July 2004 Archives

Saw The Village yesterday as a matinee -- not as good as I had hoped, but not as terrible as some critics have panned.

Here's a little breakdown:

* Musical Score - absolutely excellent. James Newton Howard is an excellent composer/arranger.
* Cinematography - pretty good; though I noticed some choppy edits, they were few and far between, and the rest of the movie's sweeping visuals were stunning (especially the night scenes).
* Script - hard to review this without giving away the movie's twists, suffice it to say it's a morality play, but one that doesn't feel as strong to me as probably was intended by M. Night.
* Dialog - this is where a lot of problems exist. The dialog is highly obtuse and flat, especially in William Hurt, who sounds like a preacher reciting one-too-many sermons. It's also clear that a few dialog points exist just to answer plot holes in the script.
* Acting - top notch (separate from the dialog itself)
* Creatures - laughable! They don't look like creatures at all, rather Scoliosis patients with red cloaks.

As with all of his movies, M. Night employs his usual 'twist-ending-gotcha' knock-out combo, only this one isn't as surprising, nor as satisfying, as The Sixth Sense (perhaps because we've come to expect such a device as the driving force in his movies). Yes, the ending will likely surprise you, but might serve to only make you feel cheated. You'll have to see it for yourself, but I still thought overall it was a better movie than Signs.

A Flash ad for The Village:

What's scarier?

An isolated village - 14%
Creatures in the woods - 71%
Strange noises - 15%

Man. Don't waste your time with The Big Bounce.

Yes, it has Morgan Freeman, and yes it has Owen Wilson (that may or may not be a draw), but the movie is too relaxed, and suffers from not really going anywhere.

The Village spoilers, below.

http://imdb.com/title/tt0368447/board/thread/10462036.

Click only if you want to know whether or not to plunk down the $9 or so.

I've read the entire thing, and it doesn't 'spoil' anything for me. The large 'twist' is /just/ as I has suspected, but some smaller ones are appreciated. Overall, it sounds like a good movie.

Don't waste your time! (I've wasted it on your behalf!)

The Bone Snatcher

The next couple of weeks will probably see me post quite a few blurbs about The Village, since I'm so captivated by what it /could/ hold.

07/16/04
Actress Judy Greer, who plays the daughter of William Hurt's character, confirms that the ending was reshot: "They have since reshot the ending, and I honestly have no idea how the movie ends." That contradicts official reports insisting that only a few minor scenes were redone. (L.A. Daily News)

I do hope that M. Night includes the original ending when the DVD is released, as I suspect the 2 endings are bound to be wildly different (the original script was supposedly leaked).

My W231 Professional Writing class's brochure is up here .

I still need to make a few final tweaks, but it'll suffice, I think.

All of the images used (and many more!) can be found here:

http://mypage.iusb.edu/~stdonner/brochure

Of course, 1/2 of the glowing reviews for The Village are from ABC-TV, which is owned by Disney, which owns Touchstone Pictures.

Go. Figure.

http://thevillage.movies.go.com/

Why, you ask, is Buffy the Vampire Slayer such a good show?

Lines like these speak for themselves:

"Only a praying mantis can twist its head like that."

"He's got a crush on a giant insect."

Dark. Just the way I like it.

Millenium, now out on DVD.

Finally got a chance to pick up Doom Collector's Edition from Wal-Mart today for $9.95.

Cool.

Now, I own all Quake games (I, II, III; Team Arena is on order) and all Doom games.

Yawn.

Double yawn.

Microsoft's Remote Desktop Web Connection is about the coolest feature I've seen in a long while.

It stems from their Terminal Services product, and is highly functional and fast.

The Bourne Supremacy.

I saw it tonight, and while it was good, I felt it wasn't comparable to the 1st one, probably because the story this time didn't revolve around Jason Bourne's escape from those trying to kill him; instead it focused more on revenge dialog rather than good action.

Everybody who is personally paying for their college tuition is probably glad to receive good grades, but when you're not being challenged, you don't feel as if you've earned those grades, or that they're worth as much.

Granted, no-one wants a class to be rediculous, but at the same time you want it to be a learning experience.

On that note, though, I'm sure the Fall semester will provide more than enough challenge, and I'll be eating my words soon enough.

Our next assignment in Professional Writing is to do a brochure on an anti-smoking campaign directed at 6th-graders.

While doing 'research', and by this I mean searching Google for photos of diseased organs from smoking-induced cancers, we found some truly disgusting stuff.

http://www.tobaccofacts.org/poster/index.html is a pretty good example

I'm in the computer lab doing research for Smallpox, as I intend that to be the topic of my final paper for my Professional Writing class.

I pulled up MSN.com to check out its new search engine, and typed in "Smallpox", and one of the search results for Overstock.com yielded:

Smallpox - $14.39
Make Overstock.com your one-stop-shop for all your media needs. Find...
www.overstock.com

Found my old TI-83 graphing calculator today, and resurrected it for a short while. Then I realized that the games I had downloaded and installed (programmed in BASIC) weren't functional, so I erased the memory. That operation worked fine, however on changing the batteries and clearing the system RAM, the calculator froze on me.

So I've tried Texas Instruments' suggestion of clearing all batteries from the bay for 3 hours, followed by holding down Delete on boot again.

If this fails to restore my calculator, I may be forced to search on Ebay for a used (or value-priced new) one.

The TI-84 Plus Silver Edition is rocking:

The following was sent to me in an email from Netscape.com:

When you're online, there is nothing more important than your security. Safeguarding your computer and its valuable data should be one of your highest priorities. The new Netscape 7.2 browser can help.

Hackers target the Internet Explorer browser. "US CERT (the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team), is advising people to ditch Internet Explorer and use a different browser after the latest security vulnerability in the software was exposed." --The Register, 6/28/04

Do note this important fact: The Wall Street Journal reported on June 28 that hackers had discovered holes in Internet Explorer that enabled them to monitor a user's behavior to steal passwords and banking information. Some of Internet Explorer's vulnerabilities and security holes are related to ActiveX controls, which allow hackers to load programs into your browser without your knowledge. The Netscape browser is safe against these approaches. And, unlike Internet Explorer, Netscape also makes it easy for you to view all your downloaded extensions so you can see if something is there that shouldn't be.

Other new features of Netscape 7.2:
Popup Window Controls block mouseover pop-ups and limit the number of popup ads when you set the popup windows control preference to "off."
Password Manager allows you to display saved passwords.
vCard support in Netscape Mail.
Palm Sync improvements.
Table editing controls in Composer.
New Macromedia Flash 7 plug-in for Windows.
Improvements in browser rendering speed, application start-up, and standards supports.

Thunderbird trunk's net installer is horribly borked, yet I'm amazed to find it doesn't have a bug (that I can see).

Firefox's trunk net installer is fine (and for that matter, Thunderbird 0.7.2's installer is just fine as well, since it's a release).

Does nobody actually use the net installer on the trunk?

I find that hard to believe.

From IUSB's LAN network:

2004-07-12 17:12:50 EST: 2901 / 2147
Your download speed : 2971466 bps, or 2901 kbps.
A 362.7 KB/sec transfer rate.
Your upload speed : 2199194 bps, or 2147 kbps.

But from the same lab, connected to their VPN via an 11mpb wireless card, I get:

2004-07-12 17:16:56 EST: 611 / 361
Your download speed : 625766 bps, or 611 kbps.
A 76.3 KB/sec transfer rate.
Your upload speed : 370343 bps, or 361 kbps.

Excellent. I contacted Tribune Media Services and this is their reply:

Thank you for getting back to me.

We have just started supplying TiVo with over the air lineups, which are
quite a bit different from cable lineups. We began with just Full Power
Broadcast channels, but we are gradually adding Low Power channels. I will
ask our tech resources to work on having this one added as soon as possible.
Due do the process we use for determining a station's broadcasting contours,
this may take a week to ten days before you see it in TiVo or Zap2it.com.

Thank you,
Brian

Tivo's 'Lineup Specialists' are anything but special.

Or as dwitte put it on IRC:

dwitte: stephend: maybe by "specialist" they just mean that they're "special".
stephend: like the special olympics 'special'
dwitte: exactly. :)

Here's why. I contacted them with specifics, stating "You don't have lineup data for Channel 69, WAAT-LP for zipcode 46517".

They send you a response, telling you their specialists will resolve it 'within 5-7 days'.

So I had hope.

But then after they 'resolve' it for you, they send you this email:

Dear Valued TiVo Customer,

Thank you for contacting TiVo regarding the problem with your channel
lineup. We have assigned case number 1924568 for your lineup
discrepancy.

Unfortunately, we cannot add missing antenna or repeater channels to a
lineup. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. We have attempted to locate a lineup that contained the correct antenna channels for you, but we were unable to find one with channel 69 as the WAAT-LP affiliate for your area. However, you can manually add a channel to your lineup by starting a recording on it. To do this, follow these steps:

That doesn't help me. If I wanted that functionality, I'd go back to my old clunky VCR.

After all, the very selling point of a Tivo is its ability to view channel data and record accordingly.

They list their content provider for the listings as Tribune Media Services, but when I contacted them, they were unaware of their provider, or of any ability to contact them and let them know I am experiencing feed issues.

Sigh.

William Castle really dropped the ball on I Saw What You Did, and I found it odd that movies inspired by this movie such as the Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer sequels have done it so much better.

Talkback has really been a pain in the behind lately, but I'm confident Jay's still working on it:

Talkback Server Status
There are currently 36491 incidents waiting to be processed by the Talkback server.
The next incident id in the queue is 220623 and was submitted on 2004-07-03 18:07:48.0.
Based on that information, some of your incidents might take a while before they show up in any queries.

I have not been pleased with my Tivo service lately (I don't use my Series 2 anymore because it doesn't have a Lifetime subscription like my original box does).

My viewing area (zipcode 46517), has a new channel added to it, Channel 69, WAAT-LP (LP=low power).

So here's the problem:

Tivo has now erroneously recognized a multitude of CABLE stations, when I have explicitly set my source type to BROADCAST.

This gives me a slew of channels, which I can filter out using 'Channels I Receive'.

Annoying that they're there in the first place, but, that's not the only gripe.

The /real/ reason they suck is they use Tribune Media Services, which I think Zap2it.com also uses (and TVGuide.com too, I think).

Both are atrocious.

Channel 69 has been around for months, yet still doesn't show up in the listings, so I have to manually add programs.

I've submitted a support incident exclusively for lineup issues found here. Let's hope their promise of 3-5 days for resolution holds true.

Man, what a cool looking laptop mouse.

Logitech always seems to make good stuff.

Seed of Chucky, coming soon to a theater near you.

I'll be one of the first in line.

Tomorrow (well, tonight, really, since I'm posting this in the early am) is my first class of W231 - Professional Writing, and are first in-class assignment will be:

Introduction, Set-up, and diagnostic paper (#1); begin "Team Project" on handout (Introducing a Classmate)

Gag. I hate those 'Introduce yourself' assignments; we seem to do them in every class. I guess as long as we just introduce ourselves without allowing questions, it'll be all right.

Netscape.ca's Radio is much better looking than the US Netscape.com version, but unfortunately it's not a stand-alone application; rather it requires an IE-only browser window.

Spider-Man 2 was a blast.

If you liked the first one, you'll probably /love/ the second one, as it was darker, funnier, and 'meatier'.

Found this _very_ interesting and useful. It's a list of distributed computing projects.

Ugh.

NASCAR has preempted MadTV tonight, so lame.

Instead of watching hilarious upsends of a political nature, I find on my Tivo this redneck-infused drivel.

Gag.

No more Gmail offers available at this time, sorry.

1 more Gmail account to give away.

Email me here: stdonner@iusb.edu

New NetIQ.com homepage launched...looks pretty nice.

For those of you unaware, they're one of the largest web-statistic tracking companies out there.

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