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Widescreen or fullscreen Wed, Nov 30, 2005
You're sitting on your couch watching a movie.  You notice the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.  You angrily wonder, "Why do they do this to me?  I bought a 27-inch TV for a reason!"  This, my friend, is a little technique called letterboxing:  fitting a widescreen movie on a fullscreen TV. 

Widescreen has an aspect ratio of 16:9, meaning that the length is 1.78 times the height.  Fullscreen (or pan and scan) has an aspect ratio of 4:3, meaning the length is 1.33 times the height.  Some movies have a notice at the beginning that says, "This movie has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your TV."  This means that a widescreen movie has been cut up to fit on a fullscreen TV.  It's good because there are no black bars, but it's bad because it takes away from the picture. 

People who support 16:9 say that it's the true representation of what the director or cinematographer was trying to capture when filming the movie.  I understand this.  I even agree with this.  So the solution must be to watch movies on a wide screen.  The problem is that I'm the kind of person who only spends a couple hundred bucks on a TV; I refuse to pay thousands of dollars for a widescreen monstrosity.  Geeky Stars Wars and Lord of the Rings fans don't like me for this reason.  I don't like them either.  They're annoying.  So I'll continue to watch cut up movies that fit on my 4:3 TV, instead of watching "whole" movies that only take up a small fraction of the viewing space. 

Where did widescreen come from?  Good question.  The answer is that widescreen was invented when movie attendance was dropping as a way to "immerse the viewer in a more realistic experience," as Wikipedia says.  Plus, human eyesight has a larger field of view horizontally than it does vertically, so it can handle wider angles.  So, basically it was a way to make more money.  Hooray, Hollywood! 

The good news is that "the 4:3 shape TV is expected to become obsolete over the next decade as TV moves to digital and HDTV formats, which are widescreen based" (Imdb).  If that's the case, then this argument will disappear and we'll all be swimming in the big tub of Cool Whip that is widescreen.  Mmm, Cool Whip. #entertainment

Gmail HTML problem Wed, Nov 30, 2005
I kept getting this error whenever I opened Gmail in Firefox:  "You are currently viewing Gmail in basic HTML.  Switch to standard view".  I would click on the link, but it would return to the same page.  It would make sense if my browser couldn't handle Gmail, but I had been using Gmail in Firefox for months.  So I searched online and found this solution:  Goto http://gmail.google.com/gmail?nocheckbrowser.  The "nocheckbrowser" option assumes that your browser can handle everything. 

I also used to get some sort of error about a problem connecting to the server.  It would pop up an alert box.  I looked around and read something about using Gmail's secure server, so I checked it out.  I haven't had the problem since. #technology

TV a la carte Wed, Nov 30, 2005
This ongoing debate between the FCC and cable providers about TV a la carte really gets to me.  [I'm claiming that I was the first person on earth to think of this idea.  You're welcome.]  I mean, who wouldn't want to choose exactly which channels to get, instead of being fed a bunch of junk from cable providers?  And then I found that person.  She called into a radio station this morning, saying that she occasionally likes to watch old movies on one of those old movie channels, but she probably wouldn't select that channel because she doesn't watch it that often.  So she feels that this would put those channels out of business.  Oh, what a travesty.  I would be crushed if those poor little TV channels that no one watches went out of business.  I would cry myself to sleep every night. 

And the other major competition is televangelists.  This kills me because I'm supposedly "on their side".  The Christian connection.  Their argument is that their main purpose is to reach out to the unchurched.  Most normal people wouldn't select religious channels as part of their viewing pleasure if they had the choice.  I know I wouldn't.  So the televangelists think they'll be losing their ministry.  I agree with that.  But I also think it's not entirely a bad thing.  Personally, I don't know anyone that actually benefits from those channels.  Perhaps there's a person out there who came to know Christ from a televangelist.  I'd like to meet that person.  And to quote the liberal-leftist-atheist talk show host I was listening to this morning, "What did God do before cable?"  Amen, lefty. 

But on a serious note, I do slightly support televangelists and the like, because I think they do perform a viable service.  They have the availability to reach out to billions of people across the globe.  This is a great thing, and it's something that was unheard of 50 years ago. 

And here's an even better idea than TV a la carte:  TV on-demand.  Instead of selecting the channels you want, you select the shows/programming you want, regardless of the channel.  So instead of channel surfing to see what's on, you choose what's on by selecting from a list of available options. #religion

HTML lists Tue, Nov 29, 2005
I hate HTML lists.  By default, ordered (ol) and unordered (ul) lists automatically contain a margin at the top, at the bottom, and to the left of the list.  This might not seem like a big deal.  But go ahead, try to change it.  It's nearly impossible.  Of course anything can be done by using CSS, but for some reason, lists are especially difficult.  And for whatever reason, they never seem to work for me.  So my solution is to use some simple ASCII:  "•" which produces a bullet (•).  This has solved my problems with lists.  Nya! #technology

Divorce Tue, Nov 29, 2005
I believe in God.  And I believe in a devil.  Maybe not a horned, hooved devil.  But an opposer of God; an adversary.  Good presupposes evil.  If there is a God, there must be a devil. 

I think that one of the things the devil rejoices over is divorce.  Statistics say that about half of marriages end in divorce.  And this isn't just the devil-worshipping heathens (term used jokingly); it applies to Christian marriages too.  So then people start to think, "Why get married if it'll just end in divorce?"  The next step after serious dating then becomes living together.  While this isn't the worst thing in the world, it's like taking something good and twisting it.  I'm not saying that these people are obeying the devil.  I'm just saying that these cultural norms are all part of the devil's plan:  Opposing God.  So each time a married person gets that idea in their head, "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea," the devil is saying "Eggzelent!" and twiddling his red, pointy fingers. 

[Disclaimer:  I know some people who live together but aren't married.  I don't think they worship the devil.  And this post isn't directed at them.  It's directed at the thought pattern of people who live together as the next step after casual dating.  First comes holding hands, then kissing, then living together.  Then the breakup and starting from the beginning to do it all over again.] #religion

WordPress functions (2) Tue, Nov 29, 2005
For a while now, I've been trying to figure out how to use WordPress functions outside of the WordPress directory (i.e. in a different folder).  I just found a few posts about it on some WordPress Support pages (1, 2, 3, 4).  All you need to do is add this line of code to a PHP file:

<?php require($_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'].'/your-wordpress-directory/wp-blog-header.php'); ?>

After this statement is added, you can call any WordPress function.  For example, if you wanted to include WordPress headers and footers and the sidebar on a template in your Zenphoto installation, you would just need to include the file mentioned above and use the standard WordPress functions (get_header(), get_sidebar(), get_footer()). 

Note:  $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] is a call to your site's root directory (www.domain.com is the root of www.domain.com/blog/).  I'm not sure if it works everywhere, but it works for me. #technology

Cat in tub Mon, Nov 28, 2005
This is a common scene in our house.  For some reason, cats like bathtubs.  It has something to do with watching the water trickle down the drain.  But God forbid they get any water on their paws. 

#nature

SNL black people Mon, Nov 28, 2005
Hypothesis:  SNL is only as good as its black people. 

Evidence:  Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Tim Meadows, Tracy Morgan.  Excellent black people.  All have memorable performances and most have gone on to bigger and better things. 
SNL status:  epic. 

Finesse Mitchell, Kenan Thompson.  Mediocre black people.  One is a guy with a very narcissistic website.  The other is a Nickelodeon alum that does a good Bill Cosby impression. 
SNL status:  meh. 

Conclusion:  SNL is indeed only as good as its black people.  Bring back Leon Phelps! #entertainment

Casual kissing (5) Mon, Nov 28, 2005
I'm not really into kissing family members and friends.  For some reason, everyone I know does this all the time.  "I haven't seen you in two weeks *kiss*."  "Happy Thanksgiving *kiss*!"  My family and friends were never the kissing type of people.  The first time I was exposed to it was at some point in college, probably with some of Wendy's friends.  Girls would lean in for the hug and expose their cheek, expecting a kiss.  But I wouldn't give it to them.  Sorry ladies, a kiss is worth more than a handshake. 

Nowadays I occasionally participate in casual kissing.  But I try to reserve it for (a) people I'm really comfortable with or (b) bold Italians who I just can't refuse. #psychology

Bluetooth Sat, Nov 26, 2005
Bluetooth sucks.  That's my conclusion.  I was pretty psyched about it a few months ago, when I figured out what it was and how it works and how it could improve every area of my life by eliminating every cord in existence.  It seemed like an awesome idea:  Basically, Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows you to connect different electronic devices.  For example, you can connect a cell phone to a computer to allow you to sync your address book.  You can connect a Bluetooth-enabled hands-free device to your cell phone so you can abide by NJ traffic laws.  You can connect speakers to your sound system without using any wires.  The possibilities are endless.  And Bluetooth applauds itself by claiming that it requires no user intervention; connections happen instantaneously and automatically. 

I was so pumped about it that I got a few things with Bluetooth capabilities:  a Palm Treo 650 and a Dell Inspiron 600m.  I set everything up (which goes against what they said about there being no setup) and it all looked good.  My devices communicated.  That's where my problems started.  What they didn't tell me was that Bluetooth doesn't actually work.  It's more of an idea, not really an actual thing.  I tried to send a file from my laptop to my Palm and it looked like it was working.  It got through the big long progress bar, and then it gave me an error.  Thanks.  You could've told me at the beginning that it wasn't gonna work.  Instead you wasted my time and then broke the news to me.  The same problems happened when I tried to send files from one computer to another, except that it didn't work at all.  It made no attempt.  It just said, "Nope".  Great.  Bluetooth, you're no longer on my "cool" list.  You're stupid. #technology

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