Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shut up, Iggy

By no stretch of the imagination - mine or anybody else's - do I have a lust for life right now.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hel-lo?

Just switched the kitchen light off and my YouTube stopped. Therefore, that switch must control the Internet.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

World Battleground, 1000 years of war in 5 minutes



In it's About:
Uploaded on Oct 22, 2008For the new project, please visit http://jordic.com/ffracerThis animation shows all important battles that took place over the last ten centuries. The sizes of the explosions and labels are proportional to the number of casualties. The music is "Ride Of The Valkyries" by Richard Wagner. The data comes from the wikipedia article, List of Battles.
Most of the activity seems to happen in Europe, this is because the english wikipedia was used. In a future release of this video I will merge wikipedias in different languages to solve this bias.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Operation "Get Your Life Sorted, Mate"

...is apparently On Hold while I rewatch Torchwood. At least through "Children of Earth" - the American hybrid was a bit rubbish.

Also. I stepped backwards onto a sheet of big bubble wrap and I nearly scared the crap out of myself a few minutes ago. (I just thought I'd share.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Synchronicity

Not really "interesting", per se, but "odd". I just finished reading From Hell by Moore and Campbell. Well - actually I finished it several days ago and only now finished the included notes. Then tonight I picked up The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of slightly fantastic short stories about the detective. Tonight's short was "The Adventure of the Other Detective" by Bradley H. Sinor, in which Watson slips into a alternate London (or 'ficton', if you're Spider Robinson) and runs across Jack (who, in this story is PAV, if you're interested). So - From Hell (the graphic novel) to From Hell (the movie - I had to rewatch) to this little gem - bam bam bam.

Like I said, not interesting, but a bit of a coincidence, surely...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Lone Tonto

Friday, some of my family and I went to see the new Lone Ranger movie. I thought I’d share a couple of thoughts about it.


The Movie Itself


I was not expecting much. When it was suggested that we go see it, I checked online for the running time in order to decide food choices for that afternoon/evening. And then I saw the reviews... “Eek” to say the least. Critics would have you believe that this movie is awful - the worst piece of film to hit theaters since Battlefield Earth, practically. When I rechecked Moviefone, critics have it (as of the evening of 8 July) 2/5 stars; Rottentomatoes.com has it at 24% (to the good), an average of 160 professional reviews -


- but judging by the quotes on Rottentomatoes, these are the type of people I troll on Facebook. Allow me to indulge:


Peter Travers, from Rolling Stone, writes, “Your expectations of how bad The Lone Ranger is can't trump the reality.” Really Pete? How do you know what my expectations are? Do you moonlight for the NSA?


Liam Lacey, of the Globe and Mail, writes, “When it comes to mining boys' adventure stories, defaming pirates may be fair game, but stories about western justice and native Americans [sic]? Not so much.” Defaming pirates? Pirates really don’t have a much in the way of a good name to besmirch - they’re pirates.


Rene Rodriguez, of the Miami Herald, writes, “Director Gore Verbinski has adopted the more-is-better approach he used in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, crowding the movie with so many extraneous characters and subplots that the film becomes an endurance test.” ...Fair enough.


“Disney spent over $200 million to prove The Lone Ranger is too old-fashioned for such a newfangled, smart-aleck world,” writes Mark Keizer, from Boxoffice Magazine. Really? Remember Les Miserables from... oh so long ago, it’s hard to remem- last year. 148.8M USD domestic, 288.9M USD foreign from a budget of 61 million for a musical about the French Revolution. How’s that for old-fashioned? Also, help yourself to a “Get off my lawn!” sign; “newfangled”? really?


And finally - “Too long, too weird and too darn tootin' unfunny,” or so says Tom Glasson from Concrete Playground (Australia). Too long, I’ll grant ya. The rest of that sentence is so, so wrong. “Too weird”? Get out. Off my planet. Obviously has never seen anything by David Lynch. Or Terry Gilliam. Or - god forbid - John Waters. “Too darn tootin’ unfunny”? Granted, I’m no expert on Australian colloquialism, but I’ve yet to hear or read that particular -ism from any Australian - or anybody else, for that matter. However, if Tom Glasson is really Yosemite Sam, then I apologize.
- Also: did I mention the missing Oxford comma?


Thank you for your indulgence.


So anyway - my experience was like the majority of ‘ordinary folk’ (ie. non-critics) who went and saw it: it wasn’t bad. Not fantastic, mind you, but it was funny - in large part due to the Star of the Show, Johnny Depp. Without getting spoilery, Tonto and the Lone Ranger never really gelled as buddy cops, in fact Tonto really eclipses the Lone Ranger in just about every scene. The action was a bit overdone - but the sequence where they pulled out the “William Tell Overture” was the only part that really made me roll my eyes. Helena Bonham Carter’s last appearance in the film isn’t really explained - or even set up - at all (or maybe I was distracted by the really clunky “scrimshaw”...). Otherwise, it’s not a bad matinee, if you’ve got 2-1/2 hours to kill on a Saturday afternoon on an Action-Comedy. It’s got some humor - mostly through Depp’s facial expressions or verbal reactions, but there is some banter, too - and certainly there is action - racing trains that go nuts, plus there’s one gag that puts me in mind of Harold Lloyd, which is nice.


On the other hand, one of the reviewers said that the film doesn’t know what it wants to be. That’s kind of true, because intermixed with the other is Tonto’s backstory, which is tragic, and there a message that Greed is Bad (mm’kay?), and the white guys who run the railroad and the cavalry are self-serving, murderous bastards. This doesn’t mesh well with the “comedy” part of the Action-Comedy equation.


The opinion of said ‘ordinary folk’, according to Rottentomatoes: 68% favorable (compared to critics’ 24%) and Moviefone’s 4 -1/2 stars from 96 reviews (versus 2 stars from the critics). Having said that, will it earn back the 215 million budget? Not domestically, maybe in foreign markets. The film only - “only” - brought in less than 30M - because everyone went to see the Twinkies in overalls in “Despicable Me 2”. Will people make up for it next weekend? Probably not, this being Summer and all, there’s plenty more big action movies out there - WWZ (opened last weekend) and Pacific Rim (opening with it’s big robots next weekend). It is not going to be “Pirates” big but it won’t be a total bomb either. It’ll probably more than break even when everything is said and done, but don’t hold your breath for a Lone Ranger 2.


So that’s the movie. What about...


The Controversy


So a guy without any formal or legal relationship to a federally recognized tribe got cast as a Comanche. Has there been some talk about it? Yep, a little...


I was going to go into this big, long thing about this - then I read this post by Kevin Gover, the Pawnee who heads up the National Museum of the American Indian. He sums things up much better than I could. This is his post:




He writes, in part:

“Mr. Depp’s Tonto is understood by all—especially the Comanches in the movie—to be a very strange man. We learn from the plot that his eccentricity is actually a mostly good-natured madness arising from a childhood trauma. So Tonto’s weird dead-bird headdress, which has generated much discussion among Indian cultural critics, is not presented as traditional Indian dress. Rather, it is a manifestation of Tonto’s madness.”

When I saw the movie, I was put in mind of Don Quixote, not as in “quixotic” but actually in a place where the don saw castles instead of inns and giants instead of windmills, you know: delusional. He was so immersed in his delusion that the objective world was overlayed with his subjective narrative so completely that it created a world unto itself in his mind. And yes, there are real Native actors playing Comanches without birds on their heads. They’re the ones who tell Reid Tonto’s backstory, describing him as no longer being Comanche, but in essence being a tribe unto himself. Thus acknowledging that Tonto isn’t playing in the real world anymore.


The bottom line for me is the fact that the real/now/present-day Comanches themselves don’t seem to have a problem with Depp’s efforts in this movie. He was adopted into the Comanche Nation at the home of LeDonna Harris, who the Indian Country Today Media (read the article here) staff describes as “an esteemed Comanche who is president and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO)” with Comanche Nation Chairman Johnny Wauqua attending. As a Cherokee, it’s really not my place to say who the Comanches can approve of to play a Comanche. So far, I haven’t seen anything coming from their community saying that this was hugely inappropriate. Maybe it will come up in their next election; I couldn’t tell you.
In the end, the movie was a bit overdone and unfocused, but not as much as some of the discussion that hit the Internets before the movie was released. Why was this actor cast in this role? Box office draw. When a entertainment corporation spends in excess of two hundred million dollars on a movie, they’re going to do whatever they can to make it back, including hiring an actor that’s a big-name draw. Go figure. Why wasn’t it an Native actor? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that just about every other Indian in the movie was Native - and there were quite a few, even a couple with some actual lines.

You want more? Ok, go make it. If Star Trek and Firefly fans can put together projects with a cast, sets, special effects, original music (with four part harmony (for all you “Alice’s Restaurant” fans)) with no way of marketing the movie as Product because everything is copyrighted by someone else, surely you can shoot a script and get it to an audience. Remember Whedon’s “Dr. Horrible” - an Internet download? If you need cash, why not try Kickstarter - Kristen Bell raised 5 million bucks for a movie continuation of a TV show that’s been off the air for six years, Amanda Palmer raised 1.2 for an album and an art book - surely someone could put together an idea that could raise enough for an HD camera, a good boom mic, and a copy of Final Cut Pro. Ok - I know it’s a little more complicated than that, but still... It can be done, if you’re willing to do it.

Star Trek Fan Films: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek_fan_productions

Firefly Fan Filmshttp://www.fanfilms.net/c/firefly

Monday, July 8, 2013

Don't say it

"Don't say I didn't warn ya... Because I didn't - but don't say it anyway." Me to the dog.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Egypt

Two things after listening to NPR this morning about the developing story in Egypt:

1) The fact that the army posted it's - what amounts to an ultimatum, more or less - on Facebook. And the fact that a spokesman for the president responded on FB...

2) I know that the president of Egypt's name is Morsi, but every time that I hear it on the radio news, I hear "Morrissey"

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Well, I feel special.

Just found out that Scott Pilgrim has my birthday. Several years later, of course. (I'm reading through the boxed set - did vol. 4 tonight.)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Episode IV: A New Computer

After getting a little ahead and the second-hand laptop that I was using (which was never in a great state) getting a little dead, I decided to build a desktop machine. For one/two reasons - basically, a guy at work had just come away from a hardware intensive environment and the builds that he had been doing made my slightly nostalgic for the times that I used to do stuff like that. Also - did I mention the dying laptop?

All in all, I found it to be a lot (a freakin’ lot) easier that what I remember. It had been *years* since I built anything from scratch. For good reason (at the time). Back in the day, if you weren’t buying off the shelf computers, you bought components and had to worry about - at every step - what was compatible with what. Which always involved a tremendous amount of research - reviews for performance and ‘real-world’ build experiences, and specs to make sure all the bits played well together. Then trying to piece everything together - maybe there’s jumpers, maybe not - plug and play? not yet...

Then someone decided to get smart and put together a website and design better hardware.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In the course of Googling ‘computer build’ I stumbled on a LifeHacker post about the best computer that you can build at $300, $600, and $1200.

http://lifehacker.com/5840963/the-best-pcs-you-can-build-for-600-and-1200

There are several other posts that you can find on Lifehacker about computer building, but this one gives a hardware overview and it also links to a PCPartPicker.com parts list for each build.

At the bottom of each section there’s a link that says “Buy this build from PCPartPicker” but you actually don’t buy it from them. What PCPartPicker does is lets you choose from list of parts in each major system of a computer: CPU, Motherboard, Memory, Storage, Video Card, Power Supply, Case, and More. With the nav buttons at the top, you pick the system you want to pick a part for and then it gives you a list that can be filtered by whatever criteria is applicable. For example, if you’re picking a CPU and you know you want an i5, then you would click the filter on the right for i5 and go from there. As you go through the process and add to you parts list, the website checks for compatibility of what you’ve selected so far.

To keep things simple (I like ‘simple’), I clicked through from the Lifehacker post to PCPartPicker and just modified the list. For example, I have a preference for nVidia over ATI video cards because I’ve had some problems with the Catalyst software in the past, so I just went to Video Card and found an EVGA GeForce (with a little research) that fit in my price range. In the end, I changed the video card, storage, and the optical drive (because I wanted a BluRay). What I ended up with is this:

http://pcpartpicker.com/user/roguebert/saved/1Kcu

That brings us to the other half of PCPartPicker - the buying half. The website will list the cheapest cost for your parts from a online retailers but also local shops (provided that you have one in your area - I, living in the sticks, don’t). And - it also flags items with special offers: discounts, mail-in rebates, and the like. Pretty nifty.

But wait! There’s more! PCPartPicker also lets people post notes and pictures of their builds as well as keeping a comment thread going. It’s kinda like Deviant Art for the computer builder set. Speaking of build blogs, as you go through the parts selection process, it will give you links to projects that have used that part, so you can see completed projects (and the accompanying discussion threads) that have used that part you’re looking at in real life. Also, pretty nifty.

The Build

I actually decided on building a couple of things that night.

First things first: Tacos

This was waiting for me when I got home.



Once it’s unboxed, it’s shredded beef. It started out as 2-1/2 lbs of chuck roast that I’d dumped into a slow cooker that morning with some liquid and a bunch of spices. This is a superb way to very easily cook beef - especially if you don’t care about searing the roast before it goes in.

Basically you put the liquid and spices in the crock pot, then the meat, and then go away for about 8-10 hours. What liquid? What spices? What searing? All of these depend on personal preferences - or which website that you’re following. The liquid is either beef stock, beef broth, or just water (it turns out the blandest of them all but if you don’t have either of the other two, it works). The spices depend... pretty much the same taste/website thing. I usually use ground black pepper, onion (a sliced medium yellow or onion powder if I forgot to buy any real onions), garlic, cumin, and chili powder. If you’ve never done this before, pick a recipe that sounds good, try it, then experiment - and keep good notes.

Searing? If you want. About.com says that it will add “more complex flavors”. It does make a certain kind of sense, because you’re browning the outside of the meat in a skillet (though I have cheated and used the broiler on the oven before) and that’s going to change the character of the meat that you’re cooking later, especially if you start out with a high temp skillet and you let the outside get a good brown on before dumping it in the crock. But you can get away without. (Some people swear by searing for everything because it “locks in moisture” but Alton Brown says no: http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/to-sear-or-not-to-sear/24511.html)

Anyway, once it’s done, it’s still roast-shaped, so you pick it up in pieces with tongs and a slotted spoon. Then you make tacos. Or you can slap some on a bun and dowse it with BBQ sauce for a sandwich. Or if you have some green chilies instead of BBQ sauce, it makes a great sammich. Or if you’re making enchiladas - basically anything that you’d usually make with loose browned ground beef.


After I stuffed my face, I went on to build a computer.

Unboxing:
May contain awesome

May contain communism

Without some kind of containment field, should these have cancelled each other out or exploded or something?

Boxes and boxes (did you know, when you mistype boxes, you can get bosex?)

“Building” actually consists of securing the power supply and motherboard inside the case (the Corsair 500R comes with chassis (case) fans already installed, you just have to plug them in) and then plugging all the components into the motherboard. The only other thing that I had to screw down, besides the motherboard was the Samsung SSD into one of the otherwise tool-less (or screw-less, if you prefer) drive enclosures. So briefly, in order, I:

  • plugged the CPU into the motherboard (I consulted the manual to verify that I was doing it correctly - Why? the parts are expensive - stuff that I didn't want to hose by mishandling them)
  • put the memory in (consulted motherboard manual for the right slots since I only installed two sticks while the motherboard holds four)
  • put the motherboard into the case and IO port shield in place, then screwed the board down. (This is the first place that I noticed that the Corsair people put some thought into their stuff. The screws had a long shaft that allowed you to grip them away from the surface of the circuit board and apply a screwdriver to them also away from the surface of the circuit board.)
  • put the power supply into the case and screwed it down (I didn’t spring for a modular PS, so I had the normal octopus of cables coming out of one side of the power supply)
  • plugged in the video card after having taken out the slot cover on the case (the motherboard came with a SLI bridge (a part for plugging in one video card to another after they’re both installed on a computer and having them work as basically one super video card (forgive me, I’m simplifying)) but as I didn't get multiple video cards, that just one part that was left in the box) and then I plugged in the power leads from the power supply into the connectors on the card
  • pulled two drive cages, one for the solid state drive and one for the conventional drive (there were screw holes in the SSD for this and matching screw holes in the cage and the screws came with the case) and then plugged them and the optical drive, which slid in the front of the case, in to the SATA ports (again had to check the motherboard manual as to which SATA ports did what)
  • after plugging in and routing as much of the cabling that I could (because the CPU cooler takes up so much room inside the case), I installed the CPU cooler that came with the chip (initially, I held off installing the Cooler Master cooler until I found out how flippin’ *loud* the Intel cooler fan was).

This was it before power up testing - not the finished product.

And that’s basically it. From there, I re-checked the seating of the components and did a power-on test to see if I got any beeps from the motherboard (beeps when building usually means you forgot to plug in something important). This motherboard actually has a LED panel mounted in the corner to let you know what its doing (the codes are the manual). It came right up - I got keyboard lights when it was powering up. When didn’t get a picture at first, I moved the monitor (I was using a VGA) from the motherboard video port to the graphic card’s video port using the adapter that came with the card.

I set the date and time in BIOS and rebooted with the Windows DVD in and loaded Windows. WIth the SSD the first step of “Copying Windows files” or whatever, flashed by - literally, it came up on the screen and was immediately checked off. The whole installation took less than five minutes. I loaded the Gigabyte and the EVGA software and then plugged in to download AVG.

That’s about all that I installed on the Windows disc - the SSD is only 120GB - the remainder of the space may be used for edit copies of whatever I’m working on currently. At first the machine wasn’t recognizing the conventional drive and I found out why: I forgot to plug the SATA data line in.

After powering down and unplugging, I plugged in the Western Digital drive and then I replaced the Intel CPU cooler with the Cooler Master beast (it's massive). One thing to note is that the Intel cooler came pre-doped with thermal paste printed on the bottom of the cooler, while the Cooler Master didn’t. Basically all that meant was that I had to wipe the old thermal paste off the CPU when I took the old cooler off. Luckily, I remembered to order a spare tube and so I was able to install the replacement cooler immediately (actually it was the next evening). The only thing left was to figure out where the side panel fan plugged in and verify that the back case fan could be plugged into the motherboard even though it was a three-lead plug, and the motherboard only had four-lead connectors. (The case has a total of four fans, two front, one back, and one side - it sounds like it ought to resemble a hurricane, but it’s really quiet.)

All in all, it’s a lot easier now to build a computer, beginning to end, than it used to be. PCPartPicker lets you get away with a minimum of research (especially if you start out with someone else’s build list - it doesn’t have to be from Lifehacker, there are plenty of build projects on PCPartPicker already). Also the hardware is better designed and smart enough (provided that PCPartPicker says that they’re compatible) to configure themselves without a lot of help ("Remembah when plug and play was for crap? Pep'ridge Fahm remembahs."). Windows formats your first hard drive, and formatting the second one on a simple build like this can be started in Windows in just a couple of mouse clicks (I split my 1TB in half - 500MB for programs and program data, 500MB for data storage).

Total build time: I don’t know - I didn't time it. But it wasn't long. I could have done it in a couple of hours if I hadn’t had a Husky package inspector wanting to check out everything that I was trying to unbox, lose interest and want to play “let me in so you can let me out again”, and if I was in better practice - and I had installed the right cooler and made sure that *both* ends of *all* the SATA cables were plugged in the first time. Continually checking the hardware manuals because you don’t want to screw things up is also time consuming.



Difficulties: Not much of anything, really, other than my own oversight. I wish the case “manual” was more than a features sheet - a button diagram, if nothing else, would have been nice.

Oddness: The stickers! Most of the components came with some sort of sticker or another. I know what they’re thinking - the manufacturers think, “Well you built it, show it off... and if you put our logos on your build and you take pictures that just happen to get to the Internet... well that’s okay.”

What’s next? After I finish paying for this thing next month (I spread it out over two months), maybe a touch screen monitor? It is Win8 after all. On the other hand, I keep it in Desktop mode and run everything from there. I even got the photo import to run from there for my Galaxy S3. In the meantime, I’m consolidating my files from my various caches and replaying Mass Effect (yeah, I know, *real* constructive).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Not quite Slither

How do you get a slug on the back wall of your shower?

Tonight's science lesson: the Draino for slow drains will kill and dissolve a slug.

Speaking of "Slither" - enjoy this: (Nathan may have met his match)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Brie Larson. Um... I'm impressed.

A while back, I'd posted some links that had to do with the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack. One of which was Brie Larson fronting Metric singing "Black Sheep" as her character (Natalie) Envy Adams. The song was good, so you'd think that I'd go online and see what else she'd done - if she'd sung in any other movies, or if she'd done any strictly music projects etc... but I didn't. Don't know why. Maybe it was the fact that most of the principle cast also sang or played whatever their characters sang or played (if you turn on the trivia track during the movie you'll see all the "Performed by"s, for instance:

)

(Yes, that was a parenthetical jpg.)

So, the fact that Larson was able to front for Metric - not that unusual in this movie. I guess it didn't stand out that much. That, and the fact that she wasn't in any fight scenes... ya know. :)

Soooo. Anyways... Earlier I was on YouTube (like you do) and I saw a Craig Ferguson clip - one where he cracks himself up, which is always hilarious, so I watched it. Then there was another one - like Pringles, you can't just have one - about some strange woman randomly standing up in the audience. Then. I spotted one with Brie Larson.

(There are three that I know of:  2010/10/26,  2011/03/16, 2011/09/09, in case you're interested.)

But then, I saw this: 


It's... actually I'm at a loss, because I'm finding it difficult to heap superlatives without sounding either FanBoy or patronizing. For instance if I were to say something like, "I'm impressed with how intelligent..." And, "What does that mean?" you might say. "Shouldn't she be because why? she's an actress, or she's twenty-something, or she's attractive, or blonde?" So yeah. Let me suffice by saying that she'd be someone I'd really be interested in watching "Blade Runner" with and then to get her opinions on story and character, cinematography and lighting, and/or the comparison between the film noir style and period film noir - and even how the original Phillip K. Dick story differed from the screenplay. 

(Before you get your hopes up, "Blade Runner" fans (I know somebody is), I don't know that she likes either "The Big Sleep" or post-apocalyptic speculative fiction.)

Or if that's too long-winded, then let me say that there are few people that I'm impressed with but I think that she might be one.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013