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Why I don’t Like Public Theaters

Over the years, I’ve put together a home theater with a big screen, great sound and quality seating. I no longer go to public theaters. Over the years, based on quite a few earlier excursions to public theaters, a number of notable disadvantages consequent to public theatergoing have become clear to me:

copyrights likely Jim Henson / Muppets ca. 1975 via The Muppet Show

Turn off that cellphone!

  • No ability to pause — bathroom breaks and snack fetches cause content to be missed
  • Unclean public bathrooms — not interested in sharing my bathroom breaks, or having to wait
  • Ridiculously expensive snacks, and usually they suck balls anyway
  • People spilling their drinks, providing un-asked-for shoe washing
  • People smacking their lips over their popcorn or whatever, and/or loudly chewing with their mouths open like insufficiently socialized 3-year olds
  • Children (and adults) who interfere with the experience by crying and/or sobbing and/or just general yapping
  • Over-sharing: coughs, sneezes, B.O., bad breath, perfume overloads (why do so many old ladies drench themselves in perfume? One of life’s great mysteries…)
  • Theater ads and admonitions are incredibly obnoxious
  • You can’t replay — or skip — previews
  • The watch-once-with-strangers nature of a theater ticket as opposed to the watch-many-times-with-family-and/or-friends nature of a blu-ray
  • You’re stuck with their schedule, not yours
  • Crying babies, babbling teenagers, any and all generally loud and obnoxious theatergoers
  • The inability to go back and replay a part of the movie when the dialog is so poorly miked and/or spoken that you can’t understand it easily (all too common)
  • Somewhere to drive to when there’s actually no need to drive
  • Waiting in lines. For tickets. For snacks. For the bathroom, for crying out loud.
  • Trying to find parking
  • The possibility of poor viewing angles/distances
  • Uncomfortable and non-cuddly seating
  • Then there are the idiots who don’t turn off their phones, or sit there with the damned things glaring in the corner of my eye
  • Theaters can’t compete with the resale value of a blu-ray if the film turns out to be something you don’t favor

Why I Can (Usually) Enjoy Hollywood’s Take on SF

In my work with SF authors, and as an avid reader of SF, I run into a lot of concerns about how Hollywood “does” SF. In this post, I offer a few thoughts on that for your consideration.
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Magic Mouse 2 – A Terrible Design

So, I’m an Apple user. I have issues with Apple – I imagine most users have issues with them – but I like to think they don’t often make outright stupid design errors.

But.

This time, with the Magic Mouse 2, they did. Really.
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Something for the photo-oriented OS X user

I have released the beta of DTank, a non-destructive image manipulation system. It’s free; if it sounds interesting, by all means check it out.

Star Wars

Here’s how each installment in the Star Wars franchise has hit me over the years. I saw Star Wars (episode IV, “A New Hope”) when it first came out; I was 21 at the time.

I saw each of the first three movies when they came out, until the great disappointment that was “Return of the Jedi.”

After that, I began collecting them on digital media, and watching them at home in my own theater, which has been growing steadily more elaborate as the years pass and home theater technology has improved. Today, my home theater sports a 202″ (diagonal) widescreen, two kilowatts of extremely high quality sound, and properly cushy seating at the optimum viewing distance.

I consider myself a fan. I’m just not a fan of public theaters and all the myriad disadvantages they present. I list those here if you’re curious.

☆☆☆☆☆ 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 Anthology “Rogue One” Oooo… much, much better. Damn, these movies are so variable. It keeps me interested in watching them, though, so there’s that.
2017 Star Wars ep. VIII “The Last Jedi” Darth Angst, BB-stupid-design, Finn the Moron Rebel Scum, Luke the Cluetard, and the Marketable Puffin-Lunch birds. Disney all the way, exquisitely tuned to resonate with the self-involved and rational-thought bereft. So sad. On the plus side, Snoke was a good foil, and Rey continues to be a solid character.
2019 Star Wars ep. IX “The Rise of Skywalker” Waiting for the bluray…

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

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SdrDx 2.17a for OS X and Windows released

You can learn more and/or download the new SdrDx from this page.

New Features

  • 14 user-configurable, band-stacking VFOs
  • Old-time radio style station labeling
  • Dual-antenna phasing & noise reduction with AFE822 SDR
  • SwDb application to edit custom freq database
  • Deeper integration w/Dx Toolbox 4.7 and up
  • SITOR demodulator added
  • C-QUAM AM stereo demodulator added
  • Vector scope auto-set w/RTTY, SITOR
  • 10 RF notches added
  • DNR now fully configurable
  • 4 span memories added
  • 100% re-mappable keyboard commands
  • Comprehensive keyboard locking; time, codes, more
  • Integrated comprehensive key command reference
  • Two new spectrum / waterfall DSP processes
  • Stereo VU meter for stereo FM
  • Stereo Reverse added
  • Direct frequency, demodulator entry
  • Sideband demodulation extended to 20 KHz
  • FSK and CW carrier offsets
  • CB channel info for US, Euro, Down Under
  • Passband center indication
  • Auto-adjustment of waterfall
  • Bandwidth memory spread from BW1 to BW7
  • Mouse snap control
  • DGPS band added

Improvements

  • RTTY demodulator improved
  • File dialog improved
  • AFEDRI SDR handling improved
  • Memory tooltips improved
  • Bandwidth tooltips improved
  • Zone memset / drawing now optional
  • Audio waterfall improved
  • Anti-ringing improved
  • Bandwidth memories now include “-Ri”
  • Grid spacing and control improved
  • Audio scope spectrum improved
  • Audio scope vector improved
  • Various bug fixes

Goodies for the technical crowd

  • New TCP / UDP commands
  • Integrated network debugging for scripting, apps
  • Remote marker designation for scripting, apps
  • Improvements aimed at next beta test series
  • BUG button for instant bug reports

GAP 20m Monogap Vertical Dipole Review

I’ve been setting up a small trailer for use as a mobile, independently powered radio station for use at HF and VHF. To that end, it has its own deployable solar panels, internal power storage, and dedicated power conversion electronics. There are quite a few 12.6 VDC VHF and HF radios out there, and I own several, so the radios are less of a problem than a situation where I have to make some kind of fun decision between multiple good options.

VHF antennas are no problem. But the HF antenna… There’s the rub. If it’s to be truly portable, that means it cannot be large, and it will not be high in the air. Those are very significant drawbacks for most antenna systems; they directly impact both receive and transmit performance. So I went hunting. Eventually, I happened upon the Monogap 20 meter antenna, which is a vertical dipole; easily portable within the frame of reference of what can be safely transported in the bed of my pickup, light, easily mounted and unmounted, inexpensive, and — as it turns out — a surprisingly good performer.
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ICOM IC 7300 Transceiver Review

The

IC-7300

IC-7300

ICOM IC 7300 marks an important inflection point for the “big three” amateur radio manufacturers: The beginning of true software-defined RF processing from one end to the other.

As the first full SDR transceiver from “the big guys”, it is interesting to consider the price point, feature set, and performance both in light of the legacy analog designs, and as compared to what SDRs are known to be capable of.
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