Quotes from the office

There is this fun side to working in the office – you get to listen to all those small talks, little arguments and what not. Here are some quotes from the recent discussions. I’ll remove the names to protect the innocent.

– I don’t like football!
– What do you mean you don’t like football? How is that even possible for you not to like football. You do.
– No I don’t!
– Even you kid loves football. Look at his pictures, he’s always with the ball and in football clothes…
– Dude, the kid is just a couple of years old. He doesn’t know what he likes and what he doesn’t. He’ll play with whatever you throw at him…

– If I remember correctly, you were married and now you are divorced, right?
– Yes. I was married twice.
– Some people… they never learn…

– Are you going to eat with us?
– I’m on a diet.
– Again?!!
– Still…

– What are you planning to do then?
– I will be a teacher in the public school.
– Teaching what?
– Computers.
– Listen, if I will ever know that you are teaching computers in school, I’ll come over and personally kill you.
– Why? You think I am alone like this? Other teachers aren’t much better anyway.
– I don’t care. I warned you. And you know what?
– What?
– I don’t have a limit of killing just one person. If there is more like you, I’ll take care of all of you…

Feeding on friends with FriendFeed.com

One of the things that people on the web do is follow each other.  Reading blog posts, watching favorite video clips, stare at shared photos, reply to comments, get status updates, and so on and so forth.

In the previous years, the number of people who were online was much smaller.  And they weren’t publishing as much as they do now.  Everyone and their dog has a blog.  Pictures and videos are flying around.  Playlists and favorite songs are shared.  Micro-blogging is blossoming.  How can anyone follow all that?  Well, RSS, of course, is one of the common answers.

But, RSS has its share of problems.  It is still too technical to be used by many people.  Good tools are a few.  And grouping things around people isn’t much fun yet.  Also, feed discovery is still an issue (from a person’s point of view, not the aggregator point of view).

FriendFeed.com web service recently went public and solved a few problems.  It starts off with feed discovery.  When you register and login, you can easily specify all the places that you publish at – blog, Flickr photostream, del.icio.us bookmarks, LinkedIn profile, Twitter, and so on and so forth.  This way, when somebody is interested in following you up, he or she will just need to subscribe to you once and get all the stuff from everywhere where you publish.  This is cool.

FriendFeed screenshot

Another problem that FriendFeed solves is the problem of virtual people.  In social networks, it is often that you can’t follow a person who hasn’t registered yet.  You can invite them in, wait for them to join, and then be notified when they joined.  But it is often impossible to follow people who decided not to join the network.  In FriendFeed, you can create “imaginary friends”.  This way, you can group people and sources in any way you like best.   This is priceless.

For example, you can create an imaginary friend for a person who hasn’t registered, and you can assign a blog and a Flickr photostream to him.  Or, you can create an imaginary friend for a real person, who even registered, but who publishes so much that you can’t take it.  Instead of following of their stuff, you just pick things that you are interested in (say Twitter messages and blog, but not Flickr and YouTube) and link those to your imaginary friend.

With this functionality, following topics or events becomes extremely easy.  If you are interested in kebab cooking ,or in Cyprus switching to Euro, or  anything else for that matter, you can create an imaginary friend for the topic and assign it blogs, Google Reader shared items, Picasa photos, or whatever else is supported.  There is a lot of potential in here.

Another thing that FriendFeed does right is presentation of data.  There are links to original sources whenever possible, and there are thumbnails for whatever possible.  Also, people have avatars, which makes it very easy to distinguish who is who and who published what.

And if all that wasn’t enough, you can subscribe to updates via email.  Which means that you can really improve your productivity while still following a whole lot of sources.  No need to run around the web looking for updates.  No need to interrupt your work flow to see if there is a reply to your comment.  You just get used to getting back at all the updates once a day in a brief, but nicely looking digest form, and that’s it!

FriendFeed is a really nice services which a lot of people were waiting for and which they will appreciate now that it is finally here.  Oh, and just in case, here is the link to my FriendFeed profile.

Shoot ‘Em Up

I went to the movies with some friends to watch “Shoot ‘Em Up“.  I had some expectations for the film, since I liked the trailer and the cast, and the title was somewhat promising.  I’m glad to report that the film was by far better than any of my expectations.  I really enjoyed it from start till the end, plus the credits, minus the break, which some of the cinema halls are still doing (silly!).

What did I expect from this film?  Entertainment.  I wanted it to be a good action movie, with lots of shooting, car chases, and humor.  Visuals, sounds, special effects, and dynamics of it all.  It was all in there.  And more.

I ranked this film as 5 out of 5, 10 out of 10, and the best out of the best without even thinking for far too long, and, to be truly honest, even before the movie was over.  That’s how much I enjoyed it.  But just in case you are skeptical, here are a few points, which I considered (I’ll try to make at as spoiler free as I can):

  • Action!  I wanted a lot of action and I got it.  It was all action and very little of anything else except for the action.  I don’t think there was a single minute in the film without somebody shooting somebody, aiming at somebody, ambushing somebody, or planning to shoot somebody.  The title of the film is a very well chosen motto.
  • Acting.  Three main roles were played by Clive Oven, Paul Giamatti, and Monica Bellucci.  Clive Oven is an excellent choice for this sort of movie, especially considering how well he did in “Inside Man“, “Sin City“, and BMW’s “Hire” series.  Paul Giamatti is an excellent actor too.  He is not as well known as he should be, and this film was yet another opportunity for him to show himself.  He was great!  In fact, it’s been a long time since I enjoyed acting in the action movie this much.  (Tarantino’s cast doesn’t count).  As for Monica Bellucci – she is a very beautiful woman and a good actress, but I am not a big fan of her.  Either she doesn’t have a spark for me, or I don’t see it.  However, she did good in this film too.
  • Visuals.  In a film like this, photography and special effects are of extra importance.  And they were done right.  Camera angles, lights, cuts, compositions, and all that were very good.  There were a few interesting perspectives too.
  • Music.  There is an extra bonus in here.  The choice of hard and heavy music was great – nothing suits the action movie better.  And one of the first track’s was by the legendary “Nirvana”, which helped to set the right mood for the film.  It was like one cool rock-n-roll party.
  • A  touch of drama.  In a film like this, a tiny bit of drama is needed to set the stage, provide some background, and explain the story.  Without this tiny bit of drama, all those killings don’t have much meaning.  But.  The mistake that so many action movies are falling for is too much of drama and sadness. Cemeteries, funerals, and things like that don’t belong in the action movies.  Gladly, the “balance of the tiny bit” was perfectly kept in this film.  Just enough was provided without too much shown to break the fun, entertainment, and rock-n-roll atmosphere.
  • A deep thought or a spotlight on a global problem.  This is my personal criteria for a 10 out of 10 movie.  I believe that whatever the genre or the story of the film is, there is always time and place for a little bit more than just what is needed to entertain the audience.  But, as with the previous point, there is a dangerous pitfall – propaganda.  Many films spend too much arguing about either side of the global warming issue, or useless wars, or drugs, or something else.  “Shoot ‘Em Up” brings attention to the problem of gun control.  But, again, it takes only about 40 seconds of the movie time without disrupting the main course of the film, and gives a few things to think about.  Really slick!
  • References to other movies.  This is also just something that I like. I believe very much in “standing on the shoulders of forefathers”.  I believe that no movie is an exception – all were inspired by some previous work mixed together with something else.  I think paying respects to those inspirations is a nice thing to do.  Again, it should be done as a barely noticable touch here and there, without destructing people’s attention from what is going on.  I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I saw some references to “Sin City”, “The Matrix”, “The Transporer”, and a few other films.  Tiny, almost unnoticeable references.

In summary, the film is worth every penny of the ticket, every second of the screen time, and every dollar for the DVD, which I’m definitely going to buy.  This is some quality stuff, which doesn’t come out of the movie companies every other day.  Strongly recommended for the fans of the action genre.

del.ishli.st – my wishlist is back

Long time ago I used to have a wishlist on this site.  If I remember correctly, I even had a few.  It was a rather helpful piece of information for the times when I was doing online shopping, as well as for my friends and family before the big holidays (hint: presents).

There were two problems with keeping up a wishlist.  One was rather small – people couldn’t find it easily, since it was hidden in the archives.  And one big – it was a lot of effort to keep it up-to-date.  I kept losing it myself all the time, and I was always forgetting to update it.   These two problems caused it to finally be lost in the sea of other posts on this blog, and, probably, never to be found again.

I’m glad to say though, that a better version of my wishlist is back.  It’s something that I wish I had years ago.  It’s dead simple, easy to see (no registrations required or anything of such non-sense), and it’s also extremely easy for me to keep updated.  This new wishlist is on del.ishli.st.

The name sounds good, but the link is impossible to remember, much like the original del.icio.us one.  del.ishli.st is a very simple, yet very smart way of wishlisting.  It utilizes my del.icio.us account and the “wishlist” tag, which is something very natural to use for tagging items of the wishlist.  And so that I won’t try to remember the URL, or, even worse, attempt to type it, or lose this wishlist in the history of posts once again, I decided to make a big and important link to it, at the top of the site.  Yes, that’s right, you can see it together with the rest of the main navigational menu.

February – the month of family migrations

My family is not very big.  And it’s not very mobile.  My parents are divorced and they leave in Russia.  My brother lives in Cyprus, where I stayed together with my wife and kid.  And has been so for a long time.

And suddenly, here comes the movement.  First, just before February started, Olga and Maxim went to Russia.  My mother-in-law is very sick and my wife went to stay by her side.  Then, my mother came over to Cyprus to visit us for a few days, as well as relax for some time in the mountains and take a short break from her work.  She then left back to Moscow.

But she didn’t go alone.  My brother went with her.  The guy stayed in Cyprus for a few long years, and now urgently needed to leave the island for a few days, related somehow to his paperwork.  I’m going to pick him up from the airport tomorrow.

My brother wanted to travel to Togliatti, Russia, where our dad lives.  Dad celebrated his 50th birthday recently (Happy Birthday, Pa!) and it was very unfortunately that neither I, nor my brother could attend the party.   It so happened that the planned trip to Togliatti had to be canceled – once again due to the virtues of the paperwork.  However, dad took the initiative and the train to Moscow, so that he could meet with my brother Alex even if just for a few days.  I hear that they had some really great time.

Maybe for some, this all looks like a routine. But not for me.  People in our family don’t travel all that much. (Except maybe with the exception of my mom, who moves around a few times each year.)  And during this month they all jumped up and moved somewhere.  I managed to stay so far, but the month isn’t over yet.

Weird, very weird…