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Archive for July, 2010

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Oh Scott Pilgrim, what kind of trouble are you in? After receiving Volume 6 of the Scott Pilgrim series, I can say, “plenty”.

Bryan Lee O’Malley is a talented author and artist. He’s a nice guy. He’s Canadian. He’s got a movie coming out based on one of his properties. But I can’t feel but let down by the end of Scott Pilgrim and the “resolution” to the series of mangas.

Scott Pilgrim is a loser/slacker/Gen X type of character living in Canada and dealing with his lack of love, money, and talent as his band tries to fight through local gigs. He falls in lust/love with Ramona Flowers and ends up fighting his way through her evil ex-boyfriends to win her. The series falls through a few flaws:

Schedule: The six issues spanned a few years of inconsistent publication dates. No longer a concern since the entire series is now in print.

Art: O’Malley is a manga artist, but also a good illustrator. I first discovered him while following Adrian Tomine, who is worthy of his own post in the future. The characters drawn by O’Malley though suffer in the manga style, as some of them are only distinguishable by a hat or t-shirt, and some of the montage and group passages are hard to follow. His friends who might appear every 30 pages get lost due to simple personalities or isolated interactions. I was reading volume 6 and found most of the characters were so forgettable that I had to skim back through 5 volumes to figure out who they were.

Plot: Winding down a story arc is very difficult; how many unfinished novels are simply waiting for a final chapter to emerge? Scott Pilgrim is the same. Waiting for Scott to dole out an ass-kicking seems like a simple concept, but the loose threads feel like sloppy knots as O’Malley ties up the loose the ends.

In other words, Scott Pilgrim tries to take on the world, but maybe he should have settled for Canada or maybe just Toronto.

O’Malley is capable of incredible storytelling. If you want to see the potential and why O’Malley is still going to be a major player for years to come, check out Lost at Sea.

File:Lost At Sea.gif

Again, I found Lost at Sea while searching for Tomine’s works and this kept popping up in my Amazon.com cart.

Briefly, it’s the story of a teenage girl who is dealing with the common teenage feeling of isolation from a lack of friends, disconnection from family, and thrown on top of the moody settings and spartan illustrations of cookie cutter California and bleak Vancouver. You can check out some of the online Lost at Sea strips HERE, but they don’t do justice to the full story arc by O’Malley.  It’s the closest I’ve come to Craig Thompson’s Blankets, but that’s a post for another day…

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100725/ap_en_mo/us_comic_con_avengers

Best to just quote this one straight up, and links to the names you may not know too well. Except Mark Ruffalo, who I always confuse with Marc Anthony.

That’s a joke.

“Jackson brought out stars Clark Gregg, Scarlett Johannson, Chris Hemsworth of “Thor” and Chris Evans of “Captain America.”

He then introduced another surprise guest, Robert Downey Jr., who brought out the rest of the all-star cast, including Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner.”

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Wow. India has announced a program that will manufacture and distribute a $35 laptop for students. Linux based, memory card storage system, that’s insane. Here’s a good longer article as details are released.

I owned one of the OLPC $100 computers when they had a “give one get one” program. I suggest just browsing their site to get some perspective on what a simple computer is capable of and what it can provide for a child.  It was fun, cartoony, and did great with internet and basic word processing; all you need as an elementary school student, but the Linux OS provided a huge upside for the aspiring programmers.  Unfortunately:

1) The $100 laptop is still costing $199.
2) The “give one, get one” program has been discontinued, and you can find these being scalped on ebay. Confession: I sold mine for $249 to someone in Deutschland.

3) If this India $35 laptop has wings, it’s going to kill an otherwise great program.

The XO laptop, product highlight front view

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Thermaltake Armor+MX VH8000BWS Black Computer Case With Side Panel Window

So after signing up for the Newegg.com “Shell Shocker” deal emails, I found this lovely Thermaltake Armor+ MK VH8000BWS ATX Mid T0wer computer case for $49 after rebates (and free shipping), I decided to pull the trigger and build a rig from scratch. The goal is to swap this case for my old one, a moderately cool CoolMaster (no pun intended). The decision was made that I want to make a home server, and possibly a second Linux machine for my desk.

Sure this may seem like some completely unnecessary economic spending, but one thing I’ve been thinking about a lot is how people develop skills and learn new things. I’ve been a big fan of adult education and community college credit/noncredit courses, and I think sometimes you have to learn the hard way by just doing. I have my netbook as my internet access backup in case this project completely explodes. My iTunes are backed up on a Western Digital 500GB External Drive (Apple offers a quick little tutorial on burning your media, not very insightful but iLounge has a much better version) and I don’t keep a lot of critical files on my computer itself anymore. A lot of my photos, documents, and my comic book inventory are all kept online somewhere. So making a home server seemed like a next step/hobby/job training activity.

This is so much more fun than mowing my lawn.

So while I upgrade my internet life, please visit this upgrade of one of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite bands.

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SO I was looking at a mega filled inbox at work today, plus office absenteeism, and thought about how it was going to take some time just to organize a plan of attack this morning. Nothing worse than having so much to do that you have to spend additional time just organizing.

One of my tactics is to find inspiration from WebWorkerDaily (hell, this is where I get half of my ideas), which linked me to an article at Gigaom, which led me to a New York Times article on media burnout from realtime reporting.

The articles are good, but a little depressing when you consider how wired into real-time updates and contacts we are now socially and at work. The era of the school teacher talking about how much work they take home as a badge of honor is nullified by the number of regular people who now work after hours or are wired in “on-demand” for their bosses. It’s a brutal world.

So here I am reading about working on demand and in real-time, looking at my inbox. And looking and looking. There’s no literary poetry to what I’m doing, I’m looking. This isn’t even reading. It’s staring into space and thinking. This is the moment where a soldier on an amphibious assault vehicle in Normandy is staring at a closed bay door, hearing the opening artillery and waiting for the thud of a beach landing, and the doors to swing open, rifle in hand, storming the beaches (no one ever does anything but “storm” beaches, right?)

So in the short-term, as I hold my mouse like a grenade, white knuckled, I see it, there, on the bottom left of my 3-monitor desktop: the Excel shortcut button.

There goes the flash of the grenade, the click of the mouse, and I start opening sheets. Macros explode and cells burst to life with data, but the maelstrom of desktop warfare suddenly changes. This is not going to be a day of data on demand, instant updates, and real-time updates. Excel’s columns and rows are the crosscut fields of a soybean farm. This is farming.  The emails coming in marked “urgent” may be foxes in the henhouse, but today is a day for holding my own pace to ensure everything gets done.

I laugh looking at the word count that is updated by WordPress as I type; it’s already closing in on 450. I think back to those high school papers and college essays, the ones where 500 words were as intimidating as climbing Mt. Hood in high heels. But what a difference purpose and patience makes. Those are two words that don’t seem to fit in today in the real-time world.

And hey, if you made it this far, check out http://www.sp-studio.de/ to make your own South Park character avatar. My “thanks” for reading this article.

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YEAH, here’s another movie from Japan that is bringing back 30 year old repressed memories.

Seriously, trying to embed the html window but this ain’t exactly youtube and something is wrong with the window embedding. So click the link above for a safe slashfilm.com website for it.

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Got cash?

File:MarvelComics1.jpg

The folks at Heritage Auction Galleries  have a copy of Marvel Comics #1 on the block. You can view the link HERE.

Heritage Auction Galleries is pretty sweet. I registered myself  on their site last year so I could cross reference auction prices (as opposed to eBay bidder wars) for serious buyers. They deal in many types of collectibles, so you’re getting a good Antiques Road Show experience. And I love me some Antiques Road Show. Heritage offers a wonderful newsletter of upcoming auctions, and they also have great videos for some of the auctions as a little info session.

If you’re a movie fan, check out the posters for auction. While many of these are out of my own price range, it’s cool to see some of the original materials, and then I go to Movie Poster Shop or Retro Planet to seek out cheaper decorations.

(My own personal prize in movie posters is a Spider-Man poster with the Twin Towers, double-sided light box cel like you see in the lobby of AMC. Here’s a good page for some information on this recalled poster, variants, and reproductions.)

If you’re feeling really hands-on, check out a comic con for movie posters next time one is in town or in a nearby metro city. Some of the guys are a little shady and sell unauthorized repros on the cheap, but it’s a great way to get some nice items on a budget. Case in point, I saw a guy at the Philly Wizard World selling some awesome approximately 18 x 11 prints of classic comic covers, suitable for framing, and got them on a 5 for $20 deal. Bootlegged? Probably. Cheap? Yup. Decorative? Exceptionally.

I should really get some of these posters scanned and sling ’em up here…

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