Archive for category Entertainment

Star Wars

Here’s how the Star Wars franchise has hit me over the years; I saw each movie when it came out. I consider myself a fan. I almost never see a film in the theater; but I saw every Star Wars film the first day I could get to the show.

☆☆☆☆☆ 1977 Star Wars ep. IV “A New Hope” Wow!
☆☆☆☆☆ 1980 Star Wars ep. V “The Empire Strikes Back” WOW! Again… WOW!
☆☆☆ 1983 Star Wars ep. VI “Return of the jedi” Wait, what? Ewoks? Who stimulated that think? When did the target audience become drooling three-year-olds?
☆☆ 1999 Star Wars ep. I “The Phantom Menace” Jar-Jar, “Gungans” featured, the spirituality-diluting idea of the “midi-chlorians”, Darth Maul, a great character, barely a cameo… this is not good…
☆☆☆☆ 2002 Star Wars ep. II “Attack of the Clones” Overall better, Jar-Jar nearly vanished, thank the force. Meesa thinks someone needs to kill him. Horribly.
☆☆☆☆☆ 2005 Star Wars ep. III “Revenge of the Sith” Okay, we’re back to Wow!
2015 Star Wars ep. VII “The Force Awakens” Disney grotesquely fumbles the ball. BB8: Sigh… 3y/o-level (attempt at) cute (but only achieving ridiculous.) Again. Ex-stormtrooper Finn is a monumentally weak character, and the poor acting of that character helps the film out not at all. Then there’s the very lame “monster on a freighter” scene with Solo and Chewbacca. Darth Angst… is angsty. Then Solo dies, poorly, at the hands of Darth Angst. Can you say “sucks”? The only redeeming major character in the entire show is Rey.
☆☆☆☆☆ 2017 Star Wars ep. VIII “Rogue One” Ooo, much, much better. Damn, these movies are so variable. It keeps me going back, though, so there’s that.

R.I.P. Peter Cushing
R.I.P. Carrie Fisher
R.I.P. Alec Guinness

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So… why “fyngyrz”? Pick, planchette, pluck.

The answer to that is pretty simple, really. Back in the day, I was all about guitar. I worked, dreamed, and struggled with guitar, and like many young men of my generation, I had some pretty high hopes. Alas, that career came to a screeching halt when I was offered payment in cocaine instead of money by an (otherwise) reputable studio you might very well recognize. studio-mg74 Both insulted and somewhat paranoid, I no longer made myself available to them as a studio musician, and that was the beginning of the end. It all worked out for the best, I think; turned out I was a pretty successful engineer, and on top of that, I actually enjoyed the work. From there, I began to focus on programming, and here we are today.

So anyway, here’s something from back in the day. It was recovered from 2nd-generation tape masters and consequently suffers from some sonic crud (not to mention the damage done by the mp3 encoding) but you’ll get the idea. It’s structured as a jam rather than a straight cover; a vague, building meditation upon a theme.

I play all the instruments here except the drums; for that, I programmed a drum machine. I’m still working on my drumming! I laid down a click track first, then some rhythm, then the bass, then the lead, then went back and programmed the drums to sync to the click track, then pulled the click track and the rhythm, mixed it all down, and what was left is what you’ll hear.

Here you go:

(HTML5 playback)

(HTML4 playback)

Instrumental, Washburn MG-74 guitar, Gibson Les Paul studio bass.

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Marantz AV7005 – Home Theater

6527948817_ace4721f6b_mFunny (short) story: I wasn’t actually ready to step up to the AV7005, but our Denon receiver in the library was “gifted” with some cat vomit through the top cooling vents; I didn’t know it had happened, because the back of the receiver was through-wall and sort of invisible inside a closet on the other side of that wall. So the Denon just kept on working until eventually, the acid in the vomit actually ate through some of its wiring. Nice, eh? Silly cat.

So the Denon went downstairs into my shop, where it will likely sit until the weather warms up (our basement is cold!) and I”m willing to sit there, rip it apart and fix it. My Sony 7.1 receiver then moved from our home theater to our library (and I built an anti-cat cover for the unit, there will be no more “vomit surprises”), and then I picked up the Marantz AV7005 and some MA-700 amplifiers to serve in our home theater — I’d been eying this specific unit for a while, and well, as I told She Who Must Be Obeyed, “the cat made me do it.” I can’t say I’m depressed over the upgrade, but this wasn’t exactly how I thought it would come about.
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Predicting where IOS and OS X will go

Every time I read one of the sycophantic articles predicting OS X is going to become like IOS, I have to laugh. That’s not going to happen, at least, not in the long term. So in the spirit of the new year, when every fool (I’m speaking most definitely of myself here) proceeds to stuff foot deep into mouth, I offer the following IOS, OS X, iPad and iPod predictions:
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What I’d like to see on the iPad 2

Pretty much like everyone else, I’ll start with cameras – two of them. One that faces the same way as the display, for use in video back-and-forth with other people. The usability of this is obvious, and the cost is low (if Apple can’t find a small, high performance video camera, they simply aren’t trying.)

But I’d also like to have a rear-facing camera for taking shots of the things around me while I can still see the display. This way, you can properly frame the pictures. This would be extremely useful for driving bookshelf, shopping, inventory and look-up software, such as Delicious Library, which keeps track of all your DVDs by looking up the UPC codes, or Red Laser, which gives you the high and low prices for anything you scan using the Internet to do the search.
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Roku XDS – A Review

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you’ll know that we bought an Apple TV v2. That experience was really, really bad. The details are here if you want them, but suffice it to say that I was impelled back into shopping for a similar device, because the Apple TV simply wasn’t going to cut it.

Enter the Roku XDS. Same price, same general type of device, a fair amount of buzz. Enough to catch my attention, consume a few reviews and comments… at $99, these things don’t exactly break the bank, so, in for a penny, in for a pound, we bought one. This is the story of how that went, often contrasted to the Apple TV v2, as that was what it was replacing. You might want to grab some popcorn.
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Avatar arrives

AvatarMoviePosterSo Deb and I don’t go to theaters any more, we wait for the Bluray. Today was the big day that Avatar arrived, and instead of chess night, we had a movie night (usual suspects.) Brian, Evan, Deb and myself settled in after a nice dinner to see what all the fuss was about.

If anything, I think the movie was under-rated. What a feast for the eyes, and what fun, too. I was able to ignore the silly native-American and global-warming themes and just dig on the whole sci-fi-ness of it; the only thing that sorta bugged me was the musical portion of the sound track, which I can only describe as the Lion King on crack. But the rest was so good that mostly, I just ignored the silly drumming and the crazed new-age sing-a-longs. Which, thankfully, didn’t make up a large part of the movie.

There was quite a bit of other eye candy of numerous kinds — the biota of the world, the corporate headquarters virtual mapping system, the blue folk themselves… really a tour de force. I am so glad we bought the hi-def Blueray; it looks bleeding awesome on our 1080p home theater.

I really loved the ‘Mechs, larger-than-human armed and armored exoskeletons that remind me of baby MechWarrior or MechAssault ‘Mechs from the video and table games. I have a pretty good collection of Mechs (about 2…3 inches high, from the table game) and it tickled me to see things like them handled so well in a movie — definitely for the first time.

There have been some rumblings about DRM incompatibility with el-cheapo and/or poorly supported Bluray players out there; I’ll repeat the advice I give everyone about Bluray players: You want a Sony PS3. You don’t want anything else. Period. There is no doubt, no decent competition, no comparable bang-for-the-buck. The PS3 is it. And the PS3 will play the Avatar Blueray without any problems whatsoever.

Anyway, just thought I’d throw this out there. Great movie. On the (very) off chance you haven’t seen it, you should. This one goes to eleven.

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3D displays – Not here yet.

There’s been a lot of hype recently about “3D displays.” Unfortunately, that’s all it is –– hype. This is because we are a long, long way from 3D display of anything but artificially generated materials.

A 3D display actually produces a 3D representation; that is, if you change your angle of view, what you see changes accordingly. Look at the display from the side, and you see the scene from the side. Likewise, if the display is turned 180 degrees, you’d be looking at the back of the scene being displayed.

Stereo displays provide a fixed perspective generated by providing two single-angle images of a scene that are designed to replicate the angles your eyes would achieve from the (single, unchangeable) desired vantage point. Changing your angle of observation will not reveal other portions of the scene in any way, nor will moving the display.
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