Lelouch’s Rendez-Vous

One of the things I liked about grad school was that I got a broader education than you could reasonably expect. As an example, I was reminded tonight of a movie that my first advisor, Jim Anderson, showed us one day, Claude Lelouch’s Rendez-vous, which I learned via Loic is now on the web.


It’s all about the video, which is a stroll through Paris in one early morning of 1976, in a Ferrari 275/GTB. Paris has changed quite a bit since then!

Cal Henderson Quotes

Cal Henderson, from flickr, at the PHPWest conference:

“Avoid code reuse (just a nice typo)”

and, talking about phpxpath:

“phpxpath is great. It’s on Sourceforge, but it’s still great”

and about UTF8:

“Can’t remember what UTF-8 stands for. Something something something eight!”

a bit that made Rasmus and me feel old:

“I think UUencode stands for unix to unix encode — it’s pretty old” (it’s true, but …)

About users:

“We have a lot of Mac users, because OS X users tend to be early adopters and have a lot of free time”

And then, when Cal said that PHP isn’t great for a daemon, Rasmus’ answer was:

“Write it in C, you sissy!”

Overall, a nice, contentful presentation from the guy responsible for the PHP (and, it appears, a lot of the DB work) code behind flickr, with good lessons learned on how to scale a web app to accomodate massive growth. I look forward to the ETech presentation.

Documentaries are great

Strange to follow the Apple post with this one, but hey… Last night I watched two documentaries — one on celebrated photojournalists honored for their work in 2004 (“In the life on fire”, produced by the BBC), and one on culture jamming (“CultureJam”). Both are recommended. In fact, I record pretty much every documentary that the CBC puts out, and I’m rarely dissapointed (and when I am, it’s two seconds to delete and move on to the next one!).

Good marketing

People were buzzing about the new releases from Apple yesterday, the iPod Shuffle and the Mac Mini. The Shuffle is quintessential good marketing, in my opinion. The product is technically quite average, but the pricing is good (Shane is annoyed that Apple just undercut his recent purchase of a “low-priced” competitor), the design is slick, but most importantly, Apple made hard choices and then ran with them. Prime among those is the lack of a display. Geeks are saying “isn’t that weird?”, but my forecast is that regular people will completely buy the “theme” of the Shuffle, specifically the very strong bias towards “random play.” Everything about the design encourages that, from the off/continuous/shuffle switch (which encourages shuffling) to the taglines (“Enjoy uncertainty”, “life is random”, “Give chance a chance”, etc.). It will probably accelerate the need to do “something” with the other iPods soon (they’re still quite pricey), but it does seem a nicely disruptive product in a saturated marketplace.

The Mini is equally interesting, and the stakes are much bigger. It’s an ideal replacement strategy for people laden with older, virus-laden PCs, looking for ways to simplify their home computing life. The form factor is delicious, the DVI connector a subtle nudge to getting a nice LCD display. What I want the aftermarket to provide in the next year: a box with a congruent form factor (same footprint, smaller height) containing a video capture card and a high capacity drive, and a good PVR software setup. That would then be a natural replacement for my current PC-based SnapStream PVR. If I had the choice between an Apple-designed media station and a Microsoft-designed media station, I would probably pick Apple, as long as they got the software right. Sometimes they do, sometimes they seem a bit too arrogant still (Trent says he’d return his iMac if he could because of the productivity loss).