Archive for August, 2006



14
Aug
06

Meeting My Childhood Hero

Back when I was just a lad in the late 70s, grammar school was pretty boring. Believe it or not, I recall most of my teachers literally telling our class that they were a year or two away from retirement. There was no zest — no life in the content delivery. Worst of all, we stayed cooped up in the same classroom pretty much all day. (Not much movement from class to class for different subjects in NYC grammar school in the late 70s/early 80s). However, there was one time each week when we moved to a different room that I do recall fondly. Each Thursday, young children of African decent made their way down the hallway and entered a classroom for a lesson in Career Education.

What made Career Education different was that it was taught by a teacher of color. While this may seem slightly biased, understand that I don’t recall seeing very many teachers of color in school (even though my neighborhood was about 99.9% people of color.) I did have a few Caucasian teachers who seemed to really care, but Dr. Miles (our Career Ed teacher) had kids at home that looked like us. And we could tell. She was tough. But she put a lot of effort into working with us.

I vividly recall the events of one day in Career Education class. We were given a simple task. Write in our 2nd Grade Notebooks what we wanted to be when we grew up. Thewweundis2closelock.jpg answers started from the rear. (I was sitting up front.) There were some really inspiring answers.

“Miss Miles….I want to be a lawyer.”

“Miss Miles….when I grow up, I’m going to be a fire fighter”. (That answer came from a young lady.)

“Miss Miles… I want to be President.”

It was beautiful. Strangely enough, I was just about the last person to answer. But I’m sure I was the first to be done with the assignment. You see, back then I already knew what I wanted to do. I had known since I was five.

“And Mr. Grant…..what do you have for us? What would you like to be?”

“Misses Miles…..when I grow up…. I want to be…. WWF Champion.” Continue reading ‘Meeting My Childhood Hero’

12
Aug
06

Paradise Now: A View From the Other Side

b00005joql01lzzzzzzz.jpgI’m not quite sure what drew me to Paradise Now. (I think I put it in my Netflix queue after watching the trailer.) But honestly, now that I’ve seen it, the trailer really doesn’t do this movie justice.

If you ever watched CNN and wondered about what might be going through the mind of a of a young person who straps a bomb to their bodies in an attempt to martyr themselves, this is a must see. Without spoiling the movie, I’ll say that Paradise Now isn’t trying to completely change your mind about terrorism. We do get an in-depth look at the overall process of preparing one for a “suicide bombing” mission. (I’m sure that this is probably a “Hollywood” approach and the real process is probably a bit different.) However, more than the issue of suicide bombing and who’s right and who’s wrong in the conflict, Paradise Now gives you a personal look at two childhood friends from Palestine and how they are affected by the conflict in the Middle East.

Paradise Now stars Kais Nashef in his debut role as “Said” (Say-eed) and Ali Suliman as his longtime friend Khaled. The movie is subtitled in Arabic. (It only runs for 90 minutes, so hang in there with the subtitles.)  I’m certain that there are some who will be upset and say that the movie “sympathizes” with those who live in Palestine. Honestly, I’m not sure how one can see this movie and not see beyond the political implications.  There’s an incredibly rich story here that appeals to the human issues of family and love that unite us all.  I highly recommend that you check out this movie — it is definitely time well spent.  There are some very tense and suspenseful moments, but you’ll also find very tender ones as well.  There is a beautiful romantic subplot that unfolds throughout the movie.

Paradise Now was released in 2005 and won numerous awards including the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. It was also nominated for an Oscar earlier this year in the same category. This is a timely film that will give you a view beyond the nameless faces that we see on CNN and (for a moment) unites us as people who experience the same human feelings — feelings of bravery…. fear…. uncertainty …..panic ….. loyalty …..anxiety ….and love.

(Drop me a line if you check this out — want to know what you think.  I’d love to talk about this one a bit more.)

10
Aug
06

Review: Melinda and Melinda

b000arinu201lzzzzzzz.jpgWoody Allen’s films are pretty polarizing — you are either from that side of the world that loves them or you don’t care for his brand of humor. If I had to choose, I’d probably put myself in the latter camp, although I’d probably defer my decision until I had an opportunity to see more of his films. I’ve been told that most of the greats I haven’t seen. Anyhow, something drew me to Melinda and Melinda. The fact that Will Ferrell was in the movie and he wasn’t playing one of those over the top goofball characters pushed me over the edge. I’m glad I took a chance on this one.

Melinda and Melinda is a film about two writers who are discussing their philosophical approaches to film while out eating dinner with friends. One feels that comedy is the more genuine human emotion (Wallace Shawn) while the other (Larry Pine) feels that tragedy is more stirring. In what plays out as somewhat of an experiment, working from the same plot, both writers proceed to build the story out — with one the story a comedic slant and the other giving it much more tragic feel. The results are pretty funny and actually pretty engaging — especially compared to Allen’s other films, which always struck me as being heavy on humor and witty (and wordy) dialogue, but not much in the way of character development. This is not a stark change from other films, but during this film, I was very curious to find out how each story was resolved. One interesting note: different casts are used to carry out each story with the exception of the title role which is played in both stories by Radha Mitchell.

Initially I was a bit let down by Will Ferrell’s role. You could almost see Woody’s reflection on the mirrors of some shots as Ferrell’s character seems to be doing his best Woody Allen imitation through most of the film. However, as the story moves forward, Ferrell has funniest lines and reactions in the movie. I still want to see him in a serious role (a la Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine) but, as I found myself laughing out loud watching the DVD, I’m glad he didn’t choose this film to do it.

As with any Woody Allen film, the cast is a solid crew of faces you’ll have seen before. Steve Carell even makes a small appearance. The dialogue is a bit heavy on the ‘posh-new-yorker-talkin-about-my-entertainment-industry-job’ side, but the overall story is easy to follow and rewards the viewer who pays close attention to subtle differences in how each writer plays out his story.

I was pleasantly surprised by this film and after seeing it, I immediately put Match Point in the queue. (I might become a fan of Woody Allen’s films yet.) This film is smart, funny and intriguing. If the idea of watching a tragedy and a comedy alternate turns and play out on the same screen entices you in any way, check this one out.

10
Aug
06

Mini-Review: Hard Candy (Spoiler Free)

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This will probably be one of the shortest reviews that I’ll write — and this is mainly because divulging any unnecessary details about the film would rob the viewer of one of the best psychological thrillers in awhile. I first caught a glimpse of the trailer about four or five months ago and I was instantly drawn to the setting. In an effort to give only the most vague details, the movie begins when an older man and a young girl who have been chatting on an instant messaging application decide to meet. That’s all you really need. As a matter of fact, the trailer reveals a few details that I would probably have been better off not knowing. A high-definition version of the trailer is available at QuickTime.com, but my advice is to just watch the feature.
Please bear in mind — this film is not for the sensitive viewer. This movie deals with some “interesting situations.” If you’re the least bit drawn to a movie that is challenging and atypical, this is the movie for you. Ultimately I was left slightly disappointed, but I can honestly say that movie was entertaining and certainly worth my time.

The original film had a very limited release schedule — even here in New York City. The DVD doesn’t release until September 19. This will definitely be one of those films that finds an audience on DVD. I’m certain that college kids will be watching this one in halls around the country this fall.

Put this one in the Netflix queue now. Solid acting. Well shot. Let’s just say that Hitchcock would be proud of this one. Check it out. If you’ve seen it, drop me a line. (If you comment, please don’t reveal any spoilers.)

10
Aug
06

Ubuntu Creator Featured in News Video


Gee, I dunno….. the Ubuntu operating system is becoming more and more intriguing every time I hear about it. In the above video, Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth talks about why he’s dedicating time and energy to the Ubuntu operating system. Watching this video, I learned a lot more about the project. Didn’t know that Mark himself was South African. (Not that it makes a difference, but it explains where the name came from.) Also didn’t know that there’s some support for it within Google. (Not sure what percentage of workstations within Google are actually running it.) The reporting style is somewhat typical, as the journalists are focusing on the fact that Windows and OS X are competing products. Personally I feel like focusing on the competitive landscape cheapens this effort. I may not decide to use the OS, but I admire the effort.

Stepping away from the video a bit, after I watched it, I sat and thought a bit about why I still don’t consider Ubuntu an option for myself. Why is there a big part of me that feels as if this would never be my primary platform for computing? Aside from the obvious problems of compatibility issues, lack of hardware drivers and simply not being able to run software for the more popular Windows platform, why am I less acceptable to this OS than even OS X? A couple of things came to mind. Continue reading ‘Ubuntu Creator Featured in News Video’

09
Aug
06

Microsoft Flight Sim Ad Circa 1995

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Take a good look at the ad. In particular, take a close look at the illustration on the right side of the page.

I’m not trying to pick away at old scabs. (Lord knows I was about 3 blocks away when the first tower fell — dust all over my 7th floor office window. Seven of us huddled in the elevator vestibule starting to smell the debris as it crept through the windows. We were pretty much thought we were dead. And we were the blessed ones to have lived.) Similarly I’m not trying to ad fuel to conspiracy theories (although I do have my suspicions like everyone else.) I was just thumbing through some old magazines and I came across this ad and it just made me shake my head a bit at how much things have changed. And I’m well aware that those who were involved, in addition to training at an actual flight school, used a version of a Flight Simulator to “practice the run”. But this is certainly this is no stab at Microsoft. Flight Simulator is an amazing piece of software with a history that dates back to the 80s. Any program can be used to plot out evil. The ad itself is simply illustrating how Flight Simulator would enable you to fly through some of the world’s most challenging physical structures. But it’s amazing how much that event has changed the way we think and how much we try to erase the image of those two structures from our minds.

wtc-movies.jpgWhich brings my mind to the next Oliver Stone release. I don’t want to judge it without having seen it. And as a person who likes film, I tend to try and expose myself to more non-conventional and challenging film efforts. (Nothing too avant garde. But a film that’s not just an expanded version of the trailer.) And while I am somewhat curious to see how the

father of conspiracy theory movies himself would handle such an event as those that took place on September 11, I’m having really mixed feelings about this one. Oliver Stone is an intelligent and experienced filmmaker. In my heart of hearts, I don’t think that he would create a film like this just to show the obvious — (trailers play, paramount logo shows, morning comes, the planes hit, brave men and women heeded the call, the towers fell, lots of people died, families were impacted, everyone cries, credits roll, the end.) Something tells me that someone as politically minded as Stone has some message that he’s trying to get across. Perhaps. It’s just a feeling. But there’s a part of my spirit that watches the trailer and, like the beautiful woman sat next to me, wonders if a production like this is coming out just a bit too soon.

Well, the movie is in theaters now. I have a strange feeling that it might not be there too long. Considering the events of the world right now, who wants to pay $9 to be depressed. Anyhow, has anyone seen it yet? What are your thoughts? After all, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 70%. (But then again, they gave Talladega Nights a 75% as well.)

08
Aug
06

Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference Brings New OS X Updates, new Mac Pro (but not much else)

dsc_0458.jpgThis past Monday (August 7) at 10AM PT saw the commencement of the 2006 Apple World Wide Developers Conference. This is the place where OS X developers gather to hear about new development tools, additions to OS X that they might want to take advantage of and to generally share ideas and feedback with the Apple Development team. The conference begins with a keynote address from Apple CEO/Founder Steve Jobs. In the past, Jobs has been known to sneak in a new consumer product during the keynote. No such luck this time around. Anyhow, here are some of the highlights of the event.

Mac Pro – The main highlight this year was the announcement of the Mac Pro (the revision of Apple’s high-end desktop computer, the Apple G5). The “Pro” consumer line had been the only remaining product line not to have switched from the IBM G5 processor to an Intel processor. This announcement solved that problem — as now every desktop and laptop are running on Intel processors. Steve Jobs took advantage of the opportunity to highlight the fact that Apple had migrated their entire line of machines in only seven months.

OS X Leopard – Posters all around the conference poked fun at Vista. There were banners that read, “Mac OS X Leopard – Introducing Vista 2.0”. At the keynote, Jobs went through the timeline of OS X releases since 2000. He then invited Senior VP of Engineering Bertrand Serlet onstage to take a few shots as Vista. Bertrand talked about the similarities between Vista and Leopard and got some huge laughs from the partisan crowd. Bertrand’s English was sometimes tough to understand, but I thought his presentation was rather amusing. (To check this out, (with QuickTime installed) go here and forward to the 24:00 minute mark and watch for about 5 minutes.)

Also of note was the fact that Steve Jobs mentioned that the Dev team would only be showing ten new features of Leopard. Saying that he didn’t want to get the “photocopiers in Redmond started too early”, Jobs said that the team was going to keep some additional features “top secret” until a date much closer to the release. (Jobs indicated that the team was aiming for a Spring 2007 release). Continue reading ‘Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference Brings New OS X Updates, new Mac Pro (but not much else)’

08
Aug
06

WWE’s Teasing a “Hogan Injury”… (so what’s he doing in NYC with Pokemon geeks.)

hulkmain.jpg(This story courtesy of Joystiq.)

Joystiq reports that Hulk Hogan was in Bryant Park at some sort of Pokemon event. Here he’s wearing a Pokemon shirt and holding some sort of proclamation?? (“I, Hulk Hogan, hereby declare this day August 7 as POKEMON DAY!). Basically he looks like a tool. (But if he’s doing it to give kids some joy, that’s cool.) If he’s doing it to help Brooke get some sort of Nintendo tie-in with her album, this is quite shameful.

Regardless of the intent, the problem is that he’s scheduled for a match in two weeks at Summerslam and rumors have been buzzing around the Internet and even on WWE programming that he’s hurt with some sort of angle injury. There are other rumors that he’s faking the ankle industry and even one that I heard where he just flat out doesn’t want to job out to Randy Orton. Well, unless he was limping here, this looks a little suspect. And if he really is hurt, with only two weeks before a scheduled appearance, perhaps he shouldn’t have been here.

Last night it seemed like the WWE might have been teasing a possible Lawler rematch?? (I don’t think he returned to the announce table after his loss to Orton.)

I’d say that this is probably a lock that he’ll be at Summerslam. Either that, or he’s trying to make enemies with Vince McMahon.

Update (8/10/2006 – 2:25am): Hulk Hogan has confirmed that he will be facing Randy Orton at Summerslam.  Thanks to Brent for the update.

08
Aug
06

What’s in a Technology Name?

wii.JPGiPod. Google. Woot! PlayStation. Tivo. Razr. They were all meaningless formations of vowels and consonants just a few years ago. Now they’ve become technology products and services that most people — even those who aren’t quite so ‘tech-savvy’ — understand and use in their everyday speak. (Okay, maybe not Woot!…. but that’s just because you haven’t found one of their great deals. Woot.com… Check it out!)

But where some marketing execs would have you think that any catchy assembling of letters will elicit a positive response from the public — just as long as the product itself is trendy, I’m not quite certain that this is true. But reflecting over some of the names being given to products lately, I began to wonder whether it really matters what you name a product at all? Would an ‘iPod’ by any other name be the phenomenon that has people finding the extra $300-400 of expendable income in their budget and forking it over to Apple to listen to music? Well, perhaps. But there are situations when the so called “better product” doesn’t win. When the Digital Video Recorder market wasn’t dominated by Tivo, Panasonic’s Replay TV was considered among many in the tech community as “the better product”. But that didn’t stop Tivo from gaining popularity and eventually causing Replay TV to be banished into enthusiast circles. But was that because of the superior Tivo interface? Or did America just like the way that catchy new word, “Tivo” rolled off their tongues more than they did the somewhat boring “Replay TV”? After all, Tivo follows one of my rules of good tech naming (stay tuned) — it can be generalized and turned into a pop culture term. In this case, turned into a verb. “Hey did you see Lost last night? Nah, I Tivo’d it. I’ll watch it later.” That works. Somehow saying, “Nah, I didn’t catch it. But I Replay TV’d it” doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

So does this mean that ‘Google’ and ‘Razr’ and ‘iPod’ were all great sounding names from the start? Well, no. (I actually thought Google was a bit silly sounding when I first heard it.) I believe that some technology products and services are so innovative and so useful that they survive despite being given a bad name. But my general philosophy is that creating a good sounding name does get your product off on the right foot. It creates a buzz. A good and accessible name can set the conditions for success and turn a word from meaningless into a phenomenon overnight. (When my grandmother asks me, “So what kind of iPod do you have”, trust me — the brand development team has succeeded. So what are the “rules” that companies should follow when naming a technology product? So glad you asked. Continue reading ‘What’s in a Technology Name?’

05
Aug
06

Shhhh! Browse the Web at Work (….and look like you’re working!)

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OK, let’s face it — we’ve all done it. Heck, we still do it. Checkin’ out our favorite sites at work. For some who use half of their work day playing on the web, I do agree that this does get in the way of productivity. But for those of us who can control our impulses, it just gives us an escape…. just 5-7 minutes… enough time to get a dose of our favorite blog site….. to recharge our creative juices and make us even more productive as we dive back into our projects.

(Yeah, right. It just depends on which side of the ‘Manager’ sign you’re on.)

Well, anyhow, the folks at  have found this cool website — workfriendly.net. If you enter a URL in the search bar, it will open your favorite webpage sans-fancy formatting and pictures. Unless someone is totally looking over your shoulder, it makes even the naughtiest webpages look as if you’re doing research. Best of all, workfriendly has a “Boss” button — if you’re boss is coming by, click on it and it changes your webpage to an article explaining how to be more productive and to avoid procrastination. Ingenious.

Look at that formatting of my favorite web site. (And you thought I was doing research all this time! Silly rabbit.)

Check it out at workfriendly.net. And if you get in trouble, don’t come blaming me.

Courtesy of the good folks at Lifehacker.