Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Sony DCRHC20 Digital Handycam

Just bought a new toy. I've only played with it a little so I don't know much about it. One thing I have enjoyed more about it than my old non-digital recorder is making my own little movies with Windows Movie Maker. It's a lot of fun being your own indi movie director. It's a pretty simple tool but it does, pretty much, all I would want at this point. The one thing I don't like is how you can have either a narration track or a music track, not both. It's also missing a DVD creation tool. If anyone has recommendations for a better movie editing software and DVD creation tools, I'd love to hear about them.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Mad Shark

Here's a novelty flash game for a Friday afternoon. Not for the squeamish.

Favorite Customer Letter

Between 1984 and 1996 I worked for Alpha Software Corp working on their family of end user database products, Alpha Three, Alpha Four and Alpha Five*. It was a small company so I got to see all aspects of its operation. This included getting to read some of the letters users would send into the company. I was looking through my files today and found the following letter I had saved from a gentleman who wrote us in 1991 concerning his love of Alpha Four.

Dear Alpha Four Software Co.

I am using your "Alpha Four" program almost a year, since you
promoted me to buy it for a (now I see) price less $ 99

I have always wondered how in haven, could you do such a
program, I am no a programmer, and you gave me the ability to
program my one programs, and in such a beautiful way.

Its is only now, that I discovered the meaning of the
application's. What should I tell you. I am so amazed from
the power of the application, that I have played with it
"The All Night Long". I have designed a vary complicated post
with one key stroke.

I am wondering now more than ever, is it a one man idea, or
is it a team of 1000.

Do you have a computer thinking for you, how to figure
everything in such a way, and in so many options. As more as
I use it, more I realize that I haven't even touch a part of
it's capabilities, it is so amazing, that I am blocked out, I
just have no word's to describe it. Do you. Yourself, have
an idea what product you have created.

By the end. I don't see in the book any limit of the macro
memory, how much (word's) or function's can you put in,
in a macro memory.

Sincerely yours


I saved this originally because of some of the funny word choices and phrases. But now it's more than that. It's a picture back to a time when I was a lot more connected with the folks who use the software I write. It's cool I was able to make this guy so happy.

To answer his question about the size of the team, it was pretty small. I don't recall the exact number of developers who worked on Alpha Four but not many more than 4. It started out with just 2 of us but we grew as the project went along.

*While the products are great, they were never known for their catchy names.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Software Mega Yachts

When you hear Bill Gates, Paul Allen or Larry Ellison is worth so-or-so billion dollars it's really kinda hard to put that sort of money in perspective. When you actually see what sort of toys that money can buy however things become a little clearer. Case in point - the Octopus.


This is one of Paul Allen's toys. (use the helicopter on the bow for scale) It is either the largest or second largest yacht in the world. I can't say definitely because Larry Ellison is having a larger yacht built and I don't know if its been completed. Regardless it's huge. At over 400 feet its comparable in length to a Vietnam era guided missile destroyer. (modern ones are about 50 feet longer)

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind cruising around the Caribbean sipping cocktails and writing code from the sun deck of this monster. Sure beats the hell out of some of the work I've been doing lately. The jealousy doesn't stop there though. Mr Allen has two other mega yachts, just incase, one is a diminutive 200 footer, while the other is a modest 300 footer.

You don't need to be a company founder to enjoy the high life either. This little beauty is supposedly the yacht of Charles Simonyi, a Microsoft project manager and researcher.


I wouldn't mind doing some coding on her deck either.

Oh well, the beer's probably no colder and the sun isn't any brighter, but it sure looks fun.

sources []. []

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Kill Bill Vol 2

I went to see the second half of Kill Bill on Sunday. The short review is that I loved it, some other thoughts follow.

Vol 2 is a more mainstream movie than Vol1 was. It has a better arc and more satisfying conclusion, which is understandable, but it lacked some of the weird comic book energy of the first movie. If you are looking for lots of sword play and another blood bath, it’s not here. Instead this is a more adult movie. (That’s not to say that the meta movie theme that runs through both Vol 1 and Vol 2 isn’t for adults, rather only that the in-your-face action movie part is more adult.) Instead of a simple revenge plot you get a complicated love story, more character depth and more emotion, but thankfully, all that with the absurdity knob still set at 11.

In a movie with a lot of great performances, I think the work of both David Carradine and Michael Madsen stand out. Carradine was noble and sinister and he channels a lot of his old Kung-Fu character Kane’s serenity. Madsen is complicated, pensive even, as Bill’s younger brother. He’s an underachiever of the weirdest sort, A once proud assassin reduced to being an drunken, titty-bar bouncer who willingly performs the most demeaning of tasks.

Daryl Hannah is great too and probably has the best dialog in the film. I think a lot of people will like her scenes the best. They are a good mix of dark humor and action that will appeal to any fan of Vol 1. I guess I just liked the Carradine and Madsen work better because the characters feel more grounded in reality. As evil and sinister as they are they are still believable, I just can’t say that for the California Mountain Snake.

I’ve read some reviews that say this is homage to the spaghetti western, in contrast to Vol 1s’ Asian centric style. I don’t see that at all. Besides the obvious Kung-Fu part that doesn’t fit that description it’s full of cool, silky, black and white scenes that make me think of Uma as Lauren Baccal in some old Humphrey Bogart movie. In fact I would say that characterizing the first films style as Asian was wrong in the first place. It certainly had strong Asian influence but there other styles as well. When you combine the different styles on display in Vol2 you can see it’s just an homage to film in general.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Grammar God

According to this quiz: How grammatically sound are you?, I'm a GRAMMAR GOD! (That's their capitalization, bolding and exclamation mark). I felt pretty confident on most questions but a few where pure guesses. I guess I guessed correctly.

Bad NFL Europe Pun

After a punt took a favorable bounce for the Galaxy during the Rhein Fire, Frankfurt Galaxy game the announcer said,

"That's a good roll for Frankfurt".

The announcer didn't chuckle or anything. I don't think it was intentional, but I was amused.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Liquid Man

Got this link from my friend Don. Not sure where he found it buts it's pretty cool

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

State of the Blog

Now, almost a full year after I started this blog, I have mixed opinions about the whole experience. While I've enjoyed having a forum to express myself (the few times I have), I don't like all the time I've spent finding the random stuff I often post about. Going forward, I'd like to post less and try to use that extra time to generate more personal content.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


A student at Brandeis says he's trying to gather some data on how memes spread across the blog sphere and has asked folks to link to this page.

Sounds like it could all be a hoax, but what the hell. It's not like he's asking you to send money or email.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Mars Attacks!

I just saw Mars Attacks again for the first time in many years. I actually enjoyed it more this time. While trying to answer some questions I had about the film I came across the old Mars Attacks! web site. Among the oddities on the site is this weird Burning Cow Tipping Flash game.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Cluster communication enhancements coming to Java

According to this InfoWorld article, At the ClusterWorld event today Sun has announced some planned enhancements for Java 1.6. Among the enhancements is support for Socket Direct Protocol; SDP allows standard socket based applications to utilize a highspeed InfiniBand based network. Read this nice paper (Sockets Direct Protocol over InfiniBand in Clusters: Is it Beneficial?) for more info on SDP and InfiniBand

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

JRuby lives

After a long hiatus folks are working on JRuby again. In JRuby's absence Groovy has gained a lot of the dynamic language mind share, from Java developers, it once controlled. I don't think it will gain it back. Back in Jan 04, James Strachan wrote a nice post on why Groovy is a better choice for Java developers anyway. I tend to agree.

Writing Exercises for Engineers and Scientists

I admit, I've always struggled with grammar and punctuation (not to mention spelling). These exercises from Virginia Tech were fun and educational.

These exercises are designed to help you, the engineer or scientist, master various mechanical and stylistic aspects of engineering writing and scientific writing

Rampant Virus Mails

I've recently started getting tons of virus infested email. This morning I received this one:

Dear user of gateway e-mail server,

We warn you about some attacks on your e-mail account. Your computer
contain viruses, in order to keep your computer and e-mail account
please, follow the instructions.

For more information see the attached file.

The team

Given that I'm the only person at developingstorm it wasn't hard to figure out it was a fake.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Serengeti Lunch Delivery Service

I'm willing to bet not many of my readers also read so here's another link to one of their funny videos.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I just ran across the service called bookcrossing. Its like wheresgeorge but for books. The idea is you register a book, get an ID number for it, write the ID in the book and then pass it on to a friend, they read it and review it at bookcrossing and pass it on, etc... As somone with a lot of books this could be kinda fun.

Penguin yuckster

What a card.


The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism