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Showing posts from May, 2006

Superhero movies: why can't Hollywood learn?

Had to happen: the much-awaited X-Men 3 came out, and I was determined to see it. I'm a big X-Men fan from the 80's, and comic book fan, overall. I wanted to see this one, and have even had the Konfabulator Widget for it counting down. The preview? Stunning. The clips I've seen? Looked to be the right stuff. A winning franchise, a winning formula right? As usual, Hollywood grows complacent with their success. X-Men 3, on paper, was great: great action, lots of characters, and a really interesting story line (the government finds a "cure" for mutants; do they want to be cured?). Add in an even bigger budget, Oscar winners, and a huge effects scene. But this time, Brett Ratner directs. What does it add up to? A fun night, but no real winner. Why can't Hollywood learn? When it comes to superhero films, it's a hard enough balance to suspend disbelief. What have been the elements of the truly successful ones? Think about it: the director, who comes from a pro

Party time!

Wendy just graduated from college, and Jim throws a party the only way he knows how: full out! Live entertainment, a DJ, obscene amounts of pork, crab, lobster, and ribs, and about 100 of their closest friends. Man, what a night! After the party started getting too much, we headed to the rest of Rafters in San Rafael, and listened to a great blues band. A nice night all around.

Meat Worship

Amy's sister Francine is here, and its her birthday! House Of Prime Rib, here we come! We had a great meal, with Lani to thank (she turned us on to it and was there). We ate well, and Francine enjoyed her double nickel day more than she thought!

Mobile Life Tips: Palm Skinning

Want to breathe new life into your Palm? Give it a whole new look with a new skin. I use ZLauncher as my application control, and there's a whole world of skins for it; my favorite is the Windows Vista one. Want to take it a step further? How about skinning the dynamic input area, AND giving it new functionality? mySkin does just that. Need more? How about a great clock app, PalmaryClock , which lets you skin the faces and backgrounds. Your Palm will never be boring!

Got Vista?

Ok, those who know my computer proclivities really know I have a thing for transforming the user interface, or "skinning." I'm a sucker to modify the look and feel of the computer to something...cooler. With the next version of Windows, called Vista, there will be a much updated look and feel. Thanks to an enterprising programmer, there's no need to wait: the Vista Transformation Pack will turn your PC into a Vista PC, like magic. I have tried it, and am sticking with it: I did have to learn how to put the computer in "safe mode," but it works GREAT. Much more stable and better than WindowBlinds , and FREE.

CraigsList meets Google Maps

Mashups are all the rage. I mentioned one before, that turned a Yahoo Map into a pirate map, but this HousingMaps site makes a mash-up with a purpose: it takes CraigsList real estate rental and sales and puts them right on a Google Map! Now you can see the neighborhood, the details, all with the info at your fingertips. Better than most of the real estate sites I visited. Cool!

Google Desktop: Ready for primetime?

Google released the latest version of Google Desktop last week. I embraced the opportunity to try it again. Pros: - The Google Gadgets on the desktop almost evoke a Konfabulator/Yahoo Widget Engine feel. Not quite as elegant, less of them. - The self-learning news and RSS feeds feature in the Sidebar is simply awe-inspiring. Imagine a personal assistant that watches what you do, learns what you like, and constantly fetches the latest for you. - Google search on your desktop? Emails, docs, etc.? Say no more. Cons: - SLOW. In the indexing, it takes a good few days to get done. - It is not as elegant as it claims to not interfere with your daily work; it should ONLY index in the background, without excessive CPU load. Instead, it can spike my CPU to 100%, and leave me waiting for up to a minute to read an email, etc. - Not enough Gadgets to really compete. I'd like to see them take their homepage gadgets and extend them to the desktop. Jury's still out...

A Sign O' The Times

I don't know if you've seen this new category of products ("Manscaping"?!?!), but Amazon has the Philips Norelco BG2020 Men's Bodygroom, complete with a hilarious tongue in cheek video to market the benefits. But that's not really what got me: take a look at what customers who have bought this have been buying: A truly unexpected crossover market. :-)

Everybody talks about the weather

Including Konfabulator (Yahoo Widget Engine). In addition to a great graphical weather widget, Charles turned me on to the Radar Widget , which allows you to monitor the Doppler radar for up to 2 different locations, right on your desktop. For him, he works out of his house mostly, so he can chat about the weather in real-time with co-workers or clients in San Jose, Atlanta, etc. Me? I'm keeping an eye on my area and Boston. Why? Well, remember I said the rains were over? Seems not: with Francine (Amy's sister) here, we now have unseasonable rain for 3 days. Bizarre. Well, into each life a little rain must fall... just not for long.

Speaking of Charles...

When I went to Boston recently, I stayed with Charles. He and Jane have built an incredible house in Plymouth, MA. It's beautiful, expansive, well situated, and perfect for raising 3 girls, 1 boy (on the way!), a small dog and a rabbit. The location is great, and they recently added an office to the top floor that is amazing, not to mention a whole additional condo on the side of the house for Jane's mom! But one thing truly amazed me. No, not the astounding kitchen (it is wonderful!) or the best pantry ever, or even the wraparound porch. It's something that I, not being a parent of one, let alone three girls, or even being a parent looked upon in astonishment, but absolute awe and appreciation. The apparent key to handling a growing active family can be stated in 1 picture, truly worth 1000 words: Wow. Jane & Charles: I salute your dedication as parents. :-)

High School Memories

Just to put the capper on my high school reunion, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Like the couch, made of the most bizarre plastic/foam rubber that was nearly indestructible that I must have crashed on 1000 times. Or the lunchroom, with the endless heaping pile of sandwiches that a private school teenager with a high metabolism needs. Or the stairwell, with the 3rd floor landing that went nowhere, and only fit two teenagers lying down, but opened up whole new worlds. The "smoking lounge," where teachers and students could drop roles for a few minutes in a ritual of times gone by. Why did I go to this school? Some of you know the story: my parents tricked me into going. See, when I went to junior high school, my town decided to close the junior high all kids from my grammar school had ever gone to. Instead, they decided we, being from a hippy, well-to-do part of town, should go to a junior high waaaaaay across town, in the only working-class part. The loca

An Indoor Pond for under $200?

I'm not much for the construction work, but this step by step guide on building a Low Cost Indoor Pond is remarkably appealing. Even more interestingly, in my home, there is a "conversation pit" from the '70's in front of the fireplace that has been covered over, and is unused space; I wonder if I could convert it to this?

Sports Guy: Female Fantasy

Get that thought out of your mind! No, the latest from The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, borders on genius: a way to have most women understand the appeal of fantasy sports, by creating a league they SO could get into: the US Weekly Magazine Fantasy League.

Apple's got their ad groove back

Seen the latest Apple ads for the Mac? After treading carefully for so many years to not alienate the PC world, Apple has rediscovered the joy of distinctiveness, while embracing the reality of the world, with clever humor. It's no Ridley Scott 1984 , but it's a great start! A fun and clever watch.

30 Seconds of Podcast Fame

I've written about podcasts in this blog before. One of the ones I religiously listen to is the Engadget Podcast: all things gadget. They also have a toll free number to leave questions in voicemail, which they will occasionally play on the air. Well, my time has come. Towards the end of the program (it's about an hour), listen for the question from Josh from San Francisco. Yep, I've been immortalized in gadget geekdom forever. As Pete said: great question; bad answer.

Time to don your black football jersey

It finally has happened. The end of an era. It's here, and yet it feels so impossible. I can't say anymore. Doug Flutie retires from pro football. Please observe a moment of silence.

What's this gadget?

A PC? A PDA? A UMPC? Sony's not telling, but with WiFi, Bluetooth, and a slide out keyboard, this new Sony just might bring the new UMPC to reality. UPDATE: Engadget spills the beans .

Paradise in Northern CA

Just a perfect CA day...from my deck.

Deadwood a lame duck?

Seems hard to believe that HBO would allow this to happen, what with the drop off in the viewership of The Sopranos, but it seems that this season could be Deadwood's last. I'm crestfallen: no more of the most appropriately named dramatic character, Al Swearingen? First, my ideal president retires after a comeback (West Wing), then the Sopranos turns out to be an overblown image of itself (this season), and the one hope of great drama on television is riding off into the sunset? Say it ain't so...

20 years: don't they go by in a blink of an eye

I knew it was coming. I laughed about it. I ignored it. I snarled at the mention of it. And yet, it was mysteriously compelling and repulsive at the same time. My 20th High School Reunion. Sure, you hear stories from everyone about reunions. They laugh, make it seem like a rite of passage. But what it really is is the first conscious declaration that, although in your mind you still feel 18, you are not. And yet, there is the odd magnetism of being with a specific group of people who are in the exact situation as you, and reveling in the same feeling. In any case, my high school is 3000 miles away; I had no intentions of traveling to what was a clearly blatant attempt to get donations from me to a place I had not been in 20 years, to see a very small group of folks (our graduating class was 63 people), most of whom I really wasn't interested in seeing. And then it came. My friend Charles IM'ed me with the simple question. "You coming?" And just like that, I was. I ca


I'm trying to increase my blogging frequency by blogging on my Palm. For instance, I was in Boston last week. Got off the plane, and I was greeted by a 6' version of one of the best benefits of the East Coast! Now THAT'S a cup of coffee!