Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

digital law conference @ Yale

The other day I got an invitation to the CyberCrime and Digital Law Enforcement conference to be held at Yale Law School, March 26-28. I won't be able to attend, but it looks interesting, with some good sessions and speakers. Mr. Lessig would seem to be missing from the roster of speakers, but Jennifer Granick (who is also at Stanford Law School) will be there.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on January 18, 2004 at 8:05 PM

movies, movies, movies

Speaking of movies. The worst two movies of 2003 were, by far, SWAT and Tears of the Sun. Both were an incredible disappointment. SWAT is supposed to be a thriller I guess. Tears of the Sun, some kind of adult drama. Both made me laugh more than most comedies (now that I think of it, I'd rate them as best comedies of the year). They are so terrible in so many senses that it's hard to know where to start describing them. At the center of the problem in both cases was the story, then the script, and then it radiated from there. Anyway, avoid them if you can. SWAT might make interesting viewing for late-night TV. Tears of the Sun, with all of its pretentiousness, doesn't even get to that level (which is a major disappointment, since the director was Antoine Fuqua, whose previous movie was the incredibly good Training Day). The Hulk was also a big disappointment. The editing is fantastic though, recreating comic-book feel on the screen--very well done but since the story is pretty bad in the end it just looks like an empty gimmick.

Among movies that left something (or a lot) to be desired (aka the "watchable" category, aka the "meh" category) that I saw were:

  • The Italian Job. A strangely happy, well-dressed group of thieves that made me feel as if I was watching an episode of Friends rather than a Heist movie.
  • Matrix Revolutions. No comment.
  • Terminator 3. I guess that watching a movie thinking it's going to be crap improves its chances of rating it as "Meh" later...
  • The Recruit. Too predictable, much ado about nothing. Pacino is good as usual, Farrell as well, but the material is not that great.
  • Identity. My expectations were too high for this one--Cusack is excellent in it though.
  • The life of David Gale. Not bad, but again pretty predictable, which takes the fun out of it, especially when you figure out the plot in the first five minutes.
  • Confidence. Also predictable.
  • Daredevil. Funny Colin Farrell, nice CGI, not much else.
  • Anger Management. Not very funny as far as I was concerned--the final scene in the Yankee Stadium was memorable though.
  • 28 days later. An excellent movie until they blew it by losing their nerve at the end. It should have had an open ending.
  • The league of extraordinary gentlemen. Having read the graphic novel (which predates the movie), the film version feels like sanitized garbage. On its own, it rates a "meh" :).

Now for good movies I saw last year, more or less in the order I remember them, which is probably a relatively good measure of how much I liked them :) -- many of these can't be compared to each other though:

  • The 25th Hour. Some notes on it here.
  • Frida, which is the best performance by Salma Hayek I've seen. Great display of how editing & post-production can be great if used properly--such as in transitions between Kahlo's paintings and live-action sequences to show influences, how she saw things, etc.
  • The Hours. With this movie everyone was talking about Nicole Kidman and her famous nosejob, it truly had everything: great acting (Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep and Ed Harris all turning in great performances), great script, great editing, great directing. Can you tell I liked this movie?
  • Gangs of New York. Daniel Day-Lewis, directed by Martin Scorcese, with music by U2--what more can we ask for? :)
  • The Dancer upstairs (directed by John Malkovich). Simply fantastic.
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1. Tarantino is back. Need I say more?
  • Chicago. And I don't like musicals that much!
  • Hollywood Ending. Classic Woody. Woody aficionados probably all really liked it, everyone else probably thought "Meh".
  • Phone Booth, in which Colin Farrell shows that his acting in the excellent Tigerland was no fluke.
  • Avalon. An unknown movie that should rightfully be a cult-classic (and maybe it is :)). (review).
  • 8 mile. Eminem didn't have to act much for this, if we are to believe the press releases, but it was good nonetheless.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean, in which Johnny Depp shows that he can create magic with a bit of eye liner. Seriously, without Depp this movie would have been crap (I could see him thinking "Take that Errol Flynn!" Heh). A movie of Grade A entertainment with no brains, and comfortable about it.
  • X-Men 2. Well done, understated, and an improvement over X-Men, which had already been good. Hopefully the final installment of the trilogy will maintain this tradition. I really want to see The Phoenix rise.
  • Matrix Reloaded. Regardless of my disappointment with Revolutions, this movie opened up so many possibilities that I think it was pretty good.
  • Adaptation was good as well, if a bit too self-conscious for me. There comes a point when I've had enough of the in-your-face self-referencing.
  • Seabiscuit. A strange movie in that it starts slow and picks up the pace a lot. I think they did it on purpose, to mirror the qualities of a horse race (particularly as the horse in the movie runs them). Regardless of whether I'm right about my interpretation or not, really enjoyable once you get past the first half-hour.
  • Equilibrium. This is Fahrenheit 451 meets The Matrix (I couldn't resist, I find these one-line analogies funny for some reason). Entertaining and well done.

I'm probably forgetting a few, but that's ok. Btw, many of these movies were actually released in 2002, but they were only released here in Ireland at the beginning of 2003 (e.g., Gangs of New York).

Posted by diego on January 18, 2004 at 1:22 PM

still some server problems

I woke up this morning to find the site down (again), this time because the server rebooted overnight (again) and there is some problem with the init scripts (again). Same thing that happened yesterday, and a few days ago. Damn. I have no idea what might be happening, I wonder if it's a hardware problem, or a software problem, or a reaction to some kind of attack, or just the load on the server that is straining things.

At least now I've got the routine down cold: "start this, start that". I need to sit down for a bit and fix it. Hopefully this will stop soon... or at least the server will decide to reboot when I'm awake (this shouldn't be hard, since I don't sleep much).

Apart from that, I was planning to go see LoTR RoK last week but didn't. I was planning to see The Last Samurai but didn't. I wanted to go see Paycheck, but didn't. I was planning to work a lot, and that went fine :).

What else. Yesterday morning I took a break from what I was doing and wrote another application (yes, the whole thing), just for fun. It might sound strange, but to me it is actually relaxing to spend a few hours coding something completely different, especially if it's simple and well-defined. In the process, I managed to fix several problems that I had with the other app, mainly framework and UI things. Funny how changing the context sometimes makes difficult problems seem easy. Archimedes probably knew that, didn't he, when he went to take that famous bath.

I also took yesterday as an "offline" day. No IM. No IRC. No weblog. It's not some kind of master plan, but it just happened. Another way of taking a break for me.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on January 18, 2004 at 12:16 PM

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