March 9, 2007

This is SPARTA!

Posted in Category: Fun — Amr Awadallah @ 3:46 am | link | | comment (0)

I just came back about an hour ago from watching the 300 movie with David Gerster.

I was very eager to see the movie since I am a sucker for the leadership/loyalty/macho theme. I also like the gore, which I know is sick, but hey, I would never kill a chicken in real life (though if you mess with one of my kids, I would probably kill you 🙂 ).

The movie did live up to my expectations, it was stunning visually, tons of action, had a couple of explicit beheadings, and it did not really have a ton of blood (they had a proper balance, which is good). It was artistic, it was not animation, nor cell shading, it was real footage, but had a comic like theme to it (I guess it is the way they did the coloring/lighting and how they added the blood speckles).

The story was simple, an invading massive Persian army asking the Spartans (and the Roman Empire Greece at large) to kneel in front of them or die. The Spartans, 300 of them, fought back for freedom of all (the rest of the Roman Greek army did not join the fight due to bribery, corruption, and internal politics).

The Spartans were not civil though, they were barbaric, “No Mercy, No Prisoners” was a line from the movie, they killed all, the sick, the wounded, the PoWs, it did not matter. Furthermore, if young babies were born unfit, they throw them away! (but we still liked the Spartans, and felt sad when one of them died, how ironic is that).

The ending was not well done IMHO, a smart leader should have calculated the risks better than that, some times you have to kneel to stand up again later, but I do not want to spoil the movie for you.

I don’t chat about politics much in my blog, but this movie should not be shown in the middle east (Iraq specifically), because frankly, they think they are the Spartans, and the US is the invading Persians with their power and technological might, wanting all to kneel in front of them.

Below is a couple of key scenes from the movie, click on the photos to see the HD version:


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Yahoo vs Google

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 2:47 am | link | | comment (0)

My previous post was about why I switched from Netflix to Blockbuster. Eric Colson was a coworker of mine at Yahoo for the last 5 years, but a couple of months ago he left and joined Netflix :).

Below is an account of which Yahoo vs Google services he now uses (text that follows is what Eric sent to me with very minor edits):

So, in response to you switching form Netflix to BlockBuster, I would post the following … but I don’t have a blog 🙂

Here’s a summary of changes I have made since leaving yahoo. None of it was deliberate …etc. I just started venturing out of Yahoo now that i don’t work there and found that I prefer some others. Take it as customer feedback 🙂

  • Email: no change… Sticking with Yahoo due to my account. I do have a gmail account, but only use it occasionally. I did have to turn off the Y! beta because it broke too much!
  • Maps/Local: switched to Google “most of the time”. Its better performance, and “usually” better index of local businesses. However, I do like Yahoo’s “send to phone” feature (not sure if G has the equivalent).
  • Web Search — hybrid. Its about 50-50 now.
    • I use Google as a default for researching topics simply because its faster .. the performance is hands-down much better than Y!.
    • I do like Google’s clean page better as well.
    • I think the algo relevancy is about the same between the two.
    • When I am interested in paid search listings (commercial queries), I use Google just because it has mind-share for advertisers.
    • Yahoo is better for spelling suggestions (which i need a lot)
    • I still use yahoo search a lot because I use the yahoo toolbar a lot (see toolbar section)
    • I also use Yahoo search a lot because of the open shortcuts. I even use it to get to my Google services :). Really- i have a shortcut for “!gdocs” to get me to my Google Document repository
  • Toolbar – i have both, but use yahoo more so that i can leverage my open shortcuts
  • Bookmarks/Social Search — I still use Y! myweb … can’t beat it 🙂
  • Documents (Word processing and spreadsheets) – I use Google docs. Yahoo has no equivalent. I did replace some of my yahoo “notepad” docs with Google docs and rarely use Y! briefcase now
  • Notepad — despite, the fact that I moved *some* of the longer notes to Google docs, i still use yahoo notepad. This is just because it so simple. Google has a notepad widget, but for whatever reason, i don’t like.
  • Finance – Yahoo (love the new beta and streaming quotes)
  • News – neither Y! nor G … bloglines (thanks amr for telling me about it)
  • Shopping – yahoo … hate frugal … but still don’t like Y! Shopping either. It always seems to fail me when I have a simple task for comparison shopping … or to sort a list of items …etc.
  • Travel – abandoned Y! Travel for sidestep (tried it because Rob Solomon went there.. ended up liking it)
  • Browser … I switched to Firefox. This has nothing to do with Y! or G, but just could not take IE crashing anymore.
  • Movie Rentals … Netflix of course… i have a free account with 8 movies out at once.

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March 6, 2007

Netflix vs Blockbuster

Posted in Category: Life — Amr Awadallah @ 10:04 pm | link | | comment (0)

I have been using Netflix for a long time, probably since they started, but last year I switched to Blockbuster, this is why:

First, nothing against Netflix, they invented this space, so kudos to them for sure.

However, Blockbuster won me over due to the following reasons:

  1. I, and my wife, prefer to watch blockbuster movies, as opposed to obscure movies. Netflix typically had very long wait times for such movies, and tended to push my queue towards the obscure movies. But blockbuster seems to be very well provisioned in that space.
  2. Every month Blockbuster gives me 2 coupons to get in the store and rent any 2 DVDs or games for free. It is the games part which I like, I am a hardcore gamer 🙂
  3. Sometimes I forget to drop the movie in mail, and it is weekend already, now Blockbuster lets me take the return envelope into the store and get a free rental on spot. The new movie, replacing the movie I returned, will still be mailed to me (they call it Total Access).

So I guess the jest of it is that Blockbuster is more convenient for me given my viewing/gaming habits.

As for online (downloadable) movie rentals, the Xbox360/XboxLive is what I use for that since it is in the living room and they support HD movies (hopefully they will come out with a larger hard disk this year, I run out of space very quickly).


— amr

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