Archive for February, 2007

18
Feb
07

My Vista Impressions Thus Far…. (Plus Vista Cool Feature #1)

Like the tech afficionado that I am, I installed Vista earlier this week. So far, there’s an awful lot to like. But like I eluded to in my post earlier this week, it’s a lot like a good car. You’ll discover features as you begin to use it that will make you slap your head and say, “Gee, that’s a good idea!”. Nothing earth shattering, but certainly things that heavy OS users will appreciate.

I’ve decided to just post them as I come across things I think are compelling. So, what’s the first thing that I found compelling?

Well, as silly as this may sound, I’m digging the new sound library quite a bit. As simple as it may seem to choose a sound library that’s bearable and also functional, I find that even the error notifications are very gentle and subtle. Sure, over time I’ll associate that “gentle ding” with crashes and I’ll begin to hate it. But for the meantime, I’m quite fond of the sound library that they’ve chosen for the main Vista theme. Very nice.

Advertisements
18
Feb
07

Review: The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries has eluded me for some time. Each time it would reach the top of my Netflix queue, I’d bump it down a few places. I certainly didn’t expect to be entertained. But considering the fact that everyone knows about Che Guevara, ‘cept me — I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn a little bit about the guy that all the cool people want to wear on their chest. (And if the truth be told, 96% of those “cool folks” know even less about him than I do.)

Unfortunately, The Motorcycle Diaries is not a history lesson as much as it is a lesson in compassion. It’s a bit heavy on the Liberal side I’m sure for some, but I think we can learn a lot about how much we have to be thankful for by watching this film. Diaries stars exceptional rising actor Gael Garcia Bernal as a young Ernesto Guevara, who decides to embark upon a motorcycle ride across the western coast of South America in what appears to be a last attempt to “see the world” before they grow-up and have the burden of jobs and families to worry about. The film is based upon the real life diaries of Che Guevara.

The journey is more entertaining than I would have imagined. They get into a bit of trouble — often connected to their attempts to woo the attention of a young woman. Rodrigo de la Serna plays Alberto Granado — Guevara’s traveling companion and partner in crime. Their adventures reminded me an awful lot of O Brother Where Art Thou mixed with a bit of Everything is Illuminated. (Two really great films, by the way.) The fact that they don’t ever stay in one place too long kept me engaged. Also, the subtitles, which I would normally be pretty bothered by, didn’t affect me as much. This is largely due to the stellar acting performance turned in by Gael Garcia Bernal. You know an actor is truly great when you can feel the emotion through the screen despite the language barrier. He’s subtle when subtle is required. Many times I felt as if I didn’t even need to read the subtitles. Bernal’s eyes often will tell you all that you need to know. This guy is something special. I can’t wait to check him out in Babel and even more so in other films as his career moves forward.

Overall, Diaries is a film that speaks to the compassion that we often don’t show to the less fortunate. And this film has degrees of less fortunate. Just when you thought you’ve met the people who you pity the most, they’ll run into folks that you’ll feel worse for. But don’t let this stop you. It’s a bit depressing, but you’ll feel better for having seen it.

The quality of the images are a mixed bag. In some places, the print looks breathtaking — such as when they visit the lush mountains of old Incan grounds. But in other places (such as the night shot towards the end of the film) the grain was so much that even I noticed it. Perhaps it was a stylistic choice to add to the grittiness of the trip. Anyhow, watch for some of the really lush scenes. They probably look breathtaking in high def.

Surprisingly, with the exception of a slight blurb at the end of the movie, I don’t know much more about Che Guevara than I did when I popped in the DVD. However, one thing I do know about are the interesting common folks that he met which certainly contributed to his efforts a short time later to champion causes for some of those same folks that touched him. If you’re in the mood for an interesting cross country ride with it’s share of funny moments, compassion-evoking moments and some beautiful shots of South America. Check this one out. Geal Garcia Bernal’s performance is enough to carry you through the almost two-hours that this one runs. Good film.

12
Feb
07

BE Jack Bauer….(well, not really, but…)

My girlfriend is a huge 24 fan (like most of the world — or at least it seems that way.) I watched a few seasons and I know it’s suspenseful and I know it’s shocking and I know that Jack is as cool as hell to most, but I just can’t get into it. I watched the first season on DVD and kinda watched bits of the fifth until I couldn’t take it any more. I don’t know — to me, this guy’s getting into trouble every year. Perhaps the best way to stay safe is to stay the hell away from Keifer. And my other gripe is that, for any good dramam there have to be peaks and valleys. Something can’t be happening ALL the damn time. It seems like if Jack’s not running around tracking down plutonium or a nuke somewhere he’s having a touching moment with someone from his circle of supporters. But then again, what do I know. Anyway…

I came across this article when I was checking out Uncrate (www.uncrate.com — a very, very cool site for the style and gadget inclined). Basically they’ve broken down all of the major toys that Jack Bauer uses as he fights for freedom and to keep the peace. If you’re a fan of the show, chances are you’ve already noticed this stuff (and the true geekoids are walking around with it). But I just thought it was kinda cool to take a look at the actual gear that the character uses. The Jack Pack. The mobile phone (now different from the Treo — even Jack knows when the party’s over). Spec-Ops watch. Even his gun and his bullet proof vest. Go over and check it out here on Uncrate.com.

(Initially I was gonna say something snarky about not running around like an idiot with this stuff pretending to be Jack. But one second thought — what the hell! Go ahead. Some of my best moments as a kid were spent running around the neighborhood with a towel around my back or with homemade web shooters under my sleeves. Of course I don’t do that anymore — well, not all the time, anyway. But there are far too many uptight folks in this day and age. Do what makes you happy. Just remember to keep it under control. Walking around town with a Glock running from wall to wall using each one as cover and shouting “CTU!” everywhere you go might get you arrested. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

12
Feb
07

Why Upgrade to Vista? (‘Cause it’s the "new Windows" — that’s why.)

Lately, I’ve been listening to my fair share of technology podcasts. (Most of them on the TWiT network (twit.tv)). As I’ve said before, it’s a great time to be a tech enthusiast. Last year this time, we were consumed with viral videos, rumors and speculation about what it would be like to use the Zune, what Sony would be charging for the PS3 and whether the Wii would actually work as advertised. Turning the page to 2007, all of those products are out and available for consumption and evaluation. Moreover, there’s a ton of other stuff coming down the road that we’ll get to experience later this year.

However, I do want to turn my attention now to a monumental release — Microsoft’s first operating system release in five years — Microsoft Windows Vista. Lately there’s been a ton of unflattering press thrown Microsoft’s way. And while it’s odd to feel the need to defend a 300-pound gorilla, I think people may be looking at the release of Vista from the wrong perspective.

Most of the conversations I’ve had with folks are around the question of whether there was value in upgrading to Vista. The answer I give always seems to be different — and it was probably because I hadn’t been convinced myself why I should plunk down $149 – $259 for a new OS. After all, it’s a big headache porting applications and taking the time to learn where old settings have been moved to. However, because I work in technology, I almost don’t have a choice. You always have to stay current.

I’m a sucker when it comes to technology buzz. The bigger the buzz, the more I want in. It’s no different with Vista. Even though I participated in the public beta and had a few problems, I’m still itching to install the new OS. (And when I do, I’ll give my impressions here.) But I had an interesting epiphany while pondering over the decision to buy Vista. The real reason why we can’t point to a single huge reason to upgrade to Vista is because most of the major advances have already been achieved. Let me explain… Continue reading ‘Why Upgrade to Vista? (‘Cause it’s the "new Windows" — that’s why.)’