Archive for December 2003

 
 

First Screenshot

Linux Screengrab
I’ve settled on SUSE 9.0 for my Linux distribution. It solves just about every problem. A couple problems were fixed with some rejiggering of things, but now it’s up and running and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s the first screenshot of my plain old desktop. Click on it for a much larger image. I hope Linux purists will forgive me for using a JPG image instead of a PNG. It’s just a space concern at this point. The final screen checks in at 1024×768. This pic is resized downwards just a tad.

And, yes, those are icons on the desktop for QuickTime and Windows Media Player.

New Quicklink

You may notice in the sidebar at right that I’ve added a new Quicklink. This is to the “Astronomy Picture of the Day,” a wonderful website with breathtaking pictures and explanations of what they are. Really cool stuff.

New Releases, 30 Dec 2003

This is it. The final release list for the year 2003. It was a great set of DVDs for the year, starting with RED DWARF and racing through the likes of INDIANA JONES, LOONEY TUNES, a special edition of CASABLANCA, and more. And this is how we end it all:

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)

Sex and the City: Season Five (4-disc set)

S.W.A.T.: Special Edition (2003)


Well, it’ll all start anew in January with a new set of exciting releases, at least.

Yup, we’ll start off the new year with BABYLON 5, CHEERS, THE SHIELD, and even some releases that saw the silver screen first. Stay tuned.

Wow

Just popped in the latest and greatest driver from the folks at NVIDIA and everything looks so much better now. Fonts are cleaner. The word processor is much easier to read. There’s white space between lines of programs. This is a beautiful thing. Oh, and 3-D acceleration support is working and Tux Racer is an addicting little game. It’s also available for Windows, if you’re so inclined.

The Professional 2?

Luc Besson once did a movie with Jean Reno called “Leon” that was shown here in the States as “The Professional.” If you can find the extended cut on DVD here in the States (it’s labelled as “Leon, The Professional,” as I recall, it’s worth doing so. It’s a pretty cool movie.

In it, Reno plays a hitman who befriends an orphan played by a younger (1994) Natalie Portman.

Now, Portman is talking about doing a sequel to the film next, with Besson. Could be cool.

Linux Mandrake

For the past week, I’ve been using Linux Mandrake 9.2 in my system. It has many superior traits to the Fedora Core 1 (nee Red Hat 9) that I used before that. For starters, it automagically provides a link to my Windows partition. It had no problem burning CDs, although it wouldn’t allow me to copy from one CD drive to another. The CD burner program couldn’t see the second CD drive, which was annoying. The fonts worked beautifully, and the OpenOffice word processor program, Write, never looked better. I figured out how to import additional fonts from Windows to Linux with the FontDrak program. (I think that’s its name.) It recognized and used the new scanner without blinking.

But it still had its shortcomings:

* I couldn’t get any plugins to work with the web browser, even with Codeweavers’ Crossover Plugin tool.

* It wouldn’t recognize my USB keyfob hard drive thingy.

* The menu would occasionally kill itself. I found out that this is a known bug going back a couple of releases. If you install a program that tries to add a link to itself in the main menu (similar to the START button in Windows), the entire menu might up and disappear. The fix is just to go to the menu manager program and restore the basic layout, but that’s still an annoyance.

* Installing new programs was a pain in the butt. Many had dependency issues that weren’t easily explained. Many couldn’t find pre-existing programs. Many would run fine, but wouldn’t tell me where they were stored. I had programs I installed and then lost.

* The last straw was when the Mandrake Update tool just bombed out on me. It’s like the Windows Update program. Mandrake stores security fixes and updated programs of major importance in a central site that you can download things from. I was getting an error running the program which allowed me to access that. I couldn’t get in anymore.

So while Mandrake fixed most of my problems over Fedora Core 1, it still left me with some issues. And that’s where SUSE 9 comes in. I’m using that now. More in the future…

World Idol

That Dutch kid is gonna plotz when Elton John shows up on stage to sing a song at the finals on New Year’s Day, isn’t he? He proclaimed his admiration for his idol in front of an international audience on Christmas night, right after singing a boring version of Sir Elton’s “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.”

But he was far from the worst contestant. The Polish princess has a great voice, but has no idea how to control it. The German Idol thought he was on FAME. I knew he was in trouble the moment he took the stage with a headset microphone instead of a handheld. When he started dancing like an uppity aerobics instructor, I knew he was done. I was worried at first that the rest of the Idols would fall his way. He was the first performance, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from the field. Would they all be dancers? Thankfully, not.

The Canadian kid was really good. The British kid has never sounded better. Of course, the last time we saw him was on the America Idol 1 finale, where he sucked. The Norwegian kid could, indeed, take it all. While he did sing a U2 song, he stayed within himself and didn’t try to go crazy with it. It was a little karaoke that way, but strong, nonetheless.

The Pan Arab Idol won’t win enough votes singing in her local tongue. The South African Idol will have movie offers coming his way, but choosing a song that Josh Gracin made famous on American Idol won’t help him. People seem to love that Australian kid, but I didn’t get him at all.

I couldn’t agree with the British judge more on Kelly Clarkson. She had moments of brilliance in her performance, but spent most of it trilling like a red-throated warbler trapped in a cage. UGH

Both of the presenters thought they were Brian Dunkleman, although Dec was doing a good job sounding like a Hobbit. All of the judges tried hard to be Simon Cowell, but Simon did it better than any of them. Nina De Man, the Belgian judge — my people! — was the cutest person on the entire show by far. I had to do some quick web searching for her. The first link I found to her on the web was someone’s blog calling her a bug-eyed skinny witch. (I hope I’m translating that right.) Obviously, some people have no taste, and I was disappointed with each contestant when they didn’t include her comments. I did find one web site with a collection of her pictures, but I’m afraid I can’t link to it here. The ads are far too pornographic for this web site…

Ah, here you go. Not the best pictures, but you’ll get an idea. She looks cuter with the glasses on, I think.

At least Nina didn’t embarrass the motherland. I felt sorry for all the Polish people watching the show. You know all those jokes about Poles? He’s the reason for it. The man was just silly.

The finale is on New Year’s Night. I’m looking forward to it. I think the Norwegian has a strong chance to win, especially since he went last.

The Ultimate Widescreen Reference

Found on Darren Barefoot’s blog comes The Letterbox and Widescreen Advocacy Page. The next time someone tells you that pan and scan is the way to go, point them to this page. It’s the best set of examples I’ve ever seen for why widescreen is such a superior format. Choose from a couple dozen different movie examples, and they’ll show you reference shots of both widescreen and pan and scan pictures of the same frame. You’ll see the difference in composition dramatically this way.


Merry Christmas

For those of you exchanging presents this morning (or who did last night), I hope you got all the toys you were looking for. And I hope you got all of your shopping done. I thought I did, until I went down my list last night and realized I missed one. But that’s OK — I won’t be seeing him for a few days yet. Whew!

Lord of the Rings bonus material

I was watching THE TWO TOWERS bonus materials on disc three of the set this afternoon. I paid particular interest to the computers used in the creation of Golum. I went so far as to pause it when they had a particularly good screen shot. Yup, they’re using KDE on Linux for their programs. That’s so cool. Looks like a pretty standard set-up, too. The KDE Help icon was still there at the bottom of it. I wouldn’t think that’s something the animators would need. The KMail icon was also visible, but I imagine they used the e-mail systems at work there in WETA Digital.

Pretty cool.

Dawson’s Creek, Season Two

I suddenly don’t feel bad at all about not bothering with anything past the first season of DAWSON’S CREEK on DVD. TVShowsOnDVD.com posted a review which takes the set to task, pointing out the ludicrous amount of video Columbia is attempting to force onto each disc.

Columbia is pushing five episodes onto each four-hour disc. Unbelievable. The results are, of course, underwhelming. Thanks, Columbia, for making my decisions easier and easier. In a crowded field of DVDs, Columbia’s are the ones I will hesitate to pick up in the future.

Christmas Eve Eve Links Round-Up

  • It’s such a slow DVD week that the usual DVD Release List post is cancelled this week. You can still go to DVDJournal to look at the releases if you wish. I’ll save you the time, though: There ain’t much. And next week isn’t much better.

  • January is looking to be a bonanza for TV on DVD fans, though, including DILBERT and Season 4 of BABYLON 5. Speaking of which, Warner Bros announced the fifth season set for BABYLON 5 yesterday. It’s due out in April. The telefilms will follow in a boxed set closer to next fall, presumably.

  • I’m sorry, but I find this story to be funny. It’s alternative energy versus animal lovers. It seems that the stupid birds are flying into the wind turbine propellors and killing themselves. Now it’s an all-out special interest war.

  • Slate answers the question, “Why are retrogames so exciting?” It’s not nostalgia. I could have told you the answer, but Slate does a pretty good job. Basically, it’s that Pac-Man and Space Invaders are ten times more playable than 90% of the crap that gets put out today that requires a 300 page manual, 5 minute cut scenes, and every key on the keyboard plus special buttons on the joystick. WIRED Magazine mentioned something in its latest issue about a DVD telling the behind the scenes story of Atari in its earliest days. I have to look that up next.

  • The kid who dared to program something to play DVDs on his computer has finally been acquitted. Score one for the good guys. Here’s the concept, people: If I buy the media, I should be allowed to play it. If you don’t create a program to do that for me, I should be allowed to create it.

  • A small article by Scott Adams about what led him to Dilbert.

Fedora Core 1

Fedora Core is the new offshoot from the old Red Hat Linux Operating System. The move now is towards stepping away from the word “Linux” in your distribution’s name and calling it something else. Plus, this represents Red Hat’s move away from the Personal Edition of its distribution and more towards the profitable Enterprise Editions. Fedora is a new project based on Red Hat 9.

It frustrates me just as much as the old Red Hat distros did, too. It didn’t recognize the cable modem. It didn’t automatically mount the Windows portion of my hard drive. That’s just for starters. I knew I wouldn’t have either of those two problems with Mandrake, so I skipped it.

The Blue Curve environment is very pretty to look at, though, and led me to a startling conclusion I’ll discuss here more in the near future: I’m now a GNOME man, having been exclusively a KDE devotee for years.

But Fedora doesn’t get to be my operating system of choice.

Sunday Link Round-Up

More stuff, as ever, in the offing:

* M. Night Shyamalan’s next movie, THE VILLAGE, now has a trailer available in three different formats.

* In light of the release of the FIREFLY DVD boxed set comes this article about fan-produced DVDs devoted to cult television shows versus official presentations.

* So, you say you want to write your own operating system? You must be nuts.

* The Matrix Ping Pong video has been making the rounds again. Still funny.

* What if someone re-created New York City with Legos? Wonder no more.

Saturday Links Round Up

  • One computer, darn near 50 operating systems loaded up on it.

  • THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING wins its first major award. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the snowball gathering steam as it rolls downhill. Now THAT’S a metaphor.

  • The SPIDER-MAN 2 trailer. Very very cool.

  • One lightning bolt. 13 dead cows. In related news: PETA now protesting Mother Nature.

  • Sony’s jogging robot.