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I fear the impending zombie apocalypse

Posted by james on Jan. 15, 2012

Lauren and I were discussing whether the impending apocalypse would be zombie- or robot- based. I vote robots, because they're already here, they're everywhere, and I may possibly be unknowingly helping them bring about their eventual rule. She votes zombies, because they're very popular in movies right now.

I'm not a very worrisome person anymore, but it actually does give me a bit of anxiety to think about a zombie apocalypse. It feels like despair. Where would we go? What weapons would I have access to? How can I physically carry my entire family if there were no vehicles?

I guess it comes down to faith. Do I have more faith in my hacking skills to bring down a robot tyranny, or my crowbar-wielding talents to bludgeon any attacking zombies? I'm not sure yet. I feel like I really need to answer this question so I'm ready. I may be watching too many (or not enough) movies.

Sucker Punch

Posted by james on Jan. 8, 2012

I was excited to see this one when I saw the preview. Girls fighting dragons & demon samurais with ninja swords & machine guns. What's not to like. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, and it is. But with great special effects, I thought this might be a neat crazy fantasy movie.

Warning signs went off when I found out that the movie was based around a girl trapped in a mental institute, and she used her imagination to fight for her freedom (which explains the dragons & guns). Those type of surreal movies can work when they artsy or deep (The Machinist), but this did *not* look like a deep movie. It looked like someone took a piece of paper, wrote "What do boys think are cool?"... and then took way too many of them and put them in one movie. I really wasn't looking for a deeper meaning to this one.

Good thing too. On the plus side, it's very stylistic, the special effects are amazing, and there's a lot of cool stuff to admire here. If they had chosen one fantasy setting and made a movie out of it, they could have had a pretty neat dragon fighting / zombie / world-war one steam punk / or girl SWAT team type of movie. I liked the hand-to-hand and gun maneuvering when they weren't obscured by way-over-the-top matrix 2/3 style camera motion. Makes sense - I found out the Bourne Identity fight choreographer worked on this one. Good stuff.

But the bad - the entire thing is a mess. The overall plot is confusing and strange. The text (you really can't call it subtext in a movie this shallow & obvious) is something about freedom, but it doesn't really stick. There's a lot of fantasy / surreal / layered reality here, and while cohesive it still doesn't make much sense. Why do this? What's the point? What ties this all together? Last, this movie makes you feel dirty. It starts with a step father sexually assault his young daughters, then with a mental institute where the male orderlies are sexually abusing the patients (which I suppose explains their escapes from reality), and to retreat from this they live in a fantasy world where they're prostitutes in a harem. Wow. This is like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (original title of that film in the original Swedish: "Men Who Hate Women"), but without the substance that makes it more than just watching women get abused. Note: special effects & zombies, while cool, are not a substitute for substance.

In the end, I think this is exactly what it looks like. A boy wrote down all the things he thought was cool, and crammed them into one movie. Eliminating half of them and filling the rest with substance would've made this a pretty cool movie. Also, more clothes for the women - they must've gotten cold only wearing half their costumes all the time.

Upcoming program: Gmail Imap Sync

Posted by james on Nov. 21, 2011

I've seen this problem come up a few times before - multiple people need to receive & respond to incoming email, but need to coordinate so there's no overlap. In my case, I need to be able to do email support where multiple people (including myself) can respond to support emails, but also I can immediately see if someone else has emailed already.

I use & really like gmail, so I want it to be there. If I have to log into a separate site/service/page to receive the other email then that's already a disadvantage. I really like the convenience of having all my email (personal, business, business #2, etc) in one place.

Receiving email is easy - just setup a filter on gmail to forward all incoming email to the other people.

But outgoing email is harder. I could just BCC the others on every outgoing email, but I'll forget. A solution that works some of the time (or even most of the time) is not enough here.

The solution - a simple script that takes 2 IMAP accounts, does a simple filter to select the important emails (such as all FROM / TO email for @companyname.com), and sync them to the other account. The useful part - this works on both incoming & *outgoing* email. So every email I send from my work account is automatically copied to the other staff's email. It's pre-labelled, so it shows up in the "companyname" label in gmail. They can then mark as read, label, archive those emails separately from me.

It's very simple, but incredibly helpful. I think this would be a really useful thing for a lot of people in similar situations - need to respond to email as a unified group, but not wanting (or able) to switch to a full customer relations management type software. I've been using this for a while now, and it's been working great - completely transparent, which is awesome.

Now the problem - how do I release this? Open source? Free-for-personal, fee-for-commercial? Web-based service? If I can get around the need to store IMAP (ie. Google Account) passwords at all, then I'd probably opt for a web-based service. We'll see.

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