Friday, January 30, 2009

Is It Me?

Am I the only one sick of spending several hours on an application only to hear nothing from the ever. I'd be happy with a thanks, but no thanks right now.

I think part of the reason there's such dissatisfaction in the modern workplace is because they don't treat employees like humans at the earliest state: the application phase.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is Twitter Making Us Dumberer?

It used to be we had blogs to release our grammatically incorrect thoughts and ramblings; they weren't exactly the best thing to the English language, but at least they usually had some substance and occasionally made us think. True, they have made teens dumb, but it's not like they weren't heading in that direction anyway, so I don't think blogs were completely to blame.

Now, however, there is new cause for alarm with the increasingly popular website Twitter. For every new person who subscribes to Twitter the message gets louder: it is socially acceptable to talk in a fragmented txt message language that only sometimes makes sense (Shaq's Twitter account is a perfect example of this).

Like most people, I firmly believe that it's better to jump on a socially irresponsible bandwagon, then be left in the dust, so I joined Twitter.

Now, however, I wonder if perhaps Twitter makes us dumb enough? Surely, there has to be something out there that is a dumbed down version of Twitter for people who can't stand the thought of reading 140 characters?

Can someone please create an emoticon version of Twitter where users are allowed to only post 5 characters? Can someone please make us dumberer?

To help you get started, here's 9 emoticons that should put on the right path:

:-) Happy
:D Laugh
=O Shocked
:-( Sad
:P Tongue Out
:/ Annoyed
;-) Wink
<3 Love :? Confused

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike, I Will Miss You

There have been so few writers who have affected me artistically like John Updike, who died yesterday of lung cancer; he was amongst the last living modernist, and his themes were subjects few other writers could write so honestly.

I was first introduced him as a senior in college, still too immature to truly understand half of the thematic elements in his novels, but greatly moved by the humanity of his characters; my senior thesis covered two of his greatest works In the Beauty of Lilies and Rabbit, Run. I remember thinking upon completed In the Beauty of Lilies "This is the way a novel is supposed to be written--not full of post-modern nonsense that somehow passes for art." It is, in my opinion, one of the best epic sagas I've ever read.

I think the greatest thing about him was he was a literary Renascence man--he wrote novels, essays, comics, stories--he covered more literary medians then any other writer I have seen, and he made it look so easy. He even was a Simpson character, which is a honor more commendable then the Nobel he never got.

A writers death always seems out of the blue, and to me there is tragedy here because we give so little thought to authors while they are alive; they are remember like legends in death--the bodies of their work read for hundreds of years; and yet it is actors and musicians who we treat as mortals in life--but they are quickly forgotten in death.

Thanks for the massive body of work you have left behind, John Updike...I will read you for years to come.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Diana Camera

My wife, once again, proves she is both a better writer and blogger then me with her latest blog on why the Diana (love the name) Camera is so subscribe her blog already! And FYI, Diana, endorsing your blog in absolutely no way insinuates you will be getting the camera for V-Day...but maybe you will!

Wait...I just saw the price! Are you sure you don't want a chocolate shaped like a camera?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Windows 7: Detailed Review

I beta tested Windows Vista on my laptop several years ago, and, while it looked pretty for a couple seconds, the effects quickly wore off, and in the end I stuck with XP because it ran much more smoother and didn’t have annoying popup messages appearing whenever I did anything on the computer asking if I was sure I wanted to do that.

My hatred of Windows Vista continued when my wife (then girlfriend) bought a computer for school that came preloaded with Vista; it was just a cheap barebones computer, and Vista on this computer was horrible. It would take several minutes to load at startup, and much to long to open new application. I put extra RAM in it, but it didn’t help; ultimately, we paid an extra 200 bucks to buy a Windows XP license and downgrade.

I know many people have used Vista and see nothing wrong in it; the reason is because they have computers that were built for Vista; the problem is many cheaper computers simply never had the resources for it.

I decided to Beta test Windows 7 on my netbook to see if my Windows Vista woes would continue to a new platform; to my surprise, they won’t. Windows 7 ran smoothly on my cheap, lightweight netbook—more stable in many respects, in fact, then Windows XP.

It’s so stable that even in its beta release, I can say that this is the version that every office in America will likely adopt eventually; many IT people held back upgrading their systems to Vista because of its performance—I don’t foresee that happening with Windows 7.

Below I’m going to give a detailed review of what to expect (and not expect) with Windows 7.

What to Expect (Features Added to Windows 7)

Aero Shake
Aero Shake is an action that lets you clean up opened windows. If you want all windows minimize except for the one they are working in, then all you have to do is shake the window you wish to remain open; when you want other windows restored, you shake the window again.

At first glance the Calculator that is on Windows 7 is the same one that’s been there since Windows 3.11 (released over fifteen years ago in 1992). Windows 7, however, has added to the Standard and Scientific modes, a Programmer and Statistics mode. Additionally the Calculator can do unit conversion.

Also on the calculator (except when in standard mode), is the ability to see the history of calculations. Windows Vista users are also said to be able to download and run the Calculator on their computer.

From Windows 7 Screenshots

From Windows 7 Screenshots

From Windows 7 Screenshots

Control Panel
While the Control Panel has the similar visual interface as Vista, some features have been added, while other features have been renamed. Added or renamed items are as follows:
Action Center
Biometric Devices
Credential Manager
Display Color Calibration Wizard
Location and Other Sensors
System Icons
Windows Action Center (formerly Windows Security Center)
Workspaces Center

From Windows 7 Screenshots
The desktop has the same basic look that it has had since Windows 95. One key feature is the ability to set up a slideshow for the desktop wallpaper/background. Users now have the ability to have several background images on their desktop that rotates at a set time.

From Windows 7 Screenshots

The collection of fonts a user has installed on the computer can be previewed in Windows Explorer (just as it can in Windows Vista). Windows 7, however, has taken some steps to better manage the fonts. Fonts, for instance, in the same family or group, appear as stacks instead of individual icons; if you wish to see the fonts in that family then you just double click.

From Windows 7 Screenshots

The only game that is noticeably absent from Windows 7 is InkBall; while no major games were added, there are three new online versions of Spades, Backgammon and Checkers.

If you have not used Vista, you will notice a change in the overall look of all the games (including the popular FreeCell, Minesweeper, and Hearts), but these changes were made in Vista—not Windows 7.
From Windows 7 Screenshots
From Windows 7 Screenshots
From Windows 7 Screenshots
Networking Improvements
The most significant improvement in networking to Windows 7 is HomeGroups. HomeGroups help you share both devices and media files over a home network.

When users set up a HomeGroup, Windows generates a random passkey that the user most input on each computer that they want to add HomeGroup to. This helps stop hackers who have broken into your wireless connection from being able to access shared files and devices on your network.

From Windows 7 Screenshots
The Ribbon Interface
Office 2007 featured a facelift that was hit and miss with many users; some found it confusing and wanted the old version back, while others found it easier to use. The biggest change was the introduction of the “Ribbon” interface, which replaced the drop-down menus and toolbar found in original Office products and other Microsoft software.

The Ribbon is a large panel housed where the toolbar used to belong; this panel has various commands and icons, and organizes these commands and icons in a set of tabs; the tabs help group each function.

What does Ribbon have to do with Windows 7? Microsoft has used this same interface to give a similar facelift to Paint and WordPad (two products that, like Calculator, have gone virtually unchanged since they were first introduced).

WordPad is a more advance version of Notepad, but not nearly as sophisticated as Microsoft Word. The change is not as radical as the Ribbon found in other Office Products; there are only two tabs “Home” and “View.”

The change will probably not annoy even people who can’t stand the Ribbon on other Office products, because it’s a stripped down version of the Ribbon. Aside from the look of WordPad, the features remain the same. It does make the ability to email documents easier, and provides integration with Paint
From Windows 7 Screenshots
From Windows 7 Screenshots
Microsoft made a small attempt at making Paint a stronger picture editor with the new version of paint. Unlike previous versions, it is easier to resize and crop pictures. Also added to the new version of Paint is different brush styles; along with the classic brush styles (normal brush, air brush, and pencil), there are two calligraphic brushes, an oil brush, a crayon brush, a highlighter brush, and a watercolor brush.

Paint also features a stripped down version of the Ribbon, and has tabs for “Home” and “View,” but nothing else. Also similar to WordPad is the ability to email pictures more easily.
From Windows 7 Screenshots
From Windows 7 Screenshots

Sticky Notes
Sticky notes is a small application found in the accessories area of the Start menu; it allows you to post small square yellow notes (or reminders) on the desktop.

Once a note is created, it is automatically saved; this means if you close it by accident, it will remember content and position of the note when relaunched. Sticky Notes first appeared as a gadget in Windows Vista.

From Windows 7 Screenshots
The taskbar makes many visual changes in this edition of Windows. It is slightly taller then any taskbar that has come before (users do have the ability to reduce the size in the Windows setting). The taskbar is also transparent, a visual enhancement more than anything else.

Applications that are currently running on the computer are no longer seen as long bars that stretch several pixels across the taskbar. Instead they are small icons on the left hand side of the taskbar; because some applications on the taskbar are not running, Windows has a border and slightly darker color value to make running applications distinguishable.

From Windows 7 Screenshots
Notification Area
The notification area (on the far right side of the taskbar) has also been redesigned, and the status icons are now called “Action.” The standard status (or Action) icons that have been present in previous versions of Windows (battery, network, security center, and volume) are still present. Absent, however, is all other status icons; these icons can only be displayed if the user sets it to do so.

A new “Notification Area Icons” has been added to replace “Customize Notification Icons,” which was found in the “Taskbar and Start Menu Properties.”

A small, triangle shaped, icon to the left of the notification box can be clicked to see hidden notification icons.
From Windows 7 Screenshots
Show Desktop
The “Show Desktop” icon, which, when clicked, minimizes all running programs to show the desktop, has been moved. In other versions of Windows, the icon has been on the left side of the taskbar in the Quick Launch bar. Windows 7 has moved this icon to the far right of the taskbar. It is now a skinny, rectangle, button to the right of the notification area.

The button works the same when clicked. The key difference in this version comes when the user only hovers over the icon; when this action is performed, all windows become transparent until the mouse is moved, and the windows are restored.

Pinned Applications
Quick Launch, which has been on the Windows taskbar for several versions, is once again integrated into the Windows 7 taskbar; Quick Launch is nothing more then a small toolbar on the taskbar (by default on the left side of the taskbar, to the right of the Start button) that has shortcuts to commonly used programs.

On operating systems prior to Windows 7, user had to manually drag and drop the programs on to the taskbar that they wanted to use on Quick Launch. In Windows 7 this step gets easier, as users can now pin commonly used programs to the toolbar; to pin an application to Quick Launch, users only need to open the program, and, when the icon for the program appears on the desktop, right-click it, and select pin to taskbar.

Preview Pan
In Windows Vista, users could hover the mouse over a minimized application that was on the taskbar, and they would see a small thumbnail size preview of the application; this option is also available in Windows 7, but users now can interact more with the preview box, but having the option of closing the program by clicking on the X in the upper corner of the preview box.

The point of the preview pane is clearly to reduce the amount of times a user has to click to get to the basic features of the application. If, for instance, the user is running music in Windows Media Player, they do not have to maximize the program to skip or stop tracks; or, in Internet Explorer, if the user has several individual tabs opened, each tab gets its own preview.

From Windows 7 Screenshots
Jump List
Each icon has its own unique “Jump List” when displayed on the taskbar. The Jump List comprise of key features contained in the running application, and can be seen by right-clicking on the application in the taskbar. For Excel, for instance, the Jump List might display recently opened documents, whereas, Windows Media Player might have recently displayed play lists, and Internet Explorer might show the history of the users Internet browsing.
From Windows 7 Screenshots
Start Button / Menu
The round start icon that first made an appearance in Windows Vista is once again in Windows 7. The biggest change in the menu is users are no longer able to view the menu in classic mode.

User Account Control
Users who commonly use Vista or familiar with it will probably share one complaint with the operating system: the constant security alerts asking the user if they are sure they want to install programs or download files. Microsoft has listened to these complaints, and implemented them in the User Account Control.

Under User Account Control, the user is offered four levels of protection: always notify, notify only when programs try to make changes (the default setting in Windows 7), notify when programs try to make changes but don’t dim the screen, and, finally, never notify.

From Windows 7 Screenshots
Windows Action Center (formerly Windows Security Center)
A number of new or renamed features have been added to the Windows Action Center (formerly Windows Security Center). These include additional features in the touch, speech and handwriting recognition group; improved boot performance; and support for virtual hard disks.

Microsoft’s focus with the Action Center, as well as most of Windows 7, was simpler management. Action Center has clear labels that make it assessable to both beginning and intermediate users to properly configure the computer according to their needs; this includes setting up security, backing up the computer, and setting restore points for the computer to return to, should anything go wrong.

From Windows 7 Screenshots

Windows Explorer
A key component of all Windows operating systems has been the Windows Explorer—the program that manages Windows files. The past several versions of Windows have taken aggressive steps towards making Explorer both easy to navigate and easy to search for files. As hard drives continue to increase in size, and users build larger and larger libraries of files (from documents to music, pictures, and videos), Microsoft is working hard to make find files in the users library easy.

Searching Explorer let’s users look not only at their own computer, but remote computers as well. Microsoft has clearly recognized that the average user often has more than one computer, and this is one step it’s taking to make managing both computers easy.

From Windows 7 Screenshots

Windows Live Essentials
It’s important to point out here that Windows Live Essentials is not bundled with Windows 7, so extra installation is required; instead of being offered directly on the CD it is offered as a download from “Windows Live Downloads.” This lets the user pick and choose which features they want.

Many of these applications are already available for download and can be used on Vista and in some cases XP.

Windows Live Essentials Includes the following products:
Windows Live Family Safety - Similar to Vista's parental control, this program let's users set guidelines and restrictions for how their children surf the Internet.
Windows Live Mail - The successor of Windows XP's Outlook Express and Windows Vista's Windows Mail.
Windows Live Messenger - Formally MSN Messenger
Windows Live Movie Maker - Replaces the Windows Movie Maker that is found in Windows Vista.
Windows Live Photo Gallery - Replaces the Windows Photo Gallery found in Vista. Photo Gallery makes sharing photos easy; users are able to upload their pictures through the program to Windows Live Spaces and Flickr.
Windows Live Sync - This software lets users sync files between two or more computers (including XP and even Mac OS X computers)
Windows Live Toolbar - The successor to MSN Search Toolbar. It puts a simple search box on the users taskbar that lets the user search for documents, emails, photos, etc that are indexed on their computer.
Windows Live Writer - a desktop application that allows users to write and post blogs; it is currently compatible with several major blogging sites including: Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Windows Live Spaces, and Wordpress.

What Not to Expect (Removed Features)

· Classic Start Menu - In Vista users who were not comfortable with the Start Menu had the ability to change it to a “Classic” menu that more closely resembled XP’s Start Menu; this option is not available in Windows 7

· InkBall (Game) · MyComputer on the Desktop – While the My Computer icon is not gone altogether, it is missing from the Desktop; only the recycle bin remains the same.

· Removable Storage Manager

· The Software Explorer feature of Windows Defender

· Windows Calendar, Mail, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery; each of these programs now fall under the windows Live Essential (this is talked about later in this book) and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Live website.

· Windows Sidebar - If the user wants to have Gadgets (small, single-purpose, applications that sit on the Windows desktop) on their desktop it is now integrated with the entire desktop, and does not need to lock into a Sidebar.

· Windows Meeting Space

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Funnies

Today's Weekend Funnies is more of a Weekend :-( as several news agencies are reporting that Mad Magazine will no longer be a monthly. The news came after years of the magazine experimenting with different page layouts in hopes of getting more readers (you just weren't the same when you went from black to color...there's no humor in color...everyone knows that).

The magazine will now be published four times a year as a quarterly. When asked to comment, the magazine said, "What, me worry?" The now cliche Mad phrase wasn't even funny this time was just sad.

Mad monthly, you shall be missed.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekend Funnies

The disturbing (funny?) video below is brought to you by the creative (?) mind of Roland from the book.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Economy Hurts the Homeless Industry (A Parody)

John Calvin, volunteer for the L.A. Mission, reports that the countries homeless industry has taken a turn for the worse because of the failing economy. “People just don’t feel like sparing a dime in these hard times,” Calvin said outside the mission.

Many homeless people agree. A homeless beggar known only as Tom said this about the economy, “I was just outside a Vons today and asked a man leaving the store, ‘brother, can you spare a dime?’ And he flat out said, ‘Brother, if you could see my bank account you’d be giving me a dime.’ What do you say to that?” Tom later added, “If times get any worse, I just don’t know what I’ll do. It’s like I’ve been given the pink slip to being homeless—but where does a man layoff from the homeless industry go? It’s not like there’s some second level of being homeless or something.”

One noted professor of economics from UCLA, who asked to remain nameless, said that he believes the homeless might be one group that may benefit from the economy. “Think about it—if more people lose their jobs, they might be on the streets real soon. Whose going to teach these people how to be homeless?”

Why some remain hopeful in the President’s economic recovery plan, others are not so sure; the Crazy Cat Woman, a noted homeless person in Santa Monica, had this to say about the President’s plan, “Cats. That’s what I’ll do to the President’s plan. I’ll eat my cats. And my cats will eat me.” The Crazy Cat Woman did not say she did not vote in the November election. Another homeless man, who shuck his fist at the Crazy Cat Woman from the other side of the street said the woman is way off, and that, “Kennedy will definitely be able to pull the country out of troubled times.”

Jessica Hunter, a widow mother of three who lives in a motel with her two elementary school daughters had this to say about the economy, “Maybe now people might finally realize some homeless people don’t want to be homeless. Maybe now they’ll realize that sometimes they are in an endless rut that they’re children will one day inherit.”

When one of the homeless congressmen was asked to be quoted for this article, he said he was “not aware the county currently had a homeless problem, but that things like that tended to work themselves out without the help of the government.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Brief Interviews Review

One of the first reviews of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men has surfaced; it's not too pretty, unfortunately, but I'd still like to watch the movie and judge for myself...

Books On the Go?

Ever been on vacation or simply not by your local library, and wanted to find the closest library that has the book you want? Now you can!

WorldCat, the largest online book catalog, is now available on mobile phones. Read how you can get access on your phone here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gossip Girls Take On Church

What happens when an episode of Gossip Girl meets the modern church? Find out here.

Quiet, Please: The TV Show?

When Quiet, Please first came out, people who handled buying things for people like Brad Pitt and George Clooney all came knocking and asking to have copies to look at. Nothing obviously came of any of this, but it was nice to be noticed. Shortly thereafter, I began working on a script for a possible TV pilot based loosely on the book with Andy Sweat.

This also was shuffled around studios to no avail—such the life of most TV pilots, I’m afraid. As of now, the script is in the hands of no one but Andy and myself, and I’ve decided to put it on my website for download (I’d put it here, but it’s a full script and thus too long) for your enjoyment…so enjoy!

Follow the link to read away. If you enjoy it (or heck, you absolutely hated it), post a comment below so Andy and I can take the flattery that at least someone read it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Everytime Someone Subscribes An Angel Loses Wings...Or Something Like That

I love when my wife post something new on her blog. If you do too, then go check out her newest post.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What's a Disturbed Christian(s)

Partly to prove that Christian writing doesn't have to be preachy, and partly because I just think there should be more of it out there then there is, I have created a new blog with the help of a few others. This basically replaces my other blog ChristianHumorist, which is not very active anymore...unlike that blog, this blog is all true, and the contributions come from more then one person. So what is it...

DisturbedChristians was created as a place to tell stories about ways that religion has wronged people; more importantly it is a place for sarcasm, humor, and anecdotal true accounts of when faith and culture collide. And redemption? Yeah, we guess we’ll have to drag our feet and include a bit of that too—we are Christians after all—but we promise it won’t be preachy or anything like that, because nothing makes a blog blow more than people telling you that you can go to heaven.

This week, we have blogs scheduled to be about posted why you might want to consider some act of great sin if you really want to fit into church, how the church prayer chain closely resembles an episode of Gossip Girl, and how hearing about the end of the world might just scare the grace of God right out of you. We have much more to say in the weeks to come—stories about how the heck anyone found love and grace in a movie as painfully disturbing as The Passion of the Christ, about camps where people where up to no good, and, the awkwardly naughty phrase “Christian sex”—if thought your sex life had no passion, you haven’t heard anything yet!

So, please, come check us out; we’ll do our best not to disappoint you. If you have your own story to tell, we want to hear from you! We can’t pay you anything, but if you believe you can buy your way into heaven, then this might just be your ticket!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Weekend Funnies...I Think?

This is more sad then's Joaquin Phoenix as a rapper. Seriously, what happened to him? This has to be some sort of bizarre prank, right?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Do Wallace Proud

The Times has a story about John Krasinki's film adaptation of Brief Interviews of Hideous Man; I'm sure if Wallace were alive to see it, he wouldn't see it.

I remember hearing about this movie way back when Krasinki first start doing The Office, and I didn't think there was any possible way it could be done...I still don't--but I'm curious all the same, and can't wait for it to come out. I hope, if nothing else, it gets people talking again about Wallaces' work.

For those of you who never saw it, Krasinki did a reading of Brief Interviews a few years back and it's found its way on YouTube. You can check it out below...

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Want a CJ7!

I spend more time talking about bad movies then good ones; partly because I like to complain, and partly because if a movies good, then chances are you already know it because everyone else is talking about it, so why bother saying what's already been said?

Earlier this week, I finally got around to watching CJ7, and thought it was worthy of a blog--mostly because no one else is talking about it. Stephen Chow is one of the most original writers/directors in cinema today in my opinion, but he is also pretty unknown to most of the United States. Most people stateside only know him for Kung Fu Hustle and perhaps Shaolin Soccer, which is a shame, because he has so many other movies. 

CJ7 came out last summer (2008), and received average reviews. It made less then $300,000 in the United States, but over $40,000,000 overseas (mostly Asia), which just shows how big Chow is elsewhere. This was mostly because only 30 movies in the U.S. bothered to show the movie. I'm not going to say it was one of the best movies I've seen in awhile, but it was certainly better then a lot of other movies that got much bigger releases, and it deserved far more coverage.

I think part of the problem with the movie is it was a PG family flick, and Hollywood figures kids are too dumb to want to see a movie from another country even if it's dubbed (perhaps they are right?). But the little furry star of the movie, CJ7, would have got any kid interested because he is so darn cute.

The movie is about a poor father who is trying to raise his son to be virtuous; his son is a bit of a misfit, and is always getting into trouble. One night, his father discovers an alien critter in the trash and takes it home to his son as a toy. Throughout the course of the movie, the father and son form a bond in part because of the foreign creature.

The movies plot is zany and weird, but that's sort of Chow's style. It didn't have the humor of his best movie, Shaolin Soccer (if you haven't seen it, then do yourself a favor and rent it), but it was nonetheless sweet and worthy of more attention then it got. 

It also left my wife and I wondering where we can get a CJ7; they are way better then dogs!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm Not Cheap...

I’m not cheap, though sometimes I appear to be. I have no problem paying $400 even $600 dollars a night for a hotel; I never thought $100+ for a pair of sneakers was pricey. And if it’s a gadget, I’ll totally pay top dollar. But there’s a catch: I have to feel it’s worth it.

If for instance, I am at a restaurant that is using a large sheet of paper instead of a tablecloth, I do not expect to pay 20 bucks a plate for dinner; that’s the situation I found myself in, however, Saturday night.

My parents had bought Diana and me a gift card to Naples at Downtown Disney. I suppose I can’t really complain because it was free, but I still will.

For those who have never been there, let me explain where my rage comes from. The place attempts to bill itself as classy, but right at the door there’s a huge creepy cartoony type chef that looks over the restaurant.

We were seated at a table upstairs, where the first thing I noticed was that a giant sheet of white paper substituted for a tablecloth; I thought about asking the waiter for crayons, so I could color on the table, but then I’d be the one who wasn’t being classy.

As we waited for dinner, Diana pointed out that the ceiling was painted; classy, right? Like the Sistine Chapel, right? Wrong. This Sistine chapel had a dumb looking Anne Geddes wannabe baby painted on the ceiling; and just to make sure it wasn’t kind of classy, they put sunglasses on the kid. I’m all for making your kids look cute, but not when I’m trying to eat a meal with my wife that is supposed to be at least somewhat romantic and intimate.

The food was good (albeit overpriced), and I decided to just not think about all the things that took away from the atmosphere of the place—until I was just about to walk out the door. That was when I was hit in the gut by a balloon—a balloon animal to be more precise—actually I think it was a sword, but it doesn’t really matter does it?

Call me old fashion, but when I pay sixty dollars for a dinner, I don’t expect candles, but I also don’t expect a guy to be walking around making balloon animals for the kids. The only thing missing from the whole experience was Mickey Mouse walking around for photo ops—then again maybe we were just early.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Windows 7 Book Already on Kindle

Less than a week ago, Microsoft released Windows 7 beta to the general public, and a publisher has already posted an eBook for Kindle (a somewhat short one, I’m sure). This kind of thing is exactly what Kindle is all about.

Kindle isn’t the death of books; I think Kindle is the rebirth of things like pamphlets, and, to a lesser extent, short stories (which, sadly, have almost vanished from most magazines, and exist only in journals). Physical books on Windows 7 probably won’t come out until a few months before Windows 7 retail launch, but Kindle makes it possible to get stuff like this out much earlier.

I think the thing Amazon should be investing more money in is getting well known authors to post original material on Kindle; it doesn’t have to be anything like a book. A simple essay or short story would work just fine; something that shows the world that authors are just as eager to experiment with Kindle as publishers are.

Monday, January 12, 2009


My amazing wife is also an amazing writer, and has started a blog of her very own. Check out her blog on Poladroid might just make you say "Those were the good old days!"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Funnies

Friday, January 9, 2009

Meet Your Next Computer

I have been watching the CES conference closely from afar; a few things impressed me (the wireless battery charger, and, surprisingly, Windows 7...but only if it's truly not the resource hog they claim it's not, and will really run on NetBooks), but only one thing truly amazed me: the Eee Keyboard from Asus.

For years, people have been trying to push the computer into the living room (most notably Microsoft), but it's never really caught on. I think the biggest reason is it's just not simple enough. And, no one wants to have some clunky desktop sitting next to their TV. Media centers are a great idea, but never, in my opinion, been very practical.

What makes the Eee keyboard so different is everything is built right into the keyboard...including the wireless HDMI (so no cords going from the monitor to the keyboard)! I currently have a Mac hooked to my TV, and one of the biggest problems I have with it is the mouse; I can't lay in bed and comfortably use the computer, because I need a hard surface for the mouse. This keyboard has a touchscreen mouse built in.

Asus also has a history of making cheaply priced products (albeit with sometimes cheap parts), and if that is true here, then I really see this catching on.

Unfortunately, it's all a prototype right now so it might not ever come to life; my guess, however, is Target and Walmart will have them on their shelves in time for Christmas next year.

As for the biggest disappointment...Windows 7; they promise a great product and then release the Beta with Vista as a system requirement! So they promise the GUI will run faster then Vista on machines that Vista ran too slow on, and then they say, but you'll just have to take our word on that.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Charles Dickens Master Bates?

Roland from the Book got into a heated debate with me over whether or not there was a character in a Dickens book called "Master Bates." I knew that there was, and I set out to prove it by going to the best source: Project Gutenberg. Needless to say, I won the argument when I found the following passage from the ninth chapter of Oliver Twist:

'Wipes,' replied Master Bates; at the same time producing four pocket-handkerchiefs.

It's also funny, in a tacky way, that the first instance the book contains the word "Master Bates" also contains the word "Wipe"...I think it proves that Dickens was a pervert.

The character is of course Charley Bates, but he is referred to in this instance (and several other places) as Master Bates; when I was an English Lit student, the book that I had contained a list of characters in the front of the book, and he was also referred to there as "Master Bates," which I always got a kick out was the only funny thing about the book.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Zack and Miri Make a Hancock (Spoiler Alert)

I have a new Hancock review, and with it a spoiler alert; so if you actually want to see the movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno and don’t want it ruined, then stop reading here.

 The movie started much better than expected; Zack and Miri have decided to make a porno, which is no big surprise, but the porno they chose to make (a parody of Star Wars) was quite clever. Unfortunately, a fire shut down production on this potentially classic romp full of awesome innuendo and wickedly funny puns, and they decided to instead make a porno about people working in a coffee shop similar to Star Bucks; there’s really nothing clever or original about that. It’s just people screwing around in a coffee shop, which doesn’t make for great comedy. Having someone drop coffee beans on two people making love is neither sexy, erotic, or funny—it’s just plain dumb…as it a girl pooping on the camera man who is filming an anal sex scene from an angle (yes, this was actually in the movie and it’s as disturbing as it sounds).

The Hancock, however, is not pulled when they decided to do a new film; the Hancock is pulled much later in the film—at the end. I expected Zack and Miri to end up together in the end, and they did, but as soon as they hooked up the director decided to roll the credits and pull a Hancock. There was absolutely no mention of if they actually released the porno. Perhaps there was something at the end of the credits, as is often done in comedies, but I just couldn’t bare to waste anymore time with the film to find out; and for me a movies plot ends when the credits roll—directors who decide to tidy things up in some lame montage as the audience sees the names of stuntmen and assistance to the director are just being sloppy. The point of the movie, at some point, changed from a comedy about making a porno to a comedy about finding your true love—unfortunately the director forgot to explain any of this to the audience through believable scenes.

For as raunchy as Kevin Smith can be at times, he actually has a way of giving meaning to the most bizarre plots and people; this is part of why I wanted to see the movie; you connect with the characters in ways you didn’t know was possible. But in this film he just gives cheap anecdotes and cheap laughs. It’s like Smith set out to prove that making a porno can be romantic and heartwarming (and maybe it can), but he certainly didn’t prove it in this film. The only thing missing was a cameo by Jay and Silent Bob being gang banged for a scene in the never released in porno…but maybe that was in the credits.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Oddly Amusing

The pictures at this page are more strange then funny, but still entertaining.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Years Best

There’s still a few movies I want to see this year (i.e. Gran Torino, Che, Frost/Nixon, The Wrestler, and Revolutionary Road), but I probably won’t make it out to see them anytime soon.

 I think it’s safe to say that this year, more than any other year in recent memory, was the year that blockbuster movies were actually good; usually there’s one or two good blockbuster movies, and the rest are simply entertaining popcorn flicks. Below are my top 5 books & movies of the year:

WALL-E – yes, I nearly cried it was so beautiful; it’s Pixar, so I knew it would be great, but this was beyond great—it was a masterpiece, and now ranks just below Wild Strawberries as one of my all time favorites.

The Dark Knight – This movie felt, at times, more like a roller coaster ride then a movie—it had more twist and turns then any Batman movie before it, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say it’s the best one in the series.

Slumdog Millionaire – I am not a huge fan of Danny Boyle, but after this movie, I just may become one. It gives one of the best glimpses of true India that I have ever seen, and was truly touching. The acting wasn’t always great, especially by the gangster brother, but the story made up for its shortcomings.

Iron Man – I guess Robert Downey Jr. isn’t all washed up after all? Not quite the dark masterpiece of The Dark Knight, it was nonetheless a greatly paced and highly original story; I can’t wait for the sequel.

Tropic Thunder – If it hadn’t been for Downey playing an Australian guy acting like a black guy, I probably would not have liked this movie at all. 

Post Office - It's my wife's favorite book, so I had to read it, and it didn't disappoint. It wasn't really about anything, but I think that's sort of the point. Whatever the case it was quite funny.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union - I read this book much too quickly to properly enjoy, and I am going to reread it again soon. Chabon wrote one of the greatest novels I have ever read (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay), and is the king of style; it's going to be hard for him to top Kavalier & Clay, but he's still a great writer, and rarely disappoints.

Watchmen - I didn't think it was as good as everyone always says. Yes, for a comic book, it was great--perhaps the greatest. I would hardly list it as one of the 100 best books of the century. One of my top 5 favorite books of the year, but only because I didn't read a lot of really great books this year.

The Wordy Shipmates - I was a bit disappointed, because it didn't have quite the same with as "Assassination Vacation." Still it was interesting.

In Defense of Food - Okay, I'll admit I didn't actually read this book; Diana read it. But she gave me a overview of what it was about each night before I went to sleep, so I didn't really need to. I wish more people would read books like this, instead of blindly continue to eat unhealthy and think they'll be fine.