Thursday, June 17, 2004


An interesting experiment, this.

What do you call a convenient, web based email account with the ability to search and filter email with all the accuracy and precision of the web's greatest search engine, and so much storage you never have to delete an email message?

Email, google style.

at you can get an email account, if you're lucky enough to have an invitation, which does just that. This new email service has sparked a lot of controversy though from privacy advocates. One of the premises of google's email service is that it scans your emails and presents ads to the right side that are relevant to the particular email you're reading. Some people are concerned this could lead to information on your private thoughts and messages being sold to other companies. While google has long promised to 'do no evil', can they be trused with this kind of personal information?

I say yes. When you consider that all email is already pre scanned before you read it, or at least can be, does it seem so bad for a company who openly and honestly declares their intent to do so?

After all, email is already pre scanned for viruses by most email servers. Then Pre-scanned word by word to determine the contents of the message. Didn't realize this happened to your mail? How else do you think yahoo or hotmail or ABC email host determines what messages go into your junk mail folder?

And your work email gets even less privacy. Employers have the right to actively scan and read your company email at will, and many do so regularly. Information in these emails can and has been used to fire people.

Is loss of job not a bigger hazzard than being forced to view ads which you might actually want to see, placed just out of the way of your main email window?

The interface google uses seems much more advanced than that of most web mail hosts. I find it to be much faster than any other webmail host I've used because it actually uses an activex script, so much of the work is actually done on your PC rather than on the web server then sent back and forth.

While I was a bit worried at first that there were no folders to organize my messages into, I found the 'label' feature to work as well, if not better. While it gives you the same concept of organizing all mail from one subject into a category, it also allows you to have more than one label assigned to any given email. This way, if I get an email which contains information about my vacation time at work, I could label it as both business and personal since it does pertain to both.

Also, gmail sorts email into threads, or conversations. This means if I've got an ongoing conversation with someone or a group of someones on the same topic, replying to the same original message, it shows just the topic, and as I click on it I can see all the messages, in order, that are part of the thread.

While Gmail is currently available by invitation only, and in testing, I think it's ready for prime time. I've submitted a few suggestions, but I can't think of any missing must have features. Want a gmail account? You can beg for an invite at, or ask someone you know has gmail to invite you.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Harry Potter 3

Today I spent a good portion of the afternoon watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. After dropping off my son at his grandmas for a few days (Yes, I went to this 'kid's movie' without my kid) I dropped my ferrets off with family and went to the theater for over two hours of entertainment.

It's been some time since I've read the book on which this movie was based, but it seems to have followed the storyline very well. The special effects were very well done, especially the scenes involving the Hippogriff and the animagus and werewolf transformations.

While I don't think Hermine looks much older than she did in the earlier movies, I definitely see a difference in the ages of the actors playing Harry and Ron. I can see how they might get one more movie out of these same actors, but beyond that unless the books and the movies are released in a more rapid succession, I can't picture these same people looking the part for much longer. Each movie details roughly a year in the life of the characters, but it seems that the movies are coming out about every 2 years or so. And while there are 2 books already published which have yet to be the subject of movies, the author J.K. Rowling takes her time writing a quality product and is taking over two years to release each new book.

All in all, this was a pretty good movie. As a ferret owner, I found it a bit disturbing that the Hippogriff was fed dead ferrets several times throughout the course of the movie. However, the feeding scenes do promote realism and are very true to the original book, so I can't complain much. Certainly a mythical creature like a Hippogriff would be a meat eating animal, and I suppose a ferret would make as good a meat as any to such a beast.

For those of you who have kids, and those of you who still are, I'd certainly recommend this movie. Of course, be sure you've watched the first and second movies, and I recommend reading the books as well before seeing the movies. This lets your imagination run free. After watching the movies, it's easy to picture those scenes as Warner Bros showed them, rather than how you might imagine them yourself based on the detailed descriptions in the novels.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

More Pictures

Here's a few more pictures from this weekend's festivities. Excuse the quality, some of these didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.

The Screaming Eagle is one of Ryan's favorite rides. Unfortunately by the time we thought to take a picture of him on it, the ride was closed due to severe weather warnings. So, we did the next best thing. This is him modeling at the sign and demonstrating his riding style in a non-motion car.

What a crazy ride that was!

Here's a picture of the arc, and a closeup of Ry next to it. Amazing how big that thing is...

Yet another picture of the Budwagon

And the tanks where the rice and grain are mashed and cooked to later be turned into Budweiser. This was the only picture of the actual brewing process we were allowed to take, unfortunately bottling and aging pictures were not allowed.