August 2004 Archives



August 1, 2004

Mnemonic Techniques and Specific Memory Tricks to improve memory, memorization

Mnemonic techniques are more specific memory aids. Many are based on the general memory strategies that were presented earlier. Although it can be easiest to remember those things that you understand well, sometimes you must rely on rote memory. The following techniques can be used to facilitate such memorization.... Pretty cool read. Check it out!

August 2, 2004

Kerry & Edwards Rally in Bowling Green

Mike Metzger has some photos online, be sure to check them out. I got to the rally at 1 PM, I should have been there at 9 AM because at 3 PM they stopped letting people through the metal detectors, and I was still in line waiting. If I hadn't worked at the Toledo City Paper on Friday I could have gotten a BG News press pass (made specifically for the rally) and been able to get through the gate and close to the stage. Oh well. I'll take work over a press pass any day. From where I was standing, corner of Wooster and Main, I could barely see anyone speaking. They could have put up a better sound system, one that included speakers at the Wooster and Main intersection. After standing in the sun for 4 and a half hrs. I decided I had enough of the sun, and not being able to see anyone on stage, I ended up watching the Kerry speech, which started at about 4:30, on the big screen at BW3. Of course I was starving at this point so wings and a beer didn't hurt either. The abortion protesters were great. I am sorry for the people who brought there kids to the rally. If you were not through the metal detectors you could not go 5 feet without seeing someone holding up a huge poster with an aborted fetus on it. There was a small but loud showing of Bush supporters. It was fun getting into a shouting match with them screaming "4 more years" and most of the crowd yelling "3 more months." There were far more people there then expected, I heard this from a few sources Sunday. This would have worked out better at the Doyt Perry Stadium, or Anderson Arena, or outside of University Hall. All would have been better venues. But whatever, they wanted to use the downtown area as the backdrop to the stage, because it looks good. I would personally rather be able to see and hear the people speaking, but thats just me. I was not that entirely impressed. It was great to have Kerry and Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards, John Glenn, etc, here to speak, but what good is it if half the audience cannot see and hardly hear? Oh well. They were here, and I was there. At least I can say that.

Video Games and Rapid Sequels

Any form of entertainment will have sequels. They have become a marketing tool for numerous companies. Video games are of course, no exception. Lately however, the game industry has specifically been bombarded with a ridiculous number of sequels. Could this be the end of an industry? Unless sales pick up on original titles, the days of interacting with your TV could be over. This obviously is not a new problem. Any fan of Capcom or EA can surely relate to the issue of sequels. Mega Man had 8 sequels, Street Fighter II had five follow-ups, and EA releases it's sports franchises annually. It's a lot to take in and more than any average consumer can fork out in a year. The problem with the current generation of consoles is not the number of sequels (it could be argued it's roughly the same as it has been for previous consoles), but the insane rate that these games come out. How many trilogies have we had (and soon to have) this generation? Here is my count: 1. Grand Theft Auto 2. Ratchet and Clank 3. Onimusha 4. Splinter Cell 5. Rainbow Six 6. Jak and Daxter 7. Tony Hawk 8. Metal Gear 9. Burnout 10. Medal of Honor 11. NBA Street 12. Advance Wars 13. Devil May Cry 14. Mega Man Zero/Battle Network 15. Zelda (GBA) 16. Guilty Gear 17. WWF Smackdown 18. Tekken 19. Crazy Taxi 20. Final Fantasy 21. Midnight Club 22. TimeSplitters Looking at the list, it's hard to argue about the quality of these games. Most of these franchises are simply superb, but how long before people get tired of playing the same games? The shooter died a slow death right along side the 2-D fighter. People simply stopped playing them and headed for new experiences. Now, these new experiences are not so new. Games that were so fresh in 2001 when the PS2 officially started the generation have become repetitive. Most of these sequels hit less than a year after the previous game, using the same engines that ran the first (or second, or third). Not much can be done to a game in less than a year with the work required on games today. Some companies play it smart. They take their time and make sure their sequel does justice to the original. Id has Doom 3, Sony is working on Gran Turismo 4, Bungie has Halo 2, Konami has Suikoden IV, and Valve is killing themselves trying to get Half-Life 2 out for the holiday season. The problem seems to be that everyone is working in the same genre. Three of the games I mentioned are first-person shooters. There is a simple answer to all of this: Try something new next time you head over to your local gaming store. You might be surprised at what you pick up. Give a new game a shot. Rent something different for a weekend. You might discover you fully enjoy a different genre you didn't even know existed. There are plenty of promising new titles coming this holiday and early next year. Check out the innovative Red Star, the wacky Destroy All Humans, David Jaffe's God of War, or Capcom's impossible to describe Under the Skin. Not only will it do you some good, but the industry as well.

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms DVD Review

Everything has a starting point. In the case of monster on the loose epics, their father is "King Kong." Leave it to Ray Harryhausen to blow the roof off of it. "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" began the cycle of 1950's monster epics and 51 years later ranks as one of the top three films in the genre. An artic atomic bomb test frees a prehistoric Rhedosaurus from what should have been its tomb. After causing a massive avalanche and taking down two small fishing vessels, the leading professor of paleontology in the world, Thurgood Elson (played by Cecil Kellaway), convinces the military to do something about it. After a tragic dive to search for the creature, Tom Nesbitt (Paul Hubschmid) figures out a way to destroy the creature, but not before it rampages through New York and tears up Coney Island. Eugene Lourie directs this masterpiece of the genre (he would also give us "Gorgo") a few years later) and Ray Harryhausen unleashes one his most spectacular creations loose with some of his best work. Only one special effect shot goes slightly wrong (a timing problem when a building collapses) and the final rampage on New York is far more convincing than the recent American Godzilla film. The attack on the lighthouse (a scene based on the short story by Ray Bradbury that inspired the film) is eerie and arguably the films most effective moment. The rest of the cast is effective and set up almost every creature film to follow. The usual array of military and scientific types is represented along with the budding romance. Cecil Kellaway is wonderful as the head professor and genre veteran Kenneth Tobey has a decent role as well. The two leads, Paula Raymond and Paul Hubschmid, also do a fine job until the final frame. Of course, regardless of the actors, everyone is here to see "The Beast," and his (her?) performance is one of the best of all time. (***** out of *****) Warner Bros. presents the film in standard full frame, which is its original ratio. Ignoring the few short sequences of extremely heavy and annoying grain, this is a nearly flawless transfer. The print used here has obviously been restored for this edition, eliminating the majority of the scratches down to acceptable levels. The contrast is set flawlessly and the clarity is stunning. I mentioned this disc in another article as one of the best-looking DVD's ever produced. I stand by that. (*****) Listening to the film in standard mono, but a remix here would be appreciated. The roar of the creature sounds a bit muffled at times and the classic 4-note theme of the monster really strains the speakers. All of the dialogue comes through cleanly, but even a simple stereo mix might have eliminated some of the problems. (***) To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this classic, Warner has included a few extras, but nothing earth shattering. Ray Harryhausen himself tells the story of the film in the 5-minute documentary "The Rhedosaurus and the Roller Coaster: Making the Beast." Though short, the information presented here is exciting and you'll even see the model used in the film itself. Next is a 10-minute conversation that took place on the Warner Bros. lot entitled "Harryhausen & Bradbury: An Unfathomable Friendship." They will exchange some great stories (though not always about the movie) and fans of either man need to watch. You can also view some trailers for other Harryhausen movies. (***) "The Beast" is easily one of the most influential sci-fi movies of all time. The creators of the Godzilla series claimed it was their influence, the entire radioactive monster genre was spawned by it, and it still creates new fans to this day. This is a film that should be regarded as one of the best 50's movies if not of all time. Giant monsters have never been better than in "The Beast."

20 Million Miles To Earth DVD Review

Venus doesn't get enough credit. It's a very underrated planet. Every kind of movie alien comes Mars. Why? What's wrong with Venus? Seems like a perfectly good planet to me. Well, obviously the Ymir agrees here as this Venusian tore apart Rome after being marooned here on Earth in the 1957 classic "20 Million Miles To Earth." A United States rocket ship is mere miles away from home when it gets slammed by a meteor. Out of control, the ship spirals into the ocean close to a small town in Italy. Only of the pilots survives, Colonel Robert Calder (William Hopper), who tells authorities of a capsule containing a life form from the planet. What they don't know is that a young boy in the town (played by a very young Bart Braverman) has already found the specimen still in its egg and sold it to a zoologist (Frank Puglia). The creature hatches and quickly grows to an enormous size after being taken to Rome. Authorities are called after the strange beasts escapes and the final battle begins inside the Roman Coliseum. The wonders of DVD can be put to good use here. The magic of Ray Harryhausen can be appreciated even more thanks to the ability to view every frame of the film in flawless detail. The Ymir is a masterful creation, but in the wrong hands, could have failed. Harryhausen's uncanny ability gives this creature a sympathetic side, literally making it seem confused and lost, simply through motion. The alien receives ample screen time and every effects shot involving him is flawless (the opening shots of the doomed spacecraft are the only ones that fail.... miserably). The creature's big battle with an elephant is a cinema classic and you're not a true sci-fi fan until you have witnessed its perfection. Even better, the film stays away from any of the atomic age clichÈs that plagued the era. Not that a space alien is any more creative, but it is a refreshing change. Director Nathan Juran and William Hopper worked together a few years before "20 Million" on the so-so "Deadly Mantis," both redeeming themselves here. The films second lead, Joan Taylor, also starred in another Harryhausen effects classic, "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers." It's obvious everyone here knows what to do to make this film a success and it works. Yes, the effects do save what very could have been just another monster-on-the-loose movie, but the experience of everyone involved pays off and this is a film that has solidified itself as a classic. (***** out of *****) This film was one of the early ones to use the widescreen format and Tri-Star has been wise to keep it that way for this DVD release. If you wish, a pan and scam version is available on the disc as well. Nearly every scratch and speck has been removed from this print making this a gorgeous restoration job. Grain is high in a few spots, but is under control in the majority of the scenes. The contrast seems a bit high at times as well, but these are minor complaints about a transfer that is much better than expected. (****) All of the films audio will sadly only come through one speaker in this mono presentation. Though soft and hard to hear in a few spots, this is a decent presentation considering the age of the source material. The monster's unmistakable roar comes through loud and clear, as does the dialogue. Not much more you can ask for from this film. (***) As this is included in the Ray Harryhausen Signature Collection, this disc includes some great extras, though a copy of the other discs in the collection. First is the "Harryhausen Chronicles," and hour long documentary on the career of one of Hollywood's all time great special effects men. It includes a bunch of rare footage and interviews with numerous people he has influenced. Next is the promotional "This is Dynamation" featurette, a look at stop motion animation from various films. The only feature relating to the film itself is the trailer. (***) Nearly any film Ray Harryhausen worked on is worthy of your time, but "20 Million Miles to Earth" should be high on that list. The creature design is memorable to say the least, acting on par (if not above) the norm for the era, and the characters have at least some purpose in the film. This is a must see film for anyone interested in either special effects or sci-fi. The disc is also more than admirable as well.

The Black Scorpion DVD Review

With monster movies being produced en mass back in the 50's, it took something really special to stand out from the crowd. "The Black Scorpion" was Warner Bros. follow up to "Them!," the quintessential giant bug movie of all time. While certainly enjoyable, this is a low-budget foray into the genre with only a few memorable sequences. A string of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes near a small town in Mexico opens up a huge hole in the Earth's crust. Unexplainable accidents begin piling up until the culprit is found chomping away on workers fixing a telephone line: Giant scorpions. Undisturbed for thousands of years, these beasts are now free to roam the surface, killing anything that gets in their way. Geologist Hank Scott (Richard Denning) and the armed forces are the worlds only hope to put an end to this menace. "The Black Scorpion" was Willis O'Brien's (King Kong) next to last film. He shared the effects duties with Pete Peterson, as he would in his final film, "The Giant Behemoth." When shown using standard stop-motion techniques, the title beasts are menacing. For whatever reason, the special effects pioneer chose to create a full sized mock-up of the face and claw for close ups. When the first on screen attack occurs using this prop, most people will likely burst into a fit of laughter. The drooling, immobile face looks nothing like the stop-motion model and it really serves no purpose. Some other effects, like the matte shots used when the creatures enter the heart of city, also fail miserably. Otherwise, the effects work is great, on par if not better than a lot of other sci-fi films of the era. The final battle inside a stadium is just awesome, the train attack unforgettable, and the descent into the lair features even more monsters. This is also a surprisingly violent movie for its time, with countless people being stung and chomped on throughout the running time. Genre veteran Richard Denning ("Creature >From the Black Lagoon") goes through the paces here along with Mara Corday (who also worked in the genre previously, starring in the hilariously bad "Giant Claw"), doing what they needed to do and nothing else. This is one for genre fans only. (*** out of *****) Warner Bros. has restored this full frame film pretty well, cleaning up the print to remove the majority of scratches and spots. A few scenes seem out of place and look like they haven't been touched, but these are short and do not detract from the work done here. A slight layer of grain lies over the proceedings and the overall print is a bit on the soft side, but this is still a wonderful presentation of the film. (***) This is far from an all-out audio experience, but the Dolby Mono track here is serviceable, especially for a nearly 50-year old film. The hilarious roar of the monsters (partly stolen from "Them!") comes through cleanly, as does all the dialogue. Nothing sounds distorted at any time and that is really all you can ask for. (****) Though none of the extra features here are about the film itself, stop-motion fans are in for a treat. First is "Stop-Motion Masters," a three-minute feature which features Ray Harryhausen talks about his relationship with Willis O'Brien. "The Animal World" is a spectacular sequence created by both Harryhausen and O'Brien that runs for 11:30. Harryhausen introduces it with a bit of back-story. It's a wonderful sequence and the video quality is stunning. Peter Peterson gets highlighted here with some great test footage they actually found in his garage. "The Las Vegas Monster" is a short clip showing a strange ape-like monster tearing apart a house, a man, a helicopter, and a truck. Video quality here is actually surprising for being found in a garage. "Beetleman" didn't hold up so well and is quite short, but is still impressive. The entire segment runs for a little over four minutes. Finally you can view some various trailers. (****) Black Scorpion didn't deserve such a nice DVD release, but who's going to argue about it? If you enjoy the art of stop-motion, this disc needs to be on yourself. The fascinating never before seen footage is worth the price of admission, not to mention there is a full length movie contained here as well.

"Manhunt" kills 14-year old

Here we go again, only this time, it didn't happen in the US. As you can read here, Warren Leblanc (17) was obsessed with the game "Manhunt." He has confessed to killing Stefan Pakeerah (14) with a claw hammer and a knife. For those who don't know (since the above story makes little mention of it), "Manhunt" puts players in control of a man forced to kill and survive. The player is a product for a sick individual that not only created the world, but also enjoys watching the killings on closed circuit TV. The goal is to survive and find the man responsible. Of course, almost immediately, the game has become the focus of the crime. This story comes just a few weeks after sports video games were attacked by a parental watchdog group (my thoughts here). The parents have claimed the game should not be for sale to anyone and stores in the UK have pulled it from their shelves. The 17-year old Leblanc is likely facing life in prison. Now, I feel just as sorry for the victim here as the next person. It's a tragedy. But, once again this is entirely the fault of the parents. Stefan's mother is quoted that she feels Warren was "inherently evil." I'm not a parent, but I can assure you that if I felt one of my child's friends was "inherently evil," they would never come in contact with them. Also of note is that the game is rated as such that only people over 18 should be allowed to purchase it. Mom obviously fronted the money for the bill on this one. It also must be known that the X-Box has parental controls built into the console so preventing anyone from playing the game is easy. If your child is becoming obsessed (which he was according to the story), you can either take the game away or lock it out of the system. Guess mom didn't care enough. The murder itself does closely mimic the game itself. Could the idea for the crime come from the game? Certainly. Does the game put you into a mindset to commit a murder? Uh, no. If that were the case, I'd be running around shooting people like I saw in the NES game "Contra" over 18 years ago. This type of thing has to stop. It was thought up by some money-hungry lawyer who got the brilliant idea after seeing a story on how much money these games haul in every year. It's odd that only video games should be banned now. Maybe everyone forgot that movies are far more realistic and kids manage to watch those as well. Parents, learn how to raise your children properly and have some common sense for once before buying your kids products like this.

Them! DVD Review

Sure, just about everything ended up mutated by the end of the 50's. But, it all started right here in the Warner Bros. classic "Them!" The inspiration for countless cheap knock-offs to follow, this is a true classic that has stood the test of time. Warner also took their time with this DVD release resulting in picture quality that almost eclipses many of the digitally shot films of today. A child is discovered wandering through the desert alone, her only possessions being the clothes on her back and a broken doll. Not far from her, a trailer is found ripped apart. A few miles from that incident is a small store that has suffered the same fate, its owner also found dead. The only clue is a footprint unlike anything ever found before. The truth is discovered when a giant ant nearly kills Dr. Patricia Medford (Joan Weldon) in the desert. It doesn't take long for her father, Dr. Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn), to figure out that the queen has hatched and has made a new nest.....in downtown Los Angeles. Now begins a frantic race to find the exact location and hunt these oversized creatures down before a new queen can be spawned. The eerie opening moments of "Them!" are like nothing else to come out of the era. A little girl simply walks forward with no purpose, never blinking, and is unable to speak. It's a horrific sight that flawlessly sets up the rest of the film, directed with skill by Gordon Douglas in his only attempt in the genre. The giant ants themselves were created full size, controlled in various ways to make them move realistically. They effects don't hold up quite as well as some other films of the era, but you can almost feel the pain when they manage to grab someone in their mandibles and squeeze. That's the important part. "Them!" is the quintessential giant bug movie for all time and a film that everyone should see at least once. (***** out of *****) When this disc enters your DVD player, you'll realize what a stunning achievement this restoration is. Simply put, for most of this movie, there are NO flaws. No compression, just a hair of grain, sharp edges, and not a single scratch on the print itself. It's a strong case for delaying high-definition DVD for a while yet (Yes, it's really that good). Oddly, all of the scenes shot underground (including the movies final assault in the sewers) are soft and blurry with some annoying grain. The contrast between shots above and underground are easily apparent when the scene switches back and forth. This is likely a fault on the original print and has nothing to do with the transfer (or maybe something to do with the fact that the film was going to be shot in 3-D), but it is jarring though not enough to ruin the experience. (*****) Dolby Digital Mono is as good as it gets from a film this old and as good as this disc can be. The only problem is when the soundtrack hits full volume and it causes some distortion. The rest of this presentation, including the strange and terrifying sound the ants create, is fine. (****) Extras here are sparse and the only real notable inclusion is some rare behind-the-scenes footage. There is no explanation for the 3-minute segment and you'll find very little of interest here. A short text essay on bug movies is included along with some actor bios and the films trailer. Not much could be expected here, but the some type of explanation to go along with that footage would have been great. (**) If you're the type that finds giant bug movies hilarious, then you just don't get it. Sure, a lot of films from this genre (ok, most) are just terrible, but "Them!" transcends them all. The effects work may seem archaic, but trust me when I say that Jurassic Park will look just as bad in 50 years. Learning to appreciate films like this are a necessity to becoming a true movie fan.

The Giant Gila Monster DVD Review

It takes something special for a film to become a classic. Everything needs to fall into place at the right time. The right actors, directors, budget, special effects, and many other aspects all need to be perfect. Thankfully, even with a small budget, "The Giant Gila Monster" has managed to win viewers hearts across the globe as a flawless example of how a movie should be made. An unknown force is ravaging a small town. People are missing, trucks are destroyed, and a train is derailed. The population is baffled. Finally, Chase Winstead (Don Sullivan) puts the clues together and makes a last stand against the creature that has terrorized the town relentlessly. Very few movies can do everything right, but "The Giant Gila Monster" manages to pull it off. Ray Kellog is a master behind the camera and uses a real life lizard for maximum fear. The acting is amongst the best from this era and..... Aw, who the hell am I kidding? This is an awful excuse for a movie, one of the worst giant monster on the loose films of all time. This is a film so relentlessly dull, making it all the way to the end means you seriously need to get a social life. It lacks logic, acting, special effects, a plot, and any entertainment value. The monster itself (looking a whole lot like a Nile monitor) drags itself along the hilarious miniature sets (usually just dirt with sticks in the ground....seriously), obviously looking for something better to do. Ray Kellog only found his way behind the camera a few times in his career. He was actually famous for working on the special effects in many classic films, like Cleopatra and the Seven Year Itch. Why he would choose to ruin his reputation with dredge like this is unexplainable. The film's star, Don Sullivan, must have had some plans to take on a singing career after this since viewers are "treated" to one of his songs not once, but twice. This "ukulele song" as it is known as is easily the most memorable part of the film, but not for the reasons it should be. This is nothing else other than 74-minutes of sheer torture. (No stars out of *****) For some reason, this film has found it's way unto DVD about times. The version reviewed here is from Diamond Entertainment, a company who obviously finds joy in my misery. The film is presented (hardly) in standard full frame as it was to all the sorry saps that watched it in theaters all those years ago. The print used here is just laughable. Not only will you see writing (on the print itself) suddenly flash by a few times, but you'll also see the VCR trying to track itself. Yeah, this is a DVD, transferred from a VHS tape. The compression here is just flat-out awful, with chunks of pixels marring every scene. It gets so bad, there is no way to make out the actors faces in a few scenes. Most of the movie is also so dark, you won't be able to see what's going on. (No stars) Sound quality is slightly better than the video presentation. At least you can understand the actors. The films soundtrack (which sounds completely out of place) strains the disc and comes through as a muddled mess. At few points, the sound is out of sync with the video as well. (**) Extras? Ha! Oh wait, there are extras. In fact, you get an entire movie. "The Killer Shrews" is another Ray Kellog delight, marginally better (almost tolerable) than the "Gila" disaster. The print and sound are also just a notch above the previous film, but not by much. The films did debut together, so keeping it that way is a nice touch. Anyway, the only other extras are four chapter stops between the 2 movies and some text facts about both. (***) If by some chance you actually like this film, Drive-In Movies put out a double movie DVD set with this and Roger Corman's equally absurd "Wasp Women." Both of the films in that set are shown in 1.85:1 widescreen, which means "The Gila Monster", was cropped. Not that it really matters since you won't be missing much, but it is an odd choice. Of course, if you actively search out this film, professional help should be sought out immediately.

Review of Apple's 4th Generation iPod - 40GB Model

By Brandon M. Suman The iPod is a magical thing. It's almost like a pet. There are few gadgets that exude as much personality. It's almost like a comfort blanket, when your iPod is in your pocket, you know you won't have to live in silence. Scary walks home at night in sinister neighborhoods go faster with my favorite music. (Of course, wearing shiny white iPod earbuds increases your odds of getting mugged, but oh well.) I purchased my first iPod on the bleeding edge of the revolution- until last week, I was carrying the original 5GB iPod. I named her "Jenna," after a girl I admired at the time, and the iPod (not the girl) has been by my side ever since. That was prior to the days of solid state control wheels, dock connectors, or super-rounded corners, of course. The spinning scroll wheel had a tendency to spontaneously change volume while I walked, and the thing was too thick to be mounted to my belt without being an inconvenience. Nonetheless, I loved it, and found it to be most useful in the car, connecting it to my Taurus's stereo with one of those cassette tape adapters. (Those things still amaze me.) Needless to say, when my new iPod arrived, it was an exciting day. The free text laser-engraving proved useful and attractive. I simply chose to have my name and phone number embedded for posterity. Helpful, I figured, for identification if anyone tries to steal it. The new iPod is a huge improvement over my original version, but a fairly mild generation-revision from the 3G lineup. I am aware of rumors, however, that the new iPod is entirely redesigned from the ground up, and contains some special new abilities that have yet to be realized by its software. (Cross your fingers and watch for updates!) While it may be slightly thinner than the last model, the big outward difference is the light gray "click wheel" that places the usual buttons right on top of the scroll wheel, an interface used previously in the iPod Mini. After a week or so of experimentation, I wholeheartedly embrace the new click wheel. The original iPod placed the navigation directly around the scroll wheel. This made navigation with one hand very easy, and the buttons were easy to memorize. ("Menu" was just above, "Play/Pause" was just below, and the track skip buttons were to the left and right.) When Apple placed the buttons in a four-in-a-row layout above the scroll wheel I cried for the disappearance of the directional-memorization system. Now where was that pesky play button again? Third from the left? The click wheel brings back my "up down left right" system, and improves on it. I don't even have to reach my thumb above the wheel, I just press the top of the wheel itself. My only fear with this system would be that it would somehow inhibit the scroll wheel's performance. I am pleased to report that it does not. I was slightly disappointed by Apple's choice of gray for the scroll wheel color. An all-white device is so pure-looking, and this is the iPod's first departure from this thinking. The scroll wheel surface, however, is more than just a different color. The material is textured, soft and smooth, almost like a piece of paper. It makes a perfect surface for scrolling, it gives just enough resistance to complete the illusion of a spinning wheel. It does seem probable that this surface would be more easily marred by dirt from your fingers, the gray color may have been chosen to limit the noticeability of this problem. I am almost entirely happy with the way the iPod looks and performs. I can nearly get my entire music collection on a 40GB iPod (mine currently contains about 6000 songs.) I still can't get all my music on my iPod, however- and I can't wait until that day. Heck, I'd like to be able to store my favorite movies on my iPod, too- so I can plug the iPod into my television and stop lugging DVDs around to parties. (Are you listening, Apple!?) Of course, that would require an even bigger hard drive in this little gadget. One thing at a time. Software-wise, the iPod works and acts just like you'd expect it to. I can now customize my main menu, which is a sweet deal for me (I only ever navigate by artist anyway, better to have fewer options if I'm not going to use the others.) The games are still good, and the other palm-pilotesque address book / calendar storage could be useful, though I doubt I'll take advantage of it. The biggest software advancement, in my opinion, is the new On-The-Go playlist option, I can finally generate a playlist using the iPod itself, without the assistance of iTunes. My iPod was cheaper than the last 40GB model, but it doesn't contain a belt clip case or remote control. (The iPod remote is pretty lousy anyway, but the case would have been really nice.) As a 40GB owner, I get a dock, which is a wonderful thing. It keeps my iPod sitting upright and happy and free of scratches, which makes me happy, too. I've acquired the habit of carrying the dock with me just to have a little stand for my Pod. Also, the white earbuds included with my iPod have a defect, the right side makes these static-y popping sounds- I need to call Apple about that, though I'm confident that the situation will be resolved. The overall iPod experience is as magical as it was with the original so many years ago now. Kudos to Apple for finding a way to make technology so convenient and useful. I can only hope that the iPod magic and simplicity finds its way to other devices, like my WaterPik™. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to see if Michelle minds having an iPod named after her.

August 3, 2004

Top 11 IT Skills You should never use at home

11. Naming your children “strong” user names like Fr3d to prevent identity theft 10. Patching your roof as many times as you patch Windows before replacing it 9. Using your flowchart skills to increase the speed at which your spouse prepares for a night on the town 8. Suggesting route optimization to the local mail carrier 7. Using Kronos to schedule your bathroom breaks 6. Creating a secure tunnel directly from the beer tap to your stomach, especially while load balancing between taps 5. Referring to your spouse’s new haircut as an upgrade 4. Asking your mechanic the cost of consolidating parts from older family cars into a single upgrade 3. Employing a hot-swap protocol when experiencing difficulties with your spouse 2. Applying a firmware upgrade to your toaster 1. Stringing your Christmas lights the same way you string Ethernet Thanks for the email Max!

August 5, 2004

New Template for BGNews.com

I have been wanting to refresh the site design for a while now. I want a CSS based template. But I have no time to do this right now, just like I have not time to work on the Unigraphics Invoicing System at the moment. All my energy is being spent on this InDesign switchover and all that entails (another post entirely). Those folks at Digital Partners are making my life a bit easier. They have a bunch of new template designs. While I do not like using cookie cutter designs, the BG News site needs a revamp because a) I don't like how it looks anymore and more importantly, b) the IAB has some funky new ad banner sizes. Please tell me which template you like the best. My current favorites is Layout 4: Skin 5. I can put the BG News flag in the upper left, since it is not a wide flag like most the other designs accommodate, and I will use orange and blue as the colors. The only thing I think the template needs is a tile to the RSS feed under the AvantGo tile. Is there another template you like? Let me know, post a comment.

August 6, 2004

ESPN NFL 2k5 Giveaway

Yep, you read that right. Breaking Windows is giving away a copy of ESPN NFL 2k5 for the XBOX. All you need to do is answer these questions. No cheating! If there is a tie there will be bonus questions. Send your answers to kenneth.edwards at gmail.com. Here are your questions: 1) What year was EA's Madden franchise first released on the Sega Genesis? 2) What was the name of Acclaim's NHL Franchise that they released on the N64 in 1997? 3) How many games in the Tecmo Bowl franchise were released on the Super Nintendo? 4) What was the name of the franchise 989 Sports released on the PS One to counter Midway's NFL Blitz series? 5) Which NBA player was featured on Nintendo's N64 and Gamecube basketball franchise? 6) What was the name of EA's baseball franchise before their current MVP Baseball series? 7) What MLB player endorsed a softball game for the PS One? 8) What was the name of the tennis series on the Sega Dreamcast? 9) What was the name of the only golf game to appear on the Dreamcast? 10) What console featured the first league licensed sports games? 11) Name Konami's hockey game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. 12) What football franchise did Visual Concepts program on the Super Nintendo before being hired by Sega to produce the 2K line of games? 13) Which Sega baseball game was the first to feature play-by-play commentary? 14) True or false: The first Madden NFL on the Nintendo 64 did no feature a full NFL license. 15) What was the first WCW wrestling game called on the PS One? And no Matt, you cannot enter this contest. You wrote the questions :P Good luck! Void where prohibited. Only open to Earth residents. You must be 3 yrs. or older to enter. Purchase does not increase chances of winning. Please play responsibly. Contest ends 08/13/04 unless noted otherwise.

August 9, 2004

InDesing Training Sessions

Today was the first of two 4 hr. training sessions I am conducting for the students who will be putting the paper together this fall. Paul, from Unigraphics and Carrie, our Editor in Chief this fall, also helped a lot during the training. I am obviously not the only one who hates using Quark. They were all eager to learn the new software and new system. The thing I am amazed at so much is the fact that the students are picking up InDesign very fast. And more important than that is the fact that they like using InDesign. Its not that I don't have faith in our News staff, I have just never taught InDesign to anyone before, and I have heard from different sources that InDesign is much harder to teach then Quark. I think that statement is wrong, completely wrong. Monday our two production interns come in for training. Hopefully that will go as smoothly as the News' training has. Wednesday we have our second training session for The News. Hopefully those who could not make it to today's training can make it Wednesday. The best part about today's training, besides getting the students feet wet in InDesign, is having folks in the newsroom that can tell me what I forgot to make. I missed a few library items and a couple paragraph styles. I hope Wednesday's session will turn up a couple more items I missed. There is always something. But right now I have all of the templates, styles and library complete. That is a great feeling.

High Score Book Review

Video game history has made its way into the pages of books more than just a few times. Steven Kent, Leonard Herman, and J.C. Herz are just a few of the authors to tackle the subject. "High Score" is the first to do it with such style, however. Every page is filled color photos, but it's a shame they don't follow the console industry closer, like one would expect. "High Score" gives fans over 300 pages to flip through, covering games as ancient as "Space War" all the way up to a brief look at the current crop of consoles in stores now. Each section of the book is supposed to follow ten years of history, though it never really seems that way once you begin reading. A second, revised edition is also available which covers imports and adds more information as well. Co-authors Rusel Demaria and Johnny Wilson hardly hide their love for PC games. They constantly quote themselves on their love for "Dungeons & Dragons" styled games. If it's some sort of strategy game or one that features orcs and warriors, they like it. Countless pages are devoted to companies who specialize in this style of gameplay. In fact, starting with page 57, over 200 pages are devoted to computer gaming companies. The 70's and 90's combined don't account for that much. Even more jarring is that most of those pages talk about games that clearly came out later than the 80's. It makes for very disjointed reading. Granted, no book has ever so thoroughly looked at the PC industry like this. Almost every book written on the subject focuses on the home consoles and arcades, rarely (if ever) getting involved with the home computer side of things. The main problem with this though is the book's full title, "High Score: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games." If you say you're going to cover it all, do so. Even more saddening is that on the single page they devote to Sega's ill-fated Saturn, two obvious errors are made (NiGHTS was not a launch title nor did Virtua Fighter 3 get ported to the console). Not all is lost of course. The pictures of rare documents, hard-to-find games, and game schematics are great. It's obvious that much time was spent gathering up what they needed. How they even found some of the featured items is even more baffling. The cover price alone is likely worth it just to see some of the great pictures, just don't take all of the text as fact. If you spend hundreds (if not thousands) on your PC to enjoy all the latest games, this is certainly something that should be in your home. Die-hard console gamers should also probably pick up a copy, but everyone else can do better elsewhere. Steven Kent's "The Ultimate History of Videogames" is probably the way to go though a strong case can be made for the latest edition of Leonard Herman's "Phoenix."

Apple at SIGGRAPH 2004

A buddy of mine just IM'd me from LA and told me that both Tiger and Motion is at the Apple booth this year. SIGGRAPH 2004 opens tomorrow. I wish I was there this year, but I have much work to do at the newspaper.

Exclusive liquid-cooled Power Mac G5 development details

The overall development and production of the first liquid-cooled Power Macs was no easy feat. The project was lengthy and relied on the efforts of several third parties, and in fact, still does. While following the development of the new Power Macs, AppleInsider collected several tidbits of information that may finally lend answers to some of the burning questions surrounding the new liquid cooled computers. Source: Apple Insider

August 10, 2004

The Transition is Complete: Part Two

Technically moving documents from Quark 4 to InDesign CS (IDCS) is an easy transition. Quark 4 files open in IDCS just fine. Styles and Libraries are a different thing all together. However some of the objects on the documents came over to IDCS with some weirdness to them. This is a "real world" account of moving from Quark 4 to InDesign CS. Just because we are a college newspaper does not mean our production process is any easier or less complicated then a newspaper with a much larger circulation in a small or large city. I have seen first hand newspapers in different markets, and that myth is not true at all.
You may want to read the first part of this series.
DOCUMENTS: We use many templates for front and inside section pages. Opening these in IDCS had all but no ill effects. The one problem was the weird runaround on objects. Even though the Text Wrap palette in IDCS says there is none on the objects. This happened on both text and picture boxes. I had a lot to do, so the things that did not absolutely need to be recreated didn't get special treatment. Later I might recreate all page objects "the right way." This amounts to about 4 points of margin on the inside of the text boxes. That is not good when you are trying to align headlines with body copy, photos, and other page objects that need to align to a strict grid. I checked in Quark, to see if the original objects had a small runaround value on them. None of them did. This weird runaround was on all objects, not just ones on the templates themselves, but also objects from our library. For objects that are center aligned, this 4 point "margin" is no problem. I had to, however, recreate all objects that have left or right aligned text in them. The picture boxes that were brought over from Quark to IDCS had runaround applied to the outside, not the inside like the text boxes. In most cases that is not a problem, so I did not have to recreate many picture boxes. Now here is another wrinkle in this mess. Some text boxes came over to IDCS with no runaround (the way they should) but this was too few and way too far between to be called a trend. I do not know if this peculiar runaround (now called text wrap in IDCS) is something that always happens when moving Quark documents to ID, I cannot imagine it happens all the time. I have not had the time to test this myself by making a new document in Quark 4 and bringing it into IDCS. I imagine when I get a chance to try that out, I will not see runaround on the objects. I will have to see. I don't even have OS 9 on my TiBook much less Quark 4, so I will have to try this out at work tomorrow. In this case, I had to pretty much recreate every template. That was not a fast process. But then none of this went by quickly. Recreating most all text boxes on the templates took the least of my time, however. LIBRARY: Quark documents will open in IDCS. Quark libraries on the other hand, will not. I also have a rant about how the IDCS library works, but that is another post. The only solution is to drag all the objects from the Quark library into Quark documents. Then opening those Quark documents in IDCS and creating a IDCS library. We have many, many items in our library. Mostly everything needed to create the newspaper is in our library. After making the IDCS library I realized the runaround problem on all the text objects. Of course it happened in that order. Minor details. STYLES: All the styles had little disk icons next to their names when brought into IDCS from Quark 4. This means the style is an imported style. Imported styles are bad, very, very, bad. I had to recreate every style. We use somewhere between 40 and 50 different paragraph styles. We used no character styles. Yet with all the imported Quark 4 templates and normal documents I now have a Normal character style. It is set to Helvetica (which is the default font in Quark 4). Everything that is not set with a paragraph style is assigned this Normal character style. This means all the objects used to recreate our library as well, all have Normal assigned to them. This would not be such a big problem but when I go assigning paragraph styles, or an actual character style, I get weirdness as the paragraph styles do not work because it is competing with Normal. I had to go through and kill the Normal character style all over the place. CONCLUSION: I now know of many of the side effects when bringing a document from Quark to InDesign. I know there are many more, but these are the problems I faced while getting everything ready to publish the paper in IDCS. I now know that the first thing to do is delete the Normal character style first. Doing that first, not third, is the way to go. I don't know how to prevent any of the other headaches I encountered taking our newspaper from Quark to InDesign. As much of a pain in the rear this was, it was needed. I have not done so much as touched InDesign before this summer. So to that end, I needed to learn IDCS hyper fast. The Total Training DVD's we bought help, but not as much as fixing up these templates to work smoothly. More to come on this transition soon...

Import Mail from Mac OS X into Gmail

Everyone who is migrating to Gmail loves the google search feature for all your new mail, but wouldn't it be nice if you could get all of your old email messages into Gmail from your Mac OS X Mail.app without forwarding the thousands of messages you've accumulated over the years by hand? Source: Salted Wound

Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See

Like many editorial consultants, I've been concerned about the amount of time I've been spending on easy fixes that the author shouldn't have to pay for. Sometimes the question of where to put a comma, how to use a verb or why not to repeat a word can be important, even strategic. But most of the time the author either missed that day's grammar lesson in elementary school or is too close to the manuscript to make corrections before I see it. Source: Holt Uncensored

Roxio sells software division, focuses on Napster

Roxio said Monday that it will sell its consumer software division for $80 million and focus wholly on its Napster digital music business in the future... Source: C|Net News.com From Adaptec to their spinoff Roxio to Sonic, Toast has seen its share of change. Toast is by far the best disc burning software on the Mac, I sure hope that Sonic doesn't screw it up. An interesting fact is this: Sonic has no Macintosh consumer products. They have no Mac OS X software. Now they have Toast, a consumer piece of software for OS X.

Cat pounces on pilot mid-flight

An escaped pet cat created a scare on a Belgian airliner, forcing the crew to turn back to Brussels 20 minutes into its journey. A "lot of coincidences", as the airline told BBC News Online, ended with the animal running wild in the cockpit and attacking the co-pilot... Source: BBC News

Funny Funny, Ha Ha from Jake

Jake tells me he is trying to "clean up" his site because his family is now reading his site. HA! I doubt that is going to happen. So on his behalf I present (most of) the jokes he sent me. Those left our are just too wrong to post. Thanks for the laughs Jake :) What is a Yankee? The same as a quickie, but a guy can do it alone. Why is divorce so expensive? Because it's worth it. What do you see when the Pillsbury Dough Boy bends over? Doughnuts. Why is air a lot like sex? Because it's no big deal unless you're not getting any. What do you call a smart blonde? A golden retriever. What's the difference between a boyfriend and husband? 45 minutes. What's the fastest way to a man's heart? Through his chest with a sharp knife. Why do men want to marry virgins? They can't stand criticism. Why is it so hard for women to find men that are sensitive, caring, and good-looking? Because those men already have boyfriends. What's the difference between a new husband and a new dog? After a year, the dog is still excited to see you. What makes men chase women they have no intention of marrying? The same urge that makes dogs chase cars they have no intention of driving. A brunette, a blonde, and a redhead are all in third grade. Who has the biggest boobs? The blonde, because she's 18. Why don't bunnies make noise when they have sex? Because they have cotton balls. What's the difference between a porcupine and BMW? A porcupine has the pricks on the outside. What did the blonde say when she found out she was pregnant? "Are you sure it's mine?" What's the difference between Beer Nuts and Deer Nuts? Beer Nuts are $1, and Deer Nuts are always under a buck. Why does Mike Tyson cry during sex? Mace will do that to you. Why do men find it difficult to make eye contact? Breasts don't have eyes. How do you get a sweet little 80-year-old lady to say the F... word? Get another sweet little 80-year-old lady to yell *BINGO*! What's the difference between a northern fairytale and a southern fairytale? A Northern fairytale begins "Once upon a time..." A southern fairytale begins "Y'all ain't gonna believe this s..."

Crazy Unicycling

It all looks pretty fun until your nuts hit the poll. Some crazy people, check them out (QuickTime). Thanks to Rob for the link. The site has other funny videos and games.

August 12, 2004

OmniWeb 5.0 now available

Following months of beta testing, the Omni Group today announced the availability of OmniWeb 5.0, a major update to its Mac OS X Web browser. The new version can be immediately downloaded from the company's Web site, and soon will be available in most retail software outlets. Highlighted new features include a tab drawer, saved browsing sessions, greatly enhanced bookmarks, page marking, improved search shortcuts, site-specific preferences, and more. OmniWeb 5.0 sells for US$29.95, while upgrades from previous versions are $9.95. A 30-day trial version is also available... Source: MacMinute The final is here! The final is here! I have been using the beta for a while now. The OmniWeb (OW) 5 final is much faster to start up and shut down, which was my only complaint about OW 5 beta. OW 5 is based on WebCore which runs a heck of a lot faster then the home grown engine OW 4 had. OmniGroup has assembled a large number of impressive features above and beyond what Safari can do. I have been a happy OW customer for some time now. Be sure and check OW 5 out! OmniWeb 5 top 8 features (as mentioned on the web site) Powerful Graphic Tabs Workspaces Ad Blocking Saved Browsing Sessions [Powerful] Bookmarks RSS News Feeds Site Preferences Search Shortcuts I would have to agree with those 8 being the top features. I will gladly pay the $9.95 upgrade fee to support such great, hard working folks! Keep up the good work OmniGroup! And no, I do not work for OmniGroup, I am just a long time satisfied customer.

August 15, 2004

iTunes 4.6: Items In Playlist Cannot Be Burned

You can't burn an MP3 CD from AAC files. You have to first convert the AACs to MP3. You can of course burn the AAC files to audio CD. Excuse me, but this is bull pucky! iTunes does so much, why can it not rip an AAC to memory and then burn it to CD as an MP3 disc? Stupid "feature." So I have to transcode my AAC files to MP3 (its a good thing iTunes does that) and then I can burn a MP3 CD. I now have a large portion of my collection in AAC. Had I known this I would have only used AAC for those files bought from the iTMS. iTunes should be able to convert AAC on the fly to MP3 and then burn the MP3 disc. Toast rips MP3 files to AIFF before it makes an Audio CD. I am not really miffed, it is just that I expect more from an Apple product such as iTunes.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 DVD Review

Ever watch a movie in a theater and leave being completely unsure about what you've just seen? You get into the car and just kind of stare blankly at the dash, baffled by what just unfolded. "Kill Bill Vol. 1" was one of those movies except for the fact that I stared at my TV screen after watching the DVD. I was confused, unsure if what I had just seen was entertaining. "Kill Bill Vol. 2" solved my quandary. The Bride (Uma Thurman), having finished off two people from her "list," immediately begins seeking vengeance on the final three people who tried murdering her during a wedding rehearsal. Budd (Michael Madsen), Elle (Daryl Hannah), and of course Bill himself (David Carradine), prepare for the wrath of the Bride. What she doesn't know is that her daughter is actually alive and in the hands of Bill. Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" opens with an ingenious segment in which all of the films main characters are finishing off a meal. The segment leads into a highly entertaining argument about tipping the waitress. Though it has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the film, this single scene enables viewers to get a feel for each of the characters in brilliant fashion. The snappy and witty dialogue the director is famous for tries to be transferred into this second chapter of the "Kill Bill" saga. One has to wonder what went wrong. This is a film so wildly different from the first you have to wonder how they can be connected (they are technically the same movie, simply split into two parts). Where the first edition was kinetic, fast, and full of energy, this second part is dull, lifeless, and lacks any real tension. You would have to be an idiot not to figure out that Bill would meet his demise by the end of the film. The plot of the entire saga is as paper-thin as an ancient 8-bit video game: "You're out for revenge against those that betrayed you! Fight off the 5 bosses and give them what they deserve!" Of course, that's really not what's important here. Tarantino is as gifted as they come with a camera and it shows here. Even if you know nothing about the way a film is made, you will still appreciate some of the shots produced here. The acting is also great, particularly David Carradine. The problem here is that the maddening pace and dialogue just don't work. In a nearly 20-minute scene, Tarantino gives a wonderful homage to 70's Chinese kung-fu films with Gordon Lu playing the old and wise martial arts expert. While certainly a well produced segment (probably the best in the film, including the classic quick-zoom camera shots) it's only purpose is to give an explanation for how The Bride finds her way out of an early tomb in ridiculous fashion. Most of the character-oriented segments here are not the least bit entertaining, funny, or dramatic. The characters that were so wild and fun in the first film are nowhere to be found. Gone is the dark comedy from the opening scene from part one. Gone are the wonderfully over-the-top and wonderfully shot fight scenes. All that's left are some minor conversations that really have no reason to be included. In this one, we get a drunken bouncer and a woman who's only purpose is to add a minor piece to the Gordon Lu segment mentioned above. Nearly all of their conversations are useless. Towards the end, Thurman makes a stop in Mexico, which I see absolutely no reason for. Usually in a Tarantino film this is welcome pacing, but here they just don't have underlying comedy that fills his other films like "Pulp Fiction." Admittedly, the final 30-minutes are great, if only for David Carradine's outstanding performance. This is the point of the movie where the dialogue finally kicks into the Tarantino style. It just works, even if he does drag on a bit too long. Carradine rambles on about a dead, stepped on fish, and other completely insane topics, all the while making his character even more inherently evil. THAT'S what this movies dialogue needed for the entire running time: Purpose. (** out of *****) Miramax presents "Kill Bill Vol. 2" in 2.35:1 widescreen, preserving the wonderful cinematography the way it should be. The color is here is way over the top, but it looks gorgeous and it all holds together. Some severe edge enhancement is noticeable early on, but about a half-hour in, you won't notice it again. A few of the scenes have excessive grain, but this is usually for effect. The black-and-white segments have excellent black and contrast levels. Compression is never an issue, making this one just shy of reference quality. (****) Viewers have the option of listening to the film in either standard 5.1 or DTS. The DTS track seems almost unnecessary considering most of the film is front loaded, but the "buried alive" scene must be heard using the format. Only a few brief moments feature rear speaker usage. Fight scenes are disappointingly dull, even though they have numerous opportunities. The LFE channel is used effectively when it is called upon, but these are really the only highlights. (***) It's already been said (in a rather controversial style) that these films will eventually be treated to massive special editions, so the extras here are less than adequate. A roughly half-hour feature on the making of the film talks about some key scenes and how they were done, but interest level here is low. The only other extras include a brief deleted scene and a musical performance from the film's premiere. (**) This is a movie I was definitely looking forward to. I didn't have the opportunity to see it in theaters, but it's hard to believe the big screen would make this anymore tolerable. The few flashes of brilliance are marred by twice as many moments of sheer boredom. This is a film that needed to be trimmed down quite a bit before release.

August 20, 2004

RE: Your Apple Order # 7010376136

To Our Valued Apple Customer: Thank you for ordering the 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 30th. Your satisfaction is important to us and we appreciate your patience and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this delay has caused you. Please rest assured that we fulfill all orders in the order they are received. If you do not contact Apple Sales Support to indicate that you consent to the revised shipping date, Apple is obligated by law to cancel your order. If you have prepaid for your products and we do not hear from you before August 30th, we will cancel your order and refund your payment promptly. We apologize sincerely for any inconvenience. Contacting us is easy...
Wow, another delay? No way! I really didn't think my G5 would make the 8/20 ship date, but I had hoped it had. I have now given up hope. I wish Apple would just tell their customers the truth. If they are not going to ship most of the dual 2.5's until September... October... whenever, just say that. I assume the delay is because of poor yield rates on the 2.5 Ghz chips, and/or the water cooling unit is causing problems. Will we ever know? I am just glad I didn't have a video project to do, or a DVD project to create before I go back to school on Monday. This PowerBook just does not cut it for DVD Studio Pro work ya know. I have received all of my order: the 23" Cinema Display, the Airport Express and AppleCare. I ordered RAM from Crucial, I got that a while ago. What if that does not work? Are they going to take it back after having the RAM for over a month? Crucial will probably understand but what about other companies if things need to be sent back? I am not happy about all this. Apple needs to treat their dyed in the wool customers with respect. I will put up with this because I want my G5, but what about people who are not so sure about getting an Apple computer, those who have never bought an Apple before. I also do not understand why I need to tell Apple that YES, I want them to deliver my order. If I did not want it - you know what - I would not have ordered it! I was talking with Rob and he tells me it is because of a federal law. Since the ship date of my order will be after 60 days Apple has to confirm with the customer (me) or cancel the order. Thats just a load of crap if you ask me. I placed the order for the 23" Cinema Display AND a Dual 2.5 Ghz G5, I think I was sure I wanted it.

August 21, 2004

Olympians largely barred from blogging

Athletes may be the center of attention at the Olympic Games, but don't expect to hear directly from them online -- or see snapshots or video they've taken. The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites. An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games. Source: CNN So much for free speech!

Low Attendance at Athens Games Spurs Efforts to Boost Ticket Sales

So far the Athens venue for the 2004 Summer games appears to be a spectacular accomplishment for the Greeks. Transportation is fairly efficient, the Olympic grounds are an architectural achievement and, although security is tight, getting through the gates is easy. That's because the crowds are not exactly of Olympic proportions. Source: VOA News

August 22, 2004

Top 11 Good Things About Being Named Version 2.0

11. You can’t be blamed for your predecessor’s problems 10. At least your name isn’t Microsoft (or is that Mike Rowe Soft?) 9. No need to be compatible with Version 1.x 8. None of the pressure to perform like younger sibling, the upcoming Version 3.0 7. Can get away with more, as 1.0 release are always more trouble 6. Easy name change after plastic surgery or other life-altering events 5. No bugs, just untested and undocumented features 4. Way better than being name “286” 3. Always first in line at school—even ahead of kids whose last names start with “A” 2. No need to make a first impression—people already know something about you 1. Can use the phrase “new and improved” on your resume Thanks Max for this funny!

Video game ad angers mother

An advertisement for a video game displayed in Transit Windsor buses is being removed after a Windsor woman complained her four-year-old son was too afraid to ride. "It's about time," Collette Clairmont said Tuesday when she heard the signs were coming down. "I am shocked something like that is even on the bus." Source: Windsor Star Thanks to Matt for the link.

Bush adviser quits after appearing in swift boat ad

ROANOKE, Virginia (CNN) -- A volunteer adviser has quit President Bush's re-election campaign after appearing in a veterans group's television commercial blasting Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's involvement in the Vietnam-era antiwar movement. Source: CNN You gotta love the mud slinging. This specific ad campaign has got to be the worst dirty politics I can remember. And if the Bush campaign are in cahoots then hells bells.

Fall 2004 Classes; 36 page BG News issues

This fall I have 2 classes. Art History 146 (Western) at 8 freaking 30 in the AM on M W and F. I took that over the 3 hr. class one day a week. The second class is Economics 200 at 10:30 AM on M W and F. I am not gonna complain about that 8:30 Art History class (too much) as my classes are done by 11:20. I haven't been posting much lately because we have just put out the 2 biggest papers of the year. Both the Freshman and Welcome issues of the BG News are 36 pages. The new system works, and works well. This is a major success for me as the hardware, software, and new templates and libraries were all overhauled by me this summer. The process for both editorial and production is also new. It all went well. These 12 and 14 page papers will be a walk in the park after two 36 pagers! I am just so proud of all the students involved, because they had to learn a new workflow and a new software package, InDesign, in a very short period of time. The students have done great, and these first two papers look great. I have to give them a lot of credit on a job well done, and I think they will do even better work as they become more familiar with InDesign. I originally though that teaching InDesign would be harder then Quark. I was wrong. Teaching InDesign is so much easier. And I am very thankful for that. I keep tweaking the templates and libraries. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but as I found out the templates and libraries we use needed a lot of work. I still have things to fix, and I find more little things as we produce more papers. I made a long list of things to fix Thursday when we put together the Freshmen issue. I will fix those this week. If that isn't enough for my first day of college this fall, our Student Publications graduate student is starting work today. I have plenty of work that she can help with, mostly web sites that need attention. More on that later.

August 24, 2004

Shipment notification for order # 7010376136

The following products shipped on 08/22/2004. Transit time will depend upon whether you have chosen standard or premium freight options. If your order is shipping standard freight, it should arrive within 10 days of shipment.
Yay! The FedEx page says it will be here Friday. Of course that page said Thursday yesterday, so I hope it is not pushed back any more. I have never waited this long for a Mac before in my life. But its all worth it, thats for sure.

August 25, 2004

How to post on a message board for newbies

Posting and You. Thanks to Matt for the link.

Nothing So Strange DVD Review

You have to give credit to some filmmakers. Tackling a topic about the assassination of a real person, specifically about the richest man in the world, takes guts, more so when that man is still alive. Brian Flemming did just that, stirring up some controversy in the process. The film itself is wildly uneven, but the effort to put together this mockumentary makes this worthwhile viewing. During a December ceremony in Los Angeles, a sniper guns down Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates after two shots. Within a short amount of time, a group calling themselves "Citizens for Truth" begin to question whether or not the police have actually given the public the entire story. What follows is a deeper look into the sequence of events that led up to the murder. Numerous theories are presented, but the gaining the trust of the public and keeping themselves together may prove to be the downfall for the group. "Nothing So Strange" comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders. The first half-hour (maybe even a bit longer) is an absolutely flawless look at the murder and the various evidence the group has compiled. In fact, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this film and something on Court TV. Complete with computer-generated scenarios, visits to the crime scene, pictures, magazines covers, and video shot after the assignation, the film covers all of its bases quickly in entertaining fashion. Then, without any warning, the film suddenly tumbles into oblivion, completely changing the focus from the assassination to an inside look at the group trying to find the truth. Viewers who were glued to the screen, forming their opinions about the events, are tossed to the wayside. The final hour continues on this path, hardly ever mentioning the evidence again. The films ending is also highly unsatisfying, though the purpose it obvious. Watch this one for the earlier portions and then try and forget the rest. (** out of *****) Shot in standard full frame, as expected, "Nothing So Strange" looks awful on DVD. The look of the film is obviously not very important here, but it's so jarring, you can't help but feel disappointed. The lower resolution and subdued colors are understandable due to the way the film was shot. Not acceptable are the garish compression issues that hinder every single frame of this film. The opening assassination is just a mess of giant blocks and rest of the running time is no better. The too-few scenes of clarity are still soft and lacking in fine detail. Regardless of the way the film was shot, this is just not acceptable. (*) The sound quality, while uneven, is still better than the visual presentation. Surprisingly presented in 5.1, the majority of the film is center loaded. A few of the crowded sequences use the rears effectively, but these are rare moments. Some of the minor dialogue sequences can be a bit difficult to hear (and no subtitles are provided), but anything important is loud and clear. (***) Extras here are definitely innovative, but just about as controversial as the film itself. Included on the disc is an audio commentary from director Brian Flemming. In character the entire time, it's actually a follow up to the film and is required listening after watching the film. You'll be allowed to go deeper into certain moments in the film including extended interrogation segments (quite long) and multi-angle segments of the assassination. The back of the DVD states that there is something called "The Kill Zone," but unless I'm blind, I missed it. Now, visiting the Bitpass website allows you to purchase extra features that supposedly make up a second disc. These features range in price (from as little as a nickel up to a dollar) and length. I did not purchase any of them nor am I in agreeance with the whole process. If I was to pay $15 for a DVD, I should get everything and not have to shell out even more money to get the entire package when the disc gets home. I see the purpose (to allow smaller companies to compete with the massive special editions put out by the big studios), but as a marketing tool, it's awful. (***) The idea to create this film is one of the best in a long time. Wholly innovative and engrossing for a while, "Nothing So Strange" is commendable, but it seriously needed more focus. The delivery of the extras is also absurd, but picking this one up as a rental is still recommended.

Midnight Club GBA Review

The Midnight Club series launched with Playstation 2 back in 2001. Around the same time, a version for the Game Boy Advance surfaced under the radar, for obvious reasons. The initial version on the PS2 wasn't exactly a classic, but the portable rendition fails on nearly every level.

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Sci-Fi Channel Original: Raptor Island

You need to have a certain mind set to sit down and waste your Saturday night with a Sci-fi original. Not much can be expected since the cable network manages to premiere a new one almost every week. Even though it's hard to believe, these movies continue on a downward spiral, one that could hardly go down any lower after tonight's bomb, "Raptor Island." A Chinese-manned plane goes down on an uncharted island 40-years ago. Now in present day, a terrorist group has the eye of a Navy Seal team. After blowing up their boat, the Seals team follows them to the island that happens to have some radioactive residents. To go along with the dinosaur issue, an active volcano is also having some problems and is prone to go off any minute. It's a race to get off the island in anyway possible before either the natives or volcano take them out. "Raptor Island" is a new breed of bad movie. This is a movie so incomprehensible, you'll sit dumfounded for the entire running time. Lorenzo Lamas is the only recognizable name on the roster and the raptors are so laughable, any attempt at tension turns into comedy. Supposedly intelligent animals, the raptors as portrayed here are easily the dumbest movie monsters of all time. The films most hilarious scene comes just after the half-hour mark. The raptors, having just finished off one of the terrorists, begin their feast. The Seals team sneaks up behind them, pouring ammo rounds into their backside. The mutated dinos never even so much as flinch as the bullets continually produce hilariously animated blood spurts while they finish their meals. One of their own finally collapses from the onslaught, which finally triggers something in their feeble minds to get the hell out of there. Almost everything here was created with CG. From the warships to the long shots of the island itself, everything is shown as if in some unentertaining arcade game. The director tries to add some style to the proceedings by using the "shaky" camera, done so well in Saving Private Ryan. Here, it makes absolutely no sense. Not only is it disorienting, but when everyone is standing still, there is absolutely no need for it. You can literally go on for hours about the films mistakes and obvious flaws. The ending is so foreshadowed throughout the running time, you don't even have to watch the final half-hour (maybe even the final hour) to know what happens. Some of the raptors take 50 rounds to go down, some take three. Why exactly did some radioactive material spawn raptors again? No one seen or figured out an extinct species was alive and well for forty years? If nothing else is on the island, what did they eat before humans made landfall? I can't imagine that the Sci-Fi channel actually makes money on films like this, yet they continually put junk like this out and even run marathons of this stuff. For every mildly entertaining film they produce, there are at least three just like "Raptor Island." No matter how cool the ads or the premise sound, you just have to avoid the temptation of tuning in. It's the only way to stop it.

August 29, 2004

Adobe Acrobat PDFMaker Toolbar in Office

If you use Office v. X or Office 2004 for Mac OS X, you are familiar with the Adobe Acrobat PDFMaker Toolbar. And as a Mac OS X user you are well aware that you can PDF in any application without the help of a stupid toolbar.

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G5 Received and Setup

"Sittin' on the dock of West Hall, watching the time roll away..." I will never choose Ground shipping when I buy from Apple, or any other vendor again. FedEx Ground has until 8 PM to deliver, and as I found out Friday, it does not seem to matter if the delivery address is a business or not. When my G5 did not show by 5 PM, and the web site said it was on the truck for delivery, I started calling FedEx. I had to talk to 5 people and did not get through to the person I needed to on the first call, but I finally confirmed that my G5 would show up by 7 PM. I had to confirm with FedEx that I would be there at 7 PM as well. So I grabbed a chair and sat on the dock behind West Hall. I got some of my Economics reading done, so it was not a complete waste of time. Once you start up a G5 for the first time you are prompted to transfer files from an old Mac. I have heard of this Setup Assistant feature but never have I seen it first hand. I have to say that the hour it took to transfer all my files (about 50 GB of stuff, lots of video too) saved me probably 10 fold in time installing and setting up preferences. What I am very impressed with is that my unix apps came over, even though they are not in my user Library folder. I use POPFile, which uses SQLite, as well as a number of perl modules. I was sure I would have to install POPFile on my G5, and I did not have to do a thing. How wonderful is that! The only thing that was not transfered was the Developer folder with all the developer tools and 'developer' unix apps. This was a quick install however as this package installer is provided in the Installers folder. The only casualty of using the Setup Assistant is that iSync thinks your new computer is your old computer. You have to delete the "old computer" name and then you are set. Not a huge problem, just something to be aware of, because you cannot keep two computers in sync if they are both named the same thing. UPDATE: I found one more casualty of the Setup Assistant file transfer process. Zino's DRM file gets out of whack and I get an error #22-M. There is, however, a very easy fix. It was also very easy to find on their help site. UPDATE: Apple Remote Desktop also exhibited some odd behavior. When I launch ARD Admin it tells me I need to serialize my install. It has the my serial number filled out but it has some odd ball characters (upside down question marks, for example). I just had to type in my serial number and everything works now. UPDATE: Audible will not let me listen to my subscription books and periodicals on my G5. I get an error message stating that I need to remove my Audible account on at least one of my other computers. I do not yet have a fix for this. I need to go to their help site. I found the answer, not on the web site, but in iTunes itself. Under the Advanced menu choose Deauthorize Computer. I found this handy feature AFTER I found this page on the Audible.com site. That always happens. I cannot get over how fast this G5 is. It should be fast after all, I payed a pretty penny for it! I can't get over how fast things install and apps load and everything else. I will have to use it for a little while to notice how much faster it feels over the Dual 2.0 Ghz G5 at work. I was not thinking strait when I ordered my G5 and bought an AirPort Extreme card after the fact, so I had to install it. That was the easiest computer component I have ever installed. I also ordered extra RAM from Crucial, and that installation was similarly painless. So here are the specs of my new baby: Dual 2.5 Ghz G5 with 1.25 Ghz frontside bus 3GB DDR400 SDRAM (PC3200) ATI Radeon 9800 XT w/256MB DDR SDRAM AirPort Extreme Card Bluetooth Module 8x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) Apple Wireless Keyboard Apple Cinema HD Display (23" flat panel) I got the Cinema Display July 30, the day my G5 was supposed to ship. The G5 was then supposed to ship August 20. Then it was supposed to ship August 30. Each time I got emails explaining the delays. On August 22nd I got shipment confirmation, I am just so glad I have it now and it is not a lemon. I do not understand why the ATI 9800 XT has a ADC port on it. It SHOULD have two DVI ports on it. I of course also do not understand why Apple came up with the Apple Display Connector in the first place. I have my 23" Cinema plugged into the DVI port, and now need to buy a Dr. Bott ADC VGA Extractor for $25 to plugin my other monitor. I wish the cord for these new Cinema Displays was longer. I would like to place my G5 tower on the floor, and the Cinema on my desk. But because of how short the cord is that plugs into the Cinema's power brick, I have to put the G5 on my desk next to the Cinema. Other then the ADC port on the ATI 9800 XT, my only other complaint with the G5 is only having one Firewire 400 port in the back. I figured after the feedback from the Rev. A G5 they may put another Firewire 400 in the back. Oh well. I just have too many Firewire devices, and for that matter, too many USB devices. Connecting everything was a snap. Of course I would accept nothing less with a new G5! Connecting to my new AirPort Express was a breeze. Connecting the BlueTooth Keyboard was a breeze. It was so easy to connect via BlueTooth to my Tungsten T3 and transferring files. I sent a couple Word and PDF documents to my T3, that is so slick! Rendezvous printing worked as expected. No glitches what so ever. Not having to install POPFile was such a nice sunrise, that is for sure. Now if you will excuse me I need to go play Halo on my new G5 :)

Now that is a cool tie!

The 100% silk, bright red Gadget Tie is a must for gadget lovers!   The design features cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players and more (it has an iPod too). The back of the tie has a hidden pocket-- perfect for carrying a credit card, key, money, mints…or any other small items. SCOTTeVEST Tie. Of course you should get the Sport Jacket to go with that snazzy tie...

2.6 2.8 3.1 3.3 9.6 [from the Korean judge]

He is no Paul Hamm. (QuickTime) Thanks Matt for the linky.

August 30, 2004

EasyHistoryCS and MultiDoCS

It was just brought to my attention that there is a history palette plugin for InDesign CS. They also have a free undo multiple/ redo multiple plugin, MultiDoCS. The EasyHistoryCS plugin costs $19 until Sept. 1st, 2004. After that it is $39, which is still well worth your money. The EasyHistoryCS palette works just like the Photoshop History palette does, it even creates snapshots of your layout as in Photoshop. Worth checking out for sure! It looks like 65 Bit Software has other nice plugins as well, none of which I would need though. I have got to show this EasyHistoryCS plugin to Paul at Unigraphics, he is going to love this. On a related note, I am about to move Unigraphics to OS X. After seeing how nice and smooth things run in the newsroom, they cannot wait to start using OS X. That and they are chomping at the bit to upgrade from InDesign 2 to InDesign CS, which is more then understandable.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters DVD Review

Fifty years ago, Ishiro Honda directed a film with a star that no one could have predicted would become an international icon. Godzilla was born as a representation of the atomic bombings in Japan. Some people even believe that Godzilla is a stand-in for the United States as he crushes Tokyo under his girth. Regardless, he has since become a joke here in the US, and it all started right here with "Godzilla: King of the Monsters." Steve Martin (Raymond Burr) is a reporter for United World News. He lands in Tokyo for a layover and to visit with Daisuke Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata), an old college friend and one of the worlds leading scientific minds. A flurry of similar shipping incidents keeps him grounded, as the mystery is slowly unveiled. Japan is under attack by a radioactive monstrosity that cannot be stopped. The only hope of stopping it is Serizawa and a weapon he not only created, but also refuses to unleash unto the world. Terry Morse took over the film when it was brought to the States, deleting 18-minutes from the original Japanese version and adding in new scenes with Raymond Burr. The Japanese characters so wonderfully crafted are pushed aside for Burr's narration. Some of the scenes have been shuffled around and without subtitles or explanation; some of them now make no sense at all (why are people fighting at the press conference?). The main human drama, a love triangle between Emiko, Ogata, and Serizawa is cut down to a few brief scenes, lessening the impact of the final chapter. Numerous references to the H-Bomb have been deleted along with any mention to the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Dubbing here is fair and handled with care, but the stand-in actors who interact with Burr are painfully obvious. Regardless of the cuts, "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" is still a great movie. Then again, the film would do a fine job on it's own in just about any form, making it easily one of the best giant monster films of all time. Special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya does a fantastic job of recreating Tokyo in miniature, making for some truly memorable moments during Godzilla's final rampage. There are moments where the effects are laughable (I've always wondered what went wrong with the fire trucks), but the overall presentation is easily on par (if not better than) any American film of the era. Akira Ifukube provides the stunning film soundtrack, one of the most classic of all time. He also created the roar the monster still uses today. (**** out of *****) "Godzilla: KOM" is available three times on DVD. The first release by Simitar is the only one with any real features and is long out of print. The second, unlicensed release came from Goodtimes and was pulled soon after it hit store shelves. Finally, Sony Classic Media distributed the version reviewed here. The disc is also available in an awful box set that includes more Godzilla films and "Rodan." All of the films use poorly aged, pan and scan prints that do not do the film justice. Just stick with this disc and hunt down the somewhat valuable Simitar discs. Anyway, Classic Media has produced the best-looking Godzilla DVD in the US so far. The print is still littered with scratches and dirt, but the clarity and contrast are superb. Where the previous two releases suffer from terrible compression problems, this version has none. Grain is only a minor issue in a few scenes. The film is usually on the dark side and the disc does a fine job keeping the mood the director was going for. Next to the Japanese disc of the original film, this is the best this movie has ever looked. (****) Sadly, the sound presentation falters. All of the scenes directed by Terry Morse sound just fine with this Dolby Mono 2.0 presentation, coming through the speakers with no distortion. However, whenever the untouched Japanese sequences begin to play, the sound becomes flat and muffled. This sadly includes the soundtrack that is almost unrecognizable in a few spots. The difference is jarring and disappointing. Also included is a laughable Dolby 5.1 track that simply takes the mono presentation of the film and pumps it through all five speakers, creating an annoying echo effect. Skip it. (**) The only extra included on the disc is a now outdated preview for the excellent Nintendo Gamecube game "Destroy All Monsters Melee." Credit must be given here though for the excellent menus these discs use. The entire set has really nice intros when the disc is first loaded. (*) If you have only seen the Americanized version of this movie, the time is right to track down a copy of the Japanese original. Rialto Pictures is currently showing a restored print in small theaters across the country. It's possible we may get this version on DVD in a sort of Criterion edition at some point as well. You'll be amazed at how much stronger the original is as a film. Until then, this is the best way to go for the American rendition. Shame about the sound presentation though.

The Moron and the Advertisement

Dear Collette Clairmont, You madam, are an idiot. Not just a normal idiot of course. No, you're a special kind of idiot: The type of idiot who shelters their children from everything in the world, causing them to have nightmares about the Pillsbury Doughboy at age 33. You're the type of idiot who seeks national exposure to get into the spotlight through absurd circumstances. Of course, you choose video games since you don't have the smarts to find another way to do it. Let's make this perfectly clear from the start. You have done the brave task of protecting your young child from a piece of plastic on the side of a bus. Real brave act. Someone, please give this women a medal! Instead of the taking the proper action a real parent would have and quickly teach your children early on about the differences between reality and fantasy, you made your ridiculous stand. You have managed to stretch the truth and indicated a form of the advertisement shows the character holding a gun (which of course he doesn't). Either you are horribly confused, or just used this to falsely enhance your claim. You have stated that this is sending the wrong message to kids; you won't allow them to have a butter knife. Good for you! It's about time you did something right. However, I highly doubt a 4-year old will get the idea to carry a machete around his neighborhood during playtime from the side of a bus. No, ideas like that come from years of bad parenting, kind of like yours actually. Let me ask you this: If your child comes to you one day and said he's scared of using the potty because "there are monsters in there," will you let him use diapers the rest of his life? No normal parent would. I'm beginning to believe you are the polar opposite. Last time I checked, kids who are treated like this end up stuffing dead people in their freezers. That's how THEY make the news....just like mommy! See, you wonder why kids end up in jail these days. It's not because of an advertisement on the side of a bus. It's because of you. They grow up watching Looney Tunes and one day decide to throw their friend Johnny over a cliff, thinking he'll spring back like that coyote they seen on TV. Hey, you failed miserably; never telling them it wasn't real. Why would he think otherwise? You madam, are the perfect example of why this society is slowly crumbling, not the ad. Thank you, Matt Paprocki



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