Thursday, June 23, 2005

Radio is so Primitive

Radio is so primitive. You can't skip songs, you can't get to listen to a single track repeatedly, you can't jump to random tracks, you can't listen to only artists that have songs about Superman. Listening to random music some random guy thinks you will like, with no guarantee of whether he actually knows your taste or not. Granted, you can increase that likelihood by listening to the right station, but unless we had one station for every person, it's impossible for the radio station to fully satisfy your tastes.

Radio is great for two things: news and background filler. And even both these functions can be better fulfilled by other stuff. Why would you bring a radio to work if you had mp3s available? Even if you wanted to pick up new music, the only ones you'll hear on the radio are the popular ones which you'll likely hear from other people anyway. Radio is even more useless in the face of the internet, since even the news function is overshadowed. And there are a lot more online radio stations to choose from than "physical" radio stations.

Someday, people from the future will laugh at our primitive ways of turning on a machine and hoping it plays what we want and hoping the ads and the silly DJ don't spoil it too much.

TV is slightly better, since TV programming is supposedly scheduled. But TV's predictability makes it unsuitable for the function of background filler. TV remotes should come with a "random station" button. Or you could set a timer that causes the TV to jump to a random station every 30 minutes, or even every minute if you're insane.

My brother Brian gets credit for the "random station button" idea. Everything should have the ability to be random.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Movies: Batman Begins

Awesome. Definitely better than the all the other Batman movies. This movie is no kids' movie either. The movie is less about Batman's crimefighting adventures and more about Bruce Wayne's journey from being a angry, confused rich orphan to the billionaire playboy/costumed vigilante popularized by the earlier films.

The movie captures the essence of Batman's character perfectly. It's all about fear -- Bruce overcoming his fear of bats and eventually turning that fear into a symbol to strike terror into the hearts of criminals. The Batman here is nowhere near Joel Schumacher's colorful crusader, or Adam West's *Biff*Pow*Sock* type of action. This Batman is a true dark knight, striking from the shadows, unseen, terrifying. I can just imagine the rumors rippling through the underworld during the movie: the Batman is a terrifying monster; he can fly; he can command bats; he is darkness incarnate.

The two villains that appear in the movie - Ra's Al Ghul and Scarecrow - complement the general fear and deception theme of the movie. Jim Gordon's character is great, although it's a bit weird for me to see Gary Oldman in the role. As for Katie Holmes, well, her character didn't seem to have an important enough role from my point of view. Michael Kaine is a worthy Alfred Pennyworth, and this Alfred seems a bit more smartass than those that appeared in the earlier movies.

All in all, worth the watch. The tantalizing hint at the end of the movie suggests a sequel, but the question is, who will play the Joker?

Also, we watched in the new cinemas at SM North. Nice, everything seems a lot roomier and the seats were comfy. I didn't get to see what the comfort rooms were like as the movie had me glued to my seat.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Some comments on the Yahoo webapps.

  • The next/previous links on top of Yahoo mail messages are confusing. I'm not sure if they take me up or down the mail-list. Gmail is better, since it explicitly says "older" and "newer"; With Yahoo, I'm always wrong when I guess. After some experimenting, I figure it out. "Next" and "Previous" are based on the sort order in the list of messages. Since the default is sorted by date descending (newest first), "Next" corresponds to Yahoo's "older" by default. Which is kind of hard to figure intuitively.

  • In the grid that lists mail messages, I wanted to test if the columns would wrap any words that were too long. Multiple observations here:

    • As part of this experiment, I wanted to create an email address with a very long name. Apparently, the Yahoo ID "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz012345" was already taken. I settled on "". You can send the account mail if you like.

    • There's a UI bug in the password verification screen if the Yahoo ID is too long. The gray box on the left has its right border broken.

    • Bummer. I didn't realize the value in the sender column was the name in the Yahoo profile instead of the actual email address. I update the account name to
      "AllTheThingsSheKeepsInsideAreTheThingsThatReallyMatterTheFacePutsOnItsBestDisguiseAndAllIsWellUntilT heHeartBetraysLordBringOutTheLightWrapItAllAroundMeLetItHoldMeTightSoakUpAllThatIBleedLordBringOutTh eLightWrapItAllAroundMeLetItHoldMeTightSoakUpAllThatIBleedIBleedWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWX",
      which breaks even more layouts, including this one (mental note: fix that tomorrow).

    • Doh! I actually had to change the Outgoing name, which was set to the original account name. Why doesn't it update the mail setting when I change the (global) Yahoo account setting? Updated it to "AllTheThingsSheKeepsInsideAreT"

    • I sent some mail messages with the long name and a long subject line. As I suspected...Yahoo compensates for the unwrappable words by expanding the grid cell, breaking the layout. This was a problem I encountered before in the webapps at workand I still don't have a solution that would work in all browsers.

  • I'm also interested in how popular webapps handle timestamping, so I try this out as well. For the uninformed, timestamping means handling the case where two people both try to edit the same record at roughly the same time. If there's no handling, the person who updates first usually has his changes lost, without any notification.

    • I try it out first with Yahoo Address Book and Notepad. Both experiments fail...there's no timestamping. I tested it by opening a record (Address Book entry/Notepad note) for updating in two separate Firefox tabs. I update one tab and save, then update the second tab and save. Changes made in the first tab are lost.

    • Well, I guess that's okay, since technically, only one person at a time is expected to access these webapps. So I do something else. I create a Yahoo Group. I get two moderators, me and a dummy email account. I login with both accounts, using Firefox for one and IE for the other. I try to update the group description with one account, then the other. Bam! First guy's changes are lost, without notification! If this were some sort of mission-critical webapp, that would be a dangerous bug.

I'm sleepy. More later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Music Quiz

I'm bored.

What do the following have in common?

- Three Doors Down
- Five For Fighting
- Spin Doctors
- Rey Valera

Easy enough.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Sort of Conversations I Have At Work

[18:06]<friend> anong ibig sabihin ng <okularnik>?
[18:06]<friend> alam mo?
[18:12]<friend> sabi lang ng shoti mo
[18:12]<Roy> naku
[18:13]<Roy> lagot ka
[18:13]<friend> bakit?
[18:13]<Roy> salitang bicol yun
[18:13]<Roy> ibig sabihin habambuhay na kayong magka-away
[18:13]<friend> anong ibig sabihin nun?
[18:13]<Roy> iwasan mo na lang na sabayan sya sa hallway
[18:13]<Roy> delikado

Bitty Browser

Bitty Browser

Holy crap, that's cool.

...but this one doesn't seem to work on Firefox though, all I get are Google ads? Am I doing something wrong?

Let's try the launch link:

Hey both work now! :D

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Politics - Alleged Destabliziation Tape

Download recordings of alleged destabilization tape -

Transcript at PCIJ blog

I don't do much politics, but for those out of the loop, the government has recently released some tapes of conversations allegedly edited to make it look like the President has been participating in electoral fraud.

I'm actually more interested in the tech part of this - these are supposedly mobile phone taps, so I guess they should have come from the mobile service provider?

I remember reading in a Hardy Boys volume way back when I was a kid, how each person's voice signature was unique, such that we would have machines that could verify if a certain person did indeed say a given speech recording. Is this still true today, with the advent of digital audio editing? Would people who edit conversations be able to create fake voices that accurately mimic the voiceprint of other people?

Should there be a way to check if the recordings really have been altered? I don't know if the mobile service providers routinely keep logs of phone calls...but if they do, it should be easy enough to check the recordings against any originals logged by the phone company. Although I guess it would be optimistic to assume that even if they did keep recordings, they would be able keep all their tapes since June of last year. That would consume an awful lot of space.

I guess that means this is really a wiretap. Of course, it's hard to imagine how the term applies since mobile phones don't have wires. I'm not really aware how one "taps" wireless technology. Does it involve some sort of interception of the communications? I would think such communications would be encrypted such that only the authorized recipients would be able to recieve and decrypt them. But maybe that's too much to expect...