Repo! The Genetic Opera

January 1, 2009

Repo! The Genetic Opera
I got out to one of the local art house theaters today and saw Repo! The Genetic Opera.

It was God-awful.

Strike that. It wasn’t that bad — it might have made a nice direct-to-video piece. It had plenty of problems, but I’d have overlooked them if it had actually been the movie I wanted to see.

From a distance, it’s looked good for months — I love the clip for Zydrate Anatomy (below), but what I wanted to see was more of that; something a bit more camp, more Rocky Horror.

What we got instead was indeed opera, of the fairly dreary variety, which could have about as well been subtitled “Hey. Having kids sucks.”

There were some bright spots. Anthony Head can still do a pretty credible job of belting out a tune, and was arguably the male lead, instead of Paul Sorvino (who himself wasn’t terrible). Alexa Vega did well in the lead. Paris Hilton did not manage to stink up the film any more than it was otherwise stunk up.

Everybody else was just sketched in, tho. Why would you have Sarah Brightman in a musical and only let her do a miniscule amount of singing? Mosley and Ogre were intriguing as Luigi and Pavi Largo, but their characters weren’t allowed enough exposure to do anything with them. Zdunich’s “Grave Robber” from the Zydrate Anatomy scene barely got another five minutes beyond that.

The movie also layed an ungodly amount of “pipe” — I swear 2/3 of it was exposition trying to set the stage for a story that they didn’t have enough time remaining to tell.

This could have been so much more, if it had been done differently.

Here’s the three and a half minute highlight of the movie, if you’d rather not spend the $10 —

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…

Introduction to dynamic pages

February 14, 2005

One of the most powerful features of blogs and other content management systems (CMS) is that they can create pages “on-the-fly” that to all intents and appearances look like a hand-built static web page.  This allows you to focus on developing your content itself, while the software generates the pages for you.
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Weblog Services

February 11, 2005

There are a lot of good reasons to include a weblog into your business site.  Many of these advantages go out the window if you use a weblog service instead of making it an integral part of your site.  Nevertheless, many people use them.  If you’re considering doing so, here are the leading candidates.

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Weblog Software Choices

February 11, 2005

What software should you use to add a blog to your business web site?  Here are the top choices, along with some considerations regarding each.
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Maintaining your SSL Certificate

December 26, 2004

From the “do as I say, not as I do” department…

One certain kiss of death for an e-commerce site is to have a broken or expired SSL Certificate.

If your certificate is allowed to expire, or if for some reason it does not match the name of your domain (perhaps you’ve changed domain names), or if it is installed incorrectly, the user’s browser will put up a large dialog warning that the site may be insecure, that they should use caution, etc.

As you can imagine, warnings that a site “may be insecure” go along with asking for sensitive information about like seeing a group of people with ski masks and handguns go along with wanting to make a bank deposit.

While I was setting up the shopping cart for next week’s free teleclass*, I had used a temporary SSL certificate to test with, and I thought that I had correctly installed the permanent one when I was done. Unfortunately, at some point in time I told my web browser to ignore the warning that the certificate was wrong “until the end of the session”, and I never restarted my browser to check it, and I had left it wrong. As a result, looking at the logs, a lot of people went to the shopping cart, saw the “insecure” warning, and never logged in so that they could sign up for the free class. Duh, me.

(* Why do I use a shopping cart for a free teleclass? Because a limited number of people can be on the teleconference bridge at the same time; this way, I set the “stock level” to the number of seats, and the price to free, and it will quit taking signups when the bridge is full. So be sure to sign up early!)

While most site owners probably won’t be messing with a temporary certificate, certificates DO expire (typically annually), and other things can happen — your web host might be having a bad day, for example.

As part of your routine site maintenance (you do routinely check your site to make sure everything is operating correctly, don’t you?), it’s good practice to quit and restart your browser (or to be certain, just reboot your machine) beforehand, and be sure that the secure portions of your site are operating without errors.

What is SSL (the “little padlock”)?

December 25, 2004

SSL (“Secured Socket Layer”) is a protocol used to encrypt the communication between the user’s browser and the web server. When SSL is active, a “little padlock” appears on the user’s browser, usually in the status line at the bottom (at the top for Mac/Safari users.)

This assures the user that sensitive data (such as credit card numbers) can’t be viewed by anyone “sniffing” the network connection (which is an increasing risk as more people use wireless networking).

Common web site owner questions about SSL:

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Measuring Traffic

December 9, 2004

As a website runs, a log file is generated on the web server. This log file contains one line for each and every thing sent to visitors of the site — pages, images, etc. In most cases, this line also indicates what kind of browser it was (“User Agent”), what operating system it ran on (Windows XP, Mac OS X, etc.), the address of the user (“Host Address”) and if the user clicked on a link to get to the page that was sent, it will also have the address of that page (“referer” and yes, it’s routinely misspelled this way.)

As you can imagine, this makes for a large and unwieldy file very quickly. This file is typically processed and used to generate one or more “statistics” pages. Your web host may offer one or several varieties of statistics pages — some may be free, and others may cost money. Alternatively, you might install (or have installed) a statistics package of your own choice, or you might even download your log files and use any of several popular programs on your own computer to generate statistical information. (There is also another alternative, involving placing counting codes on each page, but we’ll ignore that for the sake of this discussion)

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The Care and Feeding of Your Web Site

November 1, 2004

The Care and Feeding of Your Web SiteA basic problem with being the owner of a small business web site is that it doesn’t come with an owner’s manual. Consequently, most people have no idea how to tell if their site is operating at a reasonable level of performance, whether it needs immediate attention, or just a small tune-up. The good news is that it’s not difficult to keep your web site out of trouble and working at its best, once you learn how. This teleclass series covers the basic things you should do to:

  • Insure that your site has not been compromised.
  • Keep your site fresh and working properly for your visitors.
  • Promote your site as part of your every day activities.

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