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danger   ...   phone photos , signs
sun 2005-dec-18 14:58:08 pst   ...   permalink


"... use of cellular phones during vehicle refueling ... may cause fires or explosions ..."

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He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not   ...   movie reviews
tue 2005-nov-08 01:37:41 pst   ...   permalink

Sunday night we watched He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not (French title: A la folie... pas du tout). It was good, though it suffered a bit from the "plot summary reveals too much" problem -- I think I would have liked it better if I'd known less going in.

<spoiler detail="medium">
what I would have preferred not to have known )

In any case, as usual, Audrey Tautou gives a good performance, and she's reason enough to see it.

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Serenity   ...   movie reviews , spoiler_low
sun 2005-oct-23 23:20:22 pdt   ...   permalink

After watching the Firefly series DVDs over the last six weeks or so, last night we went to see Serenity. It rocked.

<spoiler detail="low">
a few thoughts )

Definitely highly recommended, along with the series -- even to people who are not fans of science fiction. (Of course, I suspect that a good deal of my readership is comprised of bigger sci-fi fans than me, and saw both the series and the film well before I did!)

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Adventures in Job-Search Juggling   ...   100% true stories , from_the_archives
thu 2005-oct-20 15:03:28 pdt   ...   permalink

In July of 2001, I was looking for a job. Here's an email I sent one day back then:

So I finally tried out something a friend of mine had suggested for how to get the nice people at TiVo to notice me.

I went to the TiVo headquarters about 11:45, armed with bean bags, clubs, resumes, and a little sign that says "SOFTWARE ENGINEER FOR HIRE" clipped to my shirt. I stood in front of the the main lobby, and started juggling five balls. A few people walked back and forth between the two buildings (whose entrances are right next to each other, on the corners of the two buildings), and seemed to look at me somewhat amusedly... I said "how's it going" to a few of them, but they didn't really respond. After five or ten minutes, a guy comes out -- looks like an engineering type -- and he comes up to me and says "what do you do?" I said "mostly java, server-side stuff", we said a few more things, he introduced himself as Richard, and then he said "I'll go see if I can get some engineering managers out here". Woohoo!

So he brought out four different people (one, then one, then two), which was convenient because I'd only brought four copies of my resume! I talked with them about my background and stuff, and they all four seemed pretty impressed, like they would certainly be interested in having me in to interview, except they're in a hiring freeze. D'oh. Interestingly, Richard said that it was the VP of HR that had told him, "there's this guy juggling out there, you gotta go talk to him!"

One of the last two guys gave me a tour. They're pretty small, but it looked like a cool, fun place...

So all in all, it was pretty much as successful as I could have hoped for, except for the damn hiring freeze. They all said they would hold on to my resume... One said he guessed it would be a month or two before they'd be able to hire anyone. Sigh.

So anyway, I think what I need to do now is go back through the other companies that I sent my resume to and never heard back from, and consider using this approach at each of them!

I didn't in fact ever hear anything back from the TiVo folks, and I also didn't in fact ever try again to exploit my juggling skills to get a software job. But hey, made for a nice story.

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Panic   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-oct-16 12:20:10 pdt   ...   permalink

Yesterday we watched the strangely-titled Panic. I'd never heard of it before, but based on the description -- something like, "a hitman (William H. Macy) having a midlife crisis starts seeing a therapist (John Ritter), and falls in love with another patient (Neve Campbell)" -- I thought it sounded interesting, though my expectations were not high. It actually turned out to be quite good.

I think I've generally seen William H. Macy in supporting roles; not sure if I've seen him as the central character of anything. But in any case, the idea of him playing a hitman struck me as humorously incongruous when I heard the plot summary. But his character turns out to be fairly similar to other roles he's played in how he relates to other people, if not in occupation. And he really makes the story believable even though when you think about it, it's fairly absurd.

The boy who plays his son is also great. He's the actor who later played the kid in The Ring. Also good performances by Donald Sutherland (as Macy's father) and Neve Campbell.

Anyway, the story drew me in. The premise could have been "hitman sees a therapist, hilarity ensues", but it didn't go that route. And that was a good thing.

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3 percent   ...   phone photos
sun 2005-oct-02 17:42:14 pdt   ...   permalink

3 percent

"3 percent" on SUV trailer hitch

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silly warning signs   ...   elsewhere on the web , from_the_archives , signs
mon 2003-jun-09   ...   permalink

Here are some silly warning signs I made with Safety Sign Builder, a tool that seems perfectly designed for being used for something it wasn't designed for.

small images and printable PDFs of them )

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archives   ...   blog-on-blog action , new_feature
thu 2005-sep-29 17:54:06 pdt   ...   permalink

Further enhancement to simplify browsing around old entries in my blog: at the bottom of the front page (and other pages which aggregate entries, like section and tag pages), you can now jump back to earlier entries. (Used to be that the front page had the most recent 20 entries, and anything further back was a little trickier to navigate to...)

I still haven't implemented a way of browsing old entries by year and month, or somesuch. I may or may not do that at some point...

But meanwhile, because I know you just can't get enough derf.net content, I'm going to start periodically migrating into the blog structure some of the derf.net content that predates the site's rebirth as a blog. You might say this is cheating, but as a certain television network likes to remind us, if you haven't seen it, it's new to you!

These entries will be back-dated to when I originally wrote them, but will appear at the top of the front page as if they were new content. I'll also tag such entries with a "from_the_archives" tag.


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no gas   ...   phone photos , signs
sun 2005-sep-25 16:20:03 pdt   ...   permalink

no gas

Read the book! No gas! (in the trunk of a car)

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tagging   ...   blog-on-blog action , new_feature
thu 2005-sep-22 02:48:52 pdt   ...   permalink

I've now implemented tags for my blog. So now you can browse around my old blog entries in hitherto-unpossible ways. How exciting. Of course, I'll have to go through and add more tags to more old entries, but I've done a bit of that already.

But wait, that's not all! I've implemented it so that absolutely anyone can tag my entries. I know you're all dying to. For now, only I can delete tags, though, so don't get carried away -- you won't be able to undo.

As always, let me know if you run into any problems -- if something's broke, don't assume I know about it.

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Run Lola Run   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-sep-11 12:54:16 pdt   ...   permalink

On Wednesday (on the airplane) I watched Run Lola Run, which I'd been intending to see for a long time. The concept and structure of the film are original and effective, but I won't say too much about that aspect. The story is engaging and the acting is strong. I also really enjoyed the music -- something I don't usually particularly notice. I guess it's more prominent than in most films.

One thing worth noting is that the film really only gives a rather limited glimpse into the characters' lives, leaving a lot of context unexplained. But somehow this actually works really well, I suppose in sort of a "less is more" kind of way. In effect, we get only as much detail -- regarding who these people are, how they got here -- as is truly essential to the story.

So overall, nice concept, well-executed...

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long fence   ...   phone photos , signs
mon 2005-sep-05 14:48:56 pdt   ...   permalink

long fence

"long fence" (Washington Monument in background)

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mysterious spam   ...   blog-on-blog action , comment_spam
fri 2005-sep-02 00:59:27 pdt   ...   permalink

So my blog-comment-spam problem has gotten somewhat worse... For a while it was just a few coming in every now and then. A few weeks ago I got a bunch all in one day, which prompted me to finish the code that I'd started some time before which allows me to very quickly and easily delete a comment. When I did that, it turned out I actually broke posting comments entirely for a little while (which turns out to do quite a good job of stopping the spam, actually!), but then I fixed that.

adventures in battling comment spam )

I don't get people.

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Vertigo   ...   movie reviews , spoiler_verylow
thu 2005-aug-25 01:42:27 pdt   ...   permalink

I'm not sure how many data points I actually have for this theory, but I'm going to go ahead and boldly claim that classic films tend to defy my expectations of them. Last saturday we saw Vertigo, which I'd never seen. Not sure whether I'd seen any Hitchcock at all, in fact. Anyway, so I guess I didn't really know what to expect, but I'm pretty sure that, to whatever extent I could have verbalized any expectation at all, I would have been wrong. Heck, even during the film, it continued to defy my expectations.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I liked most of the story, and I liked that the direction it took surprised me a few times. And I think I thought the acting was decent. But I thought Hitchcock beat the audience over the head a bit more than necessary with certain things. <spoiler detail="verylow">And I'm afraid I was fairly disappointed by the ending.</spoiler>

Certainly worth seeing, anyway.

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Primer   ...   movie reviews , spoiler_low , spoiler_high
sun 2005-aug-14 14:19:20 pdt   ...   permalink

So friday night, we watched Primer. I had put it into the NetFlix queue based solely on Dominic's recommendation. He didn't actually say much about it beyond that he really enjoyed it, and that it's a low-budget indie film. I also found out that it involved time travel. That was basically all I knew before watching it. As I've mentioned before, I generally prefer to know as little as possible going into a movie.

Overall I loved it. Certainly it's not perfect, and there are aspects that I was a little disappointed by. But for me, those things were easily outweighed by the ways in which it's great.

<spoiler detail="low">
some general thoughts )
<spoiler detail="HIGH">
don't read this part until you've seen the film! )

So ... strongly recommended without hesitation. Just maybe with a few caveats.

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wristwatch requirements   ...   random thoughts
mon 2005-aug-08 13:14:26 pdt   ...   permalink

A few days ago my watch broke -- the little knob you pull out to set the time came off entirely and so the watch is just stopped. It didn't come off while I was pulling it out to set the time or anything, I just noticed at some point that my watch was a couple hours behind, and stopped, and that the little knob was missing. Odd.

So now I'm faced with the task of getting a new watch. I've had this one for three years, and been pretty happy with it. I went back and found the email confirmation from when I originally ordered it, and determined that it is this one. So I could just get the same one again. It does meet almost all my requirements for a watch, and a quick look around confirms that my requirements, as simple as they are, are probably not going to be any easier to completely satisfy now than they were three years ago.

my requirements )

Okay, I think I'll go with this one, even though the face is white-on-black. Actually, looks like it might be silver-on-black. And they do seem to have silver-on-white, but it appears to be harder to read. I think the black background will be fine. And hey, no 13-24... Plus, it has the day of the week, and it correctly handles the number of days in each month. And it even manages to fit the day and date right alongside the "3", instead of dropping the "3" to make room. Interesting.

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A Home at the End of the World   ...   movie reviews
thu 2005-aug-04 13:02:55 pdt   ...   permalink

Sunday night we watched A Home at the End of the World. It was really good. It tells a lovely story, a story that makes it one of the (if not the) most poly-accepting movies I've seen. The acting is also consistently strong.

Colin Farrell in particular gives an outstanding performance as adult Bobby, and the actors playing Bobby at ages 9 and 16 also do a great job. All three have this perfect look of innocence in their eyes, that just fits the character so well.

Robin Wright Penn (who played Buttercup in The Princess Bride) is also quite good, though I would have liked to have better understood, or at least seen more of, her inner struggle. Perhaps we don't get to see that very much because the film really is telling Bobby's story. I dunno.

Anyway, highly recommended.

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strawberry ice cream   ...   elsewhere on the web
thu 2005-aug-04 12:32:54 pdt   ...   permalink

Just came across this article, about a study in which researchers were able, through the power of suggestion, to make people believe they had as a child gotten sick from strawberry ice cream. The same did not work with chocolate chip cookies.

Of the fact that it didn't work for chocolate chip cookies, the article says, "But strawberry ice cream is a rarely eaten food for most people and might be susceptible, the researchers decided."

Okay, so far so good. This all seems fairly unsurprising to me.

However, the researchers claim, "We believe this new finding may have significant implications for dieting."

Um. What? So you're saying you can convince people to not eat something that they already don't eat. And this is meant to help them lose weight how exactly?

Now, to be fair, it could be a case of bad reporting rather than bad science...

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory   ...   movie reviews , spoiler_low
mon 2005-aug-01 15:32:14 pdt   ...   permalink

Saturday we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was great fun! Naturally it invites comparison to the 1971 film, though unfortunately I don't really remember that version all that well...

<spoiler detail="low">
things I liked, and some comparison to the original )

All in all, a very well done adaptation.

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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events   ...   movie reviews
tue 2005-jul-26 21:00:43 pdt   ...   permalink

I'm way behind writing this review, but on the 16th, we watched Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It's really well done! It has a fabulously Edward Gorey look and feel.

Jim Carrey, not surprisingly, carries off the bizarre insane villain thing quite well, but really, I thought the kids actually gave the better performance. Then again, maybe it's just that Carrey's performance is simply less noteworthy because the role seems so well-suited to him. In any case, the kids are definitely quite good.

The story was fun, suspenseful, and entertaining. But in retrospect afterward, it seemed like they could have done more with the kids' particular skills that are established at the beginning of the film. I wonder whether the books do more with that...

Anyway, definitely gets my stamp of approval.

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