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I hate mailing lists

Posted by james on Oct. 1, 2010

Email mailing lists are a common thing for open source projects. They were (and still are for most) the preferred way of getting support. What's nice is that a lot of times the project creators (or really experienced users) read the mailing list often, and they're normally pretty helpful.

However, mailing lists are a vestigial idea from older times when webpages were not as common. Now we have things like forums, stackoverflow-type Q&A sites, etc. Google Groups is a nice wrapper around a mailing list, and give it some forums-like qualities. But many mailing lists do not use google groups, they still use old-school plain email lists like listserv or mailman.

The problem is that these lists often lack the functionality that make the modern alternatives so great. I want to post a question, and get all replies emailed back to me. With most of these lists, this is not an option. I have to subscribe to the entire list, get all emails, and filter out the ones I don't want - all to answer a single question. Then I have to unsubscribe when I'm done. Repeat process for each question I might have.

In this regard, a forums-based solution is much easier. I can register (boo - openid ftw), then post my question and subscribe for email updates to my question (and any other thread I'm interested in). Then I receive updates just for my post... even if the answer comes months later. This is not possible if I have to manually subscribe/unsubscribe to the entire mailing list.

With good forums software, I can also get the same mailing-list type of email experience in addition to a modern forums-type experience... the best of both worlds. Some forums can be setup to email each message to any subscribers, just like an old-fashion mailing list. But it also gives the option to use the web UI instead, which for many (like myself) is necessary.

So basically the choice comes down to 1) mailing lists which give only a single experience, which is unsuitable for many, or 2) use good forums software that can give both a traditional mailing-list experience and a much-improved modern forums experience.

Given this, it's really hard to understand why many projects still insist on using old, limited mailing list managers. Is the installation that much easier than a forum-software install? Are people just used to it so they continue to propagate this throughout their other projects?

The simple, limited mailing list needs to die as a means of support. There are better options out there.


Posted by james on Sept. 4, 2010

(post.rating: 6)

IMDB   Apple Trailers

This one I really expected to hate. It had Angelina Jolie (-2 points) and had bad reviews (-1 pt), but we needed an action movie to see in the theaters so we went. And paid full price for it, too (no matinee or discount tickets), so I was prepared for severe disappointment.

I was really shocked. The movie was very good... great action, there wasn't a slow moment in the first 30-40 minutes of the movie. The story was a bit fun, and you kept guessing whether people were who the seemed to be (especially Jolie's main character). Everything was very intense, but not overdone. And that's what I really expected it to be - overdone. There wasn't much "try hard to be sexy" from Jolie, which most movies try to do for all their female action leads, and there wasn't over-the-top unbelievable flashy action (excluding, of course, the fun car-top chase). But I most expected the characters and dialog to be painful and cheesy, but thankfully it wasn't.

So overall, a really enjoyable movie. I remember saying to someone just a bit ago that I can't remember any recent movie that I've liked Angelina in - now there is one. It helps when she's not a) getting naked all the time, and b) trying to act cool/sexy. And Liev Shrieber? Always fun.

The Book of Eli

Posted by james on Sept. 4, 2010

(post.rating: 6)

IMDB   Apple Trailers

This movie looked really neat on the previews, but then again the genre is a bit crowded. However, I was intrigued by the tease of some biblical themes or influences, so I really wanted to see this.

After about 10 minutes, my wife couldn't keep watching. The movie is pretty disturbing for those not used to post-apocalyptic movies. Regular fare for me, so I watched the rest by myself.

Some very good choreography, lightning fast w/o slow motion (*thank you* Dan Inosanto!), really nice to watch (sometimes more than once, it goes by so quickly). There's not a ton of action in this though, as it's mostly a character-driven and plot-driven piece. The whole movie was tinged yellow & washed out, which really made you feel the UV in the film (a bit like Pitch Black).

I was looking forward to Mila Kunis, as it's been really neat to watch her branch out from her 70's Show role. However, she falls a bit flat again. It always felt like she was acting - no heart in her, and not believable as a naive or semi-fragile girl. It reminds me of Max Payne - too much trying, not enough emotion there. Like she's built for a different role, and this is a bit of a shoe-horn. Oh well, next time.

The plot is... intriguing. There's a good feel for the world they're in, a bit of action to keep things going, and an overall mysterious plot that drives it. But the ending... while it makes logical sense, it's just a bit less satisfying than I'd hoped. The whole time I was wondering - How is this going to tie together? And at the end - Ahh, yes. That makes sense. There's still a bit of twists at the end, but the "big question" of "What's his mission?" is just not... satisfying. Somehow they answer they question of "What" without really satisfying the "Why?"

But it was still a good movie. It wasn't a feel-good movie, and not an action/adrenaline movie. A slower "feel" movie. I kept noticing the soundtrack - very ambient, mood-setting, a bit sad. It reminded me of some Death Cab for Cutie tracks in places, definitely slow and down-beat. I really like it.

It's hard to rate this movie. There was a lot good, some falling points, and a neat feeling to the whole thing. Very worth watching, but not something you'd end up loving.

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