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Showing posts from January, 2013

Cloud Computing

Three and a half floppy diskettes became the pinnacle of data storage during my childhood. At school, I would slide the metal cover and gaze raptly at the nearly opaque disk inside. When I discovered the write-protect tab at the bottom, I felt like a genius. I saved my precious text files in my brightly colored diskettes, careful not to exceed the 720 KB limit.

Then, lo and behold, they came up with a 1.44 MB disk! Will wonders never cease? Did technology have any limits?

Well, yes, c.f. the flying car. But today's topic is data storage.

We exceeded even the miraculous 3.5" floppy with the magnificent hard disk drives, still the same size, but tucked away in your PC. Laptops got by with an HDD exactly one inch smaller. In accordance with Moore's Law, computer hardware advanced by leaps and bounds, please do pardon the cliche. In college, my Dell had a whopping 60 GB of memory. In grad school, my Lenovo boasted more than twice that space. In real life, my MacBook enticed …

Movie Review: Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty is a masterwork of suspense and drama. Director Kathryn Bigelow, screenwriter Mark Boal, and composer Alexandre Desplat combine their superpowers impressive talents to create this darkly compelling film. As the heart of the story, Jessica Chastain does a spectacular job as the CIA agent whose singular focus leads to the capture and execution of the mastermind of 9/11.

The film opens with a reminder of the attacks on the Twin Towers. Then we see a torture scene, two years after the attack. “I own you, Ammar,” a CIA agent, Dan (Jason Clarke), flatly informs the bound detainee (Reda Kateb). “When you tell a lie, I hurt you.” Dan proceeds to do so while Maya (Chastain) watches. The “money-man” with ties to the Saudi Group eventually breaks, and gives Maya the clue that she'll spend the rest of the film chasing: the existence of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted courier. After reviewing torture footage, and personally overseeing sessions where the prisoners describe the s…

Bawdy Dragon-Slaying Song (For Girls)

Context: I told Fiancé this morning that I had a dream about leading an all-girl unit to take over a castle. He eagerly interjected, "And then they had a slumber party and pillow fights to celebrate?" I haughtily replied that this was my dream, and my girls would have more class than that. He continued to fantasize about girls slaying dragons and singing bawdy songs afterwards. Then he turned to me and said, "Do you think you can you compose a bawdy dragon-slaying song for girls?"

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Readers, I present  to you:

Bawdy Dragon-Slaying Song (For Girls)
For mature readers only.

(rap)
G-g-g-girls, girls, where you at, where you at?
G-g-g-girls, girls, where you at, where you at?
We got sharp nails for killin',
We each is one in a million,
We gon' throw down with a dragon,
To show it we ain't havin'
None o' dat, none o' dat.
No, no, none o' dat, none o' dat.

(verse 1)
Ooooh, a dragon came to my cave
And by cave I mean coochie

Movie Review: Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained marks a growth in Quentin Tarantino's directing strategy. The movie's pacing is languid, for one; and two, music helps moves the story along, by functioning almost like a voice-over. In terms of the former, Tarantino devotes numerous shots to cantering riders and walking people. I think that choice of cinematography emphasizes the languorous rhythm of the South. As for the latter, sometimes the musical cues become heavy-handed, but all the songs are excellent, and they each have something to say about what's happening onscreen. The writing, as always, is riddled with sharp humor and bombastic explosions.

The movie centers on Django (Jamie Foxx), freed from slavery by the meticulous and unflappable Dr. King Schulz (Christoph Waltz), a German bounty hunter. Dr. King initially takes Django with him to help identify three criminal brothers. Then Dr. King decides to accompany Django after the former slave reveals that he wants to find his wife, Broomhilda (Kerr…

Men are from MACS-0647 JD

Remember Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? Remember how enraptured we all were at the oversimplification of supposedly gender-determined characteristics and habits? Remember our delight at discovering that the sexes can be placed into categorized boxes, and therefore all our differences can finally—finally!—be understood?

Okay, okay, you guessed it—I never read it. But my mom did! Also, I looked at the cover. That’s why I’m being a smug bastard about it, despite the fact that it’s really just a common sense manual for communication and mutual respect in relationships. Incidentally, did you know author John Gray got his PhD from a non-accredited, now-defunct university, via correspondence course? Hells yeah! The shortest distance between you and your doctorate is a diploma mill!
Moving on.
I’m a bookworm. Books are my friends. But now that I’m older, I realize that experience is probably the best teacher. Still, sweeping generalizations are super fun, especially combined wit…

Book Review: A Memory of Light (2013)

The Wheel of Time now has an ending. A Memory of Light, the final novel of the Wheel of Time, is a beautiful and satisfying close to the epic fantasy series that Robert Jordan wove for us for almost twenty years before his death. The book combines Jordan’s and new author Brandon Sanderson’s voices, as both writers tell of the threads that come together to create the tapestry of humanity’s Last Battle against the Shadow. I laughed, I cried, and I lived and fought right beside all of those characters. The writing, the pacing, the plot developments and resolutions – they’re everything I hoped for, and more. A Memory of Light, as former court-bard Thom Merrilin would say, is exquisite.
I started reading The Wheel of Time in the early nineties. My grandmother handed me a paperback copy of The Shadow Rising. It was a thick book, but I sped through it, absorbed in Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne’s hunt for the Black Ajah; Rand’s journey to the Waste; Perrin caught between Berelain and Faile; Mo…

New Year’s Resolution Report

This year I resolved to give zero shits, pardon my French. That is not a commitment to constipation, but rather a determination to overcome my social conditioning and become a Zen master. The goal is to care less, by caring less. The means is the end. See? I’m well on my way to enlightenment!

I come from a family of maniacs enthusiasts. We’re passionate and pour our hearts into our favorite activities. We can get downright obsessive. And one of the things we love doing most is worrying. And by “worrying,” I mean “making venomous, seething volcanoes out of molehills.” We over-think, over-plan, and work ourselves into a frenzied state of over-anxiety. It’s practically a hobby.
My mother’s bold example in competitive over-worrying started during my childhood. My every complaint about a headache was met with a crisp, “It’s a brain tumor.” Stomachaches became gallstones, ankle sprains were bone fractures, and bad gas translated into pregnancy. But aspirin or other medicines were a no-no be…

Movie Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

I watched a bunch of movies on the plane ride to Manila, okay? Let me get this out of my system.

Fear not, fellow world-weary pseudo-intellectuals! The Perks of Being a Wallflower dodges the teenage movie trap of being derivative, boring, and/or completely brainless. Instead, it's refreshing, different, and dare I say it, moving. The success of the film can be attributed to three factors: the strong screenplay, based on a book by the director; the earnest performances of the three leads; and the story's reverence for good music.

The movie focuses on Charlie (Logan Lerman), who dreads his first day of high school. In his narration, he hints that he has been through something traumatic that's kept him away from other people. His first days as a freshman are marked with classic tropes:  sitting alone at lunch, getting shoved into a locker, having the English teacher encourage him, etc.

His life changes when he meets step-siblings Patrick and Sam. They're seniors, and com…

Movie Review: Total Recall (2012)

Plot: A factory worker with identity issues finds himself in the middle of a war between rulers and rebels in a future dystopian Earth.
Skip the Total Recall remake. I don’t remember the original, but I have to believe it was better than this lazy, unimaginative piece of crap. I felt sorry for Colin Farrell, who acts his heart out in a movie that has no brains, heart, or motivation. If you have any standards at all, your beef with this movie will likely involve the movie’s disregard for science, the poor writing, the nonexistent character development, the boring set designs, or all of the above. Let’s be organized and elaborate all these flaws in list form, shall we? 
Flaw #1: “The Fall”
More like “The Fail.” In the movie, chemical warfare ruined the world, and the only two areas of human habitation are the former UK and Australia. They’re on opposite ends of the Earth. Humans build a transport system called “The Fall” that goes through the center of the planet. Which, as you might …

Book Review: Diamond Age (1995)

Neal Stephenson follows up the excellent Snow Crash with the amazing The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. The book is a joy to read because of its rich narrative, sympathetic characters, vivid world, and vision of technology. At its heart, the book is a tribute to books, to courage and creativity, and to the grandfathers, fathers, and brothers who entrust the future to their granddaughters, daughters, and sisters. The Diamond Age has it all, and then some: love, adventure, crime, justice, culture, a story-within-a-story, nanotech, Confucian wisdom, orgies, dinosaurs, and more! There's something for everybody!

The book centers on Nell, a four- or five-year-old girl with a thuggish yet protective older brother, Harv (short for Harvard, awesome). Through a series of events, Nell becomes the owner of the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, a cutting-edge "book" that adapts itself to one user, and teaches that user how to survive/thrive in her environm…

Fiancé Visits the Philippines

Day One - Today we exchanged money, shopped at Duty Free, and got massages. Less than twenty dollars for an hour and a half! Am liking it here already.

Day Two - Have lost Man Card. Fiancée talked me into getting a facial and eyebrow threading. Pain unbearable, surely some form of native torture to weed out the unworthy. Perhaps have not lost Man Card after all.

Day Three - Is it normal to have this much meat for breakfast? Apparently it is.

New Year's Eve - These people are insane. They bought "fireworks" in a box and lit the package without bracing it. It toppled over on its side and more than thirty explosively tipped thermite cannons shot out all over the place. They almost killed a dozen people, including us. I reacted sensibly and hid behind a tree. Now am laughingstock of family for some reason.

Day Five - Visited Grandma, family matriarch. She called me "guapo."

Day Six - Drove up the the highlands to look at partially submerged volcano. Ate at restaur…

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect (2012)

Pitch Perfect is a dream come true for a cappella nerds. I've watched this movie twice now, not counting the multiple times I've rewound to the best parts. In fact, I plan on seeing it again. That's a testament to how fun this movie is, and how big an a cappella nerd I am. Laaaaa~

The movie centers on Becca (Anna Kendrick from Up in the Air, and, yes, Twilight, you may commence vomiting), a college freshman. Becca wears heavy eyeshadow, loves to mix music on her MacBook Pro, and is deemed "too alternative" by Aubrey (Anna Camp), the leader of The Bellas group. Fortunately, her lieutenant Chloe (Brittany Snow from Hairspray) believes in Becca's talent and convinces her to join. From there, it's a whirlwind of practice montages, a riff-off, dramatic tension, and a supposedly straight dude trying to win Becca's hand, as the Bellas work toward winning the a cappella championships. Which, spoiler alert: they do! Of course. It's called a formula and it …