Top Return to Top

Monday, September 25th, 2006 - 11:03 PM

"Hero Dreams"

Phil's non-famous Soaring Eagle Stance
My non-famous Soaring Eagle Stance.

Somehow strangely inspired by Micah's recent post on falling down, I remembered one of my strange habits that I will share with you. When I'm sitting around or walking around with little else to activate my mind, I often daydream. In these moments, I view every situation and every object from the perspective of a hero. I either go over in my head what I would do if a particular event took place that calls for quick action, or I create a scenario where I am performing complex martial arts skills, interacting with the environment, Jackie Chan style. Of course I am incapable of doing any of these things, but it is fun to let my mind wander. Some of the ideas are fairly elaborate, and would be interesting to see acted out. I guess I should attempt to write them down and see if they can be structured into an interesting sequence. I think it would be a blast to be a fight or stunt choreographer. Unfortunately, I am not very good at "writing down my ideas". I guess I should have paid better attention in Mrs. McCormick's class! I have yet to see if I would have the wits and quick reflexes necessary to act out any of these scenarios. More than likely not. I don't think I'm daring enough to be a stunt person. Is there anyone else out there who has ever experienced this type of imagination, or am I alone in the world?

Top Return to Top

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006 - 3:01 PM

"Jet Li's Fearless"

Jet Li as Huo Yuan Jia in Fearless

If Jet Li's goal was to bow out of martial arts cinema with a bang and to make a profound statement, I would say he succeeded in Fearless. The film packs both a martial and philosophical punch, its message a timeless and pertinent one. Fearless is a retelling of a significant Chinese historical figure, Huo Yuan Jia. Huo Yuan Jia is most famous for his competing against foreign fighters as well as for founding the Jin Wu Athletic Association.

The moral emanating from this movie and purported from the life of Huo Yuan Jia had two dramatic and lasting effects. First off, evident in the majority of martial arts movies and through the words and understanding of respectable masters and practitioners is the idea that one's martial skill is not to be used in a violent, arrogant fashion. I have a small amount of experience in martial arts, and I always remember the sentiment that I should never attack someone using martial arts to prove my worth. Fearless can be roughly divided into two parts: before and after Huo Yuan Jia's realization of this life lesson. In the beginning, his only desire is to be the best martial artist, defeating everyone in his path. He has little concern for anyone besides himself. After seeing the fruits of "violence begets violence", he distances himself from his arrogance and wanders his way into a simple life on a country plantation. He discovers inner peace and is transformed into a discerning master.

It is difficult to know how accurately the movie follows the life of Huo Yuan Jia. Chinese history tends to get recorded and propagated by word of mouth legends that are difficult to confirm and become conflicted through numerous subsequent accounts. There is no doubt, furthermore, that Huo Yuan Jia played a significant role in creating a public, and even worldwide portal into the world of martial arts by way of sport. A once secretive discipline was opened to Chinese countrymen and eventually to foreigners. This sort of sentiment is largely responsible for increased awareness and appreciation for martial arts around the world. Jing Wu in particular has over 150 branches in a number of countries.

It is hard to accurately define the role of martial arts in a modern society. Nevertheless, it has certainly evolved drastically: from a means of survival and combat into an expression of rigorous self-discipline, exercise and sport. While it could be argued that this is a natural progression as the result of modern weapons and tradition, surely pioneers like Huo Yuan Jia played a part by breaking through some of the elitism that limited serious martial arts training to the select few.

The second message derived from Fearless is only a more powerful implication of the first. The main character comes to realize that his superiority complex and violence has separated him from everything he loves. His blindness to love and wisdom brought him worldly success, but his spirit was completely lost as the result. He is retrained to appreciate life, beauty and true love through his interactions with a simple farm community. He learns that he doesn't need be better than others to live well and be satisfied. In the words of a famous (yet possibly nonexistent!) Chinese philosopher, "Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself makes you fearless." The second half of this proverb is also sometimes translated, "...mastering yourself is true power". The whole movie is summed up in this, and you can see that Huo is willing to give up his status and even his very life to communicate this point. Jet Li, in a bout of masterful acting (something I will always respect him for, even outside his unmatched wu shu skills) displays a smile that communicates total love and submission as he falls to the ground in the end. You'll have to see it to appreciate the moment and the message of the film.

Some people might be slightly annoyed at the pervasiveness of this self-denying message. I have to admit that I am sometimes annoyed when movies come with a political or moral message that is too pushy or permeating. A great example of this is "Collateral Damage", a movie filled with annoying special interest political innuendos (conveniently released not long before Arnold Schwarzenegger's dive into politics). I didn't see the message of "Fearless" as being obnoxious in this manner, though the story was quite possibly chosen and crafted to further Jet Li's personal and spiritual goals. These goals, however, are not necessarily overly political or moral in nature. They are rather manifestations of the fact that there is more to martial arts than physical contact or violence. It is a passion of Jet Li's to communicate the philosophical and living life side of wu shu. Martial arts is an enormous part of Chinese culture, but so much of the meaning is lost when translated into western society. I love this side of Jet because my passion for martial arts parallels some of these same appreciations. I don't desire to learn martial arts for the status I can gain at being good at it, to defeat anyone, or any similar purpose. I simply enjoy the beauty of it, the "art". This art can also help one find in a sense inner peace, mental relaxation, confidence, balance, appreciation for beauty, and a host of other intangible benefits. I don't see martial arts as an answer to the deep longings of the human soul like some eastern religions might tout, but its practice can certainly enhance anyone's enjoyment of life. I believe God can be honored through practicing martial arts. He created humans and He created motion and beauty. Physical motion is just an expression and result of His infinite imagination.

It is interesting to note that Jet Li alleges that "Fearless" will be his "final martial arts epic". It is unclear how confining or restrictive his statement is, and he might collaborate on film projects relating to martial arts or other genres. It seems Jet Li's intention with this statement might relate more along the lines that he feels he has nothing more to say on screen relating to wu shu. Fearless says it all, all he ever meant to be communicated. Regardless to his film career decisions, it is clear where Jet's passions lie, and it will be interesting to see what direction his life heads. I for one will follow his exploits with much interest. There is hardly an actor who has directly inspired or impressed me more.

Jet Li and Shaowen Yu in the Beijing Wu Shu Academy

Also worth mentioning: My friend Dave and I went to see "Fearless" on Friday. Accompanying the movie release was a short wu shu demonstration by Shaowen Yu, Gao Jia Min and their students in the theater lobby. When Dave told me of the event, I was extremely excited and couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the spectacle. Besides being in hollywood or wherever Jet Li was to see the movie opening, I can't imagine a cooler place to be! I just learned that Master Shaowen was part of the same Beijing Wu Shu Team that Jet Li trained in at a young age. The two were classmates! How cool is that?! He has a school here in Portland, Oregon. A few months ago I sent him a huge email expressing my deep appreciation for martial arts and intention to pursue training. I met with him in his office and discussed the possibility of joining his school. At the time (and still), I wasn't financially set enough to afford the tuition. When I am able, I would greatly enjoy taking some classes there. Gao Jia Min is a female taiji practitioner, known for being one of the best in the world. I am particularly interested in learning under her tutelage because currently taiji (T'ai Chi) is my favorite martial art form. I hope some day to get the chance to pursue this passion.

Top Return to Top

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006 - 1:03 PM

"Esotropiart on Google's Blog Search"

Usually when I receive hits via a search engine, I go the search engine and retype the query as it appears in my stats, just to see if I can find the same result they did. After writing the huge entry on Microsoft's relatively new Live.com, I got a hit from Google's BlogSearch engine. I retyped the query "Windows Live Local", and sure enough, I was the second result out of all the blogs in the multiverse! Unfortunately I can't prove it because I tried exactly the same search again about one minute later, and I was nowhere to be found. I don't get it. I even went back many pages of results and still couldn't find my entry. Oh well.

Esotropiart on Google Blog Search

I received another hit from Google BlogSearch today for the query "Open ModPlug Tracker". For the moment, I am number one for that query. Pretty cool. To prove it, I took a screenshot because I'm sure that'll change real fast. I wrote an entry about Freeware and Open Source titles a bit ago, and this is what gave me the rank. Cool. I like to see that sort of thing. I know it won't get me much real audience, but it's fun anyway. That Live.com result had potential of getting me a lot of traffic, since the subject is so huge, but alas it was short-lived. Google probably edited the order by giving me a poor score after saying, "Who's this guy? No one cares about his point of view" Especially since I gave a pretty favorable review of their competitor's software... wouldn't that be a shame if they rigged results for such reasons. I doubt they do that, but you never know. If the number one result for googling Google was a page about how Google sucks, you better believe they would either 1) kill the ranking of that page, or 2) reassess how their "magical" page ranking works.

Top Return to Top

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006 - 11:24 PM

"Google Google Base Base Clutter Clutter??"

Have you ever *googled Google? I hadn't either until this evening. Apparently they have a pretty good handle on how to write effective web pages that are ranked quite high because basically every one of the first many pages of results is a direct link to their site via one of their many technology subdomains (though I'm sure they didn't "cheat" their own system and put their pages first). The amount of Google on the web makes my head spin. Do they have billions of employees? Yes, in fact they do, but most of them are paid far less than minimum wage. We are all Google employees in a way: promoting their service in one way, adding to their empire in another. I wouldn't be surprised if this is their underlying strategy. As another faithful blogger put it, Google's mantra might well be All your base are belong to us. Pretty astonishing if you think about it. Let me explain:

You might not have noticed, but many of Google's applications provide a way for random people to get involved with helping them index the internet (and every aspect of the world and life). Every time you opt to use a Google service as opposed to any non-web-app or non-Google option, you are promoting and furthering their empire. Everything that you create on a Google site, such as Google Calendar, Google Sitemaps, Google Page Creator, Gmail, etc. etc. etc., is entered directly into their own, proprietary database. This data can be used and analyzed for whatever end they choose, and I'm sure this is somewhere in their user agreements. Quite honestly, it is probably going to end up being the world's worst privacy battle/disaster some day. Just get one executive in there that has the brilliant idea to use the data in the wrong way, and you have the biggest nightmare lawsuit in the history of mankind. The implications are so immense, and the effect so far reaching, it is hard to imagine. While I do my part to further the Google empire by using some of their genius products, I don't really like the concept that drives it and the monopoly and over-collection of information that results. Pretty soon they will create a technology that tracks our individual heat signatures and displays our movements on Google Earth in real time, with profile pop-ups that show our birthdate, social security number, passwords to commonly visited sites, etc. There seems to be no limits being set on their strange ambitions. It actually bothers me that a technology savvy terrorist or stalker, for example, could use Google apps (or other like companies' online information) to get pretty much every bit of information they need for any vile purpose. If there is nuclear war, I'm going to camp out at Google headquarters or one of their data hubs. The enemy cannot afford to lose this valuable information resource! From the internet's infancy, I don't think any sensible laws were ever set in place to safeguard any types of information that makes its way there. It seriously wouldn't surprise me to see it play a part in world-level catastrophes - I'm sure it has already.

Okay, that was an unexpected sidetrack that should have warranted its own blog entry. Oh well. I'm a ramblin' rod to be sure. My point is that there are several Google products whose sole purpose is to get internet users to increase their database, indexing and general world-wide influence. I would have never thought much about this if I had not googled Google. I simply typed "Google", and I came up with a bunch of fascinating results. There were a couple Google apps that I had not noticed much before, or at least had forgotten about. Some of these aren't publicized and currently don't show up anywhere on Google's pages - not even Google Labs. It makes me wonder if they leave apps out there half-developed from years past, or are all of these currently being developed? I'd assume they are all current. I don't think Google would just leave them out there. Here are some examples that were new to me in recent memory:

Google Base: This is a bizarre service that Google released in 2005. If allows users to post content. That's it. Huh? Yes, literally, you can submit queries of just about any type of information you want. Want to post a list of superheroes on the internet? You can. Post your company's financial statements for the last 30 years? Go right ahead. Post a guest list to an imaginary party of mythical creatures and blender components from the planet Thebes? Sure, why not. You can actually upload lists of information in a variety of file formats, and Google will simply add your random data to its infinitely huge database of information - which will also be indexed by them and distributed to their various groups of search results and technologies. There are some sensible applications of this concept on the Google Base page, including job ads, vehicle listings, hotels, recipes, etc. - like Google's answer to Craigslist and Microsoft's Live Expo. The concept of posting infinite useless information on the web (since Google essentially is the web nowadays) is pretty ridiculous if you ask me. Some of the components of Google Base have other Google app equivalents anyway, so it is essentially redundant. Products posted on Google Base are also on Froogle. Events could go on Google Calendar, etc. It's pretty weird. It's It's like like cluttering cluttering the the internet internet with with useless useless,, annoying annoying,, repetitious repetitious information information. Perhaps Base was deemed so bizarre and such a clear duplication that it was taken out of publicity until reevaluated, and that is why it can only be found by googling Google.

Google Moon: The goal of this "service" to humanity is to provide a high resolution map of the surface of the moon, much like current earth mapping software. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps Google will conquest and colonize the moon, figure out a way to convert their vast databases of digital information into sludge matter until the moon outgrows the earth, and restart civilization on their terms. It's kinda funny: if you zoom in on the moon to the highest magnification available, you see this:

Google Cheese...y Humor

Google Image Labeler: The only purpose of this tool is to provide Google with information. They don't have the manpower or money enough to farm out some of their vast work, so they get the unsuspecting public involved. With Google Image Labeler, you can play the "fun" game of providing Google with information about images to help them properly index them in their search engine. Since there is no current A.I. perfection that allows a computer to identify a "face" as opposed to a "bird" or a "muffin" or "pot of gold", they need people to do this for them. When using Image Labeler, you are paired up with a random person in the world who is doing the same mindless thing. Each of you choose several words to describe the picture in question. If your words match the other person's words, you get points. So, like if you call a picture "bird", "sky", "blue", "eagle", and "soar" - and your partner concurs on "eagle" and "soar", Google will label the picture with those common tags. This information can then be used in their various technologies. The "game" of Google Image Labeler is to see how many points you can get by matching your partner's words, and going through as many images as you can as quickly as you can. All I can say is "Fun fun fun". Forget the X-Box 360, let's play Google Image Labeler, guys! Halo parties are a thing of the past. My question is: What's stopping me from making 005.jpg a picture of a soaring eagle in front of a blue sky today, and changing the head of the eagle to be an Italian jumpsuit tomorrow? Or making it a picture of Billy Crystal? This sort of movement, renaming and manipulation happens all over the web all the time... unless they are also storing a copy of the images as well, so that the images would always match the Image Labeler's keywords. That would be a horrible copyright infringement of astronomical proportions if they are storing copies of every image on the internet for their use and manipulation!

There are a number of other applications that serve Google's purposes by creating an ever-growing database of information. One example is Google SketchUp, a program whose sole purpose is to provide 3D building information for Google Earth. If you take the time to help Google create a replication of the world in 3D space, you get... nothing. In fact, you have to pay them to get premium access to Google SketchUp, so you are essentially paying them while doing their work. It's the worst abuse of labor in history. Okay, I'm being sarcastic - there is so much corruption already in real-world labor abuse around the world that should not be made light of. Hmmm... I wonder though if anyone is considering the future of online labor abuse. Probably not. It's not really an issue as long as it's voluntary and more fun than X-Box games.

Some closing thoughts: Pretty soon someone will invent a search engine that serves for one purpose: searching ("googling") Google and their related technologies - call it Google Google. If Google and all their indexed information simply disappeared from the web, imagine what a different web it would be. I remember when Google didn't exist. It's amazing how fast things happen in the digital world. Who knows who the next giant will be. Remember when Yahoo was king, remember Amazon's boom, and E-Bay? And all in such a short time. Weird to think about.

*It's interesting to note that the verb "to google" is now a common word meaning "to search the internet", usually looking for a specific topic or person. Google is so much the de facto search engine, that it is like saying "hand me some kleenex, will ya?" or "Please xerox this for me".

Oh, and by the way, of the glues.

Top Return to Top

Sunday, September 17th, 2006 - 2:23 PM

"EsoQuery Returns"

Last night I reactivated EsoQuery after a day's work getting it ready. In preparation, I looked through the PHP/XHTML source code line-by-line, making sense of it and inflicting some minor structural and logical changes. I also made some noticeable changes to the interface for readability and good sense. I took EsoQuery offline back in April primarily because it was then that I made the decision that EsoQuery was important enough to be its own separate page. It used to be lumped together on the contact page, tough to notice for the average visitor. It is my hope that the feature will gain more attention because I want to get it loaded with more questions and answers. It is not really a useful feature until it has some content driving it. Even if I don't get a lot of people asking questions, I will probably create some queries myself just to fill it in a bit. I have encountered numerous situations where I need an answer to something, and I have to scour the search engines to find something remotely related or useful. So, if I have to go to that trouble, I might as well add an EsoQuery with my findings, just in case someone else has the same question. Then, when they scour the web, maybe they'll find my answer on the seven-hundredth page of search results!

Don't forget, it's Wu Shu day! DaColas

Top Return to Top

Thursday, September 14th, 2006 - 2:02 AM

"Evangel Youth Group - Epic, Ethos, and Beyond"

Ethos

Since I have seen our youth group grow under the leadership of Ryan, I have come to appreciate these young people more and more. I really like having them as part of our church. It would suck not to have them there. They are provide a crucial element.

Yesterday I got an email from our youth pastor asking if I wanted to help out with creating an image to work as a logo for a group he is planning to form. This group, called "Ethos", will meet every couple weeks and will encompass the following "...full of dialogue, questions, video, and readings. It will be mainly aimed at high school and college and career people to come and discuss theology, video, and how to relate Christ to our changing culture". My initial reaction to his request was something like, "Hmmm... I usually don't like to create meaningful symbols or religious art unless I know I am at my best. I am somewhat of an inspired artist. When I'm inspired, the work flows, and it is full of intricate meaning and depth. When I'm not inspired, I can't do zip, and everything I do sucks. Maybe I should tell Ryan not to get his hopes up."

Not really feeling up to the task, I opened up Macromedia Flash last night and started fiddling around with my graphics tablet. After a bunch of scribbling, I came up with a concept that I think makes some sense based on the descriptions of the purpose of the group. I have no real idea where those ideas came from, so I have to hope it was inspiration. If not, and none of the images I created are appropriate or desirable, that's okay too. Sometimes I feel like my artistic style isn't quite postmodern or "hip" enough to be appreciated by a younger crowd. Ah, the ravages of age. At least I had some fun creating them. Visit the EsoShow to see all the images and discover some of the embedded meanings in the symbols.

...of the Glues, brothas!

Top Return to Top

Thursday, September 14th, 2006 - 12:34 AM

"Microsoft Lives"

Somebody's feeling threatened. Forget everything you ever heard about the rumor regarding Microsoft and Google being direct competitors. Don't forget the content of the debate, simply forget the debate and the rumor themselves. It is no longer a rumor or debate, but fact. If you have any doubts, visit Microsoft's new live.com. Does anything look familiar? Can you say "Flamboyant Google Clone?" Let's just say that the sleeping giant has awakened. Mickey, Goofy and Donald (perhaps Google, Yahoo and ?) better get their act together, because when the giant wakes, he quakes.

As a side-note to give credit where it's due, Microsoft's move may also have been influenced by Yahoo's recent revamping of their website and suite of applications, which also closely resembles live.com

So how does live.com resemble Google, and what does it have to offer users? First of all, live.com is a stage for a variety of internet applications, much like Google is. Google has a lean interface that allows you a connection to a variety of services, including a web search engine (arguably the ridiculously prevalent and king of such), image search, video platform, news forum, maps application, and ridiculously large list of other tools found here. Live.com offers a similar list of tools including a web search engine, image search, news forum, map application (called Local), and a growing list of Google equivalents. Live.com also has an all encompassing style, menu (though the menu is kinda buggy yet) and appearance throughout its suite of applications, a somewhat wise and unprecedented move for Microsoft.

The "scary" and amazing part of this story is the fact that this move of Microsoft is a direct blow to Google. Prior to this release, Google enjoyed virtually no significant competition in the arena they pioneered. They pretty much awed the world with their understanding and implementation of new technologies, often using a form of AJAX to give their tools a desktop application feel. It is evident that Microsoft has mirrored this sentiment, and all the live components present a brilliant and stunning and modular desktop application feel and function. Live.com, in my opinion, has upped the ante for Google, offering a far richer interface experience, and in some select cases, more powerful functionality and content than the Google powerhouse suite.

To catalog in exacting detail a comparison between each equivalent component of Google and Live.com would be outside the scope (patience) of this blog entry, but I will take the time to highlight some of my favorites. I will structure my thoughts using the live.com components as the basis for comparison and description, simply because people are largely already familiar with what Google offers. This article is more about what live.com is all about, since it's the new kid on the block. I'll try to be open about my own personal thoughts and am not afraid to say which company clearly has the upper hand in a particular area.

It is of congratulatory noteworthiness that I must mention all Windows Live components appear to function properly in Firefox. This is astounding because typically Microsoft develops and overuses proprietary technology with the sole purpose of promoting themselves and mudslinging the competition. They must have realized that intelligent people frown upon this sort of activity when perfectly acceptable alternatives (usually better than Microsoft's options anyway) exist in standard-compliant code and existing web technologies. I'm somewhat surprised that live.com works in anything but IE (Internet Exploder). Perhaps recent events have triggered in the ancient minds of Microsoft's big wigs that they need to finally get the with the program when it comes to web and browser technology. They might even give Mozilla a run for their "nonprofit money", thought IE7 simply won't cut it. We'll have to wait several more years for version 8 of Internet Explorer to come out to finally compete with version 1 of Firefox, showing the web how it was designed to be! At any rate, hats off to Microsoft for this intelligent move toward more standards-compliant code on live.com.

Microsoft Live Windows Live Local Go!

Windows Live Local

Without a doubt, Microsoft's map application is the most recent and impressive addition. In fact, I would say it is currently the highlight of their suite. Since MapQuest (thanks to GeoSystems and "yuck-gross-company" AOL) brought maps and directions to prominent attention on the web, a variety of mapping services have popped up, including Yahoo Maps and Google Maps among others. I guess Microsoft felt left out, and now they have arguably the best mapping application of all. If you are in doubt, check it out. You can't help but be impressed, even if you are not fond of the software giant and his movements.

A recent feature that has been added to all the major mapping systems that allows the viewing of satellite imagery in addition to the normal graphical street maps. Google for a while had the upper hand on everyone, creating the very cool Google Earth, that made it possible to see all maps in the context of 3D space on a world scale. Google Earth, however is a full-blown desktop application, not severely limited by normal internet concerns (though it does pull its data live from the web). Google's fair mapping equivalent would be Google Maps, a monster to its previous competition. Live Local packs quite a punch, and I have to say it is more powerful and possibly more attractive than Google's and other companies' options.

Live Local offers the standard street map view, satellite view and driving directions. There is also the option to search for people and businesses, which will locate them on a map if found. This feature seems to show much promise, though privacy invasion will likely be a future concern. Adding identifying location pushpins to maps is another feature Local Live offers, an idea pioneered by the powerful Google Earth.

The first thing I noticed about Local Live's map imagery is its unprecedented clarity and continuity. With other mapping services it is quite evident where various mapping tiles and data overlap due to obvious color and resolution changes. To my surprise, every map I have viewed in Local Live is seamless and beautiful - at any zoom level. From entire earth view to street level zoom, every single image is pristine perfection. The satellite images are seamless, and the street maps are unmatched in their visual clarity and intelligent design. To be honest, the street maps are the best of any online service. It appears that each one was meticulously put together by a graphic designer, with all the text tags in appropriate positions, and map features scaling and compressing with unequaled sensibility. When you view about at the county or state level, only large features appear, like major highways, cities and parks. The colors and appearance of these maps parallel the quality of most printed maps I have seen. When at the street level, all the expected details appear in nicely calculated graphical form.

The most impressive (or flashy) feature of Local Live is the new Bird's Eye view. I saw this showcased at work, when my entire department was hovering around our programmers desk, in awe of his demonstration. Local Live offers a three-quarters view (video gamers would know what this means) of many major cities in the U.S., including where I live in Portland, Oregon. Any location can be viewed from North, South, East and West with ridiculous clarity and resolution. I would say that the images are at least three times larger and more clear than anything anyone else has. In fact, it is pretty creepy. I'm surprised they didn't have to jump through any legal hoops to get this imagery online. It is so close and detailed that you can make out people quite easily. Any closer and you could see facial expressions, street signs, license plates, etc. The images for our area are surprisingly recent as well, most taken this summer. If you know the status of some sort of building or location at a specific time this summer, zoom in to see. You might be able to determine exactly the date the image was taken just based on the details shown. We were able to do just that at work.

Microsoft Live Windows Live Expo Go!

Windows Live Expo

As far as I can tell, Live Expo is essentially a Craigslist clone. Craigslist set the precedent of offering a place to post free ads of virtually any type. Job listings, classified ads, personals, you name it. So many people are using Craigslist now, that is is pretty much the de facto for the services it offers. Why pay for an ad when it can be free, with a far larger audience than any other medium? Live Expo seems to offer much of the same thing, it just needs more people realizing its potential. Quite honestly, I think it's annoying that there is more than one such service. I'd prefer to know that one place will have the most ads so I don't have to look at multiple listing services.

Microsoft Live Windows Live Favorites Go!

Windows Live Favorites

Live Favorites offers the unique service of storing web favorites, aka "Bookmarks" online. I am not aware of a Google equivalent for this one, though it could be out there somewhere. I immediately created an account on Live Favorites because I think this is a brilliant idea, one that I have thought of programming in my own admin screens for this site. It allows you to import favorites from popular browsers and create new items. The benefits of such functionality are obvious. Imagine you are on the road or at the office and are thinking, "I can't remember that link. I know it's in my Firefox Bookmark menu at home..." Shazam! Problem solved. With Local Favorites, you can import all your favorites to one place and access them anywhere an internet connection is available (such is necessary to visit the links anyway!). You can even preview the site in a pane within the interface if you have forgotten what the link is and want to check it out before committing to the visit.

Microsoft Live Windows Live Spaces Go!

Windows Live Spaces

Live Spaces is Microsoft's blogging, multimedia sharing and friends community. It is essentially another form of MySpace. I am actually somewhat annoyed at the ridiculous popularity of services like My Space and Live Spaces. Sure, they are somewhat cool, but they lack any real technological customization. I chose to create my own web site and blog engine because I wanted it to do certain things the mainstream services don't offer, plus I wanted my blog to blend seamlessly within my site. I later created a mirror of my blog on Google's Blogger with hopes of gaining a broader audience. I would like to create another mirror on MySpace in order to be able to add some of their community features and link up with some friends. However, it is not possible to completely customize the appearance of MySpace or host it on an outside server. Too bad. There ought to be a more advanced type of MySpace account that allows for advanced technology features like scripted API commands, integrated custom template creation and external hosting so some of us "power users" can get in the game. I simply don't have the time to write separate entries for a MySpace account.

Microsoft Live Windows Live Ideas Go!

Windows Live Ideas

Live Ideas is an exact clone of Google's More Products page and Google Labs. It is Microsoft's staging ground for showcasing upcoming web app releases. I'm sure this page will soon have a clone for every single one of Google's groundbreaking services. You can count on that!

...of the Glues, brothas!

Top Return to Top

Monday, September 11th, 2006 - 6:08 PM

"The Man Aint No Thang"

The Man

Sorry folks, I didn't really like The Man, with Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy. It had a few funny moments, but it was mostly predictable and mindless. As my dad said (paraphrased) after the disc stopped spinning, "the situation of a cop and a dufus [partner] has been done too many times". I suppose there were a few unique attributes that made this movie different than previous renditions of the same scenario, but I wasn't particularly impressed. Perhaps the worst drawback for me was heavy reliance on hard language to evoke a comical effect. I tend not to laugh just because someone uses profanity. For example, I came across a stand-up routine by Robin Williams relating to golf. Basically, he was simply screaming profanities at the top of his lungs in a Scottish accent. Not too funny. I prefer more intelligent, yet innocent (or senseless and ridiculous) humor.

...of the Glues

Top Return to Top

Monday, September 11th, 2006 - 1:01 AM

"DaColas: T'ai Chi and Wu Shu Fruit of the Day"

Call me crazy, but here is the world's first blog entry about color coordinated daily fruit and Wu Shu. For those of you who don't know, Wu Shu is Chinese martial arts, including a variety of forms and disciplines. T'ai Chi and flowing, internal martial arts forms are superior. They are superbly beautiful. I wish I had more aspiration to learn them all. I have no desire to fight or inflict violence. I simply get a grand feeling of release, accomplishment and peace from performing the movements well. Not to mention the greatly increased reaction times, awareness, balance, coordination, etc. Oh, whoops. I just mentioned those factors, so I should not really preface that sentence with "not to mention". Oops, I killed the pun by over-explaining it. Oh no, I'm stuck in a neverending chain of boring, not-funny loser jokes. Uh oh, I just broke the loop, so it's technically not neverending. Or perhaps it is, because it just keeps going. Nope. THE END.

This is a dynamic blog entry, meaning that its content will change, in this case daily and/or on page refresh. Each day of the week is represented by a different color, and a picture of a fruit with that same color will appear. If it is Sunday, the fruit will be replaced by a masterful martial arts stance. No one knows my intentions with this. Don't even try to figure it out! But visit this entry at least for the next week so you can appreciate the random colors and imagery... or not.

Oh, and this might set some sort of record, certainly an EsoRecord. I have never uploaded so many images for use in a single blog entry before. There are a total of one hundred and thirty randomly loading images (including the gradient backgrounds), spread across the seven colorful days (most on Sunday).

  • Sunday - Wu Shu Day - 99 possible images
  • Monday - Red Day (Strawberries) - 4 possible images
  • Tuesday - Orange Day (Oranges) - 5 possible images
  • Wednesday - Yellow Day (Bananas and Lemons) - 7 possible images
  • Thursday - Green Day (Limes) - 3 possible images
  • Friday - Blue Day (Blueberries) - 2 possible images
  • Saturday - Purple Day (Grapes) - 4 possible images

A tiny, partial explanation of something of particular importance: Some of you might be wondering what "DaColas" has anything to do with this entry. Well, it's the title and the only thing of any relevance. "Da Colas", roughly translated (I mean very roughly translated) from Portuguese means "of the glues". Yes, cola means glue in Portuguese. One might think, "Well, in the rare case that you would say glues or colas, shouldn't you at least have article-noun agreement and make the da das?" Well, that's my point exactly: NO. Those sort of corrections would void the expression of all its subtle nuances and meaning. I mean, everyone goes around saying, "glues", don't they? Like, "You want some glues to fix that broken stove pipe?" or my personal favorite, "The glues is in the house! And you better be hippin' to the glues (and jive)!" With all those things considered, I now officially establish DaColas as a new American and Brazilian expression that will have far-reaching cultural influence. It kinda means, "Wazzup", and is equally cool. You see your homies hanging out on the street, and you say, "Of the glues", or "DaColas", and they respond in turn. And that's all I'm going to say about that. On possibly a more relevant note, I chose to say DaColas in the title because all the other elements were covered, and I didn't want the colors to feel left out. If you imagine it said in kind of a gangsta accent, it's like saying "the colors". I mean, I mentioned the Wu Shu and the fruit, but the colors complained about equal representation. Green was especially verbal and nasty on the topic. Now they have so much attention that the Wu Shu Meisters might come track me down and demand balance. But that's okay, I'll employ my T'ai Chi False Mastery (Whip Style Lee Fudge), and they won't stand a chance! For once the yin and yang are not in balance. I know, it's not a good T'ai Chi stance when things aren't balanced, and thus the "False Mastery".

Top Return to Top

Saturday, September 9th, 2006 - 4:01 PM

"Dynamic Blog Entries - Bejeweled 2"

I have been thinking: technically, it is possible to have dynamic blog entries. Meaning that, if I wanted to, I could write some good ole PHP scripting within any blog entry, and it would execute on the server before being sent to the user, just like any other dynamic part of the page. Duh, that's obvious, nothing exciting or new. But I haven't necessarily written a blog entry that has changing content. In fact, I somewhat avoid it. I think it might even break an unspoken ethic of blogging. Except for obvious spelling and factual errors, which I think are okay to fix later on, typically blog entries are like news articles. Once posted, it is as if they are "in print", etched in stone. Once a newspaper releases a daily issue, it can't take back anything that was said. It seems this sort of logic and ethics go along with blogging too. A different reason applies, however. With printed material, it is physically impossible for the content to change - at least until we have Star Trek-like tablets or ink that changes over time based on tiny microchips in the paper fibers. With blogs and electronic publishing, however, usually entries aren't updated simply because the mind has moved on. No one wants to go back and change or rewrite a blog entry, especially knowing full well that no one will ever read the changes. That's another annoying rule of blogging - no one ever reads old blog entries. If they do, they certainly don't submit comments to them. I wish they would. I wish there was a way to break the linear, "immediate expiration" of blog entries. Once an entry moves from the home page, it is almost certain that no one will read it. It's almost pointless to have an archives or calendar feature. Oh well. Rant all I want, it won't change anything. I do have several ideas to combat this linear expiration, but who knows if I'll ever make the time to develop them.

All that to say, I think I'll try to make a dynamic blog entry in a bit here. I would do it right here, but it'll have to wait until I write the script that makes it all happen. It'll be about an online game I have been playing, Bejeweled 2. I'll try to write a blog entry that will show a graph of my scores. Not that anyone is interested, I just think it will be fun to try. So far I haven't messed with PHP's image libraries. It'll be a good test of my intuition. Not to mention the fact that I haven't made a point of learning much new lately. I don't want my web design/development knowledge to level off. There's a whole lot more I could be doing.

All Material Copyright © 2017, Last Modified 04.05.2015 - 12:30:16 am