Serenity – Firefly, the Movie

September 30, 2005

imageI’m just back from seeing Serenity.

I’m a die-hard “I’d much rather watch it on DVD” type, so ducking out and catching an afternoon first-day showing was very out of character for me. I’m glad I did, though. Not that I won’t be buying the DVD for rewind, pause and subtitle privileges, mind you.

I’ll spare everybody any spoilers, and just say that I thought it was very well done; probably one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. The movie was “very Joss Whedon”, and true to the “take-no-prisoners” style that many of us have come to love (and flinch at occasionally) over the years.

It seemed to me that the story held up very well on the big screen; it was almost a TV season’s worth of plot and entertainment in a 2 hour movie (I was amazed to see that it was only two hours; it seemed a lot longer), without seeming rushed or “over-full”. Several open loops in the series storyline were cleared up nicely.

Hopefully, those who didn’t watch the series can enjoy it just as much — I thought the introduction of the central concepts of the storyline were well done; easy to follow, yet not annoying for those familiar with them. It’ll be interesting to see how their opening weekend goes. I’m crossing my fingers that it goes “start the sequel” well.

Do something nice for yourself and go see it this weekend.

Grrr… Argh…

Coffee – Treat or Necessity?

September 30, 2005

The nice folks over to Vancouver Coffee are asking the musical question “When do you drink your coffee?

They appear to be much more the “have it as a treat” type folks –

I would hate to arrive at one day when coffee is such a necessity that we lose the ritual and stop admiring coffee for its taste and the pleasure it brings into our day.

So, I would ask all coffee drinkers out there to see if they are drinking coffee for the need only, or for something more too…

Not me. To be sure, coffee is a pleasure and I do obsess over the taste find the taste very important (I’d better, given the roaster, and the giant green bean collection, the espresso machines, the serious grinders, etc..)

But there is no starting the day without coffee. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, and the first cup of coffee of the day comes before attempting anything complex, like “coherent speech”.

These days I’m starting my morning by trying to navigate the new serious semi-automatic machine here (more about this soon), grinding, tamping and pulling two double-shots of espresso into 6 oz of hot water, for a Cafe Americano with range and striking power.

The rich taste (this week, a blend of Brazilian Sweet Yellow Datera, a dry-processed Sumatra, Ethiopian Harrar, and Guatemalan Finca La Primavera) is both critical and sublime.

The warmth of the cup, and the heavy mouthfeel of the espresso sooth my nerves, and steady me for the day.

After about half a cup, the smoke begins to roll out of my ears, and a deep rumble begins.

I recapitulate philology, and move rapidly from reptile-like torpor right up through the mammals and into the primates.

The world snaps into focus with an audible crack, the status lights on my frontal lobes switch from “pre-heat” to “ready”, coherent thought returns, and I’m ready to face the day.

There is no “optional” in “coffee”.

There is bad coffee, average coffee, good coffee, amazing coffee and transcendent coffee, but no optional coffee.

What about you?

Hand-Crank iPod Power

September 30, 2005

How many cranks does it take to get to the chewy nugget center of your iPod? GeekTechnique finds out, in this how-to article on converting a hand-cranked flashlight and cellphone charger to a charger for an iPod mini.

Well, this setup works (yay!), but with a lot of cranking involved, so I have to be quite desperate for some tunes and miles away from another possibility to charge it, before I crank power my ipod this way… but hey, it is possible! (and for me, that was the point of doing all this)

Okay, well you’d have to be fairly desperate for tunes to be willing to crank this thing for all it’s worth, but it’s always nice to see ways to maintain a proper geek lifestyle in disaster-drill season…

How-To run VoIP over existing phone wiring

September 27, 2005

I’ve been a Vonage customer for going on two years now, and I have to say that Voice Over IP (VOIP) is an exceedingly cool and (for the most part) simple-to-use technology.

You get a box from the VOIP provider, plug it into your broadband router, and plug your phone into the box. Instant dialtone — what could be easier?

But what if you don’t want your phone right next to the router?
Read more

Urchin – Suicide by acquisition?

September 27, 2005

Okay, I’ve seen some corporate silliness in my time (*cough* *telcos* *cough*) but this is one of the finer recent examples…

Just to run down the players real quick, TextDrive is a pretty well respected hosting company, particularly among the ubergeek community (hosting sites like “alistapart” for instance). Urchin is an expensive but well regarded “web analytics” package (“web analytics” is marketing-speak for a statistics package that costs 10x more than your garden variety web stats, but offers some features you don’t find on standard stats packages — if you really need ’em, you suck it up and pay the money)
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How-To save iTunes music videos

September 26, 2005

Have you ever wanted to download one of the one of the iTunes Music Store videos and save it on your local machine? Now you can!

UNEASYsilence has a little script that will turn the iTMS link into a downloadable Quicktime video file that you can save locally.

You can find the script and instructions here.

AMD “50×15″ Personal Internet Communicators

September 26, 2005

Carl de Cordova has been providing some tech help for the Katrina Relief effort at the Austin Convention Center, and has posted some info on the nifty little AMD 50×15 PICs (“Personal Internet Communicators”) that AMD donated to help get the disaster victims online.

…AMD 50×15 computers we were using for Public Internet Access at the Austin Convention Center Katrina Relief effort for the last three weeks. AMD gave the City of Austin IT department 100 of these cute little boxes. In a future post I will put up some pictures of the inside of these boxes. We used 25 for games, 25 for spanish speakers and 50 for the adults to use to surf, fill out FEMA forms, look for jobs and to look at satellite pictures of their homes in New Orleans

The 50×15 boxes are Windows CE devices “about the size of a tissue box” running on a 366 MHz AMD Geode GX 500 processor using 1 watt of power. They have 128 MB of RAM, a 10GB hard drive, 4 USB ports, a monitor and a keyboard, and run CE with “XP Extender” so that users can run XP-based applications.

They can run on broadband or dial-up, and give access to basic Internet functions including e-mail, web browser and downloads…

Treo 700w (aka Treo 670) Pictures

September 22, 2005

Engadget has gotten their geeky little hands on a Treo 700w (the smartphone formerly known as a Treo 670), and have up an exclusive first look with lots of pics.

A few confirmed specs: Windows Mobile 5.0, one megapixel camera, EV-DO, Bluetooth, 64MB of memory, still trying to conclusively determine the resolution of the display, but it looks to our eyes like it’s 240 x 240 pixels, not 320 x 320. But we’re not 100% on that, ok?

They also claim it ran an SD Wi-Fi card just fine out of the box, so that’s EVDO, WiFi and Bluetooth — almost the Treo of my dreams.

If ony it wasn’t running Windows Mobile.
Read more

Foghorn Leghorn Trivia

September 21, 2005

Foghorn LeghornNow that I’ve outed myself as a fan of classic Warner Bros. cartoons, here are a handful of Foghorn Leghorn goodies for the folks wandering in from Boing Boing…

Even though he’s often overlooked and seldom seen on any of the post-’60’s stuff, Robert McKimson‘s blowhard chicken has remained one of my favorite Warner characters over the years.

The Foghorn Leghorn page at Toonopedia mentions that Foghorn’s first appearance (in Walky Talky Hawkey) managed to get an Oscar nomination.

The majority of Leghorn’s charm (and that of most of the classic Warner characters, for that matter) comes from Mel Blanc’s awesome voice talent. You can find a bunch of Foghorn audio clips here

Last but not least, you can find an exhaustive FAQ with most everything you wanted to know about Foggy at “One Foggy Site”.


Free Opera

September 20, 2005

The Opera web browser has been set free — no more banners, and no charge.

I’ve been playing with the Mac version (they are offering both Windows and Mac versions for free) a little, and I’ll have to say this for it, it’s bloody fast — far faster than Firefox, and it feels quite a bit faster than Safari as well. No actual measurements, just subjective impressions…

The downside is I’m not sure I can live without some of the plugins that make Firefox such a joy / necessity to use. On the other hand, if I got rid of about 90% of my plugins, Firefox might be quite a bit faster also…

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