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Archive for June, 2010

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Today, the wonderful folks at Io9.com made my gradeschool dreams come true. I can’t believe I missed this news first time around but Holy Gamilon this is awesome. Granted it’s coming out in Japan first, but this movie has to be making its way to the United States shortly after. I love Star Blazers.

I spent hours of my youth (and adulthood) watching Star Blazers. In some ways it eclipsed Star Wars during my formative years, and nothing makes my wallet itch like the sight of a Yamato battleship model kit. I can’t begin to describe how engrossing this series is for me, an ensemble cast, a ticking clock like 24, epic space battles, the brotherhood of battle and the moments when that bond is tested, breaks, and is mended, and highly science based concepts that keep you on the edge of belief. Watching Captain Avatar lead the honorable conflict against blue skinned enemies while flying a Titanic vessel was the stuff of modern legend… and makes James Cameron look like a student screenwriter.

In the series, Earth has been irradiated and is on the edge of environmental collapse. Earthlings live underground, going deeper and deeper into the decaying planet until a message of hope arrives when a beautiful visitor crash lands with a message of salvation. The far planet of Iscandar will help Earth build a regeneration device but they must travel across the galaxy and back in one year before Earth is destroyed.

The crew of youthful idealists join the aged Captain Avatar and board the Yamato. Built on the ruins of the original Battleship Yamato, the crew starts a race against time and embarks on a very well written humanistic quest of hope and self-realization. Loniliness, duty, love, and trust drive the characters as every single man and woman finds their purpose. The series deals with death and sorrow in a way that children can understand, yet moves adults.

Not without it’s villains, the evil Gamilons led by Desslock are a space reich looking to conquer and erradicate Earth civilization. The Star Force proves more resilient than Desslok imagines, and his plan to the destroy them becomes fueled by his respect for the enemy, culminating in a powerful duel with Derek Wildstar where he learns that Earthlings are motivated by the same passions as his race of Gamilons. He becomes an almost tragic villain,  more sinister than Ed Harris’ disgruntled general in The Rock, but more emotive Palpatine. He’s a Magneto, not Khan.

The main hero, Derek Wildstar, has all the cockiness and recklessness of a certain F-14 pilot played by a certain scientologist. Keep in mind, this maverick predates Top Gun by more than a decade. But Wildstar has a complicated friendship with Mark Venture, much more strained than Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, which the show also predates by a good THREE YEARS.

And then there’s Derek and Nova. This video compilation set to Aerosmith’s “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” might be the cheesiest thing I’ve ever seen, but if you can get into it and watch the way they interact in animation, you’ll understand that over the course of a 6 DVD box set, this is a wonderfully created love story, complicated by their duty to save earth and the close knit relationship between Derek, Nova and best friend Mark Venture.

And that is part of the awe I have as an adult watching Star Blazers. It was ahead of it’s time. It featured a holodeck which would be borrowed by Star Trek: The Next Generation, and an environmental message that predates the green movement in the US by decades. As our space program now faces tremendous challenges, I wonder who will be ready for the call if Earth was taken to the brink of Oblivion, and the only way out was in the stars…

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EXTREME CLOSEUP!

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In the past six months, I’ve noticed a heck of a lot of requests from sites/programs to add toolbars to my browser. I use Internet Explorer at work and on my desktop, and Firefox for Ubuntu on my netbook, so I don’t mind having different settings on different computers, but what is the benefit of using all these ad-ons? Do I really need them at all?

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The bread and butter (mmm butter) tool bars are your AOL, Yahoo, Google, Bing, Ask, which all do pretty much the same thing. You get your mail, your news, a search probably, and some stuff related to news feeds and “sharing”, but there’s not a lot of benefit of these except looking pretty. Sometimes you get a nice push-pull mail indicator if the mail client is looking live at your inbox, but that’s hardly worth the download.

There are some specialty toolbars however that you may find useful. Some I think of as “temporary” toolbars, things you might want to load on for a project, or a week, or a season.

LinkedIn

There’s a whole lot of unemployment right now. Any jobseeker/recruiter tells you that it becomes a fulltime job when you’re really looking for one, and the LinkedIn bar is exceptionally useful. It gives you direct access to your account, viewable connections at corporations, and quick searches to saved profiles of interest. I’ve been using the Science Fiction and Comic Book  groups on LinkedIn for leisure, but it’s a lot easier to use the toolbar to jump back and forth into discussions than waiting for email replies in my inbox. Once you’re done with your downtime of unemployment, just remove it.

Zynga

This is dangerous. Having a Zynga toolbar  is like saying you don’t shower and eat donuts in bulk in front of your computer, because your Farmville crops are more important than bathing.  I tried this for a day for Mafiawars and had to uninstall it when I wet myself during a very slothful evening. One good thing is that downloading a Zynga game bar usually unlocks items or rewards, so you can download the bar, get the goods, and then uninstall it.

Facebook

Yeah, Facebook has a toolbar. Notifications and sharing. If you’re really into being wired to your facebook, you probably have your facebook mobile and you sleep-type your updates.

Adobe

Not a full toolbar but a nice add-in, go to your View, Toolbars, and select Adobe PDF if you’ve got it showing there. “Convert webpage to PDF” is great if you need to share a temporary screen mockup or save a collaborative/in process page to show to a friend or coworker. What is odd to me is that a search of Adobe Toolbar shows more links about removing it than installing it. I’ve had no such problems though.

Play Ball!

The Phillies Toolbar is a nice in-season favorite. You get scores, scores, news, ticketing, and access to Twitter and plenty of other media. Of course, you can go to MLB.com and find them for any team. The NHL has one too, as does ESPN, but I find the MLB one to be the nicest/most useful.  “But TTJ, there are NBA and NFL toolbars too!” The NFL widgets are more useful, but let’s face it, NFL news is harder to escape than an oil slick in the Gulf headed for a pelican when you’re in season. And the NBA toolbars from NBA.com don’t offer much more than the top page header for quick links.  So if you’re going for a sports toolbar, go MLB.

Fantasy Sports Toolbars

If you’re downloading a fantasy sports based toolbar (and there are a LOT of 3rd party ones), you’re probably not going to win your fantasy league. Fantasy sports winners use the real sports news, and if you’re like me, you probably have your CBSSportsline page up for 18 straight hours on Sundays in the fall.

Internet Radio Toolbar

If your iTunes is hogging memory or you have a Zune (I feel bad for you), try this Internet Radio Toolbar. Also helps you search and shop.

How do I remove a toolbar?

Well done, Bing. Well done.

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Not a great service to use day to day, but Windows Live now has an uploader that will go directly to your Facebook.  The Windows Live photo gallery download will allow you lots of run of the mill photoshopping such as red eye reducting, cropping, color correction, etc but now they offer a facebook plugin to let you export right to your profile/albums. Kind of makes the Windows people gain a step on the Mac users with the iPhoto plugin. 

I’m not big into the Mac vs PC wars anymore since, you know, it’s just a computer, and if one computer really did fit every user’s need and budget, we’d all be using the same thing and computers would be running as efficiently as the US Post Office, but this is a pretty cool thing for me as a PC desktop user.

You can also date and rate and therefore search and sort via the Windows Live photo application. Not a big deal for some, but for others it’s as awesome as hoarding.

If you’re feeling really creative, the new Windows Live MoveMaker can also convert those photos into movies. Not getting into that one, I’d rather just send people links for albums than watch a corny slideshow with some dreary sappy soundtrack.

Cue the Robin Sparkles!

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http://www.businessinsider.com/marvels-ipad-app-is-stunning-and-its-making-a-lot-of-money-too-2010-6?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Falleyinsider%2Fsilicon_alley_insider+%28Silicon+Alley+Insider%29

Well that’s a mouthful of a link. Seems like more fun to post a giant html sometimes than a quick link. Marvel’s new comic app for iPad is getting good reviews and doing good business. Me? I like collecting of course but it can be good to follow stories I’m not interested in collecting. With comics at 2.99 – 3.99 a piece on the newstand, it could be worth 1.99 for the digital version if I just want to read a certain issue/storyline.

Check out some pages here.

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Ok, it’s taken a while to get this into here, but it’s tough to get pictures updated when my “new” camera’s screen went bad at Philly Wizard World and I’ve had to prioritize a return and exchange for a new Olympus.

I got the Wizard VIP Lady Death 3 day pass from Avatar Press. I got a ton of comics in the bundle:

22 Lady Death Comics including all Avatar Lady Death stories to date, including Abandon All Hope #1/2-4, Sacrilege #0-2, Lost Souls #0-2, Annual #1, Wicked #1/2 & 1, Pirate Queen #1, Lady Death vs Pandora, and Lady Death vs War Angel.

Lady Death Premiere VIP book the all-new Lady Death series launches here and this special VIP edition is only available to VIP set buyers at Wizard World.

Lady Death Sketch cover by Matt Martin each copy features a unique and different Lady Death sketch!

Lady Death Leather covers for Lady Death Sacrilege #1 and Lady Death vs War Angel #1

Lady Death Royal Blue Editions (all limited to only 100 copies!) for Lady Death: Infernal Sins (never before offered), Lady Death: Warrior Temptress, Lady Death: Pirate Queen #1, Lady Death: Lost Souls #0

When I picked up the bundle, I then had every single comic signed by Lady Death creator Brian Pulido!

Brian is a great guy, took a lot of time to talk and sign and was a very appreciative person.

The other fantastic part of the Avatar company was getting a thank you email after the event. Small things make a big difference when you are running a business, and comics are a tough business to be in right now. 

So please take a couple minutes to chekc out the hyperlinks to Avatar and Brian’s site. You’re sure to find some fun stuff.

Wizard World booty coming up… once I get home and get my memory card organized and uploaded.

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So I dropped my class for the summer. I’m not going to say I’m a quitter, but there are strategic and tactical reasons to walk away from something.

In this case, I hated the teacher.

My computer science class last semester, where we learned to program with the beautiful Alice software, was very challenging and difficult at times, like when I was spending entire Sundays trying to embed my commands in the neatest, most efficient set of loops. The problem with this class is that the teacher, though young and energetic, is too green for teaching. He even admitted that he didn’t teach Flash before this class. There were too many assumptions and cross referencing to programs and classes that are NOT pre-reqs (if I hear him say “just like Final Cut” one more time, I’d have to pour coffee on his iPhone). And with a class size of 8, it was too far in for him to adapt his lesson plan for us/me. I’ve been the slow kid, the old guy, the rookie before and done fine, but I’m cutting my losses for the summer. Flash is great, it is easy to learn and there are a lot of deeper levels to it, but when you’re dealing with projects for class with specific requirements, well…

… sometimes you gotta know when to leave…

… so you’ll be ready to go back in…

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