Easily better than any of the X-movies, not quite as good as "Spiderman 2", and unfortunately nowhere near the level of Batman Begins. This is still one of the best superhero movies ever made though, and a very worthy successor to the original Superman.
The problem for me was that the script doesn’t weave drama quite as well as it handles heroics, and I felt that the third act of this movie had less of an impact than the first 45 minutes did. I liked the boldness of the ending, but for some reason, it just didn’t ring true with me. Perhaps Bryan Singer was thinking long-term with the way he handled Superman’s character, but this movie does little to really humanize the last Son of Krypton.
I am also still waiting for the "diabolical genius" Lex Luthor to finally make his big-screen debut, as Kevin Spacey (who was, btw, the highlight of this movie) still hits most of the same notes Gene Hackman did over a decade ago. I personally find it annoying that Lex is continually portrayed in the movies this way. Most comic fans know that his _intellect_ is superhuman, the equal of the alien Brainiac, which is why he’s such a good nemesis for someone whose _strength_ is superhuman, but here (and in the other Superman movies) he is reduced to a kind of face-paint-less Joker.
As Superman/Clark Kent, Brandon Routh is the closest you can get to the iconic Christopher Reeve. I found it interesting that both Spacey and Routh seemed like they were paying homage to the actors that preceded them, instead of the actual comic characters, but I guess that’s Hollywood for you.
No time for a proper blog post this morning, so I thought I’d steal our company bandwidth to give you this startlingly creative Flickr collage made by our search guru Hans yesterday. I’ve had the corporate startup energy running in my veins for the past 3 weeks, and it’s been a crazy, crazy experience thus far.
The bespectacled boy wonder is coming back this Wednesday folks! Hope y’all remembered to buy tickets, coz nearly every local theater selling in advance has sold out over the past week (the local IMAX theater was sold out until July 3rd, when I checked yesterday).
(Original image taken from this thread.)
Here’s an interesting effort from one of the oldest IT companies in the country: FlipTunes (discovered by way of PinoyTechBlog). As you can probably guess from the name, FlipTunes is basically iTunes for the local music industry. This is, in itself, not a bad idea, although the execution could certainly use a bit of work. With that in mind, I’ve come up with a short list of things these guys need to fix if they want to make this work.
1. For goodness’ sake, DON’T use WMA. In an effort to lock down their files, FlipTunes has made the unfortunate decision to use WMA instead of MP3 as their format of choice. They defend this decision by saying that WMA compresses better than MP3, as if anyone who buys digital music cares about file size. This iron-fist DRM also means that you only get to copy that file to a grand total of three devices (i.e., your music player, a backup CD and/or a friend’s thumbdrive), and that’s it. (There are also tons of software out there that allows you to break DRM; here’s an example.)
2. They don’t support iPods. In case you missed the significance of that, the iTunes music store represents about 70% of the global digital-music market. Guess why? Because iPods are cool, and iTunes is cool. Therefore, a music store that does not support iPods is not cool. (To be fair, this has more to do with Apple’s monopolistic tendencies than mozcom, and is the same problem plaguing big guns like Yahoo Music Unlimited and Napster.)
3. For some reason, the store isn’t on the front page. Instead you get a superfluous Flash animation (which by the way, replays itself and its annoying royalty-free music loop everytime you load a new page … argh), and a bunch of "Featured" items that STILL don’t bring you to the actual store when you click on them.
4. PhP40/song. I’m not really up on the latest prices of OPM CDs, but isn’t this actually more expensive than buying a physical CD, assuming a standard 12-song album? I mean, I know mozcom is probably anxious to turn some kind of profit with this effort, but is PhP40 the lowest they could get it? Considering that it’s generally cheaper to produce and maintain a stable of artists in this country, shouldn’t our consumers be getting a slightly more affordable deal? Like say, in the PhP20 or lower range?
5. Other small annoyances include:
5.1. Search Results don’t list the name of the artist.
5.2. You need to right-click and "save as …" to download a song. That’s a bit old-fashioned for a digital-music store. And the fact that you can get the complete song file at any time means that all you need to do is crack the DRM to play the song without paying for the license. Seems like there might have been a better way to approach that, don’t you think?
5.3. Album thumbnails have an "enlarge" button beneath them. Guess how big the "enlarged" image is.
5.4. The header graphic is terribly compressed. Simply saving that image as a GIF instead of as a lossy JPEG would’ve improved the quality of solid-color areas tremendously.
5.6. Puzzling imagery: Why in the world do they keep using an image of a CD all over the site when they don’t sell CDs?
5.7. None of their store pages are going to index properly with the Search Engines. It looks like they used OSCommerce to build this site, which isn’t exactly the most search-oriented shopping-cart solution available, if you know what I mean. (It’s free though, so I guess you can’t really complain.)
If anyone out there has actually bought anything from these guys, let me know. I’d love to hear how the payment and fulfillment process works.
My girlfriend and I had this lengthy conversation recently about donuts, and the apparent demise of the upstart vendor Gonuts Donuts. In case you’ve been living in a donut-less cave for the past 2 years, Gonuts was the hottest thing in the local food industry since shawarma back in ‘99, and zagu a few years after that. People were queueing up in these long-ass lines to get at these delightful pastries for the first six months of Gonuts’ business; 15 new branches opened within months of each other, and they still couldn’t keep up with the demand. Now, just over a year later, those branches are nearly always empty. The romance, as they say, is definitely over.
Compare this to their recent competitor Hot Loops, which tried to pull a Gonuts and quickly realized that there was a different approach available to them, one that another donuts shop had used to great success several years before. Remember Mr. Donut, the cheap alternative to the almighty Dunkin Donuts? Although their overall quality is akin to eating chewy plastic, they’ve survived for the past decade by spawning mini instances of themselves in a way that no other donut shop had ever done. Basically they partnered with gas stations like Shell, convenience stores like 7-11, and fastfood restaurants like KFC and got a small corner in each of these establishments’ branches. Suddenly Mr. Donut was all over the place again, and available in more physical locations than even their primary competitor Dunkin Donuts.
This is the strategy Hot Loops is adopting, and they’ve started doing this already by partnering with Ministop (which is itself an aggressive expander due to its franchise-driven business model).
To be fair, Gonuts Donuts is also attempting to expand via their own franchising model, detailed here. The problem is that their smallest franchise packages start at PhP2M, renewable every 5 years. Compare that to Ministop’s PhP1M package and you’ll see why it’s not exactly the most appealing offer on the table. On the other hand, Gonuts is always going to be towards the more expensive side of things, because the quality of their donuts is generally perceived to be higher (although to my far-from-gourmet palate, they just taste way too sweet).
1. FPJ: Counter-Strike: first-person shooter with no need to reload weapons
4. Halo Garci(pwede rin Where in the World Was Garci?): first-person shooter whereyou try to assemble a fake passport while avoiding senate inquiries,police, and reporters.
6. Grand Theft Tricyle: Manila: You’re Bhoy an underage tricycle driver with an illegally acquireddriver’s license moving around Metro Manila doing various missions liketrike races and bringing passengers to their destination before theyhave a heart-attack from your driving
7. Katamaran Damacy: government employees tumble around the office making giant paperwork
To which I’d like to add the following suggestions:
1. DVD Tycoon - start out as a lowly pirated DVD vendor; win the game by putting local movie industry out of business.
2. The Starlets - design and control every aspect of your starlet’s life, home and career. spend most of the time hugging other starlets and speaking unintelligibly.
3. Second Life - get a tourist visa to the US and hide from the Bureau of Immigration for as long as you can.
4. Cueshe Hero - play the guitar to songs written by other bands.
I’ve been listening to Thom Yorke’s solo effort The Eraser over the past week. It’s a difficult album to get into if you aren’t very familiar with Radiohead’s particular brand of mind-altering audio. For the hardcore fans though (and there are more of us everyday), The Eraser is a real treat. Those who thought Hail to the Thief’s dash of electronic experimentation was hit-and-miss will be happy to know that the synths are back in force with this new effort, and Yorke is still very much at the top of his game.
As in Hail, The Eraser continues Yorke’s penchant for politically-charged lyrics. One track, "Harrowdown Hill," was recently mentioned in this BBC article (and pointed out to me by my girlfriend), as it talks about the death of one David Kelly, a scientist who allegedly had insider information on whether there actually were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The lyrics are ambiguous montage-poetry, as usual: "Did I fall or was I pushed? / And wheres the blood? / I’m coming home / I’m coming home / To make it all right / So dry your eyes"
Beautiful stuff, and more than enough to tide us over until Radiohead’s 2007 album (or whenever the hell these guys will get around to recording again). If you liked Kid A, this is pretty much the album you’ve been waiting for I think.
It feels kinda funny, working with someone like Tom Lee. Most of the time you feel like there’s nothing you can say to this guy that he hasn’t heard a dozen times before. So instead of saying anything, you keep your mouth shut and hope he doesn’t think you’re an absolute idiot. On the other hand, you’ve got so many questions to ask, that you can’t even decide which to start off with, for example, What’s Steve Wozniak like? Is Steve Jobs really an asshole? Was Michael Dell a genius, or did he just luck out? What was it like working in Xerox Parc?
… And what do you see in our company that makes you want to help us?
I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday, who works in a local e-commerce solutions provider. She was relating to me, with much gusto, how they were being pushed around by a big corporate client who wanted to get its feet wet in the local e-commerce arena, but were cutting profit margins to the bone. She said things like, "Eh ano pa kikitain namen non?" (How could we earn anything from that?) It was interesting because I couldn’t understand where the bad feeling was coming from … did she feel like she was being cheated by this client? Or that she was herself losing money on this deal? Because, the truth of the matter is, her paycheck is totally unaffected by the outcome of that one deal, so the only entity that is actually losing anything is "the Company."
I guess the issue I’m driving at here has to do with motivation. As someone who has never drawn a paycheck in his life, my motivation to work is fairly cut and dry. If I don’t do it, I don’t eat. If I don’t work hard, other people will take the projects that could have been mine. And if I don’t improve my skillset, I won’t be able to pitch for the high-end projects that pay more. So my motivation exists within a very simple, survival-of-the-fittest kind of setting.
What I don’t understand is employee motivation, because even if you work hard and try to improve yourself, your pay rate doesn’t necessarily change. In this country, promotions come at a much more regular pace (i.e., after 1, 2 or 5 years working with the same company), so theoretically, an outstanding worker and an average one will have roughly the same payrate given that they both stayed in a given company for X number of years. Sure you could get ahead by kissing some major ass, or joining Daddy’s company, but I’m talking about the baseline average here.
When you freelance, the results of laziness and ineptitude are in-your-face and hard to miss. If you don’t know how to program, you can’t make games. If you don’t know 3D, you can’t do post. And if you generally suck at what you do know how to do, you will find that the well of new projects will dry up pretty frickin’ fast.
I’ve worked with tons of companies full of programmers and designers that cared only about accomplishing the work in the easiest possible way. The other day I was in a meeting with a thoroughly jaded programmer who was tearing down every single one of the suggestions I had to improve their website. Why? Because doing it the right way doesn’t earn them any extra money. It’s all about the number of hours spent, and whether you had to go over-time or not.
On the other hand, I know a handful of people who flourish in the company setting and actually love their job. That’s the kind of motivation that I’d love to tap into, but it’s rare and is an exception more than a rule. The question on my mind is, how big a part does the money actually play in this equation? (I’m mostly thinking about the people who work to support themselves here, not the ones who still live with or off their folks; in that situation, any money you make is essentially gravy, so the scales are unfairly weighted, so to speak.)
If you didn’t like your job all that much, how much money would it take to keep you there? And if you really loved it, how little would you settle for? What’s your motivation?
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