Archive for August, 2010

My Movies For The Island

Saturday, August 21st, 2010


Mark Zanzig

You have seen this question before: “If you were to move to a remote island alone, but could take a couple of movies with you, which movies would you bring? And why?”

Well, sitting on the patio in the summer heat of southern Germany, I thought I should pull together the reply for this question.

I started with a top-ten list of my favorite movies of all times, but it was not enough. At the end I need to take 30 movies.

Here they are:

  1. City Slickers
  2. L.A. Story
  3. Notting Hill
  4. The Rock
  5. Music & Lyrics
  6. Ocean’s 11
  7. Avanti!
  8. Ice Age
  9. Tomorrow Never Dies
  10. Love Actually
  11. Night on Earth
  12. Subway
  13. The First Wives Club
  14. Le Gendarme de St. Tropez
  15. Father of the Bride
  16. The Blues Brothers
  17. Casablanca
  18. Mickey Blue Eyes
  19. Against all flags
  20. Death on the Nile
  21. We’re No Angels
  22. It’s a Wonderful Life
  23. Annie Hall
  24. Witness For the Prosecution
  25. What’s Up, Doc?
  26. The Big Blue
  27. Jurassic Park
  28. That Man From Rio
  29. Pink Panther 2
  30. Simpsons – The Movie

So, on my island I would probably want to see comedy (66%) some of them with a romantic theme (21%) – fun and romance is probably missing on my island. Then I would want to see true classics (41%) and a couple of action thrillers but always with a tongue-in-cheek approach.

In terms of actors – I think I could not get tired of seeing Hugh Grant (4x), Steve Martin (3x), Diane Keaton (3x), Jean Reno (3x), Peter Ustinov (2x), Humphrey Bogart (2x), and the always beautiful Julia Roberts (2x).

In terms of directors – it’s certainly Billy Wilder (2x), Luc Besson (2x), and Michael Curtiz (2x).

Those friendly folks over at the International Movie Database (IMDB) not only provide any imaginable information about each of the movies, no! They also allow rating. And I checked my movies for the island. The best rated movie is (at the time of writing) Casablanca with an average rating of 8.8 of 10, followed by It’s a Wonderful Life (8.7) and Witness of the Prosecution (8.3). The worst rated movies on my list are, sadly, Steve Martins Pink Panther 2 with an average of just 5.2 (entirely unjustified in my opinion), The First Wives Club (5.6), and Mickey Blue Eyes (5.7).  The overall average is 7.16 of 10 which does not say much about the quality at all.


IMDB ratings decline over the decades for my movie list

I also did some analysis that I wanted to share with you. I think it’s fun even if it is entirely useless knowledge.

  • Is older better? (1) — If you plot the ratings against the year of the first release and add a trend line, it seems that the ratings appear to decrease over time (see graph above).
  • Steve Martin — My three favorite movie with Steve Martin have all been rated below the average of 7.16.
  • True Classics — Of all the movies that I consider to be “true classics”, only one movie (Subway) has a rating below the average.
  • Is older better? (2) — The movies with the best ratings on my list have been released in 1942, 1946, 1957, 1977, and 1980.
  • Black & white — The top-three rated movies have all been filmed in black & white. These are the only movies in black & white on my list.

Note to self – Get DVDs for Casablanca, Against All Flags, Death on the Nile, We’re No Angels, It’s a Wonderful Life, Witness For The Prosecution, and That Man From Rio.

Disabling location-awareness

Friday, August 20th, 2010


Google Streetview Car in Zurich/Switzerland
Photo: Natalie Madani (Some rights reserved)

It seems that every Internet company is jumping on the geo-location train now. OK, there was a fair bit of discussion over here in Germany about the perceived privacy intrusion by the Google spycars that capture both photos and WLAN information. It turned out that the Germans have begun to dislike the Orwellian “Do no evil” company from California. But also the new equally silly “Places” feature on Facebook seems to be made with those in mind who always wanted to become the obidient, fully transparent citizen. If however, you think that nobody except your closest friends should know where you are and what you do (like me), then you need to be aware of this development – and make a couple of changes.

Thanks to the always stunning Register, I actually realized that Firefox has implemented a feature called “Location-Aware Browsing”. Read all about it at the official Mozilla site. The most important item is the last one, “How do I turn off Location-Aware Browsing permanently?” I followed the steps to disable the feature permanently, and guess what? It was turned on by default. True, Location-Aware Browsing (apparently) will ask for permission before sending out location information, but the fact that the feature was enabled by default still puzzles me. (Further tips for setting up Firefox to reveal less information about you can be found here.)

And, those folks over at Facebook again managed to mess up with the privacy settings. Read all about it at The Register. An easy pictorial guide on how to disable this newest “feature” can be found at The Business Insider.