Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spain fights obesity through innovative airport program

Madrid Airport. Copyright©2010 by Franco Esteve. All rights reserved.
Photo: Madrid Airport. Copyright©2010 Franco Esteve. All rights reserved.
Madrid, Spain - The Madrid airport has gone through a number of innovative changes in the last few years. A new train whisks passengers from terminal to terminal at a rate slower than crossing the whole of London, causing high levels of stress for passengers. The new terminal is huge and modern so you have a more pleasant environment when having to run from one side to the other. They've even added a new, fun game dynamic called: Guess your gate number.

This last is an exciting experience where they'll tell you a gate number for your flight, and the information may be accurate or it may not be. When you get to that gate, it's like a suspenseful lottery. Your flight may or may not board there. If it does, you've won and the game is over… or is it? How exhilarating.

This seems to me like an innovative program against obesity, and considering the fantastic competence of the Spanish government which has the country on the brink of bankruptcy, both economically and intellectually, one might think it was on purpose. If you want to lose weight, don't just travel to Madrid, but add the extra excitement of having to get a connecting flight at this airport. It will not only keep you on your toes, as they change the gate number, adding a high level of suspenseful stress to your traveling, but will keep you fit with all the running from one side to another.

I have unfortunately been forced to be in transit at this airport numerous times and can certainly attest that this program fights obesity, having lost a number of calories in the process of going through it. Let me share with you the wonders of going through this airport. For purposes of this example, I did not receive my connecting flight information, so we begin with arriving at a terminal without having any idea where to go.

1. Finding Iberia's information booth: 5 minutes, 30 calories.
2. Realizing you don't have much time and have to change terminals: 10 calories.
3. Running to the train: 15 minutes, 80 calories.
4. Realizing the train takes close to 30 minutes to get to where you need to go: 10 calories.
5. Running to passport control: 10 minutes, 50 calories.
6. Waiting at the passport control line: 10 calories.
7. Running to the security control area: 10 minutes, 50 calories.
8. Realizing they've forced you to leave the secure area, despite being in transit and that you have to go through the entire security process again with everyone else: 10 calories.
9. Waiting in line to go through security again: 10 calories.
10. Going through security: 10 calories.
11. Watching security remove and throw away your duty free items, despite being in transit: 10 calories.
       -this of course, thanks to the great decision of having transit passengers exit the terminal to reenter it.
12. Running to the gate: 15 minutes, 80 calories.
13. Cool down: 10 minutes.
14. Realizing Iberia has changed the gate number while you waited: 10 calories.
15. Realizing you're at the wrong gate with little time to board: 10 calories.
16. Running to the new gate on the other side of the terminal: 15 minutes, 80 calories.
17. Cool down: 10 minutes.
18: Realizing the plane is delayed: 10 calories.
19. Realizing the gate number has changed yet again: 10 calories.
20. Running to the new gate number: 8 minutes, 45 calories.
21. Cool down: 10 minutes in front of the flight board to make sure the gate hasn't changed again.
22. Final boarding.

Approximate total time elapsed between one thing and another including rest time and delays: 2 and a half hours.
Original amount of time available to get to the connecting flight: 2 hours.
Approximate calories burned: 525

This program will certainly help a large number of people in keeping the exercise routines they were unable to do while traveling, so kudos to Madrid for considering the fitness crowd and for encouraging people to exercise while at their airport. They continue to improve their program throughout the years, adding inefficiency wherever they can. The recent train is especially notable in that it takes less time to cross London on the tube. Be sure to experience this wonderful new anti-obesity program for yourself by traveling through Madrid, preferably to another domestic destination within Spain, making sure you'll enjoy the fantastic personality of the lovely security personnel. Control your desire to rip them a new one as best as you can. Oh, and be sure to leave plenty of time for your connection, two hours minimum.

Related links:

Iberia: If you've never flown with this airline, now owned by British Airways, the experience is like visiting an exotic location in itself.
Madrid Airport: The main organizers of this wonderful exercise program.

Please note: Your travel experience may vary. None of the information in this article is designed to be accurate or official. To get more accurate information, please contact agents Moulder and Sculley at your local law enforcement agency.

Keywords: Madrid, airport, Iberia, traveling, travel, satire, exercise, obesity, Spain, connecting, flight, transport, security, fitness.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 21, 2010

Googlesoft - Google channels the spirit of Microsoft

Is Google the new Microsoft? A bloated company that throws vaporware and underdeveloped products at every segment having 15 minutes of fame? Do androids dream of electric Apples?

What's going on with Google lately? Every time I turn on the news, they're announcing some new product that copies another in a hot market segment, but it's either coming out "soon" or is underwhelming when compared to its competitors. The latest is the new Chrome Web Store, an Apple App Store competitor for the web and Android OS systems. This of course, following an announcement that they would be making an AppleTV equivalent having the very original name, GoogleTV (not that AppleTV was all that clever to begin with). Now, I know Google's founders and executive team worship Steve Jobs, but come on, at least try to be less obvious and come out with something solid. Soon it will be the Android driven gPad as well…oops, already announced. Where's that BladeRunner when you need him?

Google seems lost in Apple's "Kool-aid," though to their credit, so is the world. Apple has made the smartphone segment hot and sexy, has reenergized and redefined the tablet segment and forced everyone to race to catch up. So Google wants to be Apple…oops, it wants to be Facebook…oops, it wants to be Microsoft…oops…oops…oops. There's another huge company that seems just as lost, one which though very successful in their original segment, seems to want to be everything and cannot seem to focus long enough to actually break from it. You'd think Google would find a different inspiration. Their intent may have been Steve Jobs, but unfortunately their delivery ended up being a Steve of a very different ilk, of a certain je ne se quoi quality that both scares and fascinates with its peculiar, almost multiple personality disorder like, all-over-the-placeness: Steve Ballmer of Microsoft.

How could a company get so lost? How could it change into this creature? Google's original search product not only offered a better search algorithm, but it was a simple, fast, uncluttered, superior product. It was that which helped it to dominate web search and basically annihilate heavy hitters of search such as Yahoo. It made search advertising unobtrusive and useful for both advertisers and users, helping them rise to the top of the money heap. Their corporate culture allowed employees to dabble in interesting side projects, some more useful than others, and though some of these have not necessarily been original, many were interesting takes on those existing paradigms and have become very popular and useful. That is the Google we knew and loved, the one who declared they would do no evil, but this new Google smells of that different animal we all know too well.

It smells like Microsoft, often vilified and even more often deservedly so. They are the ones who see someone develop something cool and are quickly promising their new vaporware product that will ship sometime by the end of the year and does the same thing, and if it does eventually materialize it ends up a ridiculously inferior product. In the past this has helped kill many great products, but in the age of the focused Apple, no longer works. No matter how much money they've thrown at these things, they just can't win with this strategy. Xbox, Zune, WindowsMobile, TabletPCs, Xbox being the only relatively successful one (a well executed product despite the historical hardware quality issues which seem to have finally been resolved), though certainly thrashed by Nintendo's Wii and losing ground to Sony's PS3. Sony has also explored this route and lost. This is why Sony is trying to refocus itself and its many divisions in order to survive and compete in market segments they once innovated and dominated over. So why is Google following the lost boat?

Apple wasn't first to the mp3 player market. Apple wasn't first to the smartphone market. Apple wasn't first to the tablet market. So how have they risen to so quickly dominate these markets? (Though RIM still dominates the Smartphone category, it's the iPhone that everyone continues to talk and speculate about, and it's the iPhone whose sales continue to carve out market share from competitors). This was all done with "inferior" products. The iPod didn't have a radio and for years didn't do video. None of the products accept Adobe Flash. The iPad doesn't have the ports of a computer or the software or the file system or this or that, yet customer satisfaction is 91% according to ChangeWave surveys and is selling like hot cakes with greater demand than at launch. Focused products seem to work better than wannabe everything products. Apple made them both elegant and useful. Sure, power users may want more i/o options or system access, but most people don't care about that. The freedom to download porn is not enough of an incentive for the majority of people. They want a product that just works out of the box without issue, easily and intuitively.

Google is a search company that wants to be a software company, a hardware company, a phone company, an energy company, an internet provider, a retailer, a media distribution company, a social networking company, etc. Branching out is not a bad idea, but focusing efforts in getting a product out there that just works, that does what it claims to do, that does what it does do well, and without much hassle for the consumer who spent his hard earned money on it, would go a long way into making it more of a want to be company than a wannabe company, into more of an Apple of our eye and less of a Microsore. Things like forcing users into Buzz and into sharing without warning is not the way to beat Facebook (even though Facebook is looking more and more like Buzz in that regard recently), but the way to anger users and steer them away. Things like that are just evil (and stupid). So, Don't be Evil Google. Don't be Googlesoft. Just be Google.

Just venting (and hoping Google, who owns Blogger, won't censor this ;) hehe)…

Bookmark and Share

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Oscars put Avatar in The Hurt Locker

Avatar in the Hurt LockerThe media had hyped up the battle between James Cameron's Avatar and Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. It had hyped up the fact that it was a battle between Cameron and his ex-wife, a divorce that itself had been quite ugly. Hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin even made a nasty crack about it in their opening bits, saying Cameron would give her a Toyota. George Clooney certainly didn't seem amused, making it awkward and even uglier as the camera focused on his serious face. Considering how happy and energetic he had seemed down the red carpet, it lent it even greater weight. The hosts made fun of his seriousness, but it did not seem to detract from the heaviness of the comment and the contrast.

After all the comments, the speculation, and the hype though, the 82nd Academy Awards were pretty much standard Oscar fare, as the Academy played it safe and predictable with its choices. Anyone who followed the awards season was expecting The Hurt Locker to win over Avatar, but of course, the Academy has sometimes offered surprises and with ten Best Picture nominees, I think many were expecting one. Unfortunately, this was not the time for surprises. The first directing Oscar given to a woman was Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, which also took Best Picture, as expected (Six Oscars including the top two for The Hurt Locker, verus Avatar's three technical Oscars).

The Show

The OscarsThe broadcast overall may have been predictably safe but not necessarily in a bad way, as the streamlined show, which tends to stretch out in a boring manner, was entertaining overall. A lot of the traditional fluff was removed and the show was better for it. Gone were the torturous, extended dance numbers to the original score nominees, as was the singing of every single original song, sparing us from the million and a half pauses in-between each and the occasional terribly awkward performances. Of course, awkwardness still existed every now and again, as Kristen Stewart definitely showed in her presentation of a wonderful tribute to horror films accompanied by her Twilight co-star Taylor Lautner.

The opening followed excellently in the footsteps of Hugh Jackman's wonderful musical number from last year, except this time, it was performed by How I met your mother's Neil Patrick Harris and framed in a very elegant, classic style reminiscent of old burlesque shows with huge, feather fans and rockette-style dancing. The OscarsThe song spoke about not being able to do it alone and was a great intro for the hosting team of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin who did not disappoint. They made fun of a number of their peers, but one of the themes that permeated throughout the comedy of the night was Meryl Streep, whose numerous nominations, Steve Martin referred to as "losses". The camera continually focused on her enjoyment of it all in her spectacular and well-commented-on beauty. If anyone had any doubt as to how gorgeous and talented she is, they were certainly reminded of it again and again.

With great cuts to the show come some strange and unusual items. For example, there's the Scientific achievement oscars which were cut down from an honorary clip to a mention at a hundred miles per hour while panning across a group shot of the winners. I think giving them an extra two seconds wouldn't have hurt. There was a short clip of the Governors ball where four lifetime achievement awards were given - move the camera to the two winners present at the Oscars, get up, sit down, goodbye (this was usually a wonderful moment in the show that is now gone, and seemed to me to lack the respect they deserved). Another was the wonderful horror homage introduced by the previously mentioned, horrified Kristen Stewart (perhaps her discomfort was on purpose...NOT!). And last but not least the extended tribute to the late John Hughes which had the entire Breakfast Club (sans Emilio Estevez), Mathew Broderick (from Ferris Bueller's Day Off), Macaulay Culkin (from Home Alone,), and Jon Cryer (from Pretty in Pink) on stage to speak of his influence in front of his family (who had great seats - kudos to the organizers). Perhaps strangest was seeing Judd Nelson from The Breakfast Club up there, looking like the stereotypical "Whatever happened to?" or "Wow, he's still alive?" or "Did he just come out of prison?" candidate, and more bizarre still, they let him speak!

And the winner is…

Thank you Penelope Cruz! She had the honor of providing one of the few big surprises of the night (as she was the first one to give out an oscar), and it was quite a welcome one. As a presenter, she ended the ridiculous saying that has plagued the Oscars for a number of years now, "And the Oscar goes to...". The attempt to devalue the honor of the Oscar as some toned down, politically correct, everybody's a winner, hypocritical bullshit has gone on for far too long. No, they are not all winners. It's an honor to be nominated, but there's a huge difference between being an Oscar nominated actor and being an Oscar winning actor.

Yes, in Hollywood, as in life, there are winners and there are losers. Ask anyone, and of course, they'd prefer to be taking home the little statue. So, it was great, if surprising, to hear the words come out of Penelope Cruz's mouth, subsequently followed equally by every other presenter's, "And the winner is...". Thank you Penelope and the Academy for that. You've saved the word "Actress" and the thrill (and reality) of winning.

The few, the proud

The fact that the show was mostly predictable doesn't mean that it didn't have its moments. Apart from the highly unexpected win by Geoffrey Fletcher in the Adapted Screenplay category for Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, there were a couple of items that took me by surprise. One was the extremely bitchy thank you speech from Sandy Powell when receiving her Best Costume Oscar for The Young Victoria which she opened by saying, "Well, I have two of these at home" in an I-could-care-less-about-this tone.

Another was Ben Stiller in full Avatar Na'vi garb. This was highly publicized, but I found two things odd here. One was the unfortunate lack of Sacha Cohen who was The Oscarssupposed to do it with him but pulled out, alleging his not wanting to piss Cameron off to which Cameron responded he didn't mind the spoofing of Avatar. The other was choosing to do this bit for the one category that Avatar wasn't nominated for, Makeup. Ben Stiller even mentioned it, and said he would move out of the way to not detract from the winners with his amazing costume. In fact, the makeup almost made me wonder why Cameron used computer generated characters at all...well, not really, but it was both good and funny. :)

An emotional evening

The Academy Awards are usually not without their emotional moments as the winners walk to the stage to stand in front of their peers and accept their well deserved recognition of their work. Some get nervous, some make statements, some forget to thank their significant others, some cry, some dance, some scream. For the most part, they were kept under control, but there were standouts nonetheless. Mo’Nique, the comedic actress who won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her breakthrough dramatic performance in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire said in her emotional speech that she was happy the Academy members chose performance over politics. The OscarsThere were a number of very emotional mentions of recently dead relatives. Geoffrey Fletcher could hardly speak when thanking for his Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, after which Steve Martin joked that he had written that speech for him.

As always, the faces around the audience spoke loads, particularly those of the losers or those being joked about. The emotions always run high, but in the end, I think they run higher still at all the Oscar parties being held, not by or for Hollywood celebrities, but by people like you and me watching at home, scorecards in hand, hoping to win the bets they made to their friends. How did you do this time? Did you come out a winner? or Did you end up pulling off an Avatar-sized disappointment?

They say the average Oscar bet is fifty bucks. So, were you an Oscar winner this year?

The 82nd Academy Awards Winners List - 2010 Oscars

Best Actor in a Leading Role
• Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
• Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Actress in a Leading Role
• Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
• Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Best Animated Feature Film
• “Up” Pete Docter

Best Art Direction
• “Avatar” Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair

Best Cinematography
• “Avatar” Mauro Fiore

Best Costume Design
• “The Young Victoria” Sandy Powell

Best Directing
• “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow

Best Documentary (Feature)
• “The Cove” Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens

Best Documentary (Short Subject)
• “Music by Prudence” Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett

Best Film Editing
• “The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis

Best Foreign Language Film
• “The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)” Argentina

Best Makeup
• “Star Trek” Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow

Best Music (Original Score)
• “Up” Michael Giacchino

Best Music (Original Song)
• “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Best Picture
• “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro, Producers

Best Short Film (Animated)
• “Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin

Best Short Film (Live Action)
• “The New Tenants” Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Best Sound Editing
• “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson

Best Sound Mixing
• “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett

Best Visual Effects
• “Avatar” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
• “The Hurt Locker” Written by Mark Boal

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Up" Balloons Pixar to Oscar's Greatest Glory with a Best Picture Nomination

Up Baloons Pixar to Oscar's Greatest Glory with a Best Picture Nomination - Avatar also nominated for Best Picture - image by Franco Esteve

The Academy Award nominations for 2010 have been announced a couple of hours ago, and though many were unsurprising, the nomination of Walt Disney's Pixar Animation Studios' film, Up, for Best Picture was definitely unexpected as the Academy has historically ignored animated films for the Best Picture Oscar relegating them to their specific format category, the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar. Pixar had been coming closer and closer to this honor, yet, despite the staggering amount of awards their films had received, it seemed they were never deemed enough when compared to live action films as it pertains to the Best Picture Oscar.

Other nominations for the film include Best animated feature film, Original score, Sound editing, and Original screenplay making for a total of five nominations for the movie. Despite the wonderfully touching story of the film, I would not expect it to win the Best Picture Oscar, but for it to receive the Best animated feature film award and perhaps one of the others. The honor of the nomination alone is impressive, but considering there's a specific category, it will be difficult for Up to achieve the Best picture recognition, though not impossible considering similar cases with the Best foreign film category.

Another surprise is the amount of nominations for District 9, also including a Best Picture nomination. I must admit that the film was very fresh, current and overall excellent, but to see two science fiction films and an animated film nominated for Best Picture is definitely rare. As a fan of both science fiction and Pixar's animated films, I'm definitely glad to see them getting such a level of recognition.

And then there was Avatar

Avatar didn't quite match its Dances with Wolves (12 nominations, 7 oscars including Best Directing and Best Picture) inspiration when it comes to nominations, but nine nominations is certainly impressive and includes the two top honors of Best Picture and Best Directing. It didn't get any for acting though, which is not surprising considering the effects driven (read animated) nature of the film.

That Avatar would get nominated was not surprising, particularly in the more technical categories, and though expected by many for Best Picture and Best Directing, I'm glad the Academy members saw through James Horner's rehash of Titanic's original song and didn't honor it with a nomination. They did give him a well deserved original score nomination though. It was certainly excellent and served the film well.

Avatar Official Movie Website | Highest Grossing Film of All TimePerhaps the one omission here was Best Adapted Screenplay. I'm sure it was promoted for Best Original Screenplay, but considering the story reads more like a science fiction adaptation of Dances with Wolves, I'm sure everyone at the Academy laughed that one up quite a bit. Had it been submitted as an Adapted Screenplay, I for one would have been one to happily promote it to Academy members as it was an awesome sci-fi version of Kevin Costner's magnum opus.

In the end, I think Avatar could care less about the awards, as it continues its rise to best selling film of all time (not accounting for inflation), though I'm sure James Cameron and everyone who worked so hard to make one of the best movie experiences in history appreciate the recognition of their labor. When it comes to this year's nominations it's like seeing Dances with Wolves meets Titanic in a Science Fiction dressing. How it all turns out we'll still have to wait and see as the Academy begins their voting process running up to the final awards show in March.

Article continues below the following preview
for my photography book, Natural Raw. Buy it Today!

Article continues here...

But there are others

With all the talk surrounding Avatar and the surprise nomination of Up for Best Picture, one cannot ignore such fantastic films as Inglourious Basterds with its eight nominations and Up in the Air with its six and very likely win by George Clooney for a leading role performance (you read it here first, unless I'm wrong and it's Jeremy Renner… but it will definitely be Penélope Cruz for Nine, or is it Meryl Streep?… I think Penélope but this is definitely difficult to predict). The real one to look for is The Hurt Locker which was directed by Cameron's ex-wife and like Avatar, has nine nominations.

The Hurt Locker - Directed by Kathryn Bigelow and Academy Award Nominated for Nine Oscars including Best Director and Best PictureThe Hurt Locker, for those who have yet to experience it, is a movie based on the real accounts of a freelance journalist, Mark Boal, during his time as a freelance journalist embedded with a U.S. Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) squad (read Bomb Squad) during the Iraq War. It follows the unit's tour together as they deal with all the difficulties of the war, themselves, the bombs, the insurgency, etc. It's certainly one of the year's best films if not the best, for the way the Kathryn Bigelow presents the seemingly familiar subject matter of the Iraq war in a way that really communicates, through the relationship of its three main characters, a very real story about war and having to work in a hostile, unfamiliar, and unfriendly foreign environment and all the hell that stems from it.

It's quite a peculiar battle, that between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, James Cameron versus ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, Most expensive blockbuster success versus Economical, Indie, Critical Sensation, Science Fiction Fantasy versus Crude Earthly Reality. It's a battle of absolute opposites and one whose outcome will be difficult to predict. The Academy tends to favor films like The Hurt Locker over big budget, effects laden films such as Avatar, but in this case (and there have been a number of exceptions), and with the Best Picture category extended to ten candidates, it's a toss up.

The road to March 7th is definitely an exciting one. Time to start the voting lists and the planning for the Oscar parties! Have your picks already? Sound off!

List of Nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards (click here to open their site in a new window):

Actor in a Leading Role
• Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”
• George Clooney in “Up in the Air
• Colin Firth in “A Single Man”
• Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”
• Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker

Actor in a Supporting Role
• Matt Damon in “Invictus”
• Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
• Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
• Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
• Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds

Actress in a Leading Role
• Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
• Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
• Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
• Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
• Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

Actress in a Supporting Role
• Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
• Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air
• Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
• Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air
• Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Animated Feature Film
• “Coraline” Henry Selick
• “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Wes Anderson
• “The Princess and the Frog” John Musker and Ron Clements
• “The Secret of Kells” Tomm Moore
• “Up” Pete Docter

Art Direction
• “Avatar” Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
• “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
• “Nine” Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
• “Sherlock Holmes” Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
• “The Young Victoria” Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray

• “Avatar” Mauro Fiore
• “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” Bruno Delbonnel
• “The Hurt Locker” Barry Ackroyd
• “Inglourious Basterds” Robert Richardson
• “The White Ribbon” Christian Berger

Costume Design
• “Bright Star” Janet Patterson
• “Coco before Chanel” Catherine Leterrier
• “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Monique Prudhomme
• “Nine” Colleen Atwood
• “The Young Victoria” Sandy Powell

• “Avatar” James Cameron
• “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow
• “Inglourious Basterds” Quentin Tarantino
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels
• “Up in the Air” Jason Reitman

Documentary (Feature)
• “Burma VJ” Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
• “The Cove” Nominees to be determined
• “Food, Inc.” Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
• “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
• “Which Way Home” Rebecca Cammisa

Documentary (Short Subject)
• “China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
• “The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner” Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
• “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
• “Music by Prudence” Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
• “Rabbit à la Berlin” Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

Film Editing
• “Avatar” Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
• “District 9” Julian Clarke
• “The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
• “Inglourious Basterds” Sally Menke
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Joe Klotz

Foreign Language Film
• “Ajami” Israel
• “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” Argentina
• “The Milk of Sorrow” Peru
• “Un Prophète” France
• “The White Ribbon” Germany

• “Il Divo” Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
• “Star Trek” Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
• “The Young Victoria” Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

Music (Original Score)
• “Avatar” James Horner
• “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Alexandre Desplat
• “The Hurt Locker” Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
• “Sherlock Holmes” Hans Zimmer
• “Up” Michael Giacchino

Music (Original Song)
• “Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
• “Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
• “Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36” Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
• “Take It All” from “Nine” Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
• “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Best Picture
• “Avatar” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
• “The Blind Side” Nominees to be determined
• “District 9” Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
• “An Education” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
• “The Hurt Locker” Nominees to be determined
• “Inglourious Basterds” Lawrence Bender, Producer
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
• “A Serious Man” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
• “Up” Jonas Rivera, Producer
• “Up in the Air” Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

Short Film (Animated)
• “French Roast” Fabrice O. Joubert
• “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
• “The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)” Javier Recio Gracia
• “Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin
• “A Matter of Loaf and Death” Nick Park

Short Film (Live Action)
• “The Door” Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
• “Instead of Abracadabra” Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström
• “Kavi” Gregg Helvey
• “Miracle Fish” Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
• “The New Tenants” Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Sound Editing
• “Avatar” Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
• “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson
• “Inglourious Basterds” Wylie Stateman
• “Star Trek” Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
• “Up” Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

Sound Mixing
• “Avatar” Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
• “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
• “Inglourious Basterds” Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
• “Star Trek” Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
• “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

Visual Effects
• “Avatar” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
• “District 9” Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
• “Star Trek” Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
• “District 9” Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
• “An Education” Screenplay by Nick Hornby
• “In the Loop” Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
• “Up in the Air” Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Writing (Original Screenplay)
• “The Hurt Locker” Written by Mark Boal
• “Inglourious Basterds” Written by Quentin Tarantino
• “The Messenger” Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
• “A Serious Man” Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
• “Up” Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

P.S. Can someone explain to me what Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is doing on this list?
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

At $499, The New Apple iPad Makes Netbooks Instantly Obsolete

Today, Apple revealed the truth behind the rumors by presenting its new tablet to the world, called the iPad. Probably the worst kept rumor in Apple's history, it's a half an inch thick and just 1.5 pounds, lighter than any netbook. The display is a 9.7-inch LED-backlit touchscreen with a 178-degree viewing angle and a 1024X768 pixel resolution display at 132 pixels per inch making for a wonderful viewing experience, but it's the similarities with the extremely familiar iPhone experience that make it so much more attractive.

Giant iPhone / iPod Touch

Like the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad has an orientation sensor, which switches between portrait and landscape view automatically. It also sports the same intuitive multi-touch features we've all become so accustomed to using. Wi-fi is standard and 3G network access is an extra feature. It's this last which was pleasantly surprising, not because it was included, but because they chose to offer pre-paid, pay as you go payment plans for the 3G use at $14.99 per month for 250MB and $29.99 per month for the unlimited data. So far, only AT&T is offering the plan, including access to its nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots, but the iPad will not be locked like the iPhone and will use GSM micro-SIM cards so that anyone can use it with their preferred carrier should they use compatible technologies.


All iPhone applications are 100% compatible with the iPad, and can be viewed in iPhone size or in a stretched 2X. Developers are rushing to update for the larger screen utilizing the just released iPad SDK. That means that all 140,000 applications on the App store including your current, favorite iPhone apps will be available instantly for you to use on your iPad.

Goodbye Netbooks

At its amazing starting price point of $499 for the 16GB solid state model, and with its amazing screen and features, it's definitely superior to any netbook on the market, but Apple decided to clearly show in its announcement that it was serious about the tablet being more than an iPhone by offering a specially-designed for iPad version of their excellent and popular suite of office applications called iWork.

The software normally includes Pages, Numbers and Keynote ($79) but each can be bought individually at just $9.99 for iPad. You can use an intuitive touch interface and the large touchscreen keyboard on the screen to work with the apps, but you can also use the available keyboard dock accessory which holds your iPad like a normal display, charges it, and provides a full size keyboard to work on. The apps can synchronize easily with your Mac and other versions of iWork.

Its simplicity, size, speed, graphics and overall power and usefulness certainly puts other tablets and of course, netbooks to shame, but the iWork and iPhone/iPod connection is what definitely closes the deal in making this a useful and highly desirable, portable product.

Watch out E-readers

In the announcement, Apple also introduced a new application called "iBooks", an e-book reading application and accompanying store. Though Steve Jobs gave kudos to Amazon when it came to its pioneering Kindle efforts, he said the iPad and iBooks experience intends to improve upon the Kindle model. The software sports iTunes like navigational features making it instantly familiar and accessible. You can touch on the right of the page to turn to the next page, or left to go back. You can skip chapters, and all the expected stuff that goes along with it, but unlike the Kindle, it's fast, and has features only a computer-like display can offer, like color and video integration (E-ink promises color soon, but speed is still lacking), though if it's better to read on than dedicated e-readers remains to be seen.

By applying the weight of their iTunes and App store to the E-book market, Apple is definitely going to make a dent upon Amazon's Kindle store and present strategy, particularly considering the accessible price point at which the iPad is starting. This will allow you to do everything the Kindle, the iPod touch, and some of what a laptop can do in a single, light, and easy to carry device with a friendly and efficient interface connected to the world's most successful online stores to fill it with content.

Out of the park

Though skeptical at first of what Apple would announce as a tablet, and still, questions abound about its inner workings, particularly when it comes to document handling with the work apps and how it will perform in real life, the iPad seems to be an impressive piece of work, a merging of the benefits of a laptop and an iPhone/iPod Touch. At that price point, it definitely surprised every single journalist watching the announcement, as most were expecting something at $1000. The 10 hours of battery life (and days of standby time) were another pleasant surprise (perfect for long flights). With that, the price, and the technical specs, Apple is certainly poised to hit it out of the park.

A real winner

Will it be as ubiquitous as the iPod or iPhone remains to be seen, but considering the functionality, it will certainly be attractive to road warriors and students, much more than crappy netbooks and Windows-based tablets. It could even replace some ultralights for some users. This will depend of course on the needs of the users, but for the majority of users, the iPad is the glove they've been waiting to wear for years.

And Yet, Still Missing

Multitasking is one of the main features that is unfortunately missing as well as the great oversight of not including a camera for one to do videoconferencing through Skype. The former is mostly inconvenient, but the latter is more of a major downer. Perhaps Apple was thinking that including a camera would hurt laptop sales, and if you ask me, that could very well be true. These two items are the only things keeping the iPad from being the perfect portable device in my opinion, but as I mentioned before, considering what it offers, it certainly seems to be an amazing piece of equipment which will serve the needs of the majority of users in a simple, elegant, intuitive, familiar, useful, and relatively affordable package, an enlarged iPod Touch / iPhone.

Technical specifications:

• Size
• Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
• Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
• Depth: .5 inch (13.4 mm)
• Weight: 1.5 pounds (.68kg) Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds (.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

▪ 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
▪ 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
▪ Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
▪ Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously
▪ Support for 1024 X 768 with Dock Connector to VGA adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Composite A/V Cable, 576i and 480i with Apple Composite A/V Cable
▪ H.264 video up to 720p

16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive

Wireless and Cellular
Wi-Fi model
▪ Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
▪ Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
Wi-Fi + 3G model
▪ UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
▪ GSM/EDGE (850, 900,1800, 1900 MHz)
▪ Data only2
▪ Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
▪ Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

▪ 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip (courtesy of Apple's purchase of PA Semi)

▪ Support for playback of closed-captioned content
▪ VoiceOver screen reader
▪ Full-screen zoom magnification
▪ White on black
▪ Mono audio

Battery and Power
▪ Built-in 25Whr rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
▪ Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
▪ Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

Input and Output
▪ Dock connector
▪ 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
▪ Built-in speakers
▪ Microphone
▪ SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)

Default applications:
▪ Safari
▪ Mail
▪ Photos
▪ iPod
▪ Calendar
▪ Contacts
▪ Notes
▪ Maps
▪ Movies
▪ YouTube
▪ iTunes Store
▪ App Store
▪ iBooks

All available worldwide in 60 days (except for the 3G which will come 30 days after that).
Get more information including the full specs at:

keywords: apple, ipad, apple ipad, netbook, iphone, ipod, ipod touch, computers, portable, portability, apple computer, tablet, apple tablet, tablet computer

Bookmark and Share