Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wiiing on the open Seas

While on the cruise in Hawaii, I noticed they had some events that allowed people to play the Wii on the big screen on the ship. I'm kicking myself now for not at least checking it out, but I was kind of on my Honeymoon!

I thought the events were interesting because of the large number of roving gangs of old people on board. I wanted to see the age range of the people at the wii events because getting my butt kicked at doubles Wii Tennis by a 10-year-old and his 90-year-old grandma probably would have done more damage to my ego than all the bullies in grade school combined!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Would-be Intellectual

If I had more time to actually read (which is an excuse for me to play, I know) I would read I am a Strange Loop. It sounds like an interesting discussion about consciousness could be had after reading a book like this. On second thought, I take that back, I read a whole book last week called the The Book of the Dead, and despite it's stiff sounding title, it was pretty exciting, although only marginally intellectual. I would give it a 4.5 (but only after having read the other books in the series.)

Despite the onslaught on reading as a form of entertainment, by the scrappy likes of movies and videogames, there is just something about a good book that they can't quite replace. Maybe it's the subtle way in which words combine with images and memories so that every book we read mixes with our past and becomes part of our future, that gives us a real sense of ownership. My favorite movies are like books, in that they remind me of days past, and change me for the future. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't change me, but it was a fun movie. If you like turtles. And Ninjas.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Captain, all the Stars have gone out!

Thanks to AICN, I discovered the trailer for what could be one of the best movies of the year.

I say that because I have a soft spot for the bygone age of such magical films as Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and The Princess Bride. For a while there, the monster that is Hollywood got stars in its eyes and engorged itself on sci-fi, and chewed up and spat out the comic book. Finally, we have come full circle with a delightful renaissance filled with wily wizards, effervescent elves, and fabulous fairies! Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter lead the way, followed by a little movie about a wardrobe.

But big budget extravaganza's are not exactly what I dreamed about. For in their time, Labyrinth and its ilk, had relatively little budgets, and were fueled more by imagination than dollar signs. And so they came in the past couple of years, small budget but high concept masterpieces like Pan's Labyrinth, MirrorMask, and Howl's Moving Castle. And now with Stardust, based on the wonderful book by Neil Gaiman, there is another quirky little gem to add to the pantheon of magical films.

I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman as an author, and I have high hopes for this film. I'll let you know as soon as I see it, if it was worth the wait, and if the child in me opened his eyes one more time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Are good airline experiences possible?

Wow, I'm back from my honeymoon. What an amazing trip! I was surprised by a couple of features that American Airlines offered this time, that I hadn't seen before.

They offered to contact me before my flight to let me know the final gate and on-time information. I filled out a form on the website, and sure enough, two hours before the flight I get a voice call letting me know which gate to go to and that the flight was on time. That was pretty handy!

On the way back, the DC 767 had electronic seats. We used some upgrade miles to fly first class, and the seats were incredibly comfortable. You could use one of three presets or individually adjust the seat bottom, the legs, or the seat back. It even had a memory function so you could store a comfy configuration, and then return to it later. The seats were apparently brand new because the flight attendants didn't know how to use them, but there isn't a gadget I can't figure out by pressing random buttons!

So yes, good airline experiences are possible. They either happen before you get to the airport, or you have to pay for them!

Thursday, March 8, 2007


This Saturday I'm going on my honeymoon. We are going to Hawaii, and I'm very excited, but also a little sad to be going so soon after beginning to write again. Ok, maybe I'm not that sad, but it sounded good at the time.

I won't be seeing or reviewing a movie this week, because I do have to pack. I'm the sort of person that thinks packing is a piece of cake. I always think that it's going to take me five minutes to throw everything in a bag and go. Of course, it always ends up taking three hours, I stay up way too late, and I inevitably forget something important. And every time I tell myself that I've learned my lesson, and every time I refuse to learn.

I won't be writing for at least a week, due to the whole being on my honeymoon thing. I'm sure you'll understand.

Bon Voyage!

IntelliJ pierces my heart

My wife would probably raise her eyebrows at me, but I hold a special place in my heart for IntelliJ. It is, for those not in the know, an editor for the illustrious Java programming language, and soon to be for Ruby also. I will be writing a series of articles that basically describe my delight while using IntelliJ. Whenever I encounter a particularly delightful feature, I will write a little about it here on my blog. And yes, delight to me is tinted a particularly fruity shade of purple.

Yesterday, I discovered how easy it is to internationalize (or i8n in l33+5p3@k) a Swing GUI application. While in the wysiwyg editor, I double clicked on a button in my form. I saw a cute little [...] button and thought to myself, "now what in the blazes is that for?". I clicked on it (because that's just what you do when you encounter a strange button) and it popped up a dialog asking me to pick an internationalized string from a property file. How convenient!

I will spare you the tragic details of when I encountered a strange button in Bangkok. Suffice it to say, it is not a memory I care to dredge up...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Gimme an S!

Sony did today what many thought they were incapable of doing, they innovated. They created this impossible mash-up of Second Life, Xbox Live Achievements, and Nintendo Mii's. By taking the social experience further than either of the other two game console manufacturers, they have cemented their place in the grand parade of gaming innovators. Which is all well and good.

But can they deliver? My experience with the Playstation 3 so far has been less than stellar. Heck, it's pretty much been stuck below sea level. The high definition era did not start with PS3, it ended, because the Playstation 3 banished my HDTV to the dark ages of 480p. This is in stark contrast to the glistening gorgeousness of Xbox 360 1080i. (480p and 1080i are a measurement of detail, the Playstation 3 on my HDTV sports half the resolution of the Xbox). And with a klunky interface, buggy software, and strange inconveniences, I'm half convinced Sony will fail to deliver.

But I'm a sucker for hope. And I want my $599 game machine to be worth a damn. So I'm going to take out my pom-pom's and wave them in the air and give them an S, an O, an N, and just to be fair, a Y. Go Sony! Go Sony! Go spend my 600 bucks to make my 600 bucks worth spending!

Games are a waste of time...but not for long!

I grew up on video games, and one of the things I am finding as I gain levels in the game of life, is that I have less and less patience with repetition in games. I despise games that make me wait to save, or make me repeat an entire level because I had the nerve to actually go and die. I used to spend hours in these games, like Mega Man, Ghosts & Goblins, and Battletoads. And most of the time was spent doing the same thing over and over and over and over. It literally sucked the life out of me! Not that I regret it, though, there was nothing else to do in the eighties. Madonna notwithstanding.

Arriving to save the day, and my precious time is a new game. If you think that innovation in video-games is dead, and you value your time, take a look at Braid. That is, if you dare click through and "spoil" yourself. I won't spoil you, that's your grandmother's job.

Braid looks to redefine challenge, and actually respects my time. I went ahead and read it, and it makes my brain hurt. Which is exactly the experience I am looking for in games these days.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Ruby and DRY

What is DRY? It stands for "Don't Repeat Yourself" and is one of the driving principals behind ruby and rails.

Why is it important?

Well, I was working in Java this evening and using the Hibernate ORM one of the premiere ORM libraries for Java. I tried to add a column to a table, and was dismayed when it wouldn't work. It refused to use the new column. What a piece of junk, I thought! Then I found the bug, in the xml property file I had used the word "properties" instead of "property", and hibernate just conveniently ignored my new column.

Hibernate (AFAIK) defines columns in no-less then five places!

1. In MyClass.hbm.xml
2. In MyClass as a field: myField
3. In MyClass.getMyField
4. In MyClass.setMyField
5. In the Database as a column: MyField

Ruby on Rails?

1. In the Database as a column: MyField

Now, if you had to modify your code to add a column to a table, would you want to do it in RoR or Java/Hibernate? I thought as much ;)