Book, TV, and Movie

In order or preference...

The Help (Book) - this fictional story about black maids and their employers in Mississippi is written by a white person. Perhaps that's why a white lady and a bunch of black maids tried helping each other and only the white lady made a future for herself... anyway, I shouldn't be cynical about fiction, right? The book touches hearts with light and heavy subjects at the same time, and is simply a wonderful read. It's incredibly raw, and you find yourself sucked into the lives of the three main characters, rejoicing and bleeding with them along the way. Highly recommended.

Dexter Seasons 1-3 (TV) - I'm pretty sure this is fictional as well. Just kidding... blood scientist with the Miami police is a serial killer who hunts down people who slip through the cracks of justice. Yeah, okay. Surprisingly good actually, even though outrageous. Recommended.

Harry Potter (Movie) - It's not a bad movie at all... I just don't know what is going on most of the time because I haven't read the book and I rarely remember anything from previous HP movies. Wizard fight scenes suck and the general fight scenes aren't that great either. I suppose it's real good if you are an HP fan, like my wife is. Not recommended.


Sadness takes over

Today, we visited Alan. I can't believe it's already been eight years.

As we mourn our loss, I can't help but notice how nice it was at the grave yard. The day was hot. But there was a nice mid morning breeze. The sun never let up. But there were clouds protecting us every now and then. A new building was being build. But there were birds and dragon flies humming and buzzing around. Alan's grave stood there. But there he was, admiring the greenery, buildings, mountains, and skies, laughing at all this foolishness of those who remain behind.

And I let sadness take over. Wish you were here bro. I know you wish that too.
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Movie time!

Oh man, I think I watched quite a few movies but never had time to write what I thought of them... here goes:

Inside Job: My old firm Analysis Group was mentioned several times in this movie (along with the very evil Glenn Hubbard) as part of the evil establishments that protect banks and bankers from being held accountable for what they did. I wish documentaries would not be as one sided and actually seek another angle to try to offer some neutrality to the story. For example, how could you not interview Andrew Ross Sorkin? By the way, Too Big to Fail is a much better way to understand the financial crisis. Inside Job is more for populists. Not recommended (unless, of course, you are a former employee of Analysis Group, defender of the evil empires).

King's Speech: A real movie finally! What a fantastic job by Colin Firth... it's rare nowadays that actors and actresses capture the total essence of the character they are playing. But Colin Firth has done it masterfully. Natalie Portman in Black Swan - reviewed a while ago - might be another... my god that makes TWO worthy Oscar wins! Guy Pierce, on the other hand, is not believable at all... Highly Recommended.

Hangover 2 - please don't have a Hangover 3. The Thai lady boy moment trumped all the moments in the original Hangover, but the rest of the movie couldn't measure up. And what's up with the Asian pre-med kid being a complete dork in the movie not caring that he's missing a finger to becoming a surgeon... oh wait, there wasn't supposed to be a plot, right? Not recommended - you're better off re-watching the first one!

X-men First Class - truth is, I don't even remember what happened in the movie, except that it was slightly better in the sense that there was quite a bit of depth in the discussions of mutants' value in the ecosystem. Overall the mutants abilities were a bit disappointing though (especially the kids... I mean... you can scream so loud that you can fly... err...) Slightly recommended.

Some HK Detective Story: I'll cut to the chase: Not recommended. It has Aaron Kwok so that's the one to avoid.


Quick thoughts on Google and +

There's tons of articles on how Google+ is going to affect the Internet landscape. Here were my first impressions...

用了Google+一个早上,Google能整合Gmail ContactPicasa,和Buzz等产品,从一开始就有一个比较好的基础。但感觉就是除了Hang out(多人视频交谈)以外,其他的都跟Facebook差不多。Circle虽然是一个很好的概念,对Privacy的了解和体验都不错,但就算能优化 体验,其实Facebook也可以抄袭的。在人与人之间的沟通,如果base能做起来,我觉得Google+有可能取代GmailFacebook Wall。但其它添加平台粘性的地方,如游戏,Google+很难有突破。


Roughly translated: Between Hangout and Circle, Google's key differentiators so far, Facebook will copy Circles pretty quickly. To regain (maintain?) its status as communication platform between people, I think Google+ is a great first step and could possibly take over wall functions on Facebook. But it lacks other "stickiness" factors such as social games... for now.

One day and trying out many different ways to use Google+ later, several things struck me:

  1. Hangout - love it... Skype is going to hate this... or rather, Microsoft is going to super hate this very very much. How did MSFT stock price still raise? Their crown acquisition just got punched in the face... twice!
  2. Circles is a great privacy tool. I'd like to see sub-circles (I organize my friends in triagles - a few at the top whom I can share everything with, a couple more in the middle trapezium whom I'd like to know (but not too much) about, and the bottom trapezium whom I have on the list because it's rude if I don't. Nonetheless, a great feature that Facebook will have to copy for sure.
  3. Buzz put the first spotlight on Google where it violated users' privacy. Google+ is much much much better. You control it with Circles. I raised an eyebrow with the "Share" function, but then I thought this is the same as a private email being forwarded... or some private Facebook status being screen captured (See Failbook for some hilarious examples). Privacy win for Google+, so far.
  1. Circles is a great idea and the animation is awesome. It is, however, a fundamentally flawed UI with the horizontal setting. It needs to be VERTICAL, like a phonebook list, and allow us to drag names towards the Circles on the right. Someone had too much fun with the animation and forgot the fundamental desire: I need to organize my contact list.
  2. I hate that Google+ is hijacking "Stream" and "Hangout"... now I have to ask people to see my stream? And hanging out with people becomes a different thing? 
  3. Google released Plus like they did Gmail, Buzz, Wave, with limited invitations. Under a close beta, they will fix kinks and bugs and improve the product to a point that it can be released publicly. Except that Plus is a product that needs the public release to truly unlocks its popularity. Perhaps a prime example of how a large established firm with its established release schedule got in the way. Within a day, all users are screaming for more invites, but Google can't give them the jewels cus the product still has bug. I suppose Social products have very little room for error from the get go!
Not sure
  1. Do you notice you can't post on other's "wall" like you do in Facebook? You can only "stream" the person... I'm not sure where this could head, but it was strange that if I want to start a discussion with someone over Google+, I need to use stream and I cannot add more people to the discussion (or maybe I can "share"...?)