Wednesday Link Dump

New DVD Releases for 30 Oct 2007

Spider-Man 3

From left to right: The preferred two disc special edition DVD. The single disc DVD. And the Blu-Ray DVD with all three movies on it.

Looney Tunes – Golden Collection, Volume Five

These used to seem a lot more exciting. With all the BIG memorable shorts already collected, though, it begins to fade. On the other hand, this one does have “Ali Baba Bunny” on it, as well as “Bewitched Bunny” and a 3 Bears short, and the CHUCK JONES: EXTREME AND INBETWEENS documentary that I have on its own DVD from a few years back. (It’s still available at the link for $10.)

OK, so I’m excited about it again.

Scrubs, Season Six

Its final season begins in January, I believe, and its creator promises to wrap it all up, give the audience what they want, and then fade to black while a Journey song plays. That last part was a joke. I think.

My So Called Life

This was originally released via the internet-only after much hullaballoo. Now you can buy it everywhere and anywhere.

Next week: More TV series, by the looks of it, and a PIXAR movie about a rat.

Posted in DVD

Photography Link Notes

Plundering my “Photography” folder for bookmarks I’ve saved in the last month:


The first one is better than the second.

And, yes, I’ve started a new “Photography” category on this blog.  Expect more thoughts in that direction in the weeks and months ahead.  Don’t worry — it won’t overwhelm any other content.  But who doesn’t like sharing pictures?

The glories of Lightroom

I’m obsessed with the power of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It’s making me look at photography in a whole new way, and my older images in brand new lights. I was fiddling with some honeymoon pictures last night when I came up with this:

Pirate Ship Before and After


Click through for the full Flickr files. It’s amazing what Lightroom is able to pull out of that initial image, which is a meager 5 megapixel JPG image. This is not even RAW. The clouds are brand new. The color on the mountains is new.

I’m sure if I went into Photoshop I could isolate the sky and make it more dramatic. But there’s a line there somewhere I don’t want to cross from sharpening an image to creating something that wasn’t there to begin with.

PBA 2007-2008 Season

PBA on ESPNThe official PBA season began last week with a whimper. It was the annual Japan Cup. Due to a format change, though, the TV finale consisted of four Asian bowlers nobody has ever heard of before, one Canadian, and Mika Koivuniemi, whose name I spelled from memory and got right. I like Mika a lot as a bowler, but I didn’t have the patience to sit through that much bowling just for him.

That brings us to today’s USBC Masters, which I’ll think of as the unofficial start of the new season. I’ve only watched a half hour of it so far, but it’s been interesting so far. Every year, the PBA tinkers with the televised format just a little bit. This year, Dave Ryan is gone. Randy Pederson’s “professional sports voice partner” is now Rob Stone, who’s playing the “I’m a dumb bowling guy. Teach me everything, Randy. Walk me through this. What’s a “turkey?”” routine. UGH.

I thought it fascinating that the two of them weren’t on screen for nearly the entire first half hour of the show. When they were, Stone spent most of his time reading off his card, probably because he wasn’t at all familiar with bowling or any of the people in it. It’s going to take a while for him to get up to speed. Pity.

So what happened to Ryan? Did he find a more lucrative deal? Is he sticking with college football full time now?

The Masters is held in right field of the Milwaukee Brewers’ ball park, always empty at this time of year. I can’t imagine you’ll get a very good view of the lanes from twenty rows above, though. Oddly enough, the dignitaries had lane-side seating at TABLES off to the left. I wonder if that’s ballpark-only, or something they plan to include in traditional alley finales, too.

Posted in TV

Mona Lisa’s Details

Inventor: Scans reveal Mona Lisa secrets – Yahoo! News

For centuries, the “Mona Lisa” has beguiled art buffs unable to resist speculating on its origins and meaning. Now a French inventor claims to have some answers, including the fate of the enigmatic subject’s famously missing eyebrows and lashes. Parisian engineer Pascal Cotte says his ultra-detailed digital scans of the painting allow him to effectively burrow through layers of paint to “see” into the past of Leonardo Da Vinci’s 16th-century portrait of a Florentine merchant’s wife. The world’s most famous painting originally included both brows and lashes, according to Parisian engineer Pascal Cotte, who says his 240-megapixel scans of the painting reveal traces of Mona Lisa’s left brow, obliterated by long-ago restoration efforts.

The Harmony 880 Universal Remote

It’s been three weeks since the Harmony 880 Universal Remote dropped at my doorstep, purchased with the funds from all the Amazon shopping you fine folks did through this website over the summer. Thanks again. Now, as promised, my thoughts on using the thing:

It’s been in daily use at VandS World Headquarters for long enough now that I can’t live without it anymore. Being able to switch between the TiVo and DVR boxes (as well as a DVD player and the Wii) is the biggest advantage of the remote. I don’t need four remotes sitting out on the coffee table anymore. The Harmony remote sits docked in its wonderful recharger when not in use on an end table next to the couch, and keeps the battery continuously fully charged. The hardest part has been learning the new key layout. I could run the old remotes without looking at them for most functions. Their keypad layouts were all distinctive, and the keys well marked and separated. The Harmony remote, obviously, has the same organization of buttons for each device, though their functionality differs a bit from device to device. The backlit screen does a great job with the keys unique to the device I’m trying to control, but they require a good looking at to find the proper button to push. The buttons are small, but each has its own “bump” for your finger to latch onto.

The buttons, themselves, are nice. They CLICK. They’re not rubber chiclets like on the lesser versions of the same remote. They make a satisfying click when you push them, but your hand can also slide across them easily enough. There’s a little nipple in the middle of the keypad that helps you center your finger, if you think you’re good enough to push buttons without looking. I don’t recommend that all that much. My fat fingers occasionally still miss the PLAY button and hit the PAUSE button underneath. It doesn’t happen that often, but it is a point I have to bring up. They cram a lot of keys onto this one remote, so the size shrinks up considerably. The four major keys above the numeric keypad are slightly larger and bring you to the MENU, EXIT, GUIDE, or INFO. Volume and Channel changing buttons are above that and slightly larger, though narrower. Still, it’s anther satisfying click when you push them. You KNOW you hit the button.

The preprogrammed special keys on the display screen have their ups and downs. There can be multiple screens worth of options here, but I find myself using the first screen almost exclusively. The TiVo’s 30 second skip button is one big exception to this. The button to control the aspect ratio on the TV (“Zoom,” “Wide Zoom,” “Normal,” etc.) shows up in the same position across all screens. That’s all preprogrammed in for me. While I’m sure there are likely ways to move that around if I wanted to, it hasn’t been a big problem. So I let it go. The order of the options seems decent enough.

The remote saves a lot of fumbling around and a lot of space. It’s a powerful thing that I know will stick with me through future home electronic purchases, and does everything it promises. What more could you ask for? The biggest hang up has just been in getting my hands used to the feel of a new remote. You don’t realize how accustomed your mind and hands are to specific divergent remote layouts until you remove them all and replace them with something new. That’s an adjustment, but it’s getting easier with time.

I wouldn’t trade this remote in for anything. It’s a necessary addition to any serious home theater or home entertainment set-up.

Now, go click on the Amazon MP3 store banner above and buy yourself an album or two. I have a camera to buy next. . . ;-)

Related Links:

The Barenaked DVD

This one slipped by me until a recent Barenaked Ladies newsletter pointed it out: a live concert DVD from BNL. And it’s only $11 and change. Due out next month.

In other news: Click on the Amazon MP3 banner at the top of this page. They stock BNL albums, including live concerts. I just downloaded one from their last BNL cruise. Sounds good!