Saturday, January 28, 2006

The sky is falling!

I wonder what that would be like.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Knight Rider Replicas

Speaking of David Hasselhoff, this one was a total surprise. Some things exist...that I never even imagined or considered. Like Knight Registries: a website for those who have decided that they love Knight Rider so much, that they convert or make cars duplicated or inspired by the car KITT. Or KITT's evil brother KARR.

Though a few photos of the straight replicas looked ok, here's an "inspired by" one that looked particularly impressive:




I thought this was something because I recall, when watching the original series, looking inside the "cockpit" of the car, the dash looked all hi-tech in general, but not very specific. This...seems to pretty much nail it, apparently, complete with six exterior cameras connected to the monitors, and a DVD player. Now if you could only duplicate other things. Like the shield that lets you ram through another car, destroying it into tiny bits. And coming out unscathed. Well, one can't have everything.

Here's a fun bit from the wikipedia entry on the TV movie "Knight Rider 2000", in regards to some of the hi-tech features of the new car featured in that movie:

▪ Fax Machine - KIFT can print out faxed messages from a dash mounted printer. (A technology misconception of the late 80's is that fax machines would be in common use everywhere by the 21st Century, including automobiles).

"David Hasselhoff is hooked on a feeling."

This video, presented by www.thesuperficial.com, proves yet again in the words of Norm MacDonald: Germans love David Hasselhoff.

Towards the tail end of the video, especially, I see some Tunak Tunak Tun influences. Is David Hasselhoff to Germany what Daler Mehndi is to America?

Monday, January 23, 2006

If I say I'm wearing pants, that makes it true.

Microsoft ads aim to erase 'huge' image
Software maker's campaign to cost $120 million

By REBECCA BARR
BLOOMBERG NEWS

Microsoft Corp., the world's biggest software maker, will spend $120 million a year on an advertising campaign to fight its image as "a huge American company."


full article here

referred to by digg.com.

***

Let's backpedal and read that again:

"an advertising campaign to fight its image as a 'a huge American company."

I am not any sort of anti-Microsoft zealot, really. There are reasons to not be fans, sure, but what I find more striking is this question: IS Microsoft a "huge American company"? On all counts of that description, I'd say...yes. It's...huge. It's American. And it's a company. And while I understand the motivation: to try to improve the company's image, it's a really hard case to make. And to suggest that Microsoft ISN'T a huge American company...I mean, that's almost sort of lying, isn't it?

As much as I'd like this to be the case, just because I say right now that I'm wearing pants, does not make it true.

Can ya dig it? Also, nuclear explosions.

Another useful find courtesy of the podcast "DLTV" (published by the same company that runs P.C. Magazine", the webiste "digg.com." The dltv folks didn't find it per se. They actually mentioned it, off hand, as if you're kinda supposed to have heard of it already. If you're geeky enough to be watching the podcast of dltv.

ANYWAY, if none of your facebook friends have updated their profiles, and if you've already looked up every movie title you can think of on imdb.com, digg.com is another route to just seeing how radically big the internet is. The concept (as far as I understand it), is that there are all these news stories, all over the internet. And if you have a login or username on digg.com, the website will list the most popular ones. And you can vote for it if you think it's worth reading, by clicking on a simple icon that says "digg it!". The articles that the most people have voted for, will appear on the homepage.

I haven't explored it yet, this may not exactly be how it works, but I find it fascinating, because it has a sort of "open source," uber-democratic idea to it. You can basically promote a story with a click of a button. And the "bigger" stories, are the ones that the most users have clicked on. But what makes it really interesting is that really, it's not just news, it's just as much internet finds in general. The sort of random stuff you wouldn't think to look for, you wouldn't run into just browsing around on your own, but nonetheless, here it is.

Here are a few examples of the headlines:

Hack Attack: Mouseless Firefox. 86 diggs. Not a huge deal. How to use firefox web browser with only your keyboard.

6 solid ways to view blocked sites at work & school (Facebook, Myspace). 475 diggs. Apparently, a bit more interesting than browsing firefox mouseless.

This was my favorite, and the only one that I'll link to, since I don't feel like going through the effort for every story:

Google Video - Huge 1958 Nuclear Underwater Explosion Footage! 1499 diggs.

I have not been to this website too often, but 1499 diggs, as you can see, is relatively a lot. And with good reason. Check out the video. You see a huge cloud/steam cloud, generated by an underwater nuclear explosion, blowing over a Navy test drone ship. The comments board doesn't list anything about it being a fraud, and there doesn't seem to be any reason to doubt its veracity.

So yes, this an interesting website, for just running into lots of cool stuff. But then, let's think about that video again. I'd "digg" it, had I a login, not because "oh man, neat explosion," but because I'd think. Wait. Wait now. Holy shit. At some point in time...we thought. It'd be a great idea. To set off nuclear weapons in the middle of the ocean. Now I know there are lots of pros and cons about this (probably mostly cons. Since, far as I know, we've stopped doing it), issues of "nuclear deterrence," maintaining gaps of different sorts and colors, sure. But let's think about this again.

"Let's take huge nuclear bombs. And explode them in the middle of the ocean."

The idea. To me...of purposefully blowing up nuclear weapons. Is just kind of crazy. It is, really ridiculous. And granted, that's from retrospect, so I'm not...hugely...contesting their policy decision at the time, I just think that it is sort of amazing that at some point, this is simply what we were up to.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Star Trek....AGAIN???

And that's why I'm typing it on the interweb, instead of repeating it out loud for the 4th time.

A funny thing about Star Trek is that in some ways, it's any other TV show. Or movie. At least, in the sense that, if you are an actor who hasn't had a particularly successful break, if you're a fan of the franchise and look forward to a role, or perhaps even, you're tired of eating hormel chili...it's a job. No intended derision, especially to hormel chili. I may be eating hormel chili in very similar circumstances in the near future, or, tomorrow, even. But basically. It's a part in a show with, at the very least, a very loyal following that's going to see your work.

Nonetheless, here are a few Star Trek guest stars who may come as something of a surprise. But you don't have to take my word for it.

Let's start off simple. If you take a look, it's in a book, it's



Levar Burton, from Reading Rainbow. Also from the miniseries, Roots. Subtract vision, and we have:



Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge, originally pilot of the Enterprise, later turned engineer when producers/writers decided that, while the notion of the blind pilot was neat, the character really didn't have much to do there. It's a more striking picture back when he was wearing what looked like a headband over his eyes, but it works for comparison.

Moving on a bit, a familiar comedian we all know and perhaps might love, Whoopi Goldberg had her own stint in space. By day, sunglasses wearing potty mouthed comedian:



By moonlight...



Guinan. Bartender at Ten-Forward, the Enterprise's bar and lounge. They serve "synthehol" there, which, according to wikipedia, is supposed to "allowing the drinker to experience the intoxicating effects [of alcohol] without any adverse after-effects such as hangovers; also the intoxicating effects themselves can be dispelled easily, apparently simply by the intent to do so." This notion, despite its idyllic sound...is somewhat disturbing.

But moving a bit towards the more obscure, here's a shot from an episode called "The Perfect Mate" (I may be wrong on the episode title but I will not look it up):



Not a great photo, but the dame standing next to the ever dignified Patrick Stewart is the same actor from:



X-Men/X2/X-Men 3...playing Jean Grey/Phoenix.

If you're still here, patience may be wearing thin, in which case, I will jump to my two favorites (and if you know me well, I've certainly mentioned this before):

The actor playing the marine biologist from Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home (yes, the one with the whales):



And the one playing Captain Willard Decker in Star Trek I.



If you're as big fans of the Camden family as the rest of America should be, you'll recognize mom and dad, back from those crazy years in the seventies and eighties when they would go gallivanting around the galaxy.



Footnote: Stewie actually references a line/action of Catherine Hicks from Star Trek IV when he grabs on to his older self, whispers, "Surprise!" and is transported into the future in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story.

Ok, I just have one more.

This actor from Star Trek VI played Lieutenant Valeris, an efficient officer, yet emotionally and morally detached:



She later reprised the role in this show:





Wholly unfair, I've never seen the show...but hey, how do I know that's not true?

Monday, January 16, 2006

MASK: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand







A fairly decent top to bottom website of what, if memory serves, was a really good cartoon .

"MASK" ran from 1985 - 1988, and was about a group of special agents called "MASK," which stood for "Mobile Armored Strike Kommand." The reason for the forced acronym is to encapsulate some of the premise into the title-- the special agents use transforming vehicles and armored "masks" to fight the machinations of the evil criminal organization "VENOM." VENOM, of course, is an acronym for "Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem," double play on the word Mayhem, since the evil commander's name is Miles. Miles Mayhem. Even though they get foiled at the end of every 20 minute episode, at least they can spell.

The wikipedia article for MASK notes that like G.I. Joe and Transformers, the cartoon worked hand in hand with the toy line; the cartoon basically "sold" both advertising as well as toys. It's funny that I have not thought of MASK more often, because off the bat, it ranks 3rd in "prominent childhood toys," behind Transformers and G.I. Joe. In fact, I get the feeling that were I to watch episodes of MASK now, I'm guessing that I might vote in favor of them over the Joes and autobots.

It must be the secret agent thing. Each MASK character has some sort of "day job," and then the MASK leader will call them into action. So the opening sequence of any episode will show the MASK agent at their job (race car driver, pet store owner, rock star), and then ditch it with some sort of lame excuse so that they can execute their secret mission. Which is kind of cool. And then, see, the "mask" part, is that when they change into their secret mission clothes, the mask is this helmet that covers their entire face, through which they can execute some sort of special power, like seeing through walls, or shooting acid, or gliding through air. And then they have some sort of accompanying vehicle that, in a more than meets the eye way, transforms into something else.

SO maybe the appeal is. Sure, I'll never be a military special agent. Or a giant robot that transforms into a walkman. BUT, I STILL grow up and maintain whatever job I want, but also be a secret MASK agent...I'll have some sort of neato helmet, and also have car that'll transform into some sort of airplane or boat. Why WOULDN'T that sort of thing appeal to a kid, or for that matter, a 22 year old "adult." Come to think of it, why persist in having the annoying kid-sidekick characters on these cartoons; they could've instead gone for the angle of- hey, you could grow up and be like this someday. Our dreams shall never die.

Like this guy. Brad Turner. Rock star by day, motorcycle/helicopter pilot by night.

.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On disposing of a dead mouse...

"I kind of don't want to pick it up."

"Do you want me to do it?"

"You want to do it?

"Well no, I don't want to pick it up either"...

"Let's get the dustpan." "Yeah, let's do that."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sparks

"Sparks," by The Who, is a great instrumental rock song.

Neat link: If you're looking for new music, there's a website Pandora.com that can look up music with similar traits to the songs or artists that you enter into its search engine (saw it demonstrated on dltv podcast from a few weeks ago). What makes it more interesting than iTunes' recommended feature is, of course, that it's free, but it also breaks down all the characteristics of the song that might make a song "similar" to another, and it will usually describe them to you, traits like "mild rhythmic syncopation," "major key tonality," "subtle use of vocal harmony." I have to say from my last two searches on it ("Sparks," by The Who, or "Shadow Stabbing," by Cake), I've had some slightly disappointing hits; however, if you're like me, and you don't listen to the radio often but still ike finding/hearing new music, it's a good way to get at least a few good recommendations.

I think there was some sort of rumor of spyware at work on the site, but far as I know, they haven't been confirmed, and it doesn't seem to be bothering my computer at all.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Is facebook spying on you?

I really couldn't tell you. But in the "Blogs of Note" header, there was a link to one fella...he seems something of a conspiracy theorist, and I didn't look at it closely...but it does look like it probably has some factual information in it, at the very least.

Jacob Morse's Blog

I believe MySpace also gets some scrutiny there, as well.

For those who've heard "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," as performed by William Shatner...

"The Surprise Of The Year, October 9, 2004
Reviewer: Dean Esmay (Westland, MI United States) - See all my reviews

I would never have believed I'd give a five star review to a William Shatner album, and be serious about it. But I am serious. Kudos to both Shatner and to the producer Ben Folds for this brilliant little gem of an album.

For those sneering without hearing, I'll merely note that if you remember the William Shatner Priceline commercials, you'll have some idea what this CD is like. Only it's even better than those were."

- an Amazon.com user review of "Has Been"


Amazing. I recall listening in Robert's First to Shatner's spoken word performance of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, from his spoken word album Transformed Man. It ranked among such prestigious finds as the Yatta video, Daler Mehndi, and that video of Leonard Nimoy performing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins in and around a rock formation with fly girls. So, it was humorous. No offense to Mr. Shatner, and perhaps I don't have a proper appreciation for the form that is spoken word. I believe it has some relation to Slam Poetry.

In any case, I was rather shocked to find from a coworker today that Shatner released another album-- 35 years later...that is-- two years ago! He collaborated with Ben Folds to produce an album, most of which was singing, with only one spoken word piece. There were also a number of guest artists, such as Aimee Mann and High Fidelity's Nick Hornby. And apparently...as the review above states...it's pretty good! It hit in the top one hundred of "hot" artists on some sort of important chart. Stylistically, Shatner relates it to Johnny Cash's later cover albums, in which tone and pitch are not as prominent as the performer's very particular vocal quality and style (Shatner's assessment, not mine).

On top of that, Shatner also received an Emmy award for his performance in the David Kelly series Boston Legal, in which he stars alongside James Spader, from Sex, Lies and Videotape as well as Stargate . I have seen one out of those two past films. Apparently he's pretty hilarious.

At any rate, I'm hopefully going get a chance to download/listen-to/watch either of the above at some point soon. I think the Folds connection also gives the album mad street credit.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Great iTunes Radio Station

http://www.virginradio.co.uk/thestation/linktous/

That's the website, but of course, the easiest way to listen to it is via iTunes, under the Top 40 section of the radio stations. I listened to it all through finals. If you perchance walked by the glass windows of the EIC to see an asian fellow typing and apparently rocking out at the same time, this is what I was probably listening to. It's a good mix of classic rock, a good number of early/mid-90s hits, and then I think a few bits of current music, but just really good stuff. 10 points for good taste.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ahh, so that's a "Blog"

First of all there are two categories of blogs. One is the traditional web-log where a web surfer shares his online discoveries. And the second is the web diary where person shares his or her thoughts of the day. Most blogs of either style often have elements of the other style once in a while.


- http://www.dvorak.org/blog/primer/blogprimer1.htm
From the weblog of John C. Dvorak (internet/technology commentator/columnist)

This makes much more sense now. Wikipedia has a much more involved entry that lends itself towards the generic, but this makes a useful distinction. So if I'm reading this right (and I'd like to think that I am), the idea is that a "weblog" is actually just that-- a log of the web. Users run into stuff on the internet that they think is worth sharing...and they link it on their blog, often with some bit or two of commentary on the material. Then the livejournal is...hey, what's up, this is what I'm doing today/thinkinga bout. Like Dvorak notes on his explanatory page, certainly this distinction can be blurred, but it explains a lot of things, like why when I search for stuff online, lots of times, I hit "blogs" that have little more than a link and a short bit of text. And here I was thinkign taht that was them just being hacks, that's apparently what the format seems to expect. So I guess that makes this post something of a meta-commentary.

Well Happy New Year...

I started this weekend intending to see Narnia, and then go home and run errands, and then come back into the city for New Year's Eve...and perhaps it was the point at which I was buying disposable razors at Duane Reade that I realized that plan had been slightly altered. The weekend quickly evolved into going out, catching up with old friends, seeing Narnia the next afternoon, and then ringing in the new year.

This is repetitive, but well hey. It was pretty sweet. And there was some amount of huddling around said TV here this evening, watching some said Ryan Seacrest/Dick Clark New Year's Eve Special (I think Ryan was just, stunning). Two words. A. Mazing. I mean. Journalistic reporting has not been that good sincw good morning and goodnight what time is it! Three seventeen. About time for me to go to bed. Hopefully, by nearly this time tomorrow, I will have bathed.

Kidding. I bathed once earlier this evening. It was glorious. Like the phoenix, springing forth from the trees. Or whatever it is those looney birds do.