Archive for March 2013

 
 

Buying a Firetruck

I love this story, but this part made me laugh out loud:

More specifically, I’m married, have a mortgage and we just had our first child in October. So in November when my firetruck appeared on eBay and I brought up the topic of purchasing a large red truck for the millionth time in our relationship, my wife had more important things on her mind. In a moment of weakness, she angrily said “I guess I can’t stop you!” making it enthusiastically clear that she wanted me to immediately buy this particular truck and not pass on an epic opportunity to put a check mark next to a lifelong goal.

As guys, that’s what we do. Whittle down our wives until they don’t say “no” explicitly, then use that as our permission. =)

What I Thought About “Les Miserables”



  • I felt sorry for the focus puller. It looks like three quarters of the movie was shot at f/1.8. The focus puller had a LOT of work to do to keep up with moving actors in a scene.

  • “Gladiator 2″ will not be a musical. I believe the Actor’s Union has even written a new rule to keep Russell Crowe from ever singing in a movie again.

  • France was a rotten place to live in the 19th century.

  • I kept hearing stories about women crying in the theaters during Anne Hathaway’s big musical moment in the first half hour. I got more emotional with the Daddy/Daughter moments, because I’m a softie dad.

  • Was the CGI that obvious, or is the Blu-Ray high definition just too clear? Either way, all of the CGI backgrounds jumped out pretty obviously.

  • I knew one song in advance of the movie. I surprised my wife when I sang along with “Bring Him Home.” Though at least now I get what the song is about better. I knew it from Dennis De Young’s “10 on Broadway” album. That album is not available digitally on Amazon, but is on iTunes. You can buy the CD off Amazon, too.

  • Hugh Jackman got robbed at the Oscars.

  • Obvious and Obligatory Geek Moment: Wasn’t it great to see a team-up between Catwoman and Wolverine, though?

  • I love how the proper French accent sounds so — British.

  • Yes, the camera angles were a little weird. Dutch angles, close-ups, medium range at best. And then, when the camera pulls back, there’s an odd amount of negative space in the top half of the screen, with all of the important stuff packed into the lower third or so. Strange. It does feel a little cramped. I guess when you’re filming with an f/1.8 lens, everything wants to have shallow depth of field.

  • No, really, there were shots where the actor’s nose and eyes were in focus, but their ears were staring to blur already. That’s a shallow depth of field. What did they think they were doing? Being all Stanely Kubrick with a 50mm and lighting scenes by candle light a la “Barry Lyndon”?

  • The Blu-ray looks and sounds great. We used the 5.1 surround sound since we don’t have the other two speakers for the 7.1 setting, but everything was clear and crisp, nonetheless.

Ready to Feel Old?

Animaniacs is twenty years old this fall.

Wakko and Yakko Warner. Dot is just off camera.

AAAAUUUUGGGGHH!!!!!

ReaderPocalypse

Google today announced that they’re shutting down Google Reader on July 1st. It’s a product they’ve willed out of existence, with a steady stream of neglect. That’s why this quote seems a little two-faced:

“We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites,” SVP of Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle writes in the blog post. “While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined….”

Of course it has. It’s been broken for months for many people and Google did nothing about it. They’ve decided to put all their eggs in the Google+ basket and gave up on Reader a long time ago. And Google honestly wonders why usage declined? Because they abandoned the ship! Nobody knew is coming on board a sinking ship. Google is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The good news is that with Google relinquishing its overwhelming majority of the RSS Reader market, this might just pave the way for others to “innovate” in “the space” and give us something new and better. And, as many have already joked, that’s when Google will swoop in and buy them. UGH

One of the competitors, Feedly is down for the count tonight. Too much traffic in the wake of Reader’s demise, I bet.

But who can replace Google Reader for me? Here’s what I need:

  • Web-based, not an iPhone or iPad app
  • Keyboard controls, to help me zip through all the feeds I like to read quickly
  • Preferably, able to import my current list of subscriptions from Google Reader, but that’s optional
  • Something that will get through the proxy filter at work.

It doesn’t need to be free. In fact, I’d happily pay for this service, just because it makes it less attractive a company to be bought up and dismantled by the likes of vultures like Google.

Google also announced the departure of Android guru, Andy Rubin, who’s moving on to other projects at Google. I’d put my bets on a Google Watch. They need to catch up faster to Apple than they did with the MacBook Air, so now they’re trying to catch up to the rumors of what Apple might be doing. (Seriously, take a look at the Chromebook and tell me it doesn’t just look like a cheap MacBook Air, years later. Hey, it’s got a Samsung logo on it, so the pattern holds…)

How “You Bet Your Life” Was Saved

I have a few DVDs of this show in my collection. I could watch them all day. Groucho Marx was awesome in them, and I almost want to get a Netflix subscription just to watch more.

Still, there is a story behind how the show didn’t get destroyed, and Groucho’s grandson tells the tale. A warehouse in NJ — not a half hour from where I live, I imagine — shipped the reels to Groucho rather than destroying them. Groucho didn’t realize quite how many reels there were:

I rushed over to my grandfather’s house and sure enough, there were five UPS trucks parked in front. Each driver was wheeling dozens of boxes of film into the house.

“Where would you like us to put all of this?” one of the drivers asked me. “There are over 500 boxes and each box contains ten reels of film.”

5,000 reels of film, I thought to myself, as I watched the small army of UPS drivers putting boxes in any empty space they could find, including a now-vacated bedroom that once belonged to Groucho’s last wife from whom he was now divorced. I couldn’t help thinking this was beginning to resemble a scene from a Marx Brothers film, as boxes of film were stacked to the ceiling, literally taking up entire rooms. I also thought back to the man from NBC, who told me there were “a few boxes of film,” an understatement if ever there was one.

By the time the UPS drivers left later that day, my grandfather’s house – which was quite large – was filled from end to end with boxes of “You Bet Your Life” reels. And even though I knew my grandfather was angry, I was grateful that we had managed to save “You Bet Your Life” from extinction by NBC.

Sesame Street: Closeted Apple Fans

Mark Evanier linked to this great video of The Count counting the “You”s in YouTube:

Television shows and movies don’t like to show recognizable logos, for various reasons. Sometimes, as with an MTV reality show, they blur everything out. If it’s a hat with a logo on it, they’ll put black tape over the logo. They’ll use odd camera angles to avoid showing the logo. Whether it’s because they don’t want to be seen endorsing one company over another, or that they’d rather save those logos for the people who buy product placement in such shows, we see it happen often enough to almost not get distracted by it anymore.

However, I laughed at this Sesame Street video for the lengths they went to pull this trick off. Here are three shots with interesting camera angles

  • Quick! Put the kid in front of the camera! Move the camera to the left, to awkwardly block half the screen AND the logo!


  • A Post-It Note! Wait, not, that’s probably just a “yellow sticky” to avoid copyright issues there, too:


* Put a statue in a convenient spot!

Though the more I look at it, the more the angle is wrong. I think they had to go in with a video editor to scrub out the Apple icon here:


To be fair, though, this guy is NOT using an iPhone:

This Talk Is For Geeks and Nerds

Stick with it to the eight-three-naught mark. That is where he drops his bomb. Post-bomb, it is a strong talk that makes lots of sense. I give you now, Guy Steele:

iPhone 5S Rumor – Genius or Financial Pain?

There’s a rumor from a usually reliable source (iMore) that the iPhone 5S might hit shelves as early as August. This is either the genius of Tim Cook in managing his pipeline, or the stupidity of Apple in setting themselves up for a big fall.

Let’s start with the stupidity: The biggest purchasers of the 5S will be people like me who are currently on their 4S. We’re not eligible to get a subsidized phone until October, though, so we can’t buy the phone for the first two or three months it’ll be out. Sales out of the gate will appear “low” for that reason, and the usual link-baiters will point that out, the stock with sag, and woe be to Apple for another couple of months.

Genius: This means steadier sales for the first three or four months the phone will be out. Every time a new iPhone is released, it sells out and people jump on the waiting list. If a large portion of potential purchasers of the phone have to wait until October, the pool of people buying the phone will be smaller at first. So Apple won’t have a problem keeping the pipeline full of phones, selling what they have without putting anyone on a waiting list. And sales of a new phone will be spread across two quarters, boosting quarterly earnings twice. Plus, that gives Apple extra time to build up stock for when October hits and all the 4S owners show up to upgrade.

It’s a plan that makes sense when you think about it for longer than thirty seconds, which puts it out of the range of so many anti-Apple tech and finance blogs, plus Wall Street.