Woohoo! Last night my power came back on! I'm one of the lucky few in Broward who has power. Unfortunately everything in my fridge is spoiled so I have to go to the store and buy new everything! :( I am also running very low on gas. I need to go brave the lines today to get some gas. :( Oh well. I'm also back to work this morning for the first time since last Friday. The office is stuffy as hell (A/C doesn't seem to be working right) and half of our servers don't seem to be responding. I think the data center shut down the 'unnecessary' servers to conserve power.
Hey Dave (and all the other Windows developers out there), the final versions of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 are available for download! Check the link on the header of this blog. Once you all get power, be sure to download a copy.
Yes, I know many people in South Florida don't have power yet (myself included). I'm seeking shelter at the parentals who have power! :)
(Screaming in Fred Flinstone voice)
Just a quick note to say that I survived Wilma without any harm or damage to my house. My house has no power, and a couple of trees are down in front of my house, but that's it. I got lucky. I hope everyone else out there is OK.
I made a trip to the Apple store yesterday to take a look at the new video iPod. I wanted to put up a quicky review of it.
There weren't many of the new iPods on display to play with at the Apple store. I had to find an Apple store employee who had one in his hand in order to play with it. I got to take a look at both the 30GB and the 60GB iPods. While they didn't have any out for demoing yet, they did have quite a few for sale. The box for the iPods is now a flat, black box. It's no longer the big cube box. I would say that you could easily stack three of these new flat iPod boxes in in the space of one of the old cube boxes. No doubt this is an attempt to reduce storage/shipping costs by shrinking the packaging.
The first thing you notice when you look at it is just how BIG the screen is now. The screen has increased in size from a 2 inch square to a 2.5 inch square. This new, larger screen is placed on an iPod that is the same size as the old iPod. This means that the gap around the screen is also much smaller. This also lends to the impression that the screen is that much bigger. The resolution on this screen has also increased from 160x160 to 320x240. This screen strikes me as the biggest benefit of the new iPod. The resolution is much higher, the screen is much bigger, and the number of colors the screen is able to display are much higher. This means that album art will be much more clear and colorful, photos will be bigger and more colorful and videos will look quite good.
The other, visible change on the front is that the click wheel is a little bit smaller. The difference is only about 2-3 millimeters between the older one and the newer one. The thing is, the much bigger screen makes the click wheel look alot smaller than it really is. This kind of makes the new iPod look a little out of proportion.
Another difference is that the front of the iPod is now flat, with a clear plastic layer on top of it. The back is still the old curved, crome back. This curved back and flat front also give it a bit of an out of proportion look.
As for video playback, it's pretty decent, but not perfect. My only complaint on the video playback is that when you pick a video to play, there is a pause of a couple of seconds before the video starts playing. Once it does start playing , the video playback seems good.
There is also a very basic little case that the iPod comes with (FINALLY!). This is only a very basic little vinyl sleeve that you slide the iPod into when you have it in your pocket. There is no way to access the click wheel or see the screen while it's in the case. A nice start, but it certainly won't put the iPod case makers out of business.
As for the thickness of the new iPod, it's quite an improvement. I had been considering upgrading my 40GB monocrome iPod to the 60GB iPod color, but the thing was WAY to thick for my tastes. The new 60GB iPod is significantly thinner than the older one. It's even thinner than my 40GB iPod. When my 40GB iPod dies, I'm seriously considering buying that 60GB iPod now.
So, I saw the movie 'Doom' ealier today. Time for a quick little review...
Doom, as I'm sure you know, is based on a very popular, first-person shooter computer video game. The storyline of the game (such as it is) is that you are a soldier sent to a research base on Mars to investigate some reports of trouble there. The trouble ends up being a rash of monsters that are attacking and killing the scientists on the research base. Once you get there, you end up running around the base, shooting all these scary looking monsters that pop out at you. It's a fun, but VERY violent and graphic game. This movie follows the exact same plot, but in live action.
The movie starts of fast. Within the first 5 minutes, the monsters are already attaching the scientists and the soldiers are on the way. The soldiers are lead by 'Sarge', played by 'The Rock'. Yes, this is a mindless action movie. For the most part the movie is your typical 'shoot the zombies' movie. Very similar to other monster movies such as 'Resident Evil', 'Dawn of the Dead', etc. Pretty typical stuff. Lots of running around. Lots of screaming. Lots of vicious monsters getting blown away. Lots of people getting killed. I was pleasantly surprised though, how the movie didn't just go for a lot of gore. For most of they movie, they were only tracking a couple of monsters. It wasn't until the end where things got interesting, and to me really funny.
Near the end, we reach the point where the hero has to run through the entire base to save the girl. I won't give away the ending, but the hero is not the one you expect. Anyway, this is where I got a real kick out of the movie. Once the hero starts this race through the base, the entire movie switches literally into a live action version of the game. The entire movie switches to a first person perspective - identical in every way to the game! All you see of the hero is the gun bouncing in front of you as he runs. You see him reload the gun, same as in the game. You see him turn corners and quickly blow away monsters as they appear. You see him drop mines and blow up monsters. You even seem to see him die for a moment. When he dies, he falls on the ground and you see that sideways view of the ground, just like you do when you die in the game. It was a riot! I was laughing the whole time. This is the first time I've seen them literally reproduce the game in the movie version, and it seemed to work! Anyway, finally the hero saves the girl and leads to the big, final fight with the big bad guy. Obviously the hero wins and saves the girl.
One more interesting note. The lead scientist was named Dr. Carmack. John Carmack was one of the original creators of the Doom game. I thought this was a nice little homage to the creator of the game.
If you enjoyed the game, you may like the movie, if for nothing else than the ending, which was quite entertaining. The rest of the movie was very predictable. Worth at least a rent on DVD. A great popcorn movie...
Just a quick note today to point to an article that describes a new attack on bloggers. This isn't the referer spam I've been fighting but a problem with fake blogs advertising spam products clogging up search sites. I've seen some of this in links sent to my blog....
The referer spammers are still at it on my site, by the way. I spent a couple hours last night searching through my server's raw access logs trying to find the IPs of spammers and blocking them. I blocked a large number of them, but there are still a lot more to go.
Man, I never thought that running a little site like this would become such a pain! Even though I modified the site to not display referer links, the referer spammers are still pounding my site! I had one spammer who pounded my site over 5000 times over the weekend. This spammer caused the CPU usage on the server my site is running on to go too high. Because of this high CPU usage, my web host shut down my site (again!). Fortunately, I was able to isolate this to the fact that the spammer had been pounding my site, causing the increase in CPU usage. After I banned the spammer, my web host agreed to re-enable my site.
I really appreciate the understanding of my web host! Thanks guys!
Ok, I finally did it. I modified the site so that it does not show referers anymore. This means that there won't be any more referer spam! All you spammers out there have just lost another site to post your links to.
I also left a little something for a certain 'Whore'. :)
Today, Apple held their 'One More Thing' presentation. Apple is always very mysterious whenever they announce new products. They are very careful not to let any information slip out as to what they are going to announce. Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, is known to get to a point in his presentations where he casually says 'one more thing...'. This is usually when he announces a major new product. Everyone who follows Apple knows this, so based on this mysterious phrase, they new this was going to be a big day. As usual Apple didn't dissapoint. Here's some of the things announced:
Updated iMac: This new iMac is now even thinner than the old one (wow!) and has a built in iSight (a video camera). This means you can now do video conferencing 'out of the box'. A nice addition. I can see how this would be a useful feature. The new iMac costs the same as the old 'fatter' one. It also comes with some new 'media center' type software that lets you view videos, music, etc through a wireless (Bluetooth!) remote. I haven't seen this software yet, so I'm not sure what I think of this yet. All in all, some nice improvements to the iMac.
Cancelled the eMac: This wasn't really announced at the presentation, but it was discovered afterwards. The eMac is Apple's computer aimed at the educational market. In other words, its the 'school Mac'. The eMac consists of a CRT monitor and computer all integrated together into one box. From what I've been reading, this is a difficult computer to work with, when it comes to any kind of repairs, due to it's all in one CRT case. This, plus the fact that CRT monitors are becoming rare. Most computers these days are sold with LCD monitors. The new iMac more than fits the bill here (since it is essentially an entire computer integrated into an LCD screen.). I guess they figured that the iMac can easily fill the area the eMac once served, so it is no longer needed.
Cancelled the U2 iPod: The U2 iPod is no longer listed on their online store. This means that they are no longer selling it. It is no longer needed, since the main appeal of it was that the U2 iPod was black, whereas the regular iPod was white. The new iPods they also released today (more below) come in black so it's no longer needed.
Introduced the video iPod: This has been a product that has LONG been rumored to be coming from Apple, but they have always denied it in the past. The video iPod looks basically the same as the old iPod, only now it comes in 30 and 60 GB capacities and it's thinner than the old ones. It also comes with a larger screen, which has a higher resolution (320x240, versus the old color screen that was 160x160). It also has the ability to display video (i.e. movies) and has a video out so you can display these movies on your TV.
Added the selling of music videos to the iTunes store: This is not really a surprise. They've been selling a few videos on there for a while now and the iTunes software has been able to play movies for a while. This is just the natural progression of things. I wasn't surprised by this, and frankly not impressed. So the new iPod can play a few music videos. So what? That's not worth buying a new iPod for. It was their final announcement (the 'one more thing...') that makes the new video iPod very interesting.
Added the selling of episodes of TV shows to the iTunes store: This is where things get very interesting. I wasn't expecting this. When you think about it though, this is the natural progression of where they should go. They have sold individual tracks from a CD and entire CD albums before. Now that they are selling episodes of TV shows on the iTunes store, I fully expect them to start selling 'season packs' of TV episodes, and to provide the ability to make DVDs from these videos. This is the next step. They new have audio albums and 'video albums'. Apple has already taken over the market for CD singles and singlehandedly legitimized the online music business. Now they are going to take over the DVD market! DVD producers make a lot of money selling these DVD season packs in the stores. Once Apple starts doing this, they stand to steal a lot of business from the DVD producers. A very clever move.