Entries for May, 2006

Something I've been mulling over on and off for the past few weeks is how to build a better webmail client. In this case, I am NOT talking about replacing Yahoo! mail, Gmail, or Hotmail. I am talking about the type of service you can install on your own server and run for your own domain (for free). Much like Brian of Audio Activism, I don't like the idea that critical emails are sitting on other servers. Although it's a bit more work, I've kept (and maintained) my own mail server for the better part of 6 or 7 years (on my neopages.com domain).

Sometimes when travelling, the need to use webmail arises. I'm not much of a Pine guy (too much CLI for me), so I tend to use Squirrelmail.

This is what Squirrelmail looks like:

It's perfectly functional, but it's not very fun to use. I've been using Gmail lately, and it's just easier to use. There's more functionality, and things are more streamlined.

With a bit of sparetime, I mocked up some ideas for a webmail client that would be comparable to clients like Gmail and Yahoo! mail. I'm sure if I had no projects and lots of time, I would probably try to hack Squirrelmail to make this work, but until then, these screenshots will have to do.

The overriding goal for this new design is simplicity. It's surprising how many email clients use the three-pane layout; I thought I was hooked on that, until Gmail showed me that we don't need three panes. Three panes looks confusing. My mom would never figure out how to operate Thunderbird. The goal is to create a tool that is simple to use; a relative newbie can pick up the new design very easily.

Just as a background, I've used Squirrelmail, Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook and Thunderbird in the past. There will be parts of the mockup which will reflect parts of these services - I don't intend to say anything I'm mocking up is new - it's just what I'd like to see.

The benefit of building a webmail client is you don't have to waste time with useless branding stuff; you can just display the actual content!

Inbox view:

Actual emails may not reflect emails that I get

As you can see, a very simple interface. Not many buttons, and the preferences are kept to a minimum (three along the top). I like Gmail's checkboxes, but I don't like how their buttons aren't greyed out when nothing is checked - if actions aren't possible, they should be greyed out.

I've borrowed from Gmail again the 'labels' feature and terminology (I like it better than tagging and keywording - labels hearkens back to the good ol' days of labelling your manilla folders!). As you navigate different folders, the folders left bar (the blue one) highlights so it's clear what page you're on - I don't like Gmail's "connected" background effect - it makes it look too busy.

The target to load any given email is the the whole row - like Gmail. Hotmail is confusing with the multiple links on each line; I can't recall now which link actually opens the email (maybe all of them do, I don't know).

New emails are bolded - I was thinking of using a background color, but I know a lot of people who don't always read their new emails, so using a background color would be way too much like a patchwork quilt.

When you hover over a row:

You'll notice the row lights up - this should make it easy to distinguish what row you're looking at. Also, if the item is labelled, the selected labels will show up on the left bar (the green labels box).

To make the buttons actionable, we must check an item:

Notice how the buttons how light up. This mockup is very crude, but I would imagine the final version would also allow you to modify the status of an email (read/unread/junk).

So let's say, I've decided to modify the labels, I click the "labels" button; an inline dialogue loads up:

You'll notice the ones that were already selected are bold and have a label icon. You can click on any of the links to select it (or select an existing one to de-select it). Let's say I want to create a new label, so I click "Create a new label" link. It switches out the text for a form:

Wooooo! You can obviously see what Naomi Watts means to me... I then save by clicking "Create Label." This then updates the label box:

This is as far as I've gone with mockups - I have some ideas for "Write new email" and the "Address book," but those'll have to wait until I have some more time.

What do you think?

Currently listening to: Ace of Base - Beautiful Life
Posted by roy on April 30, 2006 at 05:19 PM in Ramblings, Web Development | 9 Comments

If you're interested in an amazing use of Flash and Flickr's API to navigate Flickr, check the Flickr Related Tag Browser. Simply beautiful, and amazing.

Sometimes I see beautiful pictures on Flickr (for example, this picture of Hyori at the beach) that I want to download, but cannot (because they've disabled it, and all I download is this blank image).

To get around this "protection," (and I'm assuming you're using Firefox, it's possible to do in IE just a bit more convoluted) simply select the image with your mouse (like you would highlight text). Then right click, and select "View Selection Source".

For the Hyori image, you'll get something like this:

<div id="photoImgDiv77559479" style="width: 502px;" class="photoImgDiv"><img src="http://static.flickr.com/36/77559479_e067029191.jpg?v=0" alt="" onload="show_notes_initially()" height="369" width="500"><img style="position: relative; top: -371px; margin-bottom: -371px; display: block;" src="/images/spaceball.gif" alt="" height="369" width="500"></div>

Find the src value that is *not* spaceball.gif; in this example:

<div id="photoImgDiv77559479" style="width: 502px;" class="photoImgDiv"><img src="http://static.flickr.com/36/77559479_e067029191.jpg?v=0" alt="" onload="show_notes_initially()" height="369" width="500"><img style="position: relative; top: -371px; margin-bottom: -371px; display: block;" src="/images/spaceball.gif" alt="" height="369" width="500"></div>

Copy and paste that value into your browser to get your file. However, that will only be the "web" size. If you want to get the full size, add a _b to the filename (before the extension).

In this case, if I wanted the full-sized image, it'd be: http://static.flickr.com/36/77559479_e067029191_b.jpg

Posted by roy on April 30, 2006 at 11:07 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

School's in, folks. The markets continue to teach me expensive lessons.

I recently bit the bullet and dumped my underperformers at quite a heavy loss (I'm still up, though!). Yahoo!, after rebounding on earnings, decdied to start sliding down again. I decided to bite the 5% loss and just sell it off. I recently bought Cogent before earnings; my due diligence showed a promising company with low debt, steady earnings (in a lumpy contract market) and a promising industry (biometrics). What I didn't understand when buying was the market sentiment - apparently management doesn't care squat about the investors. The conference call was very weak, and I decided that although I'm still bullish on the long-term prospects of this company, there's no reason to tie in my money for 3-6 months before next quarter (3Q/4Q shoudl show lots of promise). I took a 15% loss (I didn't put in a stop-loss because I'm a moron). It's on my watchlist, and if it's still hovering at $16 about 4-5 months from now, I'll considering buying back in.

Another big lesson I learned was from PCU. I bought in at PCU in the early 90s and was expecting a huge earnings report from them. Their earnings, last week, was incredibly dissappointing. They reported lower income, no end in sight for the strikes that are affecting production. What bothers me more is that they continued to pay an astounding $2.25 dividend on lowered earnings. I have to imagine that GMEX (the parent company) is trying its best to pillage the cash hoard of PCU before the Peruvian presidential elections (with both outcomes looking as bad as the USA's past presidential election). PCU also entered into forward contracts for copper production at $2.80, which means their profit line isn't going to benefit from an increase in copper spot prices.

Not to mention GMEX is making a lot of noise of selling the company ... it just does not seem like solid fundamentals to drive the company for the next year.

So naturally I sold out at about $96. I was happy to walk away with money. The next day, I seemed vindicated when the price dropped down to $92.

Then it started going up. And up. All the way to $100 (today). It astounds my mind. How can a poor quarter and poor future quarters be buoying the stock? I'll continue to track PCU closely and see if I can learn my lesson from this.

Unlike PCU's earnings report, NXG's earnings report yesterday night was spectacular. The only downside was reporting the consensus $0.10 EPS, but things that are showing promise:

  • They unhedged the price of copper, so they should be able to take advantage of these spot prices when selling
  • They've lowered the net cost of the gold they mine
  • Further efficiencies in their stripping costs should improve margins (unlike PD)
  • They continue to pay off their debt (unlike PCU)
  • Vast upside from Young-Davidson mine and Kemess North
  • No political instability (it's a Canadian company!)

Here's to upside :)

So currently I'm holding TD, NXG, B, BTSE, and EWW (I bought this in solidarity of my Latino brothers). Let's hope my re-aligned portfolio will perform better :)

Currently listening to: Shakira ft Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie
Posted by roy on May 1, 2006 at 12:46 PM in Finances | 13 Comments

It's already May! The year is almost half-over! Where does the time go? How is everybody holding up on your New Years Resolutions? (Remember those?) I'm actually staying strong with my commitments this year (still).

Posted by roy on May 4, 2006 at 12:33 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

To answer Bert, yes I love my small/mid-cap plays. Nowhere else are you gonna have a shot at a ten-bagger. Below are plays I'm doing research on - I've eventually pared down my original list down to these guys. I'll be hopefully entering long positions on two small/mid caps and one large cap over the next three months.

Small/mid-cap: UNFI, GAIA, IEX, SFL, SWN, GW, NTO.

Large-cap plays: TM (which comes with the added bonus of being hedged against the dollar), APD, GRMN, UPL

Fund plays: EEM, EWJ, FXE (although I'm not sure that Europe's economies are robust enough to for me to feel comfortable hedging against the dollar here).

Currently listening to: Leanne Rimes - But I Do Love You
Posted by roy on May 5, 2006 at 12:49 PM in Finances | 4 Comments

In a reply to my webmail clients that don't suck post, Brian offered a link to Roundcube, which is exactly what I wanted! Try logging into the demo and playing with it - it's simple, elegant, and beautiful! When I logged in, the demo was set to Italian, but because of the simplicity of the system, I could easily figured out how to set the language to English (now that passes the real test of usability!).

This is fantastic - I should start writing more posts about stuff I want ...

<cue category creation ... "stuff i want">

Posted by roy on May 6, 2006 at 08:10 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

Dork it up with me by LOLing in your room as you read this email exchange. Names changed to protect the innocent.

Email I received

Hey everyone!

So... if you're getting this email, it means you're invited to Sally's wedding!! Hurrah! And if you're not invited, then just ignore it. Hah, I'm such a joker. If you never got a "save-the-date", please let me know and I'll figure out what happened. Bob and Sally really want to see you on July 2nd!

Anyway, we're all moving on into summer and that may mean that mailing addresses will change! If you ARE going to have a change of address email me back to let me know what it is! If you delay, you may not get a fancy shmancy invitation!

Ok, that's all!
Jane Doe

My response:

my summer address as requested:

5 old capital way
osgiliath, gondor

ta ta, hope you're doing well!

Response to my email:

is that a real place? what's the zip?

jane doe

My response:

ARE YOU NOT A LORD OF THE RINGS FAN?????????? ????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????


Posted by roy on May 10, 2006 at 02:00 AM in Foolishness | 2 Comments

While listening to Relient K's "Who I am hates who I've been," it occured to me that the converse is probabaly equally likely: "Who I've been hates who I am." I think both statements are equally depressing - the first states the naivety of youth is something to be ashamed of, while the latter underlines the compromises adults make.

. . .

Google Trends is awesome; it'll track the popularity of a given search over time. Basically it's going to track your popularity over time. Unfortunately Tabulas is not popular enough - but I did manage to get this cool graph of Xanga vs. Livejournal vs. Blogger vs. Flickr.

I also got approved for Google Analytics today; I've added it to most Tabulas sites to see how useful Analytics is. I'm currently using Mint to track usage on Tabulas, but that thing runs into serious performance issues (which aren't really its fault) when you try holding more than 150MB worth of data (I had it up to about 500mb for a while but gave up.

Posted by roy on May 10, 2006 at 02:51 PM in Personal, Web Development | 3 Comments

While at Bald Head, we had intermittent power outages (two in total). I randomly remembered today what we did that first night without power - we made use of my battery-powered Logitech portable speakers and listened to part 6-12 of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet." Can you imagine six of us, chilling in the beach house at about midnight, with no lights and power, cracking up to R. Kelly?

Good times.

Currently listening to: R. Kelly - Trapped In The Closet (6-12)
Posted by roy on May 11, 2006 at 01:49 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Continuing in the boring coverage of Roy's foray into the financial world, Roy experienced his first "bear" day: the first time all of my stocks ended up in the negatives! And this isn't just a measly 1-2% per stock... no sirree... each stock lost at least 2% ... and one lost close to 12%!!!

I'm actually kind of proud of this day - I'm pretty happy with the way I shrugged it off the whole day. There will be up days and down days, and this was definitely a down day (for the whole market, the Dow lost about 2% too, and I emailed Bert about his portfolio pains as well). Steph, how did you do?

I expect the beginning of a tougher market - higher Fed rates, coupled with high commodity prices, higher competition from foreign markets, incompetant Federal government (both the executive and legislative branches are to blame here) ... oh well.

Hey, as long as I can beat a monkey throwing darts at the WSJ, I'll be happy.

The screenshot with the proof: (irrelevant parts edited out)

Posted by roy on May 11, 2006 at 05:37 PM in Finances | 3 Comments

As I stood there, watching my paycheck drain into my car at $2.83/gallon, I wondered if people are more like to do the "shake" now that every bit of gas is worth something.

The "shake" that I am refererencing is the "shake" that men do after peeing at the urinal (or in child-speak, #1-sees) to ensure proper drainage ... of their ... peeing things.

I always felt bad when I would take the gas pumper out, and a bit of gas would come flying out, so I started (unintentionally) doing the "shake" to ensure this didn't happen. Then I realized I probably learned this skill from countless trips to the urinal...

But do women do this as well? Are women aware of the "shake" and it's usefulness in ensuring every drop of liquid ends up in the receptable? There were no women at the gas station, so I was unable to test my theory. I did, however, see one other guy do the "shake", so I didn't feel like a total weirdo-perv. (Wouldn't it be sad if I turned out to be the only person who did this?)

So please, the next time you're at a gas station, please let me know if women do the shake. I theorize that men are more like to do the shake than women at the pump.

Currently listening to: John Mayer - Daughters
Posted by roy on May 11, 2006 at 11:29 PM in Foolishness | 6 Comments

A fact I bet you didn't know and would have never guessed: When I was in middle school, I held Josef Stalin in the highest respect. I remember having to do a biography on a world character in middle school, and I jumped at the opportunity write about him. I actually had pretty strong Communist leanings/tendencies (what do you expect from a kid who was obsessed with Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky) up until freshman year of high school when apathy kicked in. What's amusing is that I remember reading this book written in the '70s or '80s.

I'm still quite fascinated by Communist states - not because I ideologically believe any of the obvious perverse implementations of Marxism, but because it represents the existence of an extremely different state of living than ours. Democracy has its plus points, but there is something to be said about nation-states like North Korea which continue to survive. Reading about Ceausescu's former regime in Romania and the current Chavez regime in Venezuela have to make you wonder - how much are these guys driven by ideology and how much just by the allure of power? I have to believe that at some point these guys believed in their ideals, but the realities of government (inefficiencies of bureacracy, corruption by lower officials) made them fail in their goal.

I guess what's really weird for me is that although I sip the American lemonade (democracy + free markets), I can't help but sympathize with some of these guys. Specifically in regards to North Korea, I refuse to believe NK-US issues are as black-and-white as the Western media portrays - the truth is always complicated. (For example, do you remember the NK-US crisis back when Clinton was president? The big "victory" for Clinton was in getting NK to stop its plutonium production in return for two light-water reactors and oil shipments from the US - the deal stalled out when the US said NK was violating by starting a uranium enrichment while the NKs accused the US of dragging its feet on the oil shipments and the light-water reactors - it's clear that both sides really made this deal fall through. Even later on, a newspaper report leaked the fact that the US was still listing NK as potential nuclear strike targets, thus violating the agreement)

That said, I wonder if these guys mean well, but are just placed into positions where they are led to be corrupt. I mean, look how bad middle-class kids in America become when they're not exposed to the lower class difficulties that plague our own nation (example: see Duke Lacrosse kids). Now imagine if you're constantly surrounded by yes-men and live in a life of complete opulence... how much of a role does that play in distorting reality?

Currently listening to: Tupac Shakur - I Ain't Mad At Cha (video)
Posted by roy on May 13, 2006 at 05:34 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

It looks like the Beeb grabbed the wrong person for an interview on the recent Apple Corp vs. Apple Computers verdict ... instead of getting an expert on the Internet music business... they got ... a cabbie.

Watch the video (backup link); the cabbie's face as they introduce him as somebody else... dear god. It's priceless. I cannot stop watching this.

I gotta give that dude mad props for playing it off so well ... hahahahahaha.

Posted by roy on May 14, 2006 at 02:27 PM in Foolishness | 1 Comments

I feel really nostalgic watching the video to Britney Spears' "Oops I did it again". Why can't we go back to the simpler, innocent, naive pre-Federline times? (I'm being a big tongue-in-cheek here, but not totally).

Currently listening to: Britney Spears - Oops I Did It Again
Posted by roy on May 16, 2006 at 02:56 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

For all of you who understand so far what today's started looking like:

This flash movie is for you

To the superstitious group of you, apologies. I probably "jinxed" it.

Posted by roy on May 16, 2006 at 07:31 AM in Finances | 9 Comments

It started with a Digg comment that I made regarding a quote from Bill Gates that "search is pathetic."

Search is at an interesting crossroads right now - there are two competing schools of thought about the future of search. In one corner is Google, who believes that computer algorithms are the most efficient way to index the world's information. In the other corner is Yahoo!, who believes that humans are best at organizing the world's organization. (Yahoo! has recently purchased Flickr, a social networking site for photos, and Delicious, a social bookmarking site). The rise in social networking sites like Digg, Metafilter, and Memeorandum show that humans are best at pushing the most interesting (not necessarily the most relevant) information to the top. This begs the question, "Why don't we just hire a bunch of full-time editors to organize the world's information?"

This was attempted through DMOZ (amusingly, Yahoo!'s original concept was a human-edited directory of the web!), which Google purchased. For a while, DMOZ entries were given greater weight in the Google index, but DMOZ and its weight in the Google engines was cut out a long time ago.

The problem is that a few people having that much control over search results (whcih is a lucrative business) are going to become biased (if you were getting paid $100 to push up a result you knew was bad, could you resist?).

So the new idea is that if the masses can push up a certain result, then it's probably the most relevant result, and there is less chance of bias.

The problem, as it stands, is that the data set is far too small. Humans are good at pushing relevant items to the top, but it's still very hard to categorize this information. If I wanted the best site to demonstrate video photography effects, that item would already have to exist.

In a sense, it's the same short/long tail problem that's plagued the web since the beginning. Automated tasks are very good at pushing up the long tail, but the short tail is probably better left for humans to moderate (otherwise a search engine should probably always search Wikipedia first to see if an article exists, then push up the rest).

I'm not sure which way is right - I think a combination of both could be quite powerful - take into account the way users like my friends have tagged a certain link, then weight that in with a computer algorithm. Google's latest Coop program is an example of this - they are trying to factor in human experience into the results generated from an algorithm.

The future of search is going to involve a human element - and that will yield more personalized, better results. This is where the future of search lies, and this is why companies like Yahoo! and MSN still have a fighting chance - as long as they can support standards (I guarantee you that nobody wants to sign up for just ONE bookmarking service) like OPML, they can simple start tweaking their existing algorithms with the data. The big question is, will they?

Currently listening to: Kelly Clarkson - Because Of You
Posted by roy on May 17, 2006 at 02:42 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

The Dow Jones posted a huge loss today, but it's still trading in the channel (the channel being defined by the two green lines, the Bollinger Bands in the biggest graph). Tomorrow will be a test to see if it rebounds or continues to fall (my guess, the latter). Hopefully we'll see a bounce around 10,900...

NASDAQ looks sad. Down, down, down we go.

Looks like the S&P 500 also blew past channel trading and is probably looking for support around 125.

It doesn't look like we're going to find stabilization in the markets this week. Hopefully Friday will give us some sort of indication of buying strength.

Something very interesting:

Around April 24th, we see a huge gap up in Barnes stock (I own Barnes, by the way). This was in response to a great earnings report. If I had taken the time to examine this chart, this was a classic exhaustion gap. I should have cashed out at $47. Given the tough market conditions, I can't expect a rebound on this until market sentiment becomes positive again. Oh, the lessons I learn.

In any case, the rest of the week should provide some interesting charts for me to study.

Currently listening to: Saving Jane - Girl Next Door
Posted by roy on May 17, 2006 at 07:20 PM in Finances | 1 Comments

How much is a domain worth? Now you can get a definitive answer from LeapFish. It seems pretty accurate - it pegged Lightbox7 (which I developed and sold a few years ago) at $6.5K (so I vastly understold it), while it pegs theassbook.com at $3.5K (very close to its selling price).

Interestingly, it pegs Tabulas.com at $85,000. Hmmmmmm

Currently listening to: Saving Jane - Girl Next Door
Posted by roy on May 17, 2006 at 07:42 PM in Ramblings | 10 Comments

Considering NXG accounts for nearly 50% of my portfolio (risky, I know, that's not the point), and the fact that NXG has slid nearly 25% since last week, I need to re-examine the market sentiment on the stock.

The fundamentals of the company are solid. This is one of the most efficient mining companies (their net cost for an oz. of gold is going to be negative given the high value of copper). It is primarily a gold and copper play, both which have been in the midst of a huge bull market (until this week). I've discussed their financial upside in previous posts, so I'll focus mostly on where NXG may slide. Note that I am a completely idiot when it comes to most things, so this is probably wrong.

Earlier today on the NXG stock message boards (which are mostly filled with stock pumpers, but there are still a few legitimate posters who offer valuable insight), somebody asked how low the slide would go. Here was my analysis on the chart (I had actually looked at the chart the night before):

Last night, the Bollinger Band (the two green lines on the main chart) showed a low of $3.44. That price point was hit today, which just goes to show you that the bears are winning right now against the bulls. More interestingly, we're seeing that the closing hours of every trading day is showing a lot of sell-off ... the "buy the dip" bulls may not be enough to stop the sell-offs. I "bought the dip" when NXG hit $4.33 last week, and I'm hurting from that.

So, assuming that market sentiment continues to be sour and the sell-off in the overheated miners, we can assume that the bears are going to do their best to test the support limits. Tomorrow will be a test down to $3.34 (the lower level of the BB), and I'm sure they're going to want to continue test down to the 50 dma at $3.17.

I'm reluctant to stop-loss NXG at this time because of all the research I've done on companies, I really like NXG the best. The only question mark is whether they can transition away from their primary mine, Kemess South. That mine is set to close in late 2008, while KNorth and their new Young-Davidson mine aren't set to open until a little after that.

At this point, I'm willing to tolerate a loss on NXG until the 50 dma at $3.17. If it gets lower than that, I'm going to have to reconsider holding NXG. Lucky for me, in today's market, there is almost no strength being shown in any particular industry, so I wouldn't be able to play the money better anywhere else.

So where's the upside? There's gonna be a significant overhang until we hit about $4-$5. There's also going to be significant overhang in the mid-$4 range as the future buyers (momo traders) engage in profit-taking :/. We may not see $5 until next quarter's earnings (July). Boo.

Following up on yesterday's post, the Nas and S&P continue to break downwards out of the trading channel ... the stochastics for the Nas show that both the fast and slow lines are indicating vast overselling. The big question is where do people finally step in and start buying?

I know I have a huge overhang on NXG and probably won't be able to even think about unloading it (good thing I wasn't planning on selling it for at least a year to get out of the cap gains tax), but it would still be nice if I had the option of unloading it.

This is the problem with investing with less than .. say $20K-$30K. It's really hard for me to lock in gains when I'm paying $20/trade.

I need some more capital.

Currently listening to: Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Posted by roy on May 18, 2006 at 08:27 PM in Finances | 2 Comments

i was quite dissappointed with the da vinci code. i hadn't read the book, so i was hoping the "addictive plot" (as i've been told) would translate to the screen. too bad the plot is as predictable as bowel movement after taco bell. i heard somebody mutter behind me after the movie, "that was nothing like the book." i have no clue if that's true, but i hope so.

an amusing moment as the movie ended: somebody in the front of the theater tried to applaud as the movie ended. after about three claps, this person realized nobody was gonna clap ... so the person stopped. crash and burn!

movies i'm hoping won't dissappoint me so much: the fountain, cars, and pirates of the carribean: dead man's chest.

Currently listening to: Eagle Eye Cherry - Save Tonight
Posted by roy on May 20, 2006 at 10:07 PM in Ramblings | 10 Comments

Sweet, Gmail approved Tabulas.com for a beta test on it's "install Gmail for your domain" service! This is right after Google approved Analytics usage last week... somebody must like me there.

If you want your own Tabulas email using Gmail's backend, drop me an email at roy@tabulas.com.

Edit: When requesting a username, be sure it doesn't have underscores in it. Gmail accepts dashes and periods, though.

Once you get your account, login from http://mail.google.com/hosted/tabulas.com/.

Posted by roy on May 22, 2006 at 12:28 AM in Tabulas | 23 Comments

chris, you were right. how could i have doubted you?

i have finally witnessed the joy of veronica mars on dvd, and i must say that i am smitten with kristin bell.

i am officially declaring my love for naomi watts and jessica biel to be OVER! any friend of mine who mentions those awful names in my presence shall be my friend NO MORE!!!

kristin bell... will you marry me?

wouldn't it really be funny if by some freak of nature i became someone of moderate importance (like a doctor) and some people went and looked up all these crazy entries... man i don't know what 40-year old roy is going to like all these entries.

. . .

i must say that grey's anatomy is dissappointing. given the number of people addicted to the show, i thought it would really be something special. i'm not particularly keen on any of the characters (except maybe katherine heigl's character "izzie" and t.r. knight's "george") ... i really think house is a much better tv show. sure, house's plot becomes somewhat predictable, but the hugh laurie is such an amazing actor and captures house so perfectly. so my current "favorite" tv shows list goes a little something like this:

  1. sports night (nothing can be this show, seriously)
  2. battlestar galactica (it's funny, cause i can't think of one character that carries this show by him/herself except maybe olmos, but i'm still drawn to the show)
  3. house
  4. veronica mars
  5. scrubs (this would be higher, but they really destroyed the elliot-j.d. love storyline in like two episodes, boo!)
  6. lost
  7. grey's anatomy
Posted by roy on May 26, 2006 at 03:12 AM in Ramblings | 13 Comments

Oracle exec hits out at patch mentality regarding software development. She then goes on to use the ever-popular bridge analogy: "What if civil engineers built bridges the way developers write code?" she asked. "What would happen is that you would get the blue bridge of death appearing on your highway in the morning."

Let me put the analogy in another way. When it comes to software (and I'll extend the bridge analogy), what it really is like is this:

MAYOR: Bridge maker. I require a bridge.

BRIDGEMAKER: Yes, sir. How long is the river?

MAYOR: I'm not sure, but it should be able to handle rivers of many different lengths. if the river becomes wider, make sure the bridge is able to handle that. Immediately, we need it to pass over the South River, but one day we may want to move it to the North River. Just be sure we can move it on over if possible. We've read blog posts about highly-paid consultants talking about this methodology.

BRIDGEMAKER: Um, ok. I guess that might be possible. How long do I have to build this?

MAYOR: Somebody in India told me they can do it in two weeks. So two weeks should be fine.

BRIDGEMAKER: Are you crazy? A bridge in two weeks?

MAYOR: No, and I also expect the bridge to cost $500 in labor. That's also what the Indians quoted me in terms of pricing. Now don't give me that look. My little nephew built his own bridge over a creek in his backyard. Sure, it was just a series of wooden planks, but the concept is the same. I expect since you are a "professional" you can do this by yourself with no outside help. That should help keep labor costs down.

BRIDGEMAKER: I noticed there are no roads to connect this bridge. Do you know why you want this bridge?

MAYOR: I read in some magazine that this other town built a bridge and it helped their commerce! I'm sure once I build this bridge, even if there are no roads or people nearby, it will help our commerce. I sort of expect it to be self-sutaining, you know?

MAYOR: By the way, there are a bunch of militant rebels in these areas. Can you make sure the bridge can protect itself? The militants will be on the prowl for ways to blow up the bridge, and I can't afford another police officer to monitor the bridge.

MAYOR: Speaking of which, we're running a bit short on cash. I remember reading hte Romans used to make bridges with stone, and our town can't afford steel. So could you use stone instead of steel? There's a quarry about half a mile away; I'm sure you'll figure out how to make it all work.

So our diligent Bridgemaker, hampered by costs and time with a Mayor who doesn't quite know what the purpose of the bridge is goes off to work. A week later he's approached by the Mayor.

MAYOR: By the way, I was thinking... and I'm sure this will be no problem. But can you also make the bridge a landing strip? I'd like to use it as an airport as well. I figure it wont' be too much more trouble making the lanes a bit wider; that's all you really need, right?

The Bridgemaker was found dead the next morning.

Posted by roy on May 28, 2006 at 11:56 AM in Web Development | 4 Comments

x-men 3: the last stand: dissappointing. where were the kickass fight scenes? the haphazard random killing off of random characters was absolutely no fun, either. literally all you saw her do was kill random people. did anybody else think the pyro-iceman showdown was a letdown? what about rogue's whole "ordeal" summarized in about ten speaking lines? ("i hate my life. i have to do it. there, it's done"). i mean, jesus, i think "judge dredd" is a fun movie to watch, but x-men 3 was ... total crap. nothing noteworthy at all about this movie. no gambit, a shitty psylocke, an archangel who just flew around and did one notable deed the whole movie ... ugh ugh UGH!

broken flowers: mediocre, at best. the storyline for those of you who care: bachelor has no meaning in life. bachelor might have a son. bachelor begrudgingly goes on a road trip with women to find out about love and life. he eventually finds out that he wants to have a son. the end.

hard drive: bill gates and the making of the microsoft empire: excellent read. it only covers bill gates' career up until the antitrust case (doesn't even cover win95!) but does a damn good job of painting his career up until then.

confessions of a street addict by james cramer: a fun read. covers james cramer's career as a hedge fund manager as well as his role in starting up thestreet.com.

Currently listening to: James Blunt - You're Beautiful
Posted by roy on May 29, 2006 at 11:45 PM in Ramblings | 11 Comments

Man, I almost fell asleep before I had an interesting idea. My last post got me thinking about how so many movie production companies green-light such crappy movies (specifically I'm thinking about Poseidon and the sure-to-flop Snakes on a Plane).

I'm not a movie mogul (nor do I have any experience in the movie industry), so my understanding of the process might be a little light.

Let's assume there are two specific problems that are contributing to the decline in movie quality today:

  1. The costs of movies are high enough that a few flops can affect the bottom line of the production company (today it seems like Sony, Time Warner, News Corp, etc.), which make companies that produce blockbuster movies risk-averse (and thus the love of craptacular sequels
  2. There is no true mechanism for understanding if a movie will be "popular" with movie crowds by these companies

So what if there were a virtual market that allowed you to buy 'stocks' in movies under production?

This market would function similarly to the stock market - a production company would issue shares for a movie under production, and people could buy these common stocks (which would be used to make money). The stock could be freely traded once bought by traders; the total profit of the movie (based on movie revenues/DVD revenues) would be issued to stockholders in a dividend-like fashion.

The upside of this market is that it allows the cost of developing large-scale movies to be distributed among the masses. Furthermore, it diminishes the value of producers having a "say" (the movie stocks would simply be a mechanism for getting money to the director, meaning the "stock producers" would have absolutely no say in the artistic direction of the movie). It's added value is that once common stockholders have a vested interest in movies, they are more likely to invest in movies that will be popular.

I can't imagine anybody sane would invest in "Snakes on a Plane" or "Poseidon" as a concept ... and thus these crappy movies would probably not get made.

It seems today's economy is all based on managing risk - businesses are now able to take advantage of risk arbitrage, so why can't we extend this concept to movies? Maybe less crap would get created, *and* we could have some fun while doing it ;)

The only downside to this type of market is that some unique movies would probably not get the greenlight from the masses - the Matrix (first one) would have been a hard sell to the common masses (imagine trying to pitch that). This concept is not meant to completely replace the financing mechanism for movies - it is simply a way to allow movie companies to distribute some costs to the general public, and also to perhaps allow some directors to get some cash for their movies (if necessary).

Posted by roy on May 30, 2006 at 03:03 AM in Ramblings | 16 Comments

I just spent 45 minutes trying to track down a copy of us weekly. the local barnes and noble and borders were both out; the barnes at southpoint was also out. i went to target to try to track down a copy - the last register (the one furthest from the exit) had a full rack of us weekly's.

jeez, i didn't know these things were so popular.

in a few weeks, this post will all make sense.

edit: man, this us weekly is addicting. i found out naomi watts and liev schreiber are dating and are "in love." interesting.

by the way, "us weekly" is pronounced "us" and not "u.s." (source). i had a (minor) debate about this with my sister, and i confirmed it through the internet (cause the internet is so friggin awesome).

. . .

Stock disclosure: In on VICL @ $6.38. Given the current market sentiment, I'd have to say I'm pretty retarded to buy this stock now, but the chart looks good. I've been cleared to start shorting, so I'm looking at opportune moments to short GOOG and PCU over the next week.

Posted by roy on May 31, 2006 at 03:31 PM in Ramblings, Finances | 9 Comments
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