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Thursday, November 23, 2000
Unbreakable (***): Once upon a time, I watched a movie called Batman & Robin. For some reason, I actually volunteered money for the priveledge of viewing that garbage. One of the villains in that movie is Dr. Freeze. How did Dr. Freeze become and evil fiend? This simple but demanding question is dealt with for 10-20 of the lamest seconds in cinematic history. Then its off to the explosions and the special effects. Unbreakable is a 2 hour movie about what most films spend 10-20 seconds on. It is a film of self discovery and origins. And I am pleased to say, it is an excellent film. I don't believe I would call it brilliant or groundbreaking, but it is good nonetheless.

In case you are confused, this movie is probably not what you think. Believe it or not, the movie is about Bruce Willis' character's discovery that he is a superhero. You heard me. While this may seem silly, the good news is that this film takes its premise seriously and it does so appropriately. Though I am not an expert in the field of comic books, I believe this film to be a grand example of what is good about a comic book. It's more subtle and sophisticated than you might expect.

Shyamalan has a strange modus operandi. He sets his story within a special world; a world with a lot of potential (in this case, a world where someone is "unbreakable"). But this potential is merely touched upon or used as a catalyst of events. Looking back, this was a slow moving film (and so was the Sixth Sense); there isn't much in the way of action or special effects or cgi. Its more about characterization than anything else, and that is this movie's strength. Shyamalan's direction is also strange, with lots of visual cues and implications (things upside down, obscured shots, color cues, etc...) All the parts are played well by their respective actor's, though no performance really stood out in my mind.

The ending of the film is a bit abrupt. There is a revelation of sorts, though it is not as spectacular as the ending of the Sixth Sense, and yet the ending of both films is the most important part. It puts the rest of the film into perspective, and it redeems the ignored potential of the story. In the case of Unbreakable, the ending probably won't be much of a suprise to those familiar with comic books, but it doesn't really matter because it is still effective... Three Stars (***)
posted by tallman 1:37:42 AM

Wednesday, November 22, 2000
If all goes well, I will be viewing the film Unbreakable tonight. This is M. Night Shyamalan's film first effort since the wildly successful The Sixth Sense. While I enjoyed The Sixth Sense, I wasn't overly impressed. It was good, but it had some flaws, and thats the kind of film I expect to see tonight. Judging from the early mixed reviews, I think I'm going to be right. We shall see. Check back later for a mini-review.

A user on the Coming Attractions Discussion Forums made this funny observation: "wouldnt it suck if in the end of unbreakable bruce willis really did die in the train wreck" - eman182. Lol...
posted by tallman 2:47:27 PM

Job Security
Want to know how to make yourself an irreplaceable programmer? Go here and find out how to make your code unmaintainable by anyone but yourself. No wonder most software sucks.
posted by tallman 10:50:54 AM

Tuesday, November 21, 2000
Perspectives Falling Apart
Those of you who think my short review of Things Falling Apart sucks will be glad to know that I agree and that I am linking to a funnier review of the cd. So there. For those of you NIN fans who are not familiar with The Meathead Perspective, I do suggest you check it out. Its a riot.

An exerpt from Meatheads review of The Great Collapse: "This track is a bit repetitive, and fairly simplistic, and a bit repetitive, but after listening to it a few times, it grew on me, kinda like a mild case of hives. "
posted by tallman 11:28:22 PM

Famous Fonts
This site has some awesome fonts from Movies, Music, Television, etc... Oh, I'm gonna have fun with this... [from grenville via Kaedrin Forum]
posted by tallman 12:55:31 PM

Things Falling Apart
The new Nine Inch Nails EP Things Falling Apart was officially released today. I got my hands on a copy a few days ago, and its pretty cool, as remix albums go (despite the fact that there are 3 remixes of my least favourite Fragile song, Starf*ckers, Inc). As usual, the remixes are not as dense or robust as the originals, but there's a few decent mixes on this CD. Slipping Away, a remix of Into the Void, is probably my favourite of the new mixes. Also included is the remake of Metal and a remix of 10 Miles High (a Fragile B-side). Cool schtuff.
posted by tallman 12:19:16 PM

Monday, November 20, 2000
Netscape Six
I don't know exactly when, but Netscape has recently released the much anticipated Netscape 6.0. I went to Netscape Dowload, and it said I was using IE 5.0 and that I could "Upgrade to Netscape 6" (or Netscape 4.whatever). IMHO, releasing it was a big mistake because there are a ton of bugs and usability issues. I downloaded it this morning, played with it for 10 minutes and found the following problems:
  • The complete download was approx. 24.9 MB. That is huge!
  • Right clicking in many important places does not do anything.
  • I had a ton of trouble trying to set up a proxy server (in all fairness, it was a microsoft server and I can't get it to work on older versions of Netscape either.)
  • In fiddling with the Proxy settings, I was manually entering sites to bypass the proxy server and everytime I pressed the right arrow key to move the curser, the radio buttons also switched around. That was very disconcerting, but you'd probably have to see it in action to see what I'm talking about...
  • I didn't seem to get any errors if I typed in an incorrect URL. It simply stayed on the same screen. That's even more annoying than the generic "404 File not found" message..
Since I couldn't get the proxy working, I couldn't really test all the new features, many of which seem really cool. I'm particularly interested in seeing how well Netscape's mail client handles AOL email addresses and IMs, but then, my 10 minute trial on the browser doesn't give me much hope. Now don't get me wrong, I was looking forward to this release, but I think they rushed to put out an incomplete product, and it is a little frustrating. There are a lot of things that are really great about Netscape 6, but I think I'm gonna wait until they stabilize it a little more and work out the bugs before I really start using it...
posted by tallman 10:13:55 PM

Sunday, November 19, 2000
Just in time for the Holidays
Although their utility is unclear, just imagine what that guy who figured out the healing potential of testicles could do with this. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
posted by tallman 10:26:27 PM

Friday, November 17, 2000
None of them knew they were robots
Ok, we've already established that scientists are clever. We get it. Now, lets ponder how on earth they figure some of these things out. Scientist have recently discovered that they could help stroke victims recover more quickly by implanting testicle cells into patients' brains. What?! I want to know what possessed scientists to induce strokes in rats, then put testicle cells in their brain.

In mathematics news, there are signs that the Riemann hypothesis (probably the most famous problem in mathematics) is close to being proven. The Riemann hypothesis has to do with Prime Numbers and their distribution (it is speculated that their distribution is chaotic). Apparently, those clever scientists I keep marvelling at have found a link between the Riemann hypothesis and the physical world. If this connection proves to be true, it would be a huge boost (there are tons of proofs in mathematics that start: Assuming the Riemann hypothesis is true...) to our understanding of the universe...
posted by tallman 2:06:26 PM

Friday, November 03, 2000
Random title
Some random links for your enjoyment:
posted by tallman 1:28:19 PM

Ahoy Hoy!
Ask Jesus is a pretty funny page which gives an option to "jesusify" your page (similar to, but not as good as, Rinkwork's classic "Dialectizer", ). My favorite language is still "Jive". Thanks to DyRE for 'da link (posted via the Kaedrin Forum)
posted by tallman 10:54:51 AM

Wednesday, November 01, 2000
Go check out some super spiffy wallpaper backgrounds at EndEffect. Link via the also spiffy memepool, my current favourite site. The Giger pics on Kaedrin's Image page also make cool backgrounds...
posted by tallman 12:28:52 PM

Tuesday, October 31, 2000
Some interesting happenings in the world of Exorcism. In a recent study that highlights the bendability of memory and perception, psychologists were able to convince normally skeptical people that they had experienced a possession at some point in their life. As if marking the occasion, the 1973 classic film, The Exorcist was recently re-released, and pyschologists expect a rash of new possessions. Also, it seems the old rite of exorcism is gaining new respect. I read the book by William Peter Blatty a while back, and was suprised at just how detailed the psychological aspect of the story was. By the end of the book, I still was unsure of whether or not the possession was caused by psychological influences or some supernatural power. In fact, the rite of exorcism was shown to be a very scientific method and I was duly impressed with the novel's objective study. However, the book does not quite capture the pea-soup-projectile-vomit themes too well :-)
posted by tallman 6:08:16 PM

Monday, October 30, 2000
The Unspeakable Horrors of Flash
Usability "expert" Jacob Nielsen recently published Flash: 99% Bad, an arcticle that reminds me of Dack's Flash Is Evil article published over a year ago. Dack has also done an informal Usability Test pitting HTML vs Flash. Go and read about the unspeakable horrors of Flash. Then read Kottke's response to the Flash Usability Challenge in which he makes several good points about Flash and its good uses.

In my opinion, there are two types of sites that can work with Flash:
Personal sites - Visitors to a personal site are not as goal oriented as they normally would be (at, say, an e-tailer for example). Flash won't necissarily make a personal site better, I just think its more acceptable on a personal page where I'm not looking to perform any specific tasks. Flash software isn't very cheap either, making it less viable to a personal site developer.
Graphic Design sites - Graphic Designers all but need Flash so that they can show... well, their designs. Flash offers a good compression for the kind of graphics and animation that a Graphic Design site would entail. Again, Flash makes their site less usable, but it is acceptable since it is showcasing what they are selling (graphic design).
posted by tallman 1:20:50 PM

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