Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paul Newman Remembered

Thanks Doc.
Paul Newman, 1925-2008
I don't consider myself a fan of this multi-awarded thespian/racer/humanitarian but growing up and catching glimpses of old movies of Paul Newman, there is no denying that he was such an admirable character.

The typical cowboy -- macho, unflappable -- you'd want to be on his side, whether he played a robbery gang leader as he did when he was Butch Cassidy in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, with Robert Redford), a pool shark like Fast Eddie in The Hustler (1961) and The Color of Money (1986, with Tom Cruise, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor), or as mob boss John Rooney in Road to Perdition (2002, with Tom Hanks).

For those whose memories can't go farther back than 3 years, Paul Newman was the familiar husky voice of that bitter former race car and reluctant mentor Doc Hudson in the 2006 Pixar animation Cars. Newman's career spanned about 6 decades. He personified multi-tasking even before the term became popular. Paul Newman was an actor, writer, director, producer, businessman, race car driver, and philantrophist.

Paul Newman passed away September 26, 2008 due to lung cancer. He was 83 -- and as Cool Hand Luke in Somebody Up There once said, "I thought it was a nice round number".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lessons From Lehman

With the global markets scrambling for safety in light of the latest debacle that was the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers, it seems that the end of the financial meltdown, brought about by the US mortgage crisis, may not come earlier as hoped for. The expectation is that some more financial companies may fall in the coming months. Although, authorities are saying they know more now than they did when Federal Reserve bailed out Bear Stearns months before, the statement does not provide any reassurance.

One theory is that Lehman Brothers, a century and half old top investment banking institution, may have been hoping for the Fed to step in as it did with the Bear Stearns case, to avert the Chapter 11 filing.

However, Federal Reserve would not be able to sustain bailouts in the medium to long term. Makes me wonder what if Lehman beat Bear Stearns to the punch and filed for bankruptcy earlier. Would the Fed otherwise helped the failing financial institution?

But I'm past speculation at this point. If there's anything that can be gleaned from our current global financial woes it's that you can't put so much at stake on risks. You put up some, you gain some. This way, if you do lose, your losses won't be too damaging. In the case of Lehman Brothers the losses were just so overwhelming that stockmarkets everywhere are tumbling like a house of cards.

We are in the midst of a worldwide crunch and it is clearly not the time to blindly hope for big gains and jackpots in any financial dealings. Track records are reset to zero in circumstances like these, as the Lehman's case clearly shows. People and business should just focus on buckling down to increase productivity, save up as much resources and patiently wait for this financial storm to blow over. Only then can we attempt to reshape our financial futures.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Laptop Goes Green: The ASUS Bamboo Series

There's an indigenous Filipino creationist myth that says "Bathala" (the great deity) sent down a bird to split open a giant bamboo and out came "Malakas" (the male, translated as "strong") and "Maganda" (the female, translated as "beautiful").

Well, them technology gods at ASUS just came out with a bamboo fashioned laptop that is supposed to be both strong and environmentally beautiful. The bamboo finish reminds me of my old computer table. I never saw it coming that one day the bamboo would actually be the computer itself.

The bamboo-cladding seems amusing at first but the folks at ASUS are serious, especially in the matter of using biodegradable materials for its products. There's no word from the manufacturer's press release just how environment friendly this particular piece of technology is but the specs would easily rival many top of the line laptops in its class. The Bamboo series comes in both 12.1" and 11.1" models. Furthermore, if you split this Bamboo, you'd find an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and DDR-2 RAM, expandable up to 4GB.

ASUS claims that the Bamboo computers are energy efficient due to its next generation "Super Hybrid Engine". They stretch the pitch further by saying it "is the first notebook to have survived the unforgiving conditions of snow-capped Qomolangma Peak". That's Mount Everest for those of you who didn't get the chance to read on my previous posts on the Olympics.

A few questions come to mind. How does the bamboo surface fare in terms of the heat generated by the device? Wouldn't it warp as most organic materials do when subjected to heat? Just how much of the skin is made of bamboo? For that matter, the question still remains on how much of the notebook is actually biodegradable and how much of it is just marketing hype?

At any rate, I'm keeping tabs on this innovation. Anything that puts emphasis on going green should be given the chance to prosper, I think.

Personally, I would love to give this handsome equipment a test run. Ahem... attention ASUS. (wink!)

Friday, September 5, 2008

2008 NFL Season Kicks Off: Giants Scalp Redskins 16-7

Defending Superbowl champions the New York Giants defeated the Washington Redskins at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey opening the 2008 season. The kickoff game was attended by almost 80,000 spectators and was remarkably commemorative of Gene Upshaw's recent passing. The great NFL Player's Association director's initials "GU" and jersey number 63 was there on display at the halfway mark and on every players' uniforms.

The Giants had a tremendous starting drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Superbowl XLII MVP and Giants quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants then gained 10 more points from veteran kicker John Carney off the extra point and 3 consecutive field goals, the longest measuring 47 yards. The 44-year old kick specialist, currently the oldest player in the NFL, had a 100% season last year with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Before the half, Washington managed a touchdown by way of a 12 yard pass from Jason Campbell to Santana Moss, double coverage and all. The extra point came from 26-year old Shaun Suisham, now in his third season in the NFL and in his second year with the Redskins.

Both teams had a scoreless second half as both defenses played pressure football all the way. However, Washington's defense played big with 2 sacks against Eli Manning and 1 interception by Fred Smoot, the 8-year defensive cornerback. Other than that, the Giants had their way at home for their first title defense of the season.

As a side note, over in the Philippines there's a new group that's out to popularize the NFL. Pinoy Gridiron is a startup organization that seeks to establish and promote gridiron (NFL variety football) games in the Philippines. For more NFL game highlights, head over to the Pinoy Gridiron group on Multiply.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google Chrome: Reinventing The Browser

Internet technology giant Google recently released the beta version of their latest effort towards Web dominance which they call "Chrome". Google Chrome is being touted as the next generation Internet browser designed from the ground up to accommodate the future of Rich Web Applications. With Google Chrome now available, Google seems intent on placing itself firmly as the leader in providing web-based applications.

Explaining their motivation for creating Google Chrome, the development team at Google had this statement posted at the Google Chrome download site.
...We needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build.
Google started out as an indexed search engine in the late 1990's. Today it provides dozens of Web apps from the online email service Gmail, to the Google Docs and Spreadsheets, the Picasa Web Albums, the Orkut social networking site, and online video platforms Google Videos and YouTube, just to name a few. Oh, and by the way (put sheepish grin here), Google also runs the web logging platform Blogger also (duh).

Keeping that in mind, it is easy to see where they are going with this new Web browser. the folks at Google Chrome say that they have built "the foundation of a browser that runs today's complex web applications much better." It is also claimed that they have developed new methods to power future web applications, which are not at all feasible with the Web browsers existing today.

Without going into a detailed review, some of the new features of Google Chrome include the Dynamic Tab, Crash Control and the Incognito Mode. All in all these features aim to serve up an easy and secure browsing experience centered on getting users off locally installed desktop applications and to have them avail of the growing number of online users for their various Web applications. 

There are certainly more to come from Google Chrome in the months and years ahead. Currently, Google Chrome is a beta release so expect some bugs and issues to appear. Learn more about Google Chrome's many features and other stuff about the Web at our partner blog Sandbox Central.

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