Buy This Plasma… Before It’s Too Late!!!

January 23, 2014

I have a Panasonic Plasma TV, model TC-P46G10. It has fantastic picture quality… in a dark room. I bought this TV when I separated from my wife, and mounted it to the wall of my apartment. The living room only had a sliding glass door and the blinds for the that door left the room pretty dark in the middle of the day (If you fell asleep in the living room of that apartment, you could sleep until noon and not notice). I am now in an apartment with a brighter living room, but that does not bother this TV much. Overall this TV is the best TV I have ever owned. The brightness never bothers me, even though I have the TV set for THX Cinema quality all the time.

Panasonic currently makes the best plasma TVs. Unfortunately, they announced they are leaving the plasma market at the end of March 2014. That is a shame. I wish I had the spare cash to buy another TV. Mine is only 46 inches. It is big enough for my current apartment. But when I move into a bigger place I will want a bigger TV.

I would love to get the Panasonic TC-P60VT60 currently selling for $1,799.86 at Best Buy (as of today 1/23/14).

If you have the cash… and are a true videophile… buy this TV and hang on to it.

Electronics on Planes – Can We Keep Them On?

September 27, 2013

Well, it seems the FAA is finally getting its head out of its ass and seriously considering putting a stop to the dreaded “please turn off all portable electronic devices.” Read this NY Times Article on this topic.

It’s about time. But more importantly… is it in time? Is in going to happen in time so that when I fly to Orlando FL, in late December I can keep my iPad on as we take off and land. Why I should have to suffer during those 20 minutes has never made sense.

Really, they build these planes and don’t provide enough shielding so that a music player or phone could crash the plane. Come on. Everyone knows that their device is not going to effect the play at all. How many people actually turn off their devices? Or do they just stop using them and put them in their pockets… still turned on.

Please… FAA… Please… stop being a bunch of anal douche bags and leave us poor passengers alone. And hurry up about it.

Good or Bad? Photoshop & Lightroom for $9.95/mo.

September 13, 2013

Last week at Photoshop World, Adobe announced it was going to create a new Photoshop Photography Program, a special bundle of Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) and Lightroom for the price of $9.99 per month.

If you didn’t know, Adobe earlier this year moved all their creative software (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, etc., etc.) to what it calls Creative Cloud. You can no longer buy stand alone copies of these applications. What you get is essentially all of their software for $49.99 per month as a lease. This is not to mean that the software itself is located in the cloud (on their servers). You download the applications to your PC or Mac as before. However, each month the software verifies that your license is paid up and continues working if it is. All future updates to all the applications are yours automatically.

If you are a professional that uses some of this software this is probably a bargain. What was once software that would have cost over $2000 in the past, with upgrade prices deep in the hundreds, now only costs you $600/year. To a professional using this software to make a living, this is a bargain. It is easy to justify the cost, especially if your workplace is paying for it.

However, there are literally millions of hobbyist photographers out there that only want Photoshop and/or Lightroom. Adobe heard the cries of those people, and others, and allowed people to subscribe to any one application for $20/mo. If you already have a copy of Photoshop this was not an attractive offer. See, you have the application, then you start your Photoshop CC subscription for $20/mo ($240/year). Even if you are a faithful upgrader this does not make sense. If you were to upgrade every 18 months (about when the upgrades came out), after 3 years and two upgrades you will have spent $720 with Creative Cloud. The old way you would have just bought those two upgrades for $400 (usually $200 per upgrade) over the same three years. Plus if money was tight you could always skip one version and saved $200.

Granted, if you were a new Photoshop customer, this was a bit of a bargain. The new price of Photoshop used to be about $700. Let’s do the math on that for three years. $700 initial purchase with two upgrades at 18 months for $200 each, adds up to $1,100. If you jump into Photoshop CC without having bought it previously you just spend $720 for those three years. A bargain, right? Eventually not. Since the $20/mo ($240/year) is still a fair price higher than $200 every 18 months.

So… in response to this… Adobe offered a limited time offer for existing Photoshop users to jump on board Photoshop CC for $9.99/mo. for the first year. Wow, this meant if you had a recent version of Photoshop you could get in for $120 for the first year. That seemed like a bargain (and one I considered). However, after the first year that offer went back to $240/year, so not good in the long run.

Now to today… as I stated above Adobe announced the Photoshop Photography Program. This program allows anyone with Photoshop CS3 or newer to get Photoshop AND Lightroom for $9.99/mo… for as long as the price stays that way. They are claiming this is the regular price for this program. And this is a limited time offer, you only have until Dec 31, 2013 to sign up. Wow, this is exactly what I wanted. $9.99/mo for Photoshop and Lightroom. Where to I sign?

But wait… there’s more. This is fine for me with my Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS5 licenses. I can start paying $120/year and have the latest and greatest for a very long time. And that price seems very reasonable to me. Granted… this will be the first time I have ever subscribed to software.

But what about anyone who does not already have a version of Photoshop CS3 or later. New Photoshop users are going to be stuck with $240/year. No discount for them and no Lightroom bundle. Newbies will have to pay more than twice ($240/year for Photoshop, plus the cost of Lightroom). I would hate to be a photographer just starting out during the next year or two if this is Adobe’s final decision on this matter. You should consider other software.

Even for older versions than CS5 it is not that attractive. Photoshop CS3 came out in 2007, 6 years ago. If you are still using it you are not the type to buy upgrade after upgrade. So are you likely to change your ways, or stick with CS3 for as long as you can?

So… who does this program benefit? Existing Professional Photographers. Only if you were buying Photoshop and its upgrades regularly already does this offer benefit you.

It does NOT benefit anyone else.

I have a recent version of Photoshop (CS5). To date I have not seen any reason to upgrade, even though my copy is about 2 years old. This offer, while attractive to me it still a problem. What happens if I join and then money is tight and I need to save a few dollars. So I stop paying and I can’t use the software anymore. Yikes! Then I have to pay $20/mo to get it back. Double Yikes!!

I was inspired to write this post based on Jimmy Beltz and his video podcast posting. He tells it better than I can, so check out his 3 minutes video.

What do you think?

iPhone 5S – Disappointment or Not?

September 11, 2013

It is only a day after the iPhone 5S (and 5C) announcement and there are already articles flying that it is the biggest disappointment for the iPhone yet.

Let’s see… what were you expecting. It is a 5S, not a 6 or 7. So that means… hmm… it will be a little bit faster that the 5, and have a few small enhanced features over the 5. Sounds exactly like the difference between the iPhone 4 and the 4S, doesn’t it.

If you were disappointed then must not be paying attention. Apple only provides small incremental improvements from version to version of the iPhone. And the “S” versions are always the smallest improvements. Plus… what was not expected? I am pretty sure that everything announced yesterday was in the rumor mill for weeks or more before the announcement.

Since Steve Jobs departure, Apple can’t keep a secret to save its bank account. And that is actually something it likes. The more rumors spread about them, the more free press they get.

So, is the iPhone 5S a disappointment? No!

Where you disappointing? Id so, you are a foolish Apple fanboy!

Olympus Has Fallen – Mini Review

August 29, 2013

So I recently saw Olympus Has Fallen. This is not a full review, just a few points that might help you decide if you want to see it or not.

For starters, as a guilty pleasure I did enjoy watching Gerard Butler beat the crap out of a bunch of bad guys. Other than that… you better check your reality meter at the door when watching this movie.

Granted, my opinion of this movie is tainted because I served 8 years in our Armed Forces (Air Force, 1986 – 1992).

Spoilers Coming

OK. So in this movie the North Koreans attack the White House and manage to get the President and a few key people locked into the “bunker” under the White House. Yes, this was absurd. There were two huge issues with the initial “attack.” First, a plane managed to pick off every military and Secret Service agent outside the White House that were positioned on nearby roof tops to provide protection from people getting into the White House. Military and SS snipers on the roofs of surrounding buildings… really… these guys are so easy to pick off from a plane with only two people aboard? Not a chance. And this four prop plane also took out two jet fighters. Uh-Huh!

Next was the number of people that were killed coming out of the White House. As approximately 40 or so Koreans stormed the White House, Secret Service agents were pouring out the front door of teh White House walking right into the line of fire. Really? Not one agent had the smarts to take cover. OK, Gerard Butler, of course, took cover.

As for the plot… a main plot point for the movie (you know there are spoilers, right) is that the Koreans need to get three codes off three different people (yes, all inside the bunker, how convenient) to access all of our nuclear weapons. Really!!! As it turns out the President himself tells the other two (at different points in the movie) to give up their codes. The President did this on the assumption he would never give up his code, and the Koreans would never get all the codes. Why should these people suffer for nothing.

Well, there are a few problems with this. 1) The Koreans planned to kidnap the President’s son and use him to get the President’s code. Fortunately, Gerard Butler does an excellent job saving the President’s son and making that impossible. 2) Each of these people (one a General, the other Secretary of something, I don’t remember, and of course the President), would not be given a code like this unless they knew they had to die to protect it. 3) The Koreans had a back up plan to only break one of the codes, so they didn’t need the President’s code anyway. Oops!!!

This is where my military background comes in. I took a similar oath to that of the President, and the same oath that the General took… to protect this nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. There is no way in hell I would give up such a code. And you don’t get to the positions these people get to without that same level of commitment to your country. No Way!

Without those codes the movie has no plot, since the Korean’s plan is to use the codes to set off all our nukes in their silos and turn America into a nuclear wasteland. Of course, this means the Koreans were on a suicide mission.

So… should you watch this movie? That depends. If you like a movie based on one bad ass kicking butt all over the place, and you can suspend belief in our nation’s security for an hour and a half… then sure, watch this movie for a guilty pleasure of watching a bunch of action. Otherwise… I have to say… this movie is so unbelievable in the plot it is hopeless. Don’t watch it if that is important to you.

I wonder how bad White House Down is going to be???

Goal 2 of 4 for… The Best Shape of My Life

August 11, 2013

I have reached the 2nd of 4 goals to mark my reaching the Best Shape of My Life… at 50!

This morning in the gym I bench pressed 240 lbs. 7 times. If you look back at my first posting in this topic (Goal 1 of 4), you will see these are my 4 primary goals to determine getting into the best shape of my life:

  • Perform 3 sets of 10 chin-ups
  • Bench 240 lbs. at least 6 times
  • Get down to 200 lbs. body weight
  • Get up to 17 inch arms

I also reached a new plateau for chin-ups this morning with 3 sets of 12. I am making progress.

The last time I tried to get down to 200 lbs., I took a different lifting approach. I went with decreasing amounts of weight. For example, my bench press routine last time was: 180 x 10, 160 x 12, 140 x 15. That was to promote lean muscle mass instead of large mass. This time I am pushing a lot harder and lifting to increase muscle mass. My routine this morning included bench pressing of: 180 x 10, 210 x 10, 240 x 7. This kind of lifting is going to promote increasing muscle mass, which is counter to losing overall body weight.

All that means, it is harder to lose weight while gaining muscle. Friday morning I weighed in at 205 lbs, so I am only 5 pounds from that goal. And just to check my arm progress… I measure my arms before typing this… right at 16-3/4 inches, just 1/4 inch away.

This is almost fun. And I do feel in great shape.

Thank You Roadside Assistance

August 8, 2013

Yesterday on my way to work my car started making a whipping sound. Whup, whup, whup. I bulled off the highway and looked around the car. Initial nothing. I thought it was a tire coming apart, since my tires are on their last few miles of tread.

A closer look showed a string of rubber come from the inside of the front-left tire. I pulled it and it start pealing away from the tire, like pulling a thread on a sweater. Yikes. I pulled harder to get it to just break, and it did.

Back on the road and the sound is still there. Pull over again. Yep, there is more of the string of rubber. I pull and again it tries to unravel like pulling a thread. I grab my keys and use that to cut the rubber as close to the tire as I can reach.

Back on the road and all is going well. I go straight to Discount Tire. I buy 4 new tires (because I really needed them). I am out of there in just a tick under an hour. and only about an hour late to work.

On my way home someone waves at me on the highway and tells me my right-rear tire is low. Yikes! I start pulling to the right lane. A mile or so down the road the tire pressure light comes on. Double Yikes! I slow down and carefully make my way to a gas station. Sure enough the tire is flat.

I put air in it. Oh… there is a gauge on the air pump. So I put a little in, check the gauge. Put a little in, check the gauge. I am also looking at the bottom of the tire and comparing it to the front to get them about equal. I get to about 30 psi and notice the top of the tire is bulging toward me… almost like it was leaning at me (not a bubble or anything).

I stop putting air in it and go to push on the tire, just as I am about to tough the tire it blows… like a popping balloon. POOOFFFFFF!

Now… this is the third set of tires I have put on this car. All of them standard tires… instead of the run-flats the car came with from the factory. My car does not have a spare. So I call the Roadside Assistance I have with my auto insurance. This is the first time I have had any problem with a non run-flat tire on the Mini Cooper.

Discount Tire replaced the tire… no problem. Both they and I have no idea why the tire did what it did.

Thank goodness for Roadside Assistance though.

Goal 1 of 4… for Best Shape of My Life

July 13, 2013

I have completed the 1st of 4 goals. Actually, I have 1 overall goal… to be in the best shape of my life at 50.

I am 49 now. I set this goal last year. However, last year I suffered for most of the year with a pinched nerve, which prevented me from working out. I ended up doing about 2 months of physical therapy to get rid of it.

I am working out and watching what I eat (just portion control at this point, no special diet). I turn 50 in December of this year, so I have my work cut out for me to get in the best shape of my life when I turn 50 this December.

A friend said that was a very vague goal. “How would you know?

Simple… I should be able to do anything I have ever done before in the gym. Plus a couple of other requirements. I started weightlifting to lose weight when I was 23. When I started I could only do 3 chin-ups. I eventually reached 3 sets of 10 chin-ups. That is the 1st goal. Next, I remember I was bench pressing 240 lbs as part of my work out back when I was 35 and doing a “double split” workout. So requirement #2 is to be able to bench 240 lbs. Now… for me I have never been into seeing how much I could lift once. I just lifted as part of the workout. For a weight to count (to me) I have to do a minimum of 6 repetitions. So… the 2nd requirement is to bench 240 lbs at least 6 times.

Back in 2010 I lost 35 lbs. so I could paint my body green and go to a costume party as The Incredible Hulk (click here to see me as The Hulk). I need to get to that weight again… so getting down to 200 pounds is goal #3. Finally… I have been trying for a couple of years to get my arm up to 17 inches, so goal #4 is to get up to 17 inch arms.

So… these are my 4 goals to reach my overall goal of the best shape in my life:

  • Perform 3 sets of 10 chin-ups
  • Bench 240 lbs. at least 6 times
  • Get down to 200 lbs. body weight
  • Get up to 17 inch arms

To put a little of this into perspective… when I left the Air Force at 28 I weighed 215 lbs, with a relatively flat stomach and 15-1/2 inch arms. So I am already bigger and leaner than I was back in 1994.

In the summer of 1998 I was doing a double split workout. I would go to the gym (at my work) in the morning and do half a workout. Then I would go back to the gym at lunch and do the second half of the workout. I did this 4 days a week for 8 weeks and tried to get as strong as I had even been. I was benching 240 lbs then, as well as 100 pound dumbbell bench presses. I do not have 100 lbs dumbbells to test with now, or it would be one of my requirements. At the end of that summer I got up to 219 lbs (my goal that summer was to get up to 225), and reached 16 inch arms for the first time in my life. But I was not very lean… just a reasonably flat stomach.

Prior to going to a costume party as The Incredible Hulk, I always went with the idea that as long as my chest was bigger than my stomach it was good enough. Not now… I am really liking this lean feeling.

So….

Thursday I did 3 sets of 10 chin-ups as part of my workout. And this morning I did 10-10-11 reps of chin-ups. So I have reached the 1st of 4 goals.

I started this training at the beginning of April. At that time I was 223 lbs, had 16-1/4 inch arms, could do 6 chin-ups, and could  bench 180 lbs. So far I am down to 207 lbs. and I just benched 230 lbs 8 times. I should be at 230 x 10 by next weekend, and then 240 x 6 will be easy. I am also at about 16-3/4 inches for my arms. So all the goals are coming together nicely.

I’ll keep you informed as I attain each goal.

No Shows Saved

July 7, 2013

Wow… my DVR is empty. When I bring up the list it displays “No shows saved.” I am stunned. I know the main TV season is over and we are just into summer cable shows, and mid season fill in shows. But I can’t remember the last time I did not have anything on my DVR waiting to be watched.

This is especially true since my sons don’t live with me. We have shows that we watch together, and invariably there are always backlogs of those shows. As it would happen we just finished watching the last three episodes of Revolution over this weekend. Last night I finished off the DVR list by watching the first two episodes of Crossing Lines. And now my DVR is empty.

It is a weird feeling. I should take this time to catchup on some really old shows. But what? I am currently watching Homeland on my iPad at the gym. I prop up my iPad on the elliptical machine to watch episodes. I am just past the mid point of season one. This show won’t last me very long, so I will need to find something else for the gym. I tend to like older shows on my iPad at the gym… shows that I have seen before. It is a little better when I don’t have to pay attention 100% while exercising. Homeland has been the exception. I watched Lost from beginning to end… all 6 seasons… last on my iPad before this. I don’t know what show will be next at the gym.

I am currently watching The Big Bang Theory on my iPad on my lunch breaks. I am on the 6th season of that, and I will have to find another 1/2 hour show to watch during those times as well.

In the mornings I was switching back and forth between old episodes of MASH and Batman The Animated Series. I am on episode 67 of Batman (out of 109). I got up to season 9 episode 10 of MASH. But season 9 was when that show took a fairly large drop in quality, so I have been concentrating on Batman (which I have not seen… at least not all of them), and haven’t watched MASH in a couple of months.

I do want to watch Batman Beyond, and Justice League (both animated). I think those will follow Batman in the morning as I eat breakfast before work. As for lunch I am thinking… The Green Hornet… the series from the 60′s that aired when the Adam West Batman show aired. It is only one season, but I would like to try it out.

You know your troubles are simple when the hardest thing you have to do is worry about what old shows to watch on your iPad during your lunch break. Life is good!

No More Free Coffee… Taste Matters

June 21, 2013

About 8 months ago I pondered whether this coffee snob should be drinking the free coffee at work (link). Quick recap… they provide coffee at work, but it is not good. Barely acceptable. Or so I thought.

A friend that came to our work once in a while would stop off and get coffee on his way in. He said the coffee at McDonald’s was much better than the stuff in our cafeteria. I decided to do that myself. I get gas a Buc-ee’s because there is one at the exit for my work. Because my friend did it… I did it to see what the fuss was about. Well, Buc-ee’s coffee is very good. And I started getting into the habit of getting a large cup of coffee every time I filled up my car with gas.

Then I saw something at the local supermarket when doing grocery shopping. They had some decent 20 oz disposable coffee cups with lids. Hmm. I did not start bringing coffee from home because I did not want to deal with the clean up of a thermos every day. So… now I have large cups I can take good coffee to work in.

However, I am NOT using my French Press to make the coffee. See, at the beginning of the year my ex-wife gave me her parent’s old Keurig machine. She did this so I could have Keurig coffee for my sons. Those same in-laws gave my sons their own Keurig machine for a Christmas present. The reason my in-laws were giving away their old Keurig was because it leaked. I took it apart and could not find a leak. And then it leaked on me the first time I used it. So I put a towel under it… and I have not had any trouble with it. And I don’t think it leaks either, because the towel is always dry.

I was in Bed Bath & Beyond a couple of weeks ago and bought myself three flavors of coffee for the Keurig.

And now I take good coffee to work in the morning. It is not as good as my French Press, but it is at least as good as Buc-ee’s, and cheaper.

So now this coffee snob is using a machine to make coffee. BTW… I forgot the coffee one day this week, and got some free coffee from work. Yuck! It was terrible. Now that I got used to good coffee all the time I can’t go back to that crap. Maybe I should get a Keurig machine for my desk at work. Hmm!

At least I still use my French Press on the weekends… when I have more time to make it… and clean up afterwards.

Man of Steel – Review

June 17, 2013

Man of Steel is the best and, to a small degree, worst Superman movie ever made. This will contain spoilers, so read with that in mind.

Before we get to what works, and works really well in Man of Steel, we should cover what had to be done. Krypton. Yes, this movie gives us a retelling (for the umpteenth time) the origin of Superman. I was initially disappointing in The Amazing Spider-Man (with Andrew Garfield) for doing another origin story since we had one with Tobey Maguire just a few years before. But it worked well.

We all know from the previews that this was going to tell us “an” origin story. And granted, it has been a long time since we got an origin story of Superman in a live action movie. With that said, we spend a reasonable amount of time on Krypton for the length of this movie. We get the necessary Jor-El (father) sending of Kal-El (son) to Earth in the wake of Kypton’s destruction. Since the bad guy in the movie is General Zod from Krypton, we did need some Krypton background to make that work.

What does not work for me (and kind of never did) is given the  technological advances of this planet… it is impossible to believe there would not be Kyptonians off planet during this destruction… to have more than one last son of Krypton. Or that the people of the planet would be so myopic as to not even try some kind of evacuation to preserve their race/culture (regardless of going to a planet that would give them super-powers).

[Spoiler] Ultimately, I did not like the overall premise… that most Kryptonians were not born by natural means, except Kal-El. And that hokey idea that Jor-El stored the entire “codec” of Krypton into baby Kal’s body. This does not work at all in my opinion.

Once on Earth things really start to work. We get Clark Kent’s childhood through flashbacks. I liked it. For one, it means less time was spent in Clark’s childhood.

[Spoiler] I especially liked how Clark lets himself be bullied by a few kids. It makes a lot of sense for a character with so much power that he does not need to prove anything, but just take it and move on. Well done.

I also liked how they portrayed young Clark saving a bus full of kids. I hated that this was in the trailer, but loved how it was done in the movie. It would have had a lot more impact if they never showed this in a trailer. It shows us how much of a struggle Clark has between saving people versus protecting his secret.

The amount of exchange between Jor-El and Kal-El was just about perfect. It was enough that Jor tells Kal that he will never know his limits unless he tests them. I have always understood this, and tell people this. Think about it… if you were as strong a Superman just because you lived on this planet, why would you look muscular, unless you pushed yourself. And he would have to push might hard to build up his muscles. (This makes me think of the scene in The Incredibles when Mr. Incredible is working out with trains in a train yard.) And we are not put though a long time period (shown or not) of him “training” with Jor-El.

Of particular note… I really liked how we got the costume. It is there waiting for him when he find the “ship” Jor-El wanted him to find. And it is basically Kyptonian clothing. It looks like what a regular Kryptonian would wear… and is basically what Jor-El wears on Krypton when he takes off his “armor.”

The biggest thing that works… is the fact that Clark is a loaner going from town to town and job to job. It reminded me of the TV show The Incredible Hulk, where they show Dr. Banner (Bill Bixby) hitchhiking from one place to another after he had to use his “ability.” They don’t have to show all of it to us… but we are given the impression that he leaves right after using his powers to save people, and goes off somewhere else until he saves more people… anonymously.

[Spoiler] The fact that Lois Lane is smart enough to figure all this out and track down Clark is done perfectly. Finally we have a really smart and well done Lois Lane. A true investigative reporter. Even better than any of the Lois Lanes in the animated movies as well.

When Zod and his people battle Superman, the collateral damage is tremendous. And way overdone. I supposed it is realistic. But maybe not practical. If the goal was to capture Jor-El’s son for the Krytonian Codec… and Clark knew this… why didn’t he lead them to a less populated area to do battle? Granted, they did not show him stopping the fight over and over to try and protect the people. I like that, because otherwise it would make him seem weak… as was done in the movies from the 70′s. I think Superman would be more clever than either situation and find a way to take the battle to a safer location. But that’s just me.

[Spoiler] I feel the same way about the ending as I do the battle scenes. Did Superman need to kill Zod? I can see this being debated by comic book aficionados for a long time. Superman never kills. In the movie they want you to think he had no choice. And while sitting there in the theater I got that feeling. No, not the feeling that this was a reason he might have to kill, but that the movie makers wanted me to think that.

So… the makers of the movie tried to impress on us that there could be a circumstance where Superman would have to kill. And Lois even consoles Superman since they make it out like he hates the fact he had to do it. But did he have to? Why couldn’t he think of something else? Why couldn’t he put his hand in front of Zod’s eyes to block his laser vision. (Which I thought he did and that killed Zod… which would make more sense since it would then be almost an accident that Zod died. How could Superman know that doing that would kill Zod. But my son’s tell me that Superman broke Zod’s neck. Wow… I need to see it again… and again.. and again!). It all just seems a little too easy of an ending for such a good movie. And an ending that ultimately changes what the Superman character is. In the Superman universe killing is wrong… and because it would be so easy for Superman to kill that makes it more wrong for Superman to do it. So Superman never kills. Which ultimately is the reason we can trust this alien as our protector. He will always save us… without resorting to killing.

As I was watching the movie I was remind of Smallville, the TV series with Tom Welling. In that show, during the last season he reminds us that Superman is the person… and Clark Cent is the disguise. And I suspected early on in the movie that they would do the same for Man of Steel. In this regard, they did not disappoint. It is only after the battle is over that we see the Clark Kent with glasses. I liked that a lot.

Conclusion – this is the Superman movie all us fans deserved in 2006 (sorry, Brandon Routh). And it makes a great launching pad to give us some more quality DC movies. I have seen some reviews that say something like “why did we need another [insert superhero character name here] movie?” Really! If you have to ask that then why don’t you ask, “why do we need another movie?” You could argue how little original material in movies is out there. We need this movie because people like these kinds of movies, and we want better movies than Superman Returns or Green Lantern (sorry, Ryan Reynolds).

Rumor has it that Zack Snyder will direct a Justice League movie for 2015. I really hope so. Although I do not like how Zack Snyder had this Superman brake “his one rule” so quickly… I still think he has the best chance of making a quality Justice League movie. As it seems to be rumored… this Justice League movie would have Darkseid as the villain. This would be appropriate. The villain in a Justice League movie would have to be so powerful, and evil that Superman with all his abilities could not defeat him alone. He will need help… and so we have a valid reason to bring in a cast of super hereos. Do it!

I highly recommend this movie. I can’t wait for it to come out on Blu-Ray so I can watch it a few more times (actually a lot more than a few more times).

Man of Steel – Tomorrow

June 12, 2013

Yes, I am going to see Man of Steel tomorrow at midnight at the IMAX, a 3D IMAX Experience.

I actually did not want to see it in 3D. I saw Star Trek Into Darkness in 3D IMAX, and preferred it in 2D. However, when I got online a few weeks ago to buy the tickets… the 3D IMAX Experience was the only thing showing at midnight (12:01 AM actually).

I put in for a vacation day for this Friday at the beginning of the year. I knew my sons and I would be going to a midnight premier of this movie. As luck would have it… a friend is in from out of town, and he and his 3 daughters are going with us as well.

I have tried to avoid some of the trailers for this movie. It seems more and more that trailers spoil the movie. I don’t think it is possible to mislead you on this movie, but I wish we had seen less before the movie came out. The parts of the trailers for Man of Steel are so well done, I can’t imaging that the rest of the movie is going to let me down in any way. But I do feel I have already seen too much. For instance, the conversation between teen age Clark Kent and Jonathan Kent, where Jonathan tells Clark that “maybe” he should have let the school bus full of kids die… to protect his “secret.” That would have been best left out of the trailers. I think that would have had more impact seeing it for the first time in the theater during the movie.

Overall, I believe trailers are trending toward false hopes. Too many trailers are better than the movie they advertise. I get it… they need to fill seats at the theater. But wouldn’t it be better to just make a better movie, and have tiny teaser trailers that don’t give any anything.

Man of Steel is going to be the best Superman movie ever, I have no doubt. But did we need to see him having half a conversation in jail with Lois Lane… or would just the scene where they walk him down the hall in hand cuffs have been enough. Surely they are not filling more seats for this movie with more and more trailers that give more and more plot details. People will see it… so the trailers are essentially “keeping up with the Jones.” I know, a date expression, but appropriate. They didn’t need these lengthily trailer to fill seats for this movie. Just like they didn’t need any trailer at all for the Harry Potter films. They were “trailer proof.” Meaning regardless of the trailers… they were going to be block buster films. As is Man of Steel.

So… Man of Steel will not disappoint. But they did give too much away in the trailers.

Other movies… the trailers are just plain false advertising… say for example The Great Gatsby. My son and I talked about this movie at length having both read the book, and I saw the Robert Redford movie about a week before the Leonardo DiCaprio movie came out. I have not read the book since high school, but I remember a few points that were missing from the 1974 Robert Redford movie. Also, the 1974 movie was BORING. It was too slow. And my son and I debated over a couple of points in the book and in the movie that I just don’t get. For instance… why doesn’t Nick (Daisy’s cousin) beat the crap out of Tom when Tom shows Nick his mistress. Really, he is OK with this… even before he helps Daisy and Gatsby have an affair.

My son saw The Great Gatsby and told me not to bother. So I will wait for a rental or streaming or something. I was really hoping this could be a great movie, and I thought that from the trailers. It looked amazing. However, I think the story is too dated to make a great movie anyway. People today don’t really understand “new” money from “old” money anymore, especially due to the number of Internet millionaires that have popped up in the last couple of decades. Steve Jobs would be considered new money… though he did not make his money illegally like Gatsby. He was adopted, and acquired his wealth recently, as opposed to being raised with money in a high culture society… like Tom Buchanan in the book. Because of this change in society overall, I think The Great Gatsby is a tale that does not hold up today. I also think it would be a major injustice to try and re-write it. So we are left with the fact that this book probably could never make a great movie.

Anyway, I am ranting. I hate trailers that make bad movies look desirable. And I also hate trailers for good (or great) movies that give too much away before you see the movie. I think there should be a limit on trailers… no more than 90 seconds for a full trailer… those we see in a theater or online. That would greatly reduce the amount of content they could put in to spoil a good movie, and hopefully make it difficult to make a bad movie look good. And if teh movie were really going to be great… the producers and director should only give us teaser trailer about 15 seconds long. Anticipation is a powerful tool.

In the mean time…

Man of Steel… will be the best movie this year, I am sure!!!!!!!

Star Trek Into Darkness – Review

June 5, 2013

OK, since I am supposed to be posting more… I should tell you my thoughts on the new Star Trek movie.

I enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness quite a bit… more the second time I saw it in 2D. I found the IMAX 3D Experience “too much.”

As for the movie itself I am torn by the fact they did such a good job with Khan, and the fact I wished they gave us an original story.

Enough with the rehasing of old stories… let’s get something new, but with familiar characters. Which is what a sequel should be.

Having grown up with the original series, then watched TNG, then Voyager, then DS9 (yes, after Voyager), then Enterprise… I really liked the 2009 movie. It was fresh enough to bring in new audiences to the Star Trek universe, and we need that to allow even more movies and such to be made in the future. Yet it was more than good enough for this faithful Trekkie. I have watched the 2009 movie more times than I can count. It is extremely entertaining if you don’t look for plot holes (more later).

As for Into Darkness, it was very entertaining. When watching it the first time I was a little disappointing in the amount of dialog that was literally pulled from previous movies and/or shows. I thought we had enough of that from the 2009 movie. But when I watched it the second time I found it less a problem, and a little more pleasing to the nostalgia of it all. I still would prefer they did it a lot less.

If you care about plot holes, then this movie may dissapoint as much as the 2009 movie. For instance, in the 2009 movie they have a formula for Trans-Warp beaming… that eliminates the need for ships. I mean if you could Trans-Warp beam from Vulcan to close to Earth’s solar system (as done in the 09 movie, then again when Khan beams from Earth to the Klingon home world in Into Darkness) why did the Vulcan’s have to outfit “their fastest ship.” Why not just beam to Romulus to help them in the first place. And why bring a beach ball size amount of “red matter,” when you only need one drop? I mean really… with extra they could have just brought a golf ball size, or thimble full. And really… “red matter”! This is Star Trek, not Star Wars (the force is an energy field that binds the universe… well, except you have to have metacolrians in you), so why not a better scientific explanation of the material needed to create a singularity.

In this movie it seems odd that Khan’s character is the way he is. I remember seeing Khan say in one of the trailers something like, “I will have my vengeance!” Vengeance against what? He is alive and roaming around. His people are still alive, just still frozen. What did he need vengeance for until after they put his people in torpedoes… which is after he goes bat-shit crazy and kills a bunch of people. And the line never is in the movie, so I guess it made it to the cutting roam floor (well, the digital equivalent of that). We don’t get any real reason for him to act that way he does in the first place. Yes, he was thawed and used for his “genetic” abilities. So what. Do your job and then set your people free. Admiral Wallace was the real bad guy in this movie, but done in too quickly by Khan.

Plot holes where never missing from any of the Star Trek shows or movies. It’s just worse when trying to take a “thinking man’s” Sci-Fi show and compact it for today’s audience. I rarely see a movie today that does not have plot holes all over if you look close enough. It’s like no one actually reads the script a few times to look for this stuff before shooting a movie.

Overall I really liked Star Trek Into Darkness. If you are remotely a Star Trek fan you will like it. If you are a Star Trek fan and don’t like it… then you are one of those purists that think everything should be as campy as it was in the sixties… like you would ever go see something that badly acted in the theaters today. Get a life!

I will buy it on Blu-Ray. We will see if I watch it as many times as I have watched the 2009 movie, which is mighty close to the number of times I have seen Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan. And Star Trek II I have owned in one form or another for many more years than the 09 movie, so it is likely that I will eventually say I have watched the 2009 movie more than the 1982 movie.

2013 Hot Rod Pour Tour

June 5, 2013

Over the weekend I took my son to the start of the 2013 Hot Rod Pour Tour. If you check their site you will see the tour is still underway (as of today, 6/5/3013).

I went to Arlington on June 1st. Basically you get a large car show in Arlington. Then on the morning of June 2nd, all the cars funnel out of a large parking lot. I arrived about 7:15 AM that second day and there were probably around 300-400 cars there already. Cars kept arriving until a little after 8:30, which is the time they were to leave for Texarkana.

By 10:00 AM they were all gone. I managed to get around 570 photos, but I suspect when I have time to go through them all and remove duplicates, out of focus shots, and such… there will be hopefully at least 400 shots I can use to put together some kind of slide show (or YouTube video).

I’ll keep you posted as I get the photos processed.

My son really liked the event. And he wants to do it… go on the entire tour and become a member of the Long Haulers. In my opinion, I do not have a car worth showing off in this event. But then again… I saw a Nissan Altima that had done the Pour Tour for 5 or 6 years (the stickers were in his window). So maybe I can just drive this event with my Mini Cooper. Hey… I did see a Mini Cooper there, though it was a vendor’s car, which is more of a business trip than a personal vacation with cars.

I will be looking into this for next year. Until them… hold on for some pictures from Arlington from the 2013 Hot Rod Pour Tour.

I Am Not Posting Enough

June 5, 2013

I just looked, and I have only posted 2 items this year so far (now this one, making number 3). That is terrible. The main reason for this is that I put most information I feel like putting online on my web site here.

But that is a poor excuse, so I am going to start posting more. I hope you enjoy what posts are to come.

Good News in a Cloudy Lining

February 3, 2013

So I signed up at work to receive my W2 forms electronically. They said you would receive them earlier if you did this. Cool. So, I get my W2, and load up Turbo Tax to do my taxes. I am getting a $2,200 refund (which should just about cover my expenses for my father passing; cremation, trip to NY, car rental, etc).

Unfortunately, a form that I need to fill out as part of my taxes will not be available until Feb 7th. So much for doing anything early.

So… 4 more days until I can file to get some of my own money back.

Why Doesn’t My Bank Trust Me?

January 7, 2013

So… I took out a loan from my 401k (to act as a debt consolidation loan, hey I might as well be paying myself back instead of someone else). So I went to deposit this rather large check in my checking account. When I did this my credit union told me that only $200 of it would be available today, in a couple of business days another $4,800 would be available, and after 7 business day the rest would be available.

Granted, this check was for a large sum, and I am sure this is just a standard policy. But why doesn’t my history come into play. And with a check from Merill Lynch no less. I can understand putting limitations on a personal check, or if I was a recent member of the Credit Union. But I have been a member of this credit union for over 20 years. For 20 years I have had my paycheck auto deposited. Through three jobs (Air Force, Large Insurance Firm, Current Job).

Doesn’t 20 years of history count for anything? Are they worried that I set up this account to fraud them on this one check. Did I spend over 20 years building a cover story just so I could con them this this one time. That really would be a long con.

It just seems to me there should be a point where trust should come before policy. No, not immediately. Trust is earned. 20 years should be enough time to establish trust with a financial institution… don’t you think?

iPhone to Stereo – The Easy Way

November 11, 2012

This morning I had my occasional Special Sunday Morning. My Special Sunday Morning consists of a great cup of coffee made with my French Press while sitting at the table reading articles from Flipboard on my iPad.

Something was missing. It got too quite. I needed some pleasant background music. But how? I have a Microsoft Zune that I have not used or charged since I started using my iPhone 5 for music and podcasts. I mention this because I have the A/V kit for the Zune. Drop the Zune into the little dock, which connects to my stereo through an HDMI cable and I have music coming through my stereo.

Of course, this does not work with my iPhone. So… I did a little digging around in a box of wires I save. Lo and behold… I have a cable that has an earphone plug on one end, and red & white RCA plugs on the other. I simply plugged this into the earphone jack of my iPhone and into the CD input on my stereo. Set the stereo to CD and puff… Bob’s your uncle, and I am listening to a nice pleasant playlist from my iPhone on my stereo.

Life is wonderful. It is the simple things in life that provide the most reward.

I think it is time for a second cup of great coffee!!!

Google Nexus 10 – Higher Resolution than iPad w/ Retina Display

October 31, 2012

You read that right. Google’s Nexus 10 has a higher resolution screen than the vaunted iPad with its Retina Display. The Nexus 10 is 2560 x 1600. The iPad is only 2048 x 1536.

What I really find amazing is that this little 10.1 inch wonder is the same resolution as my 30 inch Dell monitor.

I have to get one of these in my hands to try out.

This reminds me what I was thinking when I watched the iPad mini event. While watching introduction to the new iMacs I half expected them to announce Retina Displays for the iMacs. The 27 inch iMac is 2560 x 1440. When that goes retina… I will be impressed.

iPad mini – $329… WTF?

October 23, 2012

Wow, I just watched a stream of the iPad mini announcement during my lunch break and I was blown away… $329! OUCH!!!

I found it incredibly arrogant that they compared the iPad mini to the Nexus 7 and then priced it $70 more (for the same 16 GB). Yet the Nexus 7 has a higher resolution screen. Talk about Balls. Apple has a big pair.

Also, consider this… the iPod Touch with 1136×640 retina display and 32GB is $299. An iPad mini with just a 1024×768 screen with 32GB is $429. Talk about product/price overlap. This is exactly why I didn’t think they would come out with the iPad mini so soon after the iPhone 5/iPod Touch launch. These products are competing with each other on price. Heck you can get a full size iPad 2 for just $70 more than the iPad mini. Why get the smaller one?

I will have a hard time justifying this much money for a gift to my sons. I don’t think it will happen.

What about the MacBook Pro. Ultrabooks are getting better and better,  so I find the price of the 13″ MacBook Pro with its retina display too expensive at $1,699. They said it themselves… the retina display on the MacBook Pro 13 is better than the eye can discern. So why go that high. Just for bragging rights? My 48 year old eyes cannot benefit from that screen, and it is way more than I want to spend on a laptop.

Finally, they made my new iPad obsolete with the iPad 4. This is a slap in the face to the Apple Fanboys that upgrade each year. Two upgrades to one product in less than a year… wow, that’s arrogant.

Personally, I don’t care. It does not bother me. There is nothing the iPad 4 can do that my iPad 3 can’t do. And I don’t have any accessories that have the Lightening connector.

More importantly… the iPad itself is a commodity. It is a toaster. Think about it. How much better can it actually get? Really?! It got a little faster, big deal. The big change was the jump to the retina display.

With the iPad getting a retina display it became so good that you only replace it when it is broken. A commodity. A toaster. My toaster is not doing so well, but it does make perfectly good toast. It looks like crap and the plastic is melting. But it works… as it should. When it stops making toast I will get a new toaster.

As for the iPad… until software comes out that can’t run on any of the old iPads it does not matter. Get a new iPad when the one you have stops working. Simple.

Keep in mind… I still would buy and recommend the iPad. It is the best tablet on the market. But the iPad mini is not cheap enough to justify its smaller size and low resolution screen.

In the end… at $329 for a tablet that is only 1.8″ smaller than a iPad 2 for $399… I would get the iPad 2.

Apple, you screwed up this time. But don’t take my word for it. Sell tens of millions of those iPad minis, because you will. Just not to me.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32 other followers