Genetically Superior

Better than Google? by Kevin
July 28, 2008, 9:14 am
Filed under: Technology, Written by Kevin | Tags: , , , ,

Today, Monday July 28th, 2008, a new search engine called Cuil launched as direct competition to current search mega-giant Google. Cuil (pronounced “cool”, not “kwee” like I imagined) works entirely differently than Google, relying on the context of a website rather than number of inbound links.

First Impression

Looking at it side by side with Google, Cuil has a much more modern, sleek appeal, mostly because of its black background and royal blue logo. Google changed the whole idea of search when it launched, instead of filling the page with text and links like Yahoo!, it simply had a search box and a small row of links below. This simplicity was definitely one of the things that led to Google’s initial success.

Once you actually start using Cuil, the similarities end. The first thing you notice is Cuil offers search suggestions that update as you type; this is a tool I find both attractive and useful (and is why I am in love with Firefox 3’s “awesome bar”).

Now I wanted to test which site brought more relevant and useful information, I used “Beijing 2008” as my test query. Google’s results were very familiar, with the official Beijing 2008 Olympics website on top followed by the International Olympic Committee, news stories, etc. This was essentially what I expected from Google, relevant results which could answer any of my questions. Could Cuil do any better? Cuil’s results were initially a little daunting. I was presented three columns with a list of 11 results and an “Explore by Category” box. The first few results were the same, listing the “official” sites, but this is where the similarities end. No Wikipedia entry, often Google’s top result, no news stories, and, most notably, no “Sponsored links” box. Cuil’s results produced a schedule of Olympic events and venues, information on the torch relay, as well as travel information. It is difficult to say whether this is more useful than Google or not, but it is compelling.

I must admit I admire Cuil for even trying to take on such a juggernaut. Google is one of the biggest companies in America and one of the most progressive companies on the web. Everyone loves them. Their products always work as described, their services are almost always free, and on top of that they have some of the best PR in the biz; they are one of those seemingly untouchable companies. But Cuil makes lofty claims that they index three times as many pages and their engine is faster.

Whether these claims are true or not, Cuil definitely has a lot of work ahead of them, even it is better it will be difficult to pull users away from Google. Saying “Cuil it” lacks the same ring as “Google it.” It will also be interesting to see how they plan to draw a profit. Monetizing search is difficult, Google has done very well using “Sponsored links” but most of their revenue is drawn from Adsense. It will also be interesting to see how Cuil plans to expand and match Google’s massive amount of processing power within its multi-million dollar datacenters.

Google is way more than just a search engine for me, it is central to much of the time I spend on the internet. This is where Cuil will need to expand and offer better e-mail services, mapping services, image searching, etc. Only then could it compete directly. I say try it out, but I won’t be making a switch anytime soon.


George W. Bush: America’s Worst President Ever by Kevin

I decided earlier this week my next post was to be inherently political in nature, but I had some difficulty deciding what exactly I should discuss. There are just so many issues that I would love to address that I think are extremely important to this country, which is why I’m so surprised I decided to write about something that I’m 95% sure is completely and utterly pointless.

Today, Friday July 25th, the House Judiciary committee held hearings to discuss the limits of Executive Power and the possible impeachment of President George W. Bush. For this we have Ohio representative Dennis Kucinich to thank, who earlier announced thirty-five articles of impeachment to the house. Now, I in no way believe George W. Bush will be impeached, and I’m tempted to say these proceedings are a waste of time; but I’ve decided that there is nothing more important on this day than for these proceedings to occur and be put into the books.

George W. Bush is a war criminal. I believe he, and his administration, should be prosecuted for the crimes against both his own country and humanity in general. Bush has the blood of over 4000 of America’s finest on his hands, not to mention the up to 90,000 Iraqi civilians. And for what? What has this war brought? Absolutely nothing positive comes to mind. We may be down one gruesome dictator but we have completely destabilized an entire region, completely destroyed a country, soiled our global reputation, and brought our own economy to the brink of collapse.

This war never should have happened, and it will no doubt leave a stain on American history. I have little doubt that George W. Bush’s reign will go down as the worst in U.S. history. Many believe the war wasn’t entirely his administration’s fault, it was in fact authorized by Congress and we had the support of a large coalition of countries as well as the majority of the American people. But a great majority of this support relied on direct manipulation of intelligence and blatant lies to the American public. Early in October 2002, Mr. Bush declared to the American people and to the world that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to our country. How could anyone have ever fallen for this? Iraq was not close to nuclear capability, even if he did have chemical weapons (which he didn’t) he had no way of delivering them to the United States. But at the same time on the other side of the world in Korea, Kim Jong il was making his own nuclear preparations, and he wasn’t being quiet about it. Why not invade there the more direct threat?

On that night in October, George W. Bush was lying through his teeth. His words were the polar opposite of what his own top secret intelligence (since been released) was telling him at the time. The Pentagon gave Mr. Bush an intelligence report six days before his speech that explicitly declared that Iraq was not an imminent threat to the security of this nation, but Bush told America otherwise. This lie is what brought us to war with a sovereign nation, without UN approval. This lie brought the deaths of over 4000 Americans. This lie brought the destruction of 4000 families. This lie also made Bush and his cronies very rich. At least some one is happy.

Hundreds of no-bid contracts have been handed to Halliburton, making Dick Cheney a very rich man while the rest of America struggles to pay their mortgages. This is just one of many examples of Bush’s cronies making gobs of money off an unconstitutional war based on false pretenses. The fact that things like this can happen, that the government of the richest nation can be so inherently corrupted, embarrasses me. Anyone who claims the United States to be the greatest nation in the world needs a serious reality check. Step back and look at what the ruling elite have done. This country is on a downward spiral, and I can honestly say it was on its way back up to its former glory before Mr. Bush took office.

It blows my mind that Bush hasn’t been impeached already. The democrats are absolutely spineless. Bill Clinton had impeachment hearings for lying about a blowjob. This blowjob did not harm the people of this nation and no one died as a result of Clinton’s blowjob. But George Bush’s lies have led to the slaughter of American lives, and the butchering of an undeserving nation. Kucinich had thirty-five articles, thirty-five pieces of evidence that Bush had committed high crimes and misdemeanors contrary to his oath to serve this nation.

Only a guilty person would pardon their entire administration including themselves from any crime they committed.

This is not to mention his authorization of spying on American citizens, his authorization of “interrogation techniques” (read:torture) that are completely contrary to the Geneva conventions, and his immense overstepping of executive authority. How the hell was he ever elected? Oh wait, he wasn’t he was just lucky his brother was the governor of Florida, and the woman making the decision on the recount was a member of his campaign. Yes, the 2000 election was bought, but I’ll save that for another day.

I am absolutely disgusted. You are all invited to my party on January 20, 2009 when George Bush leaves office. This country will be reborn, and if I had my way, Mr. Bush would be put in handcuffs at 12:01 AM.

Something I wrote about Apple. by Kevin
July 23, 2008, 1:16 am
Filed under: Technology, Written by Kevin | Tags: , , ,

Apparently, Apple is set to release a Macbook Touch in October (oh geez I’m so excited<-sarcastic), this unconfirmed rumor comes from a “close source” who says Apple is planning a “product transition” in September. All I really have to say about that is: big fucking deal, I really don’t care.

But it absolutely blows my mind the amount of press this tiny unconfirmed rumor about a “product transition” creates. This left me wondering how Apple manages to create such enormous buzz with just about anything they ever do. I understand they make good products, I have an iPod, I wish I could afford an iPhone, I sort of want a Macbook; but what I don’t understand is their power over the citizens of the internet.

One must first look at the amazing turnaround they have accomplished over the last ten years. Back in the late 90’s it looked like Gates was finally putting the nails in Jobs’ coffin as Apple continued losing ground fast to companies like Dell and Gateway. But they were saved by an invention initially dismissed as bulky, over-priced, ugly, pointless and stupid. At the release of the first generation iPod back in late 2001 it was generally given reviews something to the effect of: who the hell would need this fat piece of shit? But a few generations later, the iPod was the toy everyone wanted for Christmas.The iPod put the spotlight back on Apple, allowed them to produce buzz around their other products which shared the iPod’s sleakness and simplicity. This allowed them to continue to take advantage of Microsoft’s squirming.

Nowadays you can’t walk around a college library without hundreds of glowing Apple logos staring back at you. Apple has been enormously successful among college students and young people in general. I think the younger market is very important in technology because they decide whats cool, define the trends, and dictate which product will be successful. They also decide which computer they want for graduation, and which computer should replace the one Mom spilled coffee on.

I think simplicity also has a lot to do with Apple’s success. Their product line is simple and concise, in other words shopping for an Apple product is easy. If you want a laptop, you can get an Air, Macbook, or Macbook Pro. But if you look at a competitor like Dell or HP, you have multiple product lines, within those product lines you have multiple models, and each model has multiple configurations. All this choice mostly serves to confuse the hell out of the general public. Also, looking at Mac OS X, simplicity is evident in the design and functionality, especially when looking at it side by side with the disaster that is Vista. Everything Apple does has a very clean shine to it.

Its difficult to place what else makes Apple so capable of generating buzz. I almost want to say its Steve Jobs, but I find it hard to believe anyone actually likes someone who is such an asshole; seriously look at this guy. I guess Apple has a reputation somewhat akin to Google: the company that does no wrong and is super-duper awesome.

Its pretty clear now that Apple will continue to piss off Microsoft for many years to come, they will continue to gain market share in computers and sell tons of iPods. They will continue to keep the market on its toes with gobs of innovation. And they will continue to generate stupid rumors that make it to the front page of Digg, Gizmodo, and every other stupid blog including this one.

Also on an unrelated note, if you haven’t started watching HBO’s miniseries Generation Kill, get your shit together, its awesome. If you don’t have HBO, steal it off the internet like everyone else.

Why PC Gaming is dying by Kevin
July 21, 2008, 12:57 am
Filed under: Technology, Written by Kevin | Tags: , ,

I used to swear that the PC was the only real gaming platform. Throughout high school I didn’t understand why I would spend money on something that only played games, my computer could do everything I wanted it to do. There really isn’t any reason PC gaming should be dying the way it is, considering theres a capable PC in almost every American home, a better install rate than any of the consoles can even come close to. The technology for PC gaming is also improving at an incredible rate, allowing for absolutely stunning graphics as seen in games like Crysis. So why are developers moving over to consoles in droves?

Piracy is definitely one of the most significant problems the developers face. I enjoyed playing video games on my PC, but I never enjoyed paying anything for anything. Piracy was pretty easy a couple years ago, but its even easier now. With the growing popularity of Bittorrent, the developers are fighting a formidable foe. As much as they try using DRM and copy protection, this mostly just frusterates the hell out of the paying consumers.  This is another story of an industry failing to adapt to a new environment. Combating piracy can be observed by looking at a few developers that are still very successful in the PC market. World of Warcraft is by far the most financially successful game of all time in my opinion. I don’t really understand why, but its hard to argue with 10 million paying subscribers still playing after almost four years. Also one can look at games from Valve having been very successful. I always thought Steam was a little annoying but it never stopped me from buying and playing its games. Steam represents a simple unobtrusive solution to the piracy problem. I don’t have any ideas on how to solve the piracy problem, but thats not my job.

I converted to Xbox 360 my senior year of high school and have since spent hundreds of dollars on additional games and accessories, more than I ever spent on PC gaming. This is mostly the result of paying for games on a regular basis. But I had very little problem dropping sixty bucks for a game that would give me twenty plus hours of entertainment. PC gaming has lost the excitement it used to have, with a few exceptions, there aren’t any exciting games on the PC that aren’t on the consoles. There aren’t any upcoming games that have produced the hype and excitement of games like Halo 3 or GTA IV (maybe with the exception of WoW expansions).

Console gaming also provides a seamless experience the PC has yet to perfect. All the games have the same box, and all of them will run flawlessly on my system without worry. While Microsoft tried this with the Games for Windows platform, standardizing box design, etc. I don’t think its worked the way they hoped it would. Games are still plagued with being very unstable at release, which is one reason I began to be turned off by PC gaming. Its hard to blame developers for this, developing for one console is relatively easily compared to developing for thousands of combinations of hardware configurations. I think this issue falls mostly on hardware manufacturers lacking standards that would make things easier for developers.

But its difficult to imagine that PC gaming has a bright future, as consoles begin to replace computers for music, movies, and the internet. With the growth of Xbox Live as a content delivery system, iTunes should be worried, especially with their new partnership with Netflix. I can’t imagine PC’s existing in the way they do now 10-15 years down the line, with powerful devices such as the iPhone and similar devices bringing the internet to people in a whole new way, and consoles bringing new forms of media delivery to the living room.

Its clear to me PC game developers have a long battle to fight, I wish them luck, but for now I’m gonna go pwn some noobs at Halo.

Thanks Al Gore, you’re super awesome. by Kevin
July 19, 2008, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Politics, Written by Kevin | Tags: , , , , ,

This may represent the first of many politically-charged posts, but this one probably won’t be as batshit crazy as future ones. I consider myself a strict environmentalist and conservationist, but I think many people have yet to recognize the reality of the challenges we face as a global community.

Al Gore announced on Thursday a goal to make the entire U.S. carbon neutral within ten years. All I have to say is: Good Luck, because he is going to need an enormous amount of it. This is one of the most lofty goals I’ve heard from a politician of his status. He relates this goal to JFK’s decision to be on the moon within a decade, but I really don’t see any similarities. While going to the moon was certainly a lofty goal, JFK increased NASA’s funding immensely and the country was behind him. This is not the case for Mr. Gore. There’s no money while our currency plunges, two wars and a global empire put us farther into debt, and an incompetent government continues to approve unbalanced budgets. There is also a significant lack in support for this cause, as many still approach global warming as a “theory.”

In order to accomplish a goal like this, we would need to replace most if not all the energy created by coal power plants in the U.S. with renewable sources. Once again, good luck Mr. Gore. The amount of solar and wind energy in this country has yet to break 10% of overall energy produced, it would need to grow 500% or more to displace the energy currently generated from coal-burning plants. Although I believe the technology to make solar cheaper than coal will arrive within 5 years, building an infrastructure to support it will take much longer. It is also insane to expect transit in the U.S. to shift enough to make us carbon-neutral. Driving is part of American culture, and although recent gas prices have led to significantly less driving, I think driving will remain a big part of most American lives. Even if we all drive hybrids (which are actually more harmful to the environment than most would expect, but thats another day) and use public transit (which is lacking in most U.S. cities) we still won’t be able to make this country’s roads carbon neutral.

I do hope that one day the United States will be carbon-neutral, have an economy based on renewable sources, everyone will eat organic food, and we won’t need a military because everyone loves each other. But these expectations will never amount to reality. Global warming is definitely one of the top issues humanity as a whole needs to address, and the United States should have an influential role; but lofty goals like this are doomed to fail.

While Al Gore has done great things for this country, including inventing the internet (lulz.), if he honestly thinks this is a realistic goal, he is sillier than we all thought.

by Kevin
July 18, 2008, 9:04 am
Filed under: Movie Reviews, Written by Kevin

As much as I realize posts like this are going to be a dime a dozen in the next 24 hours, I can’t allow myself to not talk about this. As you probably already realize, I’m talking of course about The Dark Knight, normally I would be tempted to summarize and give a brief description, but fuck that, and don’t worry, no spoilers.

Going into this movie, my expectations were sky high, and I honestly didn’t expect them to be met; as I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to movies like this. But I can honestly say this movie blew me away, and I left the theatre feeling completely satisfied. This movie is definitely among the best movies I have ever seen, I had no idea a movie of this genre could deliver on that level, but it did.

First off, the movie itself was gorgeous, every scene was shot beautifully. I really enjoyed the lack of CGI, I think that made the movie so much more believable. Watching the action sequences from The Dark Knight in comparison to something like Wanted, and its an easy choice to make. The plot was flawless, I was nervous that it might be predictable, much like other superhero/comic book/action/whatever movies are, but it wasn’t. I thought the movie was long, but that wasn’t a negative because I absolutely loved every minute. The acting was spectacular, every role was well casted and extremely well done. I am convinced that Heath Ledger should get an Oscar nod, not just because of his untimely passing but because he really deserves it.

I’m so happy a movie like this was made, because its going to make an obscene amount of money. I hope this will show Hollywood what a movie can be if you invest the money and the right people. Hats off to everyone involved in production of this film because its absolutely incredible.

I know this is poorly written, and I don’t intend on proof reading, but its three in the morning and I’m still collecting my thoughts, so whatever.

Go see the movie.

Numero Uno by Kevin
July 16, 2008, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Written by Kevin

Please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Kevin and I will soon be a sophomore mechanical engineering student at Colorado State University. Also, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing as far as this blog goes. While I spend a significant amount of time on the internet, I’ve never really read or been interested in reading personal blogs, but whatever, this should be an excellent medium for me to bitch about things that piss me off. I’ll also be writing about anything else that catches my fancy: electronics, gaming, politics, movies, TV, etc. Oh, and as you can see I suck at writing and have no business putting my musings onto the internets.

Dammit Tony.