Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Conference Play

I finished this whole thing earlier but LifeCast decided to a) not post it and b) forget the latter 70%. So I'm rewriting this and it's probably going to be much crappier than the first time.

Well, it's been a terrible year for UCLA football, and a much less terrible year so far for basketball. Actually it's been a pretty darn good year for basketball.

One thing that has become glaringly apparent is that the 08-09 Bruins are very different than the teams of the last three years that played in the Final Four. The team is 10-2, and after seeing twelve non-conference games we have a pretty good feel for what type of team this is.

The Bruins are notably Kevin Love-less this year, but the losses of Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to the NBA have noticeably diminished the team's defensive prowess. We do seem to be more of a running team though, especially with the addition of Jrue Holiday, Malcolm Lee, and Jerime Anderson and the return of Darren and Josh.

With the Pac-10 conference season quickly approaching, here's a quick run-down of the players and their performances so far:

-Darren Collison: It's a good thing Darren returned to UCLA for his senior season. Not only is it better for Darren, but it's better for the team. He's been shooting well and for the most part, leading the team very well. His court vision has improved a bit, as well as his body control. He's become a very solid floor leader, and the perfect guy to teach the newbies how things work around here.

-Josh Shipp: He puts up valuable scoring numbers with his aggressiveness, but after four years in Howland's system, I really would expect his defense to be better. Plus he's a lazy dog.

-Alfred Aboya: Unlike Josh, Alfred has really really really improved over his four years at UCLA. In fact, he's improved a ton in just this past offseason. His free throw has gained a better arc and is up from 52% last year to 66% this year. Most importantly, he's maintained his unparalleled toughness on defense while greatly reducing the fouls, which has been a major problem his whole career.

-James Keefe: He may provide a few intangibles on defense, but for a starter, he sure doesn't contribute much. I remember his stellar games in the past two NCAA tournaments, but so far this year, when he's had the most opportunities to shine, he hasn't shown anything close to that. I look for him to start playing well any time now, but even if he doesn't I'm not sure who would replace him in the lineup.

-Mike Roll: He's been on a roll for the past few games. Mike plays solid defense, is a good passer, and his shot has improved. And that's good, because he's mainly there to play defense, play smart, and shoot the ball. He needs to get more playing time, because his contributions will be needed greatly down the stretch of conference play.

-Nikola Dragovic: "Drago" as some call him, has been surprisingly decent in the post and on defense. He's still not the best defender and his shot could use more consistency, but hey, I'll take what he gives the team if it's positive.

-Jrue Holiday: The lone starter of the freshman class, Jrue is a definite talent bonus. He has a good eye for the passing lanes and great body control. He has the uncanny ability to drive through the lane and evade defenders when necessary. Jrue is very active on defense, but sometimes overly so, and sometimes he forces things with his passing. These are things that can easily be improved with experience, and experience he will receive. He doesn't seem the one-and-out player that he was originally projected to be, but selfishly that's a great thing.

-Malcolm Lee: My brother described Malcolm Lee best when he said "Mal Lee has two speeds: all stop and full speed ahead." Early on, his tendency to overdo things cost the team a few turnovers, but he has since learned to temper that a bit. Nevertheless, he brings great energy and aggressiveness to the court and is not afraid to attack the opponent. He will be making great contributions to the team in the near future, but for now he has an undetermined knee injury.

-Jerime Anderson (pronounced "Jeremy"): I feel comfortable leaving the reins in his hands in the absence of Collison. Jerime is not flashy, but for a freshman he's shown pretty good poise and control. He can shoot the ball pretty well and will turn on the afterburners if necessary.

-Drew Gordon: He's shown flashes of brilliance, but honestly, from what I'd seen of his high school playing, I thought he'd be further along at this point. Still, he has the potential to be a big, powerful Dan Gadzuric type. Well, at least, he got rejected by the rim like Gadzuric did.

-J'mison "Bobo" Morgan: He's definitely a project. He needs to work on his stamina and his fundamentals. And he needs to get better at moving.

Happy new year, everyone, and be sure to check out the next game: UCLA at Oregon State, Friday, 1/2 at 7:30 p.m.

iPhone app sales and new games

I've been totally remiss in posting anything at all, partially because I've been out of town. So I thought I'd put up this quick one. If you like the recommendations, please leave a comment.

Since the inception of the iPhone/iPod Touch app store in July, developers have been running limited time sales on their apps to bring in more customers. Sites like are great to follow if you want to know if the app you've been considering has come down in price, or just to see what's out there, available for cheap or even for free. The App Store provides a really really convenient way to get apps on your iPhone or iPod, but the sheer number of cool apps can help you to empty your bank account really really fast. That's why I check sites like appshopper as well as The Unofficial Apple Weblog at ( for a special iPhone-formatted site) and, which focuses more on games.

Speaking of Touch Arcade, today they posted a link to, which is a collaboration between several app developers to celebrate the new year by discounting their apps. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch I encourage you to check them out. Five of the apps offered are free, including DuckDuckDuck, a casual tilt-game where you maneuver rubber duckies onto miniature whirlpools in a pond. I definitely recommend that one, especially because the price is right.

Finally, there's a new game that's been announced called "Rebel Onslaught," which will be a 3-D space shooter which seems to be in the vein of the Starfox or Star Wars: Rogue Squadron games. Screenshots are available here. Definitely looking forward to this one!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

iPhone growth and iHeartRadio

When was the last time you heard a radio commercial for a Blackberry or Palm or Windows Mobile app? That's right, never. But in the five months since the opening of the iPhone App Store, there have been over 10,000 apps released and 300,000,000+ downloads as of December 1. And now, there are radio ads for iPhone apps. That's right, I was listening to AM570, my local UCLA and Lakers sports station, and during the commercial break they aired a 30-second spot for the iHeartRadio app.

iHeartRadio is a free iPhone/iPod Touch app that connects you to many, many stations that are part of the ClearChannel networks. Most radio stations these days have an internet streaming version of their broadcast which you can usually access through their website. But now, this app allows iPhone users to access those streams from wherever they get an internet connection, combined with the convenience of being able to change stations at will. No having to go to the station's website and click through the countless junk pages just to get to the Listen Live link.

Perhaps it is a no-brainer that a ClearChannel affiliate station would put out an ad for an app that plays ClearChannel stations, but I say kudos to them for recognizing the opportunity to target the millions of iPhone customers that also listen to the radio.

I'd consider this app in my top ten if it weren't for the fact that I can't ever find wi-fi around town to connect to this.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top 10

Well, look what we have here. It's the end of 2008! Where has all the time gone? What have you done? Blah blah blah. Well, I hope all two people who even read these things have had a megafantasticool year. That's right, megafantasticool. Look it up.

I was reading the latest issue of TIME Magazine, which is their apparently annual Top 10 Lists issue. It has lists of all kinds of crazy things pertaining to 2008, from discoveries to breakups to olympic moments to bank slogans. There's even a Top Ten Fashion Faux Pas list that I really, really, really couldn't care less about.

But I thought I'd comment about some of the things chosen for these lists.

From "Top 10 Discoveries"
1) Snow on Mars - I love space but honestly I don't remember reading or hearing about this one.
3) Fetus in a man - That's just wrong. Don't eat unborn babies, people.
6) iPhone "Kill switch" - This was the thing where Apple said they could remotely disable an app that it deemed unworthy of living. Interesting news at the time, but so far nothing has come of it. Not a top 10 discovery for sure.
7) Seven human feet washed up on Pacific Northwest coast - This is what happens when you protest the Supersonics leaving Seattle.

From "Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs"
5) New Genes Unlock Alzheimer's - I hadn't heard of this, but we've apparently kinda sorta figured out why Alzheimer's causes brain cells to die. Very encouraging.
All the rest) I have no idea what kinds of implications they have. Can someone please explain them to me?

From "Top 10 Quotes"
1) "It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America." - I don't think the impact of these words by President-elect Obama have really hit me yet.
3) "Think of us like a coast guard." - Yeah, Somali pirates who hijack other people's ships should be thought of as a crew of respectable officers keeping the peace in international waters. Nice.
8) "I thought I'd host an end-of-the-world party, but the media might take it seriously." - Stephen Hawking apparently said this regarding the enabling of the Large Hadron Collider. You know, I missed this at the time, but I'm just so amazed that the guy is still kicking and has a good sense of humor.

From "Top 10 Movies"
I haven't seen ANY of these movies they listed!!! How lame am I?

From "10 Coolest iPhone Apps"
3) AP Mobile News Network - Last I tried it, it took forever to "refresh" news and even then the stories were days old. Deleted it the next day.
4) Ocarina - Are you serious!??!?!
6) Adrenaline Pool Lite - You can actually play a very fun pool game online in real time w/ others. Not on my top 10 though.
7) Instapaper - Allows you to download and view web pages offline. Haven't tried it but I heard it's good. Definitely handy for a not-always-online iPod Touch.
10) Fake calls - Really, how often do you need to pretend you're getting a call? Terrible list, TIME.

From "Top 10 Green Stories"
7) Polar Bear Listed - the polar bear is now listed as "threatened" on the Endangered Species list due to global warming. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! ManBearPig!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
10) Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year: Hypermilling: driving to get extreme mileage out of your gas - I've NEVER heard of this term. Have you?

From "Top 10 songs"
I have not heard any of the songs on this list, with the exception of Beyoncé's "Ladies (Put a Ring on it)" at #7. Am I totally out of touch?

From "Top 10 Gadgets"
1) Optoma Pico PK101 - A $400 pocket-sized projector that connects to your iPhone/iPod and projects pictures/movies on a wall up to 8 feet away? Frakking cool!
3) Apple iPhone 3G - Yeah, iPod Touch's big bro.
6) Sennheiser MX W1 Wireless Headphones - Wireless earbuds. I've been asking for these for years, and now they finally have 'em! And they can be had for.. only... $499...
8) Amazon Kindle - Amazon's eBook reader is pretty good, I hear, but sadly I don't read books these days.

From "Top 10 Animal Stories"
2) New First Pup - An online poll suggested the Obama kids get a poodle. F*ck no!! Not a DAMN POODLE! WHO WANTS A FRAKKING POODLE?!!? AAAAAHHHHHH! If I'm forced to see news stories about the presidential poodle... ARRRGHH!
4) Navy Trumps Whales - "studies have shown that some sonar pulses may damage whales' and dolphins' hearing.." as well as their "ability to mate, find food, and navigate." ...thus begins the story of Ecco the Dolphin.
7) World's Longest Insect - Phobaeticus chani is 22 inches long with its legs fully extended. That's two inches longer than the diagonal of the computer screen I'm looking at right now.

"Top 10 Food Trends"
Take a look for yourself. I've never heard of any of them. Have you?

Well, there we have it. If you want to read the complete lists, go to

Next, if I can work up the time and creativity, I'll make some top 10 lists of my own, starting with the easiest: top iPod Touch apps.

Thanks 3 - Work

I've been sick the past couple days, so I've had a little bit of spare time for reflection. I sometimes feel like it's a pain to have to get up early to go to work and go to sleep early so I can wake up the next morning. After about four months of this "employment" thing, I'm still trying to adjust to the system. I have a much greater awareness of time, and how little of it that I have, but I'm still working on how to manage it. Despite having an 8-6 schedule everyday, it feels like life is more open-ended than ever before. In school, things were very tightly scheduled and I always knew what needed to be done and when. Work has definite goals in place as well, but the difference is that in school my life basically revolved around these deadlines. Studying, homework, and projects filled the copious amounts of free time in between classes, meals, and sleep. While I have much less free time with the job, the free time I do get is generally mine to use as a I please. And I'm still trying to figure out how best to productively use that time and do what I want to get done.

It may not be readily obvious why I am giving thanks to this. Well, first, the job has given me an entirely new perspective on just about everything. Whereas before I had my experiences with family, friends, and school to color my views, I now have a fourth vantage point from which to look at life. I think there's a greater sense of freedom, but also a greater sense of responsibility. Do you get this sense too? Am I just late to the party?

The other reason I'm grateful is that I have a job at all, especially with the mass layoffs going on everywhere. I don't want to jinx anything, but having a steady stream of income not from my parents is great to have as I explore this new episode in my life. And I'm not even a big spender.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The coolest thing

What's the coolest thing you've ever received from someone else in the mail? Tell your story in the comments!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanks 2 - Howland

Today I want to give thanks to Ben Howland, Jordan Farmar, and Arron Afflalo for restoring the glory of UCLA basketball. To many of my friends, UCLA is just a school, and you happen to somewhat root for the sports just because you go there. But I've grown up in a UCLA family, and UCLA basketball has always been more than just something that comes around during the fall and winter. It's in my blood, as they say. Weekends in which the team does well are usually good weekends, and losses can really spoil the mood. If you know me well enough, you'll know that this is part of what makes me tick. The late '90s and early '00s were not kind to the UCLA basketball program, thanks to the one whose name we shan't mention. But good times have been restored, due in no small part to the mastery of our coach. And I thank JFarm and AA for helping to make the turnaround possible. Go Bruins!

11/29/08 UCLA 89, Florida International University 54

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanks 1 - Family

I just got back from Thanksgiving dinner with the relatives. Yeah, I know it's Friday. What're you gonna do about it? Anyway, I'd like to give thanks to my family. Thanks to my parents who have always been supportive of what I do in just about every way. Thanks to my brother who has always cared and been a positive role model, even when using tough love. Thanks to my uncles and aunts and grandparents, who have always been very generous and loving to me, despite their squabbles and silliness. A lot of what I am is because of my family, and it's for the better.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving to all one of you who reads this. Ironically, Thanksgiving has never been a time where I sit and reflect and give thanks for what I have, since it's usually really busy and hectic with the relatives over here or us going to a relative's house. This year, we're doing dinner on Friday instead. Still, though, I think I'll keep doing things differently. I have so many great things in life that one brisk day in late November is not enough to encapsulate all the thanks I have to give. So each day for the foreseeable future I will give thanks to something that has helped shape my life. I will likely blog about most of them. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sizzlin' Advertisement

So I and some coworkers went to Sizzler on our lunch break a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't been to a Sizzler in over a decade, as far as I can remember. And that was back when there were two Sizzlers on the same street within two blocks of each other near my house. What??? Only Starbucks is allowed to do that!

For those three of you who don't know what Sizzler is, it's a standard American lunch and dinner type place that is most known for having a relatively affordable all-you-can-eat salad bar. Since we didn't have time for all-you-can-eat (it was our lunch break after all), I just got the grilled hibachi chicken with fries entrée and one trip to the salad bar, which was their $7.99 lunch special. Okay, so far so good. I piled my plate up with about six different kinds of salad and other appetizers.

Through most of the meal I was either talking with my coworkers or glancing at ESPNews on one of their several strategically-placed TVs. But I noticed something odd out of the corner of my eye. Near the entrance, mounted directly over the cashiers' table, was another TV just like the others.

Wait, just like the others? No, not quite. Earlier I had thought that whatever channel this TV was showing had been on commercial break. But the more I watched it, the more I realized, all it was showing was a commercial break! In other words, there was a continuous loop of a Sizzler advertisement showing inside Sizzler! It showed tender, succulent shrimp, steak, and other things hot off the grill as well as close-up footage of fresh vegetables in a juicy tossed salad. Have you ever seen this tactic before anywhere?

Come on. I'm already inside. You already have my money. I'm already eating your food. Is it really necessary to play a video showing what I'd be able to partake in, if only I considered dining at Sizzler? Hello, what do you think I'm doing right now?

I think it was false advertisement too. When my hibachi chicken came it was cold, dry, and kind of tough.

Posted with LifeCast

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't Click "Yes"

The following is not meant as a fearmongering message. It is just important to know for your own safety and internet enjoyment.

We Mac users tend to get a bit complacent when it comes to security. I say this simply as a point of humility, because I haven't been bitten by this yet. One thing that I've told all my friends who have since switched to Mac, as well as those who haven't, is that you will be less vulnerable to malware than you would on the Windows side. This is still true. It is HIGHLY unlikely that a Mac user will contract some random piece of bad program just by doing their everyday normal stuff.

But one thing that we as computer users in general on all platforms need to remember is that there is more than one way to attack one's computer. Something becoming more and more common these days is "social engineering." In essence, this is the act of tricking someone into either providing personal information or downloading and running something they didn't ask for.

The former is known as a "phishing scam." This is one of those things that I would hope by now that everyone is aware of. Sadly, they're not. If you're one of them, read carefully. You may get phone calls or emails telling you something like "there has been a problem with your account and we urgently need you to log on right now and verify your username and password." It will link to a page that looks like an authentic eBay page or your banking website. Again, I would hope that by now no one should fall for this, but the fact that people still do things like this means that it still works, and that you (hopefully not you but someone else who's reading this) could be a victim.

Just remember one thing. Reputable institutions will NEVER e-mail or call asking for your passwords or personal information, i.e. social security number. If someone asks you, he or she is a bad guy. Delete the e-mail.

The latter method of social engineering I mentioned is a fake warning that pops up on your computer screen. If you EVER get a message telling you that

a) you have virus "xyz" on your computer and you can click here to download "abc" antivirus 2009 or
b) you are missing some plugin so the browser can't play some video,

be very, very wary. If you get a), you should NEVER click on any of the links or buttons. Just close the window. It will likely say you have xx number of viruses, but it's lying. The message that pops up IS a virus, and if you comply with what it says you will be destroyed. As of now, stuff like this has no effect on a Mac because it downloads a Windows EXE file.

If you get b) it could be genuine, since browsers by default can display only very basic content, and so some things will need extra plugins like Shockwave, Flash, Quicktime, etc. On the other hand, it could also very well be a fake, and you're letting malware into your computer. By the way, there's no such thing as "ActiveX" on the Mac so if you're a Mac and you see a message saying you need to download it, please kill it.

No matter what platform (that's our term for operating system, really - Mac OSX, Windows, Linux, Unix, BeOS, Solaris, VAX/VMS, CHASM, Silly Dog OS) you're on, if you click on these malicious messages, you're giving permission for them to jump in. Don't click "yes". Just say no, and close the window.

Post #50!

This is my 50th post on this blog! Hooray for me! Anyway, the now-famously babyfaced Stephen Curry scored 44 points for his University of Davidson Wildcats. This is the college where they will wash and fold your laundry for a fee. And I thought dorm housekeeping services were nice.

Unfortunately, neither full-service laundry nor his own 44 points allowed Curry to win the game, for the final score was Oklahoma 82, Davidson 78. That's right, the score was Curry 44, Rest Of Team 34. Sigh...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quantum Of Solace

I'll be honest. I went to see 007: Quantum of Solace opening night in the US primarily to see the brand-new trailer for May 2009's "Star Trek XI" that the Internets promised us. As the last of the trailers rolled by (Will Smith's "Seven Pounds") I thought "what the hell, man?" That's right. No Trek trailer.

Sigh. Well, at least I'd be entertained for the next couple hours. Or would I? Now, since I hadn't read any reviews of QoS I didn't know what to expect besides the customary Bond action scenes. If that was all I cared about I think I would have enjoyed the movie a lot more than I did. As it was, the story was a bit hard to follow(or was I overthinking it?) and Bond's motivations seemed a bit cloudy when they should have been quite clear.

I did like the pacing of the movie, despite being unsure why certain people were doing what they were doing at times. I also liked the gratuitous use of large touch-screen computers and Bond's networked digital camera.

Overall there were some good bond moments but I wouldn't say it's as good as Casino Royale. Olga Kurylenko as the main Bond girl was pretty good but the English girl was pretty forgettable.

Watch it if you're looking for some decent escapist fare but if you want a dramatic story that chronicles a man's quest for vengeance, which is what QoS is billed as, you might be better off reading Moby Dick.

I mean, seriously, where did they misplace the Star Trek trailer?

Posted with LifeCast

Offline Test

This is a test of LifeCast's ability to save a post created offline for uploading later. Woof woof.

Posted with LifeCast

Edit: success!

Testing LifeCast

So I got this app for my iPod touch called LifeCast. Apparently it lets me post entries to my blog on the go. Well, at least it lets me do so without using my computer. I'm not really "on the go" because there's no freaking wifi anywhere except my house darnit. Anyway, just wanted to try out this app and see how well it works.

So apparently I'm not allowed to make edits via LifeCast but oh well. Maybe they'll add it into a future version. One good thing I just realized though is that even though I need to wait for a wifi signal to upload an entry, I don't necessarily need a connection to create an entry. So I can write it whenever it feel like it and then upload it later. This is provided that LifeCast even runs without a connection. I'll test that out now.

Posted with LifeCast

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Using wifi? Don't use WEP, careful with WPA!

If you use wi-fi at home for your computer or other wireless-enabled device, you probably have a router providing you with that signal. You also probably have a password to secure your router and prevent other people from getting into your access point and using your connection. You may be safe from casual bandwidth-stealers, but anyone who has a few minutes of spare time and the appropriate program installed can bypass your supposed security in mere moments. Then they can use your connection. It can be as innocuous as borrowing your wifi to check their mail, but it's likely that if they are sneaky and clever enough to get in in the first place, they probably have more malicious intentions for your network.

For those who don't want to know the details, just at least read this part. Whether you're tech-savvy or not, you need to pay attention because this affects you. Whoever is in charge of the network at your house or apartment must make the appropriate changes to your settings. Instructions for configuring your router vary between makes and models, so check your particular one and look online for instructions. Generally, though, your router can be accessed through any web browser (Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer (shudder!)) at the address or some variation. You're on your own for the login and password.

The bottom line is that you want to get to the "Wireless" settings and change your security to "WPA2-PSK" if it's available. This is the most secure, and is (as yet) not susceptible to easy cracking. You may have to reconfigure your wireless devices as well, but it's for your own good.

Why? Well, WEP, which is what people most commonly use, was, frighteningly, NOT created by security experts. Those who designed it took a great security method and implemented it incorrectly, so it's never been secure. The method it uses relies on randomness to prevent bad guys from guessing the password. But the way WEP is implemented, there are occasional repetitions, and with repetitions come patterns. And with enough patterns and enough data to go by, the bad guys can solve the "puzzle" easily. It needs to be completely random, with no repetition!

I'm not too sure why WPA isn't safe anymore, but it's apparently been cracked in the past week or so.

UCLA 2008-2009 Schedule!

Yeah, I know, the schedule's been set for a while now, but as I have been doing for the past three years, I've created a neat, easily readable printable version of it. I don't have a file hosting service at the moment, so if you want a copy of it, give me an email or IM and I'll send it. I'm also working on a printable roster, for those who want one for whatever reason.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bruin Basketball Update

Just a little update for UCLA fans. It's a bye week for football so we're allowed to look ahead a little bit to basketball. First of all, Pac-10 basketball media day was yesterday, and the press got to hear from coaches and staff of all ten teams about the state of the conference and of the outlook for the season.

The Pac-10 is facing a "rebuilding year" of sorts, if you will. That is, four out of the ten schools just hired new coaches. Of course, Oregon State suffered one of their worst seasons ever last year and Jay John was fired before the year was over. John has been replaced by some guy named Craig Robinson. Apparently Robinson's brother-in-law is none other than presidential candidate Barack Obama. Over at Cal, Bruce Boxleitner, errr, I mean Ben Braun, was let go last year after failing to live up to expectations. Mike Montgomery, legendary former coach of Stanford during the Dark Ages of Lavin, has returned to norcal to coach Stanford's rivals. As for Stanford, Montogmery could have returned there with the firing of Trent Johnson - though I don't know if he was offered - but ultimately it went to former NBA and Duke player Johnny Dawkins.

And of course, the fourth Pac-10 team to get a new coach was Arizona. If you haven't heard, that news broke just this past week, with the announcement that Lute Olson was retiring/stepping down after 25 seasons with the program. Not only is it bad for Arizona that they're losing their hall of fame coach that led them to the nation's longest steak of NCAA tournament appearances, but the timing is awful. The '08-'09 season is just a week away, if you count exhibition games, and Arizona has no better than an interim head coach, namely Russ Pennell. Worse, their top-flight commits for next year Abdul Gaddy, Mike Moser, and Solomon Hill, have all subsequently de-committed due to the uncertainty of the direction of the program. Gaddy has since committed to Washington.

Where's UCLA in all of this? Well, naturally we're above all this nonsense (this year). Coach Howland has really established something great with a national title appearance and subsequent back to back Final Fours. The coaching staff is intact and recruiting is very strong. Because of all this, the Bruins are ranked 1st in the conference media poll (which, admittedly, doesn't count for crap but it's good to see anyway). The rest of the poll is as follows:

The poll from the Pac-10 Media:

1- UCLA (37 first place votes- 379 points)
2- Arizona State (1 first place vote- 325 points)
3- USC (292 points)
4- Arizona (241 points)
5- Washington (217 points)
6- Washington State (188 points)
7- Oregon (147 points)
8- Cal (143 points)
9- Stanford (115 points)
10- Oregon State (40 points)

But how is the team REALLY looking? Well, first, here's the obvious: with the departure of Kevin Love to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lorenzo Mata to somewhere else, we once again lack size. Alfred Aboya will be expected to step up and play ~25 minutes per game, which will be split between the 4 and 5 spots. He will be required to cut down on playing out of control in order not to foul out in his first five minutes on the floor. James Keefe will likely take over at the 4 spot when Aboya's at the 5, and freshman J'Mison Morgan will back Aboya up. Speaking of Morgan, I'm hearing that while he's a solid player, he still has some ways to go before getting up to the level of toughness and strength expected from any Ben Howland player. Also on the topic of toughness, Nikola Dragovic is back again and he'll be expected to step up behind Keefe in the rotation and not be a weakling and make his damn shots like he's supposed to. And play defense. Drew "I'm 6-10" Gordon will be playing at the 5 when he goes in. When both Aboya and either Gordon or Morgan are in, Aboya will move to the 4.

Over in Guard land, Mike Roll has yet to completely heal after rupturing his plantar fascia for the 80 billionth time last year. While his contribution would be appreciated, I wouldn't really expect much from him this year. But I think that's okay, since this is a guard-heavy team. We've got Darren Collison and Josh Shipp returning as senior leaders. Collison will likely start at point guard (duh). One thing to note about Shipp, who has been kinda so-so these past couple of years, is that for the first time ever he's had the whole offseason to work out instead of rehabbing from one injury or another. This should work significantly to his - and the team's - advantage because for a Howland team, preparation (including off-season work) is key. Shipp will start at the 3 as he has been this whole time. I haven't heard much about Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee other than that Lee is suffering from a groin strain (ouch) and Anderson has just recovered from one. I don't really know what to say about that, really.

And of course, our #1 recruit, Jrue Holiday is meeting expectations and will likely start at the 2 spot.

The Bruins have been ranked 4th in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll behind #1 UNC Tar Trolls, #2 UConn Huskies, and the #3 Louisville Cardinal.

The first (exhibition) game is against California Baptist on 11/3/08 at 7:30 PM. It's not on TV but you can stream it live at (not for free). It requires Microsoft Silverlight.

Go Bruins!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Check this out, part 7

Ever try to get to a website and it's just not working? Well, I'm not sure what other people do in this situation, but the first thing I do is try to load it in a different browser. My main browser is Safari, so I try Firefox, then Camino, then Shiira. That basically eliminates the idea that it's Safari's fault.

By this time, I know that there's a problem with my router, modem, or ISP, or that the site is just down. So the next thing I do is go on AIM and ask a random friend if said site is down for him or her as well.

Well, what if all my friends are Away or just not online, as they so often are during this hour (9:30 Saturday morning)?

Enter "Down for everyone or just me?". Going to this website presents you with a simple, efficient box into which you type a website's address, press Return, and it will tell you whether the site is actually down (in which case you can stop wasting your time), or if it's "Just you," implying that there's some steps you can take to getting the site to work for you. Neat, huh?

Out of curiosity, and probably boredom as well, I typed in the site's own address into the box and pressed return. Nice touch. Heh heh.

Check it out!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Football and and Apple Store adventure

Well, it was an exciting finish to a tense, somewhat frustrating game. UCLA football improved to 3-4 on the season, making a comeback win against Stanford, 23-20. With just over 2 minutes left, down by 4, and inside their own 10-yard line, Kevin Craft and the struggling Bruin offense found a way to move the ball over 90 yards to get it in the end zone. It's great to see the team overcome this adversity to eke out another W.


I went to the Apple Store in Manhattan Beach yesterday, eager to see the new laptops announced at last week's event.

I immediately got distracted by the new nanos, which I still hadn't seen in person despite them being released a month ago. I have to say, they're amazingly small, and Apple didn't seem to waste any space on unnecessary casing. The device is tiny and I can fit a whole bunch of these in my pocket. The screen is sharp and vibrant. It still uses the Click Wheel that was first seen in the 4th Gen iPods, and it does a decent job navigating the device. The only problem I had was that the screen is too small, though for something that small at that price, what do you expect? Also, it was sometimes hard to make menu choices because I kept overshooting my target. I've gotten used to the superbly precise control of my iPod Touch, so going back to the click wheel would take some doing.

Now on to the new laptops. There is, of course, the Macbook (consumer/midrange) and the Macbook Pro (high end laptop). Both use the new "precision unibody aluminum" enclosure, and I have to say they're really a step up from anything else out there design-wise. When the lid is down, both of these look like oversized zen garden pebbles. And when I say oversized, I mean width and length. Thickness, not so much. They're a very impressive 0.95" thin.

Those who use laptops know that the standard mouse device is a trackpad with a button at the bottom (or two buttons on Windows PCs). Apple's thrown the paradigm out the window but eliminating the button. That is, there's no button at the bottom, but the entire trackpad is a button! See it for yourself! I was a little skeptical about this at first, but after trying it, it's really intuitive and not at all difficult to get used to, especially if you're used to using a mouse. You move your finger across the trackpad to point to what you want to, and then click your finger right where it is. No need to use a separate finger to find the button at the bottom to click.

Swipe two fingers to scroll up and down through windows, and click with two fingers for a right click. Pinch in and out to zoom and rotate your fingers in a circular motion to rotate what's on the screen, just like on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Swipe left or right with three fingers to change apps (like your cmd-tab or alt-tab on Windoze). Swipe upwards with four fingers to use Exposé to show the Desktop. Swipe downwards with four fingers to use Exposé to show all open windows. There are even more, but I don't know what they are at this point.

Not only are these controls very neat and easy to use, but they're also very very useful and they increase productivity. How? Well, they take the place of time-consuming keystrokes. I'm very amazed at the way Apple just keeps innovating.

One problem I had with the regular Macbook (but not so much the Macbook Pro) was the limited viewing angle. If I moved off to the side a couple of inches, the image got distorted pretty quickly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Check this out, part 6

I may or may not make a full post on the new Macbooks and Macbook Pros, but you can go to sites such as MacRumors, AppleInsider, TUAW, and of course to find out more. But there's a really awesome video that they made to show off the new laptop, and no matter what you think, it's a pretty amazing video.

Check it out at:
(Requires Quicktime, which, dammit, you need to have anyway)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A warning to all newspaper thieves

I walked outside to the driveway this morning and I was greeted by a rather amusing surprise. Usually they just use that strong, translucent, threadlike plastic-y band to keep the pages of the newspaper together. On rainy days, they add in a plastic slip cover to prevent water damage to the paper. But today was the first time I'd seen it: a third level of added security! I was amazed and even a little cautious, taking a couple looks around me before picking it up even though it was my paper. Ultimately I now feel much safer and more secure in knowing that my morning papers will no longer be stolen.

(click photo to see full size)

Beware, newspaper thieves! Beware!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Steve Jobs acting

For those five of you who don't know who Steve Jobs is, he's the CEO of Apple, Inc. You know, the company that makes iPods and iPhones and the best operating system in the world.

Well, here he is at the 2007 MacWorld Expo showing off the (then new) iPhone. I just happened to pause the video while he was making this kind of half-smirk, and I said "Hey, where'd Steve go? How did they get Robert DeNiro on stage??"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

SMS is a G*dd*mn ripoff

This is a bit of a geeky post, but the end result affects just about everybody.

SMS, aka Short Message Service, or better known as a text message on your phone, has a maximum length of 160 characters or 140 characters depending on the alphabet used. If it's 160 characters, each character is 7 bits and if it's 140 characters, each character is 8 bits (a standard ascii character). Thus the max length for each text message is 140*8 = 160*7 = 1120 bits.

If you don't have a text plan, here's what happens. Each text you send or receive costs you $.20.
.2 dollars per text / 1120 bits per text = 0.00017857 dollars per bit. At this level, it doesn't sound too bad. Less than a penny. But let's move on.

$0.00017857 per bit * 8 bits per byte = 0.00142856 dollars per byte. This is a little over 1/10 of a penny per byte. Sure.

$0.00142856 per byte * 1024 bytes per kilobyte = 1.4628454 dollars per KB.

$1.4628454/KB * 1024 KB/MB = $1497.9537 per MB. That's almost $1,500 per megabyte! For those not very familiar with these terms, consider this. An average quality 3-minute MP3 song file is about 3 megabytes. Can you imagine spending nearly $4,500 to transfer a song over a network? A good quality digital photo can take up 1 or more MB of space. Imagine being charged per message for using AIM or any other instant message app. Those conversations would get pretty costly, wouldn't they?

Text messages are just plain data. Ever see a "Readme" document on your computer that's got a bunch of text instructions in it? Same thing. Plain text. It's a heinous ripoff. It's a crime.

So you might be wondering "well I have a plan where I pay $5 per month to get 200 texts." Well, that's a little better. Without a plan you'd be paying $5 already for only 25 messages. But following the same formula above ($5/# of total bits) * 8*1024*1024 you will pay $187.25 per MB of text. Does that seem reasonable?

Even if you were to get 1,000 texts per month for $5, it would still be a ripoff at $37.45 per MB. I pay less than that for unlimited data over my DSL Internet service with AT&T. By myself I probably use several hundred MB per day just doing light surfing, and I'm not even the only person in my household using the same line.

By the way, I should mention that even if you don't send a text that's the maximum length of 160 or 140 characters you still get charged the same. In other words, it's $.20 for a 160-character message or $.20 for a 10-character message.

If all data were treated like SMS it would be impractical to transmit anything anywhere.

Special thanks to Leo Laporte for the idea.

Check this out, part 5

You've heard of case mods - it's like tricking out a car to make a hot rod, except for computer cases. Well, this one's the best I've seen in a long time. This one's a Lego Mac Pro. Yeah, the case is made entirely of Legos. Check it out at

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RSS Redux

If you look at a lot of news online, you probably use RSS feeds. And if you look at a lot of news online but don't use RSS feeds, then why don't you? RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a way of subscribing to news (just like in the olden days of paper newspapers... remember those?) so that whenever stuff happens it comes right to your computer/iPhone/smartphone. The news arrives in a very simple digest form - a list of headlines accompanied by short summaries of each news story. This format allows you to quickly skim the articles available so you can choose what you really want to read and what you'd rather skip.

You might say "well I have CNN set as my home page and that's all I need for the latest news." Well, has a fine site and it's laid out pretty intuitively so you can find your news, but you have to wade through all the pictures (and ads if you don't have an adblocker) just to see all the articles that are up there. Maybe you'd like to bypass having to load an entire web page just to glance at what's going on. If so, RSS is for you. Most major news sites (again taking CNN as an example) have multiple RSS "feeds" that you can subscribe to. CNN has separate feeds for: Top Stories, World, US, Sports, Politics... well, one for every section of their site. You get the idea.

An RSS feed is basically a special version of a webpage, formatted specifically for quick and easy digestion by you. Why would you want a simplified version of a page, when websites these days are filled with gorgeous graphics and attractive layouts? Well, many of us lead pretty busy lives, so we don't want to waste precious seconds being distracted from what's really important - the news.

Still not convinced? RSS is not hard to set up, and it will change the way you look at news online and make it much more efficient. You can have your ESPN, CNN, UCLA Daily Bruin, ICanHasCheezburger, and entries all sent right to your computer in one convenient place. Your reader will notify you when new articles come in. You don't have to constantly refresh a page if you're waiting for news to happen.

So you want to try out RSS but you don't know where to start. If you're using Safari on Mac OSX or Windows, you already have an RSS reader! Click on the following link to read the RSS feed for my own blog: feed:// Subscribe by bookmarking it! Another popular reader is Google Reader (, though it's a web-based reader rather than a dedicated RSS client program. There are also plugins for Firefox that track your feeds for you. When you subscribe to a feed, a number appears next to the feed's name indicating how many new unread articles exist.

Here's a link to the CNN page that lists all of their RSS feeds:

And here are some feeds that I have subscribed to and regularly read.

Fox Sports College Basketball

Daily Bruin News

Touch Arcade

Now, I have to admit that I'm doing this partially to get more readers on my blog. I completely understand that I don't update regularly enough and that I usually don't have much interesting stuff to say. But I've gotta try anyway, right? If you like what you read here, please subscribe to my feed and leave a comment on the blog itself.

The other reason I'm doing this is to make people aware of some of the cooler things you can do with a computer these days. Most people use computers and go on the web to look at things, but they often do it in a very rudimentary fashion. They aren't exposed to many of the useful tools out there for making things more convenient, fun, and uncomplicated. I promise I'll be back with more cool tips.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More Facebook Folly

If you have a Facebook account, you will be familiar with what I'm writing about today.

People lose their phones all the time, and they create a Facebook Event and invite all their friends just so they can get all their lost phone numbers back. Many of their friends post their phone numbers up there for everyone to see. Sure, the event and its comments are open only to those the Event creator designated, but sometimes that means everyone. Do you want just anyone calling you on your phone? Don't you want your privacy? It can be argued that if someone whom you don't want to get ahold of your number is clever enough, he or she would be able to get it anyway. But by posting your number publicly on such a well-traveled place such as Facebook, you're making it far too easy for your nemeses (that's plural for nemesis) and telemarketers to find you.

Maybe you feel that you don't care who gets your number, so you just post it up there anyway. Well don't complain when you get prank calls, telemarketer calls, or creepy messages.

People have been doing this for years. Why am I suddenly talking about it now? I was just on Facebook right now and I saw the following ad:

I understand and appreciate that Facebook makes it easy and convenient to retrieve your lost numbers. But I would never ask any of my friends or family to post their numbers in such a public forum as a Facebook event. And now there is an app to retain your phone numbers. A freaking Facebook app for storing your phone numbers! Anyone ever hear of an address book!? If you have a bunch of numbers for people you talk to a lot, it's absolutely foolish and mind boggling to only have a copy of them in a device (your cell phone) that is very prone to being misplaced, stolen, lost, etc. Keep a damn copy of your numbers on your computer or in a book so you don't have to inconvenience all your friends and make them vulnerable to time-wasting calls. The idea for this new app is great, but the cause for its existence is ridiculously stupid.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I know that the subtitle of my blog is Bruin Basketball, Terrific Tech, and Random Ramblings, but I'm also a general UCLA sports fan. So although no one's going to read this post before 12:30 (or ever), I thought I'd mention that UCLA football's gametime is 12:30, and it can be heard on radio at AM570 in LA and Orange County. On TV it'll be shown on the Versus network. Thus I won't be able to watch it. Booo! Versus sucks footballs.

Extra Life

On October 18, the Sarcastic Gamer community will host a 24-hour gaming marathon to raise money for the Texas Children’s Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. If you play games, please consider getting sponsored to do what you do anyway for a whole day, and donate to a good cause. Unlike most other events like this, there are no requirements as to what or where you can play. It's all on the honor system so you can play Rock Band with your friends, play WoW for a day (though I wouldn't recommend that), or play Aurora Feint on your iPod Touch. And it doesn't even have to be 24 hours straight. You can do it in spurts or over the period of a week. If you're interested, head over to 100% of the donations go toward the hospital. If you don't play games, tell someone you know who does play.

Blogger's Block

I always get these great ideas and this great motivation to blog about something interesting, but the minute I actually get to my computer to write, nothing comes to mind. I have a list of stuff to write about, but most of those are a bit too in-depth to write a quick post about.

Monday, September 8, 2008

AT&T Doesn't Suck

I take back what I said about AT&T. They don't suck that much. The problems I was having was with my modem and not with their service. Sorry AT&T.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

AT&T Sucks

I don't know if they're able to see all the content that passes through their DSL lines, but I don't care. Their flaky internet service the past few days is infuriating. Big Shattered Dream Pie to AT&T.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Playing For Keeps Day

The Playing For Keeps Amazon Rush was a success! Read on at

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Playing For Keeps: Two more days!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Movie Review: Star Wars - The Clone Wars (2008)

I just got back from seeing the newest offering from George Lucas's film empire. No, not the Galactic Empire, but Lucasfilm. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was immediately struck by the number of kid-oriented advertisements and trailers they showed in the "pre-show entertainment." For whatever reason, I honestly did not expect it to be geared toward a younger audience.

Even before the opening scene of the movie, I noticed some glaring differences between this film and the intro scenes of the previous six. There was no 20th Century Fox Fanfare; as a matter of fact, no Fox at all, it seems. Instead, the intro sequence sported a big WB logo, followed by the customary Luasfilm logo that I can best describe as a "left-to-right chrome sweep." Go watch any recent version of a Star Wars movie if you don't know what I'm talking about. Then of course, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." Yeah! That's what I'm talking about!

But then the opening note of the Star Wars theme sounded different. They changed the tempo of the theme song, and instead of the usual grand minutes-long text scroll setting the scene, a big Star Wars: The Clone Wars logo simply appeared and faded to the background. The text intro was replaced by a narrator who sounded like a radio newscaster, overlaying a montage of battle footage from all around the galaxy.

After seeing all that, I knew that it would be a different kind of movie than what I was used to. That's not such a bad thing though. I understand that it was not as big-budget as the original six so I knew to expect at least a few things to be different.

Basically, The Clone Wars is typical Star Wars fare. At least in terms of the prequel trilogy. Since the movie is entirely CG (computer generated animation), anyone critical of the overuse of CG in the live-action prequel trilogy would either be really disappointed or would have to suspend their disbelief. I'm not in that camp, and I got what I expected. The animation was very smooth, detailed, and interesting to watch. I've been thinking since I saw its first trailer that the characters look like those in the Dreamworks movie Antz. After seeing The Clone Wars, my opinion has not changed.

Well, if you're going to go all CG, there's no point in getting all the original actors to play their parts, since they would probably be too expensive. Well, except Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Christopher Lee (Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus), and Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft). Oops, I mean Mace Windu. The rest of the voice actors did a superb job. Ian Abercrombie (not Ian McDiarmid but probably older) played Palpatine/Darth Sidious. James Arnold Taylor, who has dozens of other voice credits to his name, including Wooldor Sockbat from "Drawn Together" and Tidus from "Final Fantasy X," voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi. Want more useless knowledge? Taylor also did Obi-Wan's voice in the 2005 Clone Wars cartoon miniseries, the Star Wars Episode III video game, and in the best-selling Star Wars game of all time, Star Wars Battlefront II.

A guy named Matt Lanter did the voice for Anakin Skywalker, and he was pretty spot-on, as was Tom Kane as Yoda.

The story, as mentioned above, is pretty straightforward and standard prequel trilogy fare. I am not a big fan of the prequel movies, but I went in with the expectation that nothing will top the original trilogy. Basically, a certain vile gangster's son is kidnapped and the Jedi are called upon to rescue him. But the captors are not who we think they are. Anakin gets a padawan learner and we get to see how he fares as a teacher. Space battles, clone vs droid battles, and lightsaber duels ensue.

Compared to the prequels, The Clone Wars was pretty good. Words and actions didn't seem as "forced" (no pun intended) as they were in the prequels. Jedi acrobatics and other stunts seemed a lot more natural. The story was easy to follow. Sometimes a little more complexity in the storyline can help a movie, but I didn't think the straightforwardness of The Clone Wars hurt it in any way.

There was a certain little infant in the movie that probably put off certain older viewers, but I'm kind of a sucker for stuff like that. Yeah... so cute! But I liked it anyway. Couldn't get enough of that.

I had two gripes about the movie. And minor spoilers follow, though I'm not going to reveal anything that wasn't already in screenshots or trailers you've probably seen. My first complaint is about Anakin's new Padawan learner, Ahsoka Tano. She's described as a "youngling," which I would assume means that she's either in her early teens or preteens. She's what you'd call spunky, energetic, rebellious, or in the words of Yoda, wreckless. Now, I understand that this is a different galaxy we're talking about, but I've never met anyone in her age group that acts like her or is as smart with battle tactics or is as good at fighting as she is. Force-attuned or not, I just don't find it believable that a kid can be as strong or as clever as she is. I may not be in the target demographic for that character, but I am in the target demographic for Star Wars, and I don't really care for her. Oh, and the problem with adding a new character in between Episode II and Episode III (technically, between Episode II and the 2005 Clone Wars cartoons, if you've seen those) is that she's never mentioned again. I'm guessing the forthcoming cartoon series might shed some light on it?

Still, she's not as useless as Jar-Jar.

The other problem I have is the dialogue. The exchanges between Ahsoka and Anakin were amazingly cheesy and out-of-place, and the action during those scenes just barely saved those scenes. Again, I know she's a kid, but you gotta get serious some time. Every time one of those stupid Battle Droids opened his metallic trap I cringed, because about 95% of their dialogue was over-the-top cheese, and they acted like 5-year olds rather than programmed killing machines. Thank goodness for the Super Battle Droids and the Destroyers, who just keep their mouths shut and fight. Many times when someone tried to be funny, it just sounded juvenile.

Again, it seems they were targeting kids, so I guess the dialogue was fine in that respect: all the kids in the theater where I went were enjoying themselves.

Overall, despite the two issues I had with the movie, I still found it an enjoyable Saturday Sunday morning show with plenty of action and lightsaber fighting to go around. It's definitely more family-oriented than Episode III, which can be good or bad, depending on who you are. I would recommend Star Wars: The Clone Wars for fans or non-fans, but it may be more enjoyable for non-fans than, say, the most hardcore fanatics. If you're somewhere in between, you'll probably like it. I give it a score of 6.5/10.

Oh, and it made me want to go home and play Star Wars Battlefront II, but I had to write this review instead.


Trailers I saw with the movie that caught my eye were Bolt, a CG Disney movie about a movie superhero dog, and City of Ember, about a post-apocalyptic town.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Video games lead to real-world violence!

Yeah, right. That notion is a pile of BS. Here's an excellent essay I just read:

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm Famous!

Well, not really, but I was featured on the GamerCast Network Video Game Show. It's a podcast that talks about all kinds of games. Okay, so it wasn't really OmniGeno that was featured, but rather my review of their show that I posted on iTunes. Still, awesome to receive a Ham Sandwich from them.

If you want to listen, download it here (click on the mp3 link). Skip ahead to the 26:00 point if you don't want to hear the whole show. Sweet!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

iPod Touch Review, Part 1

I meant to write this a long time ago, and I had planned to write a massive, massive post about my experience with my new toy, but I haven't mustered up the will to do such great planning and thinking, so I've decided to take a more piecemeal approach.

Where to start? Well, a while back, I wrote a post about the iPhone 3G unveiling. Since then, I've had a lot of time to play with what feels like a new toy: my ten-month old, 16GB iPod Touch.

First, the basics. If you've ever seen the iPhone, you can sort of imagine what the Touch looks like: exactly the same, except thinner and without the receiver (since it's not a phone). It has a mobile version of the Safari internet browser, called, not-so-surprisingly, Safari. You connect to the internet via wi-fi, much like your laptop computer. The music player is similar to the other iPods out there.

And of course, you use a touch screen to control it. Web pages and lists of songs alike are scrolled by swiping your finger up or down on the screen. The interface is very smooth and elegant, and very different from other digital music players today. It plays anything that iTunes can play, which means you can put your MP3s, AACs, WAVs, AIFFs, Apple Lossless audio, and a few other audio formats, as well as MOV and MP4 video encoded in h.264, the codec used to produce high-def video. As for the screen, they say it's "widescreen" but it's actually a 1.5:1 ratio, meaning it's not quite the relative width of real widescreen displays (16:9), but not the width of standard displays either (4:3). There is an option when viewing videos to see the full width and have thin black bars on the top and bottom, or cut off just a tiny bit on the right and left. I've found that either option is acceptable.

Originally, the iPod Touch included the basics: a music player, a video player, Safari, a calculator, a world clock, an address book, and a photo viewing app. The address book was none too useful without phone capabilities or an e-mail program. In January, Apple released a $20 update containing applications for Stocks, Weather, Notes, Maps, and E-mail. I skipped that update but I was able to get those apps recently, as they came as part of the new 2.0 software.

What else came with the 2.0 software? Again, the ability to get the App Store apps.

That was an overview. We'll get into the details next time.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Facebook importing

When I first started this blog, I originally intended for it to be a real replacement for Facebook Notes. But limiting myself to Blogger gives me fewer readers. True, this blog is first and foremost for myself, but I also want it to be available to anyone else interested in reading. Most people I know don't check personal blogs very often, but they do check Facebook. I probably made an error i thinking that anyone who was interested in reading my blog would actually spend the time to visit on their own. But everyone goes on facebook and no one goes here. Or maybe they do, but without leaving comments I have no idea, and there are no site statistics on this thing.

So from now on, all posts I make here on my blog will automatically be imported to Facebook as notes, in order for those who aren't good about following links to anything besides Facebook to see what I write.

Edit: By the way, the animated GIF in the previous post will not animate on Facebook.. unless you click on the GIF to load it in a new window. Just one advantage of viewing it in its original state.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Playing For Keeps Redux

I mentioned a while back that Mur Lafferty's Playing for Keeps will be released in print on August 25, 2008. Mur has posted an audio promo for it. Take a little time to check it out here.

To view my original post, click here.

I will continue my review of the iPod Touch later. Please stay tuned.

Monday, July 28, 2008

iPhone/iPod Touch Primer

Over two weeks ago, Apple had one of its biggest launch days in recent memory. One week before people flocked to theaters to see The Dark Knight, they were waiting in line at Apple Stores and AT&T shops in eager anticipation of the new iPhone, iPhone 3G. 3G stands for 3rd generation; that is, this new iPhone uses the 3rd generation of cell phone data transfer technology. To put it simply, Apple says it's "twice as fast" as the previous iPhone. Plus, it has some new features such as GPS.

But while the general media was focused on the new iPhone launch, there were some things that went unnoticed to all but those most in-the-know. Another huge unveiling that occurred on that day was "MobileMe," a re-naming and enhancing of an existing Apple service, previously called .Mac (dot-mac). MobileMe is a suite of internet services, including an email address, web space for storing whatever files and for hosting websites, and other really neat computery things. It integrates with the iPhone, Macs, and Windows PCs, allowing you to keep all your data accessible anywhere. The MobileMe concept is fantastic, but the execution has so far been awful.

Next is the App Store. Up until now, the iPhone has been a closed platform. This means that no one but Apple was allowed to make programs for it, leaving users and third-party developers disappointed to say the least, since the iPhone platform has enormous potential to a multi-talented device. Well, July 11 also saw the launch of the App Store, in which dozens of developers, from individual programmers to major software companies, put their programs up for sale. These programs are designed specifically for the iPhone, to expand its utility just as programs on your computer allow it to do more stuff. Companies like Google, AOL, Electronic Arts, and Sega are in the mix. Many of the programs are games, and many are free. Puzzle games, racing games, board games, and action games are being downloaded by the tens of thousands. Social networking, blogging, and business software companies are making iPhone apps that take advantage of the elegant and powerful touch screen interface. What started out as a neat little device with some neat features is now a killer, must-have for anyone who can afford it.

Finally, we have the main topic of this entry. All of the above has been about the iPhone. Do I have an iPhone, or am I just an envious, drooling fan who wishes he had one?

Actually, I am neither. I have an iPod Touch. I am still amazed how just about no one I meet has heard about the Touch. Most of my peers (college-age people)cannot afford the iPhone and all of its awesomeness. It's a $300 phone (formerly $500) with a pricey, pricey monthly fee. What sets it apart from other phones is its beautiful touch interface and real web browser (a mobile version of Safari). Guess what? You don't need an iPhone to enjoy those goodies. The Touch can do everything the iPhone does, except make phone calls, take pictures, give GPS directions, and record audio. And it's waaay cheaper.

I apologize if this is sounding like a sales pitch, but people need to know this. Just about any program released for the iPhone through said App Store will work on the iPod Touch, because it is basically the same platform. When I say "iPhone App" it's generally the same as saying "iPhone or iPod touch app". You get on the internet via Wi-fi; it works just like your laptop. It is truly an amazing device, and I've had a ton of fun with it since I got it back in October.

Now, with that in mind, we can get into some fun details. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 14, 2008

App Demos

With the launch of iPhone 3G and the App Store for iPhone/iPod Touch programs last Friday, I've been spending a lot of my time at the App Store checking out what developers have come up with. The App Store is a subsection of the iTunes Store for music, movies, and TV shows. You may have to update to version 7.7 first in order to see it.

Even though apps in the App Store have a review and 5-stars rating system like all other things sold on iTunes, along with screenshots of the action, I don't really get a good sense of how the app really behaves. Some apps have YouTube videos at their developer's website, but YouTube is the worst place to host your video if you want to give a high-quality impression.

If you're curious or skeptical about how cool the apps really are, you NEED to check out the keynote video from the Apple Worldwide Developer's conference earlier this year. Several developers went on stage to show off their programs, and, even after playing with some apps already in the last couple days, I was still amazed by what their apps could do.

To check it out, you'll need iTunes and a high speed connection. Follow this iTunes Store link and download "WWDC 2008 Keynote Address" (click Get Episode). It's a little over 1GB due to its length and great quality, so you'll need some time and patience. About 21 minutes in the demos begin. Skip to that point if you want to avoid the programming stuff.

Don't worry, it's all free for you to watch.

EDIT: if you don't have iTunes, you can click this link to view in your browser. Either way, you need Quicktime. I never understood why Windows users seem to want to avoid quicktime. It's as prevalent (or more) than Windows Media on the internet. Just get it.

Hopefully I'll have time to write more about the new toys that I got... iPod Touch software 2.0 plus tons of new apps.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Song Summoner

While most of Apple and iPhone fandom waits (im?)patiently for the launch of the iPhone 3G and iPhone/iPod Touch 2.0 firmware along with the promise of a plethora of new native apps and games, Square Enix decided to do something a little different.

There's tons of anticipation for what kinds of things developers will come up with to take advantage of the accelerometer and touch screen on the iPhone/iPod Touch. But while we weren't paying attention, Square Enix, the company that brings us Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, as well as dozens of other RPG series, has released Song Summoner, a strategy/RPG for the iPod Classic. This means no touch controls, no widescreen, no accelerometer usage. So it uses the good ol' click wheel. If I had an iPod Classic I'd buy it in an instant to check it out. Apparently it uses the songs in your music library to create characters for your party. I'd imagine it also uses your music library as its soundtrack. Wow, this was unexpected. Check out the link for a video and more explanation.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Playing for Keeps: 8.25.08

Mur Lafferty's Playing For Keeps is set to be released on August 25, 2008. Mur is a pioneering podcaster, SF author, wife and mother, and Geek fu Master. She has written and narrated two very popular independent audiobooks (why haven't you listened yet?) Heaven and Playing for Keeps. The former is the story of the adventures of a young man and young woman in the Afterlife, and the latter is a very interesting take on the superhero genre.

Playing for Keeps is the story of Keepsie and her friends, a group of citizens with mediocre powers caught in the middle of a conflict between devious super-villains and arrogant super-heroes. The story has already been available for free (check the link above) as an audionovel, but soon it will also be available in print from Swarm Press on August 25. If you're interested (and you should be; she's a heck of a writer), please check out the site (link above), give it a listen, and support Mur if you like what you hear.

Wow, three posts in one day. That's gotta be a record.

Check this out, part 4

Like video games? Enjoy listening to podcasts or watching vidcasts? If any of the above is true, you have to check out The Game Heroes. Founded by Handsome Tom and Perfect Liz when they broke away from ScrewAttack due to creative differences, this two-month young site is already chock full of entertaining and funny takes on video games. They talk about new and classic games, and every episode of the main podcast features at least one wacky video game commercial from back in the day that will make you laugh or cry or cringe.

The personalities on the show vary among all sorts of geeks and non-geeks and for the guys, there's some visual eye candy (you'll see what I mean if you watch). It's probably NSFW due to language, but if you've got a set of headphones or you're alone, I highly recommend it to any sort of game enthusiast.

Unlike most podcasts, a pretty decent portion of their operation is based on user submissions, whether they be user-submitted videos or just questions from the forums. For an up-and-coming podcast, it sure has hit the ground running, and it's got my attention. So you should... check it out!

Customer Service

My dad and I were at OfficeMax the other day. We were looking for something to clean his computer's DVD drive because it was either broken or dirty. Cleaning it would be an easy fix. If that didn't work, well, at least we could keep the cleaning kit for another time. So we went up to the first OfficeMax employee we came across and my dad asked him whether or not they carried a "CD drive lens cleaning kit." Without hesitation (and without thinking), the tall-ish white guy with short brown hair and a goatee closed his eyes, shook his head, and uttered a curt "no."

Despite this, we continued on into the store, and when we were out of earshot, I said, "I'm willing to bet that that guy doesn't know what he's talking about." We looked around, and sure enough, I found a CD drive lens cleaning kit. Knowing that they did carry the thing, my dad asked the same guy the exact same question for the second time, and this time he said "oh yeah, we have those."

Now, I don't know the guy, and I won't draw any conclusions about whether I think he's a nice person or not, but I am sick of people like him. I used to work in retail at a sporting goods store. I met and worked alongside many high school or college-age people there who made it abundantly clear that they didn't want to be there. Sure, it's not the greatest job ever, but it beats several alternatives. I certainly made the best of it, despite feeling out of place nearly the whole time. Anyway, these people went through every workday seemingly trying to help as few customers as was physically possible. Sometimes they'd give customers the runaround, and other times they'd do what OfficeMax guy did and simply say we didn't carry it. In all cases, it was simply because they didn't want to expend any effort to help.

Having been on both sides of customer service, I know what it's like to receive quality help, and I know what it's like to give quality help. The aforementioned people don't know it, but sometimes the latter is more gratifying than the former. Seeing the laziness and selfishness of people my age manifest itself in this way is really discouraging.

Sometimes even I go through the motions, when I don't want to be doing something. But when it comes to helping others, especially when it is your job, I just don't understand some people's reluctance, laziness, and lack of concern for others' needs.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


They say that graduating from college is the end of one story and the beginning of another. I don't really feel like this is a new chapter. Maybe it's because I am still living in the same apartment for now, or because I haven't started working. It just hasn't hit me yet. I'm more of the kind of person who, when faced with a big change, looks back and reflects. Well, here are a few things that I have come up with upon reflection.

- You have to find some way to stop and smell the roses. Sure, at times, I took some extra long study/project/homework breaks to catch up on my shows or play games, but I didn't really do anything that I couldn't do elsewhere. If you're like most people, you probably go out and "do stuff" more than I do. When you're at a place like UCLA, that's what you need to do. I told myself that I'd go "do stuff" more this year - my last year, but all the classwork prevented me from having the time to do so. At least that's how I justify it to myself. Those people who are able to juggle classes, work, and other activities, well, hats off to them, especially if they're engineering majors. I don't care about the whole "oh wow, I'm finally away from home. I can go crazy and experience the college life. I found those people annoying. But I do think that whether or not you believe it, you need to seek out something interesting that only this place can offer in order to get a feeling of fulfillment when you finally leave. I don't think I did.

- Going to class and keeping reasonable hours is important. Maybe you're very lucky, or maybe you have a photographic memory for everything. But for those who aren't, being lazy is not the way to go. One day during the first month of my first year in college, I decided that the walk from Hitch Suites to class was too long and arduous, so it was okay to skip class. I was going to be late anyway, and that would be embarrassing. Also, without parental supervision, staying up late was now an option. I'd never felt any need to stay up past 1:00 a.m. before, but after getting to college it seemed the norm. So I'd be like... "oh, it's 3:00 a.m. already. Oh well, I don't have an 8 a.m. class anyway, so I'll be able to get up." If you can wake up for a 9 o'clock class with less than six hours of sleep the previous night, then kudos to you. But I could not. This lethal combination of supposedly justifiable class-skipping and pointless late nights set a dangerous precedent and would haunt me later... or rather, sooner.

- Going to class is important, again. As part of the whole fulfillment thing, it's important to note that some classes are actually fun to go to. I might be talking to a minority here. Not a racial minority, mind you, because believe me, the few African Americans that were in my engineering classes were probably the smartest, and they always went to class. But there is a sizable group of people in the engineering school that just vanish during the quarter, showing their faces only on the first day, to size up the professor, and during midterms and finals. Sometimes they don't even show up to the midterm because they missed the (in-class) memo. After having a mid-career epiphany, I had much more fun going to class than I did skipping it, especially after the grades came out. Engineering classes might not all be fun and games, but if it is your major, you should be able to find some enjoyment out of your required classes. Who knows, you might actually learn something.

- This one isn't something that I learned during my stay at UCLA, but it's important to note anyway. 103 national championships speaks for itself. If you're not interested in sports, or for some reason against them, then you damn well better change your attitude. It's really a special thing to be part of a university with a combination of elite athletics and elite academics. If you can't be the greatest student or athlete here, then you can at least be one vicariously through our basketball, volleyball, or water polo players. It is quite a waste not to at least be aware of our teams' successes.

I've grown a lot in the past five years, and at times I wish I would've done things differently knowing what I know now. The above is just a tiny glimpse of what I've observed in my time at UCLA. Perhaps I will write about more later - once my thoughts become unscrambled.

Check this out, part 3

Like games? Like sarcasm? Then this one's for you. The Sarcastic Gamer is filled to the brim with articles about games, gaming lifestyle, and the gaming industry. They can be silly, verbally abusive, sardonic, or serious, but it's always in good fun. If you're bored with the traditional gaming sites that blindly report the news, check out this one. You won't be disappointed. Oh yeah, and they have a podcast too. If you like the articles on the site, you'll like the podcast. Check it out!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


So to commemorate and promote the release of the fourth Indiana Jones movie, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Lucasfilm's marketing department has teamed up with Burger King, Expedia, and Dr. Pepper. As I type this, there is an empty Dr. Pepper can sitting on my desk. It has Indiana Jones text and pictures all over it, and it even says "Limited Edition" on it. No doubt someone will try to collect these.

After seeing this, a strange thought occurred to me. What if... Lucasfilm teamed up with Jones Soda Co. instead? It would be perfect! For a limited time only, you could buy (Indiana) Jones Soda, and even have a limited-run flavor called American Bullwhip (hey, it just might be better than Turkey & Gravy soda). I know, Jones is supposed to be more of an alternative company, for indie beverages, if you will.

Trust me, it would've been great!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Check this out, part 2

For our second edition of Check this out, we stay with the UCLA sports vibe. BruinsNation has the most rabid bunch of UCLA fans on the entire Internet.

The site recently received a total revamp to include new features and an entirely different layout as part of the ever-growing SB(Sports Blog) Nation. While the fans there can get pretty critical at times, and you may not always agree with them, it's still a good place to discuss the latest news with fellow Bruins. Oh yeah, and it's always interesting to see how they treat Trojan trolls. Check it out!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Check this out, part 1

Well, just so I don't have to spend lots of time thinking of and planning out a well thought out post, I'm going to create a series of posts called "Check this out," referring to some website that I think is cool. Each will be short and sweet, and describe why I like the particular site.

Our first edition of Check this out is No, I'm just kidding. I wouldn't do that to you.

Our first edition of Check this out is about BruinReportOnline. BRO ( is a UCLA Bruins sports site that focuses primarily on basketball and football scouting news. During the season there are game previews, predictions, and recaps. They also supply year-round reports on prospective recruits and off-season events. Many of the articles are premium, subscription-required pages, and there are members-only forums. But if you don't want to pay, they also have free public forums and articles as well.

If you want to know all the latest, up-to-the minute news about stuff before any of your friends hear it, BRO is the place to go. Forget all the big media outlets like LA Times, BSPN, and Fox Sports - they have news, but you almost always hear it first at BRO.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


The other day, had a poll asking "If you found a wallet on the street with cash, credit cards, and ID in it, what would you do?

(Edit: Sorry the image is cut off. Click on it to see the whole picture.)

I don't know what the final count was, but with the number of votes that were tallied by the time I had gotten to it, I doubt it changed much by the end of the day. So about 35.5% of the participants said they'd give everything intact back to the owner. That was the option that I chose, and I can honestly say that that is what I would do. Why? Well, it might be cliché, but think about how you'd feel if you were the one who'd lost your wallet? Plus, it's the right thing to do.

Second place was "Keep the cash, mail the rest to the owner," at around 21.5% If I were one of the people who would do this (and I'm not), I would assume that the wallet's owner would be happy just to get the wallet back, much less the money. But that option still really sucks, because then they'd be out some sum of money.

At a close third was "Give it to a police officer, let them do the work." I find this one interesting, because this basically says that the person wants to do the right thing, but doesn't have the time or inclination to directly take care of it him/herself. And even then, I'm inclined to believe that the cop would probably just keep it in a lost and found box, waiting for a phone call. But then again, I'm not in law enforcement so maybe I shouldn't presume or assume.

The most interesting answer, though, was "Take the cash, throw away the rest," which was fourth place with almost 18% of the vote. Now, this was on the internet, where there essentially people don't know you and cannot go to your house and smack you with the morality stick. So of course, I'm inclined to believe that at least 18% of people will actually go this route. Is this cynicism? Sure, but I bet some of the people who voted for the other, more ethical choices, might actually fall into this one, but did not choose it because they're trying to tell themselves that they're better than they actually are.

That leads me to my next thought. This poll was done online. It is completely unscientific and the sample space is not really representative of the greater population. It was also done without the threat of being punished if the less moral options were chosen, making it easier for people to be honest without the public guilt. I wonder, if a test were done, say, on candid camera in a mall or other public place, what would the results be then?

Despite my growing cynicism about lots of things, I actually think that the percentage of "good samaritans" (people who return everything intact to the owner + people who give it to a cop to take care of) would still be in the 40-50% range. Not as high as this poll would suggest, but high enough. I'm sure some people would try to justify to themselves taking the cash and giving the rest back, but in my experience, morality and responsibility would prevail.

I would hope that if I lost my wallet, someone would give it back to me intact. Judging by the poll, I'd have about an 80% chance of getting it back, and if I get it back, a 71% chance of it still containing my money. Not the best situation, but not bad.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

They're everywhere! Part 3

(please read parts 1 and 2 below before reading this)

Speaking of product placement, with the rise of video/computer games as a viable entertainment and storytelling medium, there's no surprise that third party companies are wanting to use them to hawk their products. Video games are especially appealing to those companies because they can easily target specific demographics.

However, product placement in games is not a new thing. Back as far as the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, we had an entire game that's one big freaking advertisement. It's called Mc Kids, and it features none other than Ronald McDonald and his "friends" like the Hamburglar, that big furry purple thing, the weird duck-like demi-human girl, and I don't remember who else. It was a platformer in the vein of the Mario Bros. series, and it kind of really, really sucked.

Later on, we were treated to another big $50 cartridge of an advertisement, Cool Spot for the Super Nintendo. Yup, 7-up wanted to cash in on this newfangled video game thing and placed its contrived mascot, that red dot in the 7-up logo, into his own game. He was basically a small red disc with arms and legs who wore really cool shades. Yeah, he was cool. So cool that "cool" was in his name! Anyway, that game was actually not bad. But like Mc Kids, it was just one giant advertisement for a food franchise.

If you know of any others, please let me know.

More subtly, we have signs, labels, billboards, decals, and actual objects placed in games to make the player aware of a certain thing. Sometimes painfully aware, literally. In the highly acclaimed NES game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, there parts of the game where Foot Soldiers hid behind large Pizza Hut signs and pushed them down onto the turtles as they walked by. The game itself even came with a coupon for Pizza Hut pizza. Wow.

Many sports games nowadays have ads from sponsors of the actual organization. For example, all the companies that sponsor NFL football, whose ads you normally see when you watch a pro game, appear in the latest Madden games for XBox 360 and Playstation 2 and 3.

I don't know where it goes from here, but product placement in games is catching up to (and may be surpassing, for all I know) product placement in movies and TV. But you know what? That doesn't really bother me. We'll see what happens in the near future.

My view on this is that product placement doesn't bother me, but unskippable commercials or ads that appear in front of what I'm reading or watching, forcing me to click to remove them, are unacceptable.

By the way, the title of this post is based on what these little guys from Halo scream when you attack them. Halo, to my knowledge, has no in-game product placement, but I could be wrong.

They're everywhere! Part 2

(please read part 1, below, first)

In the last post, I kind of went off onto a tangent of galactic proportions, so let's get back to the original issue. The real point was that ads in TV are becoming longer and more numerous. But it's not just TV where this is happening.

Anyone who spends any amount of time on the Internet knows that web sites simply do not run without some amount of advertisement. Web space costs money, so those who run sites put ads in order to make money, or at the very least, recoup the costs of the web space. With the advent of flash-based advertisement and other fancy-schmancy ads that feature motion and sound and general, annoying in-your-faceness, it's become a big distraction to say the very least. I realize advertisement is necessary, but from the point of view of someone who doesn't use the web to make money, the magnitude and nature of the ads just presents a gargantuan annoyance.

Sure, there are adblock programs, and very good ones at that, which savvy users can activate to avoid seeing those ads, but not everyone has 'em. And my point is the fact that these ads exist and annoy hundreds of millions of people each day.

Recently, ads have even made their way into web-based video. On the popular YouTube, little text boxes sometimes appear at the bottom on your video while it's playing, forcing you to click a little X button to get rid of it. On other sites, such as and, an actual commercial will play before your video, which the video player does not allow you to skip. This can be exceedingly annoying if you happen to be watching many short clips. Each one will be preceded by an unskippable (yes, that's a word) commercial, often the same one over and over. These vid-ads cannot be blocked by adblock programs, to my knowledge.

People think product placement in movies and TV shows is a big deal... a sign of selling out. But I've never seen any endorsements in movies or TV that are as annoying as these web-video ads. I just wish someone would think of another way. If I think of something, I'll let you know.

They're everywhere! Part 1

Have you seen those huge ads these days that take up a whole side of a bus? Putting ads on the side of a bus is not a new thing. It's quite common to have a little section of the side or back of the bus advertising a movie or a radio station or McDonalds' new old McRib sandwich. I suppose it was just a matter of time before they extended the small, below-the-window displays to bus-height and bus-length monstrosities. I have heard that there are also whole ads that cover both sides of a bus as well as the back, but haven't seen one yet.

But that sort of thing doesn't really bother me. Like all advertisement, it's meant to be omnipresent and kind of in-your-face. And as far as ads go, even full-bus ads aren't really that in-your-face.

Then there's TV ads. We have all grown up with them, no matter how old you are. We're used to it, but now in the age of the new(er) Internet, we have downloadable shows and option to skip the ads that normally accompany the shows. I felt like this was a point of no return of sorts. It's very hard to go back to regular TV, with all the commercials. It's the single leading cause of channel surfing, in my opinion. I don't channel surf though; I just turn it off (there's not much good on these days anyway, but that's a topic for another discussion).

Along these same lines, I'd like to point out that commercials have gotten longer and longer over the years as well. This pretty much sucks because it gives us fewer minutes of show per episode, and forces the showrunners to cut out stuff for time that may have been cool or interesting to see. This is readily apparent when you watch a show either downloaded or from a DVD with the commercials ripped out.

I stumbled across this a while back: the original Star Trek, which debuted in 1966 and ran for 3 seasons, had 50-minute long episodes, including the beginning and end credits, but without commercials. In 1993, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began, and each episode was barely 45 minutes, including a long credit sequence at the beginning and end. I'd estimate about 42-43 minutes if you take those out.

Some other hour-long shows these days: Babylon 5 (1994, 43 minutes), Psych (current, 42 minutes), Battlestar Galactica (current, 42 minutes), Eureka (current, 42 minutes), and CSI (current, 42 minutes).

The difference might be more striking with half-hour shows. I don't know how long those were in the '60s, but a short-lived favorite cartoon of mine, Undergrads, was 21 minutes long without commercials. And of course, the wildly popular show The Office on NBC is 20-21 minutes when they're not doing their special extended episodes. You know what that means? That means in a half hour, you're only getting 66.667% show and 33.333% commercials. What a gyp!

An exception would be HBO shows, like Entourage, which is 27 minutes out of 30, but that's because it's paid for more by the customers' premium subscription payments than by advertisements.

I guess I should just take consolation in the fact that watching without the commercials will save me 7+ minutes of my day, per episode, so I have more time to blog about it here.

What do you think about this? Do you like the commercials, giving you a sense of suspense while you wait to see what happens after the break? Or would you rather have instant gratification, to see it all at once without interruptions? Have you noticed this when watching DVD episodes?

Of course, I didn't watch any shows today, on TV OR on computer, so where did I find the 7 minutes to type this?