Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Twilight Saga Eclipse (2010)

I managed to watch the entire Twilight 3.  What can a non teenage girl say about this movie?  Let’s try to find something positive first.  I’m thinking…  Well there is some eye candy.  It is a vampire/werewolf flick, I enjoy that.  And the special effects and stunts are okay.  And that’s about it.  It’s long, boring, completely predictable, and simply not a great movie.  The acting and writing, like the last two in this saga, is well below par.  

The three main characters have a single emotional state throughout this saga, they are depressed.  And the movie is simply about 3 depressed and unhappy teenagers.  And the story revolves around one of them being a vampire, another a werewolf, and the third teasing the other two with her interests till the boys fight over her.  And that’s it, that’s the complete story.  Riveting!

I have to say, even though I didn’t think the last two instalments were great, I was still disappointed with this one.  I was hoping for better considering they made it to 3 releases.  I honestly thought it would be better somehow.  It’s not.


My Review of the New Version of Windows Live Hotmail

I’ve been using the new version of Hotmail for the past couple of weeks.  And it sucks.  That’s not a very professional sounding review comment, but that just sums it up.

It’s many times slower than it was before.  It gives me scripting errors on slower systems.  It’s so script intensive that on slower systems like Intel Atom based desktops (that are more than adequate of normal computer work) can seem to lock up on occasion due to whatever it is doing in the background.  They rolled MSN Messenger into it and turned it on by default (a privacy tip from the Face Book handbook) and it took me a while to figure out how to even go Offline or Invisible on this new web based version of Messenger.  It isn’t the least bit intuitive.  You have to click on your user name in the top right hand corner, which doesn’t even appear to look like a click-able button or link.

So once again Microsoft has taken a usable and decent product and created bloat-ware, and something I dislike using.  And if there is any way to go back to the old or classic version, it’s not apparent to me.  Google has rolled all sorts of products into Gmail, and it doesn’t seem to be as sluggish and computer intensive as Hotmail is now.

Does anyone remember Hotmail before Microsoft acquired it?  How it was basic, just worked, was reliable, and everyone on the Internet used it.  Plus back then it ran on Unix servers, and was faster than when Microsoft bought it and moved it to presumably Windows servers.  Back then they made the news cause over night it went from great to unreliable and slower.  And now it is bloat-ware that doesn’t even refresh properly when I want it to.

Good job Microsoft, I guess I’ll be ditching it for a Google product.  At least they seem to know how to write a web application.  But you guys (MS) can keep throwing the kitchen sink into Hotmail, cause I won’t be seeing your ads any more, I’ll be looking at even more Google ads.

The new Hotmail gets a 1/10 rating.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

This action/adventure is really well done.  Good story, great acting, excellent special effects and stunts.  It definitely leans into the fantasy realm, so don’t expect this to be a realistic period piece.  For example our hero has super human gymnastic abilities.  But then again so do some of the villains.  And some magic thrown in as well.  I would say it’s in the same movie category as “The Mummy”.  There are a few twists and it isn’t entirely predictable, the sign of a good story.  If you like this genre of film, this one is exceptional.

Finally a Gmail Phone from Gizmo5 Tech

It’s been close to a year since Google acquired Gizmo5, back in November of 2009.  I was a Gizmo5 paying customer then and I still am now.  We use the Gizmo5 SIP trunks for some of our Asterisk VoIP phone lines.  I was never a fan or big user of the Gizmo5 Windows app.

When Google took over Gizmo5, they immediately shut down the ability to add new accounts, and also for existing paying members to add new lines to their existing accounts.  Neither Google or the Gizmo5 customer service people would provide existing customers with information on what would be happening with the service.  I inquired whether we would suddenly get cut off from our existing services, or when we could add new SIP lines to our existing accounts.  And I would contact them and ask on occasion.  Each time after maybe 2 weeks I would get a reply like, not at this time, and no news as when that might change.  Not impressive in my own opinion.  However, they did stop charging me for the local DID numbers I had acquired through them.  In fact when they expired, I complained and they made sure I got them back at no charge, and they informed me they would be no charge for the next 2 or 3 years, I forget the exact date at the moment.  I was paying quarterly for them up till that point.  You have to respect that.  They were obviously making some allowances to not interrupt service to existing customers, and I did appreciate that perk.

So this week they finally rolled out a new service, which looks much like the original Gizmo5 Windows app I think.  But now it is directly tied to their Gmail service, and it is now a web app that runs in your browser, after installing a plug-in.  Calls in the US and Canada are free till the end of 2010.  Obviously to allow people to get used to the service and not have to pay to try.

You activate the phone pop-up by clicking on “Call phone” in your Gmail Chat box in the left column of the Gmail page.  “Call phone” seems like a strange name for this feature.  “Phone call” would be more appropriate, as well as many other suggestions I’m sure we could all come up with.  Makes one think that someone who’s first language is not English got to decide what to call this new Gmail service.

I made a test call and it seems to work fine.  The interface is basic and easy to use.  The settings are located in the “Gmail > Settings > Chat” section.  However, the first time I looked for the new settings, after installing the plug-in and restarting my browser, they were missing.  They appeared after a refresh, so I assume it had to do with my browser caching.  I’m using Google Chrome.  You can change your mic and speakers at this settings location.

I do wish that there was a setting to change the calling location country, I have been unable to find it if it exists.  So it defaults and always starts as the US flag and calling location.  I’m in Canada, and even though the country code is still (+1) it would show some respect on their part to not assume that everyone lives in the USA.  There is only 2 English selections in Gmail settings, US and UK English.  Changing this to UK did not change this default to the UK, it stayed as US.  So it doesn’t appear to be tied to the language setting.

I’m glad they finally did something with the Gizmo5 tech.  I still wonder what they plan to do with us original Gizmo5 customers and accounts.  It doesn’t appear we will find out any sooner than anyone else.

The Marine 2 (2009)

Rambo lives!  This marine guy is Rambo reincarnate invincible,  uncountable bad guys with uncountable guns can’t hurt him.  Grenades explode inches from him, bombs explode around him, avalanches crush him, and barely a limp.  He’s big and muscular (which makes him nice to look at) but kinda slow as a result, it constantly looks like the bad guys have to wait motionless while he sets up for his next stunt or hit.  Yawn.  His greatest foe is a guy twice his age and half his size with a broom handle, and yes that is our final battle scene.  Sound good so far?  The scenery is pretty though.


Tekken (2010)

Set in the near apocalyptic future, our young attractive hero fights against all odds to be the top fighter and revenge his mother’s death.

Very few kick-ass fight/action films have great action, excellent plots and fantastic acting.  The most you can hope for is good fight scenes and eye candy.  And this movie is no exception.  If you are satisfied with mediocre acting and plot, great fight scenes, and noticeable eye candy, then you’ll enjoy this one.  I liked it.  It’s well made for what it is, but it won’t be winning any awards I can think of.


Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009)

Not your average vampire flick.  It was definitely better than I expected from remembering the trailers.  This is more a family oriented film than your typical blood sucker movie.  I enjoyed it, it was a little off the wall and that makes it all the more entertaining.


Centurion (2010)

Dull, boring, gory.  The story of the fate of a failed and defeated Roman legion.  The action scenes contain little entertaining battles, and focus on the beheading, impaling, and blood spurting.  Too bad they didn’t put as much effort into the battle scenes as they did in the gore and shock factor of the deaths.  No substance in this movie, you can’t wait till it’s over, and hope you can stay awake.  It’s a yawn and it’s overly gross.


Google’s New Android Voice Search/Actions Review

The new Android Voice Search/Actions app that Google released this past week, is meant to be an improvement over the included voice command app that comes with a Android phone like the Nexus One.  They seem to have added some new voice commands, though the voice commands for Android have never been documented well anywhere I could find, and I’ve looked.

I’d really like to know what demographic this voice recognition software is supposed to work well for, other than perhaps the people that have tested it at Google labs.  For me, an English speaking Canadian, it works surprisingly poorly.  I’ve tried every single version of English that they list in the phone settings, and some work “better” than others, but with all the commands, none work perfectly, or close to it.

I would say English speaking Caucasian Canadians have the same dialect and accent as west coast Caucasians in the USA, who are obviously a large percentage of the US population.  Yet the phone has a “Canadian English” recognition setting that doesn’t work as well as the “US English” setting.  Again I wonder what differences they built in that make it work not as well.

For me, the only voice command features that work reasonably well are “directions/maps” and “note to self”.  Under no circumstances will the “send text to” or “send email to” place the person’s name in the send field.  For me it places the name in the body of the message with the message body text, skipping over the send field every time, using every single English dialect version.  Making these functions totally worthless.  Transcribing the message body text is good enough for hands free to get the message across to the person.  But don’t expect it to look up the person’s name, or place that name in the correct field, unless you are the lucky few like the guy in the help video.

I have used the voice transcription service for text in the body of a text message on occasion till now, and it has worked fairly well, but I have always found it to be on the slow side and I can sometimes type the message faster than waiting for the transcription to take place and then edit any errors.  But it would depend on your need to be hands free.  And since it is done by the Google servers not on your phone, your type of data connection plays a part in this delay as well.

Using the “call” command is beyond useless.  Unlike other voice dialling apps I have used over the years, it doesn’t give you the often to check the name it finds before dialing it.  And once again for me, it never gets the name right, so no second kick at the cat here.  The voice command “Call David <lastname> mobile” will call “The University of Manitoba” every single time I say it, no matter how I pronounce it, or my distance from the mic.  At the very least Google, offer an option to display the caller before dialing, especially when it works this poorly.

And I think the lamest thing of all (if all this isn’t lame enough) is that the music app that comes with Google’s own Nexus One phone does not work with the new “listen to” voice command.  This command is intended to call up the music of your choice.  What it does do it brings up a list of non-Google music apps that apparently do work with Google’s new music search feature.  But not their own music app.  How incredibly poor is that?!  To say they should find that embarrassing is an understatement.  How could they not add this obvious feature into their own prized phone that gets all the newest software first.  Hang your heads Google software engineers, and who ever is in charge of the release of this app.

So like all voice recognition apps, it’s no more than an annoying toy, with only a few voice commands that will work some of the time for the average speaker like myself.  Whatever happened to the old idea of offering a training feature for improving the voice recognition for the individual that is using it?  After all, they are scrapping our personal data from this and all data that goes through their servers for focusing ads on us, and for whatever else they care to use it for (it says so in the Term & Conditions and Privacy docs.)  You’d think they’d want as many people to use this thing as possible.

This app is getting way too much attention this past week.  So overall, I think it’s a toy, and not a good one at that, I give it a 5/10.

Sex in the City 2 (2010)

This movie is somewhere between boring and painful.  And it’s long at 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Compared to the series, the writing is embarrassingly poor.  What were they thinking?!  I’m thinking if there is a god, there won’t be a Bored in the City 3.


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