, and I haven’t even seen all 10 best picture nominees myself, I’m still going to attempt to throw my prediction for who will win best picture at the Oscars this year. Last year, I went to AMC’s “Best Picture Showcase”, and was able to see all five best picture nominees. This year, while AMC is running the event again, I won’t be able to attend. So, I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance to see all ten nominees, but I’m going to attempt to have an opinion about all the movies anyway.

Before I start, I should note that I am disappointed at the Oscars this year. Having ten movies get nominated instead of the normal five does not “open the field”. Instead, it just removes from the title of “best picture nominee”. Even if a movie doesn’t win the award, it usually still gets bragging rights that it was one of the five best pictures of the year. However, being in the top ten, while still impressive, is less of a title. By attempting to give films more credit, they have actually removed the credit from the films that actually deserve it.

Anyway, the list of the ten nominations is as follows:
(continue reading…)

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Why Did Wave Die so Quickly?

by on Feb.15, 2010, under technology, thoughts

A while ago, I was super excited to finally get a Google Wave invite. Today, I barely ever used the service. I just open it every now and then to see if anything’s happened. Generally, it hasn’t. But… Google Wave had so much potential! It was touted as a killer web application! What happened? Wave had so much momentum, but it seems to have crashed, and gone into one of those experiments that Google toyed around with, but no one really cares about anymore.

First off, let me say that whether Wave succeeds or not makes little difference for Google. Google is a company with enough resources to work on a major product, even if that product is a failure. Google wanted Wave to replace e-mail. This is where the whole “Federated Wave Servers” idea came from. In order for Wave to be the new standard, companies had to be able to run their own Wave servers — Google couldn’t control it. Besides that, Google already controls a good chunk of the e-mail market with GMail, so this was mostly a fun experiment for them.

But, still, it seems like something that should have succeed… or, at least, lasted a good amount of time. But, Wave has quickly lost momentum and died in everyone’s mind. The problem is that Google stopped innovating, and the Wave server never became very popular. I don’t believe there have been any feature additions to Wave since it launched, and I’m not sure there’s any good source other than Google Wave to get a Wave account.

Wave died because Google seems to have abandoned it. They released a product, and they appeared to have stopped working on it. Wave is something Google needed to not only push to corporations, but also continue innovating, and releasing new features, and this never happened. Google was unable to explain to potential customers why they need Wave, and this is where it failed. I think this is slightly unfortunate, but I’m not very surprised. While e-mail is antiquated, it still works, and it’s going to take a lot of push in order to move away from it. Google didn’t seem to have any major corporations backing Wave, which also contributed to the failure.

Who knows… maybe we’ll see Google attempt to revive Wave with some new features. Maybe it will come back for a couple months… But Google will have to work really hard to get the momentum and excitement about Wave going again.

I do, by the way, have 12 Wave invites. I suppose you can comment here or contact me if you want one. That’s a dangerous statement to say on the Internet. Although Wave has died, I have a feeling there are people who never got in on the game, and are still looking for invites, only to find a product that no one uses.

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How to Take Pictures at a Concert

by on Feb.13, 2010, under life, technology, thoughts

My University recently hosted Owl City for a concert here. Tickets were $3, so I bought one and planned on going with a bunch of my friends. At the concert, a bunch of people had cameras because they wanted to take pictures. I’m honestly not very surprised at this. Digital cameras have made it quite easy for anyone to document every mundane detail of their life.

I, obviously, am just bitter because I did NOT bring a camera.

Anyway, I was quite disappointed in how people used their digital cameras, and I now feel that it is my duty to educate the public on how to take pictures at a concert, or any other event that involves a stage and stage lighting. I saw many people take a picture, then look at the result, disappointed. Others will simply get home and realize that none of their pictures turned out very well. Without going into much technical detail, I present to you… how to take pictures at a concert! (continue reading…)

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VERY Subtle Humor

by on Feb.10, 2010, under life, thoughts

My high school put on a production of Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” for its winter play, and I made the mecca back to my hometown to see the show. I brought two of my friends from my college life with me, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the comedy. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance to see it. Ever since the three of us saw it, however, we’ve been quoting it, and laughing, because we get the jokes and no one else does.

There’s been one joke in particular we’ve been quoting quite a bit. Originally, we were quoting it because it didn’t really make sense to any of us, and we thought it was just kind of stupid. In the play, only one character (Albert Einstein) actually laughs at the joke. Perhaps, though, we though, we were just missing something. Before I go any further, I should probably share the joke. It goes like this:

A man goes into a bakery and says, “Can you mail a pie?” The baker says, “Yeah, I think we could.” Then the man says, “Well, could you bake me a pie in the shape of the letter E?” And the baker says, “Yeah, I think we could do that. Come back tomorrow, and we’ll have it for you.” So the man comes back the next day, and the baker shows him the pie. The man says, “You idiot! That’s a big E. I wanted a small e, a small e.” So the baker says, “No problem, come back tomorrow, and I’ll see what I can do.” So the man comes back the next day, and the baker shows him the pie. The man says, “Perfect… it’s perfect.” Then the baker says, “So where do you want me to send it?” And the man says, “You know what… I think I’ll eat it here.”

By the silence on stage, it’s immediately clear that none of the characters understand the joke. By the silence in the audience, it’s clear that none of them get it either. Alright, there was some laughter… due to not thinking the joke was funny, and ahumoroussituation being created due to a non-funny joke being told. I’ll even admit that at first, I didn’t get it. In fact, I’m not even sure if it’s a joke that’s meant to be “got.” But, there are some interpretations we can take that make the joke funny. (continue reading…)

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Apple Disappoints All

by on Jan.29, 2010, under technology, thoughts

Well, I wasn’t sure I was going to make a blog post about this, but I feel I have to. As I’m sure you’re well aware, Apple announced on Wednesday a new product that they guaranteed would once again revolutionize computing. It was the product people have been waiting for Apple to make, and Apple finally delivered. What is this “magical” product? It’s none other than Apple’s new tablet computer: the iPad.

But… if you’ve seen any of the press about the iPad, you might be confused by what I just wrote. Almost every tech blog I know is bashing the iPad for being an all-around crappy product. Considering myself a technology enthusiast, I can only say this: I agree. Apple had the potential to dip into a market that no one’s really gotten quite right, and create a booming industry for themselves, like they did with the iPod. It seems, however, that they’ve ruined their chance to do that. So, where did Apple go wrong? I’ll start with the obvious and most-touted answer, and I’ll try to work down to some more original points, but pretty much everything’s been covered already. However, if you do really like the iPad, keep reading to the end of the article, and I’ll try to point out what Apple has done right. (continue reading…)

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