August 2004 Archives

New Powerbooks around the corner?


With the release of the design of the new iMac, I'd say that a Powerbook G5 is not far away.

Judging from the photos of the innards of the iMac, I already see several components which can be micronized for the construction of a laptop:

  • power supply
  • hard drive
  • graphic card possibly

No one wants a 2 inch thick laptop, but it'd take very minor work to make the iMac into a powerbook, and I suspect that an Apple geek somewhere is probably already working on such a desecrat- I mean deconstruction.


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At the used bookstore today I saw a copy of
Love in the Time of Cholera
. I had to look of course, and flipped through the first few pages. It would suffice to say that this book did not contain what John Cusack was looking for.

Hot hot hot


It's pretty darn hot today. Most of the time since I'm in my air-conditioned office or in my air-conditioned car, I don't feel the heat. But, because it is Saturday, and because I've been out running errands, I've been noticing the heat everytime I step outside. One thing I'm thankful for is that it is dry heat, not that sticky kind of heat where everything just clings and never goes away. It's late August! This kind of weather I could expect in June, maybe July, but certainly not late August. It is most peculiar weather.

Heroic Reviews


NPR review: Hero: Sword-Fighting Take on Chinese History

SF Gate review of Hero

New York Times Review of Hero

Rotten Tomatoes gives Hero 93%

Reviews of the movie seem pretty positive. I definitely want to see it on the big screen. There were initially some concerns that it might be edited, but due to the influence of Quentin Tarantino (hence why his name is plastered all over the posters and commercials), it has arrived to theaters uncut. Bad news for those who don't like reading subtitles though -- there is no English dub track. (I prefer subtitles to bad English dubs, so a big thanks to whoever at Miramax is responsible for this).

For those of you interested on the historical backdrop that the story takes place in, here's a link to a short description of that period in the First Imperial Era.

Blogging from: A dealership waiting room


I'm sitting in Toyota 101 in Redwood City waiting for the shuttle to pick me up. They have free wireless internet in the waiting area, which I am of course taking advantage of. It seems every car waiting room has their perks -- Magnussen's in Palo Alto always has coffee and donuts, Toyota 101 has wireless internet. It's funny, but I think I would prefer it if the perks were reversed -- I usually spend much more time at Magnussen's, and only a few minutes at 101.

Friday Games


It's pretty rare for me to see game stories on BBC, but today they had not one, but two stories: the first one is about Gamers turning to mobiles, and the second is about

Gamers preparing for Half-Life 2.

I have a couple of comments about each of these stories: In the story about mobiles, "The Digital Gaming in America report showed that half of the 70% of gamers who own a mobile phone played games on them". I have my doubts about the 70% number -- I've had a cell phone for the better part of 4 years now, and aside from trying out the games preloaded on the phones when I received the phone, I haven't played them since. I'd much rather use my GameBoy or laptop to play games, and I suspect the same is true for most gamers. As far as I know, solataire is still more playable on a laptop than it is on a cell phone.

In regards to the Half-Life 2 story, what they are trying is basically digital distribution and protection against piracy. It's also a good way of cutting out the publisher and retailer from receiving the lion's share of the profits from those first initial sales.

Powered by Air

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Hero Talk


With the upcoming release of Hero in theaters this week, the U.S. seems to be abuzz about Zhang Yimou, the director of the film. In December, with any luck, we will see the release of Zhang Yimou's "The House of Flying Daggers", a martial arts film set during the Tang Dynasty. It received wide acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and I fully expect it to do well.

Heroes and Daggers: Zhang Yimou and Andy Lau

I hope that Hero does well at the box office this weekend. I enjoyed Hero much more than Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and I suspect that the general American audience will as well, even if they do not understand the historical backdrop of the film. While Hero was the biggest grossing movie in China, it would be foolish to expect it to break records in America, particularly since it appears that Miramax has NOT learned from their mistakes on Spirited Away (Japan's best grossing movie) on how to market foreign films.

HOV for Hybrids?


Ford denounces bill giving some hybrids special access

One of the bills up for California legislation right now is one which would allow Hybrid vehicles which get 45 mpg or greater the right to use the HOV (Carpool) lane regardless of the number of passengers. Alternative fuel vehicles such as electric and compressed natural gas have had this ability for years, and now Ford (which developed the EV1 electric car, leased them out and then took them all back last year) is throwing a fit because their Ford Escape SUV only gets 31 mpg.

My take on the situation is this: there are many cars out there that can get 31 mpg that are not hybrids, and having a hybrid means that you are still dependent on gasoline and the pollution that results from the manufacture of gasoline. A hybrid does not mean pollution-free driving -- it means more efficient driving, which is one of the things HOV lanes try to encourage.

Using the HOV lane with a single occupant is a perk, a thank you for sparing the air. HOV lanes can be used by any vehicle with 2 or more occupants -- whether they get 1 mpg or 60mpg. The idea is that in having passengers, you are reducing the number of cars on the road thereby reducing wear and tear on the road, pollutants in the air and traffic congestion. By putting the hybrid benefit on the carpool lanes without a standard, it potentially rewards poor efficiency, and it potentially allows more gasoline efficient cars to sit on the congested highway. Hybrids have no problem sitting in traffic. In congested traffic, their gasoline motor switches off, and their electric motor kicks in. In a carpool lane, however, both electric and gasoline motor are being used -- it is at the higher speeds that hybrids are at their most fuel inefficient.

Ford claims that the bill gives the Hybrid market to the Japanese companies stating that the plan is a "Buy Japanese" bill and a "special-interest measure ... intended for almost exclusive use by Toyota Prius drivers." What is really funny is that Toyota lobbyists wanted the mpg requirement set lower, as they have plans for hybrids that probably won't meet that requirements.

One should also not forget that "Ford Motor Company is America�s oil addict. According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average fuel efficiency of Ford cars and trucks today is 18.8 mpg, dead last among the top six automakers for the fifth consecutive year. From subcompacts to SUVs, Ford's current fleet of cars and trucks gets fewer miles per gallon on average than its Model-T did 80 years ago." (zpenergy)

My suggestion to those with Ford Escape SUVs is simply to carry along another passenger. To use the HOV lane for what it was intended for: to reduce the number of cars on the road, and to reward those that rideshare.

My suggestion to the Ford Motor Company is quit complaining and to put that time to design and build better hybrids which can meet the criteria set by the state of California. I'll never understand why they stopped their development of electric vehicles, which was something that they were doing better than any of the other domestic automakers. Did I remember mention that pure electric vehicles can travel in the HOV lanes with a single occupant?

Silk and Sushi

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A Vancouver couple try a diet of Silk brand soymilk and Sushi
for a whole month.

That this experiment takes place in Vancouver should come as a shock to no one -- Vancouver has some of the best (and cheapest) sushi I've ever had. As much as I enjoy sushi, I don't think I could have it every meal of every day for a month. Sushi is one of those foods that needs to be supplemented with other foods in order to create a balanced diet. A slightly more healthy variation is brown rice sushi.

Armed Robbers Steal 'The Scream'


Munch's "The Scream" stolen from the museum in broad daylight

I'm shocked and astounded that it was stolen in broad daylight, and that none of the guards were able to stop them. It wasn't just "The Scream" they stole, but they stole another painting called "The Madonna" at the same time. You would think there would be guards at the exits and in each gallery.

Swiss Cheese Thoughts


I am back in the Bay Area again, and as always, the trip back home seemed too short. I flew down, and then drove back up. It makes me yearn for another long weekend, but there is no chance of that with work tomorrow. Time always seems to stand still when you're on vacation, and then resume at full speed when you return home.

I drove my sister's Camry up for her, which was tiring, but pleasantly uneventful. I understand now why the Prius is selling so well -- it is basically a hybrid Camry. The handling and drive quality felt about the same.

Free Digital Photos


This link for 25 free digital photos from Target is mainly for my sisters, who routinely go to Walgreen's to get 5 free prints. But I'm sure the rest of you wouldn't mind getting some free prints either.

Online Bill Payment and Points

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Earlier this year, I got an Amazon Visa Card. The great thing about it is that everytime you charge something, you get points. After a certain number of points, they send you a gift certificate for Amazon. However, if you buy something from Amazon, the point value of the purchase is tripled. Perhaps there is just too much of a game player in me, but I find it interesting that they chose to use "points" to keep track of your rewards. It's almost as if they are targeting the Gamer Generation. Of course, as a game player, I play to win... so I started to use the card for all my credit card purchases -- I took the automatic payment option whenever I could to have the charges made to the card, maximizing my usage.

Yes, the Powergamer in me is revealed in my purchasing habits..

There is no future in meat


The world must eat less meat

I quit eating beef last December, due to the scare of Mad Cow. I'll probably become one of those hybrid-vegetarians eventually who eat just seafood and vegetables. No chicken, no pork, no cow. My transition probably won't be complete for a while yet, but I can see it happening eventually.

Leaving the House

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It looks like I chose a particularly bad weekend to go home to L.A. The 8th Annual Asian Film Festival is going on in SF right now. While many of the films are available as DVD imports, many of them are premiering for the first time on the big screen in the United States. I have heard good things about the films selected from Hong Kong (Cat has recommended to me in the past the film "The Soong Sisters", a dramatization based on the true story of the lives of three women who end up with some fairly prominent men). I haven't heard of any of the other films from other countries except Ju-On 2 and Azumi, both of which I have heard are very good.

One thing I'd like to point out about film festivals: the people in the audience aren't usually obnoxious enough to bring crying babies or turned-on cell phones into the theater. It's the same with people who go to midnight showings the first day the film comes out: usually the people taking the trouble to go out of their way to see these shows are actually there to watch the movie. When I went to go see Troy, someone didn't just leave their cell phone on during the movie, but actually answered it and had a conversation with the person on the other end, not just once, but several times. I think cell-phone rage will probably be the next big thing. I mean seriously, all we need is one bad incident in the theater to get press coverage, and people'll start shutting off their cell phones.

Asian Cinema and movies not your thing? You can always try the Classic Gaming Expo in San Jose. Play all those arcade classics that haven't seen the light of day in years (which you can probably find and play on MAME)

Make it stop!


Some brainiac decided that the front lobby entrance needed to be changed, so they'be been demolishing the cement ramp. Yesterday wasn't too bad, but today they brought out the jackhammers. Now, I could live with a constant jackhammering, as the sound would slowly blend into the background, but instead it's very intermittent. 30 seconds of jackhammering, followed by the low hum of the diesel truck powering it, and then 30 more seconds of jackhammering. It's enough to drive a person mad.

Reading List II

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I read a lot of SF when I was younger -- mostly a lot of Asimov, but a brief smattering of other grand masters of Science Fiction as well. I came across this List of 100 Must-Read SF Novels by Phobos Entertainment (who are publishers of SF books) of which I have read 21 books.

This is a fairly good list, although my problem with book lists this big is that there are just too many books. If I were to create a book list, I might stick to 20 being the upper limit. There are two books in SF that I openly evangelize, and will always be in my top ten SF must reads: Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation and Orson Scott Card's brilliant Ender's Game. While I can recommend Asimov's other works, I do not recommend Orson Scott Card's other books -- Ender's Game is his best, and the rest is somewhat disappointing).

I actually find myself thinking that The SF Book Club's "The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years (1953-2002)" is actually a much better list of SF books even though there are only half as many. I have read 17 of the 50 books on this list. There's some pop SF and Fantasy I probably wouldn't have put on this list (Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara comes to mind).

And lastly, where is Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass?

From one wedding to another...

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My friends Betina and Hans just had their wedding two weeks ago, but I have another one to look forward to a few months from now. My friend Mike is getting married in April, and he's decided to make me his best man. I'm excited and nervous, as I've never been part of the wedding party, much less best man, so this ought to be interesting. I already know that I will start my speech with "I've known Mike since the fifth grade". Hopefully I won't be trumped by a maid of honor who has known the bride since the second grade. :)

I don't know if it'll be a Chinese or a American style wedding, but I don't think it'll look anything like this Star-Wars themed wedding which took place at Oakland Fairyland.

Friday the 13th


Today is of course Friday the 13th. I haven't really thought about it too much today, and I appear to have sidestepped my way free of any misfortunes there's still 2 hours left, but as I plan on either blogging or doing more mundane chores, there is little chance of something troublesome bothering me.

However, I did receive my paycheck today, and I also received my credit card bill. It is one of the largest credit card bills I have ever received (in part due to the car expenses this month). That appears to be the extent of my misfortunes this 13th.



1000 Reasons not to vote for George W. Bush

I'll take this moment to point out that the majority of Americans voted for Gore for President, and that it was 5 Supreme Court Justices that voted Bush into office, not the American people.

Maybe I'm preaching to the choir -- few of the people that would read this blog would vote for Bush, but I do have to wonder, what people are thinking in the rest of America. California and the Bay Area in particular, exist as a sanctuary for liberals and liberal thought. I forget how different the rest of the world can be outside of California. For instance, it has been over a decade since I've been asked in California: "Do you want smoking or non-smoking?" I don't have to go to far to get asked this again though, as far as I know, all the states around California still allow smoking in restaurants.

Zeitgeist Report


Since Ken just posted up his
search results
, I thought I'd share the results of mine too. His site still gets way more hits than mine, but my results are equally entertaining.

Ever since I posted about Jonathan Brandis and his (possibly) Acutane related death, he's shown up on my stats every single month. However, some clarifications:

  • I do not hate the Toyota Prius Digital Speedometer. While I find the orientation of it is not where I expect it to be, it does make me mind my speed a bit more.
  • You will find no ipod Celica here. I have ideas on how this can be done, but I don't have the time to do this just yet. I thought about doing it this Sunday, but we'll see.
  • If you are searching for Betina and Hans on my site, I don't have their wedding pictures posted up yet. Sorry.
  • It's "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", not "Captain Corelli's Mandarin". Until this showed up on my keyphrases, I had never even heard of the movie. I guess I talk about Mandarin enough on my blog, and the Mandolin connection must have come in from my one post on Stradavarius Violins...
  • I don't really keep up with HK cinema, much less Andy Lau, but I did hear that Matt Damon and Leonardo diCaprio will be in the US remake of Infernal Affairs (retitled "The Departed") which will be directed by Martin Scorsese.
  • You will not find a download of "A Moment of Romance". Rent it from Greencine.
  • I am not a college student, and I do not own a C-Class or a 3-series. I own a Celica and an 8-series. Mercedes don't excite me (except for the McLaren SLR).
  • There are no Pictures of Princess Leia in the Detention Cell here. Move Along. I think the only time I've ever mentioned that part of Star Wars on this blog is in reference to Marshall's dialogue on an episode of Alias
  • As far as I know, it is not possible to convert Coca-Cola to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or vice-versa. Maybe in some point in the distant future, but certainly not in 2004!
  • I hate Raymond Feist, and I hate Krondor. PDFs are okay.
  • You can convert a Toyota Camry to an fully electric vehicle, however lighter cars make better candidates for electric conversion. Cost of conversion will run at least 10 grand though.

For the list of keyphrases, see the extended entry.

Procrastination may be a problem of the past


Turning Slackers into Workaholics

Scientists have discovered a way to block reception of dopamine, resulting in monkeys that do not procrastinate as much. To quote from the article: "They work more efficiently -- make fewer errors -- as they get closer to being rewarded. But without the dopamine receptor, they consistently stayed on-task and made few errors, because they could no longer learn to use visual cues to predict how their work was going to get them a reward."

I'm sure someone out there is already dreaming of a way to add this to the water cooler at work to make more productive wage slaves.

Review: Kill Bill Vol. 1


Yeah, I know it's been out for a while now, but I finally just saw it. Despite the abundant use of graphic violence, the film is a powerful masterpiece. Some of the delivery of the lines by actors and actresses needed work, but the film has a lot of style, and I forsee that one day this movie will be regarded amongst the other greats such as Lawrence of Arabia, Citizen Kane and The Shining.

I remember when Kill Bill Vol. 1 was released theatrically, a lot of critics lamblasted its excessive use of blood -- having seen The Passion, the use of blood within the entirety of Kill Bill Vol. 1 probably only amounts to less than 5% of the blood spilled in the The Passion.

Fake Smilespotting


Can you spot the fake smile?

I got 18 out of 20, misidentifying one fake smile and one genuine.



I am sick. I've been sick for the last couple of days, so sick in fact that I haven't even felt like blogging. Last night before I went to bed, I made the mistake of having a cup of tea. I don't usually think that caffeine has any effect on me, but last night, it was quite apparent that caffeine does a pretty good job of keeping me up. I ended the night with about 2 hours of sleep. Despite that, I still feel well rested.