Monday, July 28, 2008

Cuil, the world's biggest, and slowest search engine

I definitely wanted to check it out, but after 10 tries in 2 hours, i finally got the message saying they've taken the service down due to overwhelming demand. Is this thing running in someone's garage? It reminds me of the time when I was using my roadrunner connection as a web server when i lived in international gardens. And I had posted pictures of Jeff's Skyline GT-R Spec Nur. And he had given the links to Motorex. And Motorex posted the pictures on their website, and then people posted that link on some forums. And I was wondering why my internet connection was so slow.

Google has really wrapped itself around every user on the internet. Not sure how Cuil is going to compete. Its no longer about search engines any more. Google is my news aggregator, my email client, a calendar for some, I use their analytics, docs, its my blogger, and i use it as my primary source for advertisement for business.

Its not like Google has a problem finding stuff on the web. I would say a lot of people would be eager to try it out and give them a benefit of the doubt, but they'll soon realize that 90% of all their other activity will still need to be done on google.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Week 3: Day 1

Because the machines that I wanted to start out with were full, I did barbell curls first, and it wasn't a bad idea. I did up to 50lbs on the 3rd set, actually completed it, and it relatively didn't affect most of my workouts.

On my way to the gym, I ran into one of the biggest idiots on the road. he/she gets in the left lane to turn, then changes his mind, then he stops right in the middle of traffic (the light was green, but the turn was red) so he decided he was going to turn after all. He's way past the line about a full car length and a half, but he's still in my lane. It pissed me off because this was putting me in danger, and I couldn't change to the other 2 lanes as cars were passing through them because I was behind him the whole time. Although it really didn't bother me that much, I used this as my motivation to do more intensive lifting.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Week 2: Day 2

I went to the gym today and had a pretty good work out.

I did 130 on the fly machine which was an improvement over last time.

Instead of pull downs, I did skull crushes.

A guy at the gym saw me using the preacher curl machine and told me a better way to sit on it so that i don't put pressure on my back.

If only I could do some cardio in the morning.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

UFC Vs. Affliction

Who's gonna win?

I would watch UFC Fight Night, download Affliction. The Fedor fight is the only one I would want to watch, and you know 5 minutes after it airs, it would be on all the video sharing channels anyway. It may be a good and profitable live event, but probably a poorly rated PPV event. Just my guess.

My prediction, UFC wins by a wide margin.

Update: After the bell
All I can say is, wow, they put a lot of money in this thing. There were a lot of surprises. First one being Noguira. Brother to the Interim (and current) heavyweight champion of UFC. He wasn't even on the card, and he showed up and fought Edwin Dewees. Maybe Donald thought he kinda made it look like a last minute fight and people would mistake him for his brother. Clever. It feels like everyone left at once. Couture, Sylvia, Arlovski, Cro Cop, and Fedor who ufc was close to signing with. Who is left? Wanderlei has moved down to light heavyweight, Gonzaga doesn't seem like the guy after Randy just owned him, Frank Mir never got his groove back after his bike accident, Kongo is on a losing streak... The future is uncertain. Smaller fighters are exciting to watch, everyone assumes the heavy weight champion is at the top of the food chain, and although there is a strong argument that weight and size doesn't matter in MMA, its not a bad assumption to make either. As for Affliction, it looked like they had a full packed arena, and they knew how to put on a good show. But it is uncertain that they made enough money to keep on going. It was a do or die event. And we won't know until the next event is announced. Megadeth opened the event, Big John McCarthy looks like he now become announcer (how does that happen? I thought the only thing he knew how to say was "are you ready? are you ready? let's get it on! c'mon!), the 2 PrideFC Commentators were the commentators, Randy seemed to be involved in a lot of the event although he hadn't fought (yet). Tito was probably humping Trump's leg, telling him how he wants to fight in the next Affliction event because how much he hates Dana White. Herb was the ref. Lets not forget Michael Buffer was there as the announcer which was a nice touch. I always thought UFC's business practices were shrewd and its made them really successful, but they are going up against Donald Trump and he's showing them that he be shrewd too. He understands the business, and he knows business tactics.

I think this all happened because UFC made a mistake holding their ground with Fedor and the exclusive contracts. Fedor just wanted to fight in his sambo matches. They should have been ok with that because it really doesn't effect MMA. And after the deal died, Randy stated that it was a big reason why he left. Arlovski and Sylvia, UFC doesn't really miss them, but with them all being there, it just makes the UFC look that much worse. If I was Dana, instead of not signing someone because of exclusivity, he should have put a clause like that stated that people like Fedor can fight in other MMA events, but if they lose, the UFC could have a say in whether they want to keep the contract with the fighter, and if they do, they would have to fight with a smaller purse. Because its all about leverage. You get them on your side, and make it look like a bad decision to even consider it, even though they think they are not in an exclusive agreement. EliteXC has been the laughingstock of MMA, but I have to say that Affliction Banned was a solid event that did everything right. I'll be watching closely to see what's going to come out of this.

Week 2: Day 1

I went to the gym yesterday after about 5 days off. It was a busy weekend and with Tommy in town till Tuesday (and a sore shoulder from the weekend). Stan said the picnic would not count usually, and because of that, maybe i'll just go tomorrow and do cardio and then work out again before the week ends. Doesn't seem out of the norm since I'm used to alternativing between cardio and lifting. and right now I don't lift enough to where the cardio works negatively for me.

Definitely with 5 days rest, I already notice a difference in the amount I can lift.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Los Angeles Photographer

Tommy Shih, a good friend of mine, quit his job a while back and has been a pro photographer for a while. His stuff on his website looks amazing. He has shot Arianny Celeste and Anne Rivera (from UFC) to name a few. You can check out his web page at Los Angeles Photography. Give him a call if you need a photographer. He shoots primarily in Los Angeles and Hawaii.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When poker is better than sex

I don't play ring games because you just can't beat the odds of the guy who is multi-tabling 12-24 tables looking for great implied odds. Its no longer poker. Its just work. You play cards like suited connectors against the guy who is representing rockets, who just can't seem to get away from an all in when there is a straight or flush possibility. Even on a .01/.02 NL table, you may make a dollar with AA, or lose all your chips to a guy who caught a flush while you were trying to slow-roll him. That's what a lot of people who are willing to plunk down some money at online poker don't realize. There is someone with a bigger bankroll than you and he's just waiting to call your meaningless 4x bb raise so he can strike when you least suspect it.

I've found my niche. The 45 man Sit & Go at Pokerstars. Like anything, you start at the bottom (like 1 + .10). You will undoubtably lose your first dozen or two games, maybe get lucky at a few times. You can learn from your mistakes and pick apart the game so that you learn how to finish later and later, increase your odds of making it to the final table, and then aim for the top prize. The more you play, the better you get at it. And when you've reached the point where winning at the level seems clockwork, you can move on to the next level which is double the stakes (and agression it seems) to keep it interesting. This is how a lot of people have chosen to play online. Whenever I move levels, it feels like I'm learning the game for the first time. Coming from a level where it seems like 9/10 of the hands I flip over, I got him beaten or even dominated, and then suddently realizing that you are now getting eliminated by flipping over the weaker hand, its a hard transition. My immediate reaction after getting owned at the new level after 4-8 games is that I should just go back to the level where I was just cashing at every 2 to 4 games.

Its exactly like learning a new skill. There is this uneasy and stressful tension hovering over you at all times. It feels like you need to jump back to where you were before. Jump back in the security blanket where are comfortable and happy. But just like anything in life, stay in the comfort zone too long, and staying there becomes meaningless and soulless. If you stick with the new level and master it just like you've mastered the other levels, you will not only have mastered the level itself, but you will have also gained other abilities along the way. You've somehow become smarter. Gained a microgram of new knowledge that further reveals to you the how the universe functions. You can apply this new knowledge and be one step ahead to mastering something new that you've never tried before. This is what essense of life should be.

Today I placed 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd on 5 out of 10 games at 11+1 45 man Sit & Go's. 1st would have been nice, and I deserved it on at least one, but its not necessary. (one of the 3rd place finishes I would only blame the slip of a mouse to not finishing 2nd.) It was a rough first few dozen games. And I can't say I've mastered this level yet, but I feel that I've finally arrived at this level. It will be tough to beat what I've accomplished today at this level but, I can only get better, and I'll be looking forward to moving up once I've increased my bankroll to do so.

Dear Blogger, fix your bugs

Any fellow bloggers out there feel like blogger has some weird persistant session bugs?

For example, I got to my blog, and then I want to edit a post, if I look on the right hand corner, it lets me Sign in and Sign out.

When I click Sign in, it signs me in automatically. Not bad but not good either. Either keep me signed in, or keep me signed out. If I'm signed in, why not give me a link to the Dashboard?

I think the mistake is that blogger assumes people will be going to the dashboard at the first page they go to when they want to do something blog related. But what I do, and I'm sure other people do, is start by opening up their main blog. Check for quirky comments and such.

If I want to add a post I press sign in, and then it takes me to the dashboard. Its something I've gotten used to doing. But if I want to post to my side workout blog, I immediate head towards the top right corner, and then it gives me the option to sign out?? because i've signed in to my main blog? It just doesn't flow at all. How about a Dashboard link? Is that too much to ask?

This is nothing like the bugs 5 years ago when I would publish a post, then my post listings would get messed up. So I would have to repost or something like that. At least they got that figured out.

Week 1: Day 3

I went to the gym today.

I thought that the preacher curl machine could be us for my deltoids, but was too lazy to unload all that weight off of there. its a poorly designed machine for loading weights, but great for biceps.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

stockxpert sucks, dreamstime rules

How I've come to hate stockxpert

I used to love their site. Everything was perfect until I decided it would be best for me to get the subscription. Then the site became a nightmare to use. Now I'm just counting the days until my subscription is over.

It all started when I decided to research further into other micro stock photography sites. It looked like stockxpert was the best one, and really I was just looking for confirmation because I had already paid for the subscription. But after wrapping up my research, I found dreamstime. At first impression, I thought dreamstime was a pretty small time operation. What I think is hurting dreamstime's business is their confusing pricing plans. Like everything is separated into levels. So they subjectively rate your images and give it a level, and then you can download depending on up to what level you bought? How does the size factor in? Are credits involved? Ditch the levels. Use credits only. If the image is very good, then make it cost more credits. And if you want higher quality images, increase the credits required. I have been using their site for close to 2 weeks now and I have no idea how the levels work still. Is Level 1 more valuable than Level 3? Or is it vice versa. How does $20 translate to a image at a certain level at certain resolution? Its just horribly confusing. Their front page is very amateurish and confusing. And add the confusing name, I was wondering if I should even look further into their site. But its a good thing I did. They have the same images but are better because:

Vector files costs extra with stockxpert
-Vector files don't cost extra on dreamstime. Say you wanted to download a cover for your document. Stockxpert will let you download the image at a very high resolution, but in all reality, the vector files are infinitely better always, and stockxpert will want you to buy it for $15 even if you have the subscription, unlike dreamstime. If you have the subscription, you can download any resolution or even the vector file. A huge plus.

You cannot download some (sometimes the best ones) with your stockxpert subscription.
-You have to pay the per image fee even if you have the subscription. The reason I ended up with both dreamstime and stockxpert subscriptions is stockxpert's own fault. I had 10 images that were not covered under subscription. I was able to download on dreamstime the 9 out of the 10 same images I couldn't download on stockxpert. I'm sure that stockxpert has some images that dreamstime doesn't have and vice versa, but majority of the images are the same, and dreamstime is not going to change you extra for the image that you have your heart set on.

Stockxpert goes out of their way to make it inconvenient for you to download after you've paid for your subscription.
-They make you type in a CAPTCHA which is purposely buggy (its a theory of mine). Yeah you heard that right. They purposely make the captcha fail if you download maximum you're allowed to download. Your account gets flagged, and you have to clean up your cookies before you download the image. You can also push refresh before you do the captcha to get around this "bug". If I pay for up to 25 images a day, I'm going to get 25 images a day. And since they've even made it harder for me, hinting that I shouldn't do it, it makes me want to do it more out of spite. To download 25 images in my lightbox, it takes me at a minimum 10 minutes. It used to take me an hour because of the CAPTCHA failing every time and I couldn't figure out a better way other than clearing my cookies. Dreamstime to begin with has nothing like CAPTCHA and their Lightbox actually makese sense. You can just choose the lightbox, then just say I want to download all of these, and just choose the highest resolution for all of them, and that's it. You get a zip file. You can't ask for anything more streamlined. Stockxpert makes it harder for you on purpose because they don't want you to download images after you've already paid. Dreamstime makes it easy for you to download images so you can get as much out of the subscription.

Dreamstime has better prices on subscription and single images
-There is only one price for a monthly option on stockxpert which is around $220 (25 pics a day), whereas dreamtime will let you download 10 a day for ~$90 a month. If you wanted 25 a day, I think it costs like $180 or $190. I've seen images cost as much as $15 on stockxpert whereas dreamstime, I think they only go up to like $6. Don't quote me on that one. I may just be confused with their "levels". But its a huge difference for the subscriptions. So for $90, you can get the highest quality images, and vector files for your brochure covers (up to 300 images/files) for your entire company. That's a pretty sweet deal. And in my opinion, any company or organization is missing out if they are not willing to pay $90 to put another level of professionalism by using dreamstime.

Dreamstime charges you a download when you actually download an image. Stockxpert charges you when you come to the download page without actually having downloaded. 1 out of 25 times, in the process of getting my images for the day, I actually forget to click to actually download after I've done the captcha, managed the lightbox, etc. But I still get charged. Pretty shady.

In conclusion, Stockxpert is out there to make money for itself and the sellers, by making inconvieniencing paying customers by implementing some questionable tactics. I will be glad when my membership is over. I look forward to a day without having to use their "buggy" CAPTCHA. Just a few more weeks...

In stockxpert's defense, their prices do seem right. Dreamstime's prices seem like the prices are too cheap. If I was a photographer, it would seem a little unfair that the customer has only paid $90 for 300 of my best images and illustrations. And out of the $90, I would only get $60. I would always be muttering the phrase, "What happened to the glory days when I used to make $100-500 per image?". But as a customer, with dreamstime out there, I would never choose stockxpert over dreamstime. I hate the fact that stockxpert makes me feel like they are trying to prevent me from downloading what I should be able to do which is download 25 images a day, every day after I've paid them subscription (along with additional dollars i've spent on their site for pics not covered under the subscription). They should know that after paying money up front like that, some customers like myself will be downloading images they need now and all the images they'll need in the future. If the price is too cheap, then charge more so you don't have to worry about implementing tactics to discourage downloading.

Minor update: So it looks like vector files on stockxpert are covered under your subscription. Possibly (maybe its a glitch, or maybe they changed it, or it could be its always been this way). I never bothered to click on the vector file as it didn't have the "sub" graphic. But I accidentally clicked on it today, and it let me download it under my subscrption. Interesting.

My road back to fitness

I've gained more than a few lbs of body fat over the last few months. It could be that I've lost that constant track of my metabolism and my willingness to always keep it high. It could also be my new appreciation for French cooking techniques and the agreement that just about every dish (except korean) can be improved with a little bit (or a lot of butter). It could also be that I've been baking for amusement. And when there is a lot of flour, there usually is a lot of (yes once again) butter and sugar. And I've gone back to averaging eating about twice a day. That is never a good thing. And I no longer try to eat in the zone (40-30-30).

Probably the worst thing of all, I've only averaged going to the gym a few times a month for for almost this entire year. That might sound fine to a person that doesn't go at all, but when your office chair is about 6 and a half steps from your bed, it also means that the most physical activity is the walks to the kitchen.

Stan wants to encourage me to get back in the rhythm for the benefit of my overall health. We made a small bet that I would go to the gym three times a week for the next 6 months. With an added condition that during those 6 months, I can take 4 weeks off. So I plan on working out for 4 weeks. Taking one week off. Then work out for another 5 weeks. Take 1 week off. Then work out for 6 weeks and take a week off. Then work out for another 6 weeks and take a week off. Thats roughly the schedule. Should be easy, and at the end of 6 weeks I'm sure I'll be back to my normal shape. Right now I feel like tub of fat. I've created another blog just to keep track of the status for my amusement. Mike's Workout Blog feeds will be one of the items on the side of this blog.

Week 1 Day 2

This is my first post. Week 1 Day 1 was before 3 days ago Sunday, and I couldn't complete any of my 3rd sets. I ran out of gas at about the 3rd or 4th rep.

As for today, I did better as I finished my 3rd sets on some of my exercises and then some. The others I couldn't finish. But this tells me that next time I work out I know where to start and end to make gradual gains.

I was supposed to go yesterday, but as with the microtears in my pectoral muscles from not working out at all to working out for the first time in a long time, I needed an extra day of rest. Workout was good today. Found a really good way to stretch my hamstrings. Looking forward to my next workout. Which will probably be Friday night or Saturday afternoon.

I'm also thinking about jump-roping in the garage to get my metabolism going in the morning. I bought the jumprope a while back. And its an awesome high quality jumprope that has ball bearings, that came with a technique DVD, a music DVD for like $10. It was a steal.