Post Christmas

Long time, no posts. I have been enjoying my Christmas break by laying around the house doing very little. I think everyone here had a good Christmas. Santa brought me a TV tuner card for my computer, so I can meet in the IST building every night next semester without missing my favorite shows. I also have picked up a couple DVDs to continue my collection. All in all, pretty typical holiday here at the house.

I am anxiously anticipated my trip to Miami now. Monday morning we’re driving down to my uncle’s house in Maryland and he’s going to take us into Dulles. He does a lot of flying so he should be able to guide us through all the procedures smoothly. The weather is predicted to be in the 80s all week, so it should be a nice change of pace. I don’t think I’ll be bringing my laptop, but I’ll probably try to post something if I find a public computer somewhere.

I’ll be back later with my best of 2005 movies list, though I am sad to report I have not seen Munich yet so it probably won’t make the list.

A Brave New Web

Telecoms want to be able to offer different plans that would block rivals or favor partners websites. Imagine if Google was always slow and Yahoo! was always fast on your SBC connection. Some small phone companies are already blocking VOIP services from running on their networks. These companies claim that these services are “freeloading” on their networks, which is ridiculous. Customers pay these telecoms for access to the Internet, I don’t think these guys can have it both ways. Imagine a car that only ran on Exxon gas or would drive to Macys faster than Sears.

This is not the first I have heard of plans like this either. Here’s a similar story in Business Week. This is a very scary reminder of how fragile freedom on the web is. It also reminds me that in the future, censorship will not come from governments but from corporations. I hope Congress will protect consuemers’ choice on the Internet.

Web Conversations

I came across Google’s Firefox Extentions yesterday afternoon when I was looking for new software to play with. I downloaded and installed a new one called Blogger Web Comments. The extention uses Google’s Blog Search to find posts that link back to the page or site you are currently viewing. So it automatically brings up any posts about the page you are using, which is pretty handy.

It does have some weaknesses. For starters its branded as a Blogger tool, so its meant to allow Blogger tools to add posts. So I can’t use it to post to my blog. It also includes a lot of splog entries, which is rather annoying. Still, I find it kind of handy and I plan on playing with it for a while.

What I think is really neat is kind of creates a notion of blog posts being part of a larger online conversation. I wonder if in the future blog search tools will also be able to aggregate comment systems on a site – a one-stop shop for web feedback. Imagine if you could search for a movie and get a listing of critics and users opinions. This sort of interconnectivity sets the web apart from other mediums.

Video Flashbacks

I haven’t posted in a while, so to catch you up, I am done the semester and home for the holidays, err Christmas vacation if you prefer. One of the projects my mom has me tasked me with is converting all our old family tapes to digital video. We have about two dozen videotapes and cassettes from the last 20 years. It was pretty neat looking back on my youth and also how different the adults in my life looked.

One thing I noticed is that humans must form most of their unique expressions very early. I swear I saw my sister giving the same evil eye at age 2 that she does today. The other, less surprising fact, is that almost all my siblings looked alike as chidren. What’s weird is that pictures of myself as a child look like some of my younger brothers today. All in all there were a lot of funny and embaressing moments. I might post some clips later when I finish the project.

Otherwise, its pretty boring here in Havertown. I got 5 As and a B+ this semester, so I can’t complain about how school ended. I saw Syriana last night, which was good and thought-provoking. I have been trying to help my mom shop for presents, but we haven’t had a lot of luck so far. I am also dealing with my regular home-from-school allergy/cold thing, but its not so bad. I’m going to try to keep up with the posting better over break.

The 8th Wonder of the World

Kong and AnnI just got back from an opening night screening of Peter Jackson’s King Kong. The seats were a little lumpy and the popcorn was too salty/not buttery enough. I doubt you’re interested in that though. There’s a lot one can say about it, so I’ll keep things short. SEE THIS MOVIE. I have not seen a better one this year and I can’t say there was many better last year either. Let the gay cowboys wait for DVD. Go to your local cineplex, get some popcorn and see Kong. You may want some tissues though, it is tragic.

It is a long movie, but I never felt like things got too slow. In fact I felt disappointed with how quickly the original went when I saw it last month. Fans should not fret though, Jackson stays true to the original story and pays homage to it quite a bit. In looking at his success with the Lord of the Rings and now Kong, it seems Jackson’s secret is that he is a fan of his own material. Jackson understands what fans love about these stories and delivers.The connection between Kong and Ann seemed very real in this version, making it much more than some sort of monster movie. There are a lot of monsters in this movie though – Jackson went wild with his ‘bad taste’ for about 40 minutes of entertaining sequences.The special effects were good, though at this point that seems a given for any modern movie.

Like I said, I could go on for a while about this movie but I’ll stop. If you enjoy movies at all though, check this one out. You won’t regret it.

Jingle Bell Rocks

Due to my computer problems earlier this year, I lost a bit of my digital music collection including my Christmas music. So I have been trying to find stuff on iTunes and Napster to hold me over until I get home again. Here are some of my favorites.

A Charlie Brown Christmas – This is my favorite Christmas album of all time, so I have been listening to it quite a bit. The jazzy sounds of Vince Guaraldi convey the spirit of Christmas well, especially from the melancholy perspective of Charlie Brown. This year they released an anniversary album called 40 Years featuring contemporary musicians. I haven’t listened to it all the way through, but there are some interesting tracks on it. Doesn’t quite match the original though.

I discover a lot of music through movies, so I looked up the soundtracks of some recent Christmas movies as well. The soundtrack to Home Alone is really great, featuring new and traditional holiday music from legendary composer John Williams. On the other end of the spectrum is the recent hit Elf, which uses a lot of older Christmas songs in its soundtrack

Christmas Eve and Other Stories by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. There are some original songs, but the real highlight is their remixing of classical pieces, including “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24”.

Finally if you don’t celebrate Christmas or like holiday music, I have The Alternative Classical Chillout Album. This was on sale on iTunes when I stumbled upon it so I bought it and I am really happy. It’s the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing pop alternative rock songs which are pretty good.

Alright that’s all for now. I know my list is pretty small so feel free to leave comments with your favorites. Merry Christmas to all.

Studying, or Not

While I am a pretty good student, I have never been a good studier. I think it has do with a couple things. First and foremost, I am very lazy. Second of all, I am bright enough that I could always get by without too much trouble. So I have continued to resist studying up through my college career, with mixed results. In case you haven’t sensed where I’m going, its finals week here and I am in the midst of studying. Except I am blogging right now, so I am not.

I had no finals today, so I did study quite a bit today. Still I feel like I could have done a little more. I have an interesting problem in that two of my exams require less studying but are more important. The third exam appears to have less of an impact on my overall grade, but will be more difficult – it is an open book essay exam based on several volumes of globalization literature. I am focusing on the first two right now – Japanese civilization and IT project management. Fun stuff. The project management one is especially nice since most of the terms look similar and have similar definitions. There are also a lot of pointless theories named for different people that I could care less about. The good news is, we supposedly have the questions already to study from. I am not sure if I trust this though.

In other school whining, I was very disappointed to find out that my $100 textbook on organizational theory is now work $9 if I try to sell it back to the bookstore. It will be coming soon to an Amazon.com near you. Otherwise, I am hesitantly optimistic about grades at this point. Regardless of what happens, I get to celebrate the end of finals Wednesday night with the premiere of King Kong.

In minor blog news, I noted today that 1/2 of all my posts came from the first week. I have been a little busier, which explains part of the problem. I hope to add more real soon though. Also I am testing out ecto again, which apparently now works on WordPress.com. I went back and spell checked my blog entries. It’s always embarrassing to see my poor spelling, but the fact that it has been on the Internet for so long is even worse. Oh well. Good luck to all other students with finals out there. I’ll be back with more later in the week.