Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Recent Activities

1) Well, other attempts to install Ubuntu failed miserably. So, I did (yet more) research and realized I could just add more RAM to my computer. My computer manual had some very simple instructions and a local computer store had some compatible parts. However, once again, all was not as it seemed. My audio device cannot be found when I install the new RAM card. I have no idea why but it prevents ($#*&$!) Windows from booting correctly. Hopefully, a friend of a co-worker can help me out. I’m also checking with Dell about problems installing more memory. If it turns out there’s Dell-only memory allowed or something is installed that my computer can’t live without, I’m going to be writing a very nasty letter about how Dell should clearly state such requirements in manuals and on-line help sites.

2) “Cars”: It’s a bit odd but I totally missed this when it came out last year. Not sure why. Once again, Pixar seamlessly weaves a good moral into a good story. The world populated by various mechanical creatures was very well-constructed and detailed. Also, hiring Paul Newman to voice the older racer car was a stroke of brilliance. Good for Pixar, ten times better than anyone else’s “kids” movies.

3) “Live Free or Die Hard”: Bruce Willis* as John McClane is worth a full-price ticket any day. Very good action movie. I liked the hacker-sidekick but I like actor Justin Long in pretty much everything. This role was well-suited to his talents although I could have done without the CCR bashing. I especially liked that both the daughter and the hacker characters were not super- action-heroes but fought back & responded to crisis in more realistic but effective ways. The only real weakness was the villain. The actor played him like Anakin Skywalker going Darth (ie – whiny and self-righteous). That said, the action scenes were fantastic and well spaced out throughout the film. Another plus for me was the way John McClane fights versus everyone he was up against. They had the moves, training and equipment. One thing shown in every single fight was that those things could be a bug not a feature. In this movie, the bad guys expect McClane to fight like they are prepared to fight. However, John McClane fights like an underdog, no-holds barred, grasping every bit of luck and desperately innovative. Again, a very good action movie.

4) Read Jack Campbell’s “Dauntless”: This is the first in a new series from Campbell. It’s about a long-lost war hero revived from stasis to find he has been idolized by the military fighting a desperate war in the intervening hundred years. Very good main character, excellent world-building, and very, very good space battles. Campbell does an excellent job of showing how the technology of the fleet effects their tactics and strategy without resorting to excessive techno-babble. Based on this one, I’m looking forward to the remaining books. A fun bit of military sci-fi.

5) Several of my co-workers went to a preview showing of “Transformers” Monday night. Their comments: “Awesome”, “Best movie I’ve seen in last 5 years” AND “Even my wife liked it”. From geeks’ mouths to God’s ears.

*Hopefully, you do not need a link to know who Bruce Willis is.

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