Monthly Archives: January 2012

In Time (2011)

In Time has a pretty interesting plot. What if the economy revolved around the trading of time left to live, instead of standard currency. Other than that, there is very little Sci-Fi like about this movie, unless you include the Bat-mobile turbine sound that all the cars make. Though there is a huge oddity. You can deduce from the characters dialog that it takes place at least 150 or more years into the future, based on the characters claimed ages. Yet the world looks identical to the current world, accept for the the currently of “time” and the sounds of the vehicles. In fact the Bat-mobile sounding cars all look like the cars we have today. Funny that! Regardless of this, it’s actually a good storey in general and somewhat thought provoking.

Justin Timberlake’s performance for the most part is pretty good. But his crying was so fake I thought it was a joke at first, and was noticeably distracting during a grieving scene. Next time perhaps he should try a masculine silent weeping sort of thing, and not the loud ugly cry he must have been practicing in acting class. It was a little awkward to listen to, and for me ended up being one of the more memorable moments of the film…unfortunately.


The Howling Reborn (2011)

The star of this werewolf tragedy is now one of the characters on the Sci-Fi TV series Terra Nova, Landon Liboiron. A reasonably good actor, but starring in a really bad movie. But you have to start somewhere.

It’s a shame that this piece of crap shares the same name as the original Howling movie. The Howling Reborn is very poorly written, and the special effects are surprisingly bad, bad enough to be on par with an early 1970’s TV series.

I like a good werewolf movie, but this isn’t it.


Burlesque (2010)

This movie reminds me of the Ocean Eleven movies of the past few years. The remakes, not the originals. In the sense that it is a very obvious promotional vehicle for select celebrities, primarily Cher and Christina Aguilera, but a few others you will recognize.

But regardless of that, it’s a very entertaining movie overall. All be it very shallow, in that the storey line is incredibly shallow. Many scenes with Cher appear to be quite purposely adlibbed, one can only guess she either refused to memorize lines or the director though it was cute. It wasn’t cute, it made me wince a bit. And there is a very awkward scene to promote a song, that is sung by her, and it interrupts the flow of the storey completely. There was no purpose to her singing a song at that point, and there can be no doubt it was rammed into the middle of the movie after the fact. I’m sure even the writer of this movie would have worked it in better if it had been planned.

Christina Aguilera is quite good in this show. I was impressed. Cher was Cher, she brings the same strong character (herself) to all her roles, they really don’t differ. Though I felt she wasn’t acting in this movie at all, she simply played herself as the character, the wise-cracking, arrogant, over confident, pretty singer. And I felt she played it weak actually, making me imagine that she simply showed up to do her lines and get it over with. Her character has no “heart” at all.

Cher is fun and fills any stage with her presence, but Christina Aguilera steals the show, both in the storey line and in the making of this movie. Needless to say, the movie is full of pretty people and sets that glues is loosely together.


Bose MusicMonitor Computer Speakers Review

I just received the Bose MusicMonitor computer speakers I ordered online.

Listing for a retail value of roughly $350, I actually am a little disappointed they don’t sound better, as in have more bass. The reviews I saw before purchasing all commented that they did have reasonably good bass, but not as good as speaker sets with a sub, which makes perfect sense. I have to totally disagree with these reviews, the bass output is really rather poor, if nonexistent. The sound quality in higher frequencies is excellent though.

The quality of manufacturing of the speakers is top end. All brushed metal construction, with side plates of solid aluminum. They are quite heavy for their size, and have the look and feel of quality.

My previous computer sound system (Logitech) had a sub. So I’m using these Bose speakers with that sub, using an 1/8″ splitter jack to send audio to the Bose speakers and the sub from the same 1/8″ output on the computer. Now they sound great. Not night and day better from the previous Logitech flat panel speakers, but noticeably sharper and clearer, and take up less. room. The Logitech flat panels sounded really good, but took up a lot more desk space than these, and looked really cheap in comparison.

Would I recommend these Bose mini-speakers? Yes, but only with the caveat of also using a sub in combination. Unless you simply want decent small speakers and don’t have the room. Unless money is no object, or looks is very important, some people might want to shop around for a small speaker set that is less expensive or has more bass.



Update 2012-02-14

After using the speaker system for a while, I’ve noticed one annoying issue. When the power cycles on these speakers, you have to manually switch them on and raise the volume. My older Logitech speaker system had a manual on/off push button switch and a volume dial. The Bose speakers have 3 soft press buttons on the side of one speaker, one for power and 2 for volume. Not only do you have to manually turn the power on after a power cycle or power failure, but the volume is initially at 0. So you have to play some audio to find your sweet-spot of volume level again. This is extrememly annoying, since I (like most people) take for granted the computer will make sound after you start it up with no changes having been made.

With the price of these speakers, it should at least remember the volume level. One of the biggest disappointments of soft touch buttons are that they require circuitry to enable what a simple dial knob and push on/off button switch does mechanically by design. This is what happens when inexperienced engineers design something, and is doesn’t get tested in the real world with user feedback.

I expect better from Bose.

My rating is now 5/10.

Jets vs Panthers Game

We were at the Jets game last night, where they lost in over-time to the Florida Panthers.

This is the first Jets game I’ve been to since the new Jets came to Winnipeg.

Below is a phone camera view from the box seats.



Asus Transformer Prime – Web Browser Review

The web browser on the Transformer Prime, or rather Android 4 leaves something to be desired. Two very noticeable issues are viewing the tab bar and constant lock-ups.

It’s quite nice the way you can scroll the web page tab bar left and right at the top of the screen with your finger, to see all the tabs and switch to the other open websites. But there is no indication of if there are open tabs to the left or the right of the screen that you can’t currently see. You have to actually scroll to find out. In the desktop version of FireFox for example, there are arrows indicating that you have open tabs to the left or right when you can’t see them all. So it’s very annoying and time wasting to look for open tabs.

And on my tablet, the browser constantly locks up, especially while opening a website in a new tab, refreshing an existing open page, or even clicking on a link. The tablet locks up while it’s “busy” I assume, and only when it finishes whatever has locked it up does it display a dialog window offering to “Wait” or “Force Close” the app. But by this time it’s already given you control back, so pressing “Wait” takes you back to the running app. Pressing “Force Close” would only kill the app and make you open it again. This would make sense if you could have done so when it first locked up, but is pointless after returning control to you.

I’m also finding that when the tablet sits dormant for a while, as in Standby mode, that sometimes the Wi-Fi Internet connection is screwed up. I don’t believe it’s the router, as it only seems to be happening with the Prime. For example it will show a 2 Mbps connection (instead of 54 Mbps) and not allow you to load any pages. There doesn’t seem to be a “Disconnect” feature in a wireless connection in Android 4 like there is in 2.x, so you have to switch to another wireless connection, and then switch back to get it to work properly again. Unless you want to select “Forget” and then re-enter your pass-phrase on “Connect”, that’s really convenient!

Once again, in my personal opinion, Android 4 sucks in usability compared to version 2.3.x. Yes it’s prettier and has more bling and flash, but it does not work as well. And the things I do like about Android 4 could easily be accomplished in apps and widgets. Just like the last 2 versions of Windows since XP, there is no real world functionality improvements in Android 4 that we didn’t have in 2.x, Just like comparing Windows 7 and XP. Both newer versions (Android 4 and Windows 7) are prettier. But for real world power user functionality, it’s a step back if anything. At best it makes it more attractive initially to the new inexperienced user.

Blogging Tools (and Removing Windows Live Writer)

Do you have a blog? What software tool do you use to your blog posting?

Till today, I’ve been using the ScribeFire addon for FireFox. It’s better than the direct web access on, but still has some shortcomings for me. I’ve put off finding something else till now.

As any geek knows, Microsoft applications are huge, bloated, and either very user friendly or a complete mess when it comes to a user experience. And in the case of their recent Live products not the easiest to get rid of.

I installed Windows Live Writer, which some reviews recommend for blogging. But after installing and deciding not to use it, I was unable to find how to easily uninstall it. I was not able to find it listed in Add/Remove, and they don’t offer an Uninstall link in the Start Menu folder it creates.

After some online research I found out that they bury the uninstaller in the Program Files folder. So on your C drive, go to “Program Files” and find the “Windows Live” folder tree. Look for a file named “wlarp.exe” in one of the folders, possibly the “Installer” sub-folder. Run that and you will be offered a means of uninstalling it.


What I decided to go with for a blogging app is BlogDesk. A native Windows application. Clean and straight forward. And easier to add images than some other blogging tools.

My one issue was with editing existing posts. I found that editing existing posts made with ScribeFire were no longer formatted properly when BlogDesk pulls them up. But the posts that BlogDesk creates have the expected formatting. So I figure I can live with that for now. When I edit a post it’s usually soon after posting to correct a mistake.

So I’d like to recommend BlogDesk.

Playbook OS

RIM released a new beta version of the 2.x OS today, version Replacing that I first noticed on Jan 6th.

It seems to be difficult to easily discover what changes in one update to the next. Reports I read said that it adds predictive text and auto correct while typing, but I noticed this already in version So far I can’t see any noticeable new features. It may be a little snappier, but of course these thoughts are always speculative, and it’s not a laggy device now.

I can’t help to compare the Playbook to my new Asus Transformer Prime whenever I use either. There is no doubt in my mind, that in general the Playbook is a far superior muti-tasking OS, and more user friendly than Android 4.x. But the Play book feels noticeably heavier in a smaller form factor, and has poor battery life when compared to any device larger than a phone. And of course there is the apps issue on the Playbook. For me the Playbook was barely worthwhile till I was able to sideload Android apps on it to get the near comparable functionality from it that I get on an Android device.

As a software developer RIM sucks big-time, taking forever to come out with software updates and new software products. So it baffles me that according to industry know-it-alls, they are turning away offers to purchase and leaking rumours that they might convert to a licensing and software sales company. How could they possibly make it as a software licensing and development company, when it’s seems well known that they have ridiculously long development cycles and keep misinterpreting future trends. If that wasn’t true they would have put out all the software for the Playbook they promised well over 6 months ago, and they would still be the number one selling phone.

I do look forward to seeing the final OS 2.x and the email, contacts and calendar apps they claim to have ready to release in a few weeks. If I owned RIM shares I think I’d sell them now before they humiliate themselves again.

Transformer Prime Purchase Update

I finally got my Asus Transformer Prime tablet this week on the 11th.  The next day they OTA upgraded the thing to the latest Android OS, v4.  I actually liked v3 better.  This version is actually much less intuitive, even I have had to struggle a bit to figure out how to do what was straight forward and obvious in v3.  It’s much like a new Microsoft OS release, they moved things around, added very little new to the user interface, but changed enough to make it difficult to figure some things out.  That seems to be the new theme in OS upgrades, can’t think of what new things to add, so we will make it harder to figure out so they appreciate that it’s new.

Between the iPad, BlackBerry Playbook and this top of the line Android tablet, I like the Playbook OS the best by far!  It’s the easiest and most intuitive OS of all 3.  Easy to switch between apps and figure out what to do.  In fact I constanly find myself doing Playbook screen swipes to the Transformer only to realize I don’t have those conveniences I love about the Playbook.  It’s a shame RIM dropped the ball for the better part of a year and haven’t come out officially with OS v2 and email, calendar and contacts apps.  I’ve upgraded to the developer beta version of OS2 and managed to get some Android apps running on it, so I now have the Android versions of the missing apps.  It’s too bad that RIM has had such poor management running the company the last few years.  Analysts say they think that RIM might have to sell or go under.  I’ve heard some analysts say they think the company won’t survive another year as it is.

As for the Transformer Prime, it’s okay.  Like I said, I greatly prefer Android 3.2.1 to this 4.03.  This ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich version 3) is a definite step back in user experience over what I think they liked to call Gingerbread (v3.)  And bare in mind I used Android 3 for less than 2 days.  In fact considing all the incredible hype Android ICS (v4) has received this past year, I was hoping for a whole lot more and a completely new interface.  It’s no more than v3 that’s less user friendly, that’s basically it.  I can’t think of a single thing I see as an impovement over v3. But one thing is for certain, Google has developed the same brain washing of industry journalists, pogcasters and tech reports that they have them wrapped around their fingers like Apple does.  Good for Google as a business.  Bad for us, since we can no longer trust industry reports of what the new products hold for us.  Yes, I’m somewhat disappointed with the Transformer Prime and more so that means the OS.  I’m not even sure I like Android OS4 over 2.3.  It’s a different experience for sure, but not better, faster, or more intuituive.

Apple iPad has nothing to worry about when it comes to the Transformer Prime or Android 4.  I’m no fan of Apple or the iPads (and I have one) and very few people that aren’t already Android users will pick this tablet over an iPad.  I have been an Android fan and user, but if I wasn’t, I would take an iPad over an Android 4 device easily. 

Personally I’ll throw my hopes behind the Playbook.  And I’m well aware that’s like betting on a known injured horse.

My recommendation to non Android fans is to stay far away from wasting $500 on a Transformer Prime.  You’ll likely be disappointed.

My current overall Transformer Prime rating: 4/10

Abduction (2011)

Abduction stars Taylor Lautner, the guy who plays the werewolf boy friend in those really bad (but teenage girl popular) Twilight movies.  Let’s face it, his claim to fame in those movies is to look pretty and take his shirt off as often as possible.  Who knew he’s actually a half decent actor, especially when compared to most pretty boys getting movie roles these days.  He did a good job in this film, and I think has considerable promise to do even better.

But the production level of this movie is quite low.  It often has the feel of a 1970’s TV series.  The editing cuts and transitions and often below amateur.  Camera work is sad, in fact at one point they actually use a fish eye lens in a tight corridor instead of editing and cutting several scenes together to give the complete picture of the action.  Who does that?!  Maybe for effect in a drug addict’s nightmare scene, but not in an action movie.  Why not wave a flag saying we have no idea what we are doing.  So everything from direction, to camera work to editing is seriously below par.  Storeyline is good for this style of movie, and our hero Taylor actually brings the whole mess up a notch or two to hold it together.

I was surprised to see that Sigourney Weaver had a small role in this.  She always comes across genuine and real in her work.  And she obviously adds some credibility to this show.  But for her to take a small role in a project with such poor production values, in what I imagine was marketed as a main stream movie, made me wonder for who she was doing a favour.

If this movie starred an ugly nobody it would be a 3.5 at best.  But I’ll give it a 6.5 for Taylor and a decent storey with reasonably good action scenes.  I’m looking forward to seeing Taylor’s acting career evolve in future projects, where he plays more than a shirtless model, like in Twilight.  But I might watch him in those too.


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