The New York Times reports on Jet Li's retirement from kung fu movies:
It’s apparent that when he says his latest movie will be his swan song as a martial arts star, he really means only that he will no longer practice on screen the traditional wushu of masters like Huo Yuan Jia, no longer presume to represent the art at its highest level. This is not so different, actually, from what Mr. Baryshnikov did 15 years ago, when he retired from ballet but continued performing in the less demanding idiom of modern dance.
So does this mean that Jet Li will now be relegated to the straight-to-video market, like Dolph Lundgren, Stephen Seagal, Jeff Speakman and Jean Claude Van Damme? I doubt it--even Cradle 2 the Grave got to be in the theaters--if only for a few weeks.
Mark Cuban, dot.com entrepreneur-turned-bball mogul, caught a lot of buzz lately for his statement that shipping hard drives full of movies around is better than downloading content:
The reality is that it's cheaper and faster to send (hard drives with terabytes of) content overnight via UPS than it is to download it over the Net. Brown is faster than the Net.
Mark is a tech industry genius, if only for his negotiating skills at getting $5 billion from Yahoo!. But I think he just read the interview with Dr. Jim Gray in ACM's Queue magazine, from June 2003. Dr. Jim gets interviewed by Dave Patterson, one of the inventors of RAID from Cal Berkeley:
Jim Gray (JG): I've been working with a bunch of astronomers lately and we need to send around huge databases. I started writing my databases to disk and mailing the disks. At first, I was extremely cautious because everybody said I couldn't do that—that the disks are too fragile. I started out by putting the disks in foam. After mailing about 20 of them, I tried just putting them in bubble wrap in a FedEx envelope. Well, so far so good. I have not had any disk failures of mailed disks.
JG: If I were to send you only one disk, the cost would be double—something like $400 to send you a computer versus $200 to send you a disk. But I am sending bricks holding more than a terabyte of data—and the disks are more than 50 percent of the system cost. Presumably, these bricks circulate and don't get consumed by one use.
Dave Patterson (DP): Do they get mailed back to you?
JG: Yes, but, frankly, it takes a while to format the disks, to fill them up, and to send around copies of data. It is easier than tape, however, both for me and for the people who get the data.
DP: It's just like sending your friends a really great movie or something.
JG: It's a very convenient way of distributing data.
DP: Are you sending them a whole PC?
JG: Yes, an Athlon with a Gigabit Ethernet interface, a gigabyte of RAM, and seven 300-GB disks—all for about $3,000.
DP: It's your capital cost to implement the Jim Gray version of "Netflicks."
The whole article was more on the subject of disk-versus-tape, but I'll bet Cuban still keeps up with his geek cred subscriptions. The rapidly falling cost of the new hotness, direct-to-disk backup, versus old and busted tape cartridges, is really making these previously wacky ideas sensible.
And this meme is from a guy who is really revered in the tech community. I was in a few meetings with Dr. Jim back at Tandem, and everyone hung on his every word. Made me feel like I had a few more IQ points just being in the same room.
This starts a process that builds a custom PDF—pretty cool. However, in this case, the process gets in the way of disseminating information, but there are good uses for this capability. For example, when you want only one part of a long manual.
This capability isn't technologically new. There just haven't been enough CxOs with Cash to fund deploying the feature.
My project, where we'll keep content in small chunks of XML using the DITA content model, should be able to enable this kind of thing. Now all I need is the cash to make it happen. :-)