Monday, February 28, 2011

Shop smart

Seen outside Baltimore.
Name that movie reference.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Links: February 25

A lesson for fans of first person shooter video games.

Doctor Who fan service:
British actor Nicholas Courtney passed away Tuesday evening. Some of my readers know him better as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. [link]

Dr Who coffee menu. [link]

Meat eating clocks. Be sure to watch the video. [link] [more]
It occurs to me that they should be able to make it work with cat poop. Just give it one of those self cleaning litter boxes.

A Dilbert cartoon come to life. [link]

Nifty special effects for a stage.

I'm liking the bit of art at the top of this page. [link]

Even this vampire flick looks better than anything from the Twilight series.

Trailer for "Apollo 18".


Picture: World's teeniest fish tank. [link]

The RoboCop statue in Detroit... it's gonna happen. [link]

Nathan Fillion would buy the rights to Firefly and revive the series if he could afford it. [link]

Sigourney Weaver talks about the John Hurt Moment in Alien and they try to reproduce it.

Video: The Saga of Biorn - an elderly Viking tries to die in battle so he can go to Valhalla. [link]

Nice, but depressing. It's a home for alcoholics to drink themselves to death. [link]

Nifty geological wonders. Number 12 has been on my Bucket List most of my life. [link]

Video: 500 people each tracing the line the previous person drew. [link]

Hundreds of overlapping tourist photos of the same place. [link]

Video: Controversial magic trick. [link]

The Phelps family taunts "Anonymous". [link]
They should consider it brought. [link]

My summer job. [link]

Video: A remote controlled airplane playing chicken with wind turbines. [link]

Macaques have more self awareness than many people. [link]

ET 2: Extinction - the first visit was research. The second will be for colonization.




Thursday, February 24, 2011

Movie review: Unknown



I was a bit dubious about "Unknown". Just from the trailer it seems like a lot of other action/suspense movies out there. But I rather liked it. I probably won't get it on DVD, but I'd recommend seeing it.

The lead character and a cute blonde come to Germany for a conference. But his briefcase gets left at the airport. He turns around and goes back for it, but on the way the cab goes off a bridge and into a river. It's remarkable what shit construction goes on in movie guardrails. When he wakes up 4 days later he has a bit of memory loss, but knows he needs to get to his wife and the conference. When he gets there she seems not to know who he is. In fact there's another guy there with his ID, memories, wife, etc.

He starts to investigate and starts to believe that he really does just have some brain damage when someone starts following him and killing people. Kind of a giveaway that there really is a plot against you. As he starts to work things out he sees that someone must be trying to kill some Middle Eastern oil type person who will be at the conference. He may not know what's going on, but he has to stop the assassination.

The story is well told, for the most part. The reason someone else seems to be Liam Neeson turns out to be unique. We didn't see it coming. But the twist didn't have the impact that it could have had.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sod Off Wednesday: February 23

Sodoff Baldrick


I recommend the whole episode and anything in the Black Adder series.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book review: Mean Streets

I just finished reading "Mean Streets". It's a collection of four novellas by a variety of popular authors in the supernatural investigator genre.

It starts with an excerpt from Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. If you missed the TV show a few years back and any of my reviews on the subject then I should mention that this isn't a World War II series and has nothing to do with the shelling of a certain German city.
Butcher's story works better if you're up to date on the rest of the books in the series, but it's not strictly necessary. There are three swords that contain nails from the cross that Jesus was crucified on. These swords are used by select persons to fight monsters. In recent times two of the three books have found themselves in Harry Dresden's possession. Harry has to find the right people to wield them. But in this story someone wants to take the swords from Harry. They try to accomplish this by threatening Michael, one of Harry's friends and former sword swinger, and his family.
All that will be of interest if you're familiar with the series. We were all wondering how Michael has been doing after  being torn up with gunfire in a recent book. But if you're not familiar with the series then you'll probably be more interested in the side scenes that seem like life and have little to do with the plot. At the end of the story Harry finds out what good he was doing while trying to protect Michael.

This story also appears in the book "Side Jobs" which is a collection of short stories from the Dresden Files.



Simon R. Green comes up next. His Tales of the Nightside books have gotten several reviews on this blog, too.
This story has some of what I like most and least about his books. Much like his first book, this story has lots of "That's how thing are... in the Nightside" kind of crap. Way too much, really. But it also spends a lot of time on the streets of the Nightside meeting the creatures that reside there and feeding on the mystery that is John Taylor.
The Nightside is a town inside London that is hard to find even if you know it's there. It's always night and is common ground to all manner of supernatural beings, including many from heaven or hell.
It's a simple case. It doesn't really require previous reading and doesn't feed into any of the ongoing storylines at all. A woman shows up who has lost twenty four hours and has no idea how she found herself ... in the Nightside. She was sent to John Taylor because he's great at finding things. She, Taylor, and Deadboy take a trip into one of the nastier parts of a nasty town to find her memory and what happened to her husband.
It's a story about a road trip. It introduces the reader to ... the Nightside. Not the story I'd recommend for an introduction ... to the Nightside, but not bad.


The next couple of authors I was unfamiliar with. Kat Richardson's Greywalker series is about a woman who can see the dead. She's been hired in some stranger's will to go to a grave in southern Mexico with a statue of a dog and place it on a grave overnight on the Day of the Dead. Lots happens at the end of the story to explain the who's, what's, and why's. Until then you get a nice tour of the city, it's people, and it's dead. It's an interesting exploration of the Day of the Dead and how their culture views death.
This story is different from the other three stories in the book. It may be because it's a female writer. They just approach the subject from a different direction. For one thing it's a lot less dark than the other three stories.


The final story is by Thomas E. Sniegoski. His series is about P.I. Remy Chandler, formerly known as the angel Remiel. In this world there are fallen angels and there are fallen angels. We know about the first variety, those who went to Hell. Remy is of the other variety, those who were banished from Heaven, but only to Earth. He's been trying to reject his angelic side and be more human. But the angelic side fights to come out and take over. It seems to be like a drug habit. He can also talk to and understand animals. For the most part he keeps it to just his dog.
In this story, Remy's wife recently died of cancer. He and his dog are out mourning at their cabin when another angel comes to tell him that someone murdered Noah. Remy tries to tell the angel to sod off, but that's not an acceptable answer. The investigation leads to the discovery of a third race created by God, one that was thought to have been wiped out in the flood.

I think I'll have to check in to some other books in this series.


I'd recommend the book. You're bound to like at least one of the four stories.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Holiday post

Monday filler


Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Links: February 18

Game: Kamikaze Blocks - Knock the piles of blocks off the screen. [link]

Uwe Boll doesn't understand that he has to pay people to see his movies. [link]

Why you set off firework really high.


The plural of dwarf: dwarfs, dwarves, or dwarrows? [link]

Proposed urban CO2 filters look like props from "Earth: The Final Conflict". [link]

Dr Who fan service.
Visual pun. [link]

The Dalek's arch nemesis. [link]

A spoof of "The End of Time" (David Tennant's final episode).
Part 1


Part 2


This is why your plan for a paint bomb won't work. You can't just toss one into a room and have an instant paint job.


Pluto may be gone, but there may still be a 9th planet. [link]
I'm not buying it, but not for the reasons in the article. Would we really have found planets this size orbiting distant stars, but not orbiting ours? Still... I hope it's there.

This is much closer to what a space station or space craft should look like. [link]

Some guy kayaked the Atlantic. [link]

Fish fight video. [link]

Very polite robber. [link]

Domesticated moose...es. Moosen. Mooseii? Moose. [link]
Be sure to watch the video of the moose playing in a sprinkler.

Nifty web cam cover. [link]

Snow monster. [link]

Proposed bill in South Dakota has the potential to make it legal to kill abortion providers. [link]

The Three Stooges in "The A Team".


Another video telling part of the story of the DC Universe Online game.


How to build your own telepresense robot. [link]

Game: Icy Gifts - a chain reaction game. With only one shot can you set off a chain reaction to clear all the gifts from the screen? [link]

The appearance of the computer on Jeopardy! happened. This NPR article tells how Watson thinks. [link]
If anyone knows where I can find those episodes online let me know so I can watch them.

This song has been in my head all week.


Make flowers glow under a black light.


Quick and easy room redecorating with a well placed projector or two. [link]

Hamster paradise. [link]

Letters from Muppet people. [link]

An article about slow walkers and sidewalk rage. [link]
I don't barge through, but I do get pissed at people who block halls and sidewalks. Believe me, if I could go around these people I would.

FINGER MONSTERS!


Benny Hinn, popular faith healer, is really a sith lord.


Don't you ever interrupt me while I'm reading a book!


Positive stories from Egypt. [link]

Article: Religion - the ultimate tyranny. [link]

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Couches vs Doors

I wanna have a quick word with the furniture makers of America. It's about your couches. Unless you have invented a furniture teleporter I don't see how my girlfriend is gonna be able to invest in your product. The spiral stairway to her apartment is navigable, but I think we'll have to lift the couch over the hand rails and have one person on each side of the stairwell to get it up the stairs. The really hard part is the door. The handrail doesn't come up to the side of the door like a good sensible handrail should. It actually overlaps the door by several inches. That leaves just under 25" of clearance. So her existing couch was unable to make the trip to her new place. But that couch was kinda big. Even with the feet off I have to assume it entered the house through the sliding glass doors. We've been looking at other couches and we've been finding that very few would be able to fit in her place at all.

There are exceptions. Some stuff we found at Ikea would work. Too bad they're so bloody uncomfortable. Not all their couches, just the ones that would fit. She could get one, but it'd be spending money just to have something, not something she likes. And Ikea just kinda screams college student to her. She has a quality couch and would really like to avoid going back a step.

Other stores have had a couple that would work, but their cushions only went up as far as the back of the couch. And they cost $3,000. Picture that for a moment. How much would you like a couch that hits you in the small of the back?

I keep suggesting the shipping palette plan. Six (or possibly eight) shipping pallets in two stacks with plywood across the top. Then put the cushions from her old couch on top of the plywood. Another piece of plywood up the back would support the back cushions. It's far from ideal, but it's affordable and modular.

She's about to settle for a used futon of the CraigsList variety. She doesn't like futons, but it can become a bed and company is coming.

While I've got you, furniture people, what are we gonna do about my mattress? You know those signs that say "George Washington slept here"? I've got one of those, but mine means that he used this mattress. Really, I can't tell you how old it is. It might be older than me. It's comfortable enough, but it's a bit discolored and the fabric is failing in a few places. Changing the sheets includes vacuuming stuffing off the floor afterward.

The mattress can go down the stairs with some effort, but the box springs can only go out the bedroom window. I'm glad these windows were put in before I moved in. Otherwise my mattress would be sitting on palettes, too. From what I've seen of the mattresses for sale today you have box springs, more box springs, and then an inch or two of padding. Couldn't I just get a coffee table and one of those expensive camping pads from the camping store? Or how about that memory foam stuff?

I got off my point a little, there. What I was getting at is that these replacements are gonna be less flexible than my old mattress. They're not coming up the stairs in my place. Do you have a way of getting them in the second story window? I'd guess you do since three guys got my box springs in this way. Still, the idea of having to do that again makes me hesitant to try it again or ask someone else to do it in my place.

Maybe a needle and thread and some old jeans would solve my problem better.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sod Off Wednesday: February 16

People in movies can just sod off. [link]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Working alone: A Bruce Story

Bruce is an ongoing event. There is no day of working with Bruce that doesn't have some kind of Bruce Story. But the daily stories aren't worth telling. It's the occasional jaw dropper that makes one worth telling. Typically we can find them amusing. This isn't one of the funny stories. This is one of the depressing ones.

We've gotten this book from a major university. It was all written and laid out and made into a PDF. They wanted a print version. That we were given the files to work on tells me that their printer probably had a fit when they saw it and turned it away. Our job was to fix it without altering the layout or appearance more than necessary.

Printers draw with Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK) while computer monitors draw with Red, Green, and Blue (RGB). Their photos were all over the place. Our first job was to make them all CMYK or Grayscale.
They also had a nasty habit of resizing and cropping the art in the layout software. That can confuse the machine that makes the plates and drop or distort the art.
They liked to embed the art in the document instead of having a link to the file on the drive. That increases possibilities for corruption of the file, blows up the size of the file, and makes it hard to make corrections to the art later.
Most books have the page numbers on opposing sides of the page. Left pages have the numbers on the left and right pages have them on the right. These have them all on the right side. We haven't gotten that far yet.
Nor have we moved the contents away from the spine so they won't fall in the crack.

The way this book is being handled is that Bruce makes the corrections, I check his work, make a list of what needs to be done, and he makes the changes. We're doing it in stages. Stage one is where we make all the pictures CMYK, crop them according to how they're supposed to look, and link them instead of embedding them. At the end of this stage it should appear identical to what was sent to us.

Bruce spent several days per chapter when even the longest, nastiest chapter shouldn't take more than a day.

When you adjust the width in Photoshop it'll automatically adjust the height by the same ratio. You have to override that if you want to resize the height and width automatically. A ridiculous number of pictures came back skewed. That can only mean he was adjusting the height and width manually. That's not a goof up. It took an active, conscious effort to screw that up.

When I send him a list of things to fix they come back with half the chapters completely ignored. One batch of chapters he sent me with my corrections applied included a chapter that I hadn't even gotten to look at until about a week after he gave me the disk.

So at the last staff meeting (about two weeks ago) I took him aside and suggested he go to a neurologist and get checked for Alzheimer's. Turns out I'm the third person to recommend this.

Then a few days ago we're working on chapter 6. Possibly the nastiest of the chapters. He had ignored four of the changes. Of the several dozen other changes he had fixed the pictures that were initially skewed, but the dpi (dots per inch) had jumped by 50 to 70. They still weren't at the ideal 300dpi levels, but they were certainly higher than the dpi in the art in the previous version or even the art that the university had supplied. This means he's been artificially inflating them. Of course, he doesn't realize he's done it.

I had told him what I found and told him to fix it or explain what happened with the dpi. I told him that I could spend another two days looking this chapter over from the beginning or he could go back to the previous version of the chapter and do it again. If he needed the previous version I could give it to him on a CD.

Bruce: Want to get together and go over some of this tomorrow, I am only a few blocks away. Maybe easier?

I kinda lost it at this point.

Me: No. I don't want to hold your hand on this. I want you to do it right. I don't want to blow another couple of days looking over chapter 6 so I can tell you everything that's wrong.

Bruce: I have a suggestion.
I think just one person needs to work on these chapters, possibly you or me.
This is taking too much time and we need to get this out.
We can talk with Joan or COL if like?

Me: Bruce, you're the only person working on these chapters. My SOLE job is to follow behind you and find where you've done it wrong. I have no other role in this book. You do the work and I tell you what you missed or did wrong. I hate having to do it, but it's necessary. And the Colonel wants YOU to do it.


Perhaps a bit harsh. You should see the e-mail before I censored myself.

I did feel bad about it. For years almost the entire staff has been trying to tell him that he's a screw up. Some even refuse to work with him anymore. He's been told that the old Colonel and Managing Editor were working on firing him when they retired. He's been told that the current Managing Editor keeps trying to fire him. People have to stand over him. He's the target of more than one screaming tirade. But he always laughs it off with a "huh, huh, you guys are funny." This time I think he was actually a bit hurt.
I got a bit drunk that night. Red Rocks makes some good pizzas and great (and strong) mudslide martinis. I had three. Two usually leaves me having to pay attention to where the sidewalk is going.

The next day you'd never know the conversation had happened.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movie review: The Rite

I came up with some other ideas for today's post this weekend and on the way home. They're all gone now, so you have to read about this movie instead.


This trailer is the scariest part of the movie. It tries to sell the movie as an exorcism movie when it's more of a young priest struggling to find his faith. When you go expecting something with big scary exorcisms you'll leave disappointed.

A young man goes to school to become a priest because of family obligations. His faith is nonexistent. After four years of priest college he's ready to drop out because he still has no faith. They sent him to hang out with Anthony Hopkins: Exorcist to try to give him something to shore up his faith. It's too bad that he was also a psychology major. The exorcisms aren't like in "The Exorcist" or "Constantine". They're super easy to think of as just a psychological disorder or side effects of pregnancy or both. That's what the young priest thinks these people are suffering from. And your personal beliefs will influence how you view much of the movie. I think one of them Hopkins comes to believe really was a psychological disorder after the patient died.

The best part comes late in the movie when Anthony Hopkins' character get's possessed. It's the most convincing possession of the whole movie and he does it well.

I saw it at a matinee. A $9.00 matinee. That blows. Kinda wish I hadn't seen it. I'd be happier with it at $4. Will not get on DVD.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Links: February 11

Art made by painting many panes of glass and stacking them. [link]
There's something similar hanging in the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Someone took frames from her MRI and painted them on plastic sheets. All hung together you get a 3D model of her body.

Monolith painted like "2001: A Space Odyssey" VHS cassette. [link]

Microsoft is losing HOW much online? [link]
Just wait until you see how the Chrome netbook knocks the legs out from under Windows. Then you'll really see losses.

I want one of these to live in. [link]

Short version: set up a tax that increases but only if the global weather increases.
Long version: [link]

I said SMILE dammit! [link]

22 uses for old Altoid tins. [link]

For those of you who don't know who Brad Bird is.

George Bush may have canceled a trip to Switzerland for fear of being hauled before a war crimes tribunal. [link]

Title suggestions for Bristol Palin's "memoir". [link]
Coming soon from Cracker Jack Prize Press.

Picture: Steampunk EtchASketch. [link]

Reviews of the Spiderman musical set to music.

But lets hear it from Jay Sherman of "The Critic".

Dr Who Fan Service:
Picture: Dr. Who infographic. [link]

Dead or alive, we're not making that statue. [link]

Short Superman fan film. [link]

Storyboard animation for a proposed "Wicked" animated musical. [link]

Making of the new Old Spice commercial. [link]

Sleepy cat.


Guns for vibrators. [link]

My god. It's full of keys. [link]

Arseload of Star Trek bridges. [link]

I'd totally live here. [link]

This person rules and you need to start reading her archives. [link]

Top picture: I want. [link]

I'm contemplating this map of Central Park for the long flat space over my stairs. [link]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

MY CAR!

While you lot were sodding off yesterday I was getting my car's back end adjusted. It wasn't planned. It wasn't even voluntary. It was, however, not as bad as what happened to the other guy's car.

So I'm going up Connecticut Avenue toward the Beltway. This would be the Beltway referred to when someone talks about inside the beltway thinking (i.e. the thinking of Congress peoples). As I approach the first exit traffic comes to a very sudden stop. I found out later that it was a car wreck. I came down hard on the brakes1 and came just short of the car ahead of me. The guy behind me wasn't so lucky. He hit me.

An off duty police officer was there and he called in for a not off duty police officer. She took our information, gave a copy to each of us, and got a tow truck for the other guy's car. I offered the guy a ride to work since he clearly wasn't getting there in his car. He turned me down. He was getting towed to a repair place near his office.

The people whose driveway we ended up blocking let me pull in there and get out of traffic. Apparently this happens a lot. They get a constant stream of squealing brakes as people getting off the beltway meet people getting on the beltway.

I drove up some distance and turned around to head home. There was another accident on the other side of the beltway in the traffic heading IN to DC. A very popular area for fender benders, it seems.

I'm fine. Car's a bit bruised, but fine. He's at fault so his people will fix it. And got a $130 fine, too.

I didn't make the staff meeting.

1I still don't know if the car would have caught it if I hadn't. It's supposed to. I just can't bring myself to test it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Out and about

Since I'm wandering the city today and can't do a proper post you get a picture of the ceiling fans where I had lunch.


Monday, February 07, 2011

Freak out

Yummy has a cat. For future reference I shall call him "The Claw". See, The Claw likes to hop up on the bed in the middle of the night and pat your face so you'll get up and feed him. If you ignore him he'll put his paw between your eyebrows and extend a single claw.

The Claw has made the transition to the new apartment fairly well. But he doesn't travel well so we spend more of our weekends at her new apartment than at mine.

This morning I was loading up the car to go home; Yummy already on her way to work. I took down my coat and two bags and went back upstairs for Gandolf. As I turned to leave I realized that the creature count was short by one animal. Oliver Queen was in his cage, Gandolf was on her portable perch, The Claw was... aw, shit... nowhere to be seen.

The apartment door is open. Look out in the stairwell. Nothing. Close the door.

Where else could he be?
He likes under the bed. Nothing. Not even dust bunnies yet.
Bedroom closet? Nope.
Check the empty boxes. All clear.
Under the rocking chair? In the coat closet? In the cabinet Yummy is stripping? Bathroom? The kitchen. In the new cart? On? Under? Behind the fridge? CRAP!

Did I leave the door open when I took bags down? I don't recall. Out in the stairwell again. So far he doesn't have the nerve to get past the second floor landing and that's with someone watching him. Would he really have followed me down that far? No. Check anyway. I did leave the front door open. Did he follow me outside? No. Not yet. Check again in the spring, though.

Back upstairs.

Repeat all the hiding spots in the apartment.

I'm a bit panicked at this point. I'm about 30 second from calling Yummy and telling her to come back and help me look. She's only about 15 minutes out.

As I turned to leave the kitchen and get my phone I found this.
Just chilling on top of the fridge and wondering what I'm freaking out about.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday Links: February 4

The Comics Code Authority looks like it may be passing into history. This article talks about it's establishment and the demonization of comic books back in the '50s. [link]

Nightmare fuel. [link]

91 year old maker of spindles for stairs. [link]

Girl Scouts are cutting back on their cookie varieties. As long as I get my Samoas everyone gets to live. [link]

Dr Who fan service of the week:
Inflatable Dalek vehicle for kids. [link]

CSI: Gallifrey


In other sci-fi news, the show "Fringe" recently had Doc Brown playing a member of the defunct band "Violet Sedan Chair". They planted a record from the band in a store. It's been ripped and put online for general listening. [link]

Unique beer cup filling device.

One town that just cries for an earthquake. [link]

Bulletproof skin? How long until we get specially engineered space marines? [link]

A twisted time travel story. [link]

Destructive testing of a ski lift.


Sweet ring. [link]

This kid is a great actor. It's hard to convey those feelings without a face. With no face or voice?...


Patrick Stewart talks about his smart phone.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Ernie

A few weeks back I announced the arrival of another bird in the house. A sweet little green cheeked conure named Ernesto who bonded instantly with Oliver Queen. I regret that Yummy only had one weekend with Ernie before he passed.

Ollie and Ernie sharing a nest.

We hadn't really bonded, yet, but he is missed.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sod Off Wednesday: February 2

update: image message is fixed

qrcode

For help see http://qrlink.kaywa.com.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

I'd invest with this company.

Written by my friend Phong3D and reposted here with his permission.

The Super Bowl Investment Ad I Want To See

(Third quarter, Packers first down, 60 second commercial break)...

FADE IN

Montage of beautifully shot, bucolic scenes - children playing, dogs fetching, lovers running hand-in-hand down a dock.

MORGAN FREEMAN VOICEOVER

"Life has a way of sneaking up on you. The world seems to move fast and slow at a pace that we can only begin to comprehend. Sometimes the best we can do is focus on what's important. Family. Dreams. The fullness of life in all its riches.

Retirement is your reward. A life well-lived and a time well-earned. Here at Morgan Stanley, we can help guide you on that path. Help ensure that your life, and the greatest years yet to come, are as wonderful as they can be.

Why choose Morgan Stanley? Because we care about you. About your concerns, your family and your dreams. And, in contrast, Merrill Lynch..."

SMASH CUT - Skybox suite at Superbowl full of ML EVPs with escorts/trophy wives laughing it up

"... just spent $700,000 in TARP funds to rent a 400 square foot room for 2 hours and are drinking all the free champagne and lobster they can get their hands on while you sit in your basement and double-fist Coors and Fritos. Seriously."

"Merrill Lynch: Fuck Those Guys. Morgan Stanley's Got Your Back."

FADE OUT