Photo of worker adjusting a wireless access point.

Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Friday, July 29, 2005
Tracking John Roberts
NPR (National Public Radio in the US) is creating RSS feeds for some ongoing stories. I'm subscribing to the John Roberts saga. Note that these are audio streams. (NPR does provide transcripts free of charge to hearing impaired individuals. Information here.)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Almodóvar's Bad Education
I saw Pedro Almodóvar's Bad Education. Roger Ebert says:
I've just thrown out the first 500 words of my review and am starting again with a sense of joy and release. I was attempting to describe the plot of "Bad Education." It was quicksand, and I was sinking fast. You and I have less than 1,000 words to spend together discussing this fascinating film, and not only would the plot take up half of that, but if I were by some miracle to succeed in making it clear, that would only diminish your pleasure.

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Film Viewing
Mondovino about the Americanization of the global wine industry. Fascinating. Best viewed on larger screen because of small text and subtitles.

Being Julia with Annette Benning.

The new Disney Around the World in 80 Days. Fun film featuring Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan. Much better than I expected. Watch for Ahnold.

Coach Carter with Samuel Jackson as a basketball coach with tough inner city kids in Richmond, California. Based on a real life story.

Nowhere in Africa about the Jewish migration to Africa as Hitler came to power. Very good.

War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise. Great special effects handled by a master (Spielberg).

If you want more info, go to Google and type "imdb, name_of_film". Yes, it works. Better yet, use Firefox and get the imdb search engine plug-in.

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The Secret Agent
Tonight I watched a very strange film from 1996 called The Secret Agent. It is based on a novel by Joseph Conrad. Cast includes Bob Hoskins (also executive producer), Robin Williams, Gerard Depardieu, and Patricia Arquette. The accents can be hard to understand - it's based in Victorian England. I suggest reading the novel before watching the movie.

Here's Roger Ebert's review of the film. He's not a fan.

Christian Bale of Batman Begins fame is also in this.

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Bloglines, What Happened?
Bloglines had some serious problems this morning that had the blogosphere buzzing. Feeds disappeared from view - poof. Clicking the Feeds link (that puts all your feeds in the main window) worked so it seemed subscriptions weren't lost.

All seems well now. My feeds are back in the left window.

Bloglines has been silent about whatever the problem was. Not good. I hope they post some explanation soon and if this should happen again, I hope they tell us that there is a problem.

I will make sure to export my OPML file now for backup. I've also decided to try a local aggregator so if this does happen again, I can still read the feeds.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005
How Do You Rent Films?
I use Netflix and I have been very, very happy with the service and choices. I have the standard subscription which allows me three DVDs at a time. The cost is $19.25 a month. The price compares favorably with what I was paying monthly for VHS/DVD rentals at my local video rental store and I never have to worry about late fees. Since Netflix has a local warehouse, I almost always get my DVDs two days after I send them back.

Netflix also has excellent customer service and they keep adding new and interesting features.

Today, via Chris Anderson's excellent Long Tail blog (check his left column where he tracks long tail articles), I read about a potential competitor to Netflix called DVDStation. You can reserve online and keep a wish list but you pick up the DVD at a store with at least one clerk (their studies show people like to deal with a human). Read an interview with the the co-founder at Thomas Hawke's Digital Connection blog.

DVDStation also keeps a many-terrabyte drive stocked with films for burning DVDs. This helps in managing inventory but they are not (yet) burning on demand.

Rental cost at DVDStation is about $1 a day with no late fees and maximum charge of the MSRP for the DVD which you can then actually buy or return for a 10% refund to use against future rentals. (If you're confused, read the interview or check their FAQ.)

Finally, let's not forget the MacDonald's wholly owned subsidiary, Redbox, with kiosks located at selected MacDonalds and some grocery stores. They are also $1/day with no mention of a maximum charge. They list forty-five titles at the Web site, mostly popular fare. To their credit, I noted they stock widescreen format, full edits (not family-friendly drivel), and they provide the Yahoo rating for the film (Elektra sports a C-). This is better than I expected at MacDonalds.

Thanks to Bryan who did some in-store Macdonalds reconnaisance and filed a report with me.

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Friday, July 08, 2005
Hello, Apple? Check your parser.
Sam Ruby requests that Apple look here, and would like us to help guide Apple there with links. iTunes has a stupid parser and Apple should fix it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Crash Review
David Denby at New Yorker reviews Crash. I know the movie has been around for a while but this is a great review of one of this year's best films. (I blogged Crash here.)

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Space Opera Book
Tim Bray at Ongoing blogs on Charlie Stross's Iron Sunrise. Sounds like a good book (along with Singularity Sky which he blogged previously.

It's on my list.

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