Tuesday, October 26, 2004

yay! GTA: San Andreas is out today.

I have still been obsessed about improving my photo gallery. It is now formatted to work on a screen at 1154 x 864 resolution. If the user is running a 1024 x 768, hitting F11 on the keyboard should make the page fit nice. the reason for the page having a higher resolution demand than most is that i'm aiming to make this photo gallery gear towards digital photography, not just any gallery page.

I've been adding a lot of features for the viewer and the owner of the gallery (these are transparent). some cool things are that the page now pulls exif data off the jpegs and displays them. so when you view the picture, you can see what camera at what focal length, aparture, shutter speed and iso was used at what time and date. the owner of the gallery only has to upload file (or even whole folders/galleries) and doesn't need to worry about uploading resized pictures since the resizing is done on demand on the server now. i've also worked on the look of the pages somewhat. a lot of behind the scenes stuff to work out the querkyness when you have existing objects or requesting things that have odd characters in the filename. still got a list of things to do, but the heart of it I would say is 85% there.


Friday, October 22, 2004

I've changed the location of my photo gallery. instead of:

http://mikehome.ad.ucsd.edu/album/galleries/ (old)

http://mikehome.ad.ucsd.edu/album/ (new)

random images: http://mikehome.ad.ucsd.edu/album/randomimg.asp

cleaned up tons of code html, java, and asp code today. arranged files and locations of pictures for better site organization. made the link to the comment a text link instead of an image of text.

i'm gonna work on a way to caption the images by renaming the images next

Man I love this stuff

I love creating things that are useful. That's why I like designing web pages and stuff. But what I love more deep down is designing stuff that involves code. I love the whole process of coming up with an idea, designing it, writing it, and seeing it work. And when it works well, I can't be any prouder. I can honestly say I've always had a passion for this stuff. Somehow when I got to UCSD, I had forgotten what it felt like to design and create. All they assigned us were dumb and pointless data processing chores. What they should have done was tell us, write any program that demonstrates your ability to incorporate this new learned concept. And I would have had a ball showing off my creative side. So I was delighted when I took the CogSci courses that let me design web pages. Which is part of the reason I steered away from CompSci to CogSci. That and the impossible hurdle that was also known as physics at UCSD, it was clear to me at the time that it was the fastest way to graduate with a BS, and quite possibly the only way.

So I don't regret my decision, but I think doing a job that demands this type of work from me is my calling, and something I have a passion for.

So I've been working pretty much non stop on my photo gallery that I revived since my hard drive crash 1.5 years ago. Since my work these days includes a lot of ADSI scripting for Windows 2000 databases, I've picked up a lot of core concepts and methods in visual basic. So this made writing and editing ASP a lot easier. javascript seems to be a mix of C and vb, which makes it easy for me. Working with the photo gallery, I've learned countless things and got to experience a lot of things for the first time. Like using cookies to store information, making queries to the sql/mdb database, transfering variables to another page (4 different methods), working with database tools, and a bunch of more stuff I can't remember. i also created today an asp page that will look inside a directory for images, and randomly output that image on demand. what's cool is that it looks in the same folder where i store the 320 x 200 images for the photo gallery so i only need to update one folder. you can just specify this url in a img src tag, and have the page choose a random image every time you load, which is what i've set up my blog today for the rando images. its much better than what I had about 1.5 years ago before the crash since that involved a server side program that just copied a random image into a jpg file with a specific name. it was a lot more load intensive, and it was always writing to my harddrive which i hated. now that i'm pretty much done with creating the gallery, i need to take some nice pics that will let both gallery grow. and since i'm pretty much done writing all the ASP I need, I need to have another idea of creating something. what to do next... maybe i'll write all the code for my blog from scratch and host it on my server. hmm...seems too easy of a task, even though it would be nice to not rely on blogger and Haloscan...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The photo gallery is back!

So I managed to find some old versions of the photo gallery in asp that I was working on back then before my hard drive crashed. And I've been working non stop in the last day tweaking it and adding new features like commenting. I saw the need to revive the gallery when I saw that jusspress just wasn't doing justice to the pictures I can now take with the FZ20. So without further ado...

Michael's Photo Gallery

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Zoom Zoom

People might say I'm overcompensating but I guess 12x from 2x is a big leap. I've been eyeing the Panasonic Lumix FZ10 for a year now. And there were a few times that I did try to purchase it. But either I was a day late on the deal or Frys just ran out of stock. I'm glad I held out because the FZ20 just came out and I got it on Tuesday. This thing has a 12x optical zoom with an aparture of F2.8 across the whole zoom range. Manual zoom, manual shutter control with an impressive image stabilizer. Couple that with an awesome LCD and EVF, and an adjustable powerful flash (up to 7 meters), this is a photo hobby entusiast's dream short of a SLR. Even the pros will agree this is a fun camera. I can't wait until my 1GB card comes in the mail.
We need a new slogan for salads

Instead of the option to Super Size, Biggie Size, double meat our food, we need a healthy catch phrase to make our food more healthier. Since I rarely ever cook at home now, I've realized I don't have the opportunity to eat 8 servings of fruits and vegetables. V8 is an alternative, but damn, why do they have to make that so salty? I get enough salt as it is eating my canned soup and hot pockets (even though they are the healthier lower sodicum choices). So this is why I'm going to try to get a salad, and at the very least get a side of salad when I go out to eat every time. I throw out uneaten lettuce, salad bags, and vegetables so often I just realized its just pointless to buy them. So I gotta make use of that opportunity to eat the vegetables when someone else prepares it for me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Nightmare

I have this reoccuring dream that its my last quarter of school and I'm enrolled in 4 classes. 2 of the classes are a breeze, but then it occurs to me that one of the classes that I'm taking, an English class (not even a requirement for my major in the reality), is a class I'm not going to pass. Simply because I haven't been to that class since the beginning of the quarter, and it is now week 8. I have simply put off that class, and just forgot about it because I was busy with everything else. Since its a small class, even if I tried to make up the work, the TA teaching the class wouldn't even give me that option unlike some of the classes at UCSD where you can still pass without attending a single lecture. Then it also occurs to me that the 4th class is another class I have no chance in passing. The dream seems so real, and I get so stressed out. Then I remember that I have already graduated. And I must have graduated since I remember my graduation vividly. Then I wake up.

What is interesting is that even in really bad similar scenarios in life, most of the times you usually can find a solution as long as you cram and work hard to meet the deadline. But during this dream, it is not even an option to cram and put all my effort into it. My only option is to admit defeat and realize I need to stay for another quarter of classes. It feels like the whole world is caving in, every single time.

Monday, October 11, 2004

The Double Double

Yes, 2 posts in one day. This weekend, a group of friends made it to the Qualcomm party after scoring a bunch of tickets. The party was at the first 4 floors of the Hyatt. There were appetizers and deserts on the 1st floor along with a big dance floor and a live band. Second floor was for pictures, and a place for people to sip tea in a well lit ball room/wedding reception type area. The third floor we never checked out. I think it was an artsy type of area to look around. And the 4th floor had a James Bond theme with a big area for casino type gambling. You get some chips and you can buy raffle tickets with it.

The food there was good but it could have been so much better. The paella they were serving had a great amount of seafood and an exorbitant amount of scallops in there, but it was prepared with haste. Paella is like a risotto, and you need to give it a lot of TLC for it to come out good. But if prepared too quickly its mushy and broken down on the outside, and crunchy on the inside. Too bad I'm not much of a drinker cause the open bar at ever corner was all that you can ask for. The thing I enjoyed the most were the chocolate fountains. It was a cold fountain of chocolate but the chocolate wasn't too sweet but bursting with flavor. When you put that chocolate on a little piece of pound cake, you just wanted to close your eyes and let your eyes roll to the back of your head while happy synapes in your brain were popping off like mild fireworks.

On Saturday, I met up with a bunch of people to go to Sushi Deli. We waited for quite a bit. Probably an hour or so. My favorite thing to get there is the Raymundo roll. Its kinda like a rainbow roll, except it has spicy Tuna instead of the california roll. You can make that better by substituting the spicy tuna with the spicy salmon. To me, its the perfect roll. After Sushi Deli, we went to the Yard House for some drinks. We ordered their chicken nachos, and wow. It was the best nachos I've ever had. The tomatoes were fresh. The guacamole was perfect. The chips were freshly fried. The chicken was well seasoned. The cheese was well proportioned. From now on, if I want nachos, I'm gonna have to go to the Yard house.

On Sunday, had Sunday brunch to celebrate Nik's birthday at Jasmine's. It was my first time at Jasmines. It was a really nice place and the food was pretty cheap. One thing that stood out was that the jasmine tea was much better than the jasmine teas I've had at other places. I guess if you name yourself Jasmine, you can't skimp on the quality of the jasmine tea you'll be serving. I wasn't aware that we were going to get charged for the tea, but apparently you do there. Luckily Eric new someone that worked there and he was able to sign off on the tea for us. After brunch, we went to Sea Port village, got some ice cream and walked around.

After that, I took it easy and was in the mood to watch a few movies. I first saw I Robot that I enjoyed quite a bit. I like movies that are about the futures since I'm a gadget freak. Then I saw Super Size Me and Troy. I thought Troy was good, but forgettable. Quite ironic because the movie is about Achilles who fights in the war because he wants to be remembered through the ages. I also saw Shaun of the Dead and Dodgeball also. Both movies were pretty forgettable.

Super Size Me Not

I got a chance to finally see the documentary Super Size Me. Even though the documentary was informative, I fear a lot of people will still walk away by grasping the wrong concept. Here's my interpretation of the movie.

First, here is the given of all fast food restaurants. Minimizing calorie content is on the bottom of the priority list for these places. We live in America where bigger is better. And if one restaurant is offering more food per dollar, the other restaurants have to compete. Another thing they do is they load their food as much carb and fat as possible. Its a cheap but effective way to make their food taste better. If you don't do both, you might as raise a white flag in the fast food industry race. So I can't really blame McDonalds for continuing to increase the sizes of what one everyone knows to be a complete meal (burger, fries, and drink). This combined with the extra fat and carbs is a bad combination.

From here on, I think we can seperate people into two major groups. The ones who can see that the portions have grown to outrageous sizes, and the other group that hasn't seen this increase in portions of food because its been so gradually applied to the fast food industry.

Speaking from personal experience, the very few times I've gotten things Super Sized or Biggie Sized, I remember not being able to finish the french fries, and throwing alway a nearly full tub of soda. Seriously, how often does a normal person finish the super sized fries and drink? To be honest, I have never seen someone finish a Super Sized drink before watching the movie Super Size Me. Say you were brave enough to finish the buger and fries with a few gulps of coke. You'd probably not have an appetite to eat for the entire day. But Morgan Spurlock does it 3 times a day for 30 days. By force feeding yourself to prove a point that you can gain a lot of weight with fast food like that you can gain a pound a day easily. Its apparent that he did everything possible to gain as much weight as possible especially when you watch him eat the whole cake at the very end.

Sure there are the few exceptions who have just totally fallen victim to the rhythem of McDonalds and the likes of continuing to increase the portions of the food. These people are the ones in real trouble. If they finish each meal then continue finishing the meal served to them even though the sizes of the meal keeps getting bigger. Just consuming an extra 500 calories more than you're used to on a daily basis will equal to an extra pound a week.

Some quick math:

Consuming 3500 extra calories a day will make you gain a lb a day. the nutritionists kept telling Morgan that he was consuming double the calories he needed on a daily basis (approximately 3000 extra calories). He ends up gaining ~25 lbs. (3000 calories * 30 days = 90000 total calories. 90000 calories/3500 = ~25 lbs.) Its no coincidence. If Morgan went to Subway and ate 6000 calories a day, he probably have gained the same amount of weight. If he had his vegan chef girlfriend feed him 6000 calories a day, he would have gained the same weight. His LDL and other stuff might have not been that bad. I'll give him that.

So what's McDonalds guilty of? McDonalds is as guilty as everyone in the fast food/excess food business (Wendy's, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Claim Jumpers) for gradually increasing the size of our meals just for business competition without the care of the health of the people in the US. This change in meal sizes has had a global affect of what everyone (at least in the US) thinks are regular portions of food that even in our own home cooking, we have forgotten what one serving is and we just end up eating more at every meal.

This movie is a really good reality check that tells us that we need to start consuming the right amount of food, not what we're being served.

One little weird thing about the movie. There was this girl who was apparently over weight that Morgan interviewed when Jarrod (from the Subway commercials) came to her school. I don't know how she got this idea into her head, but apparently Jarrod convinced her that the only thing that worked for him and the only thing that will work for her is eating Subway at least twice a day. And she started kinda tearing up with her mom because she said didn't have the money to go to Subway twice a day. I thought that was an odd little part of the movie that didn't have a place. I thought it was put in there for humor and only that. Unless Jarrod is really making these claims. Does Subway really have their hands that far up Jarrod's ass? Even Jarrod should know you can easily get fat eating 2 Subway sandwiches a day for sure if that's all you plan on doing to lose weight. If that girl interpreted Jarrod's message that way, he really needs to change his speech because people are getting the wrong idea.

Monday, October 4, 2004

The Twenty Bucks DVD Conspiracy

This is really interesting. I've been wanting this indie movie called Twenty Bucks to come on DVD. And to my amazement, it was supposed to come out on DVD on 9/21/04. Looking around on release date, no one seemed to have it available. Then a week later, Amazon removes the object from its database. Google had it cached, and some sites still have the cover art for the DVD. Usually when something is delayed production, they just make it so you can't order it. They don't completely remove it. So what's going on here? This movie along with Robin Hood: Men in Tights are the unicorns in my DVD collection. I wrote up a list of DVDs I wished to buy when they became available. Aladdin was on that list too, but its being released tomorrow. Star Wars trilogy was released last week. Out of the 100+ movies that have been on that list, those 2 are the only ones left. Robin Hood is another weird one. Its available in Region 2 (PAL), but not available here. Here's an interesting article about PAL, NTSC, and SECAM. Its funny how the NTSC standard originally had really bad hue consistancy problems and how people were saying NTSC stood for Never The Same Color. It actually stands for National Television Standards Committee.