Archive for November, 2007

Forbidden Kingdom Promotional Video

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Here’s the promotional video for the upcoming Forbidden Kingdom movie Jet Li and Jackie Chan will star in:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE7ny2bfXF0
The preview looks good, but I’m really scared in that I do not see any scenes were Jet Li and Jackie Chan fight one another. I really hope the two will either kill each other in the movie or at least have some kind of sparring match. Otherwise, I will have to murder the director. I mean how could you let Jet Li and Jackie Chan star in the same movie and not let them fight against each other? I don’t care if one or the other or neither wins, I just want to see them go head to head at least rather than have them fight other mediocre martial artists or even worse random stunt doubles.

Forbidden Kingdom

Also, any of you use meebo? Their web-based aim software is amazing! They have so many features and their software is so well developed for something that is free.

Thanksgiving Break and Black Friday

Monday, November 26th, 2007

So Thanksgiving Break came and went. Thanksgiving festivities themselves were pretty sweet. I actually ate thanksgiving lunch at my girlfriend’s house and then thanksgiving dinner at my parents house. Needless to say, after those two gargantuan meals, I think it’s time to punch the bag some more. Before Thanksgiving Break, I went see Beowolf on the IMAX and in 3D. The whole 3D concept on the IMAX was interesting, but I still prefer ‘standard’ movies as opposed to 3D. I had no idea the movie was animated or in 3D, so both were a surprise. Overall though, I would rate Beowolf with a 3.2/5. The story seemed kind of linear and much of the plot was very predictable. Furthermore, the story development kind of dragged on (probably because it was linear and predictable). The scenes we knew were coming took too long to come and go as we anxiously awaited something new. Furthermore, I think my rating of the movie is biased in its favor due to the beauty of any movie delivered in IMAX quality. I think if I saw this on any theater but the IMAX I would have rated it a lot lower. The IMAX tickets were definitely wicked expensive and this movie is not really a must-see on IMAX unlike other films that would be worth an IMAX watching – i.e. Empire Strikes Back, Transformers, Independence Day, etc. Aside from seeing the movie on the IMAX, other traits of the movie that motivated me to give it a higher rating then its plot deserved is the fact that it was animated. It was rather a slight deviation from the normal going movie experience and it was nice to see something new. I also liked the fact that many of the characters were animated to look like the people who played their voices. I thought some of the characters were animated much better than others though. Like the main cast seemed to be rendered a lot better than the smaller, insignificant characters. Before Beowolf, I saw American Gangster. I give this movie a solid 4/5. I like Denzel Washington a lot better as a villain I think than as a hero. His performance was phenominal. Russel Crow did a better than average performance as well. Furthermore, I have not heard this story told before (unlike the story of King Arthur, Beowolf, WWII, etc.), so it was nice (again) to see Hollywood trying out something relatively new.

AG2

I have been watching Samsung’s 32″ 720p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV for quite some time now.

Samsung 720p

It has been going for $950 at Best Buy for quite some time and only recently (before Black Friday ironically), it dropped to $800 at the local Ocoee store by my house. I mention the store because BB stores will not honor their online site’s prices. I like this TV because of all of the ports it has in the back – HDMI, S-VIDEO, PC-VGA, PC-DVI, Component, RCA as well as its contrast ratio – 8,000:1. That contrast ratio in particular for an LCD TV is incredible. That’s primarily the reason that the LN-T3253H model is so expensive (for a 32″ 720p) TV. I did wind up splurging and buying the TV upon hearing about the in store sale. I have since hooked it up to my ancient laptop (old Thinkpad) and am using the external VGA out on the laptop and the laptop’s DVD drive as a dvd player. The picture is very crisp, but I am wondering if I can get even better picture with an upscaling HDMI output DVD player. I have had my eye on Samsung’s – DVD-1080P7

DVD Player

My parents actually did wind up going out on Black Friday and to Best Buy of all places. HL2 Orange BoxI told them they were out of their mind, but my Mom had this theory that Best Buy would empty at around 8pm that night and that there would actually be merchandise left to sell. Regardless of her insanity, I told her to pick me up a copy of the HL2 Orange Box (typically going for ~$50) for the BF Sale Price of $25. Sure enough, she called me from the store and they actually STILL had a copy!! So I got the orange box for $25 without having to leave the house. And my mother was right, the lines had died down and the store was practically empty. I think it was dumb luck a copy was still there though. My theory is they forgot to setup a display case showing the HL2 marked down to half price, otherwise all of the early risers should have plucked the store clean.

Over the weekend Dell had a sale on 8800GT. I have been really stoked about the 8800GT ever since it hit the market. I actually wanted a 8800GTX and have been waiting for it to go on sale ever since it’s release, but it still floats at $450+. The 8800GT has a MSRP of $200 – $250, but since they came out in November, they have been in such high demand and consequently retailers have been price gouging and selling them for $300+. In the tests done by the good folks over at Anandtech, there are several instances where the 8800GT performs as GOOD as the 8800GTX. This is quite astounding as the 8800GT costs less than half the average 8800GTX. Dell had a sale over the weekend where they sold an MSI 8800GT for $221 (shipped to FL)! I can’t link the Dell page directly as they pulled the deal within 12 hours of it being posted on their site. Albeit, the price was true, Dell could only afford to offer so many as the demand for this card is rather high. Here’s a new-egg link of the exact same card I ordered from Dell. Here’s a link for all of the 8800GT’s offered over at newegg, all currently $270+ and all currently out of stock.

MSI 8800GT

The lowest on pricegrabber, currently, for the card is $300. For some reason it took me over 45 minutes to pull the trigger on this one, but I did eventually (and in time) end up buying the card. Unlike some of the people in this slick deals thread, I did get a confirmation order to my email and the card is estimated to ship December 10th. I am pretty excited about the card, but I have a feeling the card will motivate me to buy a completely new system, rather than simply upgrade the video card on my existing system. I have been consequently watching ram prices, power supplies, raptor hard drives, cases, processors, etc. If the prices are right, I may wind up buying another rig as my current one is 2+ years old. I did actually get some x-mas shopping done for some relatives and loved ones, but the stuff they wanted isn’t nearly as interesting as what is posted above! :D When I get a chance I will post some pictures of my TV. I may wait on this though because if I do decide on getting a new computer, I will just post pictures of the new setup with both computers and the TV. I love being a geek! spot

The Lonely Coder

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

I have a hypothesis about my sleeping habits: in the limit that I have enough days off, my bed time will converge to 4:00am. For some reason, I just naturally stay awake on my days off till the wee hours of the morning. So what does one do at those graveyard hours of the morning? Well, at this point, the only people who are still awake are unemployed video game junkies. So your company at this point is strange company indeed. I am definitely a video junkie. I would say half the time you see me online at 3:00am and not idle, I’m either playing the MMORPG online sensation that is World of Warcraft or working on my dissertation work.

Now in these moments of insomnia, you discover some weird shit on the internet…Ever heard of the Two Chinese Boys that redid several music videos and spammed Youtube with them? Apparently this stuff was posted months ago and I must be the last person in existence to have found out about it. If you also are behind the internet times, let me share with you the following:
Backstreet Boys – I Want it That Way (Redone)
Jessica Simpson – A Public Affair (Redone)
Da Da Da (Redone)

After a couple of hours of coding, I, being the extremely dangerous, homicidal gangster that I am, sometimes go for a walk to get some fresh air before continuing. Now when you have not shaved in a couple of days, wear black sweat pants and black long sleaved shirt with a black beanie and go walking on the streets at 4am, you’re liable to get into some trouble. However, since I am completely devoid of common sense, this does not phase me. Sure enough, the last time I went walking at absurd hours in the morning, I get stopped by one of my neighbors asking me what I am up too at this hour, where I live, if I am aware of the gangster activity that occurs in my ghetto neighborhood at these supposed dangerous hours of the morning, and finally if I happen to know what the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow. I responded to him that I was taking a break from coding my Triangulated Connected Sets Building Detection Algorithm for my Electrical Engineering, PhD dissertation work and promised him that I was not up to any gangsterous activities. I mean what the hell, am I not perfectly in my rights to walk in the sidewalk at whatever hours I want to? Apparently not according to the Orlando Police Department that patrol the immediate area right outside of Metrowest where I was stopped about a year ago. I did not go to jail, but the cop who stopped me wasn’t exactly friendly and tried to accuse me of loitering – even though I was walking on the sidewalk and only “armed” with a cell phone…Needless to say, these midnight walks are now accompanied with a driver’s license to help the Popo feel safer about my existence on “the streets”.

I think as the hour approaches 4am, my writing skillz are starting to dwindle and I’m headed toward a vortex of dementia.

I think I will therefore tie up this blog posts with some more youtube links. Ever notice that Christopher Walken tends to give over-dramaticized speeches in his movies? Apparently you can’t have a C. Walken movie without some form of kick-ass sermon. Consider the following:
Pool Hall Junkies Lions vs. Hyenas Speech
True Romance Liar Lecture
Rundown Tooth Fairy Sermon
Pulp Fiction Butt Watch

Exercise and the Cat

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

When it comes to exercising, I really have to enjoy the exercise, or as one would expect, I am that much less motivated to do that particular exercise. On that note, whenever I do exercise, music is essential – mandatory even! I’m a techno/rave/trance/dance junkie, so usually that’s typically what’s rock’n my mp3 player during my work out. If you have read some of my previous posts ([1],[2]), you may have also figured out by now I am also a Kung Fu connoisseur. I have not really had extensive, formal training in any particular field of martial arts, just your basic passive observations from 10,000 too many action movies. So what does combining the yearn to exercise, high energy music, and an action/martial arts movie junkie together equate to? And without further adieu –

Nick Punch

I used to exercise for losing weight, but lately it has become more of an addiction to endorphins and meditation. Shortly after an intense workout, ever have a wave of euphoria hit you where you suddenly feel happier? This comes from your body releasing endorphins [3]. It is proven that exercising does in fact make you happier. This is certainly an awesome perk.

But there’s an even better one – a heightened state of alert, a subtle awakening and sometimes even enlightenment! So my choice of exercise is punching the bag (and sometimes kicking). So while listening to say DJ Tiesto, Happy 2B Hardcore, 4 Strings or DJ Alistor (he has not hit the radar yet, but I imagine his music will blow up real soon!), you start to get into your shuffle and proceed to punch and kick (or whatever exercise you are doing). Now, typically throughout your day you are constantly bombarded with an uncountable number of subtle distractions which hinder realizing any kind of meditation, nevertheless attaining a Budhist Monk’s nirvana. But when its just you, your punching bag and your music, slowly everything starts to fade into the distance. Noise like thoughts of assignments due in the near future, approaching deadlines for various extracurricular activities, a ringing cell phone, and all of life’s little nuances are drowned out by the beat of your selected music.

And then all at once it happens! The music (especially trance/techno) climaxes (ie the melody the techno/trance song has been building up to explodes) and you hit an elevated state of awareness. In my case, the bag seems to swing slower or time slows down, I notice the evening’s breeze against my skin, my punches against the bag become less frenzied per say and more accurate, and basically everything else is non-existent – it is just you and your exercise. In my case it only happens for about 5 seconds and then I seem to return to reality. This intense level of concentration is really liberating in that it kind of serves as a mental memory flush for me and really clears my mind.

The first attempt in hanging the punching bag was a heavy duty screw drilled into the load bearing beam above. It worked for a while, but gradually the slow oscillations moving the screw back and forth and the vibrations from the bag being struck eventually caused the screw to come loose and the bag to come crashing down. I still remember the day it happened, I was so happy in that that was the first time I ever actually beat the bag. Usually the bag simply just sways back and forth in an almost mocking manner no matter how hard I strike it. That day, right at the end of my work out too, with that last punch I gave it, the hook gave and the bag fell to the floor. I actually raised my arms and cheered in victory. Needless to say the fixture after that has held the bag strong for over a year now I think:

Bag

I am going to shanghai this post and dump some pictures I recently took of my cat Habibi in here. Habibi is Arabic for sweet heart or friend – depending on the context in which it is used. One of my mom’s friend’s cat actually gave birth to a litter of kittens and gave up Habibi to our family:

Habibi

The cat has a big fetish with boxes and trash cans. He’s like a trained seal in that he sees them and immediately has to jump into them and meow. I got a picture of him camped out on my trash can:

Habibi