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!