July 2004 Archives

July 1, 2004

Jaws: The Revenge DVD Review

In 1975, people around the country refused to go near the water. By 1987, they were laughing hysterically. After a so-so second film, the Jaws series nose-dived with one of the most laughable sequels of all time, Jaws 3-D. Then, for whatever reason, some exec over at Universal thought a 4th film was in order. Though not as bad as Jaws 3-D, Jaws: The Revenge has little to recommended. Ellen Brody (played for the third time by Lorraine Gray) is now a widow after her husband, Martin Brody, passes on from a heart attack. Right around Christmas, her son Sean (Mitchell Anderson) is brutally attacked by a great white. Her other son Michael (Lance Guest) invites her down to the Bahamas to try and calm her down. However, Ellen feels that the shark is following and knows it won't stop until it kills off the entire family. Jaws: The Revenge might have been a decent sequel. The direction is fair, acting on par, and the scenery is gorgeous. A few nice, gory death sequences and some mild tension make this somewhat tolerable as well. What ruins the entire experience is the notion that the shark and Ellen have some sort of "connection." Yes, this giant great white shark really does have it in for the Brody family and no explanation is ever given for its actions (though the book places the blame on a voodoo curse). As if that wasn't laughable enough, the shark itself looks incredibly cheap and nowhere near the original creation of the first film. Far too much screen time is given to the beast and there are more than a few moments where you can see the track that leads the monster around. Then, it gets even more asinine at the end when the shark suddenly produces some vocal cords and lets out a cheesy roar (brought over from countless 50's monster films) and explodes when impaled by the boat. The ending is actually a small piece of movie history. The original script had the shark simply get impaled but a few of the Universal higher-ups didn't believe this would work with the audience (or they may have responded during test screenings). They ordered a new ending with a shoestring budget and what came out was a cheap miniature and stock footage from the first film. Either way, it's a sad end to what should have been a classic series. (** out of *****) Amazingly, this is the second time Jaws: The Revenge has made its way onto DVD. The first disc, from Goodtimes, included extra footage, a decent (though unspectacular) transfer, and occasionally scratchy audio. This new disc from Universal themselves is a large improvement, though the extra footage has not been included. This new 2.35:1 transfer is beautiful, bursting with bright colors that really bring out the islands natural beauty. Indoor sequences suffer from some extremely heavy grain, which does bring the overall package down a notch, but the vast majority of the film takes place in broad daylight anyway. Nearly all specks and scratches have been cleaned up as well. (****) The audio package here is presented in Dolby Pro-Logic. A few instances of rear speaker usage are evident, but these are few and far between. Most of the audio is centered with some minor bass. The hissing of the old Goodtimes disc has been cleaned up and all the dialogue comes through clear. (***) Sadly, even with the extra ending and alternate scenes, this disc is barren. None of the extra footage has been included here. All viewers get is a ghastly full frame trailer and some recommendations (which include Jaws 1, 2, and 3 as if people couldn't figure this out on their own). Not that the film actually deserves a full-blown special edition, but if the footage is out there, why NOT include it? (*) This is a film for completists only. It's not the worst in the series nor is it the worst shark movie ever made (See Shark Attack 3 or Red Water and you'll see my point), but it is still a disgrace to the classic original. Hopefully the series will die a peaceful death with this rotten entry, but rumors are abound that a fifth film may still surface.

Apple's Rendezvous comes to Windows, Linux, Java

Since Mac OS X v10.2's release, Apple has promoted a zero-configuration networking technology it calls Rendezvous. Now Apple is further promoting the standard more with the release of Rendezvous technology for Java clients, POSIX platforms including Linux, Solaris and FreeBSD, and a "technology preview" for Windows. Developers for those platforms interested in finding out more can do so on Apple's Developer Web site... Most of the software available for download from Apple's developer Web site is primarily intended for developers who can then incorporate the source code into their projects to make them Rendezvous-aware, but the Windows preview release also provides a Microsoft Internet Explorer plug-in and printer setup wizard for end users. Source: MacCentral It is true that this is not the first zero-configuration solution for Java or even Windows, but we all know how Apple can popularize a technology. Can anyone say Firewire? I could name others, but Firewire seems to jump to the top. It will be see if Microsoft does anything with Rendezvous.

Patrick Norton will be leaving The Screen Savers

Patrick Norton will be leaving The Screen Savers after July 2nd. I must congratulate him on the choice of using his common sense unlike some former TechTV hosts looking to make a name of themselves. (Leo excluded for obvious reasons). I hope they can live with themselves. More soon. Source: Warlock Radio Newsbytes Dave posted a comment, so I had to google. Well this sements it for me, I am glad I am no longer paying for G4TechTV. But I agree with this source, I think he has done the right thing. At least when Leo was there Patrick had someone to relate to. What a shameful end to such a great tech show. We need a good tech channel.

Video Game Sports and Ignorance

The topic of video game violence has been beaten to death. The public is sick of it, gamers are sick of it, and I'm sick of it. However, the accusers are not. Running out of ammo from games like Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt, parental groups have turned their eyes elsewhere: sports games. As seen here, Midway's "MLB Slugfest" and "NBA Ballers" have come under fire for not showing kids true sportsmanship and turning women into objects. This is a truly low blow. The story that ran on ABC failed to make many points, most of which is that Slugfest is not the only baseball game on the market nor is Ballers the only basketball game. The other games are not only played by millions of gamers around the world, but by the players themselves. The uncanny realism this generation of consoles has brought to the table is most likely what sent the industry spiraling upward and brought forth billions of dollars in revenue for the companies. Slugfest and Ballers are what is considered, in the industry, "fantasy sports games." These are not the only games the genre has seen and it goes all the way back to Midway's arcade game called Arch Rivals. Since then, they have released games like NHL 2-on-2 Open Ice Challenge, NBA Hangtime, NFL Blitz, NHL Hitz, and the classic NBA Jam. All of these games are completely over the top with viscous checks, no fouls, and penalties are an after-thought. Funny how no one managed to figure all of this out almost 15 years ago. The story has multiple quotes that are so off base and ridiculous, it's a wonder how anyone can keep a straight face while reading/watching it. The best quote is: "Now that I've seen what's in MLB Slugfest, I'm shocked," she says. "I haven't watched the game before and it really is a slugfest." Hmm...You couldn't figure out it was a "slugfest" from the title? Maybe if you were a decent parent and paid more attention to what your child is playing, you wouldn't have needed a nationally televised news program to tell you. Yes, the game is rated "E" for everyone, but the back of the case clearly states that the game contains violence. I'm sure your 9 year old bought the game in your presence. Maybe you should have asked questions before buying it (or even do some research), but that would mean you were you doing your job as a parent. Her next comment seals her fate: Amy Safar is "concerned that he might mimic the behavior that he sees." Maybe if you established some morals in your child and taught him the difference between right and wrong, this wouldn't be something you would NEED to worry about. Even asking your child if he knows that what is happening in the game is wrong would settle this issue. But, as I've said, that would make you a good parent. Next we have Kimberly Thompson, a Harvard graduate: "I think the message that kids take away from NBA Ballers is, it's all about money," Thompson argues. "Women are objects in this game. They are like the other things that you can acquire a house, a car, a woman." Not only is she completely misled (women, just like men, are added to your "posse," and in no way do you OWN the women nor do you do anything else with them), but what aspiring NBA star isn't thinking about the money? Why did Lebron James jump from high school to the NBA? The money. This is how sports operate now. Yes, it's a sad state of affairs, but this is the real world and it will not take long for any kid to figure this out, video games or not. Finally, we have Phil Mushnick. Though not in the story I have linked to, Mushnick appeared on the ESPN show "Behind the Lines" last night and argued this very same issue against the editor of Game Informer magazine. This is a man who has been in gamers lives since 1993 when he first blasted Sega, EA Sports, and Nintendo saying they "can go straight to hell." Don't believe me? Check out the January 13th, 1993 issue of the New York Post. He also claimed that they "peddled nothing but violence" to children in their hockey games and feature "none of the beauty and skill of hockey" even though the games were praised by every major gaming outlet as being the most realistic sports games ever created (at the time of course). The article was reprinted in the April 1993 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly as well. Most people thought it was one of the magazines infamous April Fools jokes. Now he's back, bashing video games without a clue. At one point on the show, Mushnick had to fall back on the 1991 release of Mario Lemieux Hockey since he had no other arguments. I'd hate to say this, but hockey is a brutal game. Instead of bashing the game companies who work day and night to make their games as realistic as possible, how about trying to censor the sports themselves? Maybe having the NHL replace sticks with pillows or something would make you happy? If there is anything left to say, it's this: I've grown up with games like Arch Rivals, NBA Jam, and will certainly indulge in games of Slugfest when I have the chance. I played basketball for years and I can say that never once did I ever step over the line and toss a player to the ground like I saw in the game. Why? Because I had parents. Parents who had the common sense to teach their child the difference between reality and fantasy, not to mention right from wrong. We've been looking in the wrong place for far too long. The parents of America have become stupid, lazy, ignorant, and unwilling to take a minute out of their day to read the back of a video game box (or even watch their children play). The average age of the gamer today is somewhere around 18-20 years old. If your going to let your younger child play video games in today's society, learn to get off the couch and ask questions before ABC Nightly News knocks on your door. The again, maybe that is too much to ask. You are ONLY a parent after all.

Fun with Google Searches

METHOD 1 put this string in google search: "parent directory " /appz/ -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums "parent directory " DVDRip -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums "parent directory "Xvid -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums "parent directory " Gamez -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums "parent directory " MP3 -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums "parent directory " Name of Singer or album -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums Notice that I am only changing the word after the parent directory, change it to what you want and you will get a lot of stuff. METHOD 2 put this string in google search: ?intitle:index.of? mp3 You only need add the name of the song/artist/singer. Example: ?intitle:index.of? mp3 jackson METHOD 3 put this string in google search: inurl:microsoft filetype:iso You can change the string to watever you want, ex. microsoft to adobe, iso to zip etc...

Iron Giant DVD Review

Animated films that don't have the Disney logo attached rarely dominate the box office. Case in point: Warners superb Iron Giant. Though it's failure at the box office could be attributed to their horrible marketing of the film (read: none at all), I'm sure if Disney had got a hold of it, this would have fared much better than it did. Hogarth Hughes is a lonely 50's child who's mother is always working late. While home alone one night, watching "The Brain from Planet Auros" (in animated form of course), his TV signal goes out. Turns out a giant, metal eating robot from, well, no one quite knows where from, is the culprit. Hogarth (still can't get over that name) befriends the giant and makes an attempt to hide him in a junkyard. The government is determined to to find this supposed "destructive monster" and bring it down. This is a stunning movie, not only a throwback to a great movie era, but surperbly directed by Brian Bird of Simpsons fame. There are so many in-jokes to the era (the duck and cover video is priceless) with a great story and performances, it's a crying shame this one never caught on. The animation, a mix of CG and hand drawn style, is just awesome. There are some unexplained elements of the film such as what happned to Hogarths father and the who/what/where's of the title creature (who happens to be voiced by Vin Diesel in his only decent performance), but these are minor flaws in an nearly perfect film. (**** out *****) The Iron Giant is a double sided disc with one side in widescreen and the other pan & scam. The widescreen version, presented in 2.35:1, is the only way to go here. The expansiveness and the framing just isn't done justice with the cropping on the pan & scam version. The video quality is just stunning. The colors are almost always solid and are perfect for the format. Compression problems are noticeable if you look, but are very subdued compared to other animated features. Nightime sequences are a bit more obvious as far as compression is concerned, but this is still close to refrence quality video. (****) Audio options are easy: English 5.1 surround. That's it. Though never really using all the speaker available, the thunderous steps of the Giant are wall shaking with their bass. There are some excellent stereo effects during dialouge sequences, giving the film some nice positional sound. The few sequences where the full surround sound effect should be evident isn't used fully to perfection, but it gets the job done. (***) Much like the marketing of the film, the disc is releatively barren. Commentary track? No. In-depth documentary? No. All we get is a made-for-TV documentary that runs a little over 20 minutes. Vin Diesel hosts this ugly piece of promotion that was probably viewed by 10 people whenever it aired on TV. The only other real extra is a music video by Eddie Platt. The usual gauntlet of trailers, filmographies, and animated menus fill out the rest. (**) Warner has announced a special edition of this film packed with extras. It has been announced, then delayed, announced again, then delayed, and then annoucned again. They are most likely now holding out for the release of Brad Birds upcoming "Incredibles," due out later this year. Whether or not you choose to get this disc now is entirely based on your patience, just know a new edition is most likely not far behind. Unless of course they delay it again....

'Fahrenheit' Web leaks add fuel to controversy

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) -- The war between Michael Moore and his critics has escalated as a Web site targeting the "Fahrenheit 9/11" director posting a link to an illegal "Fahrenheit" file download. In the process, it also attacked the filmmaker's stance on copyright law. Source: CNN I don't know about you but I want to see this movie!

July 2, 2004

Will the new Walkman run over iPod?

Sony launches portable music player that holds more songs, plays longer and costs less than Apple's. TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp. said Thursday it is launching a Walkman digital music player capable of storing far more songs than Apple Computer Inc.'s market-leading iPod, while also undercutting iPod's price. Source: CNN Money Will the new Walkman run over iPod? Sony is a dinosaur. No. First off - What the heck took so long Sony? Will the ATRAC format kill this new snazzy looking Walkman? Thanks I will take MP3 and AAC.

July 3, 2004

Circuit City $4.99 game sale

They're blowing out games. The sale started today. I believe they are open tomorrow. I don't know if you can make a trip to one or not, but every game on this list is $4.99. Yes, only $5. Can't beat the price regardless of the game. GBA Chu Chu Rocket Fire Pro Wrestling Max Payne Mortal Kombat Stuntman Super Monkey Ball Jr. Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival Zoo Cube GC Beach Spikers Bomberman: Generation Home Run King Ikaruga Kelly Slater Surfing Mario Party 4 Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance Outlaw Golf Pac-Man Fever Red Faction II RE: Code Veronica X Sega Soccer Slam Simpsons Skateboarding Smugglers Run Warzones Tetris Worlds The Sims Top Gun Ty the Tasmanian Tiger Universal Studios Viewtiful Joe Zoo Cube PS2 Ape Escape 2 Armored Core 2 Black & Bruised Bloodrayne Bloody Roar 4 BOF:DQ Britney's Dance Beat Capcom vs SNK 2 Chaos Legion Clock Tower 3 Dark Cloud 2 Defender Dino Stalker Disaster Report Disgaea DMC 2 Driving Emotion Type-S Dynasty Warriors 4 ESPN NHL Hockey ESPN Winter X Games Snowboarding Fantavision Freaky Flyers Freestyle Metal X Futurama GGX2 Gundam:Federation vs. Zeon Gungrave Haunted Mansion Indiana Jones Jungle Book: Rythm n' Blues Legaia 2 Legends of Wrestling 2 Marvel vs Capcom 2 Maximo Mega Man x7 Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance Metropolismania MIB 2: Alien Escape Minority Report MSG: Encounters in Space Mystic Heroes Okage Okage:Shadow King Onimusha 2 PaRappa the Rapper 2 Pryzm Chapter One RE Dead Aim Red Faction 2 REZ Roadkill Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown Robotech: Battlecry Ridge Racer V Rumble Racing Rygar Secret Weapons over Normandy Sega Sports SF EX3 Shrek Super Party Silpheed Simpsons: Skateboarding Slipheed Smash Court Tennis: Pro Tournament Speed Kings Spy Hunter 2 Street Fighter Ex 3 Stretch Panic Terminator: Dawn of Fate The Bouncer Threads of Fate Vexx War of the Monsters Wheel of Fortune Wild Arms 3 Wipeout Fusion WRC World Rally Championship WWE Crush Hour X Squad ZOE: 2nd Runner XBox Aggressive Inline Crazy Taxi 3 Crimson Sea Dragon's Lair Enclave Futurama Futurama Haunted Mansion Kung Fu Chaos Marvel vs Capcom 2 New Legends NFL 2K3 Panzer Dragoon Orta Pro Race Driver Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown Secret weapons over Normandy Spy Hunter 2 Star Wars: Clone Wars State of Emergency SWAT Vexx Voodoo Vince Wakeboarding Unleashed PSone Threads Of Fate

Q: The Winged Serpent DVD Review

Without the 1950's around, it's a major gamble to release a giant monster movie unless it has Godzilla. Even then your not guaranteed anything good (reference: Dean Devlin/Roland Emmerich). Q is an interesting low budget take on the genre with ludicrous amounts of gore and only minimal monster. New York City has a criminal problem. Not just the usual car theft problems either. No, some nut has been doing ritualistic sacrifices (gross ones at that) on people and has somehow resurrected an ancient Aztec god called Quetzalcoatl (say it six times fast right now). Seems this feisty bird-reptile creature has the taste for human flesh and window washers. The investigation into the murders leads most of the movie, but since everyone in the theater (or on their couch) knows who's doing it, it's all sort of useless. Michael Moriarty plays a great role, but only slows the pace and it makes a 90-minute movie seem like 3 hours. When the creature does finally make his full, stop motion appearance, it's very impressive. Some of the matte shots are a bit off, but for a 1982 film, it's spectacular. As long as your finger is on fast-forward, you'll be fine. (*** out of *****) Blue Underground released this disc and just like almost all of their releases, this one features a fully restored print. They've done a great job, but the contrast is set far too high. Blindingly high as a matter of fact. The colors are strong and sharp, black levels are nice, scratches have almost all disappeared, but the contrast is hard to bear. Close, but just a bit outside. (***) Again, just like all of their discs, we get a brand new soundtrack including their very popular DTS 6.1 track. Other options include 5.1 EX, Dolby 2.0, and the original mono. The surround tracks are less than adequate, hardly offering any rear speaker effects at all. A few of the segments have some nice ambience, but this is a weak DTS and 5.1 track. The bass never seems to kick in either. Still, it's far better than any mono track. (**) Extras include a commentary track from Larry Cohen, teaser trailer, poster and still gallery, plus some Q memorabilia. Oddly, the memorabilia segment is only available on DVD-ROM that I don't have immediate access to and couldn't view. I don't see why this couldn't have been included as a standard feature. It's nice to a Cohen commentary track and he shows great enthusiasm for the picture, but the DVD-ROM content is stupid and baffling. (**) This is actually the second time Q has been brought out on DVD. The original release was serviceable, but this one blows it away. Even though this one has some problems, fans of this cult classic should be happy. Blue Underground is gaining a great reputation for releasing some great cult films and they get better with every release. This was a fairly early release, but it does a fine job presenting a decent movie on a new format.

Fahrenheit 9/11 was great

I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last night. I loved it. Even better then Bowling for Columbine. I am so glad that Disney payed for yet did not distribute the film. Go see this film. It does not matter if you are conservative or liberal, you should see this movie. And for crying out loud if you have not registered to vote, register now! With all the eye candy and information in this movie, I feel I must see it again. I think its that good, and worth paying for it a second time. Just like Bowling for Columbine there are refuted facts. If you do enough reading online you will find out that a lot of Fahrenheit 9/11 has a lot to do with the way the information is presented to the viewer, quite ironic isn't it. The thing I like most about Michael Moore movies more then their subject matter is the fact that people are taking a critical look at our society. Without this movie would people be talking about the election in November as much? No. People, specifically college students, do not care enough about politics and voting for their president. I hope this movie pisses people off. I know this movie pisses people off. Do some research for yourself. Michael Moore is not in business to be your researcher. I am not going to write a proper review, rather I think you should read a review at Blogcritics.org. For one they are more informative and better written. Not to mention I do not have the time. My review: Must see!

July 4, 2004

New Logos for Meancode Media

Thanks to a college friend Justin Winget, I have a great new logo. Thanks Justin! I think they came out great. Tell me what you think.
mcm_logo1.gif mcm_logo2.gif mcm_logo3.gif mcm_logo4.gif

Dell offers iPod trade-in; Sony Network Walkman

Bold text are my comments.

In an effort to convert users of Apple's iPod music player to its own Digital Jukebox, or DJ, Dell Inc. on Wednesday announced a US$100 mail-in rebate for DJ buyers who send in their old iPods for "recycling." The rebate nets users a new 15GB Dell DJ for $99.

Source: MacCentral

That sounds like a deal! Not.

Sony Corp. has unveiled its first hard-disk drive-based digital music player to bear the Walkman name. The device was launched on Thursday as the Walkman brand marked its 25th anniversary.

The NW-HD1 features a 20GB hard-disk drive and is, according to the company, the smallest music player at this capacity. It measures 89 millimeters by 62.1 millimeters by 13.8 millimeters and weighs 110 grams.

Source: MacCentral

Sony is gonna sell a ton of those things! I mean ATRAC3 is all the rage. Just like MiniDisc, and MemoryStick.

Okay, so it's been tough, but you've finally managed to stop yourself from taking Dell up on its kind offer to crush your iPod into a thin paste in exchange for $100 off one of its own stellar music players. Good for you. Only now you're finding yourself tempted by those new players that Sony introduced yesterday-- in particular the NW-HD1 Network Walkman. As faithful viewer Mike Scherer pointed out, MacMinute reports that the NW-HD1 (catchy name) has a 20 GB hard drive, but weighs only 4 ounces-- almost thirty percent less than a 20 GB iPod, and only about half an ounce more than a miniPod with a mere 4 GB storage capacity. Trust us, size does matter, as through-the-roof miniPod sales will attest; Dell's player is a clunky slab by comparison, and when we had the misfortune to encounter a 40 GB Nomad Zen last weekend, we mistook the thing for a brick wrapped in tin foil.

Source: As the Apple Turns

You would do yourself good to read this scene, "The Temptation Never Ends." The best part is the notion of "songs recorded at 48 kilobits per second" as the measurement of how many songs can fit on that Network Walkman. Thats better then the ATRAC3 format listening test, or the fact that the device doesn't even read MP3 files.

Thanks to Brandon for pointing out yet another wonderful AtAT article.

I gave up on MS-DOS format

As I wrote about earlier, OS X does not work well with the MS-DOS (FAT 32) format. OS X will read it, it will even format a disk as MS-DOS, but the real kicker comes in searching and just navigating said volume.

Steve Gehrman (Path Finder developer) told me about OS X and searching non HFS volumes.

If you have a MS-DOS formatted hard drive, and a HFS formatted hard drive, you will see a HUGE difference when you perform a search, and an even bigger difference when you navigate through the drive.

Just take my advice, if you want your hard drive to be readable on both Mac and Windows, just install HFS reading software on your Windows box. You could also just share in it OS X, since you have Samba available to you.

At least OS X is compatible with FAT 32 and NTFS. You cannot say the opposite for Windows. Being compatible and working well are two very different things though.

I cannot tell you how amazed I was at how much faster searching a HFS firewire drive. You live and learn.

Speed is the price you get for compatibility, at least in this case.

Man do I have a migraine headache

As I continue my volunteer work for the Sentinel-Tribune, I am again in a photo illustration on the front page of the paper this week. This time I am not blurred out of the image, so lots of people here in BG recognized me in this one. It helps when you know two of the photographers. And I don't mind making a fool out of myself for the photo ill. Its a lot of fun. Not to mention I can use this photo as stock art. A lot of people asked me if I get migraine headaches, no I do not. I am just the pawn. The photo ill was for a feature on migraine headaches, but my inspiration for the piece was the stress that comes with juggling a part time job, college, and freelance :)

Robin For Congress Site

robin_congress_small.gifIn a joint venture between Meancode Media and Unigraphics this site was started and finished within a week. I am pretty happy about that. Paul, at Unigraphics, has handled all the print work for Robin's campaign. That sure makes the process of building a web site a lot faster. Sure, print graphics need work to be used for the web, but its still great to have the design and typography set. Hopefully I will get more web work in the future from Unigraphics. The old site was framed, and the images were huge and constrained in HTML. So load times were really bad. This site loads pretty good on a dial-up with the exception of the header graphic, but I cannot make that any smaller then it already is. The site also works pretty good to excellent in older browsers. You can view a screen shot of the old home page here. It is a big improvement, and my client is very pleased. For the calendar page of Robin's site I used Calendars.net. I am really impressed with this service, and will have to devote a full post for it. Calendars.net is a great online calendar.

Web Cam for Profit?

By Michael Cooper So, you have a web cam, but your not sure exactly what the purpose is for having one. Yes, video chatting is nice, but is it really a necessity? I mean what difference does it make if I see you and you see me. Granted, you now know you are talking to a 300-lb man claiming to be a 18 year old virgin when you see the video, but what purpose does it really serve? I've been rather perplexed over what I should do with my web cam. I mean, I'm not really using it. It was a fad at first, but it has seemed to die off. I'd rather sign into Trillian on my PC for a simple text chat, and having all of my buddy lists available, then to have six different programs all attempting to run a video cam, BTW, it is impossible. So, I turned to my trusty friend Google, a web geeks best friend. And lo and behold, what do I find, but a site devoted specifically to web camming with others! Not only that, but you get paid to be an expert in anything you want! Welcome to Imlive.com. Can this be true? Can I get paid to offer advise to someone on any topic of my choosing and get paid? Have I finally found a purposeful use for my web cam. While looks can be deceiving, I decided to give it a whirl. I signed up for an account. Doesn't cost me a dime, I just have to sit in front of my cam whenever possible. And since I'm on my computer for the majority of the time when I'm home, this isn't hard. So, now I'm getting paid to sit in front of my computer. Not quite. You have to attract visitors to your web cam by providing a unique description of what you want to talk about. So, naturally, I sign up as Guy Alone (Straight). Where else am I going to see traffic, right? You think someone would want to web cam to get information on rebuilding a PC or designing a web site? No. So, I go through the entire processes of signing up for an "adult-oriented" account, including emailing a copy of my driver's license to prove I'm over 18. It takes four days for my account to be approved, and now, I'm camming. My face is plastered over three different web sites. Money is just rolling in... Not exactly. In 15 hours of being online, I have seen one guest. Talking with some of the other hosts, this seems to be a similar occurance. However, there is one host category that can't keep them away. Girls Alone. Go figure! I'll keep you up-to-date on whether this camming for profit thing actually works. I'm supposed to get paid on the 15th and 30th of the month, collecting 40% of the profit I generate. Again, I am selling myself for the purpose of science....anyone want to video chat?

July 5, 2004

Dashboard vs. Konfabulator

A sliding puzzle. A calculator. A clock. A little notepad. Tiny little applets — little pieces of software that are something less than full applications themselves, but which run alongside real apps and are easily accessed at any time. Obviously, Apple ripped off the idea for Dashboard. Stolen wholesale, without even the decency to mention where they took the original idea. Which, of course, would be the desk accessories from the original 1984 Macintosh... Source: Daring Fireball John Gruber has a great look at Dashboard and why it is not a rip of Konfabulator. Sure they are similar. But from reading David Hyatt's blog I see where the differences are.

Renewed calls for alternative browsers

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's been a bad week for many users of Microsoft Corp.'s nearly ubiquitous Internet Explorer browser. A pair of virus attacks exploiting its vulnerabilities had led security experts to recommend that Web surfers consider such alternatives as Mozilla and Opera. Source: CNN A bad week? How about a bad year! Just download Mozilla or Firefox. People won't though, they just cannot ween their self off of their need to use Internet Explorer. I see this in OS X as well. IE is dead on the Mac, not being developed any more. Internet Explorer "is" the internet, just like AOL "is" the internet to so many people. It does not matter that Safari and Firefox are more secure and way faster then Internet Explorer. How do we fix this problem?

Bowling Green Fireworks July 4, 2004

Mike Metzger (Bug-Lite.com) took some great photos of the fireworks tonight. I didn't go down to the intramural fields, since I have a great view from the lawn in front of my apartment.

July 6, 2004

Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend DVD Review

Baby is odd film. On one hand, it could be seen as an inspiration for movie like Jurassic Park. On the other hand, it's not hard to see this is just a simple take on the ancient Lost World story written so many years ago by Sir Arthur Con Doyle. This is a mildly entertaining movie with fair effects, but the abysmal DVD ruins everything. It's a bare bones plot that's been told countless times. A family of brontosaurs has been discovered and the usual evil guy (Patrick McGoohan) wants them to show them off for profit. A group (headed by William Katt and Sean Young) tries to protect them and keep them in their natural habitat, especially the baby that has taken a liking to them. For a movie rated PG, this is a surprisingly violent movie with lots of bloodshed and gunfire. There is also a ton of nudity from the female natives, but the MPAA considers it ok since that's how they live. If Janet Jackson offends you, this is not a movie for you. Anyway, the dinosaur effects are achieved by people inside a rubber suit and are passable for the day. The larger adult brontosaurus' are even more impressive, but still obviously fake. The acting is fair and the brief bits of comedy are hilarious. The story is predictable and the characters back-stories are pretty much meaningless. But, if you're going in ready to see some dinosaurs, you'll be happy. (** out of *****) The video here is presented in full frame, cropped down from 2.35:1. It's hard to bear at times with characters out of frame, talking off screen, and the vast scope of the dinosaurs is lost. Worse yet, the print is actually worse than any VHS copy. The grain and compression artifacts are ludicrous making this one of the worst looking studio releases ever to hit the format. (no stars) The sound is presented in 2-channel stereo. Voices are obscured by sound effects and hard to hear at times. You'll have to fiddle with the volume constantly to understand what is being said or turn on the subtitles. The action sequences are loud, but the obviously low sampling rate means everything sounds washed out. Did they use a 20-year old VHS tape? It's a very real possibility. (*) There are no special features. (no stars) This is as bad as DVD's get. Absolutely no care was taken to present this movie with any quality and it would hardly surprise me if this was just a transfer of a VHS tape. It's really that bad. If my words don't scare you enough, then feel free to try it for yourself. Just remember: You have been warned.

Mega Man Anniversary Collection Playstation 2 Review

Created in 1987 by Keiji Inafune, Mega Man has truly become one of video gaming's true icons. His image has spawned a cartoon series, action figures, and of course a series of video games that have lasted for 15 years. To celebrate this occasion, Capcom has produced the "Mega Man Anniversary Collection." Holding the 8 games from the original series and 2 bonus games, this is a must own disc for any classic gaming fan and anyone who may not have had the chance to experience these titles before. The entire idea of Mega Man was completely unique upon its launch on the NES. Taking the blue hero into action to combat 6 bosses, players gained their powers once they were defeated. Using one of the other bosses weapons that you earned also easily defeated certain bosses if used correctly. Playing the stages in the correct order was always the key to conquering the games quickly. Once everyone was defeated, players needed to conquer Dr. Wily by playing through his stronghold. Mega Man 2 is widely considered the highlight of the series. Bumping the number of bosses up to eight (where it would stay for the rest of the series), players continued their quest to eradicate Dr. Wily and end his reign of terror. The stage design here is the textbook that every game after it would follow and the challenge for a newcomer is set perfectly. The rest of the series was solid, though many the games hardly differ from each other. Mega Man 3 introduced the slide maneuver; MM4 has the distinction of being the first with the mega-buster, while MM5 and MM6 just coasted along (the sixth sequel was released on the NES by Nintendo themselves as Capcom thought the console was no longer profitable). Mega Man 7 was the only 16-bit entry to get a stateside release and it upgrades everything wonderfully. Some of the robots are a stretch (Spring Man?) but the solid gameplay and challenge the series is known for is still intact. Mega Man 8 was released for both the Saturn and Playstation and was the final game of the series (so far). The version included here is the Playstation rendition (the Saturn had a few extras that were not included on the PS One). Again, this is a solid entry that takes advantage of the hardware but does little separate itself from the rest of the series. The 2 extra games are "The Power Battles" and "The Power Fighters." These are unique arcade titles never before available in the US. Taking a cue from Capcom's hugely popular Street Fighter series, the game drops Mega Man, Bass, and Proto Man into 1-on-1 conflicts with just the bosses. These are a fun ride, but they are probably the weakest games on the disc. The most important aspect of any emulated game disc is how close these games play to the originals. In this case, almost flawlessly. There are a few odd glitches, but these are usually minor graphic hiccups and nothing that will not hinder gameplay. The controls are occasionally spotty (probably due to the pressure sensitive buttons), but a small adjustment period and you'll be on your way. All the little tricks are still intact as well. You can still make the chickens appear in Mega Man 2 and the select trick still does extra damage in Mega Man 1. A save system now replaces the passwords of old, but you can still use the passwords if you want to. All the old ones you remember will still work as well. Adding to the value of the game is the navi mode. This requires players to beat all the games in order. Once you have started the first game in this mode, you cannot play any of the other games in the series until it is beaten. As a bonus, you will have help to guide you through the stages (though the text clues are very poorly translated). Also while playing in this mode, die-hard fans will be pleased to hear re-mixed music for almost every game. Oddly, the first two games have the new music, but only certain stages. Beating specific bosses in the games will reveal loads of extras from a full episode of the original cartoon series (which is also available on DVD), new music, picture sets, and of course the two extra arcade games mention above. For those interested, the Gamecube version contains an interview with the series creator that is not on the PS2 version but not the cartoon. The Gamecube did not get the remixed music either. There has been no graphical upgrade to any of the games to preserve them properly (the navi mode does upgrade the menus and life bars, but that's it). The 8-bit games will look archaic to those who are used to millions of polygons, but the games still have their charm and for the hardware they ran on, they look spectacular in most cases. The 16 and 32-bit entries of course feature an upgrade in this department, re-drawing the title hero both times. The superb animation and luscious backgrounds are a sight to behold still today. This is a series that has long been known for it's spectacular music and this disc proves why. Though you'll always hear it debated, I've always felt that Mega Man 4 produced the best tunes (check out Dive Man and Skull Man's stages). The remixed music brings these games up to new levels (these are the same remixes from a Japanese collection of these games). It is a shame you just can't pop in the game and play with the music since you have to be in navi mode to hear them, but rest assured the challenge of playing the games in order is well worth it. This is a collection of games that every true gamer should own. These are not only some of the most famous games in the industry, but some of the best as well. Even if you own the original carts and either of the CD versions, the meager $29.99 retail on this set is worth it. This is a game that should require an immediate purchase. Note: The Gamecube version has been getting panned due to reversing the A and B buttons. If you have played this series for years with the original controller set, adjusting may very well be impossible. There is no controller config. If you have never played the games previously, you won't even notice the change.

Rallisport Challenge 2 X-Box Review

Racing games are the standard that new consoles are judged by. There is no other genre that can really show off the graphical prowess of a new system. Enter Rallisport Challenge, a first party title from Microsoft Game Studios. The game blew people away with scenery like no other game before it. Shame about the slippery controls though. Now we have the sequel that betters the original in practically every regard. Yes, even the graphics. Rallisport Challenge 2 offers up a wide variety of play modes, including much anticipated X-Box Live support. The career mode challenges players in various forms of racing from rally (duh), hill climb, rally cross, ice racing, and the wild crossover. Each of the 90+ courses (some simply do branch off in various areas so the number is not exact) will make an appearance through your career. You'll start in the amateur class and work your way up, unlocking various tracks and cars along the way. Should you not feel like jumping into a career mode, you can jump into any one of the various game modes mentioned above, but only unlocked courses and cars will be available. You can also challenge other players via split screen (2-4) or go all out with the system link (up to 16). X-Box Live support includes tournaments and season play through the XSN service. Playing the first game and then plopping this game in reveals a revelation: The original has some of the slipperiest controls of all time. Most people may not have realized then (I didn't), but playing this new version proves it. The controls are so much tighter, that anyone can pick this game up and play it even if they know nothing about cars (I don't). Taking tight corners still requires skill (as does powersliding), but playing through the amateur ranks should teach you everything you need to know. Thankfully, it is not completely necessary to tweak your car. Car nuts will most likely have a bit more fun (and an easier time on the track) once they have their settings down, but those of us who don't know how to use a clutch will be just fine. The options for tweaking your cars are a bit limited as well, but this is a series that leans toward the arcade style of play anyway. Rallisport really pushes the hardware and really makes a case as to why a next generation of consoles is not needed next year. From the giant forests to the spiraling mountains, everything is modeled with care. The real-time reflection of background objects on the cars is flawless and the lighting easily eclipses that of the first game. Weather effects are jaw dropping, as are the particle effects. This is also a perfect HDTV showcase game. The cars themselves take severe damage and every mistake you made will show through at the finish line. Taking on other cars also provides plenty of opportunity for fantastic damage, though the cars occasionally have flighty physics resembling pinballs more than 1,000 pound super cars. The game's graphics may be the some of the best ever, but the music is not. The grating techno music never seems appropriate and can kill your concentration. Thankfully, the custom soundtrack option the X-Box is so well known for can be used here during the races, though not on the initial menu (not a problem since your only there for seconds at a time). Your co-driver comes through nice and clear however, offering up sound advice on upcoming hazards. The full 5.1 Surround support really livens things up as well. The rain effect is particularly special. This is a series that will likely be with us for some time. Those who prefer deeper sims will likely be more happy with the latest edition of the Colin McRae series (bargain priced at $19.99 which is a steal), but those of us who just want to hit the track and win a few races will be better off staying right here. Your hardware will certainly receive a workout and it will likely take quite some time until the career mode is completely finished and everything has been unlocked. This is a must own for racing fans.

Circuit City $4.99 game sale, Take 2

I got this email this morning from ccemployee[at]circuitcity[dot]com.
Just to let you know. That sale does not start until July 11, this Sunday. However Circuit City had accidentally downloaded the ad early. They do not have to honor the price until that ads date. They have stopped selling them at that price until Sunday.
I am guessing they are receiving some bad press for this. You can see Matt's previous post with the game list here: Circuit City $4.99 game sale.

Microsoft's win on keyboard patents reversed

Microsoft Corp. faces a trial over patent infringement charges related to its ergonomic keyboards after a federal appeals court on Tuesday reversed a lower court's decision that invalidated the patents. TypeRight Keyboard Corp. sued Microsoft in July 1998, claiming that Microsoft's ergonomic keyboards violated its patents. The Microsoft Natural keyboards feature V-shaped designs with keys in separate clusters for the left and right hands and have a large wrist rest. Source: MacCentral If its not the EU its something else, isn't it?

Rich Wareham of Desktop Manager

I just read a great interview on DrunkenBlog. Thanks to Brian for the link.
For DrunkenBlogs' 300th post I have a special treat for my 12 loyal readers: a chat with Rich Wareham, the creator of Desktop Manager for OSX. I also couldn't resist the gentle irony of putting this up on the 4th of July. Remember kids, cultural differences are meant to be bridged, and the sharing of alcohol and pejorative phrases are generally a good start.
Source: DrunkenBlog Desktop Manager is indeed nice, and faster then CodeTek's VirtualDesktop. Don't be scared off that Desktop Manager is a home grown Source Forge project, it is very easy on the eyes, and it just works(tm).

Destroy All Monsters DVD Review

Destroy All Monsters is widely regarded as the pinnacle of the Japanese Monster genre and one of the last great Godzilla films of the 60's-70's. Featuring almost the entire roster of Toho's creations, this is an all out monster fest and a must see if you have any interest in giant monster flicks. This is the movies second appearance on DVD from ADV and sadly, it's not better than the first one. Set in 1999, an alien race that calls themselves the Kilaaks have come to Earth to destroy it....and they don't even need weapons. They take control of "Monster Land" which houses all the giant monsters that have taken a swipe at Tokyo. The aliens set the creatures free and they begin a rampage through the entire world. Humans scramble to devise a plan to put an end not only to the Kilaaks, but to the monsters as well. Sure the special effects are weak at times, miniatures obvious, and plot a bit out there. Who cares? It's still far more entertaining than most of the CG junk Hollywood throws at us year after year. The imagination put into these films is just great, something that is seriously lacking in so many US movies. This is far from perfect of course and it can be downright boring at times, but of course the destruction scenes make up for everything else. Also, the final battle is an epic that simply can't be matched. If you have never been introduced to the quirky genre, this would be a good place start after the original Japanese version of Godzilla. (*** out of *****) Destroy All Monsters is presented in roughly 2.35:1 widescreen. This print has taken a beating with countless scratches and spots and is the exact same one used in the first release from ADV. The resolution is very low and flickering is a major problem. It almost seems like it has been taken from a laserdisc as times. The colors have moments of brightness and clarity is occasionally brilliant, but these segments are few and far between. This isn't a film that is going to get a full restoration anytime soon of course and this is probably the best it's going to get. (**) Sound is a clear 2.0 mono that does what it should and nothing else. There is no bass and the spectacular Akira Ifukube soundtrack drowns the voices out occasionally. Again, this is the same as the previous release. (**) This one of the stranger DVD releases of all time. Not only are there no extras, but there isn't even a menu! You put the disc in and it plays, much like a VCD. There are no chapter stops either. Yet again, this is the same as the original. The packaging is pretty nice with a foil coating and "newspaper" like back cover. The cover also states that it's the 50th anniversary, which is off. It's Godzilla's 50th, not the films. The only real extra is a CD soundtrack for the film with 30 tracks, included right inside the DVD case. It's a great disc with some of the best work Ifukube ever produced. If that's not a nice extra, I don't know what is. Shame the actual movie is completely void of anything extra. (**) This is one of the worst double dips of all time. This is the exact same disc as the original release with nothing fixed. How hard is it to make a menu? If you're going to a version of the film on the format, this might as well be the one though. For the price, you probably couldn't purchase the soundtrack separately. Regardless, this one is a classic and does deserve a space on your shelf. Shame about the sound and picture though.

Mike Cooper Joins BW

Mike and I go back a while. In many ways his college carer tanked very much like mine did. The first time I worked with Mike was for Dr. Molly Laflin on some web site for a grant in Family and Consumer Sciences at BGSU. I then had the chance to work with him again at Student Publications. That second tenure together ended up a lot better then the first. Please welcome Mike to our stab at the blogoshere. And maybe someday he will get his own site back up. Be sure to check out Mike's bio and his initial post, it seems he is a whore to science. [Shameless Plug] If you would like to write for this site, please send me an email, ken [at] meancode [dot] com.

July 7, 2004

Coca-Cola C2

Wow. I really like it. I like it better then normal Coke to be honest. Given to choose between Coke and Pepsi, I choose Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi if no Dr. Pepper. But I really like this Coke C2.

July 8, 2004

The Best of BitTorrent

Kevin Rose has a nice roundup of BitTorrent sites as well as clients. His favorite client, as mine, is azureus. Source: kevin rose dot com

You've Got Mail (and Court Says Others Can Read It)

Last week a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that federal wiretap laws do not apply to e-mail messages if they are stored, even for a millisecond, on the computers of the Internet providers that process them - meaning that it can be legal for the government or others to read such messages without a court order. The ruling was a surprise to many people, because in 1986 Congress specifically amended the wiretap laws to incorporate new technologies like e-mail. Some argue that the ruling's implications could affect emerging applications like Internet-based phone calls and Gmail, Google's new e-mail service, which shows advertising based on the content of a subscriber's e-mail messages... Source: The New York Times This makes me feel almost as warm and fuzzy inside as the Patriot Act does. I can't believe this stuff. What happened to the Right to Privacy? I don't think this is "much ado about nothing." This might be small now, but it COULD get to be big, big like the Patriot Act.

Power Mac G5 (June 2004) CIP Instructions

Ooooh, there is nothing like a good KB article to read :P Power Mac G5 (June 2004) Customer-installable parts Instructions.

July 9, 2004

Apple hits back at Sony's 'misleading' Walkman marketing

Sony's 13,000 song measurement is based on its ATRAC3 (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding for MiniDisc 3) compression system at the relatively low rate of 48Kbps (kilobits per second) while Apple's measurement is based on the AAC compression system at 128Kbps. At the same bit rate, the Walkman can store around half as many songs as the iPod, which is consistent with it having half the storage capacity. Source: MacCentral Nice to see Apple making this statement since AtAT did the same thing a week ago. Now the figures might get more attention though. Silly Sony, what in the world were they thinking?

palmOne introduces new resource center for Mac users

palmOne Inc. on Wednesday will introduce a new resource center to help Mac users get the most out of their handhelds and smartphones. The Web site will feature tips on wireless connectivity, an array of photo album opportunities and other resources, according to the company. Source: MacCentral It is nice to see that palmOne still publicly supports the Mac. In the past few months/years it has been rumored many times that plamOne will drop Mac support. This new site has great info. I am really glad to see this site.

First Dual 2.5 Ghz G5 Benchmarks; Productivity Calculator

You can get it strait from the horses mouth or get the watered down version from Apple. The one strait from Pfeiffer Consulting is a 57 page pdf and the version of the study on Apple's Web site is only 8 pages. It all depends on if you want short and concise or really in-depth. At that Apple link you can find a G5 productivity calculator as well.

Hearst Magazines Adopt Adobe's Publishing Platform

SAN JOSE, Calif. — July 6, 2004 — Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ: ADBE) today announced that Hearst Magazines, one of the world's largest magazine publishers with 18 U.S. titles and more than 137 international editions, has adopted the Adobe® Creative Suite, which includes Adobe InDesign® CS software, as its standard publishing solution. For Hearst, a color-managed, all-digital internal prepress and publishing workflow based on the Adobe InDesign CS and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) has resulted in reduced design and production time, quality enhancements, and substantial cost savings. Source: Adobe PR I always like hearing of newspaper and magazines moving to InDesign :)

July 10, 2004

Tiger Screen Shots

Prrrrdy! I can't wait to the release. Source: eWeek

Panther Server, Lacie Hard Drives Installed

Just in time for Tiger Server, I have installed Panther Server at Student Publications. We bought a "Quicksilver" 733 Mhz G4 with 10.0 Server and I quickly updated it to 10.1 Server when it came out. Things have been busy, and since it has been working, I have not updated the server to Panther until now. I just got flipping tired of using 10.1 on our file server. I also saw the new admin tools in Panther Server (they are a major improvement).

Finding the time to upgrade the server is an entirely different matter entirely. Making the purchase was the easy step. You cannot (easily) take users and groups from 10.1 to 10.3 Server. I do not know why this is, but thats the way it is. No lost sleep here, I am simplifying user log ins anyways.

It is SO NICE to have Panther Server up and running for our file/print server.

Did you ever thing that a 1 TB (yes, terabyte) firewire drive would cost only $1200? That is a pretty good cost per MB price, isn't it. Well when we needed the drives Lacie was not selling their 1 TB drive yet, but they were selling their 500 GB drives. Same price, imagine that.

We were getting severely low on HD space. Throwing files out Friday to be able to work Monday. Not fun at all. We have 120 GB in the Quicksilver (10K RPM), and 2x120 GB external. You might think that would be enough space but when you have a dozen publications being produced at some point during the year plus Unigraphics, there are always space problems. But now Unigraphics has the room to really have their photo archive and graphics archive they really need to have online.

The next time we need another TB, I bet the price will come down by at least 1/3. Since I have so much file space to work with now, I am no longer backing up to AIT tape, I will probably be putting that up on eBay. It is alot nicer backing up to firewire, it is a lot faster for one. I recycled our two external 120 GB drives and they are now our backup drives. One of which can always be taken out of West Hall.

These 500 GB Lacie drives have Firewire 800 on them, and because of some voodoo magic that Lacie does with their firmware, these FW 800 drives are screaming fast compared to the competition. I didn't just go by the bar graph on the side of the box, I did some tests myself (I mean we have a 500 GB drive thats not really being used for much right now). Since we have a G5 for Production, I could test the drive with FW 800. I found a couple other FW 800 drives on campus to test against. Lacie FW 800 wins, hands down. They stripe the drives (its not really a 500 GB or 1 TB drive, they are smaller drives that once one gets filled up, it goes to the next HD and fills that one up. Whatever Lacie is doing it is nice.)

Needless to say I ordered a FW 800 PCI card ($50) for our Quicksilver and the speed over the network is well worth the $50 of that FW 800 card.

Panther Server is so much faster then 10.1 Server was, and now we have breathing room on the file space front. *phew*

Video Game Music Takes a Turn for the Worse

Video game music gets very little respect here in the states. In Japan, it is extremely popular and has been for some time. Game soundtracks sit right next to the hottest pop albums in music stores. Die-hard fans have been willing to import soundtracks for years, but now it is useless. The art of making a real video game soundtrack has been destroyed, making way for pop-artists to litter soundtracks. Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to game music composed by Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage, Actraiser), Uematsu Nobuo (Final Fantasy), or Tommy Tallarico (Earthworm Jim) about real game music. This is the type of music you just don't see anymore. It is an indescribable rush when a great track kicks in at a major point of game, keeping the player glued to the screen until they accomplish their task. Sure, some games feature superbly orchestrated tracks, but this is the type of music limited to RPG's. A recent example of a flawless game soundtrack is Rockstar's Red Dead Revolver. The cheesy spaghetti western themes were captured flawlessly, all composed by a person with experience in the genre. It not only heightened the games immersiveness, but made the game more enjoyable overall. This is not an integral part of the game of course, but just like the graphics, easily add to the overall feel of the product and make it an even more enjoyable experience all the way until the credits roll. Licensed soundtracks can work of course. A personal favorite is the classic Rock & Roll Racing for the SNES, Genesis, and recently the Game Boy Advance. Blazing around the tracks listening to "Born to be Wild" was a blast back then and it still is today. More recently, Grand Theft Auto Vice City flawlessly integrated various 1980's music into the game via radio stations and was, arguably, one of the game's highlights. But, how long is it until Mega Man starts blasting bosses to the music of Jay-Z? As games continue to grow, more and more popular music will be tossed onto the game discs, abandoning the day of real video game music artists. This is a style of music that needs to be preserved no matter how large and complicated games may get in the future. Should it not, we will always have fond memories of walking into an arcade and getting pumped up by the music in Ken's stage in Street Fighter II.

Graphics Will NEVER Make the Game

I'm amazed. Well, not too amazed I guess, but probably a little bit shocked. Through a little message board searching and a comment posted to another one of my editorials, I have come to find out that a rather large portion of the gamers in todays society STILL think that graphics are the most integral portion of a video game. I'm not sure how many times it has been written, but they are not and never will be. The argument has been around for ages of course. The old "I can play this game because the graphics are dumb" quote has been uttered a few millions times and more. It is shocking to me. Are we that spoiled by flashy polygons being thrown at us from every angle that we can no longer appreciate the simplicity of Centipede? What about the nifty vector graphics of Asteroids? Will Pac-Man never be played again simply because the game doesn't look like the games of today? Simply, no. There is a reason for the countless retro-gaming societies and conventions. These games play great. Maybe a bit simple, even archaic, but the gameplay these games provide is timeless. The graphics have nothing to do with entertainment value. It's not that games don't play well these days, but we need to get over this misnomer quickly. Anyone around the age of 20 will certainly remember the era of full-motion video games. Games like Tomcat Alley, Prize Fighter, Rebel Assault, or Loadstar will certainly remember having their jaws hit the floor when they seen one. There seemed to be one problem with them: They played terrible. They were not fun at all. They all featured real video throughout the entire play time, but are hardly classics (Dragons Lair and Space Ace excused of course) even though they feature graphics unlike anything gamers had ever seen. Countless other games have tried radical approaches to grab the gamers dollar by throwing flashy graphics at them in magazine and TV ads. Rise of the Robots was a commercial success mostly due to the new rendering process it used to animate the characters, but many gamers found out $50 later that the game was practically unplayable. Jim Power in the 3rd Dimension was a fairly popular release with a gimmicky 3-D effect. Shame most gamers could not beat the second stage due the unfair difficulty levels. Lastly, who could ever forget the goofy Holloseum by Sega, a laserdisc arcade game so unplayable, most gamers gave up even though it had "revolutionary" holographic, uh, graphics. No matter how big video games become or how great they look, the gameplay will always be the key to a games success. Great graphics can certainly enhance the gaming experience, but they will never (nor have they ever been) be the key to enjoying a game. I'm not sure if this is an idea that will ever be completely eliminated from video gaming, but at least I can live myself knowing I tried.

July 11, 2004

The Experiment has failed

I sold my Alienware PC today. The new owner, one of my digital art professors, will make good use of it in her multimedia studio.

I would have got a lot less for my PC if I would have sold it on eBay. I got $1500 for the PC and I threw in the monitor as well. I won't need it anymore anyways (more on that later).

So even thought the original purpose of this site has been hazy at best lately, I still had a PC. Now not only do I not have a PC but this site no longer has to do with my life with my PC. Luckily for this site, it has branched out in other directions, and the site has not had much to do with my PC in the past few months.

The slogan is going to have to be modified. Maybe it should be something like "A Mac User back in the Mac world" or "A Mac user who tried to function in a Windows world but came back to the Mac because of frustration." That last one might be a little long.

I got my PC in January 2003, see Every story has a beginning, I started using Windows for web and media work for the first time. Not the first time I have used Windows by far, but it was the first time I had used one for an extended period of time for critical work. Well this journey has ended.

I had problems out of the box, the audio card would not work correctly and the two ethernet ports were conflicting (the one was not turned off in the BIOS like it should have been). Alienware tech support had me switch out every PCI card and put it into a different slot. This miraculously fixed the audio problem. Let me tell you, that was a pain in the ass. They don't make PC cases as nice as Apple cases, that was not fun. And it was not the last time that tech support had me do that.

The transition to doing work in Windows was not very difficult, and I just dealt with the annoyances because I wanted to give Windows a try for at least a year. You can check out the early Windows Commentary archives to see the worst annoyances I encountered.

In October 2003 my PC's HD died. For this I had to send my PC to Alienware. I got my PC back in December, and it still did not boot up. They scratched the case, how nice of them. After tearing the PC apart again and not only reseating the PCI cards, but reseating the HD and other drives, it finally was in working order again. The Promise RAID card never was the problem (I took the time to check box RAID cards and they both worked just fine).

I had a lot of hardware issues with my PC that I have never had to deal with in my long history of using many Macs. I didn't expect all the manual work I had to do on my PC. But I have been told that is the norm. Forget that.

I defended my PC and decided not to sell it in the past, I made excuses for the idiosyncrasies of Windows because I wanted to give it an entire year. Well I made it 5 months longer then that one year period I had set for myself. I stopped using my PC for critical work over 6 months ago though. I went back to doing critical work on my slower PowerBook, and getting the work done - minus the frustrations.

For those of you say you can work faster in Windows or faster on the Mac are full of dookie. I can work just as fast in WIndows as I can in Mac OS X. The only problem is the use of the Control key as the main modifier key on Windows, and the placement of that key on Windows. TradeKeys fixes this problem though. Once I had Control on my PC where Command on my Mac is everything was good again. Now that I have experienced Windows for over a year, I will not put up with people whining to me about how hard or how much easier it is to use then the Mac OS. I had no problems. The final straw was however Windows just being Windows. I just had it up to my eyeballs. I give up.

I gave Windows a try. I really wanted to see how it would go. This was an experiment. And experiment to see if I could work faster on a much faster machine that cost less then a Mac. The answer to that is a NO!

I just bought a Dual 2.5 Ghz G5 and payed less for it then I payed for my Alienware PC. If I would have bought a G4 in January 2003 I would have actually payed more then what I spent on my G5 or my Alienware. So Apple's pricing is getting much better IMO.

In response to Dave M's comments:

I have absolutely no idea why people have such a negative bias about Alienware. Their system is no different, or more expensive then a Dell, Gatway, whatever.

I priced a DIY, then I priced a Dell, Alienware, and a couple other vendors. I simply refuse to buy anything Dell. I have heard bad things. I am very happy with the Alienware tech support, which I have said in the past on this site. They back their hardware. Despite Indian tech support, I have no problem with them at all.

In the end Dell and Alienware were costing the exact same thing give or take $100. To prove my point I just priced out a Dell and an Alienware with the exact same specs. The Dell cost $2,346 and the Alienware cost $2,488.00. Aesthetically speaking the Alienware case is a lot nicer. And given that I refuse to buy anything Dell, I will take difference and give Alienware $142 (if I were in the market for my second PC).

And PLEASE! It is not the hardware I am judging. I am judging Windows, Microsoft Windows. I don't really care what name is on the hardware.

If you want to say I am "dissing" anything, I am dissing the fact that you cannot use an Operating System to get reliable critical work done when that Operating System has so many holes, and their are so many morons out their that think it fun to take advantage of those holes. It is not my fault that that portrait happens to be a painting of Microsoft Windows.

As for pricing, Apple's hardware will always be more expensive. It has improved. It will always be more expensive because it is not made by everyone and their mother. In some cases this means Apple hardware is of higher quality.

Sorry to hear about your G4 problems. Shareware programs on Mac OS seem to really mess things up. This is sometimes because the shareware community has to hack or reverse engineer things. OS X has made it a little nicer, but its still bad if you go hog wild with shareware on the Mac.

I will say this with an asterisk. Mac people should stick with Macs and Windows people should stick with Windows. The asterisk is for those people who are not afraid of trying things out on the other side of the fence. I am not sad that I bought a PC. I am very glad I did. I have gained so much knowledge from my Windows experience that will help me out in my current and future work.

Goodbye Windows, Hello G5

The PC has left the building. And you know what? My apartment is a lot quieter now. No, I am not kidding. Until Virtual PC 7 comes out and supports the G5 (come one Microsoft it has been AN ENTIRE YEAR already) I will now have to check web sites with the PC at work or in the School of Art lab (or s l o w VPC 6 on my PB). Now it looks like we will have to wait till the second half of 2004 now. I can't wait to see how VPC 7 runs on the G5, I know how VPC 6.1 runs on my PowerBook, and it's not pretty. On July 5th I ordered a Dual 2.5 Ghz G5 with 1 GB of RAM, only one 250 GB HD, and the ATI 9600 XT. This kept the cost under $3000, and that makes me happy. I also ordered a 23" HD Cinema Display. I also had to get that new snazzy AirPort Express with AirTunes. I knew I didn't need 3 computers, and I was not about to sell my PowerBook. Funny thing is I did not first think of selling my PC. But that thought did come to fruition. Timing is everything and Bonnie needed to buy a PC for her studio. I have impeccable timing. Not planned at all. Who knew? When Steve Jobs boasted the Dual 3.0 Ghz in a year I decided I could wait a year. Oh well its only a 2.5 Ghz system but I think that is pretty good considering that even Intel has hit a brick wall in upgrading the speed of the P4 chip. My new toys should ship on or before July 30. So Christmas for me comes early this year. My freelance business has been going great, and I need a machine more powerful then my PowerBook. I think the G5 will fit the bill. What I will not miss from my PC is viruses and spyware. That and all the other Windows annoyances. But the viruses (and or threat of viruses) and spyware were a major reason for evicting my PC. I have been a Mac user since I was a little kid. Once a Mac user, always a Mac user. Owning a PC for a year has taught me a lot about Windows. You can draw your own conclusions on that one.

Dell vs. Alienware Online Store

I am going to take a look at the differences in price of comparable systems from both Dell and Alienware.

I am not about to add Apple's online store into the mix. No sense in comparing apples to oranges. I will say this however:

Apple hardware costs more. It is made by Apple, or it is made in collaboration with Apple. I am glad it is only made by Apple. The quality is higher, the price is higher, and not as many people buy it. I like being a user of the minority Operating System. Ask any *nix user how they feel about being a minority user. I am sure at some point they will have something positive to say about not having to deal with viruses and spyware. Mac OS and *nix might not be more secure by design, but it is more secure based on usage.

Back to the Apple's online store: Apple knows simplicity. Their online store is just nice to use. It is not cluttered with a gazillian options that you do not care about. I would vote Dell's online store to be the most overwhelming of all. It is a nightmare.

Based solely on my opinion, I like the Alienware store a lot more then the Dell store. It is easier to choose your options on the Alienware site, and Alienware does not try to shove software and other hardware down your yapper like Dell does.

* At the time of this writing, Dell has 10% off their Desktop systems.

Dell Dimension XPS vs. Alienware Area 51: These are Intel Pentium 4 based systems. They could both be called gaming systems, they could both be called graphics systems. I call them workstations. They are used for web design, multimedia, 3D modeling, gaming, etc, etc. In other words I do not see the Alienware as more of a gaming rig.

Some might say these systems are configured with too much horsepower, and it is not worth the price. It is true you could cut down on anything and save money. I however do not like to compromise. And I have seen the bad things that comes from compromising on computers and I do not like it. In general I want to be able to throw more then I usually would at my computer and see if it will crush under pressure. I like to see it perform above my expectations because I know that if I stay with a system for a while those performance benchmarks will be decreasing exponentially every year. My computer before my 500 Mhz PowerBook G4 in 2001 was a PowerMac 6400/200 circa 1996. If I am happy with a computer (unlike my Alienware rig) I will use it for a while.

Here are the specs of the Area 51 and Dimension XPS in no true order. It is interesting to see how one or the other store has the same options plus or minus $10 here and $5 there. I am not comparing the specific prices. I left out all the extra crap that both online stores tries to push on you.

3 year Tech Support P4 3.2GHz 800 Mhz FSB
Windows XP Pro
128MB DDR ATI RADEON™ 9800 Pro
250 GB Hard Drive
Sound Blaster Audigy 2

Dell: $2,346 (theoretical price w/o 10% discount is $2580)
Alienware: $2,488.00

These differences in price are negligible in my book. It always depends on what month or day or hour or minute when you buy from any of these online stores because you never know what type of special deal you might get.

July 12, 2004

Sig of the Week

... besides I don't have time to melt the tar and gather feathers.

IE loses market share on security concerns

Security vulnerabilities found in Microsoft's Internet Explorer may be having an effect on the Web browser's market share, according to WebSideStory. Over the last month, usage of Internet Explorer dropped by 1% (from 95.73% to 94.73%), the first noticeable decline since the Web metrics company began tracking the browser market in 1999. Mozilla and Netscape's combined market share has increased by 26%, rising from 3.21% in June to 4.05% in July Source: MacMinute 1% is a lot of people I would think. People are starting to figure out that IE is not the end-all be-all web browser. I am so proud of them!

Beginning of the End DVD Review

The 50's movie era was certainly an interesting one. Filled with giant radioactive creatures that destroyed major cities, sci-fi fans certainly got their fill and then some. Enter Beginning of the End. This is one movie that is certainly more popular because of its appearance on the cult favorite TV show Mystery Science Theater than anything else. Well, now you can own it on a real DVD without silhouettes talking over it. Peter Graves stars in this Bert I. Gordon production about nature run mad. Thanks to some local experiments that tried growing giant vegetables to feed the hungry, grasshoppers/locusts/crickets (never really sure which) have grown to an immense size and are attacking local towns. Eventually they get hungry and make there to downtown Chicago for some real mayhem.... that never really happens. This is schlock to the nth degree. The special effects simply can't be described and must be seen to be truly "appreciated." It has all the clichÈ's of other giant-bug 50's movies including (but not limited to) the scientist, bug expert, and the army general. Most of the actual attacks by the cheap looking insects happen off screen to save on budget and the acting is only on par with other movies in this time/genre. I'm not even going to mention the hilariously bad ending. This is one for only the most die-hard giant bug fans. Even then you'll do better with the true classic in "Them!" (* out of *****) Amazingly, this disc not only presents the movie in 1.66:1 widescreen, but it has a gorgeous print to boot. Though the scratches are numerous, the flawlessly clear print and almost complete lack of film grain is a major achievement. There are much better movies that don't get this treatment. I'm still stunned by this one. (****) The sound is Dolby stereo, but it might as well be mono. The creatures give off this ear shattering screeching noise that really pushes the treble (not to mention your patience) and blocks out everything else. Gunfire and dialogue are lost, but this is attributed more to the movie than the disc. Otherwise, the sound is clear without much hissing or static. (**) Even more stunning than the print are the extras. There's a commentary track, a shock to say the least. Granted, it's not a very good one, but just including one is shocking. Susan Gordon, Bert's widow, and her daughter try hard to remember some of the details, but their memory is less than adequate. The interviewer asks them questions constantly that they can't answer or do so in a manner that solves nothing. They discuss other movies produced by her late husband as well. The other extras include a trailer and still gallery featuring some classic looking lobby cards. (***) This is a movie for only the most die-hard giant bug fans. They're out there too. Believe me, I'm one of them. Not even I can take this one. Bad special effects are one thing, but that horrible screeching sound and ludicrous ending are just too much. If you're a fan though, this is as good as it will ever get.

Frogs DVD Review

The 70's movie era was filled with two major movie genres: The disaster film and nature run amok. Certainly there were some classics to come out of these two including Airport, Earthquake, a couple of great killer bee films. Then there is absolute junk like Frogs. A millionaire (Ray Milland) living on his own private island invites his entire family over for his birthday bash. Also brought into the mix, ironically enough, is an ecologist (Sam Elliot). Seems this greedy old man has ticked off every living thing on his island by countless poisonings and hunting sprees. Now it's nature's turn. The frogs command such critters as spiders, snakes, crabs, gators, geckos, monitors, anoles, birds, and other frogs in their quest for revenge. The main problem here, beyond the useless sub-plots revolving around the human players, is that the spiders, snakes, crabs, gators, geckos, monitors, anoles, birds, and frogs are hardly scary. Anyone with a brain knows that a 6-inch anole is a hardly a threat. The ways in which the family is slowly picked off are absolutely ludicrous (tarantulas shoot and cover a guy in moss....seriously) and hardly effective as horror movie deaths should be. Even stupider, only one guy is actually killed by the frogs and I'm still lost as to how they pulled it off. They just walk all over him and he dies. This is awful film making at its lowest and hard to watch for even fans of bad movies. (* out of *****) Surprisingly, the picture quality here is mostly excellent. Presented in 1.85:1 on one side of the disc and pan & scam on the other, this is a nice transfer. All the spiders, snakes, crabs, gators, geckos, monitors, anoles, birds, and frogs can be viewed in outstanding detail. Some of the darker scenes (especially the finale) look just plain awful, but most of the film takes place during the day. Given the age, the minor scratches and spots on the film are acceptable and those daytime scenes are just amazing for a film from 1972. They did a great job on a movie that didn't deserve it. (****) The only sound options are English and Spanish mono. Most of the film is clear and easy to understand. Listening to the sounds of the spiders, snakes, crabs, gators, geckos, monitors, anoles, birds, and frogs is no problem. Dialogue is only a little scratchy at times and never hard to understand. Serviceable and it does what it's supposed to, that's exactly what should be expected. (***) The only extra is the original trailer, shown in full screen. There are a few alternate scenes in the trailer giving fans extra looks at the spiders, snakes, crabs, gators, geckos, monitors, anoles, birds, and frogs. Note that the French subtitles defaulted on my player, though I'm still not sure why. (*) If cheesy, non-horror movies are your thing, then you might find some enjoyment here. There are some nice shots of spiders, snakes, crabs, gators, geckos, monitors, anoles, birds, and lost of frogs so animal buffs may find the photography interesting. Unfortunately, wrapped around all the spiders, snakes, crabs, gators, geckos, monitors, anoles, birds, and frogs is a terrible, useless script. Mix that with horrible acting, and all you've got is a clunker with a nice transfer.

Screw You Sony

Screw you Sony. Why you ever entered into the video game market in the first place becomes more baffling by the day. You have no idea what your audience is comprised of. According to this http://news.spong.com/detail/news.asp?prid=7095 (towards the bottom), you are preventing anything even remotely 2-D in nature from appearing on your console. Screw you Sony. Maybe you don't realize that there is a very dedicated group of gamers out there who are sick of dealing with crappy cameras, 16-buttons, and analog controls. Maybe you don't realize that there is a dedicated group of gamers out there who still yearn for games that require pure skill, 3 lives, and no save points. Screw you Sony. Look, it's common sense that these games won't sell as many copies as Madden 2000 whatever. That's fine. But, I should have the right to walk into a store and buy a 2-D fighter if I want. I should be able to buy a horizontal shooter if I want. Dammit, I should have the right to own the Metal Slug collection if a company chooses to put it out. Guess that may not happen now. Screw you Sony. It's almost comical that you'll let absolute 3-D crap like the Army Men series, Driven, and Lowrider on store shelves, yet won't let us have a few nice flashbacks to a bygone era. 90% (if not more) of the 2-D games that have hit your systems are superb games and highly sought after. Why in the hell wouldn't you a want a cult following like that? Is there any logical reasoning for all of this? You make your money off of Jak XVII and Ratchet & Clank 8. Let us have something that we want so depserately instead of letting more junk enter the market. Then again, I guess you really don't care. Screw you Sony. Of course, this isn't the first time Sony has given game companies grief. Capcom had problems getting a Mega Man game released on the PS One. MEGA MAN of all games! Would you reject a 2-D Mario Bros. game if you had the chance? You know, you probably would because your higher ups don't have a damn clue about this section of the industry. Screw you Sony. Companies like SNK Playmore and Capcom struggle to keep this niche of gaming culture alive, but you just keep shooting them right down. You can bet your ass that if you don't let King of Fighters, Capcom Fighting Jam, and Metal Slug into the market, you've lost a potential Playstation 3 owner. Screw you Sony.

NAACP chairman calls for Bush's ouster

(CNN) -- NAACP Chairman Julian Bond called on members of the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization to boost voter turnout to help oust President Bush. Source: CNN

July 13, 2004

Japan: Schoolkids to be tagged with RFID chips

Japanese authorities decide tracking is best way to protect kids The rights and wrongs of RFID-chipping human beings have been debated since the tracking tags reached the technological mainstream. Now, school authorities in the Japanese city of Osaka have decided the benefits outweigh the disadvantages and will now be chipping children in one primary school. Source: CNET Asia Thanks to Dave for this link. I don't see how this is going to work. They are putting the RFID tags on schoolbags and name tags. What if they "forget" and leave them at home? I say if you are going to sacrifice the privacy of these kids at least embed the RFID chips in their skin.

Internet Explorer Multiple Vulnerabilities

4 new holes were found in IE today, allowing malicious people to bypass security restrictions and potentially compromise a vulnerable system. How fun. It never stops does it? What if Apple released Safari on Windows? Would it make a dent in the Internet Explorer stronghold? No, but it would make the few Windows geeks who know what Safari is happy. I think it is the greatest feeling when I turn someone on to Mozilla or Firefox, and they find out for the first time how much better those browsers are compared to IE. Source: Secunia

Microsoft XP SP2 and WUS delays confirmed

WROUGHT IRON SPECIALIST Microsoft has announced that its Windows Update Services release will now be delayed until early next year and its much awaited SP2 upgrade will stay in purdah until August. Windows Update Services (WUS) was supposed to ship at the end of Autumn with its beta supposed to arrive sometime about now. Apparently the final beta will not appear until later in the year. SP2 which was supposed to be out in June now has a release date for August. Spinsters at Vole apologised for the delay and regretted the inconvience caused... Source: The Inquirer And you people wonder why I finally gave up on Windows and sold my PC. August huh? What happened to Q1 2004? Which will come out first, SP2 or OS X Tiger?

July 14, 2004

Acrobat 6 and InDesign CS PDF

InDesign CS can PDF files just as easily as Distiller 6 can. We have a .joboptions file we use in Distiller for The BG News. For some reason, InDesign CS will not import this .joboptions file. I have to create a new "Acrobat InDesign PDF Export Presets" file. Why Acrobat 6 and InDesign CS do not use the same format is beyond me. The settings in both files are the same. The dialogs to setup these options in both applications are the same. I was able to import my Acrobat 5 .joboptions file into Acrobat 6. I would have thought I could just import my Acrobat 6 .joboptions file into InDesign CS. Nope.

July 15, 2004

McCain: Same-sex marriage ban is un-Republican

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona broke forcefully with President Bush and the Senate GOP leadership Tuesday evening over the issue of same-sex marriage, taking to the Senate floor to call a constitutional amendment that would effectively ban the practice unnecessary -- and un-Republican. Source: CNN Its great to see the constitution again stands un-amended. Kerry and Edwards did not vote, but they have missed a lot of votes during the presidential campaign. The Republicans still could not get enough votes to push this forward. Mike DeWine voted Yes, George Voinovich voted Yes as well. (A "yes" vote was a vote to advance the measure and a "no" vote was a vote to stop it.) Its nice to see that one Republican out there (McCain) thought this one through.

Taking extreme to extremes...

By: Michael Cooper exĢtreme ( k-str m ) adj. 1. Most remote in any direction; outermost or farthest: the extreme edge of the field. 2. Being in or attaining the greatest or highest degree; very intense: extreme pleasure; extreme pain. 3. Extending far beyond the norm: an extreme conservative. See Synonyms at excessive. 4. Of the greatest severity; drastic: took extreme measures to conserve fuel. 5. Sports. a. Very dangerous or difficult: extreme rafting. b. Participating or tending to participate in a very dangerous or difficult sport: an extreme skier. 6. Archaic. Final; last. The other day, I was driving in my car through Cleveland, and I noticed a license plate in front of me, EXTRM SP. It was on a Pontiac Grand Prix GT. Now, granted this is the sportiest car of the Grand Prix models, but what makes anything extreme? Maybe Im missing the point, but hasnt this all gone to the extreme? I can understand using extreme for distance (see definition #1 above), like the extreme reaches of space. Honestly, human minds cant comprehend the distances in space. I can understand extreme feelings (see definition #2). Extreme temperature (definition #3) is something else I can comprehend. Even definition #4 can be understood, but when we get into extreme sports, I just dont understand. By definition, an extreme sport involves danger and difficulty, but wouldnt that describe all sports? If youve never played a sport, wouldnt you find it difficult? And isnt physical activity by nature, dangerous? Hell, getting in your car is dangerous, but casual driving isnt referred to as extreme. Instead, jumping a mass amount of objects in a car is extreme. Okay, maybe you can say one thing is more dangerous than the next, therefore, it would be an extreme sport. But why dont you talk to ex-NFL players who are paralyzed, or Christopher Reeves, who was paralyzed while riding a horse. Now, I know there is no such thing as extreme horseback riding! Maybe a bucking bronco at the rodeoĶ Weve had extreme BMX, extreme motorcross, extreme skateboarding, extremeĶ the list goes on. I can live with extreme sports, Ill get over it. What about the XFL or the Extreme Challenge on SPIKE TV? Are they really extreme? What makes these things so extreme? Extreme stupidity? But, where I draw the line are extreme products. We now have extreme deodorant. How does that become extreme? Is it dangerous? No. Is it beyond the norm? No. Is it at its highest point? Definitely not. Is it intense? No. (And would you really want an intense deodorant? What would it do?) Now, there is extreme perfume or cologne. Ever get in the elevator with someone wearing too much perfume? Or how about walk into an elevator and still smell the perfume from the person who was in the elevator lastĶ even though they are no longer there? But deodorant? Isnt that supposed to take away odor? So why is it extreme? But I think the most creative, and the winner of my Extremely Stupid Uses for Extreme Award goes to Jell-O. We now have Extreme Jell-O! If I eat it will I die because it is so dangerous? Will it do death-defying tricks? Or does it just sit there and jiggle like normal Jell-O? And can Jell-O really be intense? I dont think so, although Ive never tried it. What makes this Jell-O any different from its predecessors? I mean, you still eat it, right? It still jiggles, right? I just dont understand. Whats next? Extreme cooking? Oh, waitĶwe have that already, too. Extreme sleeping? How about extreme breast feeing? What will they come up with next? America is born and raised on taking things to extremes to the point that we become desensitized to just about anything. Take violence and sex for example. These things have become so mainstream in the media, movies, TV, news, etc., that our younger generations are not phased by it anymore. So, in order to attracted the young generations as they grow older, we have to push the envelope even more, cross that line one more time and draw a new one in front. Its gotten to the point that even the politicians are realizing its a problem, but it took Janet Jacksons wardrobe malfunction to make people realize what was really going on in American culture. Who was more upset by the whole halftime show? I dont know about you, but all I heard were 40-somethings complaining. The younger generations were like, Oh, lookĶ.theres a boobĶ.what else is on TV? So, now the U.S. government wants to try to tighten the reigns, and innocent people are being persecuted, but dont get me started on the FCC, thats a rant for another time. Wake up, America! The more you push the envelope now, the further you have to push it six months from now, and even further a year from now. The more you expose us to something the more likely we are to become desensitized, and therefore, it no longer has its desired affect, and then, what are you going to come up with? Reaching for extremes I am extremely confusedĶ

July 16, 2004

bitoogle - the bit torrent file search engine

It was only a matter of time before there was a BitTorrent search engine. Check it out!

July 17, 2004

Financial aid scam targets students

The BGSU Office of Financial Aid is warning students of a scam in which a con artist impersonates a federal education official to gain access to information about students’ checking accounts. Financial Aid Director Craig Cornell said a letter describing the scam is being sent by email to BGSU students this week at the request of the U.S. Department of Education. Someone claiming to be a representative of the U.S. Department of Education is calling students, offering them grants, and asking for their bank account numbers so a processing fee can be charged. The caller claims he can replace the students’ federal loans with an $8,000 grant, and then obtains the student's checking account information. Source: BGSU Monitor I have not noticed such email, of course my BGNet email is 99.99% SPAM anyways.

Less stops on the way to work

They took our a lot of stop signs on Clough street which makes the drive to work a lot nicer. Much less stop and go. I assume they did this because of the Wooster Street construction. They are turning Wooser Street into Wooser Highway all the way from the i75 exit to Thursten, going from 2 to 4 lanes.

Time Troopers DVD/Game Review

DVD games are not very commonplace, but they do exist. A few of the classic laserdisc games like Dragon's Lair and Space Ace are certainly worthy of your cash. One of the latest is an edutainment title from the History Channel and b Equal called "Time Troopers." A board game on disc, this family product provides some mild fun, but numerous problems keep it far from greatness.

Continue reading "Time Troopers DVD/Game Review" »

AirPort Express iPodLounge Review

If Apple's iTunes music management software had only one major failing up until today, it would have been an obvious one: you could only hear your iTunes library through a computer. And if that computer wasn't in the same room with a nice pair of speakers - say, the large ones used in your home entertainment center - the only ways you could enjoy your digital music collection would be on a computer, or on an iPod... Source: iPodLounge

Suitcase XI does not like InDesign CS

I do not know if this problem effects the Windows versions of this software, I hope it doesn't because this is a not-so-fun problem. Without getting into the font management app war, my favorite font management app is Suitcase. We have Suitcase XI (11) and it is updated to 11.0.2, the latest version at this writing. We are running InDesign CS 3.0.1 at this time. The short and (not so) sweet of it: Suitcase XI causes InDesign CS crash when you create a new document. The long version: If the Suitcase auto-activation plugin is active in InDesign, InDesign will crash when you create a new document. Now if you start a document from a template or open an existing InDesign or Quark file, then InDesign will not crash. The easy fix is to take that auto-activation plugin out of the InDesign plugin folder. That is not the solution however. I do not know what the solution is right now. Since we have an investment in both InDesign and Suitcase my next step will be to call Extensis. I have read enough online to understand that it is a Suitcase problem. I for one never liked relying on font management software to turn on fonts I need for a project, but it is a really nice feature.

Lance Armstrong Wins 13th Stage of Tour de France

Five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has won the 13th stage of this year's race and moved to within 22 seconds of overall leader Thomas Voeckler of France... Source: Voice of America News Oh my Lord! He is like superman or something. He must be juiced. Yea thats it. There is no way he could actually be a great American athlete. No, that can't be it. I had a feeling that he would come back to the front of the race in spectacular fashion...

July 18, 2004

Newsweek leaks new iPod design (Updated)

The cover of the Newsweek issue dated July 26, 2004 shows a bespectacled Apple CEO Steve Jobs holding what appears to be a new iPod design featuring a new scrollwheel that mimics the one used on the iPod mini... Source: MacCentral Article has Newsweek cover. Back to basics it looks like. And 60 GB would be nice. How about wirelessly talking to the AirPort Express. And what about video on the next iPod? I think the headline is wrong though. Mr. Jobs posed for this photo, how is that a "leak?" UPDATE: Newsweek has an article online now as well. No boost in HD size, 12 hr. battery life, and multiple on-the-go playlists round out the new features. Oh they are cheaper too. Not bad at all! This is an odd avenue for Apple to be taking for a 4G iPod announcement, but then its Apple, and odd does not apply. Talk about cheap PR. Should we call Newsweek Apple's new PR firm?

July 19, 2004

Deep Blue Sea DVD Review

Filmmaking rule #1: If your film stars giant genetically altered sharks, there is no need for a plot, character development, or logic. This is a rule that Deep Blue Sea follows exactly, without any compromise. Renny Harlin directs this minor shark classic with a breakneck pace, but the special effects ruin everything. Aquatica is an under (and slightly above) water research facility. Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) has funded this project, but after one of the facilities guests escapes and attacks a small boat, he demands to see the project first hand. Dr. Susan McCallister (Saffron Burrows) is the lead scientist trying to cure Alzheimer's disease by studying and altering sharks; natures perfect creation. After a slight incident involving a helicopter and the facility itself, things start to go horribly wrong and the contained sharks are free to roam about, chomping on the various people who get in their way. Deep Blue Sea does a lot right. Characters who would never die in other films become shark bait, the action is superb, and the scare factor is sky high. This film has so many unpredictable moments, you're bound to feel the same tension the characters feel. The acting is on par (though unremarkable) and there is hardly a dull moment to be found. LL Cool J also provides some great comic relief as Preacher Dudley. Sadly, the uses of cheesy, hardly believable CGI effects ruin everything. Some absolutely wonderful full size animatronics sharks were built for the film and they are flawless. Intercut with the computer-generated sharks makes the entire film laughable. The animation is so fast and impossible, it seems like these animals have no backbones. Most of these effects would be possible on the Playstation 2. If the special effects were better, this could have been one of the best shark films ever made. It's a shame that they screwed this up. (*** out of *****) Warner presents this film in 2.35:1 widescreen, the way it should be. The flesh tones seem way off at times with blistering color, but other moments they seem fine. The transfer holds together but never causes bleeding, but some color correction would have went a long way to improving this disc. Otherwise, there is a light layer of film grain over this very soft transfer. Black levels are solid, though some of the underwater scenes have a very washed out look to them (though this could be intended). This isn't the best transfer of all time, but it is serviceable. (***) The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack works well, but does seem limited in the rears. A few nice water crashing effects and the helicopter explosion use them extensively, but that is the extent of the surrounds. However, your subwoofer will get a major workout here. It's used constantly in almost every sequence, shaking the room with ridiculous amounts of bass. This is a very strong 5.1 mix and recommended if you want to give a workout to your sub. (****) This is a decent special edition for the film, but there is little earth-shattering here. First is a commentary by Renny Harlin and Samuel L Jackson. Harlin also leads the way through eight minutes of deleted scenes and these can be viewed without commentary. Most of the scenes were used for character development and we all know this serves no purpose here. The video quality here is also suspect. They're almost hard to watch in this condition. When Sharks Attack is a 15-minute minor making of documentary that really focuses on the underwater dives with real sharks they did prior to filming. There are a few shots that they used in the film from these dives. The rest is padded with brief looks at the soundtrack, special effects, and the actor's experiences. Sharks of Deep Blue Sea is roughly the same length as the deleted scenes, but focuses completely on the special effects. The animatronic sharks are explained in detail and hearing Harlin praising the CG is funny. Both of these documentaries are entirely full screen. Finishing off the disc are some DVD-ROM features, stills, and the trailer. (***) Deep Blue Sea is a certainly a must for shark and horror fans, but anyone else should be advised to stay away. What it lacks in originality it makes up for with superb action, but no one will watch this film and not laugh at the effects. It's hardly excusable and this movies deathblow.

Eight Legged Freaks DVD Review

Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich can burn. After what they did to Godzilla, they deserve to suffer. But, anyone can redeem themselves and both of them did, lending their services to Eight Legged Freaks. Easily one of the best (and entertaining) giant bug movies ever, this is not only a nearly flawless tip-o-the-hat to the classic 50's genre, but a wild ride on its own. Toxic waste is once again the catalyst in the small town of Prosperity. Fed radioactive crickets by their owner, a large number of spiders grow to ridiculous proportions and begin to lay waste to any small animal. At the same time, Chris McCormick (David Arquette) returns to the small town after a 10-year absence. Reunited with the sheriff who is also a lost love (played by Kari Wuhrer) and her spider-loving son (Scott Terra), they begin to pick off the creatures while trying to save the inhabitants of the town. Though not exactly a major studio hit, Eight Legged Freaks did manage to cause a small buzz in 2002. This is a wonderful, tongue-firmly-in-cheek monster movie that never lets up. Rarely will you find giant bugs and major laughs in the same film, but director Ellory Elkayem knew exactly how to handle this type of film and it shows through here. Most directors who tackle this genre in a comedic way just toss in some terrible effects and acting, believing that this is what the genre is all about. It's not. Freaks has some really nice effects, especially considering the overwhelming use of CGI. The acting is par and occasionally cheap, but never overblown. The comedy mostly comes from the spiders themselves, who can almost "talk," Gremlins style. This is an absolute blast to watch and if you go in with the right mind set, you're guaranteed to have a great time. (**** out of *****) Two version of the film are available. First is a 2.35:1 widescreen (reviewed here as always) and a pan & scan version for those who have yet to move into the true DVD generation. The transfer used here is hit or miss, usually due to some annoying film grain. It's most likely the extensive use of CGI that causes this, but the darker sequences are just overflowing with it. Otherwise, this is a clean print with solid color and deep black levels. Some minor color bleeding occurs with the deeper reds and some flicker is evident as well, but these are minor issues compared to the grain. (***) Making up for a lackluster video presentation is a wonderful Dolby 5.1 mix. The title creatures make their way through all of the speakers at some point, and the large fight in the mall is a spectacular audio experience. Your subwoofer will take a beating here as well. The larger spiders pound their way across the screen, each footstep shaking the room like it should. A DTS edition of this movie would likely be one of the best sounding discs on the market. (****) The extras here are few, but they make up for it in quality. A commentary track from Arquette, Elkayem, Devlin, and Rick Overton (who plays the hilarious deputy in the film), is fun even though Arquette sounds like he is either drunk or high on something. Thirteen minutes of deleted/alternate scenes have been included in widescreen, but their video quality is not great. The commentary mentions numerous alternate takes with Overton's character but none have been included here sadly. "Larger than Life" is easily the best extra on the disc. This 13-minute short was Elkayem's precursor to the feature. This black and white film follows a women fending off enlarged spiders in her home, mostly in the same vein as Freaks. She calls an exterminator who is, to say the least, very unsuccessful and takes on the largest critter herself. Also included on the disc is a short essay on the giant bug genre and the films trailer presented in 1.85:1, which is not the proper ratio oddly enough. Final credit must be given for the cool menus, which mimic movie posters of old. (****) Not everyone will "get" Eight Legged Freaks. If you have never seen any of the 50's classics (such as "Them!" which actually gets a cameo in this movie) then you may not understand the idea and thought behind it. Those who grew up loving and those who still do love these true classics will have a blast here. This is a must-see film, but only if you are included in the above group.

July 20, 2004

UC fires back at Microsoft in browser battle

The University of California hit back at Microsoft in its pitched patent battle over fundamental Web browsing technology. UC and its one-man software spinoff Eolas on July 16 filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the federal circuit, in Washington, D.C., to counter Microsoft's request for an appeal in a patent infringement case that has rattled the Web, from site authors to browser vendors to standards groups... Source: C|Net News.com Are you getting tired of hearing about this? I am. And this is rather important to use web geeks. I almost feel as though "prior art" should prevail here. And the only reason Eolas is going after Microsoft is because they do actually have the insane money they are asking for. What the heck happened to the web being a free medium?

Apple introduces fourth-generation iPod

Apple on Monday introduced its fourth generation iPod, revised with a new interface similar to that found on the iPod mini and a new feature called Shuffle Songs. The new iPod also sports a battery that's good for up to 12 hours of use at a time, according to Apple. The iPod is available in 20GB and 40GB capacities for US$299 and $399 respectively.... Source: MacCentral The price is great! The new software is great. Why in the world can't you flash the 3G iPod with the new software? That makes no sense. The last major software bump, whatever number that was, could be installed on the older hardware. Why not this time? Hopefully someone will hack it so it can be installed on the 3G iPod.

CD Review: Katie Melua “Call off the Search”

She sounds like she belongs in a smoky Chicago lounge circa 1940 sprawled out over a grand piano with dimly lit beams dancing off her sequins dress. Appropriately named record "Call off the Search," I believe we have found the new voice of Generation Y hipsters. With a voice as sweet as silk it flows smoothly over piano, strings, and light jazzy snare. With the onslaught of "authentic" vocal talents over the past half dozen years or so it's refreshing to notice geniune talent that has staying power. A smash hit in the UK it's no wonder why her independent release on Dramatico has done so well, she has the full package. A clean image, talent, oozing with potential, and a good heart unlike some of her American counterparts, it's no wonder her album is such a skyrocket success. With a seasoned semi-legend as Mike Batt at the helm, writing many tracks on "Call Off The Search," his experience comprising hit songs for an array of musical talent over the years can be seen. Batt is responsible for the monumental single "Bright Eyes," by Art Garfunkel and his work with Andrew Lloyd Webber producing and composing Phantom of the Opera. Amazingly the six-person staff at Dramitico were responsible for over a million albums sold in the UK alone. I especially like the moody, deeply moving "Blame It On the Moon," Katie croons about not falling in love again so soon. Now while she is only ninteen her baby voice matches her face but her style and texture reach far beyond her years. A native of Georgia in the former USSR, Katie has globetrotted to Ireland finally settling into a British School for the Recording Arts. Her accent is not noticable whatsover and finally honing into a unique sound described as soul mixed with vibey jazz her diverse musical influences each shine like a beacon through the clouds. Queen, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Irish and Indian Folk music her prowess is as deep as her passionate vocal ability.

July 21, 2004

New iPods' "lower prices" come at a cost

Although Apple is touting the fact that the new iPods, announced Monday, cost $100 less than the previous generation's models for the same capacity ($299 for the 20GB model, $399 for the 40GB model), if you want or need the same accessories that came with the previous models, you'll have to buy some of them. Specifically, the remote control and carrying case, included with the previous models of the same capacity, are now optional accessories, listing for $39 each (although purchasing the remote also gets you an extra pair of the iPod's white earbuds). The previously included FireWire 4-pin-to-6-pin adapter is also no longer part of the package (and doesn't appear to be available from the Apple Store, although other similar adapters are available). Finally, the previous 20GB model included a dock base, whereas the new 20GB model does not (the dock is now a $39 accessory for the 20GB model; it's still included with the 40GB model). Granted, the new iPods also include a USB2.0 cable -- previously a $19 extra -- and have a few new features. However, if you want an iPod with the same accessories as the previous generation, you'll need to spend an extra $78 (for the 40GB model) or $117 (for the 20GB model). Source: MacFixIt I don't get the remote control argument. That thing is a piece of crap. But I guess some people use it. But I do think the new iPod should come with a carrying case! Not to mention that little FireWire 4-pin-to-6-pin adapter is very handy if say you bought a posh Sony Vaio that only comes with 4 pin Firewire (lame, Sony, really lame). The 20 GB replaced the 15 GB, which did not have a dock base. So I would not expect that to come with a dock base anyhow. But in reality here, these acessories are not used! Who uses the carrying case that you get with the iPod? Who uses the remote control? Who uses the FireWire 4-pin-to-6-pin adapter? Who uses the dock base? Just kidding, the dock base is handy to have. But truth be told I hardly use that either.

July 22, 2004

Excuse me, Mr. Moore, at what temperature do your lies burn?

I finally drug myself out of the house to see “Fahrenheit 9/11” and to no surprise it was the most ridiculous grouping of lies and misinformation I have ever seen. I am convinced that the only reason it is deemed a “documentary” is because there isn't a category for “best propaganda film” at the Oscars. The film begins with the most insane take on the 2000 election. According to Moore the election was called in favor of Bush partially due to the Fox News Channel. He claims that Fox called Florida for Bush because a Bush cousin was in charge at the news desk. According to Moore, “if Fox said it, it must be true” so every other network followed suite. If one man at a news desk can swing every other network then liberals should just surrender right now. Moore excludes several facts with all of his nonsense and vast right wing conspiracy theories. The truth of the matter is every other network called Florida too soon. CBS announced 18 times that the polls were closed in Florida when in fact many polls were still open in the conservative Florida Panhandle. The other news networks discouraged the Bush vote by calling the state for Gore at only 7:49PM . Fox News waited until all votes were in and called the election at 2:16 AM. Moore also claims that if there was another recount Gore would have won. I'm not sure if Moore has been sleeping under a rock for the past 4 years, (he possibly has considering the way he dresses) but there were many recounts after the election. He won 2 recounts in democratic areas, he won the recount of absentee ballots, and he won the recount which excluded military ballots. Even Tom Daschle said it was time to move on. I'm sorry Michael, but when this very liberal member of the Senate stops the fight you aren't up the creek without a paddle, you are drowning. Other than his ridiculous look at the elections, where even leader of the Senate Al Gore couldn't get one senator to sign a protest paper for the election, Fahrenheit is full of preposterous lies and bad narration. Throughout the movie, Moore makes insane comments that would even give Phil Donahue a brain aneurysm. According to the film, on September 10th Bush “went to sleep that night, with a bed made of fine French linens.” Now how does he know this? I would love to hear his sources on the contents of Bush's bed (I'm sure it's not as exciting as the contents of Clinton 's bed). And according to Moore, Ashcroft was sworn in on a stack of bibles not because of tradition, but because “he needed all the help he can get.” His misleading narration only continues as the film goes on. He also claims that Bush is only in it for the money. According to Moore, Bush and his loosely defined “friends” have made 1.4 billion dollars because of the Saudis. So his friends who run billion dollar companies made a billion dollars, how bout dem apples? He claims that when Bush gets up in the morning he is thinking about what is best for the Saudis. If Bush only cared about money he wouldn't have run for president in the first place. If Moore is correct, Bush has been making this money for the past 10 years while not in the Oval Office, so why would he need to be president to keep making this money? Among the absurd narration, Moore attempts to make valid points about Bush's reaction to 9/11. Moore claims that after the second plane crashed Bush froze in the headlights and didn't know what to do “not knowing what to do, and no one telling him what to do” so he kept reading the book My Pet Goat to the children in a Florida school. What Michael doesn't say is that when he found out about the first plane, it was believed to be an accident, not a terror attack and the damage assessment was unknown. After the second plane hit Bush did not want to scare the children, so he waited. Moore doesn't show Bush interrupting reporters when they asked about the incident. Bush stopped the reporters from asking a question in the class room saying that he will “talk about it later,” again, trying not to scare the kids. The bulk of the movie is a lot of nonsensical information about the Laden family ties to the Bush family. What Moore almost ignores is the fact that the Laden family is not associated with Osama. Osama Bin Laden was kicked out of Saudi Arabia because of his strong disagreement with U.S. troops going to fight Iraqi troops in Kuwait (no Osama – Saddaam connection here!). The film offers one piece of information to disprove the dislike from his family. Osama and unknown family members, according to an “expert” (whose name and title was not given in the film) attended a wedding once since his exile. Good work Sherlock! Now go out and find little Timmy's missing bicycle. The possibility that Osama and unknown family members were at the same wedding after his exile does not prove that Osama is not the black sheep of the family. This is why the government allowed the family to fly out of America after 9/11. Afraid of backlash of an innocent group of Arab Americas, Bush let the Laden family members leave. The ridiculous claim that this event is comparable to a “what if” scenario where McVeigh's family is flown out of the Country is just that, ridiculous. They were not from another nation, so why would that warrant a free flight out of the country. Perhaps if McVeigh's family was from Saudi Arabia, helped run 7% or our economy, was known to be completely innocent and controlled the gas market, then flights may be reasonable. Then Moore goes on to more conspiracy theories about a Bush friend, Maj. Bath which reminded me of a bad X-Files episode. I'm sorry Mr. Moore, but not everything is run by this vast network of people with right wing ideologies. Moore claims that Bath's name was blacked out of Bush's National Guard record because Bath was in business with the Bin Laden family. A more reasonable person would realize that his name was blacked out because the papers were about Bush, not Maj. Bath. They were blacked out because the Major doesn't want idiotic fake reporters like Michael Moore, or anyone from The New York Times at his door. If this was some elaborate cover up why wasn't it censored when Moore got a copy of the papers in 2000? To keep this short, I will comment on 3 last things: Moore's view of the military, the Patriot Act and his favorite topic, wealth distribution. Moore shows footage of soldiers in war and makes up lies about the success' they are achieving. According to Moore most of the Taliban leaders are still at large claiming “Bush really didn't do much.” This is a preposterous statement considering we found almost all of the Taliban leaders, or killed them. Instead of showing Iraqi torture chambers, or mass graves, he decides to make the military look like a bunch of adrenaline junkies. War is dirty and the Marines get the job done. I'm sorry Michael, but war is a tough thing to handle emotionally especially for gut less filmmakers like yourself. The war had to be done, and those “adrenaline junkies” accomplished an amazing and heroic task. As Ann Coulter said, “we are sending in the Marines, not Washington Post Journalists.” While mocking the marines for listening to music in their tanks and doing their job he throws in false facts about WMD finds (if you still don't believe in WMD's, read this) and that Iraq has never attacked the US. Iraq has been attacking Americans for the past decade. They never obeyed the cease fire and tried on an almost weekly basis to shoot down American planes, while at the same time harboring terrorists of several groups. Not to mention he tried to assassinate Herbert Walker Bush. Moore only tends to concentrate on U.S. accidental fire of civilians rather than the amount of enemy that was eliminated. The weapons used in this war have been the best in history, minimizing civilian casualties. The Iraqi war casualties are estimated in the thousands while WWII estimates range in the millions including 19 million civilian dead in Russia and 2 million in Germany . Moore would rather have a pacifist behind the flak jacket and M16 debating the duality of man in war than actually have a Marine who can win. Imagine a Marine and an insurgent face to face, and the Marine hesitates because he is worried about bad press reports or stray bullets; guess who is going home in a body bag? Moore also claims that reporters were not allowed to take pictures of the coffins coming home. This is simply a lie. Look on my website under the Photo's section and see who is telling the truth. The ranting and raving continues as Moore goes after the Patriot Act; supposedly driving about in an ice cream truck reading the 600 page piece of legislation out loud to anyone who is dumb enough to listen to him. Much like Lincoln had to suspend Habeas Corpus in order to save the Union; Bush had to take away certain luxurious we had in order to save the US. What good are rights when no one is alive to enjoy them? Moore complains that the FBI acted wrongly and violated the rights while questioning a man who said “he [Osama] will never be as big of an asshole as Bush.” The man who said this was reported by a friend and the FBI investigated and made no arrests; I fail to see the problem. No ones rights were “trampled on,” he said a stupid thing to a group of people and they called the authorities, what right was violated? And a rant by Michael Moore would not be complete without the mention of wealth redistribution. He complains that Flint Michigan is in such bad shape, and that Bush is the terrorist for allowing people to live like this. Considering Fahrenheit made over 93 million dollars, we'll leave the wealth redistribution up to Moore. In a world of media lies and anti-Bush propagandists, I have noticed one thing; Americans (mostly Democrats and “swing voters”) will believe anything they see on a screen. While gullible people watch this movie and grow a hate for successful companies and the president, our commander will still be fighting for them to protect them from the evils of the world. While Moore is whining about aggressive Marines they will still fight so he will be safe from the threat of terror. To put a stop to the lies, I ask, Mr. Moore, at what temperature do your lies burn? Originally posted at DavesPolitics.com.

GoLive CS vs. Dreamweaver MX 2004

This issue came up as an OT thread on the BlueWord InDesign Talk list. Since I decided to add my branch to the fire, I figured I should post this here as well. Enjoy. I hope to hear from any of you who have opposing, or similar opinions.
Ahh, this is a wonderful debate. Always has been, always will be. General assumptions of market leaders aside (Windows & viruses, Internet Explorer & bad standards compliance), Dreamweaver (DW) is far superior to GoLive (GL) in many ways. DW is a market leader because it gets the job done, period. It also happens to have a great UI. The UI of DW allows me to work faster then the UI of GL. I have used both since it was called GoLive Cyber Studio (I looked at version 1 but did not use it until version 2) and Dreamweaver 1.2, and I like both, I just find DW much easier and faster to use. GL used to have database connectivity, why oh why did they take it out? Was it because it never worked? I never tried database stuff in GL, so I cannot say. I have used the database tools in UltrDev and DW for a while now, and am pretty comfortable with the features and limitations that MX and MX 2004 bring to the table. It has been said, and I agree, that GL is a page designers web tool, and DW is a code junkies web tool. I spend half my web dev time in BBEdit anywho, so I think I fall into the code junkie stereotype. I never liked how things are done in GL. I have always preferred the DW way of getting it done. It just feels more natural to me, GL makes me do things all bass-akwards at times. Live Objects in GL rock, but I will get to those in a minute. Multimedia PDF in GL rocks. And the best feature of all in GL is the extensive support for QuickTime content. One summer I worked with streaming QT Servers and LiveStage Pro and GL could handle ANY type of media I threw at it. Even QuickTime VR. It will handle (and has a QuickTime Editor UI to create/tweak) any type of QuickTime media track. Embedding Poster Frames and all the needed QuickTime code is so much easier in GL. There is a nice behavior for DW for Poster Frames, but its pretty lame compared to GL. I like Live Objects but I do not love them. If I want/need to edit a graphic I will go into Photoshop etc. and make the change and re-export the file(s) for the web. I like doing it that way. Being able to place Photoshop and Illustrator files in InDesign and then update the links is different. Live Objects tries to do that for the web, and I do not think the the parallels for web and print are there. Live Objects is not a selling point (for me.) The insane amount of QuickTime integration in GL, that is a selling point. GL 6 was not that impressive. It felt like GL 5 that worked in OS X. Was it GL 5 that had the database functionality, or was that GL 6? I cannot remember. GL CS has some nice improvements. It is faster then 6 was, I think that is its best new feature. InDesign Package for GoLive is an interesting concept, but so far I do not like the results when the InDesign layouts get spat out for the web. The new CSS editor in GL CS is nice. I however think the new CSS features in DW MX 2004 are rock solid (Relevant CSS panel), and a lot nicer then what is available in GL CS. I also prefer the CSS editing window in DW over that of GL. On the hand coding side, of which I like to do a lot of in both DW and GL, I prefer DW again. The HomeSite like features added in MX and improved upon in MX 2004 are wonderful. I always wanted HomeSite on the Mac, and while the Windows version of DW has a few more HomeSite like features then the Mac version of DW, it is still really handy to have those drop down menus in code view. To GL's credit, it too has this feature now. GL CS has a much improved UI over GL 6. I really like it. I prefer the DW UI, but the GL UI is now much easier to work with. I just wish GL, Like all the Adobe apps in the CS Suite, worked the same. Namely, I wish they all worked like InDesign CS. I wish I could make my palette a one row horizontal bar, I wish I could collapse my palettes to the sides of the screen, I wish the Keyboard shortcut editor was identical in all apps, I wish, I wish, I wish. The CS thing would have meant so much more if all the apps involved had the same palette structure. That being said, GL's redesigned Object palette is very useable now. Both GL and DW can produce some pretty horrid spaghetti code when they are all done and ready to publish to the web. I find DW the lesser of the two evils, but it is still not as nice and clean as if I just did it all myself in BBEdit. But we use DW or GL so that our fingers do not turn into bloody nubs. So I can put up with some spaghetti code if it lets me develop a site quicker. I have given GL a try on a few occasions, developing a site from start to finish, and I keep coming back to DW.

All eyes on virus protection at Athens Olympics

Terrorism isn't the only security threat officials are worried about at this summer's Olympic Games in Athens. They're also concerned about viruses and worm attacks that could cripple the Olympics' data network... Since then, concerns about confidentiality have shifted to worries about the growing number of virus and worm attacks. According to data from the FBI, about 82 percent of U.S. businesses were attacked by a virus in 2003, resulting in more than $200 billion in losses... Source: C|Net News.com It was smart to decide to cut off access to the internet. Thats the best part of their entire strategy. Its good to hear that the data network will be ready. But will the sports venues?

Complete 9/11 Commission Report

Download the 7.4 MB 585 page Commission Report! I am sure it is a spellbinder. Hopefully it will be more informative then the Starr Report.

July 23, 2004

Apple signs three major European indie labels to iTunes

Apple was criticized when the iTunes Music Store first launched in the UK, France and Germany in June because of the absence of independent music. That changed on Wednesday when Apple said that it has signed licensing agreements with three major European independent music labels; the agreement adds tens of thousands of additional tracks from leading independent artists to the service's UK, French and German stores... Source: MacCentral I do not know how the words major and indie fit into a headline, but this is good news for all the iTMS fans across the pond. Is it just me or is an indie label not major by defenition. We here in the US already have these artists, and its nice that the UK gets this music too. I think "Popular European indie labels" would have been more fitting, but thats just me.

Microsoft: Virtual PC 7 coming this October

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday indicated that Virtual PC for Mac Version 7 will likely be released in October, though the schedule is entirely dependent on Microsoft's efforts to ship a new service pack for its Windows XP operating system. This is the first clarification the company has provided about Virtual PC 7's release schedule since confirming in May that its release would be delayed. Virtual PC enables Mac users to run various versions of Windows software applications and operating systems by emulating the characteristics of an actual hardware PC on their Macintosh. Previously sold by Connectix Corp., Virtual PC was acquired by Microsoft in February, 2003.... Source: MacCentral I will hopefully have my G5 by October :P It is supposed to ship by 7/30 and I cannot wait. I see across the Internet this news has gotten some bad publicity. I for one applaud the MacBU for waiting until after SP2 of XP. I just hope SP2 comes out on time (whatever date that is now) or we will be waiting and waiting for VPC 7 to ship. Can you imagine installing VPC and right when you launch Windows XP for the first time being told you have to download the XXX MB download of SP2? No thank you! I will wait until SP2 is pre-installed for me. I am a Mac user after all, I like my software to be user friendly.

Collateral Damage

LOS ANGELES - A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Sunday that the governor would not apologize for calling lawmakers "girly-men," despite criticisms from Democrats that the remark was sexist and homophobic... Source: MercuryNews.com And he shouldn't apologize! "Girly-men" is a poke of fun at himself for crying out loud. If Gov. Arnold wants to use a SNL reference that makes fun of himself in his campaign, more power to him! Folks need to take a chill.

Flat Panel iMac Port Placement is a Pain

I do not know what Apple was thinking when designing that lampshade iMac but they came up with a great product. The swivel display is a nice touch (no pun intended). Why in the word they put every single port in the back of the base is beyond me. I can understand the power being in the back, and possibly the ethernet port should be back there too. But why the Firewire and USB ports are in the back baffles me. Why are the audio jacks in the back? We now have a nice mix of FP iMacs and eMacs at work, and setting up the FP iMacs is a pain. We use USB bus powered Zip drives in the offices and move a few of them to the machine that need them at that moment. I use a Firewire bus powered HD to perform maintenance on all of our (Firewire equipped) Macs. Some students, including myself have USB pen drives. The USB and Firewire ports on the FP iMac should be brought around to the left or right side. And while they are at it they can bring the power button around to the side as well. It is such a waste of time, and an annoyance, to have to swivel the base of the FP iMac around to plug/unplug a Firewire or USB base. The port placement on the eMac on the other hand is great. Of course its in the same place as the CRT iMacs, a placement that should not have been mucked with.

10.4 to offer more support for HFS+ features

As usual John Gruber has a great article, this time on HFS+ and Tiger's new features. Check out "Spotlight on Spotlight" for some great info. I agree with that its about time that cp and tar will finally support resource forks and metadata. Spotlight really looks like a great new feature in Tiger. I always liked the resource fork and metadata of OS X, and was disheartened at talk that those things would be going away. I am sure I am not the only one wondering what would have happened if Apple had bought Be and not NeXT. I think we will see in Tiger some truly Be like touches to HFS+.

Apple Settles TIBCO Suit, Renames Rendezvous

Apple Computer has settled a trademark dispute with TIBCO Software, sources told eWEEK.com. There have been reports that Apple will rename its implementation of the ZeroConf wireless network discovery technology from Rendezvous to OpenTalk as part of the deal, but sources suggested that no new name has been set... Source: eWeek

July 24, 2004

ESPN NFL 2K5 X-Box Review

Madden has always had competitors. In the early 16-bit days, it was Sega and their Joe Montana/NFL series that battled it out every year with EA's juggernaut. The 32-Bit era brought in Sony and their franchise, NFL Gameday. Then the Dreamcast hit the market on 9-9-99 and launched with a revolutionary football game that has caused EA grief ever since. Now the latest version of Visual Concept's series, ESPN NFL 2K5, is here with a measly $20 price tag. Needless to say, this is the best $20 you can spend on the market today. Sega has gone all out this year in the presentation department, but the gameplay has only received minor tweaks in various areas. The running game has been toned down for the better, the passing game has been improved to eliminate the ridiculous number of dropped passes from last year, and runners can no longer turn on a dime. Your DB's can be adjusted on the fly if necessary as can your defensive line and you can now select your end zone celebration after a touchdown. If you have been under the Madden influence for the past five years, you will not just pick this game up and run with it. It will take an adjustment period (and probably the games decent training mode) to get you going. It is necessary to give the game some time to adjust as 2K5 moves faster and is arguably more challenging when on even difficulty levels (Note: Adjust the difficulty immediately if you have experience with this series. The default is far too forgiving). The feature set remains largely the same. "The Crib" has been expanded upon with countless new items and a new celebrity feature. This allows you to walk into your crib and answer the phone to accept a challenge from people like Carmen Electra, Steve-O, and Funkmaster Flex. Winning against their unfairly overpowered super-teams gives you points and can unlock more items. However, the horrendously annoying voice-overs during the game from the "stars" is so annoying, making it through a game will be a test of patience. Of course, you can ignore this all together and head on-line for full X-Box Live support. First-person football has been tweaked to make it more accessible, but trying to see your receivers is still difficult. The running game is still a blast however. Thankfully, you can switch out of this mode with a quick press of the left analog stick to pull the camera back to the classic view most people will be used to. The franchise mode has of course been expanded upon, but with slightly mixed results. The new option, called weekly prep, is novel, but it's grinding length and infinite menus just make you want to get to the game itself. You can set up various training schedules for each position, make your players watch game films, and even have them take more alternative routes like yoga. This will take at least a half-hour and there is nothing interactive about it since you just wade through text. Thankfully, you can turn this off before you begin your franchise, so this is not a big deal. Visual Concepts has added the ability to offer signing bonuses to your draft picks or free agents, a nice way to avoid salary cap trouble. Players can be placed on the injured reserves should the dreaded season ending injury happen. You'll also receive E-mail from the higher-ups each week, giving you information on how badly you played and information from around the league just like last year. You can even participate in some of last year's games with the ESPN 25th Anniversary mode. This will drop you into memorable clutch situations like the Heidi Bowl, The Catch, The Drive, and more. There are, of course, 25 in total. You can also create your own scenario as well. But, even with all of this new stuff, the V.I.P. system is by far the most revolutionary part of the game. By setting up a V.I.P. file, the game will track the way you play and record it. Save this to a memory card or your hard drive and you can play against a "ghost" team of yourself (to see what areas of improvement are necessary) or give your card to a friend and have them take you on without you even being there. What's so amazing is that this feature works with stunning accuracy. I tend to run to the weak side more than anywhere else and after playing a game against myself with this system, the computer copied my style perfectly. It even ran some of the plays I tend to run on a regular basis. Really impressive and this is a feature that must be tried out. Now, what separates ESPN from the other football game on the market this year is the simply awe-inspiring presentation. Remember in Madden 97 on the PS One how Jim Brown was "in the studio" each week, full-motion video style? Take that same concept and multiply it times ten. A virtual Chris Berman opens each game and introduces Sportscenter each week. He will also meet you at the half and post game. Suzie Kolber will actually interview the player of the game in real-time once the final second has ticked off the clock and the cinemas during the game are just unbeatable. VC has claimed that 200 of them have been crammed onto the disc and that statement certainly has merit. Fans tailgate, find their seats, players kick over coolers after a bad play, the cart comes out for really nasty injuries, coaches yell at players after a bad set, etc. It's endless and though it is just eye-candy, it really adds to the overall feel of the game. Though not built from the ground up, the graphics engine here is by far the best ever conceived in a football game. Every detail is simply beautiful here. The bump-mapping used on the players gives the graphics additional depth and about 80% of the player faces are accurate. New animations have been added, but some have been used since the series' inaugural edition and probably should be retired. Also, the virtual Chris Berman and player interviews have no lip-synching whatsoever, but for a first time attempt, credit is still due in large. The game also runs in 480p so HDTV owners will definitely have the opportunity to appreciate the finer details. Peter O'Keefe and Dan Stevens return again as the best video game play-by-play guys in the business, but maybe it is time to introduce some real ESPN announcers to the series. Regardless, these two guys spout off banter between plays, joke with each other, and call the game flawlessly, rarely falling behind. Sideline chatter is nice too though you won't actually learn anything by listening in. The 5.1 surround support included here is also phenomenal and you will be reminded of it every game, at the half, by the announcers. But, what good is sound if you can't control it? 2K5 lets you actually control your stadium music by clipping your songs from the hard drive and blasting them through the stadium speakers for specific plays, of course selected by you. This is a feature more sports games should immediately copy. If you're brand loyal to the Madden series, it's time to snap out of it. Sega along with Visual Concepts have crafted not only the best looking, sounding, awe-inspiring, feature filled football game of all time, but the best playing one as well. It's even crazier that this game is only $20. DO NOT let the price fool you into thinking this is bargain basement junk. This is a title that should be in your collection immediately with no excuses. Final note: PS2 owners need a hard drive for the full experience. Halftime and post-game highlights will be reduced to still pics without it. Slowdown is also a small issue and the graphics have been knocked down a notch, but it never effects gameplay signifigantly. Otherwise, the games are pretty much identical.

Video Games are back!

I have been so busy. It has been months (read: more then 3) since I have touched a controller. Those poor neglected consoles... I got out SSX 3 (my personal favorite PS2 game) and am back playing that. That game is so fun. I am a little rusty, but there are a few characters I have not maxed out yet. And there are still plenty of Platinum medals I need to get. Its well worth a purchase out of the used games bin if you do not have it yet. Its been about 4 months since I have bought a video game (I think that is a record!) but the last time I checked they cost $50 a pop. The new NFL 2k5 is only $20. What are they thinking selling it for $30 cheaper and 3 weeks prior to the release of Madden 2005 :P The Mega Man Anniversary Collection was $30 too. What is going on here? Its nice to pick up two great games for $50. I told myself I was not going to buy another game until the new GTA came out, but not at these great prices. I can't work this hard and not have some time to veg out and play video games. Bottom Line: ESPN NFL 2k5 is worth $50. Just go buy it. Mega Man Anniversary Collection is worth the cash if you are a fan of the series. You get 8 Mega Man games and two unlockables on top of that.

July 26, 2004

ESPN NFL 2k5 X-Box Review, Take Two

For a full review of NFL 2k5 you need to read Matt's review. I just wanted to add my two cents. One of the best things to come out of SEGA is Visual Concepts. This game was good before they added the ESPN trimmings. This year's edition to the 2k franchise is the best yet. Before I go any further, I must say I am quite biased. I don't like Madden (the commentator or the video game). I was always a fan of the Joe Montana series. When NFL 2k came out for the Dreamcast I had it, as well as 2k1, and 2k2 on the DC. I rented Madden 2003 and 2004 and I just prefer the game play and graphics of the 2k series. I would suggest, as Matt prefers as well, the X-Box version of NFL 2k5. The PS2 version requires the hard drive for video during the Boomer half time and post game shows, as well as the weekly SportsCenter shows. Its nice to be able to choose which console to buy a multi-release title for. If you only have a PS2 then don't let the video limitation stop you. They get old fast. But it sure is nice eye candy. I prefer the X-Box version for another reason though. The X-Box controller is such a rip off of the DC controller it is uncanny. The controller is the same, the controls are the same. Its just like playing the game on the DC, with some updates of course. Matt is right, the default difficulty is way too easy. So far I have played a couple games, started a franchise and gone through 4 celebrity challenges in The Crib(tm) and the "Pro" difficulty is good for those of us who are not hard core sports gamers.
Highlights: The practice mode is nice, nothing special but it gets the job done. Having the manual in game is a nice touch. The reference guide is great. X-Box Live was very simple to setup and get going. I got shellacked in my first Live game, but man it was fun. The presentation is complete to a T. I will take Chris Berman, Peter O’Keefe and Dan Stevens any day over John Madden. NFL 2k5 has pushed the bar on what the game should look like. It looks like a NFL telecast, it feels like a NFL telecast, exactly like a football telecast. Visual Concepts and ESPN have done very well this year. I will probably be picking up other 2k5 games because of this, namely NBA 2k5. Passing is a lot better this time around. Complaints: Play by play is a little bit repetitive. I noticed this even after the 1st game I played. This is going to happen in any sports game though. There is a finite amount of space for the amount of play by play voices. The color commentary has gotten better though. The smack talk from your celebrity opponents is really annoying. Let me say that again, your celebrity opponents is really annoying. Those faces they had to make for this game, that is just sad. Not only that but it is overlaid above any on screen graphics, such as the audible window, for example. I noticed the voice sometimes does not match the face. This has happened twice so far. But you know what, without the face pop-ups how would you know you were playing a celebrity opponent? Do we care? There is almost no lip sync on Chris Berman, Suzie Kolber or the player she interviews. The mouth tries to match the vowels. I assume lip sync was low on the "To Do" list. It does not detract from the game too badly. I am getting encroachment penalties from my CPU players too much. I turned down the neutral zone infractions a tad and now I don't get those calls.
I can't wait to see NBA 2k5. If it has the same production values as NFL 2k5, and the same price tag, that purchase will be a no brainer as well.

July 29, 2004

Major League DVD Review

It's been 15 years since sports fans were graced with Major League, the funniest baseball film ever conceived. It's a shame the studio ruined what could have been a decent franchise with countless direct-to-video sequels. But, you can always keep memories of the original classic alive with the decent DVD release, sans any special features of course. The Indians suck (ducks the brick being tossed from nearby Cleveland). Their owner is none to happy with the situation or the attendance. What else can the evil, completely greedy owner do but take the team to Florida (before they actually had a franchise of course)? When the manager finally gets wind of the potential move, he takes it upon himself and turns the rag-tag group of players around, taking them right into the play-offs. This is a classic example of a sports movie. It has a slew of great actors, most in their prime (Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes), great writing, hilarious quotes, and a clichÈd story that is just so enjoyable you can't help but fall in love with it. The only thing dragging it down is an overdrawn subplot between Tom Berengers character and Corbin Bernsen. These scenes take over the movie at a few points and just drag the pace down right along with them. But then Bob Uecker takes over again and all is forgiven. This is a must see classic. (**** out of *****) Major League is presented in its original aspect ratio (1.85:1) and is very clean, almost perfect at times. Solid colors reveal some compression issues and the scratches/spots on the print get really annoying in a few sequences. Regardless, this is probably better than the movie looked back in theaters and does an admirable job for a disc that has been tossed into the bargain bins. (***) Remixed sound is always a pleasure and Major League is a great example. The Dolby 5.1 track here is a great mix that really kicks in once the stadium starts to fill. The immersion factor here is outstanding for a movie this old even if the effects are limited to game sequences. Also available is standard Dolby Surround and French Mono. Can't beat Bob Ueker dubbed over in French. (***) As mention previously, the disc is lacking any features. I'm sure some of the actors would love to revisit this one for a commentary track. Come on Paramount, do something about this situation quick! Still, must give credit for the widescreen print. (*) Major League is a movie that cannot be appreciated by viewing it on the USA network. The censors have a field day with this one. It can only be truly understood fully uncut with nothing bleeped out. This is certainly the way to go if your have the urge to watch this one, but it deserves a special edition really soon.

It! The Terror From Beyond Space DVD Review

If it wasn't a giant overgrown critter raining down terror in a major metropolis back in the 50's, rest assured it was an alien raising hell on another planet. But, what if one of these creatures got on board a spaceship heading for Earth? "It! The Terror from Beyond Space" never broke any new ground, but fans of a certain film series should check it out simply to see where the inspiration for their favorite series came from. Colonel Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson) is marooned on Mars, alone after 9 of his fellow astronauts are killed. When a rescue ship arrives, Carruthers is accused of killing his shipmates so he had a better chance of survival. His wild story of an alien creature slaughtering everyone he knew does not sit well with the new crew until one of their own is taken down by the murderous being which crawled aboard just before take off. Now the crew is alone with an indestructible being, forced to use anything they have to bring down an animal they know nothing about. Set in 1978 according to the opening dialogue (though looking a lot like 1958), "It!" is an obvious inspiration for Ridley Scott's "Alien," which would ironically come out in 1979. Good timing. For the time, "It!" does a great job at creating atmosphere and director Edward Cahn (who gave us the obscure "Creature with the Atom Brain" a few years earlier) is wise to shroud the alien in darkness for most of the film since the suit is less than adequate. The man inside the suit is also far too human like (Ray Corrigan, who played in numerous gorilla suits in the past) which definitely adds a cheese factor to the proceedings. Fortunately, there is little time to make the film schlock. Running at a brisk pace and coming in at just over an hour, "It!" wastes no time in getting to the action. The first death comes quick (around the 15-minute mark) and the pace remains relentless for the rest of the running time. If you love this era of sci-fi, this is certainly recommended, but everyone else should know to stay away. (*** out of *****) "It!" is presented is full frame, which is proper for the film. This black and white transfer is surprisingly strong and even crystal clear at times. Heavy grain does follow the proceedings and the extensive scratches on the print are severely distracting in a few scenes, but for the age, this is a great presentation of a movie that would have likely ended up on a bargain basement disc with another company. (***) As expected, the sound presentation is only adequate. Presented in Dolby Mono, you'll hear most of the dialogue clearly, but when the soundtrack kicks in, voices are lost into the background. It only happens a few times, but it is enough to become a problem. There is little else to note here, just don't expect a full-blown action films soundtrack and you'll be fine. (***) Extras are not exactly plentiful. All you'll see is a beat-up theatrical trailer. (*) This is an odd little disc and with a few notable errors. First, the opening of the movie says it has been "modified from its original version," a line that has plagued widescreen version fans for years. It's not true since this movie was shot in the academy ratio. The back of the DVD case not only has a typo, but also claims the film is in color. These are obviously not issues that will effect your enjoyment of the movie, but someone should have caught these problems before release.

It Came From Beneath the Sea DVD Review

It's rather surprising that more giant creature films don't feature giant squids. We've had all sorts of radioactive monstrosities over the years, yet the giant squid is real. Logic dictates that something real is far more frightening than something that isn't. Though not a giant squid, "It Came From Beneath the Sea" does a fantastic job at making the experience seem real thanks to Ray Harryhausen's effects and placing it high in the ranks of 50's monster movies. An atomic bomb test in Marshall Islands irritates one of the seas larger inhabitants, causing it to attack a submarine. Scientists Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue) and John Carter (Donald Curtis) team up with Commander Pete Mathews (genre veteran Kenneth Tobey) to try and figure out what caused the disaster. More incidents occur and the sense of urgency builds. Finally the creature makes a spectacular attack on San Francisco for one last attack while the authorities make a desperate attempt to put an end to the menace. Any decent science fiction fan knows Ray Harryhausen's work. This was his first film with producer Charles H. Schneer, whom would join him on countless other classics for the rest of his career. Harryhausen's creation here remains spectacular to this day and the rest of the effects work is still believable. Well known is that the octopus only has 6 tentacles (compared to 8 on a real one), an effort to save on the budget and give the master animator a break. This is a somewhat disjointed film however, as the two lead characters lead a generic romance that goes absolutely nowhere in the second half. Stock footage is used extensively and the narrator used in the first half-hour is grating (and speaks only once in the second half). It's obvious that the focus is put squarely where it should be for the final chapters and it all comes out just fine in the end, but it almost makes the first 40 minutes seem meaningless. Even so, "It Came From Beneath the Sea" is one of the best of the 50's creature features and a must see for any fan of this quirky genre. (**** out of *****) Columbia has done a fine job with this disc, starting with the 1.85:1 anamorphic video. Clean and clear thanks to a beautiful restoration job, the only thing dragging this one down is some grain of varying annoyance. The stock footage mentioned above is also heavily damaged, but this is the norm and makes it blatantly obvious. Only minor scratches remain on the actual film footage. This is likely the best this film will ever look and a treat for fans. (****) The discs soundtrack replicates the original mono presentation of the film with a little bit of trouble. The volume fluctuates from scene to scene and having your finger on the volume button is almost necessary. Other than this, this is a serviceable soundtrack that isn't for home theater enthusiasts, but for watching the film it's just fine. (***) Two featurettes are included on the disc along with a few trailers. "This is Dynamation" is an old, short promotional film that showcases some of Harryhausen's spectacular effects work. You won't learn much, but it is fun to watch for it's retro factor. Also available on a separate DVD, "The Harryhausen Chronicles" is hosted by Leonard Nimoy. This hour long look at one of the best special effects men of all time is spectacular, filled with countless interviews and never before seen footage. If you love stop motion, this is worth owning the disc just to watch it. This isn't a packed disc, but the quality far surpasses the quantity here. (****) This disc is available as part of the Ray Harryhausen Signature Collection of DVD's, which includes "20 Million Miles to Earth" and the "Sinbad" series. Nearly every movie in this set must be purchased if you have any interest in special effects or classic sci-fi. Even alone by itself, "It Came From Beneath the Sea" is a classic and a worthy purchase for anyone who has even a mild interest.

Kerry scheduled to visit Bowling Green

The Wood County Democratic Party reported Monday that soon-to-be Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and running mate John Edwards will be visiting Bowling Green this Sunday as part of their "Believe in America" bus-train tour of the country. The place and time of the visit have yet to be determined, and will be released to the public closer to the event date. The Kerry campaign cites Wood County as an important swing area, noting that Bill Clinton's victories hinged on Northwest Ohio votes. In 2000, Vice President Gore narrowly lost Ohio and Wood County's votes, which proved to be costly. Source: BG News You can bet I will be there. We do not know how many press passes we can get yet for The BG News. We will find out Thursday or Friday I think.

The Transition is Complete: Taking The BG News to the Next Level

We did it. No I did it. And I am very proud of all the hard work. I have put in long hours each day. But the main transition, or phase 1, is complete. I have revamped both the layout process of the Editorial and Production of The News. If that isn't enough, Mac OS 9 is out for Mac OS X, G3's are out for G4's and a G5, and Quark 4 is out for InDesign CS. And if that isnt enough, all our Baseview software (newspaper software) had to be updated to work in OS X, and I also updated out file server to Panther (10.3) Server. This recipe consists of: 2x 500 GB Lacie Big DIsk Firewire Hard Drives 13x 800 Mhz eMacs for BG News, Production, Obsidian, Gavel, and Unigraphics 1 PowerMac G5 for Production 20 seat of Adobe CS Premium with PageMaker Plugin Pack 5 seat of Extensis Suitcase X1 Baseview upgrades (NewsEdit Pro, Admin Pro, DragIn, CopyTools, WireManager Pro) Panther Server upgrade Retrospect Server upgrade Total Training for Adobe CS apps, plus Acrobat 6 The eMacs and G5 were purchased last summer, when this transition was originally going to take place. Everything else was purchased this summer. We originally were going to buy the software last summer, but ended up spreading it out over 2 summers. As you can see from the above list, this is a heck of a lot of variables to be changing at once. I seriously suggest to never attempt any transition with this many variables. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this is one of those all or nothing type deals. Going in I did not think it would work. Not that I do not have faith in myself, but because I know there is never enough time to do things "the right way" and corners are usually cut to get things done. Now that all is complete I am amazed that it all worked without problems at all. Some small snags reared their heads, but all in all everything went A OK. Server Panther Server was the first thing to get working. I have been running 10.1 Server since it came out a couple years ago. It has not been updated just because it has ran and not needed kicked (imagine that, its a Mac). I got to the point where using 10.1 was slowing me down. You cannot administer 10.1 Server remotely via the Server Admin software when the client machines (and more importantly my laptop) are running 10.3). Panther Server is a lot faster, and the Admin apps are far superior to those found in 10.1, hands down. Of course there is no direct way to import users and groups from 10.1 Server to 10.3 Server. That would have been too easy. I got over that fact and recreated all the users and groups. After so long at letting 10.1 Server sit, I needed to clean up the users anyway. For a period of about 6 months we were growing dangerously close to not having enough disk space for all publications and Unigraphics. We were deleting or burning files on Friday to have room on Monday. The file backup process was also becoming out of control. We were using an AIT tape drive, which can take 30 GB native and 60 GB compressed. Our backup had become a 3 tape backup, ballooning from a 1 tape backup in short order. Since we bought the AIT tape drive the cost of Firewire drives has come down so far it is no longer cost effective to use AIT tapes. Not to mention that a 3 tape backup is not the most convenient thing. Now the most important files (60 GB or less) are put on AIT tape, and the full server backups are done to Firewire disk. Three Freebies Thanks to the University's Desktop Replacement Program, we had to give up a PowerMac 7100/66 and 2 Beige 266 Mhz G3's for 3 shiny new 17" Flat Panel iMacs, 1.25 Ghz with SuperDrives. This ended up great as I need to run a new (OS X) version of WireManager Pro because the tagging of the AP News is different into InDesign then the tagging is in Quark. And a 7100/66 would not cut it for too much longer anyhow. Of course since we no longer have a ADB (Serial) Mac, I need a Keyspan Serial to USB Adapter. That has been ordered. The AP Wire will be back up and running soon. Luckily we have access to a AP News Rerun web site that is as current as the text that comes down the satellite. I tell you it was not hard trading those 3 Beige Boxes. Oh the new FP iMacs each came with a 256 MB USB thumb drive too. Gravy. To Be Continued...

Your Apple Order # 7010376136

To Our Valued Apple Customer: Thank you for ordering the new Dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5! The demand for this item has been incredible. We are shipping them as quickly as possible, but cannot meet the ship date we previously estimated for you. We now expect to ship your Power Mac on or before August 20th. Please rest assured that we fulfill all orders in the order they are received. If we do not hear from you prior to shipment, we will assume the revised date is acceptable, and will ship your order. We will notify you if there are any changes to the revised ship date. To check the status of your order, visit . When your Power Mac ships, you will receive a Shipment Notification via email explaining how you may track the package. We appreciate your patience and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this delay has caused you. Thank you for your interest in Apple products! Sincerely, The Apple Store Team

July 30, 2004

Cool Castlevania flash game

Castlevania is a great game, now in this super portable Flash version. Thanks to Matt for the link.

Manchurian Candidate Review

Jonathan Demme's remake of "The Manchurian Candidate" is scary. I don't mean scary like "Showgirls" was scary. Demme's a brilliant director, as evidenced by Academy Award winners like "Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia."

This movie is far better than Demme's last effort, which was also a remake, "The Trouble With Charlie," cf. "Charade." But that's damning it with faint praise.

The original, directed in 1962 by John Frankenheimer, was a taut suspense film that came chillingly true the next year when a Communist sympathizer (and ex-Marine) killed President John F. Kennedy, depending on who you believe. In fact, rumor had it Lee Harvey Oswald watched the movie shortly before the assassination.

But the remake is scary in ways the original could never be. If the original was scary because it was ahead of its time (would "Three Days of the Condor" or "The Parallax View" ever been made without it?) and came true, the current one is scary because it's already true.

Huge multinational corporation with influence in the halls of power throughout the globe? Check.

Brain implants? Check.

People talking seriously about a presidential election that could decide the fate of the world? Check.

Liev Schreiber plays the title role, Raymond Shaw, a Medal of Honor recipient from Desert Storm and U.S. Congressman from New York. He's being considered as a vice presidential nominee, due largely to the machinations of his U.S. Senator mother (Meryl Streep).

Manchurian in this version refers not to the region as in the original (which used Korea in place of Desert Storm) but to a multinational corporation with a no-bid contract to rebuild war-torn countries and plans for a private army to relieve U.S. troops in combat.

As Shaw is nominated for vice president, the other men in his outfit are starting to have dreams that challenge what the record said happened leading to Shaw's Medal of Honor.

Denzel Washington's the commanding officer of the unit who's trying to get to the bottom of it.

Jeffrey Wright is wasted as one of the soldiers whose mind has gotten the better of him. Jon Voight is Schreiber's rival for the vice-presidential nomination. Keep an eye peeled in the beginning and ending scenes for B-movie king Roger Corman, Demme's mentor (he also cast him in "Silence of the Lambs" as the director of the FBI). Al Franken makes an amusing cameo as a TV news talking head.

First, the comparisons:

Schreiber makes the role his own. He's got the same vacant stare as Laurence Harvey had in the original, but instead of being "unlovable," as Harvey was, Schreiber's just not there, remniscient of the line about Michael Huffington: when you look into his eyes, you see the back of his skull.

Meryl Streep's the Stage Mother from Hell. She's a U.S. Senator from New York who works behind the scenes to get the men in her life in power. But she's not based on Hillary Clinton.

Angela Lansbury was nominated for an Oscar for this role in the original. Meryl Streep probably will as well, but then again, her home movies would get her nominated. Streep, as always, is brilliant, and doesn't even have to resort to an accent. Her character, like Lansbury's in the original, makes you feel all right to be in touch with your inner misogynist.

Washington (in the role originated by Frank Sinatra) is a little more unhinged than in the original, diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In general, the movie's kinder to the mentally ill than a movie in 1962 would be.

The movie hangs together well, with no seams showing. The changes made to update the film fit well into the plot for anyone familiar with the original.

But those same changes might make the movie TOO topical. It's very easy to forget now how scary Communism was in the early 1960s and how ruinous McCarthyism could be (the original "candidate," played by James Gregory, was a McCarthyesque red-baiting senator). How well will this version age?

On the other hand, a remake of a 35-year-old song was used over the opening credits. Wyclef Jean gives his rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," and the words are just as true today as they were then.

Originally posted to 210 West. Read this and other reviews at 210west.com.

Apple misses Dual 2.5GHz G5 ship date

Several MacMinute readers (including me) report that their orders for the new Dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 have been delayed until late next month. "The demand for this item has been incredible," Apple said in an e-mail to customers. "We are shipping them as quickly as possible, but cannot meet the ship date we previously estimated for you. We now expect to ship your Power Mac on or before August 20th." When the liquid-cooled machine was announced in early June, Apple said it would ship in July. Customers who ordered the tower on the first day it was available were given an expected ship date of July 30. Source: MacMinute I was looking forward to a ship date of July 30. That would have been nice. I get my display tomorrow, it would be nice to have the G5 to go along with it. I do not like this recent trend that Apple has, this hurry up and wait, and broken shipment promises. It has happened too much. But didn't we see this one coming? Apple knew they had a problem with the 970FX chip, we all knew they had a problem, Why keep making hollow shipping promises. One of these days this is going to hurt Apple. But until then there will always be an excuse that the public seems to understand. After all, I would rather wait another month to have the dual 2.5 then have a dual 2 that have shipped now.

July 31, 2004

Get your complimentary ticket(s) to the Bowling Green rally!

Join our campaign today! Fill out the form to print out your complimentary ticket(s). What: The Believe in America Tour When: Sunday, August 1, Gates open at 1:30 p.m. Where: Downtown Bowling Green, Corner of Main Street and Wooster Street At first I heard that tickets to see Kerry and Edwards were going to cost money. Of course at that time they were not even telling us where the event was going to be. At least it was just a rumor. I have my ticket, do you have yours?

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