politicians and virgins

Yay, video rewind time! My favorite videos this week have a political lean because I’ve been trying to educate myself a little more about the GOP candidates.

#1 Awkward first kiss of virgin newlyweds

There’s apparently a new “reality TV” show out called The Virgin Diaries. It’s about “real-life virgins” and how they go about everyday life. I don’t know why this seems like a show that anyone would want to watch, but I guess it is kind of the anti-Jersey Shore. This clip certainly did not convince me to begin watching the show…

[youtube KAVcFt9r52o nolink]

 

#2 Ron Paul on Trash TV in 1988

Since we’re on the topic of trashy TV, I thought I’d share this video of Ron Paul that I had not seen before. In this 10-minute video. Ron Paul is on some really weird show in the 80s as a presidential candidate. In it, he’s trying to argue that the U.S. should end the war on drugs. Interestingly, he’s making the same argument in this race. The host of the show is extremely rude. I guess we’ve come a long way if the worst part about TV today is Jersey Shore and/or Fox News.

[youtube IHB2I83_N_k nolink]

 

#3 Rick Perry Offending… Everyone

Last Wednesday, Rick Perry released a campaign ad titled Strong. In the four days since then, his video has managed to garner nearly 630,000 dislikes on YouTube. His video has the “achievement” of earning more dislikes than Rebecca Black’s Friday. It’s hard to fathom these numbers until you watch the video. And if you want more fun, there are a million remix videos available for your viewership.

[youtube 0PAJNntoRgA nolink]

 

 

deadmau5, rapping and self-help

I watch a lot of the internet and the internet is always throwing up awesome videos. So I decided to start a completely irregular section on this site called video rewind where I basically peruse the videos that I most enjoyed watching over the span of time since the last posting. I’ll hopefully cut down on posting these videos on Facebook since about 104% of my visitors come from Facebook. WARNING: I may steal videos you show me and post them without credit, thus making me look cooler than I am. It’s all part of the ploy.

#1 Deadmau5 in London for the Nokia Lumia Launch

As a fan and user of the Windows Phone 7, I’m always looking for opportunities to promote it. As a fan of Deadmau5, this was kind of a perfect event. Even if it was in England. But this is sick. Light projection on a London building while Deadmau5 breaks it down. The Nokia Lumia looks interesting. Once Nokia refines their designs a little bit and comes to the US, I’ll be replacing my HTC HD7S with a Nokia offering. This is way in the future, of course. I just got a new phone.

[youtube SX2Gd-kqV5s nolink]

 

#2 Nerdy white kid KILLS “Look at Me Now” (while cooking pancakes)

This video has amassed 1.6 million views in 1 day. Let that sink in. More people watched this video since yesterday than there are people in Trinidad & Tobago. More people probably watched this video than people took showers in Estonia since this video was released. I’m assuming Estonians don’t like to shower. This dude, Mac Lethal, drops an insane rhyme to Chris Brown’s Look At Me Now. While cooking a stack of pancakes (that I hope someone will eat). He may even rap faster than Busta Rhymes. Me, I’m still working on being able to read Busta Rhymes’ part while he raps in while listening to Look At Me Now.

[youtube Teaft0Kg-Ok nolink]

 

#3 How To Greet People (and other self-help)

I found this guy’s channel because  YT promoted it to me before they went all crazy and changed the front page. This is from April 2011 so some of you may have already seen it. Here, evmoneyTV breaks it down and tells us socially awkward creatures how to make an… interesting… first impression on people.

[youtube g6J4Iij5-uk nolink]

force feed

I haven’t put anything on here for a while so I figured I’d write something instead of taking the easy option and just going to sleep.

I was originally going to put some raw, unadulterated, brainstorm rap verses on here but they sounded a lot better in my head than when I put them in this little textbox. Actually, that’s a lie, I never got the chance to put it down because, much like the hip hop songs you hear on the radio, I couldn’t understand any of the words. Maybe this means I have a shot at becoming America’s next YouTube star.

So yesterday I went and watched a Snoop Dogg concert. It was a very… interesting concert. Apart from the expected… herbal fragrances in the air, Snoop was present with a minimized crew on stage, pigtails and all. And a massive microphone that said “Snoop Dogg” on it. And, for some period of time, shades that said “Snoop Dogg” on it. And pretty much all his songs called out the fact that he was, in fact, Snoop Dogg. We get it, Snoop. You’re Big Snoop Dogg. Snoop Doggy Dogg. You’re kind of a unique dude.

The show was fun, though. He played a lot of songs I knew–something I was afraid of because I do not know that much Snoop Dogg. The Next Episode, P.I.M.P., Drop It Like It’s Hot, Gin and Juice, Doggy Style. He even did a bit of 2 of Americaz Most Wanted (collaborate with Tupac) and also, totally randomly, pulled out some Akon as well as Jump Around. He was having fun. I was having fun. It was all good.

While standing in line for the show, I noticed that Steve Aoki is coming to Stubb’s. Umm, yes please. Tickets have already been purchased. This is gonna be freaking awesome.

Also, I watched The Three Musketeers today. It was okay. I spent most of the movie trying to figure out if Luke Evans was Orlando Bloom. They looked pretty much the same, but then all the characters did with their long hair, unkempt beards and silly hats. I didn’t remember anything from the book, of which I have only read the abridged version, I’m pretty sure, so there was nothing to fall back on. The movie did make me want to buy the book and read it (again?) so I may have to do that. It’ll have to go to the end of my queue of 8-books that are pending on my reading list.

Fine, so this ended up being really boring. Whatever. I’ll try to work on the Drake cover this weekend.

back from the dead!

I realized I haven’t posted anything on this blog for almost 5 months and I can just imagine the pain and suffering that my plethora of readers have been going through over that period of time. Thankfully, I’ve decided to start posting on this shiznit again, if only to make sure that I can stay in touch with my mastery of the English language instead of slipping into a lifestyle where the only languages I can write in are interpreted by programming language compilers.

So let’s see, what has happened over the last few months? My last post had to do with the NBA playoffs. Sadly (or fortunately, for the aforementioned plethora of readers) it appears that there will not be an NBA season this year–or at least a severely shortened one if the players and the league can finally figure things out. I haven’t really followed the conflict at all because I have no interest in the business aspects of basketball. As a slightly-more-than-casual fan, I’m just hoping that the two remaining relevant jerseys of the three I purchased last year don’t suddenly become throwaways.

RAIN RAIN, COME BACK, GO AWAY ANOTHER SUMMER

Rain. Oh right, that’s been the story of the last few months. Or lack thereof, more accurately. It is possible that the cessation of rainfall in Texas directly coincided with when I stopped posting on this website. If there is indeed a carnal connection between my writing and the cloud patterns, then I apologize profusely to all the affected plantlife, who have no doubt buried a lot of their close ones over this drought. There was a pun intended there, even though it was a particularly poor pun. The alliteration in that previous sentence was also intended.

WORKING LIKE A DAWG

The last few months have also seen me become an absolute YouTube sensation. I posted my first ever YT video of myself in a vulnerable situation–playing guitar and attempting to sing–a day after my last blog entry. Since I’m an absolute attention whore at this point in my life, here’s a link to that video:

[youtube SBheFbClO0s nolink]

In the ensuing 5 months, I have put up no less than 34 more acoustic covers, covering genres as widespread as pop, hip hop and alternative rock with artists spanning from Britney Spears to Coldplay to Childish Gambino. My channel now has amassed a massive number of views–4,111 at last count. However, I’m not letting the success get to my head and will continue posting amazing musical renditions on the interwebs. My 4 subscribers should not be worried.

Oh, in unrelated news, I also celebrated 2 years at my job. Yeah, time is flying.

WHAT’S COMING UP??

I cannot believe it is almost 2012. Isn’t the world supposed to end or something?

Anyways, I’m hoping to make this blog slightly more active. I’m hoping to add lots of photos of food, since I have enjoyed cooking again. And hopefully some recipes for those of you who have no regard for your digestive system. I also want to use this as a place to freewrite. So watch out for some totally disconnected and confused posts that don’t make any sense whatsoever. I’m hoping I’ll stumble upon my bestseller in this way. Or, one day, when I’m famous, someone will come up with the idea of collating these posts into a book and selling it with my smiling mug on the cover.

Oh, I’m also planning to design my own WP theme because this has too much going on.

Cheerios.

apple and flash

Steve Jobs posted an open letter today about why Flash is not and will not be supported on the Apple mobile platform. You can follow the link to read the full article, but basically he gave 6 reasons. Let me look at each of these one-by-one. And before I do, I would like to remind everyone that I’m not really a big proponent of Flash. Back when I was web-developer, Flash was the one platform I detested and never took the time to learn. I think web-design through Flash is a poor design choice except if it is being done for some sort of portfolio or niche-website. Anyhow, with that out of the way, let’s look at Jobs’ six reasons.

First, there’s “Open”.

Jobs’ claim here is basically a fact. Flash is a proprietary system. Not only do you need to buy expensive software from Adobe to be able to create professional-grade Flash applications, but you also need to download a third-party plug-in from them any time you want to view it. There’s no complaints I have about this statement except that it reminds me of, you know, pot-kettle-black.

Apple is possibly the most proprietary technology developer out there right now. Not only is the iPhone OS system completely closed and regulated, but even going back to the OS X operating system, you legally need a Mac to run that. It sounds highly hypocritical of a CEO of such a proprietary company using “openness” to attack Adobe. To Jobs’ credit, he accepts that Apple is proprietary, but he wants the web to be open. How benevolent of him to allow us this luxury!

Second, there’s the “full web”.

Adobe has counter-claimed Apple’s claim that the iPad is the best way to experience the web, by suggesting that those users do not have access to the full web. Jobs’ counter-argument to this is that Apple supports HTML5, CSS and the modern H.264 format for viewing video. He also rattles off a list of 16 sites that supposedly support video on the iPhone OS (although at least one of them–Facebook–at least check, does not).

As I said at the beginning of this piece, I hate it when a website has used Flash for the purpose of web-design (especially when they haven’t offered an HTML alternative). So from that standpoint, I’m happy that Apple has gone ahead and blocked those websites. However, when it comes to videos, Apple is just ignoring the problem. Sure… they support these 18 sites that now allow HTML5-based streaming. But about the 1000 other websites that people actually visit? How can you advertise a device as being the best way to browse the web when it falls annoyingly short in multimedia presentation? Companies have paid millions of dollars implementing their current content delivery platforms–not everyone has the financial resources that YouTube, for example, has, to begin supporting H.264 video overnight.

Third, there’s reliability, security and performance.

I have heard several anecdotes about how Flash causes Macs to barf. Jobs labels Flash as the number one reason for Mac crashes. Obviously Adobe has a part to play here, since they are the ones that are writing the actual plug-ins. But I don’t buy the whole “reliability, security, performance” argument for the iPhone OS. Just like I don’t buy the justification that Apple fanboys give for keeping the App platform closed or for keeping OS X locked down to Mac hardware–to preserve the quality of the system. How dumb do they think consumers are? The App Store is already plush full of useless applications (I believe Fart Apps deserve their own category going by volume, right?). In fact, I can count the number of apps I use regularly on my iPhone on one hand.

This destroys the perception that it is impossible to create low-quality applications staying within Apple’s development platform and regulation. The theory that it is impossible to create a quality application outside of the Apple-allowed platform is similarly debunked by the “black market” that is Apple jailbroken apps. There are several quality applications developed there that would deserve their place in the App Store if Apple had put it’s draconian policies aside. Not to mention that they’ve actually supported the novel (not really) idea of evaluation software. Instead of Apple allowing evaluation periods, they decided to go with “Lite Apps” (there’s actually a section in the Apple Developer Center that recommends releasing a Lite app, with stripped out functionality). There have been countless times that I have been partially interested in an iPhone App only to find that is not free and the “Lite” version doesn’t allow me to actually test what I want to. Some developers, like Remember the Milk, have gone about their own methods of providing a trial period enforced by a web-service.

Fourth, there’s battery life.

Jobs claims that on an iPhone, an H.264-encoded video will play up to 10 hours whereas a software-decoded video will play only up to 5 hours. This may well be true, but I don’t think Apple is in any position to preach about battery life. I have had to charge my iPhone, without fail, every night. If I don’t, I’ll get into the red midway through the next day. I don’t make that many calls, either (if I could exchange my rollover balance for cash value, I’d be a rich man), so it’s not like I’m using my phone all that much. In fact, I check in to Twitter about 3-4 times a day, the same with Facebook and occasionally I play Racing Live for about 5 minutes (this is not a graphics-intensive game, btw, it is more of a “simulation”-type game). Yet, my battery is toasted by the time I reach home. I can’t imagine how life is going to be when multi-tasking is supported.

I guess Apple does have a claim to make here, they’re prepared to do anything if it increases battery life.

Fifth, there’s Touch.

A side-note, I wonder if Apple has actually trademarked the word “Touch”. Why else would it appear capitalized? Anyhow, Jobs’ claim here is that Flash was designed for mouse-based input whereas the iPhone OS introduces a completely new touch-based interface. The point is well-taken. I’m not aware if Adobe has made any forays into touch input, but my feeling is they would have, if they were expecting to release the Flash CS5 Deploy to iPhone App feature. Which leads nicely into Jobs’ final point, the most important one, supposedly.

Sixth, the most important reason.

Besides the fact that Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices, there is an even more important reason we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices.

This is referring to the Deploy to iPhone App feature that I talked about in the previous point. Basically, Adobe is planning to release, in Flash CS5, the ability for a user to deploy a Flash animation as an iPhone App. Flash does all the heavy-lifting of converting the ActionScript code into the archaic Objective C format, compiling it as required by the App Store, etc. However, a few weeks ago, Apple modified their developer contract to state that creators of iPhone Apps must have originally created that code in Objective C. This basically makes any app that was generated by Flash CS5 in violation of the developer agreement. The same is the case for apps developed using MonoTouch–the commercially available tool that allows .NET developers on Macs to create iPhone Apps–as they are also not originally Objective C.

Jobs then goes as far as to suggest that developers won’t have access to the newest features when they become available, etc. I have a huge pain-point with this. In my previous discussions about Apple and it’s products, I always bow out of the discussion when someone brings up the point that Apple is not targeted primarily towards technical consumers. What this means is that I can go and build a computer for less than it costs to buy a Mac–that’s why Macs aren’t targeted towards me, specifically. I can understand and accept that–Apple does a good job in marketing a product and keeping their profit margins wide. However, Jobs, in this case, actually is trying to run the same argument by, except targeting them towards the actual technical users.

He hypothesizes that if Apple were to allow third-party code to be converted into Objective C, developers would become clueless about how to take advantage of the newest features released in an Apple SDK. That’s not only extremely inaccurate, but it is extremely insulting to many parties.

It is insulting to developers because we have to be ahead of the technology curve (for example, the iPhone OS 4 SDK is already out for iPhone developers, but not for end users) and have to have an understanding of how a system actually works.

It is insulting to consumers because it suggests that they will not be able to tell the difference between a good app and a bad app. As I’ve said earlier, it is a fallacy that all apps created within the Apple-permitted spectrum are good and all apps created outside that spectrum are bad. Why not let the user decide what is a good app?

Finally, it is insulting to the actual Apple staff involved in the app review committee. Jobs is basically suggesting that they will not be able to adequately test an application to determine whether it is good or bad, without knowing if it was originally Objective C or not. This basically throws hot water on the whole app review process, because it claims that the process will not be able to test an app’s usability independent of the development platform.

As a whole, I understand why Steve Jobs does not want Flash on the iPhone OS and I have no problems with it. I’m not a major Flash proponent and there are only a handful of websites I visit on an iPhone anyway. I would have a problem with it if I owned an iPad, but that, and several other reasons, have contributed to me not being even a bit interested in owning one. I do have issues with the lock-down of the development process, though, for no reason whatsoever. iPhone developers still have to purchase a Mac to develop their software on, because iPhone apps use a bunch of frameworks that don’t have cross-platform ports. So it is not as if Apple is losing a revenue stream there. It is not as if Apple is losing the developer account revenue stream either–since the developers of those apps would still have to pay their annual fee to be able to sell on the App Store.

On the whole, that move by Apple just seems like a reaction without provocation.

taxes and technology

I don’t think I’ve griped about my iPod Touch potentially dying last week. Apparently my iPod freaked out when I plugged it into my entertainment center last weekend to play some Ke$ha (yes, this was probably my mistake). The iPod was unsyncable through iTunes for some reason and since we had people over and I didn’t really feel like troubleshooting, I let YouTube and my collection of music on the hard disk take over. Later last week I took my iPod into work to listen to some music. Unfortunately, it would play only one song. I repeat, only one song. At the end of the song, I’d hear approximately 0.83 seconds of the next song and then the music app quit.

Any other app I opened did not work either. Just boot up and shut down immediately. I did a reboot on the system a couple of times and there was no improvement. Finally, I got the chance this weekend to try and figure out what the problem was. When I plugged the iPod in, it told me I needed to update my software. When trying to update my software, it said that it could not backup my profile. I had all my music on my computer and all my apps are on my iPhone now so I thought, what the hell, let’s just do a full-scale restore operation. Restore failed. A couple of times.

Luckily I was watching TV at the time (I think Modern Family or The Office or maybe even an NBA game or something) so I had the patience to keep trying. Finally, the restore went through. However, it then promptly hung when I tried to name my iPod (configuring it as a brand new device). I quit iTunes forcefully and upon restarting, it gave me the “Cannot Sync” message, forcing me to restore it again. I had to do about 2-3 clean restores before I was finally able to configure the device to work (I think). Once I finally managed to name my iPod (going with the generic sohum’s iPod instead of something as exciting as sohummm or maybe even iSohum) I decided that I had had enough of iTunes.

Fortunately for me, I had stumbled upon an article a couple of weeks ago about how an iPod user wanted to divorce iTunes. If you recall my “iTunes kills the iPhone experience” blog, you will note that I was in much the same position (except that I would never be able to overlook iTunes’ many flaws to ever marry it in the first place). One of the alternatives was MediaMonkey, which I promptly downloaded, installed and fired up. While the interface isn’t as clean-cut as iTunes, it is infinitely more performant. It took me about 25-30 minutes to set up my sync list and then I clicked one button and it was ready to go, quietly doing its stuff in the background. The last time I tried to use iTunes to set up a new iPod with my music (my iPhone, in that case), I had to live through about 2 hours of iTunes trying to figure out whether each song in my library should be included on the “gapless” playback list before my computer was usable.

I don’t change my music all that often–just add new tunes here and there, so it seems MediaMonkey is the perfect hands-off tool for me to sync my iPod without having to deal with the crapware that is iTunes. I’m not interested in buying crippled, low bitrate music from iTunes and even if I did, I would do it directly through my iPod (if that’s possible).

Anyways, that’s the technology part of this blog. Tomorrow will be a test of whether my iPod is truly fixed or whether it was just pretending to do so.

The other thing I wanted to touch upon was taxes. Yep, tax season is coming up! While at Rice, the international student office kindly set us up with a license of the CINTAX (hilarious name, yes?) software to help us crunch the numbers. It had always seemed like such a painful and tedious process? Doing it on my own this year showed that it is actually not that complicated, especially if you have a simple financial situation, as I do. First of all, since I’m still technically a non-resident (in fact, an NR student, to be precise) I don’t really qualify for any extra deductions/exemptions. The tax treaty with India (Article 21(2) to be exact) allows me to get the standard deduction ($5,700) and my lowly income allows me to get the standard exemption ($3,650). However, this may be the final year that I will have such a simple process since next year I will be in H-1B status for part of the year, meaning that I may need to split my taxes or do something exciting like that. I will probably need to consult professional help at that point in time, but for now I am rejoicing in having solved one of those annoying life problems. 😛

Anyways, I got a lot of information from a website called VisaTaxes.com, if any of you are international students and have stumbled upon this blog because of tax season. Here are a few more keywords to hook you into this blog (is this unethical?): 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ, Form 8843. Grin. 🙂

C’est tout!