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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

John Rambo. 'Nuff Said

With most action movies of late being either CGI'd or neutered to death, I have to say I can't wait for Rambo 4. From the trailers released so far, this looks like pure stunt driven throwback brutal R rated action. A throwback to all those great action movies I loved to watch and hopefully no PG-13 "sell more tickets" kowtowing in sight. When I heard they cut off John McClanes famous line in Die Hard 4 just to get the rating lower to get more tickets sold, I stayed home and waited for rental which I hope to view this week (unrated of course). But now the clips I'm seeing of Rambo have given me hope that a pure action movie just might be brought back to theaters. I know where I'll be at the end of January.

Go check out CinemaBlend here for a trailer set to some pounding music and the image as well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Mac...

Loving the Mac Mini as a media centre, I tell ya. It's perfect once it's setup properly. The whole "it just works" thing may be a bit of a stretch for any computer slogan, even the Mac. It does need some tweeking though.

As a Mac noob learning on the fly, I'll pass along what I'm finding. Here's a few things you might want to install and tweek:

1. Firefox, Thunderbird, and VLC. These are essential programs on any computer for any platform, Windows, Mac, or Linux. Your main browser, mail client, and kick ass media player. VLC may not be fancy, but it does the job playing dang near anything you throw at it. It can also be setup to autorun when you insert a DVD, and it can go straight to the menu, so it makes a nice DVD player too.

2. Perian. It's the swiss army knife of Quicktime. It's a codec pack that makes Quicktime usable to play a lot of different file types, which is important when you use Front Row.

3. Flip4Mac. Let's you play WMV files in Quicktime. Again, needed for Front Row.

4. JustLooking 3. Just found out about this one. Its currently a free application that is a good picture viewer. Sure, OSX comes with Preview, but its a one image at a time viewer, and you may not want to import everything you come across into iPhoto. JustLooking does the trick. I was very used to ACDSee in Windows, and this comes close. You can set it up to be the default picture viewer, and once an image is loaded you can simply scroll through the rest of the pics in that folder and so on. Also does a quick slide show mode too. Took me a while to find JustLooking, but it's essential if you've got a lot of pics for quick viewing. (I'll tip my hat to Linux Ubuntu on this one - Eye of Gnome that comes on that platform is just about the best pic viewer. About the only thing that ran right out of the box on Linux).

5. Front Row understands alias (shortcuts). So you just setup a shortcut in your Movies folder pointing to where you keep all your movies (ie, an external hard drive) and away you go. You can then move through them (folders/subfolders etc) with the remote in Front Row. Should work great for ripping TV seasons from DVD and structuring it in folders. You can even setup an alias to a Volume, so you could even have a whole hard drive to roam through.

6. iSquint. A simple, basic, and free video converter to transfer into H.264. Not a detailed program, but perfect for those with iPods and AppleTV.

So there's what I've been finding so far. Obviously, I'm gearing my Mac towards media center compatibility rather than a usual computer setup, but I also found out that the Thunderbird file structure is the same on the Mac as Windows, so to bring your email over from you Windows Thunderbird, just copy your funky named profile folder (everything in it) and paste it over to your Mac, and away you go with email. How to get it into Mac Mail app I don't know yet.

One downside to the Mac is getting used to Finder. Coming from Windows, why is there not a setting to sort with Folders first, then your files, instead of lumping them altogether alphabetically? Even Linux gets that right.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Amazon Wins Again...

Was out for a bit tonight and in at Chapters for what turned into a couple hours, but only walked out with 2 things. There were other books I would have bought right then and there, but it's hard to put money down when you know in the back of your ming "I can probably get that cheaper at Amazon."

So I came home and checked, and yes, it's cheaper. By something like half! It ain't right, but my business goes to Amazon at those kinds of prices. The books in question were Dean Koontz's "The Good Guy" and Warren Ellis' "The Crooked Vein." The other one was Stephen Hunter's "The 47th Samurai", but I decided to wait on that one. The price was way better at Amazon, but the reviews were kinda bad. I did order the other two though, cause they were really interesting of what I read in the store.

Then of course, because its Amazon, there's always big sales going so I found other titles too and got a nice little order in. A bunch of Garth Ennis TPB's that I can't wait to read, some DVD's, and maybe some Christmas shopping done too :)

I'd like to give ya the business there Chapters, but can't beat Amazon. Speaking of which there was another guy in the Graphic Novel section looking for the Frank Miller Sin City books. He found 5,6,7, but was reluctant to buy them because he wanted to read them from the beginning. I told him they were great books and Amazon has them, which he was happy to hear. Sorry about that Chapters, but maybe try stocking the series next time and you'd have had a sale.

Oh, and by the way, as of this posting still has their massive 'Black Friday' sale going on a lot of stuff, including some ridiculous low prices on DVD's. Check it out.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's Snowing!

Happy Thanksgiving to those Stateside today! Football and movie marathons on tv, and I gotta go to work.

On the upside, it's snowing outside!! Hope it stays, but knowing the weather 'round here lately, it probably won't. But I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

iTunes has a Christmas album sale on, and so last night I bought Christmas albums by Dean Martin and Nat King Cole. I like the old stuff for Christmas music, and these albums are really good. And they were iTunes plus, so no DRM. Nice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mini Monster...

Well, after finally getting my Mac Mini, I then went back to work full time and overtime, and got sick and the Mac stuff kinda hit the back burner. But I did get around to digging behind computers and my TV and running cables to get my Mac hooked into my TV to test it out as a media centre.

Not bad, especially considering I'm hooked up to a Tube TV. Running through S-Video, and it's pretty good for video. Not great for text, but Tube TV's never are. However, I can see just how sweet this would be hooked to a digital LCD TV through an HDMI or something. The included Front Row and remote (that also works with VLC!) makes for an easy to setup and use media center. I'm playing my large library of saved web vids on my TV now while I surf the net and do other computer stuff on my old PC. And I can use it as my DVD player too, and skip past those pesky non skippable commercials and FBI warnings that you can't get past on a normal DVD player. All around, it's working pretty good. The only complaint is the underscan, which is a Tube TV specific problem with resolutions. I've got a one inch black border around the viewable screen cause it won't go all the way to the edge of the TV for some reason. I can overscan it, but then I can barely see the Mac dock. It's not the best, but I can live with it.

Being as I don't have my Macbook yet, I was hoping to use the Mac Mini as my main computer and not just a media centre at this point. I wanted to use my old PC as the media centre, but the DVI to S-Video adapter only works on the Mac. Gotta think of something else in the intermin to switch the PC and Mac uses around for now, but it's nice to see how well it works. My plan for a kick ass media/entertainment/computer system is coming together. Just a couple more pieces to the puzzle, and it'll be rockin', and I won't even have to get out of my easy chair to run it...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Drawing A Blank

Absolutely nothing of interest to post about as of late, but lets see what we got...Christmas must be on its way, cause the weather is finally getting cold and I picked up a tub of hard candy - a melange mix according to the carton, but I think its usually called satin mix...good stuff, and now I've got Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton stuck in my head...came home and of course there's not much on TV, but there was Fletch on AMC, which is one of my faves, and incredibly funny, so not on the net that Apple has already come out with Leopard update 10.5.1...that was fast...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Here Comes Tomorrow...

Check this out. Marvel Comics is stumbling into the 21st century right behind the music and movie industries. They are going to launch an online comics archive containing more than 2500 back issues. It'll be in a high resolution format that can be accessed to view for a mere $9.99 a month.

Oh boy, where do I sign up?

Seriously, talk about behind the times. I've thought online is the way to go for comics for a long time, but this isn't the way to do it. If I'm reading the news right, it won't be a downloadable product - they'll retain control of the files and you pay for the priviledge to read them. What?! Um, no thanks. I want to own what I buy, and I want to view it when I'm not online.

There are some interesting quotes from the NEwsarama article:

"We did not want to get caught flat-footed with kids these days who have the tech that allows them to read comics in a digital format," Marvel President Dan Buckley, told the publication. "Our fan base is already on the Internet. It seemed like a natural way to go."

"About 90% of the comic books sold today are scanned and put online within 36 hours," Newsarama’s own Chris Arrant is quoted in the story.

"Our quality is much higher; the library is huge and will never go out of style," concluded Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada. "This is the legal way to do things."

Um, ok. Legal maybe, but not exactly right. Just like the music and movie industry, they've missed the boat on online comics (they're already online in the same way music and movies are available for free), and unless they figure out an iTunes for comics type of deal, this isn't going to save them. It might be worth checking out as a novelty, but if no downloads are available, and no new comics until after 6 months, then it's not going to be a huge draw. The other methods will still beat them to the punch.

Granted, if they put new comics online right away, that'd would be the end of comic book shops. On the other hand, I would bet they would sell more comics. A person has to really like comics to go out of their way to hunt down a shop, let alone go in one. They're hard to find, and often look like holes in the wall, especially if it's open to gamers. So where exactly are new comic readers going to come from? How are they going to even know about the product or how to get it?

The answer is online, of course, just like everything else. There are fantastic, well written, mature stories being told and illustrated in the comics medium. However, it's like the world's best kept secret in a lot of ways. Everybody knows about comics, but only a few really know or read whats available. And even fewer know where to go to get their hands on them.

I feel bad for what online sales could do to local comic shops (ie, shut them down), but it's going to happen anyway if you don't get new readers. You're pretty much down to your regulars now, what happens when they're done? Kids today aren't creating a link to comics or a nostalgia to them like the current customers, so where are the next customers going to come from?

Make the product available in a legitimate, affordable way, and maybe your industry won't be dying anymore. Show people you've got a great product, and let them buy and own it easily. This online venture is a step in the right direction, but it's way too late to be effective. This should have happened five years ago, but just like the movie industry hasn't learned a thing from the music industry's fall, comics isn't learning a thing either.

And if you're looking for something good to read, check out these titles for older readers (you can find the trade size collections on Amazon):
Punisher MAX
100 Bullets
Jonah Hex
...just to name a few

Oh, and the way I've always wanted to see online comics done was a reduced rate for a downloadable file of the monthly comic in a deal with the trade. For example, I would gladly pay a buck or so for the digital monthly and agree to buy the trade when it's printed (but make it affordable.) That way, I get the digital copies right away, the authors can still get paid, and I get a trade shipped to me right when it's printed - because as nice as online is, it doesn't always beat having an actual book in your hands. Especially when the art is great.

But that's just me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wonder What That Did To The Undercarriage?

Yep, just the good ol' boys

Payneful Movie News

Good News & Bad News...

The good news is that the video game Max Payne is going to be made into a movie. The bad news is that it's going to "star" Mark Wahlberg as Max Payne. Totally wrong casting here.

I liked the Max Payne game - it's a fun shooter that introduced 'bullet time' (think Matrix). Unfortunately, I hit a brick wall spot in the game that I couldn't get past and moved on to other things and haven't played the game in a long time. However, I do remember being impressed with the dark noir overtones, the gritty voice overs (in true noir fashion) and the cut scenes and comic book like narration scenes.

The plot is generic - good cop loses family and goes on rampage. Basically a Punisher rip off, but the style and noir and mystery elements made it much more interesting. A good script that played the noir angle with shooting action (not the other way around - make this a movie, not a video game movie) and the right actor could make this into something to watch. However, I just can't possibly see Wahlberg as that kind of a dark and gritty, oneliners and voice over, noir anti hero.

It's late, so off the top of my head, I can't really think of anyone who should have been cast instead, but I'm sure I'll think of somebody when I'm watching this on DVD sometime in the future...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Same Old...

Not much new here...except I'm sick again - second time in two months! What the? Drowning in your own head fluids kinda blows...literally.

Found this on the web via - a promo trailer for the upcoming Righteous Kill starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. It's a cop drama, of course, and I'm looking forward to seeing it, but the trailer plays a little too "amped" than what I was expecting. Maybe it was the music, but I guess I was wishing for something more Michael Mann-ish than that, but this isn't a Heat sequel. I think the movie should be good, but the promo trailer needs some work. Check it out here.

Guess the Country Music Awards were on tonight. I used to watch these shows all the time, but they kept getting worse and worse. CMT was rerunning the show when I got home and everytime I flipped over to it I thought "Who are these people?" and not in a good way. I expect new people on the shows as the years go on, but could they at least sing country? (A Rascal Flatts & Jaimie Fox duet? On the CMA's? Really?) At least Brad Paisley won for Male Vocalist and George Strait won Album, so they handed out awards to two country singers at least. And Brooks & Dunn's streak in the Vocal Duo category came to an unsurprising end (really, what happened to those guys?), but to lose to Sugarland? Ouch.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

This 'N That...

Was in at Best Buy for a bit before they closed...LCD HD TV's are finally coming down in price...If I wait long enough, maybe they'll pay me to have one...I need a bigger monitor, but prices are still a bit too high, although that 24" BenQ at $650 is tempting with all it's included inputs as well...could use game systems on it and HD cable too...Finally got to see an Apple 23" Cinema Display hooked up - very nice, but not buying at $1049...Played around with Leopard for a bit...looks good, Dock is a little different to look at though...Spaces is cool, nice to see them catch up to Linux...the new Finder is better, and the really cool thing is Quick Look - see your stuff without having to double click on it and open another, pics, movies, all work right in the Finder...Was thinking of getting an Apple keyboard, but can't decide which one, although the new ultra thin one is remarkably easy to type on, but the wireless one is missing a number pad and I need that...

Wandered around Chapters with a friend for a bit today really takes the steam out of buying books when you know what your dollar is worth and you look at the cover prices and you see you have to pay ten dollars plus more just because you live in Canada...hello, Amazon and slow Canada Post...

We hit Williams Coffee Shop after and they make a good Lemon Meringue pie and wicked hot Apple Cider...if the sign was right, they sell whole cakes and pies for 14.99 too...that'd be alright if it included some of those awesome looking and ridiculously high cheesecakes too...

Should be an interesting time on TV now with the writer's strike...say goodbye to late night TV for a while, or hello to reruns...nobody there to write those monologues for David, Jay, Conan, et al...oh well, more time for TV on DVD...and if you haven't seen it yet, check out Scrubs, now in its last season...sometimes silly, but always funny with a heart medical comedy that's flown under the radar for the last six or so years...check out the DVD's or reruns where you can...I picked up season 2 from Blockbuster tonight, so off to watch some DVD...

Clocks Back...

Good thing someone at work mentioned the clock thing tonight, or I wouldn't have known as I didn't read the paper tonight and I haven't seen any blurb on the web either. Lucky for me, my cable box auto syncs, so I would have known when I came home. Plus, my computers wouldn't match the microwave either.

Cool, extra hour sleep. Works for me...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Action Pack

Saw a commercial for Fox Saturday afternoon programming this week. Here's whats to come on the cancellation station:

Con Air
Dante's Peak

The Fun starts at 1. It'd be cool to watch if I wasn't going to it is, it'd probably be better watching the DVD's anyway. Can only imagine how cut up these three will be...