Monday, April 30, 2007

You Too Can Be in a Boy Band

The San Francisco International Film Festival is under way, and they are showing, today and on Wednesday, Il Caimano, Nanni Moretti's latest movie. It's a movie-within-a-movie story about Berlusconi's ascent to power and the inability of contemporary Italian left-leaning moviemakers to make movies with political content, unlike the earlier generation of, say, Elio Petri (the director of Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto).

Last weekend there was the North American premiere of The Heavenly Kings, by Bay Area's own Daniel Wu. Part mockumentary part Borat-style guerilla filmmaking, the movie follows four Hong Kong actors in their 30s as they form a "boy" band despite their inability to sing or dance, trick the Hong Kong press into believing they are for real, and eventually deliver a series of three concerts in Hong Kong, Taipei, and Shanghai. They came in person to the screenings for Q&A sessions, to the delight of a group of camera-wielding women sitting in the first rows.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, don't miss this movie playing at the Castro this Tuesday at seven. One of my favorite movies ever, it has an unforgettable soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, a stunning performance by Gian Maria Volonte', and a very clever, and perfectly executed, premise.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In practice

One benefit of writing In Theory is the abundance of unsolicited information I have gotten from the comments. I have learned that you say "30-year old" and "80-page paper", not "30-years old" and "80-pages paper," that Michael Chabon has written a most beautiful and insightful essay about Berkeley, that the noun of "to pronounce" is "pronunciation," and much more.

Now I am going to try and see how it works with solicited information. Google analytics tells me that a lot of you readers use windows (for shame!) and I am sure that many of you have cell phones. So, what is a good piece of software to connect a phone to a windows computer via bluetooth?

Here "good" would include sending text messages and reading received ones through the computer, editing and "sync-ing" contacts, moving files to (ringtones) and from (pictures) the phone, and having a decent interface. Bluephone for Mac does all this, plus lots of cute things, such as pausing iTunes and showing a notice when there is an incoming call.

Synccell moves files, "syncs" contacts and sends text messages, but it cannot read text messages, and the interface is disastrous. Mobiledit supposedly does all the basic things, but it can't read the file system of my phone (and their forum is full of users having various complaints about upload and download).

These are such commonly useful functionalities, there has to be a program that does it well. Isn't there? In fact I am surprised that Google hasn't come up with a beautifully designed application that integrates with Google Calendar, Google Talk, GMail, and so on.

[Theory post to follow soon.]

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I feel like I am living inside an Apple commercial.

I have just bought a bluetooth "dongle" (who comes up with these terms?) for my laptop, and it came with a booklet of installation instructions. There are 7 1/2 pages of instructions for Windows users (like me). They are followed by the instructions for OS X users that, rephrasing slightly, amount to "stick it in."

Most of the complications, by the way, arise from the fact that when you connect the device, Windows thinks it knows what it's doing, and it installs the wrong drivers. The installation program then has to run a script to uninstall them and re-install the right ones (the whole thing takes a while). This is actually an improvement over the previous installation program. I hope the 12-inch macbook pro comes out soon.

Not that it has anything to do with anything, but this is cute. (via cosmic variance.

Monday, April 02, 2007

And then the president pro-tempore of the Senate

After more than four years of service to the theory community, and beyond, Lance Fortnow has retired from his computational complexity blog, the first and most succesful of its kind. Bill Gasarch, however, will keep that hallowed green space alive. Donald Knuth is rumored to be next in the line of succession, after Bill tires of it.