Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bellingham, the city of subdued excitement.

So, I was listening to KUOW on my IPOD while taking a running break from studying (I ran 8 miles today, thank you very much) and heard the best nickname ever for the lovely city to our north and home to Western Washington U: Bellingham, the city of subdued excitement. I liked it so much that I decided to further procrastinate from studying for my Professional Responsibility exam (btw, procrastination is technically forbidden for lawyer. Rule 1.3 of the general rules of professional conduct state that a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness, yes that's right, promptness in representing a client. I'm entering a career where the I'm technically forbidden from procrastinating. I'm fucked. Anywhoo...) to research where that nickname came from. I came across this hilarious, or perhaps just mildly amusing, well, no, I'm pretty sure it is hilarious, but probably only for a long time resident of pugetopia, from the Seattle Time April 1 edition. I can't believe I missed it the first time, but hey, who doesn't like a good rerun of four month old newspaper media.

Enjoy: Our City by the Numbers. (just to wet your appetite, come on, click it, you know you want to, here is a short excerpt:

If only Iraqis could learn the Seattle Way. No Saddams here. A primer:
• All decision-makers must be elected.
• No elected official is capable of making a decision.
• All decisions will be submitted to a public vote.
• All votes are advisory.
• There will be a public hearing to interpret the meaning of the results.
• All interpretations will be appealed.
• Repeat as infinitely necessary.

or how about this little tid bit:

666 WAYS WE'RE SAVING THE WORLDLet's face it, from airliners to software, Seattle has pretty much fixed the world. Have we gotten the credit we deserve? Hardly. Billions of dollars, yes, but that's not exactly thanks. So let's recap how Seattle saved civilization:

How 'bout that Dreamliner? Higher ceiling. Bigger windows. Jetson curves. And airline seats crammed so tightly together that you still have to balance your plastic-wrapped snack on a 1-inch armrest while climbing over a fat man to stand in line for a dirty restroom while someone complains you're blocking their 6-inch movie screen. Can't wait!

Windows Vista! Can you feel the excitement? See-through graphics and a whole new set of commands to learn for only $239, plus $1,200 for a machine capable of running it. Does Microsoft ever sleep?

Priapus! Another miracle drug from Seattle biotech, guaranteed to keep things up for six days at a time! Next task: genetically engineering a wife who cares.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wiich one shall it PS3?

I admit it, I love video games. I always have. My early childhood consisted of playing countless hours of Atari 2600 games like Adventure, Pitfall, and yes, even ET. Later, I remember pining for the NES in grade school and walking the five miles to Eric’s (a boy I hardly knew) house so that I could play his. When my parent’s finally gave a NES for Christmas in the sixth grade, I jumped up and ran around the house like a wild hare. Later, when I had my first job working as a groundkeeper at a Condo complex in Pocatello, I turned my first two weeks of scraping railings, mowing grass, and replacing sprinkler heads into a SNES and a strangely unforgettable title, Xardion, and the obligatory copy of Pilot Wings.

From then on countless weekends were spent in front of the television in the basement beating game after game. My regular weekend routine would consist of my mom stopping by the movie place on her way home from work and renting me a game that I would spend the weekend (including the wee hours of the morning) beating, wearing my thumbs raw on the familiar, square controller of the SNES. In college, I was lucky to be living with fraternity brothers with better financial means than I who offered up their N64’s and Playstation and faster computers to my addiction. One weekend, when the house emptied out for a President’s day weekend ski trip and trips home to do laundry, I stayed behind to beat Metal Gear Solid. Later, in my final years of college, I turned my scholarship money into the Playstation 2, getting the last one in the store and taking home a shitty release title racing game. I later supplemented the PS2 with the Xbox and a Halo addiction. Most recently, I turned this interest into project for my legal research class by researching copyright issues in game publishing. My professor thought it was good work but thought that I was joking when, in my projects introduction, I compared video games to great works of art. I wasn’t.

Anyway, here it is, well into the seventh generation of video game consoles and I have yet to purchase one. I have valid reasons why I haven't. One, I decided to grow up and go back to law, which meant cutting our take home pay in half. Two, my wife really doesn’t enable my habit like my mother; she does not stop buy the game store after work and pick me up a copy of the latest game and a pizza. And third, well, there is no third, it basically comes down to me no longer working and my wife's disapproval of the hobby.

This all changed this week, however, when my wife finally gave her tacit approval for me to purchase a new system. I have been diligently working as a law clerk bringing in a little extra income and I had a good year in school, cracking at least the top 15%, thus she thinks I’ve earned one. But, unlike when I was a corporate drone, I can’t afford each of them and can only buy one. So, I am torn, which console should I buy?

One option is the market darling, the Wii. True, it does look like fun. Who can resist failing around your living room, swinging at the screen, and the bright colors that are the hallmarks of Nintendo’s offering. Even my wife has said that she would like to play it. This, coupled with it being the cheapest of the three, makes it a contender. But, and this is a big but, I think Nintendo has abandoned the hardcore gameer. When a company touts the new Mario game as their keystone, hardcore game you know they’ve left us serious players behind. I have played part of Zelda and thought it was fun, but Zelda, Mario, and the new version of Metroid are just-not-going-to-cut-it. Were I still working I would, no doubt, own a Wii-box (common term for buying both the Xbox 360 and the Wii), but I just don’t think Nintendo will get this student's money.

Speaking of the Xbox, I am leaning toward buying console. It has a pretty good library at the moment and with Metal Gear, Halo 3, and GTA on the horizon, this console a tough choice to resist. However, I know the price will drop soon and I am aghast to purchase within the next week or so only to have the price drop the next month. Come on Microsoft, word is out, everyone knows you are going to rearrange your pricing scheme, so just do it already!!!

Yet, there is still that black temptress, the PS3. Sure, the library sucks and as Microsoft is fond of saying, “it’s the software stupid.” Sony should know this. The original Xbox just couldn’t match the sheer depth of the PS2’s library and that is why they trailed market volume war in the last generation. But, Sony had a great showing at E3. The new titles look amazing, better than what is on deck for the Xbox, and as developers get used to the new architecture scheme, I think we will see some truly amazing titles in the future. This coupled with the fact that the hardware is better (note to Microsoft: I used to buy all my multiplatform titles in the Xbox version because they just ran better on your beefier system. Conversely, I think the same would be true today if I had both the PS3 and the 360; I would purchase multiplatform title on the PS3 vs the 360 because they would probably run better.) But is it worth it to wait to buy the PS3 on the mere chance that the titles might pan out given the costs and the wait until said title appear? Probably not.

Decision. Decisions. Decisions. What is a console purchaser to do? Perhaps just be content with PC? Readers, any thought?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Another Plug for Pluggd

Not too often that I plug things on this blog but I thought I would post this story about my brother-in-law's company in the PI and encourage everyone to check website here:

Pluggd's audio player debuts on ZDNET

Seattle-based Pluggd has inked its first deal with a major media company, bringing its audio search technology to select podcasts on ZDNET.
It is currently available on Dan Farber & Larry Dignan's recent podcast on the iPhone and other topics, allowing users to type keywords into Pluggd's search box in order to find specific information.

A colleague of mine just used it, searching for words such as "iPhone," "Jobs" and "Microsoft." Doing so, returns a color-coded "heat map" of the frequency in which those words appear at certain periods in the audio file. Pluggd's HearHere technology also is available on the MonkCast program.
Cornelius Willis, chief marketing officer at Pluggd, said that he believes this is the first time that a major online publisher "has provided the ability to search within rich media."
Pluggd raised $1.65 million in venture funding last December from a group of angel investors that included Scott Oki, Paul Maritz and Bill Bryant. Intel Capital also participated.
Founded by former manager Alex Castro, Pluggd has been winning plenty of attention since launching the audio search technology, with write-ups in Wired and The Economist.
VentureBeat has more details, saying that Pluggd is in the process of raising a big round of capital. That's something I am hearing as well. But as I have mentioned before, I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the search giants eventually pick up Pluggd.

-John Cook, Seattle PI June 29, 2007

Even if the company does eventually get bought about by Google, Yahoo, as some are predicting I’m still expecting for he and my sister in law to watch my dog no matter how many millions they get.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ranking of Law School (Western States)

I recently pulled all of the Western State's (in my book if you are western state if you are West of, or touch, the Rockies) law schools from the recent US New and World Report to see how the various school compared within the region. I know I've rallied against these ranking in the past, but I'll admit it, I'm a hypocrite and that part of me really loves lists of things (weird, huh). So, despite not wanting to give too much authority to these type of things, here it is anyway.

Top 100 Western Law Schools (Nat'l Rank)(US News allows ties but the ranking number continues after tie, for example Stanford and Harvard are number both ranked #2 so there is no #3, NYU is number #4):
1 Stanford (#2)
2 UC – Berkley (#8)
3 UC - LA (#15)
4 USC (#16)
5 U Washington (#28)
6 UC- Davis (#34)
7 UC (Hastings) (#36)
7 U Colorado (#36)
9 BYU (#44)
9 U Arizona (#44)
11 ASU (#51)
12 U of Utah (#57)
13 Pepperdine (#66)
14 U New Mexico (#70)
15 U Denver (#77)
16 Lewis & Clark (#82)
16 U Oregon (#82)
18 Seattle U (#85)
18 U San Diego (#85)
20 Santa Clara (#91)
21 U Hawaii (#91)
22 UNLV (#100)
22 U San Francisco (#100)
22 U of Pacific (#100)

Tier 3 - Unranked Nationally
25 Gonzaga U (WA)
25 Southwestern (CA)
25 U Idaho
25 U Montana
25 U Wyoming

Tier 4 - Unranked Nationally
31 California Western
31 Chapman (CA)
31 Golden Gate (CA)
31 Thomas Jefferson (CA)
31 Whittier (CA)
31 Willamette U (OR)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Why Does Google Want Me To Fail? Or, Why The Dog Ate My Homework.

I suppose you could call me a Google fan. I’m currently blogging on blogger, I put my blog photos in Picasa, I have a gmail account, I use Google Earth to plan running courses around the city, I’ve played around with the online spreadsheet and document, and I’ve even occasionally clicked on one of the ubiquitous ads that pay for it all. The little company has come a long way from the nondescript search page that I heard about from my brother in the computer labs at U of Idaho in 1997.

Before Google we had search engines like Alta Vista, Lycos, and others that I’ve forgotten. Remember them? When you searched for anything with them they invariably brought you back porn. It didn’t matter what you were looking for, you could input “puppies” and they would fetch you German bestiality pics. Of course in the middle nineties the only thing on the internet was porn and a few research papers, but, nonetheless, it was pretty insufferable. Then Google came and actually brought you stuff that, although not what you were looking for, it at least had a puppy or two in it. Since then, Google has been churning out product after product to keep our minds and eyeballs hovering over their ad space. It’s been pretty effective.

Their latest product that I’ve fallen for is Google Reader (GR). This little gem is basically an RSS reader, but it so much more than that. Like other RSS readers, GR brings you back RSS feeds you have selected. GR also has prepackaged interest bundles that bring collections of sites, and if you choose to, stores them on your hard-drive so you can click through the internet even when you are not online. It also organizes the sites and puts them neatly into their respective categories, allows you to scroll quickly through the headers and pictures, and monitors which stories you actually click on to read or just pass by, all the while keeping stats on what you've read, what type of stuff you've read, how many time a day you read. Wow. And all of it worthless.

I love Google Reader and I find myself spending hours with it numbingly clicking through stories that interest me and even those that don’t. But, I actually read very few of them, I just scan the header and the intro paragraphs, look at the pictures, and then move on. I should click on the stories and read them, but I don’t, because I have hundred of these things waiting for me to peruse. If I actually read them I’d never get on with my day. Therefore, I don't think GR has resulted in a more "informed" me, it has just made me more aware of the fact that there is an awful lot of content on the web (and most of it is awful) and I need to quit my job and become a full time internet addict.

This is what technology seems to have brought us, thousands and thousand of tiny distractions. Instead of the promise of improve productivity so that we could work for a few hours a day and spend the rest of our hours enjoying life, I spend hours blogging or on tool like GR that I should have been using for work, spending time with my family, or studying. And I’m pretty sure that there are other our their like me who spend way to much time enjoying these productivity and internet “life aid” tools rather than actually working.

Oh well, time is up on this rant, I have to get off blogger and put some time over on Google Reader, or I could actually do some work …