Archive for December 12th, 2006

Baked some bread

Recently I started cooking bread at home so now we are rarely buying it from the grocery store. I prefer to knead the bread by hand, the traditional way (most Americans seem to use a bread-machine). The funny thing is that when I was living in the Greek mountains where we had no option but to bake our own bread, I hated doing it. I think the fact that my JBQ absolutely appreciates it and loves it though, makes me wanna bake bread 3 times a week.

home-made bread

Seen above cooling down is the bread I baked tonight, which we will enjoy with tomato salad with French dressing, beef stew with pasta, and feta cheese.

On actors and insecurity

As I was checking some Scifi series on IMDb the other day (that’s how I found about “The Starlost” that I blogged earlier about), I came across “SeaQuest DSV“. An underwater scifi series that I much enjoyed watching every Saturday at 2 PM on Greece’s “Mega Channel” in the mid-90s.

I was looking at the cast and I thought I should check the actor who played the young genius “Lucas” in the series’ high-tech submarine. I was shocked when I read that the actor who portrayed “Lucas”, Jonathan Brandis, suicided in 2003 by hanging himself. I didn’t know about this, somehow I missed this bit of news back then. Some of his friends said that Jonathan got depressed that by late-90s his career was in stand-still and then he got excited when he got a role in a blockbuster movie in 2003, only to have all his scenes cut down when the movie was to be released. He couldn’t stand the pressure of a failed career it seems, and he suicided.

We all have read about actors being very sensitive people in general and also being very insecure about their careers. I can’t imagine myself in such a situation. I don’t like insecurity at all, so I don’t do anything in my life that might trigger it. I don’t like taking risks. I really don’t understand how some people have the balls to move to Los Angeles or New York with just $35 in their pocket, live on the streets, and chase a dream that chances are it will never come. I could never do that, I don’t have the strength to do so. Or, maybe I have the brains to not chase it in the first place. Depends how you see it.

The ‘Lost Room’ and other Sci-Fi thoughts

If you didn’t watch “The Lost Room” at Sci-Fi Channel last night, sit down and watch it tonight again (along with its second part following at 9 PM — third and final part on Wednesday). “The Lost Room” stands up well on Sci-Fi’s original mini-series quality that we all have come to expect every December with other mini-series like “The Triangle” and “Taken”.

The plot: a detective investigates a mysterious motel room, which acts as a portal to alternate universes. The motel room originally had many ordinary items in it, but these were strip out from some people over the years. Each item has a special power when used outside of the room, some times useful, sometimes not (e.g. a wrist watch that can boil… eggs, or a pencil that can kill via microwaves). Here are the best (sarcastic) lines from the first part of the show:

Bad Guy: What does the gun do?
Detective: It shoots bullets. Really fast.

Another thing I realized a few days ago is that trying to be original when creating a TV show –even on sci-fi grounds, where imagination can be limitless– is a very difficult task. I was thinking for months that it would be really cool to have a sci-fi version of “Lost”. Like, a young man in a society of an older era, who wants to explore beyond his island, an island that no one ever left. There would be some mysterious (hi-tech) objects that the “elders” of his town are possessing and he would want to learn the origins and truth about them. He would travel to some caves to find more of these objects, only to get lost in there. When he finally finds his way out, he is not on his island anymore, but on a seemingly completely different world. As the series progress, he will find two more civilizations (with different technological gaps each), all distinct, different and separated than the previous ones. Only at the end of the series it would be revealed (by a fifth group that knows the truth and have the ability of doing “magical things”) that they are all actually living in a huge spaceship with 4 different biospheres, traveling the stars. All 4 civilizations were supposed to be settlers, the last hope of mankind, that were sent out to space to colonize a planet that was over 1,000 light years away from Earth. They were divided in 4 different biospheres, just so at least 1 of them survives wars, sickness and everything else that auto-destructs communities of people. Over the years and the pass of the generations they forgot that they were on a big ship and they accepted that their world is just as small as an island. The fifth group are simply a small group of technologically-capable humans who managed to keep their numbers small along with the knowledge of how to maintain, control and navigate the ship, and also control the 4 civilizations from reaching critical points (e.g. the last thing you want is having people experimenting with rockets on their finite holographic sky). At the very end, they arrive at the planet and (happily) colonize it. Tadaaaa!

All good and daddy so far, but the idea was already used in 1973. Not exactly as I envisioned it (their goal is to gain control of the ship that heads for a sun, and the knowledge that this is a starship comes very early in the series), but pretty much the basic idea is the same. Innovating and being original is very difficult. There are over 6 billion people on this planet, chances are, someone else already thought of what you have. ;-)

Mobile break down

I did a bit of research this morning at OSNews’ mobile statistics to see what kind of breakdown we are having in the 2500 non-desktop page views we get daily.

About 50% are cellphones (including Treo and PocketPC smartphones)
About 25% are text-mode browsers (e.g. Lynx, Elinks etc)
About 18% are PDA-only devices (e.g. Zaurus, Palm, PocketPCs etc)
About 7% are embedded devices (TV browsers, gaming consoles, N770 etc)

The most popular mobile browser is Opera Mini. WindowCE’s Internet Explorer is a close second, while Openwave’s “UP.Browser” browser is a distant third with the Blackberry browser being very close to it.

It’s actually very interesting to see that in the past few months there is a spike of Blackberry users on OSNews, something that wasn’t so in the past. Either many US companies simply bought Blackberrys to their technical staff, or OSNews’ content has attracted more managerial types of readers recently rather than technical.

Illuminous, the right choice

Visually and aesthetically, Apple is doing the right thing by going black for its new default UI theme. When I was designing a theme in 2004 for Gnome I researched quite a bit as to what would please me personally and at the same time be usable and easy to interact with. Shiny or leather black on cream-mat color was the best choice I could find. Apple is going shiny black on black (and I believe that leather semi-shiny black for wm/widgets on cream color windows is the best choice) but nevertheless I think their new UI will look very modern. Can’t wait to see an actual screenshot.