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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