Thriller to the Killer: RIP Michael Jackson!

26 06 2009

In memory of a highly gifted musician and father of the “moon walk” … he inspired millions around the world.

Be at the Philippines: 1,500 Prisoners at Cebu …

… or in India: Bollywood’s unforgettable “GIRLY MAN!”

… or the Guinness Book of World Records event: William and Mary College students…

… and maybe even a surprise wedding.

We will forever miss you!

R.I.P. Michael Jackson 1958-2009





Simpsons in HD, finally.

3 03 2009

“It was bound to happen sooner or later” but I kept saying that and after all these years, the once really very popular show and still good (in my opinion) has finally converted their video to high definition. Yea I know that The Simpsons has been on the high definition broadcast of Fox but until March 1st, 2009, it wasn’t in full HD and what do I mean by that? 1360 pixels wide and 720 pixels tall. Essentially in widescreen mode as that is the industry accepted standard of what it means to be in HD. Seeing that nobody else has written about it to my knowledge, here’s my way of saying FIRST!

So what’s new? The intro has been altered (or was simply modified for the 1st episode in high def) and in the picture above, you can see gramps snoring in the car alongside Maggie and Marge. Previously gramps wasn’t in the car. He was standing on the roadside waving his walking stick and cursing at Bart.

Then the intro screen flew through some time periods like during the early 1900s and then into a Brady Bunch style run-about-the-house jig. Then a Cheers variation with the family seated at a bar and the “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” song playing in the background. I was half expecting something with NBC’s FRIENDS but I guess NBC must’ve put their foot down to ruin the moment for us all.

The episode itself was standard fare. Homer forgets to mail in his insurance and goes into a series of adventures trying to prevent himself from being liable for any damages. In the meantime, Bart gets sent out on a fake vacation to allow the school to get a good average score to make it to the “No Child Left Behind” act. It’s alright but definitely watchable. And it’s in high def so you’re not going to see the black vertical bars on the sides of your tv. Finally.

So keep your eyes peeled out on HULU to see if they’ve included the new episode. It’s already there. CLICK HERE!!!

PS: I’m so sorry for not putting up anything since early February.

EDIT: I just noticed that Grampa Simpson isn’t in the car initially with Marge and Maggie but pops up when they zoom in the inside of the car.





Windows 7, Palm Pre, Apple iPhone, and the Nokia E71

3 02 2009

Just some commentary on these 4 tech hot topics.

Windows 7: It’s alright and if you had problems getting your video cards recognized with Microsoft Windows Vista, you’re back on square one with the number. Now if you got an older monitor, it is most likely a 4:3 screen (resolutions – 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768), you’re not going to see stretching or black vertical borders on the sides. However, since your graphics card can’t really be used, you’ll see slower performance compared to XP. You might run into compatibility issues with antivirus software. Another downer.. the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) you downloaded expires in August 2009.

My recommendation is as many have said – use it only for testing. Actually if you have a newer system, create a partition on your drive or get a 2nd HDD and install W7. The Aero visuals are stunning and runs smooth compared to the much despised Vista but for older machines, you should either go with Ubuntu or Windows XP.

Palm Pre: Put in the limelight at the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last month, this is Palm’s last ditched attempt to save itself from oblivion. The UI (user interface) is pretty and appears to have been influenced by Apple’s iPhone OS which would make this an obvious hit other than the ugly keyboard slide-out. The old Garnet 5.4 OS has been kicked to the curb in favor of a new inhouse developed linux-based flashy webOS. Palm’s promising GPS, a 320×480 pixel screen, 3MP camera, 600MHz processor, 8GB internal memory, and a host of other standard features. An innovative feature of using cloud computing technology lets you sync your stuff with an online server instead of your computer. Well, you don’t really have a choice in this case.

What really kills this for me are … the ugly keyboard, the battery life for a cellular device at that size and that powerful of a processor with the features given is going to suck, no expandable memory which means no microSD card slots, doubts about security, and the tanking economy (duh!) I do understand that the Palm Pre isn’t out for sale yet but if they don’t produce a GSM version (AT&T and T-Mobile), regardless of their partnership with Sprint (CDMA), it’s a definite no go for me.

I guess we’ll have to sit back and see what’s remaining after Apple strips Palm out of a lot of their UI features on the Palm Pre.

Apple iPhone: What else to say other than this is the industry gold standard that every UI designer is aiming to emulate. Other than it being cool and possessing easy to use menus, there are a lot of limitations. Some being the lack of multi-tasking capabilities, “real” internet on the webkit-based Safari browser (YES, they lied in those ads), replaceable battery, external storage, and other smaller concerns. But the whole package despite those shortcomings is tightly integrated and holds mass appeal.

My take on this is, … pretty … cool … not the phone for me. Oh and the battery life sucks on this thing. I have the new 2nd Generation 16GB iPod Touch which sports a faster processor than the iPhone 3G but has better battery life. Unfortunately for the iPhone, it’s battery life is significantly worse than the Touch.

*drum roll*

Nokia E71: Just got this last week and boy is it a beauty. The design is compact yet has a bright generous screen. The audio is loud and crisp. GPS. Multitasking. Stainless-steel back. Giant 1500mA battery. This is a significant improvement from the older Nokia E61, which more than held it’s own back when it originally debuted in 2006. I’ll be posting more about this next week. ;)

(L to R above) Apple iPod Touch 2nd Gen . Nokia E71 . Nokia E61

Also, NewEgg‘s having a super sale for the E71 at a super low price of $299 with a free Motorola Bluetooth headset and topped with FREE SHIPPING!
Here’s the coupon: EMCABCHBJ





Anyone Else Having Problems Installing Windows 7 on a Virtual Machine?

17 01 2009

I was able to get Microsoft’s upcoming baby, the beta for Windows 7 (build 7000) installed and running smoothly on a 3GHz P4 Dell Inspiron notebook running on 1GB RAM with no problems. Well I guess the only issue I faced was that it won’t let me create another partition so I could get Ubuntu 8.10 installed on a EXT3 disk format. But that aside, worked great.

Then I took the task of porting Windows 7 on my Apple Macbook via virtual machine meaning it would run within Mac OS X. Found a free tool Virtual Box (instead of the $80 Parallels or similarly priced industry leading VM Ware) to create a fake partition on my drive and emulate a system akin to a new hard drive so that Windows could be installed and executed on it.

The installation process was fairly quick and painless. Oh and I had it set it to Windows Server 2008 as there obviously didn’t have Windows 7 on the list and since Server 2008 was the latest one, it was my choice. By default, most new installs of operating systems default to a 4:3 screen ratio depending on your video/graphics card. Mine was on 1024×768 but when I went to switch it to 1280×800, that option wasn’t made available. Infact, there was nothing else other than the tiny 1024×768. My video card was listed as a generic VGA card and the mouse movements weren’t smooth.

I then tried to get onto the internet but my wireless card wasn’t recognized which was fine by me because I have an Ethernet cable (CAT5) to link up to my router and the VBox software was telling me that my LAN (local area network – cable) card was recognized. Too bad. It’s not working now for some reason on VBox. That meant I also couldn’t download and install the “Guest Additions” for Windows 7.

So now I’m stuck with 2 options:

1. Try and find a way to download the “Guest Additions” manually from the Mac OS X interface and then conjure up magic to install it.

2. Remove Windows 7 and reinstall it under the guise of Windows Vista since 7 is essentially built up on the much loathed Vista platform.

You could say I didn’t get the best first hand experience of a virtual machine on the Mac OS X platform but that’s just part of life.

 

When I load up Windows 7 beta on VirtualBox by default, it is set to “Windowed” mode (below).

 

I can scroll up or down but it gets annoying (below).

 

Or I could go into “Full Screen” mode but that’s annoying too with the black bars surrounding the main Windows 7 gui (pronounced: gooey … stands for “graphical user interface”) interface.

… any suggestions?





Free Music from Cloud Cult

12 01 2009

Well whadya know. If you haven’t already heard, the folksy/blue-grass/Irish song playing in the latest Esurance animated ads is actually by a band named Sugar Cloud Cult, based right here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their Wiki entry shows them as an “experimental indie rock band” but sounds more folk to me. If you’re into that stuff, feel free to go to Esurance’s music download page. This page appears to be seasonal so don’t expect the tunes to hang around forever.

Tracks available for FREE download from the above listed page:

  1. Lucky Today
  2. Journey of the Featherless
  3. Everybody Here is a Cloud

The animation is pretty whacky and weird but here you go:





Clueless Microsoft and Windows 7

9 01 2009

Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 … everybody’s been talking about Windows 7 ever since Vista was unveiled and now that we have a pure unadulterated fully functioning officially stamped version out, it’s NOT even available.

They say “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings!” and sing she did. Well this would be in reference to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer making a big ballyhoo about the official beta release of Microsoft over at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Vegas.

Most of the reviews on MSW7 are indeed positive but how can the masses get a taste of it if the frigging server‘s down?

“Thanks for your interest in the Windows 7 Beta. The volume has been phenomenal — we’re in the process of adding more servers to handle the demand. We’re sorry for the delay and we’ll re-post the Beta as soon as we can ensure a quality download experience.”

The sensible thing for them to do is to host Windows 7 Beta (Build 7000) as a torrent lessening the impact on their servers. Eventually, Microsoft could just limit the bandwidth on their servers making the other users handle the majority of the load. Now we’re stuck guessing which one of the available torrents are the official build and not one of those malware infested ISO files. Maybe I should stop complaining because this was made free to the public but what’s a free product if the execution isn’t done right.

EDIT 2009-01-12: The servers aren’t shut down anymore and Win7 looks meh. Better than Vista … for now.





Pro-Tibet Facebook Group Hacked!!!

8 01 2009

A NY/DC based Pro-Tibet organization, “Students for a Free Tibet” had their Facebook group hacked as of last summer. I was originally informed of this by colleagues from NY back in August but the details were vague. Supposedly, it used to be an open group meaning anyone could join but now you have to get pre-approved. Got some screenshots of the group pages from a few of my contacts to give you an idea of what’s happening there.

Talk about a complete roundabout. Funny that just like Tibet, this group has been blocked from outsiders and set under “martial law” or whatever that means. At least they’re not shooting the members who leave the group … or I hope so.

I also found an interesting pattern against Tibet advocates. An article from March 2008 stated that there many email addresses belonging to those supportive of the Tibetan cause had been targeted numerous times with keyloggers (software designed to record keyboard strokes and transmit to the hacker) and trojans from fake email addresses and through deceiving pro-Tibet textual content.

Another article traced the emails and came with unsurprising results (hint: IP source was pinpointed to Beijing). The article also states that similar treatment has been dished out to Uygurs and Falun Gong members. Gee. I wonder what kind of person would do such a thing.

Along with the malware trojan distribution to Tibet sympathizers, even websites are being defaced. An expert chimed in – “The resurging trend of individual cyber-attacks, or at least based on the accusations from Western governments, is largely carried out by a new group or new generation of youngsters, who view the CPC government as too weak and too soft toward foreign pressure or insults, and take justice in their own hands.

On a different note, a pro-Israel group decided to take matters into their own hands after Facebook failed to take action against a hate group listed on the popular social networking site. “Israel is not a country! Delist it from Facebook as a country” remained on Facebook despite thousands of complaints from all around the world. The Jewish Internet Defense Force had no choice but to hack the group and take it down.

Unlike the JIDF case, the “Students for a Free Tibet” peace group was hacked by people supporting oppression and violence. There are rumors that one of the members is a white supremacist and found an ally in China’s tyranny against the peaceful Tibetans.

The names of the hackers of the “Students for a Free Tibet” Facebook group shown on the image to the left. Motives unknown. Religious fanatics? Muslims? Christians? Right-wing neo-Nazis? Al-Qaida? Chinese spies?

I’ve received notes that at least one person in the admin group is a non-entity user essentially a fake user controlled by someone else. His profile has since been set to “private.”

Regardless of whoever they be, here’s to hoping these clowns come to their senses and stop supporting a Communist/Totalitarian regime. Otherwise, they should just pack up their bags and move to friendly Beijing.

A message to Facebook administrators and users:

When they came for the gypsies, I did not speak, for I am not a gypsy.

When they came for the Jews, I did not speak, because I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for the Catholics, I did not speak, for I am not a Catholic.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak.








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