Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Sequel to E.T.: WALL-E

Over the holidays, we ended up watching WALL-E.  A coworker had recommended that we get it for the kids.  We actually watched it on the plane going to Cincinnati, then we watched it at the hotel, and we bought it when we got back to Seattle.  We’ve watched it a few times in the past week.  Great Film!

Kelly picked up on something a couple of days ago that was pretty interesting.  As she said, “I figured out why [the] WALL-E [character] is so endearing.  He looks just like E.T.”  Wow, she is right!  The character has a definite likeness to the classic.  Figure, the character worked for E.T., why reinvent it?  The general shape, the voice, and other characteristics Wall-e_ _Eve (2)seem very similar.  It makes me want to watch E.T. and then WALL-E and compare and contrast the characters.

We have the glowing finger (or light bulb).  We have the forehead kiss.  Instead of flying a bike in front of the moon, WALL-E uses a fire extinguisher to fly around in space and dance with EVE.  There are probably hundreds of similar moments between the movies.  I’m sure it wasn’t by accident.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta – Surgeon General?

I’ve always been very impressed with Dr. Gupta.  We watch quite a bit of CNN and he never ceases to amaze me with his breadth and depth of knowledge.  As it turns out, Obama’s administration is impressed with him too.  Read this article and you’ll be blown away at everything this guy does.  How on Earth does he have time for all of that!?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Brett Favre is the Jets’ only option?

I saw Barry Sanders say on ESPN the other day, in response to a question from comedian Kevin James, that Brett Favre is the Jets’ only option for quarterback next year.

Seriously?  I think Favre’s had a great career, but from what I’ve seen just by playing fantasy football for a handful of years, Favre throws a LOT of interceptions.  No disrespect to Favre, but I have a really hard time believing that there isn’t a single other human being on the planet that is a better (available) quarterback than Favre.

Out of all of the college quarterbacks that are graduating this year and vying for NFL contracts: none of them would be better than Favre?

How many billions of people are there in the world?  And there are only like 30 people in the world qualified to be a starting NFL quarterback?  Really?  That just seems impossible.  There has to be someone.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Global Warming is a Scam

Every time it’s colder than it should be, I can’t help but think about how this whole global warming thing is a scam.  But don’t take my word for it, see what the founder of The Weather Channel has had to say about it:

It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific John Coleman data to create an illusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the “research” to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus.

Many of the people warning us of global warming were trying to convince us of global cooling and a new ice age just 3 decades ago.  Either way, I am amazed that humans are so arrogant that we think we can change the climate of our planet as drastically as some of claimed.  This planet has been around for a long, long, long time.  Its climate has certainly gone through different cycles.  Do we ever consider that if the temperature is actually increasing, that it’s by no fault of our own but rather due to the cyclic change?  You can make the evidence look like whatever you want it to look like.  I’m sure that if we wanted to, we could blame the extinction of dinosaurs on some climate change that they caused, by, I dunno, eating too many trees or something.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Xbox 360 First Impressions

We’ve had our Xbox 360 Arcade hooked up to our new 32” flat panel since last weekend.  So far, my impressions are mixed.

When we first turned it on, we plugged in Pac Man, that came with the console as one of the arcade games.  Wow, it sucked.  There is this moving border thing around the edge of the game board and it’s very distracting.  And the game play seemed quite different from what we were used to.  (Kelly was playing).  Instead of a board full of dots, there were only some dots and it looked like after she ate them, more dots appeared.  Kelly also complained that it was hard to control.  Feeding Frenzy looked pretty fun though.  I played it a little too, and that’s a fun little game with a little bit of marine education mixed in.  That’ll be great for the kids (and us).  The other games were a little blah.  And the free demo games just annoy me—how do I turn that off!?  I don’t want to see these teasers mixed in with the games we own.

As I knew, the Arcade model didn’t come with an HDMI cable.  I don’t know anything about HD, so I figured this just meant I wouldn’t get the HD experience from the Xbox, and I was right.  I had to use the component cable and the TV was getting the signal in 480p (I think).  I decided that I should invest in the cable and I went hunting for one.

Being new to HD and the Xbox and not knowing how it works, I figured that the Xbox needed a special cable.  So my first stop was the Microsoft company store (online).  Nothing.  Next: the Xbox website.  Aha, I found the Xbox 360 HDMI Cable accessory… for $50!!!  Ouch!  Kelly expressed concern about the Xbox and the TV becoming a money pit, so there’s no way at $50 cable would fly.  I ended up sending a note to a distribution list here at work asking if anyone had a spare that they’d sell cheap.  As it turns out, I just needed any basic HDMI cable, and 2 people offered to give me one for free.  Yesterday, I got the cable from one of these fine people and I hooked it up.  Wow, that made a difference!!  It’s very pretty!  It makes the TV look great.

Our main use of this device is expected to be the music and photo capability though.  The Xbox is plugged into the same router as our HP MediaSmart HomeServer.  The HomeServer has like 10,000 digital photos, catalogued by date and time, as well as a few hundred CDs’ music.

I went to the media tab, then to music, and it seemed to find everything perfectly.  Cool.  The interface for playing music is a little odd though, as there are buttons on the screen that have icons that I don’t recognize, and I don’t know what they mean.  And there aren’t any tooltips or anything.  It took a few tries to get it into Shuffle mode.

With the (Christmas) music playing, it’s on to pictures.  For some strange reason, not all of the picture folders are showing up under the home server’s Photos share.  I have a folder for each year, and then subfolders for each month, then folders for each day under that.  At first, 2008 wasn’t showing up at all.  Only half of 2007 was showing up.  When I had time a couple of days later, I decided to investigate.

I thought it might be a permissions thing, and I found that not all of the folders had read access available to 'Network Service', and at first look, it seemed those were the folders not showing up.  So I reset permissions for all child objects of Photos, ensuring that Network Service has Read/List Folder Contents permission.  After this, more folders showed up on the Xbox, but still not all of them.  I could not find any permissions differences between folders showing up and folders missing.  On a whim, I reset permissions for all child objects of Photos again, without changing the effective permissions.  This caused more photos to show up again, but still not all.  Reset permissions yet again, and more photos became available, but again, not all.

Needless to say, this is baffling me.  If I find the (real) solution to this problem, I’ll be sure to post it here.

Something else on the Photos too… when you start a slideshow, it never starts in shuffle mode.  So the first picture is always the same while you work to turn it onto shuffle.  And the UI was a bit odd here too.  The icon shows what you think you want, but the tooltip says, “Turn Shuffle Off.”  It should tell me what the current state is instead of telling me what the action will do; that way the icon matches the description.  This complicated the whole problem of trying to understand these unfamiliar icons.

The last thing we have going on with the Xbox is that I cannot join Xbox Live.  I tried to join but it says that I have to upgrade to the new experience first.  But upgrading to the new experience failed.  After following the troubleshooting steps it provided, I found that my router’s MTU setting is apparently too low.  I’ll have to try to adjust this.  Hopefully the new experience makes the music and photos a little easier to navigate.  And I’ll cross my fingers that it will also correct the problem with discovering the photos, but I’m not optimistic.

I’m excited about the Xbox though.  I think this will be a fun toy for our family.  Kelly does love the music player and having access to our full library of songs.  She told me last night, “It’s like having my own personal juke box.”  She has always longed for a juke box.  I was glad to hear that she is happy with it.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

More Shopping Deaths

This time at a Toys ‘R’ Us.  Two people were shot to death.  Details are still emerging.  What in the hell is this world coming to!?

Get a Grip Folks! Is the sale really worth killing someone?

This is sad.  This is tragic.  This is pathetic.

A Wal-Mart worker was killed in a stampede today.  And the shoppers didn’t seem to care.

I've been on [sic] line since yesterday morning.


They kept shopping after being told someone had been killed.  This wasn’t some frail old lady either.  This was a 34-year-old man.  Is saving a few bucks really worth this?  Get a grip folks.  I know the economy is bad, but this is unreal—you don’t need to kill someone to save a few dollars on Christmas gifts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two female polar bears won’t mate: Zookeepers Baffled

Zookeepers had been baffled by 2 polar bears that wouldn’t mate.  They finally got to the bottom of the matter by putting one of the bears under anesthesia and looking at its, well, bottom.  They found that the male polar bear isn’t a male at all—he is a female.  That explains why s/he won’t mate with the other female.  Astonishing!  Good thing it only took 5 months to solve this “mystery.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jurassic Park, Here We Come

Scientists are mapping the DNA of the woolly mammoth.  They’re talking about how they could bring the animal back from extinction.  Seriously?  You saw that movie, right?  Yeah, sure, they were dinosaurs, but my guess is that a woolly mammoth could eat you too.  Maybe extinction was their ploy for survival… by going extinct, they could bypass thousands of years of bad climates; and now that the climate is satisfactory to them again, they’ll come back to life and take over the planet.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Dark Side of Seattle

When we moved to the greater Seattle area, we knew we’d be in for some rain.  They don’t call it Mt. Rainier for nothing – it’s rainier here than most places.  But there was an aspect of Seattle that we didn’t quite expect—the dark side of Seattle.

I don’t mean “dark” figuratively.  I mean it quite literally.  Yesterday, the sunset was at 4:34pm.  And since it’s so overcast, it was dark by 4:15pm.  We’ve heard that come December, it will be dark by 3:30pm, even though the sun won’t set until 4:20pm.

This is going to be a very depressing winter, we can tell already.  The summer was pretty fabulous overall though.  It got a lot hotter than we wanted it too—especially considering we don’t have A/C.  When it was getting up to 85°-88° in the townhouse during the afternoon, that was pretty rough.  But the sun shined for about 85 days, and it was generally beautiful.  The scenery out here is spectacular.  I definitely recommend visiting out here in August if you can.