April 30, 2004

Google IPO

Google filed its S-1 form announcing its IPO. The letter by Sergey Brin, with many references to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway letters, is well worth reading. Yes, it comes across as arrogant but honestly arrogance has never bothered me if it is warranted. We'll see how this goes. What can Wall Street do to them if the Powers That Be there don't like them as I agree they won't? I may consider participating in the auction depending on how it is being handled (haven't read details of that yet) and what the dutch auction price is likely to be.

Posted by aarondf at 03:02 PM | Investing | Comments (0)

Movies: The Cooler

Macy and Baldwin both give excellent performances but I just didn't get into this movie. I found myself just not caring enough about the characters to really engage with the movie, particularly as I was sure it would work out in the end for Bernie and Natalie. **1/2

Posted by aarondf at 11:25 AM | Movies | Comments (0)

Movies: Under the Tuscan Sun

The Tuscany scenery is gorgeous and Diane Lane is very sexy but this movie did very little for me and is certainly an extreme 'chick-flick'. We are obviously meant to feel sorry for Lane's character and I just couldn't do so with her having a bunch of money, men (even married ones) wrapped around her finger, relaxing most of the time, and a crew of men working for her. Enjoy the scenery and forget the rest. **1/2

For an excellent Diane Lane movie, rent A Walk on the Moon.

Posted by aarondf at 11:22 AM | Movies | Comments (0)

April 28, 2004

Mini Puzzle Hunt

Went to an NPL mini-con/puzzle hunt hosted by Hathor on Saturday and had a really nice time with the pre-hunt games and particularly doing the hunt, developed by Foggy and Ucaoimhu. There were a few minor typo-like errors but generally the puzzles were excllent and really fit well together. The final meta-puzzle was of the "follow a very long and complex sequence of instructions accurately" type but worked well, except that it turned out that a ton of the stuff we were doing wasn't really necessary to finding the final answer. For this hunt, this was fine but in a hunt where teams were really competitive, it would have been by far the most efficient thing to focus on the meta-puzzle from the start and skip doing huge sections of some of the other puzzles. Our team did get the final solution, solving pretty much everything, but about 15 minutes after the winning team. Thanks so much to Foggy, Ucaoimhu, and Hathor.

In the pre-hunt games, I was surprised that nobody in the crowd knew enough about the BBC television series The Office to know that it took place in Slough, England and that the main character, played by Ricky Gervais, is named David Brent. I thought this would be a show right up the alley of this group of people.

Posted by aarondf at 12:58 PM | Events | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Links: Spelling Test

You might want to try your hand at this very difficult Spelling Test with 50 words with two spelling choices. I got 12 wrong which is pretty awful given random guesses would only get 25 wrong. In theory this means I only knew 52% of the words and got another 24% randomly right.

Posted by aarondf at 04:26 PM | Links | Comments (0)

April 21, 2004

Links: Neal Stephenson interview

Salon (register or watch an ad to see the full interview) has an interesting interview with Neal Stephenson up. I'm currently reading (slowly) and enjoying his Confusion, Book Two of his Baroque Cycle.

Posted by aarondf at 05:40 PM | Links | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Movies: Kill Bill

I saw Kill Bill, Vol. 1 from Netflix last Wednesday and loved it but held off posting till I could see the second one in the theatre, which I did last night thanks to the Patriot's Day Holiday. I actually liked Vol. 1 better as, atlhough, it was effectively the middle of a movie, it wasn't distracted by all of the exposition that happens in Vol. 2. Both are really good and I highly recommend them to anyone who won't be turned off by the massive violence and blood. Of course, I have loved Uma Thurman for a long time, particularly her Venus in Baron Munchausen and her role in Beautiful Girls and she is absolutely perfect in this film, gorgeous and strong. I'll give Vol. 1 ***** and Vol. 2 ****.

Posted by aarondf at 02:58 PM | Movies | Comments (0)

April 16, 2004

Movies: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

My father and Jo were in town yesterday so I took the day off to play host. BeerWorks for lunch and then the MFA and later went to see the movie and finished off with a nice dinner at Bombay Club.

The movie was really excellent, using a similar scheme to Memento but working much better in terms of sense, plot and believability. Accepting the McGuffin of the memory-erasure treatment, the plot really made pretty good sense. I felt the Kirsten Dunst et. al stuff didn't work so well and was mostly thrown in as a way to send out the files but that was certainly worth doing and some of the external dialogue intruding into Carrey's memory world worked pretty well too. Carrey and Winslet also do an excellent job of acting - likable and believable in their roles. The movie also nicely leaves one contemplating, as one walks out, the interesting question of "What will happen this time?" given what they know from the files and tapes. Knowing in advance what their problems together are likely to be, can they work through them and learn to accept each others weaknesses to a degree and change enough to allow this. ****1/2

Posted by aarondf at 03:19 PM | Movies | Comments (0)

April 09, 2004

RSS/Atom Feeds

I'm trying to improve/fix my RSS and Atom feeds. Hopefully links will now show up properly and things will be full posts rather than excerpts which I at least hate.

Posted by aarondf at 04:21 PM | Meta | Comments (0)

Another cute Flash thing.

Check this Bubblewrap flash app out. Kind of fun.

Also worth looking at is this American Express ad featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Superman. Very funny and there will be more coming. Interesting campaign with these ads being long and only shown on the web, not on TV.

Posted by aarondf at 11:19 AM | Links | Comments (0)

April 08, 2004

Links: Flash Face

Cool link for building faces using Flash. (From NeilGaiman.com).

Posted by aarondf at 01:31 PM | Links | Comments (0)

April 07, 2004

Ticket to Ride

Played this new game last night and I largely agreed with Peter's review of it in the Game Report. In our game, the initial ticket draw largely dominated the game. David got LA-Miami as a ticket which is a beautiful run if you can complete it as it uses 3 6-long routes (and 1 2) and thus scores 47 for the route placements and 20 for the ticket at a a cost of something like 14 turns (10 turns to draw the 20 cards and four to place the routes). This is a huge score per-turn (almost 5) average and once he succeeded at it he largely had the win in hand, especially since he was well on his way to longest total route as well. He even ended up just barely lapping another player.

I, OTOH, had 3 very poor tickets which had no segments at all in common and only one of them used a 6-long route. I did my best with them and completed them but not for nearly as many points (or nearly as long an overall route) as David. The Tickets are worth enough that ignoring them is really not an option but if your route is composed of nothing but short segments (as it was for one player who played almost all 2 long segments), you just can't score enough points. Playing a route composed of 2-long segments scores something like 2 points a turn overall compared to the amazing 5 David was scoring. Alternatively, you blow off your ticket and go for 6's and score 4 points a turn average but then MINUS the ticket cost so proably like 3 points a turn. This is better than the all short segments scheme but not close to the long segments with ticket plan.

I'll try this again but really think the game may be dominated by the initial ticket deal. Blocking is also pretty random and often costly to the person doing it for no certain benefit. Even if it works, it often helps against one player and hurts against the others.

Posted by aarondf at 03:38 PM | Games | Comments (0)

Uconn wins both NCAA titles

Wow, three-peat for the UConn women (men won too but I don't care much about that). I unfortunately only ended up seeing the first few minutes of the game as I was out at a really enjoyable instance of my Tuesday gaming group and had accidentally taped the pre-game show rather than the game on my TiVo which sucks.

Watching the UConn women, as always, somewhat painfully reminds me of Doug and I am again so sorry he didn't get to see this run.

Posted by aarondf at 01:54 PM | Sports | Comments (0)

April 02, 2004

TV: The Apprentice

This really is a good show, I think definitely the most interesting and relevant reality show I have seen. Unlike Survivor and all, this is not just a game but also reality - Trump looks to really be trying to find a good person to work for him. I think the final 5 really are a strong group (with Amy and Bill being the strongest and I think it exceedingly likely one of them will win). The final boardroom last night really did get to the point and I think Trump was right to choose boring over loose cannon as a possible President of one of his companies. However, I can't imagine Kwame winning in the end over the very strong and not wild Amy or Bill. Trump and his assistants insightful, blunt comments in private are particularly interesting and the tasks are fun and probably at least reasonably good approximations of some real business tasks.

Posted by aarondf at 05:42 PM | Television | Comments (0)

Movies: The Ladykillers

Saw the new Coen brothers movie last night during the monsoon as I had happened to take the day off. Unfortunately, it really wasn't very good. Certainly some funny writing but I didn't find any of the characters either believable or likable. Skip it. **

Posted by aarondf at 05:37 PM | Movies | Comments (0)