Holidailies 2006

Postings during the 30 days of Holidailies 2006 (www.holidailies.org).

Favorite Movies of 2008

One advantage of being married to a professional film critic is that I get to see a lot of movies. I've seen some really good ones in 2008, especially in the past couple months. Here are my favorite eight movies of the year, not exactly ordered, but somewhat grouped into three sets of varying enthusiasm.

The Wrestler — This movie is my very favorite movie of 2008. I wrote a blog entry that talks about why I like this movie so much. It hasn't opened in Austin yet. I was fortunate to see my wife's screener review disc, for free. When it arrives in Austin theaters next month, I so totally will pay to see it again. And if I still like it then as much as I do right now, I will buy the DVD when released. I like this movie so much, maybe I'll buy you a copy. As far as Oscar picks, this is my choice for best movie of the year, and Mickey Rourke is my choice for best actor.

Lincoln Properties: Talk to the Hand

Last week, Lincoln Properties, the owner of the Northcross Mall and the developer who plans to put a record setting mega-box store in the middle of our neighborhood, announced a stand-down. They said that they would freeze further action so they could talk to the neighbors to resolve the problems.

Last Thursday evening the issue came before City Council. The neighbors packed the room, wall to wall, Lincoln Properties, however, was a no-show. Not much talking happened there, I guess.

Monday evening, the Crestview Neighborhood Association called a meeting, so the Northcross developers could meet with the neighbors. Once again, Lincoln Properties took a pass.

Tonight, the North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association—my neighborhood association—held a general meeting with the Northcross developers scheduled to attend. And again, Lincoln Properties was nowhere to be found.

Is Lincoln Properties ever going to talk with anybody, or are they just trying to run out the clock? The empty chairs are not a sign of good faith.

The Wal-Mart Doomsday Device

I recently re-watched Doctor Strangelove with my wife. The movie introduces the idea of a doomsday device. Unfortunately, it all goes horribly wrong because the Russians never tell the United States that they have this weapon. The idea is that the doomsday device is a threat that hangs over everybody's head never used.

You may have heard that Wal-Mart is trying to build the biggest fucking retail store in Travis County in a residential neighborhood—my neighborhood. They have their site plan approvals, and they are telling everybody it's a done deal.

Music Metadata: The Artist Sorting Problem

This weekend, I've been blogging about issues related to the metadata stored in my music files, such as song title and performer. Today I wrap up with one final problem—one I've yet to solve.

When you walk into your favorite music store, the music is binned and organized for easy browsing. I want the same for my digital music. I can't, and I haven't found a solution yet, and that's frustrating me.

Music Metadata: The Compilation Problem

In my previous blog entry, I discussed creating the metadata for my music collection. The metadata are stuff like song title and artist, which are stored in the music file.

The chuckleheads that run the music industry won't give us metadata, which is one reason why CDs are dying. So, we have to turn to third party services to get them. There are free services that do this, but you get what you pay for.

Music Metadata: Making my Music Library

Just about a year ago, I converted my music library to digital form—and I love it. The CDs are all ripped to lossless FLAC format. I've got a small computer (running Ubuntu Linux) in the living room connected to the A/V receiver by S/PDIF optical connection. The fidelity from this hardware isn't quite as good as the original CD player, but it's close.

I've spent a lot of time—maybe too much time—trying to get the music organized. A lot of the work was spent trying to get the metadata right. I'm going to write a couple of blog articles about my adventures. Today, I'm going to talk about gathering the metadata—stuff you probably know if you've been through this already.

Cowon iAudio X5: Nice Music Player

Cowon iAudio X5 digital music player

I recently thought it was time to get a disk-based MP3 player. I already had an inexpensive flash memory player, which was great for carrying a dozen albums on an afternoon road trip, but I wanted something big enough to carry my music collection into work.

My two key product requirements were:

  • Open platform.
  • Good sound.

Requirement number one knocked the Apple iPod product line right out.

An Example of Ruby Introspection

In my blog post yesterday about Java, I made positive mention of the Ruby programming language. I pointed out that by giving you the power to do some potentially dangerous and confusing things, Ruby also gives you the power to do some very cool stuff. Let me give you an example.

Let's start with a class called Person with a single attribute name:

class Person
    attr :name

Java is the Snubby-Nosed Scissors of Programming Languages

I've had to teach myself Java for my current contract. You may be surprised to find that with all the code I sling, I've not done any Java development up until now. Java is popular for enterprise application development, and I haven't done a lot of work in that space before.

I usually like learning new languages. I'm not enjoying Java at all. It's verbose and wordy, like a pedantic little schoolkid. It's like the snubby-nosed scissors of programming languages.

Why Regal Cinemas Suck

If you want to know what's so wrong with the movie business today, go look at somebody who is doing it right. That's easy here in Austin, because we're home to the Original Alamo Draft House theaters.

My wife and I frequently go to Sunday night movies. The town is quiet and it's easy to get in. That is, it's easy unless you are trying to go to our neighborhood theater, the Alamo Village. For the past couple of months, every time we've gone to a Sunday movie the show has sold out. Even when we went to a Sunday evening showing of The Departed many weeks into the release, every seat was taken.

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