G3-Optimized Firefox Out!

Written by rob on February 23, 2007 – 11:24 pm -

I am proud to release my first 0-day G3-optimized build. Firefox was released by Mozilla to fix some security issues to their FTP servers this morning. My auto-update on Windows didn’t recognize it until about 6 p.m. which is when I assume they put it up on the main site at getfirefox.com. Regardless, the G3-optimized build is now available exclusively here on eatyourexam.com for download. Enjoy.

Download the new build by clicking here.

P.S. This post was created using the build 😉

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“Babel” (2006)

Written by rob on February 23, 2007 – 4:27 pm -

Having already reviewed 21 Grams and Amores Perros, it is only fair that I get to the final installment of the Iñárritu/Arriaga trilogy. As a standalone movie, Babel is different and unique. It aims to provide a snapshot of life from the very chaotic world in which we live. Some critics call it Crash on a global scale; this applies very well. When one considers it in relation to the previous two movies, it becomes something different entirely. It contains the raw, relentless emotion and uncanny portrayal of the foreign like Amores Perros. It also contains the complex relationships and powerful metaphors of 21 Grams. Somewhere along the way, however, the movie falls short of combining the best of those two movies, and falls short of a lot of things in general.

In following suit with the rest of the movies in the trilogy, this movie connects multiple stories. It actually involves four instead of the usual three, but in some ways you can say it is three because it only takes place in three countries. The story is told, for the most part, in chronological order, as opposed to 21 Grams. I didn’t feel the acting was particularly good from anyone involved, including the big names like Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, who were, at best, melodramatic. The performances were forgettable. The characters they played, however, were rather interesting. Whether it was the dysfunctional relationship of Richard (Pitt) and Susan (Blanchett) or the seemingly insane Amelia (Adriana Barraza) who makes ridiculously dumb decisions, there are a lot of complicated lives in this movie. It becomes clear that the director was trying to use these characters’ messed-up lives to prove a point. Did it work? Probably. But it felt forced.

The stories, the characters, the themes… they all felt like they were being spoon-fed. At times it seemed raw and natural like Amores Perros, but it was almost too natural. This led to a certain superficiality that ruined the overall point of the movie. What Crash did remarkably well, this movie fails to do. More than anything, this movie reeks of critical appeal. If there’s something that I hate more than stupid alien plot twists (a’la The Forgotten), it is when a movie purposely does things to try to win awards (e.g. A Beautiful Mind). Babel is designed to go after the Oscar. It is what some like to call Oscar bait; I hated that about the movie. All of this bad aside, the movie is decent when you simply watch it. It is very entertaining, in fact, if you just watch it with no context. Babel also succeeds in introducing an interesting set of conflicts that a proactive movie-watcher would use to question modern society, but this will likely be missed by the casual viewer. It fails, however, to stand beside Amores Perros and the excellent 21 Grams. It even fails to capture the essence of Crash on a global scale. It is for that reason that I feel this movie was a particular weak end to the trilogy and why I wouldn’t recommend it to those looking for a true Iñárritu/Arriaga experience.

RATING: 6 / 10

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A Match of Wits: Computer Chess Showdown (Part I)

Written by rob on February 11, 2007 – 8:00 pm -

I don’t know exactly how I got the idea, but I recently decided to have a tournament of computer chess programs. I’ve been into computer chess stuff for a bit, and while my personal chess skills have lately waned, my fascination for computer chess has not. I always thought it was amazing that a programmer could create a formidable chess opponent. Years ago, a computer beat the reigning human Grandmaster. Ever since, the gap between human and computer chess strength has been enlarging. Computers are getting faster, and programmers are making the programs stronger.

Click the link below to read the rest of the article and find out what happened.
Read more »

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“El Laberinto del Fauno” (2006)

Written by rob on February 5, 2007 – 11:23 pm -

Also known as Pan’s Labyrinth, this movie by Guillermo del Toro (yes, the guy who did Hellboy) is something truly extraordinary. Critics everywhere have raved about the movie, and I am here to tell you that it is not without cause. Simply put, this movie has all the aspects of a masterful film, as defined by me — a character and story you can relate to, a theme that stays in your mind after the movie is over, and many layers that can be later examined (hardly an official list of required elements, I know). By blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, this movie will capture your thoughts for days after you see it. And while most of the critical focus is on the fantasy itself, the movie has subtle underlying themes introduced by various metaphors, for those who wish to find it.

Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who is brilliantly acted, is a young girl who is troubled by the horrors of Spain in its Civil War, circa 1944. Her widowed mother (Ariadna Gil) is now married to and harboring the baby of Captain Vidal (Sergi López), who might be one of the most brutal villains to appear on the silver screen in quite some time. Beyond all the horror of reality, Ofelia engages in a fantasy where a faun wants her to perform three tasks in order to reclaim her status as Princess of the Underworld. The two obvious stand-outs are Ofelia and Captain Vidal’s characters for their wonderful on-screen performances; however, one cannot forget the clearly talented Doug Jones who plays the Faun (and also the creepy Pale Man). He was the only English-speaking member of the crew, and as such had to learn the Spanish lines of both Ofelia and his character to move his lips at the right moments. An act of true dedication, del Toro himself labeled Jones as a perfectionist.

It is easy to dismiss this movie as over-hyped. After all, every critic and his dog is calling this movie one of the best movies of all time. As skeptical as you are, you have to realize at one point… maybe they were all right? Let me be perfectly clear… Pan’s Labyrinth (which I prefer to call El Laberinto del Fauno because it is less misleading with regard to a certain Greek myth) is an exceptional movie. It has something for everyone. Whether you care to dissect its multiple themes and plot layers or whether you simply want to be mystified by a wonderful fantasy, this movie will give you what you set out to see. I went in expecting a lot after hearing praise from plenty of trusted friends and colleagues; even with the hype, I enjoyed it immensely. I suspect the perfection of this movie will only show in its second and third viewing, which I plan to do very soon. Do yourself a favor and see this movie in the theater (unfortunately it is not widespread); for one reason or another you will love it.

RATING: 10 / 10

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