Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why I hate this time of year

The following is the script for a podcast essay of mine which you will hear shortly on the Movie Survival Guide Podcast. You get a sneak preview. I'll update this with a link to the show when it's posted.

I hate this time of year. Really. Football season is over, and unless you're into grown men ice skating or 9 foot tall freaks of nature competing to see who has the worst attitude, sports is worthless right now. Even NASCAR doesn't start again for a month, if you're into men driving around in circles way too fast. I can get that on the Washington Beltway . To top it all off, there is nothing fun at the movies. Some people call it "the Dry Season". That's a pleasant little euphemism for "it's all boring" in the theaters.

Some, on the other twisted hand, look forward to this season like some holy grail of movie making. Golden Globes, SAG awards, and that most incestuous awards show ever imagined: The Academy Awards. They don't even call it that anymore ... it's "The Oscars". Like that changes it from a bunch of people that take themselves far too seriously sitting in a room trying to pretend it's an honor just to be nominated.

And so, for the past month, after the build up of the holiday movie season (which was pretty bland last year) we're left with "serious" movies. Movies that are "important" or "relevant". Would someone mind explaining how a gay cowboy movie is relevant to me? What's that? Oh, I'm being told that Brokeback Mountain isn't a gay cowboy movie. I'm sorry's a gay SHEEPHERDER movie. Got it.

Now, I'm all about relevant movies now and again. I love movies that are poignant, and how ever much it might sound like the opposite, I do appreciate the crafting of movies like Brokeback, Munich, Capote, Good Night and the rest. Heck, I think one of the highest ratings I've ever given ANY movie was Waterborne, which is an indie film of the first degree.

But right about now, when it's cold outside and boring inside, when the luster has worn off the shiny new things we got for Christmas. When the lights and tinsel is gone and we look at the calendar and realize we've got at least two and a half more months of winter and nothing fun on the horizon-- Now is when we need ACTION! Adventure! And most of all ... pretty girls and explosions.

Yeah. That's what we're missing: Babes and Bombs! I don't even care if the plot is all that good right now! Just put a hot girl on the hood of a HumVee with a rocket launcher! Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Or a really awesome car chase! With cool looking black cars ripping down the LA freeways while a rough but loveable cop tries to save a girl from drug runners or white supremacists.

And what do I get when I'm looking for this little pick-me-up? What do the studios in their wisdom offer us now? Big Momma's House 2, Annapolis, and a host of Oscar hopefuls. Maybe this weekend? No my friends, this weekend we get more of the same, and a horror movie called "When a Stranger Calls." How original. Because I didn't hear this tale around a campfire when I was SEVEN!

I'm crossing my fingers for next week when we get a look at Pink Panther, Curious George, the parody "Date Movie" and the Harrison Ford movie: Firewall. Truth be told I don't have super high hopes. If the studios had more confidence, they would have released them in the holiday season or waited till the movies will make more money in the theaters

So we suffer through. We fans who don't really care about the awards will just hang on and watch our Serenity DVDs and get by on Battlestar Galactica, 24, CSI and what ever we can get from Netflix. Maybe now is the time to cozy up to one of the new online services. Hmmm ... maybe time to try Vongo.

Alright, that's enough. I'm too depressed to keep talking. Until next time something sticks in my craw or a movie worth talking about comes outâ ...I'm Brian ...and I'm done.

Technorati Tags: Movies, Oscars, Awards, Academy, podcast, Movie Survival Guide

Apple, Apple, Apple... Did you think We wouldn't notice?

Apple called out on iPhoto's RSS incompatibility

Ever since Steve Jobs MacWord Keynote people have been wondering about his turn of phrase. It seems that Apple has a different definition of "Industry Standard" than, well, the rest of the industry.

Short of it is that Apple introduced a "new concept" with iPhoto called "photocasting". Basically, you make a photo album available online. (New? Talk to Flikr but ok, whatever.) The thing is, he claimed that you would be able to view these "photocasts" using "Industry Standard RSS." Podcasters that want to use iTunes can tell you a thing or two about Apples prior implementation of RSS, and not a good thing or two. Heck I couldn't even get an iTunes feed to validate when I was trying to write an RSS feed editor....

Now we have word that these photocasts don't work in Firefox or Opera (no word on IE, but take a good guess, huh?) And even dedicated RSS readers bomb on the photocasts.

Ok, making comments about the speed of the new Intel powered Macs is one thing, everyone lies about speed gains, and they're subjective anyway... but Steve, did you think we wouldn't notice when your "industry standards" blew up our software that works everywhere else?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Sunday, January 08, 2006

News of the weird from CES

Well there are plenty of people reporting on the coolest things shown at CES this year. You can check out all the cool things at Engadget and Gizmodo and almost any other tech site you can think of. So instead of the coolness, I bring you: the weirdness:

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Podzinger... search podcasts for content


Ok, this is cool. Erik introduced me to this when he added Movie Survival Guide to the PodZinger service. Basically, this is a service that uses speech recognition to transcribe the audio from podcasts and then makes that searchable. You put in a search term and the results give you a transcript from the podcast around that time and gives you a player that will actually cue to that part of the podcast and play it. How cool is that? It's like Google for podcast content.

Grated, it's not perfect yet, but it's way too cool to ignore! Check it out at You can also reach the Movie Survival Guide content from the PodZinger link on the Movie Survival Guide website.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hot Recorder offers hope to iPodders chained to Apple. There's always a BUT with Apple....

Erik sends me: Hot Recorder offers a product called "Hot Recorder for Media" that promises to allow users to basically pull the DRM from music purchased from iTunes and Yahoo! Music sites. There are several other products out there that offer similar conversion utilities.

Most of you know how much I can't stand Apple's practice of not licensing the format it uses for iPods and iTunes. Basically, if you buy an iPod and want to download music legally, you must use iTunes and pay whatever they think you should pay. There is no serious competition. They have co-opted a good portion of the podcasting universe and generally, they want to make my life miserable. If you want choice in sources for content, you need to buy inferior players or make other compromises. Now they are making exclusivity deals for the distribution of video content. But all those rants are for another time, because the topic is getting around those issues.

First off: Yeah, you can get around it if you want. At the very least, you can burn every song you download to a CD and then re-rip it to MP3 or any other format you choose. There are converters, like Hot Recorder. But you can't do it if you want to be honest.
iTunes Music Store Terms of Service
You agree that you will not attempt to, or encourage or assist any other person to, circumvent or modify any security technology or software that is part of the Service or used to administer the Usage Rules.
There you go. You like the language there? Not only can you not do it, you can't encourage anyone else to do it either. "Go ahead, Billy! You can do it!" "Thanks Mom! You're swell!" "Ma'am, I'm with the iPolice, you're under arrest. You have the right to remain choiceless, anything you say is completely irrelevant to us..."

And besides ALL of that, why should I have to convert to begin with? It's not a technical limitation here, iPods COULD play DRM WMA and other players COULD play Fair-Play content, but Apple won't allow it. It's their choice to purposefully and blatantly limit what I can do with products I buy from them, and I just won't tolerate it. Even though iPod designs are sweet. Even though the interface is pretty good, even though the video iPod I played with this weekend looked SOOOoooo awesome... No... I won't think about it. Won't get distracted by the shiny toys..... Must .. remain .. principled....

Bad Apple... no customer.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New digital watermarking will be the death of video piracy! Not.

Wired News: Will Digital Cinema Can Pirates?

A new process for inserting undetectable cues into digital movies in real time will allow detectives to trace the exact theater and time a recording was made. And how does this help? Come on people, piracy isn't killing movies. Hollywood is killing movies.

First titles announced for Blu-Ray DVD debut

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Announces First Blu-ray Disc Titles: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

In the "Evolution not Revolution" category... the first titles to be released on Blu-Ray DVD technology were announced. Among them: The Fifth Element, Black Hawk Down and House of the Flying Daggers. Also, Stargate: Atlantis will be the first TV series released to Blu-Ray.

What's neat about Blu-ray is that the discs can hold more data, which means more quality and quantity. The Blu-ray allows for about 50GB of data on a dual layer disc. That's about eight hours of HighDef video (1080p). Compared to standard DVDs which can hold less than 9GB on a dual layer disc and typically only a few hours of standard def video, the Blu-Ray seems exciting for home entertainment.

It should be mentioned that the Blu-ray is not without competitors. HD DVD is also out there with lower capacities but has some strong backers including HP, Microsoft and Intel, Toshiba and NEC. Anyone smell a VHS/Beta battle?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2005 felt like a long year...

InformationWeek | Leap Second | New Year's Day Delayed By One Second | December 29, 2005

Just before the stroke of midnight scientists [delayed] the start of 2006 by adding a "leap second" to accommodate for changes in the Earth's rotation.
Did you feel that?

How exactly does my credit card prevent EM interference?

Free WiFi? Not in my airport.
It seems that the good folks at Boston's Logan International airport have decided that the airlines can't offer free WiFi in their lounges. Why? Well, it seems that there are security and interference concerns. The WiFi misers neglect to mention that the principal interference would be to the $8/day network they have installed. Continental airlines has taken the issue to the FCC.

What caught my eye in this story is that Massport is being supported by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority that runs Regan National and Dulles airports.

Starz looks to expand to PCs, video players | CNET

Starz looks to expand to PCs, video players | CNET

Starz Entertainment Group is introducing a $9.95-a-month subscription service that will allow people to download movies from the Internet and watch them on their computers, portable video players and television sets.
Based on a technology from Microsoft, the service will allow content to be played on Microsoft based players (read PPCs and Portible Windows Media Devices). It's a step towards taking a shot at Apple and t3h iTunes d3vil, but not a very big one. Indeed, the article mentions that Starz has been unable to reach a deal with Apple to distribute the content for iPods. To me, that's a sign that Apple is playing very tight with it's grip on iPod content, which is a big reason (the only reason) I don't own Apple brand products. Starz made a deal a few years ago when renegotiating its contracts with studios to acquire online rights. Reading the article, it appears that this license covers Sony and Disney studios, but possibly not others, who work with HBO and Cinemax.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Sith Sense

The Sith Sense Did we really need a Darth Vader 20 questions game?

Welcome to "Did I miss a memo?" Why? Mostly because I wanted a way to share all the good, bad and really weird stuff I see and think about every day. Enjoy.