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On Being Data Driven

"Data driven" is a buzzword many people/teams/companies throw around these days. Like many other buzzwords, it's often misused and misunderstood.

To many, "data driven" equals AB-testing. They setup a live AB test, look at metrics (e.g., click-through rate, revenue, etc.), and make a launch decision based on which treatment has the bigger number.

While valid, this is only a small part of what being data driven means.

What it really means is something much more pervasive throughout the product cycle. Most of them seem obvious, but it's funny how the obvious is often forgotten.

  • Rely on data in product planning. Often, one is faced with many possible choices of how to iterate on a product and having to prioritize amongst them. Instead of relying purely on instinct/experience, add data to the mix. Use analysis to figure out which areas have the most gap, which areas have the most to gain, etc.
  • Invest in metrics infrastructure. Many companies have analysts whose fulltime job is to run data warehouse queries and make pretty charts, often the same ones over-and-over. Though the charts can be useful or even critical, the process does not move the org forward. Instead, hire engineers to build the infrastructure to automate those charts. Use the analysts to discover new charts that should be automated.
  • Focus on data quality. Pick any internet company and its data warehouse is full of logs. Raw, dirty, noisy logs. Every team who wants to use data has to clean those logs from scratch, often in different ways. As a result, different people will come up with different numbers for the same question. Instead, have a single source of cleaned logs that can be universally accepted. If different teams have different definitions of "clean", use the least common denominator.
  • Look beyond the top-line metrics. With AB testing, some people just look at the top-line metrics such as revenue or clicks and make a decision based on that. But when asked why the metrics are the way they are, the answer is often just a hypothesis. Validate that hypothesis with more data. If that data is not available, make it available and understand the cause behind the top-line metric.

Facebook vs. Flickr vs. 500px

About a year and half ago, I decided to ditch Flickr as my primary method of picture sharing online. Since more and more of my friends were using Facebook exclusively for everything, I started to post all pictures to Facebook.

I could tag people, places, things, etc. My photos were getting comments from friends rather than strangers. And although the Facebook picture viewing experience sucked back then, I decided the pros outweighed the cons.

Fast forward to now. I'm still on Facebook but I'm feeling the pains. Album, set, tag management in Facebook is nonexistent. There are many bugs, especially when photos are put into albums. Though the actual picture viewing experience has been improved, everything else is still pretty old.

In addition, I'm starting to miss the occasional comment from a stranger on my photos. I needed another way to share my photos.

So, I looked around and 500px seemed like the "in" thing. It looks like a more beautiful Flickr with less random photos.

I posted a few random photos on there, and voila, there were comments almost instantly! But as I looked further, it was basically a circle jerk within 500px to promote each other. None of the comments were actually useful.

So now I'm lost again. Should I just live with Facebook? Should I try out 500px a little more? Should I go back to Flickr? Should I give Google+ a try?

Settling Down

Signed the lease on our more permanent place yesterday. Found a great townhouse in Sunnyvale, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, a couple of patio areas, awesome living room with floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Going to be pretty sweet. Moving there in roughly 2 weeks, can't wait.

I've been using the Magic Trackpad lately. Before, I thought it was kind of a lame device. Basically yet another attempt by Apple to make some cash. But after using it for a few days, I get it now. It lets me do all the multi-finger gestures I do on a laptop with a desktop. For example, I use the 2-finger scroll and 4-finger expose a lot. The 3-finger drag is also pretty useful.

Groupon

Just finished my second day of work at Groupon today. Lots of learning happening; very exciting. Feels a little weird not inside the MS world. Bash/Vim commands are slowly coming back to me. I find myself pressing key combinations with some kind of muscle memory and they actually do things that I want! Sucks that I lost my .vimrc and .bash_profile from those days. It's going to take a while to get all that configured right.

For the past week, I've been driving a rented Nissan Versa while waiting for my actual car to be transported here. I've grown attached to the thing. It's weak but cute. Feels like a toy. I like throwing it around corners at speeds that almost feel like I'm going to roll over. Parking is also way easier with a tiny car.

New Old World

After spending almost 3 years in Seattle, I'm now back in California, Bay Area to be exact. The wife and I flew down yesterday and are now living in Mountain View. I quit Microsoft and will be joining Groupon next week. The wife is transferring to the Microsoft down here.

Lots of changes but it also feels like we never left. The wife's previous job was in the Bay Area and I spent a few summers here as well. Everything around has that familiar feel to it. Reduces the stress of moving I suppose.

Along with the move back, I'm also going to re-introduce a couple of old hobbies back into my life. First is music. I haven't seriously listened to music, old or new, in at least a year. I almost exclusively listen to podcasts these days. It's good and bad I suppose. I keep up with current happenings with podcasts but a lot of them are redundant (anyone else feel like 90% of the twit network is just reverberation of the different shows?). I've been missing out on a lot of new music (Mogwai, Red Sparowes, the whole "chill-wave" scene, etc).

Second is photography, specifically film photography. I haven't touched a film camera in ages. I basically just use my Panasonic Micro 4/3 these days. Kinda sad to have all that equipment sitting around gathering dust. In the next couple of weeks, I'm definitely going to break out one of the medium formats, shoot a couple of rolls, and develop them at home. Let's just hope I still remember how to load film, how to meter, ... :-)

One last thing. I've decided to stop subscribing to cable TV. With the HD, DVR, HBO, etc. packages, it was adding up to something like $100/month just for TV, even though I just watch a handful of shows. Ridiculous. Instead, I'm going to start subscribing to Hulu Plus on the PS3. I already have Netflix on that. Add ESPN3 on the Xbox, that's basically 90% of what I watch these days.

Finally Back

I forgot the password to my stupid blogger form and couldn't remember it for the life of me. Finally got them to reset it for me and now I can finally write to this! Some random musings...

  • Red Dead Redemption is a pretty awesome game
  • Pansonic GF1 is a pretty decent camera but I'm having a hard time seeing it replacing the 5D mk II
  • Kobe sucks. Fisher sucks. Lakers suck.
  • Still using my iPad everyday, not a fad
  • Tired of the iPhone though, looking to jump ship
  • Listening to podcasts at 2X speed at the gym, a very good idea

TK Back on the Radio

Seriously. Best show on the radio. People still listen to the radio, right?

Fire Walk with Me

I recently watched Twin Peaks again. That show still holds up after all these years. Weird wild stuff in there. It's even more weird that I live so close to the supposed location of Twin Peaks.

Home Owner

Closed on my condo earlier today. I'm now a proud home owner! Pics later.

As a house warming gift to myself, I've been contemplating upgrading my stereo setup. I'm either going to upgrade the amp or the record player. I've currently got a NAD C320 BEE and a Music Hall MMF 2.1. I'm thinking of getting the Vincent SV-236MK or Music Hall MMF 5.1. Gonna cost a pretty penny though. The Vincent is about $2k and the MMF 5.1 is $1k. We'll see exactly how much I care about my audio setup...

Looking for some ambient music? Check out Sweden's Library Tapes.

Wendy and Lucy

Thumbs up. So good.

Zoologist

Until recently, I always pronounced this as "zoo"-"ologist". But it was brought to my attention that there are only 2 and not 3 o's after the z. Thus, the correct pronunciation is "zo"-"ologist". *Cue "The More You Know" music.

I rented the Canon 14mm f/2.8L lens over the weekend. On my full frame 5D mkII, this lens is ridiculously wide. I can definitely get used to that, especially for landscapes or even portraits. If only it didn't cost $2,000...

Listen to the No Agenda podcast. It's one of the most informational and entertaining podcasts around.

Killer Shakes

About a month ago, I started on the Bill Starr 5x5 training program. Pretty interesting workout. All compound lifts with weekly progressions and ramp-ups. I've already put on maybe 6 or 7 pounds and I've noticed my metabolism increase significantly. As a result, I've started to make shakes for breakfast instead of just drinking coffee and eating muffins. I got this blender and I'm making the following two shakes.

Chocolate

  • 2 scoops of chocolate whey protein
  • milk
  • banana
  • peanut butter
  • flaxseed oil

Strawberry

  • 2 scoops of strawberry whey protein
  • milk
  • banana
  • strawberries
  • blueberries or raspberries or both
  • flaxseed oil

I've been drinking these every morning and every post-workout. So far I'm preferring the strawberry one. Maybe I'll try it out with vanilla protein and other fruits as I get sick of them.

Best Of

Seems like everyone's making a list these days. Here's my top 10 of 2008.

10. Deerhunter - Microcastle
9. This Will Destroy You - s/t
8. Max Richter - 24 Postcards in Full Color
7. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band - 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
6. Vampire Weekend - s/t
5. Esoteric - The Maniacal Vale
4. Upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start - Embers
3. The Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Grave
2. Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
1. Mooncake - Lagrange Points

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Of course! I got a PS3 recently and was finally able to watch my blu-ray copy of the "final cut" of Blade Runner. After 26 years and uncountable viewings, this still holds up as one of the best movies ever made. The blu-ray transfer looks awesome, too.

Also got a new camera this past weekend: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. One of its nice features is the ability to shoot 720p video (24fps motion JPEG). I've been thinking about getting into making those. Here's my first attempt.

After browsing several "artsy" videos on Vimeo, I've realized the formula to 95% of them is just to shoot a bunch of stills, link them together, and put on a nice post-rock soundtrack. In fact, I've already got my next soundtrack picked out :-)

Wreck Chords

Just sold my unopened Bright Eyes vinyl box set on eBay for $130. Not bad considering I paid maybe $30-40 for it just a few years ago. This got me thinking about the other "rare" records I may or may not have. I have 3 copies of Hopesfall's "Satellite Years". Too bad that band sucks now. Those records are worthless. I have a bunch of Mars Volta picture discs and I never listen to their music anymore. I bet they'll fetch a nice penny on eBay. Same for the Converge and Isis limited editions I have but I'll never sell those.

Storm on Wilderness Lake

Recently, I ran across this thread on InStrife. Ever since then, I've been obsessed with nature recordings, specifically, thunderstorms. Dan Gibson has a whole series under the title Solitudes. The series has recordings of various nature sounds but the thunderstorm ones are particularly cool. "Storm On Wilderness Lake", released back in 1982, has 2 tracks, each one 30 minutes long, and they're just recordings of storms. Dunno what it is about them, but I've been listening to them constantly at work.

Also watched Helvetica (trailer) recently. It's a documentary on the Helvetica font. Designed in 1957, it's probably the world's most popular typeface. It's an interesting movie if you're interested in design in general. It also reminded me of this zip-up with the built-in typography joke.

Buy My Junk

Selling my beloved Mamiya C220 on eBay. Get various things here, here, and here. Why am I selling? To pay for this!

Let the Right One In = best movie of the year.

Obama Nation

You Know It

Just putting this in perspective:

Abrasive

Went to the Mary Halvorson + Jessica Pavone, Prurient, and Xiu Xiu show last night. Missed most of Halvorson + Pavone, but they seemed intriguing from what little I heard. Prurient was out of this world. The sheer energy and noise levels are definitely something worth seeing and hearing. Xiu Xiu was excellent, too. Not too different since the last time (March) I saw them. See pics and some awesome videos in this flickr set.

There's a lot of cool shows coming up in Seattle: Earth, Eluvium, Deerhoof, and Opeth. Eluvium is a part of the much bigger Decibel Festival. That's such a cool and fitting name. And hopefully the Bleeding Edge Festival can get their act together down in Saratoga, CA. I went to their first festival a couple of years ago and it was awesome. Would probably be willing to fly down if the lineup was right.

I setup a Slingbox Solo on my TV (new shiny 46" Samsung LCD) last week. I can now watch my TV on any computer in the world! Or my computer in the next room... The best part is really having access to my DVR on multiple screens.

Bumbershoot

Spent much of the Labor Day weekend at the Bumbershoot festival. First time I've been to it and it was really cool. Saw a lot of good bands including Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, The Weakerthans, These Arms Are Snakes, etc. Highlight of the festival for me was Final Fantasy (the musician, not the game). I had read about his live shows with samples and loops but seeing it live is just another experience. Combined with the real time projectionist's slide show, it was just outta this world. I shot a couple of videos here and here. The second one shows the projectionist's workings. It's hard to see initially, but she's sitting right in front of the projector doing her thing.

This Thursday is Mogwai. Seen them twice before and both times it's been awesome. I'm prepared to be deaf on Friday...

Something's in the air

Apple announced the MacBook Air yesterday, and I promptly put in an order for one. It's not shipping for another 2-3 weeks. Can't wait! The price is a bit high though at $1800. I figure my current Powerbook G4 should fetch $800 or so on eBay. To help out, I'm selling a couple of headphones that I never use anymore. One is the Grado SR225. It's got a good sound but I just can't get past its comfort issues. Maybe someday I'll get the RS1. The other is the Beyerdynamic DT880 with Cardas cables. Those are decent but I think my AKG K701 is superior in every way. I figure these two headphones should fetch somewhere around $400. That should be enough to make me stop feeling guilty :-D

EDIT: Someone has just purchased the Grado SR225. I'll be listening to it all night tonight before shipping it off tomorrow. Right now, I'm enjoying some Yndi Halda on them.

Boosh

My favorite show on TV right now. Boosh.

STAX

Got a pair of STAX SR-001 recently. Still burning it in but it seems pretty nice. Haven't done any direct comparisons with my K701's or the ER-4p's, but it seems like the K701's are better, which would make sense. But the SR-001's are more discrete so I'm thinking I will use that at work now. I already use the ER-4p's at work but sometimes I just don't feel like wearing them. Although the STAX aren't exactly comfortable either. Plus, they are running on AA batteries right now; I should really get a AC adapter or something for it.

Went to Philly/DC last weekend for a conference and also visiting friends. I brought my newest vintage camera acquisition, the Canonet G-III 17. It's a 35mm rangefinder from Canon made in the 70s. I got it off EBay recently and this was my first time using it. And of course, I completely screwed it up and wasted a whole roll :-( After shooting a roll, I began to rewind the film but forgot to press the rewind release button. With the lock still on, I basically tore the film off the roll. After trying to put it back together in the dark for about 15 minutes, I just gave up. Live and learn I guess. I'm definitely going to be more careful with it next time.

I also have my first concert photography gig coming up. Bellavista is playing somewhere in San Francisco and it looks like I'll be there shooting the show. Pretty excited about that. The venue looks very cozy.

A New Beginning

Photography is quickly becoming my number one hobby. I just acquired three new cameras: the Shen-Hao 4x5 field camera, the Yashica 635, and the Canon EOS-3. All are film. The Shen-Hao is large format, Yashica is medium, and the Canon is 35mm. The Yashica is also a twin-lens reflex.

Over the weekend, I shot a roll of black-and-white on the Canon. Haven't developed it yet. But the operation is similar to the 30D. Though the eye-control for focus is pretty awesome.

I also shot a couple of Polaroids with the Shen-Hao. Didn't have time to take it outside so I just shot a couple of scenes around the apartment. It's gonna take me a while to get used to that camera. My first shot took me about 20 minutes. When Spring rolls around, I'll have to take it to the nearby parks.

Lastly, I've moved all my photos onto Flickr. The community aspect of that was just too enticing.

DAC-Ahhhhhh

After a huge screw-up, I finally upgraded my Lite DAC-Ah. I upgraded the opamps inside it with something better. Unfortunately, it's been so long since I listened to it that I really don't remember what it sounded like before. It does *seem* like the soundstage and vocals are better. I've also upgraded the tubes on my DarkVoice 336i. I haven't had time to compare it properly to the Gilmore Lite but so far it does sound pretty nice. Anyway, I should be done with messing with the sound system for a while.

Jak Sie Masz

Wow, it's been a while since my last post. I got the Nintendo Wii when it came out. At first, I tried WalMart at like 8pm the night before but the line there was already full for the midnight release. Then, I found out Best Buy had a bunch but they open at 9am. I drove by it at around 1am and there were people outside with tents already. Next day, I went to Best Buy at around 7am and go in line. I was 82nd in line and they had 102 in stock.

As for the Wii itself, it definitely fulfills all the hype. Wii Sports is really fun, especially the golf and baseball. Now I just want a serious baseball game. I also got Zelda, Trauma Center, and Red Steel. Trauma Center and Red Steel sorta suck, but Zelda is top-notch. I still haven't connected it to the internet though; I wanna play some NES/SNES classics.

I've been itching for some upgrades on my headphones so over Thanksgiving, I ordered a bunch of stuff. First, I got a new set of headphones: Sennheiser HD595. Compared to the AKG K701, they have more bass but less detail. Of course, they're also two price-levels lower. I might keep it for the metal records; seems like for that kind of stuff, the HD595 is better. Second, I got new op-amps for my DAC. Got some OPA627 chips to put into the DAC-Ah. Still haven't received them yet though. When I ordered them, the distributor asked if I'd keep them in the US, weird... And lastly, I got the DarkVoice 336i tube amp. Haven't received that either.

Last weekend, I went to an Andrew Bird concert. Man that guy's talented. He plays the violin + guitar among other things on stage. For a single song, he'd start by recording a sample of violin (and sometimes multiples). Then, he'd switch to the guitar and play with the violin samples looped. Got some pics right here. Speaking of awesome music, I got the soundtrack to The Fountain recently and have been listening to it almost non-stop. It's performed by the Kronos Quartet with Mogwai. Simply amazing.

Shows

Went to a some shows in the past few days. I went to the Bailey + Salaryman show and the Headlights + Of Montreal show as part of the Pygmalion Music Festival here in Champaign. Salaryman was the best set of the bunch. The energy and video added so much more to the already excellent music. Then, last night, I went to the Cursive show in Chicago. To my surprise, they still had a celloist and played a bunch of songs off The Ugly Organ. They even incorporated the horns into the older songs, which added a whole new experience to them. I've posted some pictures from the shows here.

Football season is well underway now. I'm in a fantasy league and am currently in 4th place out of 14. I wasn't present for the draft but got some decent players. I got some pretty productive receivers. My running backs are pretty shaky though. I got Warrick Dunn and he's been really good so far. But I'm not sure if he and the Falcons can keep it up. They sure sucked last night vs. the Saints. Not sure if I can win the league though. Probably not since there are a couple of teams with much better running backs.

Music Rant

I got the new Red Sparowes album today. It's called "Every Red Heart Shines Towards The Red Sun". Their 2005 album was my favorite album last year so I had high hopes for this one. So far, it has not dissappointed. The mood of the albums seems a bit more happier/hopeful. There are a few tracks that are just amazing. My favorite album so far this year has been the new Mono but this is definitely pushing it.

There are a few shows coming up. The Pygmalion Festival is happening right now in Champaign. I think I'm gonna check out a couple of acts there. Namely Salaryman and Headlights. Most of the bands there I've never heard of and don't really need to hear. Next Monday is the Cursive show in Chicago and I'm definitely going to that. I don't really know how I feel about the new Cursive with the horns and stuff but should be a good show. Then, there's a free Matmos show in Chicago next month. Still undecided on that. Jenny Lewis is playing sometime next month in Chicago also. I'll probably goto that.

Start Today

Last Thursday night, I saw probably the best hardcore show of my life. Gorilla Biscuits played the Pound in San Francisco with the original lineup. Murphy's Law and Comeback Kid opened, but they were definitely secondary. Last time GB played in SF was 1989; and I, of course, had never seen them live before. The place was packed and GB was just amazing. Played almost all the classics. The pit was about double the size during Comeback Kid and also when I saw Bane there. I took a couple of pictures with my cell and they turned out crap as you can see.

I've also been playing around with HDR. Check out this picture I took of the Dutch windmill at Golden Gate Park. Used 2 different photos with about a 4-stop difference in them to create it.

The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast

Been a while since the last post; a lot has been going on. I went up to Seattle a while ago and visited some friends. We hiked in Mt. Rainier, went up the Space Needle, and kayaked in the ocean. Also went to some baseball games, including A's vs. Red Sox, Giants vs. Padres. Saw Bonds hit 722 and also Sox whip the A's. That was before the Sox got into their recent downward spiral. One of the guys I went with caught a foul ball off Varitek; that was pretty cool. And this past Friday, I went to the 49ers vs. Bears pre-season game. Man, Bears offense sucked. Grossman needs a lot of practice.

Yesterday, I went up to Point Reyes for a photography class. It was called photography life from under a foot (or something like that). Basically, the idea is to shoot from really low and it brings out better angles. We talked about techniques in the classroom for 3 hours and then went in the fields for another 3-4. I even crawled in the fields and got some macro shots of flowers and butterflies. Posted some pictures of that trip and lots more here.

And today, I went to the Bleeding Edge Festival at the Montalvo Arts Center. It's a really cool venue in the middle of the woods. There were 4 stages and various other installations on the trails. And of course, the music was good, too. It was a mix of noise, pop, minimalist stuff; all experimental. I got to see William Basinski, Matmos, Isis, and lots more. The highlight was probably Matmos with Zeena Parkins. Isis was missing 2 people so they just did a thing with Tim Hecker. Above is a picture of rose pedals (yes, rose pedals were used as an instrument) during the Matmos set. I'll post more pictures here when I get time to go through them.

Larry Brown Out; Isiah Thomas In

Is the owner of the Knicks that stupid? I mean seriously. Has Isiah done anything even remotely good in his post-playing career? Marbury and Francis in the same backcourt. I rest my case.

Yesterday I got my new CD transport: NEC 6Xe CD-ROM. It's an external SCSI CD-ROM drive built back in 1995. The nice thing about it is that it has digital coax out. So I can hook it up to my DAC and use the analog output on those. I'm listening to some Mono on it right now and it sounds great. My first impression is that it's better than my vintage Sony discman, which isn't very surprising. The transport is also dead quiet, which I like. The discman has a tendency to make spinning sounds sometimes. There's a nice review of the NEC here.

I've also been looking at upgrading the ballhead on my tripod. After talking to a friend, I realized just how inadaquete my Bogen ballhead is. After locking, my camera/lens will still drop a few degrees. This makes framing rather challenging because I had to basically frame with the drop in mind. So now, I'm looking at the Arca-Swiss B1. It's basically the standard by which all other ballheads are judged. It weighs 1.6lbs and can support 90lbs. The ball is slightly elliptical to give tension when it's off-center. Bad news is that it's $400 plus whatever the quick-release plate would cost. Maybe I'll get one used off eBay. We'll see.

All the News Fit to Post

So, first post since I've been here in Mountain View. A lot has been happening. Last week was my third week at Google, and it's been an amazing experience so far. I can't go into the specifics (o those pesky NDAs) but it has exceeded my expectations by far. The amount of freedom I have in choosing what to do and how to do it is pretty cool. Combined with interesting problems that have real-world implications, it is definitely a cool job. Plus I get all the free food I want!

Being in the bay area, there are many cool concerts. Although it seemed like LA had more last summer; but it's just the year. Anyway, I saw Mogwai a couple of weeks ago with Earth. I saw them last month in Chicago but Growing was opening. It was the last show on their tour but nothing special happened. The setlist was almost exactly the same. Then, last week, I saw Mono and Pelican. Seen Pelican before playing the same stuff so it wasn't too exciting. They did play one new song I think. But Mono. Wow. They didn't say a single word during their set but their music absolutely killed. Sorta sucks that their CDs don't come close to the live show. The wall of sound at the show is deafening and carries so much more emotion than the recordings.

Looking ahead, there are shows with Bane, Comeback Kid, Cattle Decapitation, Vader (maybe?), Gorilla Biscuits (reunion! 2 shows in SF!), and Silver Mt. Zion. Should be interesting.

Saw X3 last weekend. I thought it was pretty good; better than what all the reviewers seemed to say. It was definitely lacking in the philosophical department though. Should've done a lot more with the whole cure debate. Also, the whole who's the good side debate could have been more vague, too.

Also been upgrading my audiophile crap. I sold my Grado SR-80's. Never used them anyway; plus it was like wearing sandpaper. I upgraded my bookshelves from the Epos ELS-3 to the Tetra 120U. Tetra is a pretty small company but their bookshelves sound amazing. They had a bigger soundstage and better imaging than the Von Schweikert VR-1, which are highly rated. I got them last week and am still burning them in. Takes over 100 hours and I'm somewhere in the 50s I think. Also, I just ordered a pair of the AKG K701's. Should be here tomorrow I think; definitely looking forward to hearing them. I'm also upgrading my work DAC from the Fubar to the Headroom Micro DAC.

Finally, some thoughts on random stuff. Sopranos season finale was tonight. It was pretty weak; nothing happened. But I guess technically it wasn't really a finale. Still 8 more episodes to follow. But I've been thinking this has been a really good season so far. I've switched from using iCal on my Apple to Google Calendar and Tadalist. It's been more convenient to check my schedule anyway than just on my Apple. Also, my Cingular contract expired over the weekend. So I signed a new deal and got the Ericsson W600i. I actually got the Motorola SLVR not too long ago on eBay but that phone seriously sucks. It looks nice but the software is terrible. With the Ericsson phone, it's a bit bulky but I'm loving the software. Plus, reception is like 10x better.

On the Way

I'm in the middle of my trek across half of America just like last year. I'm in Salt Lake City right now and will goto Reno later today. Here's a deer I saw at a highway rest stop in Wyoming.

Back in the Hoopla

I watched Silent Hill over the weekend. Pretty good as an adaptation of the video games but not as good as a stand-alone movie. I played all the SH games and thought the movie got the atmospheres and plots almost spot-on. Many of the camera angles were lifted right out of the game. The plot was basically Silent Hill 3. The movie was confusing just like the games. And the ending could also be seen as a nod to the game endings.

Also been listening a lot to the new Saves the Day. I was thinking about them in my car today. I think they're one of the very few bands that have changed their sound and released albums that I've consistently liked over the years. I think this new one is their fifth; the oldest was probably from the late 90s. Also, out tomorrow is the new Tool. I'm not really a Tool fan but am curious nonetheless.

I've also started to post some photos from my China trip. It's gonna take me a while to sort through them all though.

From Shanghai

I'm writing this from my grandparents' home in Shanghai, in the middle of probably one of the busiest streets in the city. I've spent almost 2 weeks in China and the past week in Shanghai. Been hanging around the city and near-by towns mostly. The other day my aunt and I went to this propaganda poster art centre. It was in a shady-lookin' basement of a giant apartment building. It had tons of posters from the 40s to the 80s of various government things. Apparently the place is known to many foreigners but not very many local people. I found it on Lonely Planet and my aunt had never heard of it.

Today, I went to some Confucious temple in the middle of Shanghai. Pretty cool I guess. I also went by my old elementry school; it's turned into a kindergarten now. Tonight we ate at a dim sum restaurant. And tomorrow we're going to some small town about 2 hours from Shanghai. And I think we might also goto an old Jewish neighborhood (from WWII times) sometime next week.

I've been taking a lot of photos while going out. Currently, my count is 968. It's sorta hard to get nice photos while touring some place. I can't stay for hours at a time looking for shots. Last week I spent maybe 2 hours at a park shooting scenery and some wild ducks. Got off a couple of good shots of the ducks taking off from water. But also missed at least 2 good chances. Also, I brought my Manfrotto monopod (which I specifically purchased for this trip) but I forgot the ballhead at home! So everything's been handheld. That really sucks. O well. I'll post some nice photos when I get back.

New Camera Time

I just upgraded to the new Canon 30D from my 350D. Only played with it for a little bit this afternoon but it seems really cool. The AF sensors are nicer and AF seems to work much faster. Spot metering is nice. The camera also feels sturdier in the hand. I'm going to China this Saturday; can't wait to use this.

Went to a couple of concerts recently. Saw Martha Wainwright/Neko Case last Friday and Mates of State on Monday. Martha Wainwright is my favorite out of these and I even got her autograph. I uploaded some pics taken from these shows in the photography section.

Gooooooogle

I've been offered an internship this summer at Google. Not exactly sure what I'll be working on; but I'm excited nonetheless. So it looks I'll be making the trek out to California again this summer. Will probably start around mid-May.

Starting today I'm running an experiment with my sound system. I'm going to listen to the same album on 3 different formats to see what the differences are. I guess the right way to do this is to listen through the entire album and switch; not just switching back-and-forth in the middle. The 3 different formats are vinyl, CD (on the Sony Discman 311), and FLAC (on the LiTe DAC-Ah). And the album? Godspeed You Black Emperor! -- f# a# ∞. I figured that one has a good range of sounds. I'll probably also try it with the Red Sparowes album; more of a metal sound.

The New Sound II

I got a couple of vintage Sony Discmans recently. First was the D-5A; I think that's either the first or second Discman ever made. Sounds really nice; it even has RCA out. Then, I got the D-311. This is apparently a legendary vintage portable and often fetches pretty high prices on eBay. I haven't had time to properly test the same music on vinyl, discman, and FLAC; but that's one of the eventual goals. For now, I'm using the D-311 and it sounds slightly better than a FLAC rip.

I also got a chance to upgrade my setup at the office recently. Before, I was using a pair of Etymotic ER-6i with the output from my Powerbook. I also tried it with a portable amp (PA2V2) but that didn't seem to make a huge difference. I attribute that to the bad source (ie, Powerbook). So, a couple of weeks ago, I got a portable DAC, the Firestone Fubar II. I also upgraded to the Eytmotic ER-4p. So now, the chain is:

Powerbook --> (via USB) Fubar II --> Zu Pivot --> PA2V2 --> Etymotic ER-4p

I also got the 4p-4s converter to make the ER-4p into ER-4s. Haven't actually tried that though. Maybe in the next couple of days. But so far, it sounds great. The 4p has much better bass than the 6i, and also a better seal. The DAC just makes everything better than the crummy Powerbook audio out.

The New Sound

As promised before, here is a picture of my new sound setup.

Moving from top to bottom, there is the Goldring GR-1.2 turntable, the Pro-ject Phono Box MKII (the silver thing), the LiTe DAC-Ah (the black thing), and the NAD 320BEE amp. On the top right is one of the EPOS ELS-3 speakers. Still missing is the vintage Sony discman I bought; that will be the Sony D-5A. In total, I basically have three sources of music:

  1. Vinyl: Goldring GR-1.2 --> Pro-ject Phono Box MKII --> Audioquest Coral I/C
  2. Computer: Chaintech AV 710 --> Glass Digital Audio Toslink Cable --> LiTe DAC-Ah --> Belden 1505F I/C
  3. CD: Sony Discman D-5A --> Analog Research Gold Raincoat I/C
Of course, all three converge at the NAD amp, which then goes NAD 320BEE --> Paul Speltz Anti-Cable --> EPOS ELS-3.

Speaking of music, tomorrow is the Sigur Ros show. It's probably gonna be the same as the Madison show; but this time, I should have better seats. Also, I got tickets to the Mogwai show next month in Chicago. Never seen them in action before so that should be awesome. Lastly, I got the Yndi Halda CD recently. Typical post-rock I guess but still very powerful.

You Are There

"You Are There" is the new upcoming Mono full-length. It just leaked on the net, and I'm listening to it right now. Haven't had time to fully digest it yet but so far so good. For the past few weeks, I've been really into post-rock; even moved all my post-rock CDs into their own booklet. They were sorta mixed with my indie and metal booklets.

Another reason for my recent obsession with post-rock is ...drum roll... my new stereo system! After much consideration, I decided to sell my previous surround sound system and buy an entry-level audiophile system. So I got a new amp (NAD 320BEE), new speakers (EPOS ELS-3), new turntable (Goldring GR-1.2), and other accessories. Also ordered a new CD player and a DAC for my computer, but they aren't here yet. So, in the mean time, I've been listening a lot to my vinyls, which, turns out, are mostly post-rock. When the system is fully assembled, I'll take some pics and post more details.

Social Networking

I recently got an account at last.fm and I can't believe I didn't do this sooner. I see people with their most recently played list all the time. In about a week, I've found at least two bands that I can see myself really get into: The Evpatoria Report and Esmerine. Check out my profile here. My only complaint is that the site's update schedule is very irregular and slow. I know they can't afford to re-compute the rankings in real time, but that would be awesome.

Using last.fm and seeing other social network inspired projects (delicious, flock, etc) has made me think about other applications with social networks inside. The TiVo recommendation system and the Amazon recommendation list can definitely learn something from these sites. The feature of obscure vs. popular recommendations on last.fm is really neat. Also, instead of hiding where/who the recommendations come from, letting me check out other users' lists made the experience much more grounded. It also caused me to waste hours of just browsing the site.

I also found out about 4flix.net today via Digg (yet another great social website). You can buy classic movies on 4flix for $2 and there's no DRM! I saw a bunch of Hitchcook movies on there; will definitely need to get them later.

Top Ten of 2005

Only about 10 days left in 2005, I thought I'd post my top ten albums of 2005 here. I made this list a while back actually; nothing too good has come out since then.

10. Sunn O))) - "Black1"
9. The Mars Volta - "Frances the Mute"
8. Sufjan Stevens - "Illinois"
7. Rosetta - "The Galilean Satellites"
6. Pelican - "The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw"
5. Darkest Hour - "Undoing Ruin"
4. Dredg - "Catch Without Arms"
3. Bright Eyes - "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn"
2. Sigur Ros - "Takk..."
1. Red Sparowes - "At the Soundless Dawn"

And maybe some honorable mentions to Feist, Martha Wainwright, Andrew Bird, Modern Life Is War, Eisley, A Silver Mt. Zion. Looking forward to 2006, there are the new Mogwai and Belle and Sebastian in the immediate future.

House Cleaning

I've been doing some house cleaning this past week. I sold the XBox and Gamecube to EB today. Only got $25 for the Gamecube; what a ripoff. I'm keeping the PS2 for now though. Gotta have something. I also put down my pre-order for the XBox 360 and Project Gotham Racing 3 a while back. Can't wait for that.

Also being sold on EBay right now is my 12" Powerbook. I upgraded to the new 15" Powerbook last week. It's a much better model. The new higher res screens make a huge difference. I don't know how I lived with the 12" the past couple of years.

Other cool things I got recently include the new Star Wars DVD (what the hell, it was cheap), new Office Space special edition package (sorta cool), Arrested Development DVD (awesome), WNYX mug (totally awesome!).

Sigur Ros

"Wow" is the word to describe the Sigur Ros show last night. Anima opened and they were pretty interesting. Used some cool stuff like wine glasses, a saw, etc. As for Sigur Ros, they played several older songs along with newer ones from Takk. The split was about half-and-half. Lighting was pretty cool; fit the mood very well. I only wished the show was louder. Overall, it was definitely one of the best shows this year.

The show was in Madison, WI (which made for a long 3.5-hour drive back afterwards) and we got there at about 4:30 so we had like 4 hours to kill. Fortunately, Junebug was showing at some art theatre not far from the concert venue. I had heard good things about this movie, and it did not dissappoint, even though we missed the first 10-15 minutes.

Here is a picture from the show. I uploaded a bunch more in the photography section.

Sigur Ros

Seinfeld and Sigur Ros

I'm in the middle of my little road trip here. Saw Seinfeld earlier tonight in Rockford, IL. It was really cool to finally see my comedic hero in action for the first time. He did about an hour; only about 3 minutes were old material. Tomorrow, I'll be driving to Madison, WI to catch Sigur Ros. I should have some pictures when I get back.

iPod Nano

Last week around this time I was paying close attention to the Apple press event in San Francisco. Once Steve Jobs announced the iPod nano, my credit card was out. And today, the FedEx guy dropped it off. The nano is by far the slickest MP3 around. It's so small that I feel like I'll break it in half if I'm not careful. The color screen is very nice, too. It makes my iPod mini look like ancient technology. The only complaints I have so far are the lack of firewire support and the difficulty in removing the computer connection cable when the earphones are plugged in.

Got a bunch of concerts and shows upcoming up. Some of them actually require some long distance travel. This week, Minus the Bear, Sufjan Stevens, and Xiu Xiu are playing shows here. Sufjan and Xiu Xiu are playing on the same night; I'm hoping I can catch both shows, unlikely though :-( The Sufjan show should be awesome since the theme is Illinois; I've heard that they dress up in Illini cheerleading outfits. And then this weekend, I'll be seeing comedian Jim Gaffigan. I really got into his stuff this summer; definitely one of the top 5 comedians around these days.

And then next week, my roommmate Gio and I are going to see Seinfeld in Chicago and Sigur Ros in Madison. Both of those should be awesome. Seinfeld is my all-time favorite comedian and show.

Currently listening to: Slowdive - ``Souvlaki''. This is classic showgazing from 1993.

p.s. Football is back! My Huskers scored 3 defensive touchdowns. Ohio St. lost. Michigan lost. Green Bay lost. Eagles just lost. Bears almost won. Good stuff.

Shampoo Banana

I'm offically back in Champaign-Urbana after the summer in LA, sort of. After arriving here the Friday before last week, I had to leave almost immediately for KDD'05 in Chicago. That lasted for 3 days. Then, this past weekend, I was in Chicago again for a reunion with a bunch of college friends. On Saturday, we hung out for basically 12 hours in downtown Chicago with 4 of them at the ESPN Zone. I also saw The Bean for the first time; pretty cool I guess. I'll try to post the pictures I took soon.

On Sunday, Alex and I checked out the Dan Flavin's retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I heard about this on Radio Zero and was very curious. For those who are unfamiliar with Flavin, all his art is done with fluorescent light fixtures. If you're in Chicago from now until Oct. 30, definitely check it out.

I Miss Rain

I'm driving through Nevada and Utah today and look what I run into.. Rain! Living in LA this entire summer, I haven't seen a single drop of rain. I never thought I'd actually miss it, but weeks and weeks of straight sunshine actually got a little annoying. Now that I'm in the midwest, I can finally get some variety in weather. That and paying only $2.40 for gas.

One thing I will miss about LA is the amount of concerts on a weekly basis. Last week, I got the chance to see Red Sparowes and Pelican. Both of them put on amazing shows. The Red Sparowes album was standing firmly in my top 10 of this year, and seeing them live just reaffirmed that spot.

Currently listening to: Sigur Ros - ``Takk''. This album is out Sept. 15th and it is absolutely wonderful. I got tickets to see them in late Sept. Can't wait.

Totally Crappy Movies

I keep hearing how the movie industry is down for like the one thousandth straight month or whatever. And I keep wondering to myself, do they realize what absolute crap they're putting out? Take this summer, Batman Begins and (maybe) Star Wars were the only big Hollywood movies that were worth my time. Stuff like The Island, Stealth, Fantasic Four, etc. look just terrible. Don't even get me started on the Dukes of Hazzard. Whoever came up with the idea to make that should be shot. That goes for Tim Burton, too.

At the same time, lots of great movies are being unrecognized. March of the Penguins has gotten a lot of press but its box office sales are actually relatively low. My favorite movie of the summer, Me and You and Everyone We Know, has gotten almost no attention. Same with other favorites like Crash and Hustle & Flow. Junebug and Broken Flowers just came out recently. I'm anxious to see both of them, but I doubt either of them will get much recognition.

Speaking of good movies, I watched two classics this weekend. Laura from 1944 and 12 Angry Men from 1957. Laura was good, but 12 Angry Men was just brilliant. There was a total of maybe 3 or 4 sets in that movie, and 90% of the movie was set in one of them. I've never seen such a simple setting generate so many emotional peaks and valleys. Very unique movie and definitely worth anyone's time.

Currently listening to: 65daysofstatic - ``The Fall Of Math''

Rush 2112 x 2 = 4224

I just found out that, for the first time ever, I've bought an album that I already owned. This past weekend, I picked up Rush's 2112 at Amoeba. It was an used cheap copy so I thought what the hell. But now, checking my database, I apparently already own a copy of that. No wonder when listening to the album in the car, I had a suspicious feeling that I had heard it before. At the time, I just figured that I heard it at a friend's house or something since it's a pretty popular album.

I've only done this once before and that was intentional. I had ordered a copy of Frodus' album online and saw it that same day at a local store. I didn't feel like waiting and bought it at the store. Such a waste. I've also bought albums that record labels have already sent me for review. But I was too lazy to open their packages to realize that. That's happened quite a few time actually.

What I really need is access to my music database at the store (and also quick access to Amazon prices!). I suppose I could've used my phone to search it online, but that would have been painfully slow. O well. I have a feeling this won't be the last time.

Movie Watching

I finally finished the last of the Trois couleurs last night. The last movie was Rouge. Bleu is still my favorite out of the three, but Rouge is pretty close to the top. The cinematography, colors, sounds, stories in all these movies are just flat out amazing. After finishing Rouge, I feel like I have to re-watch the entire trilogy again in order to understand everything. Even though the actual events and stories of the three aren't really connected, the messages behind them are. There are also commentary on the DVDs; perhaps one day I'll listen to those as well.

I didn't discover Kieslowski until recently with A Short Film About Killing. He has quickly become one of my favorite directors.

Speaking of movies, I bought the two-disc of Unforgiven last week. Haven't gotten through all the extras yet but that has to be the 6th or 7th time I've seen the movie. Still great every time. Also bought and watched the director's cut of Blade Runner. Still debating on whether Deckard was a replicant or not, but I'm leaning towards human now. Wished that DVD had some commentary or something. I also watched Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse. Good flick but I still like Happiness better. More recent movies, I saw Crash last week. I can definitely see why a lot of people have that as the best movie of 2005 so far.

Next up is Hidden Blade. It's directed by the same guy who did Twilight Samurai. Gonna be hard to top that.

Your Skull is Red

So I got to see Team Sleep for the first time ever last night. Was it worth the 5-year wait? Definitely. Although I think the band has yet to reach their potential. I wonder if Chino will continue to do Team Sleep or go back to the Deftones for another full-length. I'll be satisified as long as he does something. Before that, I also saw Zao and Darkest Hour. Zao is not really Zao in my eyes without Jesse. Darkest Hour was good though. I really like their new album. Next up, I got The Mars Volta next week, Pelican and Red Sparowes the week after. Koufax is also playing here soon; I didn't even know they were still around. Apparently they got a new full-length. Out of all those bands, I'm probably most excited about Red Sparowes. Their full-length is in my top 10 if not higher of 2005.

Alex was in town the past few days so we did a bunch of crap. Went to Six Flags Magic Mountain on Sunday with some other people. It had a couple of cool rides. The Extreme or whatever it was called was probably the best. Then hung out at Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Malibu. Saw a shark, couple of seals, and a bunch of other cool stuff. Also did the Paramount Studio tour yesterday. I didn't see anyone famous at the studio but I did see Richard Kind walking on Venice Beach. Fox was shooting some TV show there; I wonder if he was in that.

O yea, I also broke the 900 mark on my CD collection size. I think the 900th purchase was the new Bold discography. Good CD.

Currently listening to: Tears for Fears - "Greatest Hits"

Hipcast

Podcasting seems to be the hippest thing around these days. All the kids are jockin' it, as they say. Ever since Apple's iTunes put in official support, all the major media outlets are jumping on the Podcasting wagon. Combined with all the independent ones, I think iTunes lists over 3,000 of them.

Well, now you can add 2 more to the list. They are hosted by 2 of the regulars on my website's message board. One is done by Steve and the other is by Derek. You can subscribe to the RSS feeds at:

I even made a guest appearance tonight on Steve's #3 podcast. Check them out for some damn fine music.

La Marche de l'empereur

I went to see March of the Penguins today. There's just been so much hype about this movie; couldn't avoid seeing it basically. I saw a preview for it a while ago and was expecting some awesome visuals. Unfortunately, the best visuals were all shown in that preview and the rest were just so-so. Very good looking but did not blow me away. Surprisingly, the tale of the movie did. A little shy on actual facts but nonetheless very emotional. Highly recommended.

I've also updated the gallery with a bunch of stuff. Check it out.

Join the Hoopla

So, a lot has been going on lately. I finished assembling my computer. It's nothing new; I just changed the case, CPU heatsink, and fans. It is now totally silent (with the fans turned down to 7v). You can check it out, along with pictures of some near-by state parks, in the new gallery. I'll probably be adding lots of older pictures into the gallery soon.

I saw Bane last week with Evergreen Terrace. So-so performance but it was still fun. The Rilo Kiley show I saw a while ago was probably the best so far this summer. Bright Eyes was good, too. And also Dredg and Circa Survive. Some Girls and Cattle Decapitation are playing here in the next couple of weeks. I haven't seen either of those bands so I'm pretty excited about that.

I saw this pretty neat movie last week called Me and You and Everyone We Know. It's typical indie stuff but I still enjoyed it. Also watched Izo and Kikoku. Both Miike films but they both sorta sucked.

Currently listening to: Darkest Hour - ``Undoing Ruin''. This is some awesome metal. Check it out!

A Onelinedrawing is When You ...

I've been attending some concerts while I'm in the LA area. So far, they've all been at the Chain Reaction in Anaheim. A bit of a drive from here (~50 miles); yesterday, it took two hours during rush hour. But it was definitely worth it to see Jonah Matranga perform solo. Recently, I've lost touch with a lot of his music. But last night's show definitely brought back memories of highschool when I listened to Far almost constantly. He also played some classic Onelinedrawing stuff. I also really liked one of the openers, Monsters Are Waiting. Got an EP from them and listened to it nonstop today in my car.

I also saw Cult of Luna, Comeback Kid, Terror, Modern Life Is War, and some others at the Chain. Probably was most excited about Modern Life Is War; never seen them before, but I love their first album. Cult of Luna was also very good; apparently this was their first US tour (they're from Sweden).

In the next few weeks, I'll be seeing Bright Eyes, The Faint, Rilo Kiley, and ... Bane! I think Carry On is also playing their last shows in July with Champion somewhere. Maybe I'll goto that, too.

So Close to Hating Apple

So the other day I finally set aside some time to upgrade to Tiger on my Powerbook. I backed up all my personal stuff first. When it came to the iTunes folder, I figured I should be able to just download them again. So I promptly skipped it.

Fast forward to a day later when I tried to get all my iTunes purchases. After reading some tech support articles, it turns out that I can only download them once! Panic sets in. After checking through my order history, I had over $400 worth of purchases on there! I quickly sent an email to the iTunes people only to receive a canned answer that made me feel really, really mad. So I sent another email. This time, some wonderful support person was able to let me download them all again. Hooray! Long story short, backup your iTunes purchases.

Saw Star Wars last Thursday at Arclight Hollywood. Pretty good movie; although I felt the story was pretty shallow. But I guess there really isn't much freedom anyway since the ending is fixed.

I've been getting myself familiarized with the Valley. It's actually quite simple since everything is on a grid. In the mean time, here's a picture of my drive to work.

I've been noticing that in almost all my outdoor pictures (such as the one you see above), the sky is totally washed out. In reality, it was pretty blue. But this should be fixed once I get my polarizing filter.

Trek Across America

.. half of it, at least. This week, I'm making my journey from Central Illinois to Southern California. I'm gonna be interning this summer in Malibu, CA. Today I drove from Denver, CO to Cedar City, UT. Compared to the flat landscapes of Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska; I-70 and I-15 have some amazing scenery. Check out these two pictures I took on the way.

Colorado
Colorado

Driving playlist: new Weezer (it sorta sucks!), Team Sleep, new NIN (it's ok...), audiobook of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, new Xiu Xiu (meh), new Ulver (pretty good), and much much more!

I'm a Rebel

Check it out! I got a Canon EOS 350D (Rebel XT) and an assortment of accessories. The first lens just arrived today so I've been messing around with it all day. Too bad it rained all day; can't wait to take it out and take a couple hundred pictures. I think this summer I'm going to try to get into photography, especially since I'm gonna be working in Malibu, CA. In the meantime, you can check out the new photography section.

Currently listening to: Slowdive - ``Catch the Breeze''

Hello from Tokyo

I'm in Tokyo, Japan this week for ICDE 2005. Got into town late yesterday afternoon and the conference got under way this morning. Haven't had a chance to explore the town yet; tonight I'll definitely checkout the neighborhood around my hotel and get something nice to eat. In the meantime, here's the view from my hotel room.

Face the Hoopla

March Madness is here! Every year I don't pay much attention to the games and rankings until about a week before the conference championships. This year I watched more Illini games than usual but not much else until this past week. In the past couple of days, there were some very exciting conference tournament games in the ACC, Big Ten, Big East, etc. And now I'm all pumped up for the big dance. Still haven't completed my brackets yet; have to do some further thinking...

Baseball season is just around the corner, too. To get in the spirit, I got ESPN MLB 2K5 for the Xbox. After playing a few games, I still feel 2K3 was better, 2K4 totally sucked. Maybe I'll give EA's MVP a chance one of these days.

Currently listening to: Ozma - ``The Doubble Donkey Disc'' (so what if they sound like Weezer!)

Fix the Sky a Little

So recently I've been in a music rut, listening to practically nothing but Bright Eyes and Dream Theater (that Live at Budokan DVD is pretty sweet). That is, until yesterday when the new Mars Volta officially came out. Even though I've heard it multiple times on MP3, it's just not the same as the real thing. Now I just have to wait for the ``decoder'' 12" released in conjunction with the full-length. In addition, I've been listening to the new Fantomas, Comeback Kid, Fischerspooner, Le Fly Pan Am, etc. Right now, I'm enjoying some 65daysofstatic, that is some good math rock.

Fignuts!

Sealab 2021: Season 2 DVD is out. Sniff you jerks later!

An Apple a Day...

Got my Mac mini earlier this week, and after a couple of days of configuring, it's now running smoothly. Using Fink, I was able to install everything I needed to send/receive email and some other minor duties. In addition, I tossed my old Logitech QuickCam and got the iSight to host my webcam. I've also used it a little bit for video chatting on iChat with AIM users. Pretty neat camera but it's still way over-priced.

Currently listening to: The Mars Volta - ``Frances the Mute''

I Shall Call It ... Mac Mini!

So Apple announced the Mac mini yesterday. It's everything I ever wanted in my mini-itx server. So of course, I immediately placed an order for one. The plan is to sell all my mini-itx related stuff and replace it with this. It supposedly ships on Jan. 22; can't wait.

The Boss Rules All

So I just finished Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. That was a very thrilling ending and plot. The final fight for Naked Snake to actually kill The Boss was extremely satisfying. Now I'm contemplating playing the original Metal Gear Solid remake for the Gamecube. Even more exciting, I wonder if the next game in the series will tie in Big Boss, Solid Snake, etc. together.

O yea, I also beat Halo 2 a couple of days ago. That ending sucked. They better have some downloadable content by Feb. 9th or whatever the rumor says.

``This is the End''

I've been playing quite a bit of Metal Gear Solid 3 lately. (This always seem to happen around the time of finals.) I'm about half way through, just got past The End today. That has to be one of the cooler boss fights in video games. It takes place in a thick jungle, just you vs. The End. The fight takes a good 20-30 minutes to complete and involves a lot of tracking/hunting/sneaking. It's definitely a rush. The game itself has been mixed so far. The controls and the camera are terrible. But the gameplay, story, misc. are top-notch. I'll definitely finish this one soon.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Yadda Yadda Yadda

Been watching the Seinfeld DVDs recently. I got the limited edition gift set with the mini-dinette set. The extras on the DVDs are pretty good; although I wish there were more commentary. Also been playing a bit of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The controls in that are pretty annoying but I think I'll endure through for the story.

Now listening to: Dntel - "Something Always Goes Wrong"

Time, Mr. Freeman?

Just got done with Half-Life 2. After some very memorable and engaging fire fights in City 17 and the citadel, the ending was abrupt and surprisingly easy. It definitely was not as satisfying as the ending to Half-Life 1. But overall, the game was excellent. Now it's time to beat Halo 2 and maybe get started on Metal Gear Solid 3.

Come Redone

Home for Thanksgiving this week and finally got some free time to redo this website. Now it looks a bit more professional, I think. Read up a bit on typography and color design so hopefully it's soothing to the eye. Haven't done much else other than watching TV and play Metroid.

Now listening to: Bright Eyes - "Digital Ash In A Digital Urn"

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Need I say more?

The Work

SIGMOD SIGMOD SIGMOD SIGMOD SIGMOD

Currently listening to: Rufus Wainwright - ``Want Two''

Two Is Better Than One

The picture below speaks for itself. I got two Dell 17" LCDs recently and now they're working nicely in a dual-head setup. Running dual-head in X sorta sucks. Right now I'm using the "Big Desktop" option provided by the ATI drivers, but the WM (Fluxbox) isn't aware of the two screens. So a window will maximize over both screens, my GDM login prompt is split in the center, etc. The other option to run separate X sessions on the two screens; maybe I'll try that out someday.


So Bush won re-election. We've got four more years of right-wing tyranny in front of us. Perhaps it's time to move. On the brighter side, Halo 2 and Half-Life 2 are coming out in the next two weeks. GTA: San Andreas came out last week. Pretty good time to be a gamer. I also recently got all Gold metals in Project Gotham Racing 2. Proudest achievement in recent memory. I've put over 140 hours and 7000 miles into that game. Amazing.

Currently listening to: Squarepusher - ``Big Loada''

Sweet News

Hooray! I just found out that I passed my PhD qualifying exam. That's a major load off my shoulders. Now I can really focus on playing video games, err.. doing research.

LaTroy Hawkins Sucks

What's wrong with the Cubs?! First they lose 2 out of 3 to the Mets. The Mets! Now they've lost 2 out of 3 to the Reds with Hawkins blowing yet another save tonight. Things don't look good for the wildcard spot especially with the Braves coming up as the final series of the season.

The Giants aren't doing so well either. Losing to the Padres tonight on that wild mound-trip-throw. Sucks for that outfielder hyperextending his knee. The craziest thing is that the Astros are in the lead for the wild card. I mean weren't they written off back in the Spring? Anyway, it's shaping up to be a crazy weekend. Giants vs. Dodgers; Cubs vs. Braves; Astros vs. Rockies; Angels vs. A's. And of course, who can forget Ichiro? He's two hits shy of breaking the single season hit record.

Finally beat Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow last week. That was the weakest ending ever. Now I'm in the middle of Silent Hill 4: The Room. I've always liked the Silent Hill series, and this is shaping up to be a good one.

Avoid the Hoopla

Found out yesterday that my ICDE'05 submission from July was accepted as a poster paper. Totally awesome news. This means I might have a trip to Tokyo next April.

Oh and by the way, the 10-year ban on assault weapons ended at midnight last night. Thanks to the lobbyists from the NRA, every family in America can now own a semi-automatic. I mean, who doesn't want a Colt AR-15 in their living room? </sarcasm>

Hello from VLDB

Toronto Writing this from my hotel in downtown Toronto. Got into the city sometime last night, after much rain and a 2-hour electricity outage, everything is pretty much settled down. I'll be here for the rest of the week attending VLDB 2004. Other than that, not much to see in town since I was just here a couple of years ago. So I will take this free time to prepare for my upcoming Ph.D. qualifying exam. But I'll definitely go out to Chinatown often for the food; good thing the public transportation system in Toronto is robust.

I came back from Dallas last week visiting my new-born nephew, cousin and her family. It was a fun trip, babies are cool. Among other things, we visited Austin and downtown Dallas. The 6th Floor Museum about JFK was really cool. It's not often you can be so close to history.

Also, the fall semester started last week. I'm just taking one class but will probably sit in on a couple more. The big thing this semester will be the qual. I probably won't be able to relax until passing that.

Doom 3 finally came out and it was downright dissappointing. Aside from the monotonous gameplay, I wasn't even that impressed with the graphics. Why is everything so shiny? I guess I'll just have to wait for Half-Life 2 (which is suppose to go Gold on monday).

Currently listening to: Rilo Kiley - ``More Adventurous.''

Elephants are Bigger in Person!

After finishing off the ICDE'05 submission, I spent the July 4th weekend in DC, hanging out with Scott and Alex. Checked out all the famous places and saw the fireworks. Very fun. Been doing some external reviews for ICDM'04 and ICDE'05. I finished a DMKD journal revision submission and will start soon on a TKDE journal submission. More importantly, I have to start preparing for my Ph.D. qualifying exams coming up this September. Lots of papers and books to read for that.

Recently, I set aside some time to setup a decent stereo system. Finally got tired of using my computer as a receiver. I got Onkyo TX-SR601 receiver, Acoustic Research PSC25 center channel, Acoustic Research PS2062 as fronts, Sony SS-MB150H as rears, and the Pioneer DV-578A DVD player. I can't believe I didn't do this sooner. All my music (especially the vinyls) sound so much better and watching DVDs is just awesome with the surround sound. I also got the Flaming Lips' ``Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots'' on DVD-Audio. That album is 10x better with the surround sound.

Last week, I sold pretty much all my video games (except for Splinter Cell and Project Gotham) and put down pre-orders on ESPN NFL 2K5, Doom 3, and Halo 2. NFL 2K5 should be good; hopefully it will get some respect this year over Madden with its budget pricing and early release date. Totally psyched about Doom 3 (see screenshot), out on August 3rd. I just hope my system can run it smoothly, might have to upgrade the video card.

Doom 3

Currently listening: The Polyphonic Spree - ``Together We're Heavy''. Lots of good music came out recently (legally & illegally). The new Converge, The Faint, Dillinger Escape Plan, Isis remixes, Further Seems Forever (demo), The Cure, Unearth are just some. Good time to be a music fan.

PS. I ordered that Airport Express thing from Apple. It looks awesome.

PPS. My cousin just had her baby recently, which means I'm an uncle! Going to see them in mid-August hopefully.

PPPS. I recently broke the 800 mark on the number of CDs I own. Wow.

When It Rains, It Pours

Recently, a family of birds has setup home on top of a light on my balcony. Initially, it was just a single bird (the mom probably). During the past week or so, 4 baby birds have hatched. Below are some pictures.

bird1 bird2
Now it's back to work. ICDE deadline is only 2 weeks away!

Currently listening to: Blonde Redhead - "Misery Is A Butterfly".

Go Pistons!

Been back from China for about a week, and things have never been busier. After finishing off the VLDB 2004 camera-ready version, I am (and will be until July 1st) working feverishly on an ICDE 2005 submission. ICDE '05 will be held next April in Tokyo, Japan. That would be awesome to go.

Sony Ericsson T616

Seen above is my brand new phone! (The background image is an illustration from Battle Royale). The Sony Ericsson T616 is one awesome phone. Aside from the colorful display, camera, and small size, it's got Bluetooth to transfer files wirelessly and also remotely control my Mac Powerbook. I also bought a new digital camera, the Canon S410. Quite an upgrade from my previous A40.

Some unfortunate news? My TiVo broke. cry One of its hard drives broke, and I had to send both of them in for service. Now I'm totally lost on TV. The Sopranos had its season finale this past Sunday. Fairly anti-climatic. This whole season was weak.

Oh yea, one of my websites, InStrife.com, has recently started its own IRC channel, again. I didn't create it; someone from its board did. All previous attempts at this have failed. But this time, it's gotten a fair amount of traffic and maintained it for over a week! Visit it at #instrife on irc.gamesurge.net. It's got trivia if you're into that sorta thing. I'm propheci on there.

Currently listening to: Various Artists - "Punk Goes Pop".

Summer Make Good

Graduated with my M.S. degree this past Sunday. Now I'm writing from China on my 2-week trip. I found out before I left for China that my VLDB paper was accepted! So I guess this means I might be going to Toronto at the end of August for the conference. That should be fun. After I get back from China, I'll be working on hopefully a strong ICDE submission.

In case you're wondering, "Summer Make Good" is the title of the excellent new Mum album.

Power Violence Forever

I just deposited my Master thesis. Hooray for me!

Air America Radio

The new liberal Air America Radio launched last week with the main course of The O'Franken Factor (rather clever jab at The O'Reilly Factor). The show is excellent with Franken's witty comments and anecdotes. The other shows on there sorta suck with maybe the exception of the Janeane Garofalo show. Hopefully the network will survive because it has no real sponsors right now.

Got the new Modest Mouse album yesterday. ``Good News For People Who Love Bad News'' is the title. All the kids seem to be jocking this, and it is fairly solid. Although I wouldn't put it too much above their previous releases.

Spring Time

Finally got my iPod mini yesterday. Very slick. It's a little bit longer than I'd like it, but I guess you can't have everything. So far, I've listened to nothing but Shiina Ringo on it. I was only recently introduced to her works, but I'm quickly getting hooked. The Weezer re-release of the Blue Album came out. Nothing too special as I had most of the b-side tracks already. The DVD is pretty sweet though. Same for the Rainer Maria live DVD I got recently.

Speaking of music, I was trying to deduct my music expenses against my websites' revenue for my 2003 taxes. After going through all my receipts, I discovered I spent about $1600 on CDs and vinyls last year. A little scary... But it's a good thing since I owe about $700, without the deductions, to the IRS.

I'm Against Picketing, but I Don't Know How to Show It

Terrell Owens to the Ravens. Keyshawn Johnson to the Cowboys. Jevon Kearse to the Eagles. Portis to the Redskins. Bailey to the Broncos. Wistrom to the Seahawks. What an off-season! Same thing goes for baseball, too. Can't wait for the seasons to start. Sopranos start again this sunday. Hooray!

I Like Kit Kat Bars Unless I'm with 4 or More People

One more week until VLDB; it all comes down to this. I think I have a pretty good paper this time around.
I got a couple of Mitch Hedberg comedy albums this week. That guy's fucking hilarious. Here's a good sample:

"One time a guy handed me a picture of himself, and he said, "Here's a picture of me when I was younger." Every picture of you is of when you were younger. Here's a picture of me when I am older. You son of a bitch, how'd you pull that off? Let me see that camera..."
Ninja Gaiden is coming out next week. The early reviews seem to praise it a lot so maybe I'll give it a try. Although I still haven't beaten Fatal Frame II. And in about a month, the Splinter Cell sequel should be out, too.

Currently listening to: Walls of Jericho - ``All Hail the Dead''.

What Did the Five Fingers Say to the Face?

``Denied!'' Received the news yesterday that my SIGMOD submission was rejected. Oh, such is research life.

Index! Index! Index!

Work continues on my VLDB submission. Much of the coding is done but there's still a _lot_ of writing, analysis, design, and comparisons left. Hopefully I have enough time before the March 5th deadline. I finally finished reading Al Franken's book. The material in the second half got stretched out a bit, probably to fill the pages. But it was still entertaining. Also updated my recent music acquisitions page.

Ouch Owie Ow

Went snowboarding this past weekend for the first time at Wilmot Mountain. Never realized how much fun it was to fall on my ass every couple of minutes. I think I got a whiplash from falling on the rope tow. All in the name of fun though. Hopefully I can continue going on some regular basis. I've been playing Project Gotham Racing 2 (XBOX) quite a bit lately. Find me online as propheci. Saw some good movies over winter break. 21 Grams and Gozu jump out as the favorites. And lastly, been reading Al Franken's book, ``Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.'' That is a damn good book. Funniest line so far?

``But, you know what, I don't want to get into a while partisan politics thing here. Not in this book, anyway. We'll leave that for my next book, I Fucking Hate Those Right-Wing Motherfuckers!, due out in October 2004.''
The semester is about to start and that means work towards a VLDB 2004 submission. Time is super-tight this time but I think I can pull it off. My class schedule for the spring semester has been updated.

Recent playlist favorite: Horse the Band - ``R. Borlax''.

Racing

So I got Project Gotham Racing 2 for the XBOX yesterday. I've put about 6 hours into it and it's possibly the best racing game ever. Now only if I didn't have this school thing... SIGMOD is due next Monday. My paper is pretty much done sans maybe one more performance graph and some more words. Looks like I won't be working until the last minute like last year's VLDB.

Currently listening to: Youth of Today - ``We're Not In This Alone''.

Hey Everybody! It's Bob and David!

I've been watching quite a bit of the Mr. Show DVDs I got recently. Amazing to see current-day famous comedians and sketches on there. I think in recent years, sketch comedy has become a dying art with SNL going down the tubes. MadTV has had some funny ones but they still lack the smart writing Mr. Show or Kids in the Hall had.

I recented the new Ninja Turtles game the other day. Boy is that boring. I played about an hour and just couldn't get myself to continue. The lack of a strong story and the repetitive button-mashing gets old, fast. But there are a few games to look forward to. True Crime comes out next week. Project Gotham Racing 2 is soon. And Fatal Frames 2 is coming out this month, too.

Current playlist: Khanate - "Things Viral". Hooray for doom metal!

Kalashnikov vs. Dragunov

Spent much of the past couple of days to beat Max Payne 2. I was a huge fan of the first one and this sequel didn't dissappoint. See my reactions to it and also the recently released Gamecube title Viewful Joe.

Mac OS X Panther came out last week. My pre-order should be getting here soon. I tried out some of the new features at the Micro Order Center in the Union the other day. Exposé has to be one of the coolest features ever. Seeing as how my Powerbook only has a 12" display, it's often a hassle to find an open application. The F9 key will be a godsend. Plus the spiffy OpenGL animations aren't too shabby to look at. I just ended a sentence on a preposition. Shoot me.

Circle Takes the Square

Been a busy couple of weeks. I'm working hard on my MS thesis: efficient OLAP without data cubing. Very excited about some current results. Just for my thesis, I've upgraded my computer to a full gigabyte of RAM. And just to accomodate my busy schedule, I've finally purchased a TiVo. Various parts of this site has been updated, included my reviews of recent games and recent music.

Crappola

So school's officially started and I feel nowhere ready for it. Recently, I've been playing a bit of Sega's World Series 2K3. It's pretty sweet but I'll probably stop once the football season gets started. Watched my Huskers beat them Cowboys silly yesterday. Now it's just 4 days until the start of the NFL! As far as football video games, Sega's NFL 2K3 looks very exciting with its 1st person view mode and whatnot so I'll probably check that out next week. And of course, who can forget about the upcoming Half-Life 2?

Looking back at the summer, I accomplished some of the things I wanted to do: finished Zelda, Metroid Fusion, etc; built a new computer; did a lot of research work. One thing I didn't do was release another record on my label. I think I'm about to give up since the 20+ demos I got were all mediocre to bad. For the fall semester, I will be doing a lot of research along the lines of closed frequent itemset mining and related topics. And I'll probably watch lots more Takashi Miike movies.

Blasphemy

Beat Silent Hill 3 last night. It was probably one of the most blasphemous games ever made. Gameplay was a little too heavy on the fighting and puzzles were pretty easy on normal mode. The storyline was not as confusing as Silent Hill 2, and it was engaging to the end. I felt the game was a little bit short and the ending was sort of crappy as well.

SA-X and Omega Metroid are Dead, Too

Hooray! Finished Metroid Fusion for the GBA. Man the final boss SA-X was tough. My hands were literally shaking as I killed it. Good game though; definitely better than Metroid Prime.

Ganondorf is Dead

I just beat The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker! Sure kicked Ganon's sorry arse. The final level with all its bosses and puzzles was very enjoyable. The game overall was also excellent although I'd still put Eternal Darkness as the best Gamecube game I've played. Anyway, now there's nothing to do but wait for Silent Hill 3! Well, maybe I'll finished Metroid Fusion or something.

Oceanic

And a new star is born! Got my new tower all setup now; you can check it out here. Took a while to get Gentoo running but things are finally smooth using the 2.4.21 Alan Cox kernel. Still got some work left on the DVD burner and Palm sync but those can wait. For now, my time is spent with Zelda and Metroid Fusion. Slowly making progress in both of them.

New Computer Time

It's been about two years since I built my current computer (Athlon 1.4GHz) so I figured it was about time to upgrade. Of course, the new Half-Life 2 videos had something to do with this. :-) Anyway, the new computer parts are all ordered. Pentium 4 2.6GHz C, Asus P4P800 (Springdale), Corsair PC3200 DDRAM, Sapphire ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, etc. Hopefully, I'll get everything by the weekend.

As far as games go, I finally bought a Game Boy Advance SP. I got Metroid Fusion and Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. I'm about half-way through Fusion right now; definitely liking it better than Prime. The storyline is keeping everything interesting whereas Prime felt very distant and impersonal. Also downloaded the extra Splinter Cell level Kola Cell for XBox-Live and promply beat it. It was short but hard just because there were so few checkpoints. Still thoroughly enjoyed it though. The plan is to beat Fusion and hopefully continue on Zelda. I suppose I might just get the new Tomb Raider even though the past 3 have all been dissappointments.

Summer is Now

Finally finished my last final project yesterday and now summer vacation is in full swing, sort of. I got a nice little job at the NCSA for the summer. My project will be to classify a bunch of emails. Looks like I'm finally going to have a chance to apply all these machine learning techniques I've been learning. I will be doing all my stuff in the automated learning group.

Other than the job, a bunch of other things happened over the past month. I'll just quickly list them here. Sold my old IBM laptop, bought an Apple Powerbook, new Deftones record came out, got Raven Shield, and finally saw a bunch of amazing Half-Life 2 videos from E3. Some of my big plans for the summer are to upgrade my main computer to Pentium 4, install Gentoo, and (hopefully) release another record on my record label.

And lastly, I just quickly moved all the entries you see here into the MySQL database. Doesn't really change anything other than the front page won't be as long now.

Taffy is Delicious

Hooray! The data mining paper I was a part of earlier this year got accepted for VLDB 2003, one of the premier database conferences around. The conference is in September and is held in Germany. With this publication, my M.S. thesis will follow sort of naturally. Can't wait to start working on that.
In other news, all my final projects are coming towards the end now. So the next couple of weeks is going to be brutal. I got this awesome Dillinger Escape Plan 7" a week or two ago. On one side, two tracks start almost next to each other so you have put the needle down very carefully to listen to each song. On the other side, one of the songs start at the middle of the record. For some reason, my record player doesn't like it when I move the needle towards the middle so I haven't even heard the song yet. O well.. I guess I'll just get the EP or something. And lastly, I got an advance of the new Shai Hulud, ``That Within Blood Ill Tempered''. It's the most excellent.

More Zelda and More Metal

Got further along Zelda the last couple of days. So far, I've decided this is certainly better than Metroid Prime. But for now, Eternal Darkness still reigns as the top game on the Gamecube. Got some new music lately, new Caliban, Boy Sets Fire, Terror, Minus the Bear and some others. See my reactions to them. I should be getting the advance to the new Shai Hulud soon. Can't wait for this; the whole hardcore/metal scene is going to explode when this comes out next month. Also signed up for next semester's classes today. See my tentative schedule here.

I am Link

Finally broke down today and bought Zelda: The Wind Waker. Put in about 3-4 hours today and I just made it to Dragon Roost Island. I don't think I'll get much time to play right now so the game'll probably have to wait until summer vacation. Overall, the game has been very impressive. I haven't found any quirks with the controls. The camera is close to perfect. You can see more of my reactions to this and more games here.

NCAA rant: Marquette doesn't belong in the Final Four. Why couldn't Texas stop Carmelo Anthony? I was hoping for a Texas-Kansas final but I guess Syracuse'll do. At least T.J. Ford's coming back next year. Texas will have all returning starters; that's gonna be hard to beat.

Spring Break is Nice

Back home for spring break this week. Just been reading a load of papers and such. And of course, watching this war going on in Iraq. I just want that to be over so all these jerkfaces on CNN or MSNBC can go back to doing nothing. Last week, I bought the Palm Tungsten T. Very sweet. I think I'll stick with this now. It's small and sharp, pretty much everything I'm looking for. New Zelda came out this week but it looks like I won't get a chance to play that until this summer. O well. I also ordered a bunch of vinyls a couple of days ago. One of them is this Dillinger Escape Plan 7" that basically recorded two songs on the same groove. Can't wait to hear that mess...

Look at Me, I'm Dumb

So it seems like I wasted my money on the Sharp Zaurus. It's just not a good PDA, for me. It's bulky, slow, and terrible at recognizing my handwriting. So it's been put up on eBay along with my Clie. So now that both of them will be gone soon, I'm on the hunt for another PDA. The Palm Tungsten T seems pretty good right now. Recent playlist: Xiu Xiu, Mum, and Prostitute Disfigurement.

I Like the Metal

So I've been working pretty much non-stop on my CS 448 Torpedo project. It's been coding all day and training all night. I had initially tried genetic algorithms but soon gave up after seeing no convergence. Now I'm on reinforcement learning; hopefully that'll work out better. The results I've been seeing have been encouraging.

Last week, I got my new PDA, the Sharp Zaurus. I also ordered an 802.11b CF card for it so I can use it to check email and stuff pretty much anywhere. Should be really neat. The thing runs on Linux so the possibilities are endless. But first I need some free time to figure out how to sync the damn thing. I also got Colin McRae Rally 3 for the Xbox last week. Haven't played a driving game extensively for a while (the last thing I played seriously was Sega GT I guess). So it's taking a while to get accustomed to the physics. The game's supercool though.

And finally, I've been getting lots of good music. The new re-recording of Zao is out. So's the new Soul Embraced. Also got a bunch of other cool releases. See my brief reactions if you care. O yea, last thing. Da Ali G show on HBO! Watch it and laugh your face off.

School and Such

It's been a month since the start of school. Nothing much has been going on in my classes, but I have been busting my ass off on a data mining paper for submission to VLDB 2003. Hopefully it'll get in. Haven't played much games lately. For now, it looks like I'll never finish Metroid Prime. I have been playing a little bit of Counter-Strike, again. Hopefully, it won't get out of hand and take over my life, again.

I did get the Sony DRU 500A DVD writer last week. It's pretty sweet. Burns around 4.4GB in about 16 minutes. The only downside is that DVD media are so friggin' expensive. Burn a coaster and that's $3-4 down the drain. Been also on somewhat of a vinyl binge lately. Got some Youth of Today, Black Flag, Isis, etc. One of the Isis vinyls was a European edition limited to 125 copies. Pretty sweet.

I Like Video Games

Woohoo! Just beat Splinter Cell. Wasn't much of an ending but the game as a whole rocked. Now I can focus on Metroid Prime or maybe No One Lives Forever 2. And perhaps I'll get SimCity 4 if I feel like it. School's starting soon. Ick.

Christmas Break is Great

Here is a short summary of my days during Christmas Break. I get up around 10:30-11. Eat a little bit of breakfast while watching TV. Then I either go check my email or just watch more TV. Eat lunch around 1pm. Either watch more TV or play video games until dinner. After dinner, play more video games until around 10 or 11. Then I watch more TV. O man, I wish I did this for a living.

Other than video games and TV, I also started coding my neural network for filtering spam. Haven't had a chance to fully test. More details later. I did get a chance to finally update my music database. For now, it's 100% up-to-date. I beat Hitman 2 and Mafia. Right now, I'm about 1/3 through Splinter Cell. I plan on beating No One Lives Forever 2 before school starts and getting started on Metroid Prime. And I updated my reviews of recent games and recent music.

School's Over!

Hooray! School's over! After basically four final projects and a final, I'm finally finished. Here's my plan for Christmas break. Play (and hopefully beat) No One Lives Forever 2, Mafia, Splinter Cell, Metroid Prime, and Shenmue II. I'm also planning to make a neural network based spam filter. For now, I've added a projects section. It includes final pictures of the Mini-ITX Dreamcast. Over Thanksgiving, it was up for the entire week for me to logon from home. It ran without a hitch.